DANIEL’S VISION OF FOUR BEASTS

This is the fourth post in a series on the prophet Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts in Daniel chapter 7. So far, we’ve reviewed verses 1–8 which describe four beasts that rise up out of the sea. We saw that those four beasts symbolized the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Grecian Empire, and the end time kingdom of Antichrist. In this post, we’re going to study the rest of the vision contained in verses 9–14, which tell us about God sitting in judgment on the beast nations.

DANIEL’S VISION OF FOUR BEASTS

By Karen Thompson
Fourth in a Five-Part Series

Even though our focus in this post will be on verses 9–14, it would be good to read verses 1–8 to refresh your memory about the four beasts rising up out of the sea. It’s important to read all the verses containing the vision together in order to keep everything in context. Once you’ve reread those verses, we can start out study on the next section in Daniel chapter 7.

Dan. 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand 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 then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came 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 people, 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.

Comparing the Metal Man Vision
With the Four Beasts Vision

It would be good to a point out a difference in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the five empires in the metal man. If you’ll recall, in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the metal man, the empires went from 1) Babylon to 2) Medo/Persia to 3) Greece to 4) Rome, and then lastly, to the 5) Antichrist kingdom. What I want to point out in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the metal man is the succession of these nations: the Grecian Empire, then the Roman Empire, and then the Antichrist Empire.

But in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, the Grecian Empire and the end time Antichrist kingdom are placed back to back. Daniel didn’t see the Roman Empire at all; it was skipped altogether. For many, this has become a stumbling block in rightly interpreting Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.

The placing of the Grecian Empire back to back with the end times Antichrist kingdom has caused eschatologists to erroneously conclude that the Antichrist kingdom is the Roman Empire revived or revised as the European Union. They think because the Roman Empire followed the Grecian Empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the metal man, that it must follow the same sequence in Daniel’s dream of the four beasts.

However, there is a reason why Nebuchadnezzar saw the empires in succession in the way he did. The purpose of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the metal man is different than the purpose of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts; therefore, the sequence of nations matching in these two different visions is not a factor. The purpose of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the metal man is to tell us the length of the times of the Gentiles, its beginning and its end.

Daniel’s vision of the four beasts introduces us to the end time personage of Antichrist, but more importantly, it connects the ancient Grecian empire to the end time Antichrist kingdom. That’s why they are placed back to back. Though this connection isn’t apparent now, it will be in later chapters. For now, suffice it to say that these two empires placed back to back complete a “full circle.” A full circle doesn’t mean anything right now, but it will have great significance in chapter 11.

Antichrist Is Judged in the Courts of Heaven

Dan. 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

Daniel goes on to describe the rest of his vision. After Daniel described seeing the four beasts, the scenario changed to a scene in heaven. Verse nine begins, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down….” The phrase “cast down” is an expression of defeat; so when Daniel said he watched until “the thrones were cast down,” he’s saying these horns, the little horn and the ten horns, were defeated. And now we see them in heaven before God. What Daniel describes next is “judgment time.”

In verse nine, Daniel saw God the Father on the throne: “the Ancient of days did sit.” He described the Lord with two words: white and fire. He described the Lord seated upon His throne “…whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool….” His clothing was as white as snow and His hair like pure wool. All white. Then Daniel described the Lord’s throne as a “fiery flame.” Daniel even described the Lord’s wheels saying, “…his wheels as burning fire.” Wheels! How interesting. There are wheels connected with the Lord’s throne!

Daniel, no doubt, was seeing a similar vision to what Ezekiel saw. In the first chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet saw a vision of the glory of God. He described seeing the Lord upon His throne with the four living creatures and the wheels underneath it, all connected to one another. Ezekiel described the wheels being so high that they were dreadful, dreadful in the sense of awesome or fearsome.

Daniel said in verse 10, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him.” Daniel saw a stream of fire come forth from the throne. Likewise, Ezekiel also described the throne of God and the four living creatures with a lot of fire going back and forth. Ezekiel described what he saw as a great fire folding in on itself (Eze. 1:4); he went on to describe burning coals of fire and fire so bright that it went forth like lightning (Eze. 1:13).

Books Are Opened and Ten Thousand Times
Ten Thousand Are Judged

Daniel said there were many thousands of people present. They were divided into two groups: those that ministered to God and those that stood before Him. In the last part of verse 10, Daniel said, “thousand thousands ministered unto him” or you could say they were serving Him. They were there to assist the Lord in the judgment process. Then the other group, a much larger group, Daniel described as “ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him….” The reason they are standing before God’s throne is because they are waiting to be judged. They represent the armies of the nations that joined together with Antichrist with the intent to destroy Jerusalem and her citizens.

After telling us about the many thousands of people standing before God’s throne, Daniel wrote, “the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Most usually, when you read in the Bible about books being opened, it means judgment time. Notice it says “books” were opened. Daniel is saying there are multiple books being opened. We know one of the books being opened will be the most famous book in the Bible—the book of life. In fact, Daniel 12:1 talks about the book of life and how during the great tribulation, all the Jews whose names are “found written in the book” will be saved. But what about the other books? The apostle John in Revelation tells us about the other books.

In Revelation chapter 20, the apostle John also described the judgment time that Daniel saw. Like Daniel, John also saw the book of life, but he saw other books as well: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11–15).

John is describing the great white throne judgment, where all those that died outside of Christ are judged. Like Daniel, John said books were opened. In verse 12, John said, “the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life….” Then John explained what was in the other books, saying, “And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” The books contain information about the people standing before God’s throne; the information in the books will determine their destinies, as they will be judged according to what is written about them in the books. All those people whose names are not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.

Little Horn, or Antichrist, Is Destroyed

Dan. 7:11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.

Next, Daniel said he observed the “great words” spoken by the little horn. Incredibly, the little horn, or Antichrist, is still full of pride before God almighty! The utter devastation he will experience with his armies at Armageddon will not have humbled him. Daniel said, “I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame” (v. 11). The beast, or little horn, will be thrown into the “burning flame.” This burning flame is more commonly referred to as the “lake of fire.” Revelation 19:20 confirms that Antichrist as well as his associate known as the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire: “These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

Then Daniel tells us about the rest of the beasts: “As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time” (v. 12). The beasts he’s talking about are the beasts in his vision, the nations of Babylon (modern-day Iraq), Persia (modern-day Iran), and the Grecian Empire. The empires of Babylon, Persia, and Greece were all guilty of aggression toward Israel and the Jewish people. At the time when they had committed aggression against Jerusalem and the Jewish people, their only punishment was that their dominion had been taken away, meaning they were conquered by other nations. They were no longer empires. The Babylonian Empire was conquered by Persia. The Persian Empire was conquered by Greece. And the Grecian Empire was conquered by Rome. Their dominion as great empires was taken away, and they became vassal states to the nations that conquered them. That’s what Daniel meant when he said their dominion was taken away.

When Daniel said their lives were prolonged for a season and time, it means they have been allowed to continue being nations for millennia. Though their final punishment has been delayed, it will, indeed, take place. Through symbols, the book of Revelation tells us they will receive their final punishment along with the Antichrist beast. There is an interesting scripture in Revelation chapter 13 where John describes the first appearance of the beast when he comes forth: “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon [Satan] gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2). The Antichrist beast is described as an amalgamation of different animals: the leopard, the bear, and the lion. Did you notice these are the same symbols that represented Greece, Persia, and Babylon—the three beasts whose lives were prolonged for a season and time? The fact that the Antichrist beast is made up of these beast symbols means two things. First, it means they will, no doubt, be in league with Antichrist; and second, it means that when the Antichrist beast and his kingdom are judged, these nations will be judged as well. They have been allowed to exist as nations for thousands of years, but their punishment for aggression toward Israel and the Jewish people will take place when the beast is destroyed.

Messiah Receives His Kingdom

Dan. 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came 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 people, 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.

In verses 13–14, the scenario in heaven changed from the meting out of punishment for Antichrist and his allies to the meting out of a reward to the One that defeated him in battle. In this scenario, Daniel sees the Messiah being rewarded. He begins by saying he saw “one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven.” We know this to be Jesus the Messiah. Notice it says the Son of man arrives with the clouds of heaven. The clouds symbolize God’s glory. He is brought before the “Ancient of days,” meaning He is brought before the Father God. Then verse 14 says the Son of man is rewarded with “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him….” What Daniel is witnessing is the Messiah being rewarded for defeating Antichrist and his armies at the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11–21). And His reward is a kingdom to rule. His kingdom will be the kingdom of man, meaning He will rule all the nations of the earth. The rest of verse 14 says, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” His reign will never come to an end. It will be an eternal kingdom.

Remember in the dream of the metal man, Jesus was the stone that grew into a mountain and filled the whole earth. That symbolizes what we just read here in verses 13–14, where Jesus receives a kingdom that includes “all people, nations, and languages.” That’s a big kingdom.

In the next and last post, we’ll study the rest of the chapter when Daniel asked one of the angels for the interpretation of the dream.

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