The next three studies will unlock the most amazing prophecy in the entire Bible. It covers over two millenniums of time. History has shown it to be extremely accurate. But, it doesn’t just cover history; It reveals the work of Jesus at this very moment as He prepares a people for His soon return.
The study of Daniel chapter 8 and 9 helped transfer me from unbelief to a committed believer in Jesus. These chapters, like many others in the Old Testament, show Jesus as the promised Messiah and the soon coming King. Like a friend once told me, “It is all about Jesus.”
Yes, these prophecies are about the foretelling of the Messiah and His arrival His work, death, ministry, and His second coming. His first advent happened exactly on time according to the longest time prophecy in the Bible.
Before we start, let’s plant some stakes in the ground of Bible interpretation. There are least three main principles:
1.) Let the prophecy speak for itself and give its own interpretation.
2.) Keep the prophetic words in context and in line with other Bible passages that talk directly to the same event.
3.) Keep in mind each vision in Daniel repeats and expands. Each successive vision adds detail to the previous vision.
As we open to Chapter 8 of Daniel, we notice that the time setting for Daniel’s vision is the “third year of the reign of King Belshazzar. This is near the end of the reign of Babylon. Soon Babylon will fall and King Belshazzar will die when the Medes and Persians come pouring through a dried up river (Euphrates) and through doors left open due to a drunken orgy.
The last straw for King Belshazzar was the use of holy “vessels” (used in the sanctuary services) as common objects for his sin-laden party. He took what was holy and profaned it. These sanctified bowls and utensils had been taken when King Belshazzar’s grandfather (Nebuchadnezzar) took them when Jerusalem fell captive to Babylon.
The opening passages tell us Daniel was by a river (Ulai) in Shushan when he saw the vision as follows:
Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.
This was not just a normal ram, but one that had two “high” horns, but one horn was higher than the other. This ram pushed northward, southward, and westward and “became great.” (V. 4)
As Daniel was thinking about the ram, some action begins to take place as a male goat shows up.
And as I was considering, 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. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power.
Daniel 8: 5-6
A ferocious battle takes place
“And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him, and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.”
Daniel 8: 7
The male goat was victorious and began to grow in strength
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.
Daniel 8: 8
At this point, a new element is brought into the series of powers that would arise and have great influence upon God’s people….a little horn….
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.
Please notice the context, this little horn came from one of the horns. Here is it’s origin. It can be from no other place. This will be important as we get the interpretation because many have misinterpreted the origin of the little horn. But the passage is clear. It comes from one of the four horns that replaced the large horn that was broken. History will tell us exactly who is the little horn.
Before it is identified, it describes its devastating activity.
And it grew up to the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground and trampled them. 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. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
Daniel 8: 10-12
This little horn is the same as found in Daniel 7: 23-27 and the beast of Revelation 13! This we discovered in a previous study:
In summary, here are the actions of the little horn:
- Grew up to the host of heaven
- Cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground and trampled them.
- Exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host
- Daily sacrifices were taken away
- Place of the sanctuary was cast down.
- Cast truth to the ground
- Did all this and prospered
What does all this mean? How should this dream be interpreted? What meaning does it have for us today in the 21st century? We don’t have to worry, for its clear interpretation is in the chapter and fits in with the previous dreams and visions.
The interpretation of the ram, the goat, and the little horn begins in verse 15, but before that, we hear the discussion between two angels. The concern is over the length of time that the little horn would have as he took away the daily sacrifice, the sanctuary, and trampled upon the host of heaven.
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?”
Daniel 8: 13
The answer is given straightway,
And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”
Daniel 8: 14
2,300 days! if taken literally, would be a little over 6.4 years. But, the key to unlocking this time period is the day-for-a-year principle. It is used by the Lord and described throughout the Bible. But the real proof is that it works with the time prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.
When Israel rebelled in the desert, God said that they would bear for a year of each day they spent spying out the promised land and refusing to go in.
According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.
In the portrayal of the siege of Jerusalem by Ezekiel, God commanded Ezekiel to bear the iniquities of Judah for 40 days which signified 40 years.
And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.
Applying the day-for-a-year principle, 2,300 days equal 2,300 years. If we knew the starting time, we would know when the “sanctuary shall be cleansed.”
But, God does not keep us in the dark. We can know the mystery of the time period from His word. We don’t have to rely on a fanciful interpretation, it starts in verse 15.
Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.
Daniel did not understand the vision and was searching for the meaning. Then, immediately, Daniel heard a man’s voice telling Gabriel to help Daniel understand the vision.
And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”
Daniel 8: 16-17
There is so much from this few verses that should not be overlooked. First, angels can appear as men. If this is true for good angels, it is also true for bad angels for we are told,
For Satan, himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11: 14
Where is our safety? It is by knowing God personally and comparing stories and events with the Bible itself.
