Commentary on the Book of Daniel

Check out our commentary on the Book of Daniel.

The compilation of this Daniel’s Commentary was an attempt to conduct a verse-by-verse exegesis of this inspired Book. The primary objective was to spiritually enrich my soul. As an SDA, I was immersed in the SDA interpretation of the Book of Daniel and Revelation. Since leaving Seventh-day Adventism, I wanted to relook at the Book of Daniel from a fresh perspective. The result is this commentary. Now I want to share this commentary with anyone who is passionate about deep diving into God’s word.

The little horn of Daniel 8 is the Papacy?

 

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. See also the problems with year-day principle. Taking into account that the word “day” is nowhere to be found in Dan. 8:14, where exactly is the biblical key that, in prophecy, one evening plus one morning equals one year rule? Don’t we, as creationists, insist that the presence of the words “evening and morning” in Genesis 1 implies 24-hour days? Who gave SDAs the right to use evening to morning = 1 year rule when God has not specified it?  If God wanted to say 2300 years, he would have said so like he does elsewhere in Bible prophecy. The Bible prophesied that Abraham’s children would be afflicted for 400 years (Gen 15:13) and that the Jews would be in captivity for 70 years (Daniel 9:1-2). Jonah prophesied Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days (Jonah 3:4), which did not equate to 40 years. In Genesis 6:3 God prophesied there would be a period of 120 years before the flood, which did not equate to 43,200 years.

 

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 (kingdom). That is during the “time of the end” or “end times” of when one of the four kingdoms were ruling. The text does not say “in the latter time of the Seleucid kingdom”. “The latter time of their rule or kingdom” refers to ONE Greek kingdom which replaced Alexander the Great. Note that “kingdom” is singular. Besides, this cannot be Rome which did not rise during the latter time of their kingdom, because Rome had existed for centuries before Alexander and did not come up into power after Alexander’s death. As far as Israel was concerned Antiochus IV did indeed come as the LAST of the Seleucid rulers over Israel. The next non-Jewish ruler over Israel would be pagan Rome in AD 64.

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 the 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. While 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), the first of these four kings began to reign in the year B. C. 306 and continued till 65 B. C. And Antiochus Epiphanes reigned from 175 B. C. to 164 B. C. Therefore, he did reign in the latter times of their kingdoms, at a time when Greece had passed the peak of its power evidenced by the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the Romans while on his way to invade Egypt. Now if Antiochus is too early to rise, then so is Rome since Rome was a power during the days of Antiochus, and it is said this king will arise during the latter time of their kingdom. SDA’s will say Rome is different, but any such explanation is a convenient excuse. 

 

  • Antiochus 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). SDA bible commentary says regarding “exceedingly great” as follows: yether, basically meaning “remainder.” In a few instances it describes, as here, that which is above measure, in the sense of leaving a remainder. It is translated “excellency” (Gen. 49:3), “plentifully” (Ps 31:23), “much more abundant” (Isa. 56:12). The word translated “very” in Dan. 8:8 is me´od, the more common word for “exceedingly.” In the OT me´od is translated “exceeding” or “exceedingly” 22 times (Gen. 13:13; 15:1; etc.) in its simple form and 9 times in its repeated form. It cannot be argued that yether (Dan. 8:9) represents a greater degree than me´od.

 

  • 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 beforetheir 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). While king and kingdom can be used interchangeably, this is the angelic interpretation of it, unlike the SDA interpretation, and it is referring to an individual king (not a series of Kings or Popes) that arises. 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.

 

 

  • The image above shows the four horns standing out of the head of the he-goat, Alexander. The four kingdoms were Egypt, Thrace, Macedonia, and Syria; and out of one them comes forth a “little horn,” Antiochus Epiphanes; (in the chart the rather long horn is shown with the idea of showing more plainly the direction taken in its warfare). According to the prophecy the “little horn” was to first go to the SOUTH (Egypt) (see Maccabees 1:17-19). The next direction was TOWARD THE EAST (Persia) – See Maccabees 3: 31-37. The last direction which is TOWARD THE PLEASANT LAND (see (2 Maccabees 9: 13, 28). Thus, Antiochus Epiphanes thoroughly fulfilled the prophecy. After going south, then east, we find that he did wax exceeding great toward the pleasant land.

