R. Dean Daniel Lesson 27
Prophetic Symbols; The Sea and the Wind – Daniel 7:1-2
We are going to continue our study in Daniel 7; last week we spent our time in a bit of review but also helping us understand the overall structure of Daniel and what is about to transpire. The first 6 chapters of Daniel relate to Daniel's personal history and Daniel 7-12 relate to Daniel's visions. There are five visions covered in the last 6 chapters and those visions all take place within the framework of the life covered from Daniel 1-6. We have an outline of the book that we've worked on in terms of its language structure. There is the history, the personal history of Daniel in chapter 1; then from 2:1-7:28 there's the history of the Gentile powers, and in chapter 8 it is a return to the history of Israel. This is evidenced by the fact that chapter 1 is written in Hebrew; the second chapter in Aramaic which was the lingua franca of both the Babylonian and the Persian Empires and then the history of Israel where the focus is more on God's plan and purposes for the nation Israel, from chapter 8-12.
Now this is important because we have to lock this down in history. This happens at a time when the people of Israel, who are God's covenant people, He promised them the land, He promised them eternal blessing and they've been ripped from the land because of their disobedience. They have been defeated by a foreign power and they have seen the temple destroyed, they have seen Jerusalem reduced to rubble, they have seen many of their friends and family and loved ones hideously killed in a time of horrible war and taken from the land, transported to Babylon where they survived as captives; 70 years have gone by now, by the time of our study, they're on the verge of leaving. But the book of Daniel is given during that time to give the nation hope, to inform the Jews that God is the God of Gentiles as well as the God of Israel, that God has a plan that He is developing starting at this time, there's a shift.
We saw that last time, a shift in God's plan from a primary focus on Israel to where He is going to be working through Gentile empires and it is on the basis of empires that God is going to govern history and provide historical periods of stability so that as there is peace brought in by these empires the gospel can go forth. There are examples of the tremendous peace that existed under the Roman emperors, especially the Antoine Caesars at the end of the 1st century and beginning of the 2nd century and it was during that time of unprecedented peace called the Pax Romana that the gospel went out all over the Mediterranean area; it left Rome and headed east into the Parthian Empire, and down into India, it went north from the Roman Empire into what was then Gaul, which is now France, and into Germany as well as into England. So the gospel spread throughout the known world at that particular time under the Roman emperor. There have been other times of peace established by other empires, for example, the British Empire in the 19th century and also under the aegis of America during the 20th century. So God's plan for the Gentile is to dominate history and primarily the western nations, Western Europe will dominate history and under that umbrella the gospel will go forth.
We looked at the structure of Daniel, it's divided into two sections; Daniel's personal life history in the first 6 chapters and prophetic revelation in chapters 7-12. The first 6 chapters cover the four Hebrews, four empires, the fiery furnace, the fall of Nebuchadnezzar, and the fingers writing on the wall and then the false accusation resulting in Daniel's being put into the lion's den. And then we come to the last five visions. We get a vision of the four beasts in chapter 7; there'll be the vision of the ram and the he-goat in chapter 8 which is crucial to understanding tribulational events. Then in chapter 9 there's the vision of the seventy sevens and then the vision of the last days in chapters 10-12. So keep that in mind to give an overview. I had a seminary professor who used to talk about the fact that we had to have something to organize all these details so when you go into your closet, the closet in your mind, you have to have main coat hangers on which you start hanging up and organizing all the specific details. So these are the big coat hangers that we have in our mind for organizing all the details that we're going to study in the text.
Now one of the problems that you get into as you study a book like Daniel is all of the symbolism that you encounter. Prophetic literature, especially, is loaded with symbolic literature and by prophetic literature I mean more than any other books at this point, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation. They are loaded with symbolism and people get pretty intrigued at times and curious and come up with all kinds of speculative ideas about what this thing might symbolize and that thing might symbolize, and so we have to understand some basic principles about the interpretation of these symbols.
