Gentile Rule From God's Viewpoint
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Daniel. You will realize that as we have been studying the book of Daniel, verse by verse and chapter by chapter, we have come to the halfway mark in the book. Beginning with chapter 7, we will be noticing dreams and visions which Daniel himself was given and which he recorded for us that we might know more definitely what God's plan and purpose is in relation to Gentile world dominion.

Two Different Scenes

As we glance at chapter 7 we will notice that there are presented for us two different scenes and then two different interpretations of those scenes. One of those scenes we refer to as a terrestrial scene , because it is a vision which Daniel was given concerning certain things which were going to occur on the earth. The second scene is a celestial scene , and we refer to it in that fashion because it describes certain things which Daniel saw as occurring in Heaven.

I mentioned to you that there are two interpretations as well as two scenes. One of them is a general interpretation and the other is a specific interpretation. Daniel did not understand everything that he saw in those visions, so he asked one who stood by—an angel—what these things meant.

We are more fortunate than Daniel because all Daniel could do was to ask the one who conveyed the message, an angel. We have the opportunity of asking wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit, not only in relation to this passage of Scripture but in relation to any portion of the Word that we may be considering together.

When the angel gave to Daniel the general interpretation of this chapter, Daniel did not tell the angel he was not well pleased, but he did say that he wanted to know something more. He said, ”I want to know something more in detail about part of this vision—something that you haven't told me.” And so the specific interpretation is presented in the chapter.

I would like to suggest to you the manner in which those truths are presented in this chapter so that you can be reading it with that thought in mind and meditating upon it; we will not have time to consider in entirety the truths that are presented.

Outline Of The Chapter

May I suggest to you that the first eight verses describe the earthly scene which was given to Daniel in visions. From verse 9 through verse 14 there is presented the heavenly scene given to Daniel in visions. Verses 15 and 16 represent the request which Daniel made for understanding of the visions which he had seen. Verses 17 and 18 represent the general interpretation of the visions which were given by the angel. Then the paragraph which begins with verse 19 and continues down through verse 27 represents the specific interpretation which was given Daniel by the angel. Verse 28 of the chapter represents the summary or the conclusion which Daniel presents in view of everything that he has seen.

The Earthly And Heavenly Vision

I would like for you to notice with me both the earthly and the heavenly scenes, so will you notice Daniel, chapter 7, verses 1-14:

Daniel 7:

1 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.
2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's 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 man's heart was given to it.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
13 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.
14 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.

Shall we bow our heads for prayer: Our Father, we have read Thy Word, and in the very reading of it, we are conscious of our need of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that we may be able to understand this which He has written. We do ask that we will be able to understand the truth of Thy Word and to make application of it to our lives at this moment. For we pray in Jesus' name and for His sake. Amen.

Mystified By Revelation

How do you feel as you have read with me this passage of Scripture? If you say that you feel a bit mystified, that you feel a bit confused, that you really don't know what he is talking about, you would be feeling exactly right because Daniel felt exactly that way. Notice that in verse 15 he said:

Daniel 7:

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

“I was disturbed about what I had seen. These visions troubled me.” We are told in the next verse the reason he was troubled:

Daniel 7:

16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

Seeking An Interpretation Of The Vision

In our study we realize that these whom Daniel designates as standing by are angels who are used of God to portray the visions which Daniel had:

Daniel 7:

16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

We do not need to remain troubled any longer than Daniel did because God made known to Daniel the interpretation, and Daniel has written the interpretation down in this portion of the Word of God.

Then, if I may say so, we are more fortunate than Daniel because there were some things that even Daniel did not understand about this vision, and he was troubled still in some respects. If you will look at verse 28:

Daniel 7:

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.

Our Understanding Improved Because Of Fulfilled Prophecy

I say that we are more fortunate than Daniel because we have before us the complete revelation of God. The only way to interpret Scripture is to compare Scripture with Scripture; in this way we are able to have light which Daniel himself did not have in some of these things.

And, as well, we have history which has fulfilled prophecy to help us in our understanding of the Word of God. You will remember that when Daniel saw the things which are recorded in this chapter, they were prophecy which was yet unfulfilled. When we read it now, some of it has been fulfilled, and in studying the fulfillment of the prophecy, we are able to understand some of the things which Daniel did not understand.

