The Dragon and His Offspring (Part 3)


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today, Tom and Jason continue our series on major characters in the book of Revelation. This podcast is the third part of our consideration of the Dragon. Last week, we considered Isaiah’s words concerning the Serpent and the Serpent-crushing King. Today we are looking at Daniel’s prophecies regarding the beasts and the coming of the Son of Man. The apostle John heavily relies upon Daniel’s writings, so an understanding of Daniel’s writings is important when we think about the book of Revelation.

TK: Good morning, Jason.

JD: Good morning, Tom, back to Gear Talk.

Preach the Main Points

TK: Back to Gear Talk. And today we’re going to be in the book of Daniel. This has been good. We’ve been considering major characters in Revelation. We’ve been talking about the Dragon, the Serpent. So, we were in Isaiah last time. We’re going to be in Daniel today, but I have a question for you as a lot of us—we read God’s word, we bump into something. So subject of the serpent, and I just want to hear from you. What are your thoughts about for instance, when I first encountered the serpent in Genesis 3? As we think about reconstructing, for instance, things that Moses didn’t talk about there, what would you say about—help us think about that? So let’s say we’re having a Bible study and teaching and I bump into Genesis 3 and there’s something about the serpent. And then I might think, wow, I should really give a back story about the serpent and go down that road. So do you kind of get what I’m talking about here?

JD: I think I do.

TK: Because I think it’s a temptation all of us have, as people who love God’s word. Oh, wow, I want to go down that road a little bit.

JD: Sure. We’ve heard stories growing out of specific prophecies like Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28, where God gives words against the King of Babylon and the King of Tyre in ways that seem to recall the Garden of Eden, and even maybe time before the Garden of Eden. And people begin to say, well, I need to talk about the fall of Satan. For example, something that happened before the story we’re actually reading in Genesis chapter 3 and in—Moses doesn’t go there. Moses simply begins that there was a serpent more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. So he puts Satan as this serpent of old, as a created being. And then he says in verse fourteen of chapter three of Genesis, “It is because you did this that you will be cursed more than the other beasts of the field.” And we—your question was how much time should we spend trying to fill in what Scripture doesn’t say there’s two sides to that. There’s the side of, what does Moses assume of his readers that his readers know, and we want to know what he assumes. But we don’t need to know what he does not assume. So we hold to a view of progressive revelation. We also hold to a view of God being the main author of Scripture. So he is writing this book through the words of humans and, as he does, he’s progressively revealing more to later prophets than he did to earlier prophets, until we come to Christ himself the ultimate word of God made flesh. So as we walk through the scriptures, we’re learning new things. And yet, we shouldn’t confuse those new things with things that we should already know at the beginning, while keeping in mind that as we read through scripture, we are always reading the earlier material in fresh ways because we’ve gained progressive revelation. And the key for me is looking for signals in the text that Moses truly wanted us to be thinking about certain things, and if we don’t see the clues, we don’t need to bring them up as a teacher or a preacher. So we’re looking…

TK: OK. That’s helpful.

JD: We’re looking for the guidance in the text that we’re supposed to read something in a certain way. We’re looking for biblical warrant. And so, for example, if we were to say, why is it that God judged Satan? If we were in Genesis 3, we would have to say it is because of what he did against Adam and Eve, not because of anything that happened in the heavenlies, before the creation of man, or the fall of man. But it was because of his involvement in deceiving Eve and twisting the roles that God had given. Adam is the head; Eve is his glory. In twisting those roles and in bringing about the fall of humanity—it’s because he did that that God is ultimately bringing the warrior king Jesus himself to crush the Serpent’s head. It’s not because of anything before that within the text. It’s because of that. And so, as a preacher, as a teacher, I would want to focus there, because that’s what the text calls for. And Moses is not assuming it doesn’t appear to me that we know anything about a pre, spiritual history of Satan prior to his entrance into the Garden of Eden. There’s no signals that I see in the text. And yet there are explicit things that talk about why he’s being punished. It’s because of what he did right there in the garden.

TK: I think sometimes about like if you were telling me a story about something happened to you, you’re driving your car, and you make a remark about there’s this green car that was on my right hand side. But this also happened. And if I kept going back to what about the green car? And you might say that wasn’t the point of my story. You need to let that go. It’s in the story, but I’m telling you something different. But if I keep going back—I feel like as a preacher, I’ve done that many times where maybe Moses would say, wait a minute, did you see me emphasizing that that wasn’t the main point I was saying here? So going down that road is going to distract from the story I actually am telling.

