In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it. – Daniel 7:1-4
Well this is an odd bit of water to be sure. Daniel is describing a dream that he had that involves “the great sea”. In other passages the sea has been used as a metaphor for the spiritual realm. In this passage the seas are being “churned up” by the four winds. I am reminded of the spirit of God moving over the Waters in the Genesis account of creation. I wonder if the odd event in Daniel’s dream being described here is related.
The “wind”, perhaps the Holy Spirit or the spirit of God, brings forth out of the sea four beasts. The first beast is described as being “like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle.” A lion, “king’ of the beasts”, crossed with arguably the “king” of the air, an eagle. Why these two beasts rather than others God could choose? Perhaps the fact that these animals have dominion over their respective domains is an important detail. It may also be important that there are two very distinct realms to navigate, the “air” and the “earth”.
This mythical and metaphorical creature has its wings clipped and becomes a human, “I watched until its wings were torn off”. Wow this passage just became deep water to be sure, plumbing the depths of questions like “who are we?” and “where do we come from?”
This passage, and my understanding from previous passages would suggest we are; 1) plucked from the “great sea”, the spiritual realm, by God’s spirit; 2) we were once in some sense a composite creature built to dwell in two very different realms; 3) our wings have been clipped, i.e. we are not able to “fly” in the spiritual realm as we once could, we are separated by a river that no one could cross; and 4) we “stand on two feet” and have been given “the mind of a human”, human reason or a bit of the logos from God. Just enough to get us into trouble thinking we are all that.
I am once again in awe of the complexity and beauty of seemingly innocuous passages like this one in Daniel, a hidden well to be sure. There is so much more here than the lion’s dens and fiery furnaces I remember learning about in Sunday School.
Prayer: God thank You for guiding me on this float through the Bible and showing me unexpected truths along the way.