“These four large animals are four kingdoms that will rise to power on the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will take possession of the kingdom and keep it forever and ever.”
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Insights from the Text & Historical Records
This vision of Daniel is certainly related to King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Chapter 2. The kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome—and the Kingdom of God—are present in both dreams, but now the Kings of those kingdoms are presented as symbolic animals. Now we see the true character of these four kingdoms.
All four kingdoms are represented by beasts of prey, warlike and aggressive.
Obviously, Babylon is the lion. The Medo-Persian Empire (the bear) swallowed the three kingdoms of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. Persia then ruled the world for 208 years.
Alexander the Great overthrew Persia swiftly like a leopard. He conquered the known world by 331 BC surprising everyone with his speed. Alexander was only 20 years old when he started. He was 26 when he conquered Persia, and when he was 32 years old he had conquered the world.
When Alexander died, his kingdom was divided among his four generals. The two we are interested in are Ptolemy, who was given Egypt, and Seleucus, who was given Syria, Israel, Babylon and other territory to the east.
The fourth empire of Rome rose slowly beginning in 241 BC. Gradually, it spread from Italy westward. The Western Roman Empire formally ended in 410 AD when the Visigoths sacked Rome. The Roman Empire was ruthless in its destruction of civilizations and peoples. It killed many captives and sold thousands of others into slavery. There is no agreement on the identification of the ten horns that represent ten kings.
John the apostle calls him antichrist and in Revelation he is Satan’s unholy trinity—the Dragon, the Beast from the Land, and the Beast from the Sea.
In contrast to the Anti-Christ, John is given a vision of the Son of Man, the Son of God, ascending to Heaven after he has fulfilled his mission for God the Father.
Daniel questions the vision and an angel explains that the animals represent four kingdoms that will rise on the earth. But the fifth and last kingdom, that of God’s holy people, will remain forever.
Daniel then asks about the fourth beast, terrible but mighty. The angel replies that it will crush the whole earth. From that kingdom will arise ten Kings. Then one King following them will arise who will humble three of those Kings. He will speak against God and oppress the holy people for 3.5 years. But he will be judged and he will be permanently destroyed. Then the Kingdom of God will rule.
Daniel was terrified by all this and did not reveal it to anyone.
Things to Think About
- The fourth kingdom is Rome, a horrible beast. John describes its destruction in Revelation 18:1-24. What does Rome do to God’s people?
- We identify the first cruel monster who has appeared in our history as Antiochus IV Epiphanies of the Seleucid Empire. But the second cruel monster appears in the future (perhaps in the far future) and is yet to be identified. Both will oppose God’s people and overcome them. Why does God allow this to happen? (Hint: Read Revelation 13:1-18.)
- Daniel discloses the Messiah who had been predicted by the Hebrew prophets especially Isaiah. What details does Daniel add to our picture of the coming Messiah or Anointed One?
- There are many prophesies in the Bible that predict that God’s people will be put up against the wall. When there seems no hope is left, the Messiah will suddenly appear and save them. Daniel is predicting the same thing. Why does God put his Chosen People to this test and save them at the last minute? Read Ezekiel 38-39; Zechariah 12:1-14; and Revelation 16:16, 19:11-21, and 20:7-10.
- What is Daniel assured of will happen at the end of human history?
Ambassador. Rusty has devoted his life to creating Bible study course books filled with biblical insight and rooted in mainstream Christian thought.