|NOTES ON THE BEAST / KINGDOM WHICH WAS TO DESTROY THE JEWISH NATION|
W hen examining the prophecies in Daniel chapters four and seven, and the description of the succession of four kingdoms as given in those prophecies, it is nearly unanimously agreed upon that these four kingdoms are to be identified as first the Babylonian Kingdom, second the Greek Kingdom, third the Medo-Persian, and fourth, the Roman. While this identification is sound, it has led to inconsistencies and problems in interpretation. Therefore, the material contained on this chart takes a slightly modified identification of these kingdoms in order to avoid these problems, and provide a consistent interpretation across all prophecies.
The main source of the inconsistency lies in popular interpretation of the 'little horn' of Daniel 8. This horn is generally taken to be the second century BC king Antiochus Epiphanes who severely oprressed the Jewish Nation and defiled the temple in 168 BC, However, as pointed out by several commentators, the description of this 'little horn' does not seem to fit the acts of Antiochus Epiphanes. While Antiochus oppressed the Jewish nation for a short time, the 'little horn' of Daniel 8 was to throw down the sanctuary and destroy the Holy people. Furthermore, this horn was to stand up to the 'prince of princes'; a fitting title for Christ, but hardly something that could be accomplished in the second century BC.
In all of this, it would seem that the description of this 'little horn' much more aptly applies to ROME, than to Antiochus, for it was Rome that truly did throw down the Jewish temple, destroy the Jewish nation, and crucified our Lord. The reason most expositors apply this 'little horn' to Antiochus, rather than to Rome is because the horn was to arise out of one of the four division of Alexander the Great's empire; the Syrian division of the third, or Greek Empire.
In the 18th century, Isaac Newton and others showed that this interpretation is erroneous; that the 'little horn' arising out of one of the four divisions of the Greek Empire was the Macedonian which, being taken by the Romans the very same year that Antiochus defiled the Jewish Temple, became exceedingly great by conquering further towards the east, the south, and towards Israel which it eventually conquered in the first century BC. Thus the 'little horn' of Daniel 8 is in fact one of the division of the Greek Empire under the power of the Romans.
This fact becomes important when we attempt to interpret the various heads and horns as described on the Beasts seen in Daniel 7 and the Book of Revelation.
Identifying the Seven Heads and the Head that was to Destroy the Jewish Nation
The Seven Heads
10And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
The enigmatic language expressed by the verb tenses in these passages present certain cues to their proper interpretation, but will not be dealt with here. But for now suffice it to say that the language concerning the beast - that it 'was, and is not, and shall arise' is much more enigmatic in the original Greek than is the language concerning the seven heads of the beast - 'Five have fallen, one is, another has not yet come etc.' For this reason I will deal first with the identification of the seven heads as seven kings.
I perceive a serious weakness in the general historicist position on the identity of the seven heads/kings of this beast. These are usually identified as seven various forms of government or administration through which Rome passed. Historicist commentators are in general agreement with regard to the first five that had 'fallen' as:
5) Military Tribunes
There is also strong agreement on the identity of the sixth head, the 'one is' - this is identified as imperial Rome which was ruling the empire when John received the Revelation. There is no unanimity of agreement on the identity of the seventh head - the head that was 'to come and continue a short space'. Almost all agree that the eighth power, identified as 'the beast that was and is not... and is of the seven' (Rev 17:11), is the Papal power which ruled Rome after the collapse of the empire in the west. This would be illustrated as :
Frankly, I've never found this to be a very satisfying solution even though this has appeared on previously attempted timelines. First of all, these several forms of Roman administration are not well documented in history as far as I've ever been able to tell. In fact, it seems to me that the only place they are well documented is within the commentaries of historicists. It would seem to me that their identification would have to be much plainer as easily discernable historical fact.
Second, we are left with an enigma. We wind up with an exposition that leaves the harlot of Papal Rome riding on Papal Rome. Third we have the problem of widespread disagreement over the identification of the seventh head.
I believe that there is a much simpler solution which scripture itself provides, and although not without its own enigma, it turns out that the scriptures answer that as well. I call your attention to Daniel chapter 7 and the description of the various beasts given there. A passage which clearly has strong bearing on the visions given in Revelation.
Compare this with Revelation 13:1-2
Revelation 13:1–2 (KJV 1900)
1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Adding all the heads and horns of Daniel 7 we have exactly seven heads and ten horns. It seems obvious to me that when we read of 'seven heads and ten horns' throughout Revelation that this is how we are to understand them by comparing scripture with scripture. This seems so obvious to me now that I wonder why I missed it for so long.
But as I've stated, this is not without one enigma - namely that when we align this identification with the language of Revelation 17:10, the math doesn't seem to line up with history. To illustrate:
The problem here is that the above seems to be a contradiction so great that one might drop the connection between the seven heads and ten horns as described by Daniel 7 with those of Revelation 13 and 17. Surely it was the Roman beast which was in power in John's time and not the Greek. But given the strong connection and likeness of the descriptions between the various beasts, heads, and horns of the two chapters, I feel that such a conclusion would be much too hasty without very serious consideration about whether or not there may be something faulty in how we have assumed these heads have functioned in history.
Now the point of contention in the above is the identification of the power that was reigning in John's time when the angel explained that five heads had fallen, and that one was at the time in existence; the sixth head. If the connection between the seven heads of Revelation 13, 17 and Danie7 is true, then the explanation of this seeming difficulty must lie within the scriptures themselves without any contrivance or the twisting of historical facts to make them fit a preferred interpretation.
The logical question becomes; Does the Book of Daniel itself identify which of these heads would be in power during the first century A.D. ? Indeed it does, and it does so explicitly. The proper application is missed however, because firstly, the proper interpretation of the prophecy which contains the answer to this enigma is almost universally misapplied, and second, it forces us to apply some of the symbolism in a way which at first seems counter-intuitive to the way we understand history. I ask for your careful attention to and study of the following.
