The Little Horn of Daniel 7

19 Jun
from Google Images

from Google Images

Chapter seven of Daniel records for our consideration several beasts which it interprets as kings or kingdoms. One kingdom in particular, the fourth, had 10 horns, which it also interprets as 10 kings. These things I have already spoken of in earlier blogs, but what I am interested in at this moment is the strange little horn that has a mouth and eyes. What is this all about?

A lot of the interpreting is done for us in Daniel 7, and we are expected to be able to figure out from this who or what the little horn is when he comes on the scene. The prophecy was for the time of the end (Daniel 2:44; 12:13), so Daniel, and no one else for that matter, was unable to understand what the particulars within prophecy meant (Daniel 7:28). Once the little horn appeared, however, the need would arise to identify him, and, according to what was told Daniel, that would be the time of the end when the little horn appeared (cf. Daniel 2:44; 12:13).

It is presumed by most commentaries that the little horn is a gentile authority. However, there is a problem with this interpretation. Whoever the little horn is he arises out of the fourth kingdom, and he judgment comes before the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, if the fourth kingdom is Rome, we cannot look for the little horn to come after the Roman Empire. Moreover, the Kingdom of God is established in the days of the four beast-empires (cf. Daniel 2:44). Therefore, the little horn must have come in the first century AD, because a) he is associated with the Roman Empire (the fourth beast), and b) the Kingdom of God, which must be established by Jesus, was to appear in the days of the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:44).[1]

What do we already know about the little horn? Well, Daniel tells us that it is greater or more masterful than the other horns (Daniel 7:20; H7229 – rab), so it must be a ruling authority held in awe by the Jewish people. In verse 21 we see that the little horn is able to wage war with the saints and overcome them. The saints in this context are Jews, but, if the prophecy pertains to the 1st century AD, they must be Messianic Jews, particularly those in Palestine. Daniel tells us that the little horn is able to persecute the saints until he, himself, is judged by God (Daniel 7:22).

In Daniel 7:24-25 the little horn is specifically described as a king or ruler who continually harasses the saints (i.e. the elect or Messianic Jews) of God with the intention of changing “the times and the seasons.” That is, he desired to curb or eliminate the influence the elect had in Palestine through the power of God.[2] Jesus claimed that it was the Jewish authorities at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the scribes, who would persecute and kill him (Matthew 16:22), and that they (with the Pharisees) would continue to persecuted from city to city and even kill all whom he sent to them (Matthew 23:27-36).

The New Testament reveals that there were three major persecutions between Jesus’ death and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Believers were persecuted in some form throughout this cir. 40 year period, but not always to the death. Nevertheless, the stoning of Stephen marks the first of these three major persecution periods, and this occurred cir. 34 AD and continued to cir. 38-39 AD. This represented the persecution and excommunication of the more liberal, Hellenistic believers. The second wave of persecution commenced with the beheading of James the Apostle by King Herod Agrippa of Acts 12, cir 43-44 AD. This represented the persecution and excommunication of the Apostles and more moderate believing Jews. Only the most conservative of believing Jews remained in Jerusalem without fear of death.

This changed with the stoning of James, the brother of Christ. His death is recorded by Josephus and occurred cir. 62-63 AD. At this time, any believer who remained in Jerusalem did so at the risk of his or her life. An interesting postscript to this is that each time the righteous blood of the saints was shed a member of the family of Annas, the high priest (Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24; Acts 4:6), was the officiating high priest. Thus, it seems to me, that the persecuting power of Daniel 7 were the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, and this was particularly so with Annas and his family of high priests.


[1] This represents a major change in my eschatology, and this study has been changed to reflect that eschatology. I had been a premillennialist, but now I believe Jesus kept his promise to us and returned cir. 70 AD and judged Jerusalem and established his Kingdom with his disciples. I will be adding studies to support my eschatological point of view, but I had to change this study and will be changing other as I have time.

[2] “The sin of the king in placing himself with God, therefore, as Kliefoth rightly remarks, ‘consists in this, that in these ordinances he does not regard the fundamental conditions given by God, but so changes the laws of human life that he puts his own pleasure in the place of the divine arrangements.’ Thus shall he do with the ordinances of life, not only of God’s people, but of all men.” [Kiel & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament]

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Posted by on June 19, 2010 in Last Days


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