Daniel 7:1-3 – This chapter chronicles events that occurred 14 years before the events described in Daniel 5:1–3. Chapters 7–8 occur after chapter 4 and the events that led to Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling and restoration, but before chapter 5 when the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar took the vessels that were sacred to the Temple in Jerusalem and used them to drink and praise their “gods”. That chapter described “the handwriting on the wall”. The dream of Dan. 7 looks into the future to the coming of Israel’s king and deliverer to establish his kingdom on earth. The scene of these events is “the great sea” (v 2), which speaks of the nations of the world: (Isa. 17:12-13) Alas, the uproar of many peoples Who roar like the roaring of the seas, And the rumbling of nations Who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters! (Rev. 17:15) And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. After the millennium in the new earth there will be no more “sea”: (Revelation 21:1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. V 3 predicts that from the sea four beasts will arise.
V 4-5 The first of the beasts is a winged lion, whose wings are removed, so that instead of flying it stands on the ground. A human heart is given to it. In an allusion to Nebuchadnezzar, it speaks of his pride and power being removed during the time of his insanity (Daniel 4). The lion was the symbol of Babylon, especially in Nebuchadnezzar’s time, when the Ishtar Gate featured a long procession of yellow lions on blue-glazed brick. The reference to it having “the heart of a man” refers to the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity after his seven-year period of madness. The second beast appears as a terrifying bear, who replaces the lion. The bear is described in a way that suggests an alliance of two powers, one dominating the other as the Medo-Persian Empire was dominated by the Persians. One side of the bear was higher than the other, and Daniel saw it devouring three ribs from some other animal it had killed and it was encouraged to feast on the ribs. This corresponds to the three major conquests of the Medes and Persians, which point to the three major conquests of the Persian Empire: Lydia (546 BC), Babylon (539 BC), and Egypt (525 BC.).
Daniel 7:6 The next beast is a four-winged leopard with four heads. This beast, described as like a leopard represents Greece under Alexander the Great (born in 356 B.C.). The wings point to the speed in which he conquered mighty nations. He ruled from Europe to Africa to India. The “four heads” represent the four generals who divided the kingdom after Alexander’s death at age 33 (323 B.C.). They ruled Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt (8:8). The division of Alexander’s empire into four separate parts occurred only a few years after his death in 323 BC. The division was made up of his four generals who served under Alexander: Greece and Macedon under Cassander, Thrace and Asia Minor under Lysimachus, all of greater Syria under Seleucus, and Egypt under Ptolemy. The four-part rule of the Greek Empire was maintained, despite the efforts of the Seleucids and Ptolemies to annex each other into a single rule.
Daniel 7:7 The fourth beast is unlike any known. Daniel described it as “terrifying, frightening and powerful” implying that it would be even fiercer and stronger than any of the preceding empires. Its teeth were as iron as the Roman Empire was represented by iron in 2:40. It would be more crushing in its power and tyranny than the other three: “It … trampled underfoot whatever was left”. In one other way it differed from the first three in that it had ten horns which correspond to the ten toes of the dream image of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2). Its form was a confederation of ten states also as suggested by the horns, as it had been by the toes in Daniel 2. The Roman Empire was represented by iron in 2:40. The Roman Empire fell apart in A.D. 476, yet it lived on in a divided status (Europe), but will be revived and return in the years leading to Yeshua’s second coming to the earth. Kaiser and Czar are both related to Caesar. In those days they form an alliance of 10 nations under kings (7:7 24), as well as an eleventh king, the Antichrist (vv. 8 24; 2 Thess. 2:3–10; Rev. 13:1–10).
Daniel 7:8 There is something new about this 10-state federation and that is the emergence of one of the smaller horns as the largest of them all. Throughout Scripture, horns symbolize kings, rulers, kingdoms, or royal authority (1 Sam. 2:10; Ps. 132:17; Zec. 1:18 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns. 19 So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem). The angel who later explained the vision to Daniel identifies the horns as kingdoms (vv. 24–26). This “little horn” becomes dominant by uprooting and destroying three of the other horns and ruling over the remaining six. Just as the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream ruled at the same time, so too do the ten horns of this fourth beast. The ruling little horn is further described as possessing “eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.” This implies that this little horn as a picture of an arrogant and boastful ruler, rather than an entire kingdom. At end of v.8, we are introduced for the first time to the world-dictator of the last days who is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,8, as “the man of lawlessness who “exalts himself over everything that is called God who is worshiped, and even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thess. 2:4). We have a foreshadowing of the events described in 2 Thessalonians with the actions celebrated every year on Chanukkah with Antiochus V as a type of the antichrist.
