There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work. We may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the papacy; but we should call attention to what the prophets and apostles have written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.[i]
When the books of Daniel and Revelation are better understood, believers will have an entirely different religious experience. They will be given such glimpses of the open gates of heaven that heart and mind will be impressed with the character that all must develop in order to realize the blessedness which is to be the reward of the pure in heart.[ii]
Beginning from this study, we would be doing an in-depth Bible study which would run for days on the seal of God and the mark of the beast. But in this present article, we would begin our study by looking at one of Bible most fascinating prophecies revealed to mankind in Daniel chapter 7. No diligent student, who with prayerful mind, after studying this chapter using line upon line method or proof text method, will leave without a true revelation of the Power of the Almighty God in the affairs of humanity. After the series of study in the next few days, the purpose is for all, who like me, are preparing for the revelation of the Son of God, to have a better understanding of the Power of God to deliver us from sin and to keep us from sinning until Christ appears in the cloud of glory to harvest His saints. We shall see the Gospel revealed in the Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation as we open the Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to us in a new and marvelous way.
THE RISE AND FALL OF KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD
“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.” Dan 7:1-3
The light that Daniel received direct from God was given especially for these last days. The visions he saw . . . are now in process of fulfillment, and all the events foretold will soon have come to pass.[iii] To Daniel was given a vision of fierce beasts, representing the powers of the earth.[iv]
In Daniel’s dream, we could see four winds of the heaven striving upon the great sea. In Bible prophecy, the great seas, mighty waters and rushing waters represent people, multitude of people, tongues and nations. “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Rev 17:15.
“Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.” Isa 17:12-13.
While the four winds that strove upon the sea, that is, upon the people or nations represents war, calamity, death and destruction from the four corners or quarters of the earth. “A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” Jer 25:31-33.
“The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.” Jer 49:34-36.
From the sea, in Daniel’s vision, came forth 4 beasts diverse [different] from one another. The beasts in Daniel 7:3 represent Kings, Kingdoms, powers of the earth and nations. “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.”Dan 7:17
THE FOUR KINGDOMS
Let’s see the descriptions of the four beasts or kingdoms.
“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.” Dan 7:4.
The Beast is a Lion having wings. His wings were plucked. The beast was lifted up, that is, exalted and was made to stand upon the feet as a man. He was later given the heart of man. To know this beast is to know what nation or kingdom, symbolized as lion, which broke Israel’s bones.
“Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.” Jer 50:17
It definitely was Assyria but Babylon. The reason being that, Babylon was the nation with the great eagle’s wings that broke Israel’s bones.
“And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar . . . Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon.” Eze 17:3, 12.
Babylon reigned for 68 years from 606 BC – 538 BC.
Medes and Persian Kingdom
“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.” Dan 7:5
This kingdom is depicted as a bear that raised himself up on one side. He has 3 ribs in between his teeth and he devours much flesh. Historically, Babylon was followed by the combined dominion of the Persian and Mede empires. Daniel 5:28-31; 6:1-3 also revealed to us how Babylon was conquered by Darius the Media. In Daniel chapter 2 verses 31-32, the Kingdom was represented by the images of silver breast and arms. While in chapter 8, it was represented by a two-horned ram. Just as we could see in verse 3 of chapter 8 that one of he horn was higher than the other, so the bear of Daniel 7:5 raised up itself on one side, meaning to raised up one dominion.
The Medes were at first more powerful than the Persians but afterward, the Persian become more powerful than the Medes to fulfill the prediction that “the higher came up last.” (8:3). The Medo-Persian ram was prophesied in Daniel 8:4 that it would push “westward, and northward, and southward” conquering three geographical locations of Lydia, Babylon and Egypt respectively. These three nations also represent the three ribs between the teeth of the bear in Daniel 7:5. The second kingdom, Medo-Persia reigned for 207 years from 538 BC – 331 BC.
“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.” Dan 7:6
Again, historically, Medo-persia was followed by Greece. This four winged beast correspond to the belly and thigh of brass on the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2: 31-32, and the goat of Daniel 8:5-8.
Unlike the first beast which has just two wings, the leopard has four wings. These wings give the connotation of his swiftness in addition to the speed associated to a leopard. A leopard is swifter and faster than a lion and a bear. The swiftness of this nation was identified in Daniel 8:5 as a goat which came from the “west on the face of the earth, and touched not the ground.” He came from the west showing that Europe was westward of Asia.
Historians made us to understand that Greece, under Alexander the Great, was good at catching their prey off guard because of the speed at which they moved. Alexander conquest was accomplished speedily. Alexander gave the final death blow to the Medo-Persian kingdom at the Battle of Arbela in 331 B.C. where Darius the third was defeated. The four wings of fowl and four heads of Daniel 7:6 correspond to the four horns Daniel 8:22 which represents “four kingdoms [nations]” that “shall stand up out of the nation [of Greece] but not in his power.” These four kingdoms represent the four divisions of the Greek empire.
