Little Horn in Revelation

SYNOPSIS – Is the “little horn” from the book of Daniel found in the book of Revelation? - Daniel 7:7-8

Stormy Beach - Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash
n the book of Revelation, the “little horn” from Daniel is NOT explicitly named. However, its characteristics are present in the descriptions of the single “beast ascending from the sea.” Revelation does not simply retell the same story without any changes – It modifies and repurposes it to tell ITS story. The one “beast from the sea” is based on the earlier malevolent “king,” but also is something beyond it, and arguably, far worse. - [Stormy Beach - Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash].

Revelation uses language and imagery from Daniel, but often with modifications and reapplications to its situation. For example, the “fiery furnace” of Nebuchadnezzar is the image behind the “lake of fire.” Similarly, Revelation transforms the original “four beasts” of Daniel into a single “beast from the sea” – (Revelation 13:1-10).

Daniel saw “four beasts” ascend from the sea in quick succession, the first “beast” resembling a “lion,” the second a “bear,” the third a “leopard,” and the fourth a monster with “ten horns.” In contrast, John saw a one “beast ascend from the sea” that had the same animal features but listed in reverse order – The creature with “ten horns,” the one “like a leopard” with the “feet of a bear,” and the “mouth of a lion.”

Revelation does not restate the original vision from Daniel, but it does not fabricate things at whim. There is a precedent for combining the “four beasts” into a single creature. In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw four kingdoms represented by ONE “great image.” These were individual domains and parts of a greater whole. Moreover, in the dream’s interpretation, all four parts were destroyed at once:
  • (Daniel 2:32-35) – “As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron, and part of clay. A stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image on its feet and broke them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken in pieces together.”
A marked feature of the “little horn” was its “mouth speaking great things.” Likewise, in Revelation, the single “beast from the sea was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” with which he “slandered those who tabernacle in heaven.” The two descriptions are close. However, rather than to one of its horns, in Revelation, the “mouth” is given to the entire “beast from the sea” – (Revelation 13:4-6).

Nor does Revelation reuse every feature of the “little horn.” In Daniel, it had “two eyes like a man,” a description not found in Revelation.

In both Daniel and Revelation, the “mouth speaking great things and slanders” directs its words against the “saints” in its “war” to destroy them:
  • (Daniel 7:21) – “And he made war against the saints and prevailed over them.”
  • (Daniel 7:25) – “And he shall speak words against the Most-High and wear out the saints.”
  • (Daniel 8:10) – “The little horn waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host and of the stars it cast down to the ground and trampled upon them.”
  • (Daniel 8:24) – “And he shall destroy wonderfully and shall prosper and do his pleasure; and he shall destroy the mighty ones and the saints.”
  • (Revelation 13:5-7) – “There was given to it a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies…And it opened its mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle - them that tabernacle in the heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.”
In the last passage, the “tabernacle” of God that was blasphemed was identified as “them that tabernacle in the heaven,” that is, the “saints.” The clause does not refer to nonhuman entities that live “in heaven.” This is one of several ways Revelation contrasts those who follow the “beast” (“The inhabitants of the earth”) with those who “follow the Lamb” (“them who tabernacle in heaven”):

The single “beast from the sea” was “given” the authority to “blaspheme those who tabernacle in heaven” and to persecute the “saints,” essentially, two ways of saying the same thing. The “beast” was given authority by the “Dragon.” Similarly, in Daniel, the “little horn” had “mighty power, but not by his own power” – (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, the “beast” in Revelation was authorized to attack the “saints” for “forty-two months.”
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. For example, in Revelation, in addition to its “ten horns” the “beast” had “seven heads,” one of which received a “death-stroke” that was subsequently “healed.” This “death-stroke” cannot refer to the final destruction of the “beast” in the “lake of fire” since it recovered from it – (Revelation 13:3).

In Daniel, this reality was anticipated in the vision of the “four beasts from the sea.” Though all four were overthrown, they were not immediately annihilated – “And 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).

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” each of the remaining three “beasts.” In Revelation, the one “beast from the sea” has all “seven heads.” What do the “heads” represent?

The explanation is provided in the image of the “great whore” that was “carried by the beast.” The “seven heads” represent 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 restoration. In view is not an individual human being but a “kingdom.” For John, five of the kingdoms were in the past (“five are fallen”), the sixth existed (“one is”), and the seventh had 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 John’s day could only be Rome. The seventh that was yet to appear was 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 Whore” sits on all seven “heads,” past, present and future. This points to a transhistorical reality. The final incarnation of the “beast” will be a culmination of an age-long conflict that culminates with the destruction of the “Dragon,” the “beast,” and the “False Prophet” in the “lake of fire.”

In Daniel, the “little horn” represented a “king” and known historical figure - (Antiochus IV). In Revelation, characteristics, imagery, and terminology from all four of Daniel’s “beasts,” and from the “little horn,” the “king of fierce countenance,” are combined to paint a portrait of the final “beast,” the “seventh, who is also an eighth.” Paradoxically, its “war” against the “saints” will prove to be its death knell.


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