The Beasts of Daniel 7

In the seventh chapter of Daniel we find the first recorded vision of the prophet himself. (Remember, the vision in chapter two was given to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel simply interpreted it.) From this point on the book of Daniel is a prophetic outline of events which build upon the prophecy of chapter two, with each prophecy giving additional information.

Immediately following his introduction in verse one Daniel begins to present the vision shown him. At once it becomes evident that this is a highly symbolic prophecy, and it is these many symbols used in the book of Daniel, and other Bible prophecies, that cause many people to become confused; and yet this need not be for it is not difficult to understand Bible symbolism. As one studies Bible prophecy it quickly becomes apparent that the prophetic symbols are consistent. God does not use a symbol in one place to refer to something and then in another place use the same symbol to refer to something else. Therefore, once we discover the meaning of the symbols the prophecies become clear.

The first symbols that Daniel presents are winds and water. From Scripture we discover that “winds” represents war or strife, and “water” represents “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” (Jeremiah 49:35-37; Revelation 17:15). Therefore, the symbolic meaning of the winds blowing upon the water would be strife or conflict among the people or nations of the world.

As Daniel beheld this turmoil “four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse [different] one from another.” Again to find the meaning of this symbol we must look to God’s word where we find that these four beasts are four kingdoms. (Daniel 7:17,23). Therefore, what the prophet saw was four world kingdoms arising out of the war and strife among the nations. These four beasts represent the same kingdoms that were presented in chapter two; yet instead of the metals of gold, silver, brass, and iron; we now have a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a “dreadful and terrible” beast.

A winged lion is an appropriate symbol of the Babylonian Empire, for just as a lion is known as the king of beasts, so Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon was referred to as a “king of kings.” Daniel 2:37. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah referred to Babylon as a lion and archeological finds have revealed that winged lions were a very common object of art in ancient Babylon. Babylonian coins have even been discovered with winged lions stamped upon them.

Daniel beheld the lion as it was “lifted up from the earth” signifying the pride and arrogance of Babylon which certainly became a very proud and boastful nation. And being high and “lifted up with pride” she fell “into the condemnation of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:6. (Compare also Daniel 5:20, 23).

In the end this lion was to stand upon its feet like a man and receive a man’s heart, which in comparison to that of a lion, is weak and cowardly. Remember, it was because of his bravery that Richard I, king of England, was known as Richard the Lion Hearted. The great and glorious kingdom of Babylon under the brave and brilliant rulership of Nebuchadnezzar became a crumbling kingdom under the cowardly, incompetent Belshazzar. The wings of the majestic lion are plucked and a man’s heart is given to it, as the glory and splendor of Babylon now fades away to another power rising to world prominence.

There are some who have claimed this bear of Daniel 7 is Russia. However, such an application has absolutely no Biblical base. The sole reason for such a contortion of Scripture is that the emblem for the Soviet Union is a bear; but that is not reason enough. For one thing the kingdom represented by this bear has to be a kingdom that would arise at the time that Babylon fell, and as has been seen from Daniel 5:28, this is none other than the kingdom of Medo-Persia.

Next to the lion, the bear is one of the most rapacious of the beasts. Furthermore, by comparison it is also a larger, yet a slower and less regal creature; as was Medo-Persia when compared to Babylon. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth would represent the chief conquests of Medo-Persia; those being Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt; and the desire to “devour much flesh” eventually resulted in Persia’s defeat on European soil.

The fact that the bear “raised up itself on one side” would refer to the dual nature of the Medo-Persian empire as also symbolized by the two arms of Daniel 2:32 and the two horns of Daniel 8:20. As can be seen from history, Persia eventually became the strongest, and ultimately, absorbing the Medes, became known as the Persian Empire. Thus, with greedy voraciousness, rather than royal dignity, the bear (Medo-Persia) was to rule the world from 538 B.C. until 331 B.C. But it too was to pass away.

As the third kingdom of brass in Daniel 2:39 represented Greece, so the third beast of Daniel 7 represents the Greek Empire. There is much emphasis on the rapidity of conquest as can be seen by the symbol of the leopard (which is of itself quite swift) having four wings. When we compare this symbolism with that of Daniel 8:5, 21 where the goat (Greece) moved so quickly that it “touched not the ground” we can definitely see a portrayal of great speed.

