“The Appointed Time of the End” (Part 1)
The Vision (Daniel 8:1-14)
“I will show you,” he said, “what is to happen in the last days of wrath; for it is for the appointed time of the end.” (Daniel 8:17b)
God knows all things. He knows the past and the future because He inhabits eternity where time down here on earth as we know it does not exist. God has set an appointed time to close this age in order to bring about the Messianic Age to come when the Messiah our Lord Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron, with righteousness and justice and where His law will be the only law. And so we come to Daniel Chapter eight, just one of many passages of scripture that speak about the time of the end. So let’s now begin…
In the Bible whenever we see “beasts” mentioned in relation to prophecy they represent empires or kingdoms. We see this clearly in Daniel Chapter seven and in Revelation Chapter 13. When we see “horns” these represent rulers or kings that rule over the beast empires. In the light of history we can see who these beast empires are. In Daniel Chapter seven the Lion represents Babylon, the bear Persia, the Leopard being the Greco-Roman world inclusive of both Greece and Rome and then we have the fourth beast, not named, but in the light of history it was the Turkish Ottoman Islamic Empire. It was the Turkish Ottoman Empire that brought the Roman Empire to an end. In the Book of Revelation we see beast empires also mentioned. In Bible Prophecy if beasts are empires in the Old Testament then they must be empires in the New Testament. John is a Jew and is following the same pattern of the Old Testament prophets in interpreting beasts as empires.
Now here in Daniel Chapter eight we see two specific beasts mentioned. Historically, the ram represented the Medio-Persian Empire while the he-goat represented the Middle-Eastern leg of Alexander the Great’s Empire. Now God is the God of history and when we read about historical events in Bible prophecy they not only apply to past history but also prophetically to future history. God Himself says; “Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and all My good pleasure I will accomplish” (Isaiah 40:9-10)
A prominent feature in Bible prophecy is that it often takes a past event and says it will happen again in the future. This is what the Lord Jesus did in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13) Bible prophecy is a pattern where you have events that are similar in pattern and are partial fulfilments that collectively all point to a final fulfilment at the end. The prophets, the Lord Jesus, the apostles and especially the Apostle John all used this method.
In this prophecy in Daniel Chapter eight the Bible camera zooms in on a ruler or “horn” that emerges to ultimately confront God and His people. This “horn” takes a defiant stand against the Messiah but is destroyed by God’s supernatural power. Daniel’s vision is in two parts. The whole of Chapter eight has a historical context but in its prophetic context relates to the time of the end. (Verses 17, 19, 26)
Now the Lord spoke to Daniel in his dreams giving to him visions about future events and they were given in light of historical events. Previously Daniel had a vision and its interpretation concerning Nebuchadnezzars dream of a statue. (Daniel Chapter 2) Then there was Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream of a tree which Daniel also was able to interpret. (Daniel Chapter 4) In Daniel’s third dream he had a vision of four beasts that represented four consecutive empires. (Daniel Chapter 7) Now in Daniel Chapter eight Daniel has another vision which was separate yet connected to the previous vision of the four beast Empires. This vision in Daniel Chapter eight is in two parts. There is the vision itself and then there is the interpretation which is consistent with the other visions Daniel had. In this first study we will look at the dream or the vision and in the second study look at the interpretation. With these things in view let’s now look at the vision itself.
The Vision; (Daniel 8:1-14)
(Vs.1-2) “After this first vision, I, Daniel, had another, in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar. In my vision I saw myself in the fortress of Susa in the province of Elam; I was beside the river Ulai.”
The vision took place within the precincts of the fortress of Susa: the royal palace of the Persian kings in the ancient territory of Elam, east of Babylonia which today would be Iran. The river Ulai was a canal along the northern side of Susa. The fact that in the vision Daniel was standing in the fortress itself tells us that the vision was related to the king or ruler or the “horn” reigning over Persia at that time.
(Vs 3-4) “I looked up and saw standing by the river a ram with two great horns, the one larger and newer than the other. I saw the ram butting toward the west, north, and south. No beast could withstand it or be rescued from its power; it did what it pleased and grew powerful.”
This ram had two horns and one horn was larger than the other. Historically this represented the Medio-Persian Empire. The Ancient Persians were very ferocious and an expansionist empire that spread out in conquest to the west to the north and to the south of Susa being the capital city of Persia at the time of Daniel’s vision. This was a Middle-eastern empire. The fact that the ram butted, showed the belligerence of this empire in its desire to conquer confront and possess other empires.
Today we see this same expansionist agenda being activated in various countries by the Iranian regime of the Ayatollahs fighting a proxy war. Iran’s militant influence is spreading out to the west, to the north and to the south. Iran is supporting the militancy of Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel, Iran is supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen located in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula who are in a military campaign against Saudi Arabia. Then the Iranians are supporting Hamas in Gaza also against Israel. For some time now the Iranian regime are consolidating their presence in Syria with a view to attacking Israel. The armies of Islam are now being gathered but as yet they do not have someone to lead them. The man from Turkey is the leading contender for this role as he seeks to resurrect the previous Turkish Ottoman Empire that lasted for around 600 years after it had destroyed the Roman Empire.
The same principality (demonic spiritual entity) that was behind ancient Persia is still at work through Iran today. (Daniel 10:13, 20) In Daniel Chapter 10 we see a future war between Israel and Iran which Iran will lose. However, even though they have been knocked down they will not be out for the count but will return as part of the armies invading Israel led by Turkey. (See also Ezekiel 38:1-6) Historically speaking concerning the ram, Daniel was seeing the Persian Empire. Now let’s read on…
(Vs. 5) “As I was reflecting, a he-goat with a prominent horn on its forehead suddenly came from the west across the whole earth without touching the ground.”
Daniel now saw a male goat representing the Greek Empire with its prominent horn or ruler leading its charge. It came suddenly from a western centred empire which spread very rapidly under Alexander. It did not touch the ground as it was very swift and conquered many nations with exceptional speed. Now we need to keep in mind that the Bible prophetically focuses on the Middle-East and not the west. As for Alexander’s empire it had a western leg and an eastern leg to the empire. The Empire that needed to be conquered was the Persian Empire which Greece achieved in a very short period of time but as we will see in these studies the focus is on the Middle-Eastern leg of Alexander’s empire and not the western leg of his empire. As we will see the Antichrist will arise in the Middle-east and not in Europe, Rome or America for that matter.
(Vs.6-7) “It came to the two-horned ram I had seen standing by the river, and rushed toward it with savage force. I saw it reach the ram; enraged, the he-goat attacked and shattered both its horns. The ram did not have the strength to withstand it; the he-goat threw the ram to the ground and trampled upon it. No one could rescue the ram from its power.”
Alexander’s army produced a swift and crushing victory over the Persians and the power of the Persians was shattered underfoot by the Greek Empire.
(Vs.8-9) “The he-goat grew very powerful, but at the height of its strength the great horn was shattered, and in its place came up four others, facing the four winds of heaven. Out of one of them came a little horn which grew and grew toward the south, the east, and the glorious land.”
Alexanders rise to power was swift but short lived and he died in India at the height of his power and the Greek kingdom was split between his four major Generals being Cassander, Ptolemy, Antigonus, and Seleucus. Now we are told that out of this Middle-Eastern region will spring up the little horn or ruler who will come out of obscurity and look like any other ruler but will have a kingdom that will expand towards the south (Egypt) and the east (Iran) and towards the glorious land (Israel). This little horn or ruler would be Antiochus in its historical context but prophetically refers to the Antichrist in the future. He will have such supernatural power that other armies and nations will be hard-pressed to withstand his expansionist power. As we will see he will come out of the Seleucid dynasty situated in Syria. He will be the last king of the North.
(Vs.10) “It grew even to the host of heaven, so that it cast down to earth some of the host and some of the stars and trampled on them.”
Historically this referred to Antiochus Epiphanies who persecuted the Jews and many were killed by his forces. He was a despot and one who sought to be worshipped as a god by the Jews. Prophetically this little horn refers to the Antichrist. The aim of this horn and his empire will be to destroy and persecute God’s heavenly people and he will wear down the saints of the Most High God and badmouth Him with a terrible vehemence. (Daniel 7:21, 25) Now stars in the Bible represent believers in both Testaments. (Genesis 26:4) (Philippians 2:15) The Antichrist will throw many believers to the ground and trample on them through persecution. (Revelation 12:4)
(Vs. 11-12) “It grew even to the Prince of the host, from whom the daily sacrifice was removed, and whose sanctuary was cast down. The host was given over together with the daily sacrifice in the course of transgression. It cast truth to the ground, and was succeeding in its undertaking.”
This rebellion and assault on God and His people will culminate at Jerusalem where the Antichrist will not only persecute faithful Jews but also faithful Christians throughout the extent of his empire. He will stop the temple sacrifices and seek to stamp out the truth. Throughout his empire he will confiscate Bibles and persecute anyone caught with a Bible and for a short time he will succeed. These events were to happen in the future and they did during the revolt of the Maccabees when they arose up against the Seleucid Greek despot Antiochus Epiphanes whose name meant “God manifest.” He came out of Syria and was a major type of the Antichrist and what he did teaches us about what the antichrist will do at the end of this present age. We will look at this character further in the second study and how he foreshadows the Antichrist. Now let’s conclude…
(Vs.13-14) “I heard a holy one speaking, and another said to whichever one it was that spoke, “How long shall the events of this vision last concerning the daily sacrifice, the desolating sin, the giving over of the sanctuary and the host for trampling?” He answered him, “For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be set right.”
In his vision Daniel was seeing the temple sacrifices being stopped at the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes historically in the future, however, prophetically Daniel was seeing a time when the temple sacrifices would be stopped yet again at the end of the age. The abomination of desolation would take place at the hands of Antiochus around 150 years before the birth of the Messiah but then again in 70AD at the hands of the Romans. Ultimately what Daniel was describing was the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem at the end of the age by the Antichrist who, like Antiochus, will come out of Syria but will not be Syrian. In fact as we will see in study two he will arise in Turkey. (Revelation 2:13) The host for trampling are the saints both faithful Jews and by extension and inclusion faithful Christians.
As for the three hundred mornings and evenings these would be days. Remember in Genesis when God was creating the world we read; “and there was morning and evening and the first day” and so the phrase is repeated after each day of creation. The 2,300 mornings and evenings are literal days, start at the time from which Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem, and plundered the temple until the time when Judah, son of Mattathias (Maccabean) drove out the Seleucid Greeks from Israel and cleansed the temple. This entire period of the abominations of Antiochus would extend from about 171BC to 165BC. Prophetically, at the end of the age after the antichrist has occupied Jerusalem for 1,260 days (3.5 years, 42 months, a time, times and half a time), the Lord Jesus will come back, destroy the antichrist and his armies, rescue the remnant of Israel and then co-reign from Jerusalem with all of His saints. At this time the saints will inherit the kingdom. (Daniel 7:9-12, 18, 21-22, 25-27) In the next study we will look in more details at the interpretation of Daniel’s vision both from a historical as well as from a Prophetic perspective.