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[Darris McNeely] What if the comfortable lives we have were gone? What if your retirement became jeopardized? What if everything you have ever worked for was in danger of evaporating into thin air? And then, what if a savior arose, someone with the promise and the plan to restore order? What price could such a leader extract from people—from you even?
We’ve all heard about the Roman Empire—a great power that is still studied today by scholars and popular culture.
Bible prophecy shows we will see a final revival of this Roman system, a global superpower, in the days before Christ returns with His Kingdom. This empire will have an answer to the world’s economic woes and create peace on a global scale. The Roman Empire, past and present, is something you should understand.
Join us on Beyond Today as we continue our series, “Kingdoms At War: The Mystery of the Fourth Beast.”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely on Beyond Today !
[Darris] Have you ever had a vivid dream, a nightmare that woke you up with fear and a troubled mind? Probably. Most of us have had such dreams that wake us up and that feel too real. You have to remind yourself that it was only a dream.
The prophet Daniel had such a dream.
One night Daniel was having trouble sleeping. The visions and dreams in his head were in living color. Dramatic images of a dark raging sea flowed through his mind creating startling images that left him disturbed and troubled. When he woke, he began to write what he saw and it cast a shadow across his mind that must have stayed with him several days.
Daniel chapter 7 was a record of that dream. Here is a dream or a vision of four great beasts that rose from a large body of water stirred by the winds from the four corners of the earth. Each of the beasts was different. Each was powerful, fearsome and dominating. And one of these beasts was more terrible than the rest. Let’s first look at what Daniel saw, then we will give the interpretation of his vision.
The first beast to arise from the sea is described like this. “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:4).
Notice the characteristics. Its wings were plucked off. It stood on two feet like a man. And a man’s heart was given to it. These beasts work within the human realm combining both animal and human-like qualities. This first beast, like a lion, has a unique combination of qualities.
Now, let’s look at the second beast.
The second appeared suddenly. It was like a large bear. It says that “It was raised on up on one side, and three ribs in its mouth between its teeth”. A voice said to it: “Arise, devour much flesh” (Daniel 7:5). Here is a beast less majestic than the lion—still ferocious and powerful.
And then came a third beast.
“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it” (Daniel 7:6). Now this beast represents speed. A leopard is one of the swiftest of animals and with four wings, its speed and its movement was multiplied.
It goes on, and Daniel saw then a fourth and a final beast.
It says, “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts there were before it, and it had ten horns” (Daniel 7:7). This beast then is described unlike the other three. It is a great beast unlike anything in nature with ten horns projecting out of it.
As Daniel’s attention focused on the ten horns, he saw another horn, “a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn,” in this little horn, “were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words” (Daniel 7:8).
Let’s pause here in the dream. There is more to come, but let’s understand what Daniel saw before we move on. Students of the Bible have long understood this chapter of Daniel to be unique in all prophecy. Daniel is given a detailed and comprehensive view of prophecy and world history from his time in the sixth century BC to the end of this age and the coming of Jesus Christ to establish the everlasting Kingdom of God on the earth. It’s a futuristic vision with great detail about world history leading down to our present day.
In light of the present world events occurring in the Middle East and in Europe, this chapter is vital for you to understand. Now why would that be? What does an ancient story like this have to do with today’s world?
This is why: Properly understanding what Daniel saw in this dream is a key to discerning the headlines of today.
We read where Great Britain has pulled out of the European Union.
We read continually about the Middle East in constant turmoil from radical Islamic terrorism attacking targets around the world, including Muslims.
And we read about shifting cultural and moral standards.
With a proper understanding of Daniel 7, you can know the future end of all these current events. And, you can know that God is guiding history to a conclusion according to His eternal plan of salvation.
Now, let’s look at these four beasts and let’s give the interpretation.
Bible scholars have long studied these four beasts. The weight of scholarship and history show these beasts to represent the four great empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Let’s briefly look at this.
Daniel is presented as living in the sixth century BC as a Jewish captive in Babylon. He likely dreamed this vision in the year 553 BC, 13 years before Babylon fell to the Persians. He sees these four beasts coming up out of what is called the Great Sea, a symbol, most likely, of all the nations of the world. The wind moving on the water represents the power of God moving among these nations to fulfill His will.
