Daniel 7 – God is Sovereign
“. . . Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.” – Isaiah 45:21
Prophecy Reveals the Process of Salvation
Those who study Bible prophecy study the deeper things of God. The beauty of prophecy is that we have an opportunity to under-stand God’s grand purposes and timeless ways, even before history records His actions. Unfortunately, many Christians dismiss the importance of prophecy without understanding anything about the subject. I often hear, “Prophecy has nothing to do with salvation, so why bother with it?” While it may be true that prophecy does not bring salvation, the fulfillment of prophecy has everything to do with faith in God’s Word. Isn’t this one of the object lessons from Noah’s flood? If the study of salvation reveals the justice and mercy of God, then the study of prophecy reveals the process through which God fulfills His Word.
God Amplifies the Matrix
About fifty years after God gave King Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel the vision of the metal man, Daniel received a second vision. This second vision is important for several reasons. First, Daniel 7 is a repetition and expansion of Daniel 2. The vision in Daniel 2 is amplified in Daniel 7 so that we might better understand the ways and plans of God. Second, Daniel 7 is an important vision because God adds certain details to the prophetic matrix which later visions will build upon. Daniel 7 identifies the timing of two events upon which other prophecies depend. If the timing of these two events are overlooked or inaccurately identified, the other prophecies that depend upon this timing will not harmonize. Bible prophecy is something like a house of cards. Every new layer depends upon the strength of the layer beneath it.
The vision in Daniel 2 can be compared to “sub-flooring,” that is, the first layer in our prophetic understanding. Daniel 2 describes a chronological sequence of seven kingdoms that spans more than 2,600 years (605 B.C. to the Second Coming). If the vision in Daniel 2 is sub-flooring, then the vision in Daniel 7 is the flooring. Daniel 7 lies on top of Daniel 2. (See Chart 3.1.) When bonded together, these two visions strengthen each other. Both visions are identical in length because they cover the same time period. The “nails” that hold these two visions together are the elements within them. The first four kingdoms described in Daniel 2 perfectly align with the four beasts described in Daniel 7. Thus, the four beasts in Daniel 7 are a repetition and enlargement of the first four kingdoms presented in Daniel 2. Carefully notice how repetition and enlargement is used in Chart 3.1. By amplifying the elements of each vision with information from other visions, God demonstrates the all important operation of a matrix, and this matrix makes our prophetic foundation more secure.
For at least two reasons, God implemented this architecture in Daniel so that history would produce this matrix. First, if the same kingdom is identified in different visions with unique specifications, the chance of misinterpretation is greatly reduced, and different views of the same kingdom expand our understanding of that kingdom and its duration. For example, the thighs of bronze in Daniel 2 represent the same kingdom as the leopard with four wings in Daniel 7. (Notice the kingdom of Grecia in Chart 3.1.) Second, God established the matrix in Daniel because He foreknew that He could build on it 700 years later when He gave John the visions recorded in Revelation. In other words, the matrix established in Daniel is integral to the book of Revelation.
Daniel 8 Briefly Introduced
Since we are observing the use of repetition and enlargement, allow me to jump ahead for a moment and add a few more elements to Chart 3.1 from the visions in Daniel 8 and 11. The added data may help you quickly see how the architecture in Daniel produces a historical matrix. As this matrix grows larger, it becomes more comprehensive. Eventually, every prophetic item in Daniel and Revelation will harmoniously fit within this matrix.
Two years after receiving the vision recorded in Daniel 7, God gave Daniel yet another vision. Even though Babylon had not fallen at the time of this vision, Daniel knew that another kingdom would displace Babylon. During the vision of Daniel 8, Daniel saw a great conflict between a ram with two horns and a goat that had a large horn protruding out of its head (maybe something like a unicorn horn). The angel told Daniel that the ram represented the rising kingdom of the Medes and the Persians, and the two horns of the ram represented its two kings. Also, the goat represented the future kingdom of Grecia, which would eventually destroy the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. The angel told Daniel that the great horn of the goat represented the first prominent king of the Grecian empire which proved to be Alexander the Great. (Daniel 8:20,21) With this information in mind, let us consider the first thousand years (605 B.C. – A.D. 476) of the prophetic matrix that develops in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 2, 7 and 8
Daniel 11 Briefly Introduced
Notice how the layers are adding up. The matrix is becoming more inclusive. The ram in Daniel 8, the bear in Daniel 7, and the chest of silver in Daniel 2 represent the same entity, Medo-Persia! This matrix provides a solid footing for all of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation. God’s use of repetition and enlargement puts our prophetic faith on solid ground. While we are discussing the expansion and development of this matrix, let us jump forward to Daniel’s last vision, look at Chart 3.3, and add portions of Daniel 11 to the matrix.
Look at the top two rows on Chart 3.3. Now, review the words spoken to Daniel during the reign of Darius the Mede: “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases.” (Daniel 11:2,3) History confirms the rise of these four kings in Persia, and history confirms the overall progression of kingdoms presented in this matrix. God knows the future before it comes to pass and His Word cannot fail. The matrix in Chart 3.3 spans more than 1,000 years – from the rise of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar to the fall of civil Rome in A.D. 476. Even though the book of Daniel offers more detail than this matrix presently shows, a thousand years of history and prophecy should be sufficient to demonstrate that God’s matrix conforms to a specific architecture! Remember Rule One?
Daniel 2, 7, 8 and 11
Repetition and enlargement are indispensable to the study of prophecy. No prophecy in Daniel or Revelation tells a whole story within itself. In fact, neither book, Daniel nor Revelation, tells the whole story! The visions in both books interconnect and depend upon each other. Many Bible teachers today offer erroneous prophetic conclusions because they lift prophetic segments out of their context and this violates the rules found in the book of Daniel. Unless the Bible student has valid rules of interpretation, truth cannot be determined. The visions of Daniel and Revelation can be manipulated in an infinite number of wrong ways. Remember this: All of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation link to each other, and together they form one harmonious matrix.
The matrix teaches us two things: First, each prophetic element in Daniel can be tied to a specific time and location. Second, the intended meaning of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation is found after we align all of the elements within the prophecies. A puzzle is not solved until all of its pieces are in their right places. The events described in each prophecy are the nails that hold all of the layers together. When the prophetic matrix of Daniel and Revelation is aligned correctly, a marvelous prophetic picture unfolds. Understanding the big picture is important. The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are not limited to one nation or one church. Instead, the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation encompass all nations, kindred, tongues and people. God has a predetermined blueprint that affects everyone on Earth. All prophetic pieces fit together in an interlocking way so that every element in every prophecy is supported by the elements around it! This is similar to the arch over a castle’s doorway. Shaped stones support the span of the arch because the architectural design of the doorway keeps the arch intact. In a similar way, all of the prophecies in Daniel support each other through the architectural design embedded in Daniel. God designed this feature so that at the end of time, His people could have an accurate and comprehensive understanding of His plans. Of course, people who dismiss the importance of prophecy will not have a clue as to what is going on when the next prophetic event occurs.
Daniel Saw a Lion, Bear, Leopard and Terrible Beast
Now that we have examined the concept of a prophetic matrix in the book of Daniel, we need to investigate the details in Daniel 7 and notice how they fit within the big picture. This vision, as with all the visions in Daniel, contains few words, but is full of detail. This vision is highly important because it establishes a historical footing for several other visions. If this particular vision is misinterpreted, the intended meaning of Daniel or Revelation will be derailed.
As the vision begins, Daniel is looking over a great body of water. From his vantage point, he sees four strange beasts rising up out of the sea. These beasts are unusual in appearance because they have strange features added to their bodies. These strange features highlight specific characteristics that help to identify the empires they represent.
1. A lion with eagle wings
2. A bear with three ribs in its mouth
3. A leopard with four wings and four heads
4. A monster or terrible beast having ten horns
To simplify this vision and its explanation, I have divided the vision and my commentary into twelve parts. I hope you will read and reread each of these parts until all of the elements are easy to identify and understand.
Part One: Babylon
“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” (Daniel 7:1-4, KJV)
Comments on Part One:
Historians say the first year of Belshazzar was about 552 B.C. If so, this vision occurs about fifty years after the vision recorded in Daniel 2. Daniel saw four great beasts rise up from the sea and he was told these beasts represented four empires that would rise at their appointed time. (Daniel 7:15-16) The first beast to rise up was a lion, and it represents the empire of Babylon. Just as gold is the king of metals, so the lion is the king of beasts. The eagle’s wings indicate a military prowess that none can escape. The ancients regarded the eagle’s keen vision and its ability to swoop down on its prey as a fitting symbol of military power. (Deuteronomy 28:49) These characteristics, no doubt, prompted the founding fathers of the United States to use the Bald Eagle as a symbol of military power. As Daniel watched, the lion lost its power and ability to subdue nations. In this vision, the lion received a man’s heart, a heart that is subject to vanity, arrogance, and pride. This transition uniquely describes the arrogance of the kings of Babylon. God had to humiliate King Nebuchadnezzar by taking him from the throne and giving him the mind of an animal for seven years because of pride and arrogance. (Daniel 4) Unfortunately, subsequent kings of Babylon did not learn from Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation and Babylon ultimately fell because of arrogance and vanity. (Daniel 5:22)
Consider the words of Daniel to King Belshazzar on the last night of Babylon’s insolence: “O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. ‘This is the inscrip-tion that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel : You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres : Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’ “ (Daniel 5:18-28, NIV) The Bible leaves no wiggle room on the identity of the lion. Daniel 2:38 says the head of gold is Babylon, and Daniel 8 tells us the next kingdom after Babylon is that of the Medes and Persians. Therefore, the lion with a man’s heart is a perfect representation of Babylon, and history agrees.
Part Two: Medo-Persia
And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. (Daniel 7:5, KJV)
Comments on Part Two
Two features stand out about this ferocious bear. First, Daniel observed that one shoulder rose higher than the other. This feature corresponds with the fact that the Persians became the dominant side of the Medo-Persian empire. (An interesting parallel can be found in the metal man from Daniel 2. The chest of silver had two arms, suggesting this kingdom could have two armies.) Second, the three ribs represented the carcasses of Lydia, Egypt and Babylon. After the Medes and Persians subdued these three governments, they controlled the world. Isaiah foretold the rise of the Persians more than a hundred years before Cyrus was born. Notice this prophecy: “This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.” (Isaiah 45:1-4)
Part Three: Grecia
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. (Daniel 7:6, KJV)
Comments on Part Three
The third beast, the leopard, is a swift and cunning hunter that easily kills prey larger than itself. The leopard in this vision had four wings indicating its conquest would be incredibly swift. The leopard represented the kingdom of Grecia, the empire that swallowed up Medo-Persia. Historians marvel at the swiftness of Grecia’s first king, Alexander the Great. He conquered the Medo-Persian empire in a mere ten years! When considering the geographical scope of his conquests and the fact that he did this on horseback, there is no doubt that God empowered Alexander to accomplish this military feat. At the peak of his conquests and military prowess, Alexander died of “swamp fever” (probably malaria) at the age of 33. Interestingly, his offspring did not inherit his kingdom. It was eventually divided between his four leading generals: Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus. The four heads of the leopard represent these four kings.
Part Four: The Monster Beast
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. (Daniel 7:7,8, KJV)
Comments on Part Four
Historians generally agree that the Grecian empire ended with the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. With this victory, the Romans finally gained control of the world. The Roman military was known for its use of iron and its scorched-earth policy. Did you notice the fourth beast has teeth of iron? This metallic feature parallels the “legs of iron” mentioned in Daniel 2. Unlike King Nebuchadnezzar who took captives to Babylon and trained them for government service, the Romans took few prisoners. (True to form, when the Romans burned Jerusalem to the ground in A.D. 70, they took everything of value, but few prisoners.) The term, “the iron age,” accurately describes Rome’s extensive use of this metal. The Romans were skillful manufacturers of iron weapons. Their iron-clad warriors and chariots of iron were legendary. As a world empire, Rome endured for almost 650 years (168 B.C. to A.D. 476), but like its predecessors, Rome fell. After a series of civil wars within its borders, the empire crumbled during the last half of the fifth century A.D. As the Roman empire fractured, ten ethnic nations within the former empire rose to power. The ten horns of the fourth beast represent these ten nations. Daniel was told, “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from [within] this kingdom.” (Daniel 7:24, insertion mine) These tribal-nations have been generally identified as the Ostrogoths, Heruli, Franks, Vandals, Lombards, Visigoths, Suevi, Burgundians, Alamanni, and the Anglo-Saxons.
Many prophetic commentators claim the ten horns on the fourth beast represent ten nations that will belong to a future European Union. (Currently, fourteen nations belong to the EU.) This interpretation is faulty because it does not satisfy all of the prophetic specifications given in Daniel and Revelation about the ten horns. The ten horns cannot be ten nations of a future European Union for several reasons. These reasons will be explored in Part Nine of this chapter.
Even though Daniel observed four beasts in this vision, he was particularly distressed and awed by the fourth beast, because it was different than the other three beasts. As Daniel watched this monster beast, he noticed a little horn that began to grow out of its forehead. As it grew, the little horn became great and it uprooted three of the original ten horns by their roots. This little horn had eyes and a mouth that spoke very boastful things! Even though Daniel did not comprehend the vision, he became very alarmed as he watched the ferociousness of the little horn. He could see that it was grossly evil and it wielded absolute power for a period of time, but he did not know what it represented.
Part Five: The Thrones
I beheld till the thrones were cast down [arranged or set in place], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9,10, KJV, insertion mine)
Comments on Part Five
Suddenly, while Daniel was watching the antics of the little horn on Earth, his attention was directed to a glorious scene taking place in Heaven. Daniel saw several thrones (notice that the word is plural) arranged for a great convocation. The Aramaic word remah means “to place or arrange” or “to set up.” It can also mean “to throw,” as in throwing a ball. The KJV translators may have chosen to translate the words “thrones were cast down” because they were thinking that the thrones of the beasts were “thrown down” when the Ancient of Days took His seat. The Septuagint, or the LXX, as it is sometimes called, is a Greek version of the Old Testament translated by seventy-two Jewish scholars about 280 years before Jesus was born. The translators of the LXX converted the Aramaic word remah to the Greek word tithemi which means “to set up” or “to arrange or erect.” This Hebrew to Greek transition, translated two and a half centuries after Daniel’s death, is very helpful. The context of this passage also gives us some additional help. Therefore, it is not surprising that many Bible translations today reflect the Greek translation of the word remah. The result is that Daniel saw thrones arranged or put in place. According to Revelation 4 and 5 (which also describes this scene in Daniel 7), there are a total of twenty-five thrones. Twenty-four thrones encircle the throne of the Father. As Daniel watched this scene, he saw the Father come into the previously arranged courtroom and take His seat. (The title; “The Ancient of Days,” only occurs in Daniel 7 and it indicates the Father existed before time began.) A numberless multitude of angels rose to their feet as the Father entered the courtroom, and the Bible says, “The court was seated, and the books were opened.” What is this court scene all about? When does it occur? What books were opened? What does the court scene have to do with the terror caused by the little horn on Earth?
The Pre-Advent Judgment of Mankind
Reread Daniel 7:9,10 at the beginning of Part Five. God lifted Daniel’s eyes from Earth, while he was watching the little horn, to see something that would take place in Heaven’s courtroom. God showed Daniel the pre-Second Coming judgment of mankind. The seriousness and importance of this great convocation can be measured by the billions of angels in attendance. According to Revelation 4 and 5, the Father, the Son, the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders and billions of angels are all present. This convocation began in 1798, and one of the items on the agenda was the judgment of human beings. Before Jesus returns to Earth, He will judge the people of Earth and determine who will participate in His eternal kingdom. For reasons that will be presented later, this judgment began in 1844. Presently, this great convocation has been under way for more than 150 years! Can you imagine a meeting that has been in session for 150 years? Sure you can! Sessons of the United States Congress has been meeting for more than two hundred years, and Congress will continue to meet for as long as the United States exists!
Warning! Prerequisites needed: The pre-advent judgment scene described in Daniel 7:9,10 is a topic that requires a basic understanding of two Bible truths. First, you have to understand what the Bible says about the state of man in death. Therefore, I hope you have studied Chapter 13 in my companion volume, Jesus, The Alpha and The Omega. Second, the concept of a pre-advent judgment requires a basic understanding of the doctrine of parallel temples. This topic is covered in Chapters 11 and 12 of my companion volume. If you understand these two doctrines as I do, my comments about Daniel 7:9,10 will make a lot more sense.
The All Important Linkage
At first glance, the courtroom scene in Heaven seems out of context in a vision that concentrates on four beasts and the little horn power on Earth. God associated these disconnected elements in this vision to draw attention to their timing. In other words, the timing of certain events on Earth are associated with the timing of certain events in Heaven. As we will see, the timing of the wounding of the little horn power on Earth and Christ’s pre-advent judgment are inseparably linked together. Since we cannot see events occurring in Heaven, God associated the great convocation scene in Heaven with the wounding of the little horn power on Earth. This linkage enables students of prophecy to determine the timing of the Heavenly event. God is so clever! The rise and fall of empires are historically documented and the timing of the little horn’s wound is well documented. Therefore, we can date the convocation and judgment bar scene in Heaven, even though we cannot see into Heaven! God has linked prophetic events on Earth with prophetic events in Heaven. I like to call this linkage, “The Heaven-Earth-Linkage-Law.”
The Judgment Bar of Christ
Perhaps the easiest way to explain the pre-advent judgment process is with a short illustration. When Cain was born, an angel was given the responsibility to accurately record everything Cain knew, everything Cain said, everything Cain thought, and everything Cain did. (Perhaps the angel used a “heavenly camcorder.”) Because Heaven’s technology far exceeds paper and ink, the record of Cain’s life is all inclusive. In fact, Heaven’s record of every life is a true reflection of that life. (See Ecclesiastes 12:14, Malachi 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Psalm 34:15 and 2 Chronicles 16:9.)
Even before sin began, God ordained there would be a judgment bar imposed upon mankind to determine who will receive eternal life and who will receive eternal death. (Acts 17:31; 24:25; Ephesians 1:4,5; 2 Corinthians 5:10) Since Jesus is the Judge of mankind (John 5:22), He alone decides the fate of each person. Even though Jesus passes judgment upon each person, the process of judgment is closely studied by Heaven’s assembled host. The first man to die was Abel. So, let us assume for a moment that when the books of record were opened in 1844, Jesus began to investigate the recording of the first man to die. Because Abel’s eternal destiny will be determined from his life’s record, we can be sure the record of his life is perfect and complete. (Ecclesiastes 12:14) Before Jesus makes a determination on Abel, the attending host reviews Abel’s life on the equivalent of a big TV screen. Everyone hears Abel speak, and they see Abel’s motives and actions just as they happened. After the movie of Abel’s life ends, Jesus defends Abel’s faith in God before the assembly by highlighting Abel’s actions. (James 2:26) Given the evidence of Abel’s faith, and the stipulation that salvation comes through faith, Jesus declares Abel will be granted eternal life at the first resurrection, which occurs at the Second Coming, and the gavel comes down. (John 6:39-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) Eventually, the life of Cain comes up in the judgment process and it is given the same treatment. After reviewing the record of Cain on the big screen, let us assume that Jesus has no option but to condemn Cain for his faithless life, and Jesus justifiably sentences Cain to eternal death. (Revelation 22:15) This is a brief scenario explaining how the judgment of the dead is accomplished. (The judgment of the living occurs during the Great Tribulation. The living will be tested to see who will obey God and trust in Him. People who pass the test will be sealed with a nature free from sin. See Chapter 6 in my book, Jesus, The Alpha and The Omega.)
After Jesus has judged everyone on Earth, the Second Coming occurs. Jesus will appear in clouds of glory and will resurrect Abel and all those determined to be righteous. He will take them to Heaven at that time along with the righteous living who are translated without seeing death. (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17) Cain, however, will not be disturbed from his sleep at the Second Coming. In fact, billions of wicked people will sleep through the Second Coming. The wicked who are alive at the Second Coming will be destroyed by a command that comes out of Jesus’ mouth and they will sleep for the next thousand years. After the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 passes, Jesus will return to Earth with all the redeemed and He will resurrect Cain and all of the wicked so that they can face their Judge and receive their sentence for the wages of sin. The wicked will be put to death by execution. (Revelation 20:5,9) After the wicked are annihilated by fire, sin and sinners will be no more.
Following the Rules
Because this study on Daniel 7 conforms to the four rules discussed at the end of Chapter 1, a few words about the timing of verses 9 and 10 are necessary. First, the position of verses 9 and 10 within Daniel 7 is important. Even though the timing of the convocation scene described in verse 9 is not explicitly stated in Daniel, Rule One provides an important clue. The courtroom scene in Heaven (verse 9) has to occur after the little horn has uprooted three horns in verse 8, because verse 9 occurs chronologically after verse 8. Remember, events have to occur in the order they are given. Furthermore, the courtroom scene in verse 9 has to occur before the monster beast is burned in the fire in verse 11 (Second Coming) because verse 9 occurs chronologically before verse 11. In other words, if the little horn uproots the three horns by A.D. 532, the judgment scene has to occur after A.D. 532, but before the Second Coming, because the sequence of events within the vision requires it. Remember, Rule One states, “Each apocalyptic prophecy has a beginning and ending point in time and the events within the prophecy must occur in the order in which they are given.” This rule is demonstrated in Chart 3.4.
Part Six: The Little Horn
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” (Daniel 7:11,12, KJV)
Comments on Part Six
While watching the courtroom scene unfold in Heaven’s temple, Daniel’s view is redirected back to Earth because he hears great words (blasphemous words) coming from the little horn. The little horn in Daniel 7 is one of the seven heads in Revelation 13:1. Because verse 11 occurs after verse 10 (1844) the great words spoken by the little horn in verse 11 have to occur after 1844! Rule One says the events occur in the order in which they are given. So, the little horn power will be restored to a position of authority after its fall in 1798 and Revelation 13:1 confirms this! The healing of the deadly wound will be covered in more detail later. As Daniel watched the little horn on Earth, he saw the little horn and the monster beast destroyed in a lake of fire. (Daniel 7:11) This fiery destruction represents the fact that at the Second Coming, God will destroy the little horn as well as all of the beasts in Daniel 7. (See Daniel 2 and Revelation 19:20,21.)