General Interpretation Of The Earthly Scene

When Daniel asked the angel for the interpretation, you will notice the general interpretation which the angel gave him in verse 17:

Daniel 7:

17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

That is pretty simple, isn't it? Daniel saw four animals coming up out of the sea. At first he didn't know what they were. He asked the angel and the angel said, ”Each one of these animals stands for a king or a kingdom.” Down in verse 23, when the angel was giving a more specific interpretation, he said:

Daniel 7:

23 …The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth…

So we learn that the words king and kingdom are used interchangeably in this chapter.

If we are observant as we go along, we will understand that the kingdom is usually presented in the form of the outstanding king of the kingdom, no matter how long the kingdom might have lasted or how many kings it might have had.

When Daniel was informed that these four beasts represented four kings or kingdoms, immediately light began to dawn on him because he had already received a message very much like that. That is the reason he did not ask any further questions about the first three beasts that are mentioned in this chapter. He understood what they were. And in a moment, by comparison of Scripture, we shall, too.

General Interpretation Of The Celestial Scene

But you will notice the second general interpretation related to the celestial scene. In verse 18 we read:

Daniel 7:

18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

What he is saying is that the kingdom which is described in verses 9-14 is the kingdom in which the Church, which has returned to the earth with Christ, the Jewish nation and the Lord Jesus Christ will take possession of the kingdom of the world.

Daniel was very much interested in the last beast which came up out of the sea. That is the reason in verse 19 he said, “Thank you, but I would like to know the truth about the fourth beast.” He described this beast in the last part of verse 19:

Daniel 7:

19 …which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;

The angel told Daniel exactly what that beast represented, but we will not have time to look at his interpretation. We are going to spend our time looking at the general interpretation which the angel gave to Daniel. I said a moment ago that as soon as the angel said, in verse 17, “You have been looking at a vision which speaks of kings and kingdoms that are going to march across the stage of the world.”, Daniel was satisfied. He had had a vision very similar to that.

Another Dream Concerning Kingdoms Of The World

Turn back, please, to Daniel, chapter 2, because Daniel, chapter 7, cannot be understood without a reference to chapter 2.

We are not going to take the time to reread this chapter, but you remember that it records the story of how Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a dream. He forgot it almost as soon as he dreamed it. He called in the wise men of Babylon and said, “Tell me what I've dreamed and after you have told me what I have dreamed, tell me what it means.” All the wise men of Babylon said, “You are unreasonable, You tell us what you dreamed and then we will tell you what it means.” He realized immediately that they were bidding for time, so he said, “I don't believe that any of you can tell me what it is about.” He was ready to destroy them all when word came to Daniel of the predicament of the wise men, and he asked Arioch, the captain of the guard, for permission to ask his God about the meaning of the dream. So Arioch told the king, and the king gave permission for extended days. Daniel asked his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to pray with him that God would give him an understanding of the dream as well as the dream itself, and God did exactly that!

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

So in Daniel, chapter 2, verse 31, Daniel said:

Daniel 2:

31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

History's Four Great Kingdoms

Nebuchadnezzar said, “That is my dream. I remember it. Now tell me what it means.” In verse 37 Daniel began, by divine inspiration, to tell him what it meant. He said to him in so many words, “This great image with its different component parts represents four kingdoms which are going to march across the stage of the world.” And he said, “Thou, O king, art the head of gold.”

When we studied this chapter in detail, we discovered that the breasts and the arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire; we discovered that the belly and thighs of brass represented the Grecian Empire; we discovered that the legs of iron and the feet, part of iron and part of clay, represented the Roman Empire (listen closely now) as it was in history before our day and as it will be in history, in all probability, after our day. So we found that the image represented four kingdoms of the world.

What was it that the angel told Daniel those four beasts that came up out of the sea represented? That is right—four kingdoms of the world. Someone may say, “How incongruous that Daniel should present two different pictures of the same thing. Couldn't he be contradicting himself? Isn't he mixing his metaphors? Why in one chapter would the kingdoms of the world be presented as a grand and glorious image and in another chapter as wild, ravenous beasts?” The answer depends entirely on the place from which you are looking at the scene.

God's Viewpoint And Man's Viewpoint

In chapter 2 Daniel described the kingdoms of the world as men view them. Men are always proud of their own accomplishments, and they look upon those kingdoms of the world as a mighty image, glorious in splendor. But God looks upon them in an entirely different fashion. As God looks down upon the earth and sees the nations of the world at each others' throats, fighting one another for supremacy, they remind Him not of a great and glorious image, but of wild, ravenous beasts thirsting for the blood of one another.

Picturing Jesus Christ

In chapter 2 Daniel described this image as destroyed by a great stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands and which came crashing down against the feet of the image, completely destroying it.

When we studied that in detail, we found that that great stone represented the Lord Jesus Christ as He will return to this earth in glory one of these days to judge the nations of the earth for their open rebellion against God.

If you listened closely as we read Daniel, chapter 7, you remember that Daniel portrays not a stone crashing against the feet of an image, but the lovely person of our Lord Jesus Christ riding in majesty upon the earth; He takes this wild, indescribable beast which was presented last and slays him, putting His foot upon his neck, so to speak, and shouting the cry of victory as all the rebellious nations of the world are put under Him. So if you understand chapter 2 of the book of Daniel, you will understand chapter 7.

But let us turn back to chapter 7 now and notice some of the details, the explanation of which is presented to us not only from Daniel‘s prophecy, but from other portions of the Word of God and from fulfilled prophecy which we recognize as history today.

The Three Years Of Belshazzar's Reign

Notice the date of the prophecy, please: “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon.” That tells us immediately that if these chapters were presented chronologically, this chapter would come before chapter 6. In chapter 5, you will remember, is the record of Belshazzar in the year that his kingdom was taken from him. History reveals that Belshazzar reigned three years. So as we look at chapter 7 and realize that Daniel had this vision in the first year of Belshazzar's reign, we recognize that he had it a little over two years before the kingdom of Babylon came to a sad end—or in the words of chapter 2 two years before the head of gold gave way to the breasts and the arms of silver—or in the words of chapter 7, two years before the bear gobbled up the lion.

So we recognize that we are indeed upon the right track. In verse 2:

Daniel 7:

2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.

Interpreting The Great Sea As A Symbol

We are interested in the phrase, “the great sea,” because it is the center of the activity of the vision that is before us. What are we to understand by the phrase, “the great sea?” We recognize, of course, that Daniel is speaking by means of symbols and images in much of his book. So we cannot disannul the idea that this great sea may be a symbol. If it is a symbol, what does it mean?

We told you when we were studying the book of Revelation that you could not understand it without understanding the book of Daniel. And we have told you as we have been pursuing our study of the book of Daniel that you cannot understand the book of Daniel without understanding the book of Revelation. The two make constant references one to the other.

Go with me to chapter 17 of the book of Revelation. You will find presented here a detailed description of the fourth beast which is found in Daniel, chapter 7. We are not thinking about that fourth beast, so we are going to pass over that description and notice only one verse. Here we have presented to us an image of a great whore, sitting upon a great body of water. In verse 15, when the picture is explained, you will notice these words:

Revelation 17:

15 …The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

That leads us to suggest to you that if the great sea is used symbolically in Daniel, chapter 7, it is a symbol of the nations of the world in a state of unrest, tossed about as are the waves of the sea.

Interpreting The Great Sea As A Place

Having said that, I would like to suggest to you that I do not believe the phrase, “the great sea,” must be interpreted symbolically. As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that it is not a symbol. I am of the opinion that it is a definite geographical location because there was a body of water related to the nation of Palestine which was consistently referred to as “the great sea.”

Turn back with me to the book of Numbers and notice with me chapter 34. This chapter describes the boundaries of the land of Palestine as God gave it to the nation of Israel to inhabit eventually. They have never inhabited all the land, filling to the full the boundaries which are described here, but some day they will.

The Mediterranean Sea

Notice Numbers, chapter 34, verses 6-7:

Numbers 34:

6 And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border.
7 And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor:

Notice the phrase twice used, “the great sea.” If you were to examine the boundaries of the nation of Israel on a map, you would find that the western border of the land of Palestine is none other than the Mediterranean Sea. So I believe we have every reason to think that the great sea of Daniel, chapter 7, is the Mediterranean Sea.

