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The Four Great Beasts (Daniel Chapter 7)

The first six books of Daniel are historical and record significant events in the life of Daniel as he lived in Babylon.  The first six books were written in Aramaic which was the most common language used among the Babylonians of the time.  Daniel was an exceptionally devout follower of God and his devotion and faithfulness to God was used for the providential protection of the Israelites during their captivity.  God directly dealt with Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius who were notable kings along the course of Daniel's life. 

Belshazzar was dealt with harshly as befitted his conduct, especially in view of the fact that he knew better than to do the things he did.  However Nebuchadnezzar and Darius were dealt with in such a way that the Israelites would be allowed to worship the God of Heaven without fear of persecution.  Both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius issued official documents which declared the power and sovereignty of God.  It is unclear whether these men completely converted to our God and disavowed their beliefs in their own gods or not.  But one thing is certain, the guiding hand of God was with the Israelites during their entire captivity, protecting them, and preserving them.  Daniel was not the only prophet active at the time of the Babylonian captivity either.  It should be noted that Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel and lived in Babylon as a captive as well.  Jeremiah also was contemporary with Daniel and remained behind in Judah. Both of these prophets actively condemned idolatry among the Israelites and worked to expunge it from their lives.  By the end of the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites were through with worshipping false gods.  As a nation, they never again departed from the worship of God as the one true and living God. 

Daniel 7:1
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.

This episode in Daniel's life happened during the first year of Belshazzar who was co-regent with Nabonidus.  The succession of the kings of Babylon beginning with Nebuchadnezzar are as follows:  Nebuchadnezzar reigned 43 years.  Evil-Merodach, his son, succeeded Nebuchandnezzar and reigned 2 years.  Neriglissar, brother in law to Evil-Merodach, betrayed him, participated in his death and succeeded him.  He reigned 4 years before he was replaced by his son, Laborosoarchod who was killed after less than a year.  Nabonidus succeeded him and reigned 16 years.  Nabonidus appointed Belshazzar as co-regent in his third year as king of Babylon and moved to Haran.  So the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, who was the son of Nabonidus and the co-regent of Babylon, happened in the third year of Nabonidus' reign. 

Daniel chapter 7 is not in Chronological order with the chapter 6 which happened near the end of Daniel's life.  Chapter 5 records the death of Belshazzar so chronologically, chapter 7 precedes chapter 5.

"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 was probably in his early to mid 60's when he recorded these visions.  The text here says that he recorded all of the matters of the dream so we can conclude that the vision recorded here contains all the necessary essential elements and details. 

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.

"The four winds of heaven" are forces of great extent from all corners of the earth.  The number four was used to depict the "four corners of the earth" in Isaiah 11:12 which contextually meant the whole earth.  The words "four winds" are found in Jeremiah 49:36, Ezekiel 37:9, Daniel 8:8; 11:4 and Zechariah 2:6.  Jesus used these words in Matthew 24:31 to refer to the entire earth.  Represented here in this context are the populations of the nations of the earth. The "great sea" here is not the Mediterranean sea, but the sum of the people upon earth.  So here we see the four winds of heaven striving upon the nations of the earth as God working from all corners of the earth to fulfill his purpose and will for mankind. 

Daniel 7:3
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

We know from Daniel 7:17 that these beasts are kingdoms.  The text of verse 17 actually says kings, but in verse 23, the fourth beast is identified as the "fourth kingdom upon earth".  So the four great beasts in Daniel's vision are actually kingdoms or world empires.  Each of these world empires were pictured as coming up out of the sea.  The great beast of Revelation also rose up out of the sea as recorded in Revelation 13.  The sea was a source of unimaginable calamity in the minds of those who lived near it or on it.  The sea in this context being the people of the earth, we see the four great beasts, world empires, coming up or rising up from among the people of the earth or from a source of great unrest and violent storms of turmoil and destruction.  Each of these world kingdoms were distinct from each other.  Similar in respect to their power and influence, but different or independent of each other in identity and culture.  These four kingdoms are the same ones Daniel revealed and explained to king Nebuchadnezzar many years earlier as recorded in chapter 2.  These world empires are: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and the Roman empires. 

The fourth world empire rising up from the sea here has a direct connection to the beast rising up from the sea in Revelation 13.  The fourth world empire in Daniel's vision is the Roman Empire, which we will see conclusively later on.  The first readers of the Revelation who were familiar with this vision of Daniel's would naturally associate the two beasts together. 

Daniel 7:4
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.

The lion was a symbol of strength, boldness and bravery.  The wings of eagles was a symbol of speed.  In speaking of the coming of Babylon, Jeremiah wrote in 4:13, "Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled".  The plucked wings are a reference to Nebuchadnezzar's humbling during his insanity.  Being lifted up from the earth and being made to stand upon the feet as a man was the restoring of Nebuchadnezzar from his madness where he crawled around on his all fours and ate grass like an ox would.  During this period of time Nebuchadnezzar had the heart of a beast.  When he was restored and set back upon his feet, he was given the heart of a man.  The first world kingdom in Daniel's vision can be none other than the Babylonian Empire personified in her greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar. 

Daniel 7:5
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.

This is an image of the Medo-Persian empire.  "Behold another beast, a second, like to a bear" - symbolizing their overwhelming strength and cruelty (Isaiah 13:17-18). Cambyses, Ochus, and other of the Persian princes, were notoriously cruel.  The Persian laws sometimes mandated the destruction of an entire family for one man's offence (Daniel 6:24).  A bear is an all-devouring animal. Jeremiah referred to the Babylonians as "the spoilers" in chapter 51:48,56.

This Medo-Persian empire is further expounded upon in Daniel's vision in chapter 8 verse 3.  The bear raised up on one side coincides with the ram with two horns.  One horn was higher than the other.  The Medes, an ancient people, and the Persians, a modern and aggressive nationality, formed one united sovereignty, in contrast to the third and fourth kingdoms, each of which was originally one, but were united as the second world empire of Daniel's vision.  Media is the lower side, more passive and peaceful, as we saw in Darius the Mede's proclamation of peace.  Persia the upper side was the active and conquering element of the empire.

"And it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it"  The three ribs in its mouth are Egypt, Lydia, and Babylon, brought under the Persian sway. These three nations were not properly parts of its body, but seized by Medo-Persia. They were called "ribs" because they strengthened and supported, albeit unwillingly, the Medo-Persian empire. "Between its teeth", representing the cruelty and oppression of the Persians.  The image here is of biting, rending, grinding and tearing.  "And they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh" is a continuation of the image of the teeth. They would subjugate many nations and many people would be destroyed in the process. 

Daniel 7:6
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.

This is an image of the Grecian empire.  A leopard is vicious and swift, springing suddenly from its hiding place on its prey. So Alexander, a small king of a small kingdom, Macedon, attacked Darius (Not the Darius of Daniel) at the head of the vast empire reaching from the Aegean Sea to the Indies. In twelve years he subjugated part of Europe, and all Asia from Illyricum and the Adriatic to the Ganges. Hence, whereas Babylon is represented with two wings, Macedon has four, so rapid were Alexander's conquests.

The Four heads are explained in Daniel 8:8, "Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven".  The four horns were four kingdoms as explained in Daniel 8:22 "Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power."

At the death of Alexander, the Grecian empire was divided into four kingdoms, Macedon and Greece came under the rule of Cassander.  Thrace and Bithynia were under the reign of Lysimachus, Egypt under Ptolemy, and Syria under Seleucus.

And dominion was given to it by God and not by Alexander's own might.  This was explained to Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel many years earlier and serves to remind us as well:  Daniel 4:17, "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men".  God is in charge of who rules the affairs of the earth. 

Daniel 7:7
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.

This dreadful world empire which was exceedingly powerful and represented as the feet of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream was the Roman Empire.  The Romans were noted for their iron works which produced weapons of war among other things.   The imagery of the stamping feet correspond with the imagery of the feet of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. 

