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Lesson 10: Rome and Antiochus *

Introduction: How important are opinion polls? If you agree with the majority, it gives you some comfort that you are right and the rest of the world is basically "right thinking." On the other hand, if you are in the minority you think, "What is wrong with those people?" I doubt that many people who have formed a strong opinion on a subject are swayed by opinion polls showing that the majority disagree. This week we are going to be in the minority: we are studying and arguing what is a minority position today on Daniel 7 and 8. Let's jump into the controversy!

  1. Daniel 7 and the "Little Horn"

    1. When we studied the beasts of Daniel 7 ( Daniel 7:4-7, which is Lesson 4 in this series), did we think they seemed similar to anything we had previously seen in the book of Daniel? (Yes. In Daniel 2 we saw the sweep of history prophesied in the dream of the image. It represented four great kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome which arose and fell in succession. We thought the beasts of Daniel 7 represented the same world empires we saw in Daniel 2.)

    2. Let's read through the end of this dream. Read Daniel 7:8-14. If this is a statement of the history of the world and final judgment, as I think it is, how do you feel about it? (Just like in the dream of Daniel 2, God has a judgment. God and His people win. God triumphs in the history of humans.)

      1. What two activities of God does this dream reveal? (Verses 9-10 show that God sets up a judgment in heaven and verses 11-14 show the destruction of earthly powers and the coronation of Jesus ("son of man"-Matthew 17:22).)

      2. When does the judgment appear to begin? (It appears to take place before the end of time when the "little horn" is still around.)

    3. What, in general, do the images of Daniel 2 and beasts of Daniel 7 teach us? (God is in charge of kings, kingdoms and the sweep of history. There is a universal struggle between good and evil. God has a coming judgment. In the meantime, God partners with faithful humans to reveal the future defeat of evil.)

    4. Read Daniel 7:15-16. What is Daniel's reaction to the dream of the beasts? Do you see here that Daniel is not an "ordinary guy?" (Daniel is troubled by the dream. He wants to know what it means, so he asks. He is willing to stop and ask for directions!)

      1. Who is this person whom Daniel approaches in verse 16? (The last part of Daniel's vision has him observing what is going on in heaven. The reasonable conclusion is that Daniel steps over to a heavenly being and asks for help in interpreting the dream.)

    5. Read Daniel 7:19-20. What is different about this fourth beast? (For one thing it is terrifying. However, all of the beasts seem pretty scary to me. The main difference is the horns. Daniel 7:7 makes the point about being different and specifically notes the horns.)

      1. What is special about this one horn? (It seems to be identified with a person. Notice that with the first three beasts, Babylon ( Daniel 7:4) is described with "man-like" characteristics. The horn, like Babylon, is described with "man-like" traits.)

    6. Read Daniel 7:21-22. What else do we learn about this little horn? (That it persecutes Christians and is "defeating" them. Its victories over the saints comes to an end with the judgment of God. Compare Daniel 7:8-11.)

    7. Read Daniel 7:23-25. The heavenly interpreter says that the horns are ten kings. How does this compare with Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the image? (It fits perfectly. No world kingdom dominates after Rome. Instead, the Roman Empire changes into feet and toes (you probably have ten of them - like the ten horns) that are mixed iron and clay. Thus, we see that after the Roman Empire we have nations that are weak (clay) and strong (iron), but none rule the world. Compare Daniel 2:40-43.)

  2. Examination of the "Little Horn" of Daniel 7

    1. When does the "little horn" that looks like a man arise? (It arises after the break-up of the Roman Empire into the ten kingdoms. Daniel 7:24 says it arises "after" "the ten kings who will come from this [Roman] kingdom.")

      1. How long is this "little horn" in power? (We have two statements about time. It is in power until the time of the heavenly judgment ( Daniel 7:8-9, 26) and it is in power "a time, times and half a time." Daniel 7:25.)

      2. The majority opinion is that the "little horn" is a minor Seleucide King named Antiochus Ephiphanes who ruled eleven years from 175-164 B.C.. Antiochus came to power after the death of Alexander the Great at the end of the Empire of Greece. (See, Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, p.39-42.)

        1. Does Antiochus Ephiphanes fit the description of the little horn? (No. The timing is all wrong. Antiochus came to power before, not after, the Roman Empire. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge recites that the ten kingdoms into which the western Roman Empire was divided were set up between 356 A.D and 526 A.D. Thus, Antiochus is more than 500 years too soon to fit this prophecy. In addition, his eleven-year rule hardly seems to stretch to the time of the final judgment.)

    2. If Antiochus is such a bad historical "fit," why do most commentators think the little horn is Antiochus? Let's continue on in our study.

  3. Daniel 8 and the "Little Horn."

    1. Read Daniel 8:9-12 and Daniel 8:23-25. Do you think the horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the little horn of Daniel 7?

      1. To refresh your memory, scan Daniel 7:8, 11-12, 20-25 to compare the little horns of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8. What reasons would you think they would be the same? (They are both horns with human characteristics. They both oppose God. They both oppose God's people. They are both destroyed by God.)

      2. What reasons might you think these two horns are different? (The horn of Daniel 8 is described as attacking the sanctuary - whereas this is not mentioned about the horn of Daniel 7.)

    2. What is the timing of the arrival of the little horn of Daniel 8? (While the horn of Daniel 7 clearly arises out of (after) the fourth beast (Rome), the horn of Daniel 8 arises out of (after) the goat ( Daniel 8:8-9).

      1. What does the goat represent? (Read Daniel 8: 21-23. The goat is Greece and the little horn arises from Greece.)

    3. Is the timing wrong for Antiochus to be the horn of Daniel 8:9? (The timing of Antiochus fits a lot better in Daniel 8. He came out of the fragmented Grecian Empire (which was the reason he could not be the "little horn" of Daniel 7 - it came out of the fragmented Roman Empire).)

    4. Do you see the basis for the conflict? If the little horns of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 are the same, the "little horn = Antiochus crowd" arrives at its view by reading their interpretation of Daniel 8 back into the little horn of Daniel 7. The "little horn = papal Rome crowd" (of which I am a part) reads their interpretation of the little horn of Daniel 7 into Daniel 8.) (For an explanation of why I think the "little horn" of Daniel 7 is papal Rome, read Lesson 4 of this series which covers much of this same material.)

  4. Settling the Conflict

    1. If you agree that the "little horn" is the same power in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8, then what reason do you have for thinking that it is not Antiochus? An argument based simply on the timing question seems difficult to make, because when it comes to timing, their argument seems as good as ours.

    2. Let's review again Daniel 8:9-12. Consider the rest of the description of this horn. Does it better match pagan and papal Rome or Antiochus? (The description of the power of this horn meets or exceeds the description of the power of the ram and the goat. For example, the ram is called ( Daniel 8:4) "great" and the goat is called ( Daniel 8:8) "very great." Most translations (but not the NIV) translate the description of the horn ( Daniel 8:9) to be "exceedingly great" (NAS, KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV). Since the horn is described as being greater than Medo-Persia and Greece, it hardly seems appropriate to conclude the 11 year rule of Antiochus, a minor Seleucid king, is comparable to the Persian and the Greek empires! On the other hand, the Roman empire (in both its pagan and papal phase, is clearly comparable to the Persian and Greek empires.)

      1. Did Rome ( Daniel 8:11) bring low the sanctuary? (The Romans destroyed God's temple in 70 A.D.. Psalms 79:1 refers to the first destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as "defiling" the temple.)

      2. Did Rome ( Daniel 8:10) reach to heaven, throw part of heaven's citizens to the ground and trample on them?

  5. Gabriel on the Little Horn Issue

    1. Read Daniel 8:23-25. We now turn to Gabriel's further explanation of the horn part of the dream for Daniel. Who is the Prince of princes referred to in verse 25? (It must be Jesus.)

      1. Did Rome take a stand against Jesus?

      2. How does this fit the reference in Daniel 8:10 to the horn reaching to heaven and trampling part of the starry hosts? (Rome crucified Jesus. I think this fits both the description of trampling heaven's citizens and standing against the Prince of Princes.)

    2. How does the horn end? ( Daniel 8:25 tells us it is destroyed by something other than human power.)

      1. What do you think that means? (The logical conclusion is that it is destroyed by God.)

    3. Friend, I understand the argument of those who conclude that the horn power of Daniel 8 is Antiochus Epiphanes. On the other hand, I believe Rome (in both its pagan and papal phases) fits the prophecy better. After struggling through this study, you may be saying "So what, Bruce!? Why does this apparently minor point of prophecy matter?" Next week we will discuss whether it matters and why.

  6. Next week: The Sanctuary and the Little Horn.

* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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