Lesson: Daniel's Dream of Four Beasts

Print Friendly and PDF

Use this free lesson plan with your older elementary Sunday School class. It’s build upon the passage in Daniel 7 where he has a disturbing dream.  Students will learn that they can trust God in difficult times because in the end God wins the battle over the enemy of this world Satan. Children need to know that as believers, we are on the winning team and God wins in the end.  The lesson was prepared for older students.

Bible Story: Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
ScriptureDaniel 7
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
Printer Friendly Bible Lesson: [print_link] this lesson plan
You Can Help: Please share your feedback and suggestions to improve this children’s Bible study. Click here to respond

Supply List: Bibles, craft supplies to create the four beasts, note cards/post cards,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that they can trust God in difficult times because in the end God wins the battle over the enemy of this world Satan.
Learning Indicator: Participation in the learning activities will help students gain understanding about the truth from the Bible Lesson.  They will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: Create beasts from Daniel 7 by allowing students to draw, use play dough, etc.
Learning Activity #2: Students can write a note of encouragement to someone who serves in the church.  God uses encouragement from others to help leaders keep fighting the battle against the enemy.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Daniel 7:27 “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints the people of the Most High.  His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him.”
Memory Verse Activity: Recite the verse a few times and discuss the meaning and explain difficult words. Choose students to lead the class by reciting the verse reading and pointing to each word as students follow their lead.

Bible Lesson: Daniel’s Disturbing Dream

(For teachers:  As I was finalizing my preparation of the lesson the Lord gave me this illustration to prepare me for the class I was going to teach:  I have a daughter who loves horses.  She spends every waking moment at the barn when she doesn’t have school or work.  She goes to local horse shows and went to one the night before I was going to teach this lesson.  She won first place in one of the competitions and didn’t win in the other class she entered.  I was thinking about what motivates her to continue to enter shows when she rarely win first place.  It’s her love of horses that motivates her.  For her it’s not the goal of being first place(although that is nice), it’s the time she gets to be with the horses preparing for that show.  This illustration was a reminder to me why I prepare a lesson each week and go to my class.  I love Jesus and the time during the week to spend with Him in His word, praying and preparing for the students in my class. Because of my love for Him I love my students and love being with them each week!  It is exciting to see them grasp the truths of His Word.  It is a blessing when they remember something from several weeks back.  Jesus is my motivation for continuing to serve in this way.  Sometimes teaching (or serving the Lord in any capacity) has discouraging moments and as we teach from today’s lesson about being on the winning team, we need to remember that the work we do for His Kingdom will last.  We are on the winning team and we cannot quit serving the children God has entrusted to our care.  May our love for Him abound as we serve Him and teach children about His greatness!)
(Begin Bible lesson with prayer)
When you look at what is happening in the world what do you see?  What are some most recent events that have happened locally or in other parts of the world?  (Locally-devastating tornadoes, globally-Japan earthquake, wars)
When we look at the difficulties in our own lives and in the world we have to know who God is and what He says He is going to do.
When we face difficulties we might be tempted to feel like we are on a losing team.  Have you ever played on a team that rarely if ever won a game?  How did that feel?
If you are a believer do you always feel like you win against the battle of sin in your own life?  Does it seem that those who disobey God are rewarded and those who obey God get overlooked?
Sometimes we want to quit if we are on a losing team.  We may even wish it was possible to switch teams so we could be on a winning team.  If you are a believer you might even want to quit living a life that pleases God because it feels like it doesn’t make a difference.
Before we turn in our uniform let’s turn to God’s Word for encouragement to stay in the game!
Today we are going to focus on a truth that followers of Jesus are on the winning team.  No matter what it looks like or feels like in our lives we can trust that God wins the battle of evil over His enemy Satan.
Let’s turn in our Bible to Daniel 7.  We have been studying the Book of Daniel and have been seeing how Daniel sets an example for us to be Christ’s ambassador as he was used by God to serve in Babylon.  The remainder of the Book focuses on God revealing prophetic (future) events to Daniel.
(Choose a volunteer to read Daniel 7:1) In Daniel 1-6 we learned that  Daniel was the one who interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar.  In this chapter Daniel is the one receiving a vision from God.
Daniel sees four great beasts coming up out of the ocean.  He describes each beast as he sees it in his vision.  They are as follows:

  1. A beast that looks like a lion having eagle’s wings.  The wings are torn off and the beast is lifted up off the ground so it could stand like a man.  The beast was given a heart of a man.
  2. A beast that looked like a bear with 3 ribs in his mouth. The bear was lopsided.
  3. A beast that looked like a leopard with four wings on its back.  The leopard had four heads.
  4. A beast that was terrifying and powerful.  It had large iron teeth and crushed and destroyed everything in its path.  This beast had ten horns.  Another horn appeared on the beast and spoke boastful words.

