Is This All There Is? (Part 2)
Last time, we had just finished looking at the first three beasts from Daniel’s vision, given to him by God. Today, we’re going to pick up at verse 7 and continue.
Again, I want to remind us of the theme for these two messages: In light of the world’s chaos and calamity, we are preparing for Christ’s conquest and Kingdom.
The Four Beasts - 7:3-8—Continued
The Four Beasts - 7:3-8—Continued
Daniel 7:7–8 (NASB95)
“After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.
Now we move on to the final beast that isn't even given an animal name or description. The fourth beast was “terrifying” and “frightening” because it was “very powerful” and “had large iron teeth” protruding from its mouth with which it “devoured” its prey. The Hebrew word carries the meaning of crushed, shattered, broken into pieces. Any uneaten parts of its victims that remained were “trampled” under the monster’s feet. “Ten horns” with which to gore its victims were upon its head, and Daniel also states in verse 19, that the beast had bronze claws (v. 19). All of these descriptions, combined with its ferocious behavior, would certainly cause great fear. This animal was “different from all the former beasts.” It was truly unreal to the mind.
Going back to our history, we know that by the second century B.C., Rome had surpassed Greece as the dominant world power. The fourth beast, therefore, represents the Roman Empire, as described earlier in chapter 2, by the iron legs and feet of the great statue. Just as this monster was “different” from all the others, so the Roman Empire differed from the other kingdoms which had come before it. Rome possessed a power and durability unlike anything the world had ever known. History tells us that nations were crushed under the iron boot of the Roman legions; its power was virtually impossible to stand against, and the extent of its influence surpassed the other three kingdoms. What do the “ten horns” on the head of the beast represent? “Horns,” like heads, commonly symbolize kings or kingdoms in Scripture (cp. Rev 13:1 and 17:12; also Ps 132:17; Zech 1:18), and the “horns” in this verse are specifically identified as “kings” (or “kingdoms”) in v. 24. Since the “horns” protrude from the fourth beast, these “kings” (or “kingdoms”) must have a connection with that empire.
There must have been something fascinating about the ten horns on the fourth beast’s head. We read that Daniel was deep in thought about them when suddenly “another horn, a little one, … came up” among the ten. “Little” describes the horn’s size at the beginning. We then see that it grew as indicated by the expression “came up.” Its growing in size larger than the original ten horns is seen by the fact that it overpowered (“uprooted”) three of them; plus we read in v. 20 that it “looked more imposing than the others.”
The uprooting of three horns suggests that three kings or kingdoms (nations) will be conquered by the new ruler. Being “uprooted” shows a violent overthrow. By force, this king (the little horn) will bring to their knees the other kings (and their kingdoms) who resist his intent to rule over them (or to incorporate them into his empire). When they knuckle under, the empire symbolized by the ten horns, will come under the aggressive king’s full control.
This individual will be extremely intelligent and clever. “A mouth that spoke boastfully [lit., “great things”]” describes the king’s arrogant pronouncements, particularly his blasphemies against the true God (cf. 7:25). His message will be extremely upsetting to the believer; however, the world will be duped under the spell of his charismatic words and captivating personality.
Again, we remember that the fourth beast is symbolic of Rome; therefore, the ten horns (kings, v. 24) coming out of the fourth beast represent a confederation of kings (kingdoms or nations) that originate from the old Roman Empire. But the picture seems to go beyond history into “the latter days,” because we see ten horns on the beast; and these parallel the ten toes of the image in chapter 2, the revived Roman Empire of the last days. Verses 8 and 20 both tell us that a “little horn” (ruler) will appear and defeat three of the ten kingdoms represented by the ten horns and ten toes. This little horn will then become a world ruler, the Antichrist. His mouth will speak great things, and he will persecute the saints (believing Jews and Gentiles during the Tribulation period) for three and a half years (v. 25—time, times, and half a time). This is the last half of the Tribulation period, the “seventieth week” that Daniel will tell us about in chapter 9. According to vv. 11–12, the three previous kingdoms (Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece) will be “swallowed up” and included in this last great world empire, but the Antichrist himself will finally be judged and slain.
Since Daniel's focus seems to be on the fourth beast, let's go into the next section and be reminded that this beast does not write the final chapter, nor does it sing the final note for the followers of God.
