By John J. Blanchard
January 18, 2003
Welcome to the Beautiful Thoughts of God and today’s subject, “Babylon Through the Ages”.
We have studied that the world has been held hostage by Satan and that his system is called Babylon, this system that has held mankind captive for nearly six thousand years. We also found that Babylon means confusion and tyranny. We found that Babylon is mentioned three hundred times in the Bible because it has had so much contact over the years with Jerusalem and Israel.
We found that these two systems, Babylon and Jerusalem, are diametrically opposed to one another. They are opposites. They are opposites in every way. They are both capital cities and that is about all they have in common. Babylon is the capital of the empire of Babylon and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, eventually to be capital of the entire world and the universe as we have seen before.
We also noticed that both of these cities, Babylon and Jerusalem, have spiritual significance. They do not just have a physical entity that they represent, but they also have a spiritual significance. Both of them. To understand the spiritual, we have to grasp the physical, and all of that we have looked at up to this point in time. Today we want to jump off from there and go further into an understanding of Babylon.
For each one, Jerusalem and Babylon, represents a way of life. Today we are going to get a glimpse into the spiritual aspects of Babylon, but, more importantly for right now, we want to get a better grasp of the physical significance of Babylon down through the ages.
The first thing we want to look at is Babylon as a timing device. It is a timing device that has historical markers down through time and historical reference points that we can use in conjunction with the Bible to see just where we are in time. We can actually look at the Babylonish system and determine where we are in history once we have enough understanding! So that is what we are going to do today. That will give us more confidence in God’s word as a barometer in history as a measuring device.
Turn to Daniel chapter 2. We are going to study and look into Nebuchadnezzar’s famous dream. We will start reading in Daniel 2, verse 1: “Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, ‘I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.’ Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, ‘O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.’ The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, ‘My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap.’” It was quite a threat! But this king had some wisdom there. He understood that if he told them the dream, they could make up any interpretation they wanted to. He figured, if God is really behind these astrologers and magicians, God can tell them what my dream is. Then I will know for sure that God has given me the interpretation. So there was some wisdom in King Nebuchadnezzar’s thinking. Obviously as the story goes and if you are familiar with it, you know these astrologers could not do it. There was no way they could tell the king his dream. They were doomed!
They were doomed until Daniel came on the scene. Let us drop down to verse 14. Daniel chapter 2, verse 14: “Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, ‘Why is the decree from the king so urgent?’ Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.” You will notice Daniel did not ask to tell him the dream. He said just give me a little time. I will tell you what the dream is and what the interpretation is, but give me a little time.
Verse 17: “Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions…” These were other Jewish captives in Babylon, his friends.
Continuing in verse 18: “…that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.’”
Verse 23: “’I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.’” So obviously the first thing Daniel does after he asks God for help is he praises God for the help that He gave. He knew that he could not figure this out so he acknowledges the greatness of God.
There are some other things that are in this prayer that are interesting. Daniel’s prayer reveals a few clues to what this whole episode is about. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the interpretation, everything, there are clues in this prayer to what was happening here.
The first clue is we have to acknowledge God is behind it. God is the author of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation that Daniel received. The second thing is that God has the wisdom and the might to change times and seasons. That is what this is about, changing times and seasons. Let us go back and reread verse 21.
Daniel 2, verse 21: “’And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.’” At certain points in history, knowledge is revealed. God has the power, at certain points in history to elevate kings and to lower kings, to bring on nations and empires, and to reduce nations and empires to insignificance or blot them out all together.
In verse 22 Daniel says in his prayer, “’He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.’” So this raising of kings in certain times and seasons relates to darkness and light, that is evil and truth, good and evil. So we are talking about a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had that God revealed the understanding to Daniel that had to do with the raising up of kings and the lowering of kings. It had to do with evil and good and that God had the power to control this. God had an impact here over the course of history, and this is what we are going to talk about today.
If you remember, one of the first studies we did was called “Setting The Clock”, and in “Setting the Clock” we talked about how God set a timing device going, back in Genesis. Let us go reread that scripture. We do not have time to look into the whole scripture. You can go review that one if you would like.
Let us go back and read Genesis 1, starting in verse 14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…’” So here we see at the very beginning of the Bible God says I am going to set lights in the heavens, and we are going to use them for signs and seasons and for days and years. Remember we talked in that study about setting the clock utilizing the sun, the moon and the stars, which is what we currently use to set the calendar and change the seasons and even the day itself. We know when it is sunset and sunrise and we know when the day starts and ends, and this is what God has intended over time. We could use these as devices.
It is interesting back here in Daniel 2 that God once again says in the inspired prayer from Daniel that God sets the seasons and he can change the times and the seasons. We are looking at something spiritual here, but there is a physical manifestation that He gives us in His word that we can use to judge where we are in these times and seasons. That device is in this dream.
We have a clock of human history, in essence, that started ticking. It started ticking in Genesis 1. That clock as it moves down through time, just like the face of a clock would have numbers and digits. You can watch the hands go around. You can tell at what point in the day you are in. We have an overall timing device in the Bible, and by looking where we are in that timing device, we can see where we are in history! We can see where we are in God’s plan!
If you recall we talked about the creation week and how the creation week pictures a seven thousand year plan of God. The first six thousand years belong to Satan and his rulership. The last thousand years we know as the Millennium when Jesus Christ will rule here on earth. Using that system within that seven-day period, this dream shows us what takes place in a good part of that six thousand years that belong to Satan. That is what we are going to talk about, because it is a fascinating system to understand. For when we do, we can see how long Satan’s system of tyranny over mankind will last. If you recall, Babylon means confusion and tyranny. We can see where we are in this period of tyranny. Where are we in this period of captivity? How much longer will we be held hostage, in other words? We can look on this timing device and see that. It is a way of looking at the history of time and judging a spiritual outcome in which God will release mankind from this captivity. These deep secrets are what we will look at.
Let us drop down to verse 24, going back to Daniel chapter 2. Daniel 2:24 where Daniel reveals to the king what the dream was, and he explains the meaning of the dream. Verse 24: “Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: ‘Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.’ Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, ‘I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.’ The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, ‘Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?’” Belteshazzar was Daniel’s Babylonian name. The king had renamed the captives and given them a Babylonian name.
Continuing in verse 27: “Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, ‘The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:…’”
He starts right out and tells the king God has shown in the king’s dream what will transpire in the latter days. Which means, the end time, the time we live in now! So this dream is very important for us to comprehend because ultimately its fulfillment will impact us very much!
Continuing in verse 29: “’…As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.’” In other words, Daniel gives credit where credit is due. He gives credit to God.
Then continuing in verse 31: “’You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.’”
That was the dream! That must have been shocking to King Nebuchadnezzar to hear a man reveal the dreams of the night to him without the king ever giving him a clue as to what that dream was. So now he knew if this man could come up with the interpretation, it is probably right! This has to be right, because I have not given this man a clue. Therefore, let us see what God has to say.
Daniel starts again in verse 36: “’This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all – you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.’”
Verse 41: “’Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.’”
Verse 44: “’And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold – the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.’”
With that conclusion the king knew this man knew what he was talking about. That was the dream so, therefore, the interpretation must be sure. He noticed, I am sure, that he was the head of gold. If you were to read the entire book of Daniel, which we do not have time to do today, you would find that eventually this went to King Nebuchadnezzar’s head so that he built a statue of gold. He had the whole empire worship it. Obviously that was a wrong thing to do, and he got punished for it. That is how much it went to his head. He believed what Daniel said that he was the head of gold.
Then his empire is going to be replaced by a silver empire, an empire that is symbolically silver. It is an inferior one, in a sense. History shows us that the empire of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s empire, was succeeded by the Medio-Persian empire (the Medes and the Persians). This change took place in Daniel’s lifetime so we can actually still look in the book of Daniel and find that change! It is the switching of times and seasons, the lowering of a kingdom and the raising of another! We can actually look at this in the book of Daniel. That will give us more confidence that this system is what is being spoken of here. We can see the rising up of kings and kingdoms and the lowering of kings and kingdoms.
We can see this by turning to Daniel chapter 5. This is the famous handwriting on the wall. Daniel chapter 5, verse 1: “Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.” Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s son.
Continuing in verse 2: “While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.”
We see a picture here of a feast, somewhat of an orgy, in which Belshazzar brings in some of the holy vessels from Solomon’s temple and defiles them in this feast of his. That is not something that God would take kindly to.
Continuing in verse 4 of Daniel 5: “They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.” In other words, they were using God’s vessels to praise false gods!
Verse 5: “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.” He was terrified because there was no body there, no arm, just a hand! That hand was writing an inscription on the wall. That would be an awesome sight to behold.
Verse 7: “The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, ‘Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.’ Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.”
He was terrified, and no one could answer his question, just like his father. There was no astrologer or soothsayer that could explain what was happening here. But Daniel was still in the kingdom at this time.
Drop down to verse 18 of Daniel 5 and we see Daniel has a message for the king. “’O King, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor.’” This is Daniel talking to Belshazzar. “’And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down.’”
Verse 20: “’But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.’”
Remember the first dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had. It had to do with setting up kings and lowering kings, of setting up nations and lowering nations. Daniel says this is what we showed your father. Basically, Belshazzar did not learn the lesson. He says that in verse 22.
Verse 22: “’But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.’” Although you witnessed all of this when your father was alive, you did not learn the lesson.
Verse 23: “’And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; Tekel; you have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; Peres: your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.’”
Verse 29: “Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.”
So here you have it. Right during Daniel’s lifetime we see this system of timing (this timing device) actually move a click forward! We actually watched the history of time, pictured in the image that Nebuchadnezzar had, move a click forward from the head of gold to the chest and arms of silver. It moved from Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to the Medes and Persians (the very next empire in history)! This change took place in Daniel’s lifetime and confirmed what Daniel had been shown when he was given the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
The next empire starts at this point, the empire of the Medes and Persians. If you recall in the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw, the third was bronze. That next empire was Greece, or the Macedonian Empire. We know in history that is the one that then conquered the Medes and Persians. The fourth empire represented by iron that goes from the hips all the way down to the feet of iron and clay is the Roman Empire. We know from history that the Roman Empire then succeeded the Macedonian Empire.
That empire persists until the end. We noticed that a rock was cut out of a mountain and struck that image at the bottom, at the feet, and essentially destroyed it. It was blown away. We know that is the last days. King Nebuchadnezzar was told by Daniel his dream pictures what will happen in the last days. So, therefore, that fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire, is to persist in some form all the way up to the last days.
A couple of points to make note of here. All these empires sprang from the gold head. They all came from Babylon, in other words, the mindset of Babylon. They were all of Babylon’s descendants. That is why the overall name of the kingdom of Babylon is the name of Satan’s kingdom. We saw that in Isaiah chapter 14. We have studied carefully that the king of Babylon is then called Lucifer. This is where we get the name of this overall system of tyranny and confusion. All of these empires sprang from that head of gold.
Each empire is recorded in the scriptures because it had major contact with Jerusalem and with Israel. It is why you do not find the Chinese Empire in the Bible, or the Muscovites in Russia or the Samurai in Japan. These are not mentioned in the Bible because they did not have direct contact with Israel and Jerusalem. That is why they are left out of the Bible. Let us look at some of the contact between these successive empires and Jerusalem. We can only broad brush this and look at the major event.
The first empire, Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple under Nebuchadnezzar, believe it or not, in 586 B.C. That is why these vessels of gold and silver were in the possession of Belshazzar for this feast. That is how they came into possession of these vessels. In 586 B.C. Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and Israel.
A second empire, that of the Medes and the Persians, did something different. They were a conquering empire, but they allowed Jerusalem and the temple to be rebuilt. First there was a decree by a king called Cyrus. He is in the scriptures. He issued a decree to allow the captives to go back and rebuild Jerusalem. Because when Babylon had conquered them and took the people captive, they dispossessed them out of their land and held them in Babylon, which in effect is why Daniel and his three friends were in Babylon in the first place. They did not go there willingly. They were held captive by the king of Babylon.
This Cyrus under the Medes and Persians allowed them to go back and rebuild. He only issued the decree. The rebuilding did not get completed during his lifetime, but Darius, King of the Medes continued that decree and allowed the Jews to go forward and rebuild what became Zerubbabel’s temple. It was a very poor second to Solomon’s temple.
