The Interpretation of Daniel’s Dream About Four Beasts (Daniel 7:15 – 28)

Scripture Text:

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Daniel 7:15 – 28

1. Share about a time when your favorite team was the underdog and they won.

2. Share about a time when you were in an underdog role and came out on top.

3. When have you gone through tough times, only to awaken and find out things came out okay?

4. How is Daniel affected by this vision (verses 15, 19, 28)? How does he learn its true meaning?

5. How might you go about cracking the code of the four kingdoms? (Modern attempts to do so are based on comparisons among the visions of Daniel in chapters 2, 7 and 9. With a chronology of major empires we know in retrospect from secular history.)

6. In judgment, what role is played by the “saints” (verses 18, 21, 22, 25, 27)? By “the Most High”?

7. How does Daniel’s view on saints in judgment compare with that of Jesus and John (see Matthew 19:28, 29; Luke 22:29, 30; Revelation 1:6; 20:4 – 6)?

8. What will kingdom possession by the saints mean, now and in the future, for the arrogant? The meek? For you?

9. Daniel shows us that God doesn’t always side with the strong or victorious (athletes, candidates, military) but with the exiled, defeated and oppressed. How might this relate to you?

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Daniel’s Dream Of Four Beasts (Daniel 7:1 – 14)

Scripture Text:

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Daniel 7:1 – 14

It has been perhaps 10 – 12 years since anything has been heard from Daniel, God’s captive servant who was put into the service of King Nebuchadnezzar as a young man. During this time Daniel has achieved great respect in the royal palace, primarily due to his successful interpretation of various dreams and riddles. Now in his later years, Daniel has served a succession of Babylonian leaders.

During the first and third years of Belshazzar’s rule, Daniel has two of the most amazing prophetic dreams since Ezekiel’s vision of the great battle against Gog and the hordes of evil. Interestingly, there are events and characters in Daniel’s dreams which seem to correspond with things Ezekiel saw in his great temple vision. We will consider the dream of four beasts (chapter 7) this week. And the vision of ram and goat (chapter 8) next week.

1. What animals or birds represent the following?

  • the United States of America?
  • Russia?
  • France?
  • England?
  • Your favorite ball team?

2. What are your favorite animals, wild or tame?

3. What are your favorite animal cartoon characters?

4. What animal scares you to pieces?

5. Jesus takes Daniel’s royal “Son of Man” title as His own, but fuses it with a suffering motif (see Isaiah 53). What aspect of Christ and His kingdom, then, is Daniel predicting in verses 13 and 14? How does this compare to the other four kingdoms?

6. To what does Daniel liken the four beasts? What’s distinctive about each? What do you make of the 10 horns? The “little horn” with the big mouth?

7. What picture does the “Ancient of Days” bring to mind? Senility or wisdom? Venerability or vulnerability? Sentimental softy or moral purity? Why?

8. What do you think is implied by “the books were opened” (verse 10)? Does your answer say more about God’s control or human freedom?

9. How does Daniel convey transcendent and earthly aspects of God (verses 9 – 14)? What is the coming kingdom and its heavenly leader like?

10. How do you react to “wild, scary and beastly” forces within your world? Within your life? What reason does Daniel give you to trust God “has the whole world in his hands”?

11. Take a minute to draw the scene in verses 13 and 14 in your imagination. What does this emphasize to you about Jesus Christ? Why is it significant to you that He is like this?

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Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Is Interpreted and Fulfilled (Daniel 4:19 – 37)

Scripture Text:

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Daniel 4:19 – 37

1. What tactful way have you found to break bad news to someone?

2. How would you like to receive news: Bad news first? Good news last?

3. Share a time when you delayed doing something urgent or needful only to regret it. What were the results? How did you feel?

4. How does Daniel break his bad news tactfully? What does he do and say at the outset (verse 19) and at the end (verse 27) which would increase the likelihood that Nebuchadnezzar would listen? What hope does he hold out for the king?

5. Daniel’s use of “Heaven” (verse 26) is the first and only time the word is inserted for God in the Old Testament. What does it imply: Reverence for God’s name? Deference to the king’s polytheistic beliefs? Or what?

6. The Aramaic word for righteous or “what is right” (verse 27) links human responsibility to both God and neighbor. Why does Daniel stress both? (How is “being kind to the oppressed” a witness to God?)

7. How does his interpretation of the king’s dream relate to issues of pride, arrogance and humility?

8. Has “all this happened” to the king by chance? By decree? By default? What clue does “twelve months later” provide?

9. How is the voice from heaven shown to be powerful (verses 31 – 33)? How does the immediacy and power of God’s word relate to Genesis chapter 1?

10. With his sanity restored, what does the king conclude about “the Most High”? How does his testimony strike you?

  • sincerely penitent?
  • coaxed or coached by Daniel?
  • sanely rational?
  • miraculous turn-about?

11. How do you account for the king’s restored greatness and prosperity?

  • humility pays?
  • Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled?
  • God has a sense of humor?
  • the king’s dream of a tree and stump comes true?
  • other?

12. How have you shown courage in declaring God’s word to others, both the good and bad news?

13. What “stump” signals for you what God still wants to do? How might that be fully restored by “Heaven’s rule”?

14. At this time Babylon (with its hanging gardens) is a “great” nation. Why does such success make change or repentance difficult? How does this relate to Jesus’ word about the rich entering the kingdom of God (see Matthew 19:24)?

How long Nebuchadnezzar’s mental illness lasted is not clear from the phrase “seven times”. What is clear is that it was long enough to confront the king with his sinful state and his need for a redeeming God. As we saw in the preceding post, Nebuchadnezzar’s expressed reason for revealing the embarrassing incident is to bring honor to a God powerful enough to so humble a world leader, yet gracious enough to restore him to his throne. And his conversion seems to be sincere. What a happy ending to the life of one who has spent years oppressing God’s chosen nation (people) and decimating Jerusalem!

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