 

  • Now if one has concerns regarding Antiochus sphere of operations, and greatness, look no further than to the historian Josephus’ final conclusion. Josephus has the following to say: “And that from them (the four horns of the goat) there should arise a certain king that should overcome our nation, and should take away our political government and should spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifice to be offered for three years’ time…. And indeed it came so to pass that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision. ” —Antiquities, Book 10; chapter XI. While the book of Maccabees nor Josephus is inspired, no one will deny that Maccabees is authentichistory. Josephus not only had access to the Scriptures as a priest but actually owned them at the destruction of Jerusalem. And so, Josephus is recognized as the greatest Jewish historian that ever lived. SDA’s quotes from Josephus and from Maccabees often enough when it suits them. 

 

 

  • Now the above is the chart given by SDA’s (Uriah Smith) regarding the little horn’s rise. One glance at this should be quite sufficient to convince any unbiased Bible student, that the application of Rome to this prophecy is being forced against all the principals laid down by God in the studying of the prophecies. Instead of the “little horn” coming out of one of the four horns of Alexander’s Empire, SDA interpretation brings it away from the west (Italy) and when it reaches the Macedonian horn, “it” or Rome blends Macedonia in with “it.” This is quite opposite the prophecy — where it says that the “little horn” was to come out of one of them, interpreted by the angel to mean during their “latter days of their kingdom”. Again, it will be noticed from SDA illustration that when the Roman horn leaves Macedonia it goes EAST toward Syria, whereas the prophecy says that it would first go SOUTH. The Roman horn then goes SOUTH to Judea, whereas the prophecy says that it would go East. And again, Rome goes further SOUTH to Egypt, whereas the prophecy says that the “little horn” would then go to the PLEASANT LAND (which is a westerly direction). Now that is not all.

 

  • Again it will be noticed that the Roman horn goes on its march to Syria, 65 B. C.; to Judea, 63 B .C.; and to Egypt 30 B. C., that is, AFTER THESE KINGDOMS OF THE FOUR HORNS HAVE COME TO THEIR END. For they came to their end in 65 B. C. when Rome came over and conquered them as a universal kingdom. Whereas the prophecy distinctly says that “IN THE LATTER TIME OF THEIR KINGDOM — IN THE LATTER TIME OF THE REIGN OF THE FOUR HORNS, would this “little horn” rise up AND NOT AFTER THEY HAD COME TO THEIR END.13

 

  • SDAs claim that the greatness of the “little horn” disqualifies Antiochus, because he wasn’t that great, but then states that the chapter deals mostly with the pope, who wasn’t that great either to begin with! The “little horn” started little, then he grew in certain particular directions, and then he was to be destroyed unexpectedly. In what sense does this fit the history of Rome, which, according to SDA’s, started out being “exceedingly great”, then sunk into nothingness, only to be replaced by the bishop of Rome, then again lose supremacy, then who would grow great, once again, only to be destroyed at the Second Advent? Doesn’t it fit Antiochus’ history much better, since he started small, grew considerably in his attacks against Egypt and Israel, and died during a campaign to the east? 

 

 

  • SDA’s also put forward the argument that in the Hebrew for Daniel 8:8, 9, “horns” is feminine, and “winds” is either masculine or feminine. In the phrase “out of one of them (mehem),” the pronoun “them” is masculine. This means that the antecedent noun for “them” cannot be “horns” but must be “winds.” Thus, the little horn was to appear out of one of the four winds. It was to arise from one of the four directions of the compass.
    • However, note this. Daniel 8:8,9 – “and for it came up four notable onestoward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn“. The word “one” is feminine which would link it back to the feminine “horns”. Therefore, if we were to look only at linguistics, we cannot determine for certainty whether the little horn arose from the winds or the other horn.

 

  • Further, close examination of the above statement, however, reveals it to be a mixture of truth and error. Contrary to SDA claim that the pronoun mehem is masculine, it is actually gender-independent. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT), a standard reference work, observes at entry #504 that it is a “third person plural independent nominative pronoun.” TWOT also points out, at entry #480 dealing with the third person singular pronoun hû’, that it likewise is gender-independent and can take the meaning “he,” “she,” or “it,” depending on the context. We must conclude that SDA claim that mehem must be a masculine noun requiring a masculine antecedent.

 

  • There are also problems with SDA blanket statement that “winds” can be either masculine or feminine. It is true that some grammars call it a “common gender” word that can take either a masculine or feminine verb, but we still have to let the specific context determine how ruach should be regarded in each case. In the authoritative Koehler-Baumgartner-Richardson-Stamm Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) it states (p. 1197), “Generally רוּח is fem.; only seldom is it masc., as in Ex 1013.19 Nu 1131 Is 5716 Jr 412 Ezk 2726 Ps 5112 7839 Jb 415 82 203 418 Qoh 16 319.” The given instances are apparently the sum total of places where ruach is masculine. No Daniel passages are included. Hence, we should conclude that SDA’s are mistaken in claiming that ruach is a masculine noun as used in Daniel 8.

 

  • SDA’s similarly tries to get around the apparent sense of the text—that “them” refers to one of the four Greek “horns” of 8:8—by claiming that there is a “curious disagreement of genders in the Hebrew phrase ‘one’ (feminine) of them (masculine)” (p. 28). The -ath ending of the adjective “one” (‘echath, הָאַחַת), which modifies “them,” is feminine. Because Hebrew requires that adjectives must agree in gender with the noun they modify, it shows the independent pronoun “them” is being treated as a feminine noun. We therefore expect the pronoun “them” to be paired with a feminine antecedent. There is thus no disagreement of genders, and linking “them” with the feminine noun for “horns” is quite grammatically valid. SDA’s thus cannot rule out “horns” as the antecedent of “them” on the basis of gender.12

 

  • Isn’t it true that a literal translation of Dan. 8:8,9 would be “And came up [plural, feminine] notable [singular, feminine] four in its place [feminine] toward four winds [feminine] of the heavens [feminine]. And from one [feminine] of them [masculine; there are textual variants where ‘them’ is also feminine] came [masculine] horn [feminine] one [feminine] little [feminine]”? Isn’t it true that the best Hebrew grammars warn that sometimes Hebrew shows a somewhat erratic behaviour regarding gender agreement, like E. Kautzsch, editor, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd edition, 17th printing, translated by A. E. Cowley, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), §§ 110 k, 144 a, 145 p, t, u, 135 o? Hence, isn’t the notion of a horn coming out of a wind somewhat unexpected, both biologically and theologically? Is there any other occurrence of such a thing? Does the angel hint at such an understanding in the explanation to the vision? Is the inclusion of the expression “out of one of them” informative or uninformative? If Inspiration had wanted to convey the notion that the “little horn” was geographically unrelated to the other four kings, how would readers more easily get the idea, by adding “out of one of them” or by omitting it? 

 

 

  • Antiochus never “cast down the foundation of the sanctuary”? Antiochus did kill many Jews, cast out the high priest and destroy the great altar of burnt offering by offering a pig on it (8:10-11). This stopped sanctuary usage until it was cleansed from defilement. Neither did the Roman Catholic Church literally cast down the sanctuary. SDAs teach that the Roman Catholic Church figuratively cast down the sanctuary in heaven when it introduced the confessional.  Antiochus’ actions are much closer to the fulfilment than the figurative confessional in the 12th century. If the SDA 2300 years began in BC 457, that should be the beginning point of the little horn’s desolations. However, neither pagan Rome nor papal Rome did anything in BC 457. This is a serious SDA error.

