It was the first year that Belshazzar was king of Babylon. Daniel had a dream. He was lying on his bed. In his dream, visions passed through his mind. He wrote down what he saw.
Daniel said, "I had a vision at night. I looked up and saw the four winds of heaven. They were stirring up the Mediterranean Sea.
Four large animals came up out of the sea. Each one was different from the others.
"The first animal was like a lion. It had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off. Then it was lifted up from the ground. It stood on two feet like a man. And a man's heart was given to it.
"I saw a second animal. It looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides. And it had three ribs between its teeth. It was told, 'Get up! Eat meat until you are full!'
"After that, I saw another animal. It looked like a leopard. On its back were four wings like the wings of a bird. It had four heads. And it was given authority to rule.
"After that, in my vision I looked up and saw a fourth animal. It was terrifying and very powerful. It had large iron teeth. It crushed those it attacked and ate them up. It stomped on anything that was left. It was different from the other animals. And it had ten horns.
"I thought about the horns. Then I saw another horn. It was a little one. It grew up among the other horns. Three of the first horns were pulled up by their roots to make room for it. The little horn had eyes like the eyes of a man. Its mouth was always bragging.
"As I watched, "thrones were set in place. The Eternal God took his seat. His clothes were as white as snow. The hair on his head was white like wool. His throne was blazing with fire. And flames were all around its wheels.
A river of fire was flowing. It was coming out from in front of God. Thousands and thousands of angels served him. Millions of them stood in front of him. The court was seated. And the books were opened.
"Then I continued to watch because of the way the horn was bragging. I kept looking until the fourth animal was killed. I watched until its body was destroyed. It was thrown into the blazing fire.
The authority of the other animals had been stripped away from them. But they were allowed to live for a period of time.
"In my vision I saw One who looked like a son of man. He was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Eternal God. He was led right up to him.
And he was given authority, glory and a kingdom. People from every nation and language worshiped him. His authority will last forever. It will not pass away. His kingdom will never be destroyed.
"My spirit was troubled. The visions that passed through my mind upset me.
I approached an angel who was standing there. I asked him what all of those things really meant. "So he explained everything to me. He told me what it meant. He said,
'The four large animals stand for four kingdoms. The kingdoms will appear on the earth.
But the holy people of the Most High God will receive the kingdom. They will possess it forever. It will belong to them for ever and ever.'
"Then I wanted to know what the fourth animal stood for. It was different from the others. It was the most terrifying of all. It had iron teeth and bronze claws. It crushed those it attacked and ate them up. It stomped on anything that was left.
"I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head. And I wanted to know about the other horn that grew up later. It caused three of the ten horns to fall out. It appeared to be stronger than the others. It had eyes. And its mouth was always bragging.
"I saw that the horn was at war with God's people. It was winning the battle over them.
But then the Eternal God came. He decided in favor of his holy people. So the time came when the kingdom was given to them.
"Here's how the angel explained it to me. He said, 'The fourth animal stands for a fourth kingdom. It will appear on earth. It will be different from the other kingdoms. It will eat up the whole earth. It will stomp on it and crush it.
The ten horns stand for ten kings. They will come from the fourth kingdom. " 'After them another king will appear. He will be different from the earlier ones. He'll bring three kings under his control.
He'll speak against the Most High God. He'll treat God's people badly. He will try to change the times and laws that were given by God. God's people will be handed over to him for three and a half years.
" 'But the court will open. And the power of that king will be taken away from him. It will be completely destroyed forever.
Then the authority, power and greatness of all of the kingdoms on earth will be handed over to the people of the Most High God. His kingdom will last forever. Every ruler will worship and obey him.'
"That's all I saw. My thoughts deeply troubled me. My face turned pale. But I kept those things to myself."