Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts (7:1–14)
This fifth kingdom, the kingdom of God, would destroy the other four kingdoms, just as the rock in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream destroyed the four kingdoms represented by the statue (Daniel 2:34–35,44–45). Indeed, Daniel watched until the fourth beast with its boastful “little horn” was destroyed and the other three beasts were stripped of their authority—though they were allowed to live for a time (verses 11–12).
13–14 Then Daniel saw something new: one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven; this “son of man” was led into the presence of God Himself (verse 13). What Daniel saw was none other than the glorified MESSIAH, Jesus Christ (see Mark 13:26; 14:62; Revelation 1:7,12–13). Jesus Himself clearly believed that Daniel’s words in verse 13 were a prediction of His own second coming.
Then, in Daniel’s dream, the “son of man” (Jesus) was given authority, glory and sovereign power (verse 14)—both in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). All peoples and nations worshiped him (see Philippians 2:9–11). Daniel saw that the dominion of this son of man was everlasting; his kingdom would never be destroyed (see Luke 1:32–33).
The Interpretation of the Dream (7:15–28)
15–18 Though Daniel, in his dream, had seen the Messiah prevail over the ungodly, he was still troubled by the beasts he had seen, especially the fourth one (verses 1920). So he spoke to one of those standing there (verse 16)—probably an angel, perhaps one of the thousands mentioned in verse 10—and asked him the meaning of his dream.
The angel confirmed that the four beasts symbolized four kingdoms (verse 17). Then he told Daniel (in his dream) that the saints of the Most High—the followers of the Messiah—would receive the fifth kingdom, God’s kingdom, and possess it forever (verse 18); that is, they would receive it as their inheritance (Matthew 5:3,10; 25:34; Romans 8:17).
19–22 Here Daniel asks the angel about the fourth beast, and especially about its “little horn.” Daniel saw that this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them (verse 21); he was clearly worried about what it meant.
23–25 The angel confirmed that the fourth beast was the most terrible of all and that it would devour the whole earth (verse 23)—the “whole earth” known in Daniel’s time. (The Romans did indeed “devourtheearth.”) The ten kings (ten horns) would give way to another king (the little horn), who would speak against God, oppress his saints, and try to change the set times and the laws—something that only God was entitled to do19 (verses 24–25).
26–28 In these final verses, the angel reaffirms that the court will sit, judgment will fall, and the ungodly kingdom of the fourth beast will be completely destroyed20 (verse 26). Then all earthly kingdoms will be handed over to the saints of God, the followers of the Messiah, whose kingdom will last forever.
Daniel was still troubled (verse 28). The Jewish exiles were hoping that God would soon restore them to peace and prosperity, but according to Daniel’s dream there were times of persecution yet to come (verses 21,25). Therefore Daniel kept the dream to himself until after the fall of Babylon, which took place about fifteen years later.