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This prophecy expands and fills in details of the image in Daniel 2. The "huge iron teeth" and the beast's actions link it inextricably to the legs and feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Whereas the legs, feet, and toes suggest a continuous progression and dominance on the world scene, Daniel 7 shows that Rome would rise and fall in successive kingdoms and empires, represented by the horns, until the last days.
Of course, the little horn introduces a new entity to this empire. Suffice it to say that it represents the false church guiding and controlling this brutal beast (cf. Revelation 13:11-18). The Bible shows this false church, among other things, speaking against God, persecuting the saints, being given power "for a time and times and half a time" and being destroyed forever by the power of God.
"The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom," writes Daniel (7:24), or as Herbert W. Armstrong said, they are ten successive resurrections of the Roman Empire. The little horn, the false church, supplants the first three of these, the Vandals, the Heruli and the Ostrogoths, Germanic invaders who successfully overthrew Rome and established their own short-lived empires between AD 429 and 554.
The final seven horns (called "seven mountains," in reference to kingdoms, and "seven heads," in reference to kings, in Revelation 17:9-10) are controlled by the false Roman church. In AD 554 Emperor Justinian, ruling the eastern half of the empire from Constantinople, restored the Empire in the west and recognized the supremacy of the Pope. Justinian fulfills the fourth horn and the first of the seven heads of the beast upon which "the Mother of Harlots" rides (verses 3-5). Later, Charlemagne, king of the Franks (800); Otto the Great (962); Charles V of the Hapsburg dynasty (1520) and Napoleon (1805) were all crowned emperors of Rome by the Pope, and fulfill the fifth through eighth horns and second through fifth heads. Garibaldi and Mussolini, dictators of Italy between 1870 and 1945, received papal approval to re-establish the Roman Empire, and were later joined by Adolf Hitler in this pursuit. They combine to represent the ninth horn and sixth head.
The last horn, the last head and the ten toes are yet future, the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, the terrifying and brutal Beast power soon to arise upon the earth. Some of the details of this final revival are found in Revelation 17.
1) It will be brief (Revelation 17:10, 12), not much longer than the three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:2; 12:14).
2) This last revival is made up of another ten horns, or ten kings, who give their power to a dictator known as the Beast (Revelation 17:12-13).
3) The ten kings and the Beast use the Woman as long as she is necessary to their plans, then they destroy her in their brutal hate (Revelation 17:16).
4) One of their main purposes is to "make war with the Lamb [Christ]," but they will be destroyed in His wrath at His Second Coming (Revelation 17:14; 19:11-21).
As the colossal image of Daniel 2 had two legs and two feet, the Roman Empire had two divisions, whether they were Rome and her provinces in its earlier period or a Western Empire with its capital in Rome and an Eastern Empire governed from Constantinople. The final resurrection, we assume, will have its ten toes split between the latter division, west and east. We do not know, however, if these are ten presently recognizable nations, or if they are ten major ethnic groups that cross national boundaries yet will have some autonomy.
Nevertheless, it is most likely that the ten nations will inhabit the areas formerly ruled by the Roman Empire and its subsequent revivals. It is a vast region. At its height Rome ruled from England and Spain in the west to northern Mesopotamia in the east to North Africa in the south. However, because of Daniel's prophecies regarding the King of the North, the "last gasp" of Rome will probably be centered in Europe, the bastion of Roman culture, law, and heritage.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay