“The first beast was like a lion with eagles’ wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off, and it was left standing with its two hind feet on the ground, like a human being. And it was given a human mind.” Daniel 7:4
The first beast was like a lion. This was the Babylon Empire that was fierce and strong, and made the kings absolute. This lion had eagle’s wings, with which to fly upon the prey, denoting the wonderful speed that Nebuchadnezzar made in his conquest of kingdoms. Jeremiah wrote that Jerusalem was being destroyed by Babylon. “A lion stalks from its den, a destroyer of nations. It has left its lair and is headed your way. It’s going to devastate your land! Your towns will lie in ruins, with no one living in them anymore.” (Jeremiah 4:7) Jeremiah gave the warning. “O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.” (Jeremiah 4:4)
But Daniel soon sees the wings plucked, a full stop put to the career of their victorious arms. It has lost the heart of a lion, which it had been famous for, it has lost its courage and become feeble and faint, dreading everything and daring nothing; they are put in fear, and made to know themselves to be but men. Sometimes the valor of a nation strangely sinks, and it becomes cowardly and effeminate, so that what was the head of the nations in an age or two becomes the tail. “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Now I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria.” (Jeremiah 50:18) In spite of the power indicated in this symbolism, Daniel saw the beast become man-like. This is most commonly interpreted as the symbolic representation of Nebuchadnezzar’s experience in chapter 4 when he was humbled before God and made to realize that, even though he was a great ruler, he was only a man. His lion-like character, or royal power, was his only at God’s pleasure. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride became his down fall.