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There are at least four major views about the meaning of the monster in Daniel 7:7-8. Most of the views reject a future, literal understanding of scripture. Most of these views are not careful about the details in the verse which help us understand the meaning of the monster.

  After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 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. (NASB) Dan. 7:7-8

The key points in this passage are the fact that the beast starts with ten horns and that a new horn comes to power by removing three of the ten horns. This leaves eight horns. These horns are kings who rule different nations of the world (Dan. 7:24). These are the key points.
     Liberal View. The first view is held by some who reject the Bible as being the Word of God. It is called the Liberal View. This view says that the monster is the nation of Syria or the Seleucidae Empire. They claim that Syria had seven kings and Antiochus Epiphanes, the eighth king, was the little horn.
     This view ignores the fact that the prophecy says the kings will not rule sequentially, but at the same time. The ten kings will live at the same time. The Syrian kings ruled in sequence, as a normal monarchy, and not concurrently. Another reason this view is in error is that there will be ten kings and Syria only had eight kings. This view ignores key facts of the prophecy and as a result is rejected.
     Roman Catholic View. The next view says that the monster, including the horns, is the Roman Empire of the past. That is, the beast is simply historical. This is a view held by some Amillennialists.
     This view states that the Roman Empire was a collection of ten nations: Britain, Egypt, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Macedonia, Spain and others. It states that the little horn is the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, and they teach that the pope removed three kings from different nations at different periods of time. It states that the church is the physical kingdom on earth.
     There are several problems with this view. First, those who hold this view do not agree among themselves as to which countries are the ten countries. Even the historic maps of the Roman Empire do not agree with their list of countries since they include more than ten countries. In fact, around A.D. 750, at the height of the Roman Empire, there were thirteen dioceses (R. R. Palmer. Historical Atlas of the World, Rand McNally. p. 8). That is a major problem. Second, this view ignores the fact once again that ten kings ruled at the same time and that a new king came to power by crushing three existing kings. They have also ignored the fact the pope has never been a king and they miss the point that the pope did not come to “power” as the result of defeating three ruling kings. That never happened. The Roman Catholic Church peacefully assumed religious authority. Further, the church is not a world military power.
     The Caesar view. Another view says that the ten horns of the beast were the Caesars of the Roman Empire. This view has a major problem since the Roman Empire had eighty-five Caesars. This position is also to be rejected.
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