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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 17

The Four Mythical Beasts

Picture 1 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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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.

Amen.
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Picture 2 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Hebrews 5:13,14 Comments
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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Picture 3 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 2:1 Comments
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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Picture 4 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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The statue King Nebuchadnezzar had seen
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Picture 5 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 2:36 Comments
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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Picture 6 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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The interpretation of the king’s dream
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Picture 7 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 2:45 Comments
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. 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.
Acts 4:10,11
Jesus Christ (...) is the stone.
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Picture 8 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:1 Comments
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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Picture 9 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:2,3 Comments
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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Picture 10 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Isaiah 17:12,13 Comments
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.
The Bible gives its own keys to prophecy: waters represent peoples, nations.

Thus the beasts coming up from the sea come from inhabited places.
Revelation 17:15
And [the angel] said to me,

«The waters which you saw (...) are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.»
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Picture 11 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:17,23 Comments
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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Picture 12 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:4 Comments
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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Picture 13 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Jeremiah 50:43,44 Comments
The king of Babylon (...) shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan to the habitation of the strong. Gold, king of metals, designates the kingdom of Babylon.

Likewise, the lion, king of beasts, with eagle’s wings, designates this same kingdom.
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.»
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Picture 14 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:4 Comments
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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Picture 15 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 4:16,28,34 Comments
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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Picture 16 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:5 Comments
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!»
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?
Daniel 5:28
Your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
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Picture 17 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 8:3,20 Comments
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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Picture 18 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:5 Comments
[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!»
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.
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.
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Picture 19 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:6 Comments
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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Picture 20 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:7 Comments
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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Picture 21 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:7,23,24 Comments
[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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Picture 22 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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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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Picture 23 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:8 Comments
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 Comments
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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Picture 25 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:8,19,20,25 Comments
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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Picture 26 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:21,25 Comments
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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Picture 27 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Daniel 7:25 (NKJV) Comments
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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Picture 28 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Revelation 12:6,14 Comments
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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Picture 29 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Numbers 14:34 Comments
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. 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.
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.
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Picture 30 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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The identifying marks of the little horn
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Picture 31 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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John 16:12 Comments
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 Comments
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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Picture 33 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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Comparisons between Daniel 2 (the statue) and Daniel 7 (the beasts)
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Picture 34 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 17
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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.

Amen.
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Lesson 17 - Test The test of Lesson 17 is waiting for you!

Source of the Pictures of this Lesson
Header Picture: Picture from the Web site: http://www.pathlights.com/Bible%20School/FB9.htm Screen 1: «Parrot fish eating coral.» In: «Deluxe Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia CD - 1998 Edition», Compton's Home Library, 1997. Screen 2: In: «The Watchtower» magazine (June 15, 1985), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.9. Screen 3: STEEL, John. In: «God Cares, volume 1» (MAXWELL, C.Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1981, p.30. Screen 4: RUDEEN, Herbert. In: «The Bible Story, volume 6» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.28. Used by permission. Copyright ©1955, 1983 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Table of Screen 4: HARLAN, Russell. In: «The Bible Story, volume 6» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.16. Used by permission. Copyright ©1955, 1983 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 5: MANISCALCO, Joe. In: «Images from the Bible and Sacred History CD», Chosen Works, MLI Software, JM079.BMP. Screen 6: RUDEEN, Herbert. In: «Uncle Arthur's Bible Book» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.273. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Used by permission. Copyright ©1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1968, 1996 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Table of Screen 6: Unknown source. Screen 7: BISHOP, Tom. «Stone strikes feet of image». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #7. Screen 8: In: «The Watchtower» magazine  (October 1, 1986), New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.1. Screen 9: In: «The Bible Story, volume 6» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.61. Used by permission. Copyright ©1955, 1983 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 10: Photo in: «Master Clips 500,000» by IMSI, CD #16, SSGP5445.JPG. Screen 11: BISHOP, Tom. «Lion and bear of Daniel 7» and «Leopard and fourth beast of Daniel 7». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, charts #20 and #21. Composite picture by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 12: BISHOP, Tom. «Lion and bear of Daniel 7». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #20. Screen 13: In: «The Bible for Children - Retold by Bridget Hadaway & Jean Atcheson», London, Octopus Books Limited, 1973, p.170,171. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 14: BISHOP, Tom. «Lion and bear of Daniel 7». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #20. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 15: In: «The Watchtower» magazine (December 1, 1988), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.10. Screen 16: BISHOP, Tom. «Lion and bear of Daniel 7». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #20. Screen 17: BISHOP, Tom. «Ram and he-goat of Daniel 8». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #33. Screen 18: Unknown source. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 19: BISHOP, Tom. «Leopard and fourth beast of Daniel 7». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #21. Screen 20: BISHOP, Tom. «Leopard and fourth beast of Daniel 7». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #21. Screen 21: BISHOP, Tom. «Leopard and fourth beast of Daniel 7 (detail)». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #21. Screen 22: BISHOP, Tom. «Map of European kingdoms». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #6. Screen 23: Unknown source. Screen 24: CONVERSE, James. In: «God Cares, volume 1» (MAXWELL, C.Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1981, p.108. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Screen 25: BISHOP, Tom. «Identification of the little horn». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #22. Screen 26: Unknown source. Screen 27: «Hourglass and Shadow». Photo from the Web site: www.corbis.com. Image ID: CB007962. Screen 28: BLAKE, William. «The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun» (detail), c.1805, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. In: «Revelation - Art of the Apocalypse» (GRUBB, Nancy), Abeville Press Publishers, 1997, p.71. Screen 29: Photo in: «Master Clips 500,000» by IMSI, CD #17, C0000567.JPG. Screen 30: Picture Collection «Corel Gallery Magic» by Corel, 1997, CD #2, CC39.CMX. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Table of Screen 30: BISHOP, Tom. «Identification of the little horn». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #22. Screen 31: RUDEEN, Herbert. In: «The Bible Story, volume 7» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.26. Used by permission. Copyright ©1956, 1984 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 32: BISHOP, Tom. «The New Earth». In: «New Pictoral Aid For Bible Study» (BREADEN, Frank), Australian Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1970, chart #12. Screen 33: STEEL, John. In: «God Cares, volume 1» (MAXWELL, C.Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1981, p.106. Picture edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Table of Screen 33: In: HALFORD, John A., «Introduction à la Prophétie», Worldwide Church of God, 1990, p.10. Screen 34: «A lake reflects Mount McKinley in the Alaska Range.» In: «Deluxe Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia CD - 1998 Edition», Compton's Home Library, 1997.
Any copyrighted images not bearing a statement of permission, are used for the purpose of non-commercial scholarly commentary or criticism in accordance with section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law, and with article 29 of Canada Copyright Act (Chapter C-42), which by law can be without the consent or endorsement of the copyright holder. Images lacking attribution are either known or assumed to be in the public domain, or have an as yet undetermined status. Anyone having knowledge of proper attribution for an image is requested to contact us via email below so that it can be correctly noted. It is our intent to comply fully with applicable laws regarding intellectual property rights.

Lesson 17 - Test The test of Lesson 17 is waiting for you!