JD: All the data points in Scripture, every clause down to every letter matters. It’s there with purpose. But it doesn’t mean that everything in the scripture bears the same weight of importance. Paul can say that the gospel is of first importance, and that doesn’t mean that things other than the gospel are not important, they’re just not as important. And so we, as an interpreter of God’s word, need to be able to assess every passage in the same way, recognizing that there’s a main point. And there’s supporting points and be able to distinguish the two. Asking why did he give this detail? Why did he write it exactly this way? That’s part of interpretation. And yet we always need to be able to weigh out what’s most important in this text. If I have limited time, what am I supposed to preach? And what we’re supposed to preach or teach is the main idea and not get distracted by the secondary supporting elements.

TK: OK, that helps a lot. I think for myself the number of times I’ve become fascinated with something secondary has been huge and it’s caused me at times to miss the main point.

JD: And that’s what we don’t want to happen. We want to keep the main idea in view always for ourselves and our people, because that’s what God wants us to take away.

Daniel As Background for Revelation

TK: Right. Right. So we were going to go to the book of Daniel. Today we’re talking about the Dragon. Can you tell us why you would want to go to Daniel? Daniel, by the way—it’s in the writings, so it’s not in the prophets like we were yesterday. Yesterday, we recorded yesterday the podcast using Isaiah. Isaiah is in the prophets. This is in a whole different section of the Old Testament. But why did you want us to go to Daniel in order to talk about the Dragon?

JD: Well, it’s especially because of the way kings and kingdoms are portrayed as beasts, and that language of beast is intentional in this book. Specifically, it’s a beast of the field, and that’s exactly what we’re told the serpent was in the garden. “He was more crafty than any other beast of the field” (Gen 3:1). So what I believe we’re seeing here are kingdoms of men that are portrayed as beasts when they should have been human. And humans were to image God, but instead these kingdoms and kings of men have become beastly, standing against the ultimate King, the son of man or the son of Adam, ultimately. And so you have the true representative of what humanity is supposed to be, standing against the twisted, beastly kingdoms of men who are not fulfilling their call to image God to reflect and represent and resemble God himself on Earth. But the son of man, the Messiah in this book, one of the few Old Testament books that refer to this ultimate delivering saving figure as the Messiah. The Messiah represents what humanity is supposed to be as the displayer of God’s ultimate sovereignty on Earth, and it’s his kingdom in this book that will ultimately win and overcome all the beastly kingdoms of men. So we’ve talked about the Serpent and his offspring. If the Serpent is a beast, then his offspring will be beasts, and in the book of Revelation we have the dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and the beast is described with seven heads and ten horns. And then there’s a second beast that looks like a lamb and talks like a dragon. So both of these two beasts are in certain ways in the image of the Dragon. They are offspring of the dragon, and both the Dragon, the Serpent himself, and all of his offspring, were ultimately defeated, according to Genesis 3:15’s promise. Defeated by the male offspring of the woman whom we know as Jesus and whom Revelation declares to be the Lion, and especially Lamb, king.

TK: I think it helps thinking about the beast, because if you’re seeing the beast, one thing you could say would be, well, that’s not the Dragon. But knowing the Dragon stands in the background of every description of—so the offspring of the Dragon assumes the Dragon, but Revelation 13—it reads this, “And to it”—meaning the beast—“the Dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2). That picture of the Dragon standing behind these beastly kingdoms we’re seeing.

JD: That’s right. He is there through it all. And I think we as readers are supposed to make those connections and that is why we are coming today to the book of Daniel. Daniel’s predictions pervade the book of Revelation; perhaps more than any other Old Testament book, it shapes the way that John is disclosing the truth of God for the church age and beyond. In moving from Christ’s first coming to Christ’s second coming and beyond, over and over again, perhaps seven different times in the book, retelling the story from different angles, John is unpacking this battle of the ages between the Serpent and the offspring of the woman, and all that hope in the offspring of the woman and enjoy the benefits of the victory that he has secured. That beast is working. That Dragon is working through the beast and the false prophet, and I believe they’re both anticipated these beastly kingdoms that destroy and crush and that deceive. It is that antichrist movement that is foreshadowed in Daniel and that’s why we come here today.

TK: And why? Why would we need the book of Daniel? Real briefly? Like, what would it matter for a Christian today?

