In the last article we covered portions of Daniel. I know that for you seasoned bible prophecy buffs a lot of this is prophecy 101. But I want to make sure all the basics are covered before we expand on advanced concepts. We will pick up where we left off. We discovered that Daniel chapter 7 reveals an end time kingdom. Chapter 7 talks about how this kingdom rises and we discover that these 4 beasts combine to make one beast. This is the same beast found in Revelation chapter 13 and 17. We get introduced to the ruler of this kingdom. We see how he came to power and we see his final judgment.
Christians today call this ruler the Antichrist. To be fair the bible never calls him that. It is a modern name given to him by 20th century eschatology books. The word Antichrist is found in 1 John
1 John 4:3 But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.
1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour.
1John 2:22 Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. –HCSB
So according to John there is a spirit of Antichrist. Anyone who denies that Jesus is the messiah or that he comes from God has a spirit of Antichrist. This description can fit many people today. In chapter 7 we see a coming world ruler described as a little horn. This little horn does the following.
Daniel 7:21 As I was watching, this horn waged war against the holy ones and was prevailing over them
Daniel7:25 He will speak words against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High. He will intend to change religious festivals and laws, and the holy ones will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. -HCSB
So because he speaks against the Most High and persecutes the holy ones he is called the Antichrist. Most Christians know this ruler by this name even though the bible does not give him this name. I have no objections calling him this because it does fit his description. So there is the background on the name of this tyrannical ruler.
Now let’s go to Daniel chapter 8. Daniel has another vision in chapter 8. Once again the interpretation for this vision is provided.
Daniel 8:1 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me earlier. 2I saw the vision, and as I watched, I was in the fortress city of Susa, in the province of Elam. I saw in the vision that I was beside the Ulai Canal. -HCSB
“After the one that appeared to me earlier” could be a reference to his vision in chapter 7. The Book of Daniel resumes the use of the Hebrew language In Chapter 8. In the ancient manuscripts the section from Daniel 2:4 to Daniel 7:28 was written in Aramaic. The third year of the reign of King Belshazzar means this vision happened to Daniel while Babylon was still in power. Babylon was still a force to be reckoned with. Although the vision will deal with the emergence and destiny of the Persian and Greek Empires, the Greek Empire was not much of anything at the time this prophecy was revealed to Daniel.
Daniel 8:3 I looked up, and there was a ram standing beside the canal. He had two horns. The two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up last. 4I saw the ram charging to the west, the north, and the south. No animal could stand against him, and there was no rescue from his power. He did whatever he wanted and became great. -HCSB
Verse 20 of this chapter will identify the ram which had two horns as representing the Medo-Persian Empire. This empire succeeded the Babylonian Empire.
Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth century historian, states that the Persian ruler “bore the head of a ram as he stood at the head of his army.” (Wood) “The ram was the national emblem of Persia, a ram being stamped on Persian coins as well as on the headdress of Persian emperors.” (Strauss)
The ram is noted for its two horns. “one was higher than the other”. This was a very accurate prediction of the partnership the Medes and the Persians had with each other because the Persians were larger and stronger in the partnership. They also emerged after the Medes “the higher one came up last”.
The Ram was Pushing westward, northward, and southward. The Medo-Persian Empire wielded its power to the north, south, and west. It assumed territory but made no major conquests towards the east.
Daniel 8:5 As I was observing, a male goat appeared, coming from the west across the surface of the entire earth without touching the ground. The goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and rushed at him with savage fury. 7I saw him approaching the ram, and infuriated with him, he struck the ram, shattering his two horns, and the ram was not strong enough to stand against him. The goat threw him to the ground and trampled him, and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power. 8Then the male goat became very great, but when he became powerful, the large horn was shattered. Four conspicuous horns came up in its place, pointing toward the four winds of heaven. -HCSB
This male goat is clearly identified with Greece in verse 21 and 22 of this same chapter. The horns of the goat are identified as rulers of the Greek Empire.
The goat was a common representation of the Greek Empire. “Newton very properly observes that, two hundred years before the time of Daniel, they were called, the goats’ people.” (Clarke)
“Across the surface of the entire earth without touching the ground” This is the prophetic description of the male goat and this showed to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire.
- The Greek Empire rose from the west of the previous empires. (Babylon and Persia)
- The Greek Empire rose with great speed.
- The Greek Empire had a notable ruler, Alexander the Great “a conspicuous horn”
- The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire “I saw him approaching the ram, and infuriated with him, he struck the ram”
- The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other. Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians
- The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire “and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power”
The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire was suddenly cut short “the large horn was shattered”
Alexander the Great died at the young age of 33. After the end of his reign the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers. “Four conspicuous horns came up in its place, pointing toward the four winds of heaven.”
The four rulers of the Greek Empire after Alexander ruled their own dominions. They did not rule the entire empire together. Upon Alexander’s death he was asked who should lead the empire, who would he leave the empire too. His response was leave it to the strong. Alexander did not divide the empire among his four generals himself. His four leading generals divided it among themselves by force after his death.
- Cassander, ruling over Greece and its region
- Lysimachus, ruling over Asia Minor
- Seleucus, ruling over Syria and Israel’s land
- Ptolemy, ruling over Egypt
“Then the male goat became very great” Alexander’s Empire had a large dominion, but it also had a cultural power. Alexander the Great was determined to spread the Greek civilization, culture, and language across every land he conquered. Everyone was required to learn the Greek life style. This was called Hellenism. As a result Greek became the common language of the civilized world. This is why Greek is the language of the New Testament.
Daniel 8:9 From one of them a little horn emerged and grew extensively toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land. 10It grew as high as the heavenly host, made some of the stars and some of the host fall to the earth, and trampled them. 11It made itself great, even up to the Prince of the host; it removed His daily sacrifice and overthrew the place of His sanctuary. 12Because of rebellion, a host, together with the daily sacrifice, will be given over. The horn will throw truth to the ground and will be successful in whatever it does. -HCSB
This was fulfilled in one of the four successors to Alexander the Great. Since the dominion of this horn was extended toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land, we can identify the historical fulfillment of this little horn in a man known as Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He ruled over Syria and Israel’s land under the Seleucid dynasty.
The Glorious land is in reference to Israel. The south is the land south of Israel (Egypt) toward the east is in reference to the land east of Israel. This would be the area known as Jordon today. Israel’s land was fought over between the dynasties of Seleucid and Ptolemy, but the Seleucids gained power over the region in the days of Antiochus III (198 B.C.).
Antiochus IV gained the throne by murdering his brother, the former king Seleucus Philopator. The son of Philopator was the rightful heir to the throne. Antiochus IV had him held hostage in Rome. Antiochus IV legitimized his rule mainly through flattery and bribery. Antiochus IV gave himself the title “Epiphanes” meaning, “illustrious” and indicating deity. The Jews turned it into “Epimanes” which meant “madman.”
Antiochus Epiphanes is a very accurate and dramatic fulfillment of this prophecy in history – so much so that critics insist that the Book of Daniel claim it must have been written after his time. The main problem is the book of Daniel is also found among the Septuagint versions of scripture which date back to 270 B.C. The Septuagint precedes these events by over 70 years.
- Antiochus Epiphanes exerted his dominion toward the south, toward the east, and toward the land of Israel “Glorious Land”
- Antiochus Epiphanes murdered other rulers and persecuted the people of Israel “cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them”
- Antiochus Epiphanes blasphemed God and commanded idolatrous worship directed towards him “exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host”
- Antiochus Epiphanes put a stop to temple sacrifices in Jerusalem “by him the daily sacrifices were taken away”
- Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple “the place of His sanctuary was cast down”
- Antiochus Epiphanes opposed God and seemed to prosper “he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered”
“It cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground” These are symbols used in the Old Testament for angels, kings and leaders, or the people of God at large. Here it is fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes and his attacks against rulers and God’s people in general.
The terms stars of heaven (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 15:5) and the hosts of the LORD (Exodus 12:41) are used of God’s people in general.