“It is also remarkable to note that Alexander’s son, by Roxana, was named Alexander Aegus, or the son of the goat; and some of Alexander’s successors are represented on their coins with goat’s horns.”[v]
It was said by some historians that as Alexander was dying on his sick bed, his generals asked who was to take the kingdom and rule. Alexander’s reply was “to the strongest.” Through much fighting the kingdom was divided amongst the four remaining generals and hence the four heads. The decisive battle was the battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C. where Antigonus was killed and thus the four divisions as follows;
- Cassander-Macedonia and Greece.
2. Lysimachus – Thrace, parts of Asia, Hellespont and Bosporus in the north.
3. Ptolemy – Egypt, Libya, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria in the south.
4. Seleucus – Syria eastward.
The Grecian empire reigned from 331 B.C -168 B.C.
Rome the dreadful and strong Kingdom
“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.” Dan 7:7
This fourth kingdom after Greece is said to be dreadful, terrible and strong exceedingly. These characteristics reveal that the nation after Greece would be far stronger than every other nation before it. It is said to have greet iron teeth which was used to devour and brake in pieces “all the beasts that were before it.” He also stamped under his feet the residue that he was unable to destroy with his teeth. This beast is also diverse from every other beasts or nation before it.
What nation does this beast represent? It is none other than the Iron kingdom of Rome. One striking characteristic that corresponds to Daniel 2:40 is the Iron teeth which this beast has. In Daniel 2:40 we were told that the “fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breath in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.”
It is also said that this dreadful beast has 10 horns. These horns represent 10 kings or kingdoms or nations. “And the ten horns out of this kingdom [Rome] are ten kings that shall arise.” Daniel 7:24.
History has chronicled the fact that Western Rome was split into 10 divisions by 476 A.D. The last emperor, Romulus Augustus, moved the seat of power to the east, Constantinople. The ten divisions are as follows;
Ostrogoths (Italy but Exterminated), Franks (French), Alemanni (Germany), Heruli (Italy but Exterminated), Burgundians (Switzerland), Vandals (Northern African but Exterminated), Suevi (Portugal), Anglo-Saxons (English), Lombard (Italy), Visigoths (Spain).
The Little Horn Kingdom
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.” Dan 7:8.
Just as we noted above, three kingdoms were exterminated or “up rooted” by the little horn as he came up among the 10 nations that already existed. We were also told the meaning of Daniel 7:8 in verse 24 that this little horn that arises out of the 10 kings will not only be diverse from the rest of the 10 kingdom already in existence but “he shall subdue three kings” out of the 10 kings.
Historically, this little horn (king or power) was responsible for the extermination of Ostrogoths, Heruli and Vandals.
According to Wikipedia, the Vandal kingdom “collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–4, in which Justinian I managed to reconquer the province for the Eastern Roman Empire.”
The Heruli king Rodulph lost his kingdom to the Lombards at some point between 494 and 508. Most historian takes the year 493 AD as the year of extermination.
Ostrogoths were annihilated from history in 538 AD.
“The 3 horns were the Heruli, Vandals and the Ostrogoths. All three held to the doctrine of Arianism, (this teaches that Jesus is not “God” but that is in fact a created being, he came forth from the Father at some time in eternity past). These were vehemently opposed to the Papacy and were obstructing them from rising to full supremacy. Odoacer, king of the Heruli, took the throne of Italy in 476 A.D.”[vi] The other 7 nations still exist today and they are the nations of Europe.
From the above text, the little horn has some other identifying characteristics. These characteristics are not exhaustive but it will help us to lay foundation for our future studies:
- This little horn or little kingdom arises out of the fourth beast/Rome, vs. 8, 24.
- It arises after the 10 horns/10 divisions of western Rome, vs. 8, 24.
- As he arose he plucked up 3 horns by the roots/exterminated 3 kingdoms of western Rome, vs. 8, 24.
- Diverse, or different, from the others, vs. 24.
- Began little but became more stout, greater or more arrogant than his fellows, vs. 8, 20.
- Arises among the 10 horns/10 divisions of western Rome, vs. 8.
- Eyes like the eyes of man, speak great words, which is blasphemy against the Most High, vs. 8, 25.
- He would also think to change times and laws, vs. 25.
- The little horn seeks to wear out, that is persecutes the saints, vs. 25.
- The little horn would reign for a time, times, and the dividing/half a time, vs. 25.
So far, we have seen the characteristics of the little horn but we haven’t identified who specifically this little horn is. In our future studies we would identify the king, kingdom or nation that this little horn is representing. In part two we will talk about the composite beast of Revelation 13.
[i] Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 112
[ii] Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 114.
[iii]Ellen G. White, Letter 57, 1896.
[iv]Ellen G. White, Letter 32, 1899.
[v] Benson commentary on Daniel 8:5.
[vi] Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 4, chapter 36, pg 58.