Daniel chapter 7. End time prophecies.
Daniels first great vision. End-time prophecies.
Daniel’s first great vision tells us roughly the same as the dream Nebuchadnezzar had, and in this vision we get the first expansion of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and we get the world history from the year 605 until Jesus’ return portrayed in a new way. Daniel sees the same four kingdoms, only in a new disguise, and this time as four different beasts.
What is new in this prophecy is that the focus is shifted towards a little horn that comes up between ten horns on the heads of the fourth beast and plucks up three of the ten horn. This little horn has eyes like human eyes and a mouth that speaking great things. The fact that the focus is shifting more and more towards the fourth beast/kingdom is an important point, and we will return to this when we look at chapter 8 in the book of Daniel.
In this chapter, 7 of 28 verses are about the little horn and its activities. The next scene in this chapter, as in chapter 2, is a judgment scene. God establishes his eternal kingdom.
Then the verses 15-28 in chapter 7 completes more of what will happen, and Daniel saw that the little horn made war with God’s saints. Just as the third beast, Greece, is the same power after Alexander the Great dies and the kingdom was divided into four, (see Daniel chapter 8), so it would be natural to interpret that the fourth beast is the same kingdom after it has changed character. This kingdom changes from being a military-political power to becoming a religious-political power, after the little horn emerges, (see also Revelation 17,10).
Verse 1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, [and] told the sum of the matters.
Daniel had this dream more than 50 years after Nebuchadnezzar had his dream of the statue in chapter 2. In chapter 2 we are in the year 604 BC. while here we have come to the year 549 BC. According to some sources, King Nabonidus made his son Belshazzar co-regent when he went into exile in the year 550 BC. Others claim that King Nabonidus went on a war campaign approx. 550/549 BC. In any case, this sets the time for the prophecies in both chapter 7 and chapter 8. Since this text was originally written in Aramaic, and the fact that Daniel had lived in Babylon for over 50 years, we can assume that Belshazzar’s first year is not the year of accession 550, but the year 549. We then have the time when Daniel received these prophecies. The vision in chapter 7 was given to Daniel in the year 549 BC. while the vision in chapter 8 came in 547 BC.
Historically, chapter 6 comes after chapter 7 in time, but the book is divided into a historical and a prophetic part, the historical chapters 1 – 6 makes up the historical part, and the prophetic chapters 7 – 12 makes up the prophetic part.
Verse 2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. Verse 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. Verse 4 The first [was] like a lion and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. Verse 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and [it had] three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. Verse 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. Verse 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it [was] diverse from all the beasts that [were] before it; and it had ten horns. Verse 8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and behold, in this horn [were] eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Daniel now sees four beasts in turn and order as verse 3 says are rising from the sea. These beasts are:
a lion – Babylon
a bear – Medo-Persia,
and leopard – Greece
and a fearsome and terrible beast – the Roman Empire, (see also Rev 13,1-2).
As for the expression the four winds of heaven strove up the great sea, wind is an expression of upheavals and war, (see Jeremiah 49,36-37), and sea, waters and rivers are symbols of large crowds (see Rev 17, 15). We can see from this that we are talking about four kingdoms that will succeed each other in a densely populated area, in that way so the existing kingdom is conquered by a new kingdom. When it comes to the fourth beast in the vision, this is very different from the other three. We will eventually see that the focus in the book of Daniel shifts more and more towards this fourth beast. However, the resemblance to Revelation is striking. If we look at the order in which the beasts appear here in Daniel 7, we see that it is a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a beast Daniel cannot describe. There is no creature in this world that can describe the fourth beast in Daniel’s dream, so horrible is it.
Let us see how this corresponds to Revelation 13,1-2. Here John sees a beast that has seven heads and ten horns, and on the horns ten crowns, and he describes it as a leopard, with the feet of a bear and with the mouth of a lion. This confirms that 1) paganism and traditions accumulate in the next beast and 2) the statement that we must read the prophecies into the contemporaries of respectively Daniel and John. Daniel sees the story develop from his time and towards Jesus’ return. John also sees history evolve from his time, both back in time and forward in time. Here, in the example from Revelation 13, John sees the story develop from his time and back in time. Therefore, he sees the emergence of these four beasts in reverse order in relation to what Daniel does.
In verse 7 it is said that the fourth beast or kingdom is different from the others. The first three kingdoms are and will be secular kingdoms that mix religion and state power in their attempt to oppress and crush God’s people. The fourth kingdom is also in its first time a secular kingdom, and which to a great extent mixes religion and state power to crush God’s people. But this fourth kingdom must be different from the others in every conceivable way, something we see in the fact that this kingdom changes character and goes from being a secular, military-political kingdom/power, to becoming a religious-political kingdom/power.
