In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and
visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down
and related the following summary of it. (Belshazzar: Da
5:1,22,30 8:1 Jer 27:7)(Daniel: Da 2:1,28,29 4:5 Nu 12:6 Job 33:14-16
Jer 23:28 Joe 2:28 Am 3:7 Ac 2:17,18)(visions: Da 7:7,13,15 Ge
15:1 46:2 Job 4:13 Eze 1:1 2Co 12:1)(wrote: Isa 8:1 30:8 Hab 2:2 Ro
15:4 Rev 1:19 10:4)
In the first year - This
vision represents the first of four visions God gives to Daniel...
#1 - Daniel 7:1 - First year of King Belshazzar (~553BC)
Vision #2 - Daniel 8:1 - Third year of King Belshazzar (~551BC)
#3 - Daniel 9:23 - First year of Darius the Mede (~538/539BC)
#4 - Daniel 10:1 - Third year of Cyrus the Persian (~535/536BC)
that Daniel 7, like Daniel 2, reveals the prophetic course of
Gentile dominion on the earth (cp "the times of the Gentiles" in Luke
21:24), which explains in part why it is written in Aramaic, the
international language ("lingua franca") of Daniel's day. Daniel
returns to the Hebrew language beginning in Daniel 8:1 and continuing
through Daniel 12:13 primarily because these four visions give very
specific details regarding God's plan for the refining and
restoration of the nation of Israel. It is a serious hermeneutical
mistake to replace "Israel" with the "Church", for then the "Israel
centric" chapters Daniel 8-12 cannot be accurately interpreted.
J. F. Walvoord rightly
Chapter 7 is a high point in revelation in the book of Daniel; and, in
some sense, the material before as well as the material which follows
pivots upon the detailed revelation of this chapter.
Someone has well said that
"Only he who
can dwell in the calm of eternity now."
Determine to diligently, rightly
divide Daniel 7 (cp 2Ti 2:15-note)
and to live in the light of this truth and His Spirit will bring the
"calm of eternity" into your heart now! As summarized above,
beginning in Daniel 7 and to
the end of the book we come face to face with this great prophet's
apocalyptic visions. Remember that the word apocalypse is from
the Greek verb
apokalupto (word study)
which literally means to remove the cover from and thus it
means to remove
that which conceals something. In the context of Daniel 7-12, the
idea is that spiritual truth that was heretofore hidden, now has the
"lid removed", so that it can be seen and understood by all
who have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. And when we
understand (and believe) these truths, we will be transformed to live in light of
them, in short, to live in the light of God's Plan for the Ages.
Remember that what a person believes,
always determines how he or she behaves.
Beloved, "we have the
prophetic word made more sure, to which (we) do well to pay
attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns
and the morning star arises in (our) hearts." (2Peter 1:19-note).
May we all make those daily
choices to live in the light of God's eternal truth, in the light of
His glorious, victorious plan for the ages! Amen
TWO DIVISIONS OF DANIEL
The Historic Night
The Prophetic Light
in the Historic Night
6 Historical Narratives
4 Apocalyptic Visions
Angel (?) Interprets
In summary, Daniel 1-6 is primarily
history with a "dash" of prophecy, while Daniel 7-12 is primarily
prophecy with a "dash" of history. The structure of
Daniel 7 may be summarized as...
7:1 Introductory setting
Why is Daniel 7 so important?
In a word, Daniel 7 gives us God's Blueprint for Bible Prophecy!
When you get a good "hold" on Daniel 7, the truth of Daniel 7
will hold you when everything in the world seems to be falling
apart! You can remain confident that because of God's sovereignty over
kings and kingdoms in the past, the present is not falling apart but in fact is coming together for the
consummation of the ages the capstone event being the
Second Coming of
the King, Christ Jesus! Learn the "skeleton" truths of Daniel 7 and you will be able
to put "meat" on the bones, for all other Bible prophecies of the
end times fit into the framework of Daniel 7. God's heart is for His
children, His Son's bond-servants, to know His secret counsel as
emphasized by the following passages...
Amos writes that...
Surely the Lord GOD does nothing
unless He reveals His
secret counsel to His
servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
David adds that...
of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His
covenant. (Note what one who "fears" Him will chose to do...) My eyes
are continually toward the LORD (Jehovah),
for He will pluck my feet out of the net. (Beloved snares and traps
are thrown out for us every day in manifold ways, but looking to our
Lord will ensure that we are like spiritual "Boy Scouts" whose motto
is "Be Prepared"!) (Ps 25:14)
are the same Hebrew word sod/cowd [H5475] which conveys the primary
meaning of "confidential speech" (cf. Arabic sa'wada "speak secretly")
as when one in a group of intimates shares confidential matters. Note
these other uses of this wonderful Hebrew word (in bold) in the NAS:
Pr 3:32 = intimate with the upright; Ps 55:14 =
sweet fellowship; Ps111:1 = In the company of
the upright; Job 29:4 = the friendship of God).
C H Spurgeon on Ps 25:14:
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him. Some read it
"the friendship:" it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential
intimacy, and select fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds
cannot guess what is intended by it, and even believers cannot explain
it in words, for it must be felt to be known. The higher spiritual
life is necessarily a path which the eagle's eye hath not known, and
which the lion's whelp has not traveled; neither natural wisdom (1Co
2:14) nor strength can force a door into this inner chamber. Saints
have the key of heaven's hieroglyphics; they can unriddle
celestial enigmas. They are initiated into the fellowship of the
skies; they have heard words which it is not possible for them to
repeat to their fellows.
And He will show them His
covenant. Its antiquity, security, righteousness, fulness,
graciousness and excellence, shall be revealed to their hearts and
understandings, and above all, their own part in it shall be sealed to
their souls by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The designs of love
which the Lord has to His people in the covenant of grace, He has been
pleased to show to believers in the Book of Inspiration, and by His
Spirit He leads us into the mystery, even the hidden mystery of
redemption. He who does
not know the meaning of this verse, will never learn it from a
commentary; let him look to the cross, for the secret lies there.
Oswald Chambers on Ps 25:14 asks:
"What is the sign of a friend? That he tells you secret
sorrows? No, that he tells you secret joys. Many will confide to you
their secret sorrows, but the last mark of intimacy is to confide
secret joys. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we
telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him
to talk to us?...The things that make God dear to us are not so much
His great big blessings as the tiny things, because they show His
amazing intimacy with us
Why is Prophecy so important?
