Realization of Prophetic Visions

By Philip Mark Ames

The LION

The first of the beasts to arise from the sea is like a lion, and it had eagle's wings. What king or kingdom was thus foreseen? And when would it arise from the sea of human emotion? In order to accurately identify the lion, it might be well to determine what is signified by its eagle's wings.

In the seventeenth chapter of the Bible book of Ezekiel, God used a great eagle having great wings as a symbol of the king of Babylon. Another great eagle having great wings pictured Egypt. An eagle, then, would indicate a great king or empire, though not necessarily Babylon or Egypt. From this account in Ezekiel, it is also clear that the eagles' wings were expected to afford protection and support.

So the lion seen by Daniel would have the support and protection of a great king or empire. Which one? Not Babylon, for the angel told Daniel that the vision was to begin its fulfillment in the then future. At the time Daniel received this vision, Babylon was about to fall to the Medea and the Persians. {Compare Dan. 7;1,17 with 5:25-31) Neither would it be the Medo-Persian empire, nor the Hellenic empire; their ideologies were seen by Daniel as a ram and a he-goat. (Daniel chapter 8)

However, the Roman Empire does qualify as the eagle whose wings could protect and support the lion. In fact, Moses had spoken of the Roman Empire "as an eagle" when foretelling the utter destruction of Jerusalem and the accompanying horrors that took place in the year 70, A.D. (Deuteronomy 28:48-57)

What, then, is the lion? It is religious in nature. And the only religious empire to fit the description of the lion is the one called Orthodoxy, or Catholicism. When it arose with power it had the support and protection of the Roman Empire. Thus, the lion having the wings of an eagle is the Orthodox Catholic faith. It includes now both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.

This lion-like beast arose from the tumultuous sea of mankind during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in the fourth century. Actually, Catholic doctrine was determined under his auspices at the council of Nicea. Later, after about a century and a half of protection and support from the Roman Empire, the Catholic religion lost its sponsor. In the year 476, the last Roman Emperor was dethroned and the Empire ceased to exist. This event was seen by Daniel as the wings being plucked from the lion's back.

The next event which Daniel reports is that the lion was lifted up from the earth and caused to stand up on two feet just like a man. This process spanned many years and may be likened to a crawling child learning to walk; there are several attempts and failures before it walks confidently. This standing as a man denotes the sequence of events by which the Catholic religion came out from under subjection to kings and other civil rulers, and in fact put these in subjection to itself. This process began about the eighth century and was complete by the thirteenth. Meanwhile it divided into two major branches: Roman and Greek.

Finally, Daniel tells us that the lion was given the heart of a man. Certainly, during the time of the "Crusades", Catholicism could not be described as having the compassion, pity, love, and morality properly found in the human heart. Even up until the time of the Protestant Reformation, this heart of a man had not been given to Catholicism. Else, Martin Luther would have had far fewer than 95 theses to nail to the door. However, during the sixteenth century, there occurred within Catholicism what has been called the counter-reformation. Many of the previously-practiced abuses were done away with; the Church as a whole developed a more humane attitude. It was at this time in history that the lion, Catholicism, received the heart of a man.

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Written by: Philip Mark Ames - - - 1975 Philip Mark Ames. All rights reserved.