Book of Daniel
Chapter 8, Part 30
One oddity about the Book of Daniel is that it was written in two languages. Daniel 1:1- 2:4a and chapters 8-12 are written in Hebrew. Chapters 2:4b-7:28 are in Aramaic. Walvoord and Zuck tell us that Hebrew was the language of God’s covenant people, the Israelites and Aramaic was the language of the Gentiles. They go on to say that the Book of Daniel is one work but written for two groups of people, the Jews in 1:1-2:4a and chapter 8-12 and the Gentiles in 2:4b-7:28. Aramaic was the language of Syria and the world language of the four great empires of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Today we are looking at chapter 8, written in Hebrew to God’s chosen race. This vision was given to Daniel two years after the one we read of in chapter 7. There Belshazzar had only been in office one year. Now he’s been on the throne three years. Interesting to me because I like history is the fact that the Palace at Susa (also called Shushan) was a Persian city 200 miles from Babylon . One century after Daniel had this vision, Xerxes built a magnificent palace on the very site of Daniel’s vision. This palace built near the Ulai Canal is the palace Esther lived in as she prepared to be queen and save the Israelites from Haman (Esther 1:2). It’s also in this palace that Nehemiah served as cup bearer for King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 1:1).
V. 1, 2 – We’ll take a look at the battle in chapter 8 of Daniel. Daniel really wanted whoever read this to understand and have no doubt the vision was given to him. He said, “…a vision appeared to me - to me, Daniel.” Problem is, his vision is so clear, the facts so accurate that there is controversy that this book was written after the actual events took place. That’s not so. By the revelation of the Holy Spirit, Daniel saw and knew and he wrote down what God had given him.
This vision is detailed even in the time and place of its occurrence.
1.The king in office is named and the number of years he’s been sitting. This vision and the one in verse 7 were both toward the end of the Babylonian Empire. 2.The geographic setting of the vision is given by town and even the nearby river, Ulai which is the Kerkhah River , is named although the palace had not yet been built. a.According to McGee, “in the palace” should actually read “near the fortress.”
This vision of Daniel’s is regarding the second and third world empires of Medo-Persia and Graeco-Macedonia. This vision was fulfilled within two hundred years.
V. 3 – “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high (both held positions of rulership); but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.”
Daniel saw a ram with two horns growing straight up. Ram horns grow curled under, so this was a symbol of the power, wealth, authority and dominion of this ram. These two horns symbolized the kingdoms of Media and Persia . The one, Media, had grown up first. In other words, when Gobryas took over Babylon and destroyed it, the Medes were higher. The second, Persia under Cyrus, came later, but came up higher, or became greater.
V. 4 – The ram, pushing hard with its horns as rams do, then began to push forward conquering the lands and kingdoms far and wide from them. Here is a list I found of some of the nations the ram subdued:
To the west, Babylon, Syria, Asia, and part of Greece; to the north, Iberia, Albania, Armenia, Scythia, Colchis, and the inhabitants of the Caspian sea; and to the south, Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and India; all which places were conquered by Cyrus and his successors.
Since the east is where the ram resided, it was not mentioned in the list. The ram could have turned and gone into India and China but for some reason it chose to move in the other three directions instead.
No nation could withstand the long horn of Persia and Cyrus did as he wished where ever he went and he became great.
V. 5, 6 – While Daniel was pondering what he saw the ram accomplishing in his vision, a he goat, or leader of the troops, with one center horn came on the scene quickly from out of Greece to the west. This horn was Alexander the Great. The Persian king, Xerxes, had wanted to move further into the western area, but this goat moved toward him so quickly it was as if his feet never touched the ground. This agrees with the vision of the 4-winged panther and tells us how rapidly Alexander could move his army.
This ability to move his armies with such speed allowed him to conquer the Medes and Persians, Babylon , Egypt , and many other nations far and near. The ram that had gone about conquering and defeating was now conquered and defeated.
V. 7 – “…moved with choler,” means Alexander the goat went toward Cyrus the ram with great hate ferocity. He was angry and he wanted the ram destroyed. McGee says that Alexander didn’t come forward to meet Xerxes; rather, he waited to ambush him at a narrow pass called Thermopylae . The difference between Xerxes’ army and Alexander’s was like pitting a foot soldier against a Green Beret. Xerxes army did not possess the fighting abilities required to withstand Alexander.
