Bible Book of Daniel, Part 5 - Chapter 7

We are now into the second half of the book relating to future prophecies, and the first one that Daniel himself receives. It sounds like he had both a dream (something seen when asleep) and vision (when you’re awake), which he immediately records:

“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 7:1

Here is a video overview of this study of chapter eight:

The first part of the dream has four basic symbols, before launching into a second heavenly section and ending with an interpretation. These four symbols are:

1. Sea – representing a group of people and nations
2. Winds – representing strife, warfare, and political turmoil amongst people
3. Beasts – representing different kingdoms, powers, and stages of people throughout history
4. Horns – representing more specific powers as kings

As mentioned in part one, these symbols help de-code the hidden meaning, with the full Symbols Check List available here. Plus, it is worth noting how the beasts and horns are specifically interpreted later on in this chapter itself:

“These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth” – Daniel 7:17

“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.” – Daniel 7:24

The Meaning of the First Part

beasts four display daniel 7 sharedfishIn short, Daniel has this dream/vision of four winds of heaven stirring up a great sea of people, causing four different kingdoms to arrive as beasts from the water.

The last beast then has a series of horns to outline what specific kings and powers actually reign at this time.

Most scholars agree that these match the different metals in the earlier dream from Nebuchadnezzar of a statue in chapter two, although with some assuming different nations and times. However, when you interpret the additional details of the last one through horns, then there are differences that emerge.

It appears as if this previous overview of earthly kingdoms overtime is being emphasised by God from a different perspective through animals, whilst also providing further details of the last one.

This is taking the Historicism perspective, as mentioned in part one, which previous Reformers believed in.

Before we go into these, there are two more points to note.

Firstly, there is a logical progression from one kingdom to another over time, however, with previous ones still lingering and having an influence afterwards (and also reflected in the beasts of Revelation).

“As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” – Daniel 7:12

Secondly, when summarising what each beast kingdom means, we also need to look at the end of the chapter, when an interpretation comes through an angelic being, in order to provide more detail.

These are all substantial spiritual revelations that troubled Daniel:

“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.” – Daniel 7:15-16

The Four Beasts

On a practical note, we’ll start in the middle of the display towards the left-hand side to start visualising these four different beasts. We’ll work downwards over time, which matches the statue from chapter two on the left-hand side.

1. Lion

beasts lion daniel 7 sharedfishThe first beast was a lion with a difference – eagle-like wings on the back:

“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,” – Daniel 7:4(a)

Babylon has been compared to a lion, a sign of power and prestige during this era, and matching the gold-grandness on the statue’s metal in chapter two. This was of course already in existence at this time.

The British Museum has also discovered archaeological remains of lions with eagle’s wings attached from the Babylonian era; these wings signifying the swift world conquer of the Babylonians.

It then stands up like a man, and specifically has a man’s heart – matching the one-person control of King Nebuchadnezzar, and his humbled heart during his conversion in chapter four:

“…and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.” – Daniel 7:4(b).

2. Bear

beasts bear daniel 7 sharedfishNext up is a bear with an uneven side:

“And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side,” – Daniel 7:5(a)

This reflects the two powers making up the Medo-Persian kingdom following Babylon, with Cyrus the Persian being the more powerful and therefore higher-side of the bear than the Darius-of-Mede side.

You then have mention of three ribs in the mouth of the bear, clearly in a war-making mood:

“…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(b)

This matches Cyrus's three victories over different parts of the world – Lydia in 546 BC, Babylon of course in 539 BC, and Egypt in 535 BC.

3. Leopard

beasts leopard daniel 7 sharedfishThis is a super-fast leopard with wings on the back matching the extraordinary speed and slickness of Alexander the Great conquering the World for Greece:

“After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl” – Daniel 7:6(a)

Then we have mention of four heads to this animal, which has dominion or control over things:

“…the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it” – Daniel 7:6(b)

This coincides with the way that the Greecian kingdom was divided four ways between Generals after the sudden death of Alexander:

· Cassander – took over Macedonia/Greece
· Lysimachus – took over Thrace/Bithynia
· Ptolemy – took over Egypt
· Selencus – took over Syria/Babylon

4. Dreadful Beast

beasts fourth daniel 7 sharedfishNow we come to the nasty beast – something clearly very different and more dreadful than all the others:

“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.” – Daniel 7:7

“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;” – Daniel 7:19

There are four specific features mentioned here:

1. It was diverse and different to the previous three beasts
2. It was very strong
3. It devoured and broke up the whole earth
4. It stamps God’s people, the residue, with its feet

There’s a clear reference to the Roman kingdom here with iron teeth matching the iron legs of the chapter two statue, and with strength and power as it devours.