The Sequence Ends
Daniel 7:12 marks the end of this apocalyptic sequence, but it is not the end of the vision. We know this apocalyptic sequence is ended because the chronological order of events ends. According to Rule One, an apocalyptic sequence has a beginning point in time and an ending point in time and the events occur in the order in which they are given. This apocalyptic sequence began with the lion (Babylon – 605 B.C.) and ends with the beasts being destroyed in a lake of fire at the Second Coming. (See also Revelation 19:20,21.) Even though we have come to the end of the apocalyptic sequence in Daniel 7, the vision given to Daniel has not ended. The vision continues with commentary and details that amplify our understanding of the apocalyptic sequence. Carefully study the sequence of events in Chart 3.4:
The Apocalyptic Sequence
Two observations should be made about Chart 3.4. First, look at the chronological order of the verses in the top row. For now, let us assume the courtroom scene described in verses 9 and 10 began in 1798. If we apply Rule One to this sequence of events, the boasting of the little horn in verse 11 has to occur after 1798 because verse 11 comes after verse 10. Indeed, according to Revelation 13:1-3, the boasting of the little horn in verse 11 will occur during the Great Tribulation. Second, verse 12 tells us that even though the other beasts lose their authority and dominion, they are not destroyed until the Second Coming. In other words, even though powerful kingdoms come and go, the descendants of these kingdoms remain on Earth until Jesus comes. Earth will not self-destruct before Jesus comes. Remember how the gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay were ground to powder at the same time. “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. . . .” (Daniel 2:35, italics mine) When Jesus returns to Earth, all of the wicked people of Earth will be annihilated by the sword (a verbal command) that comes out of His mouth, and the Antichrist and his government will be thrown into a lake of fire. (Revelation 19:15-21) This lake of fire is not to be confused with the fire that falls from Heaven at the end of the thousand years and purifies Earth. (Revelation 20:14,15)
Commentary by the Angel on the Vision
The commentary given to Daniel about verses 4 through 12 is crucial to our understanding of this vision. Before we examine the angel’s explanations, we need to consider how the third rule of interpretation applies to this vision. Rule Three states, “Apocalyptic language can be literal, symbolic or analogous. To reach the intended meaning of a prophecy, the student must consider: (a) the context; (b) the use of parallel language in the Bible and (c) relevant statements in the Bible that define that symbol if an element is thought to be symbolic.” We know the four beasts are symbols because Daniel was told the four beasts represent four kings (or kingdoms) that will appear on Earth. (Daniel 7:17) The Bible clearly defines the monster beast saying, “. . . The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on Earth. . . .” (Daniel 7:23) When God uses a symbol, He tells us the meaning of the symbol within its context. Since Rule Three addresses three types of language in apocalyptic prophecy, we have to test various possibilities until all the pieces “harmoniously come together” into their rightful places.
Part Seven: The Son of Man
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14, KJV)
Comments on Part Seven
Many people think these two verses occur after the Second Coming; however, this is not the case. Christ receives the kingdom of Earth from the Father before the Second Coming! This fact is confirmed in Revelation 11 and 19. Therefore, verses 11 and 12 break the chronological order of the sequence that began in verse 1 by reverting to an earlier date. Technically, because of this break in chronology, a new apocalyptic prophecy begins with verse 13, and it consists of two verses. Because this passage is so short, I prefer to say these two verses amplify the content of verses 9 and 10, because either way, the result is the same. Verse 13 tell us that Jesus approached the Father after the Ancient of Days took His seat in 1798.
The question, “Why did Jesus approach the Father?” cannot be answered from the details given in Daniel 7:13 and 14. No vision is complete within itself. However, the vision in Revelation 4-6 parallels this scene and John tells us more of the story. The first item of business at this great convocation is to find some worthy person who is qualified to bring the drama of sin to a successful conclusion. In John’s vision, an investigation is conducted throughout the whole universe to see who is worthy to do the job. Jesus alone is found worthy because Jesus meets the necessary criteria. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s law, a life free of sin. (1 Peter 2:22) He paid the penalty for sin with His own blood (Hebrews 9:15), and He demonstrated the depths of God’s love for mankind as no one else could do. (John 13:16; 10:30) No one else in all the universe meets these qualifications, and after being found worthy by the numberless host of angels, Jesus approached the Father to be coronated as King of kings and Lord of lords.
A fiery retinue of angels (Daniel says, “the clouds of Heaven”) escorted Jesus to the Father. The Father must have beamed as He bestowed upon His Son the authority and recognition necessary for the task at hand. This glorious scene is not the Second Coming. The Bible says that Jesus went before the Ancient of Days, but there is no indication that He came to Earth because this courtroom scene is conducted in Heaven’s temple! After He was found worthy by Heaven’s host, the Father gave every power and prerogative of God to Jesus and the Father stepped aside so that Jesus might resolve the greatest problem ever known to God: Sin. At this point in time (1798) the Father physically gave Jesus all that He had promised. The Earth became His inheritance. (See Hebrews 1:2.)
Jesus Exalted Again!
Some people have asked, “What do you mean when you say that Jesus went before the Father to receive all of the attributes of God.” “Hasn’t Jesus always had the attributes of God?” Yes, Jesus is co-eternal with the Father, and as God, He had all the attributes of God until sin began. A brief explanation of the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus is necessary.
When Adam and Eve sinned, Jesus generously offered to bear the penalty for sin on behalf of humanity. To receive man’s punishment, Jesus had to suffer the Second Death and die in our place, and even more, He had to give up His divine prerogatives and become subject to the Father and the requirements of the plan of salvation. The humiliation of Jesus should parallel the humiliation of sinners. When a person becomes a child of God through rebirth, he joyfully submits to the authority of God. While living in our shoes, Jesus had to live a life of perfect faith and dependance upon the Father in order to be a perfect sinless substitute for man. (Hebrews 5:7,8) On the day that Jesus surrendered Himself to the Father, Jesus became known as, “The Son of God.” The word “son” means “subjected one” or “one in submission.” In other words, Jesus – who is fully God, co-eternal with God and equal with the Father in every way (Philip-pians 2:6) – willingly became subject to the Father and the plan to save sinners. (Psalm 2:7-12) To save man, Jesus had to give up His divinity in order to die. When Jesus lived on Earth, He explained His subjection to the Father on numerous occasions by saying that He came to do His Father’s will – not His own. (John 6:38) Concerning His life, death and resurrection, Jesus said, “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:18, insertion mine)
From the day that Adam and Eve sinned until the day that Jesus was coronated (in 1798), Jesus was subject to the Father (as His Son) and to the terms and conditions set forth in the plan of salvation. When the time came to begin judging the inhabitants of Earth and exonerating the government of God against the lies of Lucifer, an investigation was conducted to see who was worthy to do such a work. Only Jesus was found worthy for the job, and the Father granted sovereign power to Jesus to conclude the drama of sin in whatever way Jesus deems best. Thus, the Father stepped aside after the coronation of the Son, and the Son took command of the universe. (Ephesians 1:9-23) Since 1798, Jesus has ruled over Heaven and Earth as King of kings and Lord of lords. At the end of sin’s drama, after Jesus has destroyed death itself, Jesus does something that boggles my mind. Notice Paul’s words: “Then the end will come, when he [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power [on Earth]. For he [Jesus] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he [the Father] has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he [Jesus] has done this [e.g., resolved the sin problem], then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”
(1 Corinthians 15:24-28) With these expansive issues in mind, notice how the coronation of Jesus fits into the apocalyptic sequence in Chart 3.5:
The Apocalyptic Sequence
Everything that Jesus “set aside” to redeem man was restored to Him at this convocation. The exaltation of Jesus in 1798 was based on His infinite love for man and His superior achievements on behalf of the Father and the plan of salvation. Therefore, Jesus was given everything the Father could give. Additionally, the Father gave Earth to Jesus as His personal inheritance in 1798. (Psalm
2:7-12; Hebrews 1:1,2)
Even though Daniel did not understand the promotion of Jesus, this awesome scene was embedded in this particular prophecy because of its timing. No one living on Earth in 1798 saw the exaltation of Jesus, but we can see into Heaven through the eye of prophetic faith. Few people understand the coronation of Jesus in 1798, not to mention the humiliation Jesus experienced to save the human race. Even though Jesus was coronated as King of kings at the beginning of the convocation in 1798, Jesus does not take possession of Earth until two additional events occur. First, Jesus has to determine who will live in His kingdom. This is the reason the judgment was set and books were opened. Second, Jesus will not inherit an Earth that groans under the curse of sin. Only after Jesus annihilates the wicked and purifies the Earth with fire, will He create a new Heaven and a new Earth. Earth will then become the headquarters of His kingdom. After being found worthy to receive the authority of the Father, Jesus began several processes in Heaven’s courtroom. He began breaking the seven seals, and after the third seal was broken, Jesus began to pass judgment upon humanity. (The seven seals will be presented in our study on Revelation 4-6.)
Notice Daniel 7:14 again: “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (KJV) This verse confuses a lot of people. How can Jesus be given complete dominion (or sovereign power, NIV) more than once? According to Webster, the word “sovereign” means “having all authority.” At face value this verse in Daniel 7 seems to contradict the words of Jesus in Matthew 28. Notice the following text: “Then Jesus came to them [His disciples] and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ “ (Matthew 28:18-20, insertion mine) How can Jesus say in Matthew 28 that He has all authority in Heaven and on Earth when Daniel 7 indicates that Jesus is given dominion (and sovereign authority) after the Ancient of Days takes His seat? The answer to this apparent conflict is found in the scope of authority.
On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus returned to Heaven, and with the help of His angels, drove Lucifer, the prince of this world, out of Heaven. (Revelation 12:7-9; John 12:31) Lucifer lost his seat as Earth’s governor at the table of God’s government. On the basis of His shed blood and the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16), Jesus physically removed Lucifer from Heaven and cast him to Earth. (Revelation 12:13) The kingdom that was stolen from Jesus by Lucifer (the deceitful prince of this world, John 12:31) was returned to Jesus by right of redemption. (John 16:33; Revelation 12:10) As the Crown Prince of Earth, Jesus has been Earth’s representative at the table of God’s government ever since Resurrection Sunday. After Jesus ascended to Heaven on that Sunday morning and cast Lucifer out, He was given authority over all matters in Heaven pertaining to Earth. Forty days later, at the time of His ascension, He declared this authority to His disciples in His parting words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.
Daniel saw an even higher exaltation of Jesus than the exaltation given on Resurrection Sunday. In 1798, Jesus was ceremoniously exalted to a position equal to that of the Father. Jesus was found worthy to receive power over all of God’s creation. The Father transferred His authority to Jesus so that Jesus could righteously conclude the sin problem. The Ancient of Days convened this convocation so that the actions of Jesus could be observed by all the angels. The Father wanted all the angels to know that Jesus was equal to the Father in every way. (John 5:23) Of course, the Son is not greater than the Father, but neither is the Father greater than the Son! Jesus was exalted before the angels and the elders because He did something that no one else in the universe could do. He paid the penalty of sin for man. After He was found worthy to take over the universe, He took the scroll sealed with seven seals. In His new role as Commander-In-Chief of the Universe, Jesus began the process of deciding who will participate in His kingdom. He also began a process that will fully vindicate the government of God against the false claims of Lucifer. At the end of the 1,000 years, everyone will behold that God is love, that God’s laws are righteous and His government is based on the principle of love. We have already examined 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, where Paul says that at the end of sin’s drama, an exalted Jesus will return all that the Father has given Him. Jesus will return the authority and throne to the Father because He wants to be free to live among this creation as one of us! What Gods of grace and love!
Part Eight: The Four Kingdoms
“I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” (Daniel 7:15-18, KJV)
Comments on Part Eight
Daniel wanted to know the meaning of everything he had seen, so he asked for an explanation. A nearby angel informed Daniel that these great beasts are four kingdoms. Some translations like the LXX say “four kingdoms” while others say “four kings.” But, verse 23 removes any doubt about the intended meaning because it says, “the fourth beast is the fourth kingdom that will appear on Earth.” Then, in the same breath, the angel asserts, “But, the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” The angel chose deliberate language to make this statement. The angel is emphasizing a profound point to those who suffer for their faith. This world was created for the children of God. Temporarily, the devil has gained control of Earth, BUT at an appointed time, there will be an end to sin and the devil. The saints will inherit the Earth. God has decreed it! (Matthew 5:5)
Part Nine: The Fourth Beast
“Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.” (Daniel 7:19,20, KJV)
Comments on Part Nine
Daniel wanted to know the truth about the fourth beast, the ten horns, and the little horn. If we are going to determine the truth about the fourth beast and the little horn, we must consider all of the specifications given to Daniel because the Bible is about to identify a world power that is corrupt and offensive in God’s sight. This is a good time to apply Rule Two which states, “A fulfilment of apocalyptic prophecy occurs when all of the specifications within that prophecy are met. This includes the order of events outlined in the prophecy.”
The truth that will unfold from this prophecy is neither pleasant nor politically correct. In fact, people have denied the truth about the fourth beast, the ten horns, and the little horn for centuries, because the truth is offensive. The actions of the little horn have been offensive to God for centuries! God is the author of prophecy, and people who love truth, regardless of what the truth says or where it leads, are the kind of people whom God loves. (John 4:23) Daniel provides a dozen specifications about the fourth beast, the ten horns, and the little horn that grew out of the fourth beast. Look at these specifications:
- The monster beast is the fourth world empire.
- The monster beast has unusual strength and it stomps its enemies.
- The monster beast is different; it has crushing teeth of iron.
- Out of the monster beast, ten horns (or kings/kingdoms) arise.
- After the ten horns appear, a little horn rises. As it rises to power, it uproots three of the original ten kings leaving a total of eight.
- As the little horn grows and becomes great, it exhibits the same fierce qualities of its parent, the monster beast.
- Eventually, the little horn dominates the other seven horns.
- The little horn blasphemes God by usurping His authority.
- The little horn wars against the saints of the Most High for a specified period of time.
- The little horn “thinks” it can change God’s times and laws.
- The little horn endures until the end of the world; in fact, it speaks boastfully during the time of the end.
- The monster beast and the little horn are burned in the fire at the Second Coming.
History allows no wiggle room regarding the identity of the monster beast. The fourth beast represents the empire of Rome, which followed the fall of Grecia in 168 B.C. History allows no wiggle room on the identity of the ten horns or the little horn power that came out of Rome. The ten horns represent the ten ethnic nations that caused the breakup of the Roman empire. The little horn represents the powerful entity that grew out of the empire of Rome, namely, the Roman Catholic Church.
History has faithfully documented the course of the Catholic Church through the centuries. The following is a brief summary of what happened to Christians as they moved farther and farther away from following God’s Word. The history of the Christian church is a parallel to that of ancient Israel. Both religious systems displaced God’s Word with manmade traditions and doctrines and ended up in apostasy. Many wonderful people can be found within Judaism and Catholicism. Both groups love God and their religion, and they faithfully adhere to their respective beliefs. Many Jews and Catholics have not had an opportunity or sufficient reason to consider the Protestant view of Church history. Even further, many Catholics have little or no knowledge concerning the origins of Church doctrines or teachings. Upon close examination, many Catholics are shocked to learn that many of their doctrines have no biblical basis or authority whatsoever.
The Monster Beast Is the Roman Empire
Protestants have identified the Roman Catholic Church as the little horn of Daniel 7 for more than 700 years. This conclusion was reached by comparing Scripture with history. History says Rome is the fourth kingdom from Babylon to appear on Earth. The prophetic matrix and abundant historical records indicate the lineage of kingdoms is Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia and Rome. History confirms that the fall of Rome is not like the fall of the other nations before it. For example, in Daniel 2 the head of gold is displaced by a different metal, the chest of silver. However, the legs of iron of the fourth kingdom are displaced by feet of iron and clay. Look at this transition from Daniel 7’s perspective. The lion is displaced by the leopard, but the monster beast is not displaced by another beast. Rome does not disappear like Babylon disappeared. Instead, the ten kings that brought down civil Rome in A.D. 476 grew out of the Roman empire. History says the ten horns pulled the Roman empire apart from within. Rome disintegrated into ten kingdoms, some of which were strong (like iron) and others which were breakable or weak (like clay).
Two Sets of Ten Horns
Many commentators teach that the ten horns of Daniel 7 are a future union of ten kings who are yet to rise out of a revived Roman empire (thought to be the European Union). This conclusion is contrary to several statements given in Scripture and the prophetic matrix. The prophetic matrix reveals the ten horns in Daniel 7 have come and gone, and history confirms the ten horns of Daniel 7 have come and gone! History also confirms the little horn ruled over the nations of Europe for 1,260 years before it was wounded in 1798.
