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R. Dean Daniel Lesson 28

The Lion and the Bear; Chaldean and Persian Empires – Daniel 7:3-4

Daniel 7:1, "In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it."  Notice it is a summary, a summation of what he saw in that particular vision.  It begins in verse 2, "Daniel said, I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea"  We spent the last hour looking at what it meant that the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 

I made the point that we are studying prophetic literature and in prophetic literature, especially books like Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel and Revelation, these are books that are just loaded with symbols and symbolism but it's not the kind of symbolism… some people say you can just make the Bible mean whatever you want it to mean, like you just read this stuff, you just read these symbols and you just sort of reach up into the thin air of your mind and grab down some concept and say well, that must mean this because that seems to make sense to me.  That's not how it works; there are specific guidelines and Scripture interprets itself, and as we will see in this chapter, not only does the Scripture interpret itself, but Daniel is sent an angel, and aggelos or malak in Hebrew, which means messenger, to interpret the dream.  So not even Daniel is left guessing, not left with some sort of contemplation of his navel trying to figure out just what this revelation from God means.  See, God's mind is rational.  That does not mean that we have a rationalistic of Christianity, it means that God is a thinking God and that everything in the mind of God adheres together logically.  And because He is the ultimate in rational, remember Jesus is called the Logos in John 1:1 and logos in Greek means reason, word, communication, rational, it's the word from which we derive our English word logic. 

God, in His own thinking, is inherently rational and logical.  And that's the reason why God can communicate to us, and God has created man in His image and that's why man, because of the communication ability that God has given man, that's why man can understand what God has said.  So God has communicated these things to be understood.  That is a crucial thing.  Every now and then I get into a discussion with somebody who wants to raise a point about the fact that something in Scripture, that's debated, nobody really knows what that means, you can go to the Christian book store and buy 100 commentaries and get 100 different views, so how can you say that it means what you say it means?  Simple; because you study it, you understand the arguments, you read the better commentators and you study their arguments, and it's just like in a legal trial. 

I think that's why so many great theologians over the ages were also trained as lawyers.  You think logically, you weigh the evidence, you say there's five positions, each position has certain strengths and weaknesses, this the evidence that is marshaled for each position and you evaluate that evidence and then you come to a conclusion.  And there is certainty in that conclusion because one operates on principles of logic and principles of reason and compares Scripture with Scripture and there is going to be a tremendous difference in conclusions if the person coming to the text of Scripture believes in the inerrancy and the infallibility of the Word of God and one that doesn't believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of God.  And since a vast majority of commentators don't believe in infallibility of Scripture then you have a problem.

Furthermore, if you are amillennial in your orientation to prophecy, which means there's no literal millennium, and so these things have all been fulfilled, or if you are a postmillennialist, that is going to too often, especially because those two systems come out of Calvinism and the biggest problem with Calvinism is that it uses its system to exegete the Scripture rather than the other way around, that what happens is you use a theological system to determine what the text means instead of the text shaping your doctrinal understanding.  And so since a number of commentaries are also written to people who hold one of those views, that shapes their view.  So that's why it's important for pastors to go through seminary and learn how to think and analyze this and just like a lawyer in a courtroom, you're marshalling the evidence and you're lining things up.

Now some things are clearly debated even among dispensationalists and premillennialists, but most things are not.  In fact, it's interesting when you come to this chapter, even many liberals recognize that these symbols mean certain things, that the bear represents Persia, for example, and the leopard represents Greece.  They would admit that, but what they do with it from that point on is vastly different from what we do with it from that point on.  So even among liberals there's a certain level of agreement as to what these symbols mean, because the Scripture explains the Scripture.  So by comparing Scripture with Scripture, as we did last time, we were able to understand the symbols here.

