Harry Whittaker
The Time Of The End

12) “A Fourth Beast, Dreadful And Terrible”

Daniel 7

Traditionally the four beasts of Daniel 7 have been expounded with reference to the four “world empires” of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. This is, of course, perfectly correct. And yet, at the same time, it can be — and has been — misleading. The tendency has been to put emphasis on them as world powers, whereas they were hardly that. They did not even dominate the known civilization of their time. Babylon never expanded as far as Lydia and Greece; it gained only a temporary foothold in Egypt, which was as much the centre of civilization as Babylon itself was. Persia failed to conquer Greece and never touched other centres of Mediterranean culture. Alexander’s empire only lasted as long as Alexander. And even though the might of Rome went as far as the north of Scotland, in the east it stopped at the Euphrates, and only for short periods was it effective so far.

But in a Biblical sense these four great powers were all-important, for all of them in turn controlled the fortunes of God’s Land and People. It is from this point of view, and from this view only, that Rome “devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” Normally this was not the character of Roman conquest. The legions did not conquer in order to destroy but in order to civilize. Wherever Rome went, law and order followed —the pax Romana. In this respect the Land of Israel was an outstanding exception. The Jews did not want any Roman peace. So at last, against all normal Roman policy, that troublesome country was “broken in pieces, and stamped with the feet of it.”


This view of Daniel’s four beasts has good, but much neglected, Biblical support: “Their (Israel’s) heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them, O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself” (Hosea 13: 6-9).

There is good evidence in Daniel chapter 9 alone that the prophet was in the habit of poring over the Scriptures already written, and that his Bible included at least the Books of Moses, Psalms, Isaiah and Jeremiah. So it is not unreasonable to believe that he had also pondered this passage in Hosea and that the revelation of God’s continuing retribution against his wayward people was made in terms of what he was already familiar with. This Hosea passage describes the great powers as raised up for the punishment of Israel. The extent of their dominion over the centuries is a matter of little importance—so little, in fact, that it is not mentioned once throughout Daniel 7 (verse 23 is not the exception to this which it appears to be). No wonder then, that the vision of an everlasting kingdom “given to the people of the saints of the most High” left Daniel not reassured or elated but “much troubled” and with “changed countenance” (v. 28); for he saw clearly that this long sequence of ravagers boded much ill for Israel before peace should come to Jerusalem.

In this view of chapter 7 — and of the prophecy as a whole — there becomes evident the reason for the long gap which exists in all of Daniel’s prophecies (see “The Last Days”, chapter 3). These revelations take no account of the long period during which Israel have been scattered from their land. They all resume in the Last Days when Israel are back in the land preparatory to the setting up of Messiah’s kingdom.


This concept helps considerably to impart unification and coherence to the various prophecies in Daniel. The ten toes (ch. 2) and the ten horns (ch. 7) belong to the Last Days, and not to the long period from the decay of Rome to the twentieth century. They are to be equated with the ten kings of Revelation 17 who make war with the Lamb and are overcome by him. For the stone smashes the feet of the image. The horns also are ten powers in the Last Days and not before, for they are there when “the Ancient of Days came.” The strange leaps in the visions at 8: 23 and 11: 40 (or is it 11: 36?) from prophecies long fulfilled to the Last Days are also now readily accounted for.

But one further conclusion follows. The revelation regarding the little horn of the fourth beast will have its true and detailed fulfilment in the days to come. In “The Last Days,” chapters 4, 5, a variety of additional reasons were given for this view. The incompleteness and partial character of the “Papal” interpretation may be summarized in the following brief statements:

