Is the Sabbath the “seal” of God?

  Holy-Spirit-sky

  • Ellen White wrote: “The sign, or seal, of God is revealed in the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath...” —8T 117 (1904).

Is the seal of God really Sabbath observance?

  • The Bible is very clear in what it says about God’s Seal:
  • Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13, 14)
  • Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)
  • The seal of God shows authentic ownership, and evidence that we are His. He has approved of us as His children.

  • Similar to believers, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, was the sign or seal of approval God gave to Christ at His baptism and on the mount of Transfiguration. ‘For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval (John 6:27)
  • “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
  • Again this is very clear—we are sealed by, and with the Holy Spirit, designated for the day of redemption, or the second coming of Christ, when He takes us to be with Him, forever.
  • Nowhere the new covenant records anything written or hinting that the seal of God that assures our salvation is dependent on Sabbath observance. It’s foolish to believe so.
  • You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? .. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse (Gal 3:1-25)
  • The Holy Spirit cannot be earned through observance or bought (Acts 8:18-30)
  • This is hugely important and should be restated: as scriptures teach here, any human effort to keep the law, including Sabbath keeping, cannot account for our identity of salvation with God or by being identified with His seal.
  • A common SDA answer or spin on this is that the Sabbath is kept in a love response to God and as a remembrance of His creation. This may be sincere, but if it is truly a love response to God, it would not be required (as SDA doctrine and Ellen White teach) and could not qualify as a sign or seal; it would be a gift of praise and only that.
  • Now let’s look at the terms “sign” versus “seal”. SDA’s have used these terms interchangeably to spin their proof texts to support the Sabbath-Seal of God doctrine. However, the original term for “seal” (Hebrew, chotham: Greek, sphragis) is never translated “sign” in the Bible. The original term for “sign” (Hebrew, oth; Greek, semeion) is never translated “seal”.
  • Romans 4:11 says Abraham  ‘received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised’. Note carefully, the “sign” is one thing and a “seal” is something completely different!
  • According to Paul, Romans 4:11 tells us that Abraham was identified with God (the righteous one or sealed as righteous ), because of what he believed by faith before he had the sign of circumcision! The point is there is no new testament confirmation that the Sabbath is a seal in anyway. It’s the Holy Spirit who is the seal, who does the sealing, and who identifies us as belonging to God (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Not Sabbath keeping.

Is the Sabbath still a “sign” between God and His People? 

  • Under the old covenant agreements, several SIGNS were instituted.
  • Circumcisionshall be a sign of the covenant..for an everlasting covenant’ (Gen. 17:9-14);

  • Passover, ‘shall be a sign…for your generations.. forever’ (Ex:12:13-14);

  • ‘Speak to the Sons of Israel…observe my Sabbaths, for this is a sign…forever’ (Ex:31:13,17).

  • Notice Sabbaths are plural which means it includes all Sabbaths (weekly, monthly, yearly).
  • Also, the Sabbaths as a “sign” was given to the children of Israel. Seventh-day Adventists claim that they are “spiritual Israel”. If so, then why do they not also practice the other “eternal signs” of obedience between Israel and God? How inconsistent!
  • Is the Seal of God found in the Ten Commandments?
  • Isaiah 8:6 reads: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law (torah) among my disciples
  • Adventists teach the word “law” refers to the Ten Commandments which is sealed on people upon observance based upon the above verse. In reality, the word “law” means the Torah, which refers to the first five books of the Bible, said to be written by Moses. In the Torah there are 613 laws which the Israelites were expected to follow. The new covenant is clear Christians are not required to keep all of the laws of the Torah. Hence, this verse has nothing to do with the Seal of God in the new covenant.
  • If the Lord’s name, title, and dominion appear in a Bible verse, is that passage the Seal of God?
  • Just because a Bible verse mentions the name (YHWH), title (Elohim or Adonay) and dominion of God does not mean that verse is describing the “Seal of God”.
  • For example, using SDA logic, one could argue that the Torah is the “Seal of God” because it contains this verse:

‘Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is’ (Deut. 10:14)

  • Or one could claim that the prophetic writings of Isaiah or Jeremiah are the “Seal of God” using SDA logic: (Isa. 37:16; Jer. 32:17).  Look at all of the other Bible verses that mention God’s name (God), His title (Lord), and His dominion (heaven and earth): Gen. 14:22, Gen. 24:3, Deut. 3:24, Deut. 4:39, Deut. 10:14, Jos. 2:11, 1 Ki. 8:23, 2 Ki. 9:15.
  • Just because God’s name, title, and dominion appear within a Bible verse does not prove that passage has any particular connection with the “Seal of God”.
  • Not once in the New Testament is the Sabbath ever referred to as a sign or a seal for Christians. Just as the Lord’s supper celebration replaced the Jewish Passover celebration, so has the Holy Spirit replaced the Sabbath as the “sign” or evidence that a person is one of God’s chosen people. If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, the New Testament teaches the seal of Christianity is the Holy Spirit, not the Sabbath.
  • The truth is the rest of God on the seventh-day in Genesis 2 is without ‘morning and evening’, meaning that it was a continuous rest available for God’s people,  and not the Saturday Sabbath given to Israel. Hebrew 4 makes it clear, that God’s ‘seventh-day rest’ (Hebrews 4:4), was ‘ready since He made the world’ (Hebrews 4:3), and the ‘time for entering his rest is today’ (Hebrews 4:7), not Saturday or Sunday.

Jesus himself compared Sabbath to a ritual law. Jews to this day believe Sabbath is the only ritual law in the Ten commandments. Paul himself taught in Colossians 2:16-17: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by a Sabbath day’. Jesus nor Paul taught the new testament church that the Sabbath is a seal. See: Sabbath.

  • One may enjoy the Sabbath if he or she wishes, but if one is to remain true to the Scriptures and not the teachings of man he or she must separate “Sabbath keeping” from the “seal of being identified with God” and His people. This is the teaching of God’s word.
  • Will SDA’s listen, or will they continue in pride with the teachings of man?

 

See our chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, commentaries on Daniel, Revelation & Genesis:

 

Daniel Commentary

 

Revelation Commentary

 

The little horn of Daniel 8 is the Papacy?

 

Daniel 8:1-27 The rise of another little horn

In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously (Daniel 8:1) 

The third year of the reign of King Belshazzar: This vision happened while Babylon was securely in power. Though the vision will deal with the emergence and destiny of the Greek Empire, the Greek Empire was not much of anything at the time the prophecy came to Daniel.

 

I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal (Daniel 8:2).

Daniel was in Susa or Shushan (in Persia) on business for the king (Daniel 8:27).

 

Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last (Daniel 8:3)

A ram which had two horns. In this same chapter (Daniel 8:20) this ram was clearly identified as representing the Medo-Persian Empire, which succeeded the Babylonian Empire.

Two horns were long, but one was longer than the other. The ram was noted for the proportion of its two horns – one was higher than the other. This was an accurate prediction of the partnership between the Medes and the Persians, because the Persians were larger and stronger in the partnership. They also emerged after the Medes (the longer one coming up last).

 

 

I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself (Daniel 8:4).

Butting westward, northward, and southward: The Medo-Persian Empire exerted its power to the north, south, and west. It took territory but made no major conquests towards the east.

While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes (Daniel 8:5)

A male goat came from the west. In this same chapter (Daniel 8:21-22) this male goat was clearly identified with Greece and its horns are identified with the rulers of the Greek Empire. The goat was a common representation of the Greek Empire. 

Over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground. This prophetic description of the male goat was proved to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire. The Greek Empire rose from the west of previous empires. The Greek Empire rose with great speed suddenly (without touching the ground). The Greek Empire had a notable ruler (horn), Alexander the Great.

 

He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath (Daniel 8:6). 

The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire.

 

 

I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power. (Daniel 8:7)

The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other (was enraged at him). Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians. The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire and no one could rescue the ram from the Greek Empire.

 

Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven (Daniel 8:8)

Male goat magnified himself exceedingly. Male goat gained dominance exceedingly.

But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken. The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire (Alexander) was suddenly cut short (the large horn was broken).

And in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. After the end of Alexander the Great’s reign, the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers (in its place, there came up four notable horns). The four rulers of the Greek Empire ruled their own dominions, not the entire empire together. That is why it is said, the four rulers came up “toward the four winds of heaven”. Alexander did not divide the empire among his four generals himself. His four leading generals divided it among themselves by force after his death. The four generals were: 1) Cassander, ruling over Greece and its region. 2) Lysimachus, ruling over Asia Minor. 3) Seleucus, ruling over Syria and Israel’s land. 4) Ptolemy, ruling over Egypt. The “four winds” refers to the four directions of the earth : north, south, east, and west (Jeremiah 49:36; Matthew 24:31).

 

Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land (Daniel 8:9)

Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn. Out of one of them, meaning out of one of the four horns (out of the divided Grecian empire), and not out of the four winds, came a little horn. It is a little horn that comes up, and not a little wind. Horns are attached to animals in the visions and only horns beget horns––the “little horn” comes out of one of the four Greek horns of the male goat. Horns are never pictured as coming out of the winds. Even if winds are meant, this little horn rises from the divided Grecian empire that spread dominion across the four winds or directions of the earth. This is further proved by Daniel 8:23, when it says the little horn (a king) will rise, “during the latter time of their rule”. Whose rule? Daniel 8:22 gives the answer. The rule of the “four kingdoms (four generals of Alexander) which will arise from his nation (Greece)”.

Daniel 8:9, 23 says the little horn would originate from one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire when these were in their “latter time of their rule” (Daniel 8:23). This points us toward a power originating from the Greek world sometime after 300BC. Rome was never part of the Alexandrian Empire, nor did it originate from one of the divisions of the Greek Empire. Rome came from Italy, and was founded in 750BC. Rome became a republic in 509BC. Rome did conquer the four divisions of the Grecian empire, but this is further proof that Rome did not arise from any of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire. Therefore, Rome could not possibly fit the prophetic symbol of a horn arising from a horn within the Greek Empire.

Which grew exceeding great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land. This was fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who arose from one of the four successors to Alexander the Great. Antiochus’ sphere of operations was precisely in the three areas that Daniel mentions. He was “exceedingly great” not compared to the previous empires, but toward the south (Egypt), toward the east (Armenia & Persia), and toward the beautiful land (Israel). This is not true of Rome. Many of Rome’s greatest conquests were to the North and West of Rome. Rome conquered large regions of northwestern Europe, the areas now occupied by England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Portugal. Rome also conquered the northwestern regions of Africa, areas now occupied by Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Rome was definitely a power that waxed exceeding great to the north and to the west. Therefore, Rome cannot fit the specification of this prophecy.

Seventh-day Adventist’s argue pointing to “exceeding great”, that Antiochus was not “exceedingly great” compared with Persia and Greece. Again, verse 9 never says the little horn will be exceedingly great in comparison to Persia and Greece or the previous powers. The little horn is not compared with other powers, but merely said to wax “exceedingly great” in three regions: to the south, the east, and the pleasant land. Antiochus was not a big horn on a big stage. He was a little horn that played a big role on a little stage. His conquering of Egypt and his attack against Judaism can certainly be described as “exceedingly great” on the stage of Middle Eastern history during this time period. It can be argued that of all the foes of Judaism, Antiochus Epiphanes came the closest to stamping out the religion. His attack upon Judaism can only be described as “exceedingly great.”

 

It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down (Daniel 8:10)

It grew up to the host of heaven. This verse is not talking about heavenly beings, because no empire, not even Rome, has cast down heavenly beings. Both the Bible and the Jewish Apocrypha use similar language to describe the priests and rulers of the Hebrew people.

“So it will happen in that day, That the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth on earth” (Isaiah 24:21).

“And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:41).

Some of the stars to fall to the earth. The terms stars of heaven (Genesis 12:3 and 15:5) and the hosts of the LORD (Exodus 12:41) are used of God’s people in general. “Behold, I have had yet another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9).

And trampled them. Antiochus was an infamous persecutor of the Jewish people. He wanted them to submit to Greek culture and customs and was more than willing to use murder and violence to compel them.


It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down (Daniel 8:11)

Magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host. Captain of the host is a term that was used for leaders of Israel: “The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and four thousand” (1 Chronicles 27:5).

When Judaea and Jerusalem were under the domination of foreign empires, the priesthood of Jerusalem played an important political role, the priests serving also as leaders of the Jewish communities.

Antiochus magnified himself to be equal to the leader of Israel and he did this literally, during his rule, when the high priest, Onias, was driven into exile and later killed in the cruelest manner, and he installed his own high priest. Furthermore, Antiochus figuratively magnified himself to the ultimate Prince of the host, God Himself. His surname, Theo Antiochus, declared him to be an effulgence in human form of the Divine, a god manifest in the flesh (see Edwin Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, p. 154).

Removed the regular sacrifice from Him. The sacrifice that was offered regularly or daily (tamid) in the temple by the High Priest, morning and evening, was suspended. Antiochus Epiphanes put a stop to temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. While the word sacrifice is not in the original text, the word Tamid is correctly translated as the regular or “daily sacrifice” as it is identical with “evening-morning” (‘ereb-boqer) of Daniel 8:14. The “daily” (tamid) sacrifice in the Hebrew sanctuary was a whole sweet-savor burnt offering which began each evening (‘ereb) and again began each morning (boqer) of the year, including on the Day of Atonement (Numb. 29:11). Without the tamid, nothing else could be offered. The tamid or daily or regular was called the “continual” because it never ceased, not even on the Day of Atonement. 

 

And the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the earthly temple of the High Priest and of God. The Bible emphasizes that the little horn desolated the “daily” and the entire sanctuary — not merely the Most Holy Place! Hence, the daily ministration of priests in the Holy Place was also completely stopped by the little horn.

 

And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper (Daniel 8:12)

And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice. Because of transgression of the Jews, an army was given over to the little horn to oppose the daily sacrifices. This was fulfilled in the terrors of Antiochus Epiphanes. The Jews, especially their leaders, invited God’s judgment upon them through Antiochus because of their sin.

The Bible says these calamities came upon the Jews “on account of transgression.” In other words, it was the sins of the Jews that brought this calamity upon themselves. It was the Jews who actually took the initiative in Hellenizing Jerusalem during this time period. A deputation of leading Jews came to Antiochus, shortly after he took power, begging for permission to convert Jerusalem into an Antioch and erect the essential mark of a Hellenic city, the gymnasium. Later, after Antiochus installed his own high priest, the gymnasium was built and soon thronged with young priests, pursuing the Hellenic ideal of bodily strength and beauty. (See Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, pp. 168-181).

Fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. Antiochus, and his host and army did all these. Abolish true religion and godliness; he cut in pieces the copies of the book of the law and burnt them.

 

 

Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled? (Daniel 8:13)

Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking. Daniel did not know the names of these two holy angels, but saw only that one was speaking to the other.

How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply. How long shall the daily sacrifice (tamid), that is offered morning and evening, be suspended or trampled by the little horn?

While the transgression causes horror so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled. That is, how long will the vision about the daily sacrifice (offered morning and evening) being suspended continue while the act of iniquity (transgression) by Antiochus continues to cause such horror and desolation in the holy place (this is the entire sanctuary, not just the Most Holy place) and the trampling (persecution) of the host (Jews). The height of horror and desolation happened when Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the entire temple of God by offering sacrifices to idols upon the holy altar of God.

Daniel did not ask this question; he heard the holy ones speaking together and one of them asked this question. They wanted to know how long the sacrifices (tamid) would be suspended and how long the entire sanctuary would be desecrated, and the host (Jews) trampled? Expect the next verse to answer this question, “how long”.

 

He said to me, for 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored (Daniel 8:14).

He said to me, for 2,300 evenings and mornings. Verse 14 is the answer to the question in verse 13. How long the entire sanctuary would be desecrated? The answer is 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices would be suspended while the entire sanctuary was profaned. The Hebrew word for evening and mornings is ‘ereb-boqer’. It is not the usual Hebrew word day (yom) that is used here. 

Then the holy place will be properly restored. After 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices, the holy place (entire sanctuary) will be cleansed, restored, and vindicated. The Hebrew word used for restored is “tsadaq’. A defiled “daily sacrifice” and “sanctuary” could only be restored by “dedication” and not by a Day of Atonement method of “cleansing”.  Thus, Daniel 8:14 uses the Hebrew word “tsadaq” instead of “ta-heer”, which is the word used in Leviticus 16:19 for cleansing the sanctuary from the general sinfulness of God’s people. The only logical reason for using tsa-daq (for re-dedication) in Daniel 8:14 instead of ta-heer (from the Leviticus 16:19) is because the defilement of the daily and the sanctuary was caused by the little horn and not by the sins of God’s people.

After 2300 ‘ereb-boqer’ (daily sacrificial cycles) have passed, then the sanctuary will be restored.  The text plainly states that the daily cycles will cease until the end of 2300 sacrificial cycles.

The Sanctuary was cleansed and restored by Judas Maccabeus (a Jew) when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places. This is recorded in history as follows:

Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place” (1 Maccabees 4:41-51).

Hanukkah (the Feast of dedication) has been the Jewish festival that commemorates the purification and rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus after Antiochus defilement. Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-24) while on earth. In Matthew 24:15-18 Jesus warns the Jewish Christians that the soon-coming destruction of Jerusalem will be patterned after the atrocities of Antiochus IV and they should be ready to leave with haste.

Historian Josephus, writes:

“For so it was, that the temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three years…And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eighty years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would dissolve that worship [for some] time”. (Source: Flavious Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1960), Book XII, Chapter VII, Paragraph 6)

So, we are told after 2300 evening and morning sacrifices, the holy place (sanctuary) will be cleansed, restored, and vindicated (“tsadaq”). How do we make sense of 2,300? Some scholars prefer 2,300 actual days, while others prefer 1,150 days, with two sacrifices per day, for a total of 2300 evening-morning sacrifices. Interestingly enough, there are good reasons for both periods. Here it is:

  1. 2300 days (2300 daily sacrifices): Starting on the fifteenth day of the month Cisleu, in the year 145 of the Selucidae (165 BC), Antiochus set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar (1 Maccabees 1:59), to the victory obtained over Nicanor by Judas, on the 13th day of the month Adar, Anno 151 (171 BC), are 2,300 days. The Jews kept an annual feast on the 13th of Adar, in commemoration of the victory.
  2. 1150 days (2300 morning and evening sacrifices): Beginning with the desecration of the alter on the first day of the month Marchesvan, 168 BC. Ending with the reconsecration of the alter on the 25th day of Kislev, 165 BC.

 

2300 evenings and mornings simply cannot be 2300 years, because there has never in human history been a 2300-year period where the sanctuary on earth (or in heaven) was trodden under foot by a little horn power.

 

When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man (Daniel 8:15).

Daniel seeks to know the meaning of the vision, which is imparted to him by Gabriel.

 

And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision (Daniel 8:16).

Voice of man, probably God, said to Gabriel: explain it to Daniel so that he will understand its meaning. Now Gabriel better make Daniel understand the vision. If not, he will not have obeyed the command of God.

 

So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end (Daniel 8:17)

He came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face. Gabriel came near Daniel, that he might speak more familiarly to him, yet Daniel could not bear the glory of him.

Understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end. The time of the end is not our time of the end, but the “latter time of their rule” (Daniel 8:23), that is, the rule of the four Greek kings coming out of Alexander the Great, which happens “many days from now” (Daniel 8:26) to Daniel. Scholars often call this provisional, contextual “end”, the prophet’s own “eschatological horizon” and not the actual “end.”

 

Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright (Daniel 8:18)

When Gabriel spoke to him, Daniel fell paralysed and motionless— being terrified and astonished with the splendour and grandeur both of the messenger and message. But Gabriel restored him up.

 

 

He said, Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end (Daniel 8:19)

I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation. The final period of the indignation is the afflictions permitted to be brought upon the Jewish people.

For it pertains to the appointed time of the end. The appointed time of the end is not our time of the end, but the “latter time of their rule” (Daniel 8:23), that is, the rule of the four Greek kings coming out of Alexander the Great.

 

The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power (Daniel 8:20-22).

Ram represents kings of Media and Persia. Goat represents Greece. Four horns were fulfilled in history by the four generals who divided Alexander’s Empire between them, but they did not have the same power that Alexander had, that is why it is said “not with his power”.

