Today’s Scripture Focus: Daniel 7:9-18
In the first half of the book of Daniel, the prophet interpreted the dreams of the various kings under whom he served. The second half of the book contains the four dreams or visions of Daniel himself. Chapter 7 in the last chapter of the book in Aramaic, the international language of the time. Beginning in chapter 8, the book switches back to Hebrew, the language of God’s people. Therefore, chapter 7 is a key transitional chapter in Daniel—from visions of kings dealing with immediate circumstances affecting many nations, to visions of Daniel dealing with future events affecting the people of God.
Daniel’s first vision involves four beasts—a lion with wings, a bear on its side, a four headed leopard, and a ten horned creature with iron teeth that smashes everything in its path (possibly an elephant). The fourth beast is the worst. On its head is a “little horn” that blasphemes God. Suddenly the vision shifts as Daniel is transported to the throne room of God. Someone “like” a human stands before God. The fourth beast is allowed to continue bragging arrogantly for a season. Then, it is utterly destroyed by fire. The other three beasts are subdued , and authority is given to the Son of Man to rule forever.
Daniel, who was able with God’s help to interpret the dreams of others, now needs the help of a servant to interpret his own. The four beasts represent four empires. The fourth one will be the worst, and will both blaspheme God and persecute God’s people. But to which four empires does this vision refer? As with all prophetic scriptures, there is more than one possible interpretation, and usually more than one is correct. The original readers of Daniel would have understood the fourth empire to be that of the Seleucid Greeks under Antiochus IV, who greatly persecuted the Jews and defiled the Temple by slaughtering a pig on its altar.
Of course, early Christians would have read this same passage through a different lens, and could easily have viewed the fourth kingdom as Rome and the “little horn” as Nero. They would have had a greater understanding of the Son of Man whose kingdom was without end, as they had experienced first hand the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, God’s Messiah. Today, we have an even broader bird’s eye view of Daniel’s vision. We know many empires and emperors have stood against the children of God—and we know even more wicked ones are yet to arise. However, “there is a God in Heaven”. God is still on the throne, and Jesus, the Son of Man, still rules and reigns forever!
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
What are some ways we can make the Christmas season better for those who may be suffering, struggling, or sad this year? Talk about ideas, the commit together as a group to actually do one of them!
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?