victor christensen's blog

Why Seventh-day Adventist Reject Antioch Epiphanies as the Little Horn of Daniel 8 Peter Wilenski – Victor Christensen (Edited discussion)

Posted in Uncategorized by victorchristensen on October 1, 2009

Wilenski

I thought today that we might discuss the identity of the prophetic figure identified as “little horn” who appears in Daniel 7 and 8 and under the title of the “king of the north” in Daniel 11. The contemporary contenders for Daniel’s “little horn” on the internet these days appear to be Antiochus Epiphanies, Islam and the papacy.

Adventists have had much to say about the papacy and I have no particular burden to recycle in this discussion what has been repeated many times for many years. In order to keep this discussion in manageable proportions I would like to limit the focus to why Antiochus Epiphanies is not the little horn of Daniel’s prophecy.

Christensen

Under Pope Benny the dynamics of Roman Catholicism are secretly being converted to a one-world-religion format that apart from some Catholic fundamentalists most people are not aware of it. I think discussing the changes to the papacy’s profile which are huge in their implication is best be left for another time.

Wilenski

As you know until 100 years ago the historicists approach to interpreting prophecy was the norm for Protestants.

The rejection of historicism by many theologians and others is part of the last-day falling away that the Bible predicts would occur in the church. And since Bible prophecy is described as “the revelation of Jesus Christ” this means rejecting Bible prophecy as Jesus’ own revelation of history amounts to rejecting Jesus Himself.

Seventh-day Adventists and some others take what is called the historicist approach to prophecy; perhaps we should define what that is. In simple terms historicism teaches that biblical prophecy contains predictions of events starting from the days of Daniel into the future up until the second coming of Christ.

The practice of applying prophecy to significant events through out history has an ancient tradition behind it.

In his four volume Horae Apocalpticae E.B. Elliott shows that throughout history leading Christian apologists who wrote commentaries o­n prophecy such as Victorinus, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus (3rd century), Origen, Methodius, Lactantius, Eusebius (4th century), Athanasius, Hilary, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, Tichonius, Bede (8th century), Ambrose, Haymo, Andreas, Anselm, Joachim Abbas (12th century), Jean Pierre d’Olive, Martin Luther (16th century) and many others adopted the historicist interpretation.

A unifying feature of historicism is the connection of the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and 8, “the man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2), the “antichrist” (1 John) and the “beast” (Revelation 13) to elements within Christianity itself.

The evidence identifies the little horn, not as an outsider, but someone who attacks Christianity from the inside.

For example Paul calls Daniel’s “little horn” the “man of sin” and says that he “takes his seat in the temple of God” which in a New Testament context refers to Christian worship. He also says that the “man of sin” will be destroyed when Jesus returns “by the appearance of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, 7)

The little horn/man of sin clearly has a role in the last days. It should be obvious if prophecy teaches that the “little horn” or “man of sin” is destroyed when Jesus returns that totally rules out Antiochus Epiphanes.

Christensen

No Bible truth is obvious to anyone whose mind is steeped in unbelief. It seems to me there are compelling reasons for believing Daniel’s prophecies contain an ongoing revelation of world history until Jesus returns.

For example, Daniel 2 provides a timeframe for Daniel’s prophecies that cover the period between the head of gold (ancient Babylon) and when the stone from heaven strikes the image on its feet (the second coming.) Would Daniel 2 present a time frame covering the entire world history if that was not the intention of the entire book?

The truth is Daniel contains both historical and end time prophecies in one unified prophetic revelation.

Just as the image in Daniel 2 is a single unit divided into sections likewise Daniel’s prophecies represent a single prophecy divided into sections. Essentially the book of Daniel is one comprehensive prophecy that was revealed to Daniel in a piecemeal and progressive fashion. What this means is that each apparently separate prophecy is actually one piece of a jigsaw puzzle and the correct hermeneutic is to put all the pieces together to make one large prophecy. Understanding Daniel as a fragmented presentation of one large prophecy is the way to go.

The image in Daniel 2 tells us that Daniel’s prophecies present a panorama of world history down to the second coming.  If that is not true then Daniel 2 tells us nothing and the vision is completely meaningless.

When we study Daniel 7 there is no way the history of Antiochus can be made to match the chronology assigned to the little horn. The “little horn” in Daniel 7:8 cannot be Antiochus because it did not become an independent authority until the time allotted to the fourth beast, or Imperial Rome, was nearing its termination point.

According to the chronology of Daniel 7 the little horn becomes a ruling authority sometime after the fourth beast. This means any application of Daniel 7:7-8 to Antiochus is contradicted by the facts of history.

Notice that in Daniel 7:7-8 the “little horn” is attached to the head of the fourth beast as an integral part of it.

