Francis Urqhuart and the Little Horn

That’s one more item off the bucket list being ticked off. I’ve purchased a second-hand box set of House of Cards, Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Michael Dobbs’ novel, first broadcast in 1990. When other lads my age were fantasising about being professional football players, this eleven-year-old was watching the wily Francis Urquhart manipulate and murder his way to 10 Downing Street. 

Urquhart, the Chief Whip, by means of blackmail, newspaper leaks, dodgy dealings and ultimately murder, removes all his rivals to succeed Henry Collingridge, a John Major-like character, as Prime Minister. Although he is a cunning, charming, eloquent and extremely dangerous man, his breaking of the ‘fourth wall’, ie speaking directly to the viewers during scenes, makes him rather attractive. In subsequent episodes of the trilogy, he assassinates his rivals, until he himself is assassinated by his own assassin at the behest of his Lady Macbeth-style wife, in order to spare him from being exposed as a murderer. It is an interesting depiction of how evil men attain power and keep hold of it.

In our Bible study last Thursday (at which we had 20 attending, a record) we completed Daniel 7, which talks of a little horn on the fourth terrifying beast of Daniel’s vision. It isn’t clear what the horn is. The fourth beast, initially the Roman empire, seems to survive in various forms, providing the stage for a particularly unpleasant world ruler to come forth. Daniel writes, from verse 19,

 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.”

Whereas I believe the fourth beast may be a particular false religious or political system, I think the horn that speaks these pompous words will be a particular leader. Like Urquhart, he will appear initially charming and kind, but underneath this veneer he will be a murderous and blasphemous opponent of God and His people. Also like the fictional British PM, however, he will fall:

‘…The Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.‘