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The Four Beasts of the Sea
Bible Verse Daniel 7:3-7
And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. And behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
The Lord had given Daniel a vision during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon. Belshazzar had taken the throne approximately twenty-two years before, after the death of his father king Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned for forty-three years. This vision is similar to the vision given to king Nebuchadnezzar many years earlier regarding the Gentile nations which would rule the known world from king Nebuchadnezzar's time to the return of Christ.
The sea represents the gentile nations and peoples of the world. The first beast which is the lion with eagle's wings represents Babylon. And we can see the winged lion today represented on the restored gate of Babylon in Iraq. The second beast, the bear is higher on one side than the other representing the Medo-Persian Empire. The fact that the bear is higher on one side signifies Persia's ultimate superiority over the Medes.
The third beast represented by the leopard with wings and four heads represents the Greek Empire lead by Alexander the Great. The wings signify the speed in which he conquered. The four heads represent Alexander's four generals who divided his kingdom after his untimely death, ruling over Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt.
The fourth terrible beast represents the Roman Empire which was never conquered. Rather it fell apart in 476 B.C., part of which lived on as Europe. The ten horns of the terrible beast represent a future revived form of the Roman Empire that will once again rise before the return of Christ. This revived form of the Roman Empire will have ten ruling parts. Which represents ten kings along with their geographical regions, three of which are subdued by the Antichrist.