Daniel’s Vision of the 4 Beasts (553 B.C.) Daniel 7
- Lion/eagle/2 feet/human mind Babylonian empire
- Bear Medo-Persian empire
- Leopard/4 wings/4 heads Greek empire
- Iron teeth/10 horns/another horn Roman empireDaniel 7Daniel 7:1-3-Daniel had a vision while he was in bed...he got up and wrote it down. In this vision he saw 4 great Beasts. They represent the rulers of the four world empires that had been previously explained in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 (cf. 7:17).
- Chapters 1-6 of Daniel tell about his life and experiences. In a sense, they are like a resume’ that certifies that he has the qualifications to make claim to the authority of the visions that he has in chapters 7-12. In order of events…chapter 7 took place during the time between chapters 4 and 5. It backs up in the time sequence. The date that it occurred is 553 B.C., during the reign of Belshazzar...14 years before the fall of Babylon described in chapter 5.
- The four winds of heaven: Some see these winds as a description of the sovereign power of God striving with men (Psalm 35:5, Psalm 48:7, Psalm 107:25 Isaiah 27:8 and Isaiah 41:16). Others (like Strauss) suggest the four winds are satanic forces, as mentioned by Revelation 7:1.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Daniel 7,
The “sea” is most likely the Mediterranean. Each of the nations identified borders on the Mediterranean. The “sea” is sometimes used as a picture of Gentiles (Psalm 74:13; 89:9; Isaiah 57:20).
Daniel 7:4-Beast #1…Babylonian empire
- was like a lion…majestic, strength
- with the wings of an eagle…speed...strength and speed were both used previously of Babylon, Jeremiah 4:7,13; 49:19-22). Babylon’s statues of winged lions can be seen in the British Museum, today.
- stood on 2 feet like a man
- human mind.
Daniel 7:5-Beast #2…Medo-Persian empire
- bear…they were known for their strength and fierceness in battle (cf. Isaiah 13:17-18)…they have a ferocious appetite for conquest. The Medes and Persians were well-known for their superior size and strength…simply overwhelming their enemies. The command given to it to, “Arise, devour much meat!”, indicates the extreme cruelty of their conquests.
Daniel 7:6-Beast #3…Greek empire under Alexander the Great...after him it had 4 heads, or leaders-Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Macedonia (cf. 8:8)
- 4 wings of a bird
- 4 heads
- Another, like a leopard: The leopard is known for its sudden, unexpected attacks. This one is especially swift (with four wings), and clever (having four heads).
- Each animal is mighty, but dominates its prey in a different way. "The lion devours, the bear crushes, and the leopard springs upon its prey." (Strauss)
- The leopard represents the Greek Empire. Alexander the Great quickly conquered the civilized world by age 28. "Nothing in the history of the world, was equal to the conquests of Alexander, who ran through all the countries from Illycrium and the Adriatic Sea to the Indian Ocean and the River Ganges; and in twelve years subdued part of Europe, and all Asia." (Clarke)
iii. After his death his empire was divided into four parts (four heads). Specifically, the four heads were Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, who inherited Alexander's domain after his death.
- The Babylonian Empire dominated in Daniel's day. One might have guessed - especially in the reign of Belshazzar - that the next empire would be the Medo-Persian Empire. But how could Daniel know that the next world empire would be like a leopard in its rise and prominence, and that it would be divided into four parts? This shows a plain principle: God knows the future, and reveals certain details of the future through His prophets. It shows that God lives outside our time domain and can see the future as well as the past. He sees the whole parade of human history, not just the part passing in front of a single spectator. The proof of fulfilled prophecy is exceptionally persuasive; no wonder Peter says we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19).
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Daniel 7,
Daniel 7:7-8-Beast #4…Roman empire
- dreadful, terrible, large iron teeth
- devoured, crushed, trampled down
- "different from all the beasts that were before it"
- 10 horns (v. 24)-These are 10 kings that will make up the Roman empire. In the ancient world, horns represented power and fearsomeness. This beast is so strong that it has ten horns. It is the strongest of the four beasts. Each horn represents a part of the Roman Empire. There is a direct correspondence between these ten horns and the then toes of the iron image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
- Another horn (vv. 24-25-this is the Antichrist who will come to power during the seven years of Tribulation. He will come out of the geographic area over which the Roman Empire ruled. It has the "eyes of a man” which symbolize intelligence and a “mouth uttering great boasts" which is boastful talk. 3 of the original 10 horns will be “pulled out” (overwhelmed) by him.
Daniel 7:9-10-A description of God seated on His throne as judge (cf. Isaiah 57:15).
