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01 May 2018

Daniel Chapter 7 in the New Testament

Beasts from the Sea

Daniel’s vision of a “Son of Man” figure who arrives to receive dominion occurs several times in the gospel accounts, often in descriptions of the return of Jesus (e.g., Matthew 13:4116:27-2824:3025:31Luke 21:27).
For example, in Matthew 24:30-31 all the tribes of the earth mourn when “they see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
“The Son of Man” is the most common self-designation heard on the lips of Jesus in the gospel accounts. Its source, likewise, is Daniel 7:13-14(e.g., Matthew 8:2011:1912:8); the same passage is behind Christ’s post-resurrection declaration of authority over all things (Matthew 28:18-20).
When the high priest demanded whether he was the Messiah, Jesus responded, “I am he, and you will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62Matthew 26:64Luke 22:69). Jesus combined a phrase from Daniel 7:13 with Psalm 110:1, “Yahweh declared to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I make your foes your footstool”.
In Daniel 7:13, the “Son of Man” approaches God to receive authority to rule the nations; in Psalm 110:1the messiah is exalted to rule from Yahweh’s throne until he subjugates all his enemies. In his trial before the high priest Jesus declared this about to be fulfilled; it was something his executioners would see, presumably to their dismay.
Paul describes a future “man of lawlessness” and the related “mystery of lawlessness” that was already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8). This force would prevail; “now you know that which prevails to the end he may be revealed in his season…until he comes out of the midst. Then will be revealed the Lawless One whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the appearance of his arrival.”
Paul draws on language from Daniel 7:8, 21-26 to paint a fuller picture of this future malevolent figure. Note the verbal parallels below:
I considered the horns and there came up among them another horn, a little one…this horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them until that the Ancient of Days arrived and justice was granted to the saints of the Highest, and the season arrived that the saints should possess the kingdom…and words against the Most High will he speak, and the saints of the Highest will he afflict and will presume to change seasons and law, and they will be given into his hand for a season and seasons and the dividing of a season; but Judgment will take its seat, and his dominion will they remove to consume and to destroy unto an end.”
In the Book of Revelation
The image of the “son of man” arriving on clouds is at the close of Revelation’s prologue, “he is coming with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him” (Revelation 1:4-8).
John combines it with a verbal allusion to Zechariah 12:10, only he changes the original “clans” of Jerusalem to the “tribes of the earth.” This is an example of how Revelation universalizes Old Testament promises originally given to national Israel.
A reference to “one like a son of man” also occurs in Revelation 1:13, “I saw seven golden lamp-stands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man.” John later describes “one like a son of man” who was sitting on a white cloud and wearing a golden crown, while holding a sharp sickle poised to reap (14:14).
In Daniel’s vision the “Son of Man” approaches the divine throne to receive dominion over “all peoples, nations and tongues” (Daniel 7:13-14). This stands behind several passages in Revelation that emphasize the universal domain of the Lamb.
Thus, the Lamb is declared worthy precisely because “he purchased for God by his blood men out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation” (5:9). John saw an innumerable multitude coming out of the tribulation that consisted of men and women “out of every nation, tribes, people and tongue” (7:9).
Daniel’s vision of four beasts from the sea is employed in Revelation 13:1-5, but it is modified into a single “beast” that ascends from the sea, one that combines characteristics from all four of Daniel’s beasts. John does not simply interpret Daniel’s four beasts or attempt to identify its fourth beast; John provides a portrait of something related but greater than the original vision. Revelation’s beast from the sea is an amalgamation of all four of Daniel’s animal images.
Revelation lists the four beasts’ characteristics in the opposite sequence of their rise from the sea in Daniel 7:1-8. In the original a lion, bear, leopard, and beast with ten horns ascend from the sea in quick succession. But John saw a single beast that ascended from the sea, one that had ten horns, a leopard’s appearance, a bear’s feet and the “mouth of a lion.”
This single beast also had “ten horns,” just like Daniel’s fourth beast, as well as a “mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (13:5). This last item corresponds to the “little horn” that was speaking great things in Daniel 7:8.
The book of Revelation adds and omits things to Daniel’s beast. For example, there is no mention of “seven heads” on the fourth beast in Daniel. In Revelation, each of the “ten horns” wears a diadem, something not mentioned in Daniel. In Revelation, there is no mention of three of the beast’s ten horns being removed.
Again, Revelation is not concerned with just reiterating what Daniel previously wrote; it is using material from Daniel to draw a fuller and perhaps different picture. Daniel saw four beastly regimes; John saw only one but one that combined all the worst features of the original four.
The beast from the sea is seen again in Revelation 17:7-17. It is under the economic sway of “Babylon, the Great Whore”; she rides the beast.  Its seven heads represent seven kingdoms. Five had already “fallen” before John’s time; one was a present reality in his day, and the seventh was to come at a future date.
This is a portrait of a beast that is trans-historical; something that appears periodically throughout history, something that repeatedly ascends from the Abyss to wage war against the saints. Its ten horns represent kings allied with the beast, though in the end, they become God’s unwitting agents to destroy Babylon.
A key passage found several times in Revelation is Daniel 7:21(“the horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them”). Whatever “saints” may have referred to in the original prophecy, in Revelation they are individuals who have the “testimony of Jesus,” men and women purchased from every nation by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6-127:9-14).
The passage is applied to Satan’s attacks against the saints in Revelation 11:712:1713:719:19, and in a very ironic fashion in 17:14 (“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them”).
The theme of malevolent creatures “ascending” from ominous depths in order to attack the Lamb and his followers appears repeatedly, though adapted in each case to make specific points. For example, Revelation’s “two witnesses” are targeted by the “beast that ascends from the abyss” (11:7).
John sees the beast in chapter 13 “ascending from the sea” to make war with the saints (13:1, 7). This same beast is also said to “ascend from the Abyss” (17:8). The false prophet appears as a beast “ascending from the earth” (13:11). Finally, at the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed to gather the nations and “to ascend over the breadth of the earth to surround the camp of the saints” (20:9).
In Daniel, the “little horn” was to prevail against the saints until “judgment was given for the saints of the Most-High” (Daniel 7:21-22). Likewise, when Satan is bound for a thousand years John saw “thrones” set up and “judgment was given for them” that sat upon them, and the “saints possessed the kingdom” (Revelation 20:4).
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