March 5, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXXI: The Little Horn - Satanic Parasite II

The Little Horn (Wiersbe)

Warren Wiersbe seems to take a bit of a different slant on Daniel 7. As before, the fourth beast represents the Roman Empire in some form. The ancient Roman armies defeated one nation after another until most of the known world was under Roman domination. According to Wiersbe, this beast corresponds with the legs of iron on Nebuchadnezzar's colossus in Daniel 2:40-43. Instead of ten toes, the ten kings are represented here by ten horns since horns were symbolic of power in the Old Testament (Walton et al 742). We literally see one empire has replaced another: Greek is superseded by Rome. As with the previous interpretation from Pentecost we see the sovereign hand of God steering and controlling the path and destiny of entire empires: God’s Sovereignty is on full display. In Daniel 7:12 there is an additional revelation by God to Daniel that wasn’t in the one Nebuchadnezzar had. The last kingdom on earth would be a formidable kingdom that will be nothing like previous kingdoms and it would literally declare war on God! This would be the proverbial kingdom of a/the Antichrist. It will be kingdom that would literally be destroyed when Jesus Christ comes back to earth in His Second Coming when He brings with Him the Kingdom of God in full and reigns. In Nebuchadnezzar’s vision it is the "stone cut out without hands" that destroys the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision.

The ten horns represent ten kings or kingdoms that will exist in the last days or the time just previous to Jesus Christ’s return. As I have stated previous in my introduction, Daniel wrote in language the people of his day could understand (lingua franca or pidgin)…so he wrote in terms of Kingdoms, not nations. These “kingdoms” could very easily mean modern nations or a modern coalition of nations. It is out of these ten horns/kingdoms/nations which are somehow related to the original Roman Empire in some way and in some form, that the Little Horn will arise. “He” is perceived to be the Antichrist. This abomination will wage war on God and God’s people. He will represent the last world ruler. He will be the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 or counterfeit Christ or ἀντίχριστος of 1 & 2 John (Greek: ἀντί meaning against or instead of)

As mentioned by Pentecost and class text from Lucas the Little Horn’s “eyes” insinuates that he will be exceptionally intelligent or coy and will most likely be skilled in using words and mannerisms that will encourage people to follow him. Sadly his use of words will include blasphemy against God. Through his words and actions he will trick people into believing that he is (a) god (Lucas 185).

In accord with Daniel 7:25 (and Revelation 13:5) his reign or control over the “saints: will last for “a time, times and half a time”. Revelations states it is 42 months. In modern English equivalent equates to three and half years (3.5 years). We will actually find out in Daniel 9:27 that this “person” will actually make a covenant with God’s people for 7 years but in the middle will break the covenant and begin to persecute God’s people. As stated before, in his rise to power he will usurp three of the existing kingdom/nations and put them in subjugation to him. When he breaks covenant all ‘Hell will break loose’ and this is what is commonly referred to as the “Tribulation” or the “Great Tribulation” which we see mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. The Tribulation will end with Jesus Christ’s return and establishment of His Kingdom. As Wiersbe states this is not all disclosed in Daniel’s vision but the pattern of Scripture and concurrence of events can be interpreted as such (Walton et al 741-742, Wiersbe 283-285).

Of particular interest in Daniel 7 is the “war on the saints” (Daniel 7:21-7:25). Although J. Dwight Pentecost connects the “saints” to the nation of Israel and he doesn’t differentiate spiritual or geopolitical, I question this interpretation. For me the Bible cannot be read in encapsulations and needs to be read as a whole. As such the entire body of evidence needs to be taken into account before drawing conclusions. The book of Daniel does not live in a vacuum. To me the "saints” mentioned in verses 18, 21-22, 25, and 27 clearly speak people of God living on the earth during the Tribulation period. The Apostle John in Revelation seems to allude to the fact there will be believing Jews and Gentiles during the Tribulation. This therefore tells me that Pentecost may not necessarily be seeing the whole picture. If this tribulation will contain believing Jews AND gentiles this cannot solely refer to the nation of Israel (spiritual or not). Please note that I have not even brought the Rapture or “snatching way of the faithful” into this.

Regardless, the last saints will be delivered over to the Little Horn and some of them will be persecuted for their faith. Scripture does say though that the saints will eventually be victorious over their enemy through God’s judgment (Daniel 7:18 & 7:27). The key word(s) through all this is (וִֽיקַבְּלוּן֙/they shall receive) the Kingdom. God is the Champion of the persecuted here. They do not gain the victory over the Little Horn on their own, God gives it to them, and hence the usages of the word receive. This is clearly the work of an omnipotent and sovereign Most High God! It is God that allows His people to be given over to the Antichrist/Little Horn for a short period of wrath and it is God who crushes this demonically inspired malevolent monster. In the end God will reign supreme and eternally with His saints in the Kingdom of Daniel 7:9-14 and 7:27-28 (Wiersbe 284).

Ironically, it is the portion about the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man that I previously skipped over that allows this to happen. You get the impression that while all these dastardly deeds are being perpetrated here on earth, spiritually, God is paving the way to ultimate victory over all in the Son of Man. Although the Little Horn will briefly receive power over God’s saints, the true power and dominion that will last forever is reserved for the Son of Man. As is states in Daniel 7:13-14.

In this small sampling of Scripture in Daniel we see that a single prophet of God sees the entire arc of history revealed to him in a vision. We get it in the space of a handful of chapters more than a prediction of the future here, we see the knowledge of an all-powerful and sovereign God revealed to finite men. For me there is reassurance here that there is Someone in control that knows what’s going to happened and for a faithful believer the end result will be positive.

The Little Horn (Walwoord)

According to Walvoord the biggest issue in defining who the Little Horn is, is to figure out who the fourth beast is. Most liberal theologians are convinced it is Greece. On the flip side the conservatives identify this as Rome. I take the stand that it was Rome just as Walvoord does. Rome ended up assimilating Greece into their empire. Until the modern British and American hegemonies, Rome was considered the greatest empire in history. If it is indeed Rome which Walvoord believes it is, than the Little Horn arises from some incarnation of this long dead empire. Walvoord like the professor of my course Dr. Vince McLaughlin, also distinguishes and delineates between the Little Horn of Chapter 7 and that of Chapter 8 since the one in Chapter 8 comes out of an entirely different context than the little horn of chapter 7. He goes on to state that the Little Horn in chapter 8 points to a ruler of the Greek empire that describes Antiochus Epiphanes to a “T”.

So as we see before, the Little Horn speaks boastful words and he is punished by being thrown into the fire in verses 11 and 12. It is stated in Matthew 25:31-46 that there is a paralleling or concurrent verse past which may be following the one here. Walvoord notes the judgment in Matthew seems to follow the second coming of Christ and includes judgment on entire world. Regardless, we see a future fulfillment like Pentecost and Wiersbe. It is also noted clearly by Walvoord that the end of the fourth beast will be dramatic as will be the demise of the Little Horn along with the peoples involved that support him. This concurs with similar statements in Revelations 19:19-20 if they are indeed meant to be seen as parallel. An interesting aside from Walvoord that is not specifically stated by Wiersbe with whom this interpretation is most similar is that "the saints of the most High" in verse 18 seem to include the saved of all ages as well as the holy angels which may be described as "the holy ones” in Daniel 7:21, 22, 25, 27; 8:24 and 12:7 (Walton et al 742, Walvoord 162-172)

Walvoord also explains that the endless explanation of experts trying to determine with specificity these ten kings in the history of the Greece or Rome shows the unacceptable outcome of trying to explain them as past history therefore he posits again that they are future history as is the Little Horn. If we compound this biblical evidence with that of Revelations 13:1 and 17:12 it would be wise to assume this as we know that Revelations does deal with the time near Jesus Second Coming. In this timeframe will come a satanic monster or Little Horn/Antichrist that will attempt to "change times and laws," which amounts to cancelling religious observations and holidays just as Epiphanes did long ago. As hard as it is to believe, this new monstrosity will be worse and he will wear out the saints (Walvoord 175) as God will allow him/it to do so.

An Interesting Aside (V. McGee)

As Vernon McGee’s interpretation differs little from Walvoord’s, I will not be reiterating it. There is indeed and interesting aside though in his commentary about the form of rule of the Little Horn in contrast to that of the coming Kingdom of God ruled by Jesus Christ. McGee states they are both forms of dictatorships surprising as that seems (McGee 571). I myself would prefer the term hegemony (more specifically Theocracy) but McGee chose to use the word dictator even with its unsavory connotations. This is probably baffling to us who live in democracies and have our “freedoms” but the truth is that we are better off as slaves to Christ under his complete control rather than being slave so to sin and under the sway of wickedness. As it says in the Bible:

Romans 6:16 ~ Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?(ESV)

As Vern McGee states, “God's ideal government is not a democracy it is a real dictatorship” If I may be so bold as to say so it is more specifically a theocracy ruled by Jesus Christ. Because as McGee continues:
“When Jesus Christ rules on this earth, He is not going to ask anyone what he wants done. He is going to make the choices, and this earth is going to be run the way He wants to run it. That is the reason it would be best if you and I would become conformed to His image; otherwise we will be very uncomfortable under His (McGee 571)
So I guess what we see is the perversion of something (hegemony) that under God’s rule and righteousness…would’ve been a good thing. Under the control of tyrants or immoral and wicked beings, it is turned into a nightmare that follows in the lines of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Hitler, Stalin and their ilk. These will in turn give way to the beast/fiend that will probably be worse than all of them combined. Instead of the loving hand of God reaching down to help us from his leadership position, humanity will only will see the jackboot of human megalomania and tyranny. But his horrid reign will be temporary and Jesus will come back to reign in power...

Why I've Chosen to Limit Scope To Daniel 7

Although there is a bit more to say about the Little Horn in later chapters of Daniel, I must try and limit the scope of these posts. What should be said about later chapters is that they embellish or "flesh out" the information revealed to Daniel in chapter 7. Specifically, chapter 11 states there will be no escape or help for the Antichrist when the judgment of God falls on him. He will be battled by the archangel Michael as this madman will be energized by Satan himself. The very end of chapter 11 describes Antichrist’s military and political career, whereas his internal policy of “brutal oppression and persecution” toward God’s people is set forth in 12:1 that will end with Armageddon. Chapter 12's elucidation is essentially expounding on what is expounded in the Little Horn's/Antichrist's military and political career in the previous chapter (McLaughlin, 6B Lecture).

I would go into more explicit detail but it seems this would take me beyond the intended conclusion which is centered near chapter 7. It also requires that I glean superfluous information from outside Daniel 7 which I believe is also further than my intended thesis of the ministry and person spelled out in chapter 7. Moreover, additional information gleaned from outside chapter 7 generally embellishes or adds to what exists in chapter 7. When we begin to get involved with this additional information concerning ambiguous references to nations, it often leads to speculation on details about the future that are not really specifically stated in Scripture. Often they sidetrack us from Scripture’s intent. When this type of thing happens we often begin to engage in eisegesis and I wish to avoid this rabbit trail for my posts (plus it would make my series of posts on the demonic Little Horn 23 posts not 3). Having said this I now offer a theological principle or insight I see underlying Daniel 7 as my conclusion in my next post.

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