In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts. Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. “And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it:`Arise, devour much flesh!’ “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. (Dan 7:1-7 NKJ)
In my forty years as a Christian, I have heard and read all manner of interpretations of the Daniel text. Often tied in John Revelation in some strange way. Amazon is awash with biblical prophecy books, some dating back to the early seventies, and several containing prophecy and interpretation that proved to be wrong. These so-called prophets of doom seem to have no remorse or repentance, and just move on to their next best seller. Thank God for grace! Under Old Testament law these authors would have been taken out back and stoned to death.
Daniel relays to the king a series of vision; the descriptions used were common in Mesopotamian culture. People have tried to compare Daniel to other sources in the Old Testament without success. However, similar language and imagery have been found in an extinct Amorite language known through the Ugaritic Texts. Daniel here is reiterating the original vision that he gave to Nebuchadnezzar, regarding the coming kingdoms, and has nothing to do with 21st century America and beyond.
We should be asking God for that same prophetic insight that Daniel had for today. It is amazing how we seem to have a gift of interpreting the beasts and monsters of yesterday, but can’t see what God is doing today.