Daniel 7 - Vision of 4 Great Beasts
By Brian Pepper
In Daniel chapter 2 we had presented to us the great image which represented the four great powers or universal empires. There was the head of gold, the chest of silver, the thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet part of iron and clay.
Now in Daniel
chapter 7 we read another amazing prophecy.
says, "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
Daniel was now an old man, past eighty years of age. He was only a youth, when he had the vision of the great image.
The winds that Daniel saw stirring up the great sea is none other than the tempests of war. At first we would be inclined to think of the great sea as the Mediterranean, as that was the most important sea in ancient times. However this prophecy is highly symbolic and although Daniel does not explain the exact meaning of the 'great sea', John in Revelation does.
Winds and Waters
Verse 2 says, "Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea."
WINDS in prophecy are a symbol of war and strife.
Revelation 7:1, "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”
Revelation 17:15 says, “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
In these two symbols, winds and waters, we have a picture of what Daniel saw in vision. It is a picture of strife among the nations.
Daniel 7:3 says, “And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.”
It is not an unusual thing for the Bible to use beasts as symbols of nations, we do the same thing today, the lion is used to represent Great Britain, the eagle the United States of America, the kangaroo Australia.
There is no need to speculate or guess as to whom the four beasts represent for
verse 17 of this same chapter tells us, “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.”
The whole thing is becoming clearer for it is a picture of world powers arising from the battle field.
A lion with eagles wings! That is a strange creature. The Scriptures leave us in no doubt as to whom the lion might be, it is none other than Babylon that mighty empire of antiquity.
A Lion with Eagle's Wings
Verse 4 says, “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.”
Jeremiah 4:7 says, “The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.”
While we are in the Book of Jeremiah we should notice
chapter 50:17. “Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.”
This makes it very clear as to the identity of the lion. The Bible says that it is Babylon. However there is something unusual about this lion. It has eagle's wings.
Jeremiah 4:13, “Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.”
The lion is the king of beasts, the eagles is the king of birds. Having eagle's wings means that the lion's conquests were carried out at a very rapid speed. However we notice that the lion's wings are to be plucked, that it was to stand upon its feet as a man, and that it was to be given a man's heart.
To those who are familiar with history will remember that King Richard of England was nicknamed the “Lion-hearted” because of his great courage and boldness. Just so, a "man hearted lion” would suggest cowardice and timidity.
Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, was a weak king. And the great empire fell back from its greatness under his rule.
Jeremiah 51:30 says, “The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken.”
A Bear with 3 Ribs in its Mouth
The boldness of the lion is gone, Nebuchadnezzar is dead, Babylon has lost its power. Now notice
Daniel 7:5, “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.”
What a striking description of Medo-Persia. You noticed that it said that this beast would be raised up on one side? It was the dual empire of Medo-Persia which succeeded Babylon, and the Persians became the stronger power. This beast had three ribs in its mouth; Babylon, Lydia and Egypt formed an alliance against this power and the bear fought and defeated them.
A Leopard with Four Wings
Verse 6 says, ”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.”
This remarkable creature is a very accurate description of Greece. The four wings indicate the great rapidity of Alexander’s armies. Just think of it, in eight years he marched his men over 5,100 miles and they went by foot every inch of the way.
The four heads are the four divisions of the Grecian Empire after the death of Alexander.
A Dragon with Iron Teeth
Verse 7 says, “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.”
This beast resembled nothing in real nature (except maybe a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur) so it is often called the nondescript beast. Like the iron kingdom of Daniel
chapter 2 this beast has iron teeth. There can only be one world power that fits this description and that is Rome which succeeded Greece.
In the 23rd verse of Daniel
chapter 7 the prophet adds a little more, "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.”
Rome goes down in history as an extremely cruel nation. Some of the Caesars were almost monsters in their bloodthirsty and fiendish persecutions.
It is not hard to find out who the horns might be, for Daniel explains this in
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.”
Rome broke up into exactly ten kingdoms, seven are still with us today, and the territory of the ten kingdoms is still there.
The Little Horn
Verse 8 says, “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.”
Another horn, a little one. This means that this power was little in its beginnings, though we notice that later on that it became a major power.
All students of history know Rome has two phases: pagan and papal. Catholics, Protestants, and all historians know that following the breakup of pagan Rome, the Papacy or Papal Rome became the outstanding force among the ten kingdoms of Europe.
The Papacy is essentially a Roman power both in its origin and character. Its headquarters have always been in Rome. That is why it bears the name Roman Catholic Church to this day.
Plucking up of Three Horns
The plucking up of the three horns symbolizes the overthrow of three barbarian nations which stood in the way of the rise of the Papacy to political power.
Eyes of a Man
Verse 8 says, “…in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man.” This power has eyes that are on the lookout for its own interests. It is obvious that the eyes are not kindly eyes for the prophecy describes this power as a cruel one.
Ancient of Days
Verse 9 says, "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.”
The “Ancient of days clearly describes who presides at the judgment. Not that God is a very old person who is slowly getting closer to His grave. God is eternal and ageless.
Angels of God
Verse 10 says, “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.”
Unnumbered hosts of angels stand before the throne of God. They perform a very important part in the judgment, especially the guardian angels.
The Books were Opened
The books were opened: nothing can be kept secret from the heavenly intelligences.
There is the Book of Life, where the names of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour have been inscribed.
The Book of Remembrance in which is recorded the acts of kindness, words of comfort, acts of love, acts of faith.
In the Book of Sin every evil deed that has been committed, every selfish act, every rejection of heaven sent warnings and wasted opportunities to help others.
How important it is that every sin should be repented of, confessed and covered by the precious blood of Jesus.
A Mouth Speaking Great Things
Verse 11 says, "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.”
Once more attention is focused on the Little Horn.
Verse 8 tells us that it had a "a mouth speaking great things"
Verse 11 says, "…the great words which the horn spake.”
Verse 20 says, "....a mouth that spake very great things.”
It is very clear that the Little Horn is the Papacy, but what are the "great words" that the prophet Daniel mentions.
Great Words Against the Most High
Verse 25 says, "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.”
He shall speak great words against the most High.
Dr Adam Clarke, author of the famous 'Clarke's Bible Commentary' has this note on
verse 25. "He shall speak as (if) he were God.”
It was Pope Leo XIII who declared, "We hold upon this earth the place of God almighty.”
Ferraris Catholic Ecclestical Dictionary says, "The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a man, but as were God, and the vicar of God...
The Pope is called most holy because he is rightfully presumed to be such...
He is likewise the divine monarch and supreme emperor and king of kings.
Hence the Pope is crowned with a triple crown as king of heaven and of earth and of the lower regions…”
This power claims the very heavens as its own.
A Blasphemous Power
In Revelation where it speaks of his same power the prophet goes a little further and says that it would be a blasphemous power.
Revelation 13:5 says, “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”
And how true that is! Listen to this statement, "The Lord our God no longer reigns, He has resigned all power and authority to the Pope."
Daniel chapter 7:25 we read, “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High…”
No power on earth has persecuted the people of God as this power has done.
Wear Out the Saints
The phrase “wear out the saints” of the most High suggests continuous and relentless persecutions. No reader of history will deny that the Papacy has fulfilled this part of the prophecy.
Verse 21 says, “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.”
How true! Literally millions of martyrs were killed during the Dark Ages.
Think to Change Times and Laws
verse 25 latter half, “…and think to change times and laws..."
The laws mentioned here would hardly be laws of earthly governments for they are being changed all the time. Seeing that the Little Horn is pitting himself against God it can only be God’s laws he is thinking of changing.
Notice Ferraris E. Dictionary, "The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws.”
There are many statements of this nature but here is one worth noting from Decretals of Gregory Book 1, title 7, chapter 3 "For he can dispense with the law, he can turn injustice into justice by correcting and changing the law, and he has the fullness of power.”
It is quite apparent to those who have studied the Holy Scriptures that “time and laws” have been changed. Sunday has been substituted for the Bible Sabbath of Jehovah God.
Notice this statement by Mgr Segur in ‘Plain talks About the Protestantism Of Today.’ “It was the Catholic Church which by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay in spite of themselves, to the authority of the Catholic church.”
Another similar statement in the 'Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine'
Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."
People have assured me that it was Jesus who changed the day but I have never found that in the Bible. The only change that I have read of is right here in the Book of Daniel. And God said that the Papacy would do it and what is more, they freely admit it and proudly boast of it.
And now let us examine the last part of
verse 25, “…and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
All commentators are agreed that this is symbolic or prophetic time.
A time = 1 year or 360 years
Times = 2 years or 720 years
Dividing = ½ year or 180 years
3 ½ years = 1260 years
Established in 538 A.D. the Papacy continued in undisputed sway for 1260 years. This is the period known to history as the Dark Ages. In 1798 the pope was taken prisoner by the French general Berthier.
This loss of political power of the Papacy is referred to as 'the deadly wound' in
Revelation chapter 13.
Revelation 7:21,22 says, "21. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22. 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.”
Milestones in Time
Daniel brings to our attention three important events which stand out as mileposts in the stream of time.
Firstly, the coming of the Ancient of Days is the beginning of the investigative Judgment.
Then that (judgment) to be given to the saints of he most High. This is the judgment spoken of by St Paul in
1 Corinthians 6:2,3.
"2. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?”
This is the time when God's people sit with Christ during the 1,000 years assisting in determining the punishment of the wicked.
Thirdly, the time when God's people possess the kingdom.
Verse 26 says, “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.”
The judgment passes sentence on the Little Horn that it should ultimately be destroyed.
Verse 27 says, "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.”
The prophecy of
Daniel chapter 7 paints a dark and dismal picture of church oppression but it ends with a picture of triumph; the ultimate victory of God's people over the forces of evil that they will be rewarded for their faithfulness.