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Nebuchadnezzar had been dead for several years, we’ve discussed the line of kings that followed him, and they just were not as effective as King Neb. The Jews are still living in captivity under the Babylonian rule at this moment in history; wondering if they will ever be restored back to the land God gave them.
It was during this type of atmosphere that God chose to speak to Daniel in a dream. Up until now Daniel recorded the dreams of other people that he would interpret. This time he gets to experience the dream firsthand, not only a dream but at some point the dream turned into a vision. Looking at verse 1, Daniel does the one thing I’ve been urging you all to do after having a dream. He wrote it down.
Vs. 2 Not only did he record the dream, but he also made it known publicly because it says he spoke. He began to share the dream. Perhaps he started with his three best friends, then he may have shared it with the other “wise” men.
Daniel summed up the dream, beginning with what he saw first. Now chapter 7 is one big dream that is made up of three smaller visions; the first of those, found in vs. 2-3 was the vision of four winds of heaven stirring up the Great Sea, causing four different great beasts to come up out of it.
The Mediterranean Sea was often called the Great Sea. In Daniel’s vision he is standing on the shore of this Great Sea. The Sea which is a main supplier of their resources. He’s standing on the shore, the wind begins to pick up with hurricane like force, the water begins to churn, and becomes turbulent, creating huge waves.
Let’s break the symbolism as we move through the passage, so you can begin to understand your own God dreams.
Water, Rev. 17:15 tells us that water represents people.
No. 4 is a number associated with earth. The Bible often says, “four corners of the earth”.
The people on the earth are in great turmoil. Do you see the connection? Daniel sees all human history in great distress, its being churned and tossed in great distress. The winds come from all directions, no single nation or people group is responsible for this upheaval, it comes from every direction, everyone, in all of history is to blame for the upheaval.
Something to understand about dreams and vision is they are literally the heart of God. God is showing you his heart. In this case when God looks upon the earth, he sees nations as being in turmoil. He sees the people on this earth living in utter chaos and turmoil as though the waves just keep tossing us around like a rag doll. Have you ever been in the ocean when the waves are rough, like just before or just after a storm? It’s difficult to get a solid foothold, it difficult to stand when your being tossed around. God is showing Daniel what he sees, and this also covers us today. We are in that ocean being tossed around by the world around us, getting thrown in all different directions.
From the midst of what we might describe as a hurricane comes four “great” beasts. Now the word great doesn’t mean awesome, good, or wonderful. Great in this context means huge, massive monstrous creatures. Daniel describes them as being “like” animals because that’s something that we can relate to. These are not animals, they are beasts, monsters if you will.
Again, the number four is evident and that lets us know it pertains to the earth. These four beasts are the same as the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. They are four world empires. Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Greek, and Roman. When God looks at these world empires he sees them as wild, uncontrolled beasts.
Beast 1 is like a lion, that has eagles’ wings. Its wings were plucked off and it was lifted from the earth and it was made to stand on two feet like a man and it was given a man’s heart.
This beast was not a lion, but it was like a lion. Lions are symbolic to the Babylonian empire. The lion is known as the king of the jungle and just like Nebuchadnezzar God made him king of the world. This beast also had eagle wings. This is awfully specific; eagles would be considered the king of birds. By the gates of Babylon there were found statues of lions with wings. Nebuchadnezzar swooped across the land conquering and acquiring land and people.
Daniel continued to watch the dream and he saw the wings of the lion being plucked out. This most likely represents Nebs seven years of humiliation, do you remember the description of his hair being like feathers, no coincidence here. Then the beast was made to stand on two feet like a man. Neb was restored fully, and his heart turned toward God. The beast had a man’s heart.
Beast 2 is described as like a bear. When Daniel had this vision, he was still living under Babylonian rule. Chapter 6 hasn’t happened yet in history. So, this is all prophecy to Daniel. But we know the next empire to form and take control was the Medes-Persian empire. The Medes-Persians are known for their strength and being fierce in battle. The beast was raised up on one side, which we know the Persians dominated more than the Medes.
The beast had three ribs in its mouth and specifically between its teeth. The Medes-Persians took over the Babylonians, Egypt and Lydia empires and remnants of their cultures remained and remain in our culture today. In verse 5 “They said to it, arise, devour much flesh.” I wish I knew who “they” were. They say a lot of things, yet we rarely ever know who “they” is. But they said, arise, devour much flesh. The Medes-Persians did just that. They expanded the Babylonian empire and controlled more than any kingdom before them. This kingdom lasted two hundred years.
Beast 3 is described to be like a leopard, and it had on its back four wings of a bird and it had four heads and it was given dominion. This beast represents the Greek empire. This beast will be the swiftest of all. Leopards are fast, agile and have a thirst for blood. Leopards are fast enough on their own but add bird wings to the mix and this takes the beast to a whole new level of fierceness. We know that Alexander the Great conquered the world faster than any other leader in history. He ruled everything from Europe to India. He conquered the world by the age of 33. This beast also had four heads, Alexanders empire was eventually divided and given to his four high ranking generals.
Beast 4 does not give us an indication of what type of beast it is most like, but the description gives us a good indication of what empire it represents. Its described as dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong and has iron teeth. The iron teeth give it away, it is the same as the statue, iron is the Roman empire.
“it devoured and broke in pieces; it stamped the reside with its feet. It was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had–ten horns.” The Roman empire was extremely strong, immense in size and in power. The Roman military would crush and trample its way through the world for over 1,500 years. It was different from all the other empires and the biggest difference was it had ten horns.
The fourth beast prophesy has not taken place. What or rather who the ten horns symbolize is still unknown. A horn represents either, power, authority, or a king or all three really. The final earthly kingdom will be made up and led by ten kings, people, or nations. Revelations 17 tells us there will be a revival of the Roman empire. This part of Daniel’s prophetic dream and vision has not happened yet, perhaps we will see this come to pass too.