Daniel 7

You’d think that I’d get bored reading Daniel every year, but it’s just not possible. I am mesmerized every time I get to that book of the bible, and Daniel 7 is always one of the high points – which means that I just HAVE to tell you about it.

Part of the reason why this chapter is so completely fascinating is due to the fact that a lot of it has already happened. And, those prophecies that have turned out to be true? And, they prove that you’re only halfway through them?

Very, very cool.

Let’s see if we can do our bit to unravel some of the mystery surrounding this prophecy and understand all the scary stuff that it says is coming our way.

This will be a VERY rough ride.

Daniel 7

1 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 matters.

2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of heaven brake forth upon the great sea.

When it comes to figuring out prophecy and vision, carefulness is the better part of wisdom. It is easy to mangle something that God is trying to tell you – and there can be dire consequences when you do. Remember this passage in the last chapter of Revelation?

Revelation 22:18 I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19 and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.

Yes, I know that’s for the book of Revelation. I got that. But, I believe that the principle is universal. If you use your own notions to mangle and distort a prediction/warning, you will suffer the consequences for that. And, I believe that a lot of my brothers and sisters in faith have done just that.

Because they do not wish for a certain thing, they choose not to see it and are vulnerable to the consequences. Do not allow what you want, to blind you to what is and what will be.

I say that because verse Daniel 7:2 talks about two common images that you find in prophetic writings: The Four Winds of Heaven and The Sea.

From reading other prophecies in the bible, ‘The Sea’ is often a symbol of all humanity. When something ‘rises out of the sea’, that ‘something’ is coming out of humanity – the people. (Let me know if you need a deeper explanation for that.)

But, what are these four winds? What are THE Four Winds of Heaven?

In Hebrew, the word for spirit and wind are the same word: ru-ach (pronounced roo-ach, ach like Bach). For those of you who want to keep track of the Hebrew, the Four Winds of Heaven is ‘ar-bah ru-chay shi-ma-ya’. Arbah is four. Ruchay (ch as in Bach) is ‘spirits of’/’winds of.’ Shimaya is heaven – kinda. Normally, you see heaven in it’s plural form Shimayim – or, heavens. But, this is just one: Shimaya.

Are these spirits? Or, are these winds?

Be careful with how dogmatic that you get. I leave it to you to understand all this.

Let’s move on.

3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

4 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 to stand upon two feet as a man; and a man’s heart was given to it.

5 And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear; and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

6 After this I beheld, and, lo, another, like a leopard, which had upon its back four wings of a bird; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

So, out of humanity arises a flying lion – which appears to be Babylon.

Then comes a bear – Persia.

And then we have the leopard with four heads – Alexander the Great, who died and left his empire to his four generals and their descendants. The interesting thing is that you could make a case for Daniel knowing who the Lion and Bears were. But, knowing that third beast would have four wings and four heads? One for each of Alexander’s generals?

It is THIS part of the vision that gives it the most veracity. The fact that Daniel gets such a clear picture of Alexander the Great and his generals… well, it gives us confidence to look even more carefully at the fourth beast.

And, it is the fourth beast that is the key to this prophecy.

7 After this I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, terrible and powerful, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

Whoa. Who is THIS?!

I mean, it’s obvious that it’s the NEXT empire after the Alexandrian, and that is obviously Rome… but, ten horns?

And yes, terrible, powerful and strong are accurate representations of Rome.

Iron teeth? That too.

Grinding everything down? Yeah, they did that.

And, different from all the rest? Check.

So, Rome fits, here.

But… Rome died more than 1500 years ago. Why does it seem to survive and prosper until the end of the world?

That’s because the Roman Empire never really fell. And, this is where I think that the phrase ‘it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it’ comes in. Rome was more than just an empire. It was an idea.

Notice that all the other empires were represented by specific men, and when those men and their dynasties fell, their empires fell. Not so the Roman Empire. The Roman emperors were all over the place in terms of dynastic origins. No two emperors seemed to come from the same place. (Yes. Yes, I know that I’m glossing over vast tracts of history, but I think that you know what I’m getting at. Lighten up.)

After Rome fell to the barbarians, notice that every period and culture seemed to want to claim that it was Rome?

