Friday, May 27th

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Daniel 8

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This chapter, and all that follow, are written in Hebrew, probably because Daniel has finished prophesying to the Chaldeans. Daniel had a vision concerning the newer kingdoms to rule over Babylonia and the world, and described them in sufficient detail for us to know who they were. The last ruler mentioned by Daniel (though not by name) finished his reign about 160 years before Christ.

There are times when I have spoken of what is to come. Some thought they were prophecies, but I would prefer to call them predictions based on careful observation of world trends. A prophecy is of far greater import and will cause deep recognition in the Prophet. Note how Daniel was troubled by his vision and how he was told by Gabriel the archangel to keep it secret for a while.

Occasionally, I have an understanding given to me of certain things, but I say nothing. I am somehow constrained to remain silent, though they may affect some around me. It is as if I am not given authority to speak, but must wait, or even watch as situations unfold, even if they are to the detriment of those involved. Thus, I do not always speak out about every event or situation to come. It depends on the Holy Spirit.

Verses 1&2

  1. In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first.

  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.

Two years after Daniel had the first heavenly vision, he had another. We know he did not have any visions in between, because he said “after that which appeared unto me at the first.” This vision concerned the royal palace in Shushan (‘lily’ or ‘white’). It was where Persian kings went for the winter, and was sited on a strip of land between two streams of the river Ulai. Shushan was the capital city of Persia.

It was “in the province of Elam.” Thus it was previously ruled by Elamites, as well as Parthians, and, later, by the Persians, when it was used as a city of refuge during attacks by Romans. The city was in the southwest of what is now Iran. The river it was sited on was one of two rivers that branched off about 20 miles north of Shushan (or, Susa). As already stated, Shushan was built on land between two streams belonging to the river, so it had a natural defense on at least two sides.

Daniel was not actually at Shushan, but that was where he saw himself in the vision. He was probably in his seventies at the time. Whilst there in the vision, Daniel saw himself standing on the river bank.

Verses 3&4

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

In the vision, Daniel saw a ram with two long horns. He said one horn was shorter than the other, but that the “higher came up last”. That is, the taller horn grew up after the shorter horn had grown.

The ram adopted an aggressive stance, pushing its body to face every front and attacking all that stood in its way. Nothing could defeat it and nothing could stand against its violence. The ram did whatever it wished, gave no quarter, and so became very powerful.

This describes many modern-day people and movements, whose only ambition is to push others around, and to impose their will, by violence if necessary. It also describes many governments, who care nothing for the will of the people, and bring about whatever their own whims dictate. The word ‘ram’, ‘ayil, can be used of a strong man or chief, and it is the meaning in this text.

The vision itself described the kingdoms of Media and Persia. As we saw in a previous study the Medes were subject to the Persians when Cyrus attacked Babylon, and thus a Median king ruled on behalf of Cyrus in Babylon. The shorter horn was therefore the Median kingdom, which arose first; the larger horn was Persia, a kingdom that arose after the Medians came to power, and which became more powerful. Unlike the vision in the previous chapter, this one is about things that were to happen in the near future. The ways the ram faced were towards other kingdoms that Persia wished to rule over.

Verses 5-7

  1. 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.

  2. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had there seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.

  3. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake 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 upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

As Daniel was looking at this phenomenon, “an he goat came from the west”. This is an interesting use of words, for ‘he-goat’ is ‘ez tsaphiyr. It is interesting because ‘ez means she-goat, but tsaphiyr means he-goat! Yet, ‘ez can also mean he-goat! The roots give us meanings of ‘to be strong’ and to prevail. So, how do we know what meaning applies? That is easy – the text says this goat “had a notable horn between his eyes”. Thus, it was a male goat.

The word ‘horn’ is qeren, meaning strength: the horn was “notable” or very obvious, and grew between its eyes. The goat came towards the ram seemingly without setting its feet on the ground; it appeared to float above it, it was moving so fast.

This he-goat came from the west (Greece), and describes the encroachment of Alexander the Great, whose progress through many lands was so swift, no-one could stand against him. Hence he came “from the west on the face of the whole earth”; that is, he moved swiftly to conquer every nation between Greece and lands to the west of Persia, before striking at the heart of the mighty Persian kingdom and moving east.

Darius could not match his strength, because Alexander moved so fast and with immense ferocity – a technique used by many invading armies, and was used with deplorable might by Hitler: his ‘blitzkriegs’ where ‘fast and furious’, which was his intention, to frighten all who were before him and other nations who watched in awe and fear. And it worked for both commanders after Daniel’s time: In three battles, Darius lost 600,000 men. So, the ram with two horns (Medes and Persians) who had overrun others, was now overrun itself by Alexander.

However, the horn of the he-goat was broken; Alexander died at the age of about 32-33, perhaps from poisoning. Though he was very strong and a great leader, he did not last and his power left him swiftly. This is a lesson for us all: no matter how powerful an enemy is, he can come crashing down instantly, whether by God’s design or by Satan’s mischief or error. In my own life I have often faced a foe who appeared to be overwhelming, only to see him stopped in an instant. God can come swiftly and turn around what we thought was a bad situation! Even as we stand in fear, He can apply a salve of delight and complete peace!

The he-goat was “moved with choler” against the ram… that is, he ran with bitter rage. He hit the ram with such force that he broke off both horns. Then, he stamped all over the fallen ram until it died. Such is human fury. It is what Christians can expect from satanic enemies. Yet, even this furious beast was itself destroyed in an instant. It is the lot of all who live by the sword and outside God. The time period for Alexander’s attacks on Persia was roughly 320 BC.

Verses 8-11

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. And it 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.

  4. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

The he-goat (Alexander) went on to other great victories, but he died in the midst of his strength. When he died, four other kingdoms arose (possibly referring to: Greece, Egyptian & Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor). The “little horn” that arose out of one of the larger four horns, was king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (‘manifest god’). He also became powerful and “cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground”, crushing them into the dirt – Jewish and other leaders, as well as priests. The king tried to set himself above God and the chief priest, and stopped the daily sacrifice taking place, pulling down the sanctuary and killing priests (sometimes referred to as ‘host’). This happened before 164 BC, when he died.

Antiochus was faced with the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees. He also assumed titles of divinity, though no other Greek ruler had done so before. It seems from secular history that he was at various times insane and did many things out of whim or anger. Hence, many who knew him called him ‘The Mad One’. His decision to clamp down on Jewish worship and to tear down the sanctuary, was typical of his nasty behaviour. His background was one of violence and political intrigue. Previously, he had outlawed orthodox Jewish rites to curry favour with the Greek Jews. Some historians believe he only did so because the two rivals were fighting. He died suddenly.

Verses 12-14

  1. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.

  2. 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, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

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

Antiochus was particularly vicious and wild, but God gave him rule over the Jews and allowed him to destroy many of the leading lights. This can only have been a punishment from God for their transgressions against holiness. Thus, this wicked king triumphed over Israel for a long while – for 2,300 days; that’s roughly just over six years. The time this evil would start is not given. The time period is confirmed by history.

The transgression was that of the Jews against God – it was the reason for the attacks against them. They warped truth and so the king drove it to the dirt, crushing it. So, the king’s wickedness and unholiness did well. This happens in our own day: when believers are unfaithful, they suffer under wicked people. It is happening today! Thus, when we see wicked men arising, we should see it as God’s judgment upon us for laxity, and strive to repent and get back to holiness and truth. Those who are called to minister should be especially careful, for God will cause them to be brought down and spoiled, if they care not for truth, purity, and genuine doctrine. Those who allow such bad doctrine to grow are also a target for God’s vengeance, so beware.

The ‘saints’ spoken of in this text are angels. One asked the other (obviously with the intent in the vision, to let Daniel overhear) how long the attack on God’s sanctuary would last. He replied, 2,300 days. The attack was on the Temple and its priests, which would obviously also affect the people. But, after the long attack the “sanctuary (will) be cleansed”.

It is our solemn duty when under threat and attack from all sides, to consider our holiness before God. If we are lacking, then we must repent immediately and seek to put things right. However, if God has found it necessary to allow us to come low, it is not usually rectified immediately, for we might otherwise think little of the incident or period of trouble. The grief must penetrate our souls and cause us to praise God and wait upon His mercy. And, even then, our period of trouble may last longer, as a lesson in humility and trust.

It is very apparent that, in our day, God is punishing His people for their laxity. We are seeing filth and vileness descend upon our lives in such atrocious force, and rule by wicked leaders. So, we know Satan is the cause, and that God has given him freedom to inflict himself upon us for a season. But, it will end: “The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous.” (Psalm 125:3). Though our misery will end, it may not be for some time. We should repent and look forward to its end rapidly, as though it might be tomorrow. This is for us all.

There are also personal trials that come upon us, again perhaps as punishment; sometimes our laxity or movement away from the Lord is insidious and therefore hidden even from our own eyes and mind. Nevertheless, when the infliction comes, repent and wait patiently for God to give hope again; and as we wait we must meditate and learn, staying quietly in His shadow, setting our spirits on higher ground until the release comes. Such release cannot be rushed, nor can it come ahead of God’s time.

Verses 15-19

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

When all the vision was completed, an angel stood before Daniel that had the appearance of a man. Angels are normally invisible to the eye because they are spirit, but they do appear as men at times, to communicate with human beings. The ‘man’ was, in fact, the mighty and powerful archangel Gabriel (‘warrior of God’), who brings messages of great importance to just a few.

A “man’s voice” of authority was heard coming from the site of the palace “between the banks”. It must have been Christ, or God the Father. The voice told Gabriel to make Daniel understand the vision. Gabriel came near to Daniel, who was very afraid and fell to the ground, hiding his face; though a great believer he was fearful of seeing someone who was so patently a herald of Almighty God. When he fell he entered into a deep sleep*. The angel touched him and made him to stand upright. Gabriel then told him to understand: “at the time of the end shall be the vision”. (* This is not to be confused with the occult experience of charismatics, who fall backwards).

The vision, then, is concerned with the ‘end’. The end of what? It can only be the end of the Jewish church, because no other historical facts fit the case. This coincides with the time of Antiochus and the beginning of the awful kingships of the Herods. In this way, Daniel was served notice that the Jewish religion was coming to a close, a warning to all who abode by Jewish law and Tradition, after so many rebellions against God.

Gabriel continued, saying that the time of the end will not be made known to Daniel – it will be when it will be. “The last end of the indignation” is another way of talking about the end of Jewish disobedience and the godly punishments and hardships that came upon them as a result.

Verses 20-27

  1. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.

  8. And 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.

Gabriel then gave Daniel the exact interpretation of the vision (which I have given above). The “king of Grecia” is, of course, the young Alexander. Here he is defined as “rough”, or sa’iyr. It is a very interesting adjective, because it can mean ‘hairy’, but can also mean satyr – demon-possessed. Now, a goat is hairy by nature, so it is possible we are being told Alexander was demon-possessed. However, this is an opinion, not a definite assertion.

When he left the world stage, four other kingdoms arose, but were not of the same power. After them would come a fierce king who understood “dark sentences”. This may refer to enigmas or riddles, or to occultish things, or even to dealing wickedly with others. The man would be very powerful, “but not by his own power”; he would bring destruction and would grow in strength and rule, destroying other powerful men and God’s people. God often uses wicked men to exact His judgment on people. Through his badness he would cause deceit and treachery to abound, especially in his own life, and he would think much of himself, being arrogant and self-loving. He would stand against God Himself, but would finally be destroyed “without hand”, meaning without human intervention, but by God’s will.

Who could this be? Much of the description could easily apply in our day to Barack Obama, who fits each adjective perfectly, especially as he places himself in the position of the Messiah and allows others to worship him. But, though it fits well, it is not him, for the end of the vision would mark the end of Jewish religion, which occurred in the last hundred years of Israel as a nation, finalizing with the resurrection of Christ.

