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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 17

The Four Mythical Beasts

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Let’s ask for God’s assistance:

O Father,

As we delve more and more deeply into the book of Daniel, we ask You to grant us wisdom and discernment, so that we may understand the meaning of these important prophecies, and so that our study of Your word may guide us closer and closer to You.

In Jesus Christ we pray.


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Hebrews 5:13,14

For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


As we have seen in the lesson «How to Study Prophecy», one of the seven keys to a proper understanding of Bible prophecy is: We must study simple prophecies first, then complex ones.

So, let’s quickly review the content of our last lesson about Daniel chapter 2, before going on with Daniel chapter 7.

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Daniel 2:1

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams.


In our last lesson «The Giant with Feet of Clay», we saw that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a dream which greatly impressed him, but whose content he completely forgot.

The prophet Daniel, inspired by God, revealed to him the content of his dream: a great statue made of different materials, that was finally destroyed by a stone which became a great mountain.

Let’s look at a schematic drawing of the statue the king had seen.

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The statue King Nebuchadnezzar had seen

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Daniel 2:36

This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.


After having revealed to him the content of his dream, Daniel explained to King Nebuchadnezzar its meaning.

The statue represented a succession of universal empires, from Babylon until the end of the world, and the stone becoming a great mountain symbolized the establishment of the eternal kingdom of God at Christ’s second coming.

Now, let’s look at the summary of this stunning interpretation.

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The interpretation of the king’s dream

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Daniel 2:45

You saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold.


Acts 4:10,11

Jesus Christ (...) is the stone.


The symbol of the stone is often used in the Bible to represent Jesus Christ.

The return of Jesus Christ, «the stone cut out of the mountain», will put an end to this world, wiping out all the earthly kingdoms.

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Daniel 7:1

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream.


Many years later, while Belshazzar was the new king of Babylon, Daniel also had a prophetic dream.

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Daniel 7:2,3

Daniel spoke and said,

«I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove on the great sea.

And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.»


Just as Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue whose succession of metals represented universal kingdoms until the end of the world, Daniel saw a succession of four great beasts, also bearing a prophetic message.

First, we see that the beasts are coming up from the sea. Does it mean something?

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Isaiah 17:12,13

Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!

The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters.


Revelation 17:15

And [the angel] said to me,

«The waters which you saw (...) are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.»


The Bible gives its own keys to prophecy: waters represent peoples, nations.

Thus the beasts coming up from the sea come from inhabited places.

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Daniel 7:17,23

Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings. (...)

The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth.


Just like the metals of the statue, the four beasts represent four earthly kingdoms which would succeed one another.

Let’s look at these beasts one by one.

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Daniel 7:4

The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings.

I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand on the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.


The first beast was a lion with eagle’s wings.

Which kingdom is symbolized by this description?

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Jeremiah 50:43,44

The king of Babylon (...) shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan to the habitation of the strong.


Ezekiel 17:3,12

A great eagle with great wings, long winged (...).

Know you not what these things mean? Tell them,

«Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and has taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon.»


Gold, king of metals, designates the kingdom of Babylon.

Likewise, the lion, king of beasts, with eagle’s wings, designates this same kingdom.

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Daniel 7:4

I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand on the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.


Now, what does this symbolic description of the king of Babylon mean?

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Daniel 4:16,28,34

Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given to him; and let seven times pass over him. (...)

All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar. (...)

«And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me.»


One day, in spite of Daniel’s warning, Nebuchadnezzar boasted about his power. For this reason, he went out of his mind for seven years, thinking he was an ox.

After that time, his understanding returned to him, and he gave glory to God: in this way, his «man’s heart» was given back to him.

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Daniel 7:5

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it.

And they said thus to it, «Arise, devour much flesh!»


Daniel 5:28

Your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.


Knowing that the lion with eagle’s wings is the kingdom of Babylon, we can easily identify the bear: it is the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.

But why was the bear raised up on one side?

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Daniel 8:3,20

Behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other. (...)

The ram which you saw having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.


In another vision of Daniel, the kings of Media and Persia are symbolized by a ram with two horns, one being higher than the other, meaning the superiority of some in comparison with others (indeed, the Persians were soon to dominate the Medes).

This is why the bear was raised up on one side.

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Daniel 7:5

[The second beast] had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it.

And they said thus to it, «Arise, devour much flesh!»


Isaiah 13:17,18

Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.


The bear devouring much flesh accurately describes the bloody attacks of the Medes and Persians. Their three main conquests,

- Babylon,
- Lydia,
- Egypt,

are represented by the three ribs in the bear’s mouth.