 

In the latter time of their rule, when the transgressors have run their course, A king will arise, Insolent and skilled in intrigue (Daniel 8:23)

In the latter time of their rule. That is during the “time of the end” or “end times” of the Grecian empire when four generals were ruling the empire.

When the transgressors have run their course.  That is, when the state of things, the prevalence of wickedness and irreligion in Judea, shall have been allowed to continue as long as it can be or so that the cup of sin shall be full. Then shall appear this formidable power during the latter days of the Grecian empire to inflict deserved punishment (indignation) on the guilty nation (Jews). 

A king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue. Again, when will this King arise? 1) In the latter time of their rule meaning when Greece was divided into four dominions. 2) When sins of the Jews have run their course at this time. Here again, it is clear this little horn arises from the divided Grecian empire, and not Rome. He is insolent and skilled in intrigue. This is the very just character of Antiochus, according to Diodorus, Polybius, and all the historians. 

 

His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree And prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people (Daniel 8:24-25)

Antiochus Epiphanes was mighty, but not solely by his power, for he was empowered by Satan. Antiochus Epiphanes looked like a total success. Antiochus Epiphanes not only destroyed his enemies (mighty men), but also harshly persecuted the people of God (Jews).

 

And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; And he will magnify himself in his heart, And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, But he will be broken without human agency (Daniel 8:26)

He shall exalt himself in his heart. The coins of Antiochus Epiphanes were inscribed with this title: THEOS EPIPHANIES meaning, “God manifest.” 

He will even oppose the Prince of princes. Though Antiochus Epiphanes hated the people of God and fought against them, it was because he really hated God.

Broken without human means: History tells us that Antiochus Epiphanes died of disease, not by the hand of man. 

 

The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; But keep the vision secret, For it pertains to many days in the future (Daniel 8:26)

The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true. The vision of the suspension of 2300 evening and morning sacrifices and the desecration of the earthly sanctuary is certain. 

But keep the vision secret. The revelation is to be kept safe and sealed.

For it pertains to many days in the future. When the “time of the end” of the Grecian empire comes, then this vision would no longer be “secret” and “sealed” but would begin to be understood by the original audience, the Jews. We see this unsealing of the book of Daniel predicted for the “time of the end” taking place when the Jews began reading and understanding the prophecies of Daniel, probably shortly after the end of the Babylonian captivity or at the latest when the book of Daniel became part of the Hebrew Bible. Thus, the unsealing of Daniel in the “time of the end” is parallel to “the latter part [future] of their [Grecian] rule” in Daniel 8:23, that is, the rule of the four Greek kings coming out of Alexander the Great, which happens “many days in the future” (Daniel 8:26) for Daniel.

 

Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the kings business; but I was astounded at the vision, but none understood (Daniel 8:27)

Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business. Daniel was sick—through grief at the calamities coming on the Jews.  He carried on the king’s business. What business is not stated; nor can we be sure (Daniel 5:13).

But I was astounded at the vision, and but none understood. Daniel does not say, “but I was astounded at the vision, and [but I did not understand]”. Then did no one understand the vision? Or did no one understand Daniel’s reaction to the vision? This probably means no one perceived (1 Samuel 3:8) that Daniel had a vision, or of what nature it was. It appears “not understanding” was referring to the people Daniel worked with during King’s business who did not comprehend why Daniel was ill and depressed. To make the claim that Daniel failed to understand this vision thus requiring a second visit from Gabriel later, one must first assume the angel failed in his first mission. However, in Daniel 8:16 a voice commanded, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” Besides, regarding the visions of Daniel, Daniel himself writes later, none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Daniel 12:10).

 

Some have applied the little horn of Daniel 8 to the Turks & Papacy. For Martin Luther, the popes were the “spirit” of antichrist, while the “Turks” were the flesh. In reading Daniel 8, Luther also saw Antiochus Epiphanes as the forerunner of the great antichrist. Antiochus’ importance cannot be overemphasized. Left alone, Antiochus IV would have wiped out God’s people, all traces of the law, and Jewish worship. Hence, Antiochus appears to be a better fit.

 

Other considerations

  • In Daniel 8, a Ramrepresented Medo-Persia, and Goat represented Greece. If Rome was to follow, we would expect a mention of the Roman Empire to come into the picture as an animal of some sort distinct from the goat, not some “little horn”. Its description as a rather “little horn” clashes with the “powerful as iron” beast representations of Rome in the visions of Daniel 2 and 7.

 

  • In Daniel 7, ten hornscame out of the 4th Then a little horn came up from among the ten horns. Then we come to chapter 8, where the goat clearly refers to the empire of Greece. Daniel 8:21 says the large horn represents the first individual king of the empire, Alexander the Great. In keeping with the horn imagery within the context, the remaining four horns that came forth are all connected with the kingdom of Greece. Then what does it say in Daniel 8:9? “Out of one of them”— that is, out of a kingdom belonging to one of the four generals of Alexander —“came forth a little horn.”

 

 

  • We cannot build the entire case for the “little horn” being the Roman Empire only on the ambiguous second half of Daniel 8:9, “which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land,”as SDA’s and some do. The first part of the verse is at least as important as the second. Those who wish to see Rome referenced in Daniel 8:9b must also present a solid exegetical case for how the Romans better fulfill 8:9a than Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king whose campaigns in Egypt (south); Persia, Parthia and Armenia (east); and Palestine (the “Beautiful Land”), also fulfilled 8.9b. The paper, “The Stability of the Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV”, discusses all three of these campaigns by Antiochus.

 

  • Can a ‘little horn’ arise from ‘winds’ in Daniel 8:8? Just using the example of apocalyptic imagery of chapter 7 as a general guide, would we not expect that the pronoun “them” in verse 8:8 refers to the four horns? This is not to say that the small horns in both cases must have identical symbolism—the symbols must be contextually defined within each self-contained vision (chazown)—but only that in both cases, we see that new horns arise from others that pre-existed. In each vision a group of horns gives way to a single small horn of special significance. This contextual consideration, together with the fact that the four-wind distribution is tied to the four generals of Alexander, indicates that “them” in Daniel 8:9 does not refer to the four “winds,” as some have proposed, but to the four “horns.” The imagery requires the small horn to arise from a pre-existing horn, not a wind. The four winds are the four directions in which Alexander’s four generals parceled up the Greek empire among themselves after his death. They have no direct connection with the single “little horn.”12

 

 

  • Antiochus did not appear at the “latter time of their kingdom”of the Seleucid kingdom (Daniel 8:23)? Some say Antiochus did not come in the latter time of the Grecian empire but in the middle. But the fact is the term “latter time” is subjective (after all, the entire period between the first and second comings of Jesus is called either the “last hour” as well as the “last days”. See Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pt. 1:20), but Antiochus in fact could be said to come up during the latter time, because the fourfold division of Greece had passed the peak of its power when he emerged, and this is evidenced by the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the Romans while on his way to invade Egypt. However, more than that, note again, when this king arises. “And in the latter time of their kingdom (Greece), when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” (Daniel 8:23). In this vision, Gabriel identifies the principle parties as the kingdom of Greece, its first king (Alexander), and four smaller kingdoms which arise out of Alexander’s large one. The time period, the “latter time of their kingdom” referring to the smaller four kingdoms of Greece requires all four kingdoms to still exist, so it was before their assimilation into the Roman Empire—an individual king would arise from one of those four Greek kingdoms. By comparing this explanation with the vision, it is clear that the “little horn” must arise from a Grecian kingdom. There is no way to accept Gabriel’s explanation and still claim that the “little horn” could be a Roman. Whatever this power is, the text is clear enough that it happens “in the latter time of their kingdom”, not “after”, therefore it cannot be Rome. 
  • Moreover, it says “…a kingof fierce countenance…” (Daniel 8:23). According to the traditional Adventist view the horn represents a kingdom, namely the Roman Empire. It is hard to see how a kingdom could have “a fierce countenance” and “understand dark sentences.” The Roman Catholic Church was not a king. The angelic interpretation allows no misunderstanding. It is referring to an individual king that arises from Greece. That appears to be the context if you read it verse-by-verse, without enforcing preconceived ideas into the text (eisegesis). 

 

  • Antiochus is said to “understand dark sentences” and “cause craft to prosper” (Daniel 8:23,25). Antiochus was renowned for his craftiness and cunning; Rome more for her brute strength and power.

 

SDA interpretation

1) According to Seventh-day Adventists, the “little horn” of Daniel 7 did not have its beginning until the 4th beast was divided into 10 kingdoms, which, according to Adventist interpretation, happened in 476 AD. The “little horn” of Daniel 8 was to come up “in the latter time of their kingdom” (Daniel 8:23). “Their kingdom” refers to the four divisions of the Alexandrian Empire. The “latter time” or last days of the four kingdoms was 200BC to 100BC. Therefore, the little horn of Daniel 8 arose six centuries before the little horn of Daniel 7 (using the SDA date of 476 AD)! This difference in timing is strong evidence that the two “little horn” powers are not the same. They arise at vastly different points in human history.

 

2) According to SDAs, the 2300 days began in 457 BC and ended in 1844 AD. During this time period the little horn of Daniel 8 is supposed to be “treading underfoot” the sanctuary. According to SDA teaching, this began with pagan Rome treading underfoot the earthly sanctuary, and then later became papal Rome treading underfoot the heavenly sanctuary. This presents a whole host of dilemmas:

  • Rome did not have any contact with the Jewish nation until 161 BC. How could the little horn have begun its desecrating work in 457 BC, 296 years before it even came into contact with the Jewish state? Rome had no part whatsoever in the activities of 457 BC and thus could not possibly be the “little horn” described in Daniel 8.
  • If Papal Rome is the little horn of Daniel 8 during the latter part of the 2300 days, then what happened to papal Rome on October 22, 1844? Did the Papacy suddenly stop defiling the Sanctuary in 1844? Was it “broken without hand” (Daniel 8:25) in 1844? Why is there no event in papal history to coincide with the end of the 2300 days?
  • If pagan Rome neither persecuted the Jews nor stopped the sacrifices in 457 BC, and if there is no event in papal history to coincide with the close of the 2300 days in 1844, then how can we possibly attach Rome to this prophecy?

 

3) Is the sanctuary of Daniel 8:13-14 the heavenly sanctuary?

Notice the question: “How long shall…the sanctuary…be trampled?” (Daniel 8:13)

The answer is 2300 evenings-mornings. This puts the Seventh-day Adventists in a dilemma, because they insist that the sanctuary being “cleansed” in verse 14 is the heavenly sanctuary.

However, according to their own calculations, the papacy did not arrive until after 476 AD–nearly a millennium after the 2,300 years started! Who was trampling the sanctuary for 934 years before the rise of the papacy? Seventh-day Adventists claim that “Imperial Rome” trampled the earthly temple in 70AD when it was destroyed by Roman armies, but that was the earthly, not the heavenly temple. If the sanctuary is the heavenly sanctuary in verse 14, then how could it be the earthly sanctuary in verse 13, since verse 13 is a question being answered in verse 14?

The truth is that there has never in human history been a 2300-year period where the sanctuary in heaven (or on earth) was trodden under foot. This fact alone should prove that the SDA interpretation does not fit historical facts and is therefore invalid.

 

4) Daniel 8:9-12, the prophet saw a wicked power, the “little horn,” defiling the sanctuary, treading it down, taking away the daily sacrifice. Then in Daniel 8:13, the question was asked as to how long that evil work of that evil power was to continue to give the sanctuary to be trodden under foot; and to this question comes the answer in verse 14: “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place [sanctuary[ will be properly restored [cleansed].”

Now note this: SDA’s will expound  an answer for verse 14, but not refer to that question of verse 13 at all; and they make that answer a reply to something wholly different from the question asked in verse 13, and wholly different from the context of verses 9-12; for SDA’s make verse 14 reply to such a question as this: “How long shall the sanctuary be defiled by the sins of God’s people, which have been transferred to it by confession?” In all of Daniel 8 the sins of God’s people, or any confessed sins, are not referred to whatever; for what has defiled the sanctuary and made necessary its “cleansing” is its defilement by the little horn. What hope for finding truth is there if you divorce an answer from the question asked, and from the context that provoked it, and instead supply a question and context of your own? Such is the Adventist interpretation, an answer divorced from its question.

 

5) The Bible emphasizes that the little horn of 8:11-12 desolated the “daily” and the entire sanctuary — not merely the Most Holy Place! The daily ministration of priests in the Holy Place was also completely stopped by the little horn.

While SDA’s teach that “removing the daily” in Daniel 8:11-12 caused the entire sanctuary to be defiled, they then teach that defiling the “daily” in 8:13 only required the Most Holy Place to be cleansed in 8:14! This necessary manipulation of the facts allows them to teach that Christ has continued daily ministering inside the Holy Place since His ascension. Yet He could not minister inside the Most Holy Place because it was still defiled!!!

From a Protestant viewpoint, Seventh-day Adventists are actually more guilty of “casting down the truth” about Christ’s high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary than are Roman Catholics. SDAs deny that Christ has been performing a uniquely high priestly ministry inside the Most Holy Place since His ascension. SDAs have destroyed the “truth” about any activity by Christ as high priest before 1844. 

 

See Our full verse-by-verse Daniel Chapters 1-12 Commentary here.

See our full verse-by-verse Revelation Chapters 1-22 Commentary here.

Daniel 7 – Little horn is the Papacy?

Roman-Emperor-Nero

  • In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and told the following summary of it (Daniel 7:1)

    In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon. This places the time of the vision as occurring toward the end of the Babylonian empire. Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon. This ties in closely with the account in the fifth chapter, where Belshazzar made a great feast and handwriting appeared on the wall and that night the kingdom was taken by the Medes and the Persians. This vision then occurs perhaps thirty or thirty-five years after the great dream image that was recorded in Chapter 2. This time it is Daniel that has a dream and this is his summary of it.

