The Book of Daniel - Chapter 8

We have come to the close of the section that addresses God's rule over the Gentiles.

To help you understand where Daniel is emotionally at this point in the book, I'd like you to put yourself in his position for a moment.

You have just dreamed something equal to a nightmare in Chapter 7 that has unnerved you -- you fainted -- you became anxious -- so fearful that you needed help to interpret what you'd experienced.

Now, you are taking your agitation and dismay to the next practical level by asking yourself --- "If three more Gentile kingdoms, as suggested by the dream, are supposed to arrive on the scene to dominate the world after Babylon, what will be the fate of my people, the Jews, during that period of time? -- How long will their trials last? - What will be the end result?

These tough questions are running through Daniel's mind, but still, he has no answers.

But God will not leave Daniel totally in the dark and begins to provide him with some specific revelations that relate to the future history of his people.

With that brief background, we now spend the remainder of the book reviewing these revelations, giving special emphasis to interpreting the prophecies that address "the time of the end" -- predictions that not only relate to Israel during the latter days, but also speak to you and me - Jew and Gentile -- today.

Verses 1 and 2
In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal.

The year is 551 B.C. - Daniel sees himself at the Palace of Shushan, a city in Persia about 230 miles east of Babylon and 120 miles north of the Persian Gulf.

What we are about to learn is that the vision Daniel now sees again projects him into the future when the super power Medo-Persia would rule the then-known world -- a partial rerun of what Daniel has already learned in earlier dreams.

Verses 3 - 14
I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.

As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.

Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.

Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?"
He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be re-consecrated."

New Symbolism, Same Messenger
Daniel's been here before. The difference is that in this vision the symbols have been changed. Just as the bear appeared in Chapter 7 as rising higher on one side, so, in similar fashion, there is now a picture on one of the horns of the ram rising higher than the other, indicating again the dominance the Persians exercised over the Medes. - So far, this is not new information, but this reiteration does not diminish the significance of the dream.

The ram with the two horns standing before the Wai River again represents Medo-Persia and corresponds to the arms and breast of silver we saw in Chapter 2 and to the appearance of the bear in Chapter 7.

Historically, this is 100% correct, as we would expect. It's God's word!! -- We know that the symbolic, protective force of the Medes and Persians was a ram with a sharp horn. - Not only that, the Persian ruler, when engaging in foreign military expeditions, proudly wore the head of a ram on his head as a symbol of his enormous power.

Now the ram goes into action, lowering its fierce head and butting at prey to the west, north and south. Ultimately, as our history books tell us, Medo-Persia laid waste Babylonia, Asia Minor, and Syria to the west; Armenia, and the area of the Caspian Sea to the North; and then conquered Ethiopia and Egypt to the south.

Symbolized by a ram, the Medo-Persian empire butted up against virtually every nation and principality in sight and soon became the greatest power on the face of the earth.

So far, this is more of a confirmation of Daniel's earlier dream than anything else, and such confirmation continues as we now see the nation of Greece symbolized by a goat; the equivalent of the brass stomach and thighs of Nebuchadnezzar's image in Chapter 2, and the Leopard with wings in Chapter 7.

So fleet of foot is this goat that when it runs, its feet do not touch the ground - an apt description of the awesome power of the swift, far-reaching campaigns of the Greco-Macedonian army.

Suddenly, however, the vision provides us with additional, detailed information, more than we saw in Daniel's earlier dream. - Greece is not only the goat; but now we see a great horn appear between its eyes, a symbol of Greece's first great monarch, Alexander the Great.

There had not been a military strategist the likes of Alexander in the annals of history. - Son of the great militarist Phillip of Macedon, and student of Aristotle, Alexander, in the course of his short life, conquered 1,500,000 square miles. - While in power, he was revered by all as a young king with singular skills and enormous intelligence, amazing the world with his military prowess.

His crowning victory came with the destruction of the once-invincible Medo-Persian empire in less than a three-year interval - 331-334 B.C.

But he did not live long. He died of Malaria and Syphilis at age 32, lamenting that there was no more worlds to conquer. During the final years of his life, Alexander spent as much time indulging his passion for sex, immoral conduct and alcohol as he did in destroying his foes. -- In the end, Alexander's true enemy lay within.

Once again, the Bible is completely accurate as it predicts the events of Alexander's demise, describing in detail the "four horns" that replaced the single broken horn between the goat's eyes.

These four horns represent the four generals who would later divide the sum of Alexander's great conquests among themselves: Ptolemy became master of Egypt, Cyrene, Cyprus and Palestine; Seleuous grabbed Syria, Babylonia and the southern area of Asia Minor; Cassander took possession of Macedonia and Greece; while Lysimachus became the uncontested ruler of Thrace and western Asia Minor.

In verse 9, enter the madman - If anyone ever had any doubt about the validity of the Book of Daniel, this next prophecy will without a doubt, make them a believer!

As Daniel watched the vision unfold before his eyes, there came out yet another horn - a fifth horn. It started small but quickly grew to great influence and power toward the south, the east and the beautiful land.

Remember, Daniel's vision was describing events that would not take place for another two centuries, yet the predication is accurate down to the very person described, Antiochus IV, also known as Epiphanes, the 8th ruler of the Seleucid Division of the expanded Greek Empire.

Since he did not possess a legitimate right to the throne, Antiochus stooped to bribery and derision to become king, and what a cruel monarch he was!

He was a madman - one of the two we'll speak of in this chapter. His anti-semitism ran high. He hated God's chosen people as no ruler ever hated them.

Now, why did this tyrant take center stage in Daniel's vision? --- For two reasons:

•  First - to remind us that God Almighty knows - in minute detail - what will happen in history. Antiochus really did appear on the scene. He really did hate the Jews, and he really was the cruelest, most diabolical King anyone could imagine.

•  Second - Antiochus Epiphanes is a symbol of the Antichrist and how he will act during the time of the Tribulation.

Remember, the little horn of Chapter 7 is the actual Antichrist; the little horn in Chapter 8 is the Jew-hater Antiochus Epiphanes, a photocopy of the Antichrist of the Tribulation.

This is why we can use the texts in Chapter 8 to document the desecration the Antichrist will bring upon the House of Israel during the Time of the End.

The Great Masquerade
Let's look further at the arrogance of this man - symbol of the Antichrist - who magnifies himself as the Prince of the Host - that is - Prince of the Jewish people.

He would glorify himself as their prince - just as Jesus Christ will one day reign as their king - Again, an end-time hint that the Antichrist will also do his best to "appear as Christ" in what will  be one of the greatest masquerade attempts of all time.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 says that the Antichrist "Will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."

This comparison is an absolute match between Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist.

While some Jews would go along with Antiochus' treachery - feeling they might con their way to independence by sucking up to the tyrant - they would soon discover they had backed the wrong candidate, their hypocrisy soon coming back to bite them.

Even as these Jewish "turncoats" were hoping for the best deal they could strike with their foreign intruder, Antiochus began his slaughter of more than 100,000 Jews, demanding that the temporary survivors of this holocaust substitute heathen idols for the one, true God.

He tore up their law, defiled their women, desecrated their sabbath, had circumcised babies hanged and forced Jews to sacrifice a sow on the holy altar of the Temple.

He removed the candlestick of light, the censors of gold, the veil, the crowns and golden ornaments that adorned the Temple. - He scaled off mountains of gold for his own amusement and stripped the Temple of everything that held significance for the Jews.

He laughed in the face of God of the Hebrews as he commanded that coins be stamped with the inscription: "Epiphanes - God!" Such blasphemy then - or now - does not go unpunished.

The Sign of Things to Come
Having accomplished his treacherous deeds, Antiochus Epiphanes continued to supervise one of the greatest massacres of all time, boasting of his actions at every possible moment.

If you like to know more of this man's reign of terror, read the Book of Maccabees 1:29-64.

This madman's behavior is but a mild warning of the activities of the Antichrist yet to appear - who will arrive on the world scene sooner than most imagine.

Amazingly, Antiochus Epiphanes actually enjoyed a degree of acceptance in the early days of his reign, as noted, by those hypocrites willing to go along with him for their own gain - even as the Antichrist will fool millions of our world's people with his charisma and international leadership skills at the beginning of his reign.

In the time of the end, this "beast" will make a peace contract with Israel, but in the middle of the peace process, he will break his word and rescind the treaty.

Daniel 9:27 says, "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."

Antichrist - Temporarily in Control
This breaking of the peace is a significant time in history, for now those with eyes to see will observe that the Antichrist has, in fact, become the devil incarnate. - Just as Jesus was God in human form, this antichrist, during the second 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, will have Satan living in him.

That's when he will say, "I am God", just as a maniacal Antiochus Epiphanes stamped coins with his own image in an attempt to promote his own deity.

Remember, this is what Satan has always wanted to do -- to be like the most high God.

Isaiah 14:12-14 -

How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
       You have been cast down to the earth,
       you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
       "I will ascend to heaven;
       I will raise my throne
       above the stars of God;
       I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
       on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
       I will make myself like the Most High."

That's why he was ousted out of Heaven and why Jesus said; "I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven." (Luke 10:18)

We must remember that the evil one has never been successful -- not that he hasn't tried. You'll recall how one day, deep in the wilderness, Satan promised Jesus the world and everything in it if He'd simply bow in allegiance to him. (Matthew 4)

Of course Jesus didn't take the bait. However, when we come to the time of the end, the Antichrist - the embodiment of Satan - will finally pull off his coup and become what he's always wanted to be, magnifying himself above every God, with the assistance of an international religious public relations machine that persuades most of the world that he is the man of the hour.

This is the one who one day will sit on the throne in the temple in Jerusalem, look into his mirrors, admire himself for his accomplishments, smile and tell himself "I am God, and there is none other like me."

My friends, beware of New-Agers who tell you that you can become like God or like a god - to be seduced by this sweet-sounding rhetoric is the sort of banal thinking - or lack of thinking - that helps to set the stage for what will happen with the advent of the Antichrist.

To be for-warned is to be for-armed. The day of the arrival of this evil world ruler is rapidly approaching.

Daniel's Major Concern
Now re-read verses 13 and 14 -- At this point in the vision, Daniel heard one saint (angel) ask another saint how long this little horn would be allowed to carry on its transgression of desolation - for both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot.

This was the key question as far as Daniel was concerned. The history of tyrants was one thing; the real issue for Daniel was how long this persecution would be inflicted on his people, the Jews.

The answer was 2300 days (vs. 14) - Just under 6 1/2 years. Again, the Bible predicted these events to the very day. - Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated  the Temple, persecuted the jews, and wreaked havoc on all who believed -- from September 6, 171 to December 25, 165 B.C., exactly 2300 days, as the Bible says. -- But, as we will see, these 2300 days have an even greater significance as we continue to unseal these end-time mysteries.

Verses 15-26
While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision."

As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end."

While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.

He said: "I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.

"In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.

"The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future."

Gabriel - Messenger of God
As Gabriel attempted to explain the details of the vision, Daniel fell to the ground - with good reason. Daniel now understood the terror that would be afflicted on his people.

The historical parts of the vision were clear, concise, and to the point. -- But Daniel could not bear to hear about the pain his people would continue to endure. -- this segment of the vision was also difficult for Daniel to understand because he could not fathom end-time thinking.

That's when Gabriel's interpretation takes a different turn. In verse 17, the angel tells Daniel that his vision refers to "the time of the end", in verse 19, "The appointed time of the end".

It doesn't get any better for the Jews, but Daniel now at least understands that there is an end-time significance to what Gabriel was telling him.

This is the time when the tribulation will be in full force - that period of history when a "time of indignation" will fall on the Jews because of their hard-hearted rebellion against God.

What Gabriel is saying is this: Daniel, the indignation that began around 730 B.C. will continue through to the second coming of Jesus Christ. - Gabriel is saying: "This is not for's not for your lifetime, Daniel. It's going to be at the "time of the end".

Verse 23 is the strongest proof that Antiochus represents the Antichrist, and that the latter portion of the vision is not for Daniel's time.

Then the Antichrist, symbolized by Antiochus' reign of terror, will be empowered by the dragon of Revelation 13:2.

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.

He will be a proud man, the great, final ruler of the revived Roman Empire, subduing all who stand before him, making himself master of the world. -- He destroys both the mighty and the holy as he employs tactics of deceit and treachery.

He fools the world with his peace proposal, and towards the close of his rule, destroys millions because they discover that he was not what he claimed to be.

He will offer himself as the Prince of Peace. However, that designation is reserved only for our Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6)

Still, the Antichrist does his best to pull off his charade of imitating Christ until the bitter end - even riding on a white horse (Revelation 6:2) because he knows that Jesus the King will also ride on a white horse (Revelation 19:11). - The one is faithless and vile - the other faithful and true.

In the end however, this terrible Antichrist shall be "broken without hand".

Again, we see a prophetic parallel: Antiochus did not die at the hands of his enemies. He died of grief and remorse and went insane in Babylon, having just been defeated in the siege of Elymais and unable to bear the self-destructive impact of losing such an important battle.

In like manner, the Antichrist will not die by the hand of his enemies after Satan incarnates his body. Instead, he will be destroyed by Christ at His second coming as described in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 -

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

Finally, this personification of evil is cast into the "Lake of Fire". Revelation 19:20 states,

But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

Daniel's Broken Heart
The final words of Gabriel are an attempt to comfort God's frightened servant. He reminds Daniel that the Antichrist is not going to rule in his lifetime, but at the time of the end - when his predictions will finally be unsealed and revealed.

For that reason Daniel was ordered to preserve the message of his vision in the written form so that future generations would be able to make sense of the events when they took place. -- This is why the Book of Daniel is so crucial to our understanding of events yet to come.

These end-time prophecies, spoken on our behalf by a holy God, would not be understood until they began to be fulfilled. -- A sequence of events that began with the formation of the E.U., with Israel becoming a nation, and with Jerusalem being liberated by the Israeli Army June 5-10, 1967.

Daniel could not grasp all of these latter-day prophecies because they would remain sealed until the time of the end - the last generation.

Verse 27
I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

We all know how it is when we receive news of an impending disaster - we feel sick to our stomachs, unable to eat, and even sometimes, unable to pray. -- but somehow we pull ourselves together, deal with the problem, and go on with life.

That's what happened to Daniel. He was so emotionally drained by his vision and Gabriel's interpretation that he lay sick upon his bed for many days.

Finally, after longing for greater understanding - and praying for Jews who would be born and who would suffer long after his death - he arose and returned to his duties as a minister of the king.

Even after Gabriel's interpretation of the vision, Daniel still did not understand every detail fully; even as you and I will never completely fathom the great depths of every prophecy until they are unsealed and revealed at the time of the end.

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