Lord, You determine who reigns and rules down here.
Read DANIEL 7:15–28
The Interpretation of the Dream
15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.
“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’
19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.[a]
26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’
28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”
a Daniel 7:25 Or for a year, two years and half a year
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.
Give thanks to God for elements of the Christian faith of which you are certain, and be open with him about any uncertainties and questions you have.
Questions which may occur as you read this passage include “Which kingdoms are represented by the ‘four great beasts’ (17)?” and “Who is ‘the horn’ that ‘speaks boastfully’ (20)?” As with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2, some commentators, such as Dale Ralph Davis (The Message of Daniel, 95) and the NIV Study Bible, identify the four kingdoms as the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome whereas others, including John E. Goldingay (Daniel, 175,176) and Ernest Lucas (Decoding Daniel, 9) see them as Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece. Those seeing the fourth kingdom as Greece usually identify the horn as Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greek madman who invaded Israel and in 167 B.C. instituted pagan worship in the Jerusalem temple. Those who identify Rome as the fourth kingdom tend to see the horn as a symbol of an arrogant Roman emperor persecuting the people of God. Some commentators from both schools of thought (e.g., Dale Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, 95; John E. Goldingay, Daniel, 188; Ernest Lucas, Decoding Daniel, 10) agree that the symbol of the horn may be further applied to later persecutors of the church, culminating in the New Testament’s “man of lawlessness” or “the antichrist” (2 Thess. 2:1–12; 1 John 2:18).
The danger of these debates is that we see Daniel as a book of puzzles to be solved, rather than a profitable (though troubling) message to us. (Daniel was “troubled”; 15,28.) We should see the “fourth beast” as any regime which sets itself against faith in the true God. In spite of what we see or experience of the regime’s power, this passage urges us to believe that God will overthrow all such tyranny, and ultimately we will be part of his kingdom of justice and peace (18,27). Similarly, we perceive the “horn” to be any human leader who tries to usurp the position which God alone should occupy in human devotion. Verses 25 and 26 tell us that persecution suffered under such a despot will be of limited duration and that God’s own rule will permanently replace all such reigns of terror.
Consider contemporary “beastly” regimes and tyrannical “horns.” Pray in the light of this passage, however troubling you may find this.
Lord, Your people long for the day when You personally intervene and put an end to all corrupt human governments.