This ferocious description fits the military fury and zeal of the Roman Empire, which crushed and devoured everything that sought to resist in its paths of conquest. Its landmass of domain would be far greater and its duration of existence would be longer than any of the preceding three empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia or Greece.

Horns symbolize power or authority. The common figurative use of "horn" is taken from the image of battling animals as seen in Daniel 8:7 to denote aggressive strength. In Zechariah 1:18-21 "horns" stand for power in general. In Habakkuk 3:4 the "horns coming out of his [God's] hand" represent His power.  Here in Daniel 7:7, many horns are given to the same figure where they symbolize successive rulers or figures of power.  The horns here would then represent the succession of emperors or rulers of the Roman empire.  Daniel 7:24 supports this succession of kings as the horns in the vision.

Daniel 7:8
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.

The horns or the figures of power associated with the fourth beast are of special interest to Daniel.  There were the first ten horns and the little horn coming up among them was the eleventh in number.  Much is said in description of this eleventh horn later in Daniel's vision and an understanding of who this was in very important in understanding the beast of Revelation because the fourth beast in Daniel's vision and the beast of Revelation are the same.  The rest of chapter Daniel 7 projects the events of the book of Revelation and especially the apocalyptic details of its chapters thirteen and seventeen.  And this eleventh horn is a very prominent figure with an important role, both in this vision and in reality within the Roman Empire. 

Revelation 13:1-10 will present the Roman Empire as “a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads…” Furthermore, but in reverse order, Imperial Rome, as the beast in Revelation 13:2, will share characteristics of the three former empires by being “like unto a leopard” and its feet were "as the feet of a bear" and his mouth "as the mouth of a lion” The eleventh horn in Daniel's vision has a strong probability of being an apocalyptic reference to the Roman Emperor Domitian who reigned from AD 81 to 96. 

Revelation 17:1-18 will pick up the thrust of the thirteenth chapter with the added detail of the city of Rome as “Mystery, Babylon the Great…” Therein, verses 8-11 will present Daniel’s projected eleventh horn as “an eighth”, because the very three which Daniel presents as being “plucked up by the roots” are no longer counted.  These three kings would be Galba, Otho and Vitellius.

Galba reigned from June of 68 to January of 69 and was killed by the soldiers of Otho.  He was the first ruler of the The Year of the Four Emperors which was a year in the history of the Roman Empire, AD 69, in which four emperors ruled in a remarkable succession. The other three emperors were Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.  Otho reigned from January of 69 to April of 69 and committed suicide.  Vitellius reigned from April of 69 to December of the same year and was executed while trying to resign.  Vespasian then assumed full leadership of the Roman Empire.  History places his reign from June of AD 69.  Obviously there was some contention over who the real emperor was.  None of the three, Galba, Otho nor Vitellius were ever accepted as the legal leaders of the Empire, fully accepted by the Senate and supported by the military.  Their reigns were during a time of Roman civil war and they were all "plucked up" before ever attaining the full stature of an emperor.  It is highly likely that emperor Domitian was the eleventh horn in Daniel's vision and with the removal of the three "plucked up" horns, was the eighth in John's vision in Revelation chapter 17. 

The Imperial Roman Empire had its beginning with Augustus in the year 26 BC.  Augustus was the first constitutional emperor and he was also the emperor when Christ was born, so the numbering of the horns in Daniel's vision starts with him. 

(1) Augustus (Octavian) 31 BC – AD 14
(2) Tiberius  AD 14-37
(3) Gaius Caligula)  AD37-41
(4) Claudius  AD 41-54
(5) Nero AD 54-68
(6) Galba AD 68-69 The Roman Civil Wars
(7) Otho AD 69 The Roman Civil Wars
(8) Vitellius AD 69 The Roman Civil Wars
(9) Vespasian AD 69-79
(10) Titus AD 79-81
(11)  Domitian AD 81-96

It is worthy of notation here that there is another credible interpretation of the eleven horns of Daniel.  Rex A Turner Sr. makes an outstanding case for Vespasian as the eleventh horn.  The key to his interpretation is that he claims the text of Daniel 7:7 says that the eleventh horn actually put down the three that were plucked up and that the numbering of the kings starts with Pompey.  Verse 24 affirms this to be the case. 

