“The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it. Daniel 7:4 (NIV).
Multiple sources (https://biblehub.com/commentaries/daniel/7-4.htm, https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/understanding-the-book-of-daniel/daniel-7/. https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/daniel-7/ and many more) tell us that this verse is a reference to the Babylonian empire, specifically that during the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel had been a witness to the fall of Judah, the inner workings of Nebuchadnezzar’s court, and Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and restoration, and the fall of Belshazzar, during whose reign this chapter was written.
Recall Nebuchadnezzar’s madness. Earlier in Daniel (chapter 4), Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, which Daniel then interpreted. In the dream, Nebuchadnezzar went mad but was restored to power after humbling himself before God. History doesn’t record how Nebuchadnezzar died, but he reigned as emperor of Babylon – the most powerful nation on earth – for 43 years. His successors likely ruled less than twenty years more before the Mede-Persians invaded and killed King Belshazzar (chapter 5). What archaeological evidence we know of about these events doesn’t contradict Daniel’s accounts.
What can this mean for us today? In the larger sense, chapter 7 is a prophecy about how God is sovereign over earth’s empires, past and future. Yet, specifically to us today, it means also that God is still sovereign in the details of our lives. The world is spinning out of control in many ways. Christian faith is under attack. Terror has taken hold again of Afghanistan, rendering the twenty-year war there useless. The world’s economy hangs by threads, waiting for a seemingly inevitable crash. Governments are manically spending themselves into irrevocable oblivion in which liberty may be extinguished for the next thousand years. Disease, panic, and fear are on the rise in places that have never known them as well as places that have known nothing but them. And the very fabric of our order in society seems frayed, as if it is about to unravel or, worse, be violently torn apart.
God is still God in all. Jesus is still the way, the truth, and the life. His eye still watches both sparrows and each of us. And the Savior He sent to die for us is still very much on the throne of now and eternity. He’s the same God who spoke prophecy through Daniel about pagan Nebuchadnezzar, whose visions and kingdom served God’s higher purpose. God cared enough back then to counsel words of what was to come. He cares enough now to still abide with us as He promised. Count on it no matter how many sources say so.
For further reading: 2 Kings 24:1, Psalm 7:2, Jeremiah 4:7, Ezekiel 17:3, John 14:6, Revelation 13:2, Daniel 7:5
Ruling Lord, bless Your name for the prophecies and promises You gave.
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