The fist reading is one of the four visions of Daniel. God has also bestowed the gift upon Daniel of insight. He gazes upon visions into the night, similar to what we hear in John’s revelations. The language is similarly apocryphal. Daniel completed the book as we now have it shortly after the fall of the Babylonian Empire.
As Daniel gazes upon his visions, he notices four immense beats. They represented the various empires that were to take dominance over the Jewish people, namely, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. As he gazes he sees the sovereign God, the Ancient One takes his place upon the throne. As the books of judgement opened in heaven, he saw one like the son of man. In the new Covenant, this finds its fulfilment in Jesus, the Christ.
The great sea represents the world and all its peoples. Each beast represented in the vision has its own story of victory and defeat. The lion with eagle’s wings depicts the nation of Babylon with its power torn from beneath it. The bear on its side represents the superiority of the Persian with their various conquests over Lydia, Babylon and Egypt. The leopard signifies the speedy conquests of Alexander the Great. The fourth terrifying and frightening beast is the great Roman Empire with its irresistible and surpassing power.
The language is rich in detail and graphic. One can easily imagine this entire scene-taking place as something shown on cinema. One can almost become lost and overwhelmed by the imagery presented to us in the Book. The visions are full of hope, awe and wonder at the ultimate victory that God has over his chosen people. Written at a time of Jewish persecution it would have given new heart to those who read it.
There are times in our life when we need vision, without a vision people perish. We need to have hope that vision can offer us. It is a way of looking beyond, seeing that there is a way out of the present trails and hardships one faced. It is not an escape from reality but looking into the future. It is a certain guide that all is well because God is in control, even when circumstances fail to reveal. Let us be encouraged by the vision of Daniel that we can look beyond the dark night of death into the glorious light of the resurrection.

What is your vision?

Lord, give me a vision for my life that I may see your guiding light. Amen.