prophecy about world powers
About 606 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar II, ruler of the
Babylonian empire, captured Jerusalem. Daniel, a
teenager, was among the Jewish captives taken from
Jerusalem to Babylon. There he was educated, found
favor with kings Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar and
was promoted to various positions in the
Daniel had a number of prophetic dreams or
visions. The vision recorded in Daniel chapter 7
provides an important basic outline of major world
events. Its "beasts" and
"horns" apparently symbolize world
empires or powers and their leaders. Short
explanations and comments have been included in
1. 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. 2. Daniel
spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and,
behold, the four winds of the heaven
upon the great sea [in Bible prophecy the
sea is often used to symbolize the peoples and
nations of the world].
four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse
one from another. 4. The first
[referring to Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian
like a lion, and had eagleís 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 manís heart was given to
it. 5. And
behold another beast, a second, [the Medo-Persian Empire, 538 to 333 BC,
which replaced the Babylonian Empire]
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. 6. After this I
beheld, and lo another, like a leopard,
Grecian Empire was founded by Alexander the Great
about 333 BC, and replaced the Medo-Persian
had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the
beast had also four heads [upon Alexander the Great's death in 323
BC, four of his generals split the empire into
four smaller empires];
and dominion was given to it. 7. After this I
saw in the night visions, and behold a
fourth beast [the Roman Empire, first and second century
BC to 476 AD],
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. 8. 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.
till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient
whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of
his head like the pure wool: his throne was like
the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10. A fiery
stream issued and came forth from before him:
thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten
thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the
judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11. I beheld
then because of the voice of the great words which
the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was
slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the
burning flame. 12.
As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had
their dominion taken away: yet their lives were
prolonged for a season and time
ceased to be great powers, but continued as
peoples or nations].
saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like
the Son of man
the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of
days, and they brought him near before him. 14. And there
was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,
that all people, nations, and languages, should
serve him: his dominion is an everlasting
dominion, which shall not pass away, and his
kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
I Daniel was
grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and
the visions of my head troubled me. 16.
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. 17. These great
beasts, which are four, are four kings, which
shall arise out of the earth. 18.
saints of the most High shall take the
kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even
for ever and ever. 19. 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; 20.
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 [we'll see more about
this later], whose
look was more stout than his fellows. 21.
and the same horn made war with the saints, and
prevailed against them; 22.
Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to
the saints of the most High; and the time came
that the saints possessed the kingdom. 23. 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. 24. And the ten
horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall
arise: and another shall rise after them; and he
shall be diverse from the first, and he shall
subdue three kings. 25.
And he shall
speak great words against the most High, and shall
wear out the saints of the most High, and think to
change times and laws: and they shall be given
into his hand until a time and times and the
dividing of time [generally understood to
mean a period of three and a half years].
the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away
his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto
the end. 27.
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of
the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given
to the people of the saints of the most High,
whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all
dominions shall serve and obey him. 28.
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me
Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my
countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter
in my heart.
Daniel described a succession of world powers,
rising and falling, from his time until the
Kingdom of God arrived. In God's Kingdom "all
people, nations, and languages... and all
dominions shall serve and obey him."
There is a similar prophetic outline of history in
Daniel chapter 2, ending with this description of
in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven
set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:
and the kingdom shall not be left to other people,
but it shall break in pieces and consume all these
kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Many Bible scholars agree that the four beasts
refer to the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and
Roman Empires. But not many agree on what the
and the "little horn"
refer to. It is certainly clear that the Roman
Empire has passed from power. And it is clear that
the Kingdom of God has not arrived in physical
power as described by Daniel. So, who or what are
the ten horns and the little horn that appear
between the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God?
Do the horns appear immediately after the Roman
Empire? Or is there a gap in time between the
Roman Empire and the appearance of the horns,
making the horns difficult to trace in history?
To better understand Daniel's prophecy, it must
first be understood that the prophecy is not an
attempt to describe all the world's great powers.
There have been many other great world powers
(China, the Byzantine empire, the Ottoman empire,
Spain, England, Soviet Russia, and the United
States, for example) but they are not mentioned in
this prophecy. But the Jews and the nation Israel,
and the nations that affect them, are one of the
central topics of Bible prophecy. Daniel's
prophecy, as interpreted so far, focused only on
the world powers that had a profound impact on
Israel, specifically the Jews. Babylon conquered
Israel. The Medo-Persian Empire, in 538 BC, freed
the Jews from Babylonian rule and allowed them to
rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. The Grecian
Empire subjugated Israel and in 168 BC desecrated
the Jew's temple in Jerusalem. And the Roman
Empire, 70 AD, vanquished and scattered the Jews
and destroyed the temple.
There is speculation that with the scattering of
the Jews by the Romans, the fulfillment of
prophecy was suspended or delayed until "the
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"
(Luke 21:24)... until 1948 when a geographic,
national Israel was formed as a refuge for Jews
scattered all over the world. Now with Israel a
nation once again, fulfillment of prophecy will
resume. If the speculation is correct then the
have yet to appear: we should look for a union of
ten nations to rise to power. They would somehow
be involved with Israel. The "ten
kings" would then be followed by the
short-lived "little horn"
power, which will be replaced by the Kingdom of
Given the speculation above, some are now watching
Europe closely. They anticipate the "ten horns"
power may appear as a political and military union
of ten European nations. Those nations may become
involved in a military action against or involving
Israel. Other prophecies (Matthew 24:15, Daniel
9:24-27) also indicate a foreign force will occupy
Israel shortly before the Kingdom of God arrives
in physical power.
Daniel's prophecy shows that "the
Son of man," Jesus Christ, will be
and glory, and a kingdom, that all people,
nations, and languages, should serve him."
With Jesus "the
saints of the most High shall take the
kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even
for ever and ever." There are many
other prophecies about Jesus' return to establish
the Kingdom in physical power. Isaiah 2:4 is an
he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke
many people: and they shall beat their swords into
plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks:
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
Next we'll look at a few prophecies in the last
book of the Bible, the Revelation. Then we'll look
at Jesus' prophecy about His return.
Few Words About Prophecy
Prophecy About World Powers
Revelation: Signs of Our Times
Prophecy: Signs and Warnings
historian's view of the Kingdom of God
Does God Want From Us?
Does God Promise Us?
is God? What is God's
pages, in random order:
You "Saved"? Understanding Redemption and Salvation
days and three nights?
paradise and the thief
Garden of Eden
parable of Lazarus and the rich man