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The Terrible Beast
Amercan Hegemony

Daniel 7 gives a description of the Beast in a vision that Daniel saw in a dream while lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. Daniel saw four beasts rise out of a sea that was being churned up and stirred about by the four winds of heaven. The sea is a symbol of the people of the earth (Rev 17:15), so the vision will be fulfilled in a time of tumult on the earth. Daniel saw a vision of four beasts, that represent four kingdoms that will arise on the earth prior to the saints receiving victory on the earth (Dan 7:17,18). His vision could be a description of the rise of American power.

The four beasts that Daniel saw are:

Terrible Beast (United States)

Most of Daniel’s attention focussed on the fourth beast.

After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time’ (Dan 7:7,8,23-25).

This frightening kingdom devoured the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing everything that stood in its way. This is a description of a powerful military empire that will dominate most of the earth.

Not Europe

Most biblical commentators say that this prophecy will be fulfilled when the European Union transforms into a super-state, like a restored Roman empire. There are real problems with this view. Disagreement between the EU members means that they will be unlikely to hand over full sovereignty to the European parliament. Europe is economically weak and its population is declining. European military forces are very limited and the anti-war sentiments of the population would make a military build-up difficult. Therefore, if this prophecy is being fulfilled in our time we need to look outside Europe.

United States

The most obvious interpretation of the beast with the ten horns is that a number of independent nation states hand over their sovereignty to become part of a single united nation. One third of these nations refused to hand over their sovereignty and are forced to join under threat of military force. 

America is only once place where this has happened in recent history. The thirteen states that gained independence from Britain were each independently governed, autonomous nation states. They joined together to fight for their independence, but they remained politically independent. After the war of independence, these nation states came together and established the United States. They created a federal system in which they handed over very limited powers (mostly defence) to the federal government. All other powers were retained by the states.

We sometimes get confused by the use of the word state in this context. These states were not provinces of a greater state, but independent nations that gave some power to a federal government. Because they joined freely, many states considered that they could also withdraw from the Union. At the beginning of the civil war, the southern states attempted to withdraw from the Union and establish a separate confederacy. 

The civil war was primarily fought over the right of these states to secede from the Union. The army of the twenty northern states (two thirds) destroyed the armies of the 11 southern states (one third). The victory of the union forces enabled them to maintain the union, eliminating the power of the states to secede. This opened the way for a gradual shift of power to from the states to the federal government. During the following century, the United States became the most powerful nation in the entire world and the states are now just provinces of this greater entity.

Commentators are looking for a powerful confederacy of nations. They forget that there is already a powerful union called the "united states". Daniel saw a group of nations (ten horns) joined together to become one nation (a single horn). At first the federal government had very limited power (a little horn). The federal government defeated a group of states that tried to withdraw from the union (three horns) and then the federal government became very powerful (little horn becomes large beast).

 The numbers ten and three should not be taken literally. Ten symbolises completeness, indicating that all the states joined freely. The number three indicates that 3/10 of the states would be defeated in their attempt to secede. The number also symbolises God. At the time of the civil war, the southern states were the more godly, whereas the northern states were dominated by a heresy called Unitarianism.

Ten minus three is seven. Seven symbolises divinity. This indicates that the conquering states would take attempt to take on sovereignty that belongs only to God. The beast attempts to "try to change the set times and the laws". This is a reference to a rejection of God’s laws. Since the civil war, the United States government has become increasingly secular and humanistic. The Supreme Court has forced through a separation between church and state, that has shut the influence of Christianity out of the corridors of power. Whereas the thirteen original states had laws directly based on the bible, American law is now dominated by pragmatism and humanism.

Revelation

The same beast is described in Revelation 17:8,11,12.

The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.

The ten horns did not exist in John’s time. They are the states that were established by the settlers in America (ten symbolised completeness). They were originally independent autonomous political entities, but after the war of independence, they handed their authority over to the federal government of the United States. 

After the civil war, the federal power gained even more power from the states. The United States of America has now become a might military and political power in the world, supported by the American entertainment industry.

The beast also has seven heads.

This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction (Rev 17:9-11).

There are several suggestions about what this means. The best is that the seven kings represent seven world empires. The fact that John says that this calls for a mind with wisdom suggests that the kings are not to be understood literally. They could each represent a world empire. The five that have fallen would be Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece. Rome would be the sixth, which was in existence when John was writing. The seventh would be the Holy Roman Empire. 

The United States is an eighth world empire. John says that it belongs to the seven. This is another way of saying that it will have all the characteristics of the previous world empires. The beast when it comes will be an obvious successor to all these empires. John wars that it will be mortal like its predecessors and go to destruction.

American Economic Power

Daniel says that the fourth beast was terrifying and frightening and very powerful (Dan 7:7). The United States has become so powerful it is feared by all the nations of the world. The Newsweek magazine for 24/3/2003 carried a banner, "Why America scares the World". The reason is that the United States power has become so dominant, no other nation or coalition of nations can challenge it.

The second half of the twentieth century was dominated by the cold war. Although America emerged as victor from World War II, it was threatened by the power of the Soviet Union and China. The collapse of the Soviet empire brought a dramatic change in the world situation. We moved from a world dominated by a number of super-powers to one dominated by just one. The military and economic power of the United States is now unmatched in the world.

The economic power of the United States is also amazing. With the collapse of the Japanese economy, the United States became the dominant global economic power. It has been the largest economy in the world since 1900 and now accounts for nearly half of the world’s economic production. The United States economy is now as large as the next three, Japan, Germany and Britain, put together. California’s economy alone has become the fifth largest in the world, ahead of France and just behind the UK. Most international trade is denominated in the US dollar and most nations use it as their reserve currency. The dominance of the United States is set to continue into the future, as it undertakes 50 percent of the research and development done in the world, more than the R&D expenditure of the next seven richest counties combined. The United States is the most popular destination for the world’s best scientists and trained foreign workers.

The population of the United States is younger and growing fast, whereas the population of Europe is ageing and declining. In 1950, Western Europe had twice the population of the United States. Projections indicate that by 2040, the United States will overtake Europe. By 2050, Europe’s population could be 360 million and falling, while the United States’ would be would be over 550 million and rising. This large home market will further strengthen the United States economy.

Military Power

The military power of the United States is even greater than its economic power. It currently spends more on defence than the next 15 to 20 biggest spenders combined. The Congress has currently agreed to increase military spending by $US50 billion. This is more than the entire defence budget of Germany or the UK. The United States defence budget could grow to be greater than that of the all other countries in the world combined.

The United States has overwhelming nuclear superiority, the world’s dominant air force, the only true, blue-water navy and military bases all over the world. It leads the world in exploiting the military applications of advanced communications and information technology. Listening devices allow military planners to monitor enemy communications. Satellite technology allows them to observe a battlefield in detail. Commanders are linked by an intranet that gives precise information about battle formations and unmanned planes and guided missiles are becoming increasingly sophisticated. These developments give unrivalled ability to co-ordinate and process information about the battlefield and destroy targets from afar with extraordinary precision. This military superiority gives the Untied states a unique capability to project power around the world, and it achieved with less than 4 percent of GDP.

The United States is also making it hard for any other country to catch up. It currently spends three times more on military research and development than the next six military powers combined. US spending on military research and development is greater than the total spending on defence by Germany or the UK. In the next decade, advanced technology will cause an enormous leap forward in military capability, so the military power of the United States will continue to increase dramatically.

Messianic Imperialism

In the past, the United States tended to have an isolationist approach to the world affairs. It has only became involved when drawn in by events. The election of George W Bush brought a significant change in this respect. Previous governments recognised the unprecedented power of the United States, but did not know how to use it. George W Bush has brought to power men who believe that America should use its unique power to shape the world order and control its direction for the next century.

We cannot avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peach and security in Europe Asia and the Middle East. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge and to meet treats before they become dire…. We need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving an extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity and our principles (New American Century Project).

Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence. In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage. We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty. In a world that is safe, people will be able to make their own lives better. We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.

Finally, the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world (George W. Bush – National Security Strategy).

No global challenge to the United States is likely to emerge for the foreseeable future. The United States has no rival in any critical dimension of power. There has never been a system of sovereign states that contained one state with this degree of dominance (Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, Foreign Affairs).

The American empire was created by the nearly simultaneous fall of the Soviet Union and the Japanese economy. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States became the only power capable of projecting military force globally. With the crash of Japan’s economy and the extraordinary expansion of the American economy in the 1990s, the United States also became the dominant global economic power, the primary source of capital and innovation. These two forces combined to gee the United States overwhelming political power and with that came the ability to shape the international as it wished (Strafor).

Meanwhile, the very fact of the Soviet empire's collapse vastly increased America's strength relative to the rest of the world. The sizeable American military arsenal, once barely sufficient to balance Soviet power, was now deployed in a world without a single formidable adversary. This "unipolar moment" had an entirely natural and predictable consequence: It made the United States more willing to use force abroad. With the check of Soviet power removed, the United States was free to intervene practically wherever and whenever it chose. While American politicians talked of pulling back from the world, the reality was an America intervening abroad more frequently than it had throughout most of the Cold War. Thanks to new technologies, the United States was also freer to use force around the world in more limited ways through air and missile strikes, which it did with increasing frequency.

The United States is a behemoth with a conscience. It is not Louis XIV's France or George III's England. Americans do not argue, even to themselves, that their actions may be justified by raison d'état. Americans have never embraced the Machiavellian perspective. The United States is a liberal, progressive society through and through, and to the extent that Americans believe in power, they believe it must be a means of advancing the principles of a liberal civilization and a liberal world order (Robert Kagan - Power and Weakness).

In a fashion and to an extent that is unique in the history of Great Powers, the United States defines its strength – indeed, its very greatness – not in terms of its ability to achieve or maintain dominance over others, but in terms of its ability to work with others in the interests of the international community as a whole. American foreign policy is consciously intended to advance universal values (Strobe Talbott - Deputy Secretary of State).

We can expect to see the United States taking an even more assertive role in the world, than it has done in the past. The wars on Afghanistan and Iraq are the first steps in this new role. L’Express newspaper called this messianic imperialism. The United States has become an imperialistic nation, but it does so to save the world from evil.

Christian Encouragement

A disturbing aspect of this American imperialism is the encouragement that is been given by Christians in the United States. Here are few examples.

God bless America, because God is with you. This nation did not become a strong nation, getting on its knees to despots and tyrants, we have defeated them from George Washington to George Bush and as a nation we are going to stand on our feet and defeat the tyrants of the world, and now is the time to do it. God bless George Bush (Pastor John Hagee).

"The Bush Doctrine" of taking pre-emptive action to deprive rogue states and terrorists of WMD will very likely end up saving millions of lives and spare us far more chaos and destruction in the world (Rick Joyner – The War for Peace).

What I have been shown was shocking to me, and that is the United States is going to become an increasingly oppressively nation. We are going to become more unrelenting in imposing our will internationally, and there is going to be an increasing loss of our liberty at home. What surprised me about this is I what was shown that is right….. The lawlessness that is growing throughout the world would result in such chaos and destruction that things would be much worse if the United States does not become more assertive in its leadership. Now there are also major threats to us that in the United States that must be found and dealt with (Rick Joyner –World War III, War in Iraq).

The battle is about bringing down the strongman of Islam and breaking open the Middle East. The spirit of Allah is working to form an Arab coalition to resist in the battle. God will humiliate the spirit over Islam (Ps 83:16) (Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders).

It is a Biblical principle that God uses one nation to execute His judgments upon another nation. America and its allies could become God’s instruments to execute specific judgments that God has decreed will take place at some time (Bill Hamon - Prophecy for the Year 2003).

