|Chap 8 Timeline||
Daniel: Chapter 8
As in the previous chapter of Daniel, this chapter was written during King Belshazzar’s reign. This chapter was written in his third year as king, but many years before the fall of Babylon. The events of this chapter precede those events in Daniel 5 and Daniel 6. The book of Daniel reads as if the events and dreams and visions occur in rapid succession, but years actually separate the chapters. Though Daniel was given these dreams and visions, he was not given an understanding of all their interpretations, as they were meant for a future time, Daniel 12:8-9. He inquired and prayed, but he could not entirely understand the full nature of his visions and dreams. God had honored Daniel to be His messenger for the succeeding generations. It is through him that the timetables of God have been revealed as to when the first and second advents of Christ would occur. In addition, these dreams and visions had a profound impact on Daniel personally. At the end of many of these events, Daniel reports to have suffered, probably from the understanding of how much persecution is yet in store for the people of Israel because of their continued rebelliousness against God. This is instructive to us as well, in that God in his mercy does not give us details into our future. If we saw the enormity of the events ahead of us, like Daniel, we would probably fall ill and crumble under the immense weight of that knowledge. Just look at the physical response of Jesus the night before his crucifixion, Luke 22:42-44. Those who have believed and put their trust in Christ have hope in the word of God. Through Isaiah, as with other writers of the Bible, great hope and comfort are given to them, Isaiah 64:4.
There appears to be an interesting parallel between Daniel with the experience of Joseph, recorded in the latter chapters in Genesis. Joseph dreamed two dreams, and their interpretation and meaning did not escape either the brothers of Joseph or Jacob. Despite the brothers and Jacob having expressed disbelief in the dreams, it was recorded that Jacob kept it in his heart. It is argued that the dreams were mainly for the benefit of Joseph, for he was a man of faith, who himself stated that he “feared God.” The dream would have served as a means of comfort and strength for Joseph during the years of his slavery. For in faith, he would have understood that this would be fulfilled in same future date, so he could not perish at the hands of his captors. In fact, on several occasions it is written that God was with Joseph, but he did not know when or how the dream would be fulfilled.
Joseph indeed had a tremendous relationship with God. When he heard the dream of Pharaoh, he could have begun to understand how the dream he had many years earlier, would be fulfilled. By comparing the dream of Pharaoh with his, where both dealt with grain, he could have understood that his brothers would soon come to Egypt to purchase grain during some time in the seven lean years. Similarly, Daniel had a tremendous relationship with God, and also had dreams. He had some understanding of what they meant, but not how or when they would be fulfilled. It is interesting to note that he recognized the area he was standing within the dream, which was the region of Shushan.
In Daniel 8:1-2, Daniel recounts that the vision on this occasion occurred during the 3rd year in the reign of King Belshazzar. He notes the sequential nature of this vision with the first vision just two years earlier. It is also important to set the background to this vision, in that the temple does not exist at the time of the vision, but the future rebuilt temple is central to this vision. This is similar to today, where many prophecies point to a temple to be in existence where sacrifices occur, but it is not in existence yet, Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and Revelation 11:1-2.
Daniel had the vision about a location that he was familiar with during the reign of King Nabonidus. King Nabonidus choose not to stay at Babylon but left it in the hands of his son Belshazzar, which would force Daniel to make many official trips to Shushan. Shushan would ultimately become the new capitol during the reign of the Persians, so the Lord choosing this site to give Daniel his second vision was no coincidence. In the book of Nehemiah there is a reference to the same location, the palace of the king, when King Cyrus issued his decree to rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, Nehemiah 1:1, Esther 1:2. The map above shows the approximate location of Babylon, Shushan, and Jerusalem.