First of all, symbols are to be interpreted consistently. That means that when you are in Daniel and you see, as we will this evening, the four winds stirring up the great sea, when we come to other passages in Jeremiah, in Ezekiel, in Revelation that talk about the great sea it will be interpreted in the same way. These symbols are established, it's not just the idea of people subjectively coming along and saying well, I think this can mean this and that can mean that and you'll run into some people that think you can just make the Bible mean anything. No, there are rules of interpretation.
And God intends to communicate clearly. This is our second point, God intended to communicate clearly. God intended to communicate something, something specific and if we do not properly interpret it then we are wrong. God did not intend to communicate four or five different contradictory things when He revealed these things. He did this in order to provide specific information; He did not say these things in such a way that we can take it to mean just about anything then it means nothing. It's just like when you talk to someone or write someone a letter, you expect them to understand exactly and precisely what you're trying to communicate to them. You don't expect them to take it 800 different ways. If you write something down and write a letter to somebody you don't expect… if you send a message or one of these Christmas letters that some people write at Christmas to tell their friends and family about all the things that went on during the last year in their life, you don't expect everybody that reads that to get something different our of it. You intend to communicate something specific and God intended to communicate something specific and there is only one accurate interpretation of what God says.
I think that's a crucial principle that is lost. God intended to communicate something, and I would rather be guilty of saying God said this and it means X and be wrong than to say well, you know, it could mean A or it could mean B, or it could mean Z, you all just take your pick. God intended to communicate something and we ought to have the courage to study the text and that's what has to happen, especially with prophetic literature, is there has to be a tremendous amount of study in order to properly understand it and interpret it.
That leads to the third point which is that prophetic literature assumes knowledge of other Scripture. Prophetic literature assumes that you know other Scripture. The more that I am getting into this study of Daniel and study of prophecy and these last six chapters the more I'm realizing that prophecy is that branch of theology that you don't get into unless you have already mastered numerous other areas of theology. We're going to get into some angelology tonight, demonology, get into a lot of theology proper and Christology and if you don't have these areas clearly established in your own thinking before you get into prophecy then you can really get into some very strange interpretations. Soteriology is crucial to establish in your own thinking before you ever get into the study of prophecy. So prophecy is not really designed to be handled by brand new baby believers. But so often that's how it's treated in the Church today.
What's the first thing people tend to get into? Or what is one of the first things that attracts people to Bible study? Well, I want to know about the future, they have a curiosity about Armageddon and about end times events and especially today when we are constantly watching on the news events surrounding the temple mount, and events surrounding Israel and the land, and whether or not they are going to concede part of the land to a Palestinian homeland, and all of these different events. People what to know what the Bible says about this. And what we learn from studying prophetic literature… the reason a lot of people have trouble, you start reading Ezekiel sometime before you go to sleep at night you might have some interesting dreams. You start reading Zechariah, Zephaniah, and people get confused when they get into Revelation, and incidentally, a lot of things that always bothers me a little bit is people who put an "s" on the end of Revelation and call it Revelations. You'll hear people do that every now and then and not only does it betray your inability to read the Scripture, but it is false. It is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," that's the technical title for the last book in the Bible, singular, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." It is not Revelations! So if that applies to you then at least you'll go home with one piece of application.
But it's interesting and somewhat ironic that that's exactly what happens in our culture today is we start people off on prophecy. They read something like Late Great Planet Earth or they read one of the books in the Tim LaHaye series, or something like that and that gets them going, yet when you get into reading prophecy and trying to interpret it, it demands an understanding of other areas of Scripture and if you don't have that under your belt then you can get yourself in trouble or you'll just get confused and give up.
