Keep in mind: This chapter precedes the events in chapter 5.
Verse 1 – In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.
Verse 2 – Daniel spoke saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.
We can see from Jeremiah 25:31-33, that when a great wind is raised up it wreaks death and destruction. These winds are a symbol of war, strife, and bloodshed. And the sea is usually symbolic of Gentile humanity in other Biblical passages (Isaiah 17;57; Revelation 13; 17).
Verse 3 – “And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
A beast is a symbol of a king or a kingdom and so is a horn. Strife, war, and bloodshed is upon the nations as kingdom conquers kingdom to rise to world supremacy. Each was different – different laws, and customs.
Verse 4 – “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
The lion represents the Babylonian empire. The Babylonian empire used a lion to represent itself, and statues of winged lions were common there. Wings often represent swiftness (Habakkuk 1:6-9). The wings being plucked refers to a change taking place in Babylon’s power. The courageous lion was replaced by a weak and wicked heart of a man.
In the time of Belshazzar’s reign (after Nebuchadnezzar) the kingdom was reduced to the walls of Babylon itself.
Verse 5 – “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’
Another beast – the next kingdom rising to power. This is a good description of the Medo-Persian empire. They were cruel and vicious (Isaiah 13). Darius and Cyrus his nephew, came together to go up against Babylon. The Persians were much stronger than the Medes, hence the bear raised up on one side, with the Persians ruling the kingdom for the majority of the time. Three ribs in its mouth – three kingdoms that they were devouring – Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon.
Verse 6 – “After this I looked, and there was another, 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.
We can see now that this is an in-depth description of Daniel chapter 2 of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed. Prophecy works on repeat and enlarge.
A leopard is very good at catching its prey off guard especially by ambushing it. Greece, under Alexander the Great, was this leopard because they were swift in moving his great army and catching his prey off guard, unsuspecting. It took Alexander and his army 12 years to subdue the world. Alexander’s strength rose very quickly to power, but at the peak of his power he died in a drunken stooper at the age of 31 in 323 B.C. Four heads – at Alexander’s death, his generals asked who was to take the kingdom and rule. Alexander replied, “to the strongest.” Through much fighting the kingdom was divided among the four remaining generals. Thus the four heads: Cassander – Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus – Thrace, parts of Asia, Hellespont and Bosporus in the north. Ptolemy – Egypt, Libya, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria in the south. Seleucus – Syria eastward. The Grecian empire reigned from 331-168 B. C.
Verse 7 – “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
This fourth beast points to both Rome and the end times. Rome ruled from 168 B.C. – 476 A. C. Many scholars believe that the ten horns are ten kings who will reign shortly before God sets up His everlasting kingdom. Rome also had ten divisions at the time of their rule.
Verse 8 – “I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, and a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.
A little horn, started out small and rose to great power. It spoke arrogantly and blasphemous against God.
Verse 9 – “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a burning flame, its wheels a burning fire;
Here the prophecy shifts to end times. The Ancient of Days is God All Mighty, who assigns power to kingdoms and will judge those kingdoms in end times. We also see His throne has wheels and can move as Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 also showed us.
Verse 10 – A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him, a thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
These that stood before Him and ministered are angels and living creatures as John describes in Revelation 5:11 – “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,”…
Verse 11 – “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
Verse 12 – “As for the rest of the bests, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
The slaying of this beast; the fall of the Roman Empire and future, the Antichrist destroyed. Now, for the rest that were allowed to continue for a season; Babylon’s territory was made subject to Persia, but the subjects lived on. Same thing when Greece conquered Persia and when Rome took over Greece.
Verse 13 – “I was watching in the night visions and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.
Verse 14 – Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
“The Son of Man” is none other than Jesus Christ! Coming with the clouds of heaven, angels brought Christ into the presence of the Father. Christ comes to the Father to receive His kingdom, which is an everlasting kingdom that shall not be destroyed. All peoples, nations, and languages: Revelation 21:24 – And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
Verse 15 – “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
Verse 16 – “I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:
Verse 17 – ‘Those great bests, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.
Verse 18 – ‘But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.
This can be a comfort to us as it was to Daniel; This kingdom that our beloved Savior rules and reigns will be filled with those who love Him and are looking to His coming forever and ever. No matter what happens in-between, we believers end up with our King of Kings. Don’t let the opportunity pass before you make the decision to become His, because after you draw your last breath it will be too late.
Verse 19 – “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet;
Verse 20 – “And about the ten horns that were on its head, and about the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
Verse 21 – “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,
Verse 22 – “until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in ts to possess the kingdom.
Verse 23 – “Thus he said: “The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.
Verse 24 – The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings.
These ten horns, kings, are also mentioned in Revelation 17:2. There were also ten toes on the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. These kings will make war against Christ and the saints, but he Lamb conquers. The other king mentioned here in verse 24, is the future Antichrist of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.
Verse 25 – He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.
This Antichrist will be characterized by blasphemy, anti-Semitism, religious corruption by changing religious festivals and laws. He will oppress the Jewish people, three and one half years, or the second half of the future tribulation period (Revelation 7:14). But when the heavenly court convenes, the Antichrist will be destroyed forever.
Verse 26 – ‘But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever.
Verse 27 – Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominion shall serve and obey Him.’
In Romans 8:14-17, Paul tells us if we are being led by the Spirit of God then we are the sons of God and adopted into His family. Thus we have become joint heirs with Christ. Jesus received a kingdom which is everlasting, thus we being joint-heirs with Him also receive this kingdom.
Verse 28 – “This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”