10. The Beast
It is desirable here to introduce a reminder
about the character of the two outstanding visions in Daniel chapters 2 and 7.
The parallel between the two is readily perceptible. But strict chronological
sequence has been so much insisted on (tidy 20th century thinking!?) that a
serious distortion has taken place in the interpretation.
Let it be remembered that these prophecies are
not about European history or about world history but about Jewish history. This
is their raison d'etre. Here, twice over, is a sequence of Gentile power
oppressing Jewry in its own Land. When Israel is scattered from the Holy Land,
this divine history-in-advance shuts down. Here also is the explanation of the
sudden dislocations which appear in certain end-time prophecies; e.g. Lk. 21:
So it is right to look for the Ten Toe Kingdom in
the Last Days when the stone smites- Messiah's second coming - and not before
then. Attempts to identify ten powers filling the hiatus caused by the break-up
of the Roman Empire before 1000 AD and continuing up to 2000 AD are time wasted
- apart from the amusement they create.
In this century the state of Israel exists once
again, and as a result, almost automatically, ten Arab powers hostile to Israel
came into existence and will not rest content until Israel is
But in the greater detail of Daniel 7 a leader of
those hostile powers arises, uprooting three of the ten horns. Identification
was once proposed, in all seriousness, of the Little Horn as the temporal power
of the Papacy taking over three paltry Italian provinces of Lombardy, the
Exarchate of Ravenna, and the Ostrogoths. (As obscure a corner of ancient
history as one could possibly put a finger on!) Such interpretation borrowed
from Protestant anti-papal commentators, today has only amusement
In the Book of Revelation this Little Horn
becomes a beast in its own right, the Beast of Rev. 13 and 17. Three
considerations show this to be a dependable conclusion:
This Beast and its ten supporters - ten kings-
make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb overcomes them. Therefore (is it possible
to escape this conclusion?) identification of the Beast and ten kings is to be
sought in the Last Days, and not at any period in preceding
- Crowns no longer on the heads but upon the ten horns (13:
- This Beast has the characteristics of the four
empires represented in Daniel 7 (v.2); i.e. an oppressor of Israel.
- The very details of Daniel 7 applied to the Little Horn
are repeated here, but with reference to the Beast:
mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.
forty and two months.
- Making war with the saints (not
with the true believers, but with the holy people:
Another feature of the Beast prophecies is the
co-operation and support which is received from another symbolic power, the two
horned lamb-like beast coming up out of the earth, that is, out of the Land
(Rev.13: 11-18). This beast, called elsewhere (Rev.19: 20) the False Prophet,
promotes a religion associated with the first Beast, and organises a persecuting
boycott against those who do not conform.
Fitting these impressive details into a scenario
no later in its reference than the present day, one has to choose between
equation with the papacy and its priesthood (this is the long-standing
Protestant, and apostate, interpretation dating back to at least Martin Luther),
and the Arab and Muslim hatred of Israel. The arguments against the first of
these two are too stubborn:
The Beast Identified?
- The time-period of 42 months (= 1260), which with very dubious
authority, is turned into 1260 years, the most ingenious chronological papal fit
ends in 1868. Not wonderfully precise!
- Today, the papacy
is steadily losing power and influence, and this in spite of the intense
propagandising by the most vigorous pope there has been for
- The prospect of ten European powers handing
over their power and resources to papal direction is less serious than
Alice-in-Wonderland. It bears no resemblance at all to the modern scene. And
those who talk blithely about an alliance between the pope and communism can
only be described as believing what they want to believe. The Biblical
and political evidence are both conspicuous by their non-existence. Also, the
notion that was fairly popular (undeservedly) some years ago that the 10 kings =
10 members of the E.E.C. has no Biblical support whatever and is already
- When was the papacy last a persecuting power?
Certainly not since long before 1868, which is supposed to be the
significant termination of papal temporal power. But does any case need
to be made about the persecuting character of modern aggressive Muslim
Fundamentalism? The thing is too obvious.
- The "papal"
reference of Revelation 13,17 has to be propped up by the Man of Sin (2 Th. 2).
It has to be, for it cannot stand on its own two feet. But, alas, the "papal"
interpretation of that Scripture is just as insecure, as will be further
demonstrated in the next chanter.
Who, then, is this beast that fills the stage so
threateningly in Daniel and Revelation? It is useful to look for some power or
individual who in the Last Days heads a confederacy against Christ after having
already persecuted the "saints", and who is associated with a powerful religion
exercising considerable strength, an organisation which sustains a deadly wound
and yet survives.
The equation of this Beast with the P.L.O.
(Palestine Liberation Organisation) needs to be considered in a tentative,
undogmatic fashion. From the year when the P.L.O. came into existence (1964) the
writer of these words has insisted that here is the most likely candidate for
the role under consideration.
The quarrelsome Arabs, always bickering among
themselves, can never be united except under a flag emblazoned: "Down with
Israel!" The film-star leader of the P.L.O. who should have disappeared into
shame and obscurity long ago still survives with increasing influence and
without serious rival to focus Arab hatred of Israel into an effective campaign.
The days are gone when Israel, "the world's fourth super-power" can afford to
treat with disdain the relentlessness and invective of the P.L.O. It is a
phenomenon, which has not received the attention it deserves, that neither
Hussein in Jordan (1971) nor Israel in the Lebanon war has been able to snuff
out this astonishing political movement. Commentators have declared with
confidence: "One thing is certain: The P.L.O. is now finished". Yet, with a
virility none could have prophesied, there has been a resurrection; the "deadly
wound" has been healed, and ten Arab kings meet together to pledge the support
of their oil-dollars for sustained reinforcement of riotous Arabs in the Gaza
strip and the West Bank. And so well is publicity handled that world attention
is adroitly diverted away from the cold-blooded beastliness of hard-boiled
Muslim nations, to be focused instead on the blunders of Jewish administration
in their attempts to smother an incipient war now orchestrated by the P.L.O.
With miraculous spontaneity riots break out for no special reason. Teams of
stone-throwing youths out-match Test match fieldsmen with their returns from
cover-point. Soon it will be Kalashnikoffs. Small boys need only a box of
matches and some quiet intifada encouragement to fire thousands of acres
of Israeli forest.
And just outside the borders of Israel, Arab
sympathizers stand ready with their power and strength to help the Beast in a
heroic righteous war. Syria has more tanks than any western power, to operate
north or east or south-which? Iraq, made unquenchably bloodthirsty by Iranian
example in now skilled and well equipped for the use of ground-to-ground
missiles against Haifa and Tel Aviv. And an abominable unanswerable chemical
warfare is now in the hands of well-practised Iraqi forces, which still resent
the way the Israeli air force bombed out of existence their brand-new nuclear
plant. But now the Saudis can cope with any further threat of that sort, for
Britain and U.S. have been competing with each other in extensive deals which
swap petro-dollars by the billion in return for the very latest in fighter and
rocket aircraft. There are not enough aspirins in Israel to cope with the
insistent engine throb of the headaches besetting the Knesset and their military
machine. How far away is that Six Hour War?