Daniel 7: The Rise and Fall of Empires
In Daniel chapter 7, Daniel sees a vision of impression importance, revealing a controversy that leads to the people of God in the last days. His vision is of vital importance for us to correctly understand. He told us “he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.” Here is that dream, and it’s prophetic unfoldings:
“I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.”
Here Daniel sees the four winds striving upon the sea. We are told what the waters represent, using the Bible as it’s own interpreter:
THE SEA: “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest…are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” (Revelation 17:15)
The four winds striving upon the sea are the power of God’s judgment to bring scatter the power of the nations of the earth:
THE FOUR WINDS: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.” (Jeremaih 49:35-36)
Daniel then beholds four great beasts, one rising after the other, from amongst the people. We are told that these beasts symbolize kingdoms: ” These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth…The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth.” (Daniel 7:17,23) A king always is representative of his subjects, which make up his kingdom, with it’s associated laws and distinctive government; thus these four represent kingdoms.
THE FIRST BEAST: “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings…”
This kingdom would have been instantly recognizeable to Daniel, who was both a captive in Babylon, and a counsellor to the sovereign of Babylon. All surrounding the walls of Babylon, there were over 120 lions with wings portrayed in honor of the goddess of war and fertility, Ishtar, who was one of the chief dieties of Babylon, alongside Bel (Baal) represented by a dragon, and Adad. The lions were symbolic of Ishtar’s throne. The inspiration for these came from both from Ishtar, and ancient Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I, who described in ancient texts his nations walls portraying great lions on them, and having sacrificed over 120 of them by hand in war. He is depicted as putting them to death by causing them to stand upon their feet. In a striking resemblance, we’re told of the lion: “it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man…” The the book of Daniel is filled with several stories of how God deals with the kings of this earth; He committed light into Babylon’s hand, which represents it standing upon it’s feet as a man, but the interpretation is twofold: a blessing, yet a foreboding of a coming judgment if it should turn aside from the light and privileges God had bestowed upon it (Rom. 1:20); Babylon, that great lion, was judged by the hand of God for profaning the holy privileges given to her.
THE SECOND BEAST: “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side…”
The second kingdom that came was Media-Persia. The bear was raised up on one side, because the Persians were more powerful than the Medes, but they confederated together to secure the demise of Babylon. Like the lion, which symbolized the pagan religion of Babylon, the bear is symbolic of the pagan religion of the Persians. Mithraism, the worship of the sun, had it’s deity symbolized by the constellation “ursa minor” or bear. Ursa minor in the heavens is the constellation which is connected to the north star, “polaris”, which is immovable, but rather all stars move around it. Mithras holds constellation the Great Bear in one hand, emphasising his power as the stellar god who moves the cosmic pole as well being responsible for the procession of equinoxes. In an ancient Mithraic liturgy, it says describes him as “a god immensely great, having a bright appearance youthful, golden-haired, with a white tunic and a golden crown and trousers, and holding in his right hand a golden shoulder of a young bull: this is the Bear which moves and turns heaven around, moving upward and downward in accordance with the hour.”
The bear is said to have “three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” The rib: is a symbol of woman who was made from a rib, and in Bible prophecy, we are told of a woman who reigns over the kings of the earth and is hostile towards God’s people, depicted by the rebellious tendencies of Babylon, and given the same name. Prophetic Babylon has a judgment pronounced against her; thus the kings of the earth “devour her flesh”. The ribs are a symbol of the three sovereign nations, chiefly Babylon, then Egypt, and Lydia, which Media-Persia’s confederacy “devour”.
THE THIRD BEAST: “After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl;”
The third kingdom to arise after the Media-Persian kingdom was the Grecian empire. It was symbolized by a leopard, a figure of the patron god of Greece, Dionysius, the god of revelry and fertility, who sat enthroned upon the leopard as his chariot. The leopard was the beast said to overcome all who opposed him.
Oppian, Cynegetica 4. 230 :
“Leopards are overcome also by the gifts of Dionysos… Leopards are now a race of wild beasts, but aforetime they were not fierce wild beasts but bright-eyed women…But to the women he gave the grey eyes of a wild beast and armed their jaws and on their backs put a spotted hide like that of fawns and made them a savage race.”
According to Greek Mythology, Dionysius freed his female worshippers from their imprisonment when they were incarcerated for worshipping him, and at their request they were transformed into leopards to avenge themselves and their god upon the king who imprisoned them.
