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Sabbath School Lessons on The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment
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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 41 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 4: Daniel 7 *
Introduction: Last week we studied a fabulous dream given to King
Nebuchadnezzar. In our study of Daniel this week, we have another
dream, but one that was given directly to Daniel. Just like
Nebuchadnezzer last week, Daniel is extremely troubled by his dream -
particularly the part about the terrifying carnivore beast with huge
iron teeth. Let's jump into his dream and keep our eyes open for
- 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. Last
week, in Daniel 2 we saw the sweep of history prophesied
in the dream of the image. It represented four great
kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome which
arose and fell in succession.)
- 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 and
final judgment, as I think it is, how do you feel about
it? (Just like in the dream of Daniel 2, God has a
judgment. God and His people win. God triumphs in the
history of humans.)
- 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. What, in general, do Daniel
2 (from last week) and Daniel 7 teach us? (God is in
charge of kings, kingdoms and the sweep of history. There
is a universal struggle between good and evil. God has a
coming judgment. In the meantime, God partners with
faithful humans to reveal the future defeat of evil.)
- Read Daniel 7:15-16. How does Daniel's reaction to the
dream compare to yours? How does it compare to
Nebuchadnezzar's reaction last week?(Daniel is troubled by
the dream. He wants to know what it means.)
- 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 (Daniel 2.) Instead, what troubles
Daniel, and what we will spend most of the rest
of our time considering, is the new information
about the fourth beast.)
- 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 victories over the saints comes to
an end with the judgment of God. Compare Daniel 7:8-11.)
- 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 has 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 some of my most prominent religious liberty
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
historical Papal Rome.)
- Is it possible that these texts point to a different
power? (Bible students differ, but Matthew Henry has
a very important insight on this. He points out that
prophecies often have more than one fulfillment. One
concern of mine is that Daniel 7:25-27 describes a
sequence in which the "little horn" is destroyed and
the saints rule. This creates a timing issue (timing
is discussed next). Perhaps it is possible that while
Papal Rome is one fulfillment of this prophecy, there
will be another "Horn-King" who will fulfill the
prediction of the anti-Christ who will be alive at
the Second Coming of Jesus.)
- 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 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 years.)
- 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.)
- 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: Daniel 8.
* Copr. 2006, 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.