Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.II. THE GREAT PROPHECIES OF DANIEL
CHAPTER 7 The night visions of Daniel
1. The night vision of the three beasts (Daniel 7:1-6)
2. The night vision of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:7-8)
3. The judgment vision (Daniel 7:9-12)
4. The son of man and His kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14)
5. The interpretation of the visions given (Daniel 7:15-28)
Daniel 7:1-6. The sea in the vision is the type of nations Revelation 17:15. The three first beasts he saw represented the same great monarchies which were shown to Nebuchadnezzar in his dream by the gold, silver and brass. The lion Daniel saw first rising out of the sea stands for the Babylonian empire symbolized by the lion Jeremiah 4:7. The plucking of the wings and the man’s heart must refer to Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity and restoration (chapter 4). The bear is the emblem of the Medo-Persian monarchy (corresponding to the chest of silver in the image). One side of the bear was raised up, higher than the other, because the Persian element was the strongest. The three ribs denote the conquest of three provinces by this power. The leopard with four heads and wings is the picture of the great Alexandrine empire, the Graeco-Macedonian (corresponding to the belly and thighs of brass in the image).
The four wings denote its swiftness, the four heads the partition of this empire into the kingdoms of Syria, Egypt, Macedonia and Asia Minor. It is seen in the next chapter as the rough he-goat with a notable horn (Alexander the Great) and the little horn (Antiochus Epiphanes). The fourth beast was not seen in the first vision. Before we turn to the second night vision of the prophet we call attention to the fact that in the selection of beasts to represent these world powers who domineer the times of the Gentiles, God tells us that their moral character is beastly. The lion devours, the bear crushes, the leopard springs upon its prey.
Daniel 7:7-8. This represents Rome, corresponding to the two legs of iron and the ten horns with the little horn between has the same meaning as the ten toes on the feet of the image. The little horn we find more fully mentioned in another portion of this chapter. Thus the prophet beheld the same monarchies revealed in the second chapter under the emblem of ferocious beasts. Such the nations are and in their standards and national emblems they have borne witness to their beastly characters. Notice also here the same process of deterioration as in the image. The monarchies degenerate from lion to bear, from bear to leopard and then into a great nondescript.
Daniel 7:9-12. This vision brings us to the close of the times of the Gentiles. When the fourth beast with the ten horns and the little horn, the last thing spoken of this world empire, is in full swing, then the end comes. It is a great judgment scene which is here before us. How different the end of this age as revealed in the Word and as it is believed in Christendom. The great mass knows nothing whatever about this age coming to an end. It will go on indefinitely, so they believe, and its future is world progress, better times and the triumph of the Christian civilization. But others concede that a judgment must come and they think of the judgment here as the universal judgment, the great white throne judgment. This judgment is not the last judgment at all. It is a judgment which precedes the final judgment by 1,000 years. This judgment here must be read in connection with passages like Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 19:19-21. In reading the last passage no one can doubt that we have the same judgment here revealed to Daniel. But who is the one who occupies the central place in this vision of judgment? There can be but one answer. It is our ever blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. John 5:22 gives the conclusive answer: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” The Ancient of Days is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is still more demonstrated if we turn to John’s great Patmos vision.
Daniel 7:13-14. These words are so plain that every Christian knows what they mean. They describe the second coming of Christ and the kingdom He then receives from the Father’s hands. If this passage were more considered, Christians would stop speaking about the kingdom now. No kingdom till Christ comes again. Both the judgment vision and the vision of His coming to receive the kingdom correspond to the stone which smites the image and as a mountain fills the whole earth.
Who are the Saints of the Most High? The fact that the term “Most High” is in the plural and may also be translated with “the most high or heavenly places” has led some expositors to say that the saints are the same who are seen in the Epistle to the Ephesians in which “the heavenly places” are repeatedly mentioned: in other words, the saints which compose the Church. It is true the Church will be with the Lord in Glory and “we shall reign over the earth,” but this does not necessarily mean that the saints here represent the Church. There are other saints besides “Church saints.” The saints of whom Daniel was thinking were his own beloved people. To that people is promised a kingdom in the days of the Messiah. With Him, the Lord in glory, there is a heavenly people, so as Messiah and the Son of Man in connection with the earth He has an earthly people, saints which will receive and possess with Him that kingdom which will fill the whole earth. These saints are the Godfearing Jews, who pass through the great tribulation and inherit the blessings and promises which God gave through their own prophets.
Another important matter is the little horn of whom now Daniel hears more fully. The ten horns are kings and the little horn in their midst will be the final imperial head of the revived Roman empire, that world domineering person of whom we read repeatedly in the Word of God. He must be distinguished from another one, the personal anti-Christ, the man of sin and son of perdition. In Revelation the revived Roman Empire is seen in Revelation 13:1-10, and the second beast which John saw rising from the sea is the false Christ having two horns like a lamb but speaking like a dragon Revelation 13:11, etc.) A closer study of these coming leaders of the end time is needed to understand the details; here we but point the way. Our larger work on Daniel will give help on all these chapters.