Some people make the mistake of thinking the ten horns of Daniel 7 are the same ten horns found in Revelation 13 and 17! The ten horns in Daniel 7 appeared around A.D. 476 at the fall of the Roman empire, and three of the original ten horns were uprooted within 60 years of A.D. 476 by the Church of Rome over a religious dispute on the eternal co-existence of Jesus with the Father.
The ten horns in Revelation 13 and 17 have not yet appeared. They will appear during the very last days of Earth’s history and will be empowered for a very short time just before the Second Coming. (Revelation 17:12) There are two sets of ten horns in Bible prophecy, because there is an important parallel between them. The ten horns in Daniel 7 were reduced to seven horns after three were uprooted. Then, the little horn of Daniel 7 dominated the remaining seven horns as the eighth king. In Revelation13, there is a beast that rises out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns. This beast is not the Roman empire of Daniel 7, as some suppose. This beast will be a diverse world empire made up of seven heads (seven religious systems) and ten horns (ten political powers) during the Great Tribulation. When the devil appears on Earth masquerading as God, he will rule over the seven heads as an eighth king! (Revelation 17:11) The parallel here is obvious. The devil will rule with absolute power over the seven religious systems of the world just like the papacy (the little horn) ruled over the seven kings (the seven horns) it dominated. The devil will divide the Earth into ten sectors and he will appoint ten kings to rule as “puppet kings” of his kingdom. Daniel 2:44 says during the time of these kings, that is, the ten kings, the God of Heaven will set up His kingdom! Study Chart 3.6 and observe two things: First, notice that both kingdoms – the kingdom of the feet and the kingdom of the toes – have ten horns. Second, notice that the ten horns in the kingdom of the feet become seven horns, with the little horn ruling over them. Then notice the kingdom of the toes. During the kingdom of the [ten] toes, the Second Coming occurs while ten kings are ruling over Earth! (Daniel 2:44, Revelation 17:14)
Reviewing the Ten Horns
History identifies the ten horns that caused the disintegration of Rome as the kings of the Ostrogoths, Heruli, Franks, Vandals, Lombards, Visigoths, Suevi, Burgundians, Alamanni and the Anglo-Saxons. The infrastructure of the Roman empire finally fell in A.D. 476, because powerful warlords brought the emperor, Romulus, the Roman senate and the empire to an end. The city of Rome was sacked and burned. These warlords included Alaric the Goth, Attila the Hun, Genseric the Vandal, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, Odoacer, and others who contributed to the collapse of Rome. These kings originated within the ethnic nations that constituted the bulk of the Roman empire. Geographically, they came from northern Africa, Asia Minor, the Middle East and Europe. These warlords broke the iron fist of Caesar. A new order for world government came into existence after A.D. 476. During the centuries of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia and Rome, there had been one universal empire. After A.D. 476, the world was broken into diverse ethnic nations. When civil Rome fell, the distinction between the nations of the East and the nations of the West became separate and prominent. Perhaps the two legs and the two feet in Daniel 2 reflect the East-West division of Earth. Regardless, one simple fact from Daniel 2 has held true for the past 1,600 years: No man has been able to merge the world back into a single empire since A.D. 476. Would-be conquerors have tried and failed. Nations have come and gone. Some nations have become strong and others have become weak. The continual presence of weak nations is a sociological mystery because the law of the jungle mandates that only the strong survive.
The Ten Horns in Daniel 7 Are Not the Same As the Ten Horns in Revelation 13 and 17
Who Is the Little Horn?
According to Daniel 7, the little horn appears on the world stage after the ten horns rise to power, because the little horn power uproots three of the ten horns when it appears. Christianity, of course, began in Jerusalem at the time of Christ and was dispersed throughout the world by the Romans in A.D. 70 when they destroyed Jerusalem. The Christian Church in Rome started during the time of the apostle Paul, but grew to become a substantial political force by the beginning of the fourth century A.D. It was then that Constantine determined to make Christianity the defacto religion of the Roman empire. Constantine was not timid about giving his religious views the force of law. According to Daniel 7, the little horn power would start small, but would grow and become stronger than any of the kingdoms represented by the remaining horns! The timing in this vision is important: After Rome was broken up by the ten horns, the Church of Rome rose to power and, in so doing, it had to uproot three nations to consolidate its dominion over a new Holy Roman Empire.
The church was instrumental in uprooting the Ostrogoths, Vandals and Heruli, three of the original ten nations, for religious and political reasons. These kingdoms were destroyed because of a long-standing theological dispute over the deity of Christ. This dispute is well documented in history and is called the Arian Controversy. Arius, a theologian from Alexandria, Egypt, taught that Jesus was not co-eternal and not equal with the Father. The church at Rome countered Arius’ teachings by saying they were heresy and blasphemy, and a power struggle began. This particular controversy raged for about 200 years between Christians in Rome and Christians in Alexandria. Constantine called a general council at Nicaea in A.D. 325 to settle the conflict, but the dispute could not be resolved. Looking at the controversy from our vantage point today, the real issue was theological control. The real issue was not the deity of Christ, but who would define Christian doctrine – the Church in Rome or the Church in Alexandria. By A.D. 508, the Church in Rome had gained enough political support to silence the opposition in Alexandria. For political and religious reasons, Clovis, King of the Salian Franks, destroyed the Ostrogoths, Vandals and Heruli. When the Arian influence was eliminated, the Church in Rome established herself as the guardian and defender of the universal (or catholic) Christian faith. About 25 years after the victories of Clovis, Emperor Justinian consolidated supreme authority in the pope in matters of faith and religion. Justinian bequeathed the title, “Corrector of Heretics,” upon the pope in A.D. 533 even though the pope was not in a position to wield complete authority over the nations. However, just five years later in A.D. 538, after Belisarius (Justinian’s general) subdued Italy, the pope had the posture and dominion he sought. He ruled over the Christian church and Christian states with absolute power.
Little Horn Wages War on the Saints
According to Daniel 7, the little horn power had the same fierce qualities as its parent, the monster beast. It was predicted the little horn would become “stouter” than the other seven horns. It would have a “mouth” that spoke great words against the Most High and it would have “eyes” like a man. The mouth on the little horn indicates that the church would “speak;” that is, it would dictate orders (laws and rules) which people must obey if they wanted to receive eternal life. The church blackmailed the laity into obedience with the threat of excommunication. The eyes on the little horn indicated the church would have insight into matters which would allow it to “see” things that political rulers would not understand. In short, the little horn would be religious and it would use the power of religion to control the ways and thoughts of rulers. The power of religion uniquely made the little horn of Daniel 7 much stronger than all of the other horns put together.
In ancient times, religion attracted the best minds, much like science does today. Priests were considered God’s representatives on Earth, and whatever they said was “the Word of God.” When Justinian surrendered the state to the higher power of the church, the church became lord over the nations of Europe. The church approved, appointed and coronated the kings and queens of Europe. The church controlled political issues, as well as religious matters. The church manipulated its members out of fear of hell and eternal death. The church claimed that its priests had the authority to determine eternal life or eternal death, and since few Bibles were available, king and peasant alike believed whatever the priests said. There was no “approved” source of knowledge about God except through the church. In effect, the clergy of the church became God for 1,260 long years (A.D. 538-1798). History rightly calls this period, “The Dark Ages.”
The church became as determined and cruel in conquering her foes as she had been treated in her early years by Romans and Jews. To gain power and dominion, popes bribed people with forgiveness for all sins – past, present and future – if they were willing to fight for the expansion of the Holy Roman Empire. Millions of people perished in the crusades, which, ironically, were fought in the name of God. Popes ruled over Christianity with an iron fist for 1,260 years. The light of truth was extinguished, and religious freedom and the right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience were non-existent. For centuries, the church prohibited ownership of the Bible. The authority of the church knew no bounds. Kings, fearful of losing eternal life, could not overthrow the authority of the pope and his prelates, but as powerful as the church was, God predetermined a limit to the reign of terror. The church would receive an almost fatal wound in 1798.
Little Horn Persecutes Saints 1,260 Years
The angel said to Daniel, “And he [the little horn] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they [the saints] shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” (Daniel 7:25, KJV, insertions mine) This verse says so much. To appreciate the depths of apostasy to which the Christian church fell, the reader is encouraged to review the writings of reformers like Martin Luther and John Knox.
It should not surprise you to learn that the conflict between popes and protestors (the beginning of Protestantism) centered on the question of religious authority. The Roman Catholic Church claims that she alone possesses all authority from God in matters pertaining to salvation. This authority, the church claims, has been passed down to each pope from the apostle Peter. (Matthew 16:18,19) Historians on this time period say millions of protestors perished at the stake for disagreeing with the church over this point. (See also Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, written by John Foxe, 1516-1587) Protestors argued that everyone had the right to own a Bible and to determine what was truth. Protestants believed that obeying God according to the dictates of one’s conscience was a matter of personal choice. The following statements may help you to see the great chasm between Catholics and Protestants on matters pertaining to religious authority:
“That a person with no other equipment than a knowledge of the English language and a seventeenth century English translation of the Bible in his hands is qualified to decide all matters of eternal consequence for himself and the rest of mankind, is the ridiculous conclusion to which the principle of private judgment can finally be brought. In such a process, the countless generations of devout people who have lived and died according to other beliefs simply count for nothing. The centuries of thought and prayer that have gone into the interpretation of the Bible for all these generations likewise count for nothing.” [Some Bible Beliefs Have to Be Wrong!, Booklet #68, page 5, (1963), Imprimatur: Most Reverend John F. Whealon, Archbishop of Hartford, Knights of Columbus.]
“Since the Catholic Church holds that the Bible is not sufficient in itself, it naturally teaches that the Bible needs an interpreter. The reason the Catholic Church so teaches is twofold: first, because Christ established a living church to teach with His authority. He did not simply give His disciples a Bible, whole and entire, and tell them to go out and make copies of it for mass distribution and allow people to come to whatever interpretation they may. Second, the Bible itself states that it needs an interpreter. . . . The Holy Spirit was given to the Church by Jesus Christ, and it is exactly this same Spirit who protects the Church’s visible head, the Pope, and the teaching authority of the Church by never permitting him or it to lapse into error.” [Scripture Alone? 21 Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura, pages 21, 26, (1999), Joel Peters, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Il.]
“We teach and define it to be a dogma divinely revealed that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when acting in his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, by his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church through the divine assistance promised him in Blessed Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith and morals; and therefore such definitions of the said Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.” [The Papacy, Expression of God’s Love, page 29, (undated), Imprimatur: Most Reverend John J. Carberry, Archbishop of St. Louis, Knights of Columbus.]
These three statements summarize the bedrock of Catholic doctrine and they reflect the nonnegotiable themes that have divided Protestants from Catholics for more than 700 years.
Three and a Half Times
Daniel 7:25 also says the little horn would “wear out the saints of God (through persecution).” In fact, the Bible says “they [the saints] shall be given into his hand [e.g., the hand of the little horn] for a time, times and half a time!” (insertions mine) This single verse should cause every believer in a pre-tribulation rapture to think about his position, because this verse indicates that God Himself handed His saints over to the little horn to be persecuted for a prescribed length of time! If God subjected His saints to persecution in times past, why should the last generation expect to escape from the coming tribulation? Instead of delivering the saints from persecution, God did the opposite by handing His people over to the little horn for 1,260 years! Why would an all wise God do this? I can offer two possible reasons:
First, persecution keeps the saints on their knees and their focus on the Word of God. When life is easy, faith in God evaporates. Moses warned Israel: “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14) When we contrast the Church at Rome (the little horn) with the Church in the Wilderness (the persecuted saints), we clearly see what prosperity and persecution produces. Prosperity produces decadence. Persecution, on the other hand, pushes people into a life of dynamic faith, clinging to Jesus as their hope and salvation. Persecution made God’s Word extremely precious to the Church in the Wilderness. Many Bibles, or portions of the Bible, were laboriously copied by hand so that people could have the Word of God to study. Meanwhile, back in prosperous Rome, the Bible was not important. The Bible was chained to the walls of monasteries and libraries because the authority of the church rested in its clergy, not the Word of God! The Church in the Wilderness hungered for every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God, while the Church in Rome preferred the authority of the popes and priests who spoke boastful things. For the saints, a plain “thus saith the Lord” was more important than any papal bull. The saints loved and honored the Word of God and held it in much higher esteem than life itself. In summary, the persecution of God’s people kept the Word of God alive.
The second reason God handed His saints over to the little horn is this: Persecution keeps faith in Christ alive. This is ironic. The very circumstances that cause faith to grow are the very circumstances that human nature hates the most! The selfish desires of the carnal nature include pleasure, prosperity, power, unchallenged authority, limitless amounts of money, fame and respect. Faith during times of persecution means trusting God for survival of life itself. Furthermore, as the Holy Spirit led the saints into a greater understanding of truth, the Church in the Wilderness proceeded to follow God’s Word without regard for social and financial consequences. This is the essence of faith – obeying God at any cost. When the Church in Rome rose to power, the word, “faith,” was changed. Faith came to mean a religious view, not a religious experience. Even today, people typically ask, “What faith do you belong to?” So, the second reason God wisely gave the saints over to persecution was to keep faith in Jesus alive!
What Is a Time?
We do not need to review the atrocities of the Roman Catholic Church or those of her enemies during centuries past. (Historians have devoted thousands of pages to this topic and these works can be found in public libraries.) However, we do need to consider a specification about the Roman Catholic Church that is profound. Daniel 7:25 says the saints would be given over to the little horn for a time, times and half a time. According to Rule Four, this time-period amounts to 1,260 years in length. It began in A.D. 538 and ended in 1798.
You may recall that, until the sixteenth century A.D., men believed the Earth stood still and the Sun orbited our planet. For purposes of computing time, the ancients used 360 degrees of arc to represent a completed circle or cycle of the Sun. The Jews did not count a year as 365 days because the number of days in their year is either 354 or 384. God gave Israel a solar/lunar calendar to measure time and the cycles of the Sun and Moon determine the number of days in a year. (Exodus 12) Since the Sun moves about one degree of arc per day in a year, the use of 360 degrees of arc (the number of degrees in a circle) to represent the length of a year was a practical method for measuring “a time.” This type of averaging was also done for the length of a month. Even though a month is actually 29.53 days, the ancients counted a month (or a moon) as 30 days for purposes of calculation.
The Aramaic word, ‘hiddan, translated “a time” in Daniel 7:25 (and used elsewhere in Daniel), refers to “a set time” or “a turning.” The word, ‘hiddan, indicates the beginning or turning of a year at its appointed time. Revelation 12:14 also contains the phrase “a time, times and a half a time,” and according to Revelation 12:6, this phrase represents 1,260 days. Some people question if the word “times” means two times or more than two times. First, Revelation 12 reveals that 1,260 days are “a time, times and half a time.” (Revelation 12:6,14) Second, at a minimum, the plural of “a time” is two times. If there are more than two times, the time period cannot be measured because no one knows how many times to count. Last, historical evidence confirms that God had 1,260 years in mind when He defined this time-period. The number of days in “a time, times and half a time” is determined by the following formula:
- One time of the Sun equals one circle of 360 degrees of arc.
- Two times of the Sun equals two circles of 360 degrees of arc or 720 degrees.
- Half a time equals half a circle or 180 degrees of arc.