- “vesture was like white snow, and the hair of He head was like pure wool”…this symbolizes God’s absolute holiness
- “throne was ablaze with flames”…a brilliant manifestation of the glory of God and the fierce heat of His judgment
- “wheels were a burning fire”…suggesting the continuous activity of God and His righteousness
- “Thousands upon thousands were attending Him”…so vast is the number of angels that are serving Him that they cannot even be counted
- “myriads upon myriads were standing before Him”…this is a picture of all of humanity standing before God
- “The court sat, and the books were opened”…God is about to convene court, to pass judgment on all of mankind.
- The sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking: Here the "little horn" of the fourth beasts again speaks pompous words. The final human dictator we commonly call the Antichrist will be characterized by his boastful, blasphemous speech (Revelation 13:5-6).
- Because of the distinction between the fourth beast and the horn, some conjecture that the beast of Revelation 13 is not the Antichrist but his state. If so, it is a small distinction. To a large extent, a man does represent and personify an entire government or system. When we think of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, the figures of Hitler as an individual and Nazi Germany as a state are virtually the same.
- I watched till the beast was slain … the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: The fourth beast is destroyed and the others may continue, but without dominion of their own. When Jesus sets up His kingdom, the empire of the Antichrist will be completely crushed, yet some nations will continue into the Millennium.
- One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven: The title Son of Man was a favorite self-designation of Jesus, used more than 80 times in the gospels. He receives all dominion previously held by the beasts and His reign will be permanent.
- His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away: The reign of Jesus does not last 1,000 years - it is permanent. However, Jesus will rule over this earth before it is remade, with Satan bound for 1,000 years.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Daniel 7,
Daniel 7:13-14-A description of Jesus receiving His eternal kingdom
- “One like a Son of Man was coming”…Jesus returns from Heaven to earth where He will establish His kingdom for 1,000 years (the Millennium)…after which it is moved to Heaven.
- “was presented to Him”…His right to His kingdom is acknowledged by His reception by the “Ancient of Days”. This will be no power struggle (as with the case of the previous kingdoms)…but the Ancient of Days will give Him the kingdom.
- He will receive “dominion, glory and a kingdom”…He will have absolute rule and authority.
- “That all the peoples…might serve Him”…His kingdom will be worldwide.
- “His dominion is an everlasting dominion…will not pass away…will not be destroyed”…there is no end to His kingdom.
Daniel 7:15-27-Daniel doesn't understand all that he has seen, so he asks one of the angels standing nearby (:15-16). He is told that the 4 Beasts represent 4 kings and their kingdoms that would each rule for a while on earth. Because of the ferocious nature of these kingdoms (as previously revealed), Daniel was quite alarmed. But, he is told that their power would only last for a while…then the kingdom of the "saints of the Highest One" will come and it will last forever (:18). This gave him comfort. He then asked for more detail on the exact nature of the 4th Beast (:19). The 4th Beast will rise to power and wage war against the "saints" and temporarily overpower them (:21-22)...until the Ancient of Days passes judgment in favor of the saints and they take possession of the kingdom. It will be different from the previous kingdoms because the extent of its power will be worldwide…not just regional (:23). This one, worldwide kingdom, will be made up of a confederacy of 10 kingdoms. The small horn that appeared would subdue 3 of the other kings in order to take power over the entire kingdom (:24). He will speak out against the "Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One"...and for a while he will take control over all of the earth...for "a time, times, and a half time" (:25). But then the Most High will pass judgment and that kingdom will be brought to an end. At that time all rule will be given to the kingdom of the "saints of the Highest One" (:26-27).
Daniel 7:28-Daniel said that the revelation greatly alarmed him, but he kept it to himself.
Daniel’s Vision of the Ram & the Goat (551 B.C.) Daniel 8
- Ram Medo-Persian empire (Cyrus)
- Goat Greek empire (Alexander the Great)Daniel 8:1-It is not two years later, in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar. Daniel receives another vision. This one is about the second (Medo-Persian, vv. 3-4,20) and third (Greek, vv. 5-7,21) empires.Daniel 8:3-4-The Medo-Persian empire (Cyrus)
- He saw a ram with 2 horns...the horn that grew in second, became longer.
- Daniel 8:2-In the vision, he is at Susa (250 miles east of Babylon) beside the Ulai Canal.
- It wasn't a stretch to use a ram to represent the Medo-Persian Empire. "Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth century historian, states that the Persian ruler bore the head of a ram as he stood at the head of his army." (Wood) "The ram was the national emblem of Persia, a ram being stamped on Persian coins as well as on the headdress of Persian emperors." (Strauss)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Daniel 8,
No other animal could stand up against it. This ram and its horns represent two separate kingdoms, the Medes and the Persians that joined together to make up one, united kingdom. However, the Persian kingdom, though younger, eventually grew to greater power under Cyrus and became the dominant of the two in 550 B.C. It was more powerful than any other nation.
For more information on the Medes see:
For more information on the Persians see:
Daniel 8:5-8-The Greek empire (Alexander the Great)
He then saw a male goat running over the earth, with a "conspicuous horn between its eyes". The goat killed the ram...and exalted himself. This goat represents the Greek empire under Alexander the Great…that conquered the Medo-Persian empire. Almost immediately the horn was broken off (Alexander dies) and 4 horns grow up (4 generals of Alexander came to power-Cassander took Macedonia; Lysimachus took Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Selecus took Syria; and Ptolemy too Egypt).
- A male goat came from the west: In this same chapter (Daniel 8:21-22) this male goat is clearly identified with Greece and its horns with the rulers of the Greek Empire.
- From ancient history we know this isn't a strange symbol. The goat was a common representation of the Greek Empire. "Newton very properly observes that, two hundred years before the time of Daniel, they were called, the goats' people." (Clarke)
- Across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground: The prophetic description of the male goat was proved to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire.
- The Greek Empire rose from the west of previous empires
- The Greek Empire rose with great speed (suddenly … without touching the ground)
- The Greek Empire had a notable ruler, Alexander the Great (a notable horn)
- The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire (I saw him confronting the ram)
- The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other (with furious power … moved with rage). Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians
- The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire (no one that could deliver the ram from his hand)
- The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire was suddenly cut short (the large horn was broken)
- After the end of Alexander the Great's reign, the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers (in place of it four notable ones came up)
- The four rulers of the Greek Empire after Alexander ruled their own dominions, not the entire empire together (came up toward the four winds of heaven)
- Alexander did not divide the empire among his four generals himself. His four leading generals divided it among themselves by force after his death.
- Cassander, ruling over Greece and its region
- Lysimachus, ruling over Asia Minor
- Seleucus, ruling over Syria and Israel's land
- Ptolemy, ruling over Egypt
- c. The male goat grew very great: The greatness of Alexander's Empire was not only in its vast dominion, but also in its cultural power. Alexander the Great was determined to spread Greek civilization, culture, and language across every land he conquered.
- As God guided history, He used Alexander's passion to spread Greek culture to prepare the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Alexander's influence koine (common) Greek became the common language of the civilized world - and the language of the New Testament.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Daniel 8,
For more information on Alexander the Great see:
Daniel 8:9-12-A little horn then grew up (this is not the same little horn in 7:8). Antiochus Epiphanes, came to the throne of Greece in 175 B.C. He plundered Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple by offering pig's flesh on the altar. The "host of heaven…stars", are the Jews who suffered under intense persecution by Antiochus. He magnified himself to be equal to the Commander (God). He stopped the sacrifices in the Temple (:11).
Daniel 8:13-14-Daniel heard one angel ask another how long the vision of Jerusalem being desecrated would last. The angel replied, "2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored".
8:14 Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews would last for 2,300 days, the period from 171 B.C. (when peaceful relations between Antiochus and the Jews came to an end) to Dec. 25, 165 B.C. (when Judas Maccabeus restored the Temple for its proper worship).
The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Daniel 8:14, p. 1324
Daniel 8:15-18-An angel named Gabriel (which means "hero of God") tells Daniel the meaning of the vision. He tells him that it is a vision of the end times. While Gabriel was talking with him he fell asleep, but Gabriel woke him up. It is interesting that at other times Daniel mentions that he was very tired (9:21; 10:9). Evidently, his work for the king and his time in prayer were very taxing.
Daniel 8:19-20-Gabriel tells him that the ram represents the Medo-Persian kingdom.
Daniel 8:21-22-The shaggy goat represents the Greek kingdom. The large horn is the first king (Alexander the Great), the broken horn and the 4 horns represent 4 kingdoms that will rise from it (the four generals who divide up the kingdom).
Daniel 8:23-25-This is additional information about Antiochus Epiphanes. While he will rise to great power and will exert his influence all over the world…he will eventually be conquered by the “Prince of princes”…not another world power (:25, Jesus).
Daniel 8:26-The vision of mornings and evenings is true. He is told to keep the vision a secret...because it pertains to the future.
Daniel 8:27-Daniel was totally exhausted as a result of the vision...and sick for many days. Afterwards, he went back to work for the king.
Prayer: Father, it seems that the conditions of our world, and even our own country, are quickly deteriorating. But I am not surprised…because You have told us that it would happen in Your Word. Neither am I afraid…because You have also told us that Jesus will reign supreme and sovereign over all that happens. But Lord, some of my fellow Christians around the world are suffering intensely for their faith in You. I pray that You would be with them. Give them the comfort and protection that can only come from Your promise to them and Your presence with them. Help them today, I pray. Strengthen them so that they might not just survive…but so that they can bring glory to Your name in the midst of their trials.