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ch. 8:1-14    ch. 8:15-27

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Danielís Vision Of A Ram And A Goat (ch. 8:1-14)

There are a few things to note before getting into the vision of this chapter.  It took place before the fall of Babylon.  We need to realize that the first six chapters are in chronological order, but the last six arenít.   This chapter probably took place twelve years before chapter five and two years after chapter seven.


In verse 2 Daniel says, "In my vision I saw myself in Ö Susa".  The question scholars have asked is, "was Daniel really in Susa, or was he only there in his vision"?  Many prophetic Futurists, if not most, believe he was there in the vision only, not in person.  One reason why they think that he was not physically there is because Susa was not much of a community at the time when Daniel was alive.  It was a major city two centuries later when the Greek Empire was in charge of the known world, which the following vision concerns.  Susa was about 230 miles east of Babylon.


The vision is found in verses 3 through 14.  I will briefly describe it.  Daniel saw a ram with two long horns. One of these horns was longer than the other and that horn grew slower than the shorter one.  This ram charged in three directions, west, north, and south.  It was fierce and no other animal could stop the ram from its pursuits. 


As Daniel was thinking of this he saw a goat flying across the land from the west with one horn between his eyes.  He was going so fast that his feet were not touching the ground and he totally demolished the ram.  Soon after, the goat's horn broke into pieces and four other horns took its place.


From one of the four horns another smaller horn emerged and became powerful and spread its influence to the east and to the south and to the "Beautiful Land". 


This horn grew in such power that it threw down the stars or heavenly host and exalted himself to be as great as the Prince of these hosts.  This horn took away the daily sacrifices and disrupted temple worship.  The host of the saints and daily sacrifices were given over to this horn.


The vision closes with two people in the vision speaking to each other.  One person asked how long the temple will be given over to the horn.  How long will this "rebellion that causes desolation" take place?  The other person says that it will take place for twenty three hundred (2300) days.  After that the temple will be reconsecrated. 




The Interpretation (ch.8:15-27)


Daniel receives the interpretation to this vision but like the last vision, scholars have spent much time interpreting its meaning.  This vision is harder to figure out.  One reason why itís harder to figure out is that it appears two have duel interpretations.  That is, it had a fulfillment in Old Testament times, and it appears to have a fulfillment in New Testament times, especially because Jesus Himself comments on a phrase that is used in this vision.  Therefore, there is more controversy over the meaning of this visionís interpretation than the last vision, even among prophetic Futurists.


One thing you should know concerning prophecy is that many Old Testament prophecies do have double, and even in a few cases, triple fulfillment.  


In verses 15 and 16 we see a man ask Gabriel the angel to tell Daniel the meaning of this vision.


We see Gabriel mentioned four times in the Bible.  Two of these times are here in Daniel.  The other two times are found in Luke where he announces to the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and the birth of Jesus to Mary.  It seems that Gabriel has something to do with prophetic history.  The name Gabriel means "the strong man of God".   


The first thing that Gabriel tells Daniel is that the vision concerns the times of the end.  The end means the end of this age.  It doesn't mean the end of the Old Testament period. 


In verse 19 Gabriel tells Daniel that the vision concerns the "time of wrath" and "the appointed time of the end".  A brief reading of the book of Revelation will tell you that the time of wrath is in reference to Godís wrath that takes place in what has been called the Great Tribulation that ends this age.  This vision is pure end time prophecy.


There are two major reasons for the Great Tribulation and both have to do with God's wrath being poured out in judgment.  Israel  is judged severely by God in order to bring her to her knees in repentance.  She does repent in the end.  Then, the nations of the world are judged for their wickedness, especially their evil treatment of Israel.


Note the word "appointed" in this verse.  This is yet another word to suggest that God has a time table.  The end has an appointed time in history.  It doesnít come about when the church gets perfected as Replacement Theology teaches.  It doesnít come about by anything we can do.  God won't decide at a future date when the end comes.  He's already predetermined that.  


In verse 20 Gabriel clearly states that the two horns represent Media and Persia.   Now this is interesting because when Daniel saw this vision the Medo-Persian Empire was not in existence as a world empire.  This vision took place in the times of the Babylonian Empire.   The Medes and the Persians were not yet in power.  Another thing to note is that the Medes and the Persians were enemies of each other.  They only joined forces for one reason, and that was to conquer Babylon.


This throws in a curve ball into the whole scenario.  Gabriel said that this vision concerned the end of the age, yet now he says the two horns represent the next world empire after Babylon.  Thatís far from the end of the age.  This clearly suggests a double fulfillment.


Gabriel then says that the goat is the Empire of Greece and its horn was its first king.  Greece was the next world empire to rule after the Medes and the Persians. The first king was Alexander the Great who swept over the known world in a very short time and ruled until his death at 33 years of age.