The geographic region was specifically identified, and apparently very familiar to Daniel. The King of the Medes and the Persians, after defeating the Babylonian kingdom, moved their palace to the area of Shushan. Daniel witnessed the transition of the kingdom with the golden head, to that kingdom represented by the arms and breast of silver, according to the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar received from the Lord. The location of Daniel’s dream in this chapter would then have validated this dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation. From Daniel's vantage point in time, it would have been very difficult to comprehend how all of these prophecies would have been fulfilled and how they related one with another. To see a part of his dream came true, would have been of some comfort for Daniel. In contrast, think of the comfort to Christians today, seeing the nation of Israel form during our lifetime, and then grow, flourish, and retake Jerusalem as their capital. These events, which are unfolding in our lifetime, occurred just as prophesied by Jesus and the prophets, despite the many hardships the Israelis had to endure. For non-Christians, this has served as a stumbling stone, but for Christians, it is a source of comfort knowing that God is indeed in control, and that Christ will soon be coming in the clouds to call his church to him.
In Daniel 8:3, there are several interesting characteristics demonstrated in this vision concerning the ram, and its interpretation by the angel Gabriel. These characteristics are listed in the following table.
It is interesting that Daniel saw the ram pushing in every direction but eastward. They conquered all the areas held by Babylon, but they did not venture toward the east into India. Whether there was no desire on the part of the kings of Persia or geography played a key role in their reluctance to push eastward, Daniel 8:4 states that Persia did do what ever the king willed.
Daniel soon noticed a goat coming from the west in his dream. As is known in history, Alexander the Great achieved great and mighty victories through speed and with an elite and disciplined force from Greece. These characteristics are represented in the goat in Daniel's vision; the goat's progress was achieved without its feet touching the ground, it had a single notable horn between its eyes, and came from the west. The following table lists the characteristics of the goat and its interactions with the ram, illustrating the violent transition of kingdom from the Persian empire (the arms of silver) to the Grecian empire (the sides of brass).
As a result of Alexander the Great's conquests, he destroyed the eastern influence in Israel and Jerusalem, and he developed a new, common form of Greek that he required all people throughout his realm to adopt as their native language. From this, the Old Testament was retranslated from Hebrew, into the Koine Greek, and the New Testament books were written in Koine Greek.
In Daniel 8:8, Daniel begins to detail the death of Alexander the Great, and the wrestling of control by the four generals over the empire. It is important to also be familiar with the four-way division of Alexander's empire in order to fully grasp all of the details that are presented in Daniel 11. The map to the right shows the relative location and boundaries of each general's kingdom, as follows:
Despite being cooperative in battle, they made very bad neighbors with each other. There was continual fighting among these four kingdoms, and Israel was typically in the middle of it all because of their geographic location between the kingdoms of Seleucus and Ptolemy.
In Daniel 8:8, Daniel observed a little horn growing out from among the four horns on the goat. Though this is similar to the little horn that was revealed in Daniel 7:8, this little horn is not the Antichrist, but a type of Antichrist. This is the historical figure, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was the ruler of Syria from about 175-163 B.C. There are several differences to note between this little horn and the one that represented the Antichrist in Daniel 7. First, the little horn in Daniel 7 was on the fourth beast that represents the revived Roman empire, the little horn in Daniel 8 was on the goat, that represented Greece. Second, the little horn in Daniel 7 came up from among the ten horns on the beast, the little horn in Daniel 8 came up from among four horns on the goat. Both little horns are similar, and is why the little horn on the goat is a type of the one in Daniel 7. Millennia in time separate the two, as well as the extent of their influence. The little horn in Daniel 7 has worldwide influence, whereas the little horn in Daniel 7 has influence only in parts of the Near East. It will be important to remember these distinctions when studying Daniel 11.
A great amount of time elapses following the division of Alexander's kingdom among the four generals, to the time of the little horn in this chapter. Daniel’s vision and the interpretation given by Gabriel show a significant interest in the little horn. It may be due to the desecration of the temple and the blatant attempt by Antiochus Epiphanes to replace completely the worship of the Jews with pagan rituals and to separate mankind from the true and living God, worshiped by the Jews.
This pattern of Satan to disrupt and destroy God’s plan is replayed over and again through time. In this instance, Satan sought the corruption of the worship of the Lord by the children of Israel and of all people having a right relationship with God. In a similar example, Balaam provided advice to Balak who was bent on destroying the children of Israel, who were on their way to claim the land God had promised them. Balak made several attempts to persuade Balaam to speak a curse over the children of Israel, only to have Balaam speak words of blessing as God gave him utterance. When they finally realized that Balaam would not be able to curse the children of Israel, Balaam left Balak with advice that if he would cause his women to fornicate with the men of Israel, then God being righteous would have to judge and destroy them. Balaam did not fully understand the ways of God, and that He is in the business of judging and forgiving sin. Despite the attempt of Balak to implement this plan, the sin of some in Israel were judged and forgiveness was given, but the full brunt of judgment fell upon Balak and his people, Numbers 31:15-16.
The events suffered by Israel at that time were later referred to by the Lord to the Apostle John in the revelation that was given to him. After commending the church of Pergamos, the Lord then listed the few things He had against the church, which is relevant then and now, Revelation 2:14. The doctrine of Balaam is not necessarily limited to a blatant effort to throw out an obvious stumbling block to cause the church to stumble. It may also include subtle efforts to introduce compromise into the church that would dilute and corrupt the simple gospel of Christ, and the word of God. James wrote concerning the enmity between the world and God, and there is no compromise that could ever exist between the child of God and the world, James 4:4.
This is what the Antichrist will do as well, and why there is a strong similarity between Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist, though separated by thousands of years. Considering Daniel 8:19 above, where Gabriel stated that he wanted Daniel to know what should occur in the last end of the indignation, one could infer not only the actions described were of Antiochus Epiphanes, but his practices, behaviors, and attempts against God’s people would be exhibited by the Antichrist. Antiochus Epiphanes would not have had the influence upon the heavenly host, but Satan could, and he was not only behind Antiochus Epiphanes, but he will also give power to the Antichrist as discussed in Daniel 7, Isaiah 14:12-15, Revelation 12:3-4, Revelation 13:2b, and Revelation 13:4-8.
In contrasting Antiochus Epiphanes with the Antichrist, there is an obvious difference in the geographic extent of influence between them and the time of influence over the operation of the temple. Antiochus Epiphanes was limited by the rising Roman government to war only toward the east and south of his kingdom, and the land of Israel. His influence over the temple sacrifice was limited to 2,300 days, or over six years. In contrast, the Antichrist will be given power over all kindred, tongues, and nations for a 42 month period, the last half of the seven years of tribulation.
The following table provides a comparison between the little horn in Daniel 8, which represents Antiochus IV Epiphanes, with the Antichrist in Revelation, which again is represented by the little horn in Daniel 7. The information in this table illustrates the character displayed by Antiochus IV that the Antichrist will possess, but with greater effectiveness and lethality.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a very wicked individual who enacted the most vile actions against the Jews. The worst of his actions occurred when his final attempt to war against Egypt was thwarted by the Romans, lead by Consul Gaius Popillius Laenas. Rome forced him to turn from his intentions of plundering Egypt, so he took his forces to Jerusalem and vented his anger against the Jews. He was a man whose influence could be bought for a high price, and he had no regard for anyone other than himself. He even thought himself a god, and had the "Epiphanes" attached to his name. His vanity and evil knew no bounds.
Antiochus Epiphanes attempted to abolish the worship of the Lord by taking away the daily sacrifice, and through abominable acts of sacrilege. He attacked the Jews and attempted to force the those in Jerusalem to feast on the pigs that he had offered upon the altar that was dedicated to the worship of the Lord. The people of the Lord, believed in Him, knew His words and commandments, and never suffered an inch in compromise to Antiochus, despite the cruel and tortuous death sentences that he imposed on them. This lead to the successful revolt of the Maccabees, and the festival of Hanukkah. The Lord had made covenants and promises to Israel, and neither Antiochus, Hitler, the Antichrist, or any other man or Satan will change one iota of God's word. Israel is the apple of God's eye, Zechariah 2:8. More detail on this can be found on the Jewish Encyclopedia.com site, and searching on Antiochus Epiphanes.
As illustrated in the table above, Antiochus Epiphanes was a type of the Antichrist. There are two main differences. First, no doubt that the acts of Antiochus were demonic, but he was not indwelt by Satan as the Antichrist will be. Second, the Antichrist will severely persecute the Jews, as Antiochus did, but the persecution by the Antichrist will occur during the seven years of tribulation, particularly the latter half of that time. The Antichrist's influence will be worldwide, not regional as with Antiochus Epiphanes. Therefore, the power of the Antichrist will be orders of magnitude greater, and through his actions, he will nearly destroy the entire world.
In Daniel 8:13-14, Daniel heard the conversation between two holy ones, and there were several questions that described that period of time that was revealed to Daniel:
Similar to when King Nebuchadnezzar was given the victory over Israel and Jerusalem because of the judgment of God over His people Israel, Daniel 1:1-2, so also at a future time this scenario of God's judgment over His people will occur. At that time, the period of judgment when the Lord will deal with Judah's rebellion against Him would be shorter then in the days of Israel's Babylonian exile. God's judgment included the taking away of the temple worship, allowing the sanctuary to be desecrated by this person of Greek origin, the little horn in this chapter, and allowing the people to be persecuted by him.
Daniel had to be greatly astonished and grieved to his heart as he heard the conversation between the two saints concerning the daily sacrifice and the desolation. The number of days set aside for the desolation of the sanctuary until its cleansing was set to be 2,300 days. Based on the Jewish calendar of 360 days, this period of time would have lasted 6.4 years. The time of desolation that the Jews would suffer under the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes is shorter than the seven years for the tribulation yet to occur under the Antichrist. It is extremely important to understand that this reference is related to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, which has already occurred, and not to the days of the Antichrist, as given in Daniel 7:25. There are many similarities between the two events, but only because Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of the Antichrist. These two saints in Daniel's vision were referring to the weaning years of the Grecian influence, before Rome assumed full authority over the land of Israel, its people, and Jerusalem.
There is not a clear understanding as to when the prophetic clock started to count the 2,300 days, but the end date is certain, in 165 B.C. with the cleansing of the temple. Some who take the literal view of interpreting the Bible, feel that the beginning of this period was in 171 B.C.when Onias was removed as High Priest, by Antiochus who received money from one who coveted that position. Another view is less literal and is based on Israel observing the morning and evening sacrifices as commanded by the Lord in the laws given to Moses. So if one then divides the 2,300 days by half, then the start time would begin in 168 B.C. when the desecration of the temple occurred with the image of Zeus. In either case, the end point is the same for both cases.
In Daniel 8:15-18, Daniel is seen looking for understanding the meaning of what he had seen, and saw before him on the river Ulai. Some believe this to be the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. As Daniel proclaimed back in Daniel 2:19-22, it is the Lord who reveals the deep and secret things, and makes known what is in the darkness. It is the Pre-incarnate Christ who directs Gabriel to make known the understanding of the vision to Daniel. This must have been an awesome and holy moment for Daniel. Having been brought up in the customs of royalty, he was afraid and fell on his face. These events impacted him so much that while on his face he appeared to be in a deep sleep, out of great fear from all that he had seen. Gabriel touched Daniel and set him upright so that the words of revelation from the Lord could be made known to him.
In Daniel 8:19, Gabriel tells Daniel that he will make known what the end of the of the Lord's anger against Antiochus Epiphanes for what he had done against the children of Israel, which is in fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3. The end of the matter with Antiochus and the desolation of the temple is for a set time; it is the Lord's time.
These passages reveal two empires that are associate with two of the metallic colors on the image that King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt in Daniel 2. The silver arms in the image represented the Media and Persian empire and the brass thighs represented the Grecian empire. Note also that the beasts revealed in Daniel 7 are thought by some to represent the countries in the same multi-metallic image. Though the bear and leopard are not repeated here, a ram and goat are used to represent the Media and Persian empire and the Grecian empire respectively. More precisely, the notable horn between the eyes of the goat represent the first king of Greece. There have been other kings of Greece, but Alexander was the first Grecian king to rule and influence the land of Israel and Jerusalem. Israel and Jerusalem are the keys to unlock and understand these prophetic passages.