JD: The Book of Daniel ultimately points to God’s absolute control of all history, past, present and future. A control that will be realized through his messianic Son and proven through the resurrection of the saints. The book of Daniel covers the scope of history, from all the kingdoms of man through the elevation of the kingdom of God. It is a book to stir hope in believers who are longing for God to make things right, and that longing is as true today as it was in Daniel’s day. And Daniel is Christian scripture designed to awaken hope in the absolutely sovereign God who will establish his kingdom through his Son, proven by the resurrection of the saints. And he will do it by overcoming all the beastly kingdoms of men. And so this is a book that that cuts against pride that stirs humility and dependence and hope in a God who has what the end of Daniel calls the Book of Truth. That book that was written before time began that lays out all of God’s purposes from creation to consummation and beyond. And these kingdoms are part of that Book of Truth. And so he lays out four successive kingdoms that are then followed by a fifth—four successive kingdoms of men, looked at from different angles, that are then triumphed over by One like a son of man who is also called the Messiah. And it is in his days, we’re told, God “will finish the transgression, put an end to sin, atone for iniquity, bring everlasting righteousness, seal both vision and prophet, and anoint the most holy thing, person, or place” (Dan 9:24). Six things that God is going to accomplish in the days of the Messiah within this book, overcoming curse and establishing a global restoration, blessing. And so why do we need to read this book? Because it is Christian scripture designed to give us hope in the midst of evil, beastly powers of men to be reminded God is in charge of history. He is the one who allows these kingdoms to exist, and he is the one who ultimately, through Christ has and will overcome them all.

Imaging Kingdoms: Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2–4

TK: So in Daniel chapter 2, the king, King Nebuchadnezzar, has a dream, and we meet the beasts, but they don’t look like beasts in Daniel too, do they?

JD: No, originally and—actually there’s hints, though, that we’re supposed to stretch all the way back to the book of Genesis. He sees a giant image. Some people render it as a statue, but very literally it’s an image like the image of God in Genesis chapter 1. So he sees this giant image with a head of gold and chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, and then its legs of iron with feet that are partly of iron and partly of clay. And we’re told that all of these different four—these four different parts are kings and kingdoms, with Nebuchadnezzar himself being the head of gold. And so already, from Daniel 2 forward, we’re told that there are kingdoms, four kingdoms, and they’re in the shape of an image that recalls humans being made in the image of God. This looks like a giant human, and the role of a human is to put God on display in the world. And so the original humans were called, being made in God’s image, to fill the earth, multiply, subdue, and have dominion. That’s royal language. That’s kingly language. And humans were supposed to be representative of God’s rule on earth, so that whatever decisions humans made, they pointed back to God being in charge. Wherever humans went, they were representing as an image. It was as if God was claiming turf. Wherever he placed his image, it was to remind all the world that God was in charge. That’s what an image is supposed to do. And this image of men and that or—that this image that that looks like a human, it’s supposed to be pointing back to God. And yet what we learn is that the kingdoms of earth, the kings of earth, are not ultimately representing God. And so it is that we learn that there would be a—there’s a heavenly mountain out of which a rock would come, and it would go down and it would strike the image itself, destroying them, and then that rock would grow to fill the entire earth. And thus we read, “In in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain. And its interpretation sure” (Dan 2:44–45).

TK: So Daniel hears this or from—well, God lets him know. And then Daniel proclaims it to Nebuchadnezzar and we hear it then. As the readers we hear about these kingdoms here pictured in the form of an image. And language wise—you hear about authority and power, for, that’s in verse 37, “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the Kingdom the power of the might and the glory” (Dan 2:37). That sounds positive, actually, at that point. Or it could be positive.

JD: Well, it’s exact it—yes, it’s the recognition, God has given this to you, and Nebuchadnezzar, as king of the greatest empire on the planet, should in turn be using that power for God’s glory. And through the revealing of this mystery—that’s New Testament language, but I believe it finds its source in Daniel 2, where Nebuchadnezzar understood part of the mystery, he saw his dream. But then Daniel is called upon to disclose the whole mystery, which includes both the dream and its interpretation and the result of Daniel’s declaration is that Nebuchadnezzar says, “Truly your God is God of Gods and Lord of Kings, a revealer of mysteries” (Dan 2:47). Nebuchadnezzar is on a journey in this book that will culminate in chapter 4. That journey includes him learning not only is Daniel’s God the God of Gods and Lord of Lords, but he is the Most High, ultimately, only God, over all things, Nebuchadnezzar is going to learn that, but it’s going to take some time and so is—but what we’ve learned is a succession of four kingdoms, trumped by the ultimate kingdom of God. That’s what Daniel 2 lays out for us.

