Daniel: The End of the Dream

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Daniel 7

 

That was the end of the dream.  (Daniel 7:28a  TLB)

The historical section of the book of Daniel ended with the last verse of chapter 6.  Now, Daniel begins the second part of his book which contains four prophetic visions which focus on the destiny of Israel in the world among Gentile nations.  Chapter 7 parallels chapter 2, as both chapters put forth the four great world empires, followed by the rise of a fifth empire or kingdom which will be the final kingdom on earth, the great Millennial Kingdom, which Christ will inaugurate when He returns to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  In chapter 2, the kingdoms of this earth are illustrated by a great statue, and in chapter 7 they are portrayed by a series of animals.

The book of Daniel is clearly not laid out in chronological order, and this drives the casual Bible reader crazy.  Verse 1 indicates when this chapter occurs:

One night during the first year of Belshazzar’s reign over the Babylonian Empire, Daniel had a dream and he wrote it down.  (Daniel 7:1  TLB)

So, we know that chapter 7 takes place somewhere around the year 553 AD.  That means that some 50 years have passed since Daniel had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great statue.  Now, the great Nebuchadnezzar had been dead a decade, and none of his successors where close to being the world leader he was.  They were weak, impotent, and distracted men, and they lead Babylon to its end.  Daniel had this vision about 14 years before the fall of Babylon, and it encompasses the nations of this world from Daniel’s time, about 500 years before Christ, to our time to the end of the ages.

Daniel was a faithful Jew, he was a man of God, an interpreter of dreams and visions, and he was a prophet.  He was also life-long political presence in Babylon.  But most of all, Daniel was a man of action.  Let’s look this man’s vision and its implications for us, today.

1.  The dream 7:2—14

Daniel’s dream and its interpretation are repetitions of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2.  There, the four parts of the great statue corresponded to the four great world empires, beginning with Babylon, and here these same empires correspond to a series of animals.

  • The empire of Babylon=the head of gold=winged lion;
  • The empire(s) of Medo-Persia=breast and arms of silver=a bear;
  • The Greek empire=belly and thighs of brass=four-headed, winged leopard;
  • The Roman empire=legs of iron=dreadful beast.

The question Bible students ask, is:  Why repeat God’s plan for the empires of the world?  These two dreams or visions reveal to man God’s unfolding of history.  Previously, God had given to Egypt’s Pharaoh two dreams about the same thing:  one dream of seven cows and one of seven ears of grain.  Joseph explained to Pharaoh why he had a dream with the same meaning twice, and Joseph’s explanation probably applies here, too:

“Both dreams mean the same thing,” Joseph told Pharaoh. “God was telling you what he is going to do here in the land of Egypt.”

The double dream gives double impact, showing that what I have told you is certainly going to happen, for God has decreed it, and it is going to happen soon.   (Genesis 41:25, 32  TLB)

So what’s going to happen WILL happen, and it is happening today.  Just because liberal Bible scholars attempt to poke holes in the tapestry of Bible prophecy as it hangs in Daniel doesn’t mean Bible prophecy isn’t true or dependable.  The kingdoms of this world are portrayed as “animals” rising up out of the great sea of humanity; they are, without exception, beasts of prey—brutish, strong, living by instinct alone.  If that isn’t an accurate picture of the nations of this world throughout history, nothing is!   But the thing we need to remember is that God allows these various world powers to rise to prominence, and He permits other nations to take their place.  We see the sovereignty of God at work here.

When you  look back at history, you can see nations coming and going like images on a blackboard that get drawn, then erased, then drawn again.  Part of this vision has already taken place—what was prophecy in Daniel’s day is merely history in ours.  We have already witnessed the rise and fall of Babylon, Persian, Greece, and Rome.  The rest will surely come to pass.

2.  The blessed end

That was the end of the dream. When I awoke, I was greatly disturbed, and my face was pale with fright, but I told no one what I had seen.  (Daniel 7:28  TLB)

Both the dream and its interpretation disturbed Daniel; the emotional shock of it all overwhelmed him to the point where he felt compelled to keep it all to himself.  What would be the point to telling anybody in the royal court the dream?  Belshazzar was no Nebuchadnezzar; he had no respect for Daniel’s spirituality or for God Himself.  So Daniel didn’t tell the dream to anybody because nobody would appreciate the wonders of God’s revelations.  This was something Jesus understood well:

“Don’t give holy things to depraved men. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls and turn and attack you.”  (Matthew 7:6  TLB)

In his dream, Daniel saw new monarchies coming and going.  But the last one astounded him.  The history of the “beast kingdoms” has been written in blood and tears.  But a final kingdom will come, and this new Kingdom will be the Kingdom of God and of His Christ.

