Scripture reading – Daniel 8; Daniel 9

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Our study of Daniel’s visions, dreams, and prophecies continues with today’s Scripture reading, Daniel 8 and 9. The vision recorded in Daniel 8 can be dated to around 553 BC, where we read, “in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar” (Daniel 8:1). The setting of the vision was “at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam…by the river of Ulai” (Daniel 8:2). Shushan is referred to as “Susa” in Ezekiel and later became the capital of Persia (Ezekiel 8:3; 40:1). Shushan was located in today’s Iran.

Daniel 8

The vision recorded in Daniel 8 consisted of a ram with two horns (Daniel 8:3-4) followed by a one-horn male goat (Daniel 8:5-8). Lastly, the “little horn” we were introduced to in Daniel 7 (Daniel 7:8, 11, 19-24) emerges again in this chapter (Daniel 8:9-12).


A Two-Horned Ram (Daniel 8:3-4)

Babylon is not mentioned in the present vision, but we know that the greatness and glory of that nation were fading under Belshazzar’s rule (Daniel 8:1), and its days were numbered. Daniel saw “a ram which had two horns” in his vision (Daniel 8:3).

Daniel 8:20 identified the ram’s two horns 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 (Daniel 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” (Daniel 8:4)

A Two-Horned Ram

A One-Horned He-Goat (Daniel 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” (Daniel 8:21). Once again, history gives us the name of the first king who was the “great horn,” and 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” (Daniel 8:5). The goat [Greece] came with a fury against the ram (Persia), breaking its horns, and destroying its power. Because of the atrocities Persia committed against the nations, there was none that “could deliver the ram out of his [Alexander’s] hand” (Daniel 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” (Daniel 8:8). History reveals that Alexander the Great died at 32-years-old. After his sudden death, Greece was divided into four principalities, with four generals ruling (i.e., “four notable ones,” Daniel 8:8).

The Emergence of A “Little Horn” (Daniel 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” (Daniel 8:9). The “little horn…waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (Daniel 8:9). In Daniel 7, I believe the “little horn” was the Antichrist; however, in Daniel 8 the “little horn” 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. He became an ancient type of the Antichrist that would appear at the end of days.

In Daniel’s vision, Antiochus increased the size of his province and fulfilled the vision of a “little horn” that pushed “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (the “pleasant land” being Israel; Daniel 8:9). Antiochus was to the 2nd century BC what Adolf Hitler became in the 20th century. The atrocities he committed against the Jews were 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 (Daniel 8:13-15)

Daniel overheard 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?” (Daniel 8:13)

Essentially, the question was, “How long would the persecution and suffering of the Jews continue?” The other saint revealed that 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.)

The Introduction of Gabriel and His Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision

The Introduction of Gabriel and His Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision (Daniel 8:15-27)

Daniel was overwhelmed by the events he witnessed in the vision and wondered at their meaning. However, his ponderings were interrupted when “there stood before [him] as the appearance of a man” (Daniel 8:15). The voice of the man summoned the angel Gabriel, who was then commanded, “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision” (Daniel 8:16).

The interpretation Gabriel imparted to Daniel has already been discussed in this devotional (Daniel 8:19-22), but the vision held both an imminent implication and a far-reaching application. The “abomination of desolation” that would be 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” (Daniel 8:19).

Daniel was told the “little horn” (Antiochus Epiphanes) would “destroy the mighty and the holy people” (Daniel 8:24). He would “magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [i.e., offering a peace treaty] shall destroy many” (Daniel 8:25).

Antiochus Epiphanes served as a “type” of Antichrist who would come to power in the Tribulation. Though he would make a peace treaty with Israel, he would propose to make war against the saints of God (Revelation 13:7) and “stand up against the Prince of princes” (Daniel 8:25). Like Antiochus, the Antichrist would speak blasphemies against Christ and the God of heaven (Revelation 13:5).


Closing thoughts – “He shall be broken without hand.” 

A Jewish historian chronicled that Antiochus Epiphanes died a miserable soul. The historian wrote that on his deathbed, Antiochus confessed, “I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem. I seized all its vessels of silver and gold, and I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason…because of this that these misfortunes have come upon me; here I am perishing of bitter disappointment in a strange land” (I Maccabees 6:8-16).

 Believer, never forget that, like Antiochus Epiphanes, the fate of the Antichrist and Satan is sealed. They “shall be broken without hand” (Daniel 8:25). Daniel’s visions overwhelmed him, and he confessed, “I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it” (Daniel 8:27).

Daniel’s Prayer for Israel

Daniel 9

Our study of prophetic history began in Daniel 7 with the rule of “Belshazzar king of Babylon” (Daniel 7:1) and continued with the reign of “Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (Daniel 9:1). 

Daniel’s service to the kings of Babylon and Persia is a testimony to his character, talents, and integrity. Beginning in his youth and throughout his life, Daniel was a counselor and prophet to the world’s most powerful rulers. Though the custom would have been to purge the advisors of their foes from office, Daniel’s character earned him the trust of Chaldean and Persian kings.

Daniel’s knowledge of the Words of the Lord, specifically the prophecies of Jeremiah, is revealed in Daniel 9. There we read, “I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2).


Daniel’s Prayer for Israel (Daniel 9:1-19)

Daniel, bearing the sorrow for the sufferings of Israel, wrote: “I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4). The prophet identified with the nation’s sins and confessed, “We have sinned against thee…we have rebelled…we have done wickedly” (Daniel 9:5-15). Daniel prayed with a penitent heart, “O Lord…let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem…O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive” (Daniel 9:16-19). 


Gabriel’s Arrival and Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision (Daniel 9:20-23)

While Daniel prayed, the LORD sent His angel Gabriel, who came to comfort the prophet and give him “skill and understanding” (Daniel 9:22). As God’s messenger, Gabriel’s duty was to interpret Daniel’s vision, which included the seventy weeks foretold by Jeremiah (“weeks” in this context being literally “sevens” or “seven years”).


The Coming of the “Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:24-27)

I hope to write more on this subject in the future, but suffice it to say that Daniel was given the marvelous news: The Jews would be restored to Jerusalem, and the city would be rebuilt in anticipation of the triumphant entry of “the Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25-26). All came to pass as foretold, including the prophecy that the Messiah would “be cut off” (Daniel 9:26).

Daniel 9:27 revealed that another will come, and “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27). Who is the one yet to come? The Antichrist! 

To be continued…

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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