In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matter.
Daniel has spent some 50 years in Babylon and he is now almost 70 years old. In this introduction, he makes it plain that the dream he received was more than a mere dream, it was a vision. It is part of the great prophetic revelation of God’s program from Babylon to the end of earth’s sinful history when Christ will establish His righteous kingdom.
Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
The “great sea”
The Great Sea takes us to the Mediterranean, (Joshua 1:4, 23:4, Eze 47:20) the sea around which the civilizations spoken of in the Bible rose and fell. But the sea can also have the symbolic application of a “sea of humanity”.
Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off
The “four winds of the heaven”
This signifies the four points of the compass under the heavens. (Jere. 49:36 “ four winds from the four quarters of heaven)
These winds “strove” creating the picture of winds clashing into very stormy conditions.
Winds also mean “spirit or minds and breath” , and since they are the four winds of heaven, this gives the imagery of intellectual beings, who received their “breath” and their “intellect” from God, (compare with Eze. 37:9) yet failing to acknowledge God though given opportunity to do so, are striving for the dominion over nations, peoples and kingdoms. It is interesting that the striving winds produce great kings that seek to gather all nations under their dominion, but in the Grecian empire the wind seeking to solidify all the regions, is broken and sent back to the four winds of heaven! (Dan. 8:8; 11:4) Note also that in Rev. 7:1-3, the angel’s are holding back the four winds, not of heaven this time, but of earth. When they let go it is no longer “winds” but a “wind” singular, under one spiritual power that will cause devastation upon the earth. This devastation by this last attempt for dominion by a spiritual earthly power, will scatter God’s people to the four winds, but when Christ comes (Matt. 24:31) “he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds “.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
Four beasts of prey emerge! These beasts are feared in real life, and their symbolic meaning is also to register fear and to warn of aggressive behavior.
Daniel 7:17 tells us what they stand for:
The kings are defined as kingdoms in verse 23. From the wind-driven waves four major powers would arise and seize domination.
Arise from the earth
In verse 3 they rise out of the sea, while in the interpretation they arise out of the earth! (vs 17)
The sea being symbolic of the ceaseless motion of the nations and peoples, the interpretation is more literal as the kingdom is established on the earth.
This chapter focuses on “dominion”.
Dominion is often depicted in the Bible as being over the earth and the sea. God created the heavens, and the earth and the sea and is ruler over them. Man seeks to have dominion over the sea and over the earth, and in Daniel 8 the horn reaches up into heaven itself to seek dominion over things pertaining to heavenly things as well.
So we see these beasts of prey striving for dominion like an awful game of “king on the mountain”. Who is the king of the mountain?
|7.4 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 to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.|
The lion, symbolizing Babylon declares himself king of the mountain. But the lion lost it’s strength.Babylon was a golden city of advanced architecture, culture, and science. Neo-Babylonian Kingdom 612-539 B.C.
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. |
Media Persia now ascends the mountain to declare himself, the king of the mountain. It’s lopsided shoulders identifying it as composed of two powers --Persians, and Medes. The three ribs representing three major conquests. Persian Kingdom 539-332 B.C.
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. |
With speed, typified by the four wings, this Grecian leopard pushed other powers aside and sat upon the mountain, to enjoy his season of dominion. The four heads symbolized the four major divisions of the Greek empire after Alexander’s death. His kingdom was given to 4 of his generals that took 4 areas. Lycemicus (Greece), Cassander (Macedonia), Ptolomy (Egypt), Selucus (Syria).
Grecian Empire 332- 100 B.C.
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. |
Daniel asked about this fourth beast: “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; The heavenly messenger told him; “
|7.23 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.|
Rome followed Greece and was more cruel than any previous kingdom in brutal force. Iron teeth correspond to the iron legs of the image in Daniel chapter two. The three preceding powers were symbolized by three mighty beasts of prey with resemblance to real animals living upon the earth, but when the fourth beast appeared there was no natural animal with a character to represent its terrible nature; so it is rendered as “a terrible beast” with iron teeth, brass nails, and ten horns.