Dr Charles Feinberg a Jewish believer offers the following
encouragement regarding why believers should study prophecy...
From the positive angle a study of
the prophetic Scriptures will accomplish several things for the
willing heart: (Ed:
This begs the question dear reader "Is your heart willing to receive
what God's Spirit desires to give?)
(1) It will bring us near to God (Ge 18:17 and Jn 15:14,15).
Friends, not servants, are told confidences (Ed: See above Amos
3:7, Ps 25:14). In prophecy God invites us into His deepest plans.
What attitude is that which cares much for God to provide our daily
need, but will not listen to Him disclose His plans?
(2) It affords a knowledge of world-wide purposes. What vast
subjects are handled! The greatest in the world: the destiny of
Israel, the nations, the Church, the goal of men: heaven or hell, the
reign of Christ on earth. What a cure for narrow-mindedness or limited
(3) It brightens hope (Ro 8:24a-note).
This element plays a large part in the believer's life. It has a
relation to all he is, hopes to be, and will experience in
realization. Faith looks up and back; love looks around; hope looks
(4) It presents the words and speech of God, as does the rest of
the Word (Dt 29:29). God has spoken in prophecy. This is
paramount. Whenever and wherever and however God speaks, it is our
duty to listen and obey.
(5) It affords the true perspective of history (Ro 11:36-note).
Sometimes in the midst of the affairs of life our vision gets blurred
and out of focus. It is prophecy that gives us the proper perspective
of history. Only in its light can we know our day (2Pet 1:19-note).
(6) It purifies the life (1Th 3:11, 12, 13-note;
It is a mighty force to shape the life in conformity with God's will
for our sanctification. Chief Sekomi said to Livingstone in Africa, "I
wish you would change my heart. Give me medicine to change it, for it
is proud, proud and angry, angry always." He would not hear of God's
way but wanted an outward means. God has provided cleansing by the
blood of Christ in salvation and through the believer's experience.
Prophetic truth is an aid to this end.
(From the body of the article Dr
Feinberg expands this point) A knowledge of prophecy, particularly
of the imminent return of the Lord, is conducive to a proper Christian
walk. Values are seen in their relative importance. There is not a
dissipating of purpose and energy between the things of this world and
those of heaven (Ed: cp Eph 5:16-note,
A wise teacher once attributed the suffering and misery of man to the
fact that he has one foot in the finite and one in the infinite, with
the result that he is torn asunder between two worlds (Ed: cp
and it's association with "anxiety" Mt 6:25-note).
Many Christians are attempting to walk with Christ, while they consort
with the world (Ed: cp Jas 4:4-note,
The cause is often to be
found in their lack of knowledge of prophetic things, which would have
a strong tendency to draw their eyes from the things of this world,
and to fix them upon Christ and His future purposes.)
(7) It influences our service
All truth in the Word of God is meant in one way or other to influence
or affect our service. If it has not or does not, we have
misunderstood it or willfully failed to apply it. If the study of
prophecy has not and does not affect our service for God, we have not
felt the full power and force of it. We have not permitted it to touch
our lives. ( I recommend
reading Dr Feinberg's entire article
God's Message to Man through the Prophets)
(Bolding, color and some cross references added)
STUDYING DANIEL 7
If one accepts that Daniel 2 and
Daniel 7 describe the same prophetic/historic events (and I do take
that approach), then what we find is that Daniel 7 gives us
"progressive revelation" of the foundational truths in Daniel 2,
especially the facts regarding the Fourth Kingdom/Fourth Beast
(in particular that portion of Daniel's prophecy which has not yet
been fulfilled) and the Fifth Kingdom, the Kingdom of God and
of His Christ. Daniel 7 in turn provides a framework which is
progressively expanded with new truths revealed in Daniel 8-12 and
finally and fully in the NT in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Without
the framework of Daniel 7, accurate interpretation of these other
chapters in Daniel and the book of the Revelation become very
difficult, if not even impossible! Therefore it behooves anyone who
honestly seeks to know God's heart and His plan for the "History of
the World" to study Daniel 7 diligently. That does not mean reading
the chapter twice or even twenty times! What it means is that one
takes the chapter apart verse by verse, phrase by phrase, sometimes
even word by word, carefully observing for those truths which are not
controversial or nebulous (some phrases are difficult to interpret
dogmatically) and comparing these truths with those found in Daniel 2.
While there are other ways to study Scripture, after 25 years of
studying, I have found that far and away the most productive has been
inductive Bible study and that
in particular the discipline of
Daniel "kept looking intently" [Da 7:2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 21]
something every student of this chapter should do) especially valuable
in comparing the many pictures and figurative allusions that one
typically encounters in the study of prophetic (apocalyptic)
literature (especially Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Revelation).
cannot encourage you too strongly to set aside some time to carefully
study this chapter led by your Teacher the Spirit (Jn 16:13) taking care to avoid
being biased by any commentaries (including this one - in fact I would suggest
you read no further until you've observed the text for yourself!). I
own upwards to 50 commentaries on the book of Daniel and have been
absolutely flabbergasted and amazed as I read through what some of
these authors' interpretations of Daniel 7! Not only was I confused but I became
somewhat frustrated, which may explain why Daniel chapters 1-6
are taught (in Sunday School lessons, in sermons) much
more frequently than Daniel chapters 7-12.
Daniel 7-12 is categorized as "Apocalyptic Literature (Genre)"
(along with the Revelation, Ezekiel, Zechariah) which is in itself
revealing (pun intended). How so? The word for Revelation (Rev 1:1-note) in
Greek is from the verb apokalupto (from apo = from + kalupto = cover)
which literally means to remove the cover from and so to uncover so as
to cause something to be fully seen or known, thus exposing to open
view what was before hidden. Beloved, inherent in God's inspired
"title" of the book of the Revelation we find in a sense His promise
of unveiling or uncovering to full view the truths therein. So far
from being closed, hidden, hard to comprehend, confusing, mysterious,
etc, Daniel 7-12 (and the other apocalyptic literature in Scripture)
is meant to be understood (not that there won't be specific phrases or
details that remain somewhat difficult to interpret dogmatically, but
that the main points of prophetic truth are exposed so that they might
be clearly grasped).
