The 4 Beasts/Empires in DANIEL 7

Now comes the prophetic part of the Book of DANIEL. But is this past history or a prediction of future end times? Be forewarned: this may not be what you learned from church sermons, books, or movies.

Daniel1In Chapters 1 through 6 of the Book of DANIEL we read a narrative of his life in Babylonian captivity starting as a teenager to a man in his eighties.

He has experienced a relatively good king, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Chapters 1-4), who eventually acknowledged the God of Creation. And then he encountered a bad king, Belshazzar (Chapter 5), who ignored Daniel throughout his reign. He also lived and experienced the reign of another good king, Darius/Cyrus of the Medo-Persian Empire (Chapter 6), who ultimately released the Jews after 70 years of captivity and allowed them to return to their homeland in Judah/Jerusalem.

Bible End Times Prophecy?
Now is when things get interesting and highly controversial. Chapters 7 through 12 are considered the prophetic chapters that, some say, lay out the course of history to the end of time. Review these chapters carefully in the context of documented human history as well as Old and New Testament Scriptures that unveil God’s plan for mankind and the advent and mission of Jesus Christ.

The prophecies hold up well. It’s our interpretations that are suspect.

What will be presented here and in subsequent chapter studies will be thinking that many will find runs counter to the common teaching heard in most churches about the Tribulation, the Rapture, the  AntiChrist, the rebuilt Temple, the 1000 Year Reign of Christ, the Millennium, etc. 

When it comes to End Times scenarios, one should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Who taught me what I believe about End Times?
  • Can I explain what I believe using the Bible alone?

The challenge is to keep an open mind and let the Scriptures interpret Scripture. I will highlight summaries and interpretations in [bold brackets].

Chapter 7 – Daniel’s Dream/Vision of 4 Beasts
DANIEL Chapter 7 lays the foundation of God’s prophetic announcement through Daniel’s dream of four major human empires that intersect with God’s people Israel and the ultimate introduction of Jesus Christ onto the historic stage. 

It begins with Daniel’s own dream that occurred during the brief reign of Belshazzar, whose father, Nabonidus, ruled officially from 556 BC to 539 BC with his son acting as co-regent. Recall in Chapter 5, it was King Belshazzar who was in the Babylonian palace during the fateful night of the takeover by Darius and the Medo-Persian empire in 539 BC.

In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. [Earth, not Universe/Cosmos)

[BEAST #1 = Babylonian/Chaldean Empire, 625-539 BC] “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle…” I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.

[BEAST #2 = Medo-Persians Empire, 539-330 BC] “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’

[BEAST #3 = Greek-Macedonian Empire, 330-31 BC] “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. [We’ll read about Alexander the Great in Chapter 8]

[BEAST #4 = Roman Empire, 31 BC – 476 AD] “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. [10 different Kings/Caesars during the time of Daniel’s prophecy] 1

[LITTLE HORN = Jewish King Herod(s)/High Priest aligned with Rome] “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke great things. (Daniel 7:1-8)

Then there’s a vision of a heavenly scene of the courts of heaven and the ushering in of the holy people of God (the saints/the Church) into full control and dominion over the kingdom that will never pass away:

“As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

The court was seated, and the books were opened….

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-14)

Daniel Is Given the Interpretation of the Dream
The second half of Chapter 7 deals with the interpretation that is told to Daniel directly:

“I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.

“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things:  

‘The four great beasts are four kings [Kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome] that will rise from the earth. But the holy people [Christian Believers] of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’….

‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth [Rome]…. The ten horns are ten kings [10 Roman Caesars] who will come from this kingdom…. Another king [Jewish King Herod(s)/High Priest] will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. [Jewish King Herods align with Roman Kings] 2  He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time…. [Apostolic Age or active time of Paul and the Apostles, AD 33-70]

‘But the court [God/Jesus] will sit, and his power [Little Horn = Jewish King/High Priest] will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. [Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple in AD 70] Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom [Kingdom of God ushered in by Christ] will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

“This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” (Daniel 7:15-28)

Make Sense?
While there is more to come in the rest of the Book of DANIEL, Chapter 7 lays an important foundation for understanding End Times. The four worldly beasts/kingdoms are/were real and spanned from the 7th century BC through the time of Christ.

And the new Kingdom of God is real and everlasting, but spiritual. It’s what we live in today, though the Church is largely misinformed and grossly under-armored with the power of God’s Holy Spirit even now available to defeat a vicious foe that is still at hand, though eternally defeated.

And the only thing resembling an “antichrist” is the Little Horn that actually is anti-Christ.” Think of the Little Horn as the 1st century leadership of apostate Israel, including the line of King Herods and the corrupted High Priests throughout the ministry of Jesus and afterwards, as noted well by Luke in the Book of ACTS.

Contrary to popular teaching, the antichrist is not the papacy or modern political figures of our time or in the future. Eventually we will study that the Little Horn/Jewish leadership was actually the Man of Lawlessness or Sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. With that, the Romans are the “restrainer” who keep the Jews from attacking the Church, as we see throughout the Book of ACTS.

Are you beginning to see a new way to look at the Book of Daniel? 

“…His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. – Daniel 7:14b

1 The Handwriting on the Wall, by James B. Jordan, American Vision, 2007, pp. 381-382. The 10 horns of the 4th beast correspond to the 10 toes of the statue in Daniel 2. They are called kings and specifically here refer to the 10 emperors from Julius Caesar to Vespasian, who ruled in AD 70: Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, Gaius Caesar (Caligula), Claudius Caesar, Nero Caesar, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian.

2 Ibid. p. 387. Three Roman Emperors gave their power to three Herods: Augustus: to Herod the Great, who tried to kill Jesus; Tiberius: to Herod Antipas, who killed John and was involved in killing Jesus; and Claudius: to Herod Agrippa I, who killed James.

Categories: Abundant Living, Books of the Bible, Calling, Church, Devotion, Discipleship, End Times, Evidence, Evil, Faith, Fathering, Forgiveness, Israel, Jesus, Marketplace, Old Testament, People, Prayer, Prophecy, Purpose

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