1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel, Danielís First Vision, Daniel 7:1-14 - Lesson 28

 

In the first 6 chapters of the book of Daniel we have been involved in the reigns of three major kings of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius.

 

We saw Belshazzar killed by Darius in chapter 5 but in chapter 7 Daniel brings us back to the time of Belshazzar, for it was during the first year of his reign in which Daniel had the prophetic dream of Chapter 7.

In fact Daniel also refers to his dream of chapter 8 as occurring in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar.

So both events of chapters 7 and 8 go back in time before chapter 6 which described events during the reign of King Darius.

Daniel 7 is the last chapter written in Aramaic in the Book of Daniel.

The use of Aramaic is rare in the Old testament, being used some in Ezra, with a verse in Jeremiah, and two words in Genesis.

Aramaic was also used in New Testament times, being the language of commerce and diplomacy.

Aramaic was also one of the languages that Jesus spoke, perhaps even his primary language.

Daniel 1:1 thru 2:4a was written in Hebrew.

From Daniel 2:4b to the end of chapter 7, the original text was written in Aramaic which was the language of Babylon in that day.

After this chapter, the book returns to the Hebrew language.

Chapters 1 thru 6 are primarily historical accounts of Daniel and his three friends but beginning in chapter 7 to the end of the book is primarily composed of prophetic revelations received by Daniel.

Chapter 7 contains the first prophecy in the book of Daniel revealed directly to Daniel.

The prophecies we have already studied were revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar and interpreted by Daniel and involved many people to people relationships.

As in the former prophesy to Nebuchadnezzar the prophesy of chapter 7 also involves wicked kings and nations and the suffering of the saints but this prophesy is kept by Daniel to himself.

But the emphasis of the prophesy and that which we should cling to is the ultimate victory of our God over these kingdoms and the establishment of Godís eternal kingdom on this earth.

There is no attempt on Godís part to paint a rosy picture of that which takes place before his kingdom is established, in fact God is clear that his saints are to suffer.

The New Testament tells us we will not suffer from the wrath of God that is to come on this world, but we will suffer from the wrath of men during the reign or the years leading to the reign of the kings of chapter seven and history of course has borne this out.

Danielís dream does not identify the kings nor are the saints identified whether they be Jew or Gentile.

The dream describes four beasts which are all different, but the fourth beast is most described and emphasized for it is in this beast that Daniel is most interested, for the kingdom of the fourth beast precedes the coming of the eternal kingdom of our God.

This I imagine is the kingdom in which we are also most interested for this kingdom is yet to come on the scene.

Daniel interprets this vision with a general interpretation and then adds to the interpretation based upon his further questions concerning the fourth beast.

He is definitely interested in the fourth beast.

There is also an interesting revelation in this chapter having to do with two persons, a person named the Ancient of Days and another person named the Son of Man.

Both of these persons play a part in the establishment of the kingdom of God.

The expression "son of man," in some parts of the Old Testament, was a synonym for being human, a son of man.

It was used this way in Numbers 23:19 to contrast man with God,

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it?

Daniel uses the expression "Son of man" twice.

The first time in Daniel 7:13, he is referring to Messiah, who will sit on the eternal throne of His father, David.

The second time, the expression is used in reference to Daniel himself.

Daniel 8:17,  So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

It was accepted by the Jews that the reference to the "Son of Man" in Daniel 7 was to the Messiah, but they probably did not understand the Messiah was to be both human and God.

But the name "Son of Man" was frequently used by Jesus Christ as he spoke of himself to the Jews.

Iím sure the use of that phrase added to their hatred of him for that phrase spoke of the Messiah and much of that was based upon its use in Daniel chapter seven.

So this distinction between God the "Father"óthe "Ancient of Days" and God the Sonóthe "Son of Man" is quite clear in Daniel chapter seven.

Remember the first prophesy of the book of Daniel.

It came from the dream of king Nebuchadnezzar and was interpreted by Daniel.

In many way that prophesy is like the prophesy of chapter seven.

Nebuchadnezzarís dream concerned a four part statue.

Danielís dream concerns four beasts.

The four part statue represents four kingdoms, the four beasts also represent four kingdoms.

There is a declining value to the kingdoms as time passes.

The materials of the statue decline in value and the beasts pass from nearly human to a blaspheming beast.

But in the end, both the statue and the beasts are destroyed

After destruction an eternal kingdom is established.

Now up to this point in the book of Daniel we have seen an unshakable prophet.

There has been no panic indicated on the part of Daniel, in spite of being under the threat of death on several occasions, however in this chapter we are given to see a Daniel who is upset by what he is told in his dream.

He is given firsthand that which is to take place in the future.

Twice in chapter seven Daniel speaks of his distress.

Verse 15, I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

Verse 28,  Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

Remember Daniel was the first man who was given such a detailed view of the end times.

His was a sobering view and brought great distress to him as he meditated upon this vision.

He knew from past interpretations that chaotic changes were to take place in his future.

Kings were to change, government upheavals were close.

We will see further agony or distress on Danielís part as we study subsequent chapters of this book.

Just imagine what you would feel if you had knowledge of a future filled with horrible events that were about to occur.

Danielís response to this prophetic vision was not unique.

Many Old Testament prophets were also agonized when they were chosen to receive prophesy from God.

This quote is from the book Daniel, An Introduction and Commentary, by Baldwin.

"The personal cost of receiving divine revelation is never underestimated in the Old Testament, and the book of Daniel insists here and in subsequent chapters on the anxiety and psychological turmoil involved in receiving, even at Godís hand, understanding of the future course of history."

It is an awesome responsibility that God limits to few men.

Daniel 7:1-14,  In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.  Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.  The first was like a lion, and had eagleís wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a manís heart was given to it.  And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.  After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.  After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.  I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.  I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.  I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.  As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.  I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Up to chapter seven the book of Daniel has been chronological.

However this pattern changes as Daniel reverts to an event that took place in the first year of Belshazzar, whose death was reported in chapter five.

Daniel receives a revelation, a dream, a vision, upon his bed and we are told in the last verse of chapter seven that he keeps this vision in his heart, not revealing it to anyone at the time.

The report of this vision is given to us, but as the first verse tells us it is but a summary of the prophesy that he received.

He saw the beasts in the vision, we simply hear about the beasts.

It has been nine years since Nebuchadnezzar has passed off the scene.

Nabonidus is in power and Belshazzar his son is his first year of co-regency under his father.

Things have changed since Nebuchadnezzar was in power as we have seen from the great orgy that Belshazzar and his princes attended where the holy vessels were defiled.

Under Nebuchadnezzar there was a recognition of Danielís God, and even an edict that the worship of his God was not to be hindered.

But times had changed and blasphemy had replaced worship.

It was an upsetting time for Daniel and this vision mirrors that time.

The first picture in the vision concerns the sea.

It is stirred up by the four winds of the heaven, four winds being the directions from which they came.

All directions were represented, the north, the south, the east, the west.

The winds are from God.

Men cannot make or control winds so I believe we can conclude that the stirring up of the seas was from God.

Notice what comes from the seas. Four beasts.

We learn later that these four beasts represent four kings.

Four kings come out of the seas.

Seas then represent the whole of humanity and this image is also used throughout the book of Revelation to picture the multitude of humanity.

So the picture is of God bringing fourth from the multitudes four kings.

This is in line with Proverbs 8:15,16 which tell us,  By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Here we see that the four kings are pictured as diverse beasts, very different from one another.

The first beast was like a lion, the mightiest of beasts, the king of beasts, regal in its appearance, but this lion had eagles wings, another indication of its vast power, the power of flight.

Undoubtedly this beast takes precedence over the beasts to follow.

But the wings are plucked indicating a fall, moving to a position from which it could never attain to the former position.

But in this position it was made to stand upon the feet as a man and this beast was given a manís heart.

There is definitely a connection here with the head of gold which we were told, was Nebuchadnezzar, a beast of a man, before God gave him a new heart.