Another thing which contributes to our thinking that is the fact that the word Mediterranean actually means “the midst of the earth,” and that is the location which is consistently given for the land of Palestine.

Another thing which enables us to believe that “the great sea” is literally the Mediterranean Sea is to refresh our minds concerning our world history. We remember that every one of the nations to which we referred in Daniel, chapter 2, and which we were noticing in Daniel, chapter 7, either bordered on the Mediterranean Sea or had the exclusive control of the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.

So when we turn back to Daniel, chapter 7, and read that the center of this action is the great sea, we believe that it is the Mediterranean Sea.

Activity In The Middle East

Now think with me. Daniel spoke of this in a prophetic fashion. History has verified part of the vision of Daniel. Some of it is yet to be fulfilled. If part of it has been fulfilled, we can believe with assurance that the rest of it will be. Where was the center of activity in the day about which we are reading? In the Middle East, the midst of the earth, upon the Mediterranean Sea. Where will the prophecy that is related to the end of the age be fulfilled? In that exact locality.

When you are reading your newspapers, don't get too alarmed about what is happening in Europe, other than that you should always be concerned about your interests. But when anything is reported from the Middle East, you had better perk up your ears and pay attention because it could be that the stage is being set for the fulfillment of this portion of God's Word.

You see, though we are perplexed about many things, we who have the privilege of understanding our Bibles need not be perplexed about the future of the world. All we need to do is to be familiar with what the Word of God has to say and then watch as events fulfill the prophetic portion of God's Word.

The Four Winds Of Heaven

Look again at Daniel, chapter 7, and notice that something is going to happen upon this great sea. In verse 2 we read again:

Daniel 7:

2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.

The four winds of heaven stirred up this great sea. Again, we must consider the possibility of symbolism. Are these four winds—the north wind, the south wind, the east wind, the west wind—that stir up the sea? Is it talking merely about a physical storm, or do these winds stand for something else?

When you have the time, read carefully chapter 7 of the book of Revelation. You will find that four winds were about to blow over the earth. But the angel of God held them back and said, “Don't blow until the servants of God have been sealed on their foreheads.” When we were studying the book of Revelation, we learned that those four winds, when they were turned loose, brought such terrible judgment upon the earth that most of the earth and the people of the earth were destroyed.

The winds in Revelation, chapter 7, verse 1, then, were not literal winds. They were winds that we might refer to as “ill winds” that brought judgment upon the earth. If they were not literal winds there, is a very good possibility that they were not literal winds in Daniel, chapter 7. Of course if they were not literal winds, we are anxious to know exactly what they were, so I would suggest that you turn with me to the book of Zechariah, chapter 6.

The Four Spirits Of Heaven

Zechariah was one of the minor prophets. The book which bears his name has for its subject that day when the Messiah will return to this earth and the kingdoms of this world will indeed become the kingdoms of our Lord and our God. Because the nation of Israel was beset on every hand by nations who were unkind to them, quite often the prophets of God were led to point them to that future day when they will dwell in the security of their own land. They reminded them that as God could bring them security in the future, He could bring them security in the present. Oftentimes the pronouncements of the prophets were presented in vision and symbol. Such is the case in Zechariah, chapter 6. Notice it. Zechariah said:

Zechariah 6:

1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.
2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses [get the picture—four different chariots drawn by four differently colored horses].
4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?
5 And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the LORD of all the earth.
6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.
7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.
8 Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.

Four Angels Sent By God

Just a casual reading of these verses will indicate that these four chariots which were drawn by the four differently colored horses had something to do with the unrest among the nations of the world. Glance down at verse 5, where the interpretation is given:

Zechariah 6:

5 …These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the LORD of all the earth.

Circle in your mind, if not in your Bible, the word spirit . The word which is translated “spirit” here and the word which is translated “wind” in Daniel, chapter 7, are exactly the same word. This leads me to suggest to you that the winds which strove upon the Mediterranean Sea were not natural winds. They were four angels who were God-sent to stir up the nations that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea.

