During the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, Daniel received the first of his visions in Chapter 7.
Now in the second vision God revealed more specific information about two of the empires previously introduced, and emphasized the dealings of one of them with the Jewish nation.
This vision came to Daniel during the third year of Belshazzar’s reign, two years after the vision of Chapter 7. Daniel saw a ram with two horns, one growing up later and larger than the other. The ram pushed westward, northward and southward.
He then saw a male goat with a single horn fight against the ram and defeat him. The goat’s horn was broken and four grew up in its place.
2And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. 3Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. 4I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. 5And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 6And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. 7And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him; and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. 8Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
From one of the four emerged a little horn that asserted itself against the Host of Heaven. As Daniel sought for the meaning of the vision, a person with the appearance of a man, stood before him.
He was eventually identified as Gabriel. He is mentioned again in Chapter 9:21. Whether Daniel was physically in Shushan, near the River of Ulai or transported there in his vision is not clear but Shushan was destined to become a Persian capital later.
Gabriel indicated that the vision concerned the time of the end; this vision was related to the final chapter in Israel’s sufferings. God will later chasten Israel for their sins. Before Gabriel could continue his explanation to Daniel, he had to revive him, because he had fallen on his face and into a deep sleep.
18Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 19And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.
The angel now interpreted the specific parts of the vision. First, the ram represented the Kings of Media and Persia. The two horns represented the two kingdoms. As the horns were unequal, so were the two kingdoms. The Medes rose to prominence first, but under Cyrus the Great the Persians subdue them and took the leadership. This empire was just beginning to take shape when Daniel saw his vision.
As the ram represented Medo-Persia, so the goat represented the king of Greece. In the vision Daniel had seen the goat approaching from the west. As the goat had moved so swiftly, that it did not touch the ground, so the Greeks and Macedonians conquered with great speed.
As the ram in the vision lacked the power to resist the goat’s fierce onslaught, so the Persian Empire could not mount: meaning “Your kingdom is divided and it’s given to the Medes and Persians.” How he knew this is because God had already related to him the future of Israel.
Remember, back in the second chapter when we first studied all of these Gentile nations, that the vehicle that God used to communicate this to us was that Image and Babylon was the head of the Image, and the Medes and the Persians were the shoulders and the arms and Greece was the torso and Rome was the legs and feet and God gave to Daniel (Chapter 2) the whole panorama of Gentile History from the time of Babylon, right up until the end time, even to the divided Roman Empire in the future.
Now Chapter 8 doesn’t have anything to do with Babylon, has nothing to do with Rome. It’s all about the Persians, the Medes and the Greeks. The entire focus from now on in the rest of the Book of Daniel is on the Gentile powers, only as they relate to the Jews.
We are going to study the Gentile History as it relates to the people of Israel, and of course, there aren’t any nations that are more important in the study of the history of Israel than the Persians and the Greeks, for if you know your Old Testament Scriptures, it was under the Persian government that the Jews were allowed to return from Babylon, because of Cyrus, and set up their land, and begin their worship again.
And it was under the Babylonians that the Temple and the city were destroyed and so we’re going to see how the Medes and the Persians and the Greeks focus in on the life of Israel and the life of the Jews. Ever since the time of Abraham, the land of Israel has been the nerve center of the world.
And ever since the time of Jesus Christ, the Land of Israel has been the truth center of the world. There is coming a day in the future, when we call that period of time the Millennium, when the Land of Israel will be the peace center of the world.
As we look at our newspapers and the news on television, we discover that it is the story center of the world. Praise God there’s a time coming in the future, when it will be home center of the world, for the Jews. God is introducing us to His own people, and He’s telling us that some events are going to transpire that will affect the Jews.
When God sends someone to help you to understand, He doesn’t dig down to the bottom. He sends the best there is, and He dispatched Gabriel down to tell Daniel what this was all about. In the Book of Daniel we meet both Michael and Gabriel.
Now Gabriel was God’s seemingly Public Relations Angel; whenever God had something special to share, He always dispatched Gabriel. He appears here in this chapter and over in Chapter 9:21 and when you get over in the New Testament you see him in Luke 1 and He comes down and talks to Zacharias and he tells him that, “there’s going to be a son born to you, by the name of John the Baptist”. That’s important news and in the next few verses he comes again and this time he speaks to Mary and he says to Mary, “You’re going to have a Son too, named Jesus Christ.”
When Gabriel speaks, you had better listen; he’s got some big news. In fact, the word Gabriel itself is very interesting. Gabriel is called “The mighty one.” God dispatched the “Mighty One “ down from Heaven to tell Daniel what this vision was all about. Gabriel is God’s P.R. and Michael is God’s super angel. Whenever Michael comes into play…look out! War is just around the corner.
Notice, as we study this 8th chapter what the plan of this vision is. Now God didn’t send unorganized visions to His prophets. He always organized them and planned them out, so they could understand what was going on and what God is going to teach. Daniel, ultimately, is the truth concerning the man whom we know as The Antichrist, who is going to come in the end of time and be a destroyer, but in order for God to get that message through to Daniel, so that he understands it, in his own terms, He gives it to him in a three-fold measure.
He looks out into the future beginning in verse 23 to a person called “king of fierce countenance”. That’s The Antichrist. Then He gives to him two earlier persons in History, who are “pictures” of The Antichrist.
In chapter eight one of them is called the noteable horn, or the great horn. If you mark in your Bibles, you can draw a line under his name in verse 5 and in verse 8: the great horn. That’s the first person and in verse 9 you meet another king, who is called the little horn and finally in verse 23 you see the final horn.
The big horn, the little horn and the final horn…and we’re going to study each of these individuals as we have opportunity in the 8th chapter. If you study the Book of Daniel, you’ll know that a horn means a king, or power or kingdom. So we’re talking about three kings, two kings who prefigure the final king, which is The Antichrist, who will rule the whole world.
