The Lion The Bear And The Leopard - Part 1
Over the years I've learned an interesting scriptural principle that
applies to all Bible study, but has a particular application in the
study of prophecy. If you've spent much time studying the
scriptures, you've seen this principle in action. It may be described
As I've continued to study The Word Of God, certain passages have
proved difficult to interpret, and all commentaries and explanations
I've ever found continue to prove unsatisfactory. In these areas,
there is always a hidden blessing if you will simply persevere and dig
deeper as you seek to discern the meaning. This principle was recently
reaffirmed as I'm convinced that I've finally 'broken through' to an
understanding of a passage that has intrigued me for years. I'm
referring to Daniel's famous dream of the four beasts that are
documented in Daniel chapter seven.
In this chapter, Daniel sees four unusual beasts that are clearly
symbolic of four kingdoms in world history. The first beast was
a like a lion that had the wings of an eagle, while the
second beast was a bear described as having "three ribs in
the mouth of it."1. The third beast was a leopard with
4 heads, and the fourth beast was described as "...dreadful and
terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth...and it
had ten horns." 2.
There is no doubt that the vision describes four world kingdoms as an
angel specifically tells Daniel that "these great beasts which
are four are four kings which shall rise out of the earth."3.
The problem I've had with this chapter is the identification
of the four kingdoms.
Practically every scholar and prophecy commentator has routinely
identified these 4 kingdoms of Daniel 7 as simply a reiteration of the
four kingdoms described earlier in Daniel chapter two. In fact,
several popular Bible editions actually interpret Daniel 7 right in
their margin notes as the same four kingdoms mentioned in Daniel
chapter two. 4. This gives the conventional interpretation
an added credibility which it does not deserve.
You'll recall Daniel chapter two has the description of Nebuchadnezzar's
dream of the great statue. In this classic prophecy the king sees a
great statue with a head of Gold, arms of silver, thighs of brass, and
legs of iron. The description of the legs is further described as
including two feet with ten toes. There really isn't much doubt about
the identities in this dream for Daniel specifically tells the king of
Babylon that he, Nebuchadnezzar, is the head of gold. 5.
Daniel's interpretation continues as he describes three kingdoms that
will succeed the Babylonian empire. These three kingdoms are
represented by the silver arms, the brass thighs and the iron legs.
Since secular history clearly establishes the fact that the Babylonian
empire was followed by the Medo-Persian empire (the arms of
silver), the Grecian empire (the thighs of brass) and the Roman
empire (the legs of iron), Nebuchadnezzar 's famous dream is a
striking example of the accuracy of Bible prophecy.
But are the four world empires of the statue in Daniel chapter two
necessarily synonymous with the four beast kingdoms of Daniel chapter
seven? I'm convinced they are different kingdoms from different
eras, and the fact that this interpretation of Daniel's four beast
kingdoms has been distorted has masked the fulfillment of Bible
prophecy in our time. In other words, there's a reason for the
misinterpretive system being propagated. It is designed to mislead and
deceive the believer in Jesus Christ into a deadly
misunderstanding and false identification of the key components
of last days prophetic fulfillment.
Before I offer an alternative interpretation of the four beasts, I
need to outline the reasons why the conventional synchronized
interpretation is usually followed. There are many similarities
between the two vision/dreams and that may account for the broad
acceptance of the synonymous/concurrent interpretation of the two
vision/dreams. For example, in Daniel chapter two, the head of gold is
described as superior to the kingdoms of silver, brass, and iron. The
commentators commonly connect the regal aspect of the Babylonian
kingdom (the head of gold) with the royal imagery associated with the
lion of chapter seven's vision.
There is very little to identify the second beast (the bear) with the
second "statue" empire of Daniel chapter 2 (the Medo-Persian)
so interpreters usually focus on the third kingdom as it provides a
more credible argument. The third kingdom of the statue
dream (brass thighs) was Alexander The Great's Grecian empire,
and it is routinely compared to the third kingdom of the beast
vision, the leopard.
Because the leopard is noted for speed, it is commonly identified with
Alexander's meteoric military acquisition of territory. Another
apparent connection between the third kingdoms is found in yet another
chapter of the book of Daniel. In that passage (found in Daniel
chapter eight), Alexander is symbolized as a "rough
goat" with a large horn. 6.
In that vision, the large horn is broken, and replaced by four
horns; and once again, an angel is there to interpret the vision.
The angel tells Daniel that "the great horn is...the first king.
Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms
shall stand up out of the nation...." 7.
This passage validates once again prophetic accuracy as history
records that after Alexander's death, his kingdom was
divided between four of his generals. The fact that the
Grecian empire (the third "statue" empire) was divided four
ways helped to identify the four heads of the Leopard (the
third "beast" vision) with Alexander and his four generals.
Just to keep the confusion to a minimum with all these 'fours,' I need
to point out that these four horns that succeed Alexander's Grecian
kingdom in the "goat" vision of chapter eight are entirely
separate from the four "statue" kingdoms of chapter two and
the four "beast" kingdoms of chapter seven.
It's not hard to see why there's confusion on this, but bear with me,
for we're closing in on the true identification of all of these
The final factor that is usually used to connect the four
"statue" kingdoms with the four "beast" kingdoms
is the fact that both fourth kingdoms incorporate the number ten. In
the statue dream, the ten toes on the feet of the
iron legs (the fourth and final kingdom of chapter two) are
specifically highlighted. In the beast vision, the fourth and
final beast has ten horns. Because the ten toes
are associated with the Roman empire, it is commonly believed that the
ten horns on the fourth beast somehow represent a 'revived'
It is these two chapters, and several other passages in the book of Revelation,
that give rise to the notion that the Roman empire will somehow be
"revived" by the prophetic figure we commonly call The
Antichrist. Because the fourth beast kingdom is plainly
seen to be the final world dominion run by The Antichrist, it
is crucial that we accurately identify these four kingdoms. In other
words, if we get this chapter wrong, we may not actually recognize key
prophetic events because we'll looking in the wrong place. I
contend that is precisely what is occurring today, and the Christian
church is running out of time to recognize the truth.
There are two separate sets of four kingdoms.
These two visions are millennia apart and the key to understanding
each of them is the nation of Israel. The common denominator in
every one of them is their relationship to the Jewish people. The four
kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar's statue are the four kingdoms that provide
a historic countdown to the destruction of the Jewish
Beginning with Babylon, all four kingdoms dominated the people
of Israel. The fourth kingdom (the legs of iron), the Roman
empire, presided over the destruction of Israel in 70 AD. The fourth
kingdom also provided the countdown to the first coming of Jesus
Christ, the Son of God. Conversely, the four beast kingdoms
function in reverse as they provide the historic countdown to
the resurrection of the state of Israel; and once again these
empires also serve as a sequential countdown to the second
coming of Christ.
The first great beast was "...like a lion, and had eagle's wings:
I beheld until the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up
from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's
heart was given to it." 8. This beast does not
describe the Babylonian empire of the 5th century BC. but
instead describes the British empire of the last two
hundred years. It begins the historic chronology of nations that
brought about the resurrection of the modern state of Israel.
Throughout most of its history, England has employed the
crowned lion as the official heraldry symbol of the royal families.
The lion appears on almost every coat of arms in the British royal
line going back at least 700 years. It is instructive to note that the
British lion is usually seen standing up on its two hind feet
precisely the way the prophecy states The figure shown in figure I is
an actual rendering of a genuine British heraldic coat of arms.
In addition to dozens of examples of British lions standing on two
legs, I have at least one documented copy of a coat of arms of William
I (1066-1087) that shows the British lion with eagles wings. 9.
Because the United States is so widely associated with the
eagle, it is difficult not to associate the eagle's wings that
are attached to the lion with America. The fact that the wings were
removed would clearly seem to refer to the American independence and
thereby strengthens the identification. Historically speaking, it is
not an understatement to say that the action of the British throne in
the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the single most important
move towards the establishment of a Jewish state in modern history. If
you remember your World War I history, you'll recall it was the
British army, led by General George Allenby that liberated Jerusalem
from the Moslems in 1917. The British then opened the door to Jewish
immigration into the Holy Land. Daniel's prophecy stated that this
lion empire will be humane as "...a man's heart was given to
In an odd role reversal, one of the most famous British monarchs was Richard
- nstead of a lion with a man's heart, this king was styled as a man
with a lion's heart. Ultimately, while the British lion's constructive
interaction with the dispersed Jewish people began the countdown
towards a resurrected state of Israel, the Russian Bear also affected
- but in a more ominous way.
The Russian purges and persecutions of native Russian Jews were called
pogroms, and they manifested some of the worst anti-Semitic
hatred ever seen in modern history.
The beast prophecy describes "...a second beast, like to a bear.
It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its
mouth between its teeth. It was told, Arise, devour much flesh." 11.
This dark characterization of the devouring beast is in stark contrast
to the more humane lion that came before it, and again strengthens the
identification of the beast kingdoms with the modern states that
impacted the emergence of the state of Israel.
The bear was widely recognized as the universal symbol of
Russia and her various satellite nations during the era of the Soviet
Union. The imagery associated with the bleak Russian winters
probably contributed to this symbol. The fact is, in political
cartoons, historical essays, and native Russian symbology, the bear is
broadly identified with the Russian state. Even Time Magazine
once ran a major story that depicted Russia as a hungry bear
on the cover.
It should be noted that the Bolshevik revolution that brought about
the world's first communist regime actually occurred in the very same
time period and year (November 1917) as the British liberation of
Palestine (Israel). This helps to establish the chronological
continuity between the first and second beasts.
A subtle prophetic detail is found in the fact that the world's first
communist dictatorship that emerged in Russia actually brought
about the political idiom that describes nations and political parties
as 'leftist' or 'rightist.' To this very day, the communists
are said to be to the left, the fascists are to the
right, and democracies are centrist. How fascinating that the
first leftist government in the history of the world was described
in scripture 2,500 years ago as a beast that "...raised up on one
of its sides."12.
The three ribs "between its teeth" probably relates to the
three Baltic states that were gobbled up by The Soviet Union.
These were Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. It is also feasible the
threefold image is a vehicle to describe the three Trans-Caucasian
states (Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan) which were assimilated
assimilated by the earlier Russian empire
- take your pick. In any event, the corollary verse where the bear
is told to "devour much flesh" was certainly fulfilled by the
greatest single mass murderer in the history of planet Earth, Joseph
Stalin. He brutally executed approximately 50 million people in
the evil empire that was The Soviet Union.
January 27, 2003 - James Lloyd
Copyright © 2003 Christian Media Network
The Scofield Reference Bible, The Zondervan Study Bible, etc. The
Bible publisher's practice of adding to the scriptures
conjectural iinterpretations that are described as fact, not theory,
is a contributing factor to a continuing blindness to
prophetic understanding. All will be held accountable on the last day.
The Lives Of The Kings and Queens Of England, Antonia Fraser, page 27