Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts

This is the second post in a five-part series about Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts. Those familiar with the man Daniel, know that he was a man of prayer. It’s recorded that Daniel prayed in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. This was his pattern every day. He was an anointed person of prayer, and he had an anointed prayer ministry. People of prayer like Daniel who are faithful in prayer are given by the Lord special prayer assignments. The prayer assignment the Lord gave to Daniel was to pray out God’s will and plan for Jerusalem, the Jewish people, and their calling as a nation of sanctified people. The Lord had Daniel pray way into the future, to a period of time referred to as end times—a time the prophets called a day of thick darkness and tribulation. A day also called the “Great Day of the Lord.”

Daniel’s Prayer Assignment

By Karen Thompson
Second in a Five-Part Series

All people of prayer are familiar with how prayer assignments work. The first time the Lord has you pray about a certain thing, you will be given a basic understanding of what you’re praying about. The next time the Lord has you pray about it, you will receive more information and greater understanding of this prayer project. As time goes on, every time you pray about your prayer project, your understanding and knowledge about it will increase. That’s the pattern. That’s the exact same pattern we see in Daniel’s prayer times.

The prayer project the Lord assigned to Daniel was to pray about the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. But his prayers for the Jewish people weren’t for the Jews that were living during his lifetime. Daniel’s prayer assignment was for the Jewish people who would be living far into the distant future. In fact, he was praying about the end times! God had revealed to Daniel that the descendants of the Jewish people would go through “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (Dan. 12:1 NIV). Daniel is praying about the Jewish people who will go through the worst war that’s ever occurred on the earth.

Now that’s a prayer project!

Daniel’s visions all have to do with that period of time, a time far into the distant future. His first vision about the four beasts provides us with a certain understanding. His next vision of the ram and goat, gives us even more information that we can add to the vision of the four beasts. The next vision is a visit from the angel Gabriel, who gives us even more information to add to the first two visions. So on and so forth. This blog series will study the first piece of revelation Daniel receives about this great end time war in the vision of the four beasts. Let’s get started!

KEYS TO INTERPRETING THE BIBLE’S MYSTERIES

First Key: You Must Have a Knowledge of History

When I began to study end time prophecy, I came to understand was that there are three keys necessary to open up the secrets and mysteries in Daniel. The first key to understanding the mysteries of Daniel is that you must know a little history of the nations that Daniel talks about. All the dreams and visions in the book of Daniel predict historical events. Some of these events have already come to pass, but some events are still future events waiting to unfold. Without a familiarity of the historical events of the nations involved in Daniel’s prophecies, it is impossible to discern the mysteries in Daniel.

Second Key: You Must Have the Mind of Christ

Another important and vital key to discerning the mysteries in the book of Daniel is that you must have the “mind of Christ” as stated in 1st Corinthians chapter two: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:12–16).

It is impossible to discern Daniel’s visions (or any of the prophetic visions) without the mind of Christ. If you try to interpret end time prophecy using just your natural intellect, you will either become so confused that you give up right away or you will wrongly interpret the visions. It is impossible for the natural mind to understand the hidden mysteries of Daniel’s visions. They must be spiritually discerned. God Himself must reveal them to us by His Spirit.

Third Key: You Must Crack the Symbol Code

Lastly, you must crack what I call the “symbol code.” Cracking the symbol code is essential to understanding Daniel’s visions. Without it, Daniel’s amazing prophetic visions will remain a mystery to you. When you understand what the symbols mean, it’s easier to discern the rest. God communicates by using images and symbolism. Knowing this about Him will help you immeasurably when you study not only the book of Daniel but the whole Bible as well.

Now, let’s read about the portion of scripture that describes Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.

Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts

Dan. 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 the heaven strove upon the great sea. 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 stand upon the 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 raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also 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, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Daniel tells us he had a prophetic dream in the first year of the reign of King Belshazzar of Babylon. In this dream, it is revealed to us for the first time about the end time personage called the “little horn.” The little horn is more commonly known to us as Antichrist. But did you know that John only used the word Antichrist one single time? He refers to the little horn as Antichrist in 1st John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come…” In the book of Revelation, the little horn figure (Antichrist) is referred to as the “beast.”

