Four Great Monarchies
“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.” Dan. 7:1.
NOTE.-That is, in the first year of Belshazzar’s office as associate king with his father Nabonadius, or 540 B.C.
What effect did this dream have upon Daniel?
“I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” Dan. 7:15.
NOTE.-The effect of Daniel’s dream upon him, it will be noticed was similar to the effect of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams upon him; it troubled him. See Dan. 2:1.
What did Daniel ask of one of the heavenly attendants who stood by him in his dream?
“I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.” Dan. 7:16.
What did the prophet see in this vision?
“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.” Dan. 7:2.
What was the result of this strife?|
“And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” Dan. 7:3.
What did these four beasts represent?
“These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” Dan. 7:17.
NOTE.-The word kings here, 88 in Dan. 2:44, denotes kingdoms, as explained in verses 23 and 24 of the seventh chapter, the two words being used interchangeably in this prophecy.
In symbolic language, what is represented by winds?
Strife, war, commotion. See Jer. 25:31-33; 49:36,37.
NOTE.-That winds denote strife and war is evident from the vision itself. As a result of the striving of the winds, kingdoms rise and fall.
What, in prophecy, is symbolized by waters?
“And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest . . . are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Rev. 17:15.
NOTE.-In the second chapter of Daniel, under the figure of an image of man, the mere political outline of the rise and fall of earthly kingdoms is given, preceding the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom. In the seventh chapter, earthly governments are represented as viewed in the light of Heaven,- under the symbols of wild and ferocious beasts,- the last, in particular, oppressing and persecuting the saints of the Most High. Hence the change in the symbols used to represent these kingdoms.
What was the first beast like?
“The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” Dan. 7:4.
NOTE.-The lion, the first of these four great beasts, like the golden head of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, represents the Babylonian monarchy; the lion, the king of beasts, standing at the head of his kind, as gold does of metals. The eagle’s wings doubtless denote the rapidity with which Babylon extended its conquests under Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned from B.C. 604 to B.C. 561. This kingdom was overthrown by the Medes and Persians in B.C. 538.
By what was the second kingdom symbolized?
“And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” Dan. 7:5.
NOTE.-“This was the Medo-Persian Empire, represented here under the symbol of a bear. . . . The Medes and Persians are compared to a bear on account of their cruelty and thirst after blood, a bear being a most voracious and cruel animal.”- Adam Clarke, on Dan. 7:5.
By what was the third universal empire symbolized?
“After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.” Dan. 7:6.
NOTES.-If the wings of an eagle on the back of a lion denoted rapidity of movement in the Babylonian, or Assyrian, Empire (see Hab. 1:6-8), four wings on the leopard must denote unparalleled celerity of movement in the Grecian Empire. This we find to be historically true.
“The rapidity of Alexander’s conquests in Asia was marvelous: he burst like a torrent on the expiring Persian Empire, and all opposition was useless. The gigantic armies collected to oppose him melted like snow in the sunshine. The battles of Granicus, B.C. 334, Issus in the following year, and Arbela in B.C. 331, settled the fate of the Persian Empire, and established the wide dominion of the Greeks.”-“The Divine Program of the World’s History,” by H. Grattan Guinness, page 308.
“The beast had also four heads.” The Grecian Empire maintained its unity but a short time after the death of Alexander, which occurred in B.C. 323. Within twenty-two years after the close of his brilliant career, or by B.C. 301, the empire was divided among his four leading generals. Cassander took Macedonia and Greece in the west; Lysimachus had Thrace and the parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosporus in the north; Ptolemy received Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria in the south; and Seleucus had all the rest of Alexander’s dominions in the east.
How was the fourth kingdom represented?
“After this I saw in the night-visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.” Dan. 7:7.
What was the fourth beast declared to be?
“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” Dan. 7:23.
NOTES.-“This is allowed on all hands to be the Roman Empire. It was dreadful, terrible, and exceeding strong; . . . and became, in effect, what the Roman writers delight to call it, the empire of the whole world.” -Adam Clarke, on Dan. 7:7.
The final overthrow of the Greeks, by the Romans, was at the battle of Pydna, in 168 B.C.
What was denoted by the ten horns?
“And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.” Dan. 7:24.
NOTES.-The Roman Empire was broken up into ten kingdoms between the years 351 A.D. and 476 A.D.
“The historian Machiavelli, without the slightest reference to this prophecy, gives the following list of the nations which occupied the territory of the Western Empire at the time of the fall of Romulus Augustulus (476 A.D.), the last emperor of Rome: The Lombards the Franks, the Burgundians, the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Heruli, the Suevi, the Huns, and the Saxons: ten in all.
“Amidst unceasing and almost countless fluctuations, the kingdoms of modern Europe have from their birth to the present day averaged ten in number. They have never since the breaking up of old Rome been united into one single empire; they have never formed one whole even like the United States. No scheme of proud ambition seeking to reunite the broken fragments has ever succeeded; when such have arisen, they have been invariably dashed to pieces.
“And the division is as apparent now as ever. Plainly and palpably inscribed on the map of Europe this day, it confronts the skeptic with its silent but conclusive testimony to the fulfillment of this great prophecy. Who can alter or add to this tenfold list of the kingdoms now occupying the sphere of old Rome? Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, England, Holland, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal – ten, and no more; ten, and no less.”-“The Divine Program of the World’s History,” by H. Grattan Guinness, pages 318-321.
What change did Daniel see take place in these horns?
“I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Dan. 7:8.
What inquiry on the part of Daniel shows that the fourth beast, and especially the little horn phase of it, constitutes the leading feature of this vision?
“Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.” Dan. 7:19,20.
When was the little horn to arise?
“And another shall rise after them.” Dan. 7:24.
NOTE.-The ten horns, as already shown, arose when Rome, the fourth kingdom, was divided into ten kingdoms. This division was completed in A. D. 476. The little-horn power was to arise after them.
What was to be the character of the little horn?
“And he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.” Dan. 7:24, last part.
NOTES.- That power which arose in the Roman Empire after the fall of Rome in A.D. 476, which was entirely different from all the ten kingdoms into which Rome was divided (for it demanded and exercised spiritual power over the other kingdoms), and before whom three of the other kings -the Heruli the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths -fell, was the Papacy.
Having located the place and the time of the kingdom of the little horn, the study of its character and work will be considered in the readings which follow.