Daniel 7:9-10 – The 5th kingdom described here is the world power, which overthrows and destroys all the preceding worldly and violent empires. The many “thrones” described are later mentioned in the Revelation 4. The focus here is on the great throne, on which, God the Father is pictured as seated. He is described as “the Ancient of Days”, with pure white hair and wearing shining a white robe. The throne is ablaze in fire, and there are wheels also burning in flames. It recalls Ezekiel 1:13 where he describes the glory of the Lord. Fire speaks of His glory and his judgment on sin and on those opposed to his authority. The scene depicts a court of judgment in which the books are opened containing the sins of the little horn and his followers (Revelation 20:12-13). Daniel indicates, the judgment of the antichrist will take place prior to the second coming of Yeshua and the establishment of His eternal kingdom on earth (vv. 13–14) Other Scriptures tell us that the Great White Throne Judgment is the judgment that will follow the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Yeshua on earth (Rev. 20:11-15). In that day, the Lord will open the complete set of books in which the deeds of all mankind have been recorded, and unbelievers will face the perfect justice of God.
Daniel 7:11-12 The beast continues to spew out his boastings against both man and God until he is dragged before the Lord for judgment. Then he is suddenly silenced and sentenced to the flames of judgment. Daniel saw and described the judgment of the antichrist (little horn) and all who followed him. Up until the last moment the little horn defied and blasphemed the Lord. Suddenly, the Lord pronounced judgment on him and was thrown into the eternal fire. Revelation says that he will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone and will be tormented day and night throughout all eternity. The rest of the worlds rulers and people will also face the judgment of God. Their authority to rule will be stripped away but allowed to live for a period of time. God will preserve them someplace in the spirit world or dimension until the day of final judgment, which is known as the Great White Throne Judgment “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 20:11–15).
Daniel 7:13-14 The Son of Man is the Messiah Yeshua who often referred to himself by this phrase (Matt. 16:27 19:28 26:64). “Son of Man” means that Yeshua is not only what an ordinary man is, but also what every man should be. He is the ideal, perfect pattern of everything a man ought to be, what Adam was created to be. When Daniel said that he saw a person who looked like a Son of Man, he meant that he was far more than merely a man in human form. He was a divine being, the embodiment of the living and true God. When Daniel said he saw this person “coming with the clouds of heaven,” he was indicating that this person was coming “out of” heaven to earth. He was in heaven with the Ancient of Days, the eternal God, and was leaving His presence to come to earth. This points to the Son of Man being both divine and human, the very embodiment of God Himself in human flesh. “The clouds of heaven” are seen again in Rev. 1:7. Here he is distinct from the Ancient of Days, or The Father, who will coronate him for the kingdom. The picture of old age highlights The Father’s eternality and wisdom to judge all peoples, nations, and languages. These distinctions are earthly and speak of the promise of an earthly kingdom, ruled by Yeshua, that merges into the eternal kingdom (Rev. 20:1–4; 21-22). Daniel saw the Son of Man approach the Ancient of Days to receive eternal dominion over all the peoples and nations of the world. He receives the kingdoms of the world because of His atoning death in behalf of mankind. He paid the price of redemption to set people free from the bondage of sin and death (Ro. 3:23–24; Ep. 1:7; Tit. 2:13–14; He. 9:12–14; 1 Pe. 1:18–19; Re. 5:9; Is. 53:5–6). After His death He ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, the Ancient of Days. There He will remain until He comes in the clouds of glory to establish God’s kingdom on earth.
15-18 Daniel was deeply troubled by the vision and requested that the angel explain the meaning of all he had seen. He wanted to know the meaning of the vision and asked one of the angels to explain the vision. It was likely Gabriel who appears in 8:16; 9:21. He is told they represent the kingdoms of the world pictured in four kings and their kingdoms. They represent successive governments that would conquer one another, causing death, sorrow, suffering, chaos, and turmoil over the earth. But there will be a 5thkingdom brought by the Son of Man which will be an eternal kingdom established on earth. His kingdom will be inherited by God’s children “the Israel of God” (Jewish Believers and those grafted into Israel Gal. 6:16; Rom 9:6; Gal 3:7, 29; Phil 3:3). The kingdom will last forever, and the saints will rule forever. They will govern the Kingdom for Yeshua, who will sit on His throne as the eternal king. Daniel and we his readers now know that his people have a great future and hope.