The beast is specifically mentioned as having ten horns:

“…and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.” – Daniel 7:7(b)

This matches similar details of ten toes in the last iron/clay feet of the statue dream in chapter two.

This is a key new feature of this Roman kingdom that can be matched with the full of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD to the ten European regions after a successful final invasion of Germanic Barbaric tribes to Rome.

1. Visigoths
2. Burgundians
3. Anglo-Saxons (becoming England)
4. Alamanni (becoming Germany)
5. Suevi
6. Lombards
7. Franks (becoming France)
8. Heruli
9. Vandals
10. Ostrogoths (still Italy)

However, we then come to a game-changer reference to an eleventh horn cropping up:

“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 7:8

“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.” – Daniel 7:24

It might only be a little thing, but it certainly has a huge impact by removing three of the ten horns and then affecting God’s people.

Interpreting the Little Horn

beasts horns daniel 7 sharedfishThis shocked me when I first realised what the meaning of this 'little horn' was.

Mainstream Christianity nowadays ignores this detail or assumes it’s something that either appears in the future or has already been in the past.

I realised what the great Reformers understood this to mean and that the prophecies in Daniel are more applicable to us now than we realise.

However, the true test, of course, is what God reveals to us in scripture.

Therefore, after going through how this eleventh ‘little horn’ is described both at the beginning and end of this chapter, we’ll form a clear summary of what this is identifying.

But before we go into details about this little horn, it is essential to realise that this is warning us about a kingdom against God, not necessarily individuals within that kingdom.

So, you will still have genuine believers and followers of Christ in this or any system. This is about God revealing to His people the truth of wider matters, in order to prepare them for His Second Coming and Kingdom.

There is a post here of how I understood this better through the analogy of coffee shop Baristas.

Getting back to the little horn, here are ten key features from various verses in this chapter. This is primarily what this horn itself is described as, but also reflects the wider fourth beast which this little horn is now leading.

1. It comes from the Roman kingdom; the generic fourth iron metal in chapter two, and awful beast here in chapter seven.

“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. 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.” – Daniel 7:23-24

2. It comes after the ten horns, which must be sometime after 476 AD when the kingdom split into ten European nations at the fall of the Western Roman Empire (see Part four on chapter two):

“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.” – Daniel 7:24

3. It emerges from and eliminates three of the ten horns and kingdoms, and then subdues, plucks up, and eliminates them:

“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:” – Daniel 7:8(a)

“And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell;” – Daniel 2:20

“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.” – Daniel 7:24

4. It starts off a small horn, but then grows into a powerful world influence through the whole beast:

“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” – Daniel 7:23

5. It lasts until the end of time when judgement comes, and Christ returns with His Kingdom:

“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. – Daniel 7:21-22

“But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” – Daniel 7:26

6. It involves a person, with reference to a man’s eyes and mouth in the little horn.

“and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” – Daniel 7:8(b)

“…even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things…” – Daniel 7:20

7. The little horn speaks great words against God, which causes the downfall of the whole beast.

“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.” – Daniel 7:11

“And he shall speak great words against the most High,…” – Daniel 7:25(a)

“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 7:8

8. It is a new horn that is different, diverse, and more stout than the other ten:

“even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.” – Daniel 7:20

“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.” – Daniel 7:24

9. It tries to change timings and laws:

“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:” – Daniel 7:25

10. It makes war against God’s people, and the beast tramples them under its feet for a set time:

“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.” – Daniel 7:7

Looking at this last point, you can now see why there is so much emphasis on a little horn and dreadful beast – they will attack God’s people:

“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;” – Daniel 7:21

And they will succeed at this, and wear them out.

“and shall wear out the saints of the most High…and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” – Daniel 7:25

“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.” – Daniel 7:11

We are then given a specific time frame in which the little horn and dreadful beast will attack and subdue God’s people right up to when judgement comes to put a stop to this, and Christ receives the Kingdom for His people:

This period of time, times, and the dividing of time (basically half a time) is mentioned which we can take as meaning 1,260 years to us in reality through the following three stages.

This is the first of many specific time periods that God communicates in these prophecies that follow the same pattern.

Scholars do generally accept this principle, although not necessarily for this time period, which applies a ‘day year’ principle that the Historicist perspective uses (as on the Symbols Check List).

The three stages are:

1. ‘Time’ means a year. Therefore time (one), plus times (two), plus dividing of time (half) equals three and a half years.

2. ‘Years’, still in the symbols sense, have 360 days in them according to the Jewish calendar, not 365 as per our modern ones. Therefore 360 times three and a half years total 1,260 days in the symbol sense for this whole period.

3. ‘Days’ in the symbol sense means ‘years’ in the literal sense using the ‘day year’ principle. Therefore, 1,260 days is meant to mean 1,260 years in reality.

As a quick sanity check, there are other references to 1,260 days in the book of Revelation and also the final chapter of Daniel.

Therefore, this is where we bring in a separate timeline of 1,260 years into the Daniel display.1260 time line sharedfish

 

Who the Little Horn is

This ‘little horn’ also links to the ‘anti-Christ’ in Revelation and Paul in the New Testament (the ‘anti’ doesn’t mean against, but more in place of Christ), and a key feature that God is warning us about.

Now we have ten clear scriptural features of this little horn, we need to identify what God is actually warning us about. A summary statement combining all ten features is:

“It’s from the Roman Kingdom, after 476 AD and the formation of Europe, and destroys 3 other kingdoms/regions, turns into a worldwide influence until the end of time, has a central human figure, speaks against God, is different to other kingdoms, tries to change times and laws, and attacks God’s people for 1,260 years”

Going back to the four main perspectives of interpretation of prophecy in part one, Futurism believes this will happen in the future. Some little-horn, anti-christ figure will come up against God’s people, probably in the land of Israel.

Idealists say it’s a general principle against God’s kingdom applicable all of the time.

Preterists say this little horn has already been and gone, a popular example being King Antiochus Epiphanes who died in 64 BC who hated the Jews and desecrated God’s temple for three and a half years (1,260 days) - there's a separate post here looking at this more closely.

However, this doesn’t match all the ten features above – for example, he did not come from Rome and the fourth beast (point 1), and hasn’t lasted until the Second Coming of Christ (point 5).

The Historicism perspective understands this to be happening progressively over time. Applying this, the Protestant Reformation from the start of the sixteenth century, which then shaped modern Christianity, understood this little horn as the Papacy, or as we now refer to, Roman Catholicism.

This can be a real shock when first discovered, and as mentioned earlier, it's important to remember that this is referring to the belief system within that kingdom not automatically individuals within it.

Plus, you will still, unfortunately, find inconsistencies and inaccuracies in other Christian denominations; it's this kingdom that God is specifically wanting us about.

Therefore, let’s stick with scripture, and see how the above ten key features of the little horn and dreadful beast that it leads, identify the Papacy:

1. It comes from the Roman kingdom, the generic fourth iron metal in chapter two, and awful beast here in chapter seven.

As the name states, Roman Catholicism originates from the fourth Roman pagan empire.

2. It comes after the ten horns, which must be sometime after 476 AD when the kingdom split into ten European nations at the fall of the Western Roman Empire (see Part four on chapter two):

Papal Rome did emerge as a new religious power from the Pagan state empire.

This was a gradual process after many centuries through local Bishops in cities across the Roman empire. After the influence of Constantine, Christendom was the main religion of Rome in 385 AD and the Edict of Thessalonica (more Roman history available here).

Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and separate European areas, the Bishop of Rome grows as an influential figure into the position of Pontifex Maximus and Pope.

3. It emerges from and eliminates three of the ten horns and kingdoms, and then subdues, plucks up, and eliminates them:

The last three of the regions above did not agree with this new empire-wide Christendom faith that was being pushed - the Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths.

Emporer Justinian, along with other law consolidation, decreed that the Bishop of Rome should have ultimate religious authority across the whole East & West Roman empire.

Although two of these three rebellious areas had been conquered (Heruli in 483 and Vandals in 534), it wasn't until 538 AD when the Ostrogoths were removed from Rome itself which they had invaded (and where the Pope is also based).

Therefore, this is the point when this 'little horn' had been given authority across the whole empire - and after the three rebellious horns had been subdued (further Roman history available here).

4. It starts off a small horn, but grows into a powerful world influence through the whole beast:

This small religious movement within the Roman empire has certainly now grown as the Roman Catholic church with worldwide influence, wealth, and power, both now and over the centuries.

5. It lasts until the end of time when judgement comes, and Christ returns with His Kingdom:

It still exists today as an active movement with no signs of slowing down before Christ returns.

6. It involved a person, with reference to a man’s eyes and mouth in the little horn.

The Pope, of course, heads up the movement, who has ultimate control and jurisdiction.

7. The little horn speaks great words against God; which causes the downfall of the whole beast.

Although upon first impressions, this might not appear to be the case, the core doctrinal beliefs within the Roman Catholic church are in fact against those of original protestant Christianity, as reformers like Martin Luthur revealed.

I hadn’t realised the severity of this until I looked further into it, with a separate post here on the ten core differences.

