- My Words shall not pass away
Chapter 7 of Daniel is a key chapter in the whole book of Daniel, for a few reasons.
1st this is the last chapter in the book that was written in Aramaic (the kind of international language of Daniel’s time).
According to scholars and information online Chapter 1 up to about the beginning of 2 was written in Hebrew and then from 2-7 in Aramaic, while the rest of the book is again written in Hebrew.
2nd it kind of marks a shift in the book from Historical in nature with a dash of prophecy (cp 1-6) to now more prophetic with a dash of history.
From chapter 7 onwards a lot of the book of Daniel deals with prophecy.
Many suggest that chapter 7 kind of lays out a blueprint for prophecy which the rest of the book explains as well as how one could end up being able to interpret many of the prophecies in Revelation as well.
3rd This is the first time we see Daniel being the one receiving a vision/dream and needing help to interpret it bearing in mind most of what we have read so far has been Daniel interpreting dreams by the power and guidance of God.
4th The book goes back in time because as we read in verse 1:
This vision was in the 1st year of king Belshazzar which is around 553BC which is a whole 14 years before the last sermon I preached which was the “Writing on the Wall” in which would have been around 539BC.
This makes Daniel around 67 years of age when he receives this dreams/vision.
You may ask yourself why is it that this does not follow normal convention of writing things in chronological order.
Some people think this is something against the Bible because things are not in chronological order and feels more like people making up stories as they go along etc, but they forget that story telling for the Jewish people and of that time was not the same way we do it nowadays.
I have read once that in Jewish storytelling you would normally give a glimpse of the birds eye view of the story before going back into each part in more detail.
Just look at the account of creation and you will see that Moses does the same exact thing in how he writes.
NOTE: Please note that God gave this dream to Daniel when he was in his late 60s and that he then he was in his 80s when he finally told Belshazzar the meaning of the king’s dream.
One commentator suggested this may very well be good to remind ourselves that retirement does not mean God won’t do anything through us anymore and we may need to redeem the idea of retirement as something we just don’t do anything for God.
Chaos from every corner
Verse 2 says behold which in the Aramaic was ‘to look, to see, lo’ or if we look in English the word behold comes from the Old English bihaldan (bi - thoroughly + haldan - to hold).
In other words this is saying for us to pay really close attention to what the vision is about to show us.
‘the four winds of heaven’, many have interpreted this to mean winds from every side of the compass, while other have interpreted the meaning being the winds symbolise turmoil, chaos, tribulations.
‘stirring up the great sea’, the ESV Archeology Study Bible says:
This was a common descriptor of the Mediterranean Sea, a large, frightening body of water to ancient Near Eastern peoples.
In their literature, the sea symbolised the chaos of nations rebelling against God or the gods.
Others interpret this sea image in light of which says:
Whichever interpretation you have this verse shows that there were going to be some troublesome times ahead of Daniel and the people on earth.
The four beasts
Daniel now in verses 4-7 sees 4 beasts and we are may ask ourselves who are these beasts?
Well God does not intend to leave us with that question because verse 17 tells us:
These beasts represent 4 kings (or kingdoms) that arise from the earth.
We can see a slight comparison between this vision and the vision that Nebuchadnezzar has in chapter 2 of the statue with 4 sections (Gold, silver, bronze, iron & clay).
1st Beast - Lions with Eagle’s Wings
A lion with eagles’ wings is indeed a strange picture yet these two creature are majestic in their own ways.
The lion is seen as the king of the beasts, and in many aspects the eagle is the king of the birds.
This is a fitting image for Babylon bearing in mind that in in Daniel himself calls king Nebuchadnezzar ‘king of kings’.
As seen in these passages God has used these same metaphors for Babylon in other places.
As an aside winged lions were a household image for Babylonians and was known as Lamassu which was deity from the Assyrians that the Babylonians had adopted and they were depicted on the sides of the Ishtar Gate in Babylon.
The wings being plucked off from the lion could very well signify the humbling of the king Nebuchadnezzar.
Then being made to stand like a man and the being given the ‘mind of a man’ (in the KJV a man’s heart) could be the restoration and salvation of king Nebuchadnezzar.
2nd Beast - Bear
This beast is portrayed like a bear.
A bear is bigger than a lion, and in many ways could be stronger yet not as majestic.
This symbolises the Medo-Persian Empire.
The Medo-Persian Empire was definitely a huge empire and also this size difference in this beast can also depict the fact that even the size of the armies the empire would send were enormous.
A bear is also brutal in attacking and this was the case with the Medo-Persian Empire.
Some commentators have interpreted the fact that the posture of the bear so that one side is bigger than the other being the imbalance in the Medo-Persian Empire where the Persians had more dominance of the Medes.
Ribs in the mouth are a remnant of a meal and could very well be as some commentators suggest that this would symbolise 3 nations conquered by the Medo-Persians, namely Lydia (546BC), Babylon (539BC) and Egypt (525BC).
3rd Beast - Leopard with wings and four heads
The leopard is one of the fastest beasts in the whole world, give it 4 wings and you have a really fast beast, very swift.
This is a fitting image for the Greek Empire under Alexander The Great.
Keeping in mind the astonishing conquering which was achieved by Alexander The Great in only 10 years which many historians marvel at its swiftness.
Many liberal commentators shy away from the 4 heads of the leopard or say it has no significance since they cannot accept supernatural prophecies.
Why do I say this?
Well Daniel is not a CIA of his time, and even he was, even if he was reading his newspaper and was a man with political knowledge he could have seen that the Medo-Persian kingdom was a power that was arising.
However he could not have managed to envision this beast and know that much far ahead with his knowledge that the Greek kingdom would supersede the Medes and the Persians.
The only way Daniel could have managed to say such a thing is if this vision he had were indeed as it was from God who knows the future in great detail.
What is more interesting is the fact that Alexander The Great died of alcoholism at the age of 33 and he did not leave his empire to a biological heir because he did not have one.
Instead he left the Greek Empire to his 4 generals, which makes the 4 heads of the leopard more astonishing as God through Daniel gives so many details of the future.
4th Beast - Terrifying and Dreadful
This beast was different from all the other ones and Daniel could not say it was like any other beast but instead it was terrifying and dreadful.
It had iron teeth and it devoured and broke in pieces what it was eating and then would stamp whatever was left.
What a terrifying picture but this is an accurate picture of the Roman Empire which lasted for 1000 years and was a totally terrifying empire and brutal one at that as well.
This beast had 10 horns, however one small one comes in the midst and then plucks out 3 other horns and has eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things.
What an image.
What does this mean?
Daniel was wondering the same thing because he had other visions after seeing this beast and in verses 15,6 says that Daniel was anxious and alarmed and wanted to know the meaning of what these beasts were and in verses 19,20 he says he wanted to know what was this last beast all about.
Out of this beast
So it seems that 10 kings or kingdoms from the Roman Empire would rise up and one among them would then rise up and be the one to speak words of blasphemy against God and his people.
Well since the roman empire has been destroyed and the Judgement day has not yet come this has led many to believe that there might be a “revived” Roman Empire at some point.
This does not mean and empire in the way we think, but if we pay good attention the Roman Empire encompassed much of what is known as Modern Europe.
So the interpretation is that at some point within these nations out of them a small horn will rise up, this is what many call ‘The antichrist’.
Don’t misunderstand, this leader will not be a man with 666 tattooed on his forehead or something, but in the eyes of the whole world this man will be a winner, an awesome and amazing person to the point that not believing in his vision will make you a fool and ignorant.
But rest assured that as Daniel says here he will speak against The Most High, he will wage war against the saints of The Most High, and even try to change times and law.
But ‘his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end.’
Ancient of Days
These verses show us the LORD GOD, appearing in His court room, we see thousands upon thousands serving him, and then millions in his presence, symbolising the whole world being before God.
Daniel has a glimpse of God’s majesty, his clothing is white (pure), his hair like wool and the throne and its wheels like fire (judgment, purifying).
It says that everyone is before God in ‘the court sat in judgement’, and ‘the books were opened’.
What a sobering thought.
The books of everyone’s lives.
The Book Of Life with the names of those who belong to The Lamb, and the books with all the things we have to pay an account for.
What do you most fear to have to answer to God for?
The Son of Man
After seeing the vision of The Ancient of Days, Daniel saw the little horn being killed and destroyed.
And then again Daniel uses the word ‘behold’ and says that ‘with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man’.
What a contrast.
At first he sees all these beasts and he then sees The Most High and now he sees ‘one like a son of man’, interesting to see it says “like” meaning in likeness.
The expression son of man would normally be used to denote a human being like you and me.
However in this passage we see the One like a Son of Man being ‘given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed’.
Serve is the Aramaic verb pelah which has the connotation of not only to serve but to revere and to worship.
To pay reverence.