As soon as we turn the page and we see Daniel 3, which is the story of the fiery furnace, Daniel’s three friends are called upon to bow down to a 75-foot-high image, and it seems as though Nebuchadnezzar was not content to only be the head, he wanted the whole image to be about him. And so he erects this giant image and calls all of the kingdom of Babylon to bow down and worship it. And Daniel’s three friends say they will not do it, and they stand against Nebuchadnezzar. And so he throws them in the fire. A fourth being appears. They are preserved. A fourth being that is described as one like a son of the gods. And so Nebuchadnezzar, upon seeing their deliverance and on bringing them out of the fiery furnace, says “Any people, nation or language, that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other God, who is able to rescue in this way” (Dan 3:29). Nebuchadnezzar is learning more, but the story of his journey is not complete until we get to chapter 4. And it is here that we begin to see that the very kings that were described in the image, the four different kings and kingdoms, Nebuchadnezzar being the head of gold, these kingdoms of men, if they do not surrender to Yahweh, the great God, the most high God of the universe, if they do not recognize that he alone is God, then they are portrayed as beastly. And what happens in Nebuchadnezzar’s life is like a—it’s a parable wherein, because of he has another dream and because of his pride and unwillingness to recognize that the most high God is God, he becomes, it says, like a beast of the field.

TK: And as a reader at that point, would it be strange for me to say, wait a minute, I’ve heard that in Genesis. Or would you say Daniel wants us to think that?

JD: Well, let me read the text and then I think because we’ve already seen mention of the image that’s associated with kings, I think when we see that Nebuchadnezzar is portrayed as a beast, that it’s supposed to even build a greater bridge with Genesis chapter 3, and we’re supposed to recognize that Nebuchadnezzar is operating as an offspring of the Serpent himself. Nebuchadnezzar is beastly. God says to Nebuchadnezzar, “You will be driven from among men and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven and seven periods of time shall pass over you till you know that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan 4:32). And so it is that that’s what happens. Nebuchadnezzar goes crazy in his mind. He goes out into the field, he lives among the beasts of the field until he grows to recognize that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he wills. At the end of the chapter, this is what we read, “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the most high and I praised and honored him who lives forever and ever for his dominion, is an everlasting dominion. His Kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does, according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan 4:34–35). And at that time, his reason returns, God restores the kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar, and then he declares, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven for all his works are right. His ways are just and those who walk in pride, he is able to humble” (Dan 4:37). So Nebuchadnezzar has—he became a beast, but then he was restored as if he were a man, his kingdom was now a kingdom that was reflecting and pointing to the greatness of the God most high, the king of heavens, ultimate sovereign. This is how humans are supposed to be, and amazingly, in this book it comes to us through one who was once a pagan, Gentile king, now a transformed, Gentile king who is operating as humans are supposed to operate. This story up to this point in Daniel, matched by what we already learned from Daniel chapter 2 sets us up, then, for the great beastly chapter of Daniel chapter 7.

Beastly Kingdoms in Daniel 7

TK: Before we even get there, this fits with what we mentioned in Isaiah of the child. Because of the child King coming, he is able to make the beasts dwell safely with, for instance, the lion with the lamb. You see a picture of it right here.

JD: We do, and I mean, as we move into Daniel 6, and we get the story of Daniel and the Lion’s den. We see that God has ultimate control of beasts. He overcomes them such that they do not devour Daniel. God can overcome the fiery flames of the beast. He can overcome the mouths of the beast. He can protect and preserve whom he will. Yahweh’s kingship is ultimately sovereign, and the beast ultimately has no true authority.

TK: That’s really helpful. And what it’s saying is that the lions are not just a—well, certainly not just a cute story in here, but a beastly theme is carrying through Daniel. But God’s overruling power over the beasts being carried through this entire book.

JD: Yeah. God is the one who saved Daniel from the power of the lions. And it’s giving the lion—it appears from outside of Daniel on the temple walls of Babylon was the representative figure for Babylon in the same way that, and I didn’t mention this, in the period of Moses, the Pharaoh wore a serpent on his head, on his headdress, a cobra on that headdress, representing himself as the serpent king. Outside the Bible, we know that the lion was a central image in Babylon, and so for God to overcome the lions in the den and save Daniel, it’s making a statement. Within the Babylonian context, Yahweh is ultimately in charge of all who act like beasts.

When we come to Chapter 7, it becomes excessively clear—and I believe we can only understand it when it’s mentioned—when all these beasts are given, we’re supposed to remember the beast of the field from Genesis chapter 3, that the serpent was more crafty than all those other beasts, and that the serpent’s offspring would indeed be therefore beastly. “In the first year of Belshazzar King of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream”—and he wrote it down, he declared, “I saw in my vision by night, four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea” (Dan 7:1–2). The Great Sea is going to play in Revelation chapter 13 because it’s from it that the beast will rise, the beast that is in the very image of the Dragon. Here, these four winds are stirring up the Great Sea and out of that sea comes four great beasts. Each one is different from the other, and as we recall four beasts, we think about the four different parts of the image in chapter 2: head of gold, chest of silver, thigh of bronze, and lower legs and feet of iron and clay. And the same reference is being made in this new vision of four beasts. Notice the first beast. He’s like a lion with Eagles wings, but then it describes—So who was that? Who was the first beast in the image of Chapter 2 Tom?

