The first part of Daniel is wonderful stories of Daniel as a poised faithful committed believer. He calmly refuses to compromise. The second half of the book are visions with crazy images of half animals, horns, and mysterious numbers. We discover Daniel has fears and confusion as he tries to understand the visions. In Dan. 8:17 Daniel says he is terrified. And the chapter ends: READ Dan. 8:26-27. This is a wonderful example of faith. Maybe we could adapt this as a motto of our church: The people of God going about our business of serving the Lord in a confusing and frightening world.
Daniel 8 is a vision of the future. We will spend time looking at a specific man that tried to destroy Israel 167 years before the birth of Christ; because that man is clearly the fulfillment of the prophecy outlined in Daniel 8.
Daniel 8 starts with a vision of a ram with two horns. It takes place in the region of Babylon (Dan. 8:2). READ Dan. 8:3-4. Notice that EAST is left out, a very powerful ram leaving room for greater power. This Ram, we are told specifically in Dan. 8:20, represents the Medes and Persians world power. Daniel lives to see Babylonians fall to the Medes and Persians 20+ years from when he receives this vision. READ Dan. 5:30. NOTE: The Medes and Persians and every other ruler seeking world dominion, rules not by peace, but by dominance. Study communism. It is ironic that the goal of communism is that all people will be equal, all will be taken care of, yet to achieve the goal it always means oppression of people. God’s salvation, in contrast, comes through Jesus Christ, the Lord of PEACE. Peace is the process as well as the goal of salvation. Jesus is never depicted as a ram charging about to bring others into submission. When Jesus bursts onto the scene 500+ years after Daniel, John the Baptist points to Jesus and doesn’t say the Ram of God, he says, “Look, the Lamb of God…”
The ram in Daniel 8 is attacked and defeated by a shaggy goat with one large horn. The shaggy goat is identified in Dan. 8:21 as the King of Greece. This is a few hundred years beyond Daniel’s time, pointing to Alexander the Great (READ Dan. 8:5-8). Alexander conquered the world in ten years! He suddenly died at the age of 33 in 323 B.C. the vision of Daniel is incredibly accurate. God is the God of history, the God of the future, the all knowing God. Alexander’s empire is divided by 4 generals after he dies (the four horns of Dan. 8:8). One of the generals, Seleucid, is of special interest.
A smaller horn grows out of one of the horns (READ Dan. 8:9). What do you think the beautiful land is referring to? [Israel]. The “small horn” became great and tries to conquer Israel, in the process persecuting the Jews, polluting the Temple, and blaspheming God. READ Dan. 8:10-12. (so much in these verses even for today, “truth thrown to the ground” the time did come when God’s law in Israel was ordered to be burned, today in the U.S. it seems every month another state legislature has the ten commandments removed from the courthouse…)
The 2nd half of Daniel 8 is the angel’s interpretation of the vision to Daniel. BTW, did you catch the name of the angel? Gabriel. READ Dan. 8:16. The name of the angel has special meaning for us who live on this side of the birth of Jesus, Gabriel is the same angel who appears to Mary, telling her she is going to give birth to the Son of God.
This is what Gabriel tells Daniel about the character of the little horn: READ Dan. 8:23-25. We know this man’s name: Antiochus Epiphanes. He came from the line of one of the generals, Seleucus, that followed Alexander. The Seleucid kingdom was centered in modern day Syria, north of Israel. Antiochus IV, who designated himself Epiphanes, or “magnificent”, who came to think of himself as a god, is the fourth generation of leadership after Seleucis… Syria is current in todays news with the U.S. now backing away from influence in Syria and allowing Putin to align with Assad. Could there be a new Antiochus Epiphanes rising up? Antiochus reigned over the Seleucid dynasty 175-164 BC. He is remembered primarily for his blood thirsty persecution of the Jews. The detailed story of his atrocities is found in the book of 1 Maccabees. He had a fierce hatred of all things Jewish. He began by attempting to seduce the Jews to adopt Greek culture. At one point he built a gymnasium outside Jerusalem where Jewish young men took part in Greek athletic events. Those games were played in the nude, which promoted the moral breakdown of traditional Hebrew values. Many Jews were willing to make various compromises because they were attracted to Greek culture. They wanted to be Greek on the outside and Jewish on the inside. The majority of Jews, however, would not give up their faith.
