1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream with visions in his mind as he was lying in his bed. He wrote down the dream, and here is the summary of his account. 2 Daniel said, “In my vision at night I was watching, and suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea. 3 Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
4 “The first was like a lion but had eagle’s wings. I continued watching until its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, set on its feet like a man, and given a human mind.
5 “Suddenly, another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up! Gorge yourself on flesh.’
6 “While I was watching, another beast appeared. It was like a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back. It had four heads and was given authority to rule.
7 “While I was watching in the night visions, a fourth beast appeared, frightening and dreadful, and incredibly strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet whatever was left. It was different from all the beasts before it, and it had 10 horns.
8 “While I was considering the horns, suddenly another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. There were eyes in this horn like a man’s, and it had a mouth that spoke arrogantly.
9 “As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat. His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of His head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His presence. Thousands upon thousands served Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was convened, and the books were opened.
11 “I watched, then, because of the sound of the arrogant words the horn was speaking. As I continued watching, the beast was killed and its body destroyed and given over to the burning fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their authority to rule was removed, but an extension of life was granted to them for a certain period of time.
13 “I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. 14 He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
His dominion is an everlastingdominionthat will not pass away,and His kingdom is onethat will not be destroyed. —Daniel 7:14b
In an excerpt from one of my favorite songs, called “My President,” Da' Truth raps:
From Clinton, McCain, Obama, these are the days and times
Since the Savior is sovereign, when He makes up His mind
He's given Satan the power to pick and sanction the foulest
Wicked, debased, and rotten from princes to Genghis Khan
Hitler, Hussein, and Stalin, permitted placement of Pilate
Picks them and makes the final decision to take 'em down.
His aim in the song is to remind the believer that regardless of how nations appear to rise and fall, to commit good and evil, and to encourage or destroy, God remains sovereign over all of it.
All of the choices made by all of the individuals or groups who ruleare being used to bring about God's purposes and will. While we may not like the evil rule and while we are thankful for respites of goodness in politics, we must never forget to train our eyes upon God alone as our ultimate ruler.
Daniel made the same point while he was in exile in Babylon. While one should always tread lightly when attempting to systematize doctrine from apocalyptic, prophetic, and poetic literature, we can certainly conclude a few truths from Daniel 7.1-14, beyond the obvious prophecy of the coming reigns of the Babylonians through the Romans.
First, we must recognize that present world events are not mere coincidence. God has some sort of hand in whatever happens on the political scene. While such a thought may be abhorrent—considering the rampant evil employed by many leaders—we can rest assured that God will not let such acts go unpunished even though He permitted them. Furthermore, He will bring some good from it all.
Second, history takes on a new perspective when we realize that God has been working His plans through the thoughts and actions of people. We must critique the spiritual state of empires, in addition to looking at their economic, military, and governmental achievements and foibles.
Third, knowing that God is active in bringing about empires, we should develop a truly noble civic duty. We are not to remain idly by while society progresses. Rather, we are called to be salt and light within our society in order to reflect the image of God and to witness to unbelievers. We are often the means by which God pursues His purposes.
Fourth, understanding that God is sovereign means living with boldness since the victory has been, in principle, won. As Pastor Mike is apt to say, “We are on the winning team and we should act like it.”
This truth means we must never get too low emotionally when we do not perceive political things going our way. Whether or not the earthly kingdoms achieve their potentials, we know God's kingdom will eventually supplant them all. We must remain joyous and confident even when the immediate circumstances seem anything but godly.
We must also be bold in our witness so others have the opportunity to join the winning team just as we did. God's kingdom will be everlasting and will not be destroyed. Let's live as a victorious people.
- What truths should we glean from the rise and fall of nations throughout history and through our own time? What do such truths teach us about God?
- In what ways could we be bolder in our witness knowing that God will bring all things under judgment? How do we convince the unregenerate that they must acknowledge God's wrath?
- Can critiquing the spiritual attitudes of societies long gone be a good testimony to the necessity of Jesus?
- Is our primary responsibility as Christians to identify the signs in the times, or is it to be a firm witness to the necessity of the Son regardless of when God's completed kingdom will arrive? Or is it some other thing we should be doing right now?
- How often do we pray for our leaders and for them to submit to God's will? Should we pray such things in light of Daniel's revelation that God stands behind the rise and fall of nations?