Bible Truth Versus SDA Truth: Little Horn of Daniel 7

SDA "Truth" about the Little Horn

Daniel 7 describes four beasts that arise onto the world scene. The SDA Church rightly identifies these as the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. On the head of the fourth beast (Rome) there are ten horns, three of which are plucked up by a little horn. Following are SDA teachings about the ten horns and the little horn:

1. The ten horns are ten tribes that conquered the western Roman Empire. SDAs arrive at this based upon a parallel vision which is found in Daniel 2. In that vision, Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image. The image describes the same four empires as the vision of Daniel 7. The iron legs of the image of Daniel 2 represent the Roman Empire. According to SDAs, the feet of iron and clay represent the nations that defeated the Roman Empire. The feet are assumed to have ten toes, and those toes are said by SDAs to represent ten tribes that conquered the Roman Empire. Since the fourth beast just so happens to have ten horns on its head, Adventists insist the ten horns are a parallel to the ten toes of the image of Daniel 2. Therefore, they teach the ten horns represent the tribes that conquered the fourth beast. Out of the twenty or more tribes that actually conquered the western Roman Empire, Uriah Smith selected ten tribes and declared these ten were the tribes represented by the ten horns (Vandals, Ostrogoths, Heruli, Visigoths, Burgundians, Anglo-Saxons, Alamani, Suevi, Lombards and Franks). These tribes were said to have conqured Rome by 476 AD. It is unclear what reasoning Smith used to select these ten tribes, other than his remark that these ten were "most instrumental" in Rome's overthrow.1

2. The little horn is the Papacy and it uprooted three tribes. Uriah Smith writes:

"This little horn...was the papacy. The three horns plucked up by the roots represented the Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals." 2

3. The little horn wore "out the saints of the Most High." This was supposedly fulfilled by the various persecutions instigated by the Roman Catholic Church during the dark ages.

4. The little horn would "think to change times and laws." This was supposedly fulfilled by the Papacy changing the numbering of the Ten Commandments, and by changing the observance of Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. The SDA prophetess Ellen White wrote:

"Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: 'He shall think to change times and the law.' Daniel 7:25, R.V. ... The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The second commandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath."3

5. The little horn would persecute the saints for "a time and times and the dividing of time" which calculates out to 1260 years of papal persecution. According to SDAs, the time (one year), times (two years), and dividing of time (half a year), represent a three-and-a-half year period, or 1260 days. Adventists apply the prophetic year-day principle to convert these days into 1260 years. They claim that this period began in 538 AD when the Ostrogoths were driven out of Rome. Smith writes:

"From this point did the papacy hold supremacy for twelve hundred and sixty years? Exactly. For 538 + 1260 = 1798; and in the year 1798, Berthier, with a French army, entered Rome, proclaimed a republic, took the pope prisoner, and inflicted a deadly wound upon the papacy."4

6. The judgment scene presented in Dan. 7:9-10 is an Investigative Judgment of the righteous. Uriah Smith wrote:

"It is an investigative judgement. The books are opened, and the cases of all come up for examination before that great tribunal, that it may be decided beforehand who are to receive eternal life when the Lord shall come to confer it upon His people. ...the sublime scene described in verse 10 is the opening of the investigative judgment in the sanctuary in heaven..."5

7. The scene of the Son of Man receiving the Kingdom (Dan. 7:13-14) is actually the beginning of the Investigative Judgment of the righteous. Ellen White wrote:

"The coming of Christ here described is not His second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of Days in heaven to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, which will be given Him at the close of His work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not His second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies and there appears in the presence of God to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man--to perform the work of investigative judgment and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits."6

Problems with SDA "Truth" about the Little Horn

1. Are the Ten Horns really Ten Tribes that defeated the Roman Empire? Daniel 7:24 makes it abundantly clear that the ten horns are not other nations:

And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise... (KJV)

The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom... (NKJV)

Its ten horns are ten kings that will rule that empire. (NLT)

The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. (NIV)

As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise... (ESV)

As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise... (NASB)

As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise... (RSV)

Notice some important Biblical truths from this passage that directly contradict SDA teachings:

  1. The Bible clearly says the ten kings will arise from within the Roman Empire. Contrast that with the tribes. The tribes all arose outside of the Roman Empire. None of the tribes ever ruled over the Roman Empire. The tribes were foreign armies that conquered parts of the Roman Empire and established themselves as new kingdoms. They neither came from within the Roman Empire nor ruled over it.

