Daniel Chapter 7: A New Perspective
To summarize, the fourth political force:
First, possesses formidable power, beyond any comparison to what the other three political beasts possess.
Second, expresses itself through a select body (i.e., the ten horns).
Third, instills dread and horror, and acts ruthlessly.
Fourth, is susceptible to power struggle. There will be power struggle among the ten horns, which means the leaders in this political organization will fight for dominance.
Fifth, causes the persecution and destruction we customarily associate with the events of the last days.
Basically, the imagery of the fourth beast implies a political force which is armed to its teeth (literally and figuratively). It makes policies that cause wide destruction. It emerges winner mainly through terror and brute strength.
Several modern-day political movements can fit this billing, particularly those which combine politics with arms. Political movements such the Nazi, Fascist, and communist-based parties easily meet this description. Equally, a military junta can qualify as a candidate to be named the fourth beast. 
Overall speaking, the key idea behind the fourth beast is dictatorial power that creates terror and wide spread suppression and destruction. Such negative power is often exercised through the military and organs of suppression. This entails that the fourth beast-type party or state that has the guns to instill fear, has the secret service agencies to spy on all, and newly minted laws to suppress opponents and terrorize citizens. Given its anti-God (atheistic) nature it will possess policies which persecute the church. Its militaristic and economic policies ultimately destroy the country.
The Fourth Beast as a Junta
Whenever the military takes upon one of the extreme ideologies (such as fascism or communism), itself in the form of a junta (or, a revolutionary command council, etc.) takes over political power, it makes for the most grotesque and terrifying political form. This is because by its very nature the military is not fit for politics. Its structure, purpose, and culture are not designed to make it effectively work as a political party or allow it to govern a state in humanely. Therefore, often military regimes suppress political and civic organizations, instill fear through emergency rules, and suspend the people’s rights permanently, etc.
The military is a dreadful, awe-inspiring fighting machine. But it is organized and trained to have these effects only on the enemies of the nation and not on citizens. As the result, whenever the military becomes part of politics, politics gets skewed. The balance of power shifts in favor of those with guns and natural freedoms disappear almost overnight. As the military brass (i.e., horns) govern by force, and not by popular consent, they spread fear and terror among other (normal) political organizations and the general public.
Because of its authoritarian streak (i.e., iron discipline and unbending will), the military finds it easy to break up political and civic organizations and subdue them. As history attests, some of the first edicts a military government issues are to ban other political parties, abrogate the people’s right of assembly and freedom speech, and throw into prisons or kill all those it suspects of challenging its rule.
“It [the fourth beast] was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.” (Dan 7: 7)
The fact that the fourth beast has ten horns is something to take note of implied symbolic value. Based on Scriptural symbolism, the number ten represents the idea of a large number to the point of redundancy.  What this means is that the political force – here the army as the fourth beast -- will give rise to several leaders (i.e., ten horns) who will serve as the governing arm on its behalf. The Holy Spirit uses the number ten for the number of horns as if to say, “I see leaders too many to count!” In this count, whenever the military engages in politics or takes political power directly, it usually does through a junta or a revolutionary council. The junta or the council becomes the governing or political arm of the military.
If the metaphor of the ten horns implies that the military will exercise political power through a collective leadership (commonly known as junta), Daniel reminds us the council will not be unified. As a lot of juntas or revolutionary command councils do, this prophesied political force will exhibit some form of power struggle. From the power struggle will finally emerge one council member (i.e., little horn) as a strongman to dominate others. This insignificant or despicable leader turns out to be exceptionally haughty, destructive and impious.
"While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.” (Dan. 7:8)
What this means is that there will be a collective leadership system in the junta at the beginning. Eventually the junta will experience some internal power struggle, either due to a faction developing within the group or because one person wants to rule as the ultimate dictator. As history attests, often from the internal squabbles of a non-democratic organization which is on the saddle of political power, will subsequently emerge one person to become the undisputed leader. This person may not necessarily be the senior member of the movement or junta; he can even be an obscure member. In our case what Daniel's prophecies show us that it will be an obscure person who will overthrow a few of its predecessors to assume total power in the “ten horns” council. To maneuver oneself to the pinnacle of power within a junta invariably demands a high level of cunning, ability to act in the right time, and to strike with ruthlessness. This exactly what Daniel notifies us of the little horn that it actually possesses such skills.
"As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. Three of the first horns were wrenched out, roots and all, to make room for it. This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly." (Dan 7:8)
The fact that the dictator (i.e., little horn) is said to have eyes like human eyes conveys the message that this leader will possess unusual intelligence. At least, the dictator knows how to vie power, scheme to acquire absolute power, and then know hold on to it successfully. That implies that the man is a master tactician, able to outmaneuver all his rivals. Moreover, his mouth speaks arrogantly. He becomes defiant of God by unleashing persecution against the church. That means humility or religiosity is not part of the virtues of this dictator.
"I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” (Dan. 7: 21 - 22)
This means that fourth beast supported political system - led by the despicable dictator -will become quite antagonistic to God. The system will cause the persecution of the saints. Such an action makes the possibility that the junta likely espouses an atheistic ideology.
At this point the implication of the vision about the fourth beast is clear. The hideous fourth beast will likely be a military or quasi-military organization. It will produce a derivative multi-member political unit, likely a junta or a revolutionary council. The ruling council will manifest a power struggle from which will emerge someone described as despicable, cunning, arrogant and impious. This dictator will be the face of the terror and destructiveness of the fourth beast.
The fourth beast as a political actor will succeed in subduing the other three political forces, destroy the land economically, and persecute the church. Effectively the fourth beast will reign supreme in the land until God intervenes to judge it. As Daniel tells us, God would orchestrate events that would destroy the fourth beast utterly. The fourth beast will be consumed by a fire of judgment, which it does not survive. However, to the other three beasts are not utterly destroyed, but allowed to exist longer for a little while (vv. 11-12).
Note 1: It is in particular the fourth beast and the little horn which gets the attention of Daniel’s other end time visions in Daniel chapters 8 and 11. The same is true in Jesus’ and the apostles’ prophecies about the end times and the persecution the church suffers.
Note 2: Based on the idea I have presented, namely (i) the turbulent sea represents a popular revolt, a revolutionary situation developing. (ii) Major political forces emerge as competitors for dominance in the revolutionary milieu. These are contemporaneous political forces, not successive empires and separated by hundreds of years. They are sequential in the sense of their time of first formation. (iii). Each of the beast in the vision represent a modern-day political force. I have showed the lion is a monarchy; the bear is a regional separatist movement; the tiger is urban-based intellectuals-led guerrilla movement; the fourth beast is an atheistic militaristic junta.
Note 3: The fall of the fourth kingdom does not immediately lead to the kingdom of God. Daniel 2 adds some crucial information lacking in Daniel 7 about the coming of the kingdom of God. According to Daniel 2, a fifth kingdom will be in place after the fourth kingdom which God’s kingdom encounters and destroys. There will be another type of government, a fractious government, which will succeed the dictatorial fourth kingdom. It is the fifth kingdom that the kingdom of God (i.e., the Son of Man) will strike when it comes.
Note 4: The next task is to find a country whose modern-day politics fulfills the reality of this political vision.
[To be Continued}
Glory be to God
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