“Truth in Christ and through Christ is measureless. The student of Scripture looks, as it were, into a fountain that deepens and broadens as he gazes into its depths…. As we search the word of God in humility of heart, the grand theme of redemption will open to our research. It will increase in brightness as we behold it, and as we aspire to grasp it, its height and depth will ever increase.
“He will speak His mysteries to us personally…. The old truths will be presented, but they will be seen in a new light. There will be a new perception of truth, a clearness and a power that all will discern. Those who have the privilege of sitting under such a ministry will, if susceptible to the Holy Spirit’s influence, feel the energizing power of a new life. The fire of God’s love will be kindled within them. Their perceptive faculties will be quickened to discern the beauty and majesty of truth.” Christ’s Object Lessons pp. 128-131.
THE BEASTS OF DANIEL
“Those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God will bring from the books of Daniel and Revelation truth that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. They will start into action forces that cannot be repressed. The lips of children will be opened to proclaim the mysteries that have been hidden from the minds of men.” Testimonies to Ministers p.116.
“There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work.” Testimonies to Ministers p. 112.
Because of the importance of the prophecies of these two books, Daniel and Revelation, Uriah Smith in the year 1867 decided to write some material commenting on these prophecies. He entitled his first book, “Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation.” In the year 1873 he wrote another book entitled, “Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Daniel.” Both of these books were later put into one volume. In commenting on this book, the SDA Bible Commentary says: “This work, now entitled the Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, was revised several times, during Smith’s lifetime and later, and it still has a wide circulation.” 10 Bible Commentary p. 1201. From 1897 up to the present time this book is known to us as Seventh-day Adventist as “Daniel and the Revelation. “
Smith, “although a creative writer,…also borrowed from contemporary and early expositors for his materials, especially in his interpretations of prophecy.” 10 Bible Commentary p. 1201.
Evidently this book did not fill the need as we find these words which were penned by Ellen G. White in the year 1902, which was thirty-five years after Uriah Smith wrote his first book on the Revelation: “The books of Daniel and the Revelation should be bound together and published. A few explanations of certain portions might be added, but I am not sure that these would be needed.
“This is the suggestion that I made to Elder Haskell which resulted in the book he published. The need is not filled by this book. It was my idea to have the two books bound together, Revelation following Daniel, as giving fuller light on the subjects dealt with in Daniel. The object is to bring these books together, showing that they both relate to the same subjects.
“A message that will arouse the churches is to be proclaimed. Every effort is to be made to give the light, not only to our people, but to the world. I have been instructed that the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation should be printed in small books, with the necessary explanations, and should be sent all over the world. Our own people need to have the light placed before them in clearer lines.” Testimonies to Ministers p. 117.
In the book entitled “Testimonies to Ministers,” page 526 of the appendix, we find these words regarding the above quoted statement: “The reference here is to a book entitled The Story of Daniel the Prophet, published in 1901 by Elder S. N. Haskell. It is a volume of 340 pages presenting a brief comment on the prophecies of Daniel. This statement by Mrs. White was penned in the year 1902. Three years later Elder Haskell published a companion volume entitled, The Story of the Seer of Patmos, commenting on the book of Revelation.”
Evidently neither of these author’s (Uriah Smith or Elder Haskell books filled the need of what Ellen G. White was asking for at that time. We come to this conclusion because of the following observations:
(1) If Uriah Smith’s book, Daniel and the Revelation (which was first written in 1867) was sufficient, then why did E.G. White thirty-four years later suggest to Elder Haskell to write another book on the same subject?
(2) The Spirit of Prophecy cautions us We are not to accept the opinion of commentators as the voice of God; they were erring mortals like ourselves….We should make the Bible its own expositor.” Testimonies to Ministers p. 106.
“Many think that they must consult commentaries on the Scriptures in order to understand the meaning of the word of God, and we would not take the position that commentaries should not be studied; but it will take much discernment to discover the truth of God under the mass of the words of men. How little has been done by the church as a body professing to believe the Bible, to gather up the scattered jewels of God’s word into one perfect chain of truth!” Fundamentals of Christian Education pp. 187, 188. Since Uriah Smith “borrowed from Contemporary and early expositors” (see Index of Authors p. 793 in the book, Daniel and the Revelation) “for his materials, especially in his interpretations of prophecy” (10 Bible Commentary p. 1201), then we cannot with safety put the book, Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith, on the same level as the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy.
(3) Elder Haskell’s book, The Story of Daniel the Prophet, did not fill the need either as she said: “The need is not filled by this book.” Testimonies to Ministers p. 117. Elder Haskell’s books were written in two large volumes. Ellen White wanted the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation combined together and put in small booklets, showing how the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation relate to each other. Evidently what Ellen White had in mind was to have small inexpensive booklets printed, each one covering certain portions of Daniel and Revelation. By doing it in this manner these small booklets could be sent out all over the world. “The truth must not be muffled now. Plain statements must be made. Unvarnished truth must be spoken, in leaflets and pamphlets, and these must be scattered like the leaves of autumn.” Testimonies, Vol. 9 p. 231.
We would like to make it clear at this point that there is certainly no condemnation to these authors in expressing their views in the books they wrote, as they never claimed to be inspired. However, because of the reasons as stated above, we cannot with safety put these books on the same level as the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy.
“The perils of the last days are upon us, and in our work we are to warn the people of the danger they are in. Let not the solemn scenes which prophecy has revealed be left untouched. If our people were half awake, if they realized the nearness of the events portrayed in the Revelation, a reformation would be wrought in our churches, and many more would believe the message. We have no time to lose; God calls upon us to watch for souls as they that must give an account. Advance new principles, and crowd in the clear-cut truth. It will be as a sword cutting both ways….Let Daniel speak, let the Revelation speak, and tell what is truth.” Testimonies to Ministers p. 118.
It is because of this solemn appeal from the pen of inspiration that “our own people need to have the light placed before them in clearer lines” (Testimonies to Ministers p. 117) that we begin our study of the beasts of Daniel.
THE FOUR BEASTS OF DANIEL SEVEN.
“While Daniel clung to his God with unwavering trust, the Spirit of prophetic power came upon him. While he was instructed of man in the duties of court life, he was taught of God to read the mysteries of future ages and to present to coming generations, through figures and similitudes, the wonderful things that would come to pass in the last days.” Sanctified Life p. 24.
“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:1-8.
Regarding this same vision, Daniel continues on to explain “Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Daniel 7:23-25. (See: Great Controversy pp. 51-54)
Most of us as Seventh-day Adventists agree upon the interpretation of these four beasts of Daniel seven. History confirms the fact that the Lion represents ancient Babylon, the Bear-Medo-Persia, the Four-Headed Leopard-Grecia, and the fourth Beast who was diverse from the first three represents Pagan and Papal Rome.
These four beast All came up from the Sea, which shows that they originated from the Old Country-Europe. See: Great Controversy pp. 439,440.
It is interesting to note how the image of Daniel 2:32-43, corresponds with the four beasts of Daniel 7. The God of heaven is very consistent with the symbols He uses to depict certain truths. Just as the metals in the image of Daniel 2 commences with Gold, the most valuable of metals and then continues on down with metals of lesser value, so the beasts of Daniel 7 begins with the Lion, king of beasts, and continues on down with beasts of lesser strength. As most Seventh-day Adventists are familiar with the image of Daniel 2 and what it represents, we will not go into that prophecy at this time.
SYMBOLS OF WINGS AND RIBS.
We may now inquire the meaning of the wings on the lion and on the leopard; also the Ribs in the mouth of the Bear. The Wings on the Lion cannot represent speed, as some have thought. If wings were to represent speed they should have been on the Bear, for Cyrus and Darius conquered old Babylon over night. Furthermore, if wings represent speed on one beast, they must likewise represent the same on the other. Could they represent speed on the four-headed leopard? We answer, No. A careful observation of symbols show that the leopard represents the kingdom after the conquest was accomplished. The four heads represent the four Grecian divisions, after the death of Alexander; namely, Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.