TK: The first beast was Nebuchadnezzar himself. It was Babylon.

JD: That’s right. So Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, and we just learned the story of Nebuchadnezzar, how he became beastly and then was restored when he remembered God as most high. Now we read this, “There was a lion that had eagle’s wings, and as I looked, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man and the mind of a man was given to it” (Dan 7:4). So notice the contrast here between beasts and man—man is supposed to be an imager of God, and that’s what Nebuchadnezzar became. Daniel 7’s story of the first beast is repeating the story of Nebuchadnezzar, who was a beastly king, yet became a true human, able to recognize that the Most High is indeed the God of the universe. He became like a man was supposed to be. Second beast, “Like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth and it was told to rise and devour much flesh” (Dan 7:5). That’s what these beasts do, they eat, they destroy, they kill. There was a third beast, a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back. It had four heads, and dominion was given to it (Dan 7:6). But then a fourth beast rose, terrifying and dreadful, exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth. Notice this beast is not connected to any specific animal. It’s simply said to be terrifying and dreadful. It devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the other beasts. It had ten horns, just like the image in chapter 2 had feet with ten toes. “I considered the horns and behold there came up among them another little horn before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things” (Dan 7:8). These beasts are representative of kingdoms—this is going to become clear in the interpretation. Verse 17 of the same chapter, “These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth”—but we’re told “the Saints of the most high shall receive the kingdom and possess the Kingdom forever and ever” (Dan 7:17).

We get four kingdoms presented here, each being ruled by a king. And yet there’s a fifth kingdom that was already spoken of back in chapter 2, that is going to overcome all these four kingdoms of men. And if all of these kingdoms of men are ruled by kings, we can assume that the kingdom of God, that will triumph over all, is also to be ruled by a king. And I, as a reader, am wondering, when am I going to hear about him? The next figure we read about in Daniel’s vision is the Ancient of Days. He is raised up, seated on his throne, and he opens the books of judgment (Dan 7:9–10). What Daniel sees is that the fourth beast is killed, burned with fire. The rest of the beasts—their dominion is taken away. They have no ultimate control, but their lives are prolonged for a season and then—and we asked, how did this victory come? And then Daniel sees one like a son of man, coming on the clouds. So he’s in the heavenly realm, as if he’s won a victory on earth. He has ascended into the heavenlies, and he approaches the Ancient of Days. And to the son of man is given all authority in heaven unto on earth. Think Matthew, 28 to him was given dominion and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations and languages should serve him. And the dominion that he receives is an everlasting dominion, it reminds me of the way the child-king in Isaiah chapter 9—how his kingship is talked about as having no end. His everlasting dominion shall not pass away. His Kingdom is one that shall never be destroyed. So we have this contrast one like a son of man, whose ruling on behalf of the Ancient of Days, and then we have these beastly kingdoms, and there’s the tension. You have one like a son of man, like a son of Adam. He is doing and being who God called humans to do and be, yet Adam failed. But we’re expecting that an offspring of the woman would come and do what Adam was supposed to come and do, and that’s exactly what the son of man in this text does. He overcomes the beastly kings of the earth. He defeats the offspring of the serpent and by implication, because his dominion is everlasting, he’s defeated the Serpent himself. But my point here is to say there’s this contrast of kingdoms between the beastly kingdoms of earth and human and a very human ruler, who, who, by his nature is reflecting, resembling and representing God the way that humans were called to do in the beginning—he is a last Adam figure. He is an ultimate human figure, and he is indeed the king of the fifth Kingdom. And this king, this king has a people. And it’s that story that Chapter 7 ends with talking about the great battle between the fourth kingdom and the people of that kingdom who are underneath the sovereign son of man.

Jesus as the Son of Man

TK: Can I stop you right there for a second, Jason? So this is Jesus’s favorite title. Son of man and I can’t remember the number, I’m wrong on this, but something like 80 times or whatever he uses it in the Gospels.

JD: More and you’re right. More than any other title to talk about himself, he prefers this title, son of man, straight out of Daniel, 7:13–14.