 

  • The term “the Prince of the host”. In Hebrew, it is sar-hatsaba’. Besides Dan. 8:11, it occurs in 1 Sam. 17:55 (applied to Abner), in 1 Kings 1:19; 11:15, 21 (applied to Joab), in 2 Kings 4:13 (applied to a commander of the army in the days of Elisha), in 2 Kings 25:19 and Jeremiah 52:25 (applied to the “chief officer in charge of conscripting the people”), in 1 Chron. 19:18 (applied to Shophach), and in 1 Chron. 27:5, applied to “Benaiah son of Jehoiada the priest”. In which of these references is there a Messianic implication? Since 1 Chron. 27:5 witnesses to the possibility of a priest having the title of sar-hatsaba’, would it be legitimate to suppose that Daniel predicted that the “little horn” would interfere with the Aaronic priesthood or that he would even eliminate one of the priests? There’s another set of texts that have the slightly different Hebrew expression sar-tseba’. Besides Jos. 5:15, 16, where it is used for some supernatural envoy from God, it occurs in Judges 4:7 and 1 Sam. 12:9 for Sisera, in 2 Sam. 2:8 for Abner, in 2 Sam. 10:16 for Shobach, in 2 Sam. 19:13 and 1 Kings 2:32 for Abner and Amasa, in 1 Kings 16:16 for Omri, in 2 Kings 5:1 for Naaman, and in 1 Chron. 19:16 for Shophach. Again, how certain is the Messianic attribution of sar-tseba’?

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?
  • If the Bible teaches a day-for-a-year principle to be used in prophecy, and if the one-day-a-year is a prophecy to begin in 1844, then the Day of Atonement should have lasted from 1844 to 1845. How can one even justify saying that the prophetic Day of Atonement has already lasted 165+ years?

 

 

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. 

Objectively, what really happened in 1844? Did anything happen to the “little horn” at that time? Can we find anything worthy of mention that happened to the papacy at that time? No? How come? Would this involve just another little bit of contortion? 

The idea that confessed sins are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary and are defiling it is not found anywhere in the Bible or the passage of Daniel 8. Look at what various Seventh-day Adventist scholars have written regarding this problem:

C.L. Price: “What has defiled the sanctuary and made necessary its ‘cleansing’ is its defilement by the little horn. Confessed sins are not referred to at all; that is an alien thought, wholly brought in by the Adventist writers themselves.”  Source: C. L. Price, “Should a Question be Answered? A Study of Daniel 8:14 in New Light on Old Problems (1973).

Dr. Raymond Cottrell: “Coming again to the Book of Daniel I determined to try once more to find a way to be absolutely faithful to both Daniel and the traditional Adventist interpretation of 8:14, but again found it impossible. I then formulated six questions regarding the Hebrew text of the passage and its context, which I submitted to every college teacher versed in Hebrew and every head of the religion department in all of our North American colleges—all personal friends of mine. Without exception they replied that there is no linguistic or contextual basis for the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14.” (Raymond F. Cottrell, The “Sanctuary Doctrine” ? Asset or Liability?)

Andre Reis, another SDA theologian writes: “The book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest. For the author, Jesus went “within the veil” in the same manner that the High Priest used to go “within the veil” on Yom Kippur. The expression in Greek is the same used in Lev 16. Jesus went “within the veil,” “with his blood,” “once and for all.” This occurred when he ascended to the Father

“The bias for interpretative tradition in regards to 1844 is illustrated by an interesting episode I witnessed not long ago. I recently visited a certain Adventist seminary and stumbled upon a class on Hebrews. The teacher was a prominent author of DARCOM and the subject was the “inauguration” of the heavenly sanctuary which the teacher used to justify the fact that, although Hebrews 6 undeniably places Jesus inside the Most Holy Place at his ascension, this entering in the Most Holy Place was merely to “inaugurate” it. In other words, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place at the ascension, inaugurated it, left it and then went in again 1844.

I was disturbed to see that he was presenting views that had been debunked by another Adventist scholar in an exchange they had in one of our printed magazines. Never did he mention his dialogue with the other scholar. I raised my hand and asked him where in the OT do we see blood going into the Most Holy Place in any of the OT inauguration passages. By his reaction, I suspected he knew that there is no such OT passage. He hesitated for a second and then appealed to the book of Hebrews. In other words, the book of Hebrews proves that in the same book Hebrews Jesus inaugurated the sanctuary with blood, even though none of the OT passages mention blood within the sanctuary, let alone the Most Holy Place. I didn’t press the issue and I doubt his students understood the implications of my question. The fallacy of the argument is disappointing, if not dishonest.