The first beast is recognized as the Babylonian Empire, the same nation that took Daniel’s nation, Judah, captive. This beast corresponds to the head of gold in the earlier dream of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter two of Daniel. The lion is a symbol of kingly power. The heart it is given follows from the humbling that Nebuchadnezzar received from God.
The second beast, the bear, is understood to be the Medo-Persian Empire. Under its first leader, Cyrus the Great, it defeated Babylon and spread itself over a large portion of the region. The bear is a lesser animal than a lion but still very powerful. In this image, it has three ribs in its mouth, thought to be the nations of Lydia, Babylon and Egypt—three key powers that Persia subdued on its way to empire. The Persian Empire twice tried to conquer Greece but failed. During its reign we also have the biblical stories of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. And it’s during that time that the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt their nation in anticipation of future prophetic events.
The third beast, the leopard, is the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. Alexander moved rapidly out of Greece and defeated the Persian Empire beginning in 323 BC. Alexander’s military campaign through Egypt, across the Mesopotamian region and as far east as India is unparalled in the ancient world. His advance was swift, like a leopard. And the image of a “flying leopard” from this vision accurately describes Greece’s rise to world dominion. The four heads? Well they are four generals who divided Alexander’s empire after his untimely death in 332 BC. Two of these generals, named Seleucus and Ptolemy founded dynasties that figure prominently in another prophecy of the book of Daniel.
Alexander the Great had a key goal in his conquests. He wished to unify the conquered nations with Greek culture, Greek language, religion and art. The swift advance and the enduring legacy of this third beast marks a significant step in bringing together the nations and the peoples under one unifying system of culture and government. One world system is a consistent feature of human governments from the time of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 10. When mankind has sought to unite under government systems different from that of God’s, it always comes to a premature end. God will not let one human government completely dominate the world. Alexander’s death brought an abrupt end to this goal in his time. But there was to arise another power destined to take this goal further than anyone else, and is still a power to consider in today’s world. It is the fourth beast of Daniel’s dream.
This fourth beast, a “terrifying, dreadful and exceedingly strong” beast is identified as Rome. When Daniel had his dream, Rome was nothing more than a small village along the banks of Italy’s Tiber River. To imagine that it would become an empire would be quite a stretch. That God foretold this event in this dream of Daniel in the sixth century is a proof of Bible prophecy and God’s ability to guide the nations according to His purpose and will. Critics of the Bible stumble on this point and in doing so, they deny the Bible and they deny God—whose claims make up its writings. The identity of Rome as the fourth beast of Daniel’s dream is considered one of the key proofs of the Bible as the Word of God—and even the existence of God.
The advance of Rome across the Mediterranean world is perhaps the great story of the ancient world. From Italy to North Africa, to Greece to Asia Minor, Rome relentlessly moved, literally devouring state after state, enslaving peoples and creating a commercial and military order among the diversity of peoples and nations. By the year 63 BC, the Roman General Pompey brought Jerusalem under his control and destroyed the last remnant of the Greek Empire. Within the next century Rome extended control into what is today, Britain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and part of modern Germany. The Roman Empire extended from the British Isles to the deserts of Arabia. Its western segment ended in the year 476 AD but in the east, from the city of Constantinople, it endured another 1000 years before falling to the Ottoman Turks.
Rome was the greatest of all empires and it is not finished. The ten horns of this beast represent ten periods of revival of this Roman system through history into our modern time. Daniel saw a strange mixture of ten horns, ten distinct outgrowths of this beast, to be influenced by “another horn, what is called “a little one” that came up among the ten. This little horn wields a mystical power by speaking pompous words and having a great appearance among the other horns.
Daniel’s vision shows a mixture of power, what appears as a military-governmental power and a different one that uses words and other means to wield extraordinary influence and power among the nations and peoples over a great length of time. Daniel marvels at this fourth beast. He is considering it when another scene transitions into view. This scene contrasts with all previous images.
Let’s read what Daniel saw.
“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10).
Here is a scene of the throne of God in heaven. God the Father, the Ancient of Days is seated in ruling majesty and multitudes of spirit beings are before Him. The court is in session and open books are before them.
