Lesson 8

From the Stormy Sea to the Clouds of Heaven

(Daniel 7)
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Introduction: A new development this week! Daniel is the recipient of a vision, not merely the interpreter of the king's dreams. This personal vision parallels the "history of the world" dream given to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2. That dream dealt with the political power of a series of empires. That made sense since Nebuchadnezzar was a man concerned about political power. The parallel vision we study this week in Daniel 7 has to do with the personal or spiritual nature of these empires. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Dreaming

    1. Read Daniel 7:1. Does Daniel have a sleeping problem?

      1. Do dreams keep you awake? (Normally, if I have dreams when I'm sleeping, I have a hard time remembering them when I wake up. They generally do not interfere with my sleep.)

      2. What is significant about the date of this vision? (Two weeks ago we studied the end of Belshazzar's reign. It appeared that Daniel had been forgotten by the royal court, except for Nebucadnezzar's widow, the Queen.)

      3. What was Belshazzar's attitude towards Daniel's God? (He was hostile. This is likely another reason why this dream is given to Daniel and not Belshazzar.)

    2. Read Daniel 7:2. The winds of heaven churn up the "great sea." What does the "great sea" represent? (Commentators differ, but I think it is likely the Mediterranean Sea. It is the sea that Daniel would know about. When we study the animals more, we will see that they all border the Mediterranean.)

  2. Animals

    1. Read Daniel 7:3. What Daniel sees are beasts. The parallel vision of Daniel 2 involves different metals. Why represent these political powers as animals? (This is where we see the personality of the empires. This reflects the spiritual/moral aspects of these kingdoms.)

    2. When my wife reads a book, she always looks at the back first so that she will know how it ends. I would never do that. But, we are going to do that here. Daniel 7 provides the dream and later the interpretation. We will sneak looks at the interpretation to help us understand.

    3. Let's skip ahead here. Read Daniel 7:9. Recall in Daniel 2:34, a rock destroys the image. What did we decide this rock represented? (The Second Coming of Jesus.)

      1. What does Daniel 7:9 suggest about the correctness of our view about the rock? (It shows that we are correct.)

      2. Why are these kingdoms represented by animals and the Second Coming represented by a man? (It reflects the difference between pagan secular powers and God. It also reflects the vast gulf between our abilities and nature and those of God.)

    4. Let's look again at Daniel 7:3. The end of this verse says that these beasts "came up out of the sea." Are you still comfortable with saying that the sea is the Mediterranean? Why would it be fair to say they came "out" of the sea when they merely border it? (Read Revelation 17:15, Isaiah 57:20, and Psalms 65:7. These verses use "sea" to symbolize people. The Pulpit commentary argues that seas refer to "the great mass of Gentile nations." I don't think all Gentile nations is correct, because of the reference to the "great sea" - which points to the Mediterranean. However, understanding "sea" to mean the people of the area makes sense.)

    5. Let's sneak a look at the interpretation by reading Daniel 7:17. What does this say about the origin of the four beasts? (It says that they arose from the earth. This makes plain that the "sea" reference refers to people in nations that border the sea.)

    6. Looking ahead at Daniel 7:17 tells us that the animals are "four kings." That is not very specific. Read Daniel 7:4 and Jeremiah 4:7. What kingdom does this lion represent? (Babylonian art used winged lions to represent the empire. Jeremiah refers to Nebuchadnezzar as "the lion." Daniel 4 records that Nebuchadnezzar became like an animal with an animal brain. But, when he acknowledged the true God he became like a man again with the ability to think like a human.)

    7. Read Daniel 7:5. What kingdom does this bear represent? (Medo-Persia follows Babylon in the Daniel 2 dream. The uneven back reflects the dominance of the Persians over the Medes. The similarity to a bear tells us about the power of this empire.)

    8. Read Daniel 7:6. What kingdom does this leopard represent? (Greece. Four is the numerical sign of the Greek power, according to one commentary, and the speed of Alexander the Great's conquest is well-known. This speed is represented in the four wings.)

    9. Read Daniel 7:7. How is this beast different? (It does not look like an animal that Daniel recognizes.)

    10. Read Daniel 7:19 and Daniel 7:23. What is this fourth beast? (Using Daniel 2 as a point of reference, this seems to be the Roman Empire, since it is the fourth kingdom.)

  3. Heads and Horns

    1. Daniel 7:7 tells us that this fourth monster has ten horns. Let's read Daniel 7:8 and sneak a look at Daniel 7:24. What are these ten horns? (The horns are kings which come from the Roman empire.)

    2. Out of these ten kings, according to Daniel 7:7, comes a "little" horn which uproots three of the kings. This little horn is not an animal, it is described as a person, as a king. Let's sneak a look at Daniel 7:20-21 and Daniel 7:24-26 to find what the little horn represents. What is it? (It is a persecuting power. It wages war against "the holy people" and defeats them. It will "oppress" God's people. It tries to change set times and laws. It has success for "a time, times and half a time.")

      1. Recall that we are talking about past history. What "king" arises from the Roman Empire and oppresses God's people?

      2. What do you think is the "little horn?"

      3. A popular teaching is that the "little horn" is a minor Seleucide King named Antiochus Ephiphanes who ruled eleven years from 175-164 B.C.. Antiochus came to power after the death of Alexander the Great at the end of the Greek empire. (See, Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, p. 39-42). Does Antiochus Ephiphanes fit the description of the little horn? (No. The timing is all wrong. Antiochus came to power before, not after, the Roman Empire. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge recites that the ten kingdoms into which the western Roman Empire was divided were set up between 356 A.D. and 526 A.D. Thus, Antiochus is more than 500 years too soon to fit this prophecy. In addition, his eleven year rule hardly seems to stretch to the time of the final judgment. See Daniel 7:21-22.)

    3. Look again at Daniel 7:25. It says that the little horn tries to change "set times and the laws." What do you think this means? (Compare Daniel 2:19-21. Changing times and seasons is the prerogative of God. Thus, this little horn with its persecution of the saints, and its claim to God's prerogatives seems to be a quasi-religious power.)

      1. When you think of a time that God has set as a law, what comes to mind? (What comes to my mind is Exodus 20:8-11, the command for Sabbath worship.)

    4. Now that we have discussed this more, what do you think the "little horn" represents? (There is disagreement among commentators on this, but I believe the evidence points very clearly to Papal Rome. It arose after Pagan Rome (the Roman Empire) was breaking up. It was different than the other kings in that its claim to religious power was greater than its claim to secular authority. It is identified with a man. Papal Rome is identified with the Pope. Papal Rome had a sad period during the Middle Ages when it persecuted those who disagreed with it. I want my readers to know that I have a long history of defending in court the religious freedom of Catholics and Catholic institutions. I love and admire how the Catholic Church stands strong against abortion and other evil. But, I think this prophecy is clear.)

  4. Judgment

    1. Look again at Daniel 7:25, but this time the last part. What happens with this persecution? (It ends after a "time, times and half a time." Some commentators reasonably say that this is 3.5 years, or 1,260 days. Using the "year-day" principle of prophecy this represents 1,260 years. See also Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6.)

    2. Read Daniel 7:26-27. What happens at the end? (God brings in His "everlasting kingdom!" We are that kingdom!)

    3. Friend, what is the good news here? (God wins! His saints win! Will you have confidence that God is in control, no matter what happens?)

  5. Next week: From Contamination to Purification.

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Lessons on Daniel

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