A serious difficulty with this understanding is that Vespasian destroyed Jerusalem.  Daniel 7:21-22 says that the eleventh 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".  Vespasian was not known for war against the Christians.  The Jews who were left in Jerusalem when it was destroyed were not saints and they never possessed the kingdom of God as we understand it in the New Testament and as it is meant in Daniel 7:22.  

Moreover, Revelation 17:10 places the writing of the book during the 6th emperor, Vespasian, not counting the three that were "plucked up".  If Pompey were the first as Turner affirms, then the book of Revelation was written during the reign of Claudius Caesar who reigned from AD 41-54.  Such a dating of the book of Revelation cannot be supported internally or historically. It is this Bible student's belief that Domitian was the eleventh horn of Daniel chapter 7. 

Revelation 17 records “ten horns” as being ten kings of the client kingdoms of the Roman Empire.  We cannot assume that the “ten horns”, followed by the eleventh horn in Daniel 7:7-8, 11 and 20-25, are the same as “the ten horns” in Revelation 17:3, 7 and 12-17.  The fact is that the respective texts of Daniel and Revelation rule otherwise.  The eleven horns in Daniel are not to be identified with the ten horns in Revelation.  The eleventh horn of Daniel, and the eighth horn of Revelation are one and the same.  And as we proceed further with this study of Daniel 7 we will see that this eleventh horn is a prominent figure in Daniel's vision. 

Daniel 7:9
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.

This is a throne scene of God and from His throne issues judgment on all the thrones of all the beasts and the KJV text says they are cast down.  In the original language the word here is "remah" which means "to throw", to "set, or to "assess".  Modern translations render this phrase as "set up" instead of "cast down".  Either way, Daniel was watching a succession of the leaders of the world empires. 

The "Ancient of days" is a symbolic reference to God, the great "I am".  His white garment and white hair signifying absolute purity.  The fire is an apocalyptic reference to judgment.   This scene demonstrates that all the thrones of earthly leaders will be brought before the judgment seat of God in Heaven.  All the cruel and unlawful acts of powerful men will be brought before the God of Heaven for judgment.  Punishments suitable to their crimes would be administered.  In this case, the toppling of world empires and their leaders is in view.  God is pictured here as ancient, enduring through all of the earthy kingdoms, pure and holy, setting on His throne throughout and the scene is of fire and retribution on the unjust.

It should be noted that God who issued judgment then is still on His throne today.  The judgment for unrighteous acts and cruelty today will be no different.  Nations will be toppled, rulers will be punished.  The book of Revelation gives us a vivid illustration of how God accomplishes this on earth.  World leaders today need to take heed to these warnings lest they find themselves facing the fiery judgment of the "Ancient of days".

His "wheels as burning fire" is an image taken from oriental thrones which moved on wheels.  Like the rapid flame, God's judgments are most swift in falling where He directs them (Ezekiel 1:15-16). The turning of the wheels mark the complicated, inexorable and all-wise revolutions of His will.

Daniel 7:10
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.

The judgment scene of God.  His judgment coming directly from Him and straight to the wicked recipients of His retribution.  Millions serve Him on His throne and Billions stand before Him.  The books calling to mind the acts of man, whether good or bad, being recorded permanently and recalled for examination at judgment.  Their deeds will not be forgotten or overlooked.  The imagery of the open books at judgment is also seen in Revelation 20:12

The imagery of this verse has a parallel in Revelation regarding the judgment of the fourth beast, Revelation 5:11-12 "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands".

Daniel 7:11
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.

At that time, because of the great words coming from the little horn, the eleventh horn, Daniel focused his attention on it.  And he watched until the beast on which the horn set was destroyed and burned.  This is the judgment and death of Imperial Rome as a world power.  The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in yet another prophetic statement in Revelation 19:20-21.

Daniel 7:12
As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.

Looking back on the previous three beasts, their empires were toppled and taken away yet they lived on through their successors for a period of time.  The provinces of Babylon, Persia and Greece lived on after they were brought down but not as world powers.  Similarly, when Imperial Rome fell and she lost her status as a world power, she lived on in a lesser capacity.  

Daniel 7:13
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.

Daniel sees in this part of his vision a prophetic image of Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah.  This image of the coming of Jesus Christ was seen in John's vision as recorded in Revelation and beginning in verse 5 and following, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen".

Coming from the clouds signifies from a high position of authority.  Jesus Christ who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords rides in over the top of and higher than all the earthly kingdoms and kings. 

When Jesus' work on earth was finished and was "brought him near before him", The Ancient of days on His heavenly throne, he ascended back to heaven.  This is a prophetic vision of the ascension of Christ to set at the right hand of God the Father. 

Daniel 7:14
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.

Peter gives an outstanding commentary of the fulfillment of this prophecy concerning Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 3:22, "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."  Jesus Christ is here illustrated as being the ruler in authority over angels, authorities and powers on earth.  Jesus is given a kingdom over which He rules absolutely in Daniel's vision.  It must be noted here that this prophecy of the receiving of the kingdom of Christ was foretold during the time of the fourth beast on the earth. 

When Jesus arose in the third day, and ascended to heaven, He was given "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom" right then and there. This statement from scripture alone should be sufficient to discredit the beliefs of those who hold to a future coming of the kingdom of Christ.  Premillennial believers must demonstrate why Jesus received "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom" at the time of His ascension to heaven.  This dominion is said to never "pass away".  His heavenly kingdom will never end.  It is nonsense to believe that Jesus Christ will ever leave his never ending heavenly throne where He is reigning now, and return to a physical kingdom on earth to reign. 

Daniel 7:15
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

There is no wonder at Daniel's grief. He had seen a vision of Lions, bears, leopards and other beasts who being judged by fire, were being toppled, overthrown and destroyed.  This was a dream of world calamity.  He saw horns which spoke and horns which were plucked up by the roots.  Daniel's vision was a dreadful indication of terrifying times in store for the races of men.  Not the least of which are his own countrymen in captivity right there in Babylon.  This dream of his at this point would be more correctly described as a nightmare.  And he can't wake up from it. 

Daniel 7:16
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.

This dream was very real.  Obviously there were beings, probably angels, in attendance during this vision.  In John's Revelation, he also spoke with various characters present in his visions as well.  And the characters in both men's visions helped to explain what it was they were seeing.  The identity of this heavenly being is not given here, but we get a clue from Daniel's vision of the seventy weeks prophecy of who this may have been he spoke with. 

Before receiving the vision of the seventy weeks prophecy, Daniel had been in prayer to God concerning the sins of Israel.  During that prayer, Daniel received a heavenly visitor who was sent to give him the prophecy of the seventy weeks.  Daniel made this statement in his narration of the events, ""even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning".  This was the first vision recorded for us by Daniel so it is possible that this unnamed being to which Daniel said he spoke may have been Gabriel. 

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

Here Daniel is told that the great beasts represent world empires.  These empires are personified in the images of men who were naturally associated with them.  This is further expounded upon in Daniel chapter 8 where the Medo-Persian Empire is identified directly in verse 20 and the Grecian Empire is identified in verse 21.  These would be the second and third beasts in Daniel's vision, the first one having already been dispatched. 

Daniel 7:18
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

In Revelation 5:9-10 John wrote of the Christians as kings and priests possessing the kingdom, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."  When speaking to Mary before Jesus was conceived, Gabriel said this, "And he [Jesus] shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33).  Jesus Christ rules His kingdom from Heaven and His kingdom is given to His saints who both rule and serve on the earth as kings and priests in His name.  Christians of all times need to bear in mind that inspired scripture refers to us as kings and priests.  In the eyes of God, saints on earth are kings.  Poor kings and poor priests were always judged accordingly.  Let us observe and learn from their examples and strive to be good kings and priests, reigning as kings on earth and serving Christ acceptably. 

Daniel 7:19
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;

Daniel had already seen the projection in verse 11 that this fourth beast would be “slain” and "his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.”  This is precisely what fate befell the beast of Revelation as recorded in chapter 18.  Daniel knew the fourth beast would be destroyed but he wanted to know more about this beast.  He was obviously much greater and most dreadful of all the beasts in his vision.  He was also the last one which would represent the end of all of them and the ultimate fate that awaited his countrymen of future generations. 

Daniel 7:20
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.

This is a recounting of what Daniel had previously stated about the fourth beast.  Of interest here is the account of the beast speaking great things as recorded in Revelation 13:5, "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies".

Daniel 7:21
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

This is the eleventh horn.  As stated earlier, the emperor Domitian best fits the identity of the eleventh horn.  Excluding Galba, Otho and Vitellius, who were the three horns plucked up before the eleventh came to power, and starting with Augustus who was the first constitutionally elected emperor of the Imperial Roman Empire, we are left with Domitian.  The historical evidence in support of Domitian as the eleventh horn of the fourth beast is as follows:

1)   History records that the majority of the persecution fell on the Christians of Asia Minor after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  Domitian did not appear to be opposed to Christianity on the onset.  Domitian had issues with the Roman senate over his legitimacy as emperor.  As a result, Domitian instated certain policies directed at establishing his legitimacy.  These policies created an additional role for the imperial cult, known as the Concilia.  Domitian's policies included forced emperor worship and the Concilia was charged with enforcing it throughout the empire.  Images or statues of Domitian were erected all over the empire and the population was required to worship these images on pain of punishment.  The penalties for refusing to worship Domitian as a God ranged from banishment and confiscation of property to enslavement or death. 

Faithful Christians are required to go to their deaths before engaging in such activities and found themselves in the unfortunate position of being at odds with the policies Domitian tried to enforce in order to legitimize his seat as the emperor.  To make matters worse, the Jews hated the Christians and were chiefly responsible for bringing their refusal to worship Domitian to the attention of the Roman authorities.  There was no shortage of Jews throughout Asia Minor in that when Jerusalem was destroyed, they were deported to other places to live being scattered throughout the empire. 

Because of the conflict with Roman law under Domitian and with the Jews turning them in to the authorities, the persecution of Christians under Domitian reached its height.  Domitian was responsible for bathing the Roman Empire in the blood of Christians. 

2)  The book of Revelation makes it clear that the persecution was a result of the demand that everyone worship the beast as god.  No other emperor before Domitian demanded and enforced emperor worship. 

3)  Under the reign of Nerva (96 to 98 AD) the acts of Domitian, including the requirement that the emperor be worshipped as a god, were rescinded by the Senate.  The statues of Domitian erected by the imperial cult were removed, melted down and put to better use. 

No other emperor fits the description of the eleventh horn of the fourth beast nor the personification of the sea beast in Revelation than Domitian.  This man fits the bill both scripturally and historically. 

"with the saints" 
Some commentators have mistakenly confused "the saints" with the Jewish people; but, in this connection it must be remembered that during the times of the fourth beast with the ten horns and the little horn that made war against God's people, the Jews are most definitely not in view here. Israel was at that time in total rebellion against God and had utterly rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Therefore, the mention of "saints" here is a reference to Christians, servants of Jesus Christ.  Any notion that secular Israel, or racial Jews ever "possessed the kingdom" (V22), of Christ, is totally refuted by the New Testament.

Daniel sees that the horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them.  The parallelism with Revelation here is note worthy.  In recording his vision of the beast, John writes these words concerning his "two witnesses", saints, in Revelation 11:7-8, "...the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city..." And again in Revelation 13:7, "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations".  It is vital to the correct understanding of these passages that we keep in mind that it is God's people who are being oppressed here.  The historical context of the little horn on the fourth beast is undeniably after the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ therefore it is regarding Christians and nobody else. 

Daniel 7:22
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.

The little horn prevailed against the saints of the most high until the Ancient of days came.  This is the coming of God in judgment on the fourth beast.  In speaking to the church at Thyatira, Jesus Christ had this to say about what the faithful would receive: Revelation 2:26-27, "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father." and then in Revelation 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth".

