In this two-part series, we reproduce some of the questions and comments we have received on the kings of Revelation 17. These kings are shown as “heads” and as “horns on heads.” As this is a challenging topic requiring much Bible study, quite a few viewpoints exist that frankly are “wrong-headed.” It is a topic relevant to our time. Why? Because, very likely, a change of regime is at the doorstep. This is the final part of the series in our attempt to get our heads straight.
READER: In response to “Great Greek Tragedy of the Revived Roman Empire” (Feb. 2012 EVR; also appeared in MCM Jan. 2012), I would like to suggest one of the “other possible outcomes” that you leave room for in your discussion of an end-time coalition of ten nations led by the “Antichrist.” First of all, there is really never any mention of ten nations in the Bible, only ten horns and ten kings. Revelation 17:12 and Daniel 7:24 both say that the ten horns are the ten kings—they are people, i.e. leaders, not nations. Both verses also clearly identify the ten kings as being linked to a single kingdom, not ten individual kingdoms. Also, note that Revelation 13, 17 and Daniel 7 speak of a single beast, which is the fourth kingdom (Daniel 7:23). There is no talk of ten beasts or ten mini-beast nations that make up a big beast. The allusion is consistently singular—one unified superpower nation, from which there will emerge ten kings (Daniel 7:24). To say that the ten horns and the ten kings are ten nations is not a Biblical matter of fact; it is a leap into thin air.
Secondly, the end-time leader that will rise from the beast, the fourth kingdom, will come to power after the ten kings have first received the kingdom (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12, 17). That is to say that the ten kings are successive predecessors, as Daniel 7:24 indicates. (Kings of the same kingdom would not rule concurrently.) One after another, these consecutive kings will have prepared and built up the superpower nation to become the beast. Their cumulative effort will then be handed down to the end-time leader, who at this point is also referred to as the beast (Revelation 13; 17:12).
In Biblical parlance, the distinction between beast and leader becomes somewhat blurred. One represents and is enabled by the other, and vice versa. The language, especially in Revelation, has more to do with imagery than clean-cut definition. Beast/leader is leader/beast—and by the way, it is scripturally incorrect to call this leader the “Antichrist,” for as you know, the term “Antichrist” does not appear anywhere in Daniel or Revelation. Antichrist is a general term John uses to describe a spiritual mindset—a belief that Christ has not come in the flesh (1 Jn 4:3). Antichrist is not a single person or individual; there are many who are “Antichrist” in spirit (1 Jn 2:18; 2 Jn 1:7). The careless use of this term causes rational, thinking people to roll their eyes, as well they should. With these clarifications in mind, it seems to me that there is only one current example that fits the prophetic picture of the fourth kingdom—and that is the United States. –M.M.A.
EVR: From your letter [only a portion of which we have reproduced], we can tell that you have an avid interest in these topics and have spent considerable effort in formulating your viewpoints and interpretations. We appreciate these types of communications. They test our views. That said, we must disagree with many of your points, and can support our corrections from Scripture. We here only make minor comments for each of 7 major corrections that are required:
1. What is a king? Respectfully, it would not be a “leap into thin air” to check a dictionary as to the meaning of this word. Any dictionary will do. It is a male sovereign leader. Taking a historical grammatical interpretation, a “king” in today’s terms equates to a sovereign leader. There is no such thing as a king without a kingdom. A deposed king could only be an ex-king. Similarly, if there is no nation, there can be no leader. As well, kings and leaders do not act independently of their country in matters of state, sovereignty, or geopolitics. They have no authority independent of their state or kingdom. Because of this dependency, you will discover that the Bible treats “king” and “kingdom” interchangeably. For example, please read Daniel chapter 2, verses 39, 40, 41, and 44. The successive kingdoms mentioned are then named “kings” in verse 44.
2. The 10 kings come on the scene contemporaneously and not sequentially. They all exist at the same time. As such, there is no serial authority given to the Antichrist by the 10 kings, as you claim. Besides being refuted by Scripture, this interpretation would not make common sense in any case. If only one king had enough power to give to the Antichrist that would be sufficient to stamp upon and subdue the entire earth, wouldn’t he then qualify to be the Antichrist … perhaps a leader of a world superpower? John the Revelator tells us that the 7th head (this the head with the 10 horns) comes for only a “little while,” and also that the 10 kings have a role only for “one hour.” It wouldn’t make sense then that there would be 10 kings ruling sequentially in a short space of time.
3. Yes, Daniel 7 does show a separate role for “10 kings.” Daniel 7:7 mentions that the 4th beast has 10 horns. Daniel 7:24 clearly says that the “ten horns are ten kings.”
4. One must be careful not to confuse the identity of the beast. The word “beast” has at least two meanings, and always only applies to an entity that is possessed by Satan (also called the “dragon”). Firstly, the satanically-driven “political economy” of 7 hegemonic kingdoms of human history that oppose God is called a beast (jointly or separately); secondly, the personified Satan in the human body called the Antichrist is called “the beast.”
5. We disagree that symbols used in the Bible do not have specific, literal meanings. Indeed, people’s interpretations may not be “clean-cut,” but all meanings and fulfillments of prophecy in the Bible are meant to be “clean-cut,” though perhaps depicted through images and symbols.
6. No, the Antichrist is not “a spiritual mindset.” There certainly is a “spirit” of the Antichrist that has been working down through history, using many people (these being types of Antichrists), as the Bible specifically states will be the case (1 John 4:3). The Bible clearly and literally indicates that there will be a literal person that fulfills the role of Antichrist (though being given many different names). We must take literal statements at face value. What is scandalous for Christianity is the constant attempt to identify and name the Antichrist.
7. The U.S. is not the fourth beast. We are sorry if we are harsh, but this is a preposterous interpretation. Please do not disseminate this view anywhere, as it is starkly out of tune with Scripture and can only bring ridicule to the precious gift of Bible prophecy.
READER: Thanks for your article on the Philadelphians and the lost 10 tribes (“Europe and Germany in Prophecy,” Dec. 2011 EVR), and the article on Babylon. I see the Antichrist as the little horn of Daniel 7, the little horn of Daniel 8, and the king of the north of Daniel 11. So the Antichrist will come out of an area that once was the Roman Empire, and once was the Grecian Empire, and more specifically was once the kingdom of one of Alexander’s four generals—modern day Iraq or Iran. I believe that Babylon the Great is the USA, the superpower of the end time, which has to be neutralized before the Beast can tread Jerusalem underfoot and scatter the power of the holy people, and impose his mark on the world with the help of the 10 horns, the future manifestation of the European Union. – M.D.
EVR: Many hold a similar view to yours with respect to the general area out of which the Antichrist may arise. We do not hold a firm view on this matter; at the same time, we also do not note any Scriptures that would disprove this theory. However, this is not the same as discounting all other possibilities. With respect to your view that the United States is the Babylon the Great of Revelation 17 and 18, we would definitely disagree. We have provided our reasons for this position several times in past articles. One verse alone nullifies America’s candidacy for this role: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth” (Revelation 18:24). America has simply not been around long enough to have slaughtered “all” on earth. As for the European Union becoming the final manifestation of the 10 kings (depicted as 10 horns on the beast shown in Revelation 17), this may very well be the case. However, it is much too early to be doctrinaire about this position. There are still other possible fulfillments of this image.
READER: Every article coming out of the EU describes them as “divided”; one article from International Spiegel Online declared them as “hopelessly divided.” I find it amazing to watch them fulfilling Bible prophecy. All the kingdoms of Daniel chapter 2 have boundaries, including Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and now the “Divided Kingdom” of the EU, and perhaps the EU-Mediterranean Union. They are described as “partly-strong and partly-weak,” which is what the 27 nation “empire” is: partly-strong and partly-weak (Daniel 2:41-43). This is why I believe the 10 Kings will come out of this “Kingdom” in some form. Again, they have to come out of a “Kingdom,” which means this Kingdom has to have boundaries. The idea that the world will be divided into 10 divisions, as some think, does not fit with the description in Daniel chapter 2. These are some of my teachers: Dr. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Renald Showers, Dr. Ed Hindson and Dr. John Walvoord. Of course, we have others, but I just wanted you to understand where I am coming from. I am also grateful for Dr. David Jeremiah and his series, “What in the World Is Going On?” God Bless you. – M.K.
EVR: Thank you for your earnest perspectives. The interpretations that you recount may very well prove correct. In fact, they may even be probable. We certainly have great respect for the prophecy scholars you cite, and have read them all. We have no reason to dispute any of the literal characteristics of the final “kingdom” that are mentioned in the Bible. There is only one point of difference in our perspective; only one. It is this: If an interpretation with respect to a future fulfillment of prophecy cannot be proven to be 100% defensible, then humility and honesty would require us to disclose that it is a theory … and not a doctrine.
The one verse in Scripture that leaves the EU-centric view vulnerable is Daniel 9:26b: “[…] and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” It clearly refers to the “people” of the ruler, and not the geographic area or country of the ruler. Just what might this mean? Just who are these people, then? Where are these same people today? There are a number of theories, but none can be proven to the exclusion of all others. People can move; they both emigrate and immigrate. If so, could it be possible that some nations from the non-EU world today are offshoots from these earlier people? Clearly, the answer is yes. The entire New World (North and South America, Australia …etc.) are offshoots from Roman peoples. As such, we must leave open the possibility that some of these “Roman” countries might be included in the 10.
Viewing world trends today, we would say that it is still too early to be doctrinaire and closed in our interpretations of just which nations will represent the final 10 kings. Speculative viewpoints with respect to Bible prophecy have done inordinate harm to this unique gift to Christianity. As it was, overzealous pronouncements on European developments over the past five decades have been unfortunate. To the inclusion of your views, we would simply state that we all must remain open to other possibilities that are supported (or at least not discounted) by the Bible.
