In the first year of Babylon's King Belshazzar, Daniel had a dream—a vision in his head as he lay on his bed. He wrote the dream down. Here is the beginning of the account:
I am Daniel. In the vision I had during the night I saw the four winds of heaven churning the great sea.
Four giant beasts emerged from the sea, each different from the others.
The first was like a lion with eagle's wings. I observed it until its wings were pulled off, and it was lifted up from the ground. It was then set on two feet, like a human being, and it received a human mind.
Then I saw another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told: "Get up! Devour much flesh!"
I kept watching, and suddenly there was another beast, this one like a leopard. On its back it had four wings like bird wings. This beast had four heads. Authority was given to it.
After this, as I continued to watch this night vision, I saw a fourth beast, terrifying and hideous, with extraordinary power and with massive iron teeth. As it ate and crushed, its feet smashed whatever was left over. It was different from all the other beasts before it, and it had ten horns.
I was staring at the horns when, suddenly, another small horn came up between them. Three of the earlier horns were ripped out to make room for it. On this new horn were eyes like human eyes and a mouth that bragged and bragged.
As I was watching, thrones were raised up. The ancient one took his seat. His clothes were white like snow; his hair was like a lamb's wool. His throne was made of flame; its wheels were blazing fire.
A river of fire flowed out from his presence; thousands upon thousands served him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood ready to serve him! The court sat in session; the scrolls were opened.
I kept watching. I watched from the moment the horn started bragging until the beast was killed and its body was destroyed, handed over to be burned with fire.
Then the authority of the remaining beasts was brought to an end, but they were given an extension among the living for a set time and season.
As I continued to watch this night vision of mine, I suddenly saw one like a human beinga coming with the heavenly clouds. He came to the ancient one and was presented before him.
Rule, glory, and kingship were given to him; all peoples, nations, and languages will serve him. His rule is an everlasting one— it will never pass away!— his kingship is indestructible.
Now this caused me, Daniel, to worry.b My visions disturbed me greatly.
So I went to one of the servants who was standing ready nearby. I asked him for the truth about all this. He spoke to me and explained to me the meaning of these things.
"These four giant beasts are four kings that will rise up from the earth,
but the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingship. They will hold the kingship securely forever and always."
Next I wanted greater clarity about the fourth beast, the one that was different from all the others and utterly terrifying with its iron teeth and bronze claws. As it ate and crushed, its feet smashed whatever was left over.
I wanted greater clarity about the ten horns on its head, and the other horn that came up, along with the three that fell out to make room for it—but especially about the horn that had eyes and a mouth that bragged, and that seemed more important than the others.
As I watched, this same horn waged war against the holy ones and defeated them,
until the Ancient One came. Then judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High. The set time arrived, and the holy ones held the kingship securely.
This is what he said: "The fourth beast means that there will be a fourth kingship on the earth. It will be different from all the other kingships. It will devour the entire earth, trample it, crush it.
The ten horns mean that from this kingship will rise ten kings, and after them will rise yet another. He will be different from the previous ones. He will defeat three kings.
He will say things against the Most High and will exhaust the holy ones of the Most High. He will try to change times set by law. And for a period of time, periods of time, and half a period of time, they will be delivered into his power.
Then the court will sit in session. His rule will be taken away— ruined and wiped out for all time.
The kingship, authority, and power of all kingdoms under heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. Their kingship is an everlasting one; every authority will serve them and obey."
The account ends here. Now as for how I, Daniel, felt about this: My thoughts disturbed me greatly. My mood darkened considerably, and I kept thinking about this matter.