Adding insult to injury for Xerxes, his fleet of three hundred ships was sunk in a storm at Salamis . The two-horned ram, Media-Persia, was broken, cast to the ground and trampled. There was no one strong enough to deliver the ram from the goat.
V. 8 – “Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.” Here again, pride and arrogance led to blaspheme as Alexander wished to be called Jupiter Ammon and sought to be worshipped as a god. When he had reached the zenith of his career as a general turned king of Greece , Alexander was broken. It wasn’t an army that defeated Alexander. He did that himself with drunkenness and hard living. There are conflicting reports of how he died. Some say drunkenness and fever killed him and others say he was poisoned. Whatever broke that he goat’s horn is immaterial. Alexander was 32-years old when he died.
Once he was dead, the kingdom of Greece was divided into four kingdoms each with a king reigning over it. In his commentary, John Gill names the empires and their kings.
…the kingdoms were those of Egypt , Greece , Asia , and Syria . Ptolemy was king of Egypt , to which belonged Lybia, Palestine , Arabia , and Caelesyria. Cassander was king of Macedonia and Greece . Lysimachus was king of Asia , to which belonged Thrace , Bithynia , and other places; and Seleucus was king of Syria , and of the eastern countries
This agrees with the 4-headed leopard in Daniel 7:6.
Gill goes on to explain that “toward the four winds of heaven” means.
…east, west, north, and south: Egypt, with its appendages, lay to the south; Asia, and what belonged to that, to the north; Macedonia and Greece to the west; and Syria to the east: and thus was the Grecian empire divided into four kingdoms, among the successors of Alexander: there were some partitions of it before this into provinces among governors, under the brother and son of Alexander; but after the battle of Ipsus, in which Antigonus, one of Alexander's captains, and a very principal, active, and ambitious man, was slain, and his army routed; the four confederate princes against him, above named, divided by consent the empire between them into separate kingdoms, and became really, and not in title only, kings of them; which is what is here prophesied of.
V. 9 – “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” This little horn is not the aforementioned antichrist that grew out of the fourth kingdom. This horn in chapter 8 is the historical little horn, whereas, the horn of chapter seven is yet to come during the Great Tribulation.
This little horn was Antiochus IV (4) (also called Epiphanes) the son of Antiochus the Great. McGee says that he was also knows and “the madman” as he was another demented ruler. Antiochus IV moved against Egypt to the south, Armenia and Persia to the east, and toward Jerusalem known in this verse as “the pleasant land.” This madman, as Hitler, wanted desperately to destroy the Jews.
According to McGee he was also responsible for the first “abomination of desolation”: when he placed an image of Jupiter in the temple’s Holy Place and was guilty of pouring swine broth over the holy vessels in the temple.
V. 10 – “And it (the little horn) waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” Out of this verse arises another controversy. Some say the “host of heaven” is the angels who were fighting the demons. Others say it’s the saints of God that Antiochus IV was persecuting in Jerusalem . Personally, I believe the host of heaven was the saints who served and worshipped the one true God and the stars were the Levitical Priests. Antiochus IV tortured the Jews who would not renounce their God and worship him. He caused the daily sacrifices to be stopped. Matthew Henry said that he made all sacrifice to stop, but the morning and evening lamb was the most important one and the greatest loss to the people Israel . It was there daily communion with God. They considered the morning and evening sacrifice their devotional time with God.
Book of Daniel
Chapter 8, Part 31
V. 11 – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” He, the little horn (Antiochus Epiphanes between 171 and 168 BC) who came out of the four horns, raised himself up to ever higher position in the world until he begins to think he’s even higher than the Prince of the Host, Jesus.
Let’s read Joshua 5:14 , 15, “And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” If this “captain of the host” had been an angel, he would have told Joshua not to worship him, but it was Jesus, so He said that Joshua must remove his shoes. God told Moses that at the burning bush, too (Exodus 3:2-5).
That devil, Epiphanes, tried to exalt himself above God and that caused his downfall. He called himself the prince of the host and forced the people to worship him. He and his followers have sinned their way right to hell.
Isaiah 14:15 tells us satan’s fate. “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” This horn in Daniel will have eternity in the Lake of Fire to regret his choices.
This little horn stood against the priests of the temple whose covenant position was to offer sacrifice for the nation of Israel and against the very God of heaven when he banned the morning and evening sacrifices. These sacrifices had been established at the very beginning of this nation by God. “Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even…” (Exodus 29:38, 39) The sacrifices that were made morning and night were Israel ’s devotion time with God. They had their regular prayer times, but this was a special time of fellowship with man and God twice a day. Christians now who have the Savior and are filled with the Spirit complain about attending church twice a week!
I don’t want to belabor this point, but please understand that God appointed the times of sacrifice and Israel planned everything in their lives around those times. To take them away was a real hardship to them. It also left the nation of priests without a job.
He “cast down” the temple doesn’t mean he destroyed it physically. It means that he defiled the temple by offering the sacrifice of pigs on the altar and spreading their blood around, by his presence, by placing an idol to Jupiter in the temple, and by denying the ministry of the temple to the rightful people. He also tried to completely destroy the Tenach, the Bible the Jews had, by burning and tearing it apart. He attempted to destroy every copy, but God preserved His Word for us, Praise His name.
V. 12 – Remember this, though, this horn could have accomplished nothing without God allowing it. God gave this horn the army that came against Israel , not because He’s mean, but because Israel continually went against the Law of God. They served other gods, worshipped idols, married and gave in marriage to tribes God had forbidden this with, and willfully sinned against God.
He will do all the things against the temple of God and His people and yet prosper, but not for long!
V. 13, 14 – Here two holy ones (angels) have a conversation. I’m not sure if the first angel was Gabriel or Jesus. The text does not reveal what this angel was talking about when the second angel asked his question. The second angel asked the first when this vision of the cessation of the temple sacrifices and the abomination in the temple would last. Another way to ask is when will this vision be fulfilled? The first angel said it would take 2,300 days (we’ll discuss the 2,300 days later in chapter 8) before the sanctuary would be cleansed.
Book of Daniel
Chapter 8, Part 32
V. 15 – “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.” Notice something here. Daniel wants us to know without a doubt that it’s he who is having this vision. He says “I” twice and gives us his name. In other words, Daniel was telling all who would read this book, “Don’t be fooled, it really was me having this vision and no one else.” Could it be that part of the vision was that he could see those in the future doubting the authenticity of authorship?
Once again we see that Daniel was confused about the vision he was seeing. He was asking the Lord to show him a clear meaning of what he was seeing. He needed to have an interpretation of this vision to make it clear in his spirit and soul. People today who dream and have visions also need someone to interpret their meaning.
In answer to his prayer, the Lord appeared to him. The verse says it was “one having the appearance of man” which probably means God Jesus. God the Father never took on a human body, but Jesus did.
V. 16 – Now a voice comes from the middle of the river Ulai. This is the voice of God speaking to Gabriel as He did in the Book of Luke. “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings; And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee , named Nazareth … ” (Luke 1:16 , 26) Now God commands Gabriel to disclose the meaning of the vision to Daniel. “Make him understand,” He said.
Gabriel was to give Daniel understanding of what the ram, he goat and little horn were. It was not unusual for prophets to be spoken to and directed by angels in the Old Testament. It doesn’t happen as much now, but there are more people telling of encounters with angels all the time. One story I heard and received confirmation of is about a lady in Bangor , Maine who went to the Christian book store there. When she came out of the car she had just parked, she realized she had a flat tire. She had a small child with her in a car seat. This young woman knew the fundamentals of changing the tire, but because of torquing that the garages do on tires now, she didn’t have the strength to remove the flat tire. Suddenly a tall man appeared beside her and offered to help. He changed her flat and when she reached inside the car for her purse to offer him payment, he disappeared. They were at the curb of a large street and he had no time to enter a building. He simply vanished.
There are three named angels in the Bible. The first is the archangel Michael: The second is the angel Gabriel, and the third is Lucifer. Number three is the reason I listen with my spirit to stories about angels and always ask God for discernment to know whether or not to believe the story.
Angelology is the in depth study of angels and in itself is not evil, however, we really need to be careful as there is a sect now that practices an occult form of angelology. These people are most likely led by demons. Anything that takes our focus from God is not of God. Angels are created beings that can never have salvation in Christ. They are “ministering spirit sent to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) By this we know that the angels of the occult are demons. Those practicing those wicked things are not saved or born-again. They are of their father the devil (John 8:44 ).
V. 17 – Gabriel came near to Daniel and the result was Daniel fainted at his feet in fear. Some say that because Daniel fell at Gabriel’s feet, it must have been Jesus. But understand this; it doesn’t say that Daniel worshipped Gabriel. He fell at the angel’s feet because of the glory of God that was upon him.
Gabriel called Daniel “son of man.” That is A son of man, not the title given to Jesus which is THE Son of man. The only other person in the Bible called that directly was Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:2).
V. 18 – “Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.” As said above, Daniel was in a dead faint. He was not able to hear the vision’s interpretation. The angel then touch Daniel’s body and roused him from the sleep and helped him to stand up so that he could pay attention to what was being said.
He told Daniel that this vision “refers to the time of the end.” In Scripture, prophesies often have dual fulfillment. This vision of Daniel’s is one of those. We saw that the ram was Cyrus who conquered Babylon and many other cities and nations. The he goat was Alexander the Great. He conquered Xerxes and Babylon with great speed and force. Then there was the little horn Antiochus IV who conquered Egypt , Armenia , and Persia . Antiochus fulfilled the prophecy of chapter eight and that was one fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. He is also a forerunner of the antichrist which will be the second fulfillment.
There are several comparisons to be made between Antiochus and the antichrist.
1.Antiochus reigned 7 years and died. Antichrist will reign seven years. 2.Antiochus had a deep hatred for the Jews. Antichrist will too. 3.Antiochus set up an abomination in the temple (the statue of Jupiter) which caused its desolation (all the Jews left the temple). Antichrist will too. 4.Antiochus desecrated the temple and the altar by offering pigs as sacrifices and sprinkling their blood around. Antichrist will also desecrate the temple.
Let’s read what Jesus said about the desecration of the temple. “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)…” (Matthew 24:15) Jesus was speaking of both fulfillments, past and future, in that verse.
V. 19 – Now Gabriel will teach Daniel what his vision is about and what is to come. He, in essence, told Daniel that the time of the end will be when the Lord says it will be as it’s already fixed and being fulfilled a little at a time. (Habakkuk 2:3)
“For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction” (Isaiah 10:25 ).
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast” (Isaiah 26:20).
The nation of Israel is stubborn and will not see the truth of who Jesus is; therefore, they will continue to suffer until the second coming of Jesus.
Book of Daniel
Chapter 8, Part 33
V. 20 – We need to remember that when Daniel had this vision, Belshazzar, son of Nebonidus, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was still in power in Babylon . Babylon was still an empire, although not of the order it was when Nebuchadnezzar was king. God was showing Daniel the empires that were to come after the demise of Belshazzar. (Belshazzar died after defiling the blessed temple dishes and cups during his drunken party. Study part 16.) We learned already that the ram with two horns that took over was the kingdom of Media/Persia . Persia was the more powerful of the two and that’s why it had the longer horn.
V. 21, 22 – The “male goat” (shaggy male goat) is Greece . The single horn is Alexander the Great. He went out to conquer and conquered much from Italy to Egypt to modern Pakistan . He moved quickly and decisively, never hesitating in his decisions. We remember that Alexander died at 33 from abuse of his body through alcohol. When he died, his kingdom was divided, by agreement, between four of his generals. Cassander would rule Greece ; Lysimachus would control Asia Minor ; Seleucus would control Syria ; and Ptolemy would rule over Egypt . These four (horns) generals took over Alexander’s kingdom, but they never had his power or his cunning in planning and carrying out campaigns.
We read these names as names we learned in history books in school so we tend to forget the fact that to Daniel this was prophecy of events that would not occur until 300 years after he saw the vision.
V. 22,23 – “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors (the four horns) are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” This refers to Antiochus IV. He is the little horn that started out small but became very powerful. Antiochus did some really brutal things to the Jews. I read that he wanted people, including the Jews to give their worship to him. He demanded they cry out “Epiphanesi” which meant Epiphanes the Great. The Jews hated Antiochus Epiphanes so shouted out “Epimanesi” which translates to Epiphanes the Madman. This drove Antiochus madder that he already was.
When Antiochus took control of the temple in Jerusalem , he built an altar to Zeus right over the “brazen altar.” Upon this altar he sacrificed a pig to Zeus as a way of mocking the God of the Jews. He also forbade the Jews to offer sacrifices or to read their Scriptures. This Antiochus also abolished circumcision.
The transgressors spoken of in verse 23 are the heretical Jews who had turned away from God to worship idols. God raised up Antiochus to be “flagellum Dei - the rod in God's hand.” God would use this king to chasten the Jews.
Antiochus Epiphanes was a mean looking dude. He had a hard face that caused fear in men’s hearts and he was evil all through. He had no fear of God or anyone on earth. It’s safe to say Antiochus was demon possessed. No man in his right mind acting on his own would do the atrocities this maniac did. One story I read recounted that Antiochus once had a woman held facing a large frying pan so that she could watch as her seven sons were roasted to death in it. After they were dead, he had her eyes gouged out of their sockets so this would be the last sight she would remember seeing.
Another incident of the depth of this man’s cruelty is when he returns to Jerusalem after a riot that had broken out there. While he was away doing battle with Egypt , a riot broke out and forced the priest, Menelaus, to flee for his life. When Antiochus returned, he attacked Jerusalem , placed Menelaus back in his position and executed the leaders who had initiated the riot. This was when he decided to Hellenize Jerusalem by ordering the worship of Zeus. The following quote is from Wikipedia:
According to the Books of the Maccabees), upon seizing Jerusalem his (Antiochus) soldiers entered the Jewish Temple and slaughtered a pig, then tried to force Jewish men to eat the pig meat (which is impure by Jewish law). The men refused and the soldiers cut off the men's hands, feet, and tongues, then scalped the men and burned them alive on the altar of the Lord.
His goal in this was to force the Jews to worship Zeus and forsake God. Some actually turned themselves over to that vile worship. The ones who didn’t were often tortured and cruelly treated.
He had no fear of God or anyone on earth. “Understanding dark sentences” means that he could give or interpret riddles and that he was able to perform magic and could interpret the stars (astrology). Part of his demonic behavior was displayed when he blasphemed God vehemently.
V. 24, – “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” Gabriel told Daniel that Antiochus’ power would be strong. He would make conquests and grow the kingdom. He would not achieve the power on his own, however, but first, through the direction of God, and then by the craftiness and cunning. He deceived “the elect” of the Jews, the priests, who brought others into agreement with Antiochus.
“…he shall destroy wonderfully” refers to the countries, cities and towns he ruined. It also refers to the 40,000 Jews he had killed in just three days and the other 40,000 he sold into slavery during the same period. He destroyed the temple and stole the lamp stands, the Ark , the tables of gold and temple vessels.
V. 25 – “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” Here we go again! Another filled with pride. He would be crafty, cunning, deceitful, and treacherous. Antiochus would destroy many in their “prosperity” or peace. In his craftiness, he would make peace treaties with other nations and once they were settled and confident, he would attack and destroy them. In his pride he would believe that he was God. He thought he had the right to make laws for every living being. In this respect, he faced off with the Prince of princes, the pre-incarnate Jesus. This egomaniacal, cruel leader would be broken or perish “without the human means.” This means that he was not assassinated like his father and brother. Antiochus died 12 years after defiling the temple. He died a broken man, totally insane. The God of gods removed him from office. As with his grandfather, Belshazzar, and all others who walk in pride, he was brought low. The destroyer was destroyed.
V. 26, 27 – Gabriel assured Daniel that the vision he had seen was accurate and would come to pass. He told Daniel to “seal up” the vision because it was yet to happen in the future. It was not meant for Daniel’s day.
After seeing this vision and spending the time with Gabriel receiving its interpretation, Daniel was spent. He had been shown the destruction and devastation that was to come to Jerusalem , the temple, and the Jews in incredible detail and was unable to process the information. His mind fled from it. It says he “fainted and was sick for days.” Daniel was so heart-sick he couldn’t even do “the king’s work” for several days. Apparently he tried to share the visions with others, but they could not understand it.
Next week we are going to compare Antiochus to the antichrist.