The rulers of Russia referred to themselves as Czars, or caesar. We have the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ launched 962 and lasting until 1806. The German monarchs that took over from the Holy Roman Empire and referred to themselves as Kaiser, or caesar. And, our dear Adolf Hitler connected himself to that line of thought by claiming that HIS empire (in German, reich) was the THIRD.

And, let’s not forget that the Eastern Roman Empire – Byzantium – lasted until 1453.

Notice all the Latin that runs through every European language? Is there a single educated person on the planet that isn’t familiar with the phrase Cogito Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I am)?

How about our legal systems. It’s Roman, with Latin everywhere.

We put even put Latin on our money.

Roman Architecture? Our government buildings are lousy with it.

I could go on, but the point is this: Rome lives on in Western culture.

I’m just not completely sure what those horns are. Revelation 17 seems to talk about them here. But, do we really know what all that is?

8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

So, an eleventh horn springs up and supplants three much bigger horns. And, this eleventh horn is a little guy with a big mouth.

9 I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire.

10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

11 I beheld at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire.

So, this great empire is finally destroyed at the end – as is described in Revelation 17.

12 And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

13 I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

And, that last bit sounds a lot like The Millennium.

15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

Who would NOT be confused by all that?

16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

Here begins a reprise of what we talked about:

17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, that shall arise out of the earth.

18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

Whoever was talking with Daniel, obviously thought that a brief summary would be explanation enough.

But, Daniel says, “yeah, yeah, I got that. But, what about that fourth guy?”

19 Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was diverse from all of them, exceeding terrible, whose teeth were of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet;

20 and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three fell, even that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake great things, whose look was more stout than its fellows.

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.

23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

24 And as for the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise: and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the former, and he shall put down three kings.

25 And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time.

So, that’s a bit more detail. A bit.

For instance, this beast makes war with ‘The Saints’ – or, the holy ones – and wins.

By the way, how can you make war with ‘holy ones’ if they aren’t around to be attacked?

For those of you who are Jewish, and made it this far, there’s a HUGE controversy over this point in time. Everyone involved in the argument believes that this verse is completely true:

I Thessalonians 4:17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The theological argument centers not on WHAT will happen, but WHEN it will happen. And, there are three main camps: pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib. Again, I am glossing over a lot, but I don’t want to lose you.

Pre-trib people point to this verse as the reason why we Christians will not go through the terrible times of The Great Tribulation – where a false messiah will come and try to kill God’s people.

I Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

I hate to say it, but that’s a pretty flimsy bit of logical argument.

Since when have God’s people NOT suffered when His wrath comes to the world?

How about this: God’s people have escaped the wrath of God when they were paying attention and jumped when God said JUMP! Remember when Jeremiah went to the people of Jerusalem during the first Babylonian invasion and said ‘surrender, and you’ll be fine’. When the second Babylonian invasion happened, Jeremiah went to the people and said, yet again, ‘surrender, and you’ll be fine’, what happened?

They ignored Jeremiah and got hammered.

And, that pattern repeats throughout biblical history and beyond. There is a way to escape God’s wrath, but you have to be paying attention.

Remember what the Lord said here:

Revelation 22:18 I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19 and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.

If you believe that you will be ‘caught away’ before the really bad stuff happens, guess what, you aren’t going to prepare. You will be caught when the hammer comes down. For those of us who are ‘watching and waiting‘, we’ll escape.

Why else would we be asked to ‘watch‘? This isn’t a sports performance or a talent contest, and we aren’t judging God on His style and artistic merit. We are ‘watching’ because there’s something that we can do, and should do, when the moment comes. But, you have to be awake! Otherwise, Revelation 22:18-19 is for you.

Put me down in the ‘watching’ column. And yes, that would be somewhere around ‘mid trib’ or ‘post-trib’, I guess – if I was interested in putting on a label.

No, actually, you should put me in the “I’m still reading my bible and trying to figure it out”. Anyone who thinks that he’s figured it out already is in for a rude awakening.

Oh, and post trib people?

Well, I guess that this would be the safest position to take. At least you aren’t resting on your butt, thinking that the lifeboats are going to fish you out of the water before you drown.

But, I have digressed…

26 But the judgment shall be set, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

27 And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

28 Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me, and my countenance was changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

Whew! That was a lot. For those of you who aren’t Christian, I hope that this helped you understand some of what we are thinking when we talk about these kinds of prophecies.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, wake up and pay attention.

This is not a drill.

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