We continue this episode in chapter 7. Looking further into Daniel’s prophetic dream leads us to consider the ancient of days and the four empires alluded to in the dream. The prophecies in this book are valuable, important, and complex. We can rest assured that God is in control and we are called to faithfulness—even when circumstances are beyond our control and our finite nature clouds our ability to understand.
The Ancient of Days sits in judgment
We’re going to talk about the Ancient of Days. We’re in verse 9 here, Daniel 7:9.
So we’ve seen the four beasts, the rise and fall of three of the four empires. And we’re on the fourth empire now.
“I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;
A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.
Here we see Daniel is now seeing a courtroom-type set up where we’re going to see the Ancient of Days, God, seated. He’s wearing pure white, and his hair is also white. So those of you with gray hair, you should be honored. Your hair is like God’s hair. Don’t be embarrassed by it. You might not get to be called Ancient of Days, but you’ll sure get to be called ancient. Congratulations! That’s a pretty big deal.
So God’s sitting on this fiery throne with fiery wheels. Again, as we age, we might get to sit in a wheelchair. Hopefully, yours isn’t going to be on fire, like God’s.
But we also see this river of fire issue forth from him. This is another tie-in to Revelation 19 and 20 where we get into the lake of fire.
A whole bunch of people praise him and then the court is seated and the books are opened. It’s time to get down to business. So God is seated. We’re ready to do some judging here.
So verse 11.
“I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
This river of fire destroys that little horn, also known as the antichrist, that’s running off at the mouth, and he gets destroyed by God with burning flame.
Whether God is this river of fire or this lake of fire and an evil or unrighteousness can’t exist in his presence, or he throws him into this river or lake, who knows? But either way, we understand that this purifying fire talked about in Revelation is what the antichrist is going to get exposed to and destroyed.
The Son of Man is given dominion
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
So let’s look at Mark 14:60-62
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”
But He kept silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
So Jesus, obviously, sees himself as fulfillment of this particular prophecy as the Son of Man. He’s brought before God and given dominion over all things, and his kingdom will never be destroyed.
So we’ve had the four beasts representing the four different kingdoms, sequentially, with Babylon, then Media-Persia, then the Grecian empire, and finally, Rome.
Then we see the Ancient of Days come in and judge the antichrist and destroy him with fire. Then, finally, we see the Son of Man bring in the eternal kingdom.
So that’s the first half of Daniel 7.
The interpretation of Daniel’s dream
Now as we look at the second half, which is divine interpretation, we’re going to see that in verse 15, we’re going to see a lot of distress out of Daniel as he’s trying to interpret prophecy. And then we’re going to get a general interpretation in 16-18. Then we’re going to get a fuller interpretation in 19-27. And then in verse 28, we’ll see Daniel’s response.
So let’s look at this vision as it’s interpreted.
So in verse 15, it says, “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:
‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.
But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’
“Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
“Thus he said:
‘The fourth beast shall be
A fourth kingdom on earth,
Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,
And shall devour the whole earth,
Trample it and break it in pieces.
The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.
‘But the court shall be seated,
And they shall take away his dominion,
To consume and destroy it forever.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’
The ten horns and the beast
The books of Daniel and Revelation obviously are tied very closely together as one helps explain the other. Hence in the book of Revelation, these same ten horns and the little horn appear again. Although the little horn is simply referred to as “the beast” in Revelation. The beast in Revelation 13 will hate the saints of God because they, obviously, will refuse his demand to be worshipped and thus, he will persecute and kill many of them.
Let’s look at Revelation 17:12-14, and we’ll see this same kind of layout. Revelation 17:12 says, “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.
These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.
These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
So the ten horns, ten kings, are a confederacy of rulers that give their support to the beast.
In light of how the ten horns and the beast are portrayed in the book of Revelation, one can safely conclude that they will appear on the stage of history during the Great Tribulation, which is the three-and-a-half years preceding the second coming of Christ and where there’ll be significant changes imposed on society.
Thus one can conclude that there’s a lengthy gap between the time of the initial appearance of the fourth beast as ancient Rome and the latter stage, represented by the ten horns and the little horn as the antichrist. So there’s going to be a long period of time there as, obviously, it’s already been 2048 years and counting.
Daniel is troubled
Daniel 7:28. “This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”
Another way to say this would be “his countenance or his facial expression changed.” He went pale and kept the matter in his heart or kept it to himself. He didn’t go out and talk about it.
In summary, Daniel’s dream in chapter 7 says there will be four great empires starting in his current time.
He’s seen Babylon already rise. Next is going to come the Medo-Persians that we saw in chapter 6 with Darius when he ends up getting thrown into the lions’ den. So Daniel’s going to be alive straddling the first two beasts of the four.
Then comes the kingdom of Alexander the Great and, finally, Rome, where we are today.
During our time, much of this is still to play out. We see the little horn or the antichrist will rise up, and then God, the Ancient of Days, with his white hair and his fiery wheel chair, is going to destroy the antichrist with this river of fire.
Finally, the everlasting kingdom of the Son of Man will begin.
Now, we don’t know when all this it’s going to happen, nor is it our job to figure this out or speculate when it’s going to happen.
What we do know is God’s in control, and that’s what we need to remember. God’s got all of this.
The books of Daniel and Revelation make it perfectly clear: our job is to be a faithful witness; it’s to be an overcomer, to go through our fiery trials and overcome and be a faithful witness to God.
So Daniel—a godly prophet, and obviously a man of unshakable faith. We’ve this throughout the first six chapters—has been steadfast in his daily walk and fellowship with God. Throughout the first six chapters of the book of Daniel, nothing’s caused him to panic or depart from his faith and practice as a godly Jew.
Daniel’s first inner turmoil occurs in chapter 7. A revelation from God in his sleep discloses future events which Daniel finds most troubling.
Twice in chapter 7, Daniel speaks about this with great distress. We see it in 15, and we see it again in 28.
Receiving prophecy often causes a bunch of turmoil or stress as it did with Nebuchadnezzar when he got his dream and again with Belshazzar.
When he had his dream, Daniel finally interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, and we see this again in the other three prophecies in later chapters.
So next week, we begin the Hebrew section again in chapter 8-12. We switch back to Hebrew with the next prophecies of Daniel.
That’s a lot. It’s really hard to go through this and really take it all in with all of the symbolism and everything that’s going on. And if you can’t do it, you’re in good company. Nobody can.
It’s just remembering, God’s got this. God’s in control. We just need to be faithful witnesses.
It’s laid out for us in Daniel; it’s laid out for us again in Revelation, and all it does is help us have a little more faith that there’s a promise and there’s a hope. Have faith and be a faithful witness.