“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.” Daniel 7:1
In the books of Daniel and Revelation, the same history is told over and over again, with each different view adding information to the total picture. When all these pieces are put together by a careful student of prophecy, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we see a detailed picture of history and the future, especially earth’s final events.
This kind of knowledge is not available to the casual Bible reader, or to the critics and skeptics, no matter how educated or clever they think themselves to be. Remember how the so-called ‘wise-men’ and magicians of Daniel’s day could not interpret the messages from God? It is the same today.
A child, who loves God and honestly wants to obey Him and learn the Truth, will understand what the great men of the world cannot know. It’s part of the Mystery of the Holy Bible.
“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” Daniel 7:2-3
Belshazzar had come to the throne of Babylon, and as we saw before, he didn’t want godly people like Daniel around his court. What Daniel’s job was at this time we are not told. One night God gave him a dream and in the dream he saw a raging sea, tossed by the four winds, and out of that sea came four strange beasts, one at a time following each other.
We are learning how to understand the great prophecies of the Bible. This is a wonderful study and you will really enjoy it. The books of Daniel and Revelation are really part of the same prophecy and they both help us to understand what the prophecies mean.
There is an important rule in prophecy that you must learn if you don’t want to get mixed up. We must always find the meanings of the prophecies in the Bible itself. If we just read something and then I say, “I think it means this”, and you say, “I think it means that”, we will be confused. This is what most people do when they read prophecy and it gets to be a mess. The Bible must always be its own interpreter.
In prophecy the waters or ‘great sea’ means people and nations on earth: Revelation 17:15 “. . The waters which thou sawest . . are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
The ‘four winds’ mean war, trouble and strife: Revelation 7:1 “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”
Beasts represent kingdoms or nations: Daniel 7:23 “Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth.”
When we see the beasts come up out of the water when the winds blow, we know they came to power by war and battle.
To Daniel was given a vision of fierce beasts, representing the powers of the earth. But the symbol of the Messiah’s kingdom is a lamb. While earthly kingdoms rule by physical force, Christ is to banish every man-made weapon, every instrument of coercion (force). His kingdom was to be established to uplift and ennoble fallen humanity.
Forcing people to worship or obey God, even in something that in itself is right, is not what God wants. He only wants people to serve Him because they want to, and choose to.
“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.” Daniel 7:4
The winged lion showed power and speed. It represented Babylon and was even used as a symbol by Nebuchadnezzar. Archeologists have seen stones from Babylon with lions, and even winged lions on them.
Under Nebuchadnezzar the kingdom was swift and powerful, but later it became weak and foolish under Belshazzar. This is what the wings being plucked and the lion standing up with only a timid man’s heart showed. Luxury, indulgence, and soft living changed the mighty lion into a weak sissy.
Babylon is a symbol of the world at large. When its doom was made certain, its kings and officers seemed to be as men insane, and their own course hastened its destiny. When the doom of a nation is fixed, it seems that all the energy, wisdom, and discretion of its former time of prosperity, deserts its men of position, and they hasten the evil they would avert. Outside enemies are not the greatest peril to an individual or a nation. The overthrow of a nation results, under the providence of God, from some unwise or evil course of its own. But the people who fear God, who are loyal to his laws, who carry out the principles of righteousness in their lives, have a sure defense; God will be the refuge of those who trust in him.
“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.” Daniel 7:5
The bear was higher on one side than the other. This was Medo-Persia, a combination of two powers, with Persia being the stronger. This was shown by it being ‘raised up on one side’.
The character of this power is well represented by a bear. The Medes and Persians were cruel and greedy, robbers and spoilers of the people.
It had three ribs in its mouth, indicating the three areas that Medo-Persia conquered to come to rule the world; Babylon, Lydia and Egypt, which were especially ground down and oppressed by this power. It was a cruel and vicious nation and killed many people. That’s why the verse says “Arise and devour much flesh”.
