DANIEL 7 (4 Beasts)
DANIEL 7 (4 Beasts)
This dream took place about 550 BC. Daniel was a man of great faith. God honored his faith and revealed to him the future persecutions the church would go through. In verses two and three Daniel talks about seeing wind, sea and beasts. To understand these symbols we will turn to history, Biblical references and geography.
“The Chaldeans under NEBUCHADNEZZAR II destroyed Jerusalem and burned the Temple (587 or 586 BC); the royalty, nobility, and skilled craftsmen were deported to Babylonia.”*
“Chaldean rule ended when the Persians under CYRUS THE GREAT captured Babylon in 539 B.C.. Henceforth, Babylonia was merely a province in a succession of large empires: Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sassanian (539 B.C.-AD 650). Its capital was moved from Babylon to nearby SELEUCIA by the Seleucids; later CTESIPHON, near Seleucia, was the administrative center of the Parthians and Sassanians.*
“He was succeeded by his eldest son, CAMBYSES II. His son CAMBYSES II, who ruled from 530 to 522, invaded Egypt. Following an interregnum of a year, DARIUS I took power by killing the usurper Smerdis and established the Achaemenid empire on a firm basis. He consolidated and further extended Persian conquests (so that the empire stretched from Egypt and Thrace in the west to northwestern India in the east); established the system of satraps (local governors) under firm centralized control; encouraged the spread of ZOROASTRIANISM; and was a great patron of the arts. Darius’s son XERXES I (r. 486-465), after his defeat by the Greeks in the PERSIAN WARS, retired from active government and set a precedent for future kings who were kept in power by the efficient bureaucracy organized by Darius. Constant revolts were put down, but the weakness of the empire was apparent under ARTAXERXES I (r. 465-424), Xerxes II (r. 424-423), and Darius II (r. 423-404). Under ARTAXERXES II (r. 404-359), the revolt of his brother CYRUS THE YOUNGER almost cost him his throne. Artaxerxes III (r. 359-338), an able although cruel monarch, saved the empire from disintegration by reconquering the provinces of Phoenicia and Egypt, which had previously regained their independence. Unfortunately for the Achaemenid empire, Artaxerxes III was poisoned, and a puppet Arses ruled for two years. The last prince of the Achaemenid family, DARIUS III Codomannus, assumed the throne in 336.”*
The bear being raised up on one side is significant. The Medes and the Persians united to destroy Babylon. But as history shows, the Medes eventually were absorbed by the Persians and lost significance. The three ribs in its mouth represent the territories it ate up and devoured.
“Aided by a battle-hardened Macedonian army that possessed the cavalry necessary for a campaign against the Persians, Alexander conquered the entire Persian Empire in ten years (334-25). He created an empire stretching from Macedonia to the Indus River, a magnificent achievement that had even more important, far-reaching effects. Alexander initiated the systematic Hellenization of the East. Greek and non-Greek culture fused together over the centuries, promoting new concepts of ethics and new religions, including Christianity.”*
The leopard also had four heads. These four heads represented the breakup of Alexander’s Empire. Upon his death, his four generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleuchus, and Ptolomy divided up the empire.
“Alexander’s huge empire broke apart at his death in 323 BC. His generals, known as the Diadochi (successors), claimed his legacy. By 275 three Macedonian dynasties had established themselves in the natural units of the empire. The successors of ANTIGONUS I (the Antigonids) ruled Macedonia; those of SELEUCUS I (the Seleucids), the Asian provinces; and those of PTOLEMY I (the Ptolemies), Egypt.”*
“By the end of the 1st century BC, POMPEY THE GREAT, Julius CAESAR, and AUGUSTUS had settled the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire into their final form. The old Greek city-states, though subject to Rome, enjoyed local autonomy. The propertied classes controlled the local governments, and Greek was retained as the official language. For a time there was much prosperity. Many cities were patronized by the Roman emperors. Athens, especially, flourished as a university town.”*
“Ancient Rome grew from a small prehistoric settlement on the Tiber River in Latium in central Italy into an empire that encompassed all of the Mediterranean world. The Romans developed a civilization that formed the basis for modern Western civilization. The history of Rome comprises three major epochs: the kingship from the legendary foundation of Rome to 509 BC; the republic from 509 BC to 31 BC; and the empire, which survived until Rome finally fell to the German chieftain Odoacer in AD 476.”*
“Octavian, assuming (27 BC) the title and name Imperator Caesar Augustus, carried forth many of the reforms of Julius Caesar. He established his government in 27 BC, rebuilt the city of Rome, and became a great patron of the arts. During his reign the Roman Empire was at its height; it had no rivals —thus began the 200 years of peace known as the Pax Romana. The system of ROMAN ROADS and a sophisticated postal system helped unify the empire. Commerce and trade boomed among the far-flung possessions. Augustus reformed the Senate, made the system of taxation more equitable, and revived the census. He died in AD 14 and was succeeded by his stepson Tiberius.”*
“The Romans constructed a total of about 80,000 km (50,000 mi) of highways through more than 30 modern nations. The network remained in use during the Middle Ages, and remnants of it are still in existence.”*
As Rome conquered the world, it had a habit of picking up the local religions. “The historical background out of which the myths of Rome emerge is similar in some aspects to that of the Greeks. There, too, the Indo-European elements were superimposed on the cultures of the indigenous peoples. In later periods cultural religious meanings from Greece, Syria, Iran, and Egypt played a role in Roman mythology.”*
“A straightforward correspondence can be set up between the gods of the Greek pantheon and their Roman counterparts: Zeus and JUPITER; Hera and JUNO; Poseidon and NEPTUNE; Demeter and CERES; Apollo-Apollo; Artemis and DIANA; Athena and MINERVA; Hephaestus and VULCAN; Aphrodite and VENUS; Ares and MARS; Dionysus and Bacchus. This correspondence, however, barely scratches the surface of Roman mythology.”*
They also took from the Egyptians what pleased them. “In the Old Kingdom mythology the sun Atum (or Aten) often appears as the first creator. He makes Shu and Tefnut (air and moisture) out of himself, and they in turn produce Geb and Nut (earth and sky). The children of the latter couple are OSIRIS, ISIS, Set, and Nephthys. Thus the first four deities establish the cosmos, and the later four are mediators between humans and the cosmos. Osiris is the symbol of the dead king, who is succeeded in the form of Horus, the living ruler. Isis is the consort of Osiris, and after his murder by Set, she reconstitutes his body and thus achieves for him eternal life; her ally in this role is Nephthys, the consort of Set. Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, ultimately vanquishes Set, a symbol of antistructure or antiorder. Set is related to the desert of Upper Egypt. As a deity of clouds, he opposed Atum, the sun.”*
From the Indo-Iranian culture, Rome picked up Mitheraism. “Mithraism, the worship of the ancient Indo-Iranian god of light, Mithra, became early Christianity’s most serious rival as the mystery cult rapidly spread from Syria and Anatolia throughout the Roman Empire reaching into Gaul and Britain. Its cultic origins remain obscure. Although the focus of the cult was the Persian god Mithra—who is the chief ally of Ahura Mazda, the force of good in later Zoroastrianism—Western worship of Mithra had few connections with Zoroastrianism apart from its emphasis on the eternal struggle between good and evil. There were seven grades of initiation into the cult, completion of which conferred immortality. Most important was the slaying of the bull, a reenactment of Mithra’s killing of the cosmic bull of creation, symbolizing the conquest of evil and death. Astrology and Sun worship also played a role in Mithraism.”*
“Roman soldiers who had fought against the Parthians, the cult remained particularly popular among the military—the god embodied such soldierly values as victory, courage, and loyalty—and merchant classes. Women were excluded from the cult. One of the most powerful religious movements in the Roman Empire by the 4th century, Mithraism, along with other non-Christian sects, suffered persecution after the conversion of Constantine and gradually died out. Significantly, Mithra’s birth was commemorated on December 25.”*
Rome named the days of the week in honor of their gods, giving the sun-god the preeminence of the first day. “Caesar introduced (Jan. 1, 45) the Julian CALENDAR.”*
“In ancient calendars, years were generally numbered according to the year of a ruler’s reign. About AD 525, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus suggested that years be counted from the birth of Christ, which was designated AD 1 (anno Domini, “the year of the Lord”). This proposal came to be adopted throughout Christendom during the next 500 years. The year before AD 1 is designated 1 BC (before Christ). Dionysius had referred the year of Christ’s birth to other eras. Modern chronology, however, places the event at about 4 BC. The 1st century of the Christian Era began in AD 1, the 2d in AD 101; the 21st began in 2001.”*
“During the French Revolution a reformed calendar rid of religious connections was in fact adopted having a 10-day week and 12 months of 30 days. The days left at year’s end were given over to vacations and celebrations. The calendar began on Sept. 22, 1792, the day the republic was proclaimed. The months were called Vendemiaire (vintage), Brumaire (mist), Frimaire (frost), Nivose (snow), Pluviose, Ventose (wind), Germinal (sprouting time), Floreal (blossom), Prairial (meadow), Messidor (harvest), Thermidor (heat), and Fructidor (fruit). France returned to the Gregorian calendar on Jan. 1, 1806, under Napoleon I.”*
Since the people were not able to talk directly with god, Caesar proclaimed himself the “Vicarius Filii Dei.” This Latin term stated that Caesar was the vicar, or representative of god on earth. Therefore, if you had a question to ask the pagan god, you went to your priest, who got the answer from Caesar who got it from god.
