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Chapters 2 and 7 of Daniel refer to the same four gentile kingdoms but describe them quite differently (book excerpt)

From the Bible and history, Daniel’s Fourth Kingdom discusses each of the four [successive] gentile kingdoms [referred to in chapters 2 and 7 of the Book of Daniel. (The fulfillment of these “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24 NIV) points to the season of the return of Jesus Christ.)]. They [(the four kingdoms)] are described symbolically in Daniel 2 (NIV) as the head of gold (Babylon), the chest and arms of silver (Medo-Persia), the belly and thighs of bronze (Greece), and the legs of iron and feet and toes of iron and clay (Rome). Correspondingly, the same four kingdoms are further described symbolically in Daniel 7 (NIV) as four great beasts: a lion with wings of an eagle, two feet, and the mind of a human (Babylon); a bear that was higher on one side, with three ribs in its mouth (Medo-Persia); a leopard with four wings on its back, four heads, and power to rule (Greece); and a terrifying, frightening, and powerful fourth beast that will subjugate the whole earth, having large iron teeth, bronze claws, ten horns, and a little horn with eyes like a human and a boastful mouth (Rome).[1] . . . In Daniel 9:26 NIV, the Romans are described as “[t]he people of the ruler who will come” who destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in AD 70. As discussed [in my book], the coming Roman ruler is the Antichrist.

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Daniel was especially intrigued by the fourth beast (Daniel 7:19–20 KJV). I am too. In response to his inquiries about it, Daniel was told that the fourth beast is a fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire, with legs of iron and feet and toes of iron and clay, Daniel 2:33, 40-43 KJV) that “will devour the whole earth, trampling it down, and crushing it” (Daniel 7:23 NIV). The same verse in the KJV says that the fourth beast “shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces” (Daniel 7:23 KJV). Interpreting Daniel 7:19 KJV, Darby teaches that “violence and cruelty [have] always marked the conduct of the fourth beast; it is Europe, at all events, in the west.”[2] Revealing the amazing accuracy of these (and other) Bible prophecies, [my] book traces the historical devolution of the Roman Empire (the fourth kingdom) from its first (well-known) phase as a unified, iron-strong kingdom in the ancient Mediterranean region through its second[,] present (and less chronicled) phase as a continuing, divided, weaker, amalgamated, globe-dominating beast . . . .

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While chapters 2 and 7 of Daniel identify the same four kingdoms, Greidanus aptly observes that they are viewed from two different perspectives: (1) from a “human perspective” in Daniel 2, as “precious metals, ‘humane, majestic, but plagued with weakness . . .’ and gradually deteriorating”; and (2) from “God’s perspective” in Daniel 7, as increasingly awful beasts, “‘basically amoral, self-seeking, cruelly destructive, animal-like power-blocks.’”[3] In other words, impressive looking outwardly, corrupt and weak inwardly, and brutally destructive in conduct. As the beastly images in chapter 7 of Daniel indicate, God sees the political kingdoms of this world quite differently than [people] see them because God knows the true (unseen) character of a person, a nation of people, or a system of human government. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). Isaiah 11:3 (KJV) says of the Messiah: “He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes.”


[1]. Daniel 2:4 through the end of Daniel 7 was written in Aramaic, the most common language at the time, not in Hebrew. NIV Study Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1418, footnote 2:4; Daniel L. Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Daniel (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2017), 18.

[2]. [J. N.] Darby, Studies on The Book of Daniel: A Course of Lectures, [trans. from French, Third Edition (London: John B. Bateman, 1864, reprint),] 35, emphasis added.

[3]. [Sidney] Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Daniel [: Foundations for Expository Sermons (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012),] 204, quoting Gooding, emphasis added.



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