Harry Whittaker
Five Minutes To Twelve

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: 24.

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 demolished.

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 value.

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:

  1. Crowns no longer on the heads but upon the ten horns (13: 1).
  2. This Beast has the characteristics of the four empires represented in Daniel 7 (v.2); i.e. an oppressor of Israel.
  3. The very details of Daniel 7 applied to the Little Horn are repeated here, but with reference to the Beast:
    1. A mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.
    2. Continuing forty and two months.
    3. Making war with the saints (not with the true believers, but with the holy people: Israel).
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 history.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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 centuries.
  3. 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 in limbo.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
The Beast Identified?

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?

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