In the June, 1993 issue of the Christian Courier, Wayne Jackson, an out-spoken critic of Covenant Eschatology, expounds on the little horn of Daniel 7. Our purpose here is not to set forth a positive exegesis of Daniel 7 as much as it is to show the fallacy of Jackson’s article because his interpretation is representative of the view held in the Reformation and Restoration movements. While we understand that a negative approach is not totally satisfactory, it does have merit in determining what interpretations ARE NOT TRUE. By the process of elimination we can narrow the options for the correct understanding. Jackson uses this approach in his own article first finding fault with various interpretations before setting forth his own. Jackson examines two views: that of "religious modernism" identifying the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanes; and the premillennial posit that the little horn is a now imminent "AntiChrist." Upon what basis does he reject these views?
The Antiochan posit is rejected because Antiochus "was dead a hundred years before the fourth beast [the Roman empire] came into power–out of which Daniel’s little horn arose." The premillennial view is rejected by Jackson because "the little horn of Daniel’s vision arose from the remnants of the Roman empire, which have lain in the dust of antiquity for more than 1000 years. The commencement of the little horn’s power is thus ancient, not modern." [emp. his]
In other words, Jackson rejects these two views because one happened BEFORE the Roman empire came to being and the other comes AFTER the empire perished! This is good logic if the fourth beast is in truth, as we also accept, the Roman empire. Jackson’s argument against these other interpretations may be stated thusly:
No identification of the little horn of Daniel 7 that lies outside of the days of the Roman empire is a valid interpretation.
But the Antiochan and the millennial AntiChrist identification of the little horn of Daniel 7 lies outside the days of the Roman empire.
Therefore the Antiochan and the millennial AntiChrist identification of the little horn of Daniel 7 is not a valid interpretation.
But Jackson’s argument destroys his own interpretation! Why? Because Jackson interprets the little horn as being the PAPACY!
Now if the Antiochan and millennial views are to rejected because they violate the time parameters of the Roman empire how in the name of reason can the papacy be the little horn?
Let us examine Jackson’s interpretation. He calculates the rise of papal supremacy from "near the middle" of the eighth century! He chronicles the rise of papal authority through the 11th century when the pope "was affirming the Roman pontiff should not only be the universal head of the church, but also the ruler of the world." ACCORDING TO JACKSON’S OWN OBJECTIONS TO THE ANTIOCHAN AND MILLENNIAL INTERPRETATIONS OF DANIEL 7, THE FACT THEY LIE OUTSIDE THE PARAMETERS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, HIS POSIT THAT THE LITTLE HORN IS THE PAPACY IS ALSO FALSE! Papal supremacy, by Jackson’s own calculations, lies hundreds of years beyond the Roman empire!
It is interesting to examine Jackson’s condemnation of the millennial view of a revived Roman empire in light of his interpretation. The millennialist says the Roman empire will soon be revived; the little horn will arise, persecute the saints and be destroyed at the parousia. Jackson says this is "infidelity." Yet Jackson must posit the revival of the Roman Catholic church, its persecution of the saints and its destruction at the coming of the lord! What exactly is the substantive difference in these views beside the fact the millennialist says he knows it is imminent and Jackson says we do not have to worry about finding the exact time for these events?
How can Jackson condemn the millennialist for violating the framework of Daniel’s prophecy, the days of the Roman empire, and then present an interpretation that violates the parameters of the prophecy just as much? Jackson’s "little horn" is as far removed from the days of the Roman Empire as is the millennial "little horn!" Note the similarities between millennialism and Jackson’s view of the little horn.
1.] Beyond days of Rome same
2.] Revival of Rome revival of Roman church
3.] little horn persecutes same saints
4.] little horn present little horn present
5.] time at hand must be within 350 years
As the reader can see there is very little SUBSTANTIVE DIFFERENCE between the two.
Let us now apply Jackson’s form of argument noted above:
No identification of the little horn of Daniel 7 that lies outside the days of the Roman empire is a valid interpretation.
But papal supremacy, as dated by Jackson, lies outside the days of the Roman empire.
Therefore the identification of the papacy as the little horn of Daniel 7 is not a valid interpretation.
Not only does Jackson’s identification of the little horn violate the time frame established by Daniel 7, but Jackson’s calculations on the "time, times and half times" of Daniel 7:25 exacerbates his difficulty.
TIME, TIMES, HALF TIMES AND 1260 YEARS
Daniel 7:25 says the little horn would persecute the saints for "a time, times and a half time." Jackson acknowledges "this is the most difficult aspect of the prophecy." It most assuredly is difficult for his view because it places him in direct conflict with his own writings and eschatological interpretations!
Jackson believes the "most reasonable" identification of the "time, times and half times" is "that it likely represents three and a half years worth of prophetic days, i.e. a total of 1260 days symbolizing 1260 years [as in the case of the seventy weeks of chapter 9]." Foreseeing extreme difficulties on the horizon Jackson immediately hedges by saying "It is not necessary to look for precise dates for the beginning and ending of this period." To say the least this is a desperate attempt to counter some rather obvious implications of this interpretation.
Wayne Jackson believes, based on his interpretation of Matthew 24:36 that no one can know the "day or the hour" of the supposedly future coming of Christ. Jackson has written at length against modern day prognosticators, especially the premillennialists who point to current "signs of the times" as proof the parousia is imminent. Yet his view of the "time, times and half times" LENDS ITSELF DIRECTLY TO BEING ABLE TO CALCULATE THE TIME OF CHRIST’S COMING! This is the reason he says "it is not necessary to look for precise dates for the beginning and ending" of the 1260 day period! In direct contradiction to his reluctance to find a "terminus a quo" [beginning] and thus the "terminus ad quem" [ending] to
the time statement of Daniel 7, Jackson is adamant in determining both the beginning and ending of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9! Now if we should seek such mathematical precision for the beginning and end of the 70 weeks, which according to Jackson does not entail the end of history, should we not much more urgently seek to know the precise beginning and end of Daniel 7 which per the traditional view entails the END OF HISTORY?!?
Undeniably, Daniel saw the coming of the Ancient of Days in judgment of the little horn at the end of the "time, times and half times", Daniel 7:21-27. Now the "time, times and half times" equals 1260 years, per Jackson. Since the coming of the Lord in judgment is at the end of that period, ALL A PERSON MUST DO TO DETERMINE THE YEAR OF CHRIST’S COMING IS TO FIND THE BEGINNING OF THE 1260 YEAR PERIOD!
Jackson is aware however of the dangers of such calculations. Adam Clark, by using Jackson’s own method of interpretation, [and beginning with the identical beginning point for papal ascendancy suggested by Jackson!] calculated that the end of the 1260 years will be the year 2015!
Very clearly Jackson is saying the papal ascendancy predicted by Daniel began AT SOME POINT IN THE PAST! He gives a range of time from 755 AD, the time of Stephen III, to the time of Hildebrand, 1073 AD. If that be so, then the end of the 1260 year calculation CANNOT EXTEND BEYOND THE YEAR 2333 AD AND MAY BE AS CLOSE AS 2015 AD! If that is not "date-setting" it certainly is a first cousin to it!
If the 1260 days began in the past, at any of the times mentioned by Jackson, then earth has absolutely no more than 350 years left! It matters little if we know the PRECISE date for the beginning of the calculation. IF ANY OF THE DATES SUGGESTED BY JACKSON ARE EVEN APPROXIMATELY CORRECT THE BEGINNING HAD TO HAVE BEEN AT SOME JUNCTURE BETWEEN 755 AND 1073! Jackson clearly does believe the little horn calculation is to be figured from the past because he writes at length of the past persecution carried out by the Catholic church as fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.
The 1260 YEARS AND THE PAROUSIA
The 1260 years gives Jackson problems in regard to the coming of the Lord. Daniel is clear; at the termination of the "time, times and half time" the "Ancient of Days" comes, destroys the little horn and the saints receive the kingdom. But Jackson says the 1260 days "would seem to point to that era when Roman Catholicism almost completely dominated and suppressed the religious world, until its power was broken by the influence of the reformation movement."
Here is the problem. Jackson says the "time, times and half time" refers to 1260 literal years. He suggests dates ranging from 755 AD to 1073 for the beginning of the count. THEN he says that period of domination, 1260 years, was terminated by the Reformation Movement of the 16th century! But if the Reformation Movement was the END of the "time, times and half time" then clearly the "time, times and half times" could not be 1260 literal years as suggested by Jackson! It was not 1260 years from 755 or 1073 AD until the Reformation Movement; or the Restoration Movement either!
