The traditional interpretation of Daniel chapter 2 and 7 is that they are dealing with the same empires. In Chapter 2, we know that the empires were that of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.
But here are the reasons why the four beasts mentioned in Daniel chapter 7 cannot be referring to these same ancient empires :
- Daniel 7:12 mentioned that the first 3 empires will survive the destruction of the empire of the Antichrist. Babylon and Medo-Persia no longer existed.
- When Daniel received the interpretation of the vision, Daniel 7:17 clearly stated that these 4 beasts are empires which will arise in the future. So Babylon could not be the first beast as Daniel was already living under the Babylonian empire at her height of glory.
- Daniel chapter 8 mentioned that the ram represented the kings of Media and Persia and the goat represented the kingdom of Greece. So the Bible will be terribly mixed up if the bear and leopard are used to represent these 2 same ancient empires.
- All these 4 beasts are apparently mentioned in Rev 13 and it is a single vision starting from Rev 12 to 14. The vision starts from the birth of the Messiah to His defeat of the last beast. When the Messiah came, 3 of the ancient empires of Babylon, Persia and Greece had already come and gone.
What are the four empires in the end times ? Were some already here and have lost dominion ? Do we have enough evidence to make conjecture about the existence of these empires now ?
I have read of some conjectures made by several ministers and theologians. But this is the conjecture I believe in :
- The first beast, lion, was the British Empire. The modern day symbol of the British Empire is a lion. It ruled some 23% of the world’s population or 412 million at its height. It was the largest empire in history. The eagles’ wings were plucked off the lion and America gained her independence from Great Britain in 1776. The symbol of America is an eagle.
- The second beast, bear, was the former Soviet Union. The socialist empire, consisting of 15 republics, existed from 1922 to 1991. It was governed centrally by one single Communist Party from Moscow, the capital of the largest republic, Russia. The modern day symbol of Russia is the bear. The bear has 3 ribs in its mouth which may signify that Russia may try to retake 3 other republics again. It has ambition to retake Ukraine and possibly another 2 states.
- The third beast, leopard, may be Germany. Germany had always tried to unite Europe. The reign of Hitler from 1923 to 1945 was referred to as the Third Reich. Hitler imagined his dictatorial regime was the successor to two great German empires. The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire ruled by Charlemagne. And the Second Reich was the German Empire under Otto Van Bismark who ruled from 1870 to 1919. Though the symbol of Germany is not the leopard but during World War 2, she fought ferociously like a leopard. Their most formidable weapon was the leopard tank. Presently Germany is already dominating the European Union. Is this the Fourth Reich ? (One theologian believed the four heads refer to four Reich periods.) Or will a political union of 4 European nations arise with Germany as the leading state in the very near future as signified by this leopard beast with 4 heads and wings of a bird ? The unofficial symbol of France is a rooster.
If the third beast is already here, then the coming of the final beast, the Antichrist, is very near. Will the European monetary union break up to cause a global economic collapse, and a new political cum monetary union arise under the Antichrist ?