- Total: 1,260 degrees of arc (360 + 720 + 180 = 1,260 degrees)
It is widely known that God gave the Jews a calendar in which a day of the week represents a year, e.g., a week of seven days equals seven years. (See Leviticus 25; Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5,6.) Many Bible students understand the 70 weeks mentioned in Daniel to be 490 years (that is, 70 weeks times seven days equals 490 days, and each day represents a year). Therefore, if God used the Jubilee Calendar to measure the 70 weeks in Daniel 9, then it is possible that He used the Jubilee Calendar to define the 1,260 days in Daniel 7 as 1,260 years. This is a good place to repeat Rule Four which states: “God reckons apocalyptic time in two ways: (a) a day for a year, and (b) as literal time. The presence or absence of the Jubilee calender determines how God reckons time.” Even though it is essential to understand the Jubilee Calendar when applying this rule, for now just consider this fact: History confirms the duration of the little horn’s power was 1,260 years – to the very month! The Roman Catholic Church persecuted the saints for 1,260 years. Even though Protestants in centuries past did not properly under-stand the operation of the Jubilee Calendar, they did conclude that history and prophecy are in perfect harmony, and many Protestants predicted a “wounding” of papal power prior to 1798. In short, Daniel was told the Roman Catholic Church would persecute God’s saints for 1,260 years – and history confirms this to be the case.
Part Ten: Fourth Beast and Little Horn
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and [a favorable] judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the king-dom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all king-doms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. (Daniel 7:21-23, KJV, insertion mine)
Comments on Part Ten
History leaves no wiggle room about the identity of the fourth beast or the little horn. The fourth beast is Rome and the little horn is the religious entity that grew out of Rome, the Roman Catholic Church. Daniel 7:25 does not explicitly say when the 1,260 years of perse-cution would begin or end. However, we can determine these dates with a brief review of history. The Bible says the little horn would prevail against the saints until the Ancient of Days took His seat in Heaven’s courtroom and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints! Remember the Heaven-Earth-Linkage-Law? Here’s how it works: When the Roman Catholic Church was removed from power so that it could no longer persecute the saints on Earth, we know the Ancient of Days had taken His seat in Heaven and pronounced judgment in their favor. In other words, God put a temporary restraining order on the Church of Rome! Daniel 7:20 aligns these two events for us, “the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came [to the convocation and took His seat]. . . .” (insertion mine) So, the Bible indicates the 1,260 years ended shortly after the Ancient of Days took His seat in verse 9. Historical records show that the power of the church was broken in February 1798.
Several prominent Protestants predicted the 1,260 years of papal dominion would end during the eighteenth century. Writers such as Thomas Parker, 1646; Increase Mather, President of Harvard University, 1723; William Burnet, 1724; Richard Clark, 1759, and others anticipated the Roman church would collapse before year 1800 arrived. Sure enough, French Generals Berthier and Waller fulfilled this specification of prophecy during the French Revolution. They captured the pope and put him in exile in February 1798. By counting backwards from 1798, we arrive at year A.D. 538 which is the date that papal dominion began. (Remember Justinian’s decree in A.D. 533 and the victory of Belisarious over the Italians in A.D. 538?) This timing is not coincidence. Clearly, God measures a time, a times and half a time in Daniel 7 as 1,260 days using the day-for-a-year principle, and God emphasizes this time-period again in Revelation 12! The wounding of the papacy occurred at the end of 1,260 years when judgment was pronounced in favor of the Church in the Wilderness. With God, timing is everything.
There Is More to the Story
This is not the end of the story for the little horn of Daniel 7. The Bible predicts the little horn will return to power in the future. Revelation 13 indicates that one of the seven heads, the head that received a deadly wound, will be healed. Also, do not forget, Daniel heard boastful words coming from the little horn after viewing the courtroom scene in Heaven. Daniel 7 predicts the Catholic Church will return to a position of great power. This will climax when the Great Tribulation begins. Watch for it. The Roman church will lead a coalition of the world’s religions in persecuting the saints of God! Notice how these verses predict a return to power: “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until [A] the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and [B] the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:21,22, KJV, insertions mine) I have inserted “A” and “B” in these verses because Daniel indicates there are two persecutions of the saints. The first persecution, “A,” lasted 1,260 years (a time, times and half a time) and it ended in 1798. The second persecution, “B,” lasts for 42 months and it ends with the 1,290th day of the Great Tribulation. (See Revelation 13:1-8) No wonder the angel reminded Daniel that the saints are going to possess the kingdom! The course of human history indicates that the saints are always under attack. So, keep this promise in your mind and do not forget it, no matter how discouraging circumstances may appear in days ahead: The saints will inherit the Earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Part Eleven: The Little Horn Power
“And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” (Daniel 7:24,25, KJV)
Comments on Part Eleven
To make sense of this prophecy, we have already discussed the specifications given in these verses. However, one specification has not been covered. Daniel was told the little horn power would “think” to change times and laws. This language describes how the little horn would blaspheme God. The little horn would presume (or think it has authority) to displace the laws of God with its own laws! In A.D. 787, at the Second Nicean Council, Catholic leaders removed the second commandment from the Ten Commandments, and the tenth commandment was divided into two separate commandments so that ten would remain. The reason for this change was to reduce questions about the use of images or icons in worship. In addition to this, church leaders reduced the fourth commandment to just a few words so the laity would not raise questions about which day of the week was God’s holy day. Compare the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) as written in a Catholic Bible with the Catholic Catechism and notice these blatant deviations.
The “Anti” Christ
For almost 700 years, Protestants have claimed the Roman Catholic Church is the little horn power of Daniel 7. Even though there is growing debate within Protestantism today as to who the little horn power is, if we use valid rules of interpretation, the chronological and historical harmony of Daniel 7 leaves no room for doubt. The tragic point in this prophecy is that Satan succeeded. He was able to corrupt the Christian church so that it eventually became “anti” Christ. In fact, the war cry of Protestantism through centuries past is that the Roman Catholic Church is the beast, the Antichrist, the great whore, etc. These claims are false. The Bible says all religions are “anti” Christ. The Moslem is no less anti-Christ than the Jew, Hindu or Catholic! Revelation teaches that all of the religious systems of the world are corrupt because the devil has infiltrated them. The devil is the original antichrist, and Revelation’s story climaxes with a powerful contest between a physical Jesus and a physical Lucifer. The devil is very clever and he transformed the institution that Jesus established to save souls into a machine for torturing the people of God! Some researchers have estimated that the Catholic Church killed some fifty million people during its millennial reign for refusing to receive its doctrines. During those dark centuries, the devil was overjoyed – he loves to see people suffering in the name of God. The devil hates God and does everything possible to ruin the work of God on Earth.
Part Twelve: The Last Kingdom
“But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.” (Daniel 7:26-28, KJV)
Comments on Part Twelve
This vision brought Daniel indescribable agony. The Lord revealed to Daniel that the saints would inherit the Earth, but he became ill when he saw the travail of the ages that must first occur. The angel closed this vision, reminding Daniel that the judgment would sit, and Jesus will ultimately remove the dominion of the little horn, destroying it with fire. Then, God will give the kingdom to the saints forever and ever!
This chapter has been lengthy because there are many important details in Daniel 7. Remember, if Daniel 7 is not interpreted correctly, the remainder of Daniel’s prophecies, as well as Revelation’s prophecies, will not make much sense, nor will they align properly within the matrix that history confirms. God tells us many important things in Daniel 7 and if we fail to organize these pieces correctly, our prophetic conclusions in other areas of Daniel and Revelation will miss the mark. In conclusion, we can summarize Daniel 7 with the following seven thoughts:
- Daniel 7 harmoniously builds upon the progression of nations described in Daniel 2.
- The sequential order of apocalyptic events forms a historical matrix.
- Daniel 7 and history leave no wiggle room on the identity of the fourth beast or the little horn.
- The wounding of the little horn is directly connected to the timing of the courtroom scene in Heaven.
- The little horn will eventually return to power and speak boastful words against God.
- At the appointed time, Jesus was exalted and given sovereign authority over the universe and He has been judging the dead to determine who will participate in His coming kingdom.
- God is sovereign over the kings of Earth. He sets up kings and takes them down.
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