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Daniel’s Vision of Four Beasts

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon,[a] Daniel had a dream. When he was on his bed, he saw visions in his head. Then he wrote down the dream by recording the main points.

Daniel said:

During my visions at night, I was watching and saw the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four large beasts were coming out of the sea, each one different from the others.

The first was like a lion. It had wings like an eagle. I kept watching until its wings were plucked off. Then it was lifted up from the earth so that it stood on its feet like a man, and a man’s mind was given to it.

Then another appeared, a second beast that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side. Three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth. This is what was being said to it: “Arise, devour much flesh.”

After this, I kept watching and another beast appeared which was like a leopard. It had four bird wings on its back. The beast had four heads, and dominion[b] was given to it.

After this, I kept watching the night visions, and another beast appeared. The fourth beast was frightening and terrifying and very strong. It had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed. With its feet it trampled whatever was left. Now it was different from all the beasts that came before it. It had ten horns.

I was thinking about the horns when suddenly another horn, a little one, came up among them. Three of the horns that had already been there were uprooted to make room for it. I noticed eyes like human eyes on that horn, and it had a mouth which was speaking boastfully.

The Coming of the Son of Man

I continued to watch until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days was seated. His clothing was white as snow, and the hair on his head was like pure wool. His throne was flames of fire. Its wheels were blazing fire. 10 A river of fire flowed out from his presence. Thousands upon thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and books were opened.

11 I kept paying attention to the sound of the boastful words that the horn was speaking. I kept watching until the beast was killed, and its body was destroyed and thrown into the burning fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion had been taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a set period of time.

13 I kept watching the night visions, and there, in the clouds of heaven, I saw one like a son of man[c] coming. He came to the Ancient of Days, and he was brought before him. 14 To him was given dominion, honor, and a kingdom. All peoples, nations, and languages will worship him. His dominion is an eternal dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

An Angel Explains the Four Beasts

15 I, Daniel—my spirit was distressed within my body, and the visions in my head disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there, and I asked him for the truth about all this. So he spoke to me and made the meaning of these visions clear to me. 17 “These great beasts are four kings who will arise from the earth. 18 But the saints[d] of the Most High will receive the kingdom, and they will possess the kingdom forever—yes, forever and ever.”

19 Then I wanted to be certain about that fourth beast that was different from all the others. It was very frightening. Its teeth were iron, and its claws were bronze. It devoured and crushed, and whatever was left it trampled with its feet. 20 I also wanted to be certain about the ten horns on its head, about the other horn that came up, and about the three horns that fell to make room for it. What is more, that horn had eyes and a mouth that was speaking boastful things. Its appearance was greater than that of the other horns that were with it. 21 I kept watching, and that horn made war against the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was rendered in favor of the saints of the Most High. Then the time came, and the saints took possession of the kingdom.

23 So this is what he said to me:

The fourth beast is the fourth kingdom that will come on the earth. It will be different from all the kingdoms. It will devour the entire earth, trample it, and smash it. 24 As for the ten horns—ten kings will arise from that kingdom, and another king will arise after them. He will be different from the previous ones, and he will humble three kings. 25 He will speak words against the Most High so that he will wear down the saints of the Most High. Moreover, he has plans to change times and the law. So the saints will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

The Establishment of the Kingdom of God

26 Then the court will be seated, and the horn’s dominion will be taken away in order to destroy it and wipe it out forever. 27 But the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under all the heavens will be given to the people, to the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and all dominions will worship and obey him.

28 This was the end of the matter. I, Daniel—my thoughts troubled me greatly. My appearance changed and my face became pale, but I kept the matter to myself.

Footnotes

  1. Daniel 7:1 About 553 bc, after Daniel had been in exile more than 50 years
  2. Daniel 7:6 Or authority to rule
  3. Daniel 7:13 This prophecy forms the basis of Jesus’ use of the title Son of Man. At this point the words son of man are not yet a title but a description. Later, Son of Man is a title that indicates not only Jesus’ humanity but also his deity, since it reminds us that he ruled with God the Father from eternity.
  4. Daniel 7:18 Or holy people

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