Daniel 8:1-27

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Text: Daniel 8

DANIEL'S VISION OF THE RAM, GOAT, AND LITTLE HORN - 8:1-27

INTRODUCTION:

As we continue our study of Daniel, we are reminded that God controls history to achieve His purposes.

Ephesians 1:10-11 - 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

We have seen in Daniel 4:32 that God rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He will.

We don't have to be unduly concerned about what's going on in the world around us. We know that God is in control of everything, and our trust is in Him.

I. THE VISION - 8:1-14

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that [i.e. after the one, subsequent to the one] which appeared unto me at the first.

551 B.C. - Two years after Daniel's vision in chapter 7. Belshazzar was still king in Babylon. Babylon would fall in 12 years in 539 B.C., the same night as the episode regarding the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5 .

Daniel 8:2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.

Shushan is Susa. About 250 mi E of Babylon.

Daniel saw himself in Shushan in the palace. Later, Esther takes place in Susa; and still later, Nehemiah was Artaxerxes' cupbearer in the palace in Susa.

Daniel 8:3 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; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.

Daniel 8:20 - The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

The two horns represent the kings of Media and of Persia. The reason one is higher is that the king of Persia was the stronger of the two. Persia was the younger of the two kingdoms but became more powerful than the Medes.

It is reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel 2:31-33 and 2:37-39.

Daniel 2:31-33 - 31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

Daniel 2:37-39 - 37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. 39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

It is also referred to in Daniel 5:28 .

Daniel 5:25-28 - 25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. 28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

It is also identified in Daniel 7:5 .

Daniel 7:5 - And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

Like to a bear. It is a symbol of the MedoPersian Empire, known for its strength and fierceness in battle (cf. Isa. 13:17-18).

Isaiah 13:17-18 - 17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. 18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

Raised up itself on one side indicates the superiority of the Persians in the empire which came up later but became dominant over the Medes in their united kingdom.

Three ribs may represent three major conquests: e.g. Lydia (546), Babylon (539), and Egypt (525).

The bear was told to devour much flesh, which suggests that the empire was operating in accordance with God's instructions rather than on its own.

Daniel 8:4 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.

The ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward shows the directions in which Medo-Persia enlarged its kingdom.

No beasts might stand before him suggests that no kingdom was able to defeat the Medes and Persians.

Neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand suggests that no kingdom could escape the control of the Medes and Persians and no kingdom could rescue another kingdom out of the control of the Medes and Persians.

He did according to his will and became great suggests that the Medes and Persians did whatever they wanted, and the empire became great and powerful.

Daniel 8:5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

All of a sudden, about 200 years after the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon, a powerful force came very quickly from the west. It is described as a he goat which had a notable horn between his eyes.

The army of Alexander the Great very quickly swept through Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Mesopotamia from 334-331 B.C.

The rough goat is identified as the king of Greece, and the great horn between his eyes is identified as Alexander the Great, the first king of Greece.

Daniel 8:21 - And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

It is reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel 2:31-33 and 2:37-39.

Daniel 2:31-33 - 31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

Daniel 2:37-39 - 37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. 39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

Daniel 8:6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power [i.e. in his mighty power, with furious power].

Daniel 8:7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler [i.e. anger, rage] against him, and smote [i.e. attacked, rushed at] the ram, and brake [i.e. broke, shattered] his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped [i.e. trampled] upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

Daniel 8:8 Therefore the he goat waxed [i.e. grew] 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.

The great horn that was broken refers to the death of Alexander the Great. His four generals became kings of four different parts of his empire: Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Macedonia.

The explanation is found in 8:22.

Daniel 8:22 - Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

This is reminiscent of Daniel's vision in Daniel 7:6 .

Daniel 7:6 - After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C. at age 32, after which his kingdom was divided among his four generals. Cassander took Macedonia; Thrace and much of Asia Minor went to Lysimachus; Seleucus took Syria; and Ptolemy claimed Egypt.

Daniel 8:9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed [i.e. grew] exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant [i.e. glorious] land.

Out of one of them is out of the king of Syria

The little horn is not the same as the horn of 7:8, which will arise out of the restored Roman Empire. This little horn came out of Greece and refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to the throne in 175 B.C. and plundered the Temple in Jerusalem, desecrating it by offering pig's flesh on the altar.

Which waxed exceeding great is which grew exceedingly great.

The pleasant (or glorious) land is Palestine.

Daniel 8:10 - And it [i.e. he (the little horn)] waxed great [i.e. grew up to], even to the host of heaven; and it [i.e. he (the little horn)] cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped [i.e. trampled] upon them.

Again, the little horn is Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He invaded Palestine, persecuted the Jews, blasphemed the Lord, caused the sacrifices in Jerusalem to cease, and desecrated the temple by offering a sow upon the altar.