So Daniel is going to address five visions starting in verse 7 and each of these visions builds on the one preceding just as Daniel 7 builds on the history laid out in Daniel 2 with the great statue of a man that Nebuchadnezzar saw. Now when we come to these final chapters in Daniel they are out of chronological sequence and we ought to ask the question, why is it that these last chapters are out of sequence chronologically in relationship to the first half of the book. One of the reasons is that they are addressing a shift in theme. For example, we come to Daniel 7:1 we read: "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.  Daniel said, I was looking in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea." "The first year of Belshazzar," 7:1, was approximately 553 BC, so that means that Daniel 7 is out of chronological sequence because at the end of Daniel 5 we saw the collapse of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Chaldean Empire, and the death of Belshazzar. So this happens quite a bit earlier, it happens between Daniel 4 and Daniel 5.
We look at the chart I have on the overhead and we see that Daniel 2 was written about 603 BC or at least the events there took place in 603 BC where you have the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had of the statue with the head of gold. Daniel 3, which is the episode of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace, that took place sometime between 603 and 562 BC. Daniel 4 is also sometime between 603 and 562, nearer to 562, probably about 545 or 565 BC, just before the end of Nebuchadnezzar's life. Daniel 5 takes place in 539 BC with the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire and then Daniel 6 takes place about 538 BC or later. So these events go in between Daniel 4 and Daniel 5, probably right around 551-553 BC.
Now the reason that these latter chapters of Daniel are out of chronological sequence is because they deal with a different subject matter. From chapter 7 on we are going to deal with information that is really directed towards the believer and the believer in Israel. By application we can extend that to the mature Church Age believer today, but we are dealing with God opening up a little trap door so that we can look inside His thinking to see what His plan and purpose is for history. Now I pointed out last time that one of the problems that we have in judging history is we don't have God's particular insight into what's going on in the Church Age, we know there are historical trends in the Church Age, but no prophecy is being fulfilled in the Church Age and there is no specific prophecy in the Old Testament related to the Church Age. Nothing has to be fulfilled in order for the rapture to take place. But we can see from our study of Daniel 7 and Daniel 2 that God definitely has a plan and what we are going to see is that whenever we study history, read a book on history or sit in a classroom at a university or college on history we're going to learn that there are certain things that cause history.
You might have a professor who believes in a geo-economic causation of history where he spends a lot of time talking about the way, like for example England was an island and it has certain mountains over to Wales and mountains up in the north in Scotland, that influenced the character of the British people and how their history developed. Or you may have somebody who has a Marxist background, they're going to focus on certain economic issues and they're going to focus on the differences between the classes, the working class, and you know, there's all kinds of different things in history and there's a certain element of truth to all of these. You might have somebody teach history from a military perspective and have a course on warfare that looks at how history progresses because of the rise and fall of nations and the strength or weakness of their armed forces. All of that is legitimate but it's not the whole story and what we learn in Daniel is the ultimate control factor in history, the ultimate causation factor in history is the sovereignty of God. Jesus Christ controls history and it is God through Jesus Christ who is controlling the events in history and moving history towards its final culmination.
So what we see, first of all, is that in the early part of Daniel the emphasis is on God's sovereignty. The issue is on God's sovereignty, that He is the God who rules all the nations, not just Israel. He rules the Gentiles as well as the Jews. But in the latter part of Daniel, from Daniel 7 on, the emphasis is on God's righteousness and justice. The kingdom of man in Daniel 2 is depicted in relationship to the sovereignty of God whereas the kingdom of man in Daniel 7 is depicted in terms of its relationship to God's justice and the fact that God will ultimately judge the kingdom of man. The question that is answered in the second half of Daniel is the question: is evil going to be eradicated? Is God going to finally and totally judge evil and right every wrong.
The first part of Daniel is written to the Gentile nations and for them to understand and the second half of Daniel is written to Jewish believers so that they can understand what God is doing in history. God is presented as a God who is 100% sovereign in the first 6 chapters and the second half addressed the question, is God truly just when there is so much suffering and so much evil in this world.
A second thing that we should notice is a shift that takes place from chapter 6 to 7 is that what happens in the first half of the book, and pay attention to it, who receives the dreams and visions and who interprets them? In the first half of the book Gentiles received the dreams and visions and Daniel interprets them. In the second half Daniel receives the dreams and visions and an angel interprets that to Daniel. So there is a difference. The visions in the first part are given to Gentiles; in the second half given to Daniel.
And finally, as I just indicated, a third shift that takes place is that the one who does the interpreting is now an angel. And this is typical in prophetic literature. In the last half of Daniel an angel is going to appear several times to interpret the visions to Daniel so he can't make a mistake. See, God is a God of precision, He is not only going to communicate something and He intends to communicate something precise with these dreams and visions but then he's going to make sure that He can't be misunderstood, that the prophet is not left there with just this vision where he can jus assign any meaning he wants to to these animals or these creatures, but there will be an angel who will specifically tell him what each of these elements refer to. The same kind of thing happens in Zechariah and in Revelation. There is always an interpreting angel on hand to inform them of what the visions mean.
So that lets us into a little insight into angelology and what we're going to see is that angels are crucial in the outworking of the plans of God in human history. It is angels who move things along, angels that influence the direction of nations. Now we don't see that, we just see the results of that. But when we operate on some kind of theory of history that functions just on empirical data, it leaves out both the operation of the angels and the operation of God, so we see that all of human history is clearly related to the angelic conflict. Now that's something that's just going to go right over the heads of a lot of new believers, as soon as you start talking about angels and demons and Satan today, a lot of people who are brand new believers just sort of raise their eyebrow, that seems a little off the charts for them. But the Bible makes it clear that there is a personal creature that we know of as Satan and that there are personal demons and that they exist and that they are involved in human history, even though they are under the sovereign control of God and cannot operate on their own willy-nilly, just visiting whatever kind of evil they want to on people any time they choose. They are clearly under the control of God and that's seen in Job 1 and Job 2.
Now what we see at the beginning of Daniel 7 is that just as we find in other passages, Daniel is told by the interpreting angels to write down exactly what he sees in his vision in order to provide it for every believer in subsequent human history. This is seen in Daniel 12:4 where the angel tells Daniel, "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase." So he is to write these books down, that's what that means, he is to write these books down, and what he also infers there is that it's meaning will be somewhat hidden and obscure for a long time. Now we, in the 20th century have a lot more perspective, historical perspective than Daniel did, than those who lived in the early Church did, and so we can have a little bit better understanding of what is going on here.
We live at a time where we've seen the incredible destruction of modern technology; we live in a time when we watch what's going on in Afghanistan and some of the tools that the soldiers on the ground are using in order to track down the enemy and the destructive capability of our weaponry is just truly amazing. And that's the kind of thing that we can easily see fits into the high death rate revealed in these prophetic passages. Furthermore, since 1948 Israel is back in the land and we know that there must be a remnant in the land, there must be a nation Israel in the land in order for the antichrist, the prince who is to come, to sign a peace treaty. That kicks off the seven year Tribulation and we'll study that when we get to Daniel 9. Not only that, but in the last 15 years there has been more and more of an emphasis placed on the rebuilding of the temple.
When Tommy was here a couple of years ago, almost three, he talked about the book that he and Randy Price had written, Ready to Rebuild, and yesterday I just got Randy's new book, I think it's been out about a year and a half, called The Coming Last Day's Temple, it's about 700 pages of the most detailed study of the temple that you could ever imagine. There'll probably never be another book written like that because there are few people quite as detailed minded as my friend Randy Price. I've known Randy since high school so I can get away with that. We went through seminary together; we've known each other many, many years and he is just an incredible student and there's some fascinating information in there, especially with regard to what has been going on in Israel in more and more groups. There are many different groups aside from the Temple Mount Faithful, there's many other groups that are involved in trying to rebuild the temple and he has a quote in there from a survey that was done in 1996 where in response to this survey 58% of the Jews interviewed were in favor of rebuilding the temple. Now that's in contrast to statements made about ten years before that where there were only about 10% or 12% that were interested in rebuilding the temple. So there is a tremendous interest there. Then last fall when Ariel Sharon went on to the temple mount to prayer, that's what Arafat used as a justification for this current intifada which means uprising, and so all of this focuses on what's going on in the land and with Israel and with God's future plans for Israel.
So as we look at these events in light of Daniel 12:4, knowledge has increased, we think that we're near the end of time and we're able to see how things are being set up for the fulfillment of these prophecies. There are other commands to write down prophecies in Revelation 1:19 and Revelation 21:5. These were to be written down for the edification of Church Age believers in the coming centuries.
Now we look at Daniel 7:2 and Daniel writes…I want to go over the first 4 or 5 verses briefly to give us the overview of what's happening in the introduction, " Daniel said, I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.  And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.  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.  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!'"
We'll stop there but that's enough to give you a clue as to some of the symbols that are included in this section. So we have to take some time to carefully analyze these and see what they mean in Scripture. We will begin with the second verse where Daniel says, "I was looking in my vision by night," so he is asleep and this vision comes upon him, and the difference between a vision and a dream is that in the vision there is going to be communication, two-way communication between the one who is seeing the vision and the angels and God who is giving the vision. So there is two-way communication, the one seeing the vision can ask questions. And the first thing he sees is "the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea," and in the Aramaic he used participles to relate that and that indicates the drama of the situation and the present reality of it to him at that time.
We need to ask the question as we go through this: what are the four winds of heaven? What's the stirring up? And what's the great sea? And I think the best way to attack this is to start at the end and define what the great sea is. First of all the verb; the verb is an Aramaic participle from giyach, which means to burst forth, to break forth, to surge and to push; it doesn't mean simply to strive or to stir up, it has a very strong connotation. It is used in certain passages, for example in Job 40:23 it's used to describe the surging and writhing motion of a baby as it emerges from the womb. Other passages do that as well, such as Job 38:8 and Psalm 22:9. It's also used to describe the fighting motion of an army as the soldiers come forth from hiding in ambush and break forth upon the enemy soldiers and this is seen in Judges 20:33, where we read: "The all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel in ambush broke out of their place, even out of Maareh-geba." So as the ambush breaks and overflows the men they are attacking, that is the word giyach, so the basic usage is that of bursting forth, of giving forth, and it implies something that is violent, something where there is a tremendous amount of pressure.
So whatever these four winds are, suddenly they are blasting in from the four corners. One minute the sea is like glass, some of you navy guys have been out on an ocean where it's been very calm, almost like glass with just a very subtle undulating motion and then a storm comes up and you can see tremendous waves develop. It takes a while, you get 100 mph winds coming along over the surface of a calm body of water and that generates a tremendous amount of friction that over time is transferred further and further down, and if you've got a shallow body of water especially, there's not a lot of place for that energy to dissipate so in can create incredible waves. In fact, it's worse to be in shallow water than deep water when you've got high winds. So these violent winds break forth on this calm body of water and this is what Daniel is picturing here, that his time in history…we're going to look at what the waters are, we're going to look at what the winds are, but this is what's happening in history. Up to this time you've got calm placid waters and then suddenly, at this time in history, between 600 and 500 BC these violent winds are going to break forth in human history.
But we're not left to just guess at what this might refer to. Daniel 7:17 is where the interpretation begins in this chapter, and what we'll do is the first half of the chapter, from 1-16 gives us the vision, 17 and following gives us the interpretation, so we're going to go back and forth between the first half and the last half to talk about the vision and then its interpretation. So we see that the great sea has to do with the earth or the kingdoms of the earth. Daniel 7:17 says, "These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings," so the four beasts are four kings and that's going to relate to the four kings that we discussed in Daniel 2, the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire. So these are the four kings and they "will arise from the earth." So the waters describe the earth, or human society. And this is a consistent theme in Scripture where the waters always picture humanity as a group of people that are tossed to and fro, that are easily influenced, and shaped and moved in a particular direction. In fact, the Salt Sea in the sea is always a picture of something evil, something that has potential for evil, something that's out of control and chaotic, and something that can produce tremendous destruction.