  2. The Bible clearly says the ten horns are "kings." The Aramaic word used is melek which literally means "king" and is only translated "king" in the Old Testatment. It is never translated as "nation" or "kingdom." In contrast, the ten tribes were nations, not kings. In the very same passage, a different word, malkuw, is used to describe a "kingdom". Notice:
    "And the ten horns out of this kingdom (malkuw) are ten kings (melek) that shall arise..." (Daniel 7:24)

    If the ten horns were ten tribes that defeated the Roman Empire, then Daniel would have used the word malkuw (kingdom). However, Daniel used the word melek (king) to describe the horns.

SDA's teach the horn on the head of the goat of Daniel 8 was a king (Alexander the Great) who ruled over the kingdom of Greece. If a horn on a head indicates a ruler over that empire in Daniel 8, then why not apply the same principle to Daniel 7?

Further proof of that horns indicate a "king" and not a "kingdom" is found in the SDA interpretation of Daniel 8. In Daniel 8, SDAs teach that horns growing out of the head of a beast represent specific kings or rulers over that particular empire. In the vision of the Goat and the Ram, the Goat has a large horn growing on its head and Daniel 8:21 says:

And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. (NKJV)

SDA scholars agree will all scholars that the horn growing on the head of the Goat in Daniel 8 represents Alexandar the Great. When that one large horn is later replaced by four smaller horns, SDAs likewise teach the Greek Macedonian empire was later ruled by Alexander's four generals. It is inconsistent for SDAs to interpret the horns on the head of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 as nations that conquered that beast while at the same time teaching that the horns of Daniel 8 are kings that arose from within that nation! The Bible imagery throughout the book of Daniel (and also in the book of Revelation) consistently signifies that horns growing on the head of a beast represent the kings or leaders of that empire. To teach that those horns are actually outside powers that invade and conquer the beast is totally inconsistent with the imagery and Biblical usage of the horn symbol.

Another symbol ignored by Seventh-day Adventists is the two iron legs of the image of Daniel 2. The Roman Empire clearly split into two parts: The Western Roman Empire, head-quartered in Rome, and the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, ruled from Constantinople. The barbarian tribes attacked and conquered the Western Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire continued on for nearly 1,000 years after the fall of the Western Empire. If the toes were indeed the conquering party, then which 5 tribes (toes) conquered the Eastern Empire? The truth is, the Eastern Empire was not defeated by any of the barbarian tribes. It was defeated by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. This refutes the SDA theory of the ten toes being synomomous with ten tribes that conqured the Roman Empire.

A final problem with the SDA interpretation is that many barbarian tribes attacked Rome. Wikipedia lists every barbarian battle with the Roman Empire and all of the tribes that participated. Here is a summary of the tribes that were in conflict with the Roman empire:

  1. Alamanni
  2. Alans
  3. Astingi
  4. Batavi
  5. Bructeri
  6. Burgundians
  7. Carpians
  8. Celts (Irish)
  9. Chamavi
  10. Chatti
  11. Chauci
  12. Cherusci
  13. Cimbri
  14. Costoboci
  15. Eburones
  16. Franks
  17. Frisii
  18. Greuthungi
  19. Goths
  20. Helvetii
  21. Heruli
  22. Huns
  23. Juthungi
  24. Langobardi
  25. Lacringi
  26. Lombards
  27. Lugii
  28. Marcomanni
  29. Marsi
  30. Ostrogoths
  31. Picts
  32. Quadi
  33. Rugii
  34. Sarmatians
  35. Saxons
  36. Scirii
  37. Scoti
  38. Sicambri
  39. Suevi
  40. Teutones
  41. Turcilingi
  42. Ubii
  43. Vandals
  44. Visigoths

Uriah Smith picked ten that he thought were the major players, but his choice was arbitrary and was contested by other SDA scholars of his day. In fact, there is no justification to single out just "10" unless one is trying to fool others into believing the 10 horns are actually 10 barbarian tribes.

In conclusion:

  • The SDA teaching contradicts the Bible which says the ten horns arise from within the fourth beast kingdom
  • The SDA teaching contradicts the Bible which says the ten horns are kings, not nations or tribes
  • The SDA teaching contradicts their own interpretation of horns, which is that horns are rulers of a particular Kingdom (for example, Alexander the Great of Dan. 8)
  • The SDA teaching contradicts history which says over forty tribes fought with the Roman Empire, not ten

2. Did the Papacy uproot three tribes? As noted above, Uriah Smith and other SDAs teach that the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heuli were destroyed by the Pope of Rome. Such a revision of history is nothing less than pure fiction. None of these tribes were destroyed by the Pope. Any history textbook will explain that the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, the Vandals and Ostrogoths by the Byzantines. Now the Pope benefited to some degree by the defeat of the Vandals and Ostrogoths, but it is uncertain, what, if any, role the Pope played in their demise. More importantly, the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, who were Arians and avowed enemies of the Catholic Church. The Lombards were identified by Smith as one of the ten horns. Therefore, if the the tribes were actually horns, then one of the ten horns (Lombards) uprooted another horn (Heruli), two horns were uprooted by an outside power (the Byzantines), and the little horn did not uproot anyone! Furthermore, the defeat of the Heruli did not aid the Papacy because they were at odds with the Papacy, so it makes no sense to claim the Papacy uprooted the Heruli.

In addition, two other tribes were uprooted during the same time period by the Byzantines: the Huns (455 AD) and the Alemanni (495 AD). Why do SDAs ignore these uprooted tribes? There is no reason to ignore them except for the fact that SDAs are trying to make the square pegs of history fit into the round holes of their prophetic jigsaw puzzle. They needed three tribes in order to make their theory fit into Daniel's writings, so they picked three out of the five and ignored the others.

3. Did the Papacy persecute the saints for 1,260 years? There is no doubt at all that Catholics persecuted people, but the 538 - 1798 timeframe of the persecutions does not fit very well with actual historical facts. Persecution actually started more than a century before 538 and finally ended nearly half a century after 1798 :

"Persecution of non-Catholics by Catholic authority began in the 4th Century, and culminated in the Codex Theodosianus (438), which punished all who did not embrace 'that religion. . . now professed by the Pontiff.' At the opposite extreme, the Portuguese inquisition operated until 1821; the Spanish inquisition only concluded in 1834; the Roman inquisition in the Papal States also continued into the mid 19th century. Thus, the persecutory activities of Catholics exceed the limits of 538-1798 CE. The papacy does not fit the limits set by the prophecy."6

4. Did the Papacy change the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments? The Catholic Cathecism did change the Ten Commandments but it traces its roots back to Augustine, which was long before Adventists say the "little horn" power arose, and long before the papal power became established. Therefore, it is difficult, if not impossible, to pin the Cathecism's changing of the law on the Papacy.

Adventists claim that the papacy transfered Sabbath observance to Sunday during the dark ages. Prophet Ellen White saw in vision that the Pope changed the day of worship to Sunday:

"I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws."7

The "official" teaching of the Catholic Church is that the abolition of the Sabbath was confirmed by the early Church Fathers:

The early Church Fathers compared the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of the rite of circumcision, and from that they demonstrated that if the apostles abolished circumcision (Gal. 5:1-6), so also the observance of the Sabbath must have been abolished.8

The above quote has the NIHIL OBSTAT and the IMPRIMATUR which essentially means the quote is considered authentic, accurate, and official by the Catholic Church. So, the "official" Catholic Church teaching is that Sunday-keeping can be traced back to the generation following the Apostles. Adventists point to a series of articles that appeared in September of 1893, in the Catholic Mirror, as proof that the Catholic Church changed the day of worship. Those articles do indeed brag that the Catholic Church made the change, but they do not carry either the NIHIL OBSTAT or the IMPRIMATUR. This means the articles are not an official church teaching and represent merely the opinion of the author.9

Seventh-day Adventist theologian Samuele Bacchiocchi had access to the Vatican vaults and researched the oldest material on Sabbath-keeping. His research led him to conclude Sunday-keeping was largely practiced long before the first pope came on the scene:

"I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sundaykeeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. If you read my essay HOW DID SUNDAYKEEPING BEGIN? which summarizes my dissertation, you will notice that I place the origin of Sundaykeeping by the time of the Emperor Hadrian, in A. D. 135."10

From the second century of Christianity onward, there were varied opinions on the day of worship. Many Jewish Christians, along with some Gentile groups, continued to observe the seventh day Sabbath as the Apostles did. Other Christians observed both days, while others, such as the gnostics, honored Sunday. There is evidence that Sunday-keeping began to be practiced by Christians during the early part of the second century. The earliest quote that actually mentions Sabbath no longer being observed by some Christians was made by Ignatius:

110 A.D. Ignatius - "[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's [day], on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death".11

The Epistle of Barnabas (not written by the Biblical Barnabas), is "dated by the majority of the scholars between A.D. 130 and 138":12

130 A.D. Barnabas - "Moreover God says to the Jews, 'Your new moons and Sabbaths I cannot endure.' You see how he says, 'The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested [heaven: Heb 4] from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.' Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven."13

These quotes, and many others not quoted here, demonstrate that Sunday observance started hundreds of years before the Roman bishop's rise to pre-eminence.