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
This we will apply as we let the angel tell us the interpretation of this vision.
Secondly, the vision refers to the time of the end. Notice that the end of all things (i.e. earth and sin) is a specific day. The end of time is when it ends, but the time of the end is a longer space in time when the end approaches and things begin to line up. While we won’t know the exact end of time (Jesus said, no man know the day or the hour), we can know that we are in the time of the end by the prophecies of God.
When Jesus was talking with the Pharisee and Sadducees (all religious leaders and “experts.”), he said to them:
“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times
Matthew 16: 2-3
Just being good and wise weathermen did not mean they had the spiritual wherewithal to understand the time of the end (the approaching storm of end time events.) As it is today, there are many smart and wise men who are in love with their own interpretations but fail to understand and accept what God’s word has to say.
knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation
2 Peter 1:20
Gabriel begins to plainly tell Daniel that the animals and horns he saw were symbolic that occupy time in future history (at least to Daniel) He gives him specific information as to the symbolic identity so there is no doubt. We, too, should have no doubt about the identity of the ram, the goat, the horns, and the little horn.
“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 ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom[ of Greece.
Daniel 8: 19-21
To Daniel, these events were future, but to us they are history…at least most of it.
Here is what we can be sure about so far. No fanciful interpretation of man needed. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms:
1.) The vision has parts and time in space, but the point of the vision is about“what will happen in the latter time.”
2.) The “time of the end” is “appointed.” As we will see, we can know this time, just like the wise men knew from the prophecies that the Messiah was to appear…” when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law Galatians 4.4
3.) The ram represents the king of Media and Persia. God had told Daniel back in Chapter 2 that the arms and shoulders of silver also represented Media and Persia. As mentioned at the start, the prophecies of Daniel repeat and expand. While we see clearly that the ram represents Media and Persian, we also are introduced to a male goat and the horns.
4.) The male goat represents Greece.
But there is more….
The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.
Who was this broken horn (power or king) of Greece? History tells us clearly it was Alexander the Great. He died at age 32 and his kingdom was divided into 4 kingdoms (Egypt, Thrace, Macedonia, and Syria). These 4 kingdoms were ruled by the four generals of Alexander: Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander, and Seleucus.
History also tells us that out of one of these horns came another power.
The next power to arise was described back in verse 9 as the little horn:
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.
The angel lets us know that this little horn is a king or power, but it is going to do some dreadful things….not to other countries, but to the kingdom of God.
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.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
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.
Here is what we can be sure about so far. No fanciful interpretation of man needed, as mentioned. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms:
1.) This little horn that is fierce towards God Himself begins his power at the latter time of the 4 kingdoms of Greece.
2.) He will have a mighty power, but it won’t be his. This power will come from Satan himself!
3.) He will destroy the mighty and holy people. We might be tempted to think the mighty and holy people are the Jews, but in its historical context, we will see it is another group.
4. He will stand up to the Prince of Princes. This can be none other than Jesus Himself. This we will understand clearly in Chapter 9.
5.) The little horn will prosper, but his end is “without hand.” Just as the rock that was cut “without hand” in Chapter two. It will be the return of Jesus that is the final demise of this little horn.
In our previous studies, we saw that this power is non-other than Pagan Rome which gave its power to Papal Rome.
Below is a summary of the dreams we have studied so far. The principal of repeating and expanding is demonstrated in this picture:
- Babylon is represented by the head of God and the Lion of Daniel 7
- Medo Persia is represented by the arms and shoulders of silver in Daniel 2 and the bear with three ribs in Daniel 7. But it also appears as the ram with two horns in Daniel 8.
- Greece is represented by the belly and thighs of brass in Daniel 2 and the 4-headed leopard of Daniel 7. But also the he-goat of Daniel 8
- Rome is the legs of iron in Daniel 2, the fierce beast of Daniel 7
- Rome is divided into ten kingdoms as represented by the 10 toes of Daniel 2 and the 10 horns of Daniel 7.
- The little horn comes from one of the four horns of the he-goat in Daniel 8, but is also described as the little horn of Daniel 7 that uproots 3 of the 10 horns
The little horn that comes out of one the 4 horns of Greece and makes war on God and His people can be none other than the Pagan Rome with its heathen practices. This power was transferred to Papal Rome. During the dark ages, it put the Bible away and replaced it with tradition. Out of the Dark Ages sprung the reformation of Jerome, Huss, Luther, and many others. We will study more on this later.
All of this is explained to Daniel very clearly, but the chapter ends with these words:
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.
What was it that Daniel did not understand? The prophecy is clearly interpreted. This we will find out in our next study of Daniel 9.