Daniel 7-9
(Daniel's Visions)
September 12th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

“‘He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.’”

- Daniel 9:27 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Today's chapters begin the second and last section of the book of Daniel. This section focuses on a series of astounding apocalyptic visions that Daniel experienced. The visions begin in chapter 7, when Daniel dreams of four strange beasts: One was a hybrid of a lion and an eagle; the second looked like a bear, the third a leopard, and the fourth like nothing he had ever seen before.

Daniel also saw a majestic throne on which God sat. He observed the killing of the fourth beast and the removing of power from the other three. Then, “a son of man” joined God at the throne.

Daniel asked one of the attendants to explain what he had just seen, and received the explanation that related the beasts to specific nations that would rise and fall. In the end, the “saints” and “people of the Mighty One” will rule in an everlasting kingdom.

Chapter 8 describes a subsequent vision in which Daniel observes two beasts: An odd-looking ram and a confident and aggressive goat. The goat overpowered the ram, but then experienced a bizarre transformation of the horns on its head. The angel Gabriel explained that the Ram represented the kings of Media and Persia, and the goat represented Greece – a future power. Greece would eventually be split into four separate kingdoms, represented in the vision by four separate horns that appeared on the goat’s head.

Chapter 9 records a long prayer from Daniel and an interpretation from the angel Gabriel. Daniel references the prophecy from Jeremiah regarding a seventy-year exile and notes that he prayed for mercy from God in response to this revelation. The prayer begins with praise for God and a long confession regarding the sins of the nation.

Daniel also acknowledges that the punishment endured by Israel is consistent with the laws given to Moses. After many paragraphs of praise and confession, Daniel begins to make supplications: “ ‘O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and wrath’ (9:16).” Finally, he asks for the prayer to be heard – not because the people are righteous, but because of God’s great mercy.

Then the angel Gabriel arrived to give additional insight, explaining a series of events in which the people will return to Jerusalem. But, in time there will be another “abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out of him’ (9:27).”

Reflection and Application

The visions in this second part of Daniel make clear that God is all-knowing for the past, present, and future. Why did God give Daniel such a bizarre vision instead of just explaining what would happen?

The description of the fourth beast is beyond comparison – it’s like something that the modern artist Salvador Dali might have painted, but seems to have no grounds in reality. The initial description is strange enough, but then it gets worse! Suddenly a new horn appears on this odd beast, but it has eyes and a mouth and then begins to boast!

The boasts were a waste of breath for the horn of the strange beast, as it was soon defeated. The interpretation that Daniel was given is that this beast would be a new nation that would conquer all others, it would have many kings, then one king would rule over them (the new horn), but he too would eventually be deposed.

The interpretation given in Baldwin’s book is that the lion is Babylon, the Bear is Medo-Persia, and the Leopard is Greece (1). Each one would succeed the other in turn. The strange beast is the Roman Empire – one that originates from far away and was like no other that had been seen before. In the vision recorded in chapter 8, the ram is Medo-Persia and the goat is Greece.

Confused yet? If we don’t totally follow these visions then we can rest assured that we are in good company. We know from expert analysis that apocalyptic literature is intended to encourage those who are oppressed by giving them a vision of divine victory. However, untangling all of the meanings can be an eternal task. Daniel concludes chapter 8 with some degree of helplessness: “I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding (8:27 - NIV).” He also says that he returned to the “king’s business” which presumably encompassed concepts that he could comprehend and deal with.

The full meaning of these visions will become clear one day. Perhaps we will have a better understanding when we dive into the study of the book of Revelation during the last week of the year. We encourage you to stick around for this grand conclusion and then compare to what we have seen in Ezekiel and Daniel.

Daniel rebounds in chapter 9 with a strong sense of clarity. The prayer is a wonderful model for us. Most of it is praise and confession. He had a pattern of beginning a paragraph with praise and then following with confession. He repeated this several times. Note what he did not do: First, he did not distance himself from the activities of his countrymen. He took on the mantle of blame alongside them. Second, he did not try to rationalize or justify the actions of the nation, but forthrightly admitted it.

When we have done wrong, or even if our family, team, company, or nation has done wrong, we are better served by confessing and seeking to move on then trying to defend or deny.

Daniel’s model for supplication was also exemplary. He suggests that the granting of his request would be consistent with the Lord’s character and humbly asks to be heard. Then, when explaining why this prayer might be granted he again turns towards the Lord, suggesting that he help them because he is merciful, not because they are good.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of the strange dreams that you have had and can recall?
    2. What would your prayer sound like today if you began it with praise and confession?
    3. What justification would you give for your prayer requests today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven we know you see the past, present, and future in ways that we can't understand and that you give us glimpses of what you see. Help us to understand your word.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    World Leaders


    (1) Baldwin, Joyce G, Daniel, an Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, Downers Grove, IL (USA), 1978

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading will be Daniel 10-12 (A Complex Vision)

    Comments and Questions
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