5. Did the Papacy have Supremecy for 1260 years? The SDA Prophet Ellen White wrote:

"The 1260 years of papal supremacy began with the establishment of the papacy in A. D. 538, and would therefore terminate on 1798."14

538 AD is the year when the Ostrogoths were driven out of Rome, but nothing of great importance happened to the papacy during this year. In fact, the Ostrogoths later recovered from their temporary defeat and went on the offensive. They re-occupied Rome from 541 to 548 AD. The Ostrogoths were not finally eradicated until 561 AD. The papacy did not achieve temporal sovereignty until 756 AD when the pope acquired the territories of Central Italy. (The papacy controlled these territories until 1870 when the king of Sardinia took over the papal territories.) So why the 538 date? As noted above, the Catholic persecutions started a century earlier than this date. There is no reason for starting at 538 AD other than the fact that it provides a convenient starting point if counting backwards from 1798--the supposed date of the demise of the papal power.

So, what about the ending date of the 1260-day prophecy? Was the papacy abolished in 1798? Ellen White writes:

"The infliction of the deadly wound points to the abolition of the papacy in 1798."15

While 1798 is a significant year for the papacy, it certainly does not indicate the "abolition" or even the downfall of the papacy. When Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner by the French General Berthier, the papacy suffered humiliation, but it would be a gross exaggeration to describe this event as the "downfall" of the papacy.

SDA Theologian Dr. Bacchiocchi explains what happened after the pope was captured in 1798:

"The imprisonment of Pope Paul VI was condemned by Russia and Austria. Both nations decided to join forces to restore the Pope to his Pontifical throne in Rome. When the French government was confronted with this new coalition and with popular uprisings, it decided to transfer the Pope to Valence, in France, where he died 40 days later, on August 29, 1799.

"The death of Pius VI can hardly be seen as the 'abolishment' or 'the downfall of the Papacy.' It was simply a temporary humiliation of the prestige of the Papacy. In fact, Pius VI was able to give directives for the election of his successor. Few months after his death, the Cardinals met in Venice on December 8, 1799, and elected Barnaba Chiaramonti, who took the name of Pious VII, in deference to his predecessor.

"The new Pope was able to negotiate with Napoleon the Concordat in 1801 and the Organic Articles in 1802. These treatises restored to the Pope some of the territories of the States of the Church and regulated the extent of the Papal authority in France.

"The following years marked, not the downfall, but the resurgence of papal authority, especially under the Pontificate of Pius IX (1846-1878). In 1854, Pius IX promulgated the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. ...

"The crowning event of Pius IX's pontificate was the convening of the First Vatican Council on December 8, 1869. It had a remarkable large attendance from all over the Roman world and on July 18, 1870, the Council promulgated the dogma of Papal Infallibility. This dogma has greatly enhanced the authority of the Pope, and discredits any attempt to attribute to 1798 the downfall of the papacy."16

Thus, the dates of 538 and 1798 do not accurately mark the beginning and ending dates of the period of papal supremacy. The papacy grew gradually over centuries and there is no single point where it acheived power. Perhaps the most important event in establishing the preeminence of the Bishop of Rome was when Syslvester I was recognized by the state at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.17 Likewise, the 1798 date had no lasting impact on the papacy. The papacy continued to grow and thrive even after the temporary setback of 1798. Rather than being "abolished," the Catholic church spread rapidly into the United States, Latin America and Africa over the subsequent century. The dates of 538 and 1798 were concocted by SDAs because they conveniently fit into the prophetic jigsaw puzzle they were building, not because they actually delineated the years of papal supremacy.