As stated earlier, the reason God gave Daniel this vision was to let His people know of the persecutions that would come upon them by the pagan governments. All four of the beasts were pagan. All four of these kingdoms persecuted the Jews.
“New spiritual forces emerged during the Maccabean and Herodian periods. The leadership of hereditary priests was contested by laymen distinguished for their learning and piety, who won the respect and support of the people. The priestly conservatives came to be known as SADDUCEES, the more progressive lay party as the PHARISEES. The latter came to dominate the SANHEDRIN, which was the highest religious and legal authority of the nation.”*
“In AD 66 the moderates could no longer control the desperate populace, and rebellion against Roman tyranny broke out. After bitter fighting the Romans captured Jerusalem and burned the Temple in 70; at MASADA the Zealots held out until 73, when most of the 1,000 surviving defenders killed themselves to defy capture by the Romans. As a result of the revolt thousands of Jews were sold into slavery and thus were scattered widely in the Roman world. The last vestiges of national autonomy were obliterated.”*
Rome grew large and powerful. It ruled from England to India and all around the Mediterranean Sea. Paganism was the national religion. There was one religion, one economy, and one government. About the only exception to this were the Jews in Jerusalem. They were allowed a semi-autonomous government. They also were allowed to worship their own way. They worshiped One God, as opposed to the multi-god pagan worship. They also worshiped their God on His Sabbath, Saturday, and not on Rome’s pagan, 1st day, Sunday.
But Rome grew too large and was unable to sustain itself. “In the 3d century the Roman world plunged into a prolonged and nearly fatal crisis. The reasons were manifold. Sharp divisions between the opulent notables in the cities and the poor and hardly civilized peasants created tensions. The wars that began under Marcus Aurelius continued, and increased taxation destroyed the prosperity of the empire. To meet rising military costs and to pay the bureaucracy, the emperors, including CARACALLA (r. 211-17), debased the coinage; the resulting inflation proved pernicious. The defenses of the empire on the Rhine and Danube collapsed under the attack of various Germanic and other tribes, and the eastern provinces were invaded by the Persians. Finally, the discipline of the army—in which half-Romanized provincials and totally non-Romanized barbarians were now serving—broke down. In the 50 years from 235 to 284 more than 2 dozen emperors ruled, all but one of whom suffered a violent death.”*
“Out of the turmoil of the 3d century a new totalitarian Rome emerged. The emperor DIOCLETIAN (r. 284-305) adopted the title dominus (master) and transformed the principate into the dominate and citizens into subjects. He adopted an elaborate court ceremonial with many oriental elements. The requisitions and forced labor to which the emperors of the 3d century had resorted in order to save the state were transformed into a lasting system. Peasants were gradually deprived of their personal freedom and tied to the soil. The artisan corporations, and even the higher civil servants, were organized as hereditary castes, and a crushing burden of taxation was imposed on them. Two social groups were preeminent: the rich landowners, who in their fortified villas foreshadowed the medieval feudal lords, and the imperial bureaucracy.”*