Gleanings from Daniel 
In my last posting on the book of Daniel, I was considering chapter 7. That chapter is unique because it is the last major portion of Daniel in Aramaic. This is intentional, I believe, because God wanted to relay this vision to the secular governments who believe they have nothing to do with the God of Israel.
God, in fact, has much to do with them even if they are pagans, and He outlines for them His decree of history.
Chapter 7 bookends the vision Nebuchadnezzar had in a dream of a giant statue of 4 metals. Here, the same four kingdoms represented in Neb.’s dream are present in the image of these four beasts who come out of the sea.
These four beasts are pictured as: 1) A lion with wings, 2) A lopsided bear, 3) a four-headed leopard with wings, and 4), an indescribable monster. Each one of these beasts coincides with the four major world empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome.
The fourth beast is the most unusual. It was unclassifiable on a zoological level. Additionally, there were 10 horns on this beast that pictured 10, yet-in-the-future kingdoms. One of the horns had a face and spoke blasphemy against God.
As this beast was standing with this little horn speaking blasphemy against the God of heaven, the Ancient of Days arrives and sets up court. He judges the little horn and then the Son of Man comes and receives a kingdom from the Ancient of Days.
I want to consider this vision in three sections. The last time I considered the first two sections:
1) The Setting – the first year of Belshazzar
2) The Details – the actual vision itself as outlined in Daniel 7.
This time I want to consider a third section, 3) The Interpretation.
Turning to Daniel 7:15-18, let us first look at the source of the interpretation. Daniel is “disturbed in his spirit” after seeing these visions. Rightly so when these weird, vicious beasts are to represent the violent, chaotic overthrow of governments. The obvious question is, “What do these beasts mean?” “When will these things take place?” “How will they effect God’s people?” In order to get answers to these questions, Daniel approaches “one of them,” that is, one of the angelic beings standing by to minister to the Ancient of Days. This being explains how those great beasts are four kingdoms which will come to power. But the ultimate end of their dominion will be ended by the coming of the Kingdom of God.
One theological question is to ask “who were these saints who received the KoG?” The Reformed believe it only speaks to those who are the true Israel: the Church, both in the OT and the NT.
But what exactly is the context of Daniel in this text? Who exactly would the prophet be thinking about? The entire chapter is a prophetic word contrasting the heathen kingdoms of men as they relate to the people of Israel. The only “saints” or “holy ones” or “set apart ones” would be God’s people of the nation of Israel that was at that time in bondage in Babylon. I believe this vision intends to direct us to God’s dealings with Israel at the coming of the Son of Man in the latter days.
The Fourth Beast: Daniel was particularly interested in the fourth, unclassifiable beast with the 10 horns, and even more so in the little horn that had a mouth speaking blasphemy against God. The fourth beast was certainly different because of its ferocity and undefined classification. In addition was this horn with eyes and a mouth, like some odd, blasphemous muppet.
In verse 23, the angel describes the beast as a fourth kingdom which will rule the world, what Daniel describes as “devouring the whole earth” trampling and breaking it into pieces. We see this fulfilled the kingdom of Rome, whose rule extended across all of Africa, Arabia, into Europe and even into the British Isles.
The Little Horn: Daniel asks about the little horn in verse 20. It is noted as having a mouth, which means intelligence and the ability to communicate. In this instance, the horn blasphemed the LORD. One detail Daniel adds is how this little horn wages war against the saints and it is said to prevail against the saints.
In response, the angels explains in verse 24 how the 10 horns represented 10 kings who come from the fourth beast/kingdom. The “little horn” subdues three of the kings out of the 10 by force. This “little horn” is noted for three major things:
Blasphemous. As has already been seen, the little horn speaks blasphemy against God. As will be seen in a moment, his blasphemy is defined by demanding god like worship.
Wears out the Saints. He “wears out” the saints by persecuting them (vs. 25).
Changes holidays. It is a bit unclear as to what the angel means when he says the little horn will “changes times and laws.” The clearest understanding is that in his blasphemy, the little horn may be changing religious laws to direct worship toward him and certainly denying religious liberty.
The little horn does all of these things, according to the angel, for “a time and times and half a time.” Commentators mark that period as 3 1/2 years and identify this little horn in other portions of Daniels prophecy, 9:27, 12:7, and most importantly, in the book of Revelation 13:5 and following. In fact, John’s description of his “beast” is identical to Daniel’s vision of this “little horn,” but he provides additional revelation not found with Daniel, specifically how this “beast” demands worship. This figure is the Anti-christ, a cruel, anti-God figure who will bring war upon the earth in the latter days before Christ returns. He will do this for 3 1/2 years, and he will bring violent persecution against the “saints” in Daniel’s vision, who are the people of Israel.
However, his reign of terror is short. Verse 26 begins with the marvelous conjunction, BUT.
The Kingdom of God: As the little horn is wearing out the saints, it is then that the “Ancient of Days” comes. His court will be seated and when this happens, this little horn shall be destroyed forever. The “Ancient of Days” – God Almighty – judges in favor of the saints and they possess the kingdom. The dominion of sinful governments comes to an end and the dominion of the LORD is established. The one characteristic marking this kingdom: The people obey and serve the LORD.
Labels: Gleanings from Daniel