Destruction of Fourth Beast - 7:9-12
Destruction of Fourth Beast - 7:9-12
I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.
You recall in the previous verses (7-8) that this beast is blaspheming God. Yet, in verses 9-10, the One and only Sovereign God is sitting on His throne getting ready for Judgment Day. The symbolism of the clothing, hair, throne, etc., describes so many things about our Lord. He is altogether morally pure, thus being able to exercise proper judgment. Not only is God holy and pure, He is eternal as shown by the description of the hair. The fire is seen throughout the Bible as a symbol of judgment. The river of fire will be God's judgment poured out upon the kingdom and the beast when Christ returns.
In Scripture “the books” are symbolic of God’s memory of the deeds, words, and thoughts of every person who has ever lived (cf. Exod 32:32; Dan 12:1; Luke 10:20; Rev 20:12). A frightening scene is set forth here. Someday “the books” will be opened, and each individual will be judged according to what is written in them. In this context, it quite possibly refers specifically to the Antichrist and his kingdom. Of course, one’s eternal destiny will be determined by whether one’s name is written in “the book of life” (cf. Dan 12:1; Rev 20:12, 15). After this is established, the reward of the believer or the degree of punishment for the lost will be fixed by what is written in the record books. Many end times events are merged together in Scripture, however, and it is possible that this judgment may include both that of the Antichrist and his confederates at the beginning of the millennium (cf. Rev 19:20–21) and the judgment of Satan and the remainder of the lost at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ (cf. Rev 20:10–15).
Going on to verse 11, we see that Daniel was appalled by its extreme arrogance and looked intently to see what would happen. At last judgment fell. The slaying of the beast indicates that the evil empire will be totally annihilated and its leader judged. If it were not so sad, the scene would be humorous. This little horn with a big mouth is spewing out venom toward the Almighty when suddenly the fire of God’s judgment falls, and the little horn is silenced forever. Since both the little horn and his empire are symbolized by the “beast” figure, both the empire and its leader are judged when “the beast [is] slain.” The empire being burned describes its utter destruction. Yet the leader’s consignment to fire may reasonably be understood from Rev 19:20, where it is specifically stated that the Antichrist and his followers will be doomed to the lake of fire. So we see that punishment of the wicked after death is therefore taught in this passage.
So, now, we move on to a Kingdom that will never end.
God’s Kingdom - 7:13-14
God’s Kingdom - 7:13-14
I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
The four kingdoms prior to these verses, were all earthly kingdoms. However, this kingdom is not of men, but of God. As we look at verse 13, we see a phrase from Daniel that is quoted more in the New Testament than anything else which Daniel wrote. “One like a son of man” shows that this person was in human form. However, he is more than a man. Clouds often were associated with deity in the ancient world, and this being was no mere mortal.
Since the “son of man” was “given” a kingdom and authority to rule, this scene would describes this individual as the One who will be crowned as the sovereign ruler of the world. His reign will be for eternity. Only one person can properly be identified as the “son of man,” and that person is Jesus Christ, as the New Testament apostles and Christ himself confirmed. In Mark 14:61–62, He identified himself as that “Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” There is no other passage in the Old Testament to which Christ could have been referring. Furthermore, when Christ made this statement, the high priest said, “You have heard the blasphemy” (Mark 14:64), proving that Jesus was understood to have been claiming deity to Himself.
In answer to Peggy Lee’s question, Is This All There Is?, the answer is a strong NO. Based upon history, though the world leaders have been become seemingly more and more powerful, there is less and less a desire to seek God. Though advances in education and its application have increased exponentially, there is less and less knowledge of God. Though there is greater understanding about ethnic and cultural differences, there is less love and genuine concern for what God calls justice and compassion.
But thankfully, that is not all there is. We are reminded by Daniel that Christ shall return and set up His Kingdom that shall never end. In view of our thesis: In light of the world’s chaos and calamity, we are preparing for Christ’s conquest and Kingdom, what do we do? Quite simply, I have narrowed it to three things:
Don’t look to the world for answers nor be discouraged by what is happening around us.
Pursue a deeper relationship with Christ, striving to live for Him under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pursue that which is most important to God—proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ; He died to save sinners from the penalty of sin; which is separation from Him forever in absolute torment and torture in hell.