In the first half of this chapter, Daniel had a dream and saw visions both on Earth and in Heaven. In this last half, from verse 15, he – and we – are given the interpretation of his dream. Daniel’s dream corresponds with the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (Ch 2) more than 50 years earlier. The kingdoms are the same, and so is the outcome: “The kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15)
v 15 The dream troubled and disturbed Daniel because he could not understand it, and the fourth beast, especially, was terrifying and frightening and very powerful, different from all the former beasts. (v 7-8)
v 16 Daniel asked one of those standing there – apparently among the vast multitude worshipping the Ancient of Days (v 9-10) – the true meaning of what he saw. So he told him the interpretation.
v 17-18 The four great beasts are four kings that will arise from the Earth, but the saints of the Most High will receive the Kingdom and will possess it forever and ever – yes, forever and ever.
v 19 Daniel wanted to know more than that brief summary. But this is the message that God wants us to get! (Do we also want to know more of what the Scriptures mean; or are we satisfied with a brief teaching like I am giving here?)
He particularly wanted to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was so much different than the others, exceedingly dreadful and destructive.
v 20 This beast also had the ten horns on its head, and the other horn that came up and caused three of the ten to fall – the horn that had eyes and a mouth speaking pompous words, and whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
This “other horn” begins small, perhaps even insignificant, but becomes greater than those already in power. The best example we have in our memory is Adolf Hitler. No one knew who he was when he first sought political power. But the next time, he was elected and grew to be exceedingly evil, not only in his thinking but also in his words and deeds, as well. Many world leaders came under his power and influence, and cooperated with him in his evil, and he persecuted to horrible death millions of the chosen people of God, as well as many others. Hitler is a recent example for us to consider how the antichrist will arise.
v 21 Daniel was watching, and saw that this horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them…
It is important here to give heed: The Lord will give the believers over to the Antichrist. (Mt 24:21-22; Rev 12:13-17; 13:1-10) The saints are the believers. In the context of Daniel’s book, the saints here would be specifically speaking about Israeli, Jewish believers – those of Daniel’s own people. However, all Gentile Christians are brought into God’s new covenant plan of redemption for His people, and the saints here – and also in the New Testament – speak of all the people of God, especially those who believe and are faithful to God’s covenants — the saints of the Most High.
v 22 until the Ancient of Days came – that is, Yeshua/Jesus – and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the Kingdom!
Again, the coming again of the Lord is the blessed hope of all redemptive history; and it is the believers in Jesus/Yeshua from all the ages who are given the kingdom to rule with Him for 1000 years, and whose Kingdom never ends. (1Cor 15:20-28; Rev 20:1-7) It is clear from the text that this occurs after the tribulation of those days.
v 23 The one explaining to Daniel continues to give the truth about the dream and visions: the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on Earth, and will be different than all other kingdoms, and devour the whole Earth, trample it and break it in pieces.
In the Bible, the “whole Earth” can mean different things, depending on the context. The same is true for the word “forever”. The “whole Earth” can mean the entire world; it can mean a whole region; it can mean the known world at the time; it can mean a kingdom’s territory and broader influence. “Forever” can mean for eternity; it can mean until the end of this world and creation; it can mean until the end of one’s own life.
I take the view here that the whole Earth means that the impact of the fourth beast kingdom and king will be world-wide, but that the center of his authority is located in the Mediterranean Middle East — the center of the Earth. Forever, in the context of the Kingdom of the Lord and of His Messiah, with the saints, will be an everlasting kingdom that will never end.
v 24 The ten horns are ten kings which arise out from this fourth kingdom. Another king will arise, who will be different from the others; and he will subdue three of the kings. (11:40-43)
v 25 He will speak words against the Most High, and think to change times and law. Then the saints will be given into his hand for a time and times and half-a-time. (Dan 12:7-13; Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 13-17; 13:5)
The little horn will think to bring others under his kingdom’s “times” — holy days — and its law and judgment. In Islam they use another calendar which is solely based on the moon and their traditions, and another law, Sharia. The calendar of YHVH is both lunar and solar-based, and His Law is that of Moses and of the Messiah. His Law is love.
The little horn has authority given by YHVH to make war against Israel and against the believers for 3 ½ years, equivalent to 42 months, and to 1260 days. The elect are rescued and saved from this satanic murderous hatred when Jesus returns in great power and glory. (2Thes 2:7-10)
This horn is called by different names in the New Testament: In 2Thes 2:3 the little horn is called the “man of lawlessness/the man of sin/the son of perdition.” Rev 13:1-2 calls the little horn the “beast.” The name we are most familiar with is found in 1Jn 2:18-24 where John calls the little horn the “Antichrist.” He is doomed to destruction in the lake of fire. (Rev 19:19-20)
v 26 The [heavenly] court shall be seated and take away his dominion, to totally destroy it, [never to exist again].
v 27 And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His Kingdom is everlasting, and all rulers and principalities shall worship and obey Him. (Dan 7:18,22,27; Lk 12:31-32; Rev 2:25-28; 3:21; 11:15-18; 20:6) It is said again that the kingdom is given to the saints after the trouble of those days.
v 28 This ends the explanation of the truth of the dream and it visions. Daniel was greatly disturbed, and his face showed it, but he kept the matter to himself.
We, too, can be disturbed by the scenario given to us through Daniel’s dream. Yet the Lord gives us His peace, as He is telling us what we need to know to be prepared and to be strengthened by the hope we have in Him. Truth sets us free, and is also a guard against deception. Let us keep these things in our heart, even as we seek to know and to understand more as the word of the prophets come to pass.
The first three beast and metal kingdoms all historically ruled before Messiah was born, that is, BC. The final and fourth beast and metal/clay kingdom(s) come into being after Messiah, that is, AD. I have taken the view that Islam is the last kingdom of this world, the last kingdom of the Gentiles.
It is much different than all that were before it (Rome was simply not so much different than the others before it):
–It is exceedingly cruel and destructive of anything non-Islamic/Muslim;
–It requires complete subjugation of non-Muslims in its religious and political worldview;
–It was established overtly opposing the revealed truth of the Old and the New Testaments (that is, The Bible), and against the one true Father God and His beloved Son Jesus Christ, and against the unique covenantal relationship of YHVH with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob/Israel, with the abiding promised inheritance of the Land of Canaan to the children of Israel, YHVH’s firstborn son as a nation; and against the new covenantal relationship with all who repent and believe the gospel, who receive the forgiveness of their sins against their Creator and Redeemer.
Read current news and see which “kingdom” intimidates the world that God made, and of whom people and governments are terrified. What “kingdom” is it that lives by the sword and is against everyone? Which religion justifies vengeance as a virtue? Which major world religion, that came into being centuries after the death, burial, resurrection, ascension back to Heaven of the Son of God, has in its Holy Book that God is not a Father, and has no need of a Son? This is the antichrist! (1Jn 2:22) Which religion and political system refuses to accept international law giving the legitimate right of the Jewish people to return to its promised inheritance and to be a sovereign nation? Which religion and political system tries to wipe out all remembrance of Jewish and Christian history in Islamic-controlled areas and nations (and also the religious history of other religions)? Which religion loves death more than life? This kingdom of Islam is not limited by borders, as other nationalist political kingdoms have been. Muslims do not need to be the elected rulers in order to pressure governments and nations to submit to their agenda. One does not need to be a terrorist or a faithful Muslim in order to be in league with them against YHVH and against His Anointed One. (Not all Muslims believe in their heart the doctrines of Islam; and some unfaithful Jews and Christians do.) A bitter root defiles many!
(I am not saying in all of this that there are not some “good” things written in the holy books of Islam, or that there not many Muslims whose hearts are open to the truth of the true God through the Creation and the search for eternity that He has put into every person’s being. This is so in virtually all religions and worldly wisdom. Praise God that the Holy Spirit is active everywhere in the world! But “the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” The Word of God calls the fourth beast “exceedingly dreadful and terrible”. The devil is a deceiver and a liar, murderer, and thief… and he is good at it.)
It is interesting that in these last days, the same nations as then are again sovereign, and each seeks to reestablish its former glory: Babylon is Iraq, and under Saddam Hussein, he saw himself as Nebuchadnezzar and wanted to rebuild his great empire; Persia is Iran, and we know the danger and ambitions of the Islamic leadership there; Yavan is Greece/Turkey, and while Greece is no longer relevant, Turkey is seeking to reestablish the Ottoman Empire and to be the Caliph of the Muslim world. All of these nations today are Islamic. The Islamic Ottoman Empire was defeated in WW1, and its lands divided into several sovereign nations of. Today, it is recovering and vowing to reclaim all that it lost, plus much more.
Daniel the Prophet was deeply troubled by the truth of the fourth beast and its final arrogant king. He saw, and was given to understand, that the whole world, and even the saints of the Most High, would suffer greatly at its hands.
But God gave him also to know that an end would come to this evil, and the kingdoms of this world would become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, along with those whose hope and trust is in Him, and He shall reign forever and ever!
Let us encourage one another with these words. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in Heaven! The Holy Spirit is making known to us what will be leading up to the return of the Lord. Jesus loves us and is letting us know all things that the Father is making known. We are His witnesses in the world and we want to remain faithful to Him as we help others know what is going on. He is still at work to bring to repentance unto salvation whosoever will.
Watch, and pray always.
He who endures in the faith until the end will be saved. Help us, Lord!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, July 25, 2020, and reposted with permission.