Fourth Beast

The fourth beast is the focus of the vision, especially its “little horn with a mouth speaking great things” - Daniel 7:7-14

Dinosaur Model - Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash
The fourth “
beast” is described in more detail than the others; it is the focus of the vision, especially its “little horn speaking great things.” The other “beasts” provide the necessary background for the rise of this kingdom, and unlike the first three, it has no analog from the animal kingdom. It is an abomination with “iron teeth,” “ten horns,” and a mouth that “speaks great things.” -[Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash].

The fourth beast’s “great iron teeth” and feet used to “trample down” parallel the fourth part of the “great image” from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which had legs and feet “strong as iron”, and “shattered and subdued all things”:
  • (Daniel 7:7-8) – “After that, I was looking in the visions of the night, when, lo, a fourth beast, terrible and well-hipped and exceeding strong, and it had large teeth of iron, it devoured and broke in pieces, and the residue with its feet it trampled down, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, when, lo, another horn, a little one came up among them, and three of the former horns were uprooted from before it, and, lo, eyes, like the eyes of a man in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things.” – (Compare Daniel 2:40-43).
With its feet, it “trampled the remnant.” The identity of the “remnant” is not given; however, verbal links connect the “trampling” underfoot with the next vision, where the “little horn” trampled “some of the stars underfoot” - (Daniel 8:8-10).

The “ten horns” may correspond to the toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s earlier “great image,” although that dream did not mention the number of “toes” - (Daniel 2:41).

The “little horn” emerged from among the “ten horns,” and three of the ten were “uprooted.” The text does not say whether the “little horn” removed them; in the Aramaic clause, the verb is passive; that is, the three horns were “removed” by someone or something.

The number “ten” may be symbolical or literal. Elsewhere, ten symbolizes a complete set. But the removal of three horns, and their replacement by an eleventh and smaller one, is quite specific, making it difficult to interpret the numbers symbolically. More likely, that level of detail points to known historical events.

The “little horn” had human eyes and “a mouth speaking great things.” This suggests intelligence and individuality, and something blasphemous, and a challenge to the rule of God.

The next paragraph presents the reaction of the Heavenly Court to the four “beasts,” especially to the fourth one with its blasphemous “little horn.” The reader is now presented with events from the perspective of the throne of God:
  • (Daniel 7:9-14) – “I continued looking until thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days took his seat, whose garment was white like snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool, his throne was flames of fire, his wheels a burning fire. A stream of fire was flowing on and issuing forth from before him, thousands of thousands waited on him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. Judgment took its seat and books were opened. I continued looking, then because of the sound of the great words which the horn was speaking, I continued looking until that the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning of the fire. As concerning the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but a lengthening of life was given to them, until a time and season. I continued looking in the visions of the night, when lo! with the clouds of the heavens, one like a son of man was coming, and unto the Ancient of days he approached, and before him they brought him near; and unto him were given dominion and dignity and kingship, that all peoples, races and tongues him should do service to him. His dominion was an everlasting dominion that should not pass away, and his kingdom that which should not be destroyed.
Daniel gazed, “until thrones were placed.” The vision has now transitioned to a judgment scene. This is confirmed by the statement, “judgment was set, and the books were opened.” The image of “one seated on the throne” symbolizes the sovereignty of God over historical events - (Daniel 12:1-4Revelation 4:1-8, 20:11-15).

The vision does not identify the other beings who sat on the many “thrones.” Their plurality may stress the majesty of the “Ancient of Days”; likewise, the picture of “thousands upon thousands that served him.” The four ravenous creatures “ascending from the sea” gave the impression that human kingdoms were not under the control of the “God of Heaven.” Any such notion is now set aside by the events in the heavenly court.

The “fiery wheels” suggest mobility. There is no place safe from the judicial reach of the “Ancient of Days.”  His rule is dynamic and not limited to “heaven”’ he determines the course of empires. The “four beasts” could only exit the sea when and as He permitted. He was the source of the forces that stirred the surface of the sea that caused their ascent.

The fourth “beast” was “slain” due to its arrogance. The impious nature of the four “beasts” reached its most blasphemous height in the “mouth” of the “little horn”; consequently, the “fourth beast” was destroyed. However, the text states that it was the “beast” that was slain, NOT its “little horn.” This points to the “death” of a regime, not necessarily to that of an individual ruler.

But the first three “beasts” reappear - (“The rest of the beasts”). In the historical record, each kingdom succeeded its predecessor. In the symbolical world of the vision, on some level, the four realms remain contemporaneous with the “little horn.”

In the first half of the vision, nothing was said about the destruction the first three beasts; all four continued to exist until they were destroyed collectively by an act of judgment. Likewise, in Nebuchadnezzar’s earlier vision, all four sections of the great image” were destroyed simultaneously by the stone cut “without hands” – They were constituent parts of one whole.

Each kingdom was “given a lengthening of life until a time and season.” Each endured for the time allotted by God but no longer, and each lost dominion and received the duration of life at the appointed time.  The end of the first three “beasts” was inextricably linked to the destruction of the last one; especially, to the demise of its “little horn.”

The destruction of the fourth kingdom brought the entire World-Power to an end, just as in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream when the “stone” struck the “feet” of the “great image,” causing the destruction of the entire structure.  The sovereignty of the World-Power past successively from one kingdom to the next, and each exercised the same malevolent power. The form may have varied, but the nature of each regime remained the same.

In the interpretation, the length of a “season and time” is not defined, but it constitutes a link to Daniel’s earlier statement about how God “changes times and seasonshe removes kings and sets up kings.” This confirms the control of Yahweh over political events on the earth - (Daniel 2:19-23).
On some level, the lengthening of life meant each “beast” continued to exist in the subsequent regimes. Nebuchadnezzar saw four individual kingdoms represented by one figure comprised of four sections. Thus, the World-Power has multiple incarnations but is a single entity. Its form varies over space and time, but its true nature does not.

One like a son of man” was seen approaching the “Ancient of Days,” but only after the destruction of the fourth beast. The image provides a sharp contrast to the monstrous four “beasts,” especially to the “little horn speaking great things.” The nature of God’s kingdom differs from the beastly nature of the World-Power. Behind the image is the Genesis account of the creation of Adam. Yahweh made man in His “likeness” and charged him to take dominion over the earth. The “son of man” in Daniel succeeds where Adam failed.

The “Son of Man” did not receive the kingdom until judgment was given “for the saints,” and the “beast” was slain. Recorded in the “books” are the deeds of the four “beasts.” But the arrival of God’s kingdom did not produce their immediate destruction.

The “Son of Man” approached the “Ancient of Days” to receive the kingdom. This is another link to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, where he saw the “stone cut out without hands” that became “a kingdom that will never be destroyed” - (Daniel 2:44-45).

In the Book of Revelation, the vision of the four “beasts ascending from the sea” is modified. The four creatures become a single beast summoned by the “Dragon” from the sea. That “beast” includes the same animalistic features as the four “beasts from the sea.” It also has “ten horns” and a mouth “speaking great blasphemies.” It is related to Daniel’s four beasts, but also something more, and presumably even worse.

In Daniel, the “little horn” of the fourth “beast” waged “war against the saints and prevailed over them.” Likewise, in Revelation, the “beast from the sea” with a “mouth speaking great things” waged “war against the saints and overcame them.” And in both Daniel and Revelation, the saints do not take full possession of the kingdom until after their ordeal at the hands of the “beast” – (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:7).

As portrayed in the fifth seal opening, martyred saints must wait for vindication until the full number of martyrs has been assembled. Only when the seventh trumpet is sounded are the righteous vindicated, and the “kingdom of the world (singular)” becomes the “kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever.”


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