For in these days says the Lord my prophets will wear the attire of a soldier. They will call themselves Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy. I will send them abroad and they shall tread down the adder and the serpent that set itself against them. They will bring my retribution and revival.... Wherever the soles of their feet tread they will possess the land. They will reestablish my borders and boundaries in the land. No longer will the dragon of tyranny reign upon the head of that generation… America, I have sent you as evangelists and prophets to the nations. You have donned the uniform of the soldier and are setting a new precedence of the warrior heart (Chad Taylor – My Prophets in Uniform).

I find these statements very disturbing. Christians seems to be encouraging the United States to take up the role of the beast of Daniel.

Greatest Empire Ever

Compared with earlier empires, like Rome and Babylon, the power of the United States is absolutely immense. They only controlled a small part of the world and their economic power and military forces were feeble by comparison. Daniel lived in one of the most powerful empires that has ever existed, but he described an empire that was vastly more powerful and terrible. I believe that he saw the military and economic power of the United States. We may have seen Daniel’s vision being fulfilled in our own time, without realising what was happening. Many Christians are surprised that the United States is not mentioned in Revelation and Daniel, but they have missed the fact that the United States is the dominant character in these prophecies.

Christian Nation?

Some people may object that the Christian influence in the United States is too strong to allow this to happen. I believe that we need to reserve judgement on this. The United States is a great enigma; a strange mixture of good and evil.

The United States was established on a foundation of faith and has received tremendous blessing from the Lord. There are more Christians and churches in the United States than any other country. It sends out more missionaries than any other nation in the world. Christians seem to have a strong influence on the government of the nation, with most recent Presidents professing Christian faith. However, despite this strong Christian influence, there are several trends that disturb an objective observer.

  1. The Christian faith of many Americans is very shallow. George Barna has warned of a theological crisis in the American church.
  2. The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy. How else can you describe matters when most churchgoing adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to forgive their sins, and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate or even less firm?" (http://www.theologicalstudies.org/crisis.html)

  3. While paying lip service to the Lord, the American people seem to have become extremely materialistic. Consumerism is rampant throughout the nation. The American economy is currently being sustained by massive consumer spending funded by increasing debt.
  4. God seems to be losing the battle for the heart of the nation. The United States is the centre from which humanism has been exported into the entire world. The American movie, television and music industries shape the universal culture that is sweeping the world. Together with the universities, these industries have spread the secularism that is rampant in the western world.
  5. Despite their public profession of faith by presidents and congressmen, the government of the United States has bowed to the idol of humanism. The philosophy of humanism now dominates the political, legal and social decision-making processes throughout the United States. Many public institutions are now very hostile to Christianity
  6. Advancing the power and prosperity of American business often seems to be more important than spreading the gospel. In the third world, American companies have often put profits ahead of the welfare of people.
  7. The United States declares that it trusts in God, but it has developed an enormous arsenal of weapons (including nuclear weapons), and it now trusts in them for its security. It has made a god of war, by using its war machine to further its interests throughout the world. America has become the world's policeman, but often in its own interests.
  8. To prevent terrorism, enormous powers have been given to the Authority for Homeland Security. These powers reduce individual freedom severely. Although created with good intention, they can also be used for evil. (This is why the terrible beast follows on from the leopard of terrorism).
  9. Since 9/11, the "End-times Industry" has encouraged American governments to become increasingly dominant in the world. They are the false prophet supporting the American beast.

The United States was built on Christian foundations, but has recently become increasingly secular. The Christian influence is gradually and surreptitiously being squeezed out by numerous decisions of the Supreme Court and the Congress. Christians are fighting back, but I am not certain that they will win. Revival might come, but the United States could just as easily become a secular, oppressive, political power, with only a small Christian voice. The United States could be the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision.

Antichrist

The terrible beast is often called "the Antichrist", but this is also incorrect. The only biblical references to an antichrist are in 1 John, which says that there are many antichrists and that they were already in existence in John’s time. Therefore, calling this beast the antichrist is incorrect and misleading. A future ruler called the antichrist does not exist in the scriptures.

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