Daniel 7

Daniel 7 is the turning point of the book of Daniel. At this point it ceases to be a historical account and turns to prophecy


It is still in Aramaic, but it begins to transition into the rest of prophecy.

The rest of prophecy in this book and the Bible hinge on this chapter.


Chapters 1-6 are Daniel's qualifications, experience and circumstances.

Chapters 1-6 demonstrate God's sovereign control and intervention

Chapters 1-6 is written in the third person, but in 7:2 it switches to the first person


The purpose of prophecy is to keep Israel looking to the future, the end, the final result, God's coming kingdom.


Chapter 7 is first year of Belshazzar                    553 BC

Chapter 8 is third year of Belshazzar                   551 BC

Chapter 9 is first year of Darius                             539 BC

Chapter 10, 11, 12 are third year of Cyrus.         536 BC


Interpreting Apocalyptic Material

  1. Symbols are used
  2. The writer records what he saw. He is not using a literary technique to express what he is thinking. He is recording what he saw.
  3. Usually the meaning of figures is explained in the text and often is explained to the one doing the writing. If not, the rest of Scripture often will explain the meaning.
  4. Accept the plain sense of the text
  5. Use fulfilled prophecy to interpret unfulfilled prophecy. We will notice that fulfilled prophecy has been fulfilled literally, historically and in a plain sense.
  6. There is no room for unique interpretation of biblical prophecy.
  7. The full scope of prophecy is a puzzle with ten thousand pieces, often scattered from Genesis to Revelation. You must have all the pieces to see the whole picture. If you only use a few pieces it will either not make sense or you will have to use your own imagination to fill in the missing pieces.
  8. Sometime time itself is needed for the images to be made clear. Some prophecy will not be fully understood until the time it is fulfilled.


Daniel 7:1

Nabonidus began his reign in 556. Belshazzar began to reign in Nabonidus's third year or 553. Nebuchadnezzar had died nine years before. Daniel is about 70 years old.


Daniel recorded the "substance" of the dream which literally means "the head of the words" or "the chief of the matter"



"Sea" refers to the earth because:

  • 7:3 says the beasts came out of the sea
  • 7:17 says the beasts rise out of the earth
  • The beasts are described later as earthly kingdoms
  • The "sea" in scripture is often used to denote peoples or nations: Isaiah 57:20; Isaiah 17:12-13; Revelation 13:1 and 13:11; Revelation 17:1 and 17:15

The "sea" then is the turbulent, chaos of sinful, dark humanity on the earth.

The "sea" is the agitated world of the nations of earth. The "sea" is the nations.


"Four winds" 

  • in Revelation 7:1 and Zechariah 6:5; 7:14; Hosea 8:7 the four winds appear to represent God's judgment
  • four winds also refer to every direction possible
  • if four winds came together in the natural world there would be very unique events in the weather

The "four winds" then may refer to all the forces that are mixed together coming together under God's control to direct history



"Four great beasts" - the word for "beasts" means "animals"

In 7:17 the animals are kingdoms

They match Daniel 2, but are given more details here.

Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.


"different" - the four kingdoms would have different character.

Each animal is naturally meaner.

The kingdoms varied in a variety of ways including size, power, level of legislation power, ethics, and response to God.




Lion = Babylon

Bear = Medo-Persia

Leopard = Greece

Iron Beast = Rome


Horns = kings or kingdoms  (Rev. 13:1; 17:12; Psalm 132:17; Zech. 1:18)

In Daniel 7:24 the horns are called "kings"