Further, if the Reformation Movement was the end of the little horn then the Reformation Movement must be described as the coming of the Ancient of Days in judgment and the kingdom! Daniel saw the little horn’s power destroyed and the persecution stopped by the PAROUSIA, Daniel 7:21ff!
Jackson is strangely silent about the "coming of the Lord" in this text. But he can hardly see the "coming" as the instigation of the Reformation and maintain his 1260 year theory. His 1260 year concept demands a yet future "coming" in judgment and the kingdom of SOME kind. Does our brother believe the coming of Daniel 7 is the "final coming" as traditionally defined or a "spiritual" coming? HE SEES IT AS THE "FINAL COMING!"
In his book "The A.D. 70 Theory: A Review of the Max King Doctrine" Jackson lists Daniel 7:9-10 as a passage that teaches an "end of time" future judgment. He says these verses are parallel to Revelation 20. But reader, Daniel 7:1-14 contains the VISION; Daniel 7:15-28 contains THE INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION! Therefore the judgment scene of vss. 9-10 is the judgment of the "little horn."
The judgment scene of Daniel 7:9-10 is the judgment of the little horn.
But the judgment of Daniel 7:9-10 is an end of time, future judgment, [Jackson].
Therefore the judgment of the little horn is an end of time, future judgment.
The judgment of the little horn is an end of time, future judgment. [Jackson]
The judgment of the little horn comes at the end of the "time, times and half times", Daniel 7:25.
The "time, times and half times" equals 1260 years, [Jackson].
The "time, times and half times" began sometime between 755 and 1073 AD, [Jackson]
Therefore the end of time judgment of the little horn will occur at the end of the "time, times and half times", 1260 years from sometime between 755 and 1073 AD.
As we have seen above, the maximum time left for earth is therefore 350 years!
Jackson’s dilemma in regard to the coming of Daniel 7 is therefore acute. On the one hand, he intimates the coming of Daniel 7:25 is an "in time, spiritual coming"; i.e. the diminution of the Papal supremacy by the Reformation Movement. On the other hand, when attempting to refute Covenant Eschatology he teaches that it is an "end of time literal coming!" Two comings, of different natures, at two different times, for two different purposes; FROM ONE VERSE!
THE SAINTS AND THE LITTLE HORN
It appears to this scribe that Jackson’s, i.e. the traditional Reformation paradigm, contains other difficulties. Daniel is specifically told "the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time." THE LITTLE HORN WOULD PERSECUTE THE SAINTS FOR THE TIME, TIMES AND HALF TIME! Has the Roman Catholic church persecuted the church for 1260 years? Are the saints now under the sway, domain, and sword of the little horn? If the 1260 years began during any of the periods suggested by the Reformation construct [Jackson’s article] this should be the case. And being this close to the necessary end of the time that persecution should be intense! But just the opposite is the case!
THE LITTLE HORN AND SIGNS
Daniel’s prophecy gives SIGNS OF THE COMING OF THE LORD! A definite time frame is given, 1260 years per Jackson. The ascendancy of a powerful pope who would reestablish papal authority and persecute the saints would therefore be positive fulfillment of Daniel and proof positive of the imminent parousia! This would fly in the face of Jackson’s insistence "There are absolutely no biblical signs to indicate when the end of time will occur." If there are n
o signs of the "final coming", as envisioned by Jackson and most futurists, then any passage giving signs cannot be speaking of the "final coming." But Daniel 7 gives signs, the rise of the little horn to supremacy, persecution of the saints for 1260 years, etc. Therefore Daniel 7 cannot be speaking of the "final coming" of the Lord.
1.] the little horn is the Roman Catholic church, [Jackson];
2.] the "time, times and half a time" equals 1260 years, [Jackson];
3.] the 1260 years began sometime between 755 and 1073 AD, [Jackson]
4.] the saints would/will be persecuted by the Roman church at the height of her power near the end of the 1260 years;
5.] the Lord would come at the end of the 1260 years to judge the little horn, Daniel 7:21-27;
does it not therefore follow that in the next few centuries [at most] a terrible persecution of the saints will be instigated by the Roman Catholic church and THAT PERSECUTION WILL BE AN UNMISTAKABLE SIGN THAT THE COMING OF THE LORD IS TRULY IMMINENT?
There is one thing especially puzzling about my brother’s article: his silence about Covenant Eschatology. I have been following brother Jackson’s writings since the mid-70s. Jackson’s modus operandi in writing is to address the "hot" and controversial issues and to approach a subject negatively. That is, before setting forth his views he attacks the views he believes to be false. He does so in the article under consideration here. YET IN HIS DANIEL 7 ARTICLE JACKSON IS SILENT AS A STONE ABOUT COVENANT ESCHATOLOGY! This is exceedingly strange to this writer.
Jackson’s article provided a prime opportunity to throw a broadside at Covenant Eschatology; something like "All that is necessary to disprove this theory is to demonstrate that one prophecy about the coming of the Lord extends beyond 70 AD. Daniel 7 extends beyond 70 AD, [to the Reformation Movement at least], therefore the 70 doctrine is false." YET NOT ONE WORD! WHY?
I suggest that Jackson has decided it is best not to address the issue of Covenant Eschatology. When he has done so in the recent past his articles have been carefully reviewed and shown to be false, see Jack Scott’s recent article for just one example.
Second, we personally believe there is a "conspiracy of silence" among leaders in the churches of Christ. There is a determination not to give the issue a hearing. This is documented in a number of ways.
One speaker at the Harding Lectures, 1992 urged the audience to ignore the 70 doctrine; do not try to study or defeat it. This scribe has personally sent open letters to some of the leading papers among the churches of Christ in an attempt to dispel some of the fallacious stories circulating; not one paper has run the letters. Further, several prominent and experienced debaters among the churches of Christ have been challenged to discuss Covenant Eschatology; they have refused with the excuse that they did not want to give us a forum, and other excuses. Recently, Terry Varner publicly issued a challenge that was accepted by William Bell at the Memphis School of Preaching Lectureship. Yet when Bell accepted, Varner backed down. This is not the first time Varner has done this.
Many other instances could be cited. The fact is, there seems to be a determination among many leaders in the churches of Christ not to allow the general membership to hear this issue discussed. "IGNORE IT AND IT WILL GO AWAY" seems to be the idea. All of this from a fellowship that historically has boasted of its willingness to study and discuss any subject, and from leaders that lament an unwillingness on the part of denominational leaders to debate and discuss issues! BUT COVENANT ESCHATOLOGY WILL NOT GO AWAY BECAUSE IT IS THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH STANDS FOREVER IN SPITE OF MAN’S EFFORTS TO IGNORE OR DESTROY IT!
We could say much more, but I promised myself to keep this short; well, shorter than my normal articles! I believe we have demonstrated the inconsistencies, and outright contradictions in the traditional construction as presented by Jackson. Whereas he says he knows of "no other entity in history that so fits the description of the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7 as that of the papal dynasty of the Roman Catholic Church", I believe that interpretation is inherently self-contradictory. While we certainly do not agree with the doctrinal or societal errors promulgated and committed by the Roman church historically we believe those errors to be covered and corrected by the doctrinal instruction of scripture and outside the scope of Daniel 7.
It is the belief of this scribe that Daniel 12 contains the answer to the "time, times and half times"; it is the period terminating when "the power of the holy people" was completely shattered in 70 AD. Romans 11, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation are directly related to the issue. But space forbids an excursus on that.
The traditional view of Daniel 7 sets a temporal framework for the little horn, condemns others for violating it and then violates it! The Reformation paradigm condemns others for being date setters and then posits a view that allows for just that. It suggests a time for the beginning of the 1260 days, but a time for its termination that is far from consistent with a literal 1260 year count. The historical view speaks of the little horn persecuting the saints but admits he, [the Catholic church], has not done so consistently and persistently for 1260 years as Daniel posits. Daniel says the little horn would be destroyed at the coming of the Ancient of Days; few in the Reformation Movement would call the beginning of that movement the coming of the Lord in judgment. In fact, many today believe Daniel 7 is associated with II Thessalonians 2 and speaks of a yet future destruction of the papacy, after a period of persecution, at the "final coming." Daniel 7 gives signs of framework, i.e. signs for the imminence of the coming of the Lord. The traditional amillennial construct says there are no signs of the coming.
These are just a few of the reasons why this scribe rejected the once held view that the little horn of Daniel 7 was/is the Roman Catholic Papacy. Far from being an interpretation that fits, that identity of the "little horn" winds up impaled on the large and sharp "horns of Truth!"