Not To Be Rude, But...
It's almost comical. Three modern superpowers are blatantly presented in the Book of Daniel, but most readers totally miss them. They overlook the obvious because they've been taught by pastors and scholars that what they're looking at relates to ancient kingdoms, not modern ones. But it's not true; we've been duped.
We're going to discuss why the traditional view is the wrong one, and then examine the best alternative. But first, let's familiarize ourselves with the relevant prophecies.
LIONS and Leopards and Bears, Oh My
The things in this dream are symbols. In Bible prophecy, the waters of the sea represent all the people of the Gentile nations (Rev. 17:15). Beasts represent unredeemed rulers or nations that are set against YHVH (Dan. 7:17, 23; Rev. 13). After the dream, an angel appeared to Daniel and explained to him that the four beasts symbolize four kingdoms that will arise in the world. In other words, they didn't exist yet (keep that in mind).
Most scholars believe that the four nations represented by the beasts were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, respectively.
Kingdoms to Come
Having the advantage of hindsight, we can easily unpack the interpretation. Just as gold is a soft metal, Babylon was softer than the kingdoms that would follow it, but it was the most splendid. The silver kingdom, having two arms, was Medo-Persia, which followed Babylon and inherited much of its wealth, but was not as glorious. The brass kingdom was Greece, which was more advanced—brass is an alloy—and unyielding. The iron kingdom was Rome, which was very strong and merciless, and which was divided, East and West, like legs. Legs become narrow at the ankles, which tells us that Rome dwindled but never disappeared. The feet represent the kingdom that will exist at the end of the age, the final phase of the Roman empire, which will have ten regions ruled by ten kings. Y'shua ha-Mashiach is the stone cut without hands, who will crush the kingdoms of man and take over the entire world.
Traditionally, scholars have compared Daniel's beast dream with Nebuchadnezzar's statue dream, making them parallel. They claim that the lion with wings is equivalent to the head of gold, the bear to the silver, the leopard to the brass, and the terrible beast to the iron. By so doing, they assign the beasts of the vision to ancient history, treating them as sequential in chronology. You're about to see why this is a big mistake.
Debunking the Sequential View
Beyond that, there are five other reasons to reject the practice of linking the dreams:
The Contemporaneous View of Daniel 7
And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. (Rev. 13:2, ESV)
The ten horns of the beast are ten kings, says an angel to John:
"And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the [Antichrist]." (Rev. 17:12, ESV)
The fact that the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13 is a combination of the first three beasts of Daniel 7 means that those beasts were not ancient kingdoms that existed one after the other, but are instead contemporaneous kingdoms at the end of the age. The fourth beast of Daniel 7 will conquer the others and incorporate them into a New World Order.
Tangentially, it is almost certainly the Antichrist (in his initial "little horn" stage) who will be heading up the military campaigns of the fourth beast kingdom as it tramples down the other kingdoms.
Identifying the BEast Kingdoms
Some interpreters assume that the plucking off of the wings refers to the American Revolution, but I doubt that. America only grew stronger and more prominent after the Revolution, so why is it that only the lion remains in the vision? The second beast should be a whole eagle, perhaps grasping arrows and bundles of grain, as on the national seal. But that's not the case in Daniel's vision. The wings seemingly disappear after being removed from the lion. What does it mean?
Unfortunately, I think it means that the United States will be incapacitated and cease to exist as we know her today. Numerous men of God have received dreams and visions to this effect over the last century or so. Will American fall as they claim to have seen? Time will tell.
And what will become of Great Britain? It will be transformed. The oracle says that the lion will be given the heart of a man, its beastly nature replaced by a domesticated one. We have already learned that beasts in prophetic symbolism are hostile to Elohiym, so we can deduce that the transformation into a man indicates a change of heart towards Elohiym. Evidently, Great Britain as a whole will begin to honor YHVH and will experience a widespread revival. A godly government will take over and make the nation stand with dignity and courage in tumultuous times.
Strangely, the bear is raised up on one side. That characteristic plays well in the traditional view of this beast because Media was a greater kingdom than its partner, Persia. It was an unbalanced alliance. But there's a good explanation for this imbalance that fits the contemporaneous view: the preponderance of Russia's populace dwells on the western side of the country.
But what of the other feature of the bear? What do the three ribs in its mouth signify? I believe that the ribs foretell a still future Russian victory over three nations at once. Since ribs come from a creature's side, it seems likely to me that Russia will consume three countries from the eastern side of its neighbor, Europe. It will then arise and devour much flesh in other parts of the world (probably to include America).
My guess is that this beast represents a coalition of Asian nations. Alternatively, it could be an African coalition.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest population of big cats, but Afghanistan comes in second place in big cat diversity. It is home to the Persian leopard, once thought to be extinct. In Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, China, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia, leopards are relatively abundant.
The third beast has birds' wings, but the type of birds are not specified. Considering how many nations use a bird as a mascot, we shouldn't even venture a guess as to which two nations it will be.
A Spanish conflict analyst named Jesús Núñez has stated that the E.U. would have the world's second most powerful military if it pooled its resources. Once America is out of the picture following a devastating war or societal collapse, many nations which were comfortable under the wings of the bald eagle will suddenly pledge their support to Europe. Some of these regions will be as strong as iron, but others will be as weak as clay. The coalition will eventually be divided into ten regions, each with a monarch over it.
Once the Roman Empire has well and truly been revived, it will begin to overtake and assimilate the other beasts. In the end, it will own nearly everything.
After all of that, though, our glorious Messiah will appear with armies of heaven and make a swift end to the kingdoms of the wicked. We can look with great expectation to the day when he brings peace and renewal to the whole earth. America, Russia, and the rest of the nations of this world were never destined to be permanent.