“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast … it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.” (Verses 7-8)

Our text says the little horn replaced three horns that were on the head of the fourth beast so when Daniel first sees the little horn it is perched on the head of the fourth beast and is an actual part of the fourth beast. This physical connection with the fourth beast which precedes the little horns separation from the fourth beast means that the “little horn” emerges from the fourth beast and derived its original existence from the fourth beast.

Because the fourth beast represented Rome it is axiomatic that the little horn has an historic connection to Rome. Moreover, since Antiochus died in 164 BC and Imperial Roman (the fourth beast) continued up to 500 AD this means the little horn of Daniel 7 did not enter history until around 700 years after Antiochus had died.

Jesus gave the little horn prophecy in Daniel a future application to Rome when He said to His disciples in AD31, 200 years after Antiochus attacked Jerusalem; “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place let the reader understand.” (Matthew 24:15)

The prophecy in Daniel 9:26 says the little horn “will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Only Imperial Rome “destroyed the city and the sanctuary” in the catastrophic sense that Daniel predicted. Jesus told His disciples Daniel’s principle antagonist would attack Jerusalem some time in their future, and Antiochus had been dead by then for 200 years, so that makes it very certain that Antiochus is not Daniel’s little horn.

Wilenski

What is your understanding of the relationship between the little horn in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8?

Christensen

Good question. There is an important matter that should be cleared up. The fact is Daniel 7 has a “little horn” but contrary to popular opinion there is no reference to a “little horn” in Daniel 8:9 in the Hebrew text.

The NIV gives the correct reading of Daniel 8:9, “Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land.” In Daniel 7 we do have a “little horn” but not in Daniel 8 which simply speaks of a hornwhich started small” and grew to an immense size.

The reference to the “little horn” in Daniel 7 represents a visual description; meaning the horn is small in terms of its size. But in Daniel 8 the “horn, which started small but grew in power” is a description of massive growth.

Whereas in Daniel 7 prophecy makes a distinction between the fourth beast and the “little horn” in Daniel 8 the horn which “started small” is the fourth beast and the little horn under a unified identity without distinction.

Wikipedia gives a description of Imperial Rome that perfectly matches the specifications found in Daniel 8:9.

“Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of a small community … Located along the Mediterranean Sea it became one of the largest empires in the ancient world.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Rome)

Notice the parallel between Imperial Rome and the “small horn” that became a great power.

Little Horn – “started small” – “grew in power.”

Rome   –    “small community” “largest empires”

The little horn is one of the horns of the fourth beast which is allocated its own separate function. This means we should look for both unity between the fourth beast and the little horn and also for some form of distinction.

It is necessary to understand in Daniel 7 that the fourth beast and the little horn are historically linked and that in Daniel 8 the horn that “started small” experiences a metamorphose covering a vast period of time. It is Imperial Rome in its political beginnings but takes on a religious role of opposition to Christ in an eschatological setting.

The short of it is in their endtime configuration Daniel 7 and 8 are focused on the perpetuation of the fourth beast as a religion. In 63BC Julius Caesar took the title Pontiff Maximus which identified him as the high priest of the Roman religion and it is the role of Pontiff Maximus now in the church that is the focus of prophecy.

When Constantine made Christianity a state religion as the Pontiff Maximus, or high priest of Rome’s multi cultural religion he was also, according to Rome law, legally high Priest of the Christian religion.  Prophecy says that the little horn “takes his seat in the temple of God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). And we also know how this came about. When Constantine made Christianity a state religion he paved the way for the title of Pontiff Maximus to be transferred to the church and linked the leadership of the church to the office of Caesar.

This is why Daniel 8:9 employs the only one symbolism, “the horn that started small”, to cover for both Imperial Rome and its eschatological function expressed through the papacy.

Wilenski

So the religion of the “beast” is essentially a union of paganism and failed Christianity empowered by the state.

Moving back to Antiochus; when we examined history there is no way he matches all the details of prophecy. It is possible to invent superficial parallels only if we ignore the areas where Antiochus does not match prophecy.

Here are the facts. Antiochus Epiphanes was the third son of Antiochus the Great. After the Romans defeated his father in 190-189 BC Antiochus was taken hostage to Rome where he remained fourteen years. A reference to Antiochus as a hostage can be found in 1Maccabees 8:6-7. We are told that after ”Antiochus the Great of Asia” was defeated by the Roman general Scipio Africanus at Lydia early in 189 BC an agreement was made that “such as reigned after him (Antiochus III) should pay a great tribute and give hostages”. Eventually Antiochus’ brother Seleucus IV secured Antiochus’ release by offered his son Demetrius as an exchange prisoner.