Upon the death of Alexander the Great, represented by the breaking of the notable horn, four other horns stood up in their place. These are the four generals of Alexander's army who divided the empire into four parts, rather than fighting an endless war in order to control it all, as shown above in the discussion of the four horns and the little horn. As a result, these four generals, now kings, did not attain their rule and kingdom out of their own power, but from the existing kingdom of Alexander's, as stated in Daniel 8:22
Daniel 8:23, is the time referenced in Daniel 8:19; it is the time appointed for the end of the indignation. During the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, it is when the transgressors are come to the full. It is Antiochus who has the fierce countenance and understanding of dark sentences.
In Daniel 8:24, Antiochus Epiphanes is shown to be the person who possesses mighty power, but it was not his own. He emerged upon the throne through cunning and subtlety. Once in power, he did many mighty things in an evil sense, for his time. Again, as a type of the Antichrist, he achieved much in a secular sense.
In Daniel 8:25, Antiochus Epiphanes is shown to achieve his will through deceit, and he magnified himself. He destroyed many through false peace offerings. This is exactly the image of the Antichrist with the opening of the first seal, showing a man with a crown, having a bow without arrows, and riding on a white horse, Revelation 6:1-2.
The following table lists the differences between the two little horns.
As demonstrated on several occasions within this book, pride has been the downfall for many in positions of responsibility. Recall that in Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was dealt with by God. The king was warned in a dream of impending judgment through the interpretation provided him through Daniel. However, after a year had passed the king’s pride was fully manifest, and he was immediately judged for seven seasons, Daniel 4:30-32. King Nebuchadnezzar did repent, and his kingdom was restored to him, and more so, as God had promised him.
King Belshazzar in Daniel 5 and King Darius in Daniel 6 also experienced trouble with pride. As Daniel records the events in Daniel 8, it is evident that in all three cases, the ram, goat, and little horn, pride was a base issue for them, Daniel 8:4, Daniel 8:8, Daniel 8:11.
This site uses the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, which indicates that the two beasts became great, and the little horn magnified himself. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) interprets these verses in a way to show a more negative connotation to the attribution of the word “great” used in the KJV. In verse 4, the NASB reads: Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. In verse 8, the NASB reads: the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. Verse 11 in the NASB reads: It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host. In all three instances, as well as with King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 5, judgment immediately follows the sentence of pride. The issue of pride is one that God does not ignore, particularly when it takes away from His glory by attributing success to man’s efforts, and not giving the praise due to God.
The three kingdoms described in Daniel 8 did not recognize God's influence over the success in their kingdoms. Instead, they allowed pride to be their god. In contrast, King Nebuchadnezzar did repent and he enjoyed the fruits of his kingdom throughout his lifetime, Daniel 4:37. This is summed up by Daniel’s praise to the Lord when the dream and interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream were made known to him by the Lord, Daniel 2:20-21.
In Daniel 8:26, after giving the interpretation, Gabriel told Daniel to shut up the vision for it was meant for a future time. Since these visions occurred in the third reign of King Belshazzar, there were many details and events yet to unfold that would lead up to the fulfillment of these prophetic passages. From our vantage point in time, we can look back and see how many of these events were fulfilled, yet there are still some questions in our time yet to be resolved. Not only did Daniel suffer physically and emotionally because of the visions and interpretation, but apparently he could not keep it to himself, since he also stated that none understood the visions, Daniel 8:27.
Daniel had an awesome responsibility placed upon him, in that he had some understanding of the affliction on the children of Israel during these terrible times. Added to this was the necessity to accurately and completely record all the details and interpretations he received. He was not merely viewing a visual rendering of a future event, as if watching a televised event, he was experiencing the emotions of these revelations because he knew that these events were real. The physical manifestations he suffered were because of his faith in the Lord, and he knew that these terrible events would occur some time in the future.
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last edited August 2014