I mean, who couldn’t love a story like that?
The best thing about this vision is that it describes events that will really happen! Science fiction and the movie industry have nothing on the Most High God.
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that these kingdoms are represented in animal form. Most nations of the world develop symbols to represent themselves. The United States uses the bald eagle, for instance.
So the fact that the first beast is “like a lion” but with the wings of an eagle, and then the wings are torn off… well, it makes me think of England (which represents itself with a lion) and the fact that the United States was initially a colony of England until we declared our independence. (I'm not swearing to this being an interpretation, but... just sayin'.)
The second beast is “like a bear,” and the Soviet Union is a modern country that depicts itself as a bear. The third beast is “like a leopard” but with wings. Though Germany doesn’t use the leopard as its national symbol, somehow we still associate them with that particular animal.
Anyway, the fourth beast is the worst of the four. It’s so wicked that it doesn’t resemble any sort of natural animal. Verse 8 references the leadership of this fourth kingdom. I wish I could dig into these beasts / kingdoms a little deeper, but this is a blog, not a novel… so I won’t try your patience.
The second section is from verse 9 – 12. The setting has segued into a scene of a heavenly courtroom. (Incidentally, I love the name “Ancient of Days” for the Most High God. I could just meditate on that Name for years.) This is one of the few 'physical' descriptions of God in the Bible.
“Thousands upon thousands attended him [God]… (presumably angels, but possibly believers who have already died, too), …ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him (for judgment). In this trial, the fourth beast, the most wicked kingdom, is destroyed. But the other kingdoms are allowed to continue for a period of time. (whew!)
Verses 13 – 14 shows one “like a son of man” (this is Jesus,…”Son of Man” was one of his most used names for himself) approaching the Ancient of Days and being given authority, glory and power over the nations.
The third section is short. Daniel asks one of the beings in the vision to interpret these events for him. Verses 17 – 18 is kind of a Reader’s Digest condensed explanation.
“The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes, for ever and ever.”
That’s truly the most condensed description of the End of the Age.
Daniel then asked for a little more detail, especially regarding that particularly nasty kingdom that was so different from the other kingdoms. Part of its leadership was a “little horn” that was “waging war against the saints and defeating them…” (Oh, no! This is horrible! We’re losing?!)
…until the Ancient of Days came (yaay!) and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (yesss! -fist pump-)
This is like one of those old time fairy tales, except this is really going to happen! And you and I are going to be involved.
It can be discouraging living in these times, when it seems sin is running amokt all over our little Christian heads. But looking at Daniel we see that we've been told in advance the little horn will be defeating the saints. So that shouldn’t stop you from standing your ground. Because the court will sit, and you will be vindicated!
The rest of the chapter finishes off with a longer explanation than our Reader’s Digest version. There is a little more detail, about the nature of the little horn, and how long the saints will be persecuted under his reign. But it continues to be emphasized that the kingdom will be handed over to us, the saints, the people of the Most High. And the earth will be ruled by our victorious hero, Jesus the Messiah. And that’s a great way to say...