In verse 22 Gabriel says that the four horns represent four parts of this kingdom that will emerge but will be weaker as a result.  History tells us that after Alexander the Great died Greece was split into four different areas with four different rulers.


In verses 23 to 25 we see that in the later part of this kingdom another great ruler will emerge.  This ruler will be devastatingly powerful but his power wonít be from himself.  He will count himself as superior.  He will fight and destroy "the mighty men of the holy people".  At this time his battle will turn towards the Prince of Princes and he will lose the battle.


I believe that you can see clearly that this man is prophetic of the anti-Christ.  The Prince of the Princes is prophetic of Jesus.  The mighty men of the holy people are Godís people who will die as seen in the book of Revelation.  I tend to believe these people are Jews. 


Gabriel then tells Daniel that this vision concerns "the distant future" and to seal up the vision.  Daniel was so terrified about this vision that he was literally sick for a number of days.


Daniel's reaction to this vision tells us something about true prophets of God.  They are prophets because they speak the prophetic word from the Lord.  The prophetic words aren't always predicting the future.  It can be as simple as telling people what God wants them to hear, and, sometimes what God wants people to hear are stern words of judgment.  These stern words of judgment often make the real prophet full of sorrow.  The life of a real prophet isn't always a happy to lucky life.  A prophet is one who has been severely humbled by the Lord.  Arrogance in a so-called prophet should tell you that the man is not a prophet.   


An interesting fact is the symbol the Persian kings wore was a rams head, and the ram represented the Medo-Persian kingdom.  This vision is pretty precise.                       


Alexander the Great was the king of Greece that attacked and took the kingdom away from the Medes and the Persians.  He was a very young man and as the vision portrayed him, flew across the country side winning battle after battle until the known world was his.  He died at the age of 33.  Upon his death bed he was asked who should take over his kingdom and he told his advisors the strongest men should be leaders.


As in the vision, the kingdom was indeed divided into four parts, each having its own leaders.


Josephus records that when Alexander came to  Jerusalem to attack the city, the high priest read this chapter to him and he realized that the vision concerned him and so he left   Jerusalem alone. 


Some wonder if the horn here is not the same as the little horn of the last vision.  That would mean this horn that rose up would not be the anti-Christ, but I believe at the moment that it does fit the description of the anti-Christ.


In this vision the horn that rises up comes to the temple and desecrates it.  This literally happened in 167 B. C. when Antiochus Epithemy, King of Greece, came to the temple and sacrificed a pig which would have been blasphemous to Jews.  He also set up an idol to the god of Jupiter in the most holy place in the temple.  This, among other things, he did to totally desecrate the temple in Jerusalem.  


The term "host of heaven" in the vision has two possible interpretations. It is used a few other places and could be seen as either angels or Godís people.  


Part of the problem with trying to understand this prophecy actually stems from the words of Jesus.  In Matthew 24:15 Jesus says, "so, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet DanielÖ"  By saying these words in the tense they are stated, Jesus is referring to a future event.  The prophecy concerning these words was clearly fulfilled in 167 B. C., so why did Jesus make this a future event that needed to be fulfilled?  The only answer is this.  Some, if not many, Old Testament prophecies have a double fulfillment.  This is something that is believed by many prophetic Futurists, if not most Bible teachers.  This would be one of those prophecies.  It had one fulfillment in Old Testament times, yet beyond that fulfillment there is a future fulfillment.  Prophetic Futurists believe its final fulfillment is at the end of the age and deals with the anti-Christ, something that can easily be seen in the wording of the prophecy.


Those who hold to the historic view point of prophecy say that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A .D. is the fulfillment of this prophecy. One problem with this thinking is that Gabriel specifically says that this vision is for the time of the end, and 70 AD isn't close to the time of the end.  


Thereís a reference to twenty three hundred (2300) days between the desecration of the temple and its rededication.  Scholars are clearly divided on the meaning of this time.  There is no general consensus other than the possibility that it seems that there was roughly twenty three hundred (2300) days between the prophecyís Old Testament fulfillment between the desolation and the rededication of the temple.  This is even debatable.  It does not fit into the three and half year scenario or any other numbered scenario in the book of Revelation.               


In the vision this fierce king that brought desolation to the temple was one of the four horns that replaced the big horn.  This in fact was Antiochus Epithemy who desecrated the temple in 167 BC.  Antiochus came from and ruled over what today is known as Syria.  This king represents the end time anti-Christ as well.  Therefore,  some people feel that the anti-Christ will come out of Syria, or, at least be a Muslim.  They say this to keep the consistency of  the vision from its Old Testament fulfillment to its New Testament fulfillment.



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