Two years elapsed between Daniel’s first vision in chapter 7 and his second vision in chapter 8. Like the first, this vision involved animals. Unlike the first, this vision provides great detail about one of the most famous men in history, about one of the least known men in history, and about one who will appear in the future and will be the most nefarious man in history. To Daniel, it was all future. To us, most of it is history—a history worth studying to prepare us for the future.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
Dictators through the ages have always known this truth: many people will give up their freedom for security. At no time in human history will this be more evident than during the terrible time that will come when the Antichrist rules the world. The Bible speaks of this world dictator in great detail and challenges people to make a choice—accept freedom in Christ and the security of everlasting life, or seek temporary security in the Antichrist and suffer enslavement to damnation.
When we turn the page from chapter 6 to chapter 7 in the book of Daniel, we leave the relatively easy narrative and biographical sections of the book to enter the more difficult and mysterious sections of prophecy. Daniel 7 offers an overview of God’s grand design for humanity. In this collage of prophecy, we’ll see the sovereignty of God once again—sovereignty we can trust in.
Whatever the eye perceives, it doesn't see it all. This is true not only in seeing but also in understanding what God is doing in the lives of His children. Our limited perspective leads us to the false assumption that the godly should not suffer, that God should prevent them from enduring trials. But what we do not see from our vantage point is how God uses the patient endurance of His suffering servants to bring others to Christ.
Of all the great men and women in the Bible, Daniel certainly ranks as one of the greatest. Without dispute he was a man of courage. But courage was not what made him great. History is filled with courageous devils. Daniel was great because he was exactly who he appeared to be—a man of unassailable integrity. Though this would prove dangerous, Daniel would not compromise his honour.
Courage is a foundation virtue, because it assures the validity of all other virtues. Without courage, convictions become corrupt. But with courage, convictions are honoured. Courage is that quality of controlling and directing fear into positive action. And though Daniel had already proved himself a man of courage, new reserves of valour were needed to stand up to a profane king and deliver a message of destruction.
Daniel chapter 4 is one of the most unusual chapters in the Bible. King Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. But this one proved to be his undoing and then his renewing. Prideful as a man, he became insane and lived like a beast until he humbled himself and praised God with some of the most eloquent words ever to fall from human lips.
Why is it the righteous are made to suffer? When we have been obedient to God, why do we often have to endure fiery ordeals? Where is God during these times? And what of His fairness and justice? These are natural questions for those who suffer unjustly. Daniel's three friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—could have asked similar questions. They literally went through a fiery trial, but they discovered that God was in their midst. And this truth is a comfort when the suffering and questions come.
Nebuchadnezzar may have been anxious to know the interpretation of his dream, but he probably winced when Daniel told him that Babylon would not endure for eternity. How did Daniel know? The Lord revealed to him the king's dream of a great statue made of precious metals and clay and of a rock that destroyed the statue and grew into a mountain. This was God's blueprint for the future—a blueprint encompassing the whole world, beginning with Babylon.
Startled from his sleep by a nightmarish dream, King Nebuchadnezzar called his magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers together and put them to a test. Would they be able to relate the dream and give its interpretation? Each of these learned men failed. In a fit of rage, the king ordered the death of all the wise men of Babylon—even those who had not been asked about the dream, such as Daniel and his three friends. But with wisdom, Daniel asked for time and God gave the answer.