This encounter shows me that, at the end of the day, the viability of 1844 as a prophetic marker continues to depend heavily on isolated proof-texts. It seems Adventist scholars who defend 1844 as an unmovable rock are satisfied with finding tiny hooks in a few chosen verses that appear to (albeit remotely) support our position. That is no longer an acceptable way to construct theology”. (Source: https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound )

 

 

 

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. John Calvin, among others, saw this as a reference to Christ’s ascension to heaven at the first coming. See Appendix 1: Origins of Futurism, Preterism, Historicism.

    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 (malkuw) ten kings (melek) 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”. If the ten horns were ten nations that defeated the Roman Empire, then Daniel would have used the word malkuw (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. The early church recognized Nero as the “antichrist”. Jerome noted in his commentary on Daniel: “And so there are many of our viewpoint who think that Domitius Nero was the Antichrist because of his outstanding savagery and depravity.” 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. Why? So that his dominion will be taken away. 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. With the death of Nero, the empire was thrown into a series of civil wars that left Rome burned and Italy in ruins.  In the space of one year and 22 days, four emperors came to the throne: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.  The history of this time was unprecedented in world annals and clearly marked Christ’s coming in judgment against the persecutors of his church.

    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. So, because the court in heaven convened for judgment, the little horn’s dominion will be taken away, but who will be bestowed the dominion instead?

    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. Who will be bestowed this dominion? 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. Martin Luther applied it to the Turks. 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 as we saw from Daniel 2.

     

    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 (as some others have done) and declared that 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 (melek), not nations or tribes. Besides, history says over forty tribes fought with the Roman Empire, not ten. If God wanted to indicate 40 plus tribes he would have indicated with 40 plus horns.

    2) SDA scholars agree will all scholars that the horn growing on the head of the Goat in Daniel 8 represents Alexandar the Great. When that one large horn is later replaced by four smaller horns, SDAs likewise teach the Greek Macedonian empire was later ruled by Alexander’s four generals. It is inconsistent for SDAs to interpret the horns on the head of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 as nations that conquered that beast while at the same time teaching that the horns of Daniel 8 are kings that arose from within that nation! The Bible imagery throughout the book of Daniel (and also in the book of Revelation) consistently signifies that horns growing on the head of a beast represent the kings or leaders of that empire. To teach that those horns are actually outside powers that invade and conquer the beast is totally inconsistent with the imagery and Biblical usage of the horn symbol. While king or kingdom could be used interchangeably depending on the context, when horns are growing on the head of a beast, it represents leaders of that kingdom.

    3) SDA’s teach the little horn is the Papacy and it uprooted three tribes: Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heruli. Firstly, the Holy Scripture states that the fourth beast (pagan Rome) “had ten horns that were in his head” “out of this kingdom (7:20, 21) and the “other” little horn also “came up among them” “in his head” (Dan 7:8, 20-211).  Contrary to what SDAs teach, the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths were never kingdoms of ruled by pagan Rome. They did not originate out of pagan Rome. They had to if we are to be true the words of Scripture without reading into it.

    Then, 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).  Besides, contrary to what SDAs teach, the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths were never kingdoms ruled by pagan Rome. None came “up out of this kingdom.” All three were Arian invaders from outside Western Rome.

    Further, Holy Scripture says that the three horns were “plucked up by the root” (7:8). This means that they were destroyed and not merely pushed out. Again, history disagrees with the SDA version. First, the Arian Heruli were defeated in 508 by Arian Lombards who were enemies of the papacy. Instead of being destroyed (plucked up), the Heruli migrated back to Scandinavia. Second, the Vandals who had sacked Rome in 455 and had settled in north Africa were not a hindrance to papal of Christians in 538. The Vandals had been defeated in Africa in 534 when the Eastern Roman Empire regained its territory in North Africa. The Vandals were not “plucked up by the roots” because of the papal little horn. Instead they were conquered by Eastern Emperor Justinian in 534 because he was reconquering lost territory for the Eastern Greek Church. Third, the Ostrogoths do not fit the prophecy either. Though momentarily defeated in north Italy in 538 by the Eastern Empire, they returned to besiege Rome again in 546, 549 and 550. Pope Vigilius (538-555) was powerless and never began “wearing out the saints” (7:25). Instead of being “plucked up by the roots,” the Ostrogoths were slowly absorbed by the Arian Lombards who ruled much of Italy for centuries after 568.

