I think I’ve seen more diverse interpretations of Dan. 7 than almost any other chapter of the Bible. Nearly all of them focus on the four “wild beasts” found in the first few verses, but the beasts are not, and should not be the main focus of our understanding. What is Daniel 7 about? It is the outline of the entire end times. Let’s dig in.
DANIEL 7: PART ONE: The Heavenly Judgment
Daniel was given four “visions” (Chs., 7, 8, 9, 10-12) and interpreted two of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams (Chs., 2, 4). These 6 prophetic visions form 3 sets of “paired” visions (2 and 7, 4 and 9, 8 and 11) with the final vision in the pair giving much more information. These three pairs of visions need to be understood in this manner; they are linked together in meaning. Below is a table showing the symbolic links between Dan. 2 and Dan. 7
|Dan. 2||Dan. 7||Commonalities||Meaning|
|Head of Gold||Lion with Eagles Wings||Head leads the body Dan. 2:38; Lion is King of the Beasts Dan. 7:4||Babalonian Empire|
|Chest and Arms of Silver||Bear||Bear has “ribs” in mouth Dan. 7:5; Chest has ribs||Medo-Persian Empire|
|Belly and thighs of Bronze||Leopard||Bronze Kingdom rules over earth Dan. 2:39; Leopard is given dominion Dan. 7:6||Hellanistic Empire (Greece)|
|Legs of Iron||Fourth Terrifying Beast||Iron crushes Dan. 2:40; Fourth Beast crushes Dan. 7:7||Islamic Caliphate|
|Ten Toes||Ten Horns||Ten Toes on “feet” Dan. 2:33, Toes called “kings” Dan. 2:44; Beast with Ten Horns tramples under “feet” Dan. 7:7, Horns called kings Dan. 7:24||Beast Empire|
|Stone and Mountain||Kingdom Given to Jesus and Saints||Kingdom will never be destroyed Dan. 2:44; Kingdom is everlasting Kingdom Dan. 7:24||Jesus’s Millennial Kingdom|
What is Daniel 7 About
Daniel 7 is expansive and provides details from the rise of the Kingdom of Babylon until the dominion of the earth is returned to Christ and he establishes his Millennial Kingdom on earth; a span of 2500+ years.
The text of Daniel 7 is divided into two sections: the vision itself and an angelic explanation. The vision portion is further divided into a section about the four beasts and a section about “The Heavenly Judgment” which takes us right into the throne room of the Most High. Nearly every commentary on Daniel 7 begins by looking at these exotic looking “wild beasts” and everybody reading wants to learn about them as well. They are intriguing. But I believe we should begin with the Heavenly Judgment that occurs later in the vision because it places the the four beasts in proper perspective. We will study the four beasts in Part Two in the next article.
The Books Were Opened.
Daniel’s vision of the judgment that takes place in Dan. 7 is broken up into three segments (vv. 9-10, vv. 13-14, and then an angelic explanation in vv. 26-27). Interspersed between the segments of these heavenly visions are the events that are occurring on the earth. So we first are given a view of events on the earth, then we see heaven’s reaction, we view more events on the earth, and again we see heaven’s explanation. Let’s examine the first segment of Daniel’s heavenly vision:
I beheld until the thrones were set, and the Ancient of days sat; and his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head, as pure wool: his throne was a flame of fire, and his wheels burning fire. A stream of fire rushed forth before him: thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousands of myriads, attended upon him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened. (Dan. 7: 9-10 LXX)
We see that the focus of the first part of this vision is on a heavenly court being seated on thrones and scrolls being opened. What is this judgment and what are the books that are opened? If you attempt to figure this out only using the text of Dan. 7, you will be misled. Scripture is designed to interpret Scripture. We are to look for clues in other parts of the Bible where we see references to these thrones and other aspects of this passage.
