We begin now the last of the chapters in Daniel that are written in Aramaic, the common language of the Gentiles in the Middle East before Islam changed it to Arabic. From Chap 8 till the end, the book returns to Hebrew, the language of the Jews in the Land of Israel, promised to them by YHVH in covenant with an oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to their descendants. The Book of Daniel is no longer shut up and sealed, but has been opened in these last days leading up to the glorious return of the Son of Man, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, from the Throne of God in Heaven.
There is very much material in this chapter that we will not be going into in depth, but I hope to give enough understanding to help you study it more for yourselves. Next week we will look at the rest of the chapter. We are not studying this chapter, or the book as a whole, just for information sake, nor just to know facts of dreams and prophecies. We are studying it because, first of all, it is the Word of God. Yeshua referred explicitly to Daniel the Prophet when telling His disciples about the signs of the end-times before He comes again. And we are studying it so that we can understand the end-times in which we live in order to prepare ourselves for them in our faith and relationship with the Lord, and with others, and so that we might be able to help others who do not know the true God, or help believers to be strengthened in their faith and hope and love when these events begin to take place, connected with the revelation of the antichrist, the Day of the LORD (YHVH), and the coming again of Yeshua/Jesus to establish the Messianic Kingdom. Every chapter helps us to know how to live as a witness for Yeshua, to the glory of God, with a special lens on the last days.
In our study of Chapter 2, we learned that the four kingdoms were described by metals and clay. We also learned that the last kingdom was significantly different from the other three before it, and is the only one that has no name given. It is in authority at the time that the Stone from Heaven, the Lord Messiah, returns to destroy all of the kingdoms of this world, and to bring in the everlasting Kingdom of God. In this Chapter 7, we see the kingdoms described as beasts, with the fourth and last beast being much different than the previous three; and it, too, is in authority at the coming of the Son of Man (Bar Enosh), who will judge the nations, and rule over them with the saints – those who believe in Him. (Rev 20:4-6) The four primary kingdoms in Chap 2, and the four primary beasts in Chap 7 are the same, and in their sequence.
v 1 The first year of Belshazzar as King of Babylon was about 53 years from the dream of his “father” Nebuchadnezzar in Chapter 2, and about 11 years before the night he was killed when the Medes, led by Darius, defeated Babylon, and the Kingdom of Silver replaced the Kingdom of Gold. (5:30-31) Daniel had a dream, and wrote down the main facts.
v 2 The “great sea” here is the Mediterranean Sea (yam gadol, not tehom gadol, the “great deep”), and is a reminder that the main players in this historic and prophetic drama are located in the Middle East: Western Asia, Egypt (N Africa), and Turkey (SE Europe and W Asia). Israel lies between among them all!
v 3 “The sea” in the Bible symbolizes danger and instability, and also the Gentiles; whereas Israel is represented by “the land” — a stable, humanly habitable place of safety from the danger of “the sea”. Daniel sees the four great beasts in his dream coming up out from the sea, from the Gentiles. The pagan Gentiles were/are always a threat to the holiness of God’s Chosen People – whether the Jewish people or whether any and all believers in Jesus.
v 4 The first beast was like a lion, who is given a man’s heart. (The descriptions of the beasts are more complex than I am giving.) We know from King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that he was the king of the first kingdom of gold, and he was very cruel and powerful. God granted him authority to kill whom he wanted, and to allow to live whom he wanted. God worked in his life through Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego) to show His greatness, and His powerful faithfulness to those who believe and obey Him, and brought Nebuchadnezzar to humble himself and give glory to the God of Heaven, who is sovereign over the kings of the Earth. This “lion” was given a man’s heart. God rescued Daniel from the hungry lions in the den in Chap 6.
v 5 The second beast was like a bear, who was given liberty to eat as much as it wanted. This beast is the same as the second kingdom of silver, that of the Medes and Persians.
v 6 The third beast was like a leopard, with four heads, and dominion was given to it. This third kingdom of bronze was Greece, which after Alexander the Great was broken up into four principal kingdoms, and ruled over the entire region, influencing until today by its art, culture, and philosophy.
v 7 The fourth beast is different, much different. Notice that it is not described as any animal that we might recognize or understand its behavior. The fourth kingdom of iron, and of iron mixed with ceramic clay also had no name, as did each of the others before it, whose names we can know from Chapters 2, 5, and 8. This very different beast had 10 horns. Each horn represents a king. We saw from our study of Chap 2 that Rome cannot be the fourth kingdom nor, therefore, the fourth beast. It never conquered the territory of Persia or of Babylon, and did not crush Greece either.
v 8 As Daniel was considering the 10 horns, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and he plucks out three of the ten horns. This little horn had eyes like a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.