In short, true protestant Christianity believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, as revealed in His Word – all other things take away from this and are actually against Christ’s true position and sacrifice.

8. It is a new horn that is different, diverse, and was more stout than the other ten:

As a kingdom, Rome is different and harder than others, as seen in chapter two and this vision.

However, this little horn now brings in a new state/church mix different from the previous pure-pagan Roman kingdom.

Whilst previous ones were secular powers, this is now a religious one across the whole region.

9. It tries to change timings and laws:

Over the centuries the Roman Catholic church has instigated new calendars and timings and laws, including alleged changes to God’s Ten Commandments.

This is from the presumption that they have the authority to do so despite what God’s Word says.

10. It makes war against God’s people, and the beast tramples them under its feet for a set time:

beasts 538 daniel 7 sharedfishAlthough this is a hard truth to grasp, the reality is that Catholicism has wilfully killed and tortured tens of millions of Christian believers and protestants over the centuries, particularly through the middle dark ages (and pagan Rome was also against the early church in the first few centuries).

Regarding the specific period of 1,260 years of control, this new little-horn papacy-power can be said to begin from 538 AD as point three above when Emporer Justinian decreed full spiritual authority across the Roman empire to the Bishop of Rome.

beasts 1798 daniel 7 sharedfishTherefore, if we simply add 1,260 years to 538, we arrive at the year 1,798 AD.

This was when the Pope was actually taken captive by Alexander Berthier, the French General under Napoleon in the French Revolution, as they invaded the Vatican.

Therefore, this is the official end of the Papacy’s political rule during the middle dark ages, with Revelation then picking up how this beast symbol actually recovers from this via new means (it still remained of course as a religious entity).

At this point we’re going to put these dates at the beginning and end of the 1,260-year timeline on the display, and adjacent to the similar times in chapter two on the left:

beasts timeline daniel 7 sharedfish

Heavenly Judgement

Now let’s go back into the middle of the chapter and the second phase of Daniel’s vision and dream. He moves from the four earthly beasts to glimpse what’s happening in heaven.

We have a glorious picture of God Himself, the only one in the bible of God in human form, and described as the Ancient of Days on a great-wheeled throne:

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, 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.” – Daniel 9:7

We then have thousands and thousands, in actual fact, ten thousand and ten thousand, of what will be angels gathered around, and then a judgement scene with books:

“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 7:10

This judgement brings an end to the beasts and kingdoms on earth through rivers of flames, and in particular ending the great words of 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

This is the most descriptive scene in the whole Bible of a heavenly judgement with the end goal of justifying God’s people as a whole. In the New Testament Paul talks about God’s people having recorded at this Judgement Seat of Christ, and therefore being the first ones to receive judgement:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians 5:10

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” – 1 Peter 4:17

We then see the Son of Man – Jesus Christ – coming to God and receiving God’s ultimate kingdom, for His people to then inherit:

“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

From a timing perspective, this judgement takes place and has an effect after the little horn’s reign.

Therefore, practically this must be after the 1,260 years mentioned above and the year 1798.

“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” – Daniel 7:21-22

We, therefore, have a picture of a heavenly judgement back at the bottom of the display after the timeline:

beasts judgement daniel 7 sharedfish

There is then an amazing ending of people truly serving Christ – just like the stone from the mountain in chapter two’s vision smashing the statue of the earth’s kingdoms and taking over:

“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.”- Daniel 7:27

beasts 538 daniel 7 sharedfishThree Final Conclusions

Here is a final picture of the display to help visualise all that is happening in this chapter:

A lot of ground has been covered here with some revealing conclusions; therefore, here are three general take-away points to end with:

1. The four fundamental (and consecutive) kingdoms on earth leading to Christ’s Coming are first revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two with the statue metals. They are then re-iterated in this chapter in the form of four beasts – Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greece, and Roman.

2. There is now more detail about a ‘little horn’ leading the final fourth beast and causing issues against God’s people in this fourth Roman stage, which links with the iron-mixed-with-clay stage in chapter two’s statue.

Using the same Historicism principle of the great Reformers of old, this little horn's ten core features in this chapter identify the Papacy and Roman Catholicism as this kingdom actually against God’s people; however, this is identifying the system and beliefs of this kingdom, not the individuals within it.

3. God reveals how He will judge everything and everyone in heaven in order to bring an end to these worldly kingdoms, release and justify His people, and then prepare for Christ’s return and establishment of His kingdom – sometime after the year 1798 when the little horn’s influence ends.

Next, up is part six, covering Daniel’s next dream in chapter eight, which further develops things.

 beasts full daniel 7 sharedfish

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