READER: Re: Germany: “Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee” (Ezekiel 38:6). Could this be Germany, as they are on the verge of financially backing the new system that is formulating in Europe? Could her bands be the nations of the EU assisting because of their ties of being indebted to Germany? – C.H.
EVR: There are quite a few speculative theories on the end-time role of Germany. As is the case with the United States, we do not see the nation of Germany specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy. Please see the recent article on this subject [in MCM April 2012], “Is Germany Mentioned in Bible Prophecy?”
READER: [This question is excerpted from a lengthy letter received in German. It is translated here in abbreviated form.] May I make the following observation: The puzzle of Daniel 7:24 will be more easily solved if one does not try to relate the beast of Daniel 7 with the one shown in Revelation 13. While they both have 10 horns, they are not related.
EVR: We have not found Daniel 7:24 a puzzle, but rather to the contrary, an important key. In any case, your question is both important and foundational. Indeed, how can we determine that the 5 separate visions of a 10-fold union of nations (kings) that we find in the Bible, are all pointing to the same future prophetic occurrence? Or are they in fact different? We find these visions in Daniel 2, 7 and Revelation 12, 13, and 17. In each of these visions, there is the common element of 10 kingdoms or kings. In Daniel 2 they are shown as 10 toes; in the four other visions all have 10 horns. Each vision provides both common and unique information about this prophesied future power structure that will dominate the earth. If all 5 visions are treated as envisioning the same future 10 kings, then the collective information provided is very instructive. Revealed are clues and details that allow us to conclude that the 10 horns are on the 7th head of the alternately portrayed 7-headed beast seen in Revelation 12, 13, and 17, and that these final 10 kings will come out of the “Roman peoples” (Daniel 9:26).
The question here then turns on the elements that are common, therefore supporting the case that these 5 visions are indeed related. You choose to conclude that the beast shown in Daniel 7 is different than the beast shown in Revelation 12, 13, and 17. Indeed, it is different. Each of the three visions of the 10-headed beast shown in Revelation, is also different in the sense that unique features are being portrayed. Each vision is intended to show a different emphasis or role of the same beast, these representing the heinous, Satan-led, dominating civil power structures of mankind down through Bible history. The germane question, however, centers on the identity of the components of each of the visions. In Daniel 7, the four beasts seen by Daniel only represent the last five heads, not all seven as described in the beasts shown in Revelation. Why? The Holy Spirit only showed Daniel what is to come … not what had been (see Daniel 7:17; 10:14). In contrast, John the Revelator was charged to “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19). Therefore, Daniel only sees the kingdoms from his time forward, not including the two that had already passed. John the Revelator, on the other hand, is shown the entire history of the world-dominating Gentile nations that played a role in oppressing the Hebrews and their progeny down through history.
We will lay out five reasons why the beasts of Daniel 7 are related to the beasts shown in Revelation 12, 13 and 17. Firstly, there are many commons elements … in fact, so many that we must not conclude that these visions are unrelated. Secondly, the Bible is a consistent document as it is inspired by the same Spirit. It may be transmitted through different writers and beholders of visions, yet the basic symbolism employed remains consistent. The symbols found in Revelation can almost all be found elsewhere in the Old Testament. As such, when Daniel speaks of 10 horns that represent 10 kings (Daniel 7:24), why should we not be alerted to connect this statement with “the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings” mentioned in Revelation 17:12 (and symbolically also in chapters 12 and 13)?
Thirdly, further illustrating that we are here dealing with a consistent Bible, all instances of 10 horns appearing in the Bible are shown to be a future, prophetic event. Why then, especially in view of many other commonalities, would one conclude that Daniel’s visions are unrelated to those of the beasts in Revelation? That brings us to the fourth point: The book of the Bible that has the strongest parallels (though not the only one with parallels) to the book of Daniel—and this in many respects—is indeed the book of Revelation. This being the case, it would not be surprising that the 5 visions we are here critiquing (2 from Daniel, 3 from Revelation) would in fact be related.
Finally, to the 5th point: Critically, all of the facts and characteristics of the beasts and 10 horns presented in each of the 5 visions do not contradict each other. To the direct contrary: Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, once the correct arrangement has been determined, we discover that all the pieces fit in a remarkable order. This is also the case with these five visions. Returning to our first point, comparing all the commonalities of the beast and its 10 horns shown in Daniel 7, with the pictures of the beasts found in Revelation, I count at least 13 connections and similarities. Coincidence? No. In my view, the vision of Daniel 7 certainly connects with the 3 beast visions of Revelation.
Conclusion. The Bible’s prophecies are true and reliable. Revealed here is the last-days account of world geopolitics. As we can conclude, much turmoil still lies ahead. But the time is short. The rule of the 10 kings emerges very quickly … and is only for a “short time” before the Tribulation and the revealing of the Antichrist. Maranatha, the Lord come soon.