A Fresh Look at Daniel - Part 5

Posted in: 2008
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jun 22, 2008 - 3:01:00 PM


Part V

This is a continuation of the studies which began with Nebuchadnezzar’s forgotten dream of Daniel Chapter Two. An effort is being made to heed the admonition to “rightly divide” the Word of Truth – distinguishing between what is historical in character from that which is clearly the subject of future prophecy. Chapters One through Six, with the exception of the king’s dream and its interpretation in Chapter Two, are historical literature. Chapters Seven through Twelve, with notable exceptions, are revelatory and may be defined as symbolic, visionary, futuristic, and eschatological.

The theme of the Book of Daniel is God’s sovereignty (i.e. dominion). It points forward to the time when God will triumph over evil. Nebuchadnezzar learned through the drastic discipline of his seven years of madness [i] that God is going to rule over the governments of men, and He will set over the nations, anyone He wishes.

A good commentary on Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance and pride is found in what Daniel told King Belshazzar in Chapter Five:

“O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father (grandfather) a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will” (Vs.18-21).

God did not rule in the kingdom of men in the days of Nebuchadnezzar’s flesh; the king learned that He will in the “latter days.”

We are struck with the realization that believers do not have to be learned scholars in order to make certain observations about the dreams, visions, and interpretations found in the Book of Daniel.

A few comments are in order before we look into the remaining dreams and visions which Daniel has.

It should be carefully noted that the scenes are mostly in the invisible spiritual realm in the heavens which are populated with God’s heavenly hosts and Satan’s fallen angels.

The scenes that play out in Daniel’s dreams are dramas in the heavens. That part of the drama which will take place on the earth, humanly speaking, will not be seen as Daniel saw it. Daniel saw four beasts that were fiendish in appearance, troubling to behold, and wildly grotesque. Should we dream Daniel’s dream, we would call it a nightmare.

The four beasts are four kings. What Daniel sees are spiritual representations of these kings. When these kings show up on earth, the first one will not look like a lion with eagle’s wings, the second will not look like, or have the appearance of a bear with three ribs in his teeth, the third king will not look like a leopard with four heads and four wings on its back, nor will the fourth king appear as a dreadfully powerful and strong creature with iron teeth and ten horns on his head.

Each of the four kings will have great influence over the turbulent masses. They will be the quintessential politicians of their time – they will be flatterers who promise peace and prosperity. But, inwardly, they are ravenous wolves. They will be the embodiment of evil, and it’s as if when the Lord looks at them, they have the appearance of the beasts described in Chapter Seven. These creatures (beasts) represent their counterparts in the earth in the consummation of that age.

The word, “saints,” is used six times in this chapter. It is the same word used for “holy ones,” in Chapter Five, which mean “angels.” Watch the word, “saints,” carefully, as this chapter is studied.

Daniel Chapter Seven - The Four Beasts

Daniel had this dream and vision about sixty-five years after Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of the great image in Chapter Two. Daniel is eighty-four years old.

Daniel 7:1-16:

The Vision

V. 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.”

V. 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.”

“The four winds of heaven,” all blowing at the same time and produces the one result described in Verses 3 to 8. The winds “strove upon,” that is, braking, bursting forth, or converging on one point [ii].

V. 3 “And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.”

V. 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.”

V. 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.”

V. 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.”

V. 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.”

V. 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.”

V. 9 “I beheld till the thrones [iii] were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit [iv], 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.”

The “ANCIENT OF DAYS” is used as a reference to God in Daniel 7:9, 13, 22. The Ancient of Days, who Daniel sees, is not God Himself. But, it is the venerable appearance of an aged man in whose dignified and impressive form God reveals Himself.

V. 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.”

V. 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.”

V 12 “As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.”

V. 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.”

The scene, here, makes reference to one “like the Son of Man.” Daniel doesn’t see the “Son of Man” but a visage, or an appearance of one who is likened to Him. The “Son of Man” is the One Who is to have dominion in all of the earth. This will be the Office of the Lord Jesus Christ during the Pre-Parousia Kingdom eon = the Day of Jesus Christ.

V. 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.”

Verses 13 and 14 have reference to the Second Coming of Christ (His Parousia) to be personally present upon the earth and rule as the King of kings and Lord of lords. By so doing, He destroys the Antichrist and all of those turbulent people who chose to believe the Lie (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

V. 15 “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.”

V. 16 “I came near unto one of them that stood by [v], and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.”

The Interpretation

V. 17 “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.”

V. 18 “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”

The holy one’s interpretation was that the four beasts are four kings which arise out of the earth – the sea of people – the turbulent masses. Again, remember the drama is being played out in heaven; “the saints of the Most High” are the holy ones (the angels), not the people of God, Israel. As Israel’s representatives in the spiritual realm, they are the custodians of the Kingdom, and they’ll possess it forever and ever.

This dream and vision of the four beasts is not the same as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Chapter Two. Daniel fully understood the king’s forgotten dream. But, here, Daniel pleads for greater understanding, especially, concerning the fourth beast. He speaks to the by-standing holy one and says,

V. 19 “Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;”

V. 20 “And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

V. 21 “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;” [vi]

V. 22 “Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment (i.e. vindication) was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” [vii]

V. 23 “Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom (king) upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms (kings), and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.”