TK: Well, you just answered my question because you will hear depending on the scholar you see, or the commentary or whatever, that son of man has—if in essence like a truck with a truck bed, there’s nothing loaded, there’s no cargo invested in that name for Jesus other than it means he’s a human and he doesn’t want people to treat him like a king. Should I think of it like that, or should I think of it as, no, Jesus is actually thinking of Daniel and he wants people to connect him to Daniel, and I would add and also Psalm 8. Help us out there. Is Jesus trying to tie—to say when you think of Daniel 7 think of me?

JD: The son of man in Daniel 7 is portrayed as one who is ascended to the heavenly throne after his great battle overcoming the beastly kingdoms of earth, and he receives universal dominion and authority. It pushes me ahead to texts like Matthew 26:64, where Jesus is pressed, in the final moments of his life before the cross, he is pressed by the Jewish leaders, “I adjure you by the living God tell us if you are the Christ, that is the Messiah, the son of God” (Matt 26:63). Within this book, when we get to chapter 9, that is alongside the son of man title, the title given to this delivering figure, we read, “Know therefore and understand that from the going out of God’s word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of a Messiah, a Prince, there will be 70 weeks and 62 weeks” (Dan 9:25). And then in the very next verse, “And after the 62 weeks is over”—that leads us into the 70th week—“a messiah shall be cut off” (Dan 9:26), but not for himself, he’ll operate as a substitute. They ask him, “Are you the Christ, the son of God?” Which is a royal designation, and Jesus says to them, “You have said so. But I tell you from now on, you will see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt 26:64). That is straight out of Daniel chapter 7, where the son of man rises through the clouds of heaven to the very throne room of God, and Jesus is declaring himself both Messiah, son of God, and in addition, son of man who will return from those very clouds in power, having seated—been seated at the right hand of God himself. I believe there are numerous clues throughout the Gospels that Jesus is not just declaring himself a human. He’s declaring himself the ultimate human, the ultimate representative of God, and he’s able in John chapter 8 to declare to those same Jewish leaders earlier in his ministry that they who think that they are offspring of Abraham are actually offspring of their father the devil (John 8:44). But he is the ultimate seed of Abraham and seed of the woman, and those who are united to him, says Paul in Galatians 3, who is the seed of Abraham—those united to him will themselves become heirs, full heirs of all the promises God made to Abraham. So yes, I believe that Jesus is indeed this figure, and he claims it for himself in texts like Matthew 26:64.

TK: And the other ones, it’s not accidental he uses the name. So you were—the end of Daniel 7, though, isn’t ending with him alone. You were saying there’s a people there.

The Most High and the Son of Man

JD: There’s a people and that’s exactly what we should expect at this point. There’s a king and there’s a Kingdom and within that reign is a people over whom he is ruling. I mean indeed, it had already said that to the son of man would be given all peoples, nations and languages, that they would serve him. And what we read about after God notes to Daniel that the four beasts are indeed four kings—then we read that the final beast with its horn makes war on the saints and prevails over them. That’s persecution, even unto martyrdom. But his time is short, for it is only until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was given for the Saints of the Most High. And the time when the saints possessed the kingdom. So we’re reading this phrase, “The Saints of the most high, the Saints of the most high.” But now we read something else, and in my ESV you wouldn’t know that it’s not different, but it is different.

TK: What verse? What verse are you? Where are you?

JD: I’m going to read verses 23 through 25. “As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth which shall be different from all the kingdoms”—this is the interpretation of the vision that we saw and described earlier—”It shall devour the whole Earth, trampling it down and breaking it in pieces. As for the ten horns”—on the head of this beast, which is exactly how the beast in Revelation is described in Revelation 13—“As for the ten horns out of the kingdom, ten Kings shall rise and another shall rise after them (this small horn), and it shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High” (Dan 7:23–24). Now that’s where I want to pause. The language here of the Most High in Daniel 9:25 is different than the spelling of the Most High in Daniel 9:22.

TK: So it wait in in 7:25 is different from 9:22?

JD: Sorry, I’m saying 9 and I intended 7. Yes in my ESV, they’re both translated as Most High, but they’re different in what we read in the Hebrew text. And it suggests to me that we’re seeing a contrast here between the Most High who is the Ancient of Days and the Most High who is the son of man. They both have equal power and authority, but within the text they’re two different persons, and yet they’re both in the heavens, seated on the throne. And you have now this beast that is speaking words, false teaching, blasphemies against the Most High, and it says he shall wear out the Saints of the Most High, which is the most likely in my mind that one of the Most Highs is the Ancient of Days and one of the Most Highs is the son of man. And it’s not clear which is which, but, “He shall wear out the Saints of the Most High and shall think to change the times and law, and they shall be given into his hand for a time, time and half a time.” That’s straight out of the—that’s in the Book of Revelation. “But the court shall sit in judgment,”—that is the court of the Ancient of Days—”and his dominion shall be taken away”—that is, the beast’s dominion—“to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan 7:25–27). So there is once again a contrast between the beastly kingdoms of earth, especially the fourth kingdom that will reap havoc on the saints of the Most High and yet—even to the point of killing them—and yet the ultimate most high God will triumph. This is the story of this book and it’s unpacking it through this vision of successive kingdoms and kings that are beasts. And this is the world in which we live, a world where there’s a beastly kingdom and where we are hoping in the day when the son of man, as Jesus says, will indeed return in the clouds and overcome all the enemies.

Real, Historical Kingdoms in Daniel 7–8

TK: We can have something in us, obviously, that reads these things and puts them in the context of, those are just words on a on a page, even as believers. It’s important to know though, like when Daniel saw this vision, in verse 28, it says, “As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me. My color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart” (Dan 7:28). That there’s something about the message of this book that when it strikes you say, wow, these beasts are actually dangerous, and it impacts God’s people in a very real way. This is not just theoretical conversations about a book in the Old Testament.

JD: That’s right. And we’re talking about historical kingdoms. The first three kingdoms are actually named in this book. And we get the name of the first kingdom in chapter 2—it’s Babylon, it’s Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. The second kingdom and third kingdom are named in chapter 8 directly after what we’ve just been looking at. It specifically says there’s two more beasts that are used as images of the second and third Kingdom. And this is what we read that there is a ram with two horns. These are the kings of Media and Persia. And then we read in a vision that there was a goat that comes and overcomes the ram that had two horns and that goat is the king of Greece. So these are historical realities that those following Daniel would actually see play out in history, such that when you got to the days of the fourth beast, which is unnamed in this book—a horrific beast, unlike all the rest that works terror against the saints, specifically the saints associated with the Messiah. So this is a beastly Kingdom in the days of the Messiah, we’re supposed to recognize these are historical realities happening to real people in real time. One other thing that I would add, we took a lot of time in Chapter 7 to see that the fourth beast had horns. Well, now in Chapter 8 we learn that the third beast has them as well, the first two beasts, the first beast—sorry, let me speak clearly. The second beast who is called a ram, he himself has two horns, then the third beast, the goat, has a little horn. All of these, which represent kings, are supposed to recall the fourth beast in chapter 7 that himself has horns. And by that, what we see is that there are similarities between the kings and successive ages, and that we can see what we call types, or foreshadows of future kingdoms in past kingdoms so that elements of Nebuchadnezzar’s beastly reign are indeed foreshadows of the ultimate beast who was to come, the fourth Beast.

Of the third Kingdom, we read something specific that I think, based on what I’m talking about here, is typologically supposed to anticipate and give us clarity about the fourth kingdom, during which the Messiah would come and that would rage against the saints. This is what we read of the third kingdom, “His power shall be great—but not by his own power”—meaning, I believe, God is the one who gives them the authority. “He shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints” (Dan 8:24). So he is by nature—this third king and kingdom is by nature a persecuting, crushing death bringing martyr-producing kingship. The first mark of this beastly kingship is persecution, but then there’s a second, “By his cunning, he shall make deceit prosper under his hand and in his own mind he shall become great”—that’s pride—“Without warning, he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—by no human hand” (Dan 8:25). By cunning and deceit, that’s false teaching. These are the two marks of the beasts in Revelation. And they’re associated with the horn, that is the king of the third kingdom. But that horn is merely typological, representative of the horns that would be on the fourth Beast. My point is that there’s false teaching and persecution, always associated with the beastly kingdoms, and this is why in the book of Revelation, the Dragon, the beast, and the false prophet are seen to be working. How is the dragon working? Through the persecuting, crushing, destroying power of the first beast and the false teaching, deceiving words of the false prophet. These are the characteristics of the antichrist figures in Daniel. And it becomes the essence of the antichrist’s role in Revelation.

