~ Week Eight ~
July 28, 2020
Daniel ~ Chapter Eight
"Understand, son of man,
that the vision refers to the time of the end."
Read Daniel 8:1-14
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon (553 B.C.), Daniel was given a vision from the Lord in a dream, which paralleled the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had been given in the second year of his reign (603 B.C.); however, there was a distinct difference in how the visions were portrayed. While Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image displayed the kingdom's of the world from the human viewpoint, in all their material strength, value, and impressiveness, and as they would play out on the earth; the dream the Lord had given Daniel pictured the kingdom's of man from God's perspective, revealing their true beastly, ruthless, and destructive nature. In addition to this dramatic panoramic snapshot of history, which spanned "the times of the Gentiles," beginning with the kingdom of Babylon and culminating with the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, the Lord entrusted His servant with a glorious sneak peek into heaven, showing the Ancient of Days seated on His fiery throne ready for judgment. This heavenly scene, in which the Son of Man was presented before the throne of the Father and given dominion over all nations, revealed the future coming of Christ's kingdom into the world, which would put an end to the rule of all other kingdoms and establish an everlasting dominion that will never pass away.
"Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power"
(1 Corinthians 15:24). When Christ our Savior returns He will come in glory to reign. Until then, He is sovereignly guiding history to its consummation, when Christ will have victory over all. This hand-delivered message from the courts of heaven must have provided Daniel with the confidence and assurance he needed to remain steadfast in his devotion to the Lord and his duty in the world as he waited for the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy of the completion of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 25:11, 12).
Two years had passed since Daniel's first vision, where he had been shown the beastly kingdoms of the world and the majestic court room of heaven (Daniel 7). Daniel the interpreter had become Daniel the dreamer, as the Lord transported His devoted servant in a vision to the future capital of the Persian Empire where He painted a portrait of the future of His people (Daniel resumes his writing in the Hebrew language in chapter eight to focus on Jewish concerns after he had previously transitioned to Aramaic beginning in chapter two verse four when he began focusing more on the concerns of the Gentile nations).
"Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns...I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward...suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes"
(vv. 3a, 4a, 5). The bear-like beast Daniel had seen in his first vision (the chest and arms of silver in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (2:32)), was now pictured as a ram with two horns symbolizing the people of Media and Persia, who conquered Libya, Egypt, all of Asia Minor, and as far as India, and attacking and taking Babylon in 539 B.C. (Daniel 5:30, 31). Then with the swiftness of a leopard (7:6), a male goat came from the west,
"attacked the ram, and broke his two horns..."
(8:7). The goat with the notable horn between his eyes, symbolized Alexander the Great, the son of Philip II of Macedonia, who became king of Greece in 336 B.C. He launched an attack against Persia in 334 B.C., and within three years he had conquered the entire Near East, and eventually the world, making Greece the greatest nation in the world. The "notable" conquests of Alexander the Great helped to prepare the way for the spreading of the gospel to the nations. He turned the tables on the ancient world, stopping the viral spread of Oriental influence from the east that threatened the Western world; and with his expansion of Greek culture and language, helped unite people, and paved the way for Greek to become the language of the New Testament. Alexander died at the height of his career (Daniel 8:8), but where he left off, the Romans ("legs of iron" (2:33)) continued and completed with their vast network of "Roman Roads" and bridges which enabled people to travel and carry the Gospel message throughout the Roman Empire.
"Then I heard a holy one speaking;
and another holy one said to that certain one
who was speaking, "How long will the vision be concerning
the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation,
the giving of both the sanctuary and the host
to be trampled underfoot?"
And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days,
then the sanctuary will be cleansed."
(Daniel 8:13, 14)
After Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., his empire was divided into four parts among his four generals who ruled over Macedonia, Egypt, Syria, and Thrace. Out of one of these came the "little horn" introduced in chapter 7.
"Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. And
out of one of them came a little horn
which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land"
(8:8, 9). In chapter seven this "little horn" emerged out of the ten horns of the fourth beast (kingdom) - Rome; but here the "little horn" comes out of one of the four notable horns of the third kingdom (Greece). This "little horn" is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who prefigures the future Antichrist - the ruthless beast of the last days revealed in chapter 7:
"...the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words...and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them..."
(7:20, 21). Antiochus, who reigned from 175 to 164 B.C., was known as one of the cruelest tyrants in history. His self-appointed surname, "Epiphanes" ("manifestation"), was selected to support his claim of being a revelation of the gods. He endeavored to turn the Jews into Greeks, issuing an edict prohibiting the Jewish religious rituals and ordinances, and forcing Greek customs upon the Jews. He executed thousands of Jews who resisted his regulations, and killed anyone found possessing a copy of the law of Moses. His crowning act of sacrilege was performed in December of 167 B.C., when he replaced the altar in the temple precincts with an altar to Zeus and sacrificed a pig on it.
"He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down"
(8:11). What Antiochus did foreshadowed what the Antichrist will do in the future when he places his own image in the temple and commands the world to worship him. Jerusalem was eventually delivered in the famous Maccabean Revolt, led by Judas Maccabeus. On December 14, 165 B.C., the temple was purified, the altar was restored, and worship was re-instituted. The
"two thousand three hundred days"
represented the time between the desecration of the temple by Antiochus and its reconsecration by the Maccabees. The Lord used a small army of faithful warriors to defeat the defilement and devastation of Antiochus Epiphanes. In commemoration of the restoration of the temple, the Feast of Dedication was instituted and continues to be celebrated today as "The Festival of Lights," or Hanukkah, in December (Jesus, Himself, observed this feast (John 10:22-39)) [Our final
journey will take place during the Feast of Dedication in December!]. Daniel's courageous faith in an idolatrous land and the Maccabees' bold stand against a vast army bent on their destruction should encourage us in the days we are living in as we battle against the forces of darkness that are engulfing the land in immorality, idolatry, and corruption, and are arrayed against the church to silence the spread of the gospel and prevent the coming of the kingdom of God. Let us remember that,
"with God nothing will be impossible"
(Luke 1:37). May we enter the battlefield each day, just as the armies of Israel did, going forth in praise to our God who is fighting the battle for us (2 Chronicles 20:15b).
"Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper." And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever" (vv. 20b, 21).
"O our God, will You not judge them?
For we have no power against this great multitude
that is coming against us;
nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."
(2 Chronicles 20:12)
: Read Daniel 8:15-27
Daniel had been the interpreter for the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar, but when it came to interpreting the meaning of the vision the Lord had given to him, an angelic messenger was sent.
"...Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." So he came near where I stood...he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end"
(v. 16b, 17). This is the first mention of the angel Gabriel in the Bible. He is mentioned three other times in Scripture: Announcing the 70-week prophecy to Daniel (Daniel 9:22, 23); announcing the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias (Luke 1:19); and announcing the birth of the Messiah to Mary (Luke 1:26). Gabriel had to awaken Daniel from a deep sleep to provide him with more prophetic truth about
"the time of the end"
(v. 17); a period when God's wrath would be poured out upon an evil world.
"Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity..."
"And he said, "Look, I am making known to you
what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation;
for at the appointed time the end shall be."
The book of Daniel has shown us how God uses the Gentile nations to fulfill His purposes for His chosen people Israel; though the nations oppose God and His people, the Lord allows them to punish His people in order that His wayward people might be restored to covenant devotion. The Lord raised up both Cyrus (of Persia) and Alexander the Great (of Greece) to accomplish His plans for His people. The prophet Isaiah called Cyrus, "the Lord's anointed" (Isaiah 45:1), because he was called by God to free Israel from under the yoke of Babylon and then issue a decree to allow the Exiles to return to their land. Alexander's conquests paved the way for the circulation of Scripture throughout the known world. Hebrew scholars in Alexandria translated the OT Scriptures into the Greek language. This translation became known as the Septuagint (Latin for 70; the number of scholars who worked on the translation); it introduced the world to the history and religion of the Hebrew people. A final time of unparalleled tribulation will come upon the people of God in the end times to accomplish God's purposes Israel. Nations, groups, or individuals are allowed to accumulate only a certain amount of sin before God's judgment ultimately falls on them.
"And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power..."
(Daniel 8:23, 24a). The angel Gabriel revealed that the vision Daniel received relates to the end times when a final ruler, the Antichrist, will oppose God and His people. The terrifying reign of Antiochus provides a glimpse of the future reign of terror of the Antichrist, who, like Antiochus, opposes God and seeks to replace Him on the throne.
"Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means"
(v. 25). Antichrist, energized by Satan, will use peace as a way to deceive and trick the people into submission to him, but ultimately Jesus Christ will defeat him, just as He had defeated Antiochus.
"He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished..."
(Revelation 20:2, 3). The nation of Israel will endure the terror of the Antichrist in the future, just as they have already endured the terror of Antiochus; and God's purposes for His covenant people will be achieved. This vision of the suffering of his people made Daniel sick for days; and, although he did not live to see the devastation of his people at the hands of Antiochus, it certainly caused him great concern and must have led him to fervent prayer. While Daniel may have been in captivity, his soul was at liberty, and the Spirit transported him to view a future time of tribulation that will one day come upon the earth. This message he kept for the church in future days as a warning of the terrible consequences of truth being cast to the ground. May we understand the vision and how it relates to the times we are living in, and may we be astonished that we are in anyway neglecting our duty in prayer, the study of the Word of God, and the sharing of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these troublesome days, as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the church, and the salvation of the lost.
"Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey"
"Let no one deceive you by any means;
for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first,
and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God
or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God,
showing himself that he is God."
(2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4)
"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days."
Just click or tap the You Tube image below
As we travel through the Book of Daniel
we want to focus on following the example of his faith,
but as we do, let us prayerfully consider setting aside
Tuesdays as "fast" days,
as we feast upon the goodness and grace of our Lord this summer
(consider a full day fast, a partial fast, or a Daniel fast (1:12))
Scripture Meditations for the Week:
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Memory Verse for the Week:
"And in the latter time of their kingdom,
when the transgressors have reached their fullness,
a king shall arise, having fierce features,
who understands sinister schemes.
His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power;
he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive;
he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.
Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule;
and he shall exalt himself in his heart.
He shall destroy many in their prosperity.
He shall even rise against the Prince of princes;
but he shall be broken without human means."
Read about 2020 The Year of Divine Government
A Proclamation of Prayer for the Pandemic
(with links to the YouTube ANOINTING prayers through the Psalms)
to provide peace and to encourage faith in times of crisis
when fear, doubt, and uncertainty try to rob us of our joy!
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"Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
and your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me, hear, and your soul shall live."
(Isaiah 55:2, 3a)
TESTIFY to the gospel of the grace of God
a 12-week devotional prayer and fasting journey through the Book of Daniel
copyright (c) 2020 Traci A. Alexander. All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., and the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
But none of these things move me;
nor do I count my life dear to myself,
so that I may finish my race with joy,
and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the gospel of the grace of God"