The third empire, Greece, desolated Jerusalem and desecrated the temple under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. They did this in 167 B.C. You see how there is major contact between these empires and God’s people in Jerusalem and in Israel.
The Roman Empire destroyed Jerusalem and the temple once again in 70 A.D. All that we have remaining today is the wailing wall. The Roman destruction was complete. Once again the people were scattered from there throughout the world.
These four empires had tremendous impact on God’s people in the Old Testament. Therefore, that image, that timing device, shows what happens to God’s people when in contact with this system. It shows that this system is diametrically opposed to God’s people. It is always trying to destroy God’s people. We could go into what exactly took place when Antiochus Epiphanes went in and desolated and desecrated the temple. We could look at in detail what happened when the Romans came and destroyed everything. That is an interesting study, but it is too in depth and too involved right now. Suffice it to say that this is what happened. These empires came in and had tremendous negative impact, other than the Medes and the Persians, on God’s people and Israel.
Therefore this timing device, as we come down through history, is very important to look at as markers. It is like highway signs along a freeway or something. You can tell where you are passing a certain point by the signs. When you go down through history, we can look at these events and see where we were in time at each one of these events. Therefore, this image is a timing device sort of like a calendar of history if you want to put it that way.
The Roman system is to persist right to the end time. There are several ways this happens. We are going to look at a few right now. First of all the Roman calendar that we use today is called the Gregorian calendar. That Gregorian calendar, which was a combination of the Roman calendar and Pope Gregory making some revisions to it, actually had its roots from Babylon. Babylon came up with the first calendar of great impact, we will say, on history. That calendar is the one that the Greeks picked up and made a few modifications to and then the Romans picked up and made a few modifications to and has passed itself down to our time. It is the calendar that you and I have hanging on the wall!
It did some interesting things. It did make some changes of its own in times and seasons. We are going to examine that more in detail later, but let us look at that briefly right now. That calendar shows what? It shows that the seventh day of the week, which God said is holy, was moved to the first day of the week! It set the beginning of the year to the middle of the winter when God says in the scriptures it is the spring time!
If you notice, it has changed a very many significant timing devices through the course of the year. It even changed holy days! If you were to look at Leviticus 23, which we will do a study on, those holy days are not part of the Gregorian calendar! So this calendar system takes the Godly calendar and changes it! That causes confusion. It is one of the ways the earth gets confused and people get confused. It is one of the ways that we can identify this system because that system’s calendar has persisted right up to the end time!
The Roman Empire itself in its hey day, its glory days, was about in the first century A.D. Around 400 A.D. that system collapsed. The Roman Empire became a total ruin. So how do we find the Roman empire today besides the calendar? Do we just have a calendar? No, we do not. We have more than that. If you were to go back in history and study the subject, you would find that the Holy Roman Empire came back and revived itself, so to speak, in 554 A.D. under Justinian. You can track that down from Charlemagne and Frederick the Great. You can find that that Holy Roman Empire keeps raising itself up through history ever since 554 A.D. That is a physical system that we can say is like a clock. It is ticking. We can watch that physical system keep rising and watching the clock advancing. So the Roman Empire is still there and its effects are still there.
Interestingly enough, the Third Reich under Adolph Hitler and Mussolini called themselves the Holy Roman Empire! The Third Reich wanted to be the Holy Roman Empire and they wanted it to last a thousand years like the original Roman Empire. That was their dream to reunify this empire and get it going once again like it used to be in its glory days.
We can see that thought (that dream) keeps resurfacing down through time. It is something we should focus on and understand where we are in time, but we do not want to get overly focused on this physical system. Just like we do not want to get overly focused on a clock on the wall. The clock on the wall tells us where we are in a day but it is not the significance of the day, is it? If we start work at 9:00 in the morning, what is the most important thing? Is it that it is 9:00 or that we are at work? Do you follow what I am getting at here? The clock helps us keep track of where we are in the day. It is not our day.
These are thoughts of God, and the only way we can understand them is to let Him interpret them for us just like Daniel. We are no different than Daniel. We have to allow God to tell us what He means because we cannot figure it out. Daniel was wise enough to realize that and he told the king that. Don’t look at me as something great. I can only tell you what all of this meant because God showed me. In his prayer he was very clear to give thanks to God for that. We need to be the same way. There are none of us that are going to study the Bible and figure it out without God’s help. It is impossible.
