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.
The principles which underlie this prophecy are at once profoundly suggestive and exceedingly important.
I. Foremost among them we find the terribly significant truth that earthly power in and of itself degenerates into brutality. The appropriate symbol of a great empire is a wild beast.
II. Observe that the tendency of this brutality is to increase. The four beasts that Daniel saw came in this order; first the lion, then the bear, then the panther, then that composite, unnamed, almost unnamable animal, with "great iron teeth, devouring and breaking in pieces, and stamping the residue with the feet of it."
III. The great lesson suggested by the prophecy is that the restoration of man to humanity, must come, not from himself, but from above. He who introduced the healing salt which was to purify thoroughly the little fountain of our earthly life was sent forth from the "Ancient of Days." He came from heaven to earth, that he might elevate earth at length to heaven.
W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 137.
I. From this passage we learn, first, that we must not expect to escape accusation in the world. No matter how carefully we order our lives, slander will have something to say against us.
II. We learn, that when we must either sin or suffer, we ought, without hesitation to prefer the suffering.
III. We learn, that no human power can keep us from prayer.
W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 116.
Reference: Daniel 7:9.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 249.
Daniel 7:10I. The mere thought that there are in existence innumerable glorious immortal spirits; that their God is our God; that, let our condition in this world be ever so poor and degraded, yet these blessed angels disdain not to acknowledge themselves our fellow-servants; that they care for us and, as the Apostle says, minister for us as Christians and heirs of salvation; the mere thought of these plain Scriptural truths, may well arouse us from the lowborn cares and follies of this world, may make us "look up, and lift up our heads," lead us to consider what we are and what we are coming to. The glare of this world obscures our view of things spiritual. It is not without difficulty and considerable exertion that the mind can realise to itself things heavenly and unseen. It is only by spiritual aid, by light from above, that we can overcome this difficulty, and learn to live and walk (as the Apostle so energetically expresses it) "by faith, not by sight."
II. To be in the presence and favour of Almighty God, this and this only can constitute the happiness of all reasonable creatures, of angels in heaven or of men in earth. If we think to be admitted to that blessed society hereafter, it is necessary that here, in this evil world, our happiness should be like theirs in the contemplation of God's perfections, especially of His love, and in holding communion with Him—that high privilege to which we are entitled through the mediation of His Son, and the sanctification of His Spirit.
III. We are born into this world to live to eternity; but, as Christians, we have been newborn into Christ's Church, to an eternity of happiness and glory; we are entitled to call God our Father, and the Angels our brethren. It should be our great object and prayer to be made fit for the society of angels. It is of great consequence for all persons who really believe in the truth of Christ's Gospel, to withdraw their thoughts frequently from these temporary trifles, to raise them to high and heavenly realities; especially to the thought of that innumerable society of good angels, who, day and night, sing on high their Alleluias before the throne, and never rest. The more we cherish these happy thoughts, the more we shall, by the aid of God's blessed Spirit, become like those exalted inhabitants of heaven.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. i., p. 152.
Daniel 7:10There are three books, and three alone, which are to last for ever. One is with us on earth, and two are kept in heaven. There is the Bible here, and up above there is the book in which our sins are written, and there is the "Lamb's Book of Life." These are the books which shall be opened at the last day.
I. From a thousand passages in the Bible will God out of His open book set before us His law. His commands, His threatenings, His promises, will all stand forth to view, the same that you heard and read thousands of times from your very cradle. And here will lie the point: "You knew all this, My revealed law—have you kept it or have you broken it?"
II. In the second book, as in a faithful mirror, you will see the clear reflection of your whole life—not a line will be wanting. On one side there stands the long catalogue of all God's gifts and mercies to you, His providences, His calls, His warnings, His love. On the other side, as if darker by the contrast, is inscribed your life. Every wasted moment is there, and every thought—the secret things of the soul's deep places, are laid out as clear as the public acts; there is no difference between the chamber and the world. It will be an awful moment, when, in the presence of men and angels, the dark catalogue of all our sins shall be proclaimed.
III. In the Lamb's Book of Life stands the name of every heir of heaven. That book is always in the Redeemer's hand, and each moment He stands waiting with His everlasting pen, to record a name.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 6th series, p. 214.
References: Daniel 7:10.—J. Keble, Sermons from Advent to Christmas Eve, p. 25; S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 170.
Daniel 7:13-14Christ the centre of Biblical thought.
I. Observe some of the details of Biblical truth in which the centring of revelation in Christ is seen. (1) The first token of it is the Old Testament doctrine of the Messiah. (2) The second is the New Testament doctrine of His sufferings and death. (3) The concentration of Biblical thought in the Person of Christ is intensified further by the Biblical doctrine of the Deity of Christ. (4) It is seen in the Biblical doctrine of Christ's mediatorial reign. (5) It is indicated by the Biblical doctrine of the eternal union of our Lord with the redeemed in heaven.
II. Observe some of the practical bearings of this preeminence of Christ's Person and work upon Christian faith and character. (1) It has an obvious bearing upon the proportion and perspective of truth in a Christian's belief. Let this one truth become regnant in the soul and all other truths fall into rank around it, and turn inwards towards it, as metallic particles do when a magnet approaches them. (2) This centring of truth in the Person of Christ should furthermore impart to Christian experience a profound sense of the reality of God as a personal Friend. (3) Another effect of the preeminence of Christ in Christian faith should be to render the friends of Christ objects of personal and profound affection. (4) The chief object of a regenerated life should be the object for which Christ lived and died. (5) The ascendency of Christ in Christian faith gives character to a Christian's anticipations of heaven.
A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book, p. 314.
References: Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 286. 7—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 124. Daniel 8:1-27.—W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 161. Daniel 8:19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 886. 8—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 140. Daniel 9:1-19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii., No. 154. Daniel 9:1-27.—W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 184. Daniel 9:3-22.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 134. Daniel 9:8.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 166. Daniel 9:23.—Ibid., Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 734. Daniel 9:24.—Ibid., vol. xxviii., No. 1681; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 364. Daniel 9:26.—Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 16. 9—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 152.
Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
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 upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
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 unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
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 brake 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.
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: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
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.
Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon 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: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
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, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.