Although the appearance is different, however, the fourth beast continues to be the fourth beast. The fourth beast also has ten horns, and it is the sum of the changes and the horns that makes this beast different from the others. That this kingdom will change character we already see in Dan 2,33 where it says that the feet, which are part of the legs, will be partly of iron and partly of clay.
The new thing in this prophecy, as mentioned above, is that the focus is shifted towards a little horn that comes up between ten horns on the heads of the fourth beast and plucks up three of the ten horn with their roots. This little horn has eyes like human eyes and a mouth that speaks big words. 9 of 28 verses in this chapter are about the little horn and its activities, and these verses are verses 7, 8, 11, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24 and 25. The next scene that gets a lot of attention in this chapter is, as in chapter 2, a scene of judgment. God creates his eternal kingdom. Daniel uses 8 verses on this, verses 9, 10, 13, 14, 18, 22, 26 and 27. In addition to this, chapter 7 tells more about what will happen throughout the story, and Daniel sees that the little horn made war against the saints of God.
Chapter 7 is the first complementary prophecy of Daniel 2. Daniel 2 does not give us much information about the prophecy other than that the head is Babylon, the toes are kings – which is the same as kingdoms, and that God will eventually establish his kingdom. We do not get other information in chapter 2. We do not get the names of the other kingdoms, nor which kingdoms the toes represent. Verses 7 and 8 do not tell us what the horns represent, but give us supplementary and general information, such as that the beast the horns are sitting on is different from the other three beasts (v 7), and that a little horn appears, which has both eyes and mouth, and which plucks up three horns (v 8). This implies that the fourth kingdom has human features despite the fact that it is depicted both as a horn and as a beast.
Verse 9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire. Verse 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. Verse 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld [even] till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. Verse 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. Verse 13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. Verse 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.
The next scene in this chapter is a little different from what we see in chapter 2. In chapter 2 it goes from the religious-political phase of the fourth beast to the return of Jesus. Here we first see a scene of judgment – the investigative judgment (verses 9 and 10), then we see the second coming of Christ and that God creates his eternal kingdom (verses 11 and 12). We will also see that chapter 8 shows us both the investigative judgment and the return of Jesus when we come to this chapter.
After first seeing the four terrible beasts, Daniel now sees the heavens and the throne of God. Yes, he sees several thrones, and not least the Ancient of Days, who is God the Father. That it is God the Father we see in verse 13, where both the Ancient of Days (the Father) and one as like the Son of man (the Son) – are mentioned in the same verse. What is happening here is that God is to judge the world, and it is clear from the context of chapter 8, when we get there, that this is an investigative judgment. This is not a judgment for God to see who is saved and thereby qualified to heaven, but for all the other living creatures in the rest of the universe to be able to see that God judges justly. The reason why God does it this way lies far back in time. When Satan rebelled against God, he sowed doubts about God’s integrity and God’s justice, claiming that his own regime would be far superior to God’s. Through the investigative judgment, the whole universe sees that God is gracious, His course of action is just, and not at least Gods actions is full of His love. Daniel uses eight verses to describe this act of judgment that explains to us that this takes place in heaven. That this happens in heaven is evident from the words that Daniel uses:
Thrones; The Ancient of days; thousand thousands ministered unto Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. (See also Revelation 5,11.) The Ancient of days is, as mentioned, God the Father, and His throne is in heaven.
Once again I would say that in the same way as the third beast, Greece, is the same power after Alexander the Great dies and the kingdom was divided into four = changes character, (see also chapter 8), so it would be natural to interpret that the fourth beast also is the same kingdom after it has changed character. This kingdom changes from being a military-political power to becoming a religious-political power, and this happens at the same time as the little horn emerges, (see also Revelation 17,10). Interpreting the fourth beast to be both two and three different kingdoms is inconsistent.
Verse 19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth [were of] iron, and his nails [of] brass; [which] devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; Verse 20 And of the ten horns that [were] in his head, and [of] the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even [of] that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look [was] more stout than his fellows. Verse 21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Verse22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Verse 23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. Verse 24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom [are] ten kings [that] shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. Verse 25 And he shall speak [great] words against the most High and shall wear out the saints of the most High and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Verse 26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy [it] unto the end. Verse 27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
We see that Daniel here goes straight to the fourth beast and concentrates most of all on the little horn with eyes like a man and a mouth that spoke great words which comes up between the ten horns and plucks up three of them in order to grow. And now Daniel describes a kingdom that is completely unparalleled in history. Verse 19 says that it is different from the other kingdoms, and it is different in absolutely every way. The other three kingdoms were conquered by their followers, but this kingdom will last until Jesus come again. It does change character, but it is still the same kingdom. This kingdom has eyes, and it will mock God – a mouth that spoke great words. It will persecute and subdue God’s people – it will even make war against God’s faithful people, and verse 19 tells us about both mental and physical persecution, torture, and war. The Inquisition was created as a court to protect the false teachings of the Catholic Church, and it sentenced many millions of Gods faithful people to death by hanging and being burned at the stake, and many died from the torture they were subjected to. This little horn will try to change God’s law, and it will continue to ravage until Jesus Christ returns. All this history can confirm.
The verses 21 and 22 are two interesting verses. The vast majority of Christians in all denominations, and many Adventists as well, link the Roman Church’s persecutions of the saints, God’s faithful little remnant, to the 1260 years from 538 to 1798 (see verse 25), and that after this we will not see persecution from Roman Church. These two verses, on the other hand, show us something else, and tell us that the little horn will pursue God’s faithful remnant until Jesus’ return. It is clear from the verses 21 and 22 that the little horn will prevaile God’s faithful until Jesus’ return.
When we do not see physical persecution in our part of the world today, we must put this in the context of what is being said about the Catholic Church. It is said that when the Catholic Church is in the minority, as it has been in Norway until recently, it is pious as a lamb, in countries where it has the same power as other churches, it is cunning as a fox – something we see the contours of in our country today, and where it prevails, it is threatening like a roaring lion.
In verse 23 it says that this beast first will devour the whole earth, and after that, the fourth beast will change. We see that the fourth beast is different from the other three beasts, and that is exactly what it says in verse 23 – that the fourth beast should be different, and here it is explained what is meant by this. However, it will not be different from the others until it has undergone the change. All four beasts are military-political powers, and so is the fourth beast – in the beginning. But after the change, of which the ten horns are a picture, a little horn appears, and it is this little horn that make the fourth beast different from all the other beasts we see coming forth through prophecy. We see in these two successive verses the whole history of the fourth kingdom. First we see that this beast devours the whole earth (verse 23), then the ten horns appear, and finally a little horn appears (verse 24), and we then have the two phases of the Roman Empire, the military phase which devoured the whole earth, the change of the fourth beast in the form of the ten horns that appear, and the religious phase that is different from the first.
The original fourth empire was divided into ten new kingdoms, just as the Greek empire was divided into four. This opens the way for the little horn that Daniel was so interested in. Paul calls the little horn the mystery of iniquity and writes about this power in 2 Thess 2,7: For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. It was only after the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire that this power really became visible in the political landscape. It was the emperor who held back the little horn. As long as the emperor had his throne in Rome, the bishop of Rome could little do, but when the emperor was taken out of the way, literally had moved to Constantinople, it opened the way for the little horn. When the emperor was gone, the bishop seized power in Rome by filling the political vacuum that arose. Daniel describes this change in this wat in Daniel 11,21: And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
It is this little horn that is the power that persecutes God’s people for a longer time period, a time and times and the dividing of time, which are three and a half years = 1260 prophetic days and the same as 1260 literally years.
If we look at verse 25, we find some special words: He shall speak great words against the most High, he shall wear out the saints of the most High, and he will think to change times and laws. Then the saints shall be delivered into his hand for a time and times and the dividing of time.
It is more interesting that the word times, in Hebrew zimnin means fixed time or established time, and that the word law, in Hebrew dagh means which is considered immutable in the sense of absolute or unbreakable.
What is special is that it is precisely this immutability in God’s law that is in focus in Jesus’ own preaching, and we find this in Matthew 5,17 and Luke 16,17. God’s word also says that the observance of the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, Saturday, is a sign of loyalty and a sign of all eternity, between God’s faithful children and God as Creator; A perpetual sign in Exodus 31,17 and a sign between Me and you in Exodus 31,13 and Ezekiel 20,12; 20,20, are some of the expressions the Bible uses. So, who are we to obey? The God of heaven, who is also the creator of the universe – and yours and mine creator, or shall we obey men? We must all choose one of the two. You cannot say that it is irrelevant what we choose when the choice we make will follow us into eternity, and when the Bible itself says that wrong choices in the end times will lead us to take the mark of the beast.
One of the most important verses that connects chapter 7 with chapter 2 is verse 19, where it says: … teeth of iron and nails of brass … This verse clearly shows the connection between these two chapters by pointing out that the exceeding dreadful beast in chapter 7 has absorbed elements from the statue in chapter 2. We see here brass and iron, which represent respectively the third and fourth kingdom of the statue.