The Medo-Persian kingdom was visited by the wrath of God because in it His Law was trampled underfoot. The fear of God possessed no power among the people. Wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption were the prevailing influences in this kingdom; and the kingdoms that followed were even more base and corrupt. They deteriorated because they cast off God. Forgetting him, they sank lower and lower in the scale of moral worth, while they raised themselves higher and higher in pride and arrogance.
“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.” Daniel 7:6
Wings in Prophecy = Speed
This was the kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great. It conquered the world so fast that the leopard beast is shown with four wings. A leopard is a fast animal without wings, but with four wings God showed its rise to power would be very fast.
The four heads represented the four generals of Alexander the Great, which took over the kingdom following Alexander’s death, just after he had conquered the entire world.
These were: Cassander, who had Greece and its area; Lysimachus, who had Asia-minor; Ptolemy, who had Egypt; and Seleucus, who had Syria and Babylon.
It is important to know how Alexander died, as there is a lesson there for all. He could conquer nations but he could not control his appetite, passions and pride.
He worshipped the gods Hercules and Bacchus (god of wine) and tried to imitate what they were said to have done. He claimed to be a god himself and when one of his generals died, he told people to worship him as a god. He delighted in drinking and parties and when drunk could fly into a rage and kill even his friends. He did many cruel and bloodthirsty acts, once burning an entire city on the whim of a wicked woman.
He encouraged such excessive drinking among his followers that on one occasion twenty of them together died as the result of the party. At length, having sat through one long drinking spree, he was immediately invited to another, when after drinking to each of the twenty guests present, he twice drank full, says history, incredible as it may seem, the Herculean cup containing six of our quarts. He thereupon fell down, seized with a violent fever, of which he died eleven days later, in May or June, BC 323. He was only thirty two years old.
Compare Alexander the Great with the prophet Daniel who decided not to eat the king’s rich food or drink his wine.
“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.” Daniel 7:7
Now came up out of the angry sea, a beast so terrible that no real animal could represent it. Different from the other beasts, it was very strong and devoured and broke nations to pieces. The iron teeth remind us of the iron of the legs and feet of the great image of chapter 2. You see there are four series of prophecies in Daniel. Each one tells the same story, but each one gives additional detail to the story and in Revelation the story continues.
In Daniel 2, the image showed four world kingdoms. Babylon; head of gold; winged lion. Medo-Pesia; arms of silver; bear. Greece: Thighs of brass; winged leopard. And the Iron Legs; Rome; the terrible beast.
These great iron teeth speak of cruelty and strength. As the animal tore to pieces and devoured its prey with these grotesque fangs, so Rome devoured nations and peoples in its conquests. It “stamped the residue”. Where Rome did not destroy or subjugate a people, it often employed them as slaves, or sold them into slavery. In its intense power to destroy, Rome surpassed the kingdoms that had previously ruled the world.
Rome was different (Diverse) because it was a Republic and the other ‘Beasts’ had kings. Rome had elected ‘dictators’ which were supposed to obey certain laws and answer to the people of the nation; like USA presidents are supposed to do.
But later the Caesars didn’t do this, and became very much like what the Pope would later be; not kings but rather gods. They combined Church and State and God has forbidden this. Many Christians were martyred as they refused to worship the Caesars. God tells us so much in just a few prophetic words.
“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.” Daniel 7:8
Now this terrible Roman beast had ten horns on his head and Daniel looked closely at these horns. All of a sudden he saw another little horn come up, and as it did, it plucked up three horns. Horns in Bible prophecy are kings, powers, or kingdoms. (See verse 24)
“Another little horn” better, “another horn, a little one.” Though small at the beginning, this little horn is described later as “more stout than his fellows,” literally, “greater than its companions.” It will be seen that this was the continuation of the Roman power through the Roman Church.
Rome has two parts; first there was Pagan Rome and then the Papacy grew up and ruled in the same city. The strange ‘little horn’ with eyes and a mouth points us to Papal Rome. This little horn plucked up three other horns and then it ruled the earth.
Daniel was worried about this ‘little horn’ because it persecuted God’s people for 1260 years. As Daniel is watching this strange ‘Little Horn’, he is shown a complete change of view: suddenly the vision shifted to a judgment scene.
