Dreams, visions and words from God are often extremely vivid and dramatic. As we have stated, Daniel, like Revelation is apocalyptic … it’s about the last days. God is not only getting the attention of His spokesman (prophet), He is through the prophet getting the attention of the hearers. In God using images like animals of the wild, He intends to show the hearers what has taken place, is taking place and will take place into the future. We need to be very cautious as we seek to interpret Bible passages such as these because we may not superimpose our thoughts, ideas or will on them to make them say what we want them to say. That would be adding to and taking away from Scripture. We are warned not to do this
Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Before you think that passage only applies to Revelation, remember that the main tool we have for interpretation of the Bible is the Bible. This means that as one Book in unity, it must interpret itself if we want to get the true meaning of a passage of Scripture. Yesterday we saw Daniel saying he had a vision.
Da 7:2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.
The “great sea” is humanity and the “four winds” are invading armies stirred up by God … explained by the following verses
Da 7:3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
What or who are these “great beasts” that are different yet with the same cause or purpose?
1) The first beast. We are given this beast’s description
Da 7:4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.
This beast looked like a lion with wings of an eagle. A powerful creature … the lion representing the king of earth’s animals and the eagle king of the skies animals. As said, often the Old Testament refers to tyrant kings as beasts or by animal names. Consider the following passages and as you do, try to determine who this “winged lion” is.
Jer 4:7 A lion has come out of his lair; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to lay waste your land. Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant.
Jer 49:19 “Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets to a rich pastureland, I will chase Edom from its land in an instant.
Jer 50:17 “Israel is a scattered flock that lions have chased away. The first to devour him was the king of Assyria; the last to crush his bones was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”
Jer 50:44 Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets to a rich pastureland, I will chase Babylon from its land in an instant.
Jer 49:22 Look! An eagle will soar and swoop down, spreading its wings over Bozrah. In that day the hearts of Edom’s warriors will be like the heart of a woman in labor.
Ez 17:3 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon.
Ez 17:12 “Say to this rebellious house, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say to them: ‘The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon.’
The picture is clear … the “winged lion” is Babylon, represented by the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar. The concepts of “lion” and the “eagle” corresponds to the image seen in chapter 2
Dan 2:32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold
Dan 2:38 in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are the bead of gold.
As Daniel sees the vision of the beast, he observes a change taking place to the beast. The wings are “plucked” preventing the power of flight. The message is simple, no longer can it “fly over the earth” nor can it as ruler “hover over the earth”. Now it stood like a man and its beastly nature was changed to a man. It was given a heart of man and it stood on two feet. It was “humanized” as one commentator put it. Wings are removed, stood on its feet (lifted up off the ground as a lion would be on all fours) and given a man’s heart. This is rather interesting … Nebuchadnezzar was given the “heart” of a beast. Reflect upon chapter 4:
Da 4:31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Da 4:33Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
Although not the intended purpose, this passage again helps us to see Babylon’s representative, Nebuchadnezzar being the beast of verse 4 … though here we see he was given the “heart” of a beast. He was one as a tyrant king and now he is one as a being. He was humbled by God! Then as the ‘wingless lion”, he stands on his feet, is given the heart of man … no more an animal, but now humanized. The Babylonian Empire started off as purely animal … totally pagan in character … but then, after a time, the empire’s animal instincts disappear and it becomes humanized in the person representing the kingdom … Nebuchadnezzar.
Da 4:36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.
We will return to this “beast”, but for now, as a practical thought, consider this … You are animal by instinct and nature until you become alive in Jesus Christ! You are dead in your trespasses and sins until the Holy Spirit revives your soul through the New Birth making you a new creation, a child of God and a citizen of Heaven.
Father in Heaven, it is so interesting how You use concepts in the Bible that we are able to understand as they make impressions on our minds for holiness. Amen.