The conflict and conquest between the Medo-Persian and Grecian empires is brought to our attention in Daniel 8:5-7. “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.”
Continuing on in verse eight, Daniel foretells in prophetic symbols the death of Alexander the Great by the broken horn of the he goat and the succession of his four generals which is represented by the four horns that came up and replaced the one broken horn.
“Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.” Dan. 8:8.
In verses 20,21, of Daniel 8, Daniel was told by the angel that the He goat “is Grecia,” the ram, “Medo-Persia,” and the notable horn between his eyes, is “the first king” (Alexander the Great). Therefore, Alexander’s swift conquest is represented by the “he goat” which touched not the ground. If wings were to represent speed they should have been on the “he goat” and not on the leopard. Since the truth of what has been said cannot be denied, and as the thought that has been entertained by some is contradictory to the symbols, we must look elsewhere for the application of the “wings.”
First of all, we must understand that Inspiration is recording by means of these symbols the entire world’s history. Let us not forget that there was a world before the flood. If one of us should undertake this wonderful architectural feat to devise a blue-print, or chart, of this world’s history, we certainly would take into consideration a complete account of all its parts. God being infinite in wisdom, as well as in power, would certainly not overlook or thoughtlessly neglect in His great chart of historical events to consider His world before the flood.
A record of a divine survey of this world’s history from creation to redemption would be of great importance at this present time, especially since the theory of evolution is so Prevalent everywhere in the world today. In an age of infidelity, atheism, and hypocrisy, men who profess to be wise in secular, as well as religious matters, have lost sight of the source of true wisdom and knowledge. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Rom. 1:21,22. Even some who profess to be teachers of righteousness, have forfeited their faith in the Biblical reckoning of creation. God having knowledge of the present deceptive denial of His holy Word, has devised a prophetic blue-print in symbols of beasts, wings, ribs, horns, heads, crowns etc., by which He points out in this prophetic panorama the facts, with a force that should humiliate men and show them their utter ignorance and lack of wisdom in accepting the theory of evolution instead of the Bible’s account of creation.
The Adamic Empire.
According to Biblical reckoning the flood came more than 1600 years after creation. God originated the human race through Adam and Eve. Therefore, one people, one race, one language and nation from creation to the flood. “Adam was crowned king in Eden. To him was given dominion over every living thing that God had created.. .He made Adam the rightful sovereign over all the works of His hands.” 1 Bible Commentary p. 1082, E.G. White. The rulership given to Adam we call the First Universal Adamic Empire. Babylon was second; Medo-Persia is the third; Grecia the fourth; Rome the
fifth; the broken state of Rome, symbolized by the feet and toes of the great image of Daniel 2, which is the present unstable civilization, is the sixth; and from the close of the millennium after the resurrection of the wicked to their second death, is the seventh and last. Thus the Biblical number seven, as always, signifies, completeness. Therefore, seven such universal empires, revealing a complete history of the world, denote the end of sin and its dominion.
If we mortals were to devise such a chart by symbols of beasts, it is certain we would have sufficient intelligence to number every beast in his regular order. We may not suppose that God is less thoughtful in His marvelous perfection. Therefore, He has numbered every beast. We must first consider those which represented the Old Testament time, by the great metallic image; namely, the Gold-Babylon; the Silver-Medo-Persia; the Brass-Grecia. Gold is the chief of metals, which would stand as number one; silver is second to gold, therefore number two; brass is third to gold, meaning number three. The Lion, the Bear, and the Leopard are numbered in like manner. The lion is king or chief of beasts, therefore number one, corresponding with the gold. The bear is second to a lion, therefore number two, corresponding with silver. The leopard is third to a lion, hence number three, corresponding with the brass. These are the first set of numbers, but there is yet another set of which we must speak.
