One of the most beautiful creatures to watch walking, running or swimming is a bear. From time to time we watch documentaries about the wild which often includes bears. They seem so graceful until they either hunt prey, ripping them apart or until they fight another bear for territory and breeding rights. As graceful as they could appear they are extremely dangerous and ruthless as they unleash their wrath upon a victim or prey.
2) Today we notice the second beast in Daniel’s dream / vision / words from God is a bear.
Da 7:5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’”
After the lion it is a bear … a bear … for its strength and fierceness. This animal is inferior to the lion in strength and appearance. It is heavy and cumbersome in its movements … yet extremely dangerous. Part of the picture we see is a bear with the front legs raised to enable it to move forward, whilst it is devouring parts of its prey before lurching forward for more to eat. Some commentators thinking this reflects a doubled sided nature … eating prey, yet ready to pounce again. The bear represents the Medo-Persian Empire with its double sided nature … the Medes on the one side and the Persian on the other. Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar was succeeded by Darius the Mede … but when you read Daniel 6:28 properly:
Da 6:28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian
you realize that both Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian were both rulers of the same Kingdom. There is the dual nature of the Medo-Persian Empire. The “three ribs” have a meaning. It seems as though the ribs resemble the kingdoms of Babylon, Lydia and Egypt. The Medo-Persian military machine was not content with devouring one kingdom, they wanted more … hence, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’ Bulldoze kingdom after kingdom and increase the size of your domain.
3) The third beast.
Da 7:6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
A leopard is known for its agility … it can leap 6 meters horizontally and 3 meters vertically. It can stop suddenly even though it is fast … gaining speeds of up to 58 kilometers an hour. It is astoundingly strong, a good swimmers and very intelligence.
Jer 5:6 a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many
Hos 13:7 So I will come upon them like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
This beast resembling a leopard had four wings on its back … wings like a bird. These wings, being like a bird implies swiftness as a kingdom but not royalty or nobility as Nebuchadnezzar’s was. What is perhaps more important is the “four heads” this beast had. Some believe these heads refer to the successors (Alexander, Ptolemy, Seleucus and Philip) or even the four principal divisions (Greece, Western Asia, Egypt and Persia). Perhaps the “four heads” refers to the ecumenicity character of the kingdom representing the four corners of the earth.
4) The fourth beast. Very interestingly, the fourth beast is not named … maybe because there was no creature fitting this beast’s nature and character.
Da 7:7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
A lot of information is provided, but the striking thing is the absolute terrifying appearance. It was the bulldozer of bulldozers! Enormous teeth and feet with crushing ability. We get the picture that this beast is evil and wicked and a destroyer. No mercy is given to anyone in its sight. It is more than likely that this beast refers to the Roman Empire. She was intensely destructive as a military machine, subduing nations without mercy. This beast had “ten horns”. The best commentary for these horns is found in
Da 7:24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom.
The “ten” here is symbolic. It does not refer to a literal 10 kings but to a multiplicity of kings or an indefinite number of kings. What it does however represent is power.
Dt 33:17 In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox. With them he will gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth.
Clearly the “horn” here is used for power, destructive, unstoppable power. Although referring to power, the Psalmist speaks of good, healthy power
Ps 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
In this fourth empire represented by this ruthless beast … symbolizing the Roman Empire, we see her as a wicked power. We have a long, long way to go as we unpack Daniel towards the end, but allow me to become pointed. There have been, are and will be many powers that seek world domination, not considering people only their military or despotic goals. I was born after the end of World War Two in 1949. Since then, without listing all the wars as some were called other things, here are a few of the main ones … The Korean War, Vietnam War, Falklands War, Gulf War, Sierra Leone Civil War, Bosnian War, Kosovo War, Afghanistan War, Iraqi War … not forgetting what happened in Angola / Namibia, Rhodesia / Zimbabwe and South Africa. War is cruel. War is mean. War is unnecessary … but war there will be. Pray for countries like Russia, USA, China, Northern Korea and those in conflict in the Middle East. The age in which we live is an age where everything is advanced because of hi-tech technology. All it will take is for one crazy leader to press one button and we will be a world at war. Pray that in our time this will never happen. Although our Lord said there will be war and rumors of war does not mean we must not pray about these matters. If Jesus said we should remember this … it is a reality and no one, irrespective whom they are, if they are in their right mind wants another world war.
Our Father, we know You alone are the real Sovereign. Graciously and mercifully protect the nations of the world from becoming edgy and trigger happy. Help leaders to solve problems diplomatically for Your glory and the benefit of all citizens. Amen.