The prophet Daniel predicted the rise of the Greek empire long before Alexander the Great conquered many kingdoms and united them under one empire. He described the Greek Empire as the first beast – the first of four consecutive empires that will rule the earth. He named the next world power, after the Greek Empire, the second beast.
The prophet’s vision of the Greek empire was practically the rise of a king or kingdom to an emperor or empire. He began by describing Alexander the Great as a king – Lion – of a kingdom. Then he described how he united many kingdoms to form an empire. And he ended by saying that the empire revolved around one man – Alexander the Great. The prophet summarized the entire history of the Greek Empire as follows:
“The first one looked like a lion, but had wings like an eagle. While I was watching, the wings were torn off. The beast was lifted up and made to stand upright. And then a human mind was given to it” (Daniel 7:4)
The first one looked like a lion: the first one should be a kingdom.
Lion = King
But had wings like an eagle: but was rather made up of many kingdoms.
This means that power was initially distributed between the kingdoms that constituted the empire. Distribution of power means that each kingdom had its own government. The prophet Daniel had the vision of the distribution of power between these kingdoms and described it as like an eagle flying around.
Like an eagle - power was distributed. The kingdoms that constituted the Greek Empire were initially sovereign kingdoms before they were united by Alexander the Great to form an empire.
The wings were torn off: each kingdom lost its sovereignty or was conquered.
Each of the kingdoms was stripped of its sovereign powers when it was conquered by Alexander the Great. This means that each kingdom became a part of an empire rather than a separate kingdom.
The beast was lifted up and made to stand upright: it became strong and powerful.
While constituent kingdoms were separate kingdoms, it was as though the empire was lying down. Lying down here means the kingdoms were weak and they could not have conquered the known world like the Greek Empire did even if the kingdoms formed an alliance. But immediately they were united into an empire governed by an emperor, they became enormously strong. The transition from weakness to strength was described as “was lifted up and made to stand up”.
And then a human mind was given to it: and the empire was built around a central human figure. The Greek Empire was built around Alexander the Great. (1 Maccabees 1:1-7)
Looked like a lion: Alexander the Great, son of Philip of Macedonia, should have been only the king of Macedonia. Lion means a king. Alexander the Great became the ruler of many kingdoms instead of the king of one kingdom.
The Greek empire was described as the first beast because it was the first of the four consecutive empires to conquer and rule over the earth. The other three consecutive empires were the Roman Empire, the Empire of the French, and Europe. England was the dominant empire and the most powerful at the height of the power of Europe. Hence the reign of the forth beast is as well the reign of England.