The Third World War (Daniel 7-9)

Scripture reading – Daniel 7-9

Reading chronologically through the Bible in one year is a wonderful challenge; however, I sometimes find myself doing little more than a “fly-over” when it comes to writing devotional commentaries on passages of Scripture that captivate my heart and move my spirit.  The prophetic scenes found in the Book of Daniel continue to astonish me as I reflect upon events that have come to pass, and consider those things which are yet future.  What a stunning testimony for the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21)!

You might have noticed the first six chapters of Daniel were narrative in style, and historical in content. We have followed the rise of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar’s consolidation of the nations of his day into the first world empire. Among the nations conquered was Judah, and the remnant of Israel after Assyria had taken the northern ten tribes captive a century earlier. Judah became subservient to Babylon in 605 BC, and to ensure that nation’s compliance, Nebuchadnezzar had taken in the first captivity the sons of Jewish nobility.

Among the captives was a young teen named Daniel. Though only a youth, Daniel was already dedicated to the LORD, His Law and Commandments. God blessed his faithfulness, gave him favor, and promoted him to the highest offices of both the Chaldean and Medo-Persian Empires. Daniel’s longevity in his service to heathen kings was a testimony of his character, talents and integrity. While other rulers of the Babylonian kingdom were purged from office during transitions of kings and kingdoms, Daniel’s character earned him the trust of both Chaldean and Persian kings.

Daniel 7 – A Panoramic, Prophetic View of History

Daniel 7 begins a panoramic, prophetic view of history that commences with the rule of “Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1) and continues through the reign of “Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (9:1). Daniel 7 chronologically precedes Daniel 5 [which recorded Babylon’s fall to the Medes and Persians].

Daniel 7 occurs during the first year of Belshazzar’s reign (7:1), whose rule marked the beginning of the end of the Chaldean Empire. Daniel 7 recorded the first of 4 visions, providing us with a prophetic landscape of Gentile Empires beginning with Babylon and ending with the Second Coming of Christ and His Millennium Kingdom.

Daniel’s dream in chapter 7 parallels the great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2. Notice that Daniel’s dream was a three-part vision that revealed six kingdoms (7:2-14).

The Sea (7:2-3) was symbolic of humanity and the four beasts represented four great world empires.

In the Scriptures, Sea and Water are figurative of humanity and the nations of the world (Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 17:1, 15). “The four winds of the heaven” (7:2) violently moving the Sea represent God’s judgment on the nations of the earth. Wind generally moves north, south, east or west; however, the four winds coming simultaneously from all directions reflect a violent judgment.

Four earthly kingdoms are represented by four beasts: A lion with wings like an eagle (7:4; most likely Babylon); a bear with three ribs in its mouth (7:5; most likely the Medes and Persian empires); a leopard with four wings on its back and four heads (7:6; most likely Greece); and a beast described as “dreadful and terrible” and having ten horns (7:7; most likely Rome).

A fifth kingdom, represented by an eleventh horn and described as a “little horn” emerges from the head of the fourth beast (7:8). The “little horn” is the Antichrist (7:8). The Scriptures reveal he will be a man far greater and more evil than the earthly kings who had gone before him. He is described as having human eyes [“eyes like the eyes of man,” indicating superior intelligence] (7:8), and a mouth that boasts “great things” (7:8)

The sixth kingdom announces the triumphant Second Coming of Christ who is described as the “Ancient of Days” and is seen sitting on the throne of Heaven (7:9). From His throne He will judge the nations of the earth (7:10) and will reign a thousand years (7:13-14). Daniel conveys the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ, writing,

Daniel 7:13-14 – “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of Man came with [sitting on] the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they [perhaps angel messengers] brought Him near before Him. 14  And there was given Him [Christ, the Messiah] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

I close with an invitation for you to consider some immutable truths we can take from our study. The first, God is sovereign of all nations (Romans 13:1-6). History, past, present, and future is HIS-STORY. The second, that God is omniscient; He knows the beginning and the end. He knows and directs the rise and fall of kings and kingdoms.

When Daniel grasped the magnitude of history and realized the last days when the antichrist appears in the Great Tribulation, he confessed, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me” (7:15).

What an advantage we have over Daniel. We can look back in history and realize that the visions of the rise and fall of nations Daniel observed in his dream have come to pass. Surely, we have cause to anticipate with confidence what God has promised He will fulfill!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith