“And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.”Daniel 8:9-10 — NKJV
As I’ve said in my earlier posts, the visions of Daniel can be both daunting and downright difficult to interpret. Daniel chapters 7-12 is overlaid with cross references that describe the same subject matter from different perspectives. None of the parts in Daniel can be rightly interpreted independently of the whole. It is important to identify the common phrases, ideas, and images to make the connections and build a complete picture.
When it comes to the identity, ascension, and activity of the little horn — aka the Beast or Antichrist — there are some deeper waters to navigate. It is easy to get bogged down in the finer details, so I will do my best to focus on one component at a time.
As I shared in my last post, Daniel 8 begins by providing the geopolitical backdrop behind the emergence of the little horn. The little horn will emerge after a regional war between Turkey and Iran. He will start out relatively small but eventually will grow exceedingly great.
The little horn will supplant three other regional kings and begin to advance militarily to the south [Egypt], the east [Iraq/Iran] and toward the Glorious Land [Israel].
The next part of the vision in Daniel 8, however, takes an unexpected turn and is nothing less than mysterious. The little horn will “grow up” to the host of heaven and “cast down” some of the stars to the earth and trample them.
So the obvious question is … in what way does the little horn — this earthly king — grow exceedingly great up to the host of heaven? What does that mean? How are we to interpret such a concept?
The language about the host of heaven and the “stars” deserves a closer look.
The Host of Heaven
“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.“Nehemiah 9:6 — ESV
The Biblical concept of the heavenly host always alludes to the angelic beings who operate in the spiritual realm. The Bible says that there are myriads upon myriads of these heavenly beings, an innumerable host that exists behind the scenes. These heavenly beings are often referred to as “stars,” bright celestial entities that are far removed from our earthly realm.
Some of these stars are divine princes who remain loyal to Yahweh — the Most High God — while others are divine rebels who have followed the path of Satan. These evil principalities and powers in the heavenly places seem to be in some way subservient to the prince of demons and the prince of the power of the air — Satan — the god of this age. This is precisely why the LORD warned the Israelites about the temptation of forsaking Him and bowing down to the heavenly host.
“And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”Deuteronomy 4:19 – ESV
So if the little horn grows in power, even to the host of heaven, then he somehow is interacting and interfering with the spiritual realm. Although there may be various speculations and conjectures about how an earthly, human ruler potentially could engage in some type of spiritual warfare with the “stars” of heaven, I will share my interpretation here.
I believe the key to understanding this prophecy has everything to do with the supernatural union of the little horn with Satan himself. If this son of destruction becomes the earthly vessel of the devil, then he and the devil will be one as it were. So as the little horn expresses power and authority while waging war on earth, Satan will be working behind the scenes in the spiritual realm, waging war with the stars in heaven. In other words, the little horn is the earthly reflection of the devil, who is the spiritual reflection of the little horn. They mirror each other.
We know that Daniel 8 says that the little horn somehow casts down the stars of heaven and tramples on them. Let’s take a closer look at Revelation 12 to see how this potentially will play out in the last days.
WAr in Heaven
Most Bible scholars see the direct correlation between Daniel 8 and Revelation 12. I believe these parallel passages provide some clues of interpretation concerning the little horn.
Let’s read Daniel 8 and Revelation 12 together.
“And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. 10And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. 11He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. 12Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices;and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.”Daniel 8:9-12 – NKJV
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.“Revelation 12:3-4 – ESV
These two passages are most certainly connected. The Dragon — who is the Devil — cast down 1/3 of the angels — the stars of heaven — and threw them to the earth. The common language is undeniable, but the classic interpretation of Revelation 12:4 is wrong in my opinion. Almost every commentary will suggest that the “stars” in this verse represent the evil angels who are loyal to Satan and are the same group of angels mentioned in Revelation 12:9.
But I believe Daniel 8:10 and Revelation 12:4 are describing something else entirely. I believe the Dragon first delivers a considerable blow to the good guys by defeating 1/3 of the heavenly host, casting them down and trampling on them. The language of these verses clearly implies that the Dragon and little horn are hostile to these “stars,” not friendly.
Why else would the Antichrist be trampling on these stars? Why would the Dragon sweep his own angels down and cast them to the earth? That seems counterproductive to say the least. No kingdom is divided against itself. That is why I believe Daniel 8:10 and Revelation 12:4 are describing a heavenly assault against the loyal angels that results in a considerable blow to the angelic army. Satan exalts himself as high as the Prince of the host — which is the Lord Jesus Himself [Daniel 8:11].
Now I don’t pretend to understand everything about this prophecy, but I believe it is yet future. Contrary to what almost every Christian has been taught, Satan never convinced 1/3 of the angels to follow him. The reference here to 1/3 of the angels are the good guys. Satan launches a successful attack against the stars in heaven and casts them down and tramples on them.
I’m not sure how all of that plays out in spacetime, but I believe it is the only possible explanation that makes sense of Daniel 8 and the rise of the little horn.
An all out war breaks out in heaven AFTER this initial trampling of the stars of heaven, which is described in the following verses in Revelation 12.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”Revelation 12:7-12 — NKJV
So in response to the Dragon’s initial attack, Michael will rise up against the Dragon and finally will cast him and his angels down to earth. Satan will be expelled from heaven and confined to the earth.
It is at this point that the Dragon — Satan — will give all of his authority and power to the little horn and unite himself to the son of destruction, creating the Beast.
“The dragon gave him [the Beast] his power, his throne, and great authority.”Revelation 13:2
Once the Beast — or little horn — has all of Satan’s power and authority he will boldly pursue total domination and destruction. Daniel 8 speaks to this. The king of bold face will succeed, not by his own power, but by the satanic, supernatural power of the Dragon.
“And in the latter time of their kingdom,
When the transgressors have reached their fullness,
A king shall arise,
Having fierce features,
Who understands sinister schemes.
His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power;
He shall destroy fearfully,
And shall prosper and thrive;
He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.”Daniel 8:23-24 – NKJV
In my next post, we will begin to develop the concepts surrounding the sanctuary and the profane transgression known as the abomination of desolation.