Go back and read that scripture we like to look at so often, Isaiah 55: 8-9. “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
God says My thoughts are so high you cannot possibly figure them out so let Me help you! You must come to me and ask and then I will gladly help you see. That is what we are trying to do, go to God and beg Him for help. Let us be like Daniel and admit that we are far short of Him, that we are sinners and we need His help to understand where we are in time and what He wants us to do. With that, He will help. He wants to help each and every one of us.
Let us go back to the book of Daniel. This time we are going to start reading in Daniel 7 because Daniel 7 shows us the same empire system and it portrays it differently. We can put these two thoughts of God as two major fabrics in the overall tapestry to get a better picture of what God is trying to do.
Turn to Daniel chapter 7, verse 1: “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.” So now Daniel had a dream, and he is going to write down the main facts of that dream for us.
Starting in verse 2: “Daniel spoke, saying, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. 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. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: “Arise, devour much flesh!” 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.’”
Verse 7: “’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 that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was 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, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.’”
Daniel sees beasts this time in his vision. These beasts have some similarities to that image. The fourth one was of iron just like the image that Nebuchadnezzar had. The fourth one was iron. We are looking here at another description of the same system. We are looking at it this time, instead of an image like a giant statue, we are looking at it as compared to wild animals. These wild animals are called four beasts. They rise out of the sea.
In our very first lessons we learned that the sea represents mankind. So rising up out of mankind, out of the sea, are these kingdoms. We learned that the sea is controlled by Satan, the environment that mankind dwells in. These four beasts have something to do with a system that rises up out of mankind that is moved and directed by Satan! We also learned, if you remember in Revelation 12:9 that all of mankind is deceived by Satan. So this has to do with a bad system that rules mankind! The descriptions here are quite horrifying. If one would try to depict this in some kind of movie with special effects, you could see a horrible system here that crushes many people. This is what is being portrayed here by Daniel. This was his dream.
He continues in verse 9: “’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.’”
Here we have a similarity in description to what happened at the bottom of that image that Nebuchadnezzar saw. If you recall a stone cut out of a mount without human hands hit that image at the bottom and destroyed it. That was depicting what happens at the end of time, at the end of the six thousand year reign of Satan. Here we see the same thing. These beasts keep emerging until this horrible one at the end with the iron teeth is there. At that time when that is extant at the very end of his reign we see the Ancient of Days seated. We find that something is about to happen there and it is referred to as judgment. A throne is there with the Ancient of Days showing that God is going to do something at the very end. The court is seated.
Verse 11 of Daniel 7 says: “’I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.’”
You see there is a judgment at the end where this system comes crashing down! That is exactly what happened with the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. So we are seeing two different ways to describe this timing device. We can weave these two strands together to help get a clearer picture of the tapestry of God’s plan and where we are in time.
There is a key to remember here. It is time to define what God means by “image”. Here we see beasts portrayed in Daniel 7. In Daniel 2 we saw an image. If you look up the term “image” in your Strong’s Concordance, you will find it comes from the #6755 and #6754. This means “an idolatrous figure… to shade, a phantom… illusion, resemblance, hence a representative figure”. “To shade” and “a phantom” give you the effect of this dream. It is an illusion. You cannot go anywhere on this earth and see that statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s and say there we have the clock.
To understand what an illusion is, it is something unreal, fake. If you recall, we talked about how a man casts a shadow. The shadow is not real; it is the man who is casting the shadow that is real. That is the same with this image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. That is not the real thing. That is why we do not want to overly focus on the image. That is like the clock. We want to understand what it means. We want to understand where we are in this timing device, but we do not want to make that the object of everything we are trying to figure out. It is just an image. It represents something else that is real.
The conclusion of the matter is, we do not want to chase after shadows, we do not want to be deceived anymore and we do not want to be tricked! We want to grasp what is real. When we can grasp what is real, we can see what God is doing at this particular point in time. We are tired of being tricked, and with God’s help we are seeking real understanding here.
Study and digest this subject because the next time we are going to continue into the thoughts of God. We are going to study this image, the image and the beast.