When Seleucus IV was murdered in 175 BC Antiochus became king. In 169 BC Antiochus invaded Egypt and occupied most of Egypt for a brief period. Because of military threats from elsewhere he was forced to cancel his military campaign and released control of Egypt to the custodians of his infant nephew Ptolemy VI. Antiochus invaded Egypt for a second time in 168 BC, occupied Lower Egypt and set up camp outside Alexandria.

While Antiochus was planning his attack on Alexandria he was confronted by Gaius Popillius Laenas, Rome’s ambassador to Egypt and ordered to leave immediately. When Antiochus stalled for time, the elderly Popillius used his walking stick to draw a circle around Antiochus and ordered him not to move until he provided an answer. Humiliated by having an elderly civilian stop his entire army in its tracks Antiochus hastily left Egypt.

During the seventh year of his reign Antiochus created controversy by imposing Greek culture on his territories.

The conservative Hasideans opposed Antiochus’ attempt to Hellenize Judaism. However, Jewish liberals under Jason who supported Antiochus offered him a bribe in an attempt to gain his support. Menelaus, a rival contender for the high priesthood offered Antiochus’ a counter offer of a bigger bribe. Apparently the strategy worked because Antiochus promptly pronounced Menelaus high priest and evicted Jason. After a time, and acting on a false rumour that Antiochus had died Jason made an abortive attempt to assassinate Menelaus.

When Antiochus heard of the turmoil in Jerusalem he wrongly assumed the entire country was in revolt and returning to Palestine he asserted his authority by murdering and selling into slavery eighty thousands Jews. Antiochus then put Jerusalem under the control of his generals who suppressed all orthodox Jewish practices.

When Jerusalem came under military control an altar to Zeus was erected in the Temple and sacrifices were offered to an idol bearing a marked resemblance to Antiochus. Judas Maccabeus, leader of the anti-Greek party among the Jews promptly started a guerrilla war and history records that “the Syrian armies were repeatedly defeated.” (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, editor Merril Tenney, Zondervan 1967 p.48)

Because of trouble in other parts of his territory Antiochus withdrew most of his army from Jerusalem to fight the Parthians. He achieved some military success but at the end of 164 he died at Tabae. In December 164 some 1080 days after the sanctuary was desecrated the Jews tore down the altar of Zeus and rededicate the Temple.

As far as Antiochus being a rampaging success in warfare that is not what his personal history tells us.

The reality is that Antiochus was defeated in Egypt, defeated by the Jews and only temporarily halted the expansion of the Parthians. In the context of history the Philistines were a greater threat to Israel than he was.

The Philistines caused Israel extreme suffering and national shame for a much longer period than Antiochus did.

“The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines …. They afflicted and crushed the sons of Israel that year; for eighteen years….” “Now the sons of Israel again did evil … so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.” (Judges 10:6-8, 13:1)

Christensen

It seems like being “afflicted and crushed” for fifty eight years by the Philistines surpasses Antiochus’ three and a half years. At any rate there is a plenty in Daniel’s prophecy that does not match the history of Antiochus.

Prophecy said the little horn “started small but grew in power.” (Daniel 8:9 NIV) This is not true of Antiochus.

Antiochus Epiphanes inherited a large amount of occupied territory that Antiochus III had previously taken from the Ptolemy’s in 198 BC some thirty years before Antiochus entered Jerusalem. The fact is Antiochus III was the real invader of Israel; Antiochus merely claimed for himself territory that had been captured by others.

The little horn was to “grow in power toward the south.” If we keep in mind the final outcome determine who won the battle then the reality is that Antiochus’ southern excursion into Egypt ended in total defeat.

The little horn was to grow in power towards “the east.” (Daniel 8:9) Antiochus’ wars in the east ended in failure. His military campaign took him to the frontiers of India but he lost the eastern territory before he died.

Prophecy said the little horn “will succeed in whatever he does.” (Daniel 8:24) How can that describe Antiochus when his best generals were “repeatedly defeated” by forces a fraction the size of his army? He was after all evicted from Egypt by one elderly Roman official with a walking stick. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote:

“Antiochus … came with great forces to Pelusium, and circumvented Ptolemy Philometor by treachery, and seized upon Egypt. He then came to the places about Memphis; and when he had taken them, he made haste to Alexandria, in hopes of taking it by siege, and of subduing Ptolemy, who reigned there. But he was driven not only from Alexandria, but out of all Egypt, by the declaration of the Romans, who charged him to let that country alone.  … King Antiochus returning out of Egypt for fear of the Romans made an expedition against the city Jerusalem.” (Antiquities of the Jews Book XII, Chapter 5, par. 2, 3)

If Antiochus had some success when he initially “seized upon Egypt” it is equally true “he was driven not only from Alexandria, but out of all Egypt, by the declaration of the Romans.” That’s one for the Romans nil for Antiochus. Since Antiochus could not do anything without Rome’s approval it is far more likely Rome and not Antiochus is the focus of Daniel’s prophecy and that is what the historicist interpretation of prophecy teaches.

