Recently I was reading a little blurb about a current presidential candidate. The writer of this story was VERY concerned about the candidate’s alignment with Christianity and how that belief system could take over our government. Oh how far we have degenerated in this country to think Christians are problematic. And to see how much opposition there is against God’s children in OUR day !! This is what we see in Daniel eight.
The second of Daniel’s four visions, this happens two years after his first where he sees three images: A ram (representing Medo-Persia), a “he goat” (symbolic of Greece) and a “little horn” which depicts not the end time Anti-Christ but another prominent opponent of believers I will write of shortly.
Its important to understand this vision is different than the previous one in that this prophecy is pretty much past us now. It was more in Daniel’s immediate future whereas chapter seven’s is even more future. That will shed some light on the “little horn”. But the ram is an apt symbol because historically the Medo-Persian rulers would wear the head of a ram as they stood before their army. The slightly higher horn (vs3) signifies Persia as the dominant part of the Medes & Persians. The most obvious high horn would’ve been the monarch, Cyrus. The ram’s push in three directions was seen in the past (yet Daniel’s future) as this kingdom conquered westward (Babylon, Syria & Asia [present day Turkey]), northward (Albania, Armenia, etc) & southward (Arabia, Egypt & Ethiopia). The “he goat” is said to have “not touched the ground” as he moved, denoting swiftness in his attack (this is now this animal not the leopard of chapter 7) but is the same kingdom: Greece. The “notable horn” (vs5) is Alexander the Great and as history reveals he died young “the great horn was broken” and was replaced by four of his generals “four notable ones” (vs8) [Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander & Lysimachus]. Like this goat, Satan seeks our destruction too desiring to “sift us as wheat” but as we stay strong in the Lord his power is nullified. So stay right with the Lord, keep reading, obeying , walking in fellowship !
Now this “little horn” is a man who greatly opposed God’s people centuries before us yet still into Daniel’s future. He is what we’d call a precursor or type of the Anti-Christ but NOT the endtime Anti-Christ of the tribulation period. His name was Antiochus Epiphanes. Say that three times fast ! How do we know? He comes out of the four horns not the ten in our future. You see this when you read verses 8-9 . The “pleasant land” of vs9 is Israel, where most of God’s people lived during his time and where he fomented a lot of persecution (vss 10-12). The surname Epiphanes means “illustrious” and history also tells us this guy thought he was “all that and a bag of chips” ! Anyone who opposes God’s people typically thinks so. It’s all about them because they won’t accept God as Lord. You find a humble person and odds are there is something right they are thinking about God.
Naturally when we go through tough times we ask what’s asked in vs13 “How long?” But when bad things occur the key is not to focus on “Why God?” but “Who God is” ! When we have adversity focus on Him. He is in control, He is right, He knows best for you. Your growth as a believer depends on learning this especially in difficulty. We can then praise instead of whine !
The “man” of vs15 appears to be a Christophany (appearance of Christ in form of a man) Who orders Gabriel (vs16) to help Daniel and us understand the vision. Gabriel encourages us to faithful service to God as here 500 years before he would come to Mary with the message she would bear the Christ child, he’s here also faithfully serving the Lord ! 500+ years of faithful service, bring out the gold star award, eh?
Now don’t mistake the phrase in vs17 “at the time of the end”. This doesn’t refer to the end times or tribulation but rather the end of when THIS vision is or the 2300 days. Compare vs14 with 19. So Gabriel clearly indentifies each symbol (vss 20-25) and goes into some detail about Antiochus which helps us also to comprehend the traits and weaknesses of any who oppose the Lord and His people. This wicked man was Satanically controlled (v24) as are some folks in our day. The power of the gospel can diminish that power ! How? Give it to them through lip and through life !! Be a witness, thats MORE powerful. And like Antiochus, like the Anti-Christ, like Satan, like any atheist so-called or antagonist in your life, because of your faith – their influence and end will come ! As Gabriel told Daniel in vs 25 “he shall be broken without hand” ! Or without human means !!! God will break them in His time. In history, Antiochus refused to give his heart to the God he persecuted (unlike Saul of Tarsus who went on to become the great apostle Paul) and so he died a tragic death !! So 2300 days after he desecrated the house of the Lord, God’s worship resumed there as before ! God always has the last word and we do well to remember that in tough times.
Finally, Daniel reacts in the end of this chapter as he did at the end of the previous one. The Word affected him in many ways, emotionally, physically, spiritually. So must it us !!! You must make your contact with the Bible more than surface or purely academic. You must allow it to move you forward and sometimes even physically so by doing something God wants you to do. For God’s people are and will be opposed here and your obedience and being affected by His Word can bring great relief to His people and to you !