Stephen Motyer has a an
interesting description of apocalyptic as a
Type of biblical literature that emphasizes the lifting of the veil
between heaven and earth and the revelation of God and His plan for
the world. Apocalyptic writings are marked by distinctive
literary features, particularly prediction of future events and
accounts of visionary experiences or journeys to heaven, often
involving vivid symbolism. Later apocalypses often build upon and
elaborate the symbolism employed by earlier ones....The fundamental
conviction of apocalyptic is that the world may be understood,
but only by revelation that enables understanding...Apocalyptic
is distinguished from other forms of prophecy in that God himself
rarely speaks. The revelation is communicated through angels or other
heavenly figures. (See complete article -
apocalyptic - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of
Jesus promised His
disciples (and by way of application all believers) that...
when He, the Spirit of truth,
comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on
His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He
will disclose to you what is to come. (Jn 16:13)
John adds that...
And as for you, the anointing which
you received from Him abides in you (speaking of the indwelling Holy
Spirit), and you have no need for anyone to teach you (John is not
saying we never need teachers but in context is speaking of the
Spirit's enabling believers to discern truth from error); but as His
anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie,
and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1Jn 2:27)
So if all believers have the
Resident Teacher, the Holy Spirit and He is able to guide us into all
the truth and even disclose what is to come, why is their such
confusion and disagreement in studies and commentaries on the
apocalyptic writings like Daniel 7? The short answer is...
The book of Daniel isn't
hard to understand...
It's hard to believe!
Apocalyptic literature contains
predictive prophecy but many commentators surprisingly refuse to
believe in a God who can predict future events and since Daniel 7-12
is partially fulfilled (history) and partially unfulfilled (predictive
prophecy) you will find a wide range of comments which in some works
actually express conflicting views! In short, you need to study the
text for yourself so you will be able to comment on the commentators!
Remember that when it comes to predictive prophecy...
Ignorance of the
Is NOT bliss!
As Rodney Stortz
I would venture to say that most
Christians could not tell you what is contained in chapters 7–12 of
the book of Daniel...Some people do not study the prophecies of Daniel
7-12 because they are convinced they will never be able to understand
them. They have the opinion that if scholars cannot agree on the
interpretation of these chapters, they will not be able to understand
the true meaning. Other people do not study these chapters because
they think the prophecies are too frightening...Listen, if these
prophecies trouble you or disturb you, you are in good company. Daniel
7:15 says, “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that
passed through my mind disturbed me.” (Stortz, R. Daniel: The triumph
of God's kingdom. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books)
Dr John Walvoord the dean of
modern prophecy (now with the Lord) wrote that chapter 7 of Daniel
one of the great prophecies of the
Bible and the key to the entire program of God from Babylon to the
second coming of Christ... (and) provides the most comprehensive
and detailed prophecy of future events to be found anywhere in the Old
Testament (Daniel 7 - Daniel's
Vision Of Future World History)
Pastor Chuck Swindoll entitles
Daniel 7 "A Prophetic Collage" (Ed: Collage = an
artistic composition made of various materials) for "gives us a
panoramic perspective of what God has in store for both believers and
unbelievers." He adds that while Daniel 7 "appears to be a confusing
collection of animals, persons, nations and events, it is actually a
harmonious collage of the Lord's sovereign activity in human history."
(From Bible Study Guide: Daniel - God's Pattern for the Future, page 62,
IS THE BIBLE
The following list is by no
means exhaustive but is given to highlight the vital importance of the
study of prophecy (fulfilled and unfulfilled) in these last days...
(1) The Bible is true because of
fulfilled prophecy. In fact fulfilled prophecy is one of the best
if not the best verification of the authenticity and reliability of
the Bible. Prophecy is a confirmation of God's omniscience and
omnipotence. Daniel's accurate prediction of 4 great world empires
assures us that those aspects of the Daniel 7 prophecy not yet
fulfilled will in fact be fulfilled...perfectly!
Lehman Strauss in his
commentary quotes in E. L. Langston of England in The Prophetic News
and Israel's Watchman (January 1959)...
Do we realize that at least half of
the prophecies foreshadowed in this book have literally come to pass,
just as specified 2,500 years ago? Therefore, surely we are to expect
the remaining prophecies to be just as literally and minutely
fulfilled." (Lehman Strauss – The Prophecies of Daniel)
(2) The Bible is true because it
touches experience and experience verifies its truth. This
includes the effect of the Bible on society and on individuals,
specifically the evidence of a changed life (2Co 5:17).
The Bible is true because it is scientifically accurate.
(4) The Bible is true because it
is historically accurate as verified by archaeology. As discussed
the skeptics pointed to Daniel 5 and the use of the name Belshazzar as
proof of the inaccuracy of Daniel, until the mid-1800's when
archaeology proved his existence. The Hittites mentioned some 50 times
in the Scripture were unknown until discovered by archaeology digs 90
miles east of Ankara, Turkey in 1906. Nelson Glueck, a Jewish
It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has
ever controverted a Biblical reference.
(5) The Bible is true because its
manuscripts are reliable. The Dead Sea Scrolls attest to its
reliability - fragments of every OT book were found and a book of
Isaiah and textually there was no difference with the next oldest
manuscripts copied some 1000 years later, findings which assure the OT
text has been accurately preserved. Similarly, thousands of NT
manuscripts have been discovered and although none are original, and
reveal only minor variations with none that change the meaning of the
passage. Compare 10 manuscripts of Caesar's Gallic wars the earliest
dating to AD900 with 14,000 manuscripts of the NT, the earliest dated
to AD125. (Related Resource: For more discussion of this
important topic see the RBC Booklet -
Can I Really Trust The Bible?)
What the Bible says will come to pass because only an an
omniscient, all-knowing, all-seeing , all-powerful God, could both
know and bring to pass the things that are predetermined - see Isa
42:9 44:7 45:21 46:9,10.
John MacArthur writes
that Daniel 7 is...
significant for a number of
(1) it demonstrates God’s sovereignty over earthly affairs and human
(2) it provides a clear glimpse of the prophetic future—specifically
the events leading up to the Second Advent of Christ;
(3) it shows the veracity of the Word of God (in the numerous
prophecies already fulfilled in history);
(4) it gives believers a wonderful role model in the person of Daniel,
who lived a life of faithfulness and devotion.
(MacArthur, J. Daniel : God's Control over Rulers and Nations.
MacArthur Bible Studies. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group)
In the first year of
Belshazzar - The year would be about 553BC, almost 50 years after
Daniel's prophetic interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's metallic statue
dream and 14 years before the party of Da 5:1,2,3. This places the
vision after Daniel 4 but before Daniel 5.
Observe that each of Daniel's visions
in Daniel 7-12 are specifically dated as shown in the table below. The
last four visions focus on God's plan for Israel, whereas the prophecy
in Daniel 2 was primarily focused on God's dealings with the Gentile
kingdoms until the end of this age.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF
FOUR GREAT PROPHETIC VISIONS
first year of Belshazzar
third year of the reign of
Da 9:1, 21, 23
first year of Darius son
third year of Cyrus king
Nebuchadnezzar died in 562BC (we
last read about him in Daniel 4), nine years before Belshazzar began
to reign (we read about him in Daniel 5), so that the vision of
Daniel 7 was given to Daniel between chapters 4 and 5. From the
table it is clear that Da 8:1 also occurred between chapters 4-5 and
the visions of Da 9:1 and Da 10:1 are related to Daniel 6 and the
inception of the Medo-Persian kingdom.
Although King Belshazzar seems
to have paid little attention to the great prophet Daniel (Da 5:10,
11, 12, 13, 16-notes),
God clearly had not forgotten his highly esteemed servant (Da 9:23,
10:11, 19) and choose to reveal to him the most incredible prophecies
in all the Word of God during his time out of the "limelight". It is
notable that all of these visions were given when Daniel was in the
latter years of his life (from about 68yo to about 85yo), emphasizing
that "retirement" (even Belshazzar's "shelving" of Daniel!) was
not on God's agenda for His chosen vessel (nor is it on His agenda for
any of His esteemed bond-servants, so let us all take Paul's charge to
heart and redeem the time [Eph 5:16-note]!).
Daniel saw a dream and visions (dream = singular, visions = plural
~ several "stages") - In Da 1:17-note
we observed that one aspect of God's "favor" (Da 1:9-note)
was that Daniel was given the ability to understand "all
kinds of visions and dreams", which is interesting
because he did not understand these visions (Da 7:16).
Towner writes that...
Daniel turns now from public
demonstrations of the power of the God of Israel in a strange land to
the private reception of visions of the future destiny of God’s chosen
ones. (Towner, W. S. Daniel. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for
teaching and preaching. Atlanta: John Knox Press)
Summary - Not every
Leupold writes that
by summary Daniel ...
appears to say that the essential
features were culled out of the great variety of details that a long
dream presented so as not to present a bewildering array of detail...
a significant reminder that every word is carefully chosen and to the
point; unessential items are passed by.
Daniel said, "I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the
four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea (Rev
7:1)(great sea: Rev 17:15)
Daniel said - From this
point on the account is in the first person as Daniel shares this
personal revelation from God to His choice servant. Some might
question that if this in the first person, then who wrote Daniel 7:1
which is written from the perspective of third person?
Jeske explains that
Unlike other prophets (Isa 1:1; Jer
1:1), the book of Daniel contains no heading or clear statement
calling Daniel its author. Yet the book does point to Daniel as the
author. We have here a situation something like that of the first five
books of the Old Testament, in which Moses often writes of
himself in the third person, as does Daniel here...If Daniel is
named as the one who received the divine revelation recorded here,
then it follows that he is the author. The question “Who wrote the
book?” is settled finally for us by Christ himself. Quoting from the
book of Daniel, Jesus referred to the words as being “spoken … through
the prophet Daniel” (Mt 24:15). Both the Jewish and the Christian
churches have for centuries agreed that Daniel wrote this book....
For a number of reasons, many Bible
scholars prefer to think that the book of Daniel was not written by
Daniel, and not in the sixth century BC, but by an unknown author,
some pious Jew, in the second century BC. At the heart of the debate
about the date of the book is the matter of predictive prophecy, since
Daniel frequently refers to events in the distant future. Many
scholars reason as follows: It is impossible for any human being to
predict events that lie in the future; therefore, a book that contains
such predictions must have been written after the events which it
predicts. But if we believe that the God who controls the future chose
to reveal to Daniel events that were still in the future, then there
is no valid reason for contesting the book’s claim to be the record of
the life and visions of Daniel himself. (Jeske, J. C. Daniel. The
People's Bible. Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Pub. House)
I was looking (Da 7:4, 6,
7, 9, 11, 13, 21) - Related
to the repeated phrase kept looking which more literally is "I
was gazing intently". What is the significance of this repetitive
statement? Clearly Daniel was fascinated by the vision God had given
him and he examined it carefully.
Behold - An interjection which indicates surprise and/or amazement and (not
surprisingly) occurs 5 times in Daniel 7 (Da 7:2, 5, 6, 7, 13)! To say
that this interjection calls attention to something unusual is an
understatement in the context of this chapter! Little
surprise that by Daniel 7:14 the prophet's "spirit was distressed" and
his "mind kept alarming" him! (Da 7:28)
Four winds of heaven (cp
Da 8:8) -
These winds are described in a way that pictures them as
contemporaneously stirring up the great sea. These probably
supernatural "winds" and not literal winds, for it states that these
winds originate in heaven. The Hebrew word (related to the Aramaic
word in this passage) for winds in the OT can be translated as
angel. TWOT notes that the Hebrew word may "designate a
supernatural, angelic being, "a spirit from God" (1Sa 16:23)." (See
also Jer 49:36, 51:1, Zec 6:5).
As Gregg Allen says...
The four winds of heaven probably
represent circumstances, under the divine hand of the Sovereign God,
that cause turbulence and a stirring in the Gentile world. It is from
this “stirring” of the “sea” that these four world-kingdoms arise. (Daniel
See related discussion -
The Number Four in the Revelation
Four may denote the four
directions of the earth (N, S, E, W) and thus implies the "churning"
or "stirring up" by the winds is universal.
Keil comments that...
The winds of the heavens represent
the heavenly powers and forces by which God sets the (Gentile) nations of the
world in motion.
Whitcomb says that...
The four winds of heaven
probably speak of the angelic forces through which God controls and
moves the nations. Of more than 120 references in the Bible to wind
(more than 90 in the OT and about 30 in the NT), well over half are
related to events and ideas which reflect the sovereignty and power of
God (Ed note: In other words >50% of the uses of "wind"
in Scripture refer to God's sovereignty causing something to happen!
As an aside many of the uses of wind are associated with judgment, eg,
see Ge 8:1, Ex 10:13, 15:10, Rev 7:1-note). (Whitcomb,
J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
Stirring up - Churning
translates it with a
Greek verb (prosballo) which means to strike, to dash against, to blow
violently upon and the
picturing this as happening over and over. One gets the picture of waves continually chaotically crashing, an apt
description of the great sea the Gentile nations of the world (see
Beloved, the world
may look like it's falling apart, but in fact it is "coming together"
a truth understood by those who know the end of "the
story" (even as expounded here in Daniel 7). As we see the
foundations of our world seemingly shaken by economic woes, poverty,
senseless bloodshed, etc, we need to
continually recall that world "History" is "HIS-tory"!