The Heavenly Courtroom
The visions in Daniel’s head from his dream now move from the great sea on the Earth to a heavenly council sitting down for rendering a verdict in judgment!
v 9 Thrones of judgment are put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated. This term is only mentioned in Daniel, and in this chapter three times. The Ancient of Days speaks of God as the one who is before all time. He created time, with clock time — with seconds, minutes, hours — and days and weeks months and years. He created the Sun and the Moon to mark time and seasons. In this reference, the Ancient of Days speaks of Yeshua/Jesus, where He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and all judgment has been given unto Him, so that those who honor the Father will likewise honor the Son. (Ps 110:1; Jn 5:21-23; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20-21; Col 3:1-2) This is where the Son of God/Son of Man was before He came to Earth — to Israel — to be born in flesh-and-blood as a mortal man. (Lk 1:30-35; Jn 3:10-21)
v 10 Fire was coming forth from the throne, and hundreds of thousands were serving the LORD and standing before Him. The court was seated; and the books were opened.
This is describing the time of judgment, which has not yet come, but we are privy to the verdict! We are given a glimpse into the heavens where the Throne of God is, sitting as Judge. (Eph 2:4-7)
v 11 Daniel was watching because he kept hearing this little horn (the Antichrist) speaking its pompous words. Daniel watched until the beast was slain, and thrown into the burning fire. The horn — the king — and the beast — the kingdom — are one. This ends the dominion of the antichrist and of the last beast kingdom. However…
v 12 The other beasts are allowed to continue for a short time, but their power and authority is gone.
v 13 Daniel was still watching the visions of his dream, and he saw one like a son of man (Bar Enosh; a mortal man), coming with the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days – here referring to the Father – being brought near.
There is one God – YHVH – and He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the term Ancient of Days can be applied, as in these verses, to both the Father and the Son.
Jesus called Himself by the term, the Son of Man, when He was bearing witness of Himself before the chief priests and elders and the Sanhedrin, when they placed Him under oath to tell them if He was the Messiah, the Son of God. He quoted from this verse in Daniel, saying: “…you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven”. (Mt 26:63-68) They understood by this that He was claiming to be God, and in their judgment was a blasphemer, deserving to be put to death. YAH is the One who rides the clouds! (Dt 33:26; Ps 68:4; Jn 6:61-65; Acts 1:9-11)
v 14 The Father gave to His Son dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should worship (יפלחון in Aramaic; implying to worship, not only to serve) Him. The Son of Man, the Son of God, is YHVH, and is to be worshipped. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom one which shall not be destroyed! God also gave Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom power, strength, and glory to rule over all peoples, nations, and languages, but He did not grant that they should worship him.
Yeshua/Jesus will rule over all, both Jews and Gentiles, both Israel and the other nations. YHVH God, Israel’s King, sitting on the Throne of David in Jerusalem! (1Sam 8:1-9; Lk 19:10-27; Ezek 20:32-38; Mt 23:37-39) Yeshua is the Seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head and remove evil from within the Father’s Kingdom! (Gen 3:15; Mt 6:9-13; Lk 1:26-35; Acts 2:29-32; Ps 132:11; Ps 16:10; Ps 110:1; Rev 22:12-15)
Even so, Come, Lord Jesus! Maranatha!
–Let us obey the Lord even in the small things, and pray not to be led into temptation, but delivered from evil;
–Let us respect kings and all who are in authority;
–Let us not fear death, but live in the fear of the Lord, who promises us eternal life;
–Let us humble ourselves: let’s learn from Jesus. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble;
–Let us pray at all times, thanking and praising God;
–Let us trust God and give Him the glory;
–Let’s get excited about the return of the Lord, and of the coming Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. Look at the world around you: no hope. There is real hope for those who believe in Yeshua, and in what the Lord says.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, July 18, 2020, and reposted with permission.