“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.” Daniel 7:9
Now we see a wonderful judgment scene. It seems that God wants very much to tell us, that even though this terrible beast power was going to make things hard for God’s people, God knew all about it and He would judge fairly.
Here Daniel saw God coming in and sitting on a judgment throne. The words ‘thrones were cast down’, means that seating places were placed in the room. In the east they often sat on big cushions; you would ‘throw down’ a big cushion for someone to sit on.
“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. 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.” Daniel 7:10, 11
The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy intelligences, all waiting to do His will. Through channels which we cannot discern He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. But it is in this speck of a world, in the souls that He gave His only-begotten Son to save, that His interest and the interest of all heaven is centered. God is bending from His throne to hear the cry of the oppressed.
Jesus let Daniel know that the beast would not always get away with his cruel work against God’s people. He would be judged and executed. Over and over in the Bible Jesus tells His people that He is in charge and will win at last.
“As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” Daniel 7:12
In this verse it says although their kingdoms ended their ‘lives were prolonged’. This is interesting, as when we study the fourth Beast, and especially the little horn kingdom, and some of the beasts in Revelation, we can see characteristics from all the other kingdoms in this Roman Papal kingdom.
Babylon had what was called the ‘mysteries’ or ‘mystery religion’. The concepts of this secret religion of the priests, came down through the ages, from the time of Nimrod and his wicked wife, Semeramis. When the Jews were in captivity in Babylon some of them learned this ‘mystery religion’, brought it into their own religion and called it the ‘Kabala’. It involved rituals, mystic symbols, magic numbers and special words and was really just a bunch of Satan’s lies.
Many organizations today use this same ‘secret’ symbolism. Masonry, witchcraft, some Jewish societies, Eastern religions, Wicca, Satanists, and much of it is found in Catholicism. The methods of the priests, the mass, the confessional, worship of saints, and a lot of other things, trace back to the worship of Nimrod, his wife Semeramis, and her illegitimate son Tammuz. That’s where the cross symbol came from also; it was the sign of Tammuz, the sun god. Jesus died on the symbol of the counterfeit religion; sun worship.
Medo-Persia claimed that when it made a law, no one could change it. That meant they believed they could make no mistakes; they were infallible. They were also very cruel and a persecuting power. The Papacy also claims to be infallible, is a persecuting power and has shown itself to be very cruel. (Think of the Inquisition.)
When a man claims he is infallible, he is really claiming to be God. Remember how the king of Medo-Persia tried to force people to pray only to him? You can’t talk to the Pope, even today, without first bowing to him and kissing his ring.
Greece developed forms of philosophy and religion that still plague us today very much. Our whole worldly system of education is based on Greek philosophy, which makes it hard for people to understand the real truths of the Bible. Remember, Paul said the Greeks thought the truth about Jesus was ‘foolishness’. (1 Corinthians 1:23) They exalted men’s ideas and traditions above God’s Word.
Of course much of the religion and ways of Pagan Roman Sun Worship came right into the papacy; so much so that Daniel 7 doesn’t even use a new beast to show Papal Rome, but just a horn on the same terrible beast.
We have wickedness from all these kingdoms with us today. We need to study God’s word and not be deceived.
“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. 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.” Daniel 7:13, 14
The coming of Christ here described is not his second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of days in Heaven to receive dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, which will be given him at the close of his work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not his second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of his ministration in behalf of man, to perform the work of investigative judgment, and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.
“I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. Daniel 7:15-16
Daniel was really worried when he saw the things this ‘Little Horn’ would do against God’s true people, so he asked one of the heavenly beings he saw standing nearby during the vision to explain it to him.
“These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” Daniel 7:17-18
We see here a similar scene as with the stone in Daniel 2; it is the ‘saints’ that take the kingdom, empowered by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (See verse 27)
“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; 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.” Daniel 7:19-20
It is interesting that the Roman government had ten parts and then later as Rome began to fall, it split up into ten nations. It was after this dividing up, that the strange little horn came up. Then Daniel saw something weird, the little horn had eyes and a mouth speaking great things.
