Bible Commentaries
Daniel 7

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-14


Although the visions collected in this section of the book are in approximate chronological order, there is no obvious connection leading one on to the next. Each vision has a separate and distinct message.

A vision of four beasts (7:1-14)

In the first vision (whose chronological position would be between Chapters 4 and 5), Daniel saw a severe storm stirring up the sea, then, coming up out of the raging waters, four strange beasts. The meaning (partly explained later in the chapter) seems to be that God was working in the affairs of the region, stirring up events that produced in turn four kingdoms (7:1-3; see also v. 17).
The four kingdoms represented here are the same four kingdoms illustrated in Chapter 2, but there is a difference in emphasis. Whereas the vision given to the heathen king Nebuchadnezzar dealt in general with the historical significance of the events symbolized, the vision given to God’s servant Daniel dealt more with how these events would affect the people of God. The emphasis in Chapter 2 was that God controls the rise and fall of empires. The emphasis in Chapter 7 is that God preserves his people through the opposition that these empires bring.
Babylon, the kingdom symbolized by the first beast, was proud, ruthless and unconquerable at the beginning, but later its cruel power softened and it became more humane (4). The second beast, already eating one victim and getting ready to pounce on another, symbolized the Medo-Persian Empire in its greedy conquest (5). The third beast pictured the swift conquest by Alexander the Great and the spread of the Greek Empire (6).
The fourth beast, so horrible and terrible that it was beyond description, symbolized brutal all-conquering Rome. From the many kingdoms (‘ten horns’) brought together in the Roman Empire, one leader (a ‘little horn’) emerged as more ruthless than all others. He murdered those who opposed him and established himself as a cruel unchallengeable dictator (7-8).
Daniel then had a vision of the fiery chariot-throne of God, upon which sat the Lord of the universe. He would judge his creatures with absolute purity and fearful justice (9-10). The ‘little horn’ dictator made such claims to power that God could tolerate him no longer. His day of judgment had come. The three previous kingdoms were merely overthrown - taken over rather than wiped out. This fourth kingdom, however, under the absolute rule of its arrogant dictator, was completely and mercilessly destroyed (11-12).
In place of this anti-God kingdom a new kingdom was set up, one that was different from all that had gone before. It was set up not by a beast-like figure but by a man-like figure. This was the universal kingdom of God (13-14).

Verses 15-28

Interpretation of the vision (7:15-28)

One of God’s heavenly servants explained to Daniel the meaning of the vision. The kingdoms of the world may arrogantly oppose God in their ruthless drive for supremacy, but the kingdom that triumphs in the end is the kingdom of God, the people of God (15-18).
A reason is then given for God’s devastating judgment on the ‘little horn’ dictator of the fourth beast: he had used his power to make war against God’s people (19-22). He blasphemously challenged the Almighty and cruelly persecuted his people, even making special laws so that the whole power of the state could be turned against them. But God allowed him to rule only for a time, then suddenly intervened and destroyed him (23-26). Once again God’s kingdom triumphed; his people were victorious (27). Daniel was disturbed as he considered what the vision foretold (28).

History shows that the Roman Empire used its power with arrogance and cruelty. It blasphemed God and persecuted his people without restraint. But God’s people triumphed and the kingdom of God remained unconquerable, whereas the Roman Empire crumbled and even the most brutal of its emperors was destroyed. So will it be with all the ‘beasts’ and all the ‘little horns’, till the Son of man returns in power and glory, and his people in the fullest sense inherit his everlasting kingdom (v. 13-14,27; cf. Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 25:31-33; Mark 13:26; Mark 14:61-62).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Daniel 7". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.