So one of the principles that we have to discover when we get into something like this is look at how these terms are used in the Bible. There are five principles of the Scripture's use of the sea in its relationship to humanity. The first point: the great sea is the source of the inhabitable world at creation. Go back and look at Genesis 1:2-10 and the dry land comes up out of the sea, in Genesis 1:2 the earth has been covered in water and that's been frozen, there's no light, there's no light so there's no heat, so it's in an ice pack. And then the Spirit of God begins to move on the waters and the reason that it's that way is because of the judgment on Satan and the angels that took place between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. So starting in Genesis 1:2 you have a recreation or restoration of the planet that takes place in six literal 24 hour days, and the dry land comes up out of the sea, Genesis 1:2-10, and also 2 Peter 3:5. So the sea is seen as the source of the inhabitable world and the inhabitable world and the order of the inhabitable world is taken out of the great sea. The great sea is chaos; God has to bring order into a situation where He can create human life.
Second point: the waters also are used as a picture of physical birth at our creation, or in other words, to put a little play on an old saying that was used in teaching evolution, ontogeny recapitulates Biblical cosmogony. Those of you who it's been a long time since you were in high school biology, there used to be a saying that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and what that means is that if you look through the various stages of the embryo, there was a time when they thought that you could look at it at 2-3 weeks and there were these little folds there so those were gills and then a few weeks later they would look at other elements and say well, that's when it's emerging into a reptilian stage and the theory was that if you watched the embryonic development in the womb then it recapitulated or repeated the stages of evolution. That's just pure hogwash and it's been proven to be completely false by now, but that's what their statement meant, was ontogeny, which is the life in the womb, recapitulates phylogeny, but here we're saying ontogeny recapitulates Biblical cosmogony. Life comes out of the water in the womb, just as life came out of the water in the original restoration week of Genesis 1. The first analogy between ontogeny, that is what goes on in the womb, and Biblical cosmogony is found in Job 38:8 which identifies the waters in a pregnant woman with the waters from which the earth came. This same analogy is also used in Psalm 139:15 where a woman's womb is actually called the earth. So there is this definite Biblical analogy drawn between the original creation, creation week, and birth, our birth.
Point number three: the sea, therefore, is the source of the inhabitable world at creation and then again after the flood. This is seen in several passages in Job. The sea is the source of the inhabitable world at creation and then again after the flood. For example, Job 26:8 says, "He wraps up the waters in His clouds, and the cloud does not burst under them;  He obscures the face of the full moon, and spreads His cloud over it.  He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness," that goes back to the original restoration when God limits water so that water cannot exercise its destructive force on the planet. And if we go back to verses 8-9 it talks about the waters and the clouds, that's the water vapor canopy that was separated over the earth. When it rains for 40 days and 40 nights that's not enough to flood the earth. What had to happen was water had to come from another source and God had stored this water above the atmosphere the second day of creation and that is where most of the water came from. Genesis 6 said that the waters, the fountains of the deep burst forth and the windows of heaven were opened, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights but then the water continued to rise for another, approximately 180 days, so you have six months at the beginning of the flood, it took another five months before things finally calmed down enough to where they could beach the ark, and it was actually a year, 360 days from the day they went into the ark to the day they came out of the ark, and it was at that time that God once again restricted water, put a boundary on the water.
Job 38:8 uses this same analogy, "Or who enclosed the sea with doors, when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb.  When I made a cloud its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band,  And I placed boundaries on it, and I set a bold and doors." See, God placed boundaries on the water so it can't exercise that chaotic influence, that destructive influence. God has established that. All of this is simply just to picture the point that historically and biblically water has this imagery of being unrestrained chaos and potential evil and destruction. And this is one reason why at the end of time, in Revelation 21:1 we'll see in the new heavens and the new earth there is no longer any sea. John wrote there, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." So the sea is completely missing from the perfect environment of the new heavens and the new earth.
