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Characteristics of the Little Horn of Daniel 7

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In the prophecy of the four beasts of Daniel 7, the fourth beast, which represents the realm of Rome, grows a little horn. The following table identifies the characteristics of the little horn and its fulfillment in papal Rome. Learn more about this prophecy in the Daniel 7 Study Guide.

Symbol/Characteristic Fulfillment
Dan. 7:8,23,24 - Rises out of 4th beast The kingdom represented by the Little Horn would rise from within the Roman realm. The fourth beast (realm) is Rome, and the Little Horn (Papacy) was based in the city of Rome within the Roman realm.
Dan. 7:24 - It appears after the other 10 horns and is diverse The Papacy rose to power after Rome had decentralized power into 10 divisions (486 AD). It is different from the other horns because it is a religious power.
Dan. 7:8,20 - Starts out little, becomes greater (more stout) than fellows

Dan. 7:8,24 - Puts down 3 kings
The church's influence was greatly hindered until emperors from the east broke the power of three kingdoms (Arian Christians) who dissented from the Church in Rome's beliefs (Nicene Christians). These kingdoms/tribes were completely uprooted and can no longer be found. The 3 kingdoms that were uprooted were as follows:

(a) Ostrogoths in 538 AD
(b) Vandals in 534 AD
(c) Heruli in 493 AD

The Papacy went on to become the most powerful political force in Europe. It became "more stout than his fellows," meaning it became master, captain or greater (Greek = rab) than the other 10 horns. By the time cardinal Hildebrand became pope in 1073 AD, he was affirming that the leader of the church, should not only be the universal head of the church, but also the ruler of the world.
Dan. 7:8,25 - Has eyes like a man and speaks great things

Dan. 7:8,25 - Speaks words against the Most High
Eyes are a symbol of wisdom or understanding (Ephesians 1:18). This power would have human wisdom or understanding (not from God).

The Church of Rome, led by the pope, did blasphemous things and spoke "great things" (Hebrew = huge, domineering), such as styling the pope as God on earth, claiming infallibility and teaching to confess sins to a priest on earth instead of to Jesus, our high priest in heaven (Heb. 8:1).

"We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty" (Pope Leo XIII, in an Encyclical Letter, dated June 20, 1894).

"The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under veil of flesh" (The Catholic National, July 1895).

"We define that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world" (A Decree of the Council of Trent, quoted in Philippe Labbe and Gabriel Cossart, 'The Most Holy Councils', Vol. 13, col. 1167).

An apostatizing of the Christian church is also predicted in other Bible verses (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, Acts 20:28-31, Dan. 8:12).
Dan. 7:25 - Wears out the saints

Dan. 7:21 - Makes war with the saints and prevailed against them
The power of the Pope was based on the theory of apostolic succession. The ordained clergy were said to be conveyed with the power to make Jesus present in the mass. Because of these, and other claims, they maintained a tremendous influence over the laity. They were also able to manipulate those in power by threat of excommunication and releasing their subjects from allegiance. Many kings and rulers enforced Papal decrees and thus provided the army for the war against the saints.

The Little Horn (Papal Rome), would be allowed to oppress God's people for a certain amount of time (Dan. 7:21, 25). Many faithful followers of the Church of Rome did good things for society during this time period, but as foretold in this and other prophecies, the Papal system did blasphemous, hurtful and terrible things. Persecution and harassment were common occurrences during the middle ages as the church forced its will upon those who did not agree with its teachings. Many, who were only seeking to follow the word of God, were harassed, tortured and killed. It is estimated that between 50 and 150 million were killed directly or indirectly by the Papacy (Estimates of the Number Killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages and Later, David A. Plaisted, 2006).
Dan. 7:25 - Thinks to change the times and law Changing civil laws occurs often and is necessary in order to accommodate changing cultures and technologies. All kingdoms modify laws, however, special note is made about this power changing law. This is noteworthy, not because Papal Rome changed earthly laws, but because it tried ("thinks") to change God's law. It believed it could add to, and even change God's laws. It attempted to remove the part of the 10 commandments forbidding worship of images and tried to change the sacredness of the seventh day in the fourth commandment to Sunday (Ex. 20:1-17). This same power is also referred to as the lawless one (2 Thes. 2:9) and demanding obedience from all who dwell on the earth (Rev. 13).

"Not the Creator of the Universe, in Genesis 2:1-3, -- but the Catholic Church can claim the honor of having granted man a pause to his work every seven days" (S.D. Moana, "Storia della Domenica," 1969, pp. 366-367).

"Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change [from Saturday to Sunday] was her act... and the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters" (Letter from H.F. Thomas, Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons).
Dan. 7:25 - Has powers for a time, times and the dividing of time This is calculated to equal 1260 prophetic days, or 1260 literal years (see "1260 Days in Bible Prophecy"). The Papacy began to exercise dominant ecclesiastical power in the realm in 538 AD when the Ostrogoths were pushed out of Rome. It lost this power in 1798 when Napolean took the pope prisoner and the Papacy was considered to be at an end. This is exactly 1260 years. (Note: Revelation reveals that it later regains power for a short time.)

1 yr + 2 yrs + 1/2 yr = 3-1/2 yrs = 1260 prophetic days

1260 prophetic days = 1260 literal years