The Book of Daniel (8)

Chapter 7 (cont)

The interpretation of Daniel's dream

When considering the school of thought that assumes chapters 2 and 7 of Daniel are co-extensive, it was concluded in our last article that this could not possibly be so. Despite these facts, another suggestion has been made that as Daniel's dream here took place when Babylon's last king was now on the throne, and that Persia was about to take over world dominance, the four kings here represented must be Greece, Rome, Turkey and Satan's man of sin.

It might seem plausible, for Greece would then be symbolised here by the lion with wings. Alexander in thirteen years conquered the world. He certainly moved with great rapidity, and could well be likened to a lion with wings. Rome was ponderous and slow like a bear, but who could be represented by the three ribs in his mouth? Babylon, Persia & Greece? The cruelty of the leopard may symbolise the character of the Turkish power. However, the reasons already given make this incorrect, and while these may be historic foreshadowings of the three kingdoms that are to arise, they are certainly not those referred to in Daniel's dream.

The interpretation of the dream is given in verses 15-27.

`I Daniel was grieved ... the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by ... he ... made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others ... and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell ... I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came ...' (verses 15-22).

From verse 19 it is evident that Daniel was seriously troubled by the appearance and fury of the fourth beast. `The saints of the most High' mentioned in verses 18, 25 and 27 are God's people Israel. In verse 19, the beast that was so different from the other three and was exceeding dreadful, will destroy the other three kingdoms, the word `residue' meaning `the rest' here. From verse 24 we learn what the ten horns of verse 20 represent:

`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'.

When we recall the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image, we know it is indeed the time of the end with which we are dealing, and Revelation chapter 13 is also of help here. John saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, on which were ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy. The beast, described in verse 2, has the characteristics of a leopard, a bear and a lion, which identify it with the beast in Daniel's vision without any shadow of doubt. Here is Satan's man of sin. Even the seven heads are to be found in Daniel chapter 7, for in verses 4-7 three of the beasts had single heads, while one, the leopard, had four heads, so making seven in all. This world ruler or dictator, given his power by Satan, will amalgamate the attributes of three principal nations that are to arise at the time of the end.

No wonder we read in verse 23 that this fourth kingdom `shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces' (refer again to Rev. 13:5-8). In verse 7 we read that the symbol Daniel saw was `diverse from all the beasts that were before it'. In verse 24 we read that the horn that shall arise after the ten horns shall be diverse from them. Again we read that the fourth beast destroys three kings in verse 7, and that the little horn that came up after the ten horns, subdues three kings -- verses 8, 20 and 24.

The conclusion seems to be that the little horn that speaks great words against the most High and shall persecute the saints of the most High at the time of the end, represents a final concentration of the fourth beast, the indescribable creature Daniel saw in his dream. Small wonder Daniel was upset and sought the meaning of the vision. So the interpretation was given to him, and while we do not know who the three kings will be who are to be overthrown by antichrist, nor when these events will come on the earth, yet these things will be understood by those remaining loyal to the Lord who are living when these things come to pass on the earth.

Verse 25 adds the further interpretation:

`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'.

`... a time and times and the dividing of time' is explained to us in Revelation 11:2 as being forty-two months, which is three and a half years, so we see that a `time' equals one year. This figure of three and a half is a half of the seven years of Daniel 9:27, which is still future and completes the seventy times seven years of this chapter, sixty-two of which were completed at the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Satan's man of sin makes a covenant with Israel, this last seven years commences. After three and a half years he will break it, and then will take place the awful time of Jacob's trouble spoken of in Jeremiah 30:7, and Israel's great tribulation foretold by the Lord in Matthew chapter 24 in answer to the disciples' question `When shall the end of the world (age) be?'. This will last for another three and a half years, when the final seven will be completed. Then the nation of Israel will repent and mourn, every family apart, that they were responsible for slaying their Messiah. They will look upon Him Whom they pierced and believe on Him as He descends from heaven in all His glory and saves His people from those persecuting them.

The Lord will then set up His kingdom on the earth, with Jerusalem as His capital city, and reign for one thousand years. The nation of Israel will become the `Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves' (Isa. 61:6). Those wonderful chapters of Isaiah, 60, 61 and 62 tell us of the dawning of this glorious day for the people of Israel.

Chapter 8

Daniel's further vision

The vision of the four beasts given to Daniel in chapter 7 took place in the first year of Belshazzar. It was in his third year that Cyrus conquered Babylon and Darius his father initiated the Persian kingdom as ruler of the former Babylonian empire. Before that took place, we read in chapter 8 that Daniel was in the palace of this king of Persia in the capital city of Shushan, when God sent to him another vision:

`In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first.

And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai' (verses 1,2).

He was evidently in the service of Darius, or Astyages, as his name was, Darius being merely a title, as we see in verse 27 : `... afterward I rose up, and did the king's business ...'.

This further vision given to Daniel, and its interpretation, will be considered in our next article.