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Sabbath School Lessons on Daniel
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: Daniel's History Lesson *
Introduction: In our study of Daniel this week, we go back in time to
examine a dream that was given directly to Daniel, and not the ruler
of the kingdom in which Daniel lived. Recall that Daniel seemed to
have fallen out of power and authority during the reign of
Belshazzar? Perhaps he had some extra time on his hands. Whatever the
reason, that is the time period to which we return in our study of
Daniel 7. Let's jump into our study!
- The Dream
- Read Daniel 7:1. Why would Daniel write down his dream?
(He did not want to be like Nebuchadnezzar, and forget his
dream! Seriously, this tells us two things. First, Daniel
thought his dream was important. Second, we can have
confidence that we have a correct and accurate statement
of his dream.)
- Read Daniel 7:2-3. Imagine yourself standing in this
picture. Are you in a storm? What do you think is meant by
"the four winds of heaven" which "churn up the great sea?"
(If you were in a boat, you should head for shore! It
seems like a big storm. The four winds of heaven sound
like the four directions of the compass.)
- Read Revelation 17:15. What insight do we get about
the meaning of the sea? (The picture I get from
Daniel 7:2-3 is that the people of the world are in
turmoil, upheaval, and out of these "stormy waters"
come four great beasts.)
- Read Daniel 7:4-7. Have we studied anything in the book of
Daniel so far that seems even remotely similar? (Yes. In
Daniel 2 we saw the sweep of history prophesied in the
dream of the image. It had four great kingdoms: Babylon,
Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome which arose and fell in
- Let's read through the end of this dream. Read Daniel 7:8-14. If this is a statement of the history of the world, as
I think it is, how do you feel about it? (Just like in the
dream of Daniel 2, God wins. He triumphs in the history of
- What two activities of God does this dream reveal?
(Verses 9-10 show that God sets up a judgment in
heaven and verses 11-14 show the destruction of
earthly powers and the coronation of Jesus ("son of
- When does the judgment appear to begin? (It appears
to take place before the end of time when the "little
horn" is still around.)
- The Meaning of the Dream
- Let's stop for just a minute. I think the first six
chapters of Daniel have prepared us for the chapters to
come. Tell me, in general terms, what you have learned
from the first six chapters of Daniel? (There is a
universal struggle between good and evil. God partners
with faithful humans to defeat evil. Daniel has been used
by God to reveal important future matters. Daniel's
interpretations of dreams go to large, historical events -
including the sweep of world history.)
- How does this dream fit into the pattern that we have
seen? (It seems to be another revelation of the sweep
- Read Daniel 7:15-16. How does Daniel's reaction to the
dream compare to yours? (Daniel is troubled by the dream
for some reason.)
- Why do you think Daniel is troubled?
- Who is this person whom Daniel approaches in verse
16? (The last part of Daniel's vision has him
observing what is going on in heaven. The reasonable
conclusion is that Daniel steps over to a heavenly
being and asks for help in interpreting the dream.)
- Read Daniel 7:17-18. We have this interpretation directly
from heaven. What is the interpretation of the four
beasts? (These are world powers that arise in succession.
Thus, we can clearly see that this is the same series of
world powers that were revealed in Daniel 2: Babylon,
Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome.)
- Do you think that Daniel had the same general idea
about the meaning of the dream?
- If so, I ask again why would Daniel be troubled?
The saints win! (Daniel would have no reason to
be troubled by what he had known since he was a
young man. Instead, what troubles Daniel, and
what we will spend most of the rest of our time
considering, is the new information about the
- Read Daniel 7:19-20. What is different about this fourth
beast? (For one thing it is terrifying. However, all of
the beasts seem pretty scary to me. The main difference is
the horns. Daniel 7:7 makes the point about being
different and specifically notes the horns.)
- What is special about this one horn? (It seems to be
identified with a person. Notice that with the first
three beasts, Babylon ( Daniel 7:4) is described with
"man-like" characteristics. Since we have been
studying that Nebuchadnezzar was its most prominent
ruler, this seems to be a reference to him. The
other beasts, however, come across as world powers
without the identity of a prominent person. The horn,
like Babylon, but unlike the other beasts, is
described with "man-like" traits.)
- Read Daniel 7:21-22. What else do we learn about this
little horn? (That it persecutes Christians and is
"defeating" them. Its series of victories over the saints
comes to an end with the judgment of God. Compare Daniel
- Read Daniel 7:23-25. The heavenly interpreter says that
the horns are ten kings. How does this compare with
Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the image? (It fits perfectly.