Even that language of antichrist reminds me of John’s earlier words in his first epistle, where he says, “Children, it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Now that right there is Daniel language in the Greek. In the Greek translation of Daniel, and only in the Greek translation of Daniel, does he take all the language of the last days and the latter days and at the time of the end, and he recasts it—the translator does—as the last hour. What Daniel refers to as happening at the time of the end and in the latter days is indeed the last hour according to the Greek translation of that book. And John is bathed in Daniel’s Greek text. And when he says “Children, it is the last hour,” we’re supposed to have Daniel bells ringing in our ears. He uses the same phrase throughout his Gospel, and the same phrase throughout Revelation: “Children. It is the last hour, and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). John recognizes what Daniel is already laying out, that there are kings, beastly kings and beastly kingdoms, all of whom are antichrist. They carry with them that mission of persecution and false teaching against God’s people. Yet all of them point to the greater final figure, as Paul talks about in in Thessalonians. “Let no one deceive you in any way. For the day will not come”—that is the day of the Lord, of Christ’s return in the clouds—“Will not come unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (2 Thess 2:3). All the antichrists are pointing to an ultimate, culminating antichrist figure, an experience of false teaching and persecution unmatched in world history. Yet we must not deny that there is already a tribulation being experienced by the church. It hasn’t gone global yet, it will go global, and at that time we can call it the Great Tribulation. But already there are many tribulations being faced. Indeed, ultimate tribulation, throughout the globe, by the saints and in various pockets in places where the church is being suppressed, where false teaching and persecution is at its highest level. One day it will go fully global. We’re feeling it already increasingly here in the West and the hope of Daniel and the hope of Revelation is that the Son of Man who is seated at the right hand of the Father in the clouds will indeed return. And he will come on a white horse. And when he comes, we’re told that he will enter into the battle with only his word, the battle, the war and the beast, and the kings of the earth with their armies will gather to make the war against him who is seated on that horse and against the army. And yet the beast will be captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. And the two were thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. That same war will bring about the defeat of the devil, who had deceived them. He too will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where also the beast and the false prophet were thrown, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:10).

TK: I think that that idea of false teaching and persecution being associated with the beast and then obviously with the Dragon or the Serpent driving the beast or giving its authority—you saw that in the garden because you saw the false teaching coming right from the start, with the serpent with Adam and Eve standing there, Eve conversing with him. You didn’t see the active persecution against Adam. However, if Adam had stood up against him, you would have seen it. You would have seen the Serpent was not a friendly creature just looking to dialogue.

JD: Not at all. He knew that God had said on the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. And he was working for the death of humanity.

Hope for Perseverance in Revelation

TK: Jason, something I’d like to just kind of conclude our thoughts through Daniel here and there’s so much more, but as a believer hearing these things, we can have thoughts about what do I do, and something that strikes me is the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 really do give marching orders to the Saints. And the marching order is you need to conquer. Not meaning you are the one who ultimately conquers the beast. Meaning you need to make it through to the end, holding on to God’s word. So what it looks like in those letters, though, is things like churches that are caving in to false teaching, conquering for that church needs is you need to stand up to this. In churches that are not loving one another, you need to conquer. So it’s if you want to say it—it’s not the right word, but—run-of-the-mill things for a believer, things that should be ordinary are what it looks like to conquer. In this age we live in where we might assume, well, Jesus conquered. Therefore, there are no beasts to deal with anymore, and Daniel and Revelation would say no, actually that’s not the case. You need to conquer along with your savior.

JD: That’s right, the promises that are associated with those statements of conquering are just awesome, “To the one who conquers, I will grant him to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7). “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (Rev 2:11). That is hopeful. That is helpful. “To the one who conquers. I will give some of the hidden manna”—God will feed his soul—“and I will give him a white stone with a new name written on it that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Rev 2:17). That’s interesting imagery. It’s like, what is he talking about? But there is a personal identification that God himself is having with the saved saint. “To the one who conquers and who keeps the word until the end”—there’s that language of perseverance that you’re talking about—“to him I will give authority over the nations,” and just as the Son of Man, the Lamb will rule with an iron rod, the one who conquers will rule with him, with an iron rod as when earthen pots are broken (Rev 2:26–27) again that language of conquering. “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot out his name from the book of life” (Rev 3:5) “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God” (Rev 3:12). And finally, “To the one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne” (Rev 3:21). That is amazing, like a child climbing up on his daddy’s lap. But we’re talking about the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who, in spite of us, entered into our world as a healer to save us out of our brokenness and pain. And finally, I just jump us out of chapter Chapters 2 and 3 all the way into what does this conquering look like. “They have conquered the dragon by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). May God help us, Tom. May God help our listeners become a people who love not our lives, even unto death, knowing that he, through that persevering trust, the blood of the lamb—maintaining the word of our testimony that Jesus is first, Jesus is my savior. Jesus is my hope and I will not relent. May we be a people who maintains that type of conviction cause that’s what it means to conquer. We conquer the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony, loving not our lives, even unto death.

TK: And we know it’s not in vain because we know this story. We’ve heard it over and over and over again. And even though, like Daniel, there might be moments where you lose your color, you don’t lose faith and you press on. Amen. All right, blessings all.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. For additional resources to help you grow in your understanding of God’s word, visit Also, please take a moment and sign up for Fands to the Plow’s newsletter. You’ll find a link on our show notes.