Wilenski

As clear as that is even Jesus’ inspired commentary on Scripture is not enough to convince some people.

According to prophecy the little horn was to arise “in the latter part of their reign” (Daniel 8:23) or when the four (eventually three) divisions of Alexander’s kingdom were coming to an end. The Seleucid dynasty which represented one of the divisions of Alexanders divided empire lasted from 311 BC to 65 BC. The last Seleucid king was Antiochus XIII who ruled from 69 BC to 65 BC. Antiochus was the eighth king in a dynasty that had twenty-four kings. He reigned nine years, from 175 BC to 164 BC. The Seleucid dynasty continued for another ninety nine years after Antiochus. How can it be said Antiochus came to power “in the latter part of their reign” when he appeared in the middle of a dynasty almost one hundred years before the Seleucid dynasty ended?

In 1Maccabees 1:20 we are told that Antiochus entered the temple in Jerusalem in “the hundred and forty and third year” of the Seleucid dynasty. The event described as the cleansing of the sanctuary in 1Maccabees 4:52 took place in 164 BC or 99 years before the Seleucid dynasty of which Antiochus was a part came to an end.

Since Antiochus did none of the things to the sanctuary or the city that the little horn in Daniel was predicted to do, specifically to destroy them, how exactly could Antiochus be the little horn?

Christensen

About now might be a good time to look at the criticisms Desmond Ford has direct at historicist teachings.

Some who support Ford’s attack on historicism claim he is “a Bible scholar of world renown.” Maybe not.

If Ford’s opposition to historicism is the worst thing that can happen we don’t have much to worry about.

In his 1978 commentary on Daniel Ford spoke of “the admission by most scholars that the climax of the vision [of Daniel 8] just does not fit, with any precision, what happened during the days of Antiochus.” He also refers to the “inadequacy of the Maccabean fulfilment.” (See Ford, Daniel pp.173, 178)

In his A/Today interview he now claims that Antiochus represents “a primary” fulfilment of Daniel 8:14.

After hundreds of hours of research and studying the evidence for some twenty years Ford concluded in 1978 Antiochus Epiphanes did not meet the specifications of Daniel 8:10-14. Now he thinks otherwise. But if Ford can study a matter for twenty years and get it wrong, why should anybody be confident he has got it right now?

Ford claims that because the little horn’s expansion in Daniel 8:9 is directed toward the south the little horn cannot be Rome because geographically any attack from Rome would come from the West. He says,

“The horn is the power to the north of Palestine but waxes great towards the south … Israel was never menaced from the west where Rome lay. … This new horn first attacks the south … Rome does not … fit.” (Ford   A/Today Discussion Forums Archive May 18, 2000)

Ford claims, “Israel was never menaced from the west where Rome lay.” So what. The problem here is that Ford has misread the words of the prophecy. Since the prophecy is speaking of the direction in which the Roman expansion was heading, the actual location of Rome in the West is irrelevant. The Roman general Pompey annexed Israel in 63 B.C. as part of a southern sweep into Palestine. Daniel 8:9 predicted that an army heading south would invade Israel and history records that in 63 BC. a Roman army heading south invaded Israel.

“Having defeated the Mithridates of Pontus and Tigranes of Armenia, the Roman general Pompey advanced southward in 64 B.C. for the purpose of rearranging the political map of Syria in Rome’s favour in order to prevent the Parthians, the new rising imperial power of the east, from doing the same.” (Art. Judea, Dictionary of New Testament Background. Editors Craig A. Stevens and Stanley E. Porter, IVP 2000 p.620)

That in 63 BC a Roman army heading south invaded Israel conforms exactly to what Daniel 8:9 predicted. The truth remains the truth even if “a Bible scholar of world renown” has a different opinion on the matter.

The truth is, Bible prophecy is structured a historicist format and only an unbeliever would question this.

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2 Responses

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  1. Don@galadefinancia.com said, on October 2, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Mr. Christensen,
    I am working on a book called, In God we trust, in the dollar we worship. It is a biblical view of money and the bible. The book then goes on to explain where we are heading per the book of revelation.
    I am quit moved by your work the 10 kings of Revelation 17.With your permission, i would like to re-print this article, with proper disclosure to you and your ministry of course, in my book.
    After publication, all proceeds from this book will be sown back into the Kingdom of God.
    I would be happy to send a copy of the completed manuscript for your approval prior to publishing if you concur.
    I welcome the opportunity to speak to you regarding this matter.
    Warmest regards and blessings,
    Donald A. Galade

  2. Mark Glover said, on May 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Mr. Christensen,

    You have come up with amazing blogs. From what you can tell, when do you feel most of this will take place (one world government, etc)?


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