    4) Is papacy guilty of boastfulness. It is true the Catholic Church has made some arrogant claims.

    5) Persecutes God’s saints. It is true that the Roman Catholic Church persecuted its enemies, although that practice ceased by the mid-nineteenth century. The vast majority of the 1260 years revealed weak popes who could seldom “wear out the saints”. In fact, 666 of the 1260 years had passed before these persecutions began.

    6) Rules for 1260 years. Adventists interpret this period as beginning in 538 AD and ending in 1798 AD, but there is no historical justification for picking these dates at the exclusion of other dates. For much of the time between 538 and 1798, large parts of Europe were under the rule of non-Catholics. Southern and Eastern Europe was under the rule of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires during much of Rome’s supposed “rule” or supremacy over the world. Much of the Mediterranean region, including parts of Spain, was under the control of Moslems during this period. After 1600, Protestants gained the upper hand in Northern Europe and North America. It is an exaggeration to claim that Rome “ruled” the world for 1260 years. See also the problems with year-day principle.

    Moreover, SDA prophetic interpretation errs because the papacy very definitely did not begin punishing non-Christians for their faith in 538. Although it was responsible for killing fellow Christians in Constantinople in 1204, murdered Albigensians in 1209, Inquisition would not begin in France  and Waldensians in 1527, 666 of the 1260 years had passed before these persecutions began. If the “saints” are true Christians inside the Western Roman Catholic Church, “made war with the saints” does not make sense because, from 538 until 1146, there was no “war” against fellow Catholic Christians. The first 600 years of the prophecy would be wrong, plus many failed Crusades were against Muslim Turks.

    Further, contrary to the description of the powerful little horn of Daniel 7:21-25, the pope was personally imprisoned, beaten and/or killed at least 13 times from 538-1798. This fact alone should disprove the SDA interpretation of the little horn. Imprisoned or killed: 538, 795, 872, 884, 896, 897, 898, 903, 904, 914, 939, 983, 1124.

    ROME, THE PAPAL STATES AND ITALY WERE OFTEN BESIEGED, OCCUPIED AND PLUNDERED. This happened at least 60 times between 538 and 1798 by at least 18 kingdoms covering every decade. Rome was difficult to protect and was easy prey to Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Lombards, Normans, Saracens and others. Also, whenever the pope disobeyed a ruler or tried to impose their authority, the result was usually a march to plunder Rome, the Papal States, or Italy itself. Again, this is not the description of the biblical little horn persecuting the saints. Lives of the Popes, by Richard McBrien, a leading Roman Catholic historian from the University of Notre Dame records the failure of Popes. McBrien is very blunt and honest about the failures of the popes. The literal historical facts should prove beyond doubt that the Roman Catholic papacy does not fulfill the prophecy of the biblical Anti-Christ little horn for (the SDAs) 1260 years from 538 to 1798.

    In the issue of Endtime Issues (#86), SDA scholar Samuel Bacchiochi writes:

    “The first problem is the questionable significance of 538. We noted earlier that Justinian’s triumph over the Ostrogoths in 538 was short-lived, because under their new leader, Totila, the Ostrogoths quickly captured most of their lost territories. In other words, this event did not significantly boost the power of the Papacy, which still faced constant harassment from various rulers for centuries to come.”

    Bacchiocchi goes on to say: “The second problem with the traditional interpretation is its failure to account for the basic meaning of this prophetic period. The persecution and protection of the church did not begin in 538, nor did it end in 1798. These are realities that have characterized the whole history of God’s church throughout the centuries. Some of the most bloody persecutions by Roman emperors occurred during the first four centuries.”

