Today: [Daniel 07] Who is the Little Horn of Daniel 7? In Daniel 7 the prophet receives a vision that echoes the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in ch. 2. He is shown 4 great world empires that encompass Babylon, the Medes and the Persians, Alexander the Great and Rome. He also sees a little horn with a mouth speaking great things who rises up and viciously persecutes the saints of God. There are those that believe the little horn was Nero. Others see figures like Hitler as a representation of the little horn. Whatever the case may be we are given in this chapter a prophetic timeline that speaks directly to the day that we now live in.
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[Dan 7:1-28 KJV] 1 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. 2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 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. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13 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. 14 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. 15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of [my] body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
Chapter 7 opens with Daniel experiencing visions in the night on his bed. In the scripture there is a differentiation between common dreams and night visions. Night visions speak of broad events in a corporate or often national context. Dreams are usually very personal applying to the dreamer himself. Night visions are almost exclusively experienced by those standing in the office of a prophet or those who are prophetic in spirit as to their placement in the body of Christ.
As to the timing of this dream, it is given in retrospect to the previous chapter, placing it in the reign of the now dead and last king of Babylon, Belshazzar. So, the occasion of the dream in this chapter predates the events of chapters 5 and 6. In reading particularly apocalyptic books of the bible it is important to remember they are not linear in their narratives. We see this in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel as well, with the timelines and events addressed taking place at diverse times and reported in a sporadic way in terms of timing in the books themselves. This makes them even more difficult to decipher when you realize they are speaking as well of events yet to come.
Daniel dreams and sees four winds blowing across a great sea. The sea is the sea of humanity. The four winds correspond to the four kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of in Daniel chapter 2. Those four kingdoms we know from history are:
Babylon (head of gold)
Medes and Persians (arms of silver)
Alexander the Great (belly of brass)
Rome (legs of iron)
As Daniel watches in the dream, four beasts come up out of the sea which also represent the four kingdoms in the king’s dream of the great image in Dan. 2.
Bear (Medes and Persians)
Leopard (Alexander the Great)
Beast with Iron Teeth (Rome)
In v. 4 we see that the lion kingdom (Babylon) was lifted up in pride but made to have a man’s heart. This was fulfilled in Dan. 4 when Nebuchadnezzar was made to grovel like an animal for 7 years in the wilderness, after which he humbled himself, admitting despite all the glory of his kingdom, that he was only a mere man.
In v. 5 the bear with three ribs in its mouth speaks of the Medes and the Persians, whose kingdom was still yet to come at the time that Daniel would have penned these words found in Daniel 7. The verse mentions that the bear raised itself up on one side – which speaks of the fact that it was a Medo-Persian alliance that formed this kingdom, but it was the Persian side of the alliance that brought this empire to world domination. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth speaks of the three great conquests of the Medo-Persian empire (the defeat of Egypt in 525, Babylon in 539, and Lydia in 546).
In verse the leopard with four wings represents the four great and swift conquests of Alexander the great, and the four heads correspond to the four divisions of Alexander’s empire between his generals after his death (Macedon and Greece, Thrace and Asia Minor, Syria, and the Holy Land and Egypt). This part of Daniel’s prediction more than any other causes his book to be held suspect by unbelievers not because it is inaccurate but because it is amazingly accurate.
In the matter of the fourth beast we come to the point in Daniel’s prophetic timeline that past meets future. The challenge for us in the prophecies of Daniel is identifying the point where events have already transpired and those which have yet to occur. In so doing we locate ourselves in the plan of God with respect to the nations. The fourth beast is a beast with iron teeth and this represents Rome. The ten horns it possesses and the little horn that comes up after are a matter for conjecture. Some hold that the ten horns were the ten Caesars from Julius to Vespaian and that the little horn was Nero. The three horns that the Nero horn would have supplanted were the 3 Caesars who lived and died while Nero was living, before he became ruler of the empire. On the other hand, if you contend that the ten horns point to our time, many believed that the ten horns were ten dominate nations in the European Union (or Common Market) that would see three of their member nations supplanted by a “little horn” anti-Christ figure. Which of these conjectures would be more accurate? Has the great beast with the iron teeth come and gone with the fall of Rome? Or is this pointing to a future time? The answer is “yes”!
Remember what John wrote in 1 John about the anti-Christ spirit:
[1Jo 4:3 KJV] 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
This tells us that there are many anti-Christs that have foreshadowed that anti-Christ that is to come. For instance, when verse 8 tells us that this little horn is given a mouth speaking great things we are reminded of Hitler and his ability through great oratory to deceive an entire nation and plunge the world into a devastating conflict. Nero was an anti-Christ as Hitler was likewise an anti-Christ – both a foreshadowing of anti-Christ to come who will be characterized by his immense communication skills. This also foreshadows for us the information age when it is not skill at arms that propels a leader to the world stage but his ability to establish and control a narrative that holds sway over the nations. The anti-Christ then we may conclude will be an outspoken populist Western leader. In fact, this ideal for leadership has dominated world politics since the days of Ronald Reagan, whose nickname was “the Great Communicator”.
In verse 9 we see that the anti-Christ figure will be in power when Jesus, as the Ancient of Days sits and brings all the nations of the world under His rule for a 1000 years of peace and plenty. At this time the beast with the little horn will be slain and destroyed by the flames of God’s righteous judgment. In the aftermath of this upheaval the kingdom of God and the dominion of God will be set up that will not pass away or be destroyed. Daniel sees all of this without full understanding and is greatly troubled.
16 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. 17 These great beasts, which are four, [are] four kings, [which] shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. 19 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; 20 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. 21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; 22 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. 23 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. 24 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. 25 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. 26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy [it] unto the end. 27 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. 28 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 experiences the vision of the four great beasts and approaches an angel that stands nearby. The watcher speaks and tells him that yes, in fact the great beasts are four kings which shall arise out of the earth, but that the saints shall usurp these kingdoms of men and take the kingdom even forever and forever. The character of this statement is not escapist in nature, as the manner of many rapture teachings are phrased by certain teachers. Whatever the rapture involves it is not a cessation of the church’s involvement in the earth but rather an escalation and a confrontation.
Daniel asks further about the fourth beast and the little horn, and instead of an explanation he is shown a further vision of the little horn waring against the saints and prevailing against them for a time until God Himself as the Ancient of Days comes and the saints are given judgment and rule over all the earth. The fourth beast and its description in v. 23-24 is not inconsistent with the rise of the Roman empire and the ascension of Nero to the seat of the emperor during the time of the first century church. Nero did indeed bring accusation against Christianity, even alleging that Christians cannibalized babies and were responsible for the burning of Rome. Yet even though in the fullness of time the emperor Constantine vindicated Christianity and made it the defacto state religion of the Roman empire, we do not see events correlating to the return of Christ or the establishing of an eternal theocratic rule, although in the Middle Ages this interpretation was applied to the Catholic church and to the popes, in their view.
We therefore look at the timeline between the leopard beast and the beast with the iron teeth as something that began to come to pass with the rise of the Roman empire, but has not fully been fulfilled because we see no major world empire come to destruction or a theocratic world government being set up after. We can however look closely at the little horn as an anti-Christ figure and bear in mind that the vision of this chapter does not address the toes of clay and iron in ch. 2 which speak of a world geopolitical system of mixed dictatorships and representative governments that will be dominate on the scene when the “rock (who is Christ) cut out of the mountain” strikes the image and brings an end to all human rule upon the earth.
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