“And trampled them” Antiochus was an infamous persecutor of the Jewish people. He wanted them to submit to Hellenism. He was willing to use murder and violence to motivate them.
Antiochus’s suppression of the Jews came to a head in December of 168 B.C. when he returned in defeat from Alexandria Egypt. He ordered his generals to seize Jerusalem on the Sabbath. There he raised an idol of Zeus and desecrated the altar by offering swine and sprinkling the pig’s juices in the sanctuary. Sacrifice was ceased because the temple was desecrated.
1 Maccabees 1:29-32; 1 Maccabees 1:52-61 describe how Antiochus persecuted the Jews. 1 Maccabees 1:41-50 describes his blasphemies. By some estimates he is responsible for the murder of more than 100,000 Jews.
“Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices” This was fulfilled in the terrors of Antiochus Epiphanes. The Jews, especially their leaders invited God’s judgment upon them through Antiochus because of their sin.
The first attack of Antiochus against the Jews was to settle a rivalry for the high priesthood. A pious high priest, Onias III, was removed from office and replaced with his brother Jason because Jason bribed Antiochus. Then in 172, another brother (Menelaus) gave Antiochus an even bigger bribe and replaced Jason. A year later
Menelaus started selling many of the temple’s gold utensils to raise money to pay off the bribe. Onias III rebuked him, and Menelaus had him murdered. Meanwhile, Jason gathered armies and fought against Menelaus to regain the office of High Priest. Antiochus Epiphanes came in to Jerusalem in 171 to defend the man who paid him a bigger bribe to be the High Priest.
Daniel 8:13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the speaker, “How long will the events of this vision last — the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and of the host to be trampled? ” 14He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be restored.”
“Then I heard a holy one speaking” Many think this nameless holy one is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus. There is not enough information to be certain.
“How long will the events of this vision last?” Daniel did not ask this question. He heard the holy ones speaking together and one of them asked the question. They wanted to know how long the sacrifices would be suspended and how long the sanctuary would be desecrated.
“For two thousand three evenings and mornings” Bible students debate this meaning. Is it 2,300 days or 1,150 days? 2,300 days is almost seven years. Either understanding is possible, but it is more likely that this means 1,150 days. The date when the temple was cleansed is well established as December 25, 165 B.C. If we count back 2,300 days from then, we come to the year when Antiochus Epiphanes began his persecution in earnest (171 B.C.).
However, if we take it to mean 1,150 days it can refer to the time the temple was actually desecrated. Philip Newell makes this case: “For a duration of time during which 2300 daily sacrifices would ordinarily have been offered, one at evening and one in the morning, as specified in Exodus 29:38-43. Since there are two of these daily, the actual time period involved is 1150 days, or slightly over three years. This, in fact, was the time of the Maccabean tribulation, 168-165 B.C., at the end of which the sanctuary was ‘cleansed’ by Judas Maccabeus in his restoration of the evening and morning sacrifices (2 Maccabees 10:1-5).”
This passage has been a favorite source for ostentatious and unbelievable prophetic interpretations. A popular but tragic interpretation of this passage took one year for every day, and William Miller used 2,300 “year-days” to calculate that Jesus would return in 1844. His starting point was 2,300 years after Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the temple. His movement ended up giving birth to the Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and several other movements.
This is a total misapplication of scripture and the hermeneutics are wrong. First the event of the desecration of the temple happens after Alexander the great and the rise of the Greek empire which is what this prophecy is addressing. Cyrus issued the rebuilding of the temple at the time Persia was in Power. It was that rebuilt temple that was desecrated.
We can know that Miller and other “year-day” theories are wrong because this passage was fulfilled before the days of Jesus life on earth. Jesus Knew that the temple was properly cleansed and rededicated when He attended the Feast of Lights. This same festival is known as Hanukkah today. It took 8 days to cleanse the temple. This festival commemorates the cleansing and rededication of the temple after the desecration brought by Antiochus Epiphanes (John 10:22).
Adam Clarke comments show what a hold the year-date approach had on many in his day.