It had four wings: symbolizing the great speed at which Alexander the great conquered the world; riding the winds of judgments falling upon the Media-Persian kingdom. It had four heads: symbolized by the divided dominion of Alexander, upon his death from the overuse of alcohol (a practice common among Greeks in dedication to Dionysius), shortly after he proclaimed he was a god. Having no living successor, his kingdom was given into the hands of his four generals, Lysimachus, Cassander, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.
THE FOURTH BEAST: ” 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 remnant with the feet of it…”
The fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire, which is said to devour and break in pieces. The chief god of the Romans was known as Saturn, or Chronos, god of time, whose chariot was serpents/dragons. Chronos, in fear of losing his place as chief among the gods, devoured any child who was born from him.
It was during the Roman Empire that Christ came as a man. Speaking of Christ’s birth during this time, we are told this devouring beast was the “dragon”. “…the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.”(Rev. 12:4) Upon the king Herod learning of Christ’s birth from the wise men, he ordered all of the youth two and under to be killed for fear of his throne being overthrown. Satan, also called “the great dragon…that old serpent” (Revelation 12:9) in the Bible, had inspired the king with his very own fears of losing his throne. Thus Herod was moved by the very spirit of Satan to “devour” Christ “as soon as he was born.”
The beast symbolized by the devouring beast of the dragon, “that old serpent”, was also symbolic of the Roman god, Saturn. Saturn was known to transform himself into a serpent with wings, and he is also depicted as having a chariot carried along by serpents with wings. The “old serpent” in Scripture is a reference to the Satan using the medium of a serpent with wings before it was cursed perpetually to live on the ground. The god Saturn was known for having devoured his children as soon as they were born for fear that they would overthrow his dominion.
It was through the Roman Empire that it “break in pieces” Christ, as the sacrifice for man on the cross. After He ascended, we are told that the dragon makes war with “the remnant…which keep the commandments of God”: so the early Christians were terribly persecuted under the empire until the time of Constantine, when the dragon, “that old serpent”, would take a much more subtle form of attack in the Roman Empire.
THE TEN HORNS OF THE FOURTH BEAST: “…and it had ten horns.”
Daniel 7:24 says, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise…”
The Roman empire was divided into what may be more commonly understood as ancient Europe. When the single Roman emperor fell, the kingdom was divided initially into ten divisions: Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Saxons, Lombards, Suevi, Celts, Alemanni, Thuringians.
We must not make the mistake of falsely identifying this little horn power, because it will prove to be the great antichrist power of history, and serve as a key to unveil the deception of the subtle serpent, and how he is working in these last days.
In order to avoid all mistakes of identity, it would be well first to consider the nine characteristic marks described in the prophecy itself. These marks of identity will enable us to be absolutely sure of the interpretation. We dare not guess or speculate concerning the historical identity of this “little horn” of prophecy.
1) It arises amongst the ten horns of Western Europe and it’s divisions.
2) The ten horns were in 476AD, so the little horn rises after this point.
3) It would uproot three horns standing in the way of it’s dominion, saying that “there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.”.
4) It would have “eyes like a man and a mouth speaking great things,” signifying that it would be a man symbolized by this reign, and he would claim to be in a position of great authority.
5) This horn would be “diverse from the first”, showing that he is a different kind of power than the traditional political authority of the other kings.
6) It says “he shall speak great words against the most High.” Another verse says, “speaking great things and blasphemies.” [Blasphemy in the Bible is defined as a man, placing himself in the position of God. “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” John 10:30-33, also to forgive sins- ““Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” Mark 2:7)
7) He makes war with the saints, and prevails. (The saints are defined in the Bible as those who have the gospel of Christ and keep the law of God [Rev. 14:12])
8) He thinks to change times and laws. This does not refer to the laws of the kingdom of Rome, because the laws of the earthly kingdoms have always changed. It speaking about a man who claims to have authority to change the law of God and His kingdom.
9) It will reign for 1260 years. The Scripture says “a time, times, and a dividing of time.” While it seems unusual to word time like this, how can we know it is referring to 1260 years? The expression is employed again, in regards to a time when the church of God must flee persecution “for a time, and times, and half a time” in Revelation 12:14, which in verse 6 is referred to as “a thousand, two hundred, and threescore (a score is 20, so 3×20=60) days”. A day in Bible prophecy is in fact a year, according to Ezekiel 4:6 (“I’ve appointed thee each day for a year.”) A time therefore is 360 days, which is the length of the Bible’s year. Times is 720 (2×360), and a half a time is 180. If this is all put together, it gives us the key of reigning for 1260 years.
All of these points must match perfectly to identify the antichristian power, which will be used by Satan in the last days to deceive the world. God has already let these points find fulfillment, so none need be in darkness in the last days regarding the deceptions of Satan.
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