In the first six chapters of the book of Daniel, God reveals a controversy between Christ and Satan—a controversy over God’s law and issues of worship. We also learned lessons from the life of Daniel—lessons of faithfulness and obedience and of worshiping the true God. We can apply these lessons to what we find in the last six chapters, as an earthly power tries to change the very heart of God’s law. “These chapters are filled with visions that challenge even the most advanced Bible students and scholars. Daniel is a book that has often been attacked by liberals who deny its inspiration. Abused by many who have taken its visions out of context to support all kinds of false theories concerning the second coming of Christ. But when properly read and understood, the book of Daniel can inspire us to greater faithfulness in our service to God and strengthen our faith in the inspiration of the Bible.” –The Book of Daniel, by Mark Copeland
The end of the first half ended in chapter 6 where we read how our God is the one and only God who is steadfast forever. When the lions roar in our ears, God is there.
In Daniel chapter 2, we read how the prophet Daniel was given a view of world history through a vision given to King Nebuchadnezzar. A great image represented the four great world empires which began in Daniel’s day and continued to our time and into the future. They were: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome and then a division of the Roman Empire into the European nations culminating in the Second Coming of Jesus. In Daniel chapter 7 another vision is recorded that covers the same time period and empires, only this prophecy provides more details for the same historical events. These additional details are “the little horn” and “the heavenly judgement” ending with God’s kingdom or Christ’s Second Coming.
We cannot fully understand the last six chapters of Daniel unless we first understand something about the Bible’s two sanctuaries. God took Moses up onto Mt. Sinai, and there He revealed to Moses the plans for the earthly sanctuary. “And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” Exodus 25:8–9. “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.” Exodus 25:40
The earthly sanctuary was divided into two parts—the outer court; and the sanctuary, or tabernacle. The tabernacle was also divided into two parts—the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Moses built this sanctuary, according to the dimensions God gave him in the Mount. This earthly sanctuary illustrated the plan of salvation. In the Old Testament sanctuary, if a person sinned it was necessary for them to come to the sanctuary with a lamb, without spot or blemish. The person then confessed his sin over the head of the innocent lamb and he, with his own hand, killed the lamb. In doing so, the sinner transferred his sin over the lamb, because “the wages of sin is death.” Somebody must die for the sin. In the Old Testament Sanctuary a lamb was slain instead of the sinner and this was a representation of Jesus Christ. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. Jesus was our Lamb. We deserve to die. We have broken God’s law. But God took our sins upon Himself, in the symbolism of the lamb. The blood of the slain lambs could not save anybody. The lamb that was killed pointed to the blood of Jesus that would save them.
There was a sanctuary on earth, but it was made after the pattern of the sanctuary in heaven. “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1–2. There was a sanctuary on earth and the true sanctuary is in heaven. A knowledge of the sanctuary is important in understanding Daniel Chapter 7.
“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” Daniel 7:2–3. Notice the symbols used in this dream. We can find their interpretation in the Bible itself.
“Four winds of the heaven” refer to war and strife. “And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even My fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them.” Jeremiah 49:36–37. “The sea” symbolizes people and nations, “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. The Four beasts coming out from the sea: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” Daniel 7:17
The kingdoms in Daniel 2 were represented by precious metals, and the same kingdoms in Daniel 7 are represented by animals or beasts. These kingdoms are: Head of gold and Lion: Babylon 605–539 BC (Daniel 7:4); Chest of Silver and Bear: Medo-Persia 539–331 BC (Daniel 7:5); Thighs of Bronze and Leopard: Greece 331–168 BC (Daniel 7:6); and Legs of Iron and Terrible Beast: Pagan Rome 168 BC–476 AD.
In the Book of Revelation, in Chapter 13, we read about a beast that rises up out of the sea. This beast is known as the anti-Christ. The entire world follows the beast’s deceptions. It is a blasphemous power. Daniel 7 and Revelation 13:1–2 speak of the same power. They both have beasts coming out of the sea. Both have a total of seven heads and ten horns. Both mention a lion, bear, leopard, and dragon. The similarities between Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 show us that they refer to the same powers. Daniel and Revelation are in fact complementary books in Bible prophecy. It is important to understand the symbols of the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the dragon, in order to understand what is coming in the future with issues such as the union of church and state, and the number 666.
Here in Daniel 7 we have a description of a power that would rise in the early centuries. It would unite church and state. This religious power would claim God’s authority, in that it had the power to change God’s law.
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:7–8. The Roman Empire, the fourth kingdom is represented by a terrible beast with iron teeth and ten horns. In Bible prophecy the ten horns represent the ten kings or kingdoms into which pagan Rome was eventually divided (Daniel 7:24). These ten kingdoms are the same kingdoms represented by the ten toes of the image in Daniel 2:41–44. Barbarian tribes swept in upon the Roman Empire, dividing them into the countries of modern Western Europe. As the little horn uprooted three of the original horns, three of the nations were uprooted and destroyed, the Heruli, Ostrogoths and Vandals. The breaking up of the Roman Empire started in AD 351 and ended in AD 476.
Who is this little horn that did this damage? “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were
three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:8. Since the Bible speaks about a little horn, we must identify it carefully as more is written describing this little horn than the other four kingdoms combined. Why? Because the Biblical characteristics identify it as the antichrist of prophecy and history. There must be no mistake in making this identification.
Here are ten characteristics that clearly identify the little horn power. The Bible makes it crystal clear. God wants us to know who this little horn is. What this little horn does. How this little horn power impacts God’s people living in the end of time. This little horn is none other than the Roman Papacy. Look at these interesting parallels:
- It arises from Western Europe, from “among” the rest of the horns (Daniel 7:8). The Vatican arose in Western Europe.
- It is small. The Vatican is a small nation.
- It arises “after” the ten tribes of Europe are established (Daniel 7:8). The Vatican arose after the ten nations were established. The ten kingdoms were established by AD 476. The Vatican came to full political power in AD 538.
- It destroys three of the other horns/nations (Daniel 7:8). The Vatican conquered three nations as it rose to power—the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths. All these kingdoms were plucked out by the roots. They have disappeared from Europe.
- It is “different from” the other ten powers (Daniel 7:24). The Vatican “is different” from the other nations in that it is both a religious and a political power.
- A man would speak for the little horn (Daniel 7:8). Daniel said that on the little horn were the eyes of a man. Daniel 7:8. There would be a man “seeing” for, or leading, this power.
- It blasphemes against God, speaking words against the Most High (Daniel 7:25). The Bible defines blasphemy as a person claiming to have the ability to forgive sin, or a person claiming to be God. The Vatican blasphemes against God by both claiming to have the power to forgive sin and by claiming the prerogatives of God. The Vatican declares the infallibility of the Pope whenever he is speaking from his position of papal authority.
- It would “persecute” God’s people (Daniel 7:25). The Vatican has persecuted Bible believing Christians down through the centuries and is responsible for the deaths of millions of people.
- It would reign for 1,260 years—a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:25). In Bible prophecy, a day is symbolic for a literal year (Ezekiel 4:6). Based on a 30-day calendar which was used by the ancient Scriptures, 3.5 times (3.5 years), would equate to 1,260 prophetic days and represent 1,260 years. In seven different places in the books of Daniel and Revelation, this same time period is given, using different phrases. Each time they make reference to the same event. The Vatican gained ultimate power in AD 538 and reigned until 1798, exactly as the Bible predicted, for 1,260 years. In 1798 the emperor Napoleon had Pope Pius VI taken captive and so the Vatican lost its position as a self-governing civil power. This is the deadly wound prophesied about in Revelation 13:3.
- This power shall “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25) indicating that an attempt would be made to change the Law of God. The Vatican attempted to change God’s law by substituting Sunday for the Bible Sabbath, by removing the second commandment from its official teachings and dividing the 10th commandment into two separate commandments.
History is clear that after Pagan Rome, Papal Rome or the Catholic Church arises. Jesus said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Mark 7:7. Keeping holy the seventh-day Sabbath is a command of God. Doing so on the first day of the week is a commandment of men. Is it your desire to put God’s will first in your life? The apostle John wrote, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4
Right now, all over the world, thousands of faithful Christians are keeping the seventh-day Sabbath holy. They do it not primarily to be saved or to earn merit with God, but because they love God and want to obey His commandments rather than the commandments of men. They want to show their loyalty to God by obeying Him.
In the next issue, we will address the judgment that is taking place in Heaven right now. Jesus has no secrets regarding this important matter; He wants you to know and to prepare for His soon returning. May God bless you richly as you study His word. Amen!