Chapter 11

Prophecies in Daniel

A great Jewish prophet Daniel wrote his remarkable book in ancient times, during the sixth century B.C.  Daniel, a handsome man with no physical defect (Dan. 1:4a—see “pride in our appearance”: C-9, P-II), was one of the many Jews taken captive into Babylon around 600 B.C., following the destructive Babylonian invasion of Israel (see “partially fulfilled prophecies”: C-2, P-III).  The Book of Daniel emphasizes the truth that God is in control of world history and that what He has determined will occur.

Many of the prophecies in the Book of Daniel already have been fulfilled, and in remarkable detail.  In fact, one of Daniel’s prophecies, concerning the downfall of King Belshazzar, came to pass the very night the prophecy was made (Dan. 5:17b,26-28,30,31—see “Libra and Crux”: C-9, P-IV, S-1).  Because of the astounding accuracy of the fulfilled prophecies in Daniel, some find it impossible to believe that he is the author of the book (or else prefer to believe that he is one of two authors), as they are unwilling to accept the idea that he so accurately could foretell the future before it happened.  However, all Bible prophecies by other prophets, other than those dealing with the events at the end of this age, already have been fulfilled (including, for instance, numerous ones concerning the Messiah, Jesus—see “ Psalm 22,” “ Isaiah 53,” and “more prophecies fulfilled”: C-3, P-II).  The prophecies in Daniel are no different.  Plus, the Book of Daniel has been found in the oldest Greek Bible translation, the Septuagint, and in the Dead Sea Scrolls (see “Dead Sea Scrolls”: C-3, P-III), dating back to the second and third centuries B.C. before many of the events predicted took place.

Without question, some of the prophecies included in the Book of Daniel rank with others in the Bible as being paramount in giving clear knowledge and understanding about the future of Israel and of our world.  For this reason, I have devoted an entire chapter to these and related prophecies.


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Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams

During the time of the Jewish captivity in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had two dreams which greatly troubled and even terrified him and of which he desired to know the meanings (Dan. 2:1-3, 4:4-6).  He could not even remember the first dream and could not explain the second; yet he expected his astrologers and wise men to interpret both dreams, though of course they could not (2:2-4,7,10-12, 4:6,7,18).  God then revealed the mystery of the first dream to Daniel at night in a vision, for which Daniel gave God praise (2:19-23).  The Spirit of God—erroneously referred to as “the spirit of the holy gods” by King Nebuchadnezzar (4:9a,18c), who had no concept of the Triune God—also revealed the meaning of the second dream to Daniel.  (For a description of the second prophetic dream and its fulfillment, see “humiliation of King Nebuchadnezzar”: C-9, P-II.)

Concerning the first dream, Daniel reminded the king that he had dreamed of an enormous statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.  A rock, which had been “...cut out, but not by human hands,” struck and smashed the iron and clay feet of the statue.  At the same time, the rest of the statue crumbled and was blown away without a trace (Dan. 2:31-35b).  However, “...the rock that had struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (2:35c).

In his interpretation, Daniel explained that the head of gold represented King Nebuchadnezzar and the great Kingdom of Babylon.  Subsequently, and in chronological order, other kingdoms would arise in its place, each one conquering the one before it.  The final kingdom (portrayed by the feet and ten toes of iron mixed with clay) would be a mixture of different peoples and would not remain united (Dan. 2:38c-43), just as iron does not mix well with clay.

Daniel indicated that, at the time of the final man-made kingdom,

...the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.  It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future.  The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy (Dan. 2:44,45).

Most of the details of this dream have been fulfilled exactly.  The only portion yet to take place is the rise and destruction of the final man-made kingdom on earth, which will come to pass at a future time.

fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream

As was stated, the head of “gold” represented the Babylonian Kingdom.  History has shown that the “silver” kingdom, having two parts (that is, two “arms”), was the Median Empire and the Persian Empire, the combination of which conquered Babylon (see “stronghold ‘doors’ and ‘gates’ in the heavenlies”: C-10, P-III).  The empire which subsequently overcame the Medo-Persian Empire was the Greek Empire, the “bronze” kingdom.  Next, the Greek Empire was defeated and replaced by the “iron” kingdom, the Roman Empire.  The latter also had two parts (that is, two “legs”), one having Rome as its capital and the other having its center in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey).

These portions of the dream already have taken place as predicted.  What has yet to come onto the scene is the “divided kingdom,” having ten parts (represented by the “toes” on the “feet”), which will be strong as iron (being an outgrowth of the “iron” legs, the Roman Empire) but also weak as clay, because the people in the individual parts (“toes”) will be diverse and will not readily “mix” together as a unit.  I believe this to be a revival (or revisal) of the old Roman Empire.  Apparently, it will be a modified form of the present-day European Economic Community (EEC) or, more commonly, European Union (EU—see “the EU nations” later in this part), which officially unified on January 1, 1993.

Having visited seven European countries, I have observed that each one is very different from its neighbors, unlike American states.  Crossing a border means encountering a completely dissimilar language, culture, set of customs, and even cuisine.  These countries have been drawn together out of economic necessity; otherwise, they have very little in common and would just as soon remain apart.

Daniel’s dream

At another time, Daniel also had a fascinating dream; I will discuss a portion of it.  He dreamed of four beasts, one like a lion (Dan. 7:4a), the next like a bear (7:5a), the next like a leopard (7:6a), and the last incomparable to the rest because it was so terrifying, frightening, and powerful (7:7ad).

In Daniel’s dream, the fourth beast had ten horns (Dan. 7:7e), representing “...ten kings who will come from this [fourth] kingdom” (7:24a).  “Another (little) horn came up among them, uprooting three of the original horns” (7:8ab).  He is “...another king [who] will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings” (7:24bc).  This horn (king) will be a man who will speak boastfully (7:8c); in fact, “He will speak against the Most High [God]” (7:25a).  He will “...devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it” (7:23c).  And, he will have power and authority “...for a time, times and half a time” (7:25b)—that is, for 3½ years (a “time” = 1 year).

commentary on the beasts of Daniel’s dream

The general consensus of most Bible scholars (and I tend to agree) seems to be that the four “beasts” of Daniel’s dream represent the same empires—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome—as were depicted in the first of Nebuchadnezzar’s two dreams (see “Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams” earlier in this part).  (Some disagree with the choices of the first three beasts, feeling that they might represent the empires of Britain, Russia, and some type of an Arab conglomerate.)

There is little question in my mind that the fourth beast (kingdom) with “...large iron teeth...” (Dan. 7:7b) is the same as the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which was “...strong as iron...” (2:40a): the old Roman Empire.  Another parallel is that Daniel’s fourth beast (kingdom) had ten horns growing out of it, just as Nebuchadnezzar’s fourth kingdom had ten toes projected from it.  Again, I feel that a modified form of the present EU, which will contain countries originally part of the old Roman Empire, will be nations ruled by the ten horns (leaders).  The “little horn” will be discussed later (see “the ‘little horn’” later in this part).

the EU nations

Note:  My thinking and belief about this, and about everything to the end of this page, has been modified.  I no longer believe that the horns growing out of Daniel’s fourth beast are comparable to 10 European nations.  A new explanation can be read, in detail, in my commentary, “The Beasts.”

At the present time, the EU contains thirteen primary nations.  They are listed next, along with the years in which they joined the EU:

EU Nations & the Years They Joined

EU Nation Year Joined
  1)  Belgium 1948
  2)  Netherlands 1948
  3)  Luxembourg 1948
  4)  (West) Germany 1957
  5)  Italy 1957
  6)  France 1957
  7)  Ireland 1973
  8)  Denmark 1973
  9)  United Kingdom 1973
10)  Greece 1981
11)  Spain 1986
12)  Portugal 1986
13)  Austria 1995
the “little horn”

The “little horn,” of Daniel’s dream, I believe, is a man, alive today, who will arise out of the EU empire.  At first, he probably will not be well-known (thus the adjective, “little”).  But, with time, he will become famous (or, rather, infamous) and extremely powerful.  At some point, he apparently will “uproot” or “subdue” the leaders of three other kingdoms within the EU.

Thus, Daniel’s statement that “...three of the first horns were uprooted...” (Dan. 7:8b) would mean that three of the original thirteen leaders (or nations) would be taken out, leaving ten, which Daniel saw as the ten in his dream.  It is not certain at what point this leader will “subdue” the leaders of three other nations; but I suspect it will occur after he rises to power, which will be during the first 3½ years following the ratification of the seven-year covenant involving Israel.  (If this is so, I would predict that the three to be subdued will be Ireland, Denmark, and Germany.  Ireland and Denmark were not part of the old Roman Empire, and only a very small portion of Germany was included in it boundaries.  Of course, this is only personal conjecture.)

Also, after Daniel mentioned the ten horns (Dan. 7:7e), he said that “...there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them” (7:8a).  Dr. Jack Van Impe, on his TV show, “Jack Van Impe Presents,” aired on TBN, has pointed out that Spain was the eleventh nation to join the EU and, therefore, that the “little horn” possibly could arise from Spain.  (As an aside, and possibly of some significance, is the fact that the first Israeli-Palestinian peace talks took place in Spain in October, 1991; Spain was the location of the World Expo and the Summer Olympics in 1992; and the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage from Spain to America was celebrated in October, 1992.  Of course, this focus on Spain may be nothing more than an interesting set of coincidences.)

Another possibility, concerning the horns in Daniel’s dream, is that the thirteen-nation membership of the EU somehow will be modified to ten, in a way yet unknown, before three are subdued.  In this case, the “little horn” will overcome or remove three of ten leaders (or nations), leaving seven.  At this point, however, I tend to believe that the latter will not be the sequence of events.

John’s vision of a beast with horns

In the latter part of the first century A.D., John (a disciple/apostle of Jesus who wrote the biblical books of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation) had a spectacular vision similar to that of Daniel.  For a reason which will become apparent, it is included in this chapter.

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.  He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns....  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. ...  One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.  The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. ...

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months [3½ years].  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. ...  And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation (Rev. 13:1bc,2a,3,5,6,7b).

“beast,” “red dragon,” and “little horn”

First of all, note the similarity of the description of John’s “beast” (having characteristics of a leopard, bear, and lion) with that of the first three beasts in Daniel’s dream (Dan. 7:4-6—see “Daniel’s dream” earlier in this part).  I believe that John’s “beast” signifies three things: 1) a collection of empires, 2) a person, and 3) an evil spirit.

As a collection of empires, it has seven heads (that is, it is a composite of the seven empires which ever have come or will come against Israel: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the modified EU).  I believe the ten horns, wearing ten crowns (Rev. 13:1c), are all on the seventh head (the future modified EU) and represent rulers of the modified EU, consisting of ten nations.  (“Modified EU” means the EU empire after it has been, I believe, altered to consist of exactly 10 nations.)

Let me point out here that the “red dragon” also envisioned by John (Rev. 12:3), symbolic of Satan, has seven crowned heads.  This is because Satan had authority over the six empires up to John’s time and will have authority over the seventh empire (EU) of the future (see the list in the previous paragraph).  His ten horns are not crowned because he will give his power and authority to rule the ten kingdoms of the final empire (modified EU) over to the person of the “beast” (13:2b).

As a person, John’s “beast” will “...utter proud words and blasphemies...” (Rev. 13:5a), just as Daniel’s “little horn” will speak “boastfully” (Dan. 7:8c) and “...against the Most High...” (7:25a).  Furthermore, he will “...exercise his authority for 42 months” (Rev. 13:5b) over most of the world (13:7b).  This period of time is 3½ years—the same amount of time (7:25b) Daniel’s “little horn” will have authority to “...devour the whole earth...” (7:23c).  (See “identity of the end-time ruler”: P-III, later in this chapter, for more information on this unique man.)

As an evil spirit, the “beast” will be the “spirit of the antichrist” or “spirit of falsehood” spoken of by John (1 John 4:3b,6c).  This spirit has had some degree of influence on the leadership of each off the “beast” empires listed previously.  He will come up out of the Abyss (Rev. 11:7, 17:8a—see “Abyss”: “references to hell”: C-14, P-I) to possess the human “beast,” who will epitomize the leadership of the “beast” of empires throughout history.

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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D.  Most rights reserved.