This newsletter will explore the nature of the attack on the heavenly sanctuary by the little horn of Daniel 8. In other words, will the attack be a military/physical attack or a philosophical and spiritual attack? Before we delve into this, we will first identify the little horn, and then we will uncover the significance of the western Greeks in Italy as the place where the little horn arose. This will form the backdrop for our brief exploration of the nature of the little horn’s attack.
Dan 8:3 begins with a ram that has two horns representing Medo-Persia (Dan 8:20). Next Daniel sees a male goat (Dan 8:5) with a large horn that defeats the ram. The goat represents Greece and the first king is Alexander (Dan 8:21). As the male goat grew great and became strong, its large horn was broken and in its place four notable horns came up toward the four winds of heaven (Dan 8:8). “And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious land” (Dan 8:9).
The little horn represents both the pagan Roman empire and the Roman Catholic Church. In order to uncover the nature of Rome’s attack on the heavenly sanctuary, we will examine the papal phase of the little horn’s activities. In Dan 8:11, the prophet informs us that the little horn cast down the place of the Prince’s sanctuary, and in Dan 8:14 we are informed that it will take 2300 years as we apply the year/day principle in prophecy in order for the sanctuary to be cleansed. Thus, attacking the place of his sanctuary points to an attack on the heavenly sanctuary where Christ is now ministering on our behalf.
In order to get at the nature of the attack, I will mention several reasons for why the little horn grew out of the western Greeks in Italy and not from Alexander’s empire. The first concerns the number of Hellenistic kingdoms. In 311 B.C. there were actually five kingdoms after Alexander’s death, and only ten years later in 301 B.C. were the five reduced to four. However, from 281 B.C. historians now unanimously affirm only three substantial kingdoms: The Antigonids who ruled in Macedonia and Greece, the Seleucids in Asia and Syria, and the Ptolemids in Egypt. These controlled the eastern Mediterranean until the Roman conquest. This produces a problem since Dan 8 refers to four kingdoms and not three. In order to solve this historical problem, expositors have pointed out that on the basis of Hebrew grammar the little horn actually arises from one of the winds rather than from one of the horns. This is a valid grammatical point, however, there are several reasons for why the little horn can simultaneously proceed from a horn and from a compass point.
First, the rise of recent historical information not available in centuries past depicts the close historical and philosophical connections between Greece and Rome leading to the discovery of the western Greeks in Italy.
Second, the prophetic connections between Greece and Rome outlined in Dan 2, 7, 8, 11, and Rev 13 provide the biblical context for establishing the close connection between Greece and Rome providing the context for the rise of the little horn in a Grecian context.
Third, since the four horns were destined to come up “toward the four winds of heaven” (Dan 8:8), one of them must lie in the west. However, all of the Hellenistic kingdoms of Alexander were situated to the east of the Greek peninsula.
Fourth, the prophecy does not state that the original horn was split into four. It instead points out that when the great horn was broken or plucked up (Dan 11:4), four horns came up instead of it toward the four winds of heaven (Dan 8:8). The focus then is on the Greeks as a whole and not just on the kingdoms that resulted from the breakup of Alexander’s empire.
Until Edwin de Kock’s brilliant historical and prophetic work, I was always puzzled about why certain Greek philosophers actually lived in Italy, yet were referred to as Greek philosophers. Thanks to de Kock’s work Magna Graecia (Great Greece), currently in Italy, is the cradle where Greek philosophy was born and began to take off. The ideas of western Greeks such as Parmenides and Pythagoras were later adopted by Plato and Aristotle and formed the very backbone and foundation for the Roman Catholic Church.
Since Greek philosophy began with the western Greeks, and since the little horn arose from there, the nature of the attack on the heavenly sanctuary is a philosophical and spiritual attack. This involves a little explaining concerning how the ideas of Parmenides, Plato, and Aristotle relate to the heavenly sanctuary. Parmenides theorized that ultimate reality just is. He referred to this as Being, and he theorized that this reality is without succession of past, present, and future; in other words, the past = the present = the future. Being is simple, indivisible, eternal, and immutable. Moreover, knowledge of Being constitutes true knowledge about reality and is only ascertained by reason whereas sensory perception only yields opinion. Plato and Aristotle later systematized this idea to include all reality. Plato in particular theorized that there are two worlds, a “heavenly” world of Forms, Ideas, and Numbers that are then duplicated in the earthly world of time and space. In Plato’s worldview, history is the moving image of a static eternity, and all that sensory perception brings to light is a mere shadow and duplication of eternal and timeless Forms and Ideas. As a result, he considered the earthly world as a shadow of the heavenly world.
Thus, if ultimate reality is timeless, meaning that the temporal succession of past, present, and future is impossible, then all spatio-temporal realities like the heavenly sanctuary, which is clearly described in Scripture as spatio-temporal, are mere shadows of what is ultimately real. When the little horn cast down the place of Christ’s sanctuary in heaven, what that means is that it destroyed our conceptions of the sanctuary’s reality, and more importantly of its systematic role in giving meaning and coherence to all of the doctrines that are integrally connected to it. This means Greek philosophy supplies the framework for establishing meaning and coherence with reference to the Bible’s doctrinal teachings. It is thus impossible to simultaneously hold to a real spatio-temporal sanctuary in heaven where Jesus moves from one place to another, while accepting the little horn’s ideas about ultimate reality that it borrowed from the Greeks.
In the next newsletter, I will explore how these Greek ideas affect out understanding of God, human beings, the world, and the ways in which they interrelate; all of which undermine the heavenly sanctuary’s systematic role in interpreting the doctrines that are connected to it.
Edwin de Kock, 7 Heads and Ten Horns (Edinburg, TX: Edwin de Kock, 2012), 145-146.