“Though literally it be two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, yet I think the prophetic day should be understood here, as in other parts of this prophet, and must signify so many years. If we date these years from the vision of the he-goat, (Alexander’s invading Asia), this was A.M. 3670, B.C. 334; and two thousand three hundred years from that time will reach to A.D. 1966, or one hundred and forty-one years from the present A.D. 1825.”
There is no hermeneutic foundation for Clarke’s method. This approach has led many astray into serious error.
This remarkably detailed prophecy was written some 350 years before the time of Antiochus Epiphanes! Great prophetic fulfillment of this nature shows us that God not only knows the future, He even guides the future.
The vision is interpreted
Daniel 8:15 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there stood before me someone who appeared to be a man. 16I heard a human voice calling from the middle of the Ulai: “Gabriel, explain the vision to this man.”17So he approached where I was standing; when he came near, I was terrified and fell facedown. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision refers to the time of the end.” 18While he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me, made me stand up, 19and said, “I am here to tell you what will happen at the conclusion of the time of wrath, because it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21The shaggy goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king. 22The four horns that took the place of the shattered horn represent four kingdoms. They will rise from that nation, but without its power. -HCSB
“from the middle of the Ulai” Daniel is still in the middle of his vision. He saw himself on the shores of the Persian river. He heard someone instruct Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel.
“The vision refers to the time of the end” Gabriel declares to Daniel that this vision has to do with end times, with the latter time of the indignation.
This is a problem for some and it causes controversy because we see that the prophecy of Daniel 8:1-14 was fulfilled in the days of the Medo-Persian and Greek Empires. The time of Antiochus Epiphanes line up as an exact fulfillment to this prophecy. The term time of the end commonly refers to what we think of as the end times, not events fulfilled more than a 160 years before the birth of Jesus.
The solution is that even though this prophecy is fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, it also has a later fulfillment in the Antichrist. That is the reason for referring to the time of the end. Antiochus Epiphanes is sometimes called the “antichrist of the Old Testament.” He foreshadows the Antichrist of the end times.
Just like Antiochus Epiphanes rose to power with brute force and conspiracy, the Antichrist will also rise to power through brute force and conspiracy. As Antiochus persecuted the Jews, the Antichrist will also persecute the Jews. As he stopped sacrifice and desecrated the temple, The Antichrist will also stop the sacrifice and desecrate the temple. As Antiochus seemed to be a complete success, so we will see the Antichrist succeed.
“From what Antiochus did to Jews in his day, therefore, one may know the general pattern of what the Antichrist will do to them in the future.” (Wood)
“Greece with all its refinement, culture and art, produced the Old Testament Anti-Christ while the so called Christian nations produce the New Testament Anti-Christ.” (Heslop)
Some see this Antiochus and Antichrist connection as a foreshadow. Some disagree with this analysis. Martin Luther wrote, “This chapter in Daniel refers both to Antiochus and Antichrist.” John Calvin wrote, “Hence Luther, indulging his thoughts too freely, refers this passage to the masks of Antichrist.”
Daniel 8:23“At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. 24He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. 25He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant; he will destroy many without warning. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power.26“This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret.”27Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it. -NIV
“a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power.” The prophecy in this passage reads equally true of both Antiochus and Antichrist. This is an example of a prophetic passage that has both a near and far fulfillment.
Antiochus Epiphanes was known for his cruel brutality; this will also become the legacy of the coming Antichrist.
Antiochus was known for his flattery and smooth tongue. The coming Antichrist will strike a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27).
“He will become very strong, but not by his own power” Antiochus Epiphanes was empowered by Satan and allowed by God. The same will be true of the coming Antichrist.
“and succeed in everything he does” Antiochus Epiphanes looked like a total success. The coming Antichrist will look like a complete conqueror until God topples his reign.
“He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people” Antiochus Epiphanes not only destroyed his enemies, but also harshly persecuted the people of God. The coming Antichrist will also destroy and persecute the people of God.
“He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant” Both the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes in the past and the Antichrist in the future are noted for their deceit.