     

    Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea (Daniel 7:2)

    The four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. This perhaps pointing to the Mediterranean Sea. Each one of the empires mentioned in this vision had a geographical connection to the Mediterranean Sea. The “four winds of heaven” usually stand for the four points (North, South, East, West) of the compass (Jeremiah 49:34). Here, however, the winds are pictured as actual forces dashing down upon the sea, which probably points to the various political and social agitations which disturb the world’s history. Something is about to rise up from the sea.

     

    And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another (Daniel 7:3)

    Four large, ferocious animals emerged from the Sea, each one distinct from the other. A little later (Daniel 7:17) Daniel tells us that these four beasts are four kingdoms ruling over the earth.

     The first was like a lion but had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and set up on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it (Daniel 7:4)

    The first kingdom is the Babylonian Empire, represented by a lion and an eagle. This fits in well with the majesty and authority of Nebuchadnezzar in his reign over the empire of Babylon. Jeremiah used both the lion and the eagle as pictures of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 49:19-22), and Babylon’s winged lions can be seen at the British Museum today. But this majestic beast was humbled as the wings were plucked off and made to stand as a mere man. The meaning of the symbol is not difficult. The ferocity, and the power, and the energy of the lion would now be replaced with the comparative weakness of a man.

     

    And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and they said this to it: ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ (Daniel 7:5)

    Another beast, which is the second one, is a bear, which represented the Medo-Persian Empire, that succeeded the Babylonian Empire. In this partnership between the Medes and the Persians, the Persians dominated the relationship, therefore it is said that “it was raised up on one side”. Most think the three ribs represent their three great military conquests: Babylon, Egypt and Lydia. The command to arise and devour much flesh indicates the extreme cruelties often practiced by the Persians, and the wide extent of their conquests.

     

    After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it (Daniel 7:6)

    Then came the leopard represented by the Greek Empire. Alexander the Great quickly and swiftly conquered the civilized world by age 28, which appears to be represented by the swiftly flying “wings of a bird” it had. After his death his empire was divided into four parts (or four heads). Specifically, the four heads were Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, who inherited Alexander’s domain after his death.

     

    After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns (Daniel 7:7)

    The fourth beast was indescribable, and uniquely horrific in its power and conquest, portrayed also with large “iron teeth” able to crush his opposes. In the ancient world horns expressed the power and fearsomeness of an animal. This fourth beast was so strong it had ten horns.  In historical fulfillment, the fourth beast represents the Roman Empire, which was the largest, strongest, most unified and enduring of them all. It had ten horns, which represents rulers and kings.

    While I was thinking about the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the previous horns were plucked out before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like human eyes, and a mouth uttering great boasts (Daniel 7:8)

    While I was thinking about the horns.  That is while Daniel was thinking about all the ten horns.

     

    Another horn, a little one, came up among them. The text does not say the little horn came up “after them”, meaning after the 10th horn, but “among them”. This little horn is not a 11th horn, but a horn among the ten, that started out to be “little”, but grew in size compared to its associates (that is the other 9 horns). Daniel does not see the ten horns coming up one after another. Therefore, the ten horns appear to come up as a totality, but a little one becomes “larger in appearance than its associates” (Daniel 7:20).

    Three of the previous horns were plucked out before it. From among the ten horns, three are replaced by this little horn.

    “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were serving Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court convened, And the books were opened (Daniel 7:9-10)

    I kept looking Until thrones were set up. When the Apostle John saw heaven, he also saw thrones, but he also saw those who sat on those thrones – the 24 elders described in Revelation 4:4. Daniel made no mention of these elders, perhaps because the 24 elders represent the church, and the church was an unrevealed mystery to Old Testament saints (Ephesians 3:1-7). Thrones being set up indicate rulership and reign in heaven.

    And the Ancient of Days took His seat. Daniel 7:13 seems to make a distinction between the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man, and this supports the idea that the Ancient of Days here is God the Father, not God the Son.

    His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. White represents age, righteousness, purity and justice. God is a wise and righteous judge, and he is about to sit before a judgement scene.

    His throne was ablaze with flames: This was a brilliant manifestation of God’s splendor and the fierce heat of His judgment. There seems to be something lava-like in the stream of fire pouring from the throne; it was like a river of vast destructive power. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

    Its wheels a burning fire. Many commentators say that in the ancient eastern world royal thrones were often on wheels. Yet it is just as likely that they represent the endless activity of God.

    A thousand upon thousands ministered to Him and myriads. This describes the innumerable company of angels surrounding the throne of God. This must also include the saints in heaven represented by the 24 elders.

    Court was seated, and the books were opened. The Almighty is represented as holding a court of judgement in heaven. The Bible describes several books before God, and any of these or combination of these could be meant. The book of the living (Psalm 69:28). The book of remembrance (Malachi 3:16). The Book of Life (Philippians 4:3, Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27 and 22:19). Some power is going to be judged. Who is it?

    Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was killed, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time (Daniel 7:11-12).

     

    The sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking. Here the “little horn” of the fourth beast speaks pompous words. It appears he is the one that is going to be judged.

    I watched till the beast was killed and its body was destroyed. This could happen only as a result of the judge’s verdict. The little horn is not judged alone. The beast (Roman Empire) will be punished for all its horns and sins. Though the verdict may not be executed instantly, the verdict is final.

     

    The rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away. The destiny of the first three beasts (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece) is different. They are stripped out of their political dominion, though their life continue as nations without dominion for a God ordained time.

     

    “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Honor, and a kingdom, So that all the peoples, nations, and populations of all languages Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

     

    And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man was coming. Clouds represented divine presence or judgement. The title Son of Man was a favorite self-designation of Jesus, used more than 80 times in the four Gospels. When Jesus ascended, “a cloud took Him up” (Acts 1:9). Here, Jesus moves with the clouds of heaven. Where does He go?

     

    And He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. The Hebrew expression “came up to” is used for someone being brought before a royal audience. This is not Jesus coming to earth at the second coming, but Jesus ascending to the Father after his resurrection, and He is to be enthroned before all the hosts of heaven.

    And to Him was given dominion, Honor, and a kingdom, so that all the peoples, nations, and populations of all languages Might serve Him. Christ receives all dominion, honor, and worship. The reign of Jesus begins at His ascension and will be consummated when He creates the new heavens and new earth, so that all the peoples, nations, and tribes will serve Him.

    “As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. I approached one of those who were standing by and began requesting of him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things” (Daniel 7:15-16).

    Daniel saw all this, and in more detail than he describes for us. He did not really understand all that he saw and was troubled because of his lack of understanding.

    These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth (Daniel 7:17)

    The divine interpretation of the dream shows that this vision covers the same material as Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel 2, which also described the rise of four empires, or four kings (same as kingdoms) which will be succeeded by the kingdom of God.