Daniel 8:5–12 (KJV 1900)
5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.
7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.
10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
12 And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
Daniel 8:19–24 (KJV 1900)
19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.
20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
These passages from Daniel 8 are almost universally applied to Antiochus Epiphanes who severely oppressed the Jewish people and desecrated the sanctuary around 168 B.C. But why are these words usually so applied? The destruction of the Jewish people, the casting down of the sanctuary, and the abomination of desolation all referenced in these passage are all applied by Jesus himself to the Romans and the foretold destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Matthew 24:2 (KJV 1900)
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Daniel 8:11 (KJV 1900)
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
Matthew 24:15 (KJV 1900)
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Daniel 8:13 (KJV 1900)
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
Mark this well; The fact is, the reason Daniel 8 is usually applied to Antiochus and not the Romans is because of the very same enigma that we've just encountered in Revelation 17! The reasoning is that the 'little horn' of Daniel 8 obviously sprang from one of the four divisions of the Greek Empire (Egypt, Syria, Macedonia, and Asia which are analogous to the four heads of the leopard in Daniel 7) and is therefore not connected to the Roman power. The standard interpretation takes the 'little horn' to be Antiochus Epiphanes who sprang from the Syrian division of the Greek Empire.
But this reasoning is completely faulty. I quote here from Isaac Newton in his work on Daniel and the Apocalypse:
This last horn is by some taken for Antiochus Epiphanes, but not very judiciously. A horn of a Beast is never taken for a single person: it always signifies a new kingdom, and the kingdom of Antiochus was an old one. Antiochus reigned over one of the four horns, and the little horn was a fifth under its proper kings. This horn was at first a little one, and waxed exceeding great, but so did not Antiochus. It is described great above all the former horns, and so was not Antiochus. His kingdom on the contrary was weak, and tributary to the Romans, and he did not enlarge it. The horn was a King of fierce countenance, and destroyed wonderfully, and prospered and practised; that is, he prospered in his practises against the holy people: but Antiochus was frighted out of Egypt by a mere message of the Romans, and afterwards routed and baffled by the Jews. The horn was mighty by another’s power, Antiochus acted by his own. The horn stood up against the Prince of the Host of heaven, the Prince of Princes; and this is the character not of Antiochus but of Antichrist. The horn cast down the Sanctuary to the ground, and so did not Antiochus; he left it standing. The Sanctuary and Host were trampled under foot 2300 days; and in Daniel’s Prophecies days are put for years: but the profanation of the Temple in the reign of Antiochus did not last for so many natural days. These were to last till the time of the end, till the last end of the indignation against the Jews; and this indignation is not yet at an end. They were to last till the Sanctuary which had been cast down should be cleansed, and the Sanctuary is not yet cleansed.
Now because this horn was a horn of the Goat, we are to look for it among the nations which composed the body of the Goat. Among those nations he was to rise up and grow mighty: he grew mighty towards the south, and towards the east, and towards the pleasant land [Chap. viii. 9.]; and therefore he was to rise up in the northwest parts of those nations, and extend his dominion towards Egypt, Syria and Judea. In the latter time of the kingdom of the four horns, it was to rise up out of one of them and subdue the rest, but not by its own power. It was to be assisted by a foreign power, a power superior to itself... And such a little horn was the kingdom of Macedonia, from the time that it became subject to the Romans. This kingdom, by the victory of the Romans over Perseus King of Macedonia, Anno Nabonass. 580, ceased to be one of the four horns of the Goat, and became a dominion of a new sort: not a horn of the fourth Beast, for Macedonia belonged to the body of the third; but a horn of the third Beast of a new sort, a horn of the Goat which grew mighty but not by his own power, a horn which rose up and grew potent under a foreign power, the power of the Romans
What I suggest is that Newton here has not only solved the enigma of Daniel chapter 8, that is, why a power which is described in language that is elsewhere attributed directly to the Romans is here described as springing from one of the four divisions of the Greek empire, but has also solved the riddle of Revelation 17 and its description of the seven heads.
Which power was it that would cast down the sanctuary (Dan 8:11)? Which power was it that would destroy the mighty and holy people (Dan 8:24)? Which power was it that would take away the daily sacrifice? It is evidently the Roman power, but herein lies the flaw in our thinking. We are accustomed to associate all these actions with the FOURTH beast of Daniel 7, but scripturally and prophetically speaking, the Bible attributes these actions to ONE OF THE FOUR HEADS OF THE THIRD BEAST.
In the same way that the 'little horn' on Daniel's fourth beast does not constitute a new beast, neither does the 'little horn' on the goat of Daniel 8 constitute a new beast. The power that was to destroy the sanctuary, destroy the Jewish nation, and cast down the temple is constituted in one of the heads of the THIRD BEAST which grew mighty under the power of a 'little horn'.
Note that this is not a novel or contrived interpretation but simply what the scriptures plainly teach. The description of the seven heads in Revelation 17 where we are told that 'Five are fallen, one is, etc.', confirms that this interpretation is correct. It is a flaw in our own understanding that primarily ascribes the destruction of the Jewish nation to Daniel's fourth beast (and thus the seventh head) which causes a perceived enigma that really isn't there at all.
We would then properly illustrate this as:
I would ask you to consider this application very seriously and also study the many varied, perplexing, and contradictory interpretations of the seven heads of Revelation 17. I feel that the explanation I'm offering is not only harmonious with the facts of history, but also allows for a very direct and straightforward reading of scripture. To me, the link between the description of 'seven heads and ten horns' in Revelation with those in Daniel 7 is very strong and the most natural way to interpret these passages.