V 19-22 Daniel wanted to know why the fourth beast was unlike any other animal on earth and was so vicious and terrifying. He wanted to know about the ten horns, and especially the little horn. He wondered why the three horns fell before it, and why the little horn seemed so much greater than the others and why was it so arrogant and boastful? And why it waged war against the saints? He also asked about the Ancient of Days and his judgment of the little horn. The angel answered Daniel’s questions, explaining events that both he and future generations needed to know. Despite all the war, conflict, lawlessness, and violence, a hope is given for the future. This is the great hope of God’s prophetic word 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. All mankind needs to know this hope from the Lord and His Word.
V 23-27 The angel cites five major points:
1) The fourth beast represented a fourth kingdom that would appear on earth. As we pointed out in 7:7, this kingdom was the Roman Empire that would control most of the known world in that day. This empire was different from the others that had preceded it, in its power and terror. Rome influenced many nations down through history so much so that the last kingdom to rule on earth will arise from a restoration of the old Roman Empire. The explanation of the angel clearly shows this. Features of the Rome will endure through history until God establishes the final government on earth, the Kingdom of God.
2) The ten horns represented a coalition of ten rulers. These ten rulers rise from the Roman Empire and their governments are in existence during the end times. These ten kingdoms or nations will exist prior to the return of Yeshua. When the times of the Gentiles end, these ten nations will be among the nations who will be judged by God.
3) The little horn is identified as another ruler who arises from one of those nations. This is the Antichrist (Daniel 7:8; 1 John 2:18) who is also known as the man of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and the beast (Revelation 13:1-10). He will take power and is different from the other ten rulers in that he will be more powerful, intelligent, arrogant, and cruel in his treatment of others. He will not tolerate any opposition. He will forcibly overpower three of the ten rulers who will attempt to stand in his way, and he will force them under his rule. After that attempted rebellion, the other seven rulers will submit themselves to his leadership.The Antichrist will defy and oppose the Lord. Other Scriptures tell us he will establish a state religion in an attempt to secure the loyalty and unity of the people (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:4-8a). The Antichrist will then turn his hatred of God against the saints and launch a persecution of believers. His reign is known as The Great Tribulation or the time of Jacobs trouble as Jeremiah describes it Jeremiah 30:7;Matthew 24:1-14;Mark 13:1-13;Revelation 6:1-19:21).
Freedom of religion will no longer be allowed during the antichrist’s rule. Instead, he will use a false religion to hold people together. He will change times and law an allusion to God’s appointed times and God’s Law and the Law of Messiah. This religious system will be syncretized with the government similar in some ways to Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy. He will lead a coalition of nations under his rule that will bring peace and economic prosperity to the world. They will provide solutions to many of the problems people face. As a result, most people will willingly offer their first loyalty to the state and its religion. But not those who are committed to the Lord will oppose Antichrist and his persecution of the saints. He will persecute the saints for three and a half years. In the last 3 1/2 years of Antichrist’s rule, Jerusalem will come under great persecution which will cause many Jews to flee for their lives (9:27; Rev. 11:2–3, 12:14, 13:5). But God promises to meet the needs of those who truly follow Him during the entire tribulation.
This final assault will begin when the Antichrist breaks a covenant he has made with Israel (Daniel 9:27). When he does, he will force them to declare their first allegiance to the state, an act that is known as the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31; Matthew 24:15). It is during this time that the judgments of God will be launched on the earth that are described in Revelation these are the end time equivalent of plagues of Egypt.
4) The angel explained the Ancient of Days and His judgment is next (v.26). God will strike the Antichrist and destroy the little horn. His final day on earth will come and the persecution of believers will end. His coalition of nations will be broken up and wiped off the face of the earth when they face the judgment of God (Rev. 19:20 20:10).
5) After the Antichrist has been removed, the fifth and final kingdom, God’s kingdom will be established on earth (7:27). Jesus will return to bring peace and righteousness to the earth. Those who served the Lord will receive their inheritance and will rule with Yeshua. In that day, every knee will bow before the only living and true God (Philippians 2:9-11). In this Scripture we see the Son of Man placed in an equal position with the Most High God.
V 28 This was the end of the vision. Daniel was emotionally exhausted, and still deeply troubled, his face turned pale, which probably indicated some kind of emotional shock. The Antichrist is coming someday in the future and when he comes, the first part of his rule will bring peace, security, and prosperity to the world. But in the last 3 1/2 years of his leadership, will bring the most horrible holocaust ever known to man will be launched against those who truly follow the Lord. However, the Lord will sustain, encourage and strengthen His people.