Series on Daniel, ii Conflict, A Visions of the Ages, 2 The Saints, a The Jungle, Text: 7:1-8, Title: It's a Jungle out There

Introduction

You may wonder what happened to chapters 3 through 6. as i explained earlier chapters 2-7 are a unique section written in Aramaic in the original and outlining the future history of world empires. In this book there is a format: chapters 2 and 7 deal with a common subject, as do chapters 3 and 6 and then chapters 4 and 5. In chapter 2 the present and future kingdoms of the world were pictured in an image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In chapter 7 these same kingdoms are pictured as 4 beasts in Daniel's dream. The picture in chapter 7 is more complete, and because it is Daniel's dream it deals not just with the presence and power of worldly kingdoms but with their ethical character as opposed to God's people. They are beasts. Furthermore, in chapter 7, we not only see that there is a continuation of the fourth kingdom, a fact which was implied in chapter 2, but we see it continuing in a phenomenon called the little horn who can be identified as the spirit and person of the anti-Christ. Thus we are not just learning more about history but also about the character of these earthly kingdoms. Now Daniel is the sort of book where it is easy to preach on everything at once because it is so involved, so please remember that we have to exercise some restraint, and not try to answer all the questions at once. Today in verses 1-8 we are only looking at the content of Daniel's dream and we see the character of the beasts representing the kingdoms. they are creaturely, conquering and continuing.

I Creaturely

Daniel in Babylon knows that the captivity is not permanent. From chapter 9 we learn that he was remembering Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 years. As a new ruler named Belshazzar took over and Daniel knew what kind of person he was, he no doubt experienced apprehension about the future and God gave him this dream. We read the description of the dream in verses 1-7, In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it. “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’ “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. We can identify the beasts of his dream, creatures who had no earthly counterpart in the animal kingdom They are ferocious beasts who were a composite of earthly features and in the fourth beast there is not even a resemblance to any earthly animal. We would naturally expect the four beasts of Daniel 7 to represent the same four kingdoms as the image in Daniel 2, and they do. The first is Babylon compared by Jeremiah to the lion and by Ezekiel to the eagle and the reference to a man recalls chapter 4 in which Nebuchadnezzar became a brute beast and then had his sanity restored along with some measure of humility. The second kingdom is worse with ribs in its mouth fresh from tearing flesh. It is the kingdom of Medo-Persia. It is raised up on one side because the Persians were much worse than the Medes. Then the leopard with four wings representing the swift and universal conquests of the Greeks under Alexander the Great. Finally the Roman empire is represented by the beast who is not like any before it. There are at least two respects in which it is not like its predecessors. First, it is greater and fiercer, and secondly, it does not end like the others. We shall say more about that later. The important thing here is to see that all of these kingdoms are under God's sovereign control. Verse 2 says that four winds of heaven stir up the sea of humanity. This is God at work. The first is lifted up and made to stand like a man and we know the story of Nebuchadnezzar. The second is told to devour, the third has dominion given to it and the fourth is finally brought to judgment by God in the rest of the chapter. thus all serve his purpose.

II Conquering

It is already clear that these kingdoms perpetrate great evil. Their descriptions make clear that they crush, enslave, and destroy. But whom do they destroy? Remember that in chapter 2 they were pictured as part of a great image in Nebuchadnezzar' s dream. The point of the image was that it was to be worshiped. Indeed, in chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar foolishly builds a great image of gold in the plain of Dura in a direct challenge to the God of heaven. The point of chapter 7 is that those who do not worship the image are to be crushed, persecuted by the beasts which are the governments that embody the evil that men do in its purest form. Daniel's concern is for his people as we see in verse 28, “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” How long shall this be? The answer is clearly stated in verse 25,  The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time, which is a mysterious number which we will have reason to return to in our future studies. Thus far we have worldly kingdoms trying to replace God and persecuting those who will not worship at their altars. but now to the third and most obscure point.

IIi Continuing

The fourth kingdom does not end. it goes on and on. There are ten kings that arise out of it, and then an eleventh who is superior to all the rest and conquers three of them. Attempts have been made to compare these ten kings to the ten toes of the image in chapter 2 although the toes of the image are not identified as kings there. Maybe there's something to it; nobody knows. The crucial thing is that many have attempted to identify these kings or kingdoms. nobody has succeeded. If you want to spend the rest of your life in speculation and get nowhere, this is a perfect project. The point here is that it continues and issues in a king and kingdom which does not end until the final judgment. This then is the anti-Christ. The anti-Christ was already present in the days of the Roman empire, the time of the early church, as John writes in his first epistle,2:18, Dear children this is the last houri and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming,even now many antichrists have come. this is how we know it is the last hour. This is John's way of saying that the little horn of Daniel's vision is fulfilled, He was there and he is here. He continues through these last 2000 years and until the judgment. This is the man of lawlessness of whom Paul wrote in II Thessalonians 2 who will be overthrown by the breath of Jesus mouth and destroyed by the splendor of his coming. This is the beast of Revelation 13 in the vision of John the apostle. In Revelation 13:11-18 we see that the beast is political king or kingdom, And I saw another beast rising out of the earth; and it had two horns like to a lamb, and spake as a dragon; and it exercises all the authority of the first beast before it, and causes the earth and those that dwell in it to do homage to the first beast, whose wound of death was healed. And it works great signs, that it should cause even fire to come down from heaven to the earth before men. And it deceives those that dwell upon the earth by reason of the signs which it was given to it to work before the beast, saying to those that dwell upon the earth to make an image to the beast, which has the wound of the sword, and lived. And it was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should also speak, and should cause that as many as should not do homage to the image of the beast should be killed. And it causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bondmen, that they should give them a mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead; and that no one should be able to buy or sell save he that had the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here is wisdom. He that has understanding let him count the number of the beast: for it is a man’s number; and its number six hundred sixty-six. The first beast poses as God and the second poses as messiah. The effort to make people worship an image is right out of Daniel. Now there are two beasts in Revelation 13 and it says the first was wounded but his wound healed. I'm going to suggest to you that this false messiah appears at first to be opposed to the ungodly rule of men and so according to Daniel 7: 8 he uproots three of the horns of the fourth beast,  “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. This is the anti-Christ, the substitute Messiah and people are taken in because they think he is the real Messiah, or Savior. In the end he turns out to be the same because the wound is healed and the anti-Christian political machine continues its persecution until the very end. However, the overall point here must not be missed in the details. The anti-Christ is here and we live as did Daniel in a world where we must worship the image or suffer the consequences. Daily we are confronted with this decision, even though we may not recognize it. Does this mean we hide our Christian testimony and take refuge in our little shelter? Never. D. Clair Davis wrote an article in the Westminster Seminary Bulletin entitled, “Gospel Politics in a Changing World. His analysis suggested that the conservative right knows that programs without personal involvement are not worth doing. The liberals know that the problems are so big that it will take sacrifice to make a difference. Before my probably conservative audience says, “But the liberals in our society aren't sacrificing they're spending other people's money,” let me say that's just the point. The lion and the bear and the leopard and the mauling machine and the little horn or anti-Christ are never going to lead us in either personal involvement or personal sacrifice. The answer is not political. Rousas Rushdooney wrote about the messianic character of American education
to remind us that education will not save us, especially education that denies God. Neither will a government that increasingly denies the truth. The answer must come from Christian people.That is what Jesus showed us by his life, death and resurrection changing history. The way to salvation is through Him, and the way to life is through death, and not through the false messiah of governmental panaceas the number of which is the number of man, 666.