The Four Beasts of Daniel Chapter Seven

 
Introduction:

Jesus' Kingdom of Heaven was instituted on earth when He was crucified. He was crowned by Pilate on earth, and, as this document will show, He received His Kingdom from God the Father when He ascended to heaven. His Kingdom will not be one united Kingdom until Jesus returns. See Daniel Chapter Two for the prophecy of His Kingdom and its character.

Up to now we have not been good husbandmen (See Luke 20:9-16). That needs to change! For Him to return we must actively seek His return and reflect His character of compassion towards sinners, the poor, and the oppressed of His world.

    "Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:7)

 
Usually the four beasts of Daniel Seven are interpreted as political entities. However, God normally communicates to His people in spiritual terms - unless He indicates otherwise. The Bible is the spiritual history of man's search for God. It shouldn't be seen as a political history of man's own achievements.

Since Chapter Seven of Daniel opens with the Holy Spirit (symbolized by wind) moving upon the sea of humanity, a spiritual interpretation is indicated for Daniel's vision.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image of Chapter Two was the dream of a civil authority - a king of an earthly kingdom. Consequently, many political interpretions of Chapter Seven have have also been put forward, though no political theme is indicated.

These political interpretations usually relate Daniel's Lion representing Babylon, the Bear as Medo-Persia, the Leopard as Greece, and the terrible Beast with 10 horns as the Roman Empire.

Interpreting the beasts of Daniel in this way is unsatisfactory in practice, however, since the attributes of each beast do not neatly fit with the provided interpretation of each attribute. For example:

  • Babylon, the Lion: In Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of Daniel Chapter Four, the king is described by Daniel as having been given a beast's heart, implying that he was mad for a time. This story is then applied to the Lion of Chapter Seven, because that Beast is given a man's heart in the vision. But Daniel did not write in Chapter Four that Nebuchadnezzar was afterwards given a man's heart - nor did he write that the king was given a Lion's heart in the first place.

  • Medo-Persia, the Bear: Interpretations claiming the Bear to be Medo-Persia usually point out that bears, as part of the animal world, are more ruthless than lions, meaning that Medo-Persia was more ruthless than Babylon. Yet God actually thought of Medo-Persia's King Cyrus the Great as a righteous man (See Isaiah 44:28, for example), and Cyrus' support of religious liberty throughout his dominion is well known. Bears are also usually shy, unless provoked or protecting their cubs.

  • Greece, the Leopard: The Leopard's four heads are said to represent the four generals among whom Alexander the Great's empire was divided after his death. History tells us, however, that Alexander's empire was actually divided among six generals, only two of which were strong enough to maintain power for any length of time.

  • Rome, The Beast with Ten Horns: This Beast of Daniel's that has been interpreted as representing Rome only resembles the First Beast of Revelation in that both have ten horns, otherwise the two are completely different. Thus the common view of these Beasts both representing Rome makes no sense, unless one is to question the accuracy of prophetic visions.

In light of these contradictions and discrepancies, it seems much more sensible to search the Bible itself for assistance in the interpretation of Daniel Chapter Seven, rather than the history books. Also, because this was Daniel's vision and not Nebuchadnezzar's, it seems prudent to consider that all of the visions given Daniel were spiritual in nature rather than political.

Since Daniel's visions were sealed until the end time, one of the first logical things to do is to re-adjust our perception of God, perhaps from a regional God of the Middle East to a modern Global God. Isaiah 40, verses 22-23, provide a good framework from which to begin. For example, who is God?

    "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity."

As a Global God, He tells us:

    "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness." (Zechariah 8:6-8 KJV)

When we look for knowledge in God's Word to assist in our spiritual interpretation of Daniel Chapter Seven, we find in Hosea Chapter Thirteen that all four beasts that Daniel observed also appear in a verse where God relates His strategy for reclaiming lost sheep:

    "Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them." (Hosea 13:8)

Reading this verse context, we can speculate that God has set spiritual snares for His scattered people, thus insuring that the compassion and good works necessary for our own well-being would become a world-wide phenomenon by time of the end.

Studying Daniel in prayer, with the spiritual nature of God's love for us in mind, allows for a truly global view of the Plan of Salvation as it unfolds in our own time.