6. Does Daniel 7 Describe an Investigative Judgment of the Righteous? Notice the order of events presented in Daniel 7:

  1. Little horn came up (v. 8)
  2. Little horn spoke great things (v. 8)
  3. The judgment was set (v. 10)
  4. The beast was slain and burned (v. 11)

There is nothing in this sequence of events about investigating the deeds of the righteous. The context is that the little horn spoke blasphemous words, and then judgment occurred. The very next event after the judgment was the destruction of the beast. The only conclusion that can be arrived at from reading this passage is that the ones being judged are the little horn and the beast power. Now notice the sequence in the latter, interpretive section of the chapter:

  1. Little horn arises (v. 24)
  2. Little horn speaks against Most High (v. 25)
  3. Little horn persecutes saints for 1260 days (v. 25)
  4. The judgment shall sit (v. 26)
  5. The little horn's dominion is taken away (v. 26)
  6. The little horn's kingdom is given to the saints (v. 27)

Once again, there is nothing said about a judgment of the saints. It is clearly the little horn who is being judged. He is judged unworthy of having dominion and his kingdom is taken away and given to the saints.

7. Does Jesus Receive His Kingdom in 1844? In Great Controversy, Ellen White claims Daniel 7:13-14 is describing the movement of Jesus into the Most Holy Place to begin the Investigative Judgment. Is that the event being described? First, the passage says that the Son of Man came "with the clouds of heaven." Clouds are used symbolically throughout the Old Testament to indicate judgment is about to come upon the wicked. (Jer. 4:13, Joel 2:2, Nah. 1:3, Zeph. 1:15). The judgment scene of Daniel 7 took place in the first century. Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." (John 12:31) Satan, the "prince of this world" had usurped the position of Christ. Christ judged Him and cast him out of rulership, and took His rightful position as ruler of this earth.

Next, Dan. 7:13 says Jesus "came to the Ancient of Days." When did this happen in history? Jesus told His disciples, "I go to my Father." (John 16:10) When did Jesus go to His Father? At His ascension. After His ascension He was coroneted as King of the Universe and sat down at the right hand of the Father. Paul wrote in the first century that the coronation of Jesus Christ had already taken place. Paul writes that God "hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name." (Phil. 2:9) This event is spoken of as having taken place in the past when Paul wrote Philippians. It was done long before 1844. Jesus' name has been exalted above EVERY name. After His resurrection, Jesus ascended to the Father to receive His kingdom, and then returned to earth briefly to instruct His disciples. In Matt. 28:18, Jesus told them, "ALL power is given unto me in heaven AND earth." What is heaven and earth? That is the entire Universe! ALL power was given unto Jesus in heaven and earth. He received supreme authority. This happened in the first century when He went to His Father.

1 Peter 3:22 describes Jesus sitting at the right hand of God "after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him." Once again, this has already taken place in the first century when Peter wrote his letter. 1 Cor. 15:27 says, "For he [Father] hath put ALL things under his [Jesus] feet." Again, that is past tense. When something is "under your feet," it means you are ruling over it. Heb. 1:8 says:

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Jesus had already been coronated as king in the first century because at the time Hebrews was written, Jesus sits on a throne and has a scepter. Eph. 1:21 says Jesus is, "Far above ALL principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named." Jesus has been coroneted as the King of kings. Daniel saw it, as did 100 million angels.

Some may ask, if Jesus is now king, where is His kingdom? Jesus planted His kingdom on this earth as a mustard seed. A mustard seed is extremely tiny. But like the mustard tree, this kingdom will gradually grow until it fills the whole earth. Likewise, the stone of Daniel 2 struck the feet of the image and gradually grew to fill the whole earth. Then, at the end of the age, Christ will return as King of kings to usher in His Millennial kingdom.


Bible Truth about the Little Horn

Adventists correctly interpret the fourth beast as the Roman Empire, but falsely assume the horns growing upon the head of that beast are ten nations that attack and conquer the beast. Such teaching is wholly inconsistent with what the book of Daniel teaches about the meaning of horns upon a beast. In every single instance where horns appear upon the head of a beast, those horns represent the leaders of those nations. For example:

Horns... Bible interprets as... History confirms as...
...a ram which had two horns... (8:3) The ram which you saw, having the two horns--[they are] the kings of Media and Persia. (8:20) Darius the Mede (lower horn), Cyrus the Persian (higher horn that came up last)
...the goat [had] a notable horn between his eyes. (8:5) The large horn that [is] between its eyes [is] the first king. (8:21) Alexander the Great
...the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up... (8:8) As for the broken [horn] and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation... (8:22) Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander and Lysimachus (Alexander's generals)
And out of one of them came a little horn... (8:9) ...A king shall arise... (8:23) Antiochus Epiphanes
...a fourth beast...and it had ten horns. (7:7) The ten horns [are] ten kings [Who] shall arise from this kingdom. (7:24) Ten Caesars of Rome

