The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. (Daniel 7:4)
At first glance, this kingdom resembles Nebuchadnezzarís kingdom of the past. But to interpret it that way presents some difficulties because the dream took place after Nebuchadnezzar was already gone. We can look at Nebuchadnezzarís kingdom as a picture of what that future lion-like kingdom will be like, We have a picture from History of what to expect in the times ahead.
The picture is one of deterioration. The symbol of the lion represents dominance and strength. The wings of an eagle represent speed and majesty, all which characterized the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. We are further told that this lion like beast had its wings plucked up, was made to stand on two feet as a man and was given a manís heart.
The interpretation given by God is that this lion-like beast and the other beasts are kings that shall arise out of the earth which means it is for a future time.
The prophecy speaks of a kingdom that had great beginnings but over time lost its power and influence and it became weak. We are not told how it happened. It could have started with pride and self exaltation and it became a bad example. There are various explanations one could surmise.
The main point to remember is this future lion-like beast will have these characteristics and we shall recognize who he is and his purposes in Godís overall plan for the future when that time comes.