As Daniel sees these four beasts another scene takes place in his vision.  He sees thrones and the Ancient of Days (another name for God-the righteous judge).  God is seated on His throne and preparations are being made for judgments to be made.
Daniel’s attention turns back to this little horn that was speaking boastful words.  He sees this little horn destroyed and thrown into a fire.
Choose volunteers to read Daniel 7:13-14.  Who do you think these verses are talking about?  (Jesus)  What do you learn about Jesus from these verses?  (He was given authority, glory and sovereign power, all people worshiped Him, His kingdom is everlasting and will never be destroyed)
Daniel was very troubled by his vision.  He went to someone in his vision and asked him to please explain what he was seeing so he could know what the vision means.
The person in the vision interpreted the vision for Daniel and began to explain the vision to Daniel.  He told them the four beasts represented four kingdoms that will rule on this earth.
Who remembers the vision that King Nebuchadnezzar had about the statue from Daniel 2?  Daniel sought God’s wisdom and learned what the dream meant and told Nebuchadnezzar what it meant.  Daniel’s dream is about the kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about.
King Nebuchadnezzar saw his dream from a human point of view.  He saw a beautiful statue that represented his kingdom and future kingdoms.  He may have been troubled by his dream but when he found out that he was the head of gold he was very impressed with himself.
Daniel was seeing these same kingdoms from God’s point of view.  He saw the kingdoms as beasts that were vicious and destructive.
The vision that Daniel had relates to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in this way:
Daniel-Lion with wings/Nebuchadnezzar-Statue’s head of goldRepresents the Babylonian kingdom.

  • Some believe the beast in Daniel’s dream depicts Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity and after he acknowledges God as ruler his kingdom is restored.

Daniel-Lopsided bear/Nebuchadnezzar-Statue’s chest and arms of silver

  • Represents the Medo-Persian Empire.  The bear is lopsided because it is believed that Persia had greater strength.  The three ribs are the defeated enemies of this empire-Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.

Daniel-Leopard with four wings/Nebuchadnezzar-Statue’s bronze belly and thighs

  • Represents the Grecian Empire. The leopard represents the swiftness of Alexander the Great.  He conquered the Medo-Persian Empire in four years.  The four heads are the four rulers who reigned after Alexander’s death.

Daniel-Frightening identified beast with 10 horns with a boastful little horn that arises/Nebuchadnezzar-Statue’s legs and feet

  • Represents the Roman Empire and the coming antichrist who is conquered by Jesus the King of Kings.

Each one of these prophetic dreams has taken place in history.  The kingdoms have come and gone just as God said they would.
Part of Daniel’s vision about the fourth beast has not taken place in the history of our world.  Daniel was intrigued by this fourth beast because he was so frightening.  He wanted to understand the meaning of the ten horns on this beast with the little horn that came up.  Daniel saw this little horn waging war against saints (believers) and defeating them.  The saints were losing the war with this little horn until the Ancient of Days came and fought in favor of them.  After defeating this fourth beast God gave the kingdom over to His saints.
Daniel was told the meaning of the fourth beast.  Let’s read the interpretation in verses 23-25. In this scene it appears that this king is going to win and defeat God’s people.  If we stopped there we might be discouraged thinking about this future event.  Thankfully we don’t have to stop there…let’s continue reading what Daniel learned about the future.  Read verses 26-28.
If you are not familiar with the Bible this may be just as confusing to you as it was to Daniel.  God gave this vision to Daniel five hundred years before Jesus the Messiah was born in Bethlehem.  We have the rest of the Bible to help us understand what was so disturbing to Daniel.  Simply put, we are in a battle. God’s enemy Satan has been trying to destroy the lives of people who have been made in God’s image.  He is the ruler over the kingdom of darkness.  He wants to keep people in his kingdom.  He fights to keep people from being rescued from sin by blinding them to the truth that Jesus died on the cross for the punishment of sins, was buried and rose again the third day.  If a person leaves Satan’s kingdom of darkness and becomes a believer he fights to keep them from living the kind of life God has in store for that person.  It sometimes appears that God’s enemy Satan is winning and is going to destroy everything in his path.  But God’s Word says that He will win the battle over Satan and God’s people will live with Him forever in His kingdom that will reign forever and ever.
Jesus has already won the battle over sin and death. He went to the cross and died for our sins and was raised victoriously over the power of death on the third day.  When we put our faith in Jesus we belong to God’s Kingdom and we are His saints.  Believers are on God’s team.  We may struggle with sin but we have God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us to give us power to live an obedient life.  One day the battle against sin will be over when we live forever in God’s Kingdom where sin doesn’t exist.  This news should make us want to shout like we do at a ball game where our team is winning! God wins!
On the other hand God will punish Satan and all who choose to reject His Son’s gift of eternal life.  2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 tells us the destination of God’s enemies:  “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and the majesty of His power.”
Whose team are you on this morning?  Thankfully if you are on the losing team you can switch teams!
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. How many beasts did Daniel see in his vision?  (Four)
  2. Describe one of the beasts.
  3. Who came in and sat on a throne?  (The Ancient of Days)
  4. Who helped Daniel understand the meaning of the vision?  (Someone in his vision)
  5. What did each of the beasts represent?  (Four kingdoms)
  6. Who was waging war against the saints?  (The little horn)
  7. Whose kingdom will win and reign? (The Most High)
  8. Why should believers not be afraid of the future?  (They are on the winning team)
  9. How long will this king reign?  (Forever)
New Sunday School Curriculum: Our Bible lessons are designed to keep the kids’ attention and show how God's Word makes a difference. Every series is flexible enough for a wide-age group and affordable enough for small churches. Download a free Bible lesson in pdf or view our latest Sunday School curriculum for small churches.