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Daniel 7: Vision of Four Beasts

Chapter 7 - Introduction

As you read this chapter, try to relate the four beasts to the four major parts of the statue in the vision of Chapter 2. This vision takes place before the Handwriting on the Wall episode. God will reveal to David that He is in control. Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the statue was in David's teen years, he is now in his late seventies. The LORD personally reveals His plan for the coming ages to Daniel, just before the conquest of Babylon (the gold head and the first beast in this vision).

Chapter 7 - Text and commentary

{7:1} In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head on his bed: then he wrote the dream and told the sum of the matters.

DATE: 553 BC

{7:2} Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the sky broke forth on the great sea.

{7:3} Four great animals came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

{7:4} The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I saw until the wings of it were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand on two feet as a man; and a man's heart was given to it.

{7:5} Behold, another animal, a second, like a bear; and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.

{7:6} After this I saw, and, behold, another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the animal had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

{7:7} After this I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, a fourth animal, awesome and powerful, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet: and it was diverse from all the animals that were before it; and it had ten horns.

{7:8} I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

{7:9} I saw until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat: his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, [and] the wheels of it burning fire.

{7:10} A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

{7:11} I saw at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke; I saw even until the animal was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire.

{7:12} As for the rest of the animals, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

{7:13} I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

{7:14} There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, 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.

{7:15} As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

{7:16} I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

{7:17} These great animals, which are four, are four kings, who shall arise out of the earth.

{7:18} But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.

The question we must consider is, who are the saints? 'Dispensational' theology and interpretation draws a sharp line between the Old Testament saints (Israel and the Jews) and New Testament saints (Christians). By considering these to be Old Testament saints only, they consider that the final battle with the little horn will be between Israel and the Antichrist, and in this verse, it is Israel that inherits the earthly millennial kingdom. This is not adhered to by all believers. Historical Premillennarians see a unity between the Old and New Testament Saints - for instance, today and in the future, only believers in Jesus Christ (whether of Jewish or Gentile heritage) can truly be considered saints, and they compose the Church.

Once this interpretation is made, it is carried throughout the of Daniel's prophecies, and even determines our interpretation of the Book of Revelation and who will be on earth during the tribulation.

In short, the 'saints' may refer to Jews only (as some dispensationalists claim) or may be applied to all the sanctified ones of God (all believers - including Christians). This determines who is intended OT enjoy the millennial kingdom and its blessings, only Jews or Jews and Christians.

{7:19} Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth animal, which was diverse from all of them, exceedingly terrible, whose teeth were of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet;

{7:20} and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other [horn] which came up, and before which three fell, even that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, whose look was more stout than its fellows.

{7:21} I saw, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

{7:22} until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

{7:23} Thus he said, The fourth animal shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

{7:24} As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise: and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the former, and he shall put down three kings.

{7:25} He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time.

{7:26} But the judgment shall be set, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it to the end.

{7:27} The kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole the sky, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

{7:28} Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me, and my face was changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

Chapter 7 - Summary

Statue (Ch 2)

Beast (Ch 7)






Wings plucked - possibly the huniliation of Nebuchadnezzar
Heart given - possible restoration of Nebuchadnezzar's mind




3 ribs - conquests of Lydia (modern Turkey), Babylon and Egypt


Leopard (4 heads)


Within a few years of Alexander he Great's death,
his empire was split among four generals as four kingdoms


10 horned beast


The ten horns may be individual horns, or two antlers of five prongs,
the horns arise out of the beast, perhaps a later phase of Rome


One like a Son of Man

Eternal Kingdom of God

The saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever.
(Are saints Israel, Christians, or both?)

As the chart shows, we see four beasts representing four kingdoms arise, with horns coming from the last one. During the time of the last kingdom, in the time of the horns, the Son of Man will receive an eternal kingdom, the final kingdom of this earth. The saints will war against the 'little horn', assumed to be the anti-christ, and will inherit the eternal kingdom. Interpreters disagree over whether these saints are Jewish believers in the last days (therefore, Christians must be removed by the rapture before the war with the little horn) or Christians (in which case Christians remain on the earth during the tribulation).

Chapter 7 - Questions

Unless otherwise stated, the Bible text is from the World English Bible, and is in the public domain.
BrRon's Bible Commentary (C)Copyright 2010 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved