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 (Daniel 7:24).
The ten kings of Daniel 7:24 are the line of Roman emperors that envelop New Testament history, namely, Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian.
To understand New Testament passages such as Matthew 24 and Revelation 13, we have to understand correctly why Daniel is prophesying. We have to understand God’s purpose in giving Daniel’s prophecy to be fulfilled in history.
As I wrote previously, Daniel is not a prophecy given to Protestants to describe the time of the Reformation. It is not a prophecy given to Christians today that describes events in our future. It is a prophecy given to the Jews to prove the time of the coming Messiah. The context and purpose of the passage point to a first century fulfillment. Key timing elements of the prophecy, as well as descriptions of the “Little Horn,” point to Nero Caesar.
If we say, for instance, that the “Little Horn” (Daniel 7 and 8) is the papacy and Islam in the Middle Ages, or a future Antichrist figure who will come out of the Middle East, then we also have to show how that is specifically applicable to the context and purpose of Daniel’s prophecy.
Futurism is about the end-times – an area of study forbidden by Jesus. The times are not for us to know, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36). The Bible does not give us an agenda of world events in our day. The predictive nature of prophecy points either to important events in the redemption of the nation of Israel (so that the righteous would know what to do according to 1 Chronicles 12:32) – or prophecy points to the First or Second Coming of Christ. We cannot know where we are exactly in the time before the Second Coming. Jesus was silent about that.
I am a partial preterist, but I am also flexible in general applications. I would say that these “Beast” prophecies may be applied to any ruler who is “anti-Christ.” While I am not looking for one future Antichrist – and I do not believe that the Roman Catholic papacy or Islam is the Antichrist – I would not hesitate to make an application by saying the same spirit that ruled Nero also ruled these diabolical powers. Even though very little of the Bible is written directly to us (John 20:30,31), all of it is written for us.
We can best understand the ten kings of Daniel 7:24 as the line of Roman emperors whose reigns span most of New Testament history. Daniel 7:24 must mean the same thing as 7:8 and 7:20. The interpretation of the dream cannot suddenly shift to contradict the dream itself. There is a sequence that repeats three times in the dream. First, Daniel has the dream. Then he asks the angel to interpret the dream while describing what he saw. Finally, the angel gives the interpretation. The angel’s interpretation fits the meaning of the dream and does not contradict. Daniel 7:24 is confusing because in isolation it seems to say the “Little Horn” came up “after” the ten rather than “among” the ten. However, Daniel 7:8 and 20 show that the little horn comes “after” the three and subdues them. Therefore, “after” in Daniel 7:24 must refer to the three kings and not the ten.
For a more detailed analysis, see: Daniel 7:24 — Is the Little Horn “after them” or “among them”?