These would bring us back to our subject of what is the meaning of the wings on the lion as well as on the leopard, and the ribs in the mouth of the bear. God certainly would not have mapped out the world’s history, from the flood to the end, and Failed to take into account all its parts. There must be something in this chart of historical events to indicate that He had a Universal empire before the flood, as previously explained. That empire being the first, naturally stands as number one; Babylon, number two; Medo-Persia, number three; and Grecia, number four. If this claim is correct, we must find this set of numbers on the lion, bear and leopard. The two wings on the lion denotes empire number two. The lion, (King of Beasts) is by nature first–the first kingdom from the flood, but unnaturally by two wings, the second kingdom from creation. The three ribs in the mouth of the bear signify empire number three. The bear by nature is the second kingdom from the flood, but unnaturally by three ribs he is the third kingdom from creation. three ribs in the mouth of the bear is used to symbolize kingdom number three instead of wings, as wings always go in pairs. The four wings on the leopard denote that Grecia is the fourth universal empire. The leopard by nature is the third kingdom from the flood, but unnaturally, by the four wings, which symbolizes he is the fourth kingdom from creation.
“Arise, devour much flesh”
“Arise, devour much flesh,” said the ribs to the bear (Dan. 7:5). The Medo-Persians opened the way for imperial wars. Thus empire after empire plunged into bloody wars. The ribs in the mouth of the bear cannot symbolize nations, as some have thought, for nations are symbolized by horns, and not by ribs (See: Dan. 7:24, Rev. 17:12). Neither can they denote certain provinces that Medo-Persia could not have conquered, for he has them in his mouth, and it would be inconsistent to suppose that the Persians would have oppressed certain states more than others. Had that been the case, the bear would have stamped upon them as did the non-descript beast of Dan. 7:7 and as the goat that stamped upon the ram (See: Dan. 8:5-7) .
The Lion’s Wings Plucked.
Coming back to the lion, the symbol of Babylon, Daniel says: “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked. ” This symbol denotes the same as the plucking of the three horns from the non-descript beast. Dan. 7:8. If the plucking of the three horns denotes their kingdom was taken away from them, then the plucking of the wings from the lion signifies that Babylon, as empire number two was to pass away, fulfilling Daniel’s interpretation of the handwriting on the wall: “This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” Dan. 5:26. Therefore, Babylon fell into the hands of the Medo-Persian kings. Thus his wings “were plucked, ” and the Medo-Persian empire, number three, succeeded the lion, number two.
Man’s Heart Given to the Lion.
After the wings of the lion were plucked, says Daniel: “He was made to stand upon his feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” Whatever is meant by the position of the beast and the exchange of heart, its application is after Babylon had fallen under Medo-Persian rule, for he stood as a man after the wings were plucked. If we are to acquire the understanding of the symbol, we must first consider the function of the heart, for the symbol itself must be perfect, otherwise the truth cannot be determined.
The function of a Heart is to preserve the life energy in the body. Let the heart stop and all is lost. This most vital organ is a governor of the body. As an empire is composed of numerous individuals, and their necessities, just so is the living body composed of a multitude of life cells, and all their essentials. As the duty of a king is to preserve the life energy in his kingdom, also punish or uproot the evil and to supervise the good, the same is true of the heart. By contraction and expansion it controls and imparts the flowing, living energy in the form of pure blood. The evidence gathered thus far proves that the heart is a fitting symbol of a king.
The human intellect does not consist in the external image of mankind, but it rather exists in the human heart, This thought is very emphatically entertained by the Scriptures: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matt. 12:34. Therefore, the symbol (Man’s Heart) may denote intelligence, However, the symbol cannot infer human vision, but rather a proper understanding of God, for the Bible says: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Ps. 53:1. Obtaining a clear vision of the infinite power of the Eternal One is what God calls true education. The sum of the symbol is, Babylon was forced to acknowledge the existence of the Most High by removing one King (beast’s heart) and setting up another (man’s heart).
Cyrus, of whom God had spoken by His prophet many years in advance, was granted to enter the capital city of the Chaldean king. See Isa. 45:1. Babylon as empire number two passed away, and the symbol of the “plucked” wings met its fulfillment. “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldean’s slain.” Dan. 5:30. The lion’s heart is a symbol of the heathen king—Belshazzar who was slain-and thus the beastly heart was removed, “and a man’s heart was given to it.” The Lord set up a king of His own choice, a king through whom He could work, to set His people free from the Babylonian captivity, thus the beastly heart (heathen king) was taken away and a man’s heart (a king that accepted the true God) was given unto it. Man proposes, but oftentimes another power over which he has no control, disposes.
Daniel was first president over the 120 princes because an “excellent spirit was found in him.” Dan. 6:3. Both Cyrus and Darius were converted to the worship of the true God. Therefore, the everlasting Arm, which intervenes in the affairs of mankind, set up a king of His own choice.
In this manner the symbols met their fulfillment and the lion “was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.”
The heart is a fitting emblem of a ruler of a nation. The contrast between a godly and an ungodly king is as vastly different as between the human and the beastly heart. The heart is the life-giving energy to the human body, just as a king is the head of a nation.
“The history of nations that one after another have occupied their allotted time and place, unconsciously witnessing to the truth of which they themselves knew not the meaning, speaks to us. To every nation and to every individual of today God has assigned a place in His great plan. Today man and nations are being measured by the plummet in the hand of Him who makes no mistake. All are by their own choice deciding their destiny, and God is overruling all for the accomplishment of His purposes.” Education p. 178.
The Bear and the Leopard.
The example made of the Babylonian monarchs should have been an object lesson to all successive kings. The godly influence of Cyrus might also have been retained, but the kings of Medo-Persia, like the Chaldeans, were looking forward to worldly glory without fear of Him who can set up Kingdoms, and depose kings.
The priceless lesson taught by the punishment of the Chaldean kings (Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar), should have been a blessing to them, but in their vain imagination they departed from the source of true wisdom and from power that is never failing. Thus that which was intended as a blessing became a condemnation . Therefore, the kings of Medo-Persia grew worse than the kings of Babylon whose idols were their gods, and perverse appetite their only rule of life. Thus again the time had come for the ribs in the mouth of the bear to speak, “Arise and devour much flesh.” Therefore, the Arm of Omnipotence was withdrawn from the Persian king, and Alexander, with the swiftness of an eagle marched upon his prey. So, Medo-Persia opened the gateway for the bloodiest wars in our world’s history. In this manner the words, “Arise, devour much flesh,” met their fulfillment.
Says Daniel: “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand….The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” Daniel 8:5-7, 20, 21.
Therefore, Alexander, whose love for conquest knew no bounds, was the first to successfully lead the west against the east. But no sooner had Alexander conquered the empire, than he engaged in a drunken debauch and passed away while yet in his youth. Thus, as stated before, the horn of the “he goat” was broken off from between his eyes, “And for it came up four notable ones towards the four winds of heaven.” Alexander not having a successor to inherit the throne, the kingdom was divided between his Four Generals: namely, Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. Thus time and providence brought about the four-headed leopard of Daniel 7:6.
Kingdom of Brass rules the World.
It has been previously explained that the lion, the bear, and the leopard beast are divinely numbered. The leopard being the Fourth Empire from creation, and as the numbers in that fashion stop with him, naturally the question would arise: Why not continue the numerical order with the beasts that followed the leopard? There are several reasons for the change with that particular beast. As Rome was slowly rising from within the Grecian empire she finally absorbed the last Grecian division and the Ptolemy Dynasty became a province of the Roman state about 27 B.C. This is clearly symbolized by the exceeding great horn (Rome) which originated from one of Alexander’s four generals (four horns of the he-goat) as portrayed in Daniel 8:8,9.
“Therefore the He Goat” (Grecia) “Waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn” (Alexander) “was broken; and for it came up four notable ones” (Alexander’s four generals) “toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them” (one of Alexander’s four generals) “came forth a little horn,” (origin of Pagan Rome) “which waxed exceedingly great” (Papal Rome) “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” Dan. 8:8,9.
Verses 10-12 shows this Exceeding Great Horn was the Papacy. “As foretold by prophecy, the Papal Power cast down the truth to the ground.” Great Controversy p. 65.
Thus the Old Testament closed with Grecia and with Rome the new began. Therefore between Grecia and Rome lies the dividing line. It is also noted that the first three beasts of Daniel 7:1-6 representing the Old Testament period are hornless, but the ones in the New are with horns. All of which signifies the Close of the Typical and the commencement of the Antitypical Period.
The Non-Descript Beast.
Following the four-headed leopard comes the non-descript beast of Daniel 7:7, representing the forth universal empire from the flood, but the fifth one from creation. Rome is represented by a more terrible symbol than the kingdoms before it. There must be a special reason why the Roman monarchy is represented by a non-descript beast. The symbol reveals that the Roman system of government was an arrangement that could not be described. The nearest approach to a correct name is the term-non-descript. (See: Daniel 7:7,8, 23-25)
We shall now consider it’s government administration. The crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of the Christians give evidence that the Roman executive authority was vested in paganism, which was at war with Christianity. As these Christians were put to death for refusal to worship the gods of the people, it is obvious that the Jews used the civil arm of Rome to try and enforce their own religious customs; Jesus being an example, for He was crucified as a result of religious controversy. Rome in the first century persecuted the Christians, but after adopting Christianity, she mistreated the pagans; compelling them to join the so-called Christian church. From evidence gathered it is plain to see that the Roman monarchy was a tool for either Pagan, Jew or Christian; alternating in favor of one, and then of the other. Inasmuch as the character of the Imperial Roman jurisdiction could not be defined as Pagan, Jewish, or Christian, “non-descript” is the only fitting symbol. It is said of Constantine, at his death that his subjects knew not what kind of burial to give him, since he was a professed Christian, but at heart a Pagan.
Attempts to Establish Ecclesiastical Governments.
The question may arise: What hindered Satan from establishing an ecclesiastical monarchy before the closing period of the Old Testament? The only answer that can be given, is, the Jewish nation permitted him to becloud their eyes. They were told not to make a confederacy with the world, but, unmindful of the command they made a league with the Romans, and that is what helped Satan to accomplish his scheme.
The following will show that this great enemy of mankind tried this same procedure in the days of Babylon:
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon….Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,…ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace….The nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” Dan. 3:1, 4-7.
But there were three Hebrews who rebelled against the king’s command and refused to bow down to the idol. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up….And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace….Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar …answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” (Dan. 3:16-18, 20, 22-26).
Then these men came forth unhurt. It is wonderful what God accomplished with but three slaves against a world’s empire. These three men, with faith in God, broke the Satanic contrivance, abolished the establishment of an ecclesiastical government and brought the king’s decree to naught. (See: Prophets and Kings pp. 512,513)
Satan worked out a similar plot in the Medo-Persian government with plans that were carried out by intrigue, taking the king unawares. Though Daniel was cast into the lions’ den, he too, came out unharmed, but his enemies perished as did those who threw the three Hebrews into the fiery furnace. Thus Satan’s power was broken in both of these ancient empires. Had there been such men as these Hebrews in the days of the establishment of the Roman monarchy, or at the closing of the Old Testament history and during the commencement of the New, conditions would have been entirely different. The world is in urgent need at this time of men like the three Hebrews, who would rather yield this present life than to offend their God-men like Daniel, who looked with strong faith to the Lord and was without fault in his religious and secular duties. By such men as these the world has been blessed with everlasting benefits and rewards that no human lips can describe.
In this prophetic four-beast symbolism, along with it’s historical fulfillment, we see the passing political events and the consequent changing political status of the world from the time of ancient Babylon on down to the time of Christianized Rome. The non-descript beast of Daniel 7, representing Rome in his first stage, shows prophetically by his ten horns that there were ten kings to arise out of Rome. In his second stage it is shown that the Papacy was to arise, subdue three kings, and wear out the saints of the Most High for the space of 1260 years. But it does not tell of the fall of the Roman monarchy or the Papacy. It is silent concerning the reformation that came before or after 1798 A.D. Therefore, the lack of information by the symbols of this beast, must be found elsewhere in the prophetic Word of God. Since Daniel’s series of beasts delineates but a part of the world’s history, another series is necessary to complete it. The only other such series is in the Revelation, the first symbol of which is the Leopard-Like Beast of Revelation 13.