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Notes on Daniel: The Beasts and the Horns as fluid symbols

By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008

The symbolism of Daniel 7 and 8 sheds light on how the images in Revelation ought to be interpreted.

Are the beasts meant to symbolize kingdoms or individuals?

Are the horns of the various beasts to be interpreted as kingdoms or individuals?

There has been some criticism on the preterist interpretation of the Beast of Revelation 13. In one place, the preterist interpretation has the “beast from the sea” as Nero, and in another place it is the Roman Empire as a whole. Yet this use of a “beast” as a fluid symbol is a frequent feature of Daniel as well.

Daniel has beasts and horns that are fluid rather than static symbols. Sometimes they symbolize individuals and sometimes they symbolize kingdoms.

A beast can symbolize any Gentile nation. For the most part, the beasts mentioned are unclean animals according to ceremonial law. Horns are the crowns of the beasts; just as the king is the crown of the kingdom.

Some examples

Daniel 8:3 — Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.

A ram which had two horns — The Empire of the Medes and the Persians.
The Medes conquered and destroyed Babylon, but the Persians ruled
over the kingdom in the end.

Daniel 8:5 — 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.

A he-goat — The Empire of Greece and Macedonia

A notable horn – Alexander the Great

Daniel 8:8 — 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.

The great horn was broken — Alexander died an untimely death at a young age shortly after conquering much of the known world.

Four notable ones (horns) — Seleucus, Antigonus, Philip and Ptolemy, the successors of Alexander, who divided his empire among them.


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An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

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The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

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All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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In The Days of These Kings (Book)

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The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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