No world kingdom dominates after Rome. Instead, the Roman
Empire changes into feet and toes (you probably have ten
of them - like the ten horns) that are mixed iron and
clay. Thus, we see that after the Roman Empire we have
nations that are weak (clay) and strong (iron), but none
rule the world. Compare Daniel 2:40-43.)
- Examination of the "Little Horn"
- When does the "little horn" that looks like a man arise?
(It arises after the break-up of the Roman Empire into the
ten kingdoms. Daniel 7:24 says it arises "after" "the ten
kings who will come from this [Roman] kingdom.")
- How long is this "little horn" in power? (We have two
statements about time. It is in power until the time
of the heavenly judgment ( Daniel 7:8-9, 26) and it is
in power "a time, times and half a time." Daniel
- A popular teaching is that the "little horn" is a
minor Seleucide King named Antiochus Ephiphanes who
ruled eleven years from 175-164 B.C.. Antiochus came
to power after the death of Alexander the Great at
the end of the Empire of Greece. (See, Goldstein,
Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, p.39-42)
- Does Antiochus Ephiphanes fit the description of
the little horn? (No. The timing is all wrong.
Antiochus came to power before, not after, the
Roman Empire. The Treasury of Scripture
Knowledge recites that the ten kingdoms into
which the western Roman Empire was divided were
set up between 356 A.D and 526 A.D. Thus,
Antiochus is more than 500 years too soon to fit
this prophecy. In addition, his eleven-year rule
hardly seems to stretch to the time of the final
- According to Daniel 7:25 this little horn tries to change
the "set times and laws." What do you think that means?
(Compare Daniel 2:19-21. Changing times and seasons is the
prerogative of God. Thus, this horn, with its persecution
of the saints, and its claim to God's prerogatives, seems
to be a quasi- religious power that claims the authority
- When you think of a time that God has set as a law,
what comes to mind? (What comes to my mind is Exodus
20:8-11 - the command for Sabbath worship.)
- Based on the clues we have so far, what do you think the
"little horn" represents? (There is disagreement among
commentators on this, but I believe the evidence points
very clearly to Papal Rome. It arose after Pagan Rome was
breaking up, it was different than the other kings in that
its claim to religious power was greater than its claim to
secular authority. It is identified with a man - Papal
Rome is identified with the Pope. Papal Rome had a very
sad period during the Middle Ages when it persecuted those
who disagreed with it. Two commentaries that I read
conclude that the "little horn" is at least Papal Rome.
(The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; A Commentary,
Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments.)
The New Bible Commentary seems to point to Papal Rome,
without specifically identifying it. I want my readers to
know that as I write this I am defending in court the
religious freedom of Catholic teachers and a Catholic
institution. Some of my most prominent cases were in the
defense of Catholics. I love and admire how the Catholic
Church stands strong against abortion and other evil. But,
I must conclude that these texts point to Papal Rome.)
- Let's see if we can get a fix on the timing of this
"little horn." Daniel 7:25 refers to "times" in connection
with the rule of the "little horn." What are "times?" (To
better understand this, look back at Daniel 4:16 and 25.
When Nebuchadnezzar was told that "seven times" would pass
over him, this meant seven years. Thus, "time, times and
half a time" reasonably refers to three and one half
- Are these 3.5 years literal or symbolic? (The other
time reference we are given - the "little horn" being
in power until the time of the judgment - certainly
seems to require more than a literal 3.5 years. The
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge points us to the
"year-day" principle of prophecy. It translates 3.5
years to 1,260 days and concludes that this
represents 1,260 years.)
- Have you seen a 1,260 day/year period of time
referred to elsewhere in the Bible? (Yes.
Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 both refer to this same
period of time. Revelation 13:5 also refers to
"forty-two months" (which is 1,260 days).)
- Read Daniel 7:26. What activity comes at the end of this
1,260 year period? (The "court will sit." A judicial
session begins. This is the court session that is more
completely described in Daniel 7:9-10. We are going to
take a closer look at this judicial session in our study
- Read Daniel 7:27. What happens at the end of this judicial
session? (All the powers of the world are handed over to
the saints. God brings in His "everlasting kingdom." This
points to the Second Coming of Jesus!)
- Friend, we have a "map of time" that brings us to the end
of the world as we know it. Are you encouraged that God
is in control? Will you determine to be a part of His
- Next week: The Pre-Advent Judgment.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.