  1. The usual application assigned to the three uprooted horns is so woefully insignificant as to condemn itself. Why should the transfer to Papal authority of three obscure little provinces (little more than counties) in Italy, be the subject of one of the most powerful Old Testament prophecies of the Kingdom of God?
  2. “Made war with the saints.” What saints? Anyone who has read the systematized creeds of Waldenses, Abigenses and Huguenots will hesitate to apply the prophecy to such. The Book of Daniel applies this Hebrew word to Israel (8: 24 and 12: 7; same word—and see Psalm 79: 2), and also to angels (8:13). Obviously, in chapter 7, the former is the proper reference.
  3. “prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came ...”. The persecuting power of the Papacy stopped long before the manifestation of Messiah.
  4. “they (the saints) shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Even granting, for the sake of argument, the “year for a day” principle (although there is no hint of it in Daniel[13]), the fact still has to be faced that long before 1868-70 (the standard termination date) the Pope had lost all persecuting power, and has been without it now for nearly two centuries. Yet the prophecy strongly implies a sudden change from the persecuting horn of the everlasting kingdom of the most High.
  5. Does the Pope “speak great words against the most High?” At least, he honours Christ, after a fashion—a thing that is hardly to be said about the Jews at any time in their history or about modern scientific rationalism (a much greater enemy to the Truth than the Pope can ever be).

It is suggested, instead, that the Last Day interpretation calls for a gap in the prophecy (as in chs. 2, 8, 9, 11), and read the details of the little horn as having reference to the Last Days when Israel are back in their land. It is known from such Scriptures as Zechariah 14: 2, 3 that before the coming of the Messiah, the state of Israel is to be smashed to pieces by assembled enemies. Daniel 7 gives a vivid picture of the final and most terrible oppression in the land, lasting for three and a half years. This tyrant “shall be diverse from the former,” that is, from Rome, Greece, Persia and Babylon, who were all Gentiles and blatantly imperialist. By contrast this persecutor will be himself an Arab son of Abraham seeking revenge rather than power, or he will be a Gentile co-ordinator of Arab hostility. He will speak great words against the most High by taunting the Jews regarding their vaunted national destiny.

It is useful to note that every period of three and a half years traceable in Scripture describes a period of increasing tribulation for men of God, culminating in vindication and triumph.[14] Elijah’s exile in Zidon during three and a half years of drought ended on mount Carmel. Antiochus Epiphanes’ desecration of the temple had Maccabees rebellion and triumph as its climax. The ministry of Jesus was followed by his resurrection and ascension. The forty-two stages of Israel’s pilgrimage in the wilderness (Numbers 33) led to the Land of Promise. The forty-two generations from Abraham (Matthew 1: 17) brought the birth of Messiah. Here in Daniel 7 is perhaps the most striking example of all.


In Revelation 13 the very phrases used in Daniel 7 to describe the persecuting horn are applied to the Beast of the sea (vv. 5, 6, 7) which heads up the ten kings who make war with the Lamb (17: 14) and are overcome by him. The oppression of the “saints” — God’s holy people, Israel — described in Revelation 13 is evidently an apocalyptic expansion of the corresponding details in Daniel 7. The language is highly appropriate to Israel: “He that leadeth (Israel) into captivity shall (himself) go into captivity” — where does the Bible ever speak of saints in Christ going into captivity? — “Here is the patience and faith of the saints,” i.e. this especially is when God’s people will need patience, as three and a half bitter years drag their weary course.

This last-day Antichrist has as his “high-priest” one who is described as a lamb-like “beast of the earth,” called also in 19: 20 “the false prophet.” Again the Old Testament helps towards identification. One of Ezekiel’s prophecies of the restoration of Israel has these details: “And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely (Ezekiel 38: 11!) in the wilderness and sleep in the woods (i.e. in open country — without walls, having neither bars nor gates) ... And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the earth (Revelation 13: 11) devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid” (Ezekiel 34: 24, 25, 28).

There is much that is difficult about the details of Revelation 13,[15] but in conjunction with Daniel 7 it appears to teach fairly plainly that its grim picture of oppression and blasphemy will find ultimate fulfilment in the terrible sufferings of Israel through three and a half years of ghastly horror when their state is overrun by Arab enemies headed up in a Power or a Man (Revelation 13: 18).

The ready harmonization of these prophecies with others of a similar tenor, already expounded, will not be lost on the reader.

[13] Not even in the Seventy weeks prophecy, when attention is given to the proper meaning of the Hebrew for “week.”
[14] If this view is justified, what about the “papal” application concluding in 1868?
[15] Inevitably so, once it is agreed that the detailed fulfilment of this part of the vision lies in the future.

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