Daniel makes it abundantly clear the ten kings will "arise from this kingdom." This could not possibly refer to outside entities that invade and conquer Rome. The kings arise from within! The ten horns represent ten kings or rulers over the Roman Empire. History records that there were, in fact, ten Roman Caesars who ruled Rome prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. The first king was Julius Caesar. According to Wikipedia's article on Julius Caesar, he played a critical part in ending the Roman Republic and establishing the Roman Empire. In fact, Wikipedia notes he was the first historical Roman to be officially deified. Here then are the ten Caesars that ruled before the destruction of Jerusalem:

  1. Julius Caeser 49-44BC
  2. Augustus 31BC-14AD
  3. Tiberius (Luke 3:1) 14-37AD
  4. Gaius (aka. Caligula) 37-41AD
  5. Claudius (Acts 17) 41-54AD
  6. Nero 54-68AD
  7. Galba 68-69AD
  8. Otho 69AD
  9. Vitellius 69AD
  10. Vespasian 69-79AD

Do Daniel's Prophecies Point to the Christian Era?

One reason Adventist interpretations of Daniel are so convoluted is because they try to stretch Daniel's prophecies out into the Christian era. SDAs interpret the literal time periods in Daniel (1,260 days and 2,300 evenings-mornings) as long periods of years, stretching many centuries into the Christian era. The truth is that Daniel is a Jewish book, written by a Jew, for the Jews, containing God's prophecies relating to His Covenantal people (Dan. 9:24). It is focused on events that directly impacted the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. The last prophecy of Daniel, the 70-week prophecy, ends with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Except for a few brief comments about future events (Christ's kingdom filling the earth (Dan. 2:34-35), the resurrection (Dan. 12:1-3)), the entire book of Daniel is focused on the Hebrew nation and its interaction with world powers from the time of Babylon up until the final destruction of Jerusalem and the termination of the Old Covenant in 70 AD.

Who is the Little Horn?

It is an established historical fact that the Little Horn of Daniel 7 is Caesar Nero. His actual birth name was Lucius. The Latin meaning of Lucius is Light Bearer. The name Lucius is a synonym of the name Lucifer. Many Christians in the early centuries regarded Nero Caesar as the anti-Christ. Interestingly enough, he is the only Caesar whose Hebrew name numerically adds up to 666.

Consider the incredible correlations between Nero and the little horn of Daniel 7:

  • He will uproot "three of the first horns" (7:24) - Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.18

  • "He shall speak words against the Most High" (7:25) - Nero encouraged emperor worship and had a huge statue of himself erected in Rome. Inscriptions found in Ephesus called him "Almighty God" and "Saviour...." 19

  • He "shall wear out the saints of the Most High" (7:25) - Nero was the first Roman emperor to launch a persecution against Jews and Christians. Some of the saints slain during his persecution include the apostles Paul and Peter. Historians have described the persecution as "the most cruel that ever occurred."20

  • The saints "shall be given into his hand for time, times, and half a time" (7:25) - Nero's persecution began in November of 64 AD, and ended with his death in June of AD 68, a period of exactly 42 months (1260 days).21

  • "and think to change times and laws" (7:25) - Few emperors were more lawless than Nero. The great Roman historian Tacitus describes his lawless behavior in his writings. Nero was known for numerous brutal executions, including that of his own mother. When his second wife, pregnant at the time, complained that he had returned home late from the races, Nero kicked her--and her unborn baby--to death. He killed his Aunt by having her poisoned. Nero was a non-stop assault on marriage, the family, and the law of God. Nero had two homosexual marriages to men. When he wed Pythagoras, Nero put on the bride's veil, and Pythagoras was the "groom." According to Tacitus, Nero engaged in "every filthy, depraved illicit act."22

  • "His dominion shall be taken away" (7:26) - The Roman Senate eventually voted to put Nero to death, thus effectively taking away his dominion.