The fourth thing about the sea; in the Bible the sea eventually becomes the symbol of unstable human society in the kingdom of man. The sea becomes a symbol of unstable human society in the kingdom of man. The first three symbols dealt with literal physical water and this fourth principle shows how it is used to symbolize chaos. Remember, water as a liquid takes the shape of its container, so water can take any shape. You can put it in a bowl and it'll have a rounded shape of a bowl. You can put it in some kind of a Jello mold and it'll take the shape of that mold and you can freeze it and have ice cubes in all kinds of different shapes, you can put that liquid in any kind of mold and it takes that shape. So it's malleable, it'll fit whatever environment that's around it. So water in that sense is unstable and it's a picture of people, they don't have their own shape, they're just twisted and take the shape of whatever is going on around them. When they're with certain peer groups they just follow whatever the crowd wants to do. So it's a picture of instability and the winds can blow upon the water and cause it to take many different shapes and be very destructive. So that picture is used in Ephesians 4 of people who are just tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, it's that picture of the destruction of the water.
The fifth way in which water is used, the great sea, is a picture of…[tape turns]…as pathetic because unregenerate people are vulnerable to and are the victims of satanic influences. They are the victims of Satan's influences, Ephesians 4:14. People without Bible doctrine are suckers for every possible satanic deception, they don't have the Word of God, they don't have any absolutes, they are completely malleable by whatever influences there are around them, whatever their education background is, whatever the media wants them to do, they are influenced by all of these different things and Satan is part of that influence that comes against them. So the great sea here is a picture of fallen human society. It is a picture of the kingdom of man in all of its destructive potential. That's the first element.
Now the second thing we see here in Daniel 7:2, Daniel is "looking on his vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea." So the four winds of heaven are breaking forth on the great sea of humanity. Now what are these "four winds of heaven" which are causing this tremendous tempest, because that's what's pictured here, is suddenly these winds come up and it takes some time but it stirs up the sea and they are not fighting against each other, they are all working against the sea. It's not a picture of the wind striving against each other, which is an idea you can get from the King James, but they are fighting against the sea, they are stirring up the sea to produce something specific.
Now obviously the word "four" there is a number of completion and it indicates that the wind is coming from the four points of the compass, it's coming from every direction and it's falling upon human society in order to create a tempest. Now the word for "wind" there needs to be dealt with. "four winds of heaven," the Hebrew word for wind is ruach; ruach is the word for spirit, it's the same thing you have in the Greek. The Greek word for spirit is pneuma, it's also the word for wind, it's the word for breath, it can be the word even for mental attitude. Ruach is the same way in the Hebrew. The Jews did not think abstractly as we do but they think of…for example, they thought of the human spirit in terms of its breath, when the baby takes its first breath that's when it becomes truly alive and truly human and so they pictured these immaterial things in terms of a concrete wind. So "the four winds of heaven" are not just dealing with four physical winds, the movement of air, but they are of an angelic army and we need to look at this in the Scripture to see how we get the idea that the winds of heaven are an angelic army.
First of all, turn to Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel is another prophetic book that uses this same imagery, and Ezekiel 37 is the famous dry bones passage. You know the old song that came out in the 50s, "dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones," well that's what this was based on. Ezekiel 37:1 says, "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones." Now these bones are scattered everywhere and they're dry. This is a picture of the nation Israel in the Diaspora that's been completely scattered throughout all of the nations. Verse 2, "And He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry." Now I have heard an exposition of this, I haven't had the time to go into all of the details of Ezekiel 37 in my own study, but it would seem to make some level of sense and that is that after the holocaust where the Jews were baked in the ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau and many other Nazi camps, they were baked, they were dry, you have the dry bones and it was that holocaust that gave birth to Israel, to the modern state of Israel. And so it's very possible that you begin to see the fulfillment of this prophecy in these events because this is a picture, in Ezekiel 37:1, of God's restoration of the nation and eventual regeneration of the nation.