Concerning the former beasts the angel tells us that they had their dominion taken away but their lives were prolonged. Each kingdom left behind it’s principles of worship and government, transmitting them to next power. So it is that when the fourth beast arose those principles of government and religion were all amalgamated into this terrible beast with super strength.
...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.
7.24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise:
This beast has ten horns. We commonly hear that Rome fell in 476 A.D. and then look to see which ten tribes conquered Rome. But that is not being true to this prophecy. The ten horns are part of the Roman beast, not new powers that attack it. The pattern which prophetic beasts follow show horns as representing a division within, not a conquering of a nation. For example the four horns on the goat in Dan. 8, depict the four divisions of Greece after Alexanders death.
The stout horn we will later more fully identify as the Papacy, which received it's power from Rome. The other horns also must receive some sort of power and recognition which incorporates them into Rome, for them to qualify as a horn or kingdom on the Roman beast.
Many tribes roamed about Europe over the next several hundred centuries, some entered Roman territory at different times, some stayed outside of Roman territory. The critics who deny the "ten kingdom" division of Rome do so with a fixation on the individual roving tribes themselves in an attempt to make things confusing. To identify the ten horns we must follow guidelines.
2. Since the Bible says they are kings, they must have some sort of kingdom, they cannot be just a transient wandering band that destroys and then vanishes. They must be considered afoederate, that is a recognized state within the Roman Empire itself, with autonomy, yet with obligations to Rome.
3. To destroy a “horn“ does not necessarily mean to totally wipe out a tribe, it means that a KINGDOM is destroyed. 4. The kingdoms should be in existence all at the same time -- 476 when centralized western Rome “fell“.
According to Historical maps:
In 476 the kingdoms in the Western Roman Empire were as follows:
From East to west--
1. The Kingdom of the Ostergoths in the area of “former Yugoslavia”
2. The Kingdom of Odovacar Who was a powerful chieftain of the Heruli, the Sciri, and the Rugii He and his troops were mercenaries in the service of Rome. In the year 476 Odovacar with his Heruli troops took control of Italy.
3. The Kingdom of the Burgundians north/west of Italy
4. The Kingdom of the Franks who were still up in the Netherland region in 476.
5. The Kingdom of Syagrius in the Belgium, Northern France region. This kingdom was still a Roman kingdom, which would be overrun by the Franks in 486.
6. The Kingdom of the Visigoths extended over France and into Spain
7. The Kingdom of the Sueves was located in northern Portugal and Spain.
8. The Basque in in Northern Spain and Southern France had their roots deep, long before Rome’s decline.
9. The Kingdom of the Vandels in Northern Africa
10. The kingdom of the Anglo Saxons in England
11. The Alemanni on the west bank of the Rhine
So if one dismisses the Roman “kingdom” Syagrius which was still part of the old regime, and that was soon to fall into the hands of the Franks, we have ten kingdoms established in the western Roman Empire itself, on the date given as it’s “fall”, in 476 A.D.
What about the other kingdoms often cited:
Huns-- they were already defeated by 476
Heruli, Rugians and Sciri, were all part of Odovacar's kingdom.
Thuringians -- they weren't within Roman territory but north of it
Alani -- they had joined the Vandels and were part of that kingdom
Gepids -- they were in the eastern empire
Lombards -- they came about 100 years later, in 568
Bavarians-- they had not yet established themselves, they came 490-520.
THE LITTLE HORN has three horns uprooted in it’s rise to power.
Since the European tribes are in constant transition, conquering and moving, or being absorbed into a kingdom, we can again become confused. What guidelines do we follow in determining who these “horns” are which are uprooted. Some have suggested the “uprooting” of all “Arian” tribes, yes, that may play a part, but there were more than three Arian nations.
The logical guideline here, would be to focus on the THRONE in the city of Rome. To free this center of authority from too powerful a secular king, would leave the “seat of Rome” free for the “stouter” horn, the papacy, to take that seat of authority, making this the main reasons for the uprooting of three horns .
1. Odovacar as the first uprooted horn.
Thus it's very logical to see the first horn that must be uprooted is the king that took control of Italy in 476, Odovacar, that powerful chieftain of the Heruli, the Sciri, and the Rugii, who had conquered Italy, and obtained a written abduction from the boy emperor. Even though he sought the sanction of the eastern emperor, and acknowledged the emperor Zeno as above himself, and was given Roman recognition as the patrician of Rome, the plot was decreed to uproot him.