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Daniel 7:6

After this I beheld, and see another, like a leopard, which had on the back of it four wings of a fowl.

The beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.


The third beast is a leopard with four wings and four heads, representing the kingdom which succeeded the Medes and Persians: Greece, whose empire was founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great.

What do the four wings and the four heads mean? We will discover the answer in our next lesson.

Let’s go on with the fourth kingdom.

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Daniel 7:7

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly.

And it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.

And it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.


The fourth kingdom is Rome: the Roman empire succeeded the Greek empire in 168 B.C.

Iron is once again associated with Rome: first by the iron legs of the statue, then by a beast with huge iron teeth.

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Daniel 7:7,23,24

[The fourth beast] was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (...)

The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.


Like the ten toes of the statue, the beast had ten horns, symbolizing the ten kings which succeeded Rome.

Indeed, as we have already seen, the Roman empire was divided into ten parts in the fifth century A.D.

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The Roman Empire divided in ten parts:

  1. The Saxons, originating the English nation.
  2. The Franks, originating the French nation.
  3. The Alamanni, originating the German nation.
  4. The Visigoths, originating the Spanish nation.
  5. The Suevi, originating the Portuguese nation.
  6. The Lombards, originating the Italian nation.
  7. The Burgundians, originating the Swiss nation
  8. The Heruli, who have since disappeared.
  9. The Vandals, who have since disappeared.
  10. The Ostrogoths, who have since disappeared.

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Daniel 7:8

I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn.


As the vision draws to a close, an additional detail is given, absent from the vision of the statue: the appearance of a last power, symbolized by a little horn.

This power comes up among the ten horns, that is, from the ten nations of Europe.

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Daniel 7:8,24

I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots. (...)

The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.

And another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.


The little horn will pluck out three of the ten kings.

History teaches us that a power, appearing in Europe, annihilated three of the ten Barbarian nations:

- the Heruli, in A.D. 493;
- the Vandals, in A.D. 534;
- the Ostrogoths, in A.D. 538.

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Daniel 7:8,19,20,25

And, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. (...)

Then I would know the truth of (...) that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. (...)

He shall speak great words against the Most High.


This power, led by a man, would speak pompous words, even against God Himself.

It would also have a far more impressive appearance than all the preceding kingdoms.

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Daniel 7:21,25

The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. (...)

[He] shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws.


Also, this power would persecute «the saints of the Most High», the people desiring to remain faithful to the teachings of the Word of God.

Even more, it would try to change the law of God.

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Daniel 7:25 (NKJV)

Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.


The little horn’s kingdom lasted a time, times (meaning two times, as we will see in a moment), and half a time: in total, 3½ times.

The Aramaic expression «times» (iddam) means a year of 360 days. So we have:

   A time, that is, 360 days
+ Two times, that is, 720 days
+ Half a time, that is, 180 days

= 3½ times, that is, 1260 days.

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Revelation 12:6,14

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. (...)

And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.


This period of 1260 days, also found in Revelation, shows us that the expression «times» really means «two times».

Now, let’s try to understand the meaning of a period of 1260 days in Bible prophecy.

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Numbers 14:34

After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years.


Ezekiel 4:5,6

For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, (...) you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days.

I have appointed you each day for a year.


The prophetic formula «1 day = 1 year» shows that 1260 days represent 1260 years.

Now, History teaches us that a power reigned 1260 years, from A.D. 538 to 1798.

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The identifying marks of the little horn

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John 16:12

I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.


We will discover the identity of the little horn in a future lesson.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to think about it.

Do not hesitate to consult history books and encyclopedias: with the help of the identifying marks provided by the Word of God, you will surely discover the identity of the power symbolized by the little horn.

You might be quite surprised...

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Daniel 7:17,18,27

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (...)

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.


Just like the vision of the statue, the prophecy of Daniel 7 ends happily.

God destroys the earthly kingdoms, and establishes His eternal kingdom, for the benefit of those who have accepted His invitation.

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Comparisons between Daniel 2 (the statue) and Daniel 7 (the beasts)

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Let us pray together:

Our Father,

What a priceless privilege You give us to probe the future through Your inspired Word, and we are grateful to You.

As we continue our study, please help us to identify the kingdom symbolized by the little horn, that our understanding of biblical prophecy may be deepened.

Above all, we humbly ask You to keep a place for us in Your eternal kingdom, by Your Son’s precious blood which cleanses us from all sin, transforming us day after day into Your image.

This is our prayer, in Jesus Christ.


The test of Lesson 17 is waiting for you!

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