Chapter 7 begins the second half of the book with a flash back. Daniel takes us back through time to the very first year of Belshazzar’s rule. During that year he had a dream. His vision corresponds closely to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar all those many years before as it was recorded in chapter 2. In fact, chapter 2 and 7 mirror each other and serve as the first and last chapters of the book written in Aramaic.
Just as Nebuchadnezzar saw an image that represented four kingdoms, so now Daniel sees four beasts that represent four kingdoms. From man’s perspective in chapter 2 the kingdoms were glorious and strong, yet they eventually failed and were overthrown. Ultimately the Rock representing Christ and the Kingdom of God outlasted and overcame the kingdoms of this world.
So now in Daniel’s dream we see four kingdoms, but this time we see them from a Divine perspective. In light of eternity and the sovereign rule of God, these kingdoms of men are beastly and grotesque. These representative beasts include a lion with eagles wings, a bear with ribs stuck in its teeth that is devouring flesh, a leopard that has four heads and four wings. And a final beast that is not identified as any known creature.
This fourth beast is terrible and frightening. It has ten horns and then a little horn with eyes and a mouth that speaks arrogant blasphemies against God and itself pulls three of the other horns out by the roots. These beasts and this little horn war against the Kingdom of God, against the saints, and at times even overcome them.
In the midst of this depiction of history we are interrupted by a vision of God on His Throne preparing for the Judgment of the nations of men. There is a vision of heaven very similar to John’s Revelation. And then, in the middle of the unfolding of this vision, Jesus Christ appears to Daniel. It is revealed that the Kingdom of God belongs to Christ. He is our Sovereign God, and His dominion will not pass away. The Rock destroying the Image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is portrayed in daniel vision by the events of the Judgment of Christ against the nations.
Ultimately God is in control of history and we have this assurance – He will prevail. Even as the Church suffers, her Head is victorious. Visions that cause Daniel to grieve for those future saints who will be overtaken by these oppressors reminds us the great task that we have in praying for the Body of Christ around the world, especially in those areas where our brothers and sisters are not free to worship but must be willing to pay a price to be faithful to our Savior.
The end of this vision reveals truths about the defeat of the final Antichrist and the final judgment wherein God pours out His wrath upon the nations. We find comfort in His rule and see that whatever we face we are truly safe in His hands. As we work our way through the prophetic imagery we will learn the fundamental theme of the Book of Daniel.
Daniel was troubled by this vision. It weighed on his heart and caused his countenance to change. To learn more about this vision, these beasts, and our Sovereign Lord, join us this Sunday at 10:30 for this 8th message in our series from Daniel. This study from chapter 7 is titled, “Daniel’s Dreams (Part 1)”.