A Question I Was Asked:

Please Help me Understand Daniel 7:25... (such) Verses Have Kept Me Confused on the Sabbath Question

The Question:

Please help me understand Daniel 7:25 and Isaiah 66:22-23. These verses have been what have kept me confused on the Sabbath question. I believe in the law of Christ and the Hebrews 4 'sabbatimos' rest in Christ.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at Daniel 7:25:

He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25, NIV throughout),

Obviously, just looking at this one verse - without taking any regard as to the context - we are not going to understand it. So we have to look closer. This is, of course, one of the prophecies of Daniel. The text is speaking of a person who would come after the time of Daniel himself. You have to start at verse one to get the context; this refers to the dream of Daniel. Four great world empires would come, the fourth being the most fierce of them all. All Bible experts agree and recognise that this was the Roman Empire; there is no controversy about that part of it.

"Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws - the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left." (Verse 19).
"The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it." (Verse 23b).

Almost nobody has ever doubted that the "fourth kingdom" is a reference to the Roman Empire at the peak of its powers. No, the controversial part concerns the 'ten horns' (7-8) upon the head of the Roman Empire, plus the 'little horn':

"I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell - the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom." (Verses 20-22).

Antiochus Epiphanes?

Many, although mostly those from a dispensationalist/Adventist/various cults and sects background, have insisted that the seven horns are revivals of the Roman Empire which have occurred and will go on occurring until the Second Coming of our Lord. The boastful 'little horn' is seen as the Roman Catholic papacy.

Others, however, insist that all of these things were fulfilled in the past, indeed, prior to the First Coming of our Lord. We see then, that the 'ten horns' and the arrogant and boastful 'little horn' are controversial subjects. Overall, the boastful and arrogant 'little horn' sounds much more like Antiochus Epiphanes (who did indeed seek to change 'times and laws'), than the papacy. He sacrificed swine flesh at the temple in Jerusalem, utterly forbad the keeping of the Sabbath, and persecuted Jews any way that he could. He also ordered the Jews to worship Zeus as their supreme god (see 2 Maccabees 6:1-12). Note this:

"Not long after this the king sent an Athenian senator to force the Jews to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God; also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus, and that on Mount Gerizim to Zeus the Hospitable, as the inhabitants of the place requested...They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. A man could not keep the sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit that he was a Jew. At the suggestion of the citizens of Ptolemais, a decree was issued ordering the neighboring Greek cities to act in the same way against the Jews: oblige them to partake of the sacrifices, and put to death those who would not consent to adopt the customs of the Greeks. It was obvious, therefore, that disaster impended. Thus, two women who were arrested for having circumcised their children were publicly paraded about the city with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown down from the top of the city wall. Others, who had assembled in nearby caves to observe the sabbath in secret, were betrayed to Philip and all burned to death." (2 Maccabees 6:1-11).

There would appear to be no reason to look beyond Antiochus Epiphanes for a fulfillment of the boastful 'little horn,' his name, by the way, means 'God Manifest.' Overall, this fits in quite well with the rest of the chapter because it would appear that this 'little horn' shortly precedes the full revelation of Christ. The wicked Antiochus was on the scene around 168 BC. Of course, it might appear to us that it is the Second Coming which follows the 'little horn,' but we really must remember that Scripture never separates the coming of Christ into a 'first coming' and a 'second coming.' It is we who do that!

"He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time." (Verse 25).

There is widespread agreement among Bible students that this period of time amounts to something like three and a half years. Interestingly, this fits in rather well with the Antiochus Epiphanes severe persecution of the Jews at Jerusalem which went from about 168 BC to 164 BC when this wicked man suddenly died of disease at Armenia. In total he ruled over the Jews from 175 BC, but the years of his savage fury upon Jerusalem were much shorter, somewhere between three and four years. This would appear to be a pretty precise fulfillment of prophecy!

Who/What are the 'Ten Horns'?

But regarding the 'horns' of Daniel 7 in general, we should note that these horns may not mean any such thing as future specific revivals of Roman power at all - why should it? Biblically, the horn is a symbol of power, and is frequently so used as an emblem or symbol in Daniel, for instance see Dan. 7:7-8, Dan. 7:20, Dan. 7:24; Dan. 8:3-9, Dan. 8:20-22, also Revelation: Rev. 5:6; Rev. 13:1, Rev. 13:11; Rev. 17:3, Rev. 17:12, Rev. 17:16. The horn is often used as a strength symbol because the great strength of horned animals is believed to be located in that part of their body. So the horns sitting on the head of the fourth beast may simply be underlining his incredible power rather than looking beyond to specific political restorations of that power. We need to be ever-wary not to read things into Scripture which are just not there!

There may also be significance in the use of the number '10' - this number has significance in the Bible. There were ten antediluvian generations, ten plagues upon Egypt, ten commandments, ten trials of Abraham's faith, ten passovers recounted in Scripture, ten parables of Jesus in Matthew, and ten 'I AMs' in the New Testament. '10' is a perfect number, signifying the completion of divine order/divine intention. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect in God's sight; that the whole cycle is complete. So the 'ten horns' could simply mean that the Lord's will would be done in the strength and longevity of the Roman Empire. This is especially so since Daniel is written in the apocalyptic style and the apocalyptic books (Daniel and Revelation) always use numbers symbolically (rather than literally).

Having stated all of the above, it is certainly true that the horns are described as "ten kings" who would come from Rome (verse 24), if these are literal, separate rulers, there is evidence that these "ten kings" might have come and gone before the time of Christ. Indeed, if we accept that the boastful 'little horn' was Antiochus Epiphanes (of which there is very strong evidence, as we have seen), then this 'little horn' was to arise after the time of these 'kings' (verse 24) - in which case these 'kings' have long since come and gone!

Okay, so one of the things which Antiochus Epiphanes did indeed attempt to do was to change the Sabbath (which he banned Jews from observing), however, that was just before Christ came to earth and established the New Covenant. The full meaning of the Sabbath 'rest' is now fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 3:7 to 4:11).

Next I am asked about Isaiah 66:22-23.

In fact, I have covered the question of Isaiah 66:22-23 here, so will not tackle it again here.

My questioner then seems to suggest that he understands and accepts the 'law of Christ' (which could be summarized as the 'sermon on the mount'), also the principle of the eternal 'sabbatism' which awaits true believers in heaven.

Some may also wish to read, Why Worship on a Sunday?

Robin A. Brace. December 30th, 2011.