In Daniel 2, the image which was like a giant man with a golden head, chest of silver, thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. The symbols of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay refer to the political nature of these four kingdoms. In Daniel 7, God gives Daniel a more detailed vision with addresses the moral fiber of these nations.
|Lion with eagle wings is clearly ancient Babylon. In Ezekiel 17:3, the Babylon is referred to as “a great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours.”|
The Lion is symbolic for strength and might. The eagle is king of the air and the lion of the ground. Solomon had twelve lions of either side of the steps leading to his throne. These lions had wings. (1 Kings 10:20, 2 Chron. 9:19) The statement that the first beast had its wings plucked and was made to walk as a man with a man’s heart refers to the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar. (Dan. 4:28-37)
|The Bear is the next kingdom that followed and represents the Medo-Persian Empire. This kingdom was like the bear which is known for its strength, austerity and cruelity. Normally a bear eats fruits and berries, but when hungry or given the opportunity will eat flesh, ripping it apart and devouring it. It will attack without mercy.|
Raising itself up on one side refers to the Medo-Persian empire being a combination of two nations. The Persian side of the bear was the most powerful. The three ribs refer to the three cities of power within the Medo-Persian Empire of Ecbatana, Borsippa and Babylon itself. Cyrus, who was the King of the Empire took these three cities from the Babylonians. With the power gained by controlling these three cities, Cyrus was able to expand his empire. He did so cruelly by brutally attacking and taking over other nations devouring their people and resources.
The Bear is the next kingdom that followed and represents the Medo-Persian Empire. This kingdom was like the bear which is known for its strength, austerity and cruelity. Normally a bear eats fruits and berries, but when hungry or given the opportunity will eat flesh, ripping it apart and devouring it. It will attack without mercy. Raising itself up on one side refers to the Medo-Persian empire being a combination of two nations. The Persian side of the bear was the most powerful. The three ribs refer to the three cities of power within the Medo-Persian Empire of Ecbatana, Borsippa and Babylon itself. Cyrus, who was the King of the Empire took these three cities from the Babylonians. With the power gained by controlling these three cities, Cyrus was able to expand his empire. He did so cruelly by brutally attacking and taking over other nations devouring their people and resources.
Ecbatana (ek-bat-t-na), was capitol of the Median Empire. Herodutus, the Greek historian, wrote that Dioces who was the king of the Medes asked them to build him a great city. The city was named Ecbatana which was a city contained the kings palace with was in side two circular walls for protection. It was called the most beautiful city in the world at that time. According to the Nabonidus Chronicle, Cyrus the Great, in 550 BC, conquered the city and seized all its treasures. 1
Borsippa, was a city-state twelve miles south of Babylon in the central area of southern Iraq. It was a religious center and was the site of the Ezida Temple dedicated to idol Marduk It was destroyed by the Persian king Xerxes I in the fifth century.
|The Third beast, the Leopard which is a predator, refers to the Greek Empire with Alexander the Great as it head. In twelve years (334-323 BC ), he subjugated by conquest or voluntary submission the entirety of the Persian Empire. It was smaller than the great lumbering cruel bear, but the Greeks were known for their swiftness and mobility in warfare.|
When Alexander died a premature death his generals divided the empire into four primary kingdoms (the “four heads”). Ptolemy took Egypt and nearby lands. Seleucus received Syria, Asia Minor, and the conquered eastern nations. Lysimachus ruled Thrace and surrounding territories, and lastly, Cassander controlled Macedonia and Greece. This alludes to the four heads of the leopard.
|The Fourth beast is not described except to say it was different from the others and had ten horns. It clearly refers to the Roman Empire which historically followed the Greeks. In Revelations 13:1, John refers to this beast as being like a leopard, with bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth which is the source for the illustration at the right. The Roman Empire was actually a combination of the previous three nations and particularly of the Greek Empire after it was divided. It was much greater in power than the others.|
This fourth beast was made up of ten nations. The ten nations are those of the Revived or Restored Roman Empire that is future to out time. However, among these ten nations rises a smaller one called the little horn. It takes control of three of the original ten then rises to power over them all. A horn is used as a symbol of power and strength. In Daniel Eight this beast is symbolized as a the ram which refers it having power in its horns. This little horn is represented as a person because it has eyes and a mouth which defies God. The Little Horn comes to power by conquering three nations, which would mean that he literally rules over three nations he overcomes and in his power subjugates seven other nations. Historically we know that the nation that is being represented is the nations of the old Roman Empire which ruled most of the known world and had its base in Italy and later in Europe. Thus this would indicate this beast, who the Scriptures identify as the Antichrists who will come to power in the seven year Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th Week – See Daniel 9:27) and will rule over a European union.
Daniel sees this Little Horn (Antichrist) leading the Fourth beast and being destroyed by God. Only the Little Horn is destroyed, the nations he ruled remain for a time and be included in the Kingdom period when Christ rules the earth in the Millennium.
The Ancient of Days is a name for God. In Revelation 1:14, John represents God as having white hair like wool, white as snow. “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.”
Please note: If you find the material a little confusing please understand that by the end this study it will become clearer to you. As one studies through Daniel one builds his understanding and knowledge. One can see plainly that Daniel did not understand what he was seeing and that most of what was being revealed to him was future to his day. Today we have the great advantage of being able to look back in recorded history and understand the nature of these kingdoms as recorded extensively in history. We however, are like Daniel, in our understanding of the last kingdom, which is yet future to us.
This first vision of Daniel sets the stage for Daniel’s following visions and when all are studied the subject of these prophecies will be understood and further it will clarify much of the symbolism of the Book of Revelation. What is important is that through the study of Daniel, God’s future plans for the earth can be understood because one can see the panorama of history through the end of time and into eternity in the New Heavens and Earth of Revelation 21-22. This is what Daniel saw.