In a previous article, we discussed how the Antichrist rises to power among a group of ten kings. He rises up as a little horn among ten larger horns.
However, this horn later grows, and pushes out three of the ten horns. The angel interprets this, saying that the Antichrist puts down three of the ten kings in his rise to power.
As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings. (Daniel 7:24)
Another very literal translation, New American Standard Bible, renders it as “subdue three kings.”
“Shephel” is an Aramaic word that is usually translated “humbled.” The New American Standard concordance defines it as “to be low.” (1, 2) The word is only found in Daniel, where it is used three times. The first is found in Daniel 4, where king Nebuchadnezzar looks out at his kingdom, and gives himself credit for building such a great empire all by himself. Nevertheless, God had made clear to the king of Babylon that the Lord is the one who grants political power and authority, not men. Therefore, God punishes Nebuchadnezzar:
Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws. (Daniel 4:33)
After seven years of this, Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom is restored. As a result, he learns his lesson and praises God, saying:
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble [shephel]. (Daniel 4:37)
In the next chapter, Daniel prophesies against Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar, because he did not humble himself before God.
O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled [shephel]. (Daniel 5:18-19)
Nebuchadnezzar “killed” whoever he wanted and “kept alive” whoever he wanted. He also “raised up” and “humbled” whoever he pleased. These words are less violent and distinct from "killed" or "kept alive" mentioned previously. Therefore, "shephel" does not imply killing someone.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s case, his humbling is rather extreme. But it doesn’t have to be. Daniel tells Belshazzar that he should have done this humbling to himself, in his relationship to God.
Belshazzar knew of how Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal for seven years because of his pride. Learning from his grandfather’s mistakes, he could have humbled himself before God, avoiding the humiliation his grandfather had experienced. (3) But he did not. As a result, Daniel criticizes him for it, saying:
And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled [shephel] your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. (Daniel 5:22-23a)
Therefore, when the little horn is said to “put down” [shephel] the three kings, it means that he humbles them in relation to himself. It is nonviolent, and does not imply killing them. It does not even require that they be deposed. Belshazzar was given the opportunity to humble himself before God, and keep his job as king. As a result, this word implies a political humbling relative to the Antichrist.
But what about the word picture of the little horn that grows and proceeds to “uproot” three of the ten horns (Dan. 7:8)? Would this imply something more forceful than a mere political act? Pastor John MacArthur weighs in on this, saying:
"But in the original text, it is not nearly so violent. It expresses, rather, a pushing out, as if three are growing, and as one comes up, it just gradually squeezes its way through until it becomes prominent. It actually refers to a gradual replacement as the new pushes out the old, and the old gradually fades away. It is not a catastrophe. It is progressive." (4)
Not only is this not a violent act, it is a gradual act. Furthermore, the Book of Revelation lends support to this view, because it tells us that all ten kings make war against the lamb, not just seven of them (Rev. 17:12-14).
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 AD) concurs with this interpretation as well:
There shall rise up together ten kings of the Romans, reigning in different parts perhaps, but all about the same time; and after these an eleventh, the Antichrist, who by his magical craft shall seize upon the Roman power; and of the kings who reigned before him, three he shall humble, and the remaining seven he shall keep in subjection to himself. (5,6)
Yet this view was not unanimous. Hippolytus (200’s A.D.), seems to disagree with this point of view, implying that the Antichrist wins a war against these three kings, whom "he cuts off in the array of battle." (5,7) John Walvoord uses slightly stronger language as well. At one point, he speaks of how three of the ten nations are “overthrown” by the Antichrist. (8) Yet this may be too intense, because of how the word is used elsewhere in Daniel.
So far, we have learned this much as far as what happens when the Antichrist will “put down” three kings.
- It is a political demotion or humbling relative to the Antichrist
- It does not involve killing the three kings.
- It does not require deposing them from their positions.
- The demotion takes place gradually, like a horn growing up among three horns.
E3 + Solana
Javier Solana was supposed to represent the European Union to the rest world. (9) The High Representative job was supposed to be like a “foreign minister” for the EU, or “Secretary of State,” but without as much power. However, a group of countries known as the E3 initially opposed this plan.
This group, composed of France, the UK, and Germany, wanted to control EU foreign policy on their own. They were even accused of a power grab by other EU countries, when they tried to hold their own special meeting to decide the EU’s future. According to one BBC article:
EU's 'big three' deny power grab
The three countries have tried to reassure other EU members. The leaders of Germany, France and the UK have rejected charges that they are trying to grab power in the EU. (10)
The E3 played a very big role in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Initially, when meeting with the Iranians, they left Solana behind. As Dawn.com writes:
The three foreign ministers did not bother to take along their Italian colleague, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, nor EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who is supposed to represent their common foreign policy abroad. (9)
Nevertheless, the smaller EU countries felt “out of the loop." As a result, Javier Solana eventually became part of their group. (11) One researcher from the College of Europe, Erik Jessen, puts it this way:
Nevertheless, in September 2004, the member states decided to reaffirm their consent to the E3’s lead. The precondition was that EU High Representative Javier Solana would take part in the negotiations. (12)
Leader of Negotiations
In less than two years, Solana went from not being included in the group to becoming leader of the group.
On 06/06/06, Javier Solana emerged before the world as leader of the group. Despite rarely being in the news, on this day he was seen across major news outlets. He was shown presenting a deal that the Iranians could potentially accept. Since he was the one presenting the deal, it was now Solana who was in the driver’s seat. (13, 14, 15)
As Euronews writes on the same day:
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator has said a proposal put forward EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to end a nuclear standoff has positive points but also contains some “ambiguities” that need to be removed. (13)
New York Times also writes on the same day:
The European Union’s foreign policy director, Javier Solana, arrived in Tehran on Monday night with incentives intended to resolve the nuclear crisis with Iran,[...] (14)
A few months later, Reuters wrote an article, stating that he was the leader of the negotiations. Ahead of another meeting with Iran, Reuters writes:
Solana, who has headed Western negotiating efforts with Iran on the nuclear issue, [...] (15)
Political Impact and Legacy
This change in who led European foreign policy was an important development for the European Union on the world stage. A major German newspaper, Der Spiegel, puts it quite accurately:
During his time in office, Solana established himself as a key negotiator and speaker for the EU on the subject of Iran's nuclear capabilities. He also worked on raising the status of Europe internationally. Reflecting on his achievements, he said "We have given Europe its current world standing.” (16)
EUObserver also writes, summarizing his achievement in this area:
It took him some time to get himself established as one of the negotiators and speaker for the EU on the Iran nuclear issue, a topic where Britain, France and Germany took the lead. (17)
In another article, EUObserver also notes how this created a “rare success story” for EU foreign policy:
The "big three plus Solana" construction used by the EU in the Iran dispute is seen by many experts and diplomats as having produced a rare success story for EU foreign policy.
Not only has the EU so far largely spoken with one voice on Iran – as opposed to for example on the Middle East – but the bloc has also taken up a leading international role on the issue, with UN veto powers, the US, Russia and China, allowing Mr Solana to talk to Tehran on their behalf. (18)
Solana gradually replaced the E3 as the main speaker for the entire EU. This is very consistent with the description of the horns, where the little horn gradually displaces the three larger horns.
One book on EU foreign policy summarizes his career quite well:
Dr. Solana also became, together with the Big Three states of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, a major mediator in Europe’s relations with Iran since 2004. He presented the following three advantages. Internally to the EU, he represented all EU states and not just the Big Three. This was a major issue for small states, which asked for the inclusion of the High Representative in the negotiations (Sauer 2007, 10). In Iran itself, he was seen as a neutral actor as opposed to a negative actor such as the United States (Chubin 2006, 66). (19)
As you can see with that last in-text citation, God once again drops us a little clue, attaching the number 666 to a prophecy that Solana fulfills.
All of this very easily fits the Biblical criteria we made for the three kings to be “put down.”
- It is a political demotion or humbling relative to the Antichrist
- It does not involve killing the three kings, and it may not involve deposing them from their positions.
- The demotion takes place gradually, like a horn growing up among three horns.
In the next article, we will talk about another step in the Antichrist’s rise to power.
- "Strong's Hebrew: 8214. שְׁפַל (shephel) -- to Be Low." Bible Hub. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/8214.htm.
- "Daniel 7:24 Interlinear." Bible Hub. Accessed October 27, 2018. https://biblehub.com/interlinear/daniel/7-24.htm.
- GotQuestions.org. "Who Was Belshazzar?" GotQuestions.org. February 21, 2018. Accessed October 27, 2018. https://www.gotquestions.org/Belshazzar.html. (When Daniel speaks of Belshazzar's "father," it is a generic word for ancestor.)
- MacArthur, John. "The Coming Kingdom of Christ, Part 3." Grace to You. April 06, 1980. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/27-17/the-coming-kingdom-of-christ-part-3.
- "Early Church Fathers on the Timing of the Rise of Antichrist." Early Church Fathers on the Timing of the Rise of Antichrist. Accessed October 16, 2018. http://biblelight.net/fathers-on-antichrist.htm.
- "Catechetical Lecture 15." CHURCH FATHERS: Catechetical Lecture 15 (Cyril of Jerusalem). Accessed October 16, 2018. http://newadvent.org/fathers/310115.htm.
- "On Christ and Antichrist." CHURCH FATHERS: On Christ and Antichrist (Hippolytus). Accessed October 16, 2018. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0516.htm.
- Walvoord, John F. "The Beasts and the False Prophet." 13. The Beasts and the False Prophet | Walvoord.com. Accessed October 16, 2018. https://walvoord.com/article/271.
- "Iran Deal Highlights EU's Leadership." DAWN.COM. October 24, 2003. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.dawn.com/news/121335/iran-deal-highlights-eu.
- "Europe | EU's 'big Three' Deny Power Grab." BBC News. February 18, 2004. Accessed October 24, 2018. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3500949.stm.
- Sauer, Tom. Coercive Diplomacy by the EU: The Case of Iran. Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael). January 15, 2007. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.clingendael.org/publication/coercive-diplomacy-eu-case-iran#
- Jessen, Erik. European Diplomacy in the Iran Nuclear Negotiations: What Impact Did It Have? Department of European Political and Governance Studies. College of Europe. October 24, 2017. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.coleurope.eu/research-paper/european-diplomacy-iran-nuclear-negotiations-what-impact-did-it-have.
- Euronews. "Iran Sees Positive Signs in Nuclear Proposal." Euronews. June 06, 2006. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.euronews.com/2006/06/06/iran-sees-positive-signs-in-nuclear-proposal.
- Cooper, Helene. "U.S. Is Offering Deals on Trade to Entice Iran." The New York Times. June 06, 2006. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/06/world/middleeast/06diplo.html.
- "West to Seek Objective Guarantees from Iran: Solana." Reuters. September 29, 2009. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nuclear-iran-talks-solana-sb-idUSTRE58S1L220090929.
- SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Bye Bye Brussels: EU Foreign Policy Chief Solana to Step Down - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International." SPIEGEL ONLINE. July 06, 2009. Accessed October 24, 2018. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/bye-bye-brussels-eu-foreign-policy-chief-solana-to-step-down-a-634530.html.
- Mahony, Honor. "EU Top Diplomat to Step down in Autumn." EUobserver. July 6, 2009. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://euobserver.com/news/28417.
- Beunderman, Mark. "EU Members Want More Openness from Solana on Iran." EUobserver. September 2, 2006. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://euobserver.com/foreign/22322.
- Gegout, Catherine. European Foreign and Security Policy States, Power, Institutions, and American Hegemony. Toronto, Ont.: University of Toronto Press, 2010. https://books.google.com/books?id=aY_SjFc6jNsC&lpg=PT93&vq=solana&pg=PT95#v=snippet&q=solana big three&f=false
- “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
- Blake, William. "Nebuchadnezzar." Wikimedia Commons. November 2008. Accessed February 15, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_4#/media/File:William_Blake_-_Nebuchadnezzar_(Tate_Britain).jpg.
- Rembrandt. "Belshazzar's Feast (Rembrandt)." Wikimedia Commons. August 9, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belshazzar's_Feast_(Rembrandt)#/media/File:Rembrandt-Belsazar.jpg.
- State Department of the United States. "2006 1012 Eu Iran 600." Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. January 12, 2006. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2006_1012_eu_iran_600.jpg
- Cooper, Helene. "U.S. Is Offering Deals on Trade to Entice Iran." The New York Times. June 06, 2006. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/06/world/middleeast/06diplo.html. Photo by Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency
- Javier Solana 2007: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Javier_Solana_(2007).jpg