Thursday, 30 January 2014

Mystery Of The Little Horn

Amongst the mysterous figures of the Bible Prophecy is the little horn as mentioned in the book of Daniel.  The little horn was oftenly interpreted to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes who was a Greek tryant of the 2nd century B.C. he was a vicious enemy to Jews. However the Protestant Christians when interpreting have traditionally held views that the little horn was the Catholic Church.

While both historical views have something to be said for them, and in fact Antiochus Epiphanes is still the favourite choice of Bible students of today, the facts of history points to another figure that may well be the one the Bible prophecy intends to predict. That figure is the famed usurper  Umar Ibn KhaatabDaniel 7 begins with a description of the Prophet Daniel's vision of four terrible animals representing the major empires that ruled the Holy Land around Quds or Jerusalem from his own time onward.

Daniel 7

Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts

 1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. 2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. 4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it. 5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’ 6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.

The early Protestant interpreters, those who saw the figure of the little horn as the papacy, were agreed that these four animals represented the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome. That was, for example, the opinion of Isaac Newton, who it seems thought more of his ability in interpreting prophecy than he did of his discoveries in science. Under Roman rule Palestine where Jerusalem was situated went through ten regimes, three of which were displaced by another power that grew up among them. This is expressed in verses 7-8 as a beast with iron teeth and ten horns, three of which were pulled up by another little horn. The horn had eyes and a human mouth speaking horrid things. 

7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

 8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

One of the difficulties met by those who interpret the little horn to be Antiochus Epiphanes or the papacy is simply the identification of the three displaced powers. Interpreting the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanes ignores the entire sequential structure of the book of Daniel, which seen as a whole clearly indicates the presence of Rome in its various schemes. Antiochus is simply too early a figure to satisfy the projected chronology in a historicist perspective. The rise of the papacy fits the time-line better: it follows the period of Roman influence in Palestine in the middle of the sixth century. However, the papacy arises in Italy, not in Palestine, and thus seems less than relevant to prophecies focusing on the fate of Jerusalem.

Umar Ibn Khataab (la) as the little horn fits the scenario much better. The timing is reasonable, about a century after the rise of the papacy, following the period of Roman ascendancy. The geography is exact as well. Umar's armies invaded and conquered Jerusalem. In doing so they displaced the three powers of Palestina Prima, Secunda, and Tertia. The major factors fit Umar (la) as the little horn better than either Antiochus or the papacy.

Daniel asks for an explanation of the vision 

15 I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 

16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.

Then the passage continues to say:

24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.

In this verse the action of the little horn in displacing the three kings ruling Palestine is mentioned. Umar's (la) forces conquered Jerusalem in the year 638 C.E. Then they are  three more characteristics of the little horn:

25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.

Some Nawaasb will not agree that Umar spoke against God and wore out the saints. Others will. But all must agree that the other three characteristics fit him well. He will change times and laws and will conquer Jerusalem after continuing in office for three and a half years. Umar instituted the Islamic lunar calendar, thus changing times. He changed Islamic law in several areas. He was self appointed Khalifah in the year C.E. 634 and attacked and conquered Jerusalem in Palestine about three and a half years later in 638. It is difficult to see how any historical figure fits the prophetic indications better than Umar. He arose at the right time, after the decline of the Roman empire and not before, as Antiochus. He arose in the right place and his actions took place not in Europe as in the case of the papacy, but in the area of Jerusalem. He changed times by instituting the lunar calendar. He changed divine laws on his own initiative. And finally, he conquered Jerusalem after continuing in office for three and half years, just as predicted. Does the prophecy say anything about Umar in terms of his character and action towards God's followers? Unfortunately it does:

7:21:"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them."

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