The Little Horn and the Sabbath

By John Thiel

For a more comprehensive study on the little horn, please read this article: The Little Horn in Prophecy

When we advocate the true Sabbath in contradiction to the false Sabbath other Christians are quite often astonished at our doctrine. They find it impossible to believe that they, along with the vast majority of Christendom, are in error. They are doubtful that something so fundamental to Christianity, as they see it, could have come as the result an unauthorised change. However the Scriptures show that this is exactly what has taken place. A clear understanding of Daniel chapter 7 and the little horn can show this.

The Roman Empire

Daniel 7:2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 17 These great beasts, which are four, [are] four kings, [which] shall arise out of the earth. 22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. 23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

The four great beasts of Daniel are four kings but more than just individual kings they are four great kingdoms. The fourth great kingdom represented is the Roman Empire. The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.

Daniel 7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom [are] ten kings [that] shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

The fourth beast representing the Roman Empire had ten horns (Daniel 7:7). These ten horns are again kings or kingdoms. They are ten kingdoms said to be ‘out of this kingdom,’ meaning they are out of the Roman Empire.  In other words they are kingdoms that arise out of the political demise of the Roman Empire. When the political end of the Roman Empire came in the year 476 there were ten kingdoms which had then taken political control. To identify some of these kingdoms we read the following in the encyclopaedia:

By the mid-5th century . . . the Germanic groups were in political control of the Western Empire. Gaul came under the sway of the Franks, . . Italy had become a Gothic kingdom, . . the Visigoths held Spain, and the Vandals had conquered the . . . provinces of North Africa [1]

The encyclopaedia gives four of the ten kingdoms (the Franks, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Vandals) and it elaborates to say that the Germanic groups were in political control of the Roman Empire. These groups occupied the territory of the Western Rome taking full political control when the last Roman emperor was deposed in 476. However, today, there are no Germanic groups in political control in Italy, France, Spain or Portugal. These are not Germanic nations so where are the ten kingdoms today?

The conquest of Gaul by the Franks, or of Italy by the Lombards, proved little more than a forcible settlement of the one or the other among tributary subjects who were destined in the long course of ages to absorb their conquerors. French is the tongue, not of the Frank, but of the Gaul whom he overcame: and the fair hair of the Lombard is all but unknown in Lombardy. [2]

The Germanic groups that took political control of the Roman Empire were absorbed into the cultures they conquered. The Franks were absorbed into the Gaelic culture of France. The Lombards and Visigoths were absorbed into Latin cultures of Italy and Spain respectively. So essentially the horns out of the Roman Empire are still there in Western Europe although culturally altered.

Papal Rome

Daniel 7:8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

There is another little horn that arises among the ten horns. As these horns are kingdoms so this little horn must be a little kingdom. It must be another little kingdom that arises among the ten kingdoms.

Daniel 7:24 and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

This little horn arises ‘after them,’ arising after the ten horns. Therefore we are looking for a little kingdom to arise after 476. In addition before it comes up three of the ten kingdoms that were present in 476 must be subdued or uprooted. At this time in history the pope in Rome was growing in influence and power. The pope, although not yet having a kingdom, felt threatened by the Germanic kingdoms that were dominating Italy. To remove this threat the pope sought the support of the Eastern Roman emperors in Constantinople. The Eastern emperors leant their support and subdued three Germanic kingdoms. These were first the Heruli in 493, second the Vandals in 534, and third the Ostrogoths in 538. When the last of these kingdoms was uprooted in 538 space had been provided in Italy for the pope to have a little kingdom of his own.

The destruction of the Ostrogoths in 538 opened the way for the bishop of Rome to assert his sole authority over the estates of the Church. The district immediately surrounding Rome was called the Roman duchy, and it was so largely occupied by the estates of the Church that the bishop of Rome claimed exclusive authority over it. . . the pontiff exercised a definite authority within the Roman duchy, and claimed to have a voice in the appointment of the civil officers who administered the local government. . . . [The pope] Being by the decrees of the councils, and the homage of the emperor, made the head of all ecclesiastical and spiritual dominion on earth, and being now in possession of territory, and exerting a measure of civil authority therein, the opportunity that now fell to the ambition of the bishopric of Rome was to assert, to gain, and to exercise, supreme authority in all things temporal as well as spiritual.

Therefore, the year A. D. 538, which marks the conquest of Italy, the deliverance of Rome, and the destruction of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, is the true date which marks the establishment of the temporal authority of the papacy. [3]

In the year 538, for the first time, the popes ruled a temporal kingdom. The popes had authority to rule in the Roman duchy. From this time forward and during the many centuries that followed the popes ruled a kingdom in central Italy. Territory was added to this kingdom and it became what is termed the Papal States. In Daniel 7:20 this kingdom is said to have a mouth that spake very great things. The pope, mouthpiece of the Papal States, did boast great things from his kingdom. The pope claimed supremacy in all things both spiritual and temporal. He claimed that by virtue of his spiritual authority he power over all other temporal kingdoms.