The speed with which Alexander the Great conquered the world is phenomenal. In 334 B.C. he crossed the Hellespont and entered Persian territory with only 35,000 men. Three years later, in 331 B.C., Alexander met the Persian armies near Arbela where he inflicted the fatal blow which opened the riches of the world’s greatest empire to a young king only 25 years old.

Not only did this leopard have four wings, but it “had also four heads.” Practically all commentators recognize this symbol as referring to the division of the empire after the death of Alexander in 323 B.C., just eight years after having conquered the world, at the young age of thirty-three. For several years after the death of the young king his generals fought among themselves for first place; until the decisive battle was fought at Ipsus in Phyrgia at which time four generals came out victorious. The historian George Botsford gives this account in A History of the Ancient World. “The victors divided the empire into kingdoms for themselves: Seleucus received Asia from Phyrgia to India; western Asia Minor and Thrace fell to Lysimachus; Ptolemy became king of Egypt; and Cassander, already governor of Macedon, was recognized as sovereign. In this way four kingdoms arose from the empire.”

Can you begin to see how this prophecy of chapter seven enlarges upon and magnifies that of chapter two? Do you see how with each step the Lord adds intricate details to help piece the prophecies together as a puzzle, until we have a perfect picture? God desires that each of us have a clear understanding of His word. He has declared that “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:10

After the lion, bear, and leopard had passed before him Daniel saw “a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible” which “was diverse [different] from all the beasts that were before it.”

As the three previous beasts paralleled the three metals of the image of Daniel two; so this fourth beast, with “great iron teeth”, represents the “iron monarchy of Rome”; which had been symbolized by the legs of iron. This beast is pictured by Daniel as being the most terrible of any of the other beasts. There is no known beast in the animal kingdom which can be used to describe this world power, so the prophet simply describes it as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly.” Beyond any doubt these words are most applicable to the Roman empire.

This beast is said to be diverse, or different, from any of the kingdoms before it. There are at least four areas in which Rome was different from the previous powers. It was larger, stronger, and endured longer than the previous three. However, the most astounding difference lies in the fact that this fourth beast was not to remain simply a political power, but was to evolve into a religious power as well.

Daniel further describes this beast as having ten horns, which represent the ten kings or kingdoms that would arise out of Rome. Again, these ten horns parallel the ten toes of Daniel two and represent the Saxons, Franks, Alemanni, Burgundians, Lombards, Visigoths, Suevi, Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heruli. The first seven of these are known today as the English, French, German, Swiss, Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese. The remaining three were to be destroyed by another “little horn” that was to arise in their midst. (cf Daniel 7:24).

The prophet observes the rise and fall of these kingdoms and the fearful workings of this fourth beast and the little horn until the scenes of the judgement, the second coming of Jesus, and the establishment of His eternal kingdom pass before him. However, after having seen all of this Daniel is troubled and requests that the meaning of the vision be given him. He readily recognized the significance of these beasts, but desired more information concerning the beast with the ten horns, and particularly the little horn that had come up and uprooted three of the other kingdoms. This part of the vision disturbed Daniel greatly, and he was utterly amazed as he beheld this little horn while it “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.”

Daniel two contained the image of gold, silver, brass, iron, and iron and clay mixture representing the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the ten kingdoms rising from fallen Rome. Daniel seven presents these same kingdoms portrayed as a lion, bear, leopard, terrible beast, and ten horns. However, the prophecy of chapter seven goes beyond these ten kingdoms and presents a new power, symbolized by a little horn. It is this little horn power that is the most amazing of all, in that it is to endure from shortly after the fall of Rome until the second coming of Christ. Who is this power that would speak great words against the most High, persecute His people, and attempt to change His law?

There are several points given in Scripture which enable us to readily identify this “little horn” power; however, the one given most frequently is the time period of “a time and times and the dividing oftime”duringwhichGod’speopleweretobe”givenintohishand.” Thisperiodoftimeismentioned seven times in the books of Daniel and Revelation in reference to the little horn and the Beast; which as we shall discover, are one and the same power.