It “had eyes,” showing that it claimed to be the household of faith; “eyes” meaning faith, spiritual insight. “Mouth speaking great things,” showing that the church would claim infallibility, and other rights that belong only to God. Having “a mouth that speaks” also means that it passes laws and legislates. It was the ‘Little Horn with the Big Mouth!’
“Whose look would be more stout than his fellows,” showing that he would claim authority over all, even the kings of other nations, the other horns.
Before the strange ‘Little Horn’ could totally rule the world, there were three nations that had to be destroyed. Three of the nations of the former Pagan Roman Empire, had what is known as Arian religious beliefs, incompatible with the dogmas of the emerging Papacy.
Now there is historical evidence that at least some of the people in these three nations were true primitive Christians who kept the seventh-day Sabbath. But Rome called them ‘Arians’ whether it was true or not. They had to be gotten rid of before that power could totally dominate the consciences of the people. They were the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths. By 538 AD the last of them were ‘uprooted’.
The Holy Spirit represents worldly kingdoms under the symbol of fierce beasts of prey; but Christ is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. In His plan of government there is no employment of brute force to compel the conscience.
The “Mystery of Godliness” is the Creator God coming all the way down to die as a man to rescue fallen man.
The “Mystery of Iniquity” is a created being trying to take the place of the Creator God.
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 7:21, 22
Then thrones were seen, and Jesus and the redeemed saints sat upon them; and the saints reigned as kings and priests unto God. Christ, in union with His people, judged the wicked dead, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Word of God, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body.
“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. 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.” Daniel 7:23, 24
Again we see that word, “diverse.” Rome was diverse, now this little horn power is again diverse. There are many ways this is so; it is a religious power, ruling by coercing the political powers to do her bidding. Another interesting point is that although the former pagan kings often claimed the power and titles of the pagan gods, this power was claiming to act in the place of the true God of Heaven.
“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. Daniel 7:25
In this verse, we see the first time prophecy that shows how long Papal Rome would rule the world. This same number is found seven different places in the Bible. It adds up to 1260 days, and because in prophecy a ‘day’ means a real year, it is 1260 years.
A ‘time’ = a year (a Biblical year is 360 days)
‘Times’ = 2 years
‘Dividing of time’ = a half year
Added together = 1260 prophetic ‘days’ or 1260 literal years.
538 AD – 1798 AD
The last of the three horns was ‘plucked up’ around the time that the Emperor Justinian in 533 AD, issued the famous decree giving the power and authority to the Papal Bishop of Rome. (Giving “him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:2) The last of the three horns was plucked up and the Papacy ruled supreme after 538. When you add 1260 years to that, you come to 1798.
It is interesting that the title ‘Pontifex Maximus’ was held by the Emperors of Rome, taken from the High Priests of Sun Worship, when the Caesars began to declare they were the ‘sun-god’ on earth. It meant “Great Bridge Builder” and declared the owner had power over the souls, as well as the bodies of his worshippers. Only through them, like a bridge, could a soul pass to heaven.
When Justinian came to the throne, he did not feel comfortable to take on himself such a presumptuous title and refused it. Whereupon the Bishop of Rome quickly snapped it up. So we have the ‘Pontiff’ of Rome sitting in the seat of the Caesars.
What happened in 1798? It was then Berthier, one of Napoleon’s Generals was sent to Rome where he took the Pope captive and Rome lost its power to rule the nations. The Church of Rome continued as a religion, but lost her power to rule over the governments.
During the years Rome ruled the world it did ‘wear out the saints of the Most High’, by persecuting and killing millions of true followers of Jesus. God knows what is happening, and He will care for His people. Even though many dear Christians died, Jesus was close to each one to give him strength and help him. If we are faithful to the end, we will see these dear ones in heaven and hear their stories. Not one will be sorry that he died for Jesus and His truth!
“But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” Daniel 7:26
Whenever this terrible persecuting power is spoken of in the Bible prophecies, God is always quick to assure us that it will be judged and come to its end. For God’s faithful ones, either of the past or future, this is a precious assurance.
