Elements of Prophecy: 5. Supplementary Observations

Daniel 7‑8  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There are two matters which it seems desirable briefly to meet before passing on to fresh matter, as the true solution may confirm what has been already urged,” and clear the way for what is to come. One is the question as to the identity of the two little horns of Dan. 7; 8; the other the use of the word “kings” as equivalent to kingdoms. These are handled in this order.
The two little horns.
The tendency of ancient as of modern times has been in prophecy, as everywhere else in scripture, to confound things that differ. Thus, on a large scale, the trials and hopes of Israel have been merged in those of the church, to the enormous loss of intelligence in the mind of God as revealed in His word; on a lesser, we see a similar confusion as to the great actors of the latter day, which inevitably narrows the scope of prophecy and spreads a haze over the solemn issues of the final conflicts of good and evil. From this the futurists have never fully emerged, for they in general make the Antichrist of the end to be the last enemy of the church instead of being the head of the Jews and Christendom apostate, and they leave no room for the other foes of the Lord, making all the prophecies of evil powers at the end concentrate in that great adversary. Now though it is natural for us to feel a special interest in the West, we ought not to lose sight of the East if we would have an adequate view of the field.
The truth is also that obvious uncertainty surrounds every school of interpretation as to the little horn of Dan. 8 Thus; while the ancients with almost one voice conceived that it presents the character and persecutions and end of Antiochus Epiphanes (some also maintaining a future reference to the wicked or lawless one, the Antichrist of John), Sir I. Newton (followed by his Episcopal namesake) and not a few others applied it to the Graeco-Roman empire; but far more since view in it the Mahometan power, some of them interpreting it of the Turk. Others refer it, like Dan. 7, to the Papacy. No reader will be surprised to hear that the latter theories were not held of old, but that men, Jews and Christians, held then that Antiochus Epiphanes was meant, though many felt that more was included in the prophecy and regarded that enemy of the Jews as typical of their final adversary. Sir I. N. reasons thus against the view so long prevalent: “This horn was at first a little one, and waxed exceeding great; but so did not Antiochus. His kingdom on the contrary was weak and tributary to the Romans, and he did not enlarge it. The horn was a king of fierce countenance, destroyed wonderfully, prospered and practiced (that is, he prospered in his practices against the holy people); but Antiochus was frightened out of Egypt by a mere message of the Romans, and afterward routed and baffled by the Jews.
“The horn was mighty by another's power, Antiochus by his own. The horn stood up against the prince of heaven, the prince of princes; and this is the character not of Antiochus but of Antichrist. The horn cast down the sanctuary to the ground, and so did not Antiochus: he left it standing. The sanctuary and the host were to be trampled under foot until two thousand three hundred days, and in Daniel's prophecies days are put for years. But the profanation in the reign of Antiochus did not. last so many natural days. They were to last until the time of the end, till the last end of the indignation against the Jews; and this indignation is not yet at an end. They were to last until the sanctuary which had been cast down should be cleansed; and the sanctuary is not yet cleansed.” The utmost then which can be allowed is that the prophecy had only a preclusive and partial accomplishment in Antiochus. Its proper fulfillment is future.
On the other hand, they are wholly mistaken who, futurist or historical, identify the little horns of the two prophecies. (Dan. 7; 8) No doubt there are points of resemblance between them, as there are between all men; but how absurd to deny their distinctness! It has been well shown that there are at least ten particulars pre-dicted of the first horn: its rise from the fourth beast; its co-existence with ten kings, and its subjugation of three; its eyes as of a man, and a mouth speaking great things, and its judgment by the Ancient of days; diverseness from the other kings; blasphemy against God; persecution of the saints; changing of times and laws; and continuance for a time, times, and the dividing of time.
Again, at least twelve points are given as to the second horn: its rise from the he-goat or Grecian empire in one of its five divisions; its great increase of size and power, and the three directions of its conquests; its trampling on the stars of heaven; opposition to the prince of the host; removal of the sacrifice and casting down of the sanctuary; the time (two thousand three hundred days) of continuance or of some related events; its might not by its own power; its fierceness of countenance; its understanding of dark sentences; its triumph by policy; and destruction without hand.
The truth is that the marks of likeness between these two powers are of the most shadowy character, those of difference sharply defined and numerous. They agree in being enemies of the Lord and of His people, as well as in their awful end under His judgment when He appears and reigns; but even here the form, circumstances, and precise epoch differ widely. The question is in no way one between the historical school and futurists, for some of both see aright, the mass of both indistinctly, and some who reject both see at least not less clearly than any of either party.
The prophetic significance of kings.
On this one may be brief, as scripture shows that, while “horn” means a kingly person or power, it may according to the context mean a succession and not merely an individual. It cannot he assumed that a succession is always meant, for it more frequently refers to a single person. But in Dan. 7:17-2317These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. 18But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. 19Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; 20And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. 21I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; 22Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. 23Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. (Daniel 7:17‑23), we have the decisive proof that a king may mean morally a kingdom. To treat this however as a license for so interpreting universally in these prophecies is unwarrantable.