Daniel 7 - The Four Beasts and God's Court

Turn in your Bibles to Daniel 7:1;

 

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.[a]

 

2 Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

 

5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

 

6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

 

7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

 

9 “I watched till thrones were put in place,

And the Ancient of Days was seated;

His garment was white as snow,

And the hair of His head was like pure wool.

His throne was a fiery flame,

Its wheels a burning fire;

10 A fiery stream issued

And came forth from before Him.

A thousand thousands ministered to Him;

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.

The court[b] was seated,

And the books were opened.

 

11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

 

13 “I was watching in the night visions,

And behold, One like the Son of Man,

Coming with the clouds of heaven!

He came to the Ancient of Days,

And they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,

That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion,

Which shall not pass away,

And His kingdom the one

Which shall not be destroyed.

 

May God bless the reading of His word.

 

Let us pray.

 

While Daniel told us of an ordeal in his service to the Persians in chapter 6, here in chapter seven he takes us back to the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, who came after Nebuchadnezzar. The same king who sees the handwriting on the wall in chapter 5.

 

Daniel tells us of a dream which he recorded. It starts out with four beasts, a lion with wings, a bear which is risen on on one side with three ribs in it's mouth and then a leopard with four wings and four heads and then finally a fourth beast which is horrible but which is not equated to an earthly animal.

 

In the reign of the fourth beast Daniel sees the Ancient of Days conducting court, even as the last beast is making “pompous statements.” During this time we see the Son of Man, who is given everlasting dominion over the earth.

 

Daniel is troubled by what he is seeing. He tells us;

 

15 “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. 16 I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings[c] which arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’

 

This is self-explanatory as far as it goes, but Daniel wants to know more about the fourth beast, which we read in verses 19-28;

 

19 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; 20 and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.

 

21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

 

23 “Thus he said:

 

‘The fourth beast shall be

A fourth kingdom on earth,

Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,

And shall devour the whole earth,

Trample it and break it in pieces.

24 The ten horns are ten kings

Who shall arise from this kingdom.

And another shall rise after them;

He shall be different from the first ones,

And shall subdue three kings.

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,

Shall persecute[d] the saints of the Most High,

And shall intend to change times and law.

Then the saints shall be given into his hand

For a time and times and half a time.

26 ‘But the court shall be seated,

And they shall take away his dominion,

To consume and destroy it forever.

27 Then the kingdom and dominion,

And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,

Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

 

28 “This is the end of the account.[e] As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”

 

Of course, being prophecy, Daniel can't know more. It remains for us, who have the advantage of history to see the meaning of the vision as far as we can, and then with the aid of the Holy Spirit to perhaps understand that which has not yet occurred.

 

The beasts actually line up with those of Nebuchadnezzar's first vision in chapter two. Instead of the different metals, God has shown Daniel the animals that are associated with each of the kingdoms, but He has also given some prophetic detail that is phenomenal when we look at it in hindsight.

 

The first animal is easy, it is the symbol of the Babylonian empire, it is what is called a Lammasu which has the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the head of a human. Because we know what happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he became prideful, it is not hard for us to translate the plucking off of the wings and being made a made a man with a man's heart as describing that which God did to the great king in humbling Him and then restoring him to his throne after he came to acknowledge God as the One true God.

 

While there is no obvious symbolism in the Median or Persian traditions that favor a bear, we know that they were a fierce and unrelenting adversary that would soon conquer Lydia, Egypt and Babylon, the three ribs in the bear's mouth. Traditional thinking also ascribes the bear being raised on one side as a representation of the greater strength of the Persians who would ultimately dominate the kingdom which was establish by the Medes and the Persians together.

 

To Daniel the Babylonian kingdom was still in place, though Nebuchadnezzar was no longer reigning and the Medo-Persian empire had not yet conquered the Babylonians, though even in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign they would have been a formidable power.

 

The third animal is far away from Daniel's radar. It is the kingdom of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian/Greek conqueror of the Persians and many other kingdoms. There are numerous coins depicting Alexander as wearing a helmet covered in leopard skin and the swiftness of his conquering not only the Persian empire, but reaching into India is aptly depicted by the wings of the bird. Even more interesting though is the fact that after Alexander died, his kingdom was divided among his four generals, which are depicted in this prophetic vision by the four heads.

 

Finally we come to the last beast. As I said before, when we were looking at the statue in chapter 2, traditional thought by the early church was that the legs of iron, and thus the fourth beast represented their arch-nemesis, Rome. Once again there are some hints about this beast that might cause us to re-evaluate that assessment, especially in light of both history and current events.

 

Before we go there though, notice that God is preparing to hold “court” while the fourth kingdom is coming to an end. The last part of verse 8, all of verse 9 show us a picture of what is happening in the heavenlies as this beast takes charge.

 

And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

 

9 “I watched till thrones were put in place,

And the Ancient of Days was seated;

His garment was white as snow,

And the hair of His head was like pure wool.

His throne was a fiery flame,

Its wheels a burning fire;

10 A fiery stream issued

And came forth from before Him.

A thousand thousands ministered to Him;

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.

The court[b] was seated,

And the books were opened.

 

Verses 11-12 show that this seems to be the final kingdom and that the other kingdoms continue to exist but in a reduced capacity. Daniel tells us;

 

11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

 

Of course the identification of the final kingdom has always been the object of much attention. Daniel is told:

 

‘The fourth beast shall be

A fourth kingdom on earth,

Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,

And shall devour the whole earth,

Trample it and break it in pieces.

24 The ten horns are ten kings

Who shall arise from this kingdom.

And another shall rise after them;

He shall be different from the first ones,

And shall subdue three kings.

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,

Shall persecute[d] the saints of the Most High,

And shall intend to change times and law.

Then the saints shall be given into his hand

For a time and times and half a time.

26 ‘But the court shall be seated,

And they shall take away his dominion,

To consume and destroy it forever.

27 Then the kingdom and dominion,

And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,

Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

 

So we know that it will be a kingdom, but this kingdom will be different from other kingdoms, in that it will “devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.” To me, this is the first indication that this cannot be the Roman empire. While they were brutal in their fighting, the Romans brought the Pax Romana upon the kingdoms they conquered. This kingdom seems to do the opposite, bringing destruction and chaos with it.

 

It shall also be comprised of 10 kings. There are those who have tried to make the EU fit this model but there are far too many countries, well over 20, and despite Great Britain’s and Wales' departure, more countries are seeking membership.

 

Also, the EU has far too many Christians in it and is far too politically correct to alienate them outright. Being a political organization it is hard to see the EU ever speaking “pompous words against the Most High.”

 

The final clue smacked me in the face in the context of current events.

 

Daniel is told that “And shall intend to change times and law.”

 

So if we look at the history of Islam in the context of these warnings the pieces fit much more easily. Remember the clay mixed with iron in the statue of chapter 2?

 

Do you realize that the Hebrew word “e'rab” means mixed?

 

Hopefully you also know that Islam is based on the formation of a Caliphate, which is essentially a kingdom of it's own which Muslims are subject to even if they live in lands that have not been conquered yet.

 

And what is the one thing that has come into the fore in our discussions about Muslims in America and the European countries?

 

It is their attempts to change our laws to that of Shar'ia.

 

But there's more...because the Muslims do not use our calendar, they use the Hijri calendar wikipedia explains this way:

 

The Islamic calendar, Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar (Anno Hegirae or AH, Arabic: التقويم الهجري‎‎ at-taqwīm al-hijrī) is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

 

It is used to date events in many Muslim countries (concurrently with the Gregorian calendar), and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper days on which to observe the annual fasting, to attend Hajj, and to celebrate other Islamic holidays and festivals.

 

The first year was the Islamic year beginning in AD 622 during which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred. Each numbered year is designated either "H" for Hijra or "AH" for the Latin Anno Hegirae ("in the year of the Hijra");[1] hence, Muslims typically call their calendar the Hijri calendar.

 

The current Islamic year is 1437 AH. In the Gregorian calendar, 1437 AH runs from approximately 14 October 2015 to 2 October 2016.[2]

 

And if a different calendar were not enough, do you realize that the Saudi Arabian government has built the largest clock in the world at Mecca. It is literally meant to be THE time piece for devote Muslims around the world. It's called Mecca Time.

 

I don't profess to know the answers to what Daniel saw, but I do know that it is important for us to keep our minds open when it comes to end time prophecy, because it's meaning has been hidden from us until such time as God desires to reveal it to His saints.

 

The ultimate message that was imparted to Daniel regarding this vision is:

 

26 ‘But the court shall be seated,

And they shall take away his dominion,

To consume and destroy it forever.

27 Then the kingdom and dominion,

And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,

Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

 

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, will reign over His everlasting kingdom. All dominions shall serve and obey Him.

 

There is a lot here, and it ties in with much of what the Apostle John saw in his visions on Patmos, so we will definitely come back here next week and look deeper. For those who are interested I've created some DVD's about the Ottoman Empire which is the seat of the original caliphate as well as a short video about the Mecca Clock Tower.

 

If we confess Jesus as Lord we need to spread this message far and wide. The worship of any other God, or no God at all is utter futility and will result in realizing the fate of all those who rebel against their Creator. Share the Gospel with people. Explain to them that not all roads lead to heaven. Make sure they understand that Muslims do not worship the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Hold on to your faith no matter what happens, and continue to obey the Lord every day.

 

And, if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord, I pray that you will earnestly consider a book that contains prophecies about kingdoms that where hundreds and possibly thousands of years in the future. As the final kingdom is established, Daniel sees God setting up His court in the heavenly realms.

 

The books will be opened and every person will be judged by their works. That is not a good thing, because, as good as you might think that you are, God's word says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

 

You see, sin is simply not doing what God wants you to do, or doing what God doesn't want you to do.

 

It's that simple.

 

And you don't get any do overs. If you have ever sinned then you are guilty and the Bible says that the wages of sin is death.

 

Death is not simply ceasing to exist though. Death is eternal exile in that place that Jesus calls the outer darkness, where there is crying and gnashing of teeth.

 

But don't despair.

 

If the burden of your sin is real, and you are coming to realize that you don't want to face God's court on your own merits, then cry out to God to give you the faith to confess Jesus as Lord and to believe in your hear that God raised Him from the dead.

 

Romans 10:9-13 says:

 

...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[f] 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[g]

 

Do it today and if you don't understand it and want to know more, get hold of me or one of the other members of this church and we will be glad to help you on your journey.

 

Let us pray.

 

 

 

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