With King Nebuchadnezzar now deceased and the empire of Babylon nearing its last days before defeat by King Cyrus of Medo-Persia, God presented Daniel with a new set of prophetic visions. These visions would complement the divine insights given to earlier prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, painting a picture of a time when the most powerful of world governments will be pushed aside by the Lord. They tell of a time when God will be ready to replace these human leaders with His own eternal Kingdom, led by a returning Jesus Christ. This will all happen at some point in our future, perhaps even in our own lifetime.
Daniel’s new visions included imagery that will be seen again in the Apostle John’s Book of Revelation, recorded six centuries later – images of great beasts coming up out of a sea. As an angel would explain to Daniel:
17 “These four huge beasts represent four kingdoms that will arise from the earth. 18 But in the end, the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever.” Daniel 7:17-18 (NLT)
Daniel’s prophecy begins with an image of the first beast:
2 Daniel said: “I was looking in my vision at night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were churning up the great sea. 3 Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the others.
4 “The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off and it was lifted off the ground. It was made to stand upon two feet like a man, and the heart of a human was given to it. Daniel 7:2-4 (TLV)
We know from context that this first beast of a lion with eagle’s wings represents ancient Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar the Great. He was also represented by the head of gold at the top of the human statue in an earlier dream interpreted by Daniel. The statue’s golden head was its most prominent position and was made from its most valuable material. Daniel revealed the dream’s meaning and how it highlighted the king’s preeminent greatness.
37 You, O king, are the king of kings to whom the God of heaven has given sovereignty, power, might and glory. 38 Wherever mankind, beasts of the field, and fowls of the heaven dwell, He has given them into your hand, and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold. Daniel 2:37-38 (TLV)
The human kings and kingdoms which followed Nebuchadnezzar would be inferior in both stature and authority. He had been gifted with a throne at the pinnacle of human achievement and power. But Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was getting in the way of his tender heart, so God humbled him with a mental illness that took him from the throne for seven years. Reduced to the humblest of situations roaming among wild beasts, the king eventually developed a true perspective for his position in life under the favor and care of a loving God. With the king’s newfound faith and compassionate heart, the Lord restored Nebuchadnezzar to his throne for the remainder of his days.
Three more beasts will appear to Daniel in his vision, each one rising up out of a turbulent sea and representing a new kingdom to come.
God wants us to know that He is still in full control despite the churning of the “seas” around us. And He wants to remind us that, as impressive as the glory and achievements of mankind may be, life is still a gift from His hand. One day, these wonders will all be greatly surpassed by the glory of His coming kingdom under the reign of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Do you feel as if you are in the middle of a tempest today? God wants to calm the storms in our hearts even as they rage on around us.
Lord, we turn to You to settle our hearts and draw us close to You today. Help us to walk in peace amidst the trials of life and grant us the favor of a righteous resolution for our difficulties. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.