 
For the sake of clarity, the following verses from the prophecies of Daniel Chapter Seven are taken from the Young's Literal Translation of the Bible:


Daniel Chapter Seven:

    "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel hath seen a dream, and the visions of his head on his bed, then the dream he hath written, the chief of the things he hath said. Answered hath Daniel and said, I was seeing in my vision by night, and lo, the four winds of the heavens are coming forth to the great sea; and four great beasts are coming up from the sea, diverse one from another." (Dan 7:1-2 YLT)

    • The four winds of the heavens are coming forth to the great sea: The metaphorical action of the Holy Spirit (wind) on humanity (the sea). As a result of this action of the Holy Spirit, four different spiritual beasts arise from the continuous prayers of oppressed humanity that come before God's throne:


The Lion
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion...

    "The first is like a lion, and it hath an eagle's wings. I was seeing till that its wings have been plucked, and it hath been lifted up from the earth, and on feet as a man it hath been caused to stand, and a heart of man is given to it." (Dan 7:4)

    • Like a lion: Jesus is identified in Revelation 5:5 as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda". Israel's (Jacob's) blessing to his son Judah in Genesis reads:

        "Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." (Genesis 49:9-10 KJV)

     

    • It hath an eagle's wings: The Lion-like beast represents Judeo-Christianity.

      When Daniel first sees this beast, he sees the religion of Judaism as a Lion with Eagle's wings, the wings representing Jehovah:

        "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." (Exodus 19:4 KJV)

      Next in Daniel's vision, the wings representing the Spirit of the Lion are plucked, and the Lion is given the heart of a Man, indicating the first coming of Jesus in the form of a Man, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, giving up His Spiritual Form to save His people.

      This 'evolution' of Judaism to the Jesus Christ of Christianity is also related in Daniel's vision of Chapter Ten. First Daniel sees God as Jehovah:

        "Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude..." (Daniel 10:5-6 KJV)

      Then Daniel sees God as the Messiah, the Strength of mankind today:

        "Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me." (Daniel 10:17-19 KJV)


The Bear
"...I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps..."

    "And lo, another beast, a second, like to a bear, and to the same authority it hath been raised, and three ribs are in its mouth, between its teeth, and thus they are saying to it, Rise, consume much flesh." (Dan 7:5)

    • Like to a bear: This Bear-like beast represents the religion which grew from God's covenant with Ishmael, the first born son of Abraham: Islam.

    • To the same authority it hath been raised: Islam was 'raised to the same authority', or to the same side, as the Lion or Judaism: the first five books of Moses in the Bible. The Holy scripture of Islam, the Qur'an, is based on the Bible, and wouldn't make sense without the Bible and the Gospels. The Qur'an repeatedly confirms both the Torah and the Gospels as the Word of God.

       

    • Three ribs are in its mouth: The three ribs between the Bear's teeth indicate that Ishmael's seed would eventually be given the power to overcome all of the other three beasts that Daniel is seeing in this vision.

    • Rise, consume much flesh: The bear is commanded, in fact, to "rise, consume much flesh". Bears are normally passive animals and shy of men, unless they have cubs which are being threatened. To protect its cubs, the bear can transform itself into the most ferocious and powerful of beasts.

      In the 6th century AD most of Christianity was ruled by Rome. Its commission to spread the Gospel was being ignored. Devoted Christians were stored away in monasteries and convents, and the spread of Catholicism had largely become a function of the state.

      Christian Churches outside of the Roman Church had degenerated into debating societies, arguing complex doctrinal points rather than continuing Christ's ministry on earth. To be a Christian, one had to believe in the doctrines of the men who ran Christianity in a given region.

      To address the terrible situation of idolatry that had arisen in Arabia and much of the Middle East, God chose a righteous man to found a new religion. Islam was the result, a religion where the righteousness God expects of mankind is unequivocally stated: Care for the poor.

      Through the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and the Qur'an, God obligated Muslims to fight in self-defense of their beliefs and people, thus insuring the survival of Islam's structure for religious education, as well as its structure of alms giving that cares for the poor, indigent, and strangers.

      Islam's structure for addressing the needs of God's people is similar to the structure that God provided for Judeo-Christianity. However in these Judeo-Christian religions the tradition of giving alms has largely been ignored due to the idolatry of materialism and the inroads of capitalism. Not to mention the oppressions of democratic governments implementing the 'separation of church and state', which have resulted in the political disenfranchisement of these religions.

      From the Qur'an God's priorities for righteous judgment and charity towards the poor are made clear:

        "When We made a covenant with the Israelites We said: 'Serve none but God. Show kindness to your parents, to your kinsfolk, to orphans, and to the destitute. Exhort men to righteousness. Attend to your prayers and render the alms levy.' But you all broke your covenant except a few, and paid no heed." (Surah 2:83 N.J. Dawood Trans.)