We see five points here that help us know for sure what this ‘Little Horn’ power on the Roman beast really is.
1. It will speak ‘Great Words’ and Blasphemies against God.
2. It will ‘wear out’ God’s people; persecute them.
3. It will think it can change God’s laws that have to do with time.
4. It will arise after the Roman Empire is broken up to ten nations; among the nations of Europe and three nations will be destroyed as this power rises.
5. It will rule for 1260 day/years: 538 AD – 1798 AD
There is no other power on earth that can fit this description except the Roman Papacy. God wants us to be sure of what we believe, so He gives a lot of evidence.
Jesus assures us in this chapter 4 or 5 different times that this beast with the bold horn will come to its end in the judgment. Here are some of the sins of this power:
1. Blasphemy. The Roman priests claim to be able to forgive sins. They do this every day in the confessional, which is a little room were the people go to confess their sins to the priests, who pretend to forgive them.
The popes claim to be the vicars of Christ, which means they claim to take His place on earth. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Holy Spirit, who is the 3rd Person of the Godhead, would take His place on earth. (In the Greek text ‘Ante’ means to take the place of, or be a Vicar of. So Ante-Christ or Antichrist, means to claim to take the place of, or be the Vicar of Christ. It does not mean, as commonly supposed, to be against Christ.)
The Pope also claims to be God and have all the rights of God. ‘The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6 p. 48, describes the pope as: ‘not a mere man, but as it were God and the vicar of God.’ Pope Leo XIII in one of his encyclical letters wrote: ‘We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.’ Pope Innocent III wrote: ‘The pope is not simply a man but rather God on earth.’ He also wrote: ‘The pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ but he is Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of flesh.’
2. Persecution. The Western Watchman, a Roman Catholic periodical (December 24, 1908) stated: ‘The church has persecuted. Only a tyro in history will deny that… Protestants were persecuted in France and Spain with the full approval of the church authorities. We have always defended the persecution of the Huguenots and the Spanish Inquisition.’
Dr. J. Dowling, History of Romanism, pages 541-542, states: ‘From the birth of Popery in 606, to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand murders for every year of the existence of Popery.’
3. Claim to change God’s times and laws. Catholic literature consistently moves from the first of the Ten Commandments to the third, which is counted as number two. The Second Commandment, forbidding idolatry, is not found in the Roman Catholic catechism. (It is in the Catholic Bible)
For many years, the consistent teaching of the Roman Catholic Church was that Sabbath was changed to Sunday by the action of the Catholic Church. e.g. Geiermann: Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1946 ed. page 50. ‘The church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her… The Third (really the fourth but they leave out #2) Commandment commands us to sanctify Sunday as the Lord’s Day.’
The Roman Church claims that changing God’s Law and putting the Sunday in place of the seventh day Sabbath, is the ‘Mark of her power’.
“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. 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.” Daniel 7:27, 28
Remember in our study about Daniel 2 and the Great Image, we learned about the Rock that was cut out without hands and would destroy all the kingdoms and rule forever? Here we see the same thing. Jesus is telling us that His kingdom will be set up after the time of the judgment and will never fall. It is this special group that Jesus prepares that is used to usher in the ‘kingdom’.
The ‘saints’ will be given the kingdom of Jesus to be their kingdom and they will never more have to worry about terrible beast kingdoms, which persecute and kill them for serving Jesus. (See verse 18)
On earth the saints may have been poor and despised. They were often killed or thrown into dungeons without even a trial. They saw their beloved Bibles torn up and burned, and their children killed or made slaves. It was so unfair, but God has not forgotten even one of His dear children.
The wicked ones who killed them often thought that nobody knew what they did in those dark dungeons, but angels were there, the ‘watchers and the holy ones’ were there, and it is all written down. God’s children will be honored and those who persecuted them will have to answer for their deeds unless they repented while they lived.
God’s side of this Great Controversy will win, even if Satan’s hosts and the entire world try to stop it. Make sure you are on Jesus’ side as his obedient child in this war.