The possession of the kingdom here is not a reference to the establishment of the kingdom, nor to the entry of saints into the kingdom, but is a reference to that point in the future at which time, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15).  Verse 27 compliments and further explains the meaning of this verse. 

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.

Here we have the positive identification of the fourth beast.  Historically it can be none other than the Imperial Roman Empire.  The beast is the fourth kingdom on earth.  This would be the same fourth kingdom represented by the feet of the great statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream.  The ten kings correspond with the ten toes of the great statue.  It varied from the other empires in that it had a legislative branch which more or less functioned as a law making body.  However the Emperor had much more power than the Senate did.  The Roman Empire was larger in land mass than all the other three empires before it.  And like the empires before her, new provinces and holdings of the empire were gained by conquering them through warfare. 

Daniel 7:24
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.

These are not concurrent kings serving the emperor as subject rulers.  This is a succession of supreme leaders of the fourth kingdom.  Being diverse from the first is easily explained in that Augustus was of the Judio-Claudian dynasty and Domitian was of the Flavian dynasty.  The three kings subdued are troublesome.  In order for the numbering of the eleven kings of Daniel to harmonize with the eight kings of the Roman Empire in Revelation, Galba, Otho and Vitellius must be the three horns or kings subdued by Domitian.  At the time of the Roman Civil wars, Domitian was about eighteen years old and relatively untried in military conquests.  Titus, his elder brother by eleven years was a much more seasoned military man at the time.  History does not remember Domitian as being an overly prominent contributor to the defeat of Galba, Otho and Vitellius.  However, his father, Vespasian emerged triumphant at the close of the Roman Civil wars and assumed the throne as emperor of the Roman Empire in December of 69 AD.  Vespasian was also the first in the Flavian dynasty to hold the highest office in the Roman Empire.  There are many good points which point to Vespasian as the eleventh horn, however, he does not fit the profile of the Beast as described by Daniel and John.  A likely explanation of this difficulty could be that Domitian, the eleventh horn that subdued three kings, was recognized as such by virtue of his being the son of the man who actually did.    

Daniel 7:25
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.

The parallel here with the beast in Revelation is directly apparent in Revelation 13:6-7, "And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.  And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations".

"and think to change times and laws"  In this context, the changing of times and laws has a direct connection with the plight of the saints who were under attack by the person represented as the eleventh horn.  These laws and times that are changed are relative to their circumstances.

Under the reign of Domitian, Emperor worship was strictly enforced.  The imperial cults were given new roles and powers in the enforcement of it. The imperial cult in ancient Rome was used to promote the worship of a few select emperors as gods once they were deceased; the only emperor to declare himself a god while still living was Domitian which caused outrage.

Making a god out of certain deceased emperors became a prominent element of religion in the Roman Empire. The cult soon spread over the whole extent of the Empire.  The elevation or exaltation of an emperor to the rank of a god was a political act performed by the dead emperor's successor to reinforce the majesty of the imperial office, and, often quite effectively, to associate the current emperor with a well-regarded predecessor.  It was a propaganda tool focused on promoting the public acceptance of a leader through the deification of the family name.  Domitian took this to a higher level when he had himself proclaimed a god while still living.   

"and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." 

One year, two years, and half a year, or 1,260 days, or forty two months.  Revelation 12:6, "The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days"  Revelation 12:14, "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent".  Revelation 11:2-3, "the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."

Three and half times is half of seven which represented perfection or completion.  Apocalyptically, the number 3 1/2 represents an indefinite or undetermined period of time.  The eleventh horn of the beast in Daniel's vision and the beast of Revelation would prevail over the saints for an undetermined period of time.  

Daniel 7:26
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

God's judgment shall prevail.  The fourth great beast would have his dominion taken away and would be destroyed in the end.  The entire eighteenth chapter of Revelation is an account of this event. 

Daniel 7:27
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.

The saints will prevail in the end.  The everlasting kingdom is the New Testament church.  The church grew to encompass the earth and it can be found in almost every country of the world today.  Those who will, serve and obey God who has dominion over all.  This is the entire theme of the Revelation summed up in one sentence.  The enemies of righteousness will be defeated and the faithful who persevere and overcome will win in the end.  The righteous will triumph. 