Now one thing we have to remember is that Daniel, in conjunction with Daniel 2, is focusing on Gentile history but not just any Gentile history.  Remember we go back in our study of the Bible, we go back to Genesis 9 and 10 and we are reminded that when Noah came off the ark he had three sons.  I've always wondered this, the Bible only tells us about three of his sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth.  But it says when Noah reached 500 years of age he had three sons, so it doesn't necessarily mean that that's when he started having them, but everybody else has sons and daughters until you come to Noah.  Noah only has three sons, so I think there were other children and these were the only ones that were believers.  And they become the fathers of the three great branches of humanity.  And Shem is given the privilege of being the transmitter of divine revelation, specifically through Israel.  Of course the other great division of Shemites are the Arabs, and you have tremendous conflict between the Arabs and the Jews as we experience today, and the Arabs have developed their own competing revelation which is the Koran, spelled different ways.  Islam is not a peaceful religion, it is a religion of war, it has always been a religion of war, and we are being deceived over and over again by the national news media.  You can understand why our political leaders would want to go along with that because it avoids a certain number of diplomatic problems, but it's not a religion of peace. 

There has always been this battle between the Jews and the Arabs, and the Shemites were to be the transmitters of revelation.  Then you had the Hamites; now the Hamites are not the blacks.  Ham was the father of all of the Asians, most of their Indians, they're really kind of a combination of Japhetic and Hamitic peoples, the Sumerians, ancient Sumerians who were dark-headed people; the Egyptians and many other people were Hamitic.  And the Hamites were neither blessed nor cursed, he was also the father of the Canaanites and they were the only ones that were cursed by Noah; just the Canaanites.  And the descendants of Ham spread out and these were the founders of great civilizations.  You think of the Sumerian civilization, and the civilization in China, the ancient civilizations in China and India, these were incredible civilizations and they developed a technology, a raw technology that is phenomenal.  We do not know how the Egyptians were able to build those massive pyramids with the raw tools that they had.  We can't duplicate that with the same tools, we can't even approach it.  We have no idea how they did it, or many other ancient tribes so there was something genetic about the skills that the Hamitic peoples were able to develop in building, developing tremendous things with the raw technology. 

But it was the Japhetic people who were to build upon that and develop civilization, so that Shem was going to, according to Noah's prophecy, dwell in the tents of Japheth, and that is a metaphor that indicated that it was going to be Japhetic civilization that would provide the umbrella or protection and security for the Semites, specifically Israel.  And we see that developing in the whole prophecy that relates to the times of the Gentiles, which began at this time in 600 BC, the times of the Gentiles.

Now as we go through history we see that there is causation in history, and I've used in the past the diagram, like a house; you've got two floors, upstairs and downstairs, and upstairs is where you have your universals; downstairs are the particulars or the details.  And it's the universals that give meaning to the details and down here in the details you have decisions, you have all of the events of history, you have people, but up here you have absolutes, moral, ethical concepts.  God is located upstairs and all meaning comes from upstairs.  Now what's happened in modern western European thought is that after Kant there's a brick wall built between the two so that you can't really know universals or absolutes any more.  But history is nothing more than a collection of events.  Here's a quote you'll love, Henry Ford said that "history is nothing more than one damned thing after another."  See, history is just…when we look at it from inside the box it looks like it's just one event after another, and what gives meaning to it.  Well, you only have meaning if you can look at it from God's perspective.  Down here you have economics, you have geography, you have military things, you can do a whole study on just military causation, the rise and fall of nations, just from military reasons.  You have socio-political events that are causation, but these are all secondary causes.  If you study history in any secular school and maybe even in many Christian schools and there's a complete denial or they just simply ignore the fact that there's something greater that moves and causes history. 

And that's what we see in Daniel 7:2.  Daniel said I saw "the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea," and we saw last time that "the four winds of heaven" is a term that is used in Scripture, it's used in Ezekiel, we looked at Ezekiel 37, we looked at Zechariah, we looked at Revelation 5, and we saw that the term "winds" is used to describe angels and angelic forces, and not simply elect angels.  God uses fallen angels, if you look at 1 Kings 22 where God uses a demon to deceive Ahab to bring about Ahab's death in battle, God uses the demonic forces and the fallen angels to bring about causation in history and I really think that's more of what we have here than elect angels. 