  • The kingdom "shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High" (7:27) - It is a mistake to think this passage is a reference to God's eternal kingdom. It is a reference to God's spiritual kingdom, which was established in approximately 30 AD when John the Baptist announced, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). Christ talked about the "kingdom" as being comtemporary (Matt. 12:28; 16:19; 23:13), not in the far distant future. Daniel wrote about a kingdom that gradually fills the earth (Dan. 2:34-35). Jesus spoke of a Mustard seed which grew into a great tree (Matt. 13:31-33).23 Therefore, the giving of the kingdom (Rome) to the saints of the Most High began when Christ established his kingdom on this earth, and the kingdom continued to grow until one day Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

Who is being judged?

As noted earlier in this study, the Bible clearly indicates that the judgment of Daniel 7 is a judgment against the little horn and the beast power, not an investigative judgment of the saints. Did such an event occur in the first century? Notice carefully the words of Jesus:

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (John 12:31)

And when he [Comforter] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment ...because the prince of this world is judged. (John 16:8,11)

Jesus said that the judgment of Satan was happening "now", during the final hours of His life on earth. He said that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world that the prince of this world is judged. It was during the reign of the Roman Empire that judgment sat in heaven and passed sentence on the prince of this world and the Roman Empire. It was the Roman Empire, under the guidance of Satan, acting through a Roman governor and Roman soldiers, that crucified the Son of God. The judgment, although decided in heaven, was not instantly executed upon Rome when Jesus died, just as Jerusalem was not instantly punished. Time was given to allow for Rome to manifest what it was going to do with Christ and Christianity.

Jesus' death was as a mustard seed being planted in the earth. After His death the gospel sprouted and spread throughout the empire. Nero and later Caesars manifested a satanic hatred towards Christianity. They thought to persecute it into non-existence, and Nero almost succeeded. However, he was killed, his perseuction halted and his dominion was taken away. The very persecution he started in an attempt to stamp out Christianity would later become the seed that fueled an even more explosive growth of Christianity. Eventually the dominion of Satan was broken in the Roman Empire and it became the dominion of the saints. Christianity was recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD.

Every specification of Daniel 7 came to pass just as predicted. In fact, the fulfillment is so incredible that atheists and agnostics have long insisted the book of Daniel was written after Nero's death. At the time they were making such claims, the oldest copies of Daniel were dated a thousand years after Christ. However, these enemies of God were silenced when the book of Daniel was discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. In all, eight copies of the book were found. The oldest was carbon-dated to 165 BC. That was long before Nero or any of the ten Caesars. Only God could have known the unfolding of the Roman Empire hundreds of years beforehand. Praise God!


Your Questions about the Little Horn

[no questions at this time]

Links for Deeper Study about Image of Daniel 2

Paradise Restored by David Chilton


1. Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, p. 58.

2. Ibid., p. 111.

3. Ellen White, Great Controvery, p. 446.

4. Smith, p. 145.

5. Smith, pp. 113, 145.

6. White, Great Controvery, p. 480.

7. Hugo Mendez, "Is the Papacy the Little Horn of Daniel 7?", p. 7, First Draft, Second Edit (

8. Early Writings, p. 32.

9. "Sabbath or Sunday",, extracted Dec. 12, 2008. This web page has the official NIHIL OBSTAT from Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004, and IMPRIMATUR by Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004.

10. While the Catholic Church did not change the day of worship, the papacy can be credited with enforcing Old Testament Sabbath regulations upon Sunday. This practice was later adopted by some, but not all, Protestant denominations.

11. Samuele Bacchiochi, Ph.D., E-mail message to the "Free Catholic Mailing List" on Feb. 8, 1997.

12. Ignatius, letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110].

13. Samuele Bacchiochi, From Sabbath to Sunday, p. 217.

14. The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD, 15:8f, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 147.

15. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 266 (1888).

16. Ibid., page 579.

17. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., Endtime Issues #87, "A Reply to Criticisms Part I 'The Use of Ellen White's Writings in Interpreting Scripture'" (August 1, 2002).

18. "Saint Sylvester I," Encyclopeida Brittanica.

19. Jay Rogers, "Daniel 7", published May 2008,

20. "Nero's Character",, Kenneth Gentry, The Beast of Revelation, Institute of Christian Economics, Tyler, Texas (1989), p. 64.

21. Phillip Schaff ,History of the Christian Church 3rd. ed., 7 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1910 I:386).

22. Puritan Lad, "An Exposition of Daniel: Chapter 7", Dec. 11, 2007,

23. Tacitus, Annals, Vol. 1, chap. 8, p. 200.

24 Lad, Ibid.

Category: Amazing Fiction - Daniel
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