Daniels’ Vision of the Final World Empire
Daniel and John, in the Revelation, disclose the area and identity of the final world power. Daniel’s vision details the four world empires that ruled the Middle East region throughout history (Daniel 7 and 8).
Of all of the beastly visions, the fourth beast disturbs Daniel the most, and he inquires of an angel who stood by the vision, and the angel identifies the four beasts as four kingdoms that will rule on the earth. Daniel specifically asks about the fourth beast, which he describes as “different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet” (Dan. 7:19). In the remainder of the chapter, Daniel continues to describe the fourth beast, including details of the evil leader who commands it. The angel Gabriel further elaborates on the kingdoms and provides their identity. The lion signifies the Babylonian kingdom. The bear represents the second or Medo-Persian empire. The third, the leopard or cheetah, compares to Greece. Daniel describes the fourth beast at the end of its history and, unlike the preceding empires, it conquers the entire world.
Dan. 7:23 states: “The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.”
The fourth beast possesses the combined strength of all the previous governments, and holds the political seat of the Antichrist. Dwight J. Pentecost, in his book Things to Come, quotes Gaebelein, who noted that while the first beast has a man’s heart, “it was a beast still,” and the three ribs in the bear’s mouth are Susiana, Lydia, and Asia Minor, which the Medes and Persians conquered. One paw is upraised because “the Persian element was stronger than that of the Medes.” The leopard, which represents Greece, has wings that “denote its swiftness,” and its four heads symbolize the division of Greece into the kingdoms of Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, and Asia Minor. He adds: “God tells us that their moral character is beastly. The lion devours, the bear crushes and the leopard springs upon its prey.”
While the first three beasts compare to strong, fierce animals that prey on weaker species, the fourth beast appears almost mechanical and monstrous. It possesses great iron teeth, bronze fingernails, and ten horns.
Revelation 13, further elaborates on the fourth beast. In addition to his ten horns, he has seven heads, which add to his frightful appearance. The Bible tells us that this beast looks like a leopard with the feet of a bear and it has a lion’s mouth (Rev. 13:2).
Each of these parts represents the fiercest and strongest attribute of its respective animal. Thus, in possessing the cheetah’s (body) speed, the powerful jaws of the lion, and the crushing feet of a bear along with its long sharp nails, he obtains the combined strength and power of all these animals. The final world power will be both strong and fast in the speed at which it conquers other nations vs. conquering through stealth as a leopard.