Week 5: Dreamtime
Dreams - they can bring great joy or they can ‘scare the daylights’ out of you.
What is the weirdest dream that you have ever had?
Do you believe that God can and does speak to people today through dreams and visions?
Daniel’s Dream About Four Animals
1 In Belshazzar’s first year as king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream. He saw visions as he was lying on his bed. Daniel wrote down what he had dreamed.
2 Daniel said: “I saw my vision at night. In the vision the wind was blowing from all four directions. These winds made the sea very rough. 3 I saw four huge animals come up from the sea. Each animal was different from the others.
4 “The first animal looked like a lion. But it had wings like an eagle. I watched this animal until its wings were torn off. It was lifted from the ground so that it stood up on two feet like a man. And it was given the mind of a man. 5 “And then I saw a second animal before me. It looked like 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, ‘Get up and eat all the meat you want!’ 6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another animal. This animal looked like a leopard. And the leopard had four wings on its back. The wings looked like a bird’s wings. This animal had four heads. It was given power to rule.
7 “After that, in my vision at night I continued looking. There in front of me was a fourth animal. This animal looked cruel and terrible and very strong. It had large iron teeth. It crushed and ate what it killed. Then it walked on whatever was left. This fourth animal was different from all the animals I had seen before it. It had ten horns. 8 “While I was thinking about the horns, another horn grew up among them. It was a little horn. It had eyes like a person’s eyes. It also had a mouth. And the mouth was bragging. The little horn pulled out three of the other horns.
9 “As I looked,
Story: Daniel 7 (International Children's Bible)
thrones were put in their places.
And God, the Eternal One, sat on his throne.
His clothes were white like snow.
And the hair on his head was white like wool.
His throne was made from fire.
And the wheels of his throne were blazing with fire.
10 A river of fire was flowing
from in front of him.
Many thousands of angels were serving him.
Millions of angels stood before him.
Court was ready to begin.
And the books were opened.
11 “I kept on looking because the little horn was bragging. I kept watching until finally the fourth animal was killed. Its body was destroyed, and it was thrown into the burning fire. 12 (The power and rule of the other animals had been taken from them. But they were permitted to live for a certain period of time.)
13 “In my vision at night I looked. There in front of me was someone who looked like a human being. He was coming with clouds in the sky. He came near God, who has been alive forever. And he was led to God. 14 The one who looked like a human being was given the power to rule. He was also given glory and royal power. All peoples, nations and men who spoke every language will serve him. His rule will last forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed.
The Meaning of the Dream
15 “I, Daniel, was worried. The visions that went through my mind frightened me. 16 I came near one of those standing there. I asked him what all this meant. “So he told me. He explained to me what these things meant. 17 He said, ‘The four great animals are four kingdoms. Those four kingdoms will come from the earth. 18 But the people who belong to the Most High God will receive the power to rule. And they will have the power to rule forever. They will have it from now on.’
19 “Then I wanted to know what the fourth animal meant. It was different from all the other animals. It was very terrible. It had iron teeth and bronze claws. It was the animal that crushed and ate what it killed. And it walked on whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head. And I wanted to know about the little horn that grew there. It had pulled out three of the other ten horns. It looked greater than the others. And it had eyes and a mouth that kept bragging. 21 As I watched, the little horn began making war against God’s people. And the horn kept killing them 22 until God, who has been alive forever, came. He judged in favor of the people who belong to the Most High God. And the time came for them to receive the power to rule.
23 “And he explained this to me: ‘The fourth animal is a fourth kingdom that will come on the earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms. It will destroy people all over the world. It will walk on and crush the whole earth. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this fourth kingdom. After those ten kings are gone, another king will come. He will be different from the kings who ruled before him. He will defeat three of the other kings. 25 This king will say things against the Most High God. And he will hurt and kill God’s people. He will try to change times and laws that have already been set. The people that belong to God will be in that king’s power for three and one-half years.
26 “‘But the court will decide what should happen. And the power of the king will be taken away. His kingdom will be completely destroyed. 27 Then the people who belong to the Most High God will have the power to rule. They will rule over all the kingdoms under heaven with power and greatness. Their power to rule will last forever. And people from all the other kingdoms will respect and serve them.’
28 “And that was the end of the dream. I, Daniel, was very afraid. My face became very white from fear. But I kept everything to myself.”
Have a go at drawing what you think the four beasts may have looked like. Who do you think was in control over these beasts and their actions.
God is described in an awesome way in verse 9 and 10, have a go at drawing him in his throne. How would you feel if you saw all this in a dream?
As you could expect, Daniel was pretty troubled by everything that he saw. It was a very graphic vision, but it was also very confusing. What did it all mean? Do you ever have dreams that you don’t really understand. Fortunately, Daniel was given an answer in verses 15-28, but it was still pretty troubling. How would you feel if that had been you?
When we understand the context of Daniel’s dream, we can see how much hope it brought him! Daniel was in a foreign land, where false gods were worshipped. He had been given a Babylonian name, given food sacrificed to other idols, and thrown into a lion’s den for not worshipping a statue… and yet, he was still alive. Not only that, but he had risen through the ranks of the Babylon ruling class. God had protected him throughout his journey. Just as Daniel had experienced this protection, the dream gave him further hope and confidence that God would protect and rule the world.
Have a think about a time when God has helped you and been at work in your life. It is so easy to forget about God’s power when things start to go bad for us, what should we do in these times? We can be confident of God’s power always and trust that he will keep his promises. Most of all, we can look forward to the promise of eternal life with him, though his son, Jesus.
Watch the next part of the Daniel video (4:13-5:46) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cSC9uobtPM
Or try this explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH02OlqEJSY
Then the people who belong to the Most High God will have the power to rule. They will rule over all the kingdoms under heaven with power and greatness. Their power to rule will last forever.
Spend some time praying for your friends and family. Pray that you will always remember the hope that we have in God, and remember that he rules over all things.
Have a go at modelling the beasts out of clay or playdoh.
(Some of the ideas and questions on this page have been taken from Youthworks Bible Study Series: Old Testament - Daniel: Loyalty Under Pressure by Luke Thomson.)