Daniel 7:28
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 was troubled over this vision and well so.  It was not a pretty thing to consider that his people would suffer so greatly at the hands of those yet to rise to power.  While the fact that the saints would win in the end provides great comfort, the sufferings they would have to endure during the course of events was troubling in the extreme.  Daniel purposed to keep his personal feelings to himself on this.  When he recorded the vision, he stuck to the facts and kept his own feelings out of it. 

Daniel 7 Paraphrase

One night during the first year of Belshazzar's reign over the Babylonian Empire, I, Daniel had a dream and I wrote it down. This is the description of what I saw.

In my dream I saw a great storm on a mighty ocean, with strong winds blowing from every direction. Then four huge beasts came up out of the water, each different from the other. 

The first beast was like a lion, but it had eagle's wings! And as I watched, its wings were pulled off so that it could no longer fly, and it was left standing on the ground, on two feet, like a man; and a man's mind was given to it.

The second animal looked like a ravaging bear that had raised up on one side.  It held three ribs between its teeth, and I heard a voice saying to it, "Get up! Devour many people!"

The third of these strange beasts looked like a leopard, stealthy and swift.  On its back it had wings like those of birds, and it had four heads! And great power was given to it over all mankind.

Then, as I watched in my dream, a fourth animal rose up out of the ocean, too dreadful to describe and incredibly strong. It devoured some of its victims by tearing them apart with its huge iron teeth, and others it crushed beneath its feet. It was far more brutal and vicious than any of the other animals, and it had ten horns.

As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them, and three of the first ones were yanked out, roots and all, to give it room; this little horn had a man's eyes and a bragging mouth.

I watched until the thrones were put in place and then God came to judge.  His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like whitest wool. He sat upon a fiery throne brought in on flaming wheels, and a river of fiery judgment flowed from before him.  Millions of angels ministered to him, and hundreds of millions of people stood before him, waiting to be judged. Then the court was in session, and the records were opened.

As I watched, the fourth beast was killed and its body handed over to be burned because of its arrogance against Almighty God and the boasting of its little horn.  As for the other three beasts, their kingdoms were taken from them, but they were allowed to live on through their people a while longer. 

Next I saw the arrival of the Son of Man, the Messiah, on clouds from heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was presented to him.  He was given the ruling power and glory over all the nations of the world, so that all people of every language must obey him.  His power is eternal.  It will never end and his government shall never fall.

I, Daniel, was confused and disturbed by all I had seen so I approached one of those standing beside the throne and asked him the meaning of all these things, and he explained them to me.

He said, "These four huge beasts represent four kings who will someday rule the earth.  But in the end the people of the Most High God shall rule the governments of the world forever and forever."

Then I asked about the fourth animal, the one so brutal and shocking, with its iron teeth and brass claws that tore men apart and stamped others to death with his feet.  I also asked about the ten horns and the little horn that came up afterward and destroyed three of the others.  The horn with the eyes of a man and a loud, bragging mouth who was stronger than the others.  For I have seen this horn fighting against God's people and winning until God came and gave judgment to His people, giving them worldwide power over the kingdoms of earth.

he explained to me, "This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth.  It will be more brutal than any of the others and it will devour the whole earth, destroying everything before it.  His ten horns are ten kings that will rise out of his empire and rule it.  Then another king will arise, more brutal than the other ten, and will destroy three of them.  He will defy the Most High God and wear down the saints with persecution.  He will change the laws, morals, and customs of the people under his authority.  God's people will be persecuted and destroyed at his hands for a undetermined amount of time".

"But after that God will come in judgment and take all power from this vicious king and will destroy him and the beast in the end.  Then all nations under heaven and their power shall be given to the people of God.  They shall rule as kings on earth forever and all rulers shall serve and obey God"

That was the end of the dream. When I awoke, I was greatly disturbed, and my face was pale with fright, but I kept my fears about this vision to myself.


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