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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)


Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 1)

Prophetic Symbols: Introduction
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 2
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 2)

Articles 7-12
Articles 13-18
Articles 19-25
Articles 26-29



Daniel 7 records a vision seen by Daniel. This vision comes during the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon, who according to chapter 5:30-31 was the last Babylonian king and after him his kingdom passed to Darius the Mede.

Daniel 7:2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 9 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. 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. 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. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 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. 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.

In the vision, Daniel sees four beasts arise out of the great sea. Let's note several details before we begin our examination of these beasts. First, in verse 3, Daniel states that these beasts arise out of the sea, but in verse 17, he states that these beasts are four kings, which "arise out of the earth."

Daniel 7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

Therefore, Daniel uses the terms "out of the sea" and "out of the earth" somewhat interchangeably. Consequently, when we later examine Revelation 13 and find one beast coming up "out of the sea" and a second beast coming up "out of the earth," we should not attach a great deal of significance to those descriptions.

Second, notice from verses 11-14 that just as in Daniel 2, this vision concludes and these beasts' power comes to an end when "13 ...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. 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." So, we see there is consistency in the two visions. In both Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's vision here, the last thing depicted is the coming of Jesus Christ to assume the dominion formerly held by Gentile empires.

Now we will turn to our examination of these four beasts. Of primary significance is that verse 3 specifically states that these four beasts are "diverse one from another." Similarly, verse 7 states specifically of the fourth beast that "it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it." The reason we point this out is that we are constructing a map legend of sorts for deciphering the symbols in prophetic passages. As we have said, the goal is to use precedent from earlier passages to build a proper interpretation of symbols, which can be used in later passages such as Revelation. It is appropriate at this point to state that many interpret the first beast of Revelation 13 to be the same as the fourth beast described here in Daniel 7, particularly because both have 10 horns.

Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

In fact, most people interpret both beasts as representations of the Roman Empire. However, it is impossible for the fourth beast of Daniel 7 to be the same beast as the first beast of Revelation 13 because the beasts of Daniel 7 are all specifically described as being "diverse from one another." And the fourth beast is specifically described as being "diverse from all the beasts that were before it." Conversely, Revelation 13 goes on to describe the seven-headed beast in the following way.

Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

While the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is diverse from all the beasts that were before it, this first beast of Revelation 13 has characteristics of all four of Daniel 7's beasts. It has the mouth of a lion and the feet of a bear. It is like a leopard. And it has 10 horns, just as the fourth beast of Daniel 7 has 10 horns.

And, additionally, while Daniel 7:6 is careful to inform us that the leopard has four heads, Daniel's description of the fourth beast does not include multiple heads. Given the fact that Daniel's fourth beast is by far the most detailed in its description, we can be sure that if this fourth beast had seven heads, Daniel would have told us so. Thus, the first beast of Revelation 13 differs from the fourth beast of Daniel 7 in that the first beast of Revelation 13 has the peculiar feature of 7 heads while the fourth beast of Daniel 7 apparently has only 1 head.

So, we must conclude that the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is not the same beast as the first beast of Revelation 13. In fact, the first beast of Revelation 13 is actually a composite of the four beasts of Daniel, but we will get more into that later on in our study.

Now, with regard to the beasts themselves, which we find in Daniel 7, the first is like a lion. The second is said to be like a bear but having raised itself up on one side. The third beast is said to be like a leopard having four heads and four wings. Based upon these characteristics, Daniel 8 will help us greatly to identify what nations these second and third beasts represent. So, having made note of these traits here, we will hold off further identification of these beasts until we obtain more corroborating information from chapter 8.

The fourth beast of Daniel 7 is said to have "iron teeth" (verse 7) and "brass nails" (verse 19.) The use of these two particular metals may help to connect the identity of this fourth beast with the nations represented by those metals on the statue of Nebuchadnezzar's vision in chapter 2.

Additionally, this fourth beast is said to have 10 horns. Verse 24 tells us that these 10 horns are 10 kings. It must be clarified that these 10 kings are contemporary figures who rule at the same time and not a succession of kings who rule one after another. There are four reasons that we know this is true. First, verse 8 tells us that the "little horn" comes up "among them." This indicates that the other 10 kings are all there when the "little horn" comes up, for he comes up "among them."

Second, verses 8 and 24 both tell us that this "little horn" will "pluck up" or "subdue" 3 of those kings. This tells us that those 3 kings exist simultaneously for they are plucked up or subdued by the rising of the "little horn." Conversely, given that the other 7 horns are not "subdued" or "plucked up" indicates that those other 7 kings continue to exist after the arrival of the "little horn" among them. And additionally, the "little horn" is said to have a "look more stout than his fellows" in chapter 8:20. This term "fellows" is the Hebrew word "chabrah," (Strong's No. 02273), which means "associate, fellow, companion" and, therefore, further indicates that the other 10 horns are not only contemporaries of each other, but also exist contemporaneously with the "little horn" who comes up after them.

Third, as we will see, Daniel 8 depicts a goat out of which grow four horns. Daniel 8 actually identifies what country that goat represents. And from history, we know that those four horns represent contemporary kingdoms that arose out of that country.

Fourth, whenever a horn (king) arises after another horn (king), Daniel 7:8 and 24 as well as Daniel 8:8 and 9 specifically tell us that is the case. Daniel 7:8 and 24 tells us that a "little horn" rises up among the 10 horns. Daniel 8:8 and 9 tell us that the four horns rise after the first horn is broken and that out of one of those four horns will eventually come a "little horn." So, as is evidenced by Daniel 7:8, 24 and Daniel 8:8, 9, whenever the horns or kings are not contemporaries, the text will specifically tell us that is the case. This in turn tells us that, unless it is specifically stated that a horn rises up "after," we should assume horns represent contemporary figures. Likewise, Revelation 17:12-13 also depicts 10 horns who all receive a kingdom at the same time.

Therefore, Daniel 8 and Revelation 17 provide insight that, unless otherwise stated, horns represent contemporary kings, not a succession.

Additionally, for the purposes of constructing our map legend for prophetic symbols, we see plainly from Daniel 7:17, 23 that a "beast" represents a king AND his kingdom.

Daniel 7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

Daniel 7:23 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.

Not only is it significant because it establishes a clear precedent for how to interpret the symbol of a beast, but it is also significant because it uses a single symbol (a beast) to represent two items jointly (the king and his kingdom.) And this second precedent will become significant as we examine Revelation 17 later on.

The last precedent that we can apply to our symbolic map legend is that horns represent kings, which is plainly stated in verse 24.


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