The primary Old Testament reference to God sitting on a throne and judging is Psalm 9:
You have sat on the throne judging righteously. you have rebuked the nations. You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins, And You have uprooted the cities; The very memory of them has perished . . . He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity . . . And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds. For He who requires blood remembers them. (Psalm 9: 4-5, 7-8. 10-12)
I recommend you review this entire Psalm. I have outlined the main aspects of the judgment: 1) a rebuking of the nations 2) destruction of the wicked, 3) destruction of cities, and 4) judgment FOR the righteous. We notice that the judgment of cities and the wicked are perpetual and forever so this is obviously the judgment that occurs at the return of Jesus. We also notice that at the judgment of the wicked they have their names “blotted out.” What are their names blotted out from? Psalm 69 tells us:
May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous (Psalm 69:28)
This use this use of the Book of Life is confirmed by Psalm 9:12, “he who requires blood remembers them.” It is faith in Jesus’s blood sacrifice that causes our names to not be blotted out from the “book of life.” This use of the book of life is further confirmed in another judgment found in Revelation:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it . . .the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds . . .And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20: 11,12, 15)
Now this judgment (The Great White Throne Judgment) in Revelation 20:11-15 occurs after the Thousand year Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ. It is not the same judgment as seen in Dan. 7 which occurs prior to Christ’s return. However, it is the same type of judgment. God’s judgment and justice is “immutable” and unchanging. The way he will judge at the return of Christ is the same way he will judge a 1000 years from now.
If we study the Judgment in Rev. 20: 11-15, God first sits on his throne and then uses two sets of “books.” The first are the books which have our deeds written in them. The second is the “book of life” which has our names written in it if we are saved. All humans are first judged by their deeds. None are found righteous by deeds alone, so only those made righteous by the blood of Jesus (Psalm 9:12) are saved from the lake of fire. This is God’s unchanging system of justice. When the books of our deeds are opened, the Book of Life is opened as well. They are used together.
God’s immutable system of justice used in Rev. 20: 11-15 must be the same system as the one used in Dan. 7:9-10; and not surprisingly the Revelation passage directly quotes Dan. 7:10 that the “books were opened.” This confirms that the same sort of judgment is taking place in Rev. 20: 11-15. When we read that “the books were opened” in Dan. 7:10, it refers to both the “books” which contain our deeds and the “Book of Life” even though it is not specifically mentioned. This is entirely consistent with Psalm 9 as well.
What is the Timing of the Judgment?
Now that we know what the “books” are that were opened, we need to figure out how many thrones there are, who sits on them, and when this judgment takes place. If we return to Rev. 20, an earlier judgment is also pictured:
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. (Rev. 20: 4-5)
IMO, this is the same judgment as Dan. 7:9-10. We see thrones and judgment, but this time we are told what we are witnessing is the First Resurrection. We are also told those who come to life as a result of this judgment haven’t taken the Mark of the Beast. The other judgment we just looked at above in Rev. 20: 11-15 occurs after the Millennial Kingdom (The Great White Throne Judgment) and is the one that happens at the Second Resurrection (after the thousand years.) Thus both judgments occur at a Resurrection! If you want to learn more about Resurrections see HOW MANY RESURRECTIONS ARE THERE? on this site.
It makes perfect sense then that the “books” (man’s deeds and the Book of Life) would be opened prior to each Resurrection. How else would the dead in Christ be judged righteous?
We know from this previous article THE DAY OF THE LORD; WHAT IT IS, WHEN IS IT? that the Resurrection occurs on the Day of the Lord at the end of the 6th year of the 70th Week of Daniel. This is entirely consistent with Dan. 7. Immediately after the judgment that takes place in verses 9-10, we read this:
Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. (Dan. 7: 11)
This passage shows that after the judgment and Resurrection (and Rapture), the Beast is still active. This is consistent with a Resurrection at the end of the sixth year of the 70th Week; the Beast is not destroyed until a year later when Christ physically returns to the earth.
Who Sits on the Thrones?
The judgment of Dan. 7:9-10 is pictured one more place in Revelation. John the Revelator wanted us to be sure that we identified the two scenes as one and the same. In order to do that he used a direct quote and a number of other nearly identical passages from Dan. 7 when he wrote Rev. chapters 4 and 5 (the opening of the 7 Sealed Scroll.)
A throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. (Rev. 4: 2- 4)
From this we learn that there are 24 thrones in addition to God’s Throne and 24 elders sit upon them. If you have any doubt Rev. 4-5 is the same vision as Dan. 7, this table will help you see the similiarities of the visions:
|Item||Dan. 7||Rev. 4 -5|
|God’s Throne||The Ancient of Days took His seat, v. 9||One sitting on the throne, v. 4:2|
|Elder’s Thrones||Thrones were set up, v. 9||Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, v. 4:4|
|Appearance of God’s Throne||A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him, v. 10||Out from the throne come flashes of lightning. v. 4:5|
|God’s Attendants||Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him. v. 10||The number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, v. 5:11|
|The Court||The court sat, v. 10||I saw twenty-four elders sitting, v. 4:4|
|The Books||And the books were opened, v. 10||Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, v. 6:1|
I don’t know another two passages of scripture that contain more similarities in two short verses (Dan. 7: 9-10) than the six similarities found here. In the Greek, the phrase “thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads” ( MYRIADES MYRIADON KAI CHILADES CHILADON) found in Rev. 5: 11 is an exact quote from Greek version of Dan. 7:10. This direct quote and the six similarities make the two sections of scripture (Dan. 7:9-10 and Rev. 4-6) an exact fingerprint match! The odds that these two passages are not describing the same event is a hundred trillion to one. These similarites and the exact quote above are not an accident. God inspired Daniel and John to write the passages in this way so we the readers would have zero doubt that they were one and the same event.
So from this analysis, what is the Seven Sealed Scroll pictured being opened in Rev. 4-6? We learned in IS THE BOOK OF DANIEL SEALED IN DAN. 12? that the scroll contains the Book of Life! Hopefully you are seeing how all these previous posts and all these chapters of the Bible fit together.
The implications of all this analysis are quite profound.
First, if Dan. 7: 9-10 and the opening the Seven Sealed Scroll in Rev. 4-6 are truly one and the same events, we can know with absolute certainty that the Antichrist arises prior to the opening of the scroll and prior to the Seals.
While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts. I kept looking until thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days took His seat. (Dan. 7;8-9)
Nearly all commentators believe the “little horn” is the Antichrist and we see that he is active prior to the thrones being set up and before the first seal is opened. This is very conclusive proof that none of the seals have yet been opened. It seems every day on the internet, a teacher is suggesting that some of the seals and even some of the trumpets have already happened. This is NOT accurate. The Antichrist must be active and 3 horns uprooted prior to the beginning of the opening of the Seven Sealed Scroll.
Second, if the judgment in Dan. 7: 9-10 is the First Resurrection this has to happen when the “books were opened” (the Seven Sealed Scroll opened as well) there is no Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Rather the Resurrection and Rapture occur at the Seventh Seal just as this website teaches.
Third, Psalm 9 tells us that the nations will be rebuked and the cities destroyed at this judgment. Does Dan. 7 give us further information about the rebuking of nations? It does. Only a few verses later, the result of the judgment of the court is made known:
I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man, and he came on to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to him. And to him was given the dominion, and the honor, and the kingdom; and all nations, tribes, and languages, shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14 LXX, emphasis mine)
It is very clear that a transfer of power has occurred and the kingdom has passed to “the Son of Man” (Jesus). The passage also indicates that this is the last time that power will transfer. Jesus’s dominion will be everlasting. Daniel was confused and asked the angel giving him the vision for an explanation. The angel then replied later in the chapter:
And the judgment has sat, and they shall remove his (Satan and the Antichrist’s) dominion to abolish it, and to destroy it utterly. And the kingdom and the power and the greatness of the kings that are under the whole heaven were given to the saints of the Most High; and his (Jesus’s) kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all powers shall serve and obey him. (Dan. 7:26-27 NASB, clarification and emphasis mine)
The angel’s explanation makes it clear to Daniel that one focus of the heavenly judgment is on transferring the dominion from Satan and the Antichrist to Jesus and the saints. The opening of the scrolls pictured in Dan 7:10 seem to be the impetus of this transfer of power. This is completely consistent with what happens at the Seventh Trumpet:
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God. (Rev. 11: 15-16)
Notice we still see the same 24 elders on their thrones. Now they are repeating the claim of Dan. 7 and Psalm 9 that the Kingdoms and nations of this world have become Christ’s.
This is of extreme importance. Daniel 7 is primarily about a judgment that occurs during the 70th Week of Daniel. This judgment accomplishes the 4 aspects detailed in Psalm 9:
- rebuking of the nations (transfer of the Kingdom to Christ)
- destruction of the wicked and a blotting out of their names from the Book of Life
- uprooting of the cities of the world (physical destruction of man’s kingdoms during the Wrath of God)
- a judgment for those that know God’s name and put their trust in him. (Resurrection and Rapture of the saints)
These four purposes are all contained in the Seven Sealed Scroll opened by Christ in Rev. 4-11, a passage that we have shown is the identical event as Dan. 7: 9-10.
In Part Two of this series, we will examine those four wild beasts that everyone is interested in, and show how they are related to this judgment.