Thursday, February 25, 2021

Heroes of the Faith: Charles Finney & D.L. Moody

 
 
 
 
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

Charles Finney: Basic Facts

 - Charles Finney (1792-1875) was an evangelist in the Second Great Awakening. He preached at revivals across the US and Britain, and claimed 500,000 conversions.

- Originally trained as a lawyer, his preaching followed the pattern of a law argument: carefully reasoned, and calling for a decision one way or the other at the end.

- He emphasized human responsibility to respond to God’s call, and, like many Christian leaders of his day, he believed that the growth of the church and the reformation of society would usher in the return of Christ (postmillennialism). But his greatest impact was not in his theology, but his practices of revival preaching. He preached often about hell, instituted the practice of ‘altar calls’ and ‘anxious seats,’ did away with pew rents, and encouraged lay witnessing and the greater involvement of women in public worship.

- Finney’s most famous book was his Lectures on Revivals of Religion, which is said to have inspired the great Welsh revivals of the 1840s.

- Finney’s theology contributed to the influential Holiness and Keswick movements, which emphasized the possibility of complete obedience to God.

- Finney ended his career at Oberlin College, which led the way in women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.

Quotes from Finney

“Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die—or if need be, to win and die!”

“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.”

“When sinners are careless and stupid, and sinking into hell unconcerned, it is time the church should bestir themselves. It is as much the duty of the church to awake, as it is for the firemen to awake when a fire breaks out in the night in a great city.”

D. L. Moody: Basic Facts

- D. L. Moody (1837-1899) was an evangelist who spoke at revival meetings across the US and Europe. Though originally an impoverished shoe salesman with only an elementary-school-level education, he became an internationally-known speaker who presented the Gospel to 100 million people.

- His early work involved social outreach with the YMCA and a Sunday School program in Chicago, but when the great Chicago fire of 1871 burned down his ministry-buildings, he decided to become a traveling evangelist.

- Moody differed from Finney on several counts: he gave little emphasis to doctrinal theology (preferring to focus on the big picture), almost never preached about hell (preferring to focus on the love of God), and rarely used altar calls or pressed for immediate decisions (believing that it was the Spirit’s task, not his, to prompt a decision of faith).

- Moody, unlike Finney, was inspired by premillennialism—a new and more pessimistic view of the end-times that put greater stress on saving souls.

- Moody pioneered some new revival-meeting techniques: co-operation among local churches, and the featuring of a gospel soloist. (Moody’s own musical partner was Ira Sankey, whose hymns remain popular today.)

- Moody’s legacy includes several colleges, seminaries, and publishing houses. He was influential in launching the Student Volunteer mission movement of the early 20th century.

Quotes from Moody:

 “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

“Faith makes all things possible...love makes all things easy.”

“It is the greatest pleasure of living to win souls to Christ.”

“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”

“The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”

“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”

“The monument I want after I am dead is a monument with two legs going around the world—a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.” 

 


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Evangeliad (19:49-52)

Section 19:49-52 (corresponding to John 6:55-58)
 
"For my blood is true drink, my flesh is true food,
And it is all offered freely for you!
Yes, those who eat and who drink will abide,
Alive in my life, for now and all time.
 
And I in them will remain, they in me,
And life everlasting they will receive;
For the living Father has sent me to you,
And in the same Father my life abides too.
 
So then if you eat me, you will have life,
For this is the bread that heaven provides;
Not as your fathers ate manna and died,
But eat of this bread, and have endless life!" 
 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Photo of the Week


 

 

 

 

 

 

Be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

- 1 Peter 4:7b-8

Monday, February 22, 2021

Quote of the Week


"The purpose of our creation is that we may know the majesty of our Creator. Our business is to know God, and to love him above all else... The principle work of our attention is to seek God, to affectionately desire God, and to settle down nowhere else other than in God."

- John Calvin, from his Instruction in Faith

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Saturday Synaxis

 

Great Ruler of all nature's frame, we own Thy pow'r divine:
We hear Thy breath in every storm, for all the winds are Thine.
Thy mercy tempers every blast to them that seek Thy face;
And mingles with the tempest's roar the whispers of Thy grace.
Those gentle whispers let me hear, till all the tumult cease;
And gales of paradise shall lull my weary soul to peace.

- Philip Doddridge

Friday, February 19, 2021

Big Questions and the Bible: An Invitation

This past year, because of Covid restrictions, the midweek Bible study I do at church has migrated to online videos that we post to our church's Facebook and Youtube pages (to find them, simply search for Second Baptist Church of Calais on each site). Having completed a study of Hebrews, I'm now starting up an open-ended question-and-answer study series. I'll be tackling a range of topics, all having to do with "big questions" that come up about the Bible, theology, or Christian living, and we'll look for answers together in the pages of Scripture. But I want this series to be participatory, as much as is possible, so I'm opening it up for anybody to submit a question to be covered in the video study. If you have a question you'd like to see me answer, simply send it my way via the "Pastor Matt" email address listed at the bottom of our church's contacts page (calaisbaptist.org/contact). 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Heroes of the Faith: The Judsons & the Burma Mission





“As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments, and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”  – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

Adoniram & Ann Judson: Basic Facts

- Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was part of the first group of foreign missionaries sent out from North America, and founded the first long-term Protestant mission to Burma (Myanmar). Burma at the time was a powerful and xenophobic Buddhist empire, seen as the most dangerous mission territory in the Far East. (For a complete assessment of his missionary work, click here to read my paper on the subject, posted in four sections on this blog.)

- Judson and his wife Ann suffered through the constant threat of persecution, multiple waves of tropical diseases, the deaths of their two children, and a long imprisonment in a Burmese jail, all for the sake of making a few converts from among the ever-suspicious Burmese.

- Over the course of his four-decade ministry in Burma, Judson translated the entire Bible and created a Burmese-English dictionary.

- Although starting out as a Congregationalist, Judson became a Baptist and soon was a regarded as a Baptist hero and a celebrity in the US.

Themes of Judson's Life and Ministry:

Faith and Doubt – Judson, a pastor’s son, had a period in college where he gave up his faith and became a Deist (belief in a Creator, but nothing else). He was brought back to faith through a chance meeting with a deist friend who was on his deathbed. Throughout his life, he would go through dark periods of questioning and depression, but he never lost his faith again.

Trust in God’s Providence – Judson and his friends had to help build the infrastructure of support for sending foreign missionaries from America. Even though the system often failed, Judson never lacked for food or resources during his mission in Burma.

Perseverance – For the Judsons, giving up and going home was never an option, though many other missionaries in their situation did that very thing. They felt that they were called by God to this work, and that the salvation of even just one Burmese was worth it all.

Ambition and Humility – Judson knew his mission would give him a place in history; at the beginning, it may have been one of his driving motives. By the end of his career, when he realized that he was a celebrity in the US, he knew only too well how unworthy he was.

Suffering – In the Christian life, suffering is the cost of true discipleship—but God is still with us.

Quotes:

“The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

“I can assure you that months and months of heart-rending anguish are before you, whether you will or not. Yet take the bitter cup with both hands, and sit down to your repast. You will soon learn a secret, that there is sweetness at the bottom.”

“The motto for every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or school-master, ought to be: ‘Devoted for Life’.”

Adoniram’s letter to Mr. Hasseltine, asking permission to marry his daughter Ann: “I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to see her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of perishing immortal souls?”

George & Sarah Boardman:

- The Boardmans, from Maine and New Hampshire, joined Judson’s Burma mission in 1827. They began to evangelize the Karen people, an isolated native tribe living in the hill country, and they met with vast success. The Karen, because of their folk traditions, were well prepared to receive the Gospel. George passed away early in the mission, but Sarah continued on for years, eventually becoming Adoniram Judson’s second wife.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Evangeliad (19:46-48)


Section 19:46-48 (corresponding to John 6:52-54)

Now some of the Jews who heard this then said,
"How can he claim that his body is bread?
How can he give it, that we all should eat?
For surely that isn't what Jesus' words mean!"

"Truly I tell you, yes, truly I say,"
Jesus continued talking this way,
"That if you forego my body to eat,
Then life--true life!--you will not receive.

To those who will drink, to those who will eat,
My body and blood, oh, they will receive
Life that's eternal--and hear what I say:
I will raise them all up upon the last day!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Photo of the Week

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, 
 and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

- Psalm 130:5-6

Monday, February 15, 2021

Quote of the Week




"For many, it is prosperity of life that constitutes the greatest trial."

- Basil, fourth-century theologian, echoing Christ's and Paul's warnings on wealth

Friday, February 12, 2021

A Selection from Matt's Poetry-Prayer Journal

Bless us, O Lord,
In all our innocent endeavors,
And may even our guilty ones
Become avenues of your grace.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Heroes of the Faith: Robert Morrison & the First Protestant Mission to China





Through [Christ] we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. – Romans 1:5

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”  – Acts 5:27-29

Robert Morrison: Basic Facts

- Robert Morrison (1782-1834) was an early British missionary to China and an early translator of the Bible into Chinese. He learned Chinese in a period when the Chinese government had made it illegal for foreigners to be taught the language, and when no language-learning aids like dictionaries or grammars existed.

- Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China, but there had been two other major Christian mission efforts there previously: the Nestorian Church of the East had spread the Gospel in China from the 8th to 10th centuries AD, and the Roman Catholics (particularly through the Jesuits) had been there in the 17th and 18th centuries.

- Morrison’s Bible translation enabled a new wave of missions and church growth in China to take off.

Timeline of Morrison's Life and Ministry:

1797-99
At age 15, Robert Morrison dedicated his life to Christ, and two years later was convicted of a missionary calling after reading a Christian magazine. His great desire was to go to either Africa or China—he prayed “that God would station him in that part of the missionary field where the difficulties were greatest, and, to all human appearances, the most insurmountable.”

1804 – After several years of ministry training, Morrison was accepted as a worker for the London Missionary Society. He committed himself to going to China, prompted by the challenge of translating the Bible into Chinese. The East India Company, which controlled British interests in China, remarked that “the undertaking was a practical impossibility.” Another missionary later said that learning Chinese “requires bodies of iron, lungs of brass, heads of oak, hands of spring steel, eyes of eagles, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah.” But Morrison set about learning the language nonetheless

1807 – The East India Company—the only British service with access to China—refused to allow missionaries to work in its areas of interest. So Morrison had to travel to China on neutral vessels, sailing first to the USA, then all the way around South America and across the Pacific, arriving in Canton in September of 1807. He immediately engaged some secret teachers and began buying all the Chinese books he could afford.

1808-09 – Morrison was forced to move to Macao, a Portuguese colony where the Roman Catholic Church had been active, but the Catholics strongly enforced the Chinese government’s policy against foreigners learning Chinese. Morrison wrestled with a period of depression, but also had some encouragements along the way: he got married and began working as a translator for the East India Company.

1810-12 – The very first of Morrison’s Bible portions are published in Chinese: first Acts, then Luke, and then several books of Christian instruction, all while he continued to work on Chinese dictionaries and grammars. But in 1812, the Chinese government made it significantly more difficult, declaring that printing Christian books in Chinese would be a capital crime.

1813 – After six years, Morrison finally got another missionary colleague, William Milne, only to have the authorities forbid Milne from staying in China. So Milne took up residence on an island and began evangelistic tours in the other Chinese colonies scattered around southeast Asia, all while assisting Morrison in his translation.

1814-18 – Morrison baptized the first Chinese Protestant convert, Cae Gao. Two years later, another, Liang Fa, was baptized, and he became a leading Chinese evangelist. In 1815, Morrison’s wife and two young children had to leave China for health reasons, leaving Morrison alone once again. He was also nearly fired from the EIC during this time.

1819 – A first version of the fully-translated Chinese Bible was finally completed, along with a dictionary and grammar to enable other missionaries to learn the language.

1820-23 – A series of tragedies hit the mission: Morrison’s wife, who had returned to China, passed away from cholera, followed by Morrison’s colleague William Milne; then a fire ravaged much of his hometown of Canton.

1824-26 – Morrison returned home to England for a furlough, where he discovered that he was a celebrity in the scholarly world. He remarried and returned to China, now focused primarily on preaching and printing ministries.

1827-34 – His final years in China were full of more challenges and new opportunities: his press was often threatened and shut down, both by the Chinese government and Catholic authorities in Macao; but new Protestant missionaries were arriving. By 1832, after 25 years in China, Morrison only had 10 Chinese converts, but the harvest was only beginning.

Quotes

[Skeptic]: “Now, Mr. Morrison, do you really expect that you will make an impression on the idolatry of the Chinese Empire?” [Morrison]: “No, sir. But I expect that God will.”

“Some men will not plant a tree because it cannot attain its proper size in their lifetime; but the tree of knowledge which we would plant is not for our individual use alone; it is for the healing of the nations around us.”

“There is now in Canton a state of society, in respect of Chinese, totally different from what I found in 1807. Chinese scholars, missionary students, English presses and Chinese Scriptures, with public worship of God, have all grown up since that period… The words of the New Covenant of our Lord and Savior are in the hands of the Chinese… There are now Chinese missionaries [throughout southeast Asia]… May God forgive the imperfections of our service, and glorify his name.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Evangeliad (19:42-45)


Section 19:42-45 (corresponding to John 6:48-51)

"For I am the bread of life," Jesus said,
"Your fathers all by manna were fed
As they wandered in deserts in Moses' day,
Yet all have died and were set in their graves.

But eat of the heavenly bread, and then
Death cannot hold you ever again!
I am the bread of life, that very bread
Which came from heaven, that the world might be fed.

And whoever takes this bread and would eat,
They will find life, everlasting and free!
This bread is my flesh, and this I shall give
For the life of the world: so come, eat, and live!"

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Photo of the Week











We know that suffering produces perseverance; 
and perseverance, character; 
and character, hope. 

- Rom. 5:3-4

Monday, February 08, 2021

Quote of the Week



"The next hour, the next moment, is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away."

- George MacDonald, late-nineteenth century pastor and author

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Saturday Synaxis

Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go, my daily labor to pursue;
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know, in all I think or speak or do.
The task Thy wisdom has assigned, oh, let me cheerfully fulfill;
In all my works Thy presence find, and prove Thy good and perfect will.
Thee may I set at my right hand, whose eyes my inmost substance see;
And labor on at Thy command, and offer all my works to Thee.

- Charles Wesley

Friday, February 05, 2021

Bible Study Resources: The Vision of Daniel 7


Almost all interpreters are agreed that Daniel’s vision, like Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Dan. 2, has to do with the course of coming international events. As to which set of international events is foreseen here, however, there is substantial disagreement. Three major interpretive possibilities have been offered, any one of which might be correct (or a multiple-fulfillment pattern including more than one). All of them are seeking to make sense of the general pattern of Daniel’s vision, which includes:

-          First Beast (Lion with wings of an Eagle)

-          Second Beast (Bear)

-          Third Beast (Leopard with Four Wings and Four Heads)

-          Fourth Beast with Ten Horns

-          The Little Horn, which supplants three other horns

-          The defeat of the Little Horn, and the reign of God’s covenant-people

Option #1: International History from Daniel’s Time (6th century BC) to the Maccabean Revolt in Israel (167 BC)

-          First Beast (Lion with wings of an Eagle) – the Babylonian Empire, which ruled Mesopotamia from 626 BC to 539 BC

o   Winged lions were common symbols of Babylonian rule

o   The transition from beast to man described in v.4 parallels Nebuchadnezzar’s experience at the end of Dan. 4.

-          Second Beast (Bear) – the Kingdom of the Medes, which in the 6th century BC stretched over Iran before being conquered by Cyrus and joining the forces of the Persian Empire

o   The three ribs in its mouth may represent the three major kingdoms conquered by the Medes: the Urartians, Manneans, and Scythians

o   Jeremiah 51:11, 28 agrees in presenting the Medes as the first major conqueror of Babylon

-          Third Beast (Leopard with Four Wings and Four Heads) – the Persian Empire, which ruled the Middle East from 539 BC to 330 BC

o   The four wings and four heads refers to four major kings of Persia (Daniel makes reference to these four again in Dan. 11:2)

-          Fourth Beast with Ten Horns – the Greek empire of Alexander the Great and its successor kingdoms, which in one form or another ruled portions of the Middle East from 330 BC to 30 BC

o   Ten horns represents either:

§  A round number for the kings of the Seleucid dynasty (one of Alexander’s successors) until Antiochus Epiphanes IV rose to rule in 175 BC

§  The number of Greek kingdoms in the Middle East that ultimately took form from Alexander’s conquests by the 3rd cent. BC 

o   The Little Horn that supplants three other horns represents either:

§  Antiochus Epiphanes IV rising to power despite being fourth in the line of succession (his brother and two nephews, ahead of him in the line of succession, were all murdered or exiled)

§  Antiochus Epiphanes’ wars to capture or keep other Greek kingdoms in Coele-Syria, Cyprus, and Egypt

o   In either case, it is Antiochus Epiphanes who is foretold by the “little horn” under this interpretation, and his behavior in persecuting the Jews matches the descriptions given in Dan. 7; likewise, he was defeated by the Jews in the Maccabean revolt, which was interpreted as divine judgment against him.

o   The “times, time, and half a time” is thought to be the approximate period of 3½ years of Antiochus’ persecuting reign over Israel.

-          The Reign of God’s Covenant-People – under this interpretation, this element of the vision refers to the independent kingdom of Israel, beginning under the Maccabees and then stretching toward the coming of the Messiah (the only weakness in this position is the historical fact that Israel was subjugated once again, this time by Rome, during this period).

Bottom line: The symbols in the dreams all have plausible historical referents, and many prophecies in the book of Daniel focus a good deal of attention on the Maccabean period. However, the scriptural implication that the reign of God’s saints immediately followed this period doesn’t seem to fit the actual historical record of what happened.

 Option #2: International History from Daniel’s Time (6th century BC) to the End of the Apostolic Period and the Destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD)

-          First Beast (Lion with wings of an Eagle) – the Babylonian Empire, as in Option #1

-          Second Beast (Bear) – the Medo-Persian Empire which, as a united kingdom, conquered Babylon in 539 BC and ruled until Alexander’s conquest in 330 BC.

o   The three ribs in its mouth may represent the three major Middle Eastern powers conquered by the Medo-Persians: Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.

o   Most of Daniel appears to consider the Medes and Persians as one kingdom, not two (see Dan. 5:28; 6:8, 12, 15), thus making this united designation more plausible than the separate representations in Option #1.

-          Third Beast (Leopard with Four Wings and Four Heads) – the Greek empire of Alexander the Great and its successor kingdoms, which in one form or another ruled portions of the Middle East from 330 BC to 30 BC

o   The four heads and four wings represents the fact that Alexander’s Greek empire shattered into four powerful kingdoms, each led by one of his generals, immediately after his death (and it’s worth noting that a four-part splitting of Alexander’s empire was a much more common way of representing the Greek conquests than was the 10-part splitting assumed in Option #1).

-          Fourth Beast with Ten Horns – the Roman Empire, which conquered all of the Greek dominions and through its ruthlessly effective military subjugated a larger area than any previous empire in the first century BC and first century AD

o   Ten horns may represent the sequence of leaders/emperors between the end of the Roman republic (and the conquest of Israel) up to the reign of Vespasian in 70 AD: Pompey (the dictator/general who conquered Israel and subjugated it to Rome), Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.

o   The Little Horn that supplants three other horns represents Vespasian’s rise to power, moving from the position of general to emperor by seizing power that the very brief reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius had failed to claim securely in 69 AD.

§  Vespasian (along with his son Titus) matches the description of the Little Horn because he was the general who led the Roman military response to the Jewish revolt, decimating Israel and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. (A weak point in this interpretive position, however, is that Vespasian’s actions don’t quite fit the description in Dan. 7:25 as well as Antiochus Epiphanes).

§  The “times, time, and half a time” is thought to be the approximate period of 3½ years of the Roman invasion of Israel, from 67 AD to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

-          The Reign of God’s Covenant-People – under this interpretation, this element of the vision refers to the coming of Christ (the “Son of Man” in Dan. 7:13-14) and the establishment of his church. Indeed, the Christian church would grow exponentially in the period following Vespasian’s rule (which corresponds roughly with the close of the apostolic age), until it had effectively “captured” the Roman Empire. The age of the church, conceived in the New Testament as the reign of the saints with Christ, proceeds throughout the remainder of history until culminating in Christ’s Second Coming and the eternal reign of God.

Bottom line: The symbols in the dreams all have plausible historical referents, and it connects well to the Christian understanding of Christ’s coming and the reign of the saints. It fits more naturally with the way ancient historians understood the dissolution of Alexander the Great’s empire than does Option #1, and it corresponds with the New Testament’s emphasis on the events of Jerusalem’s fall in AD 70 (as, for instance, in Matt. 24). It also matches the Christian interpretation of the parallel vision in Dan. 2 (the four-part statue destroyed by the stone), as well as some interpretations of parallel visions in Revelation.

Option #3: International History from Daniel’s Time (6th century BC) to the Rise of Antichrist and the Day of Judgment

-          First Beast (Lion with wings of an Eagle) – the Babylonian Empire, as in Options #1 & 2

-          Second Beast (Bear) – the Medo-Persian Empire, as in Option #2

-          Third Beast (Leopard with Four Wings and Four Heads) – the Greek empire of Alexander the Great and its successor kingdoms, as in Option #2

-          Fourth Beast with Ten Horns – a minor immediate fulfillment in the rise of Rome, but in this interpretive position, it’s really a “prophetic telescoping” forward in time to predict the rise of the Antichrist’s kingdom at the end of history. (It should be noted that this position is prominent among Christians who hold a premillennialist view of the end times, but there are other groups of Christians, such as amillennialists and postmillennialists, who do not think that apocalyptic prophecies like these in Daniel or in Revelation have much to do with the rise of a future Antichrist).

o   The ten horns are often thought to be rulers that form a coalition of some sort shortly before the rise of Antichrist.

o   The Little Horn is thought to be the Antichrist himself, who supplants three other rulers or countries in his rise to power.

o   The “times, time, and half a time” is thought to be a period of 3½ years, representing half of a future time of tribulation in which Israel and/or the church are particularly targeted for persecution.

-          The Reign of God’s Covenant-People – under this interpretation, the events of Antichrist’s rise immediately precede the Second Coming of Christ and (in certain systems of thought) the Millennial Reign, so these portions of Dan. 7 would have a quite literal and eternal fulfillment.

Bottom line: This position depends upon fitting it into a larger theological system that also makes use of information from Revelation and other biblical passages. It certainly may represent an authentic prophecy of a future end-time period, but it’s worth remembering that this is not a unanimous position among Christians. In this, as in the other systems, the main point is not the “Little Horn” himself, but rather, the ultimate triumph of God and the saints over him.

Bonus Option: Multiple Fulfillments including Some or All of the Above

It may be the case that this vision has more than a single set of events in view. Many biblical prophecies follow a pattern of one or more partial fulfillments in the near future, followed by ultimate fulfillments further on in the future. For example, the “sign of Immanuel” in Isaiah 7 has a partial fulfillment in the royal family of Isaiah’s time, but also a fuller, ultimate fulfillment in the birth of Jesus. In the same way, Daniel’s vision may point to repeated cycles of pagan empires all being ultimately defeated by God’s plan: Antiochus Epiphanes defeated by the Jewish rebels in the time of the Maccabees, the Roman Empire defeated by the rising power of Christianity, and, ultimately, the powers of this world (and possibly an Antichrist figure) defeated by Christ’s return at the end of history.