Little Horn in Revelation

Daniel’s “little horn” is found in Revelation in the description of the “beast from the sea” and its “war against the saints.” 

Dark Beach - Photo by Tyler Donaghy on Unsplash
In
Revelation, the “little horn” is not named explicitly but its characteristics are present in the “Beast from the sea.” The book does not simply retell the same story without changes, modifies and repurposes it to tell ITS story. The “Beast” is based on Daniel’s “little horn” but also is something beyond it, and arguably, something far worse - [Photo by Tyler Donaghy on Unsplash].

The book uses language from Daniel but with modifications and reapplications. For example, the “fiery furnace” of Nebuchadnezzar provides the imagery for the “lake of fire.” And the original “four beasts” from the sea seen by Daniel become the single “Beast” that John saw “ascending from the sea” – (Revelation 13:1-10).

And while Revelation does not just represent Daniel’s vision, neither does it fabricate new things at a whim. For example, the precedent for combining Daniel’s “four beasts” into a single creature was the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in which he saw four kingdoms represented by ONEgreat image.” Moreover, all four sections of his “great image” were destroyed at once - (Daniel 2:32-35).

The dominant feature of the “little horn” was its “mouth speaking great things.” Likewise, the single “beast from the sea was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” with which it “slandered those who tabernacle in heaven.” The two descriptions are close. But rather than one of the horns of the “fourth beast” receiving this “mouth,” in Revelation, it is given to the entire “beast from the sea” – (Revelation 13:4-6).

Nor does Revelation reuse every feature from the “little horn.” It, for example, “two eyes like a man,” which is a description not found in Revelation.

In both books, the “mouth speaking great things” directed its “slander” against the “saints” as part of its “war” to destroy them - (Daniel 7:21-25, 8:10, 8:24, Revelation 13:5-7).

The “tabernacle” of God that was “slandered” by the “beast” is identified as “those who tabernacle in the heaven,” that is, the “saints.” The clause does not refer to nonhuman entities dwelling “in heaven.” Instead, this is one of several ways that Revelation contrasts those who follow the “beast” (“The inhabitants of the earth”) with those who “follow the Lamb” (“those who tabernacle in heaven”).

The single “beast from the sea” was “given” the authority to “slander those who tabernacle in heaven” and to persecute the “saints,” essentially, two ways of saying the same thing. And this “beast” was granted authority to act by the “Dragon.” Likewise, in Daniel, the “little horn” had “mighty power, but not by his own power” that he used to wage war against the “saints” – (Daniel 8:25, Revelation 13:4-7).

In Daniel, the “little horn” was authorized to persecute the saints “until a season, seasons, and part of a season.” Likewise, in Revelation, the “beast” is authorized to attack the “saints” for “forty-two months.” This latter period is identified with Daniel’s “season, seasons, and part of a season” when the “woman clothed with the sun” is nourished in the wilderness for a “season, seasons, and half a season from the face of the serpent” – (Revelation 12:14).

In Daniel, the “fourth beast” was destroyed at the end of the designated period, “burned with fire,” and its “little horn” was “broken without hand” after it attempted to “stand up to the prince of princes.” In Revelation, a similar reality is presented in the vision of the “rider on a white horse” – (Daniel 7:11, 7:26, 8:25).
  • (Revelation 19:16-20) – “And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS…And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet…they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”
But there are differences. In Revelation, in addition to its “ten horns,” the “beast” had “seven heads,” one of which received the “death-stroke” that was “healed.” That “death-stroke” cannot refer to the final destruction of the “beast” in the “lake of fire” since it later recovered. In Daniel, though all “four beasts” were overthrown, they were not immediately annihilated (“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time” - Daniel 7:12, Revelation 13:3).

Conquests - Photo by Dave Photoz on Unsplash
Photo by Dave Photoz on Unsplash

In both books, “
horns” represent kings, including the “little horn.” In Daniel, the seven “heads” are distributed among all four “beasts from the sea” – the “four heads” of the leopard and the one “head” of each of the remaining three “beasts.” In Revelation, the one “beast from the sea” has all “seven heads.” What do they represent?

The explanation is provided in the image of the “Great Harlot” that was “carried by the beast.” The “seven heads” represented seven “kingdoms”:
  • The beast was and is not, and is going to ascend from the Abyss and go to destruction. And they that dwell on the earth will wonder…when they behold the beast that was and is not and is coming…The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman is sitting; and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a little while. And the beast that was and is not is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction” – (Revelation 17:8-11).
The description of the “beast that was and is not” refers to its “death-stroke” and subsequent restoration. In view is not an individual but a “kingdom.” For John, five of the kingdoms are in the past (“five are fallen”), the sixth exists in his time (“one is”), and the seventh has not yet appeared (“the other is not yet come”). The identities of the five fallen domains are not important to the vision. The one existing in his day could only be Rome. The seventh that has not yet appeared is the “beast from the sea” - (“The beast that was and is not”).

The seventh kingdom is also “an eighth and is of the seven.” Though ambiguous, this suggests the final kingdom will be of the same character as its predecessors but also will be something beyond them – “diverse from the other beasts.”

The “Great Harlot” sits on all seven “heads,” past, present and future. This points to a transhistorical reality. The final incarnation of the “beast” will be the culmination of an age-long conflict that concludes with the destruction of the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet” in the “lake of fire.”

In Daniel, the “little horn” represented a known historical figure, Antiochus IV. In Revelation, characteristics, imagery, and terminology from all four of Daniel’s “beasts” are combined to paint the portrait of the final “beast” system, the “seventh, who is also an eighth.” And paradoxically, its “war” on the “saints” will be its undoing.



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