The four winds of heaven stir up, and we saw that last time, that the Aramaic word giyach that's used here has the idea of not just of stirring up but it's building a tempest, this is an impressive storm, as Daniel is lying there in his bed, these winds come up, massive winds, 150, 180, 200 mph winds that build waves of 80, 100, 120, 150 feet in height and there is this tremendous tempest that is developed and it's history, and all of a sudden what he's saying is that at this stage in history, at 600 BC the angelic forces, specifically demonic forces, are acting upon humanity because that's what the great sea refers to, it is a picture of fallen humanity that is at the mercy of the forces of Satan and deceived by Satan and deceived by the demons and they are acting upon fallen man and fallen man is unstable, just as the ocean is tossed to and fro and any way the winds blow it, and this is fallen humanity that are the victims, in a true sense of satanic influence and satanic ideas.  So we see that this is the ultimate causation in history.  Now that means when we look out on the scene and we see things going on, like of the bombing that just took place within the last week, terrorist activity going on in Israel, we saw what happened on 9-11, we know that behind the scenes there are demonic forces at work.


Now you have to be careful there because what happens is there's always somebody who comes along and wants to distort that and make that the causative issue.  The demon forces are operating, God uses them on human history; there is another dimension but that doesn't absolve mankind of responsibility.  They're acting but man is choosing to go along with that, and so the human race is not just some passive pawn that's being acted upon exclusively by these demonic forces, but that these demonic forces are involved.  And this is all part of what is going on in history, so we see that Jesus Christ controls history but He does so, not always immediately but mediately or intermediately through using angelic forces and demons.  So Daniel sees this stirring up the great sea, this sea of fallen humanity.  And out of this sea arises four great beasts. 

Daniel 7:3, "And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.  [4] The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle.  I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it."  Now I want you to look at this, we'll just make a couple of observations that as we go through these verses, when we go on down to verse 5, "And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear.  And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs, were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, 'Arise, devour much meat!'  [6] After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it."  So we have these, these are the first three beasts and the fourth one is going to represent the Revived Roman Empire, we won't get there tonight.

A couple of observations, first of all, notice they are all man-eating animals.  These are all violent animals, these are all carnivores, these are destructive animals and they brought fear into Israel.  The second thing we should note by contrast is that the kingdom of man is now being represented by beasts whereas in contrast in Daniel 2 the kingdom of man was represented by something of value, by valuable metals.  In Daniel 2 we had the picture of a man and it's man in all of his glory as man see him, and in Daniel 2 the image is looking at the inception of each kingdom, because when each kingdom comes up man has great hopes for the produce of human viewpoint that this new kingdom is going to bring in peace and stability and is going to advance technology and take us to the next level and all our hopes are placed in what man is going to do.  But what happens is man is a sinner.  See, man forgets that inherently man is evil, he's not good, and so he can't solve the problems, that man's kingdoms are eventually going to go bad.  And eventually the sin nature is going to become apparent and they are going to lose their humanness and become ultimately evil and destructive and like a beast, so Daniel 7 looks at the end result of those kingdoms, that they have become bestial and they have become destructive and they, in fact, destroy mankind. 

The third observation is that the beasts come up from fallen, uncontrollable, unstable humanity; they are the product of mankind so they represent the human race. 

Now as we come to this first kingdom we see that first animal, the first beast, is a lion that had the wings of an eagle.  It was standard for a winged lion in the ancient world to be a representative of Babylon.  Anybody who read this immediately thought of Babylon.  The Assyrian Empire prior to Babylon also used these winged lions.  Last year I was in the British Museum and you could see them in all the different engravings from Assyria, of these winged lions so anybody who saw that would think of a winged lion as a representative of Babylon. 

Now why is it that God uses beasts here?  We know from verse 17 that these beasts are human kings, and by the time we get down to verse 17 the interpreting angel explains to Daniel just who these are, that these four beasts are going to represent the same four world empires of Daniel 2, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.  Now one of the reasons that these beasts are used is because of how they're viewed by the Jews.  I mean, this was a time in history when bears and lions were common in the land.  We can think of a passage back in 1 Samuel 17 when David is going to fight Goliath, and this is one of the great stories, proving that David is… really giving his credentials, because just prior to 1 Samuel 17, in 1 Samuel 16 Samuel anoints David as king, and as the anointed, that is the Meshach king he has got to demonstrate…see that was done in private and as I've always said, what God does in private He always demonstrates in public.  So he's going to give a public demonstration and authentication of the anointing of David and that takes place when David destroys Goliath, who in that passage is also a type of Satan.  So David goes to Saul and here's this young man, 16, 17 years of age, no military training, shows up and he sees these two armies lined up on opposing hills across a valley and this big lumbering giant who is almost ten feet tall comes out and he issues a challenge day after day to the Jews, and they don't respond, and nobody wants to go fight him, everybody is crying, nobody is trusting God. 

So David goes to Saul and says I'm going to do it, we can't allow this man to insult Israel any more.  And Saul says well, what are your credentials.  So in 1 Samuel 17:34 we read: "But David said to Saul, Your servant was tending his father's sheep, when a Lion or a bear came," and the Hebrew uses sort of a gnomic verb here indicating that this didn't happen one time, it was like whenever this happened, when I'm out with the sheep and it's just me and my shepherd's staff and my sling, whenever this would happen, whenever a lion or a bear would come and take a lamb from the flock I went out after him, just David going out, but what I'm pointing out is that it was common for Jews, for lions and bears to be marauding animals, and they were vicious and this was something the people out in the country were afraid of.  But not David, he would go out and rescue the lamb from his mouth.  I always loved that; he would just go take that lamb right out of the lion's mouth.  You just think about that, the kind of courage that demonstrated.  

Verse 35, "I went out and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard," this is good hand to hand up close and personal combat.  He wasn't sitting back 300 yards with a high-powered rifle with a high-powered scope taking out this lion.  He just got right in there and grabbed him by his beard and then took his shepherd's staff.  And they also carried a short rod that they would use as a club and he would probably take that and just brain the lion.  And what gave him his courage was he trusted God.  So 1 Samuel 13:34-37 demonstrates the fact that lions and bears were typical in Israel and were a problem. 

Proverbs 28:15 gives us a little better insight into the significance of this imagery using a lion and a bear.  "Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people."  And this is the idea in Daniel 7, is that these rulers, these kingdoms are like lions and bears, they are voracious, they are cruel, they are mean, they are powerful, they are carnivorous, they are destruc­tive, and that is the picture, its not a complimentary picture of mankind, and not a positive view of these empires.  And this is the paradox here, what God is doing is showing by this imagery what these great empires are really like.  We look at Rome and we look at Greece and we look at the positive things they contributed culturally and God says yes, but let Me tell you how I look at these empires and how I look at these nations. 

See, the paradox is that man-centered culture is always anti-man, it always deteriorates.  It may start off good but it always deteriorates into something that destroys man, and that's why the Bible always has to be the starting point.  It is when you build a culture that is rooted in a Judeo-Christian framework, like the United States was, and I'm not saying the United States was a Christian nation, nations can't be Christians, and there were many other influences, but the predominate influence in the 1600s and 1700s was Scripture, and people thought within a framework of theism and a general framework of Biblical truth, even if they weren't Christians they still believed that there was a God, they believed the Ten Commandments, they believed in morality and ethics and that provided a foundation for our society and for our culture.  And that's the impact that Christians have is holding back, through the invisible witness of the Church Age believer, when you have enough believers to form a remnant in the land, and what that does is hold back the onslaught of evil, but when the pivot of believers shrinks then what happens is there is a smaller and smaller influence on the nation and eventually the nation can collapse on the inside and it's bestial-ness, its brutality will become more and more evident. 

There's another lesson to be learned from all that, and that is that it's from out of the sea that the animal comes.  And the sea is fallen humanity, stirred up by demonic forces.  So we can create a formula that fallen humanity plus demonic forces equals animal behavior by mankind.  And this is a principle of history that whenever you have large masses of people, just watch the news sometime when they're focusing on some of those large masses of Arabs and Palestinians rioting in the streets, and think about the fact that fallen humanity plus demonic influence always yields animal behavior, and they are a classic example to that, that when the masses become stirred by Satan, the amount of violence that they can do and the destructive capacity is almost unmeasured. 

One of the things we ought to look at here, since man is being portrayed by animals, is to ask the question, what is the difference between men and animals.  What makes the difference between men and animals?  Both have souls, the word nephesh in Hebrew is used of animal life and human life.  It is not used of plant life.  Plant life, in Scriptural terminology, is not life, therefore… somebody has questioned me at times when I made the argument that there can not be any death prior to Adam's sin, if there's any death before sin, that's the death of an animal or a death of a man, if there's any death prior to Adam…and see, that's what you would have to have, if the fossils predated Adam, Neanderthal man, Paleolithic man, Java man, any of the animals, eohippus for the horses, any of the other animals, if any of the animals, the fossils were created, see they had to die to create a fossil, so if any of those fossils were created prior to Adam's fall, then death is a principle, is a reality in creation; it is not the result of Adam's fall.  In 1 Corinthians 15 the issue is physical resurrection.  So when it talks about death in 1 Corinthians 15 it's not talking about spiritual death, it's talking about physical death because it is physical death that is conquered by resurrection.  And here in 1 Corinthians 15 we're told "in Adam all die."  That's physical death, because of Adam's sin, physical death is the consequence of sin; if there's no sin then there's no consequence then that affects all of creation and that's clear from Romans 8 which talks about the fact that all of creation, that is the entire realm of nature, groans under the curse and is waiting redemption, because Adam's sin reverberated and sent shock waves through all of nature, through all of the animal kingdom.  The animal kingdom changed.  But plants could be harvested prior to that and (quote) "die" because plants weren't life.  Nephesh is never applied to plants; it's only applied to animals; only animals and man.

But the difference between man and animals, they both have nephesh but man and man alone is created in the image and likeness of God.  That's what makes the difference between man and animals, so animals operate on instinct and man, because he's made in the image of God, has conscience, and conscience is what enables man to tell the difference between right and wrong, and he has volition.  Animals do not operate on volition, all their behavior is learned behavior, it is based on instinct, with very little learned behavior in the sense of volitional action.  It is instinctive behavior, they do what they have been bred to do and they operate out of their genetic background and a dog is going to act like a dog and if he doesn't it's because he's been trained; there's been some kind of external training done but it's not based on their volition. 

On the other hand, man's behavior is all learned behavior; there is no such thing as instinct in man.  It has been demonstrated through a number of studies that there are no instincts in man; instincts in a dog is he's always going to… a male dog is always going to lift his leg, you take a male dog out and he smells the urine of another dog he will lift his leg, he doesn't think about it, it's bred into him, that's part of his genetic makeup.  But there is not any behavior at all, not sex, not eating; there is no behavior in man that is instinctive.  All behavior in man is taught and is learned.  And so we want to have about four points on the doctrine of learned behavior patterns. I'm going to be developing this for a while because this is crucial to understanding behavior and problems that develop in life; learned behavior patterns.

First point, man is not born with any instinctive behavior patterns, as are animals.  Instinct is merely an inbred behavior pattern, genetically determined and therefore not volition; it's nature, not nurture.  That's the popular way of expressing it. 

Point number two, man though is born with a sin nature which predisposes us towards sin.  We're born with a sin nature and that sin nature has an area of weakness and an area of strength and some of you have an area of weakness in your sin nature that makes you prone to mental attitude sins.  You may be prone to arrogance, you may be prone to self-righteousness, have a trend towards asceticism, and so you just can't understand how somebody else may succumb continuously to more overt sins, or more immoral sins, or some of the flashier sins, and those people just can't understand how you can be such a self-righteous bigoted person and have your nose in the air all the time.  See, everybody is a little different and we all have our areas of weakness, but we all have trends in our sin nature.  Now trends can change over time, and everybody has a trend, and the issue is, and you don't have to exercise that trend, you don't have to exercise that area of weakness, you can choose not to and as a believer under the power of the Holy Spirit applying the Word of God we can overcome those sins.  But man is born with a sin nature which predisposes him towards sin and he activates his sin nature through his volition.  You activate your sin nature through your volition.  It is not just instinctive; therefore we are culpable and accountable for our sinful decisions. 

Third point: as we grow and mature we develop habits of behavior, habits to control or manipulate our environment, including the people around us, in order to get what you want.  Just watch your little two year old grandson or your two year old kid and watch how they learn to manipulate you to get what they want.  We develop… as we begin to learn those little things when we're small, they develop into habits and we develop certain habits for handling pressure, handling adversity, looking at life, we have habits of thought and habits of action.  And then what happens is we grow up and we get married; now we're living in a home with somebody else who's got a different sin nature with different area of strength, different area of weakness, and that's not a problem solving situation, that is often a problem generating situation because what you now develop is friction between those two sin natures.  That's one of the greatest sanctifying influences in Scripture, that's why it's not good for man to be alone, because it's in the context of being with somebody else and living in marriage that God often intensifies the whole procedure of sanctification.  The reason most marriages fail is because one or both refuses to give up some trend of the sin nature and deal with and submit to the authority of God.  So we have these learned behavior patterns.

Now I'm still working on terminology here but this dynamic consists of a –R or a sin nature based learned behavior pattern and until the day you're saved, all of our learned behavior patterns either come from the area of strength, which is human good, or the area of weakness, which is sin.  All of our behavior patterns come from that and the whole process of sanctification is to unlearn all those behavior patterns that we inculcated and drilled into ourselves from the moment we were in diapers, all the way up to when were a teenager, or 20s or 30s and it's hard to unlearn all of that but that's the whole process of sanctification.  So that's the fourth point, the process of sanctification or spiritual growth is to unlearn these –R learned behavior patterns and replace them with +R learned behavior patterns.  So those are just four quick points on a doctrine we will develop more in the days and weeks to come on learned behavior patterns. 

Now the basic difference between man and animals is the fact that man is made in the image of God, has a conscience, knows the difference from right and wrong, and has volition, and is culpable and responsible for those decisions.  Animals don't have a conscience.  They are not aware of things being morally right or wrong and so the significance in Daniel of kings or empires being referred to as beasts is that they are behaving unconscionably, they have no standard for right or wrong, they just operate on whatever makes them feel good at the moment and it becomes self-destructive and as the society continues to deteriorate then it becomes a man-killing monster and ultimately those sin nature trends of arrogance take over in any civilization.  We'll look at these empires, we're going to look at Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome and see how eventually internal rot set in because of arrogance and because of sin.  They might have started out great but they end up with internal rot and chaos because of the fact that they start acting like animals without a conscience, without consistent right or wrong.

Let's look at the next verses, Daniel 7:3, "And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another."  Verse 17 identifies these as great beasts which are four in number, or four kings who will arise from the earth.  Then in verse 4 we read, "The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle.  I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet, like a man; a human mind also was given to it."  Now what's going on in this verse?  First of all, we see that the first beast is like a lion and has the wings of an eagle.  So that's interesting how through history different nations have different animals that symbolize that nation.  Great Britain is often symbolized by a lion.  I'm not saying that that's what this verse is talking about.  This verse is not referring to Great Britain or America but America is represented by an eagle, and Great Britain is represented by a lion.  And if you think about it, Russia is also thought of as a…  [tape turns]  And what kind of animals are these the nations choose as their mascots?  They are violent, predatory animals. 

Just a historical note, history could have been different.  If Benjamin Franklin had his way, he wanted America to have a turkey for their mascot because he thought the turkey was industrious, the turkey was smart and wily, cagey, didn't get caught out in the woods, it was hard to hunt, and it was good at avoiding the hunter and he wanted to avoid that predatory aspect that was usually associated with these national mascots.

So Babylon is represented by this combination of a winged lion and that was typical in the ancient world, they had taken that imagery over from the Assyrian Empire that preceded it.  As a matter of fact, all of the brick that Nebuchadnezzar used to construct his palace not only had his name on it but also had animals portrayed on them, and many of them were winged lions.  And so this was…as soon as Daniel would talk about this people would immediately identify a winged lion with the Babylonian Empire.  The significance of the wings is to indicate power, as in Isaiah 8:8. 

Daniel says, "I kept looking until its wings were plucked," which indicates that something happens to change the nature of the beast.  Something happened that removed its beastliness, he says "the wings were plucked and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man," it has changed from its beastly character to a human character.  And of course we saw that happen, that was fulfilled in Daniel 4 when Nebuchadnezzar was humbled, when he was so arrogant thinking he had received all this power, God has warned him that if he continued in his arrogance God would humble him and give him the mind of an animal for a period of seven years, and that happened.  And it was at that time, at the end of that seven years that Nebuchadnezzar was saved; he was regenerated, he was given the heart of a man.  There is a change that takes place, and after Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, never again did Babylon go out and expand its empirical borders.  The empire never grew again; it just began to deteriorate from that point on.

