Read Daniel 7:1-28. What is the essence of what Daniel is shown, and what is the vision about?
Each animal shown to Daniel corresponds to a section of the statue shown to Nebuchadnezzar, but now more details about each kingdom are given. How interesting that the creatures, symbolizing pagan nations, are all unclean beasts. Also, except for the fourth beast, Daniel describes the animals as resembling some known creatures. So, the animals are not arbitrary symbols, inasmuch as each one bears some characteristics or points to some aspect of the kingdom it represents.
- Lion: A lion is a most fitting representation of Babylon. Winged lions decorated palace walls and other works of Babylonian art. The lion depicted in the vision eventually has its wings pulled off, is made to stand upright like a man, and receives a human heart. This process symbolizes the Babylonian Empire under its kings.
- Bear: The bear represents the Medo-Persian Empire. The fact that it is raised up on one side indicates the superiority of the Persians over the Medes. The three ribs between its teeth stand for the three main conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire: Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt.
- Leopard: The swift leopard represents the Greek empire established by Alexander the Great. The four wings make this beast even swifter, an apt representation of Alexander, who in a few years brought the entire known world under his dominion.
- The dreadful and terrible animal: Whereas the previous entities only resemble the animals mentioned, this one is an entity unto itself. That is, the first ones are depicted as “like” a lion or “like” a bear, but this one is not depicted like anything. This multi-horned beast also appears far more cruel and rapacious than the previous ones. As such, it is a fitting representation of pagan Rome, which conquered, ruled, and trampled on the world with its feet.
|All these thousands of years of human history have come and gone, just as predicted. How much comfort can you get from knowing that above all the clamor, unrest, and at times utter chaos, God rules? What does this teach us about the trustworthiness of Scripture?|