Alexander the Greek was given a vision about his entry into Israel, saying a man dressed in white (the High Priest) would hand him victory without a struggle. Also, the High Priest was told in a vision to open the gates of Jerusalem and to go before the Greek in obedience, so saving the lives of the people. Alexander, on meeting the priest, lay prostrate on the ground and praised the God of Israel. The priests took him to the Temple and showed him the Book of Daniel, with its prophecy about Alexander’s invasion that would destroy the Persians. Thereafter, Alexander treated the Jews as friends, protecting them, and promising to protect the Jews in Babylon and Media. For his kindness, every male son of a priest that year was named Alexander.

However, when Antiochus came to the fore, the Jews had fallen from their love for God and so he decimated them, unknowingly doing the will of God. Thus, it is Antiochus who was of “fierce countenance”. Like many other kings, he thought greatness came with being vile and vicious. Whilst he could certainly wage open war and be particularly violent, he specialized in double-handedness and political deceit. He would lure people to him by false treaties and lies, and then go against them when they were subject to his power. (Again, just like modern deceit in the forming of an One World Government to come. Lies and fraud are its foundation, so it will finally be crushed by God. These socialists are, too, planning the cessation of God’s word and people).

Antiochus indeed died without the hand of man; he was not slain in battle or by some foul plot, but mysteriously, by God’s hand. Antiochus heard that Jews had cast-down an image of Jupiter Olympius from the Temple. Enraged, he said he would make Jerusalem a “common burial place” and decided to march on the city to destroy it. As soon as he pronounced the words, he was struck down with a mysterious bowel plague. Worms grew inside him so fast that his flesh fell from him in lumps; he suffered violent pain and his body had a severe stench for some time before he died. But, even then, he issued violent warnings against the Jews.

Finally, he realized that his awful state was caused by his offence against God and the Jews. He then wrote fine letters to the Jewish leaders asking to be forgiven for his threats and for profaning the Temple. Like many who are caught-out by God, he promised freedom of religion to the Jews, if he lived. But, God wanted him removed, so he died on the mountains near Babylon, about 160 years before Christ. Many people promise their service to God if only He would save them from this or the other! It is, of course, a falsity brought about by desperation. God does not listen to such promises from the unsaved, for he does not listen to them in the first place.

And so Daniel was given a prophecy of the end of his own people’s religion and importance. Gabriel told him to stay silent about the vision, because it would not come to pass for a long time. After that, Daniel was ill for a while. He then recovered and arose to continue his work for the king. He continued to wonder at the vision, and though he told it to friends, none understood it. Even today, many Christians are told what God is saying, but they cannot or will not understand, because of their laxity, or even their perseverance in sin and ignorance.

The answer is to repent and to learn from the Master of our souls, Jesus Christ. We need to get back to sound doctrine, the only defense against the wickedness of others, and the teachings of demons, which fill our churches. This is particularly of importance at a time such as this, where wicked men rule and threaten our very existence.

Synopsis of The Vision at Shushan

  1. The vision was in Belshazzar’s ‘third year’ as co-ruler of Bablyonia.

  2. In the vision, Daniel was looking at the palace at Shushan, the winter residence of the kings of Persia.

  3. Daniel saw a ram. From the description, this represented the two kingdoms of Media and Persia. The longer horn depicts Persia, because it ruled over the Medes.

  4. When the Persian kingdom had run its course – as all human kingdoms do – it was vanquished by a new kingdom, that of Alexander the Great.

  5. Four other Greek kingdoms arose after Alexander’s death, but one of them rose to prominence… the rule of Antiochus, who was a king who enjoyed violence and intrigue, double-dealing with his subordinate kings.

  6. Antiochus would try to destroy the Jewish religion. But, God stopped him with a horrible disease. Antiochus realized he had offended God (though he did not believe in him as we do) and tried to make amends, but it did not work and he died in immense pain.


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