Lord, show me Your hand at work.
Read Daniel 7:1–14
Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
7 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
9 “As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.
11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
a Daniel 7:13 The Aramaic phrase bar enash means human being. The phrase son of man is retained here because of its use in the New Testament as a title of Jesus, probably based largely on this verse.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you ever been behind the scenes at a theater? What did it feel like? How can you tell that God is behind the scenes of your life?
I love looking at the sea, but unless it’s perfectly calm I can’t stand being on it—I have to stare at the floor of the boat, because if I see the horizon moving up and down… well, you know.
In the Bible “the sea” often stands for chaos—which is certainly how Daniel describes it (2). It is the origin of the “beasts” (3), and it represents untamed evil—which is why in Revelation 21:1 there is “no longer any sea.”
Look over verses 4 to 8 before reading any further—what do you think is the meaning of the beasts?
We might try to identify the beasts as different empires—Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, etc.—maybe, but I think there’s a more important point. While the beasts are rampaging, behind the scenes the “Ancient of Days” is sitting on the real throne (“as I looked,” 7:9). And then “one like a son of man” arrives (13), and at last God’s everlasting and worldwide rule is made manifest (14).
This is history’s secret: it’s not random, uncontrolled chaos; God knows what’s going on, and though all the “beasts” of the earth don’t know it yet, their days are numbered… Alleluia!
How are the forces of chaos threatening you? Tell God about it, and ask him to lift the veil to show you his power in your life. Choose to trust his hand today.
I praise You, Magnificent One, that You hold all power in Your hands.