As concerning the rest of the beasts - They had been superseded, but not destroyed. It would seem that they were still represented in vision to Daniel, as retaining their existence, though their power was taken away, and their fierceness subdued, or that they still seemed to remain alive for a time, or while the vision was passing. They were not cut down, destroyed, and consumed as the fourth beast was.
They had their dominion taken away - They were superseded, or they no longer exercised power. They no more appeared exerting a control over the nations. They still existed, but they were subdued and quiet. It was possible to discern them, but they no longer acted the conspicuous part which they had done in the days of their greatness and grandeur. Their power had passed away. This cannot be difficult of interpretation. We should naturally look for the fulfillment of this in the fact that the nations referred to by these first three beasts were still in being, and could be recognized as nations, in their boundaries, or customs, or languages; but that the power which they had wielded had passed into other hands.
Yet their lives were prolonged - Margin, as in Chaldee, “a prolonging in life was given them.” That is, they were not utterly destroyed and consumed as the power of the fourth beast was after the solemn judgment. The meaning is, that in these kingdoms there would be energy for a time. They had life still; and the difference between them and the kingdom represented by the fourth beast was what would exist between wild animals subdued but still living, and a wild animal killed and burned. We should look for the fulfillment of this in some state of things where the kingdoms referred to by the three beasts were subdued and succeeded by others, though they still retained something of their national character; while the other kingdom had no successor of a civil kind, but where its power wholly ceased, and the dominion went wholly into other hands - so that it might be said that that kingdom, as such, had wholly ceased to be.
For a season and time - Compare the notes at Daniel 7:25. The time mentioned here is not definite. The phrase used (ועדן עד־זמן ‛ad -zeman ve‛ı̂ddân ) refers to a definite period, both the words in the original referring to a designated or appointed time, though neither of them indicates anything about the length of the time, anymore than our word time does. Luther renders this, “For there was a time and an hour appointed to them how long each one should continue.” Grotius explains this as meaning, “Beyond the time fixed by God they could not continue.” The true meaning of the Chaldee is probably this: “For a time, even a definite time.” The mind of the prophet is at first fixed upon the fact that they continue to live; then upon the fact, somehow apparent, that it is for a definite period. Perhaps in the vision he saw them one after another die or disappear. In the words used here, however, there is nothing by which we can determine how long they were to continue. The time that the power represented by the little horn is to continue explained in Daniel 7:25, but there is no clue by which we can ascertain how long the existence of the power represented by the first three beasts was to continue. All that is clear is, that it was to be lengthened out for some period, but that that was a definite and fixed period.
Honored by men with the responsibilities of state and with the secrets of kingdoms bearing universal sway, Daniel was honored by God as His ambassador, and was given many revelations of the mysteries of ages to come. His wonderful prophecies, as recorded by him in chapters 7 to 12 of the book bearing his name, were not fully understood even by the prophet himself; but before his life labors closed, he was given the blessed assurance that “at the end of the days”—in the closing period of this world's history—he would again be permitted to stand in his lot and place. It was not given him to understand all that God had revealed of the divine purpose. “Shut up the words, and seal the book,” he was directed concerning his prophetic writings; these were to be sealed “even to the time of the end.” “Go thy way, Daniel,” the angel once more directed the faithful messenger of Jehovah; “for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.... Go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:4, 9, 13. PK 547.1
As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel demand our special attention, as they relate to the very time in which we are living. With them should be linked the teachings of the last book of the New Testament Scriptures. Satan has led many to believe that the prophetic portions of the writings of Daniel and of John the revelator cannot be understood. But the promise is plain that special blessing will accompany the study of these prophecies. “The wise shall understand” (verse 10), was spoken of the visions of Daniel that were to be unsealed in the latter days; and of the revelation that Christ gave to His servant John for the guidance of God's people all through the centuries, the promise is, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” Revelation 1:3. PK 547.2
From the rise and fall of nations as made plain in the books of Daniel and the Revelation, we need to learn how worthless is mere outward and worldly glory. Babylon, with all its power and magnificence, the like of which our world has never since beheld,—power and magnificence which to the people of that day seemed so stable and enduring,—how completely has it passed away! As “the flower of the grass,” it has perished. James 1:10. So perished the Medo-Persian kingdom, and the kingdoms of Grecia and Rome. And so perishes all that has not God for its foundation. Only that which is bound up with His purpose, and expresses His character, can endure. His principles are the only steadfast things our world knows. PK 548.1Read in context »
Often had Daniel and his companions gone over these and similar prophecies outlining God's purpose for His people. And now, as the rapid course of events betokened the mighty hand of God at work among the nations, Daniel gave special thought to the promises made to Israel. His faith in the prophetic word led him to enter into experiences foretold by the sacred writers. “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon,” the Lord had declared, “I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return.... I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Verses 10-13. PK 553.1
Shortly before the fall of Babylon, when Daniel was meditating on these prophecies and seeking God for an understanding of the times, a series of visions was given him concerning the rise and fall of kingdoms. With the first vision, as recorded in the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel, an interpretation was given; yet not all was made clear to the prophet. “My cogitations much troubled me,” he wrote of his experience at the time, “and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.” Daniel 7:28. PK 553.2
Through another vision further light was thrown upon the events of the future; and it was at the close of this vision that Daniel heard “one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision?” Daniel 8:13. The answer that was given, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (verse 14), filled him with perplexity. Earnestly he sought for the meaning of the vision. He could not understand the relation sustained by the seventy years’ captivity, as foretold through Jeremiah, to the twenty-three hundred years that in vision he heard the heavenly visitant declare should elapse before the cleansing of God's sanctuary. The angel Gabriel gave him a partial interpretation; yet when the prophet heard the words, “The vision ... shall be for many days,” he fainted away. “I Daniel fainted,” he records of his experience, “and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” Verses 26, 27. PK 554.1Read in context »