March 31, 2010
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
When I began this section of study I said that the kingdom of the beast is revealed in three chapters of the book of Daniel. The first of course is in Daniel 2 where we find the Bible recording the dream of king Nebuchadnezzar of the large image with the head of gold, chest and arms of silver, thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and part of clay. This is a very significant portion of scripture and we have more we could say on this dream and its interpretation by Daniel.
I want to move on now however to the second revelation of the kingdom of the beast in Daniel 7. In this vision Daniel sees four animals, four beasts if you will, each representing a different prophetic empire. Daniel saw, “…the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.” [Vs. 2] The “Great Sea” is an early name for what is known today as the Mediterranean Sea. This is of course the great ocean linking northern Africa, Israel, Turkey, Italy, and Spain. The four beasts in the image represent empires that would have dominion over the nations surrounding the sea.
The first beast was a lion with two wings, which is traditionally identified as Babylon (Vs. 4). In the time of ancient Babylon, there were carved statues of creatures with human heads and the bodies of winged lions called lamassu, which were positioned at the entrances of temples and gates. Two winged lions are carved at the corners of the gates of Xerxes at Persepolis in Iran. When a winged lion was carved with an open book it meant peace, but one with a closed book meant war.
The second beast as we follow along in Daniel 7 is a bear and is historically linked to the second empire of Biblical prophecy, the Persian Empire (Vs. 5). Interestingly, history reveals that some of the biggest bears in the world came from the mountains of Persia. Notice the bear in Daniel’s vision had three ribs in its mouth (Vs. 5), representing the three nations the Persians overthrew, Libya, Babylon, and Egypt. The book of Daniel mentions the Persian king Cyrus’s victory over the Babylonians.
The third apocalyptic creature is identified as a Leopard with four wings (Vs. 6). The leopard is known for its speed. This accurately describes the swiftness with which the third empire, Greece, led by Alexander the great, defeated the Persians and moved its headquarters to Babylon. Alexander expanded his empire from Egypt to India.
The fourth and final beast is the most important to us and I might add, the most interesting. There is no physical description of a specific animal given by Daniel, other than this, “…a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” [Vs. 7] This fourth beast fits the imagery of the imperial Roman Empire. Some may disagree with this interpretation saying that it is contemporary and written long after the facts. However, as we look to the writings of one of the early church theologians, Hippolytus (A.D. 170- 236), Pastor of the Church at Rome and familiar with the prophetic interpretations, taught that the meanings of the animals were:
- The lion was Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar was the head of the image. The two wings on the lion represented the glory that was taken from Nebuchadnezzar but restored after his breakdown.
- The bear was the Medes and Persians, and the three ribs in the mouth represented Media, Persia, and Babylon.
- The leopard was Alexander the Great, and the four wings represented the four divisions of the empire after his death.
- The non-descriptive beast was Rome. The ten toes are ten kings that arise out of the Roman area.
This interpretation has remained the primary interpretation by traditional Christian prophetic teachers for centuries. These four beasts are the four successive empires of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
The apocalyptic literature of both Daniel and Revelation allude to a beast that had ten horns on the head (Dan. 7:7, 8, 20, 24; Rev. 13:1; 17:3, 12). Horns can represent a kingdom, a king, or a superior authority. The horns on the head of the apocalyptic beast are identified as ten kingdoms ruled by ten kings.
The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. [Dan. 7:24 NKJV]
The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. [Rev. 17:12 NKJV]
Daniel also saw one man identified as a “little horn” (leader) who will arise in the midst of the ten. He is described in Daniel’s vision.
I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. [Daniel 7:8 NKJV]
And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. [Daniel 8:9 NKJV]
This little horn, which has “eyes like the eyes of a man”, is symbolic of a person who will become the final world dictator. The term “little horn” is unique. It could allude to his physical size as being small in stature. It may also refer to his authority being diminished and small, and yet, through his “big mouth”, he will gain authority and influence. He will have a “mouth speaking great things” (Dan. 7:8), and shall “speak great words against the most High” (Dan. 7:25). This little horn will also uproot or take over three of the ten kings (Vs. 8).
Daniel mentions that Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia will be three nations that he will overthrow (Dan. 11:43). Several early fathers also identify these three nations in northern Africa as being the three nations that Antichrist will root up when he rises to power. All three of these nations are presently Islamic in nature, with all three having a small Christian population.
With all of these nations involved, where will the beast set up his headquarters? We will take a look at the answer to that question and much more next time.
The Weekly Word is found in Revelation 13:2. Here the Bible says,
Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. [Rev. 13:2 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson