Although the “little horn” is easily interpreted, Bible prophecy goes to great lengths to fasten this vital nail in its sure place. There are at least nine unmistakable identifying characteristics given in Daniel 7 to pinpoint Papal Rome as the “little horn.”
1. Geographic Location: Daniel is told that the “little horn” comes to power “among” the
ten horns that existed before it. As we have already noted, the Pagan Roman Empire fragmented into ten European kingdoms. Here, then, we have the geographic location forthe emergence of the little horn. It would arise out of the rubble of divided Rome, among the Western European nations. This first characteristic fits the Roman Church perfectly. She did, indeed, ascend to dominance in Western Europe as the successor to Imperial Rome.
2. Time of Ascendancy: Thesecond characteristic is the logical counterpart to geographic
location. Since the little horn aroseout of the crumbling Pagan Roman Empire, it follows
that it would emerge “after”(Daniel 7:24) Pagan Rome falls. This gives us not only geography butalso time. Imperial Rome reigned from about 168 B.C. to 476 A.D. By538 A.D., the Roman church was established as the uncontested newempire of dominance.
3. Destroys Three Kingdoms As It Rises to Power: Daniel was shown that “three” of the ten horns were “plucked up by the roots” as the little horn amassed its empire. Later in chapter 7, Daniel says the angel told him this means that the little horn “shall subdue three kings” (verse 24).
The “ten horns” represent the following king/kingdoms:
The Franks (France)
The Anglo-Saxons (England)
The Alemanni (Germany)
The Lombards (Italy)
The Visigoths (Spain)
The Suevi (Portugal)
The Burgundians (Switzerland)
The Heruli (extinct)
The Vandals (extinct)
The Ostrogoths (extinct)
Notice that while seven are still inexistence to this day, three of them are identiﬁed as extinct. TheHeruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths were, indeed, “plucked up bythe roots.” They are non-existent due to the fact that they vehemently opposed the church’s rule, but without success. They were relentlessly overthrown until there was no trace of their posterity left.
4. A Human Authority to Dictate Its Belief System: “In this horn,” Daniel says, “were eyes like the eyes of a man” (Daniel 7:8). In the Bible, eyes symbolise understanding. Paul prayed that “the eyes of your understanding” might be “enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18). The little horn is notdivinely led with heavenly understanding of truth. Rather, this poweris under human guidance apart from God. A human figure occupies avery lofty position as arbiter of truth. This characteristic isaccurately fulﬁlled in the more-than-human status conferred uponthe popes.
5. A Mouth Speaking Great ThingsAgainst God: Verses 8 and 25 warn that the little horn will useits authority to speak shocking words against God Himself. The claimsof the Papal Church certainly do fit this characteristic. Forstarters, the church claims infallibility. This alone is anincredibly bold rival claim against God. But the Papal system doesn’tstop there. She claims the power to forgive sins through herpriesthood, apart from which there is no pardon from God. She claimsto stand as mediator between God and mankind, and unabashedly exaltsher human leader, the pope, to the status of deity. He is, as itwere, God on earth.
6. A Persecuting Power: Daniel was shown as this powerful kingdom employed its inﬂuence and “made war with the saints and prevailed against them” (Daniel 7:21, 25).It is estimated that Hitler murdered six million Jews, and thatStalin executed perhaps fifty to seventy million of his own people.But the Papal Church put to death over one hundred million men, womenand children who chose to worship God according to conscience. ThePapal persecution of Christians who wanted nothing more than freedomis, without question, the most extensive persecution of human beingsin recorded history.
7. A Different Kind of Power:The little horn kingdom would be “diverse” or different fromthose that reigned before it (Daniel 7:24). All the previous powers brought to view were primarily political kingdoms worshipping pagangods. The Papacy arose as a primarily religious power, a church, professing to worship the true God and claiming the name of Christ.Then, as a church, she employedthe military might of various political kingdoms to fight her wars and persecute any who refused to worship God according to her dictates.
8. Attempts to Change God’s Law:The most shocking characteristic of the little horn is its
audacious effort to tamper with thevery laws of God. Verse 25 reads: “He shall speak great wordsagainst the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the MostHigh, and think to change times and laws.”
The contextual setting clearly links the “times and laws” here speciﬁed to “the Most High” God.It goes without saying that ruling authorities routinely change humanlaws. Daniel is dealing with spiritually signiﬁcant issues that affect God and His people. To say the little horn will think tochange human laws would mean nothing. To say that this anti-Christian power will think to change laws established by God means a great deal. And this is exactly what we discover as the historical evidenceis considered.There are two very blatant attacks that the Papal Church has made upon God’s law:
a. She has completely omitted thesecond commandment forbidding the worship of man-made images. Look up the ten commandments in any Catholic catechism and compare them with the ten commandments as recorded in the Bible, Exodus 20. You willnotice that the second commandment, which forbids image worship, isdeleted. This has been done, of course, in order to allow for the worship of statues and paintings of Mary and the saints. The tenth commandment is divided into two in order to maintain ten.
b. The second attempted change of God’s law is the substitution of Sunday observance in the place of the fourth commandment, which exalts the seventh day as God’s holy Sabbath. It is of interest that both time and law are mentioned in Daniel’s prophecy. The Aramaic word for “times” in this text is Zimnin, which means “set or ﬁxed time.” When considering thelaw of God, we immediately notice only one speciﬁc set time—theseventh day of the week as God’s holy Sabbath. As the fourthcommandment of God’s law, it says to all mankind: “Remember thesabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do allthy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: init thou shalt not do any work. . . . For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested theseventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowedit” (Exodus 20:8-11).The Sabbath day, Saturday, has its divine origin in the Garden of Eden. This day was set aside by divine appointment as a weekly time for worship of the Creator and for restfrom common labour. Since the Sabbath was established at creation week, it was given to mankind as a race; as Jesus said, “TheSabbath was made for man [kind]” (Mark 2:27). It cannot be
argued with any biblical authority thatthe Sabbath is merely for Jews and not for Christians. It would be aslogical to argue that the laws forbidding murder or adultery are onlyfor Jews. While the Ten Commandments were given in written form to the Jews, they were given to them for the world as a whole.
Jesus was, of course, the founder ofthe New Testament Christian church. He kept holy
the seventh-day Sabbath and neverindicated a change to Sunday, the first day. To the contrary, whenwarning His followers of future events to occur after His death, Hetold them to “pray ye that your flight [from persecution] be not inthe winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20). Clearly,Jesus expected His followers to continue honouring the Sabbath day asthe appointed time of worship. The apostles, as well, were allSabbath-keepers, and the New Testament mentions no change to Sunday.
But Daniel 7:25 does, however, speak ofsuch a change. It foretells an attempted change of God’s laws by apower not invested with divine authority. The “little horn,” says Daniel, will “think” to change “times and laws” of “theMost High” God. The usage of the word “think” furtherestablishes that it is divine laws we are considering. Human laws canbe changed, and often are. But God’s laws cannot actually be changed. Men may “think” they can change God’s laws, but inreality, “all His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever” (Psalm 111:7-8).
The Catholic Church openly and proudly claims that she is responsible for the exaltation
of Sunday in place of the Sabbath. InThe Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, by Peter
Geiermann, we read these astonishing words:
“Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead ofSaturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”
As the centuries ebbed on, councilafter council exalted Sunday and pushed down the Sabbath until almostall Christians actually believed the church did possess God-givenauthority to “change” the divine law. Thus was fulﬁlled the prophecy of Daniel: “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” (Daniel 7:25).
9. To Reign for a Period of 1260 Years: The final identifying characteristic of the little horn isthe length of time it would exercise its authority over God’speople. Daniel says, “and they shall be given into his hand until atime and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25). The Revised Standard Version gives a more accurate translation, describing theperiod as “a time, two times, and half a time.”
The same language occurs in Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32. In this passage Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom is taken from him “till seven times pass over him.” Here “seven times”is undoubtedly seven years. “A time, two times, and a half a time”is three and a half years.
Parallel prophecies in the NewTestament book of Revelation call our attention to the same timeperiod. In Revelation 12:14 we again read of “a time, and times,and half a time.” In verse 6 the period is calculated as “onethousand two hundred and sixty days” (NKJ). In chapter 11:2-3,“forty-two months” is equated with “one thousand two hundredand sixty days.”
Therefore, three and a half timesequals forty-two months, which is also equal to 1260 days. Twelvehundred and sixty days divided by 42 leads us to the conclusion thata prophetic month is 30 days and a prophetic year is 360 days. Weconclude, then, that the period of time Daniel renders “a time, twotimes and a half a time” is 1260 days. But we must go one stepfurther to deﬁne this symbolism. In Bible prophecy, a day is equalto a year. To the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord said, “I have appointedthee each day for a year” (Ezekiel 4:6).
We should expect the little horn of Daniel 7, the Papal Church, to rule for a period of 1260 years. Remarkably, this is exactly what the historical records reveal. TheRoman Catholic Church-State did, indeed, possess unconquerable religious and political power for 1260 years; no more, no less.
The Papal Church was fully establishedin undisputed reign by 538 A.D. Prior to this
time there were three Arian tribes atconstant war with the claims of the church. The Heruli, the Vandalsand the Ostrogoths stood in the way of Papal supremacy. One by onethese three tribes were, as Daniel says, “plucked up by the roots.”The Heruli were destroyed in 493 A.D. The Vandals were eradicated in 534 A.D. Finally, the Ostrogoths were overcome in 538 A.D.
Therefore, 538 marks the beginning datefor the 1260 years of Daniel’s prophecy. It is truly amazing to count down through time 1260 years from 538 and realise where we are.With breathtaking accuracy, the prophecy leads right to the year1798, the very year Papal rule was broken. After exactly 1260 long,dark years, the French general Berthier, under the command of Napoleon, arrested the Pope and declared the church’s reign at an end.