Now it’s time for the animals.
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
The ram that had the two horns represents the countries of the Medes and Persian Empire.
4I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. 5And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 6And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. 7And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horn: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. 8Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
The picture that Daniel sees in his dreams is that the wind blew upon the waters (people) so that it is turbulent, and it’s filled with commotion and turmoil.
If you need more references to the “wind” and its relationship to the sea, please read . . .
1And after these things I saw four corners of the earth holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
When the Greek Empire began to grow so that it amassed its conquest so quickly that it set world records, for bringing the world under its dominion, remember in chapter 7…The picture for Greece was the winged leopard, a picture of great speed.
And the prophecy that God gave Daniel some two hundred years before it happened was that when Greece took Medo-Persia out, that it would come to the point of world domination in a very rapid fashion like a beast that travels without ever touching the ground and History tells us that Greece was a kingdom like no other kingdom before it: in twelve brief years the Greeks conquered the entire civilized world. There was no king that could withstand the onslaught of Greece. Now Alexander the Great was the first king. He is called the notable horn and the great horn, on the basis of his accomplishments. Alexander decided to rule the world and in twelve years he got it done. He was a great ruler as far as business was concerned.
Alexander thought he was doing all this by himself, and he thought all these achievements were his, and they were all the product of his being a genius, but you know what Alexander was doing? He was just filling the outline of prophecy that God said he would do long before he ever lived. He was nothing more than a tool in the hands of a Sovereign God. God had set him in His own Sovereign Plan, to do something, that needed to be done before Jesus came to this earth.
Alexander became concerned about the inability to have access to his great kingdoms, so he sent his people out and he had them build vast highways and roads to all of the provinces over which he had control. And at the age of 33, he died and moved off the scene, but he got all of that done just in time, so that when Jesus came, there would be a language in which the Gospel could be written and preached. There would be roads upon which the missionaries could travel between provinces with great speed for their day. And there would be a culture which would be understood by the people of His day, and I believe that Alexander did nothing more than prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ and the promotion/deliverance of the Gospel.
Daniel 8:19-22 is the interpretation of Daniel 8:4-8: (For verses 4-8 see Scripture above.)
Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
(Verse 22 is the interpretation of this verse.)
19And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. 20The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23And 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.
When Alexander died, his kingdom was given to his four Generals (kings) but they would not be as powerful as King Alexander had been. For twenty years after Alexander’s death, there were fighting and struggling. All of those events and references to these Generals were written long before it happened. What God said would happen has happened and will be exactly as God said it would.
In this chapter we have seen a great prophecy. We’re going to read about a king who will have a fierce countenance. He hasn’t come yet, but he will. God’s Word will be fulfilled. When you read God’s Word and study prophecy and you see how that was fulfilled literally, all that does is to help you understand that the prophecies yet to be fulfilled are going to be fulfilled.
How? Just as literally as the ones we have studied, without anything left out, exactly as God says it is going to happen. So, when I see prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled and I read prophecies about the future, I know it is going to happen, just like He said.
What was Daniel’s reaction to the prophecy from God? He fainted; he got sick; he became emotional and he fell asleep. We take God’s Word for granted, don’t we? We have so many Bibles around our houses…they’re on bookshelves, in chairs and probably in each room, Bibles everywhere, but I wonder if we really appreciate the fact that here was a man of God, who got one little slice of God’s plan for the future and it wiped him out. God’s given us the whole teaching. How do we respond?
God wants us to be serious about this book, the Bible! And when we read about the coming man of sin, with a fierce countenance who’s going to rule this world, and devastate those who are left behind, we too, become emotionally involved, and we begin to look around us to those who don’t know Jesus Christ, and ask God to help us to get
them into the kingdom of God.
There came a power to a man called Antiochus Epiphanes. He was called the madman. He tried to attack Egypt and was defeated. On the way home, he was angry, disappointed and mad. While passing by Jerusalem, he attacked the city and desecrated the Temple. He offered a pig, an unclean animal, on the altar of sacrifice, and closed the Temple down for two thousand three hundred days or six years! He is a prototype of The Antichrist and The Antichrist will be an even more treacherous ruler who shall come to power in the future and desecrate the Temple. He will not do so by offering a pig on the altar but by offering himself, and claiming, “I am God; worship me.”
Before His (God’s) prophecy comes true…be reminded that Alexander and Jesus, our Redeemer, both died at 33 years of age. Alexander was a great man, a great ruler and leader.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33.
One lived and died for self. One died for you and me. The Greek died of a throne. The Jew died on a cross, one’s life a triumph seemed, the other’s seemed a loss; one led vast armies forth; the other walked alone; one shed a whole world’s blood; the other gave His own; one won the world in life, and lost it all in death; the other lost his life to win the whole world’s faith.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33.
One died in Babylon and One on Calvary; one gained all for self, and One Himself He gave; one conquered every tongue; the Other every grave. The one made himself god; the other one made Himself less. The one lived but to blast; the Other but to bless; One died, the Greek forever fell, his throne, to swords but Jesus died to live forever, Lord of Lords.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33.
The Greek made all men slaves; the Jew made all men free. One built a throne on blood; the Other built on Love; the one was born of earth; the Other from above. The one won all this earth, to lose all earth and Heaven; the Other gave up all, that all to Him be given. The Greek forever dies. The Jew forever lives. He loses all who gets and wins all who gives.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33.
Who was the greatest? By all the standards of humanism and world history Alexander stands rank and file above our Lord, but there’s not a person here who has walked with the Lord Jesus for one day, who would debate that issue for one moment. Jesus is the greatest!