Ezekiel 37:3, "And He said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' And I answered, 'O Lord God, Thou knowest.'" Verse 4, "Again He said to me, 'Prophecy over these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.'  Thus says the Lord God to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.  And I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in your that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.'" The picture here is of gathering these bones together, linking them together, putting sinew together, muscle on the bones, flesh on the bones, gradually putting flesh on the bones so that you have the creation of the physical body which would be tantamount to the restoration of non-regenerate Israel in the land during the Tribulation and then God will breathe on them at the end of the Tribulation and that is a picture of their regeneration; the regeneration of the nation of Israel at the end of the Tribulation.
Ezekiel 37:7, "So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.  And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew, and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them." So they're not alive, it's just a physical body with no real life, like a spiritually dead person.  "Then He said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God, 'Come form the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.'" So there is going to be the four winds that are going to breathe on Israel to bring it to life. They are gathered from the nations and then breathed on, brought to life.
Now let's see where that idea is picked up in the New Testament. But first, look at Ezekiel 37:21-22, "And say to them, Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone," now in Ezekiel 37:21-22 it is God who restores them, He says "I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them, [from every side and bring them into their own land;  and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms.]" and yet in verse 9 it's the four winds that are going to do it. So God is in control and He utilizes the four winds to bring this about.
And then we come to Matthew 24:30-31 in the Olivet Discourse, and there Jesus says that "the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all of the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." This is the Second Coming. Verse 31, "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." So here we see that what gathers the people isn't the four winds, in this chapter, it is the angels coming from the four winds. So the angels are now identified with the four winds by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Significantly another passage that relates the winds to the angels, in Zechariah 6:1-6, there Zechariah says, "Now I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains; and the mountains were bronze mountains.  With the first chariot were red horses; with the second chariot black horses,  with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot strong dappled horses.  Then I spoke and said to the angel who was speaking with me, 'What are these, my lord?'" Notice, he's having a vision, there's an angel there interpreting the vision for him, just as we have in Daniel 7. Verse 6, "And the angel answered and said to me, 'These are the four spirits of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth,  with one of which the black horses are going forth to the north country; and the white ones go forth after them, while the dappled ones go forth to the south country." So this is a picture of how the four spirits of heaven or the four winds of heaven are also angelic forces. And it is this angelic army that God uses to move along the course of human history. And not surprising to any of you, we also find this same imagery in Revelation 7.
Revelation 7:1, "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,  saying, 'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.'  And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel." So once again Revelation identifies four angels with the four corners of heaven, so we have a mighty angelic army here that is maneuvering human history and events in human history to bring about God's plan and purposes.
So now when we get back and we look at our passage in Daniel 7:2, Daniel says, "I was looking in my vision by night," and what he sees are these angels, these angelic armies, coming like winds, stirring up the sea, causing a tremendous tempest or storm in the midst of the sea of nations. So this tells us there's something radical, something that had not yet happened in human history was now happening and these angelic armies are stirring things up in history. These angelic forces are coming, it's not just, probably not just the elect angels but very possibly they are using the evil spirits, for a reference see 1 Kings 22:19-23, where they are using the evil spirits to bring about the manipulation of human history. So ultimate causation in history comes from God, not from events within history; that gives us great comfort to know that God through Jesus Christ controls history.
So as Daniel is looking, he's lying there and he's looking and this goes on for a period of time, maybe an hour passes and he watches this wind increase and the tumult of the sea increases and the storm increases, and the waves increase and he sees its destructive power, and then suddenly out from the midst of this sea comes a progression of four great beasts, each one different from the other, in verse 3. And next time we'll begin to look at the first beast and what that means starting in verse 4.