“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. Daniel 7:7 (NIV).
Daniel 7:7 directly calls ahead (in time and bibliography) to Revelation 12:3, which says, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” Where Daniel talks about the fourth beast being terrifying and powerful, devouring all else, Revelation describes the beast – Satan – warring against the woman who was with child (think Mary and Jesus). The obvious tie between the verses is the ten horns, which signifies great power.
Scholars believe the beast mentioned in Daniel refers to Rome, the greatest, most powerful, and most publicly wicked and vile of all the ancient empires. While modernity owes thanks to Rome for many things (such as senatorial government, systems of public access, sanitation, and bathing, widespread roads, and innovative military tactics), we must also admit that ancient Rome was, in many ways, the representative of Satan on earth. Rome ferociously conquered all the nations and empires of the Mediterranean and Europe. It administered conquered territory without mercy. Stories of sexual lasciviousness, orgies, perversions, and worse are found in accounts of every Roman city. And, it was at Rome’s behest that the Son of Man – God Himself – was crucified. It was this Rome to which Daniel referred: the most powerful empire that would sweep away all its predecessors and surpass them in its ruthlessness.
Looking forward to Revelation, however, the beast John saw was more than just evil Rome. It is Satan incarnate, stripped of his God-given light and angelic beauty. What’s left embodies raw evil. Many believe that Revelation 12:3 talks about both the fall of Satan from God’s favor and Satan’s battle against the Lord both when Jesus was born and when He will return. The picture ought to frighten anyone, even those of strong faith. Peter referred to Satan as a roaring lion. Peter’s fellow disciple, John, talks about Satan as a mysterious and terrifying dragon. Both are the same being.
The dragon, the devil, Satan, Lucifer, whatever you call him: he is the enemy of Christ, and thus our enemy as well. He uses any means at his disposal to draw believers away from Jesus, yet when you strip away the clever wiles and gaudy raiment, Satan is pure, ugly evil.
Daniel’s message was, “it will only get worse.” John’s echoed that. Good thing we know Jesus, who has already defeated Satan’s worst attacks and will fight for us in the final battle of history.
For further reading: Ezekiel 40:2, Revelation 12:3, Daniel 7:8
Lord, thank You for these visions.
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