The obvious meaning here is that God is in control of this world and the universe. This scene fits other descriptions in the Bible about the throne of God. The prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel and the book of Revelation contain scenes of God’s throne that fit parts of this same description we see here.
Daniel’s vision sees these beasts slain—their bodies burned and their dominion or their power, is removed. Yet something of their influence, of their lives, remains for a season and a time. These human kingdoms are removed—they decline—and eventually fall. But something about them lives on.
History and the Bible show the religious, political and cultural influence of these kingdoms, from Babylon to Rome endure through history to our modern world. What began at Babylon, a fusion of idolatrous religion, economic brilliance and political drive evolved through the ages. It did not die. It merely overcame rival powers and transmitted its head of gold qualities into the modern world. Through Persia, Greece and Rome, Babylon—the great machine of willful power defying the glory of God has passed into today’s world and awaits one final appearance—what Revelation calls, Mystery Babylon the Great.
This end-time system will appear in a seductive guise of global economic power and a healing, satisfying spiritual system. This new form of union promises to end the strife of nations, religions and governments that will threaten the global order. We have yet to see its appearance but we are seeing the embryonic beginnings stirring among today’s nations.
Will you be taken in by this deceptive power? Don’t be too sure that you know all there is to know about this coming superpower. There is a key from Daniel that can help us all avoid this coming deception.
Daniel’s vision of God’s throne continues.
It says, “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the heavens! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
At this point Daniel is deeply distressed. He is troubled by what he has seen. Still in vision, he approached a spirit being who stood near and he asked him to explain all he had seen. The interpretation was given as four kingdoms that would arise from the earth. But Daniel is assured there would be a fifth kingdom, the Kingdom of God, and it says that the “saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever…” (Daniel 7:18).
What Daniel says next is a key to this whole vision. Daniel focused on the fourth beast, Rome. This fourth beast stood out from the others as unique and utterly fascinating. It says, “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceeding dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet” (Daniel 7:19).
I said earlier that the Roman Empire has influenced the modern world in many different ways. Many aspects of Roman law survive today in both Europe and America. Roman culture can be found in many parts of our everyday life. And even the Roman religion has passed into modern Christianity in more forms and ways than most people understand. Rome is studied, imitated, and held up in many different ways today. Jesus Christ Himself was born at the height of the Roman Empire. The Church He founded grew within the Roman world. When you read the writings of the New Testament, it greatly helps to have an understanding of the first century Roman world.
And, of importance to Bible prophecy, knowing what Rome was and is—is vital. We will see another rise of this Roman system before the end of the age in which we are living.
Before Jesus Christ returns, the world will be caught in a spiritual deception unlike any ever seen. The little horn that Daniel sees is a religious system that will join with a great political power to bring order and stability to a world that appears on the brink of total chaos. The world will look to this system as something good. A spiritual power that finally taps into a “truth”—an ancient wisdom—that brings peace to whole regions. Religious strife, we will see, will for a moment be ended.
Think about religion today. Religion is not held in high regard. We have Radical Islam that threatens Europe, America and Asia. We see the Middle East being ripped apart by religious strife. Militant atheism has influenced much of the modern popular culture, far beyond the numbers of people who actually are atheist. Secular humanism, a philosophy that exalts the human to near god-like status, denying a need for God and biblical moral teaching has embedded itself in education and culture. Religion by many who hold the political and cultural power today is seen as a problem, a relic of a pre-modern time when man had few alternatives to explain this world and life upon it. Religion today is seen as a cancer to be cut out, to be replaced with a modern super state that can provide a quality of life, peace, food, and every basic human need, apart from God!
Governments today are building a modern form of the ancient Tower of Babel, a state where all people coexist in peace. Where all people work toward the common good through laws and systems that impact every part of life. The best example of this is in Europe. The European Union has been growing toward such a state. It has its problems. And it will continually evolve and in time, it will overcome every challenge to emerge as the core of a world system that will promise order and stability—the end of conflict. It will promise what people will want the most: peace, unity, and an end to suffering and war. Scripture shows this global behemoth will demand compliance with its laws. And those who do not submit their sovereignty, their national identity, will suffer devastating consequences.
How will this happen in a modern secular world? Daniel’s vision shows that religion will make a comeback. Religion will be the glue to hold together this political power that will rise.
And at the center of this system will be a spiritual leader who taps into a power that produces miracles and signs and wonders. He calls down fire from heaven. He works signs that deceive. The little horn of Daniel’s vision symbolizes that spiritual leader. Nations who are tired of the empty promises of today’s world faiths will welcome and openly embrace this new religion. Jesus Christ warned of this coming spiritual deception and He said that it could possibly even deceive the “elect,” the Church of God, those who are the spiritual members of the body of Christ.
Make no mistake with your faith and your eternal destiny. Look for a new form of religion that has its roots in the world and culture of these four beasts that we have been seeing. Pagan forms of religion were set within grand open arenas of spectacle, and wonder. They were meant to persuade the masses that the priests, the religious leaders, were in touch with the divine. They spoke for the god or the goddesses being worshipped. Fire, light and drama were skillfully used to stage a scene that lifted people beyond their lives into something bigger. Meaning and purpose were extracted from these magnificent scenes.
Today people are looking for meaning and purpose. Right now while there is wealth and there is a measure of the good life there is no need to seek God or His truth. But what if there was a threat—a threat that the comfortable lives we have might be removed? What if your retirement is jeopardized? Everything you have ever worked for is in danger of evaporating into thin air? And then, what if a savior arises, someone with the promise and the plan to restore order? What price could such a leader extract from people? Add in the spiritual dimension—a clever, cunning spiritual leader with a system that promises every good and perfect gift that people have ever sought: Peace of mind, meaning. Unity of nations and an end to conflict. When a leader emerges with a system that connects people to the divine source of security and peace of mind then you will see a system that deceives the world and moves nations to do things they never thought possible.
Daniel 7 is a remarkable chapter of Bible prophecy. Four great kingdoms arise and set the course for world history till the time of Christ’s second coming and the end of the age. These kingdoms do the work of Satan the devil and they oppose the plan and the people of God through history.
In the end, God destroys these kingdoms at their final manifestation. God’s Kingdom is set on the earth. The saints, the people of God who have resisted the pulls of these earthly kingdoms and prevail through righteousness to inherit a role for eternity in this Kingdom.
Here is what you need to consider. This is more than just a story of dry ancient history or Bible prophecy for someone to try and figure out with timelines and charts. This is the story of God working in this world to end human rule and to bring to mankind the Kingdom of God. And you can have a part in this.
What are you going to do? You have watched this series of Kingdoms at War. You have been watching Beyond Today and you have learned truths about the Bible you never knew were there. But you have to act on it. You have to do something with the knowledge that you have been hearing. God requires that you repent. The word repent means that you change your life. You begin to live by God’s truths and you let the Holy Spirit of God work a change in your life.
Now we’ve put a lot on you with this program today out of Daniel 7. To help you understand much more about what I have covered, we would like to send you a copy of our free Bible prophecy study aid called: The Final Superpower . This 30-page booklet will help you understand past prophecy and what the Bible says is ahead in our future. To order your free copy, simply call us at 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
When you order your copy of The Final Superpower we’ll also send you a free subscription to our bi-monthly Beyond Today magazine. In each issue of this magazine, you’re going to read important articles that will help you better understand the precious teachings of the Bible. Beyond Today magazine will also help you use Scripture as a practical guide to daily life and as a means of understanding the challenging times in which we live. So please don’t wait! Call us at toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or, go online to BeyondToday.tv to order your free copy.
[Steve] Hi, I’m Steve Myers. We would love to have you come and visit and worship with us. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other. We’ve found, God’s way is the best way to live. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon. Come and join us!
[Darris] Our world is changing. Europe is moving through massive change. The Middle East is in turmoil. Radical Islam is bringing fear to many nations and peoples. The migration of displaced peoples is altering borders and relations among nations. God is moving the world to the conclusion of man’s age and the dawn of His Kingdom on this earth. And you have a chance to be a part of that Kingdom. Take this message seriously.
That’s our program today. For Beyond Today I’m Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
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