Our God has not abdicated His throne but is still in control of kings and
kingdoms (cp Da 2:21-note)
and is working all things out toward a glorious consummation, the
return of the Rightful Heir and King of kings (Second
Coming). There is a
"stirring up" going on even today in the Gentile nations
of the world -- just look at the headlines of your newspaper!
The great sea - A number
commentators interpret this phrase as a reference to the Mediterranean Sea, which
in Scripture is specifically called the great sea (Nu
34:6, 7, Josh 1:4, 9:1, 15:12, 47, 23:4, Ezek 47:10, 15, 19, 20, 48:28). To be sure, all four of the
kingdoms (see below) alluded to in this beastly prophecy were at least
partially contiguous with
the Mediterranean Sea (Mediterranean = “middle of the earth”). However many conservative commentators interpret
the great sea as a picture of the (Gentile) nations of the
world or the "sea of humanity" (cp Jesus' figurative use in
Mt 13:47) in a state of continual turbulence (cp
"sea" in Isa 17:12, sinful humanity compared to the sea in
Isa 57:20). The context would seem to support the figurative
interpretation of great sea, for in Da 7:3 we read of "four great
beast...coming up from the sea." which would be more compatible
with the view that the great sea referred to peoples and nations
(Gentiles). Further confirmation is another prophetic passage in
Revelation which defines the waters as "peoples and multitudes
and nations and tongues." (Rev 17:15-note)
Although the fact that that Da 7:17 says they arise from the earth,
would also support a figurative usage, in this case the mass of
Miller reasons that...
The phrase the great sea
does denote this body of water elsewhere in the Old Testament (e.g.,
Josh 1:4; 9:1; 15:12, 47), but that identification does not appear to
have any significance here. Daniel interpreted this symbol for the
reader later in the chapter, and Scripture passages elsewhere also
make the meaning clear. In Da 7:3 four great beasts are
portrayed as coming up from the sea, whereas Da 7:17 states
that these beasts rise up from the earth. Thus Da 7:17
interprets the “sea” to be symbolic of the “earth,” and the beasts
that rise out of this “sea” are interpreted later in the chapter as
being great “earthly” kingdoms. (Miller,
S. R. Vol. 18: Daniel The New American Commentary (195). Nashville:
Broadman & Holman)
Whitcomb writes that...
In biblical symbolism, the great
sea pictures fallen humanity (cf Isa 8:6, 7, 8; 17:12,13; 57:20;
Je 6:23; 46:7, 8; 47:2; Mt 13:47; Rev 13:1;17:1,15). (Whitcomb,
J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
Hitchcock feels it has...
both a literal and a (figurative)
interpretation. Literally speaking, "the great sea" generally
refers to the Mediterranean Sea, which is so-called because it is
situated geographically in the center of the earth. It is a great
sea because it borders on so many large continents. It is a
great sea because, around its shores the great empires of history
have risen and fallen. We shall assume, therefore, that the great
sea in its literal (sense), in this passage refers to the
Mediterranean Sea. In a (figurative) sense, however, the great sea
refers to the great unorganized masses of mankind. (Daniel
"And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one
another. (Da 2:32,33,37, 38, 39, 40 Zec 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
7, 8)(beasts: Da 7:4, 5, 6, 7, 8,17
Ps 76:4 Eze 19:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Rev 13:1)
Four great beasts - We
learn in Da 7:17 that the great beasts are four kings
who will arise. Naturally, kings speak of a kingdoms and
thus the vision is of 4 great kingdoms (e.g., in Da 7:23, 24 instead
of "king" we read the fourth beast represents a "kingdom") which are pictured as
ferocious, wild beasts. These world empires are human in origin
and vicious in character. This metaphor undoubtedly conveys several
truths, including the eagerness of these kingdoms to gratify their own
appetites even at the expense of inflicting harm on other men. As
indicated in the table below, Daniel 2 is man's perspective of the
world empires (man's view of world history) and Daniel 7 is God's perspective
(God's view of world history). God sees the same
kingdoms which appear glorious and powerful in Daniel 2 (cp men's
esteem of his accomplishments - Ge 11:4, 5, 6, 7) but God is not
impressed for from His perspective they are beastly not
beautiful, beasts filled with self glory, not God glory! (cp Ps
49:12) This line of thinking reminds us of Jesus' words...
that which is highly esteemed among
men is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16:15)
Scofield writes that...
The monarchy vision of
Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) covers the same order of fulfillment as
Daniel's beast vision, but with this difference: Nebuchadnezzar saw
the imposing outward power and splendor of "the times of the Gentiles"
(Lk 21:24; cp. Rev 16:19), whereas Daniel saw the true character of
Gentile world government as rapacious and warlike, established and
maintained by force. It is remarkable that the heraldic insignia of
the Gentile nations are all beasts or birds of prey.
Gregg Allen adds...
Though this chapter presents the
terrible and brutal nature of the world empires of the times of the
Gentiles, it nevertheless ends on the high note of the earthly reign
of Jesus Christ. God does not leave us in the dark about His plans. He
lets us know that, though the times of the Gentiles will grow
increasingly brutal, the return and reign of His Son is sure and
certain. We have cause for great and confident hope. ("The
Vision of the Four Beasts")
Four - One cannot avoid a
comparison with the 4 metals of Nebuchadnezzar's statue in Daniel 2
(gold, silver, bronze, iron). The resemblance to Daniel 2 leaves
little doubt that these four beastly kingdoms correlate with the four
metallic kingdoms of Daniel 2. There is a tendency for some
commentators to give undue significance to the number 4 (and later the
number 10 - e.g., the
ESV Online Study Bible
suggests the possibility that 10 in Da 7:7, 20, 24 could
signify “completeness” instead of signifying a literal number "10"!) but this seems unwise and speculative.
Speculation on the meaning of numbers, terms and phrases (etc.) can
easily lead to misinterpretation and confusion in regard to any
passage of Scripture, but especially if it is of the apocalyptic genre
as in Daniel or the Revelation. Remember that the
apocalyptic genre by the nature of the "beast" (pun intended) tends to
set our imagination into a frenzy and can result in interpretations that border on frenetic
Coming up from the sea -
Da 7:17 says these beasts arise from the earth which supports
the premise that the great sea is a symbolic reference to the
nations of the earth arising as it were out of the chaotic sea of
people and nations.