The Second Coming of the Son of Man

Next I saw the arrival of a Man—or so he seemed to be—brought there on clouds from heaven; he approached the Ancient of Days and was presented to him.  (Daniel 7:13  TLB)

What a glorious day that will be!  The Son of God, in heaven, has been given all authority to take the kingdoms of this world from the Gentiles and to establish HIS kingdom.  Jesus Himself once had this conversation with some religious leaders of His day:

Then the high priest asked him. “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”  Jesus said, “I am, and you will see me sitting at the right hand of God, and returning to earth in the clouds of heaven.”  (Mark 14:61—62  TLB)

Right now, this world is under the dominion of the kingdoms of man.  But one day, man’s dominion of this world will come to its inevitable end when Jesus Christ returns in power and glory to build His kingdom.  He will return and He will not be happy with the man’s kingdoms!

What fools the nations are to rage against the Lord! How strange that men should try to outwit God!  For a summit conference of the nations has been called to plot against the Lord and his Messiah, Christ the King.  “Come, let us break his chains,” they say, “and free ourselves from all this slavery to God.”

But God in heaven merely laughs! He is amused by all their puny plans.  And then in fierce fury he rebukes them and fills them with fear.  For the Lord declares, “This is the King of my choice, and I have enthroned him in Jerusalem, my holy city.”

His chosen one replies, “I will reveal the everlasting purposes of God, for the Lord has said to me, ‘You are my Son. This is your Coronation Day. Today I am giving you your glory.’ ”  “Only ask and I will give you all the nations of the world.  Rule them with an iron rod; smash them like clay pots!”  (Psalm 2:1—9  TLB)

When the Lord returns, His kingdom will not be waiting for Him.  He will build it. Jesus will come with the conqueror’s sword and He will bring the nations of man into line then He will establish His kingdom.

The destruction of the beast’s power

As for the other three animals, their kingdoms were taken from them, but they were allowed to live a short time longer.  (Daniel 7:12  TLB)

The kingdoms of this world have had their way.  The first four beasts were destroyed, but the ideology and philosophy of the kingdoms will continue.  Until the Lord returns and puts down all rebellion, no matter what nation or kingdom dominates the world, the same beast-like philosophy will always prevail.  A quick glance around at our own culture certainly bears this out!  There are no more Babylonians, the Medes and Persians as world powers vanished, the Greek empire has all but vanished.  Rome fell, yet the sins that caused it to disintegrate are all alive and well in America today; they are deep in the hearts of sinful man.

But, praise God, on that great day when Jesus returns, all rebellion will be put down from the four corners of the earth, in every land and ever nation.

3.  A new kingdom is established

He was given the ruling power and glory over all the nations of the world, so that all people of every language must obey him. His power is eternal—it will never end; his government shall never fall.  (Daniel 7:14  TLB)

The kingdom of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom, will be universal in scope—all over the world, people and nations will submit to the Lordship of Christ.  Christ’s kingdom will ultimately be an everlasting kingdom.  It’s true that part of it will last one thousand years, but the Millennial Kingdom will merge into the Eternal State, carrying on into all eternity.  Imagine that.  The eternal kingdom of Christ begins on earth at the Second Coming, continues here for 1,000 years, then morphs into the Eternal state.  It will take all of eternity for God’s people to just begin to learn the fullness of God’s greatness.

4.  Victory of the saints

…the Ancient of Days came and opened his court and vindicated his people, giving them worldwide powers of government.  (Daniel 7:22  TLB)

“The Ancient of Days” is Christ.  “His people” refers to the saints of God.  God’s program for the universe will prevail and His people will prevail.  It may not seem like it right now.  In the cheap seats of history, it’s difficult to see what’s going on and understand how it all fits into God’s plan.  The thing is, God is slowly and inexorably moving the kingdoms of this world toward their inevitable end and there is nothing any prime minister, president, king or potentate can do about it.  God’s program for the universe will finally prevail through His people, the saints.

Jehovah said to my Lord the Messiah, “Rule as my regent—I will subdue your enemies and make them bow low before you.”  Jehovah has established your throne in Jerusalem to rule over your enemies. In that day of your power your people shall come to you willingly, dressed in holy altar robes.  (Psalm 110:1—3  TLB)

In a real sense, Christ’s ultimate victory will also be our ultimate victory.  We will be vindicated!  Our faith will finally be sight.  All the promises we believe and trust will finally come to pass, and they will come to pass before everybody’s eyes!  No wonder in that day:

…every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:11  TLB)

Whether they want to or not, all people, all over the world will acknowledge exactly who Jesus Christ is.  His vindication will also be ours.

Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge and govern the world?  (1 Corinthians 6:2  TLB)

The end of history will not be an atomic bomb or global warming or cooling or a collision with an asteroid or even the destruction of all this is good on earth.  The goal of God’s plan for the universe, and for our planet, is the establishment of an eternal kingdom and the consummation and preservation of all that is good, and beautiful, and true, and holy (Roy Swim).

 

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