Unauthorised Change of the Law

Now consider what the papacy would attempt to do:

Daniel 7:25 And he [the little horn] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

There is the time, times and dividing of time, which is the prophetic period of 1260 years. For this period of time the popes were to exercise authority from their kingdom in central Italy. It is also said that the papacy would think to change times and laws. What are the laws that the papacy would think to change? In the Revised Version the text reads this way: He shall think to change times and the law. He shall think to change, not just laws, but the law. He shall think to change the law of God. He has thought to change times and laws; the law, say the Septuagint, the German and Danish translations; pointing out the law of the Most High. [4] Other translations of the Bible point out the same thing as the Revised Version, that being, He shall think to change the law, the law of God.

When it says that the papacy thought to change the law of God it means that there was deliberate and intentional change. The papacy deliberately intentionally thought to change the law although not having the authority to change it. It was done without Scriptural authority. It was done without the sanction of God. Thus an unauthorised change was made to the law of God. To be more specific what exactly did the papacy deliberately think to change? Looking at the Ten Commandments, as defined by the papacy, which of those ten that has been deliberately tampered with? Reading from a doctrinal Catholic Catechism, we find the following:

Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?

Answer: Had she not such power . . . she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority. [5]

Here is a change to the law of God. The Catholic Church claims her own authority as the source of this deliberate change. It is a change for which there is no Scriptural authority. The Bible does not sanction this change. It is the Catholic Church that authorised it. Can it be correct if the Bible does not sanction it even though the church does?

During the Protestant Reformation the Reformers sought to base their doctrines wholly upon the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone. The issue in the Reformation was whether the authority of the Scriptures should be placed above the authority of the church. The Reformers claimed that the authority of the Scriptures should be pre-eminent. When they came before Charles the fifth, who the pope had crowned Holy Roman Emperor, here is what transpired:

The Protestants having reached the imperial palace at eight o’clock, they were made to wait an hour; the Elector of Brandenburg then said to them in Charles’s name: ‘His majesty is astonished beyond measure that you still maintain your doctrine to be based on the Holy Scriptures. If you say the truth, his majesty’s ancestors, so many kings and emperors, and even the ancestors of the Elector of Saxony, were heretics!’ [6]

So many kings, so many emperors, indeed the whole of Christendom how can they all be so wrong? The mighty Charles the fifth was too astonished to believe it but it was true. By departing from the teachings of the Scriptures the whole of Christendom had fallen into heresy. It was such an astonishing fact that they could not believe it. This principal has equal weight today. Large majorities can and do fall into heresy. Should numerous millions upon millions, majority upon majority embrace error that doesn’t make it truth. Neither is error made truth by how many hundreds of centuries the fathers have believed it. That doesn’t make it truth. If a doctrine can’t be substantiated by the Scriptures it’s an error no matter how many centuries have passed and no matter how many multitudes profess that doctrine. Errors may be hoary with age; but age does not make error truth, nor truth error. [7]

When Christians look for an authority to sanction Sunday sacredness they find none in the Scriptures. They find none with God. They find their authority with the boastful claims of the Catholic Church which thought to change God’s law. Sunday sacredness is an error that is hoary with age. The Protestant Reformers were themselves not free from this error.

Great light was given to the Reformers, but many of them received the sophistry of error through misinterpretation of the Scriptures. These errors have come down through the centuries, but although they be hoary with age, yet they have not behind them a Thus saith the Lord. For the Lord has said, I will not alter the thing that is gone out of My lips. [8]


To the multitudes it seems totally implausible that the law of God, still binding, could have undergone an unauthorised change so as to produce a false Sabbath. Yet the Scriptures testify to this very fact in the little horn prophecy of Daniel chapter 7. If ever those who trust in centuries of tradition are to believe the truth it can only be through uplifting the authority of the Scriptures above human inventions.


[1] Europe, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia.

[2] Ecclesiastical Empire, pg 58, A. T. Jones.

[3] Ecclesiastical Empire, pg 207,208, A. T. Jones.

[4] The Biblical Institute, pg 43, Uriah Smith.

[5] A Doctrinal Catechism, 1846 edition, pg 176.

[6] History of the Reformation, pg 592, Merle D’Aubigne.

[7] Testimonies to the Church, vol. 6, pg 142, Ellen G. White.

[8] Fundamentals of Christian Education, pg 450, Ellen G. White.

About The Typist

Sabbath Sermons is a small resource information ministry in Australia standing upon the original platform of the Adventist truth. We are dedicated to spreading the special 'testing truths' for our time and are not affiliated with the various denominations. This website is administered by lay members only

Posted on 26/04/2010, in Short Studies, The Little Horn and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the above information. I guess no one knows the actual source. I wrote my Research Paper on the Little Horn so I just referenced your site.

  2. Where did you source the first image? If you could let me know it would be great. Thank you.

  3. Go to the above website and learn the identity of the four beasts, the little horn and the three uprooted horns. Learn why Daniel 7: 1-23 is not about the tribulation period but a pre-tribulation event that took place in the twenth century.

    • The little horns were those other powers in Europe surrounding Rome that Constantine uprooted. See this lesson:

      Pagan Rome was desolated and made way for papal Rome by Constantine.

      3 Desolations of Pagan Rome
      And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6.
      • To see that when a nation such as Rome desolates another nation such as Judea, it will also be desolated
      • To behold once again God’s ability to predestine events by His divine foreknowledge
      • To watch as an empire melts into decay and changes its nature
      1. What was the cry of God’s people under pagan nations? Psalms 74:10, 3 i.e. verses 1-10.

      1. How did Gabriel address the removal of pagan desolations? Daniel 12:31 i.e. Daniel 8:13.

      “….sacrifice is a word erroneously supplied;… it should be desolation; and that the expression denotes a desolating power, of which the abomination of desolation is but a counterpart, and to which it succeeds in point of time. The “daily” (continual, perpetual) desolation was paganism; the “abomination of desolation” is the papacy.
      “How was the daily or paganism, taken away? As this is spoken of in connection with the placing or setting up of the abomination of desolation, or the papacy, it must denote….. an eradication of paganism from all the elements of the empire that the way be all open for the papal abomination to arise and assert its arrogant claims.” Daniel and the Revelation p.255.1-2
      3. How will God deal with desolating nations who have desolated Judea (Jeremiah 30:16.) and in His foreknowledge regarding the Roman Empire? How long was it given to do its desolations? Daniel 11:24 (last part), Compare verse 29.

      “…after the victory of Octavius over Antony at Actium, which placed him as sole ruler on the Roman throne.” Haskell’s Prophetic Waymarks p.293.0
      “This battle doubtless marks the commencement of the “time” mentioned in verse 24…..From B.C. 31, a prophetic time, or 360 years, would bring us to A.D. 330. And it hence becomes a noteworthy fact that the seat of the empire was removed from Rome to Constantinople by Constantine the Great in that very year.” Daniel and the Revelation 249.1
      4. How did that move to Constantinople indicate the unfolding of the events of Daniel 11:29-31?

      “The removal of the seat of the empire to Constantinople was the signal for the downfall of the empire.” Daniel and the Revelation p.252.4
      5. As Daniel 11:29 expressed the weakened condition of the Roman Empire, how did verse 30 (first part) introduce defeating warfare?

      “The close of the third century of the Christian era found the government of Rome greatly weakened. The evils of the empire, its oppression and cruelty, made it almost impossible for the emperors to control affairs. …. Barbarian hordes pressed the empire on all sides, and the downfall of Rome was imminent.” Haskell’s Prophetic Waymarks pp.288.2-289
      “What were the ships of Chittim that came against this power, and when was this movement made? What country or power is meant by Chittim?…. namely, the coast and islands of the Mediterranean…. the mind is carried to a definite and celebrated city situated in that land; that is Carthage. Was ever a naval warfare, with Carthage as a base of operations, waged against the Roman Empire? We have but to think of the terrible onslaught of the Vandals upon Rome under the fierce Genseric…..from the port of Carthage at the head of his numerous and well-disciplined naval forces, he spread consternation through all the maritime provinces of the empire…..The years A.D. 428-468 mark the career of Genseric.” Daniel and the Revelation p.253.2-3
      6. The Barbarian Vandals from the South, where else did Barbarian hordes come from and ultimately obliterate paganism from the Empire? Daniel 11:31.

      “Following in due time, as the next remarkable revolution, came the interruptions of the Barbarians of the North….” Daniel and the Revelation p.253.4
      “Rome was sacked by the Goths and Vandals, and the imperial power of the West ceased through the conquest of Rome by Odoacer.” Daniel and the Revelation p.254.4
      “The last contest with paganism was in 508 when the French and the Britons accepted Christianity; the “daily” spoken of in Daniel had been taken away. By 538 the way was clear for the papacy to sit enthroned in Rome. ….The new religion-Christianity-we have seen mingled with paganism, which it crushed, and gave birth to the papacy.” Haskell’s Prophetic Waymarks pp.299.3- 300
      7. Having so vividly predicted the details of the rise and demise of Rome, what does this reveal of the predestination qualities of God? Romans 8:29; 9:10-18.

      “In the council of heaven, provision was made that men, though transgressors, should not perish in their disobedience, but, through faith in Christ as their substitute and surety, might become the elect of God, predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will. God wills that all men should be saved; for ample provision has been made, in giving His only-begotten Son to pay man’s ransom. Those who perish will perish because they refuse to be adopted as children of God through Christ Jesus.” (Signs of the Times Jan. 2, 1893) SDA Bible Commentary Volume 6 p. 1114.5
      Consider the awesome God we worship who demonstrates that He knows all things before they transpire. Knowing this does He not know of you, dear student? Let us be comforted by Psalms 139:1-6

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