In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
“I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And 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 one
that shall not be destroyed.
“As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
“Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
“Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,
there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’
“Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”
In Daniel 7 we are told that as Daniel lay in his bed he saw a dream and visions of four unique beasts. These beasts were dreadful, terrifying, confusing and they each presented a threat to mankind. In verse 15 Daniel is honest and says these visions made his spirit anxious and alarmed him. When Daniel asks for the meaning of these beasts he is told that they represent four kings, the last of which will “devour the whole earth,” break the world into pieces, and speak against the Lord. He will wage war against and persecute the Lord’s people, and for a time, they will be given into this king’s hand. You can imagine why this news alarmed Daniel.
But the vision doesn’t end there. Daniel is told that this will not last forever. The Ancient of Days, YHWH the Lord, will sit on His throne and hold court. The books will be opened, and judgment will be passed. The beast will lose all authority, be slain, and his kingdom destroyed. And then one “like the Son of Man” will come and to Him will be given “dominion and glory and a kingdom” that will never be destroyed. This kingdom will be given to God’s people and will be theirs for all eternity. Never again will the people of God be crushed or ruled by the terrifying beasts of the world.
While the exact interpretation of who these kings are and when they will rule are unknown to us, this passage is still extremely applicable to us today. Scripture tells us that throughout time there will be kings, powers, and authorities that will rise up, that are worldly and not of God. Some will be very wicked and evil. And some will even wage war against God’s people, speaking against them, and overpowering them at times. As we look at the news today and the world around us, we can easily see that we are surrounded by “beasts.” These beasts come in various forms but they are also dreadful, terrifying, confusing, and present a threat to mankind. Like Daniel, when we see these things in our world we are highly alarmed, saddened, angry, and anxious.
As believers we are not exempt from facing the beasts of this world and the emotions they produce within us. However, what these visions show us is that we must view what is happening in our world with the end in mind. We don’t just see what is happening right in front of us, but we also see what is to come, what has been promised to us by God throughout scripture. God will sit on the throne and judge the earth. All “beasts” will lose their authority and be slain and destroyed. Jesus will return and He will have dominion and power over all creation forever. His kingdom will be given to God’s people, and it will never be taken away from us. No matter what happens in the world and culture around us, we live in the reality that it will all come to an end, the lies will be revealed and truth will be known. All rulers and leaders will lose their authority and be replaced by the One True King.
Are you stuck in one part of the story forgetting what is to come? Are you filled with anxiety over what is going on in our world today? When the culture we live in and the news alarm you and create anxiety in your spirit, you must make a choice to live with the end in mind. Remember that the troubles we face today are temporary and in the end God will make all things right. This world is not our home, we are strangers and aliens, and so we live not for the things of this world but for what is to come. So we must fix our eyes on Jesus and renew our minds daily with His truth which gives us hope. We live knowing that God will overcome the world and His kingdom will last forever.