Scripture reading – Daniel 8; Daniel 9
Our study of the visions, dreams, and prophecies of Daniel continues with today’s Scripture reading, Daniel 8and 9 (this devotional will focus solely on Daniel 8). The vision recorded in Daniel 8 can be dated to 553 BC. The setting of the vision was “at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam…by the river of Ulai” (1:2). Shushan is referred to as “Susa” in Ezekiel and would become the capital of Persia (Ezekiel 8:3; 40:1).
The vision consisted of a ram with two horns (8:3-4), and was followed by a one-horn male goat (8:5-8). Lastly, the “little horn” we were introduced to in Daniel 7 (7:8, 11, 19-24) emerges in this chapter (8:9-12).
A Two-Horned Ram (8:3-4)
Babylon is not mentioned in the present vision, and we know the greatness and glory of that nation was fading under the rule of Belshazzar (8:1) and its days were numbered. In his vision, Daniel saw “a ram which had two horns” (8:3).
Daniel 8:20 identified the two horns of the ram as representing “the kings of Media and Persia.” One horn was greater than the two, for it represented Persia and its ultimate eclipse of the Medes (8:3). Foretelling the conquering of Babylon, and the expansion of its borders, the ram was described as “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” (8:4).
A One-Horned He-Goat (8:5-8)
A male goat with one horn followed the two-horned ram (Persia) and was identified as “the rough goat [that] is the king of Grecia [Greece]: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king” (8:21). Once again, history gives us the name of the first king who was the “great horn,” for his name was Alexander the Great. Coming from the west to the east, the goat covered the “face of the whole earth,” and moved so fast it appeared to “not [touch] the ground” (8:5). The goat [Greece] came with a fury against the ram (Persia), breaking its horns, and destroying its power. For the atrocities Persia committed against the nations, there was none that “could deliver the ram out of his [Alexander’s] hand” (8:7).
In Daniel’s vision, the horn of the “he goat” became great, but “when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven” (8:8). History reveals Alexander the Great died at 32-years-old, and Greece was divided into four principalities, with four generals ruling (“four notable ones,” 8:8).
The Emergence of A “Little Horn” (8:9-12)
One ruler of the “four notable ones” emerged from the four, and was described in Daniel’s vision as “a little horn” (8:9). The “little horn…waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (8:9). In Daniel 7, the “little horn” was the Antichrist; however, in Daniel 8 he became the greater of four generals who served under Alexander the Great. Once again, history aids us in identifying this “little horn” as Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
A type of the Antichrist who will appear at the end of the days, Antiochus increased the size of his province and fulfilled Daniel’s vision of a “little horn” pushing “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (the “pleasant land” being Israel, 8:9). Antiochus was to the 2nd century BC, what Hitler was to the 20th century. The atrocities he committed against the Jews was legion. In December 168 BC, Antiochus laid siege to Jerusalem with 20,000 soldiers, erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple, and committed an act of “abomination of desolations” when he sacrificed pigs on the Temple altar.
An Inquiry (8:13-15)
Daniel overhead a conversation between saints (most suppose they were angels), and one asked the other, “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” (8:13)
Essentially, the question asked was, “How long would the persecution and suffering of the Jews continue?” The other saint revealed, 2,300 days (or 6.5 years) would pass before the Temple would be cleansed. (There is much debate on the exact dates for this restoration, and there is no time or space to address them here.)
Gabriel’s Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision (8:15-26)
Daniel was overwhelmed with the events he witnessed in the vision, and wondered at the meaning. His ponderings were interrupted when “there stood before [him] as the appearance of a man” (8:15). The voice of the man summoned the angel Gabriel who was commanded, “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision” (8:16).
The interpretation Gabriel imparted to Daniel has already been discussed in this devotional (8:19-22), but the vision held both an imminent implication and a far-reaching application. The “abomination of desolation” committed by Antiochus was a picture of the great abomination the Antichrist will commit “in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be” (8:19).
Closing thoughts (8:23-27) – Daniel was told the “little horn” (Antiochus Epiphanes) would come to “destroy the mighty and the holy people” (8:24). He would “magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [i.e. offering a treaty of peace] shall destroy many” (8:25).
Antiochus Epiphanes served as a “type” of the Antichrist who will come to power in the Tribulation. Though he will make a treaty of peace with Israel, he will purpose to not only make war against the saints of God (Revelation 13:7), but will “stand up against the Prince of princes” (8:25). Like Antiochus, the Antichrist will speak blasphemies against Christ and the God of heaven (Revelation 13:5). Though Satan is a trouble to true believers, we should remember his fate is sealed, for “he shall be broken without hand” (8:25).
The effect of the visions on Daniel was overwhelming. He had witnessed not only what would be, but for us…what is yet to be.
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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