In the book of Daniel, there are three lists of kingdoms. What I will do in this lesson is give the interpretation of each vision.
In Daniel 2, king Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream which God gave Daniel the interpretation. The king saw an image with a golden head, a breast and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet with part iron and part clay. The king then saw a stone that was cut out without hands and that stone smote the image on the feet and broke them in pieces. Daniel reveals that the metals represent kingdoms which shall arise. He also told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold. The chart below shows the kingdoms and their corresponding part of the image.
Gold Head – Babylon
Silver Breast and Arms – Medo-Persia
Brass Belly and Thighs – Greece
Iron Legs – Rome
Feet and 10 Toes of Iron and Clay – 10 Kings in AntiChrist’s kingdom during the tribulation. This could be a mixture of pagan Rome and papal Rome or a mixture of democracies and dictatorships.
The Stone which destroys all the other kingdoms is Christ and He is the God of heaven which sets up His kingdom.
In Daniel 7, we have a similar pattern with one less kingdom. Instead of using metals, God uses beasts to represent these kingdoms. Although most teachers try to match these beasts with the metals in Daniel 2, they do not exactly match. Also, these beasts have a historical reference and a prophetic reference. It may be more exact to say that these beasts had in Daniel’s time both a near prophetic fulfillment and a far prophetic fulfillment as I will show below.
As I said above, most teachers try to match Daniel 7 with Daniel 2. However, look at Daniel 7:17 and the important word “shall”, which is future. The time that Daniel received this vision is given in verse 1, the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon. These beasts represent kingdoms that shall arise after Babylon. The near prophetic fulfillment or the historical fulfillment as far as we are concerned starts with the Medo Persian empire, then the Greeks, then the Roman empire.
The far prophetic fulfillment are empires that run parallel to these just mentioned. First, I will give the three empires of the far fulfillment and then give my explanation of my interpretation. The British empire is the lion with eagle’s wings. The Russian empire is the bear. The United States is the leopard with 4 heads and 4 wings.
The first beast is described in Daniel 7:4. A lion with eagle’s wings is a griffin. It is the symbol of Great Britain. The wings have been plucked (as in the American revolution). I take the man’s heart being given to it has to do with the humanism that has replaced the vibrant Christianity that used to make up England. Great Britain is similar to Persia in that these are the two empires which have sent the Jews back to the promised land through Artaxerxes decree and also the Balfour Declaration of 1918.
The second beast is described in Daniel 7:5. It is a bear that is raised up on one side with three ribs in its mouth. This is the Russian bear. The three ribs are the nations defeated by General winter. They are Charles XII’s Sweden, Napoleon’s France, and Hitler’s Germany. It is incredible to actually contemplate how much flesh this bear has devoured. Russia is similar to Greece in that it gets its language from them.
The third beast is described in Daniel 7:6 (see the 13 here). It is a leopard with 4 wings and 4 heads. This beast represents the United States. The leopard is the multi-cultural animal. The leopard is a yellow animal (Shem) with black spots (Ham) and a white belly (Japheth). It is the melting pot or mixture of the descendants of all three of the sons of Noah. The four heads are the way our government is structured with balance. We have the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The four wings represent states which are not part of the continental U.S. We have 2 wings now, Alaska and Hawaii. We have 2 wings to go. In order to balance the wings, the two states to come will be toward the northeast and the southeast. It seems reasonable to assume that the next state will be Puerto Rico to match Hawaii. To match Alaska, it looks like the matching land area is Greenland on the globe with also the possibility of Iceland. As far as the timing of adding these 2 states go: if we look at how numbers are used, 51 and 52, one state will be added before the rapture of the Church in 2023 and one state will be added during the tribulation between 2023 and 2030. For an explanation of how the numbers 51 and 52 are used in the scriptures see my teaching on the number 17 and also the Basic Outline for prophecy teaching. The United States is similar to Rome in its republic and also in its rise and decline.
There are a couple of other clues to consider when identifying these beasts. These beasts are in Daniel 7. The number 7 is often used symbolically to point to the Church in the Bible. In the spiritual realm, these three empires represent the three branches of Christianity: Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman. The United States will be instrumental in leading much of Christianity back to Rome before the rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ. Rome is called the mother of harlots in Revelation 17. The other clue that places these empires in the 6th of the 7, 1000 year periods of history is cross referencing the word beast from the 6th day of the creation account in Genesis 1 (see explanation in Basic Outline of bible prophecy.)
The last beast, the fourth beast that is mentioned here is AntiChrist’s kingdom which arises during the tribulation. It has 10 horns and matches the 10 toes of the image in Daniel 2.
As you saw in Daniel 2, we had 4 kingdoms and then the AntiChrist’s kingdom during the tribulation. Then in Daniel 7, we had 3 kingdoms and then the AntiChrist’s kingdom. Now in Daniel 8, the scriptures follow the same pattern of 1 less kingdom and then a description of AntiChrist’s kingdom. The identity of the two kingdoms are given in Daniel 8:20, 21 as Medo-Persia and Greece. Daniel 8 has a near and far prophetic fulfillment with these two kingdoms in mind in both fulfillments. Daniel 8 first describes Alexander the Great’s conquest of Medo-Persia and then the fact that Alexander’s kingdom was divided into 4 kingdoms: Greece, Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor (Turkey). These four kingdoms are again described in Daniel 11.
Daniel 8 mentions the little horn as does Daniel 7 who is the AntiChrist. In another lesson, I will spend more time looking specifically at the AntiChrist. Daniel 8 gives us the Medo-Persian kingdom (Iran) and the Greek kingdom as the two main kingdoms of the tribulation period. Daniel 8 seems to indicate that Iran will be the next world power after the rapture of the Church during the first half of the tribulation. It seems that Greece will rise as a world power and that the AntiChrist will rise up out of one of the 4 divisions of Alexander’s kingdom. With the pending collapse of the Greek economy, it is easy to see how Greece could follow the same pattern of Hitler’s Germany where a dynamic leader arises out of the ashes of economic collapse.
From Daniel 8, we should expect to see the continued rise of Iran as the next world power and I believe the first collapse of Greece and then the same rise for Greece and its new leader as we saw in 1930’s Germany. It seems that the AntiChrist will come out of one of the 4 divisions of Alexander’s kingdom. Revelation 2:13 seems to identify Pergamos (modern day Turkey as his origin).
Daniel 11 gives a more detailed account of the interaction of the 4 kings and kingdoms that came from Alexander’s Greece.