In Daniel 7:25, Daniel 12:7, and Revelation 12:14 this period of time is referred to as “a time and times and the dividing of time” or “a time, times, and half a time.” In Revelation 11:2 and 13:5 it is given as 42 months; and in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 it is presented as 1260 days. From Genesis 7:11,24 and 8:4 we discover that a month equals 30 days. From the seventeenth day of the second month to the seventeenth day of the seventh month (or 5 months) equaled 150 days. Thus the 42 months of prophecy would be 1260 days (42 months x 30 days = 1260 days). As can be seen, the 42 months and the 1260 days are the same prophetic time period. Now, if we take one year of 12 months we would have 360 days (12 months x 30 days = 360 days) in each year, and 3 1/2 times that would be exactly 1260 days. (One “time”, or one year, would be 360 days, two times would equal 720 days, and a half time would give us 180 days for a total of 1260 days). Thus, it becomes clear that the time, times, and dividing of time; the 42 months; and the 1260 days are all identical and refer to the same period of time. Since in prophetic time a day equals one year (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34) these seven references to 1260 prophetic days would actually be 1260 literal years.

To further substantiate that the little horn of Daniel and the beast of Revelation are the same, identical power, we need only draw a parallel between the two.

1. They are both a blasphemous power. Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:6.

2. They both make war with the saints. Dan. 7:21; Rev. 13:7.

3. They both have a mouth speaking great things. Dan.7:8,20; Rev. 

4. They were to arise about the time of the fall of Rome. Dan. 7:23, 24; Rev. 13:2.

5. They were both to reign supreme for 1260 years. Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5.

6. At the end of this time the Lord’s people were to be delivered from persecution and the power was to be led into captivity. Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:10.

Since Daniel seven and Revelation thirteen both reveal powers that arise at the same time, occupy the same territory, reveal the same character, perform the same function, endure for the same length of time, and meet the same fate, they must, of necessity, be the same identical power.

As early as the second century the church fathers had recognized the meaning of Daniel 2 as can be seen from Hippolytus’ (160-236) exposition on Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. “The golden head of the image and the lioness denoted the Babylonians; the shoulders and the arms of silver, and the bear, represented the Persians and the Medes; the belly and thighs of brass, and the leopard, meant the Greeks, who held the sovereignty from Alexander’s time; the legs of iron, and the beast dreadful and terrible, expressed the Romans, who hold the sovereignty at present; the toes of the feet which were part clay and part iron, and the ten horns, were emblems of the kingdoms that are yet to rise; the other little horn that grows up among them meant the Antichrist in their midst; the stone that smites the earth and brings judgment upon the world was Christ.” Hippolytus, “Treatise on Christ and Antichrist,” Ante-nicene Fathers, vol. V, P. 210, par. 28.

The Word of God is clear. The prophecies have all been fulfilled and we are now living in the time of the Antichrist. Soon this bride of Satan will wage all out war against the bride of Christ and will cause all “to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16-17. This conflict will become so great that it will result in a death decree for those who will not submit to the devilish doctrines of this apostate power. Revelation 13:15. All must one day soon come face-to-face with this power and make a decision resulting in life or death. Revelation 14:9-10. Are you ready for the confrontation?

Metal                            Beast                            Kingdom                              Period

Gold                               Lion                               Babylon                                605-539 B.C.

Silver                             Bear                              Medo-Persia                      539-331 B.C.

Brass                             Leopard                      Greece                                  331-168 B.C.

Iron                                 Dreadful                      Rome                                    168B.C.-A.D. 476

Ten toes                       Ten Horns                  Ten Kingdoms                 A.D. 476-Present

                                          Little Horn                  Antichrist                         A.D. 538-Present

Study Helps

Daniel 7:1-3 What did Daniel see?

Jeremiah 51:1-4 What do”winds”represent?

Revelation 17:15 What does water symbolize?

Daniel 7:17-23 What are the four “beasts”?

NOTE: These four beasts represent the same four kingdoms as the four metals of the image of Daniel 2.