Different from one another
- Four distinct beasts.
Keil has summarized the
issues involved in chapter 7....
There yet remains for our
consideration the question, What are the historical world-kingdoms
which are represented by Nebuchadnezzar's image (Da 2), and by
Daniel's vision of four beasts rising up out of the sea? Almost all
interpreters understand that these two visions are to be interpreted
in the same way. "The four kingdoms or dynasties, which are symbolized
(Da 2) by the different parts of the human image, from the head to the
feet, are the same as those which were symbolized by the four great
beasts rising up out of the sea. These four kingdoms, according to the
interpretation commonly received in the church, are the Babylonian,
the Medo-Persian, the Macedo-Grecian, and the Roman. 'In this
interpretation and opinion,' Luther observes, 'all the world are
agreed, and history and fact abundantly establish it.' This opinion
prevailed till about the end of the last century, for the contrary
opinion of individual earlier interpreters had found no favour. But
from that time, when faith in the supernatural origin and character of
biblical prophecy was shaken by Deism and Rationalism, then as a
consequence, with the rejection of the genuineness of the book of
Daniel the reference of the fourth kingdom to the Roman world-monarchy
was also denied."
At this point it would be
appropriate to summarize the similarities between Nebuchadnezzar's
Multi-Metallic Statue dream in Daniel 2 and Daniel's beastly
nightmare/vision in Daniel 7.
BETWEEN CHAPTERS 2 & 7
Dream and visions
Given to an
unbeliever, a pagan
Given to a
man of God
Gentile kingdoms from
man's perspective -
As glorious empires with intrinsic value
Gentile kingdoms from
God's perspective -
As brutal beasts devouring one another
What the kingdoms look
like externally (their "reputation" among men)
What God knows the
kingdoms are internally! (their "character" before God!)
by an angel
(cp Mt 21:44)
Four Beasts -
One Son of
(cp Mt 24:30)
Ten toe stage
Ten horn stage
Ten toe stage
10 horns give rise to
little horn whose...
Dominion is taken away,
Stone become great
Fills whole earth
Kingdom endures forever
Son of man receives a
Will not pass away or be destroyed
How can we be sure these two
chapters are referring to the same entities? From Daniel 2 we know
with certainty the identity of the head of gold (Babylon). When
compared to the first beast in Daniel 2 there is little disagreement
even among liberals that the winged lion represents Babylon. In short
both prophecies begin with a description of the empire of Babylon. The
next 3 subdivisions of the statue and the next 3 beasts are not
specifically identified. But when we compare the last kingdom
described in both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, it is clear that this is the
same kingdom (forever...everlasting) and with minimal "detective" work
the Stone in Daniel 2 is obviously the Son in Daniel 7. Therefore the
3 middle subdivisions of each prophecy must also equate with each
other. "God is not a God of confusion but of peace" (1Cor 14:33) and
He desires for His children to know His plan for the ages, not so much
that we might be "smarter sinners" but that we would be strongly
motivated to live for the eternal rather than the temporal and to
continually grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ (2Pe 3:18-note),
during our short tenure on planet earth (Jas 1:10-note,
Jas 4:14, Job 14:2 Ps 37:2-note
Ps 90:4, 5, 6, 12-note,
Ps 102:3, 11-note
Isa 40:6, 7 1Pe 1:24-note)!
Is your study of prophecy causing you to grow smarter or more like the
Savior? If the former, than you need to confess and repent and seek
Jehovah and His strength, seek His face continually (Ps 105:4). He
will grant you grace to grow in Christ-likeness for ultimately He
receives the glory for this supernatural result in your life.
Charles Feinberg has some
cogent comments comparing chapters 2 and 7...
In chapter 2, the four earthly
kingdoms and Christ’s heavenly kingdom were seen in their outward
political appearance; by contrast, chapter 7 presents God’s estimate
of their innermost moral and spiritual features. “In chapter 2, the
symbols were taken from inanimate objects; here in chapter 7, they are
taken from the animate. In chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar saw the
splendor of world empires portrayed in the dazzling statue of a man,
while the Kingdom of God was symbolized by a stone. By contrast, in
chapter 7, Daniel’s vision reveals the animalistic character of world
empires and the fact that it is only in the Kingdom of God that man’s
full dignity is realized—in the Son of Man.” (Charles
L. Feinberg: Daniel the Kingdom of the Lord. BMH Books. April 1984)
Lehman Strauss adds...
The vision of "four great beasts"
(Da 7:3), "which are four kings" (Da 7:17), corresponds to the four
metals of the image in chapter 2, thus Daniel's vision parallels
Nebuchadnezzar's dream image. We see in these two chapters the
principle of parallelism, which is a similarity of construction and
meaning in two passages. The four beasts in chapter 7 correspond to
the four kingdoms of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The "ten
horns," which are "ten kings" (Da 7:7, 24) correspond to the "toes" of
the great image (Da 2:41, 42) and the "ten horns" in Revelation 13:1
and Rev 17:12. These represent a confederacy of ten nations the
details of which we will study later. (Lehman Strauss Commentary – The
Prophecies of Daniel)
"The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept
looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the
ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was
given to it. (like : Dt 28:49 2Sa 1:23 Isa 5:28,29 Jer
4:7,13, 25:38, 48:40, La 4:19 Eze 17:3 Hab 1:6, 7, 8 Mt 24:28) (wings :
Da 4:31, 32, 33 Jer 50:30, 31, 32) (lifted: Da 4:30 5:18, 19,
20, 21, 22, 23 Isa 14:13, 14, 15, 16, 17 Jer
25:9-26 Hab 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) (human mind: Da 4:32,36 Job 25:6 Ps 9:20 Eze 28:2,9)
Like a lion - What is the significance? One must be careful to
not let an active imagination replace accurate interpretation. To be
sure the lion is the king of the beasts, and thus it would appear that
this king would correspond very well with King Nebuchadnezzar, the
"king of kings" (Da 2:37), the one whom God caused to rule over all
the sons of men and beasts of the field (Da 2:38). In somewhat of
a parallel, even as gold is the most precious metal, so the lion is
recognized a the king among beasts.
As an aside, pictures of lions
have been identified as frequent images in the Babylonian ruins which
is probably more than a coincidence. Jeremiah 4:7 refers to
Nebuchadnezzar as "a lion from the thickets of the Jordan" (following
passages also refer to Babylon Jer 4:13, Jer 48:40, 50:44).
