The four beasts in Daniel: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea” (Daniel 7:2).
1: “The first beast was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle” (Daniel 7:4). “The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth” (verse 17). This first beast is representative of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. (Daniel 4:34–35).
2. The second beast in Daniel’s vision is “like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth” (Daniel 7:5). This beast represents the Medo-Persian Empire; the raising up of one side of the creature indicates that one of the kingdom’s parts (Persia) would be dominant. The three ribs in the creature’s mouth symbolize nations that were “devoured” by the Medes and the Persians. These three conquered nations are known to be Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.
3. The third beast is “like a leopard,” except it has four bird-like wings on its back and four heads (Daniel 7:6). This beast is given authority to rule and represents Greece, The four heads are predictive of the four-way division of the empire following Alexander the Great’s death. Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat gives further details of the second and third kingdoms (see Daniel 8).
4. The fourth beast is rising from the sea and is the most dreadful—“terrifying and frightening and very powerful” (Daniel 7:7). This fourth beast has “bronze claws” (verse 19) and “large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left” totally annihilating its prey (verse 7). The fourth beast has ten horns. This creature represents the Roman Empire, a mighty kingdom that indeed crushed all its foes.