The host of heaven is God's people, the Jews, who were horribly persecuted by Antiochus.

The stars would appear to be the leaders of the nation of Israel.

Daniel 8:11 Yea [i.e. indeed], he [i.e. the little horn] magnified [i.e. exalted] himself even to [i.e. to be as high as, to be as great as, to be equal with] the prince [i.e. the commander, chief, captain] of the host [i.e. the host of heaven = the Jews], and by him [i.e. by the little horn] the daily sacrifice [i.e. the daily sacrifice in the Temple] was taken away, and the place of his [i.e. the Prince's, Commander's, Chief's, Captain's] sanctuary [i.e. holy place] was cast down [i.e. thrown down].

The prince is God.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes set himself up as the Prince of the host, the king of Israel, and demanded that he be worshiped. He is not the antichrist; but he prefigures the antichrist, who will do something very similar in the tribulation.

The temple refers to Zerubabbel's temple built after the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity. Solomon's temple had been destroyed in 586 B.C. This desecration would continue 2,300 days. This resulted in the Maccabean revolt. Judas Maccabeus restored the Temple for its proper worship.

Daniel 8:12 And an host [i.e. the host of heaven, which refers to the Jews] was given him [i.e. was given to the little horn] against the daily sacrifice [i.e. along with the daily sacrifice] by reason of transgression [i.e. because of rebellion (i.e. because of Antiochus' rebellious attitude the Jews complied with his demands)], and it [i.e. he (the little horn)] cast down [i.e. threw down] the truth to the ground; and it [i.e. he (the little horn)] practised [i.e. did], and prospered [i.e. and succeeded, and was successful].

Daniel 8:13 - Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation [i.e. that causes horror], to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden [i.e. trampled] under foot?

Daniel 8:14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

The sanctuary was cleansed after 2,300 days on the 25th of Kislev (late November - early December), 165 B.C. It is celebrated as Hannukah or the Festival of Lights. If so, it began with Antiochus' first invasion of Jerusalem in 171 B.C.

2,300 days may mean instead 2300 mornings and evenings or 1,150 total days. If so, it began with Antiochus' desecration of the temple in Jerusalem in 167 B.C.

In either case, it ended with the cleansing of the temple and the resumption of the daily sacrifices.

II. THE INTERPRETATION - 8:15-27

1. The ram - 8:15-20

Daniel 8:15 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.

Daniel 8:16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.

Daniel 8:17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

At the time of the end indicates that the vision refers to things that would happen after Daniel's lifetime.

Daniel 8:18 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.

Daniel 8:19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.

Daniel 8:20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

2. The goat - 8:21-22

Daniel 8:21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

Daniel 8:22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his [i.e. Alexander the Great's] power.

3. The little horn - 8:23-25

Daniel 8:23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.

Although the little horn refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in verse 23 it takes on a dual future reference to the Antichrist, the little horn referred to in Daniel 7:7-8 and Daniel 7:24-25 . Although it includes Antiochus, it goes beyond him.

Daniel 7:7 - After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

Daniel 7:8 - I considered the horns [i.e. the ten horns], and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Daniel 7:24-25 - 24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. 25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [i.e. the 3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation].

Daniel 8:24 And his [the little horn's, the Antichrist's] power shall be mighty, but not by his own power [rather, by Satan's power]: and he shall destroy wonderfully [i.e. fearfully, to an extraordinary degree], and shall prosper, and practise [i.e. do, perform his will], and shall destroy the mighty [i.e. the mighty men] and the holy people [i.e. Israel].

Daniel 8:25 And through his policy [i.e. shrewdness, cunning] also he shall cause craft [i.e. deceit] to prosper [i.e. to succeed] in his hand [i.e. under his influence, under his rule]; and he shall magnify [i.e. exalt] himself in his heart, and by peace [i.e. in their prosperity, while they are at ease] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes [i.e. against the Lord Jesus Christ]; but he shall be broken without hand [i.e. without human means (or human agency)].

4. The effect on Daniel - 8:26-27

Daniel 8:26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision [i.e. keep the vision secret, seal up the vision]; for it shall be for many days [i.e. it refers (or pertains) to many days in the future].

Daniel 8:27 And I Daniel fainted [i.e. was exhausted], 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 [i.e. there was no one to explain it, no one understood it].

CONCLUSION:

Something we should recognize from this study of the book of Daniel is that God is in control of everything which goes on in humanity. Everything is happening right on God's schedule.

We are living in a time long after the Medo-Persian and Greek empires and before the tribulation when the antichrist will rule the world. So, in one sense what we see in Daniel 8 does not involve us or concern us greatly.

In another sense, however, we see that the vision in Daniel's life in 551 B.C. was literally fulfilled in the years that followed. This and other prophecies demonstrate that the Bible is to be understood and interpreted literally.