Ten nations, somehow bonded together, part strong like iron, says Daniel, part not so strong, like clay. Many have been the speculations: Democracies and Muslim-style "kingdoms" merging to form a super-power? An awesome nightmare, don't you think, combining the wealth of Europe and the passion of Mohammed's men? Is not Europe being overrun by Islam this very moment? But I merely speculate. We need to get back to the main discussion...
Notice that it is the heads and not the nations (horns) that have a blasphemous name. The world powers, and one man in particular in each of these powers has risen to fame on the basis of his hatred for and emulation of the Deity we serve. An antichrist, so to speak, in every Empire, every generation. We have them in our day. They will continue to rise and be obviously the enemy until the final manifestation comes, and by the elect will be easily identified.
But wait. The Daniel picture before us is very similar to the one John painted in chapter 12 of his revelation, verse 3. And this chapter 12 beast is called by the author, the Devil. So is this beast from the sea in chapter 13 also the Devil? No. The clue is in 13:2. The Devil gives the beast before us his authority. This person rising in the Mediterranean region of our planet is Satan, but Satan incarnated in human flesh. This is Satan's "masterpiece". Often he has been behind these God- and Christ-haters. But to my knowledge never before has he been inside such a man, directing every step. This he will do, I believe, to replicate as exactly as possible what the Father did in our Lord Jesus. Lived in Him, directed and empowered Him. Satan's object is to be so like Christ as to deceive the very elect, if that were possible. (But God will find a way to alert the elect!)
The beast. He is described in verse 2 as having characteristics of leopard, bear, and lion, the very same as the first three animals seen by Daniel. So this beast is a combination of every power that has ever reigned. Daniel sees the only world power that has ever ruled from the end of Greece's time until the end of history as a separate animal. John sees that same animal as having combined all former rule in itself. But the images are essentially the same.
In Revelation 13:3, 12, and 14 we are introduced to the idea of a resurrected ruler (some say kingdom, but a king and a kingdom are inseparable). Thankfully this concept is not new to us, as we have been studying Daniel's history-gap-history pattern. Simply put, but how simply believed I am not sure: Someone who reigned before will reign again. Let's look closer at what happens.
In verse 3, one of the heads of the beast receives a (potentially) fatal wound. We have identified the heads above in terms of nations of the world. But in chapter 17 they are also considered to be individual men. Which way shall we go when thinking about interpretation? I believe we need to see the context of the chapter. The world sees this resurrected entity and concludes that it will be impossible to make war with such a one (13:4)! That sounds more like a man than a nation does it not? Let's see how it fits as we move on.
Again in verses 3, 12, and 14, there is indication that a deadly wound is healed, one who should have died does not, or seemingly dies but "comes back" from the dead. I am not totally certain that this person experiences an actual death, due to the phrase "as if it had been" mortally wounded. Is this sleight of hand? Or is this referring to the fact that antichrist has already been raised from the dead by re-appearing after hundreds of years?
Whatever, the wound is made by a sword, yet Antichrist lives. The world is in awe. Now, some have speculated that what we are seeing here is Sennacherib, the great Assyrian "antichrist" figure, who decimated Israel and incurred God's wrath. The story of his demise and slaying by sword is actually told in your Bible (II Kings 19:35-37)!
I cannot ignore what I have seen of antichrist in the book of Daniel, especially since the Lord Himself has told us to go to that book for answers to the mystery. Though I do not want to write off every other idea, I prefer to stay with Antiochus, as opposed to Sennacherib, about whom little else is said in Scripture. Now, Antiochus died a horrid death. The disease which took him was similar to that suffered by Herod in the book of Acts (12:20-24). He was eaten of worms. But as with all lost and saved persons a new body is reserved so that persons can be blessed or judged eternally. When Antiochus returns from the dead it will be with a new imperishable body, one that can indeed endure any sort of "fatal" wound.
As to the idea of the use of the sword in the last generation, it is not so difficult to imagine any longer, is it? With the Muslim ascent to power, we can readily envision not only the sword but beheadings, prophesied for believers of the last days.
Daniel readers recall the details John now points out in verse 5, the blasphemous words, the three and one half years. No question who this is. Six hundred years earlier, an angel had pointed the finger to a historical figure described in great detail in Daniel 11 and 12, mentioned his blasphemy, mentioned his time limit. It all comes together. Even if only his name "Epiphanes" was on his head, it would be blasphemy enough. He claims to be the "manifested son of the living God." "Great is the mystery of godliness," says Paul (I Timothy 3:16) "God was manifest in the flesh!" But the mystery of iniquity is that there will be one claiming this "manifested" title for himself and demanding that all give him the honor deserved only by Jesus.
One is coming who has been here before. Let us be holy before our God and ready to endure.
http://chosunhouse.com is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.