2. Another horn that was uprooted
The Ostrogoths were settled in Roman territory, to the east of Italy, as "feoderati"(allies) of the Roman Empire. The Byzantine Emperor, Zeno, commissioned the Ostrogoth king, Theodoric, to dethrone Odoacer. This Theodoric accomplished in 493 A.D. and now the Ostrogoths were in control of all of Italy, including Rome.
According to Gibbons, Theodoric, “assumed, under the hereditary title of king, the whole substance and plenitude of Imperial prerogative. …he celebrated in pompous style the harmony of the two republics, applauded his own government as the perfect similitude of a sole and undivided empire, and claimed above the kings of the earth the same pre-eminence which he modestly allowed to the person or rank of Anastasius.” (the eastern emperor) (Chapter. 39 par. 3)
So we see the Ostrogoths with considerable power, not only in Italy, but ranging out over the western empire, Gibbons says, “he maintained with a powerful hand the balance of the West” of course that horn too, must be uprooted before the papacy could have full control of the seat in Rome. And so it was uprooted, by the decree of Justinian, and under the direction of Belarius. The city of Rome was re-conquered in 538.
Belisarius and his army came to Rome in 537, the garrison of 4000 Goths, feeling they could not defend the city, simply took off and Belisarius marched right into the city. The pope Silverius and the senate begged Belisarius to treat Rome as an open city, but Belisarius turned it into a fortification.
Some have maintained that Rome was "taken" in 537 because Belisarius was “inside“, not 538, but in 537 the war for Rome was just beginning, as we shall see. Witigis with his Gothic army, t marched on Rome and besieged the city. The siege began in 537 and lasted over a year. Rome suffered greatly from hunger, and no authority over anything. It was during this time that Pope Silverius was accused of plotting with the Goths and deposed. Vigilius became pope “officially” in November 537. So this was hardly the year any papal authority was established.
It was in 538 that Witigis, the leader of the Goths finally withdrew his armies that were besieging Rome and marched northward to Ravenna, the Gothic capital. Thus it was in 538 that Rome was won-- not in 537.
Obviously, just as Rome was not built in one day, so Roman Papal authority was not built in one day, however, all historians know that there are dates that mark a turning point. 538 is such a date, for it marked the beginning of the papacy, being given the seat of authority in Rome.
In 538 Rome was freed of "barbarian rule". The emperor was over in Constantinople, thus leaving the "seat of Rome" free for the papacy. The Ostergoths power was completely broken in the rest of Italy by about 555. Yes, there were a few skirmishes over the city of Rome itself, yet between 538 and 555, but they were of short duration.
3. A third horn uprooted:
The third horn uprooted was the Vandals. A very strong power which had flourished for nearly a century to the South of Italy. That kingdom was destroyed in 534 also by Belsarius. If only the Ostrogoth horn had been removed and not the Vandals, those powerful Vandals would have rapidly taken over Italy. They had sacked Rome once before in 455.
It is interesting to see a historical map of 560 A.D. after the third "horn" the Ostergoths were entirely defeated.
Italy, from it’s northern boarder, to the islands in the South and across the sea to Carthage is all under the control of Rome once more. Yet no emperor resides there.
1. Lombards have set up their kingdom north/east of Italy.
2. Franks have greatly enlarged their kingdom, bringing the Alemani and Burgundians into their kingdom.
3. Visigoths kingdom takes up the greater portion of Spain.
4. Suevi kingdom in Portugal and north/west Spain.
5. Basques in northern Spain.
6. Anglo Saxons kingdom is in England.
7. Bavarian (a combination of Germanic, Celtic peoples) is just north of Italy.
Interestingly, though change has occurred, only seven kingdoms are mentioned!
In Daniel chapter two it describes the division as “ten” even to the end, and as we see the rising and falling of the various kingdoms throughout the history of the former western Roman Empire, we see that ten is a good “rounded” number to describe the divisions at any one time.