Turn, please, to Psalm 104 for verification of a thing that I do not believe can be refuted. In Psalm 104 you will notice what the Lord God had done in relation to the majesty of the world and its creatures. In verse 4 we read:

Psalm 104:

4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

When the Psalmist is describing God's creative work, he says, “He created the angels to be ministers as a flaming fire,” and he also said, “He made those angels spirits.” Look at the word ”spirits.” It is the very same word that we are talking about.

Go back with me to Daniel, chapter 7, and let me remind you that angels came and stirred up the nations of the world that bordered upon the Mediterranean Sea and caused them to march across the stage of the world in the form that is presented in this chapter.

A very natural question in the minds of a thinking person is, “Were these angels evil angels or were they good?” We cannot answer that question. In the book of Revelation there were evil angels who went about stirring up the nations of the world. In the book of Daniel they could be evil or they could be good. They may be good because, you will remember, in Daniel, chapter 4, there were good angels who had ordained the destruction of the head of gold and in Daniel, chapter 7, good angels who had ordained the destruction of the lion.

The Symbol For The Babylonian Empire

The remaining portion of this first vision does not need a great deal of explanation. Just follow in your Bibles as we point out to you some of the information that is available to us from the comparison of Scripture and from history as fulfilled prophecy. Daniel says in verse 4:

Daniel 7:

4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's 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 man's heart was given to it.

Daniel did not have any trouble interpreting this. You remember that when the angel gave the interpretation of the entire vision, he did not explain it. Daniel understood it because he had several things to help him. He had the things which are reported in chapter 2 of the book of Daniel, and you will remember that Babylon, which was symbolized by the head of gold in chapter 2, is symbolized by the lion in chapter 7.

When Daniel saw a lion, immediately he would think of Babylon. More particularly would this be true when he saw that this lion had eagle's wings. Outside the palaces in Nineveh, uncovered by the archaeologist's spade, have been found great statues of lions with eagle's wings. They did have the face of a man. Daniel doesn't tell us that, but he was familiar with these images. He had seen them all of his captive life. So when he saw an image like this, he knew that God was talking about the Babylonian Empire.

Nebuchadnezzar's Removal And Restoration

He noticed that this image (for it was a moving picture) had the wings plucked out from it. That brought to mind something that he had seen with his own eyes. Remember? In Daniel, chapter 4, there is presented to us the story of how Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar that if he persisted in his pride, God was going to pluck his feathers. You remember that Nebuchadnezzar stood in the window of his palace and said, “Look at great Babylon which I have built.” No sooner was that said than Nebuchadnezzar's sanity was taken away from him, and he was turned out into the pastures of the palace as a wild beast; he lived that way for seven years.

As Daniel continued to watch this beast, he noticed that it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon its feet like a man. He understood what that meant because he was there when the sanity of Nebuchadnezzar returned to him. He who had traveled about on all fours for seven years suddenly stood upright as a man.

Daniel noticed also that this beast had a man's heart given to it. He understood what that meant, for he was there on that day when Nebuchadnezzar gathered together that great crowd of people and issued the testimony concerning his regeneration which is found in Daniel, chapter 4.

The reason that this beast is pictured as having a man's heart given to him is that a man's heart can respond to God and the heart of a beast cannot.

Symbol Of Medo-Persian Empire

We noticed in verse 5 that another beast came up out of the water, and this second beast was like to a bear. Daniel knew immediately what was going to happen. He knew that the bear's taking the place of the lion meant that another kingdom was going to take the place of the Babylonian kingdom, as we saw happen in Daniel, chapter 2.

We agree that the selection of a bear typifying the Medo-Persian Empire is well made. If you are familiar with the history of the onslaughts of the Persian army, you will know that the Persians were not noted for their skill primarily. They were not noted for their arms primarily. They were noted for their tremendous armies which were able to devour the people against whom they made war by sheer force of numbers. If your history comes back to you, you will remember that at one time when they made war against Greece, they had a phenomenal army of two and a half million men. That was tremendous for that day. They had great war machines like battering rams that literally crushed everything in their way. A bear is a good symbol of the juggernaut military machine that was used by the Persian army.

Understanding Fulfilled Prophecy Through Study Of History

You will notice here in verse 5 the accuracy of the Scripture. Even though Daniel went into the Persian Empire as one of the wise men, he did not know that all of this would occur sometime.