“Kingdom” and “kingdoms” are metonymies of subject. Kingdom is used instead of the one who rules as king.

V. 24 “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.”

V. 25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”

The “Little Horn” (Dan. 7:8) subdues three kings and he blasphemes the most High God. This war, waged by this Horn and his spiritual minions, “wear out the saints of the most High.” The saints of the Most High are the Lord’s fighting angels. The war in heaven mirrors what will be going on in the earth as the Antichrist persecutes God’s earthly saints – the people of Israel.

For hundreds of years, the Lord Jesus Christ (the Most High) has governed the world from His Throne in heaven. He set certain times for observances of oblations, days, new moons, and Sabbaths, as well as, having set laws and statutes in harmony with His rule from heaven. The times and laws, the “Horn” changes. He is allowed to do so “until a time and times and the dividing of time.” This will be for three and a half years [viii].

V. 26 “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.”

V. 27 “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

V. 28 “Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.”

In Verse Twenty-Six, it is noted that “judgment” doesn’t sit, but rather, the Judge who sits in judgment. Another metonymy of subject is used where the action to be performed is used instead of the one who performs the action. The Judge takes away the dominion of the Horn in the action-scene in heaven and destroys it. What Daniel isn’t told, at the time, is that the Horn represents the Antichrist on earth.

Verse Twenty-Seven makes a clear and plain statement that the “saints,” in this chapter, are the angelic holy ones because the interpreter says, “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the People of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” The “People of the saints” are Israel. The saints are Israel’s defenders of the Kingdom in the unseen world against the principalities, the powers, the rulers of darkness of this world, against the spiritual wicked ones in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

All dominions of the world will serve the Most High, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His will be an everlasting Government – those who don’t obey, die.

The dream and visions in Daniel Seven covers the consummation of the pre-millennial Kingdom and the Parousia of Christ, when He returns from heaven and rules for one-thousand years from the Capital of the universe – Jerusalem.

The beasts are not named, nor are their kingdoms. Many Bible students and scholars have made vain attempts to do so. The “Little Horn” is identified in twelve other places as the Antichrist, but by various names [ix].

We have tried to curb our imaginations and blot out what we have, previously, been taught. Hopefully, you, the reader, can be willing to do it as well. The scenes were played-out mostly in heaven – and should be viewed as such.


[i] In discussing Nebuchadnezzar with my wife, she asked, “Why did the Lord put Nebuchadnezzar through seven years of madness?” My first reply, partly in jest, was “Why does a farmer hit his mule between the eyes with a two by four? To get his attention.” The rich and powerful are hard to convert because of their pride. 1 Corinthians 1:26, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:” The seven years as a beast of the field was the Lord’s way of getting Nebuchadnezzar’s attention to learn the truth that “The Most High rules in the kingdom of men.”

Saul of Tarsus had been “kicking against the pricks (i.e., goads)” of the Lord Jesus. It took the Damascus Road experience to get Saul’s attention – struck down blind. The Lord makes no mistakes.

Then, there is this: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24).

[ii] The “great sea” is not named. Neither, will we attempt to do so. The “four winds” churn-up or stir-up, probably, the great sea of people. Keep in mind that the scene is in heaven – it’s a dream-vision, this “sea” is probably symbolic of turbulent people who are rising up in rebellion against God’s world-wide rule from heaven.

[iii] “Thrones” are described in the Companion Bible notes as “seats for judgment,” P. 1192. This indicates others assist the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days is used in reference to God, here, in Daniel 7, and in 13. It is not intended to suggest the existence of God from eternity. “It was the venerable appearance of old age that was uppermost in the writer’s mind. What Daniel sees is not the eternal God Himself, but an aged man, in whose dignified and impressive form of God reveals Himself (compare Ezekiel 1:26)” (International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia).

[iv] The NIV renders Verse Nine, “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.” As if court was called into session.

[v] One of the bystanders was one of the multitude of holy ones - the 100s of millions of
Verse Ten.

[vi] The “little horn” of Verse Eight is the “other horn” of Verse Twenty and caused three of the ten horns to fall. This little horn now looked more imposing and “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.” Here is warfare in heaven, not warfare of flesh and blood, but between the spiritual forces of darkness and the spiritual forces of light. This ties in with Revelation 12:7; “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.”

[vii] Daniel sees this warfare in heaven, but it is to be acted out in the future. The dragon and his angels will prevail over the saints in heaven until the Ancient of Days gives the Son of Man His 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”(v.14). What Daniel sees in this heavenly vision will be acted out in the earth by the kings who are represented, or symbolized by the wild fierce beasts.

[viii] See the note in the Companion Bible on Verse Twenty-Five. P.1193.

[ix] The “little horn” is the first of twelve titles given to the power commonly known as the Antichrist. Daniel 8:23, the king of fierce countenance; 9:26, the prince that shall come; 11:21, a vile person; 11:36, the willful king; Isaiah 14:4, the king of Babylon; 14:12, Lucifer; 14:25, the Assyrian; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the man of sin and the son of perdition; 2:8, that Wicked; Revelation 13:1, the beast with ten horns; Revelation 13:18, the beast.

Tom L. Ballinger