A couple of interesting things to note about Babylon is that they were the first people in history to keep a standing army.  The Egyptians didn't keep a standing army, the Hittites didn't keep a standing army, the Assyrians never kept a standing army, the Babylonians are the first to keep a standing army.  So you see, there's a major change in history taking place with the Babylonian Empire.  They were also the first to mint silver coinage and to develop private banking, and they were the first people to have an extensive credit system and that eventually became a problem for them because during the last 20 years of the empire they had increasing and excessive inflation and that ate away at the interior of the empire and its stability.  But it's also interesting because in the book of Revelation Babylon as a symbol for evil is also the center of finance and commerce during the Tribulation.  So this is something that is characteristic of Babylon.  So Babylon is the first empire, it is the head of gold and it deteriorates after the death of Nebuchadnezzar until they are defeated by the next empire, the chest and arms of silver which represents the Medo-Persian Empire. 

In Daniel 7 this is represented by another beast in verse 5, "And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear.  And it was raised up on one side," this is a lopsided bear, it looks like he has arthritis or some problem but he walks lopsided.  Why?  That's because of the combination empire, the Medes and the Persians and the Persians were one side, they were much stronger than the other side.  So that's the picture there, "resembling a bear.  And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it," now the "they" are the winds, the "they" are the angelic forces, they're commanding the beast.  This is the force of causation in history, "Arise, and devour much meat!"  So this empire is told to go out and to capture territory, take territory to control mankind. 

Now in many cases in the Bible, as we have seen the lion and the bear represent two of the most vicious animals in the ancient world and the most common that they would think of.  So the representative here of Babylon as a lion and Medo-Persia as a bear indicates how powerful they were and indicates how vicious they were from God's perspective.  So we see that as the demonically whipped up sea first ejects the beast, the lion that is Babylon, then it ejects the beast that is Medo-Persian, and this relates to Daniel 8:3-4, as well as verse 20, where we'll talk about a ram which he saw with two horns, represents the king of Media and Persian.  So this beast, this second beast isn't identified by Daniel or by the angel, but it is identified and will be identified in the next vision in chapter 8.  We need to keep that in mind, and remember this was written, this vision was given before, just a few years before the Medo-Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire.

Verse 5, the beast is the bear, and it has three ribs in its mouth.  Now what do these three ribs refer to?  These three ribs represent the conquests of Cyrus.  Cyrus was the first king, just as Nebuchadnezzar was the first king of the Babylonian Empire and represents the Babylonian Empire, just as Caesar was the first emperor and represents Rome, so Cyrus represented the Medo-Persian Empire.  And these three ribs refer to his conquest.  Before he defeated Babylon he first defeated the Medes in 550 BC, then he moved west and he conquered the Lydian Empire in Turkey or Asia Minor, between 550 and 539 BC, and then he moved south and conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire, so these three ribs represent the three empires that Cyrus defeated. 

Then we read, "three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to is," that is the angelic forces, "Arise and devour much meat!"  So they are authorized to go out and to conquer much land, and this indeed happened, but before we get there, because that story must be told in conjunction with the next beast, let's go ahead and look at verse 6 and then we'll come back and see the story.  So the bear defeated the powers of Lydia, the Medes and the Chaldean Empire.  Then verse 6 we read, "After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it."

 

Now this leopard is going to represent Greece.  Now the reason a leopard is chosen is because of its speed, because it's so fast.  And Greece, at least the Greek city-states had been around for many years but they were isolated, they were on the Greek peninsula and they lived in city-states and the Spartans didn't care about the Athenians and the Athenians didn't care about those living in Thebes and they were isolated, there was no unified Greek state until Philip of Macedon started conquering and then he died and his son, Alexander, took over and Alexander conquered the world from Greece to India in 5 years.  That's the speed; it took Cyrus 35 years to conquer and put together the Persian Empire but Alexander did it in 5 years so that's the speed that is represented here.  But of course we can't think about the Greeks without thinking about their defeat of the Persian Empire.

When we come to Persia, talk about Persia, we need to do a little study on their history and since this is crucial and since we are about out of time I don't want to get into a study of the Greek and Persian wars that brought us the word "marathon" into our present vocabulary and had some of the greatest battles of all of history, some of the most significant battles of all of history and it's important as background to understand and to see the dynamic of the angels stirring up the wind.  So we'll stop here before we get into Persian history, come back next time and look at the history of the beast and its relationship to the leopard and how God works through these empires in ancient history.