    He writes: “The death of Pius VI can hardly be seen as the ‘abolishment’ or ‘the downfall of the Papacy.’ It was simply a temporary humiliation of the prestige of the Papacy. In fact, Pius VI was able to give directives for the election of his successor. Few months after his death, the Cardinals met in Venice on December 8, 1799, and elected Barnaba Chiaramonti, who took the name of Pious VII, in deference to his predecessor.

    The following years marked, not the downfall, but the resurgence of papal authority, especially under the Pontificate of Pius IX (1846-1878). In 1854, Pius IX promulgated the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

    Ranko Stefanovic, Ph. D., an SDA Professor of New Testament at Andrews University agrees with Bachiochi and he writes: “I agree with you that A. D. 538 has been exaggerated; in order to get that date, the year 1798 was established first, and then the 1260 years were deducted from it” (Source: Endtimes issues )

    Anyone who has studied Christian history can verify that the dates of 538 and 1798 do not accurately mark the beginning and ending dates of the period of papal supremacy. The Bishop of Rome was consolidating power centuries before 538, and the papacy continued to grow and thrive even after the temporary setback of 1798. These dates were used by Adventists because they were convenient, as some others (historicists) had used them to fit a preconceived idea. These dates fit nicely into the prophetic jigsaw puzzle they were building. The dates were picked because they fit in the puzzle, not because they actually delineated the years of papal supremacy or holds up to good exegesis.

     

    7) 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).

     

    Ellen White claims that the change of the Sabbath to Sunday was accomplished by the Pope with the “power of the state”:

    It was on behalf of Sunday that popery first asserted its arrogant claims; and its first resort to the power of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as ‘the Lord’s Day.” (Great Controversy, page 447)

    She makes another similar statement later in the book: “Royal edicts, general councils, and church ordinances sustained by secular power were the steps by which the pagan festival [day of the Sun] attained its position of honor in the Christian world.” (page 574)

    Before we read Bacchoicchi’s assessment of these quotes, the reader should be aware that Bacchiocchi is still widely regarded as the SDA theologian who was the most knowledgeable person in the entire sect on church history pertaining to Sabbath-Sunday issues. There was simply no one in the church more qualified to assess Ellen White’s statements than Bacchiocchi. Here is his assessment:

    Both statements just cited are inaccurate, because the secular power of the state did not influence or compel Christians to adopt Sunday during the second and third centuries. At that time the Roman emperors were rather hostile toward Christianity. They were more interested to suppress Christianity than to support church leaders in their promotion of Sunday worship. The bishop of Rome could not have resorted to ‘the power of the state to compel the observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.’ Eventually, beginning with the fourth century, some Roman emperors actively supported the agenda of the church, but this was long after the establishment of Sunday observance.

    “The problem is with the second part of the statement which speaks of the Sabbath as being ‘pressed down a little lower’ in almost every general council. In all my reading of the seven ecumenical councils, I have not found a reference to the Sabbath/Sunday question being debated in such councils. Presumably the reason is that Sunday observance was no longer a debated question–it had become widely accepted by Christians.”

     

    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).

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Does Daniel 7 Describe an Investigative Judgment of the Righteous as SDA’s teach? Notice the order of events presented in Daniel 7:

    • Little horn came up (v. 8)
    • Little horn spoke great things (v. 8)
    • The judgment was set (v. 10)
    • The beast was slain and burned (v. 11)

    There is nothing in this sequence of events about investigating the deeds of the righteous. The context is that the little horn spoke blasphemous words, and then judgment occurred, and his dominion was taken away. The very next event after the judgment was the destruction of the beast. The only conclusion that can be arrived at from reading this passage in context is that the ones being judged are the little horn and the beast power. Now notice the sequence in the latter, interpretive section of the chapter:

    • Little horn arises (v. 24)
    • Little horn speaks against Most High (v. 25)
    • Little horn persecutes saints for 1260 days (v. 25)
    • The judgment shall sit (v. 26)
    • The little horn’s dominion is taken away (v. 26)

    The little horn’s kingdom is given to the saints (v. 27)
     

See our verse-by-verse Daniel Commentary here

See our verse-by-verse Revelation Commentary here.