We read in verse 5 that this bear raised itself up on one side. It became lopsided, so to speak, with one shoulder higher than the other. Of course we who have had the opportunity of seeing prophecy fulfilled recognize that that is a perfect description of what happened in the Medo-Persian Empire when the Persian part of the empire raised itself up above the other, and instead of being coequals as they were when they started out, the Persian Empire became supreme over the Median Empire and eventually the conquests were all made in the name of Persia.

We look at verse 5 again and we see that this bear had in its mouth three ribs. We know they were not mentioned just for the sake of words; they stand for something. I am quite sure that Daniel did not have any idea of what they meant. That was one of the reasons he was troubled, I think. And we do not get any idea of what they mean by comparing Scripture with Scripture. But we do know what they stand for when we keep in mind history as fulfilled prophecy. You will remember that when Persia began to come to power, there was an alliance formed between three nations—Lydia, Babylon and Egypt. By forming an alliance those three nations endeavored to stave off the onrush of Persia. They failed, and just as certainly as a bear would devour an animal in its path, this Persian bear devoured these three nations, and the ribs were left in its mouth.

The explanation of the last thing that is said in verse 5 concerning the teeth of the bear, and of the exhortation to “devour much flesh,” will be found in the nations that fell prey to this bear which swept across the stage. Are you thinking with me? Breasts and arms of silver are not nearly so important as the head of gold, and a bear, ferocious as it is, is not considered as mighty as a lion, the king of beasts. Look at verse 6:

A Symbol Of The Grecian Empire

Daniel 7:

6 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.

A leopard is still not as important as a bear, as belly and thighs of brass are not as important as breasts and arms of silver. We who are able to recognize in verse 6 the conquest of Alexander the Great as he led the Grecian Empire across the stage of the world, feel that the leopard is indeed a good symbol of this empire because a leopard is known for its swiftness. Alexander the Great marched across the stage of the world and had the world under his control at such an early age that it made him feel as if life was not worth living because there were no more worlds to conquer.

This is an interesting bit of history. If you are familiar with the writings of Josephus, you will know that Josephus says that when Alexander the Great was marching upon the land of Palestine, he laid waste everything in his path. The High Priest of Israel and the Levites took the book of Daniel in their hands and met him before he got to the city. They did their obeisance to him and read him chapter 7 of the book of Daniel, and they said, ”Your majesty, this is speaking of you.” Alexander the Great was so flattered that he did a rare thing. He refused to destroy the city of Jerusalem, and he permitted the Jews to live in their own land and to carry on their own religious worship without hindrance of any kind.

Critics today spend their time trying to explain away the Scripture, when the men who lived closer to it than we, had no difficulty in believing it.

Glance at verse 6 again and recognize that the four wings of a fowl with which this leopard was equipped spoke of the swiftness of the conquering march of Alexander, as did the eagle's wings on the back of the lion in verse 5. Notice that a sudden change occurred in the makeup of this leopard, for the leopard with wings suddenly became an animal with four heads.

You will remember that Alexander the Great died an early death because of his drunken debauchery, his world-wide empire was divided among his four generals, and was henceforth seen on the map as Egypt, Syria, Macedonia and Asia Minor.

Keep in mind that Daniel wrote about this long before it ever occurred. It happened just as he said it would.

Only One World Kingdom Yet To Come

May I remind you that Daniel kept these things in his heart. He didn't dismiss them lightly. May I request you to keep them in your heart and remember that even though these things were in the far distant future as far as Daniel was concerned, they are not in the far distant future as far as we are concerned. When Daniel wrote these words, four wild beasts were to march across the stage of the world. As we read them, the four are already gone. The only thing that yet remains is the revival of the last beast in the form that Daniel called indescribable. Remember: When Daniel wrote these words the head of gold in Daniel, chapter 2, was still in existence. As we read them the head of gold has gone, the breasts and arms of silver have gone, the belly and thighs of brass have gone. All that remained to make their appearance and be destroyed are the feet of the image which are part of iron and part of clay.

Mark what I tell you! Soon we will see the formation of the nations of the world into the ten toes of the image and into the ten horns of this last beast. When we do, it won't be long until the Ancient of Days comes to slay the beast. We are near the end. I hope that you are living in the light of the Lord's return.

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