        "To Moses We gave the Scriptures and after him sent other apostles. We gave Jesus son of Mary veritable signs and strenghthened him with the Holy Spirit. Will you then scorn each apostle whose message does not suit your fancies, charging some with imposture, and slaying others?" (Surah 2:83)

      ...And Islam can back up God's will. Through the Prophet, God made sure His structure for providing for the needs of His people will be protected from other apostate religions. In the Qur'an God says:

        "Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love aggressors." (Surah 2:190)

        "Fighting is obligatory for you, much has you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not." (Surah 2:216)

      Prior to September 11, 2001, the threat against Islam's support structure was difficult for other religions to see. That's because that threat has already rendered these religions captive of ungodly systems of government, systems that religions have learned to live with because the governments 'provide' their people with security. Christianity, through our secular government, supports many of these systems - most dictatorships - in order to 'stabilize' the Middle East for businesses.

      But that security is an illusion. The cost is too high when security requires the corruption of an entire belief system - Islam. It should not be forgotten that God answers the prayers of the poor because the poor are the people praying to God most often - the poor are the people who do not forget Him.

      Muslims will accept Jesus when He returns.


The Leopard
"...As a leopard by the way will I observe them..."

    "After this I was seeing, and lo, another like a leopard, and it hath four wings of a fowl on its back, and four heads hath the beast, and dominion is given to it." (Dan 7:6)

    • Like a leopard: The Leopard-like beast, a camouflaged animal of stealth, represents the four Ancient Religions of the East. This beast represents God's "Trojan Horse", as it were.

    • Four heads hath the beast: The four heads of the Leopard symbolize the ancient Eastern religions that were established before Christ. They are Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

       

    • Four wings of a fowl on its back: The four wings represent the Spiritualization of the Eastern religions that took place shortly after Jesus' sacrifice.

      This spiritual liberation of Eastern religion began in the first century AD (after Jesus had implemented the Covenant of Promise with His crucifixion) with the advent of Mahayana Buddhism. The prophecies and doctrines of the chief Mahayana scripture, "The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law", made salvation available to the common man, opening an attainable afterlife to all who read even one verse of that scripture

      Mahayana Buddhism expanded the role of the 'bodisattvas', people of any class who can now become dedicated evangelists preaching salvation to 'the four kinds of believers', represented by the four wings. These four kinds of believers - under Mahayana Buddhism - now include 'laymen' and 'laywomen'. This means that salvation, or the attainment of Buddhahood, is available to everyone who was left out of these religions previously.

      Preaching the "Greater Vehicle" to spiritual salvation, the Lotus Sutra is a scripture of prophecy and liberation from the "Lesser Vehicle" of Buddhism that required one to reach perfection through detachment from materialism and 'the five worldly desires'.

      The Lotus Sutra is also a manual for implementing an evangelistic brotherhood of discipleship, nearly identical to teachings of Jesus regarding discipleship in the Kingdom of Heaven. One scholar notes:

        "...These practices, teaching methods and ways to [spiritual] liberation [in the Lotus Sutra] seem to feature a complete absence of what might be called philosophical content. It seems at times that all it teaches is how to teach, not what to teach. Its focus is how to teach." (Buddhism Past and Present)

      The evangelical nature of Mahayana Buddhism has resulted in the Lotus Sutra influencing all of the religions of the East in one way or another, allowing spiritual hope and compassion into what largely could be said to be philosophical religions formerly restricted to the wealthy or those capable of full time devotions. From Chapter 10:

        If a person expounds this sutra,
        he should enter the Thus Come One's room,
        put on the Thus Come One's robe,
        sit in the Thus Come One's seat,
        confront the assembly without fear
        and broadly expand it for them, making distinctions.
        Great pity and compassion are the room.
        Gentleness and patience are the robe.
        The emptiness of all phenomena is the seat,
        and from that the position one should
        expound the Law for them.

      The Lotus Sutra is an inspired scripture meant also for Christians, Jews, and Muslims - inspired by the Good Shepherd, it is part of His 'fountain of living waters' that all who search for Him have available for use today. His voice is there, in the compassionate teachings and many parables used to teach, and it is recognizable to His 'sheep'.

      The majority of people in Eastern religions are prepared for the brotherhood of the Kingdom of Heaven, and will accept Jesus when He returns.


Continue to the Fourth Beast...

 

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