In one attack on Jerusalem 40,000 people were killed and 10,000 were taken into captivity. At one point Antiochus put an end to the daily sacrifices at the Temple. He systematically looted the Temple of its treasures. Later he put a statue of Zeus in the Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar, which came to be known as the “abomination of desolation.” In Matt. 24:15 Jesus used the term to describe the end-time blasphemies of the Antichrist. *** [DON’T READ but leave in written notes: Antiochus tried to stop the practice of circumcision, which lies at the heart of Jewish faith. He even had circumcised babies put to death and hung around the necks of their mothers who then paraded through the streets and pushed off a cliff and dashed to pieces on the rocks below. (Dan 8:12).]***
Daniel 8 is incredibly accurate as it foretells the day of Antiochus. Dan. 8:23-25 emphasize his evil character. Dan. 8:23 calls him a “master of intrigue,” He was popular in the beginning and used deceit and propaganda to gain favor with his followers. Later he began to destroy them and even set out to attack the “Prince of princes,” a clear reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the height of his power he suddenly died.
The details of his death are chilling. After committing atrocities in Israel, he traveled east hoping to conquer more territory. While in Babylon he received word that the Jews, led by Judas Maccabaeus, (called “Judas the Hammer” by his admirers), had retaken Jerusalem, driven out the invaders, and started cleansing the Temple. When Antiochus heard this he decided to go back to Israel, intending to defeat the Jews. A chariot crash left him wounded. While recovering, he contracted a disease and died a gruesome death ***[DON’T READ but leave in written notes: he contracted a bowel disease that caused a terrible odor to surround him. One source says that worms came out of his body as it rotted away. His life ended in a wretched fashion.] *** He died not at the hand of man but by the hand of God, as the Bible says. Martin Luther describes Antiochus in his great song of faith: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That’s a great description for how Daniel 8 is to be applied to our own lives, “His rage we can endure.” Prophecy is the story of faith told to us before it happens. I went into detail about Antiochus just to show you that God revealed ahead of time exactly what would happen. There will be other evil in our day and God is still God. Whether it be Antiochus, or others who rise up against Christ, we must ENDURE. I am still in shock that just over a week ago we had people martyred in Roseberg, Oregon for their faith. They were shot. What is the most amazing of all is that the world won’t even recognize the obvious. The gunman told them to state their religion, and those who said they were Christians he killed ….Back in February three Muslims were killed in North Carolina. Instantly we were told it was a hate crime, and it was. In Roseberg, it was much more explicit when the shooter singled out Christians, but that fact somehow doesn’t matter to our leaders.
We must endure. You can endure suffering, overcome evil. Hope allows us to live with joy in the darkness. There is more to the inspirational story of the Jews and what God did to overcome the horrors of Antiochus.
Antiochus never recovered from his injuries in the chariot accident. He died a few months later. According to tradition when the Jews got ready to light the lamps in the Temple to re-consecrate it they had enough oil for one day, yet the light kept shining eight days. The Temple was re-consecrated/cleansed/renewed on Dec. 25, 165 BC. Today that event is celebrated by the Jews as the feast of Hannakuh. Sounds like a familiar day? There is a direct connection between Hanukkah and the vision of Daniel 8. God is amazing. There is also a direct connection to the birth of Jesus Christ.
Every year as we approach Christmas day, Dec. 25, and the birth of Jesus Christ, skeptics love to point out that we don’t really know what day Jesus was born and Dec. 25 is really a pagan holiday re-claimed by Christians. I have no idea what pagan holiday they are talking about but that is the standard line to try and discredit the celebration of Jesus. What I do know is that the coming of Jesus is celebrated on Dec. 25. He is the light shining in the darkness. Just as the oil did not run dry for eight days, the light of Christ is still burning in the darkness. The light of Christ will NEVER run dry! Today we are living in a time of evil just as in the days of Antiochus, and the light of Christ continues to burn, darkness is overcome by hope, and the vision of Daniel 8 is still coming to a complete fulfillment as evil will be fully destroyed when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. Hope allows us to live with Joy in the Darkness. The promise and expectation of God enables us to ENDURE.
Prophecy is the story of faith that is told ahead of time. Daniel 8 is a gift from God assuring us that whatever he says will come to pass. In Daniels life he saw the first part of the vision of Daniel 8 come to pass when the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon. For us, we can look back to the days of Antiochus Epiphanes as a clear fulfillment of the vision. Antiochus is a foreshadowing of a greater evil that is now among us, and the cleansing of the temple is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the light that is still burning in the darkness, waiting for the day when Jesus Christ will return and evil will be completely destroyed. This is the promise of God. Through faith, just as many visions have already been fulfilled, ENDURE, for the story of faith that has been revealed to us in advance, will come to completion in Jesus Christ. Amen.