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The vision of the wild animals in Daniel 7 builds on the vision of Daniel 2, which was of a huge multi-metal image of a man. The different metals represented the world empires that dominated and oppressed God's chosen people from the time of Daniel until the time of the end. The image had a head of gold that symbolized the Babylonian empire, a chest of silver that represented the Medo-Persian empire, a belly of brass that represented the Greek Hellenistic empire, iron thighs that symbolized the pagan Roman empire, and legs of iron mixed with clay that represented the powers of Europe bound together by the Roman Catholic papacy. See Appendix 11 for more detailed information.

The vision of Daniel 7 presents the same picture but fills in more details about the empires that persecuted God's people. The prophet saw four wild animals rising from the “Great Sea.” The first was like a lion, again representing Babylon. The second, like a bear, symbolizes the Medo-Persian empire which defeated Babylon. The third animal was a four-headed leopard that represents the divided Greek Hellenistic kingdoms that succeeded Medo-Persia. The fourth animal was a monster unlike anything Daniel had ever seen before, with “huge iron teeth; it was breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet” (Daniel 7:7). This fierce monster represented the Roman Empire that conquered the Greek kingdoms. Out of this dreadful beast 10 horns arose, and then “there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them...He shall be different from the first ones...He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law” (Daniel 7:8,24,25). The “little horn” that arose from the Roman Empire represented the medieval papacy that dominated the European powers, represented by the ten horns. The following table  summarize the image of Daniel 2 and the animals of Daniel 7.


Image of Daniel 2 Animals of Daniel 7 Empire Represented
Head of Gold Lion Babylonian Empire
Breast of Silver Bear Medo-Persian Empire
Belly of Brass Leopard Greek Hellenistic Empire
Legs of Iron Terrible Beast Pagan Roman Empire
Feet of Iron and Clay Ten Horns and Little Horn Papal Roman Empire

Daniel 2 Chart

The wild animals of Daniel 7 had a total of 7 heads and ten horns and were the same animals that comprised the beast that rose out of the sea in Revelation 13. This implies that he seven heads of the sea beast symbolize seven  major characteristics that derive from the ancient empires represented by the animals. John said that the sea beast was “like a leopard” (Revelation 13:2), in other words, it most resembled the characteristics of the leopard of Daniel 7, which symbolized the Greek Empire. The leopard had 4 heads, representing four major characteristics of the Greek Empire: the pantheon of Greek gods, highly advanced Greek philosophy, the pervasive Hellenic culture, and the unity of church and state. The sea beast had the “feet of a bear.” Feet (paws) symbolize executive power, and the Persian Empire, represented by the bear, was known for its highly organized hierarchical government and unchangeable laws. “His [the sea beast's] mouth [was] like the mouth of a lion.” The lion symbolized Babylon, and the “mouth” of Babylon was the Chaldean priesthood with their ritual magic. The sea beast had “ten horns” like the Roman monster of Daniel 7, and these horns symbolize overwhelming military might. 

Appendix 11 provides a detailed analysis of the characteristics of these ancient empires, and shows how they are also the basic characteristics of the medieval papacy. This is not surprising, because the visions of Daniel found in chapters 2,7,8 and 11 all focus on the papal Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church of the Middle ages had the characteristics of the ancient empires: a pantheon of "gods” (the saints), a theology based on Greek philosophy, a pervasive Catholic culture, the union of church and state, a hierarchy with the pope at the top creating infallible laws, a system of priests performing “magic” rituals. and the powerful military forces of the European nations at its disposal.

Why is there such a focus on the medieval Papacy in both Daniel and Revelation? This identification is important because the papacy of the Middle Ages is the prototype for the final persecuting power of the last days. We will see later in this chapter and in chapter 17 that it is very similar to the beast that John saw rising ot of the sea. The final enemy of God's faithful followers will not be communism, secular humanism, atheism, or neo-paganism. It wil be legalistic "christianity," which, like the medieval Papacy, will use coercive force to impose its version of "God's will."

Continue to next section:    THE LITTLE HORN AND THE SEA BEAST

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