Mouth Speaking Great Things

The mouth speaking great things in Daniel appears in Revelation in the description of the Beast from the sea and its war against the saints

Stormy Beach - Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
In the book of
Revelation, the “little horn” from Daniel is NOT explicitly named but its characteristics are present in the “Beast from the sea.” But the book does not retell the same story without changes; instead, it modifies and repurposes it to tell ITS story. The “Beast from the sea” is based on Daniel’s “little horn,” but it also is something beyond what Daniel saw, and arguably, something far worse - [Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash].

The book of Revelation uses language found in Daniel but with modifications and reapplications to its situation. For example, the “fiery furnace” of Nebuchadnezzar provides the imagery for the “lake of fire.” The original “four beasts” from the sea become the single “Beast from the sea” seen by John.

The book does not simply restate the original vision of the prophet Daniel, but neither does it fabricate new things out of thin air.

THE LITTLE HORN

There are precedents for combining the “four beasts” into a single creature. For example, in his dream of a great image, Nebuchadnezzar saw four kingdoms represented by ONE “great image.” The four individual domains were all parts of a greater whole. Moreover, in Daniel’s interpretation of the dream, all four of its parts were destroyed at once when the single great image was destroyed - (Daniel 2:32-35).

In Daniel, the dominant feature of the “little horn” was its “mouth speaking great things.” The “little horn” had risen up only after three of the “fourth beast’s” ten horns had been uprooted. Likewise, in Revelation, the “beast from the sea was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” with which it “slandered those who tabernacle in heaven.”

The two descriptions are close. However, rather than to one of its horns, in Revelation, the “mouth speaking great things” is given to the entire “Beast from the sea,” not just one of its “ten horns,” and nothing is said about first uprooting three of its horns – (Revelation 13:4-6).

Nor does Revelation reuse every feature seen in Daniel’s “little horn.” For example, the “two eyes like a man” of the little horn” are not included in Revelation.

Nonetheless, in both books, the “mouth” directs its words against the “saints” as part of its “war” to destroy them - (Daniel 7:21-25, 8:10, 8:24, Revelation 13:5-7).

IN REVELATION

The “tabernacle” of God that is “slandered” by the “mouth” is identified as “those who tabernacle in the heaven,” that is, the “saints.” This is one of several ways that Revelation contrasts those who follow the “Beast” (“The inhabitants of the earth”) with those who “follow the Lamb” (“those who tabernacle in heaven”).

The single “beast from the sea” is “given” the authority to “slander those who tabernacle in heaven,” and to persecute the “saints.” Essentially, these are two ways of saying the same thing.

The “Beast” is granted authority by the “Dragon.” Similarly, in Daniel, the “little horn” had “mighty power, but not by his own power” to wage war against the “saints” – (Daniel 8:25, Revelation 13:4-7).

In Daniel, the “little horn” was authorized to persecute the saints “until a season, seasons, and part of a season.” Likewise, in Revelation, the “beast” is authorized to attack the “saints” for “forty-two months.”

In Daniel’s vision, the “fourth beast” was destroyed at the end of the designated period - “burned with fire” - and its “little horn” was “broken without hand” after it attempted to “stand up to the prince of princes.” In Revelation, a similar reality is presented in the vision of the “rider on a white horse” – (Daniel 7:11, 7:26, 8:25).
  • (Revelation 19:16-20) – “And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS…And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet…they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”

But there are differences. For example, in Revelation, in addition to its “ten horns,” the “Beast” has “seven heads,” one of which receives the “death-stroke” that is then “healed.” The “death-stroke” cannot refer to the final destruction of the “Beast” in the “lake of fire” since it recovers from it.

Similarly, in Daniel, though all four beasts were overthrown, they were not immediately annihilated – “And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time” - (Daniel 7:12, Revelation 13:3).

In both books, “horns” represent kings, including the “little horn.” In Daniel, the seven “heads” are distributed among all four “beasts from the sea” – the “four heads” of the leopard and the one “head” of each of the remaining three “beasts.” In Revelation, the one “Beast from the sea” has all “seven heads.” What do they represent?

THE SEVEN HEADS

The explanation is provided in the image of the “great harlot” that is “carried by the beast.” The “seven heads” represent seven “kingdoms” – (Revelation 17:8-11).

The description of the “Beast that was and is not” in chapter 17 refers to its “death-stroke” and restoration. In view is not an individual human being but a “kingdom.”

For John, five of the kingdoms are in the past (“five are fallen”), the sixth exists (“one is”), and the seventh has not yet appeared (“the other is not yet come”). The identities of the five fallen domains are not important to the vision. The one existing in the first century can only be Rome. The seventh that is yet to appear is the “Beast from the sea” - (“The beast that was and is not”).

The seventh kingdom is also “an eighth and is of the seven.” Though ambiguous, this suggests the final kingdom will be of the same character as its predecessors, but also will be something beyond them – “diverse from the other beasts.”

The “Great Harlot” in chapter 17 sits on all seven “heads,” past, present, and future. This points to a transhistorical reality. The final incarnation of the “Beast” will be a culmination of an age-long conflict that concludes with the destruction of the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “false prophet” in the “lake of fire.”

In Daniel, the “little horn” represents a known historical figure, Antiochus IV. In Revelation, characteristics, imagery, and terminology from all four of Daniel’s “beasts” are combined to paint the graphic and terrifying portrait of the final “Beast,” the “seventh, who is also an eighth.” And paradoxically, its “war” against the “saints” will prove to be its undoing.

SPEAKING GREAT THINGS

But what are the “great things” emanating from this “mouth”? In Daniel, the “little horn” represents a malevolent king who “waxes great against the host of heaven,” “magnifies” himself, “destroys the holy people,” and is “skillful in dissimulation.” Moreover, he “exalts himself and magnifies himself against every god, even against the God of gods will he speak wonderful things” - (Daniel 8:11, 8:24-25, 11:36).

Likewise, in Revelation, the “mouth” speaks “slanders” against God and His “tabernacle, namely, those who are tabernacling in heaven.” This is interpreted as the “war against the saints” when the “Beast” is authorized for forty-two months to “overcome them… If anyone is for captivity, into captivity, he goes. If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain. This is the endurance and the faith of the saints.”

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash
[Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash]


The Greek word rendered “blasphemy” in many English versions of Revelation more accurately means “slander.” The same word is used in the letter to the church in Smyrna to describe the “blasphemy” or “slander” of those who are “Jews and they are not but are a synagogue of Satan.” This refers to false accusations leveled against believers by their opponents from the local synagogue, most probably before local city magistrates, or perhaps even before the representatives of Rome.

Likewise, the “slander” against the saints by this “mouth” refers to political and legal charges brought against believers in the Beast’s efforts to destroy the church. Thus, the “great things” spoken by its “mouth” are the accusations and legal charges leveled against the followers of the “Lamb,” those who are “tabernacling in heaven.” In short, their persecution by the “Beast from the sea.”

Whether the “little horn” in Revelation represents an individual man or something else is not immediately clear. But in the larger context of chapter 13, it may very well be identical with the “Beast from the earth,” the “false prophet,” who uses the authority of the “first beast” to deprive everyone who refuses to render homage to the “Beast” of their ability to participate in the economic life of the empire, and in some cases, their martyrdom.



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