Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 7

Outline and Background - Daniel 7

Vision and Dream of the Three Beasts - Daniel 7:1-6

The Four Winds of Heaven

The Great Sea

The First Beast

The Second Beast

The Third Beast

Vision of the Fourth Beast - Daniel 7:7-8

The Little Horn of the Fourth Beast

The Future From God's Perspective

Linking of Daniel 7 to Revelation 17

Vision of God's Throne - Daniel 7:9-12

Vision of the Son of Man - Daniel 7:13-14

Visions and Dream Interpreted - Daniel 7:15-28

Applications of Daniel 7

The Great Sea

What is the Great Sea? The Mediterranean Sea is normally called the Great Sea (Numbers 34:6). Geographically, prophecy is centered around Palestine, which sits on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea. Unlike the Greek and Roman empires, the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires were not situated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, another explanation should be sought for this symbolism.

According to ancient mythology, the Great Sea is the circumambient ocean. It goes all around and underneath the earth and is the antitheses of heaven. This sea is “the Nammu” of the Sumerians and “the Tiamat” of the Babylonians. The waters and the deep of Genesis 1:2 and Amos 7:4 are cosmically the opposite of the heaven above. The Babylonian creation epic, Enuma Elish, tells of the battle fought between Marduk and the dragon of chaos, Tiamat. A few elements of Daniel’s vision parallel that Babylonian poem.

The mythological idea of the Great Sea would have been readily understood in Daniel’s day, much as Americans recognize donkeys and elephants to be symbols of democrats and republicans today. Hence, the Great Sea is not the Mediterranean, but rather the ancient sea that represented the powers of disorder, powers that must be subdued. This becomes clearer as the great conflict is unfolded in the book of Daniel.

By obvious analogy, the churning of the sea came to symbolize the raging of many nations upon the earth. Throughout the Bible, the sea is usually a symbol of chaos.

Oh, the raging of many nations—they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples—they roar like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale (Isaiah 17:12-13).

Out of the bubbling, swirling waters of chaos, there arose three great beasts, followed by the fourth monstrous beast. The book of Revelation sees the beast (the Antichrist) coming out of the sea—that part of the world, which surrounds the Mediterranean Sea.

And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute
(Revelation 17:15-16).

The sea and waters represent that part of the world symbolized in the beasts and image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It will cease to exist with the coming of the everlasting kingdom. However, after a thousand years, the dragon (Satan, the Devil) will be released from the bottomless pit in order to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth. Then God will
devour with fire from heaven those who march across the earth to do battle with the holy city. Finally, the Devil will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). The apostle John reveals what comes next.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea (Revelation 21:1).

This verse literally reads, “and the sea is no longer”—not many seas, just one! The sea—the world—that the Devil ruled as prince (John 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2) is no more!

What are the Four Beasts? In succession, each pictures the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Each of the four winds of heaven sequentially produces an empire by churning up the sea. From the human perspective, each empire will arise because of war and conquest. In reality, each exists by the power and authority of heaven.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Book of James

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

Other studies at Spreading Light Bible Studies

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