Daniel 7:4 How is the first kingdom of Babylon portrayed?

Daniel 7:5 How is Medo-Persia described?

Daniel 7:6 What symbol is used to represent Greece?

Daniel 7:7, 23 What is the kingdom of Rome said to be?

NOTE: The ten horns represent the same ten kingdoms as the ten toes of Daniel 2 which are the Saxons, Franks, Alemanni, Burgundians, Visigoths, Suevi, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Heruli.

Daniel 7:8 What came up among these ten kingdoms?

Daniel 7:24 What would this little horn do?

Daniel 7:21 What else would it do?

Daniel 7:25 What are three more things it would do?

Daniel 7:25 How long was this to continue?

NOTE: See the studies on “The 1260 Years of Persecution”.

Daniel 7:26 What is going to happen to this power?

Daniel 7:27 What is God’s promise to us?

A Ram and a Goat

Daniel 8:1-3 What did Daniel see?

Daniel 8:4 What was it doing?

Daniel 8:5 What did he see next?

Daniel 8:6, 7 What did it do?

Daniel 8:8 What was to replace the “great horn”?

Daniel 8:20 What does the ram represent?

NOTE: These kingdoms are the same as those of Daniel 2 and 7. This ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire (as do the silver arms and chest of chapter two and the bear of chapter seven) which ruled from 538 – 331 B.C.

Daniel 8:21 What do the goat and horn refer to?

NOTE: The goat (as well as the belly and thighs of brass of chapter two and the leopard of chapter seven) refers to the Greeks who retained power from 331 – 168 B.C. The “notable horn” is reference to Alexander the Great, the first king.

Daniel 8:22 What was to follow Alexander?

NOTE: After his death Alexander’s kingdom was divided between his four generals; Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, Seleucus.

Daniel 8:23 When was the fourth kingdom, Rome, to arise?

NOTE: This “king of fierce countenance” vs. 23 and “little horn” vs. 9 parallel the iron legs of chapter two and the dragon-like beast of chapter seven in symbolizing Rome in its pagan form, while the “little horn” of chapter seven is reference to its papal form.

Daniel 8:24 What was it to do?

Daniel 8:25 Who was it to stand against?

Daniel 8:25 What is to happen?

The 1260 Years of Persecution

Revelation 12:6 How long was the church to be in hiding?

Revelation 11:3 How long was God’s word to be in mourning?

Daniel 7:25 How long were God’s people to be persecuted?

Daniel 12:7 How long were God’s people to be scattered?

Revelation 12:14 How long was the church in the wilderness?

Revelation 11:2 How long was Jesus’ heavenly ministry despised?

Revelation 13:5 How long was the beast to have undisputed power?

NOTE: We shall now establish that these seven references all refer to the same period of time.

Genesis 7:11 When did the flood begin?

Genesis 7:24 How long did it continue?

Genesis 8:3-4 When did the ark rest upon Mt. Ararat?

NOTE: From the above verses we discover that a month consists of thirty days. From the seventeenth day of the second month to the seventeenth day of the seventh month (or five months) equals one hundred and fifty days. Thus the 42 months of prophecy would equal 1260 days (42 months x 30 days = 1260 days). In the Bible a “time” equals one year (Dan. 4:23, 32), “times” equals two years, and “a dividing of time” or “half a time” would equal a half of a year. Thus a time would be 360 days (30 days in a month times 12 months in a year), times would be 720 days (two times 360), and a dividing, or half, a time would be 180 days (one half of 360) making a total of 1260 days. Therefore we can readily see that all seven of these passages refer to the same period of time.

Ezekiel 4:6 How long does a day equal in prophecy?

NOTE: This 1260 years refers to the period of undisputed power of the “little horn”, “beast”, “man of sin”, or “Antichrist” from 538 until it received its “deadly wound” in 1798.

For more information, check out my book, the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast.

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Joe Gresham

Joe Gresham

Joe W. Gresham an ordained minister, evangelist, author, radio and TV speaker. His ministry has taken him throughout North America, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and much of Europe. His books have been translated into several languages and are now available on four continents.

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