The 1260 days and the Little Horn
Brief Idea: The 1260 day prophecy is the most repeated prophecy in the scripture. It is connected to some of the darkest history. It foreshadows the darkest events of the future. Christ’s coming was not to be thought of as “near”, nor were parts of Daniel’s prophecies related to His coming to be understood, until it was completed.
The Little Horn Power and its Roman Origins
Rome, in both its phases, plays a larger role in Daniel than all previous world empires combined. It is the subject of 58 verses (of 110 verses regarding the visions) in Daniel 2, 7, 8 and 11. It receives more attention than Christ’s coming, more than His Kingdom. This pattern, though in this class we will not follow it, also continues in the book of Revelation.
From these 58 verses we learn the following:
- Rome would be comparatively strong, “exceeding strong”, “exceeding great”, to break and subdue and engulf other nations.
- Rome would be associated with iron.
- Rome would eventually be divided, yet still be Rome. It would divide into ten monarchies.
- Parts of the divided Rome would remain strong, parts would not.
- The divided parts of Rome would seek to use marriage to mend the divisions.
- They would fail in their endeavor.
- In the days of these “kings” (of the parts) God would set up His Kingdom.
- Rome would be dreadful, “exceeding dreadful”, and terrible.
- Rome would treat the remnants of its defeated peoples roughly.
- Rome would be, in some fundamental way, “different” from the empires before it.
- Three of Rome’s kingdoms would be uprooted under the influence of an eleventh kingdom, and in fact, “he shall” subdue them.
- That eleventh kingdom would be particularly small.
- It would also be particularly wise, “understanding dark sentences.”
- It would also “speak” with particular arrogance, speaking “against the Most High,” and “magnifying himself even” as if he was equal to the Prince Jesus, exalting himself “above every God.”
- This type of speech and its war against the saints would both precede the judgment.
- Rome would, after the judgment, would be deprived of her kingdom and be destroyed as a nation by God’s fiery judgments as a result of the arrogant speech. This punishment would be without the help of men in its execution, “without hand.”
- These judgments would last for some time, even to the “end.”
- Rome would have some characteristics of Greece before it.
- The eleventh kingdom would be more strong (though smaller) than the others.
- It would make war with God’s people, the saints, and would “prevail against them”, and “destroy the mighty and holy people” “wonderfully.”
- Rome would devour the “whole earth.”
- The little Roman superpower would think to change “times” and “laws.”
- Its use of civil power, “given” to it, would last 1260 years.
- Rome would come from the west (relative to Greece) and conquer east, south, and towards Palestine.
- Palestine would be “consumed” by Rome.
- It would, in some way, overpower Jesus, by crucifixion and persecution of his saints and of their missionaries.
- [Papal] Rome would take away the “daily.” [your teacher’s understanding: take away the pagan religion that had ruled the world since the gold head.]
- Papal Rome would be established as an abominable civil power.
- The 2300 year vision was particularly about the Roman power and its works and supremacy.
- Roman papal power would be exercised mightily through the armies of other governments.
- When the old Roman government would be at its end, the papal power would rise as a fierce power.
- By policy, the papal power would succeed in promoting its falsehoods.
- The papacy would think highly of itself in its “heart.”
- Romans would try to establish their power in the world prior to their time, and would fail (11:14).
- Rome would be involved with political maneuverings involving Cleopatra and others, the details of which are described in 11:16-19.
- Tiberius Caesar would follow his predecessors and be a “raiser of taxes” and die soon – not in battle.
- Roman leaders would overcome faithful men including Jesus.
- The Romans would conquer the most valuable places without war and win influence by using gifts and spoil to placate others.
- More details of Roman rule are found in 11:24-27.
- Rome would try to obliterate Christianity.
- During the Middle Ages God’s people would “be strong” and “do exploits.”
- Many would work to corrupt these people by flattery.
- Persecution by Rome would serve to purify their congregations.
- Papal prosperity would exist only until a predetermined time to end.
- The papacy would promote celibacy and coercion of the conscience.
- The papacy’s end would come via the work of infidel France.
- The papacy would recover and succeed in overcoming communism.
- After determining to destroy God’s people with a death decree, the papacy will establish itself as the object of true worship…and then be destroyed.
The 1260 and 538 AD
Adventists have historically dated the reign of the papacy from the year 538 AD. This date has been challenged by detractors for several reasons. Among them are the following:
- Rome became Christian in 321 AD, not 538 AD.
- Popes were in existence, and known as popes, from long before 538 AD.
- The papacy was not particularly strong in 538 AD.
To these we might reply simply that 538 AD has been understood to be neither the beginning of the papacy’s existence nor the pinnacle of its power nor the Christianizing of the empire.
Rather, 538 was the year that the city of Rome fell into the hands of the papacy as the civil power that would rule the western (significant) portion of the empire. It was the year the woman began riding the beast. It was the year that Justinian’s decrees went into effect, subjecting Rome to the demands of the pontiff.
In the book of Daniel God grants power to human governments. The 1260 years during which power over God’s people was given to the papacy must point to civil authority. God never gives spiritual authority to men to rule over their fellow men.
The 1260 and 1798
Adventist have historically dated the end of the reign of the papacy from the year 1798. This date has been challenged by detractors for several reasons. Among them are the following:
- The pope didn’t die until 1799. So much for a 1798 “deadly” wound.
- Napoleon wasn’t the first king to take a pope captive. Henry IV banished Gregory VII, who died in exile. Charlemagne took a pope captive. Sigismund imprisoned a pope and deposed him.
- A pope was elected to replace the imprisoned pope as soon after he died. There was no real break in the pontifical line.
To these we might reply simply that 1798 has been understood to be neither the end of the papacy’s existence, nor the low-point of its power, nor the date of the death of a pope. Rather, it was the death of the beast part of the papacy, the national part. In 1798 Rome became a republic and the papacy became a church alone, rather than a church ruling a nation.
When we study Daniel 12 we will discuss the reasons for the papacy being given 1260 years. We will study more about the purposes and parallels of that period of time, also, in Revelation class.
The papacy existed for many years as a movement in the church. Paul talked about it existing in his day. It was the mystery of iniquity that was gaining power among the Christian congregations.
But this papacy does not show up in prophecies of the world’s empires until it becomes a world empire. It does not appear as a beast until it exists as a nation. When did it become an empire? In 538 it did take over the management of Rome and its environs, a very small land area, but associated with a very large amount of power. In 1798 is lost civil authority over that same land area.
This was just what the Bible predicted, just what Adventists teach, and points squarely to the papacy as the little horn of Daniel 7.
For the Word Doc, click here: Dan_7_-_The_1260_days_and_the_Little_Horn