Many years after the times of King David and King Solomon, Judah’s kings will stray from the worship of God and will be defeated, with their people carried off into exile. In the home of their captors, Babylon, the prophet Daniel was given a dream and visions to confirm God’s plans for the end times. After the last earthly kingdom, Messiah will return to set up His eternal heavenly kingdom among us.
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. 2 “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. Daniel 7:1-3 NKJV
4 The first was like a lion…5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear… 6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. Daniel 7:4,5,6 NKJV
These beasts are the same succession of world empires that had been given to Daniel years earlier through Nebuchadnezzar’s dream – Babylon was the lion, Medo-Persia the bear, Greece the leopard, and Rome will be a fourth beast of iron.
Babylon reigned over the earth like like a great lion, the very top of the image with a head of gold in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It was overthrown by Medo-Persia, a slow but steady military force, strong like a bear in its conquests. Greece, under Alexander the Great, was smaller in size but swift like a leopard with brilliant military tactics. It prevailed over the lumbering Medo-Persian bear in 333 BC. Alexander was a genius, but he died young of an undiagnosed illness, and his command was divided among four inferior generals, whose families oversaw Greece’s empire until the rise of Rome.
The fourth empire of iron is the Roman Empire, which would be in power when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But unlike those empires before it, it was not conquered by another – it collapsed. This opens the door for a future empire that will be a reconsolidation of the old Roman empire. It will ultimately be led by an evil, demonic autocrat, the antichrist. He will be the ruler in power when Messiah Jesus returns.
The future reconstituted Roman empire is not necessarily limited to the geographic boundaries of the old Roman Empire, which stretched from England across to Babylon. This end times version could be some type of derivative, perhaps honoring future colonies or culture rather than a strict political boundary.
Daniel’s visions continued from here.
7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. Daniel 7:7-8 NKJV
The little horn is the future antichrist, the Beast of Revelation. The ten horns are ten global leaders, seven of who will assist the antichrist in achieving global domination.
Hitler attempted to re-create the Roman Empire with his Nazi rule, but by the grace of God, he was defeated. Many of his symbols and pageants were intentionally taken from Roman history. He may have been a type of the future antichrist,
Daniel was then told that when all of this is in place, Messiah will return to earth to overthrow the antichrist and set up His own eternal reign, bringing true peace and justice to the world at last.
9 “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated…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.” Daniel 7:9,11 NKJV
The final world empire, led by the antichrist himself, comes to a burning end at the decree of God the Father, the Ancient of Days. This will be accomplished by the return of Christ, whom Daniel referred to as the Son of Man.
13 “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. 14 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. Daniel 7:13-14 NKJV
At His first coming, Jesus often quoted Daniel, referring to Himself as the Son of Man. When facing the Sanhedrin before his crucifixion, the religious leaders understood this reference and, not knowing who Jesus truly was, considered it blasphemy. This was one of the reasons they condemned Jesus to death.
Like the Sanhedrin at the time of the Roman Empire, many today do not recognize Jesus for who He truly is.
Who do you say He is?