BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 73
Copyright 1995, Biblical Horizons
In my Preliminary Commentary on Daniel, which many of you have obtained, I argued in chapter 13 that the four monsters called up from the sea by the evangelistic work of the four winds (the saints) represented the deep hatred of God that evangelistic work brings to the fore in the human consciousness. Evangelism produces monsters from the depth of the human person, which can then be killed.
I think my psychology is correct, but my interpretation was wrong. The four beasts were cherubim protectors for Israel, just as the Metal Man of Daniel 2 was. God established the gentile empire for this purpose from Nebuchadnezzar to Vespasian. Each head of the beast, in turn, was called to bare its teeth and fangs to ward off the enemies of the saints. When the Babylonians stopped protecting the church (Daniel 5), God brought in the righteous Cyrus and Darius. When the Persians stopped protecting the church, God brought in Alexander as a deliverer (Zechariah 9). When the Greeks stopped protecting the church, God brought in the Romans (Daniel 11). The Romans are seen protecting the church throughout Acts, but in Revelation 13, Satan seduces the beast to turn against God’s people.
What troubled Daniel was not the beast as such, but the career of the Little Horn.
So, I must change my view. I was too much under the influence of the commentators, who see the gentile beasts as only evil. They weren’t. The four beasts are cherubic. The first is lion-like. The third, with its wings, is eagle-like. The bear-like beast corresponds to the bull-face of the cherubim, for reasons I have given in my work on orientation in Revelation, Behind the Scenes. The fourth beast, which has a man-face in the Little Horn, is the man-faced cherub.
The beast exists from Nebuchadnezzar to ad 70. Daniel 7:17 says that the four beasts are four "kings," but we would think of them as kingdoms. Similarly, Revelation 17:10 says that the seven heads of the beast are seven kings, but 17:12 says that the ten horns are also ten kings. Clearly they are not kings in the same sense. The seven heads are also seven mountains, and thus the ten horns are ten mountain-peaks (compare the four horns on the symbolic holy mountain altars of the Bible).
Here again I find I must revise what I wrote in the Daniel commentary. It seems to me now that the ten horns must be the ten Roman emperors from Julius Caesar to Titus. They have not yet received a kingdom, because they are part of the kingdom of the beast until ad 70. After that time, the line of Roman emperors will rule in their own rights. Titus is included because he rules in Palestine in the place of his father Vespasian, and thus functions as a horn prior to ad 70.
This means that the seven heads cannot be Roman emperors, and the fifth cannot be Nero. They must be the same as the heads in Daniel. Which five have fallen? Well, it seems to me that they are Babylon, Persia, and three of the Greek heads. The western Greek head is absorbed into Rome, and thus is the sixth. The seventh has not yet come, and when he comes he exists only for a little while. He is "about to come" (v. 8).
These verses in Revelation 17 (vv. 8-11) are, for me, the hardest part of Revelation to place. It seems to me that the reason the beast is an eighth head, and also one of the seven, is this: The beast in Revelation 17 combines the two beasts of Revelation 13 with the Red Dragon of Revelation 12. The Dragon also had seven heads and ten horns. He was red. The seabeast of Revelation 13 had blasphemous names on his headsbeing Daniel’s beast in apostasy, while the beast of Revelation 17 is full of blasphemous names. The seventh head of the beast is still to come when John wrote, and he is also the eighth head, which is the "incarnation" of the whole Dragon-beast himself. What does this mean?
The beast "was and is not." To understand this, we have to make a distinction between Daniel’s beast and Revelation’s. Daniel’s was "neutral" in the sense that he was called to guard Israel, but might turn against God’s people. Revelation’s beast is the beast in apostasy. The apostate beast "was" in that Belshazzar turned against God, the later Persian rulers turned against God, and the later Greek rulers turned against God, Antiochus Epiphanes being the manifestation of this; Daniel 11. But now the apostate beast "is not," because at the present time Rome acts righteously by protecting the Church (as we see in Acts). Soon, however, Satan will enter the "Judas" of the beast and turn it against God’s people, in the Neronic persecutions. At this point, the seventh head of the apostate beast will become manifest, which will also be an eighth, because Satan himself will be in this head.
Thus, the sixth head, which "now is," is Hellenistic Rome. The seventh/eighth head, which is "about to come," is Satanic Rome.
I find this to be a more satisfactory interpretation than what I wrote in the Daniel commentary.
On the Land Beast, who is the False Prophet, as Herod, see my remarks in Behind the Scenes.