Four Kingdoms

Daniel receives a dream like Nebuchadnezzar's - only more ferocious.

Daniel 7 (1)

Daniel steps back a bit in the chronology of his account to report a dream and its interpretation that were given to him before the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians. Chapter 7 is the pivotal chapter of Daniel’s book. Everything prior to this chapter builds up to it, and all that follows issues from it as further elaboration and clarification. We recall that Daniel wrote his book just prior to Israel’s being returned to her land to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Rather than consider this repatriation their final shalom, however, Israel should be advised by Daniel that more tumult would come before the eternal Kingdom appears.

Review Daniel 2.

Read Daniel 7.1-8.

Think it Through
1.  We have seen that, through Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, God drew attention to His Kingdom and rule, to encourage and embolden the people of Israel for the work that lay ahead of them as they returned to their land. It’s a bit curious that Daniel recounts this dream at this point, since it took place before chapters 5 and 6. Can you think of any reason why he might have rearranged the chronology of his book, to put this pivotal chapter here? We see this disrupting of chronology from time to time in Scripture, as in Genesis 2, all of which occurred historically prior to Genesis 1.31, and at some points in the gospels. Chronology is not as important as whatever God wants to emphasize. We also note that Daniel wrote down the dream, to include it in the rest of his prophecy. Why was it important to write this down? Why did God lead His prophets and apostles to write down what He revealed to them? If it was important enough for them to write it down, what should that imply for us?

2.  These four images represent four kingdoms and repeat the vision God gave to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2. Thus, the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome are to be understood. In what ways do the images of this dream differ from those of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? Which dream seems the more glorious and magnificent? Which seems the more terrifying and horrible? Why? Why the difference between them? Daniel’s dream focuses on the power, ferocity, and destructive force of these earthly kingdoms – born, as they were, from the raging tumult of the sea – as well as their impermanence. The reference to the four winds stirring up the sea and causing it to bring forth these beasts should cue us to the sovereign power of God behind all this. Why? Meditate on Psalm 135.5-7, Psalm 104.24-26, and Psalm 107.23-32.

“The four winds of heaven I supposed to have been angelic powers to whom the principalities have been committed. … The sea signifies this world and the present age, overwhelmed with salty and bitter waves, in accordance with the Lord’s own interpretation of the dragnet cast into the sea.” Jerome (347-420 AD)

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Revelation 13.1

Lord Jesus, we must through many tribulations enter Your Kingdom. But once we have entered there, and are seeking Your Kingdom daily, then You will empower, guide, and protect us so that nothing can keep Your Kingdom from coming on earth as it is in heaven, as we…

Pray Psalm 107.1-9.
Pray for God’s people all over the world, that they may remember His grace to them and declare His praises to the people around them. And pray that, out of the tumult of the nations and times, many may find satisfaction for their souls in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 107.1-9 (Faithfulness: Great is Thy Faithfulness)
Lord, You are good, we give thanks and we praise You!
Your steadfast love will forever endure.
Let the redeemed, who from trouble You rescue,
Gather and say that Your mercy is sure!
Refrain vv. 1-3
  Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
  We give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
  We who from east and west, north and south gather,
  Boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!

Wand’ring in deserts, no city, no dwelling,
Hungry and thirsty and faint in our soul –
Lord, when we cried, all our misery telling,
You brought us home and in grace made us whole!

T. M Moore

For a better understanding of the book of Daniel, and all the books of the Bible, order a copy of the workbook, God’s Covenant, from our online store. The studies in this workbook will show you how the parts of the Bible connect with one another to tell the story of God’s redemption and glory (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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