Daniel’s Vision of Future World History
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. Daniel said, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.”
This chapter is a unique chapter because it contains the most detailed prophecy of future events to be found anywhere in the Old Testament. Daniel had his dream in the first year of king Belshazzar, which means he had the dream after the events of chapter four had taken place since that chapter deals with events related to king Nebuchadnezzar. But he had his dream before the events of chapter five took place since that happened in the third year of King Belshazzar. In the opening verse of this chapter, Daniel speaks of having had a vision in a dream in which world history was shown as four horrible beasts, the last one was most terrifying. Daniel’s dream reminds us of the dream of king Nebuchadnezzar in:
You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue – an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.
Also read Daniel 7:17
The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.
Let’s now go back to Daniel 7:4
The first was like a lion and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.
1. The First Beast: Babylon
Daniel described the first beast as being like a lion but having the wings of an eagle. In spite of the power indicated in the symbolism of the lion with eagle’s wings, Daniel saw the wings plucked and the lion made to stand upon his feet, with a man’s heart given to it. This is undoubtedly related to the experience of Nebuchadnezzar when he was humbled before God. Although Daniel in this vision did not dwell on the fall of Babylon, other prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah have discussed the fall of Babylon in:
Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians’ pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.
And Jeremiah in:
“Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives. Her people all roar like young lions, they growl like lion cubs. But while they are aroused, I will set out a feast for them and make them drunk, so that they shout with laughter – then sleep forever and not awake.” declares the Lord. “ I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats.”
Also, see Daniel 2:38
In your hands He has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, He has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
We will next look at Daniel 7:5
“And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, “Get up and eat your fill of flesh.”
2. The Second Beast: Media-Persia
The second beast of Daniel’s vision was described as corresponding to a bear. This seems to indicate that the second empire would be powerful like a bear, ferocious as Isaiah describes in:
See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children.
But this empire will be less majestic, less swift, less glorious. The bear raised itself up on one side. This probably represented the one-sided union of the Persian and Median Empires. Persia at that time, although coming up last, was by far the greater and more powerful and had absorbed the Medes. The bear as the symbol of government and military conquest had three ribs in its mouth which represented the people subdued, and the flesh it still was to eat refers to further conquests.
Also see Daniel 2:39a
After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours.
And Daniel 8:3
I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later.
And Daniel 8:20
The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
And Daniel 11:2
Now then, I tell you the truth: three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece.
We will now look at Daniel 7:6
After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
3. The Third Beast: Greece
The third beast is like a leopard with four wings on its back and with four heads. This beast has been identified as the Empire of Greece under Alexander the Great. With the swiftness of a leopard, Alexander the Great conquered most of the civilized world all the way from Macedonia to Africa and eastward to India with tremendous speed. The four wings and the four heads most likely refer to the four generals who succeeded Alexander and divided his empire into four sections.
Also see Daniel 2:39b
Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.
And Daniel 8:5
As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.
And Daniel 8:21-22
The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
And Daniel 11:3-4
Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
We will now return to Daniel 7:7-8
After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast, terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. His horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
4. The Fouth Beast: Rome
The fourth Beast has been identified as the Roman Empire.
Daniel described this beast as “terrifying and frightening and very powerful”. He was very clear that this Beast was quite different from any of the beasts which were before it. The Roman Empire was in existence in the time of Jesus and beyond, before eventually collapsing. However, Daniel mentioned ten horns after which a little horn emerged. These horns refer to rulers who are part of the Roman Empire. However, the previous Roman Empire did not have ten rulers in her midst; neither did a little horn or another ruler arise from her midst. Therefore these words have not yet been fulfilled. This must mean that this particular Empire is to rise to power yet again at a future date. Interestingly, the United Nations has divided the world into ten sections or ten kingdoms. So far, this has only been done on paper. It is not yet a reality but I believe it will one day be fulfilled. When that happens we will have ten rulers. After these ten rulers have been established, another ruler will come on the scene who will conquer three of the ten rulers. This last ruler will very likely be the man whom the Bible refers to as the antichrist.
See also Daniel 2:40-43
Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron – for iron breaks and smashes everything – and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay , so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
See also Daniel 7:19-22
Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws – the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell – the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgement in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
And Daniel 7:23-26
He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. Her will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed for ever.
And Daniel 8:25
He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
See II Thessalonians 2:8
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendour of His coming.
Also, let’s look at Daniel 9:26b-27
….. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven”. In the middle of the “seven” he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
And Daniel 11:36-45
The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard–of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regards for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them he will honour a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honour with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honour those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price. At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the beautiful land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.
And Revelation 13:5-7
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and His dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
And Revelation 17:12-14
The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings - and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.
Let’s return to Daniel 7:9-14
As I looked, thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days took His seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of His head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing coming out from before Him. Thousands upon thousands attended Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His Presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Daniel was then given a vision of heaven at the time of final judgement on the nations. He learned that the Fifth Kingdom will be the final and everlasting Kingdom when all people will serve and obey God.
See also Revelation 11:15
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He will reign for ever and ever.”