Daniel tells us how his dream began: “I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another” (vv. 2–3). He saw four beasts, or animals, rising out of the sea. We know from Revelations 17:15 that water is a symbol for different people groups and nations: “The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” These four beasts rise up out of the “sea of humanity.” The four beasts coming out of the great sea symbolize four kings rising out of four different nations. Ultimately, what we are reading about are four beasts that symbolize four kings/nations that will rule over and oppress Jerusalem and the Jewish people.

First Beast: Babylonian Empire

Let’s begin with the first beast: “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 stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (v. 4).

The first beast Daniel saw was a lion with wings like an eagle. The winged lion is symbolic of Babylon. In fact, Babylon’s national symbol was the winged lion. The lion was the symbol of Ishtar, the goddess of war and fertility. There were 120 winged lions painted on the walls of Babylon.

As Daniel watched the vision unfold, he described something odd that happened to the lion. First, the lion’s wings were plucked. After that, the lion was lifted up to stand on two legs like a man. Then the lion was given a human mind. All this imagery is in reference to King Nebuchadnezzar’s personal testimony as he told it in chapter four. God judged Nebuchadnezzar because of his pride, and as a result, he lost his sanity and was no longer able to rule his nation. This is symbolized with the lion’s wings being plucked. Nebuchadnezzar went through a most unusual kind of insanity for a period of seven years where he lived outdoors like an animal. At the end of seven years, Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself and acknowledged God’s dominion over the kingdom of men. As a result, his sanity came back. He stopped acting like an animal and began to think like a man again. This is symbolized in the words “and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson of humility before God.

This winged lion beast is symbolic of Babylon, specifically when King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler. It was during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign that Babylon invaded and conquered Jerusalem and the Jewish people, which resulted in the beginning of a period of time the Bible calls “the times of the Gentiles.”

Second Beast: Medo/Persian Empire

The next beast we read about is in verse five: “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.”

The next beast is symbolic of the Medo/Persian Empire. It is symbolized by a beast that Daniel said resembled a bear. First, let’s talk about the symbolism of the bear-like beast being raised up on one side. Together, the nations of Media and Persia came against Babylon. What is interesting is that the prophet Isaiah saw these two nations unite together as one to go forth conquering: “A distressing vision is declared to me; the treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the plunderer plunders. Go up, O Elam! [Persia] Besiege, O Media! All its sighing I have made to cease. Therefore my loins are filled with pain; pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor. I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it” (Isa. 21:2–3).

In the beginning of their coalition, Media was the more dominant of the two of them. So naturally, after the Medo/Persia coalition conquered Babylon, Darius the Median took the throne (Dan. 5:31). When he died, Cyrus the Persian king began to rule the empire (Dan. 10:1). As the empire grew, the two nations melded into one and came to be known as the Persian Empire. The one side of the bear that was raised up is symbolic of Persia growing and surpassing Media in size and power.

Now let’s look at the other aspect of the bear-like beast: the bear had three ribs in its mouth. Daniel then heard a voice commanding the beast, “Arise, devour much flesh.” The command to “Arise, devour much flesh” is symbolic of the Medo/Persian Empire going forth and conquering other nations. The three ribs represent the three nations the coalition empire conquered—Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. (Babylon was located in present-day Iraq; Lydia was located in present-day Turkey.) This bear-like beast symbolizes the Medo/Persian Empire during the time when it invaded and conquered Babylon. When that happened, that meant the Medo/Persian Empire now ruled over Jerusalem and the Jewish people.

The First Two Beasts on Nebuchadnezzar’s Metal Man

If you recall from our last post, King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the metal man symbolized the period of time known as the times of the Gentiles, a time when Jerusalem and the Jewish people would be under the rule of Gentile nations. We just read about the first two beasts of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts. In King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the metal man, the head of gold symbolized the Babylonian Empire, and the breast and arms of silver symbolized the Persian Empire. In the next post, we’ll look at the other two beasts in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.

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Elvin, the email patrolman, helped a young email to move forward. As the email was swished away, it shouted “Eeeeee!” A guy observing the whole thing was curious. He asked the patrolman, “Why do emails squeal like that when they’re forwarded along?” Elvin said, “You mean that ‘Eeeee’ sound?” “Yeah,” he said, “why do they do that?” “It’s their happy sound,” said Elvin. “They make that sound when someone forwards them along. I wish more people would forward their emails. It makes the little guys so happy!”

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