    But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and take possession of the kingdom forever, for all ages to come (Daniel 7:18)

     

    The saints of the Highest One, who is none other than Jesus, will receive the kingdom, which is an eternal kingdom.

    “Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet (Daniel 7:19)

    Daniel desired to know more about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceeding dreadful, which is the Roman Empire.

     

     

    And the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three of the horns fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts, and which was larger in appearance than its associates (Daniel 7:20)

    Daniel desired to know more about the ten horns, and the little horn that grew larger among them, and plucked out three of the horns. The little horn started out little but was “larger in appearance than its associates”. Size may indicate it started out small, temporal in power, but its power grew, and it spoke boastfully. It says it had “eyes” which are often associated with pride (Isaiah 2:11, 5:15).

     

     I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom (Daniel 7:21-22).

     

    Horn was waging war with the saints. This horn was successful in its war against God’s people, and prevailed for some time, but not for too long. Who came in judgement against this horn power?

     

    Until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One. The little horn was judged by God the Father and would not continue to persecute the saints. Instead, “judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One”, meaning justice was granted to the saints by the act of judging and putting an end to the little horn’s schemes. Judgment includes the granting of the “kingdom” to the saints.

    The time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. The giving of the kingdom to the saints of the Most High began when Christ established his kingdom on this earth. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). “To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom…” (Revelation 1:5-8). The church is His kingdom now on earth.

    “This is what he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and will devour the whole earth and trample it down and crush it (Daniel 7:23)

     

    The fourth beast signifies the Roman Empire, which was different in character from all the kingdoms. By the whole world, it is meant, wherever the Roman Empire became masters of, and caused destruction and desolation.

     

     

    As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will humble three kings (Daniel 7:24)

    As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise. The Bible clearly says the ten kings (ten horns) will arise out of this kingdom meaning from within the Roman Empire. This could not possibly refer to outside entities or European tribes that invaded and conquered Western Rome. The kings arise from within. Note well that the ten horns are “kings.” The Aramaic word used is melek which literally means “king” and is only translated “king” in the Old Testament. It is never translated as “nation” or “kingdom”.

    And another will arise after them. After them means, after he saw the ten horns that arose, “from among them” (Daniel 7:8) another one of the horns will arise starting out little but became “larger in appearance than its associates” (Daniel 7:20) and will pluck out three kings. In other words, the little horn was seen coming up last among all the others, because he was different, and not because he was chronologically the last one to rule in time.

     

    Therefore, the ten horns represent ten kings or rulers of the Roman Empire. Now “ten” in prophesy can symbolize totality of its rulers or powers. After all, Roman empire was not ruled by just 10 rulers. However, since Daniel is concerned with the coming of Christ’s spiritual kingdom (Daniel 2), there is another fitting interpretation.

    Interestingly, history records that there were, in fact, ten Roman Caesars who ruled Rome prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. The first king was Julius Caesar. According to historical sources, Julius Caesar played a critical part in ending the Roman Republic and establishing the Roman Empire. In fact, he was the first historical Roman to be officially deified. Here then are the ten Caesars (kings) that ruled before the destruction of Jerusalem:

    • Julius Caesar 49-44BC
    • Augustus (also known as Octavian) 31BC-14AD
    • Tiberius (Luke 3:1) 14-37AD
    • Gaius (also known as Caligula) 37-41AD
    • Claudius (Acts 17) 41-54AD
    • Nero 54-68AD
    • Galba 68-69AD
    • Otho 69AD
    • Vitellius 69AD
    • Vespasian 69-79AD

    John Calvin, among others, held that the ten horns in Daniel 7 referred to Caesars. Many scholars hold that the Little Horn of Daniel 7 is Caesar Nero. His actual birth name was Lucius. The Latin meaning of Lucius is Light Bearer. The name Lucius is a synonym of the name Lucifer. Many Christians in the early centuries regarded Nero Caesar as the anti-Christ. Interestingly enough, his Hebrew name numerically adds up to 666.

    He will humble three kings. Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.

    And he will speak against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time (Daniel 7:25).

    And he will speak against the Most High. Nero encouraged emperor worship and had a huge statue of himself erected in Rome. Inscriptions found in Ephesus called him “Almighty God” and “Saviour….”

    Wear down the saints of the Highest OneNero is different from the rest of the Caesars in that he is the only one from Julius to Titus to persecute Christians. Hence, Nero was the first Roman emperor to launch a persecution against Jews and Christians. Some of the saints slain during his persecution include the apostles Paul and Peter. Historians have described the persecution as “the most cruel that ever occurred.”

    They will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. Time (1 year), Times (2 years) and half a time (1/2 year) equals to 3 ½ years or 1260 days. Nero’s persecution began in November of 64 AD and ended with his death in June of AD 68, a period of 42 months (1260 days).

    He will intend to make alterations in times and in law. Change in “times” and seasons refers to changing kings. “It is He [God] who changes the times and the periods; He removes kings and appoints kings” (Daniel 2:21). Nero tried to alter constitutions of kingdoms and to set up and pull-down kings at pleasure. Tacitus Annals records that Nero “uprooted” three Parthian the kings, Vologases I, Tigranes, and Tiridates I in the Armenian wars AD 43-66.

    Nero changed and intended to change laws. The word Law in Daniel 7:25 is the word “dat” meaning “decree”, not “Torah”. Thus, this is speaking of a ruler who would change laws is not in reference to the Decalogue and certainly the Sabbath is not in view. In declaring war on Jerusalem, Nero officially changed the treaty law between Israel and Rome that dates to 161 BC. Nero sent Vespasian to destroy Jerusalem in December AD 66 as an act of formally breaking the treaty.

    Moreover, few emperors were more lawless than Nero. The great Roman historian Tacitus describes his lawless behavior in his writings. Nero was known for numerous brutal executions, including that of his own mother. When his second wife, pregnant at the time, complained that he had returned home late from the races, Nero kicked her and her unborn baby to death. He killed his Aunt by having her poisoned. Nero was a non-stop assault on marriage, the family, and the law of God. Nero had two homosexual marriages to men. When he wed Pythagoras, Nero put on the bride’s veil, and Pythagoras was the “groom.” According to Tacitus, Nero engaged in “every filthy, depraved illicit act.”

    But the court will convene for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever (Daniel 7:26).

    But the court will convene for judgment. God judged this little horn power. The Roman Senate eventually voted to put Nero to death, thus effectively taking away his dominion. In 68 AD, after a turbulent 13-year reign, the Roman senate ran out of patience and declared Nero a public enemy. Nero then fled, and on June 9, 68 AD, at the age of 30, he committed suicide.

    Who is being judged? As noted earlier, the judgment of Daniel 7 is a judgment against the little horn and the beast power, not an investigative judgment of the saints as Seventh-day Adventists would teach. It was the Roman Empire, under the guidance of Satan, acting through a Roman governor and Roman soldiers, that crucified the Son of God. The judgment, although decided in heaven, was not instantly executed upon Rome when Jesus died, just as Jerusalem was not instantly punished. Time was given to allow for Rome to manifest what it was going to do with Christ and Christianity.

    Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the empires will serve and obey Him.’ (Daniel 7:27).

    The dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms will be given to the people. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). We have been already transferred to the kingdom of Christ, and this kingdom will be fully consummated when Jesus creates a new heaven and new earth.

    It is a mistake to think this passage is a reference to God’s eternal literal kingdom that will be realized after the second coming of Christ. This is a reference to the establishment of God’s spiritual kingdom, which was announced in approximately 30 AD when John the Baptist announced, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2).

    Christ talked about the “kingdom” as being contemporary, present while He was on earth, not in the far distant future.

    “But if I cast out the demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you(Matt. 12:28)

    “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19)

    Daniel wrote about a kingdom that gradually fills the earth (Dan. 2:34-35). Jesus spoke of a Mustard seed which grew into a great tree (Matt. 13:31-33). Therefore, the giving of the kingdom to the saints of the Most High began when Christ established his spiritual kingdom on this earth, and the kingdom continues to grow until one day Jesus will create a new heavens and new earth, and all people and powers will serve and obey Him.

    Jesus’ death was as a mustard seed being planted in the earth. After His resurrection, the gospel sprouted and spread throughout the empire. Nero and later Caesars manifested a satanic hatred towards Christianity. They thought to persecute it into non-existence, and Nero almost succeeded. However, he was killed, his persecution halted and his dominion was taken away. The very persecution he started in an attempt to stamp out Christianity would later become the seed that fueled an even more explosive growth of Christianity. Eventually the dominion of Satan was broken in the Roman Empire and it became the dominion of the saints. Christianity was recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD.

    Every specification of Daniel 7 came to pass just as predicted. In fact, the fulfillment is so incredible that atheists and agnostics have long insisted the book of Daniel was written after Nero’s death. At the time they were making such claims, the oldest copies of Daniel were dated a thousand years after Christ. However, these enemies of God were silenced when the book of Daniel was discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. In all, eight copies of the book were found. The oldest was carbon-dated to 165 BC. That was long before Nero or any of the ten Caesars. Only God could have known the unfolding of the Roman Empire hundreds of years beforehand. Praise God!

     

    At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face became pale, but I kept the matter to myself (Daniel 9:28).

     

    Many things might trouble Daniel at this vision – such as the ferocity of the attack to come against his people from the conspicuous horn. Daniel was convinced that the prophecy was true, and that it was the word of God. He was so convinced of its truth that his countenance changed and he considered what would happen his people and the saints of God.

     


     

    Alternative interpretation: Emperor Domitian as the 11th horn

    Some scholars apply the little horn to Emperor Domitian (the son of Emperor Vespasian), who is viewed as the 11th horn, coming after the ten horns. He was the 11th emperor of Rome. He revived the imperial cult and promoted emperor worship (boastful). Domitian attempted to change the legal and calendar systems under his rule (change laws). It is said the outright persecution under Domitian lasted this long (3 1/2 years). After him, while Rome continued for a time (Daniel 7:12), they did not exercise the dominion or authority of Domitian.  Indeed, what followed next were known as the “good emperors”, who ruled relatively benevolently. Domitian appears to be also a possible fit for the little horn.

    Other commentators apply this little horn symbol to either the papacy or the entire Roman Empire and later pagan institutions that arose from the influence of Greece and Rome. Such an application can be made. However, extending the interpretation of the “Little Horn” beyond AD 70 is irrelevant to the context and purposes of Daniel.

     

    Seventh-day Adventist interpretation

     

    1) SDA’s teach that the ten horns are ten tribes that conquered the western Roman Empire. Out of the twenty or more tribes that actually conquered the western Roman Empire, Adventists selected ten tribes and declared these ten were the tribes represented by the ten horns (Vandals, Ostrogoths, Heruli, Visigoths, Burgundians, Anglo-Saxons, Alamani, Suevi, Lombards and Franks).  Daniel 7:24 makes it abundantly clear that the ten horns are not other nations that conquer Rome: “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise”. The Bible clearly says the ten kings will arise from within the Roman Empire. Contrast that with the tribes that SDA’s give. The tribes all arose outside of the Roman Empire. Moreover, the Bible says the ten horns are kings, not nations or tribes. Besides, history says over forty tribes fought with the Roman Empire, not ten.

    2) SDA’s teach the little horn is the Papacy and it uprooted three tribes: Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heruli ? None of these tribes were destroyed by the Pope (Papacy benefited from their destruction by the hand of others). Any history textbook will explain that the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, the Vandals and Ostrogoths by the Byzantines. (see: www.historyworld.net ; www.britannica.com/topic/Heruli).

    3) SDA’s teach that the papacy changed the Sabbath commandment. Seventh-day Adventist misquote certain Roman Catholic & Protestant Confessions as proof that the Roman Catholic Church changed it. But in this SDA’s ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Roman Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Roman Catholic Church extends back to, and began with the apostles, who started this practice of meeting on Sunday. The “official” teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is that the abolition of the ceremonial seventh day Sabbath was confirmed by the apostles. The very highest authority, in the Catholic Church – the Council of Trent, “The Catechism of the Council of Trent,” published by order of Pius IV, contains the creed of the Church.  It devotes eight pages to the Sabbath question.  It says:

    The Sabbath was kept holy from the time of the liberation of the people of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh; the obligation was to cease with the abrogation of the Jewish worship, of which it formed a part; and it therefore was no longer obligatory after the death of Christ. “The apostles therefore resolved to consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, and called it ‘the Lord’s Day’; St.  John, in the Apocalypse, makes mention of ‘the Lord’s Day’; and the apostle commands collection to be made ‘on the first day of the week,’ that is, according to the interpretation of St.  Chrysostom, on the Lord’s Day;” (pages 264, 265).

    SDA top scholar Samuel Bacchiocchi showed that Ellen White and the SDA denomination’s claim that Pope changed the Sabbath were false: “I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sunday keeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. (“Free Catholic Mailing List” on 8 Feb 1997).

     

    Another SDA scholar, C. Mervyn Maxwell, Ph.D., professor of church history at Andrews University Theological Seminary, Berrien Springs, Michigan writes:  “There is little evidence that the sun occupied the unique position attributed to it by some modern authors. When the Emperor Caracalla tried to impose sun worship in the early years of the third century, the Romans laughed at him. Although sun worship has always played a role in pagan religions, it wasn’t until the end of that century (3rd century) that the sun enjoyed real prominence among the Roman gods—and by that time many Christians, at least, had been observing Sunday for 150 years. In his Apology addressed to the Roman Government, the great Christian writer Tertullian specifically refuted the charge that Christians worshiped on Sunday in honor of the sun” (Source: Ministry Magazine, 1977).

     

See our verse-by-verse Daniel Commentary here

See our verse-by-verse Revelation Commentary here.