Rome, the Fourth Beast – Daniel 7

In a series of prophecies given to Daniel throughout his life, the Lord laid out a timeline for the coming empires of human government which will rule the world.  These would reign in their appointed times until God chooses to replace them with His own government, led by the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Daniel lived five centuries before Christ’s first coming.  In three separate visions, four future empires are described using imagery of various beasts and a human statue – the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. It is now 2,500 years after Daniel’s visions, and we are likely somewhere near the end of the era for the fourth beast, the Roman Empire and its modern-day descendants. 

 Daniel said: “I was looking in my vision at night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were churning up the great sea. Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the others.Daniel 7:2 (TLV)

“After this in my vision at night, I looked and behold there was a fourth beast—terrifying, frightening, tremendously strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed—and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it; it had ten horns. Daniel 7:7 (TLV)

Just as in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream Daniel 2, the Roman empire was described using the oppressive strength of iron. 

40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron shatters and breaks everything—and just as iron smashes everything, so will it shatter and crush all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly potter’s clay and partly iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the strength of the iron, for you saw the iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 Just as you saw iron mixed with clay, people will mix with one another, but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.  Daniel 2:40-43 (TLV)

We now enter the realm of interpretation and speculation.  What does it mean that initially this beast will smash everything with iron, but then it will be a much weaker mixture of iron and clay, partly strong and partly brittle?

One can research any number of interpretations for this, but here is mine: the strong iron is the original Roman Empire around the time of Christ, which stretched its mighty fist across all the known world, including Jesus’ Jerusalem and Galilee.  It was a government of domination, slavery, and expansive warfare.  I interpret the later weaker mixture as a sort of modern-day reconstituted Roman Empire, an alliance of states (called kings in the Bible) which evolved from the original empire, perhaps including members’ former colonies.

Some of the fierce dictators of modern history drew their symbolism from ancient Roman times and attempted to rebuild their own version of that empire.  Fortunately for the people of earth, they failed. But scripture warns us that before the coming of the fifth kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, one last attempt at Roman reconsolidation will be attempted with the backing of satanic powers, and for a time they will achieve frightening results.  The good news is that we know the end of the story: God’s empire will prevail over evil, and this last evil world government under antichrist will be thoroughly defeated.

44 “Now in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will this kingdom be left to another people. It will crush and bring to an end all of these kingdoms. But it will endure forever.  Daniel 2:44 (TLV)

When the Lord does install His kingdom of heaven on earth, all that is good and pure will remain in it, and all that is evil and harmful will be removed. 

What about us?  How can we very imperfect people hope to survive all this to be with the Lord into eternity?  That is exactly why Jesus came to earth the first time, to be the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sin on the cross, and to be raised from the dead for our eternal life. 

All people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but God has a remedy for each one of us:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

The spiritual life in Christ is a complete gift of His love and mercy.  All we need to do is to humbly turn to Him to receive it.  We will then be given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live within us to cleanse, to aid and comfort us, and to guide us closer into His perfect light.  May you receive this priceless gift of eternal salvation today.

Reflection

Father God, we turn to You through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Protect us from dark forces and powers, for we know that You are far greater than all of them.  Declare us righteous by the cleansing and forgiveness of Christ through the power of the cross and His resurrection from the dead.  Fill us with the Holy Spirit that we may rest in Your blessing and comfort and share Your love and forgiveness with others today.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

    
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV)

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