The Beasts of Daniel 7.
The chapter in which these creatures appear is Daniel 7. But to understand the context, one must go back to Daniel 2 where a vision is given and an explanation of the meaning of a statue. It had a head of gold, chest of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Then a rock from heaven comes down and destroys the whole thing.
This statue represented 4 empires to come, beginning from Daniels time, each one superceding the one before, and the final to continue right down to the second coming of Christ, which the rock represents.
The first kingdom was Babylon. The second, Media – persia, the third Greece, and the fourth, Rome. Rome would continue till our day except in a different form. The iron on it’s own was pagan Rome, the mixture of iron and clay is papal Rome. So Rome continues to exist, but as a church/state union.
What happens in chapter 7 is the same pattern of empires but with much greater detail. A lion representing Babylon, a bear representing Media-Persia, a Leopard representing Greece, and a horrible indescribable beast representing Rome. Out of this last beast grows 10 horns, plus another which grew up among them, and displaces 3 of them.
Belshazzar ruled Babylon approx. 553 BC.to 539 BC. The prophecy re the predatory animals was given in his first year of reign.
The bear, the second animal to rise up, therefore represented whatever kingdom succeeded Babylon. The bear was pictured as rising up higher on one side, and had 3 ribs in it’s mouth. A corresponding prophecy in Daniel 8 enlarges on the theme, and gives even more detail The ram here is said to represent Media/Persia, and the horn on the ram had one side which grew up first, but the other side came up last and grew higher.
The empire was made up of two groups of people. The Medes came up first and Ahasuerus and then his son Darius were the first kings. It was Cyrus however who defeated Babylon in 539BC and he took full power later that year.Cyrus was the first of a line of Persian kings that ruled until Greece defeated them. The 3 ribs in the mouth of the bear represented the 3 major powers that were defeated by this Media/Persian empire, Egypt, Lydia, and Babylon.
The next animal was a leopard which had 4 heads. Alexander the Great
defeated the Persians at the battle of Arbela in the year 331 BC. Greece then became the ruling empire, and was represented by the leopard and the goat of Daniel 8. The leopards 4 heads represent 4 generals that took over from Alexander when he died at the age of 33. These 4 generals divided the empire up between them; they were Cassander, Seleucus, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus. The goat had at first one horn,(Alexander) but was broken and and four others came up in its stead. Thus the 4 horns and the 4 heads all are the same 4 generals who became kings of their own territories.
The 4th beast, Rome, appeared on the scene approx 150 BC. The 4th beast with its 10 horns and a little horn which grew great and destroyed 3 of the first horns, will be the focus of the next post. It is this beast, that remains a part of the world of politics until our day, and takes a major role in the near future.
So far, 3 beasts have been dealt with, and 3 empires identified. Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece. We saw how the 4 heads of the leopard in Daniel 7 and the 4 horns of the goat in Daniel 8 represented the break up of the Grecian empire into 4 distinct kingdoms under Alexander’s 4 generals who took over after his death.
Things get very interesting with the 4th beast. We are given much more detail, and our attention is drawn in particular to the “little horn” which grows from the head of this beast, as if God is wanting to focus our attention on this horn, reasons for which you will shortly understand.
Rome was never conquered by any succeeding empire as were the ones before. It slowly devolved as warring barbarian tribes from the north invaded it’s territories, but Rome has always continued to exist but in a different form. The ten horns on the beast are ten kingdoms which developed in the western hemisphere of the empire. One must also remember the ten toes of the statue in Daniel 2. Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Constantinople in the east, leaving the western portion more or less defenceless. It is the western part of the empire that the prophecy focuses on, because it was this part that had by far the greater influence on the church.
It must be remembered that this prophecy was written some 5oo years or more prior to the actual events. Daniel lived in the 6th century BC, these events took place beginning from his time, and continuing down through the ages to today, 2,500 years later. The horns of the 4th beast appeared on the scene around about the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and the “little horn” began developing in the 2nd century and grew to maturity becoming a power in its own right in the 6th century.
The ten horns represent kings and their respective kingdoms that would arise . Because the horns grow OUT of the beast, Rome, we must look WITHIN that empire in order to find them. We must not expect to find any powers to invade from outside the empire. Prophecy, even in these seemingly minor details is completely accurate.
Daniel 7:8 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…..
….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.
So what does history show us? The following is a list of ten barbarian tribes that carved out a land niche for their people toward the end of the Roman pagan rule in western Europe. There are 7 modern nations of Europe that descended from these people. 3 of the original 10 were destroyed.
ANGLO SAXONS….. ENGLAND
ALEMANNI …….. GERMANY
BURGUNDIANS …… SWITZERLAND
LOMBARDS ……. ITALY
SUEVI ……… PORTUGAL
HERULI ………. ROOTED UP
OSTROGOTHS ….. ROOTED UP
VANDALS ……. ROOTED UP
No trace nor descendant exists today of those tribes that were destroyed.
How then does history show how these 3 were destroyed?
3 kings, Alaric, Genseric, and Theodoric led these 3 nations. At a time when the Christian faith had become the official religion of the Roman empire, (although in a much compromised form) , these former pagan kings as one can well understand had some problems with the new faith. Several matters they disagreed with, the 2 main ones being the divinity of Christ and the authority of the bishop of Rome over the church. When Constantine left the Roman secular rule empty after taking the capital of the empire to Constantinople, the bishop of Rome took up the mantle and began to exercise secular authority over Rome as well as spiritual. Power went to their heads and it wasn’t long before the bishops there began calling themselves popes or pontifex maximus after the pagan rulers did before Christianity, but also claimed authority over all Christendom, outside of Rome as well.
This did not sit well with many, not only the barbarain tribes just mentioned, but also true believers in Christ who wanted nothing to do with politics and thought the church should be completely separate from the state. (An argument still going on to this day) These Christians were roundly persecuted by the state/church union, along with Jews, and non-Christians alike.
The 3 tribes were a constant thorn in the side of Rome, and had to be dealt with before the popes could claim complete sovereignty as the Ostrogoths in particular, occupied Rome itself and the bishops ruled only through tolerance.
The Catholic emperor Zeno arranged a treaty with the Ostrogoths in 487 AD which resulted in the eradication of the Heruli 6 years later. The emperor Justinian exterminated the Vandals in 534 AD. The following year, the spiritual rule over all the churches of the empire by the Roman bishop was made official by Justinian, as well as secular ruler of the city of Rome. The Ostrogoths however still occupied Rome, and thus the bishops were deprived of full autonomy at this time. The next year however, in 538, they were expelled from Rome. It is from this date that the church/state union of the Roman Catholic church came to full power. This date takes on further significance as I will explain later. The Ostrogoths were finally defeated completely 15 years later, in 553 AD.
Although these kings were destroyed by secular armies, it was at the instigation and the approval and the assumed authority of the bishop of Rome that it was undertaken. Thus the prophecy is remarkably fulfilled, the ten horns are identified, the 3 that were destroyed confirmed, and the first clue as to the identity of the little horn revealed. Is the Roman Catholic church really the little horn of prophecy?
This final little horn I would like to discuss next. There is more written in the scriptures about this power than all the previous empires combined. It is important we understand the nature of the power in question, it’s real identity, and the danger it poses to the world. There are at least 10 characteristics which pinpoint with unerring accuracy the identity of this ‘little horn’. I have already explained that it was the Roman Catholic Church which had the principle role in the destruction of the 3 former nations, the Vandals, Ostrogoths and Heruli. The question is, does the papacy fit all the other characteristics given? Is the RCC the little horn that we are to be warned of?
I will delve into those characteristics in subsequent posts.