Extra-biblical sources state that winged lions were on either side of
the gates of the royal palaces of the Babylonians. In Ezekiel 17:3, 12
a great eagle symbolizes Babylon.
Wings of an eagle - Here
the metaphor becomes somewhat bizarre, for lions do not have wings. A
lion with wings of an eagle would have been a fitting symbol of
which was swift in
its conquest of other peoples (see Jer 49:22; Lam 4:19; Ezek
17:3; Hab 1:6, 8).
Winged lions flanked the gates of Babylon (below)
Click to enlarge
Wings were plucked -
Whatever else this might mean, it clearly pictures a significant
alteration in the character of the "beastly" kingdom of Babylon. While
not everyone agrees, given the fact that the beast represents a
king (Da 7:17), it is reasonable to identify this "plucking" of
the beast with the humbling of King Nebuchadnezzar described in Daniel
4 (see below).
It was lifted up from the
ground - Da 4:15, 23 describes a tree chopped down with its
roots in the ground which Daniel interpreted as Nebuchadnezzar
who was humbled and made to eat grass like cattle (which implies he
was on all fours on the ground) (Da 4:32, 33). At the end of 7 periods
of time (seven years) the king lifted his eyes toward heaven and his
reason returned (Da 4:34), at which time he began to walk on two feet
rather than on all four like a beast.
See also Da 4:36 where we see
the kingdom was restored and reestablished which would be very
compatible with God lifting up the king to his former place of
sovereignty and power.
A human mind (KJV "man's
heart") also was given to it - Da 4:34-note says my reason
returned to me. History records that in the later years of
Nebuchadnezzar's reign (which Biblically would be after he had been
humbled by God), he and his kingdom ceased conquering other peoples
and became more humane (less bestial) in their treatment of their subjects.
Leupold comments that...
This is undoubtedly an allusion to
the experience of Nebuchadnezzar which is related in detail in chapter
four. The incident signifies that, as nearly as it is possible for a
beast to become like a man, so nearly did Babylon lose its beastlike
In short, this unusual
description in Da 7:4 could reasonably be associated with the episode
of humiliation in King Nebuchadnezzar's life. Nebuchadnezzar added
At that time my reason returned to
me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of
my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I
was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was
added to me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of
heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able
to humble those who walk in pride." (Da 4:36, 37)
"And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it
was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between
its teeth; and thus they said to it, 'Arise,
(another: Da 2:39, 8:3 2Ki 2:24 Pr 17:12 Ho 13:8)(on one
side: Da 5:28 8:4 11:2)(three ribs: possibly Babylon, Lydia,
Egypt) (Arise: Isa 13:17,18 56:9 Jer 50:21-32 Eze 39:17, 18,
Medes & Persians
Another beast, a second one
- He numbers this one.
Resembling a bear -
Corresponds to the breast and arms of silver in Da 2:32-note
conservative commentaries identify this as the
For completeness, it should be noted that liberal interpreters
separate the Medo-Persian empire and identify the bear as Media but the historical facts do
not support the liberal interpretation of the bear as a single
kingdom. More importantly, the Biblical record states that the kingdom
that defeated Babylon was a combination of the Medes and the
Persians (Da 5:28, 6:8, 12, 15), effectively negating the
S R Driver writes that...
In the O. T. it (the bear) is spoken of as
being, next to the lion, the most formidable beast of prey known in
Palestine (1Sa 17:34; Amos 5:19; cf. 2Ki. 2:24; Ho 13:8); at the same
time, it is inferior to the lion in strength and appearance, and is
heavy and ungainly in its movements.
is larger than a
Lion and the
was larger (as demonstrated by the maps below) and stronger but less
majestic than Babylon
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
bear although slower
than the lion is also a ferocious
beast which was exemplified in the Medo-Persian style of war (see Isaiah
13:17, 18 "They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the
womb, nor will their eye pity children.") The greater size of
the bear may also be related to the larger armies fielded by the
Medo-Persians which allowed them to overwhelm their enemies with sheer
Raised up on one side - The
Scripture does not answer this dogmatically. However, in
Da 6:8 we see the Medes mentioned first whereas in Esther 1:19 we see the
Persians mentioned before the Medes. They were never equal powers
always dominated the other. Given the power and influence of the
Persian Cyrus the Great it is not surprising that some commentators
interpret the bear's posture
as indicative of Persian dominance over the Medes.
Whitcomb comments on the
lop-sided posture noting that...
Median influence (was) predominate
during the reigns of Cyrus and Cambyses...but shifting to Persian
dominance by the time of Xerxes fifty years later (Est 1:19, "the laws
of the Persians and the Medes"). (Whitcomb,
J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
John Walvoord comments
Persia at this time, although
coming up last, was by far the greater and more powerful and had
absorbed the Medes. This is represented also in Daniel 8 by the two
horns of the ram with the horn that comes up last being higher and
greater (Da 8:3). The ram with its unequal horns is identified as "The
kings of Media and Persia" (Da 8:20). This interpretation also helps
to support the Medo-Persian character of the second empire and is true
to the facts of history. (Daniel 7 - Daniel's
Vision Of Future World History)
Strauss comments that...
The statement that "it raised up
itself on one side" (Da 7:5) has been more literally translated to
read, "raised up one dominion," which of course the combined kingdoms
of the Medes and the Persians did. Of the Medo-Persian Empire Larkin
It was ponderous in its movements,
and gained its victories by hurling vast masses of troops upon its
enemies. Xerxes' expedition against Greece was undertaken with
2,500,000 fighting men (see secular record
The Persian Wars). It is easy to be
seen that the movements of such enormous bodies of men would 'devour
much flesh,' not merely in the shape of food, but by death by
exposure, disease, and in battle. (See Larkin's chart on the
BOOK OF DANIEL)
The large, lumbering bear is an apt
description of a huge, slow-moving but mighty force. The conquests of
the Medo-Persian Empire were frightfully destructive. (Ibid)
Three ribs - Ribs picture
remnants of a meal which has been devoured. This picture most probably speaks of
the nations conquered by the Medes and Persians, which were
historically Lydia (546BC), Babylon (539BC) and Egypt
They said to it - Said can
convey the sense of giving orders (used in Da 2:!5). The verb is
masculine plural (in the Lxx = 3rd person plural) Who is they?
Not sure. If the four winds are spirits (or angels - who are
often "messengers" although there is a specific word for that
function) that is a possibility. Ultimately it must be a decree from
heaven, from God. Again we see the implication of God's Sovereignty
over kings and kingdoms.
devour much meat
The "bear-like" kingdom is issued two commands. While the speaker is
not stated, we know that God is in some way behind the stirring up of
these Gentile kingdoms. The Medo-Persian empire seems to have "obeyed"
the commands to
for they extended their conquests (~ "devoured" much meat)
until their borders reached from the Indus River on the east to Egypt
and the Aegean Sea on the west, which constituted more territory under
the control of the Medo-Persian empire than any empire had conquered
"After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard,
which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four
heads, and dominion was given to it. (Behold: Da 2:39
8:5, 6, 7,20,21 10:20 11:3-20 Ho 13:7 Rev 13:2) (four wings : Da 7:4 Eze
17:3)(four heads: Da 8:8,22 11:4-20)
After this - This would
imply that next in sequence after the bear kingdom would be the
leopard kingdom. Historically the Grecian empire followed the
Medo-Persian empire and corresponds to the "belly and...thighs of
bronze" (Da 2:32, 39, cp Da 8:8, 21)
I kept looking and behold -
The picture is that of an intense gaze accompanied by a degree of
amazement. Remember that Daniel is seeing this vision in about 553BC,
some 200 years before the Greeks would rise to power.
Another one - He does not
number this beast but in sequence it is the third beast and thus the
third king (kingdom - cp Da 7:17)
Like a leopard - What
characterizes this beast besides the fact that it is a carnivore? The
leopard is known for its speed. For example the horses (of the
Babylonians) were said to be "swifter than leopards" (Hab 1:8).
Another characteristic of leopards is that they would lie in wait so
as to surprise their prey (cp Jer 5:6, Ho 13:7).
Four wings of a bird -
Nebuchadnezzar was "two wing" swift, but Alexander was "four wing"
swift! This adds to the picture of speed, which characterized the military
conquests of Alexander the Great.
Whitcomb writes that...
The kingdom of Alexander the Great
grew with almost incomparable speed, so that a short ten years after
he invaded Asia Minor (334BC), he had conquered the entire
Medo-Persian empire under Darius III including Syria, Palestine,
Egypt, and the eastern territories to the borders of India, and then
died at the age of thirty-three. (Whitcomb,
J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
Walvoord writes that...
With the swiftness of a leopard,
Alexander the Great conquered most of the civilized world all the way
from Macedonia to Africa and eastward to India. The lightning
character of his conquests is without precedent in the ancient world,
and this is fully in keeping with the image of speed embodied in the
leopard itself and the four wings on its back. (Daniel 7 - Daniel's
Vision Of Future World History)
Four heads - When Alexander
"the Great" died as an alcoholic at age 33yo (Da 8:8), his kingdom was divided between four generals (Da
8:8, see map
below). As one might imagine, the "higher" critics and liberal
"scholars" take great umbrage at the conservative interpretation, for
otherwise they would be forced to acknowledge that Daniel's prophecy
was amazingly (supernaturally!) accurate, his vision occurring 200
years before it occurred. On reading the liberal pondering
(wanderings!) on the "four heads" one is tempted to refer them and
their specious arguments to the Almighty God, of Whom the words of
Whom Isaiah records...
"Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no
other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none
except Me. (Now when one accepts the truth that God is the supreme,
supernatural, sovereign Who can not only declare but bring about what
He declares they are in a humble spiritual position to heard His call
in the next verse which brought C H Spurgeon to salvation) "Turn to
Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there
is no other. (Isaiah 45:21, 22, cp Isa 42:9, 44:7, 46:9, 10)
Dominion was given to it -
This is the only fact stated about this kingdom. Clearly it was the
Sovereign God (Da 2:21) who gave Alexander the Great the dominion over
the broad expanse that he conquered (as He had to all the previous
This same event is repeated in
Then the male goat magnified
himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was
broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns
toward the four winds of heaven (N,S,E,W). (Da 8:8)
The book of Daniel
repeatedly emphasizes God's
This sentence is by the decree of
the angelic watchers, and the decision is a command of the holy ones,
in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the
realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes, And sets
over it the lowliest of men." (Da 4:17)
Compare Cyrus the
Great's explanation of why he was "great"...
Thus says Cyrus king of Persia,
'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the
earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem,
which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may
the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up! (2Chr 36:23)
Donald Campbell adds that...
The expression "dominion was
given to it" is most interesting and significant. Did Alexander
imagine that it was his military genius alone that enabled him and his
small army of 35,000 men to defeat the massive hordes of the Persians
numbering, some believe, in the millions? It is true that Alexander
was a great leader, but his victories and subsequent dominion
over a great empire were his because God, in the execution of His
plans, allowed it to happen.
Will world rulers ever
understand this important fact?
(Ed: I doubt it!) (Daniel:
God's Man in a Secular Society by Donald K Campbell)
The map above shows the Hellenistic world, circa 300BC. Alexander's empire
is demarcated by the red lines. After Alexander died, the kingdom
was eventually divided between 4 of his generals as follows:
Ptolemy (dark green portion south of Israel ~ Egypt), Seleucus
(yellow portion north of Israel ~Syria), Lysimachus (purple ~
Thrace and much of Asia Minor), and
Cassander (pink ~ Macedonia). The latter two divisions are not discussed
further in Daniel's prophecy as geographically and politically they do
not interact with Israel and the Jews to the extent as the Seleucid
dynasty (cf Antiochus IV "Epiphanes") and the Ptolemaic dynasty.
Wikipedia has a quote that
sounds like a commentary on the Bible...
Alexander had made no special
preparations for his succession in his newly founded empire, dying as
he did at a young age, and thus on his death-bed (apocryphally), he
willed it to "the strongest". The result was a state of internecine
warfare between his generals (the Diadochi, or 'Successors'),
which lasted for forty years before a more-or-less stable arrangement
was established, consisting of four major domains:
(1) The Antigonid dynasty in
Macedon and central Greece;
(2) The Ptolemaic dynasty
in Egypt based at Alexandria;
(3) The Seleucid dynasty
in Syria and Mesopotamia
based at Antioch;
(4) The Attalid dynasty in Anatolia based at Pergamum. (Hellenistic
civilization in Wikipedia) (Bolding
added to emphasize the two divisions of Alexander's kingdom [the
Ptolemaic and Seleucid] that had the greatest impact and interaction
with Israel, both of which are described in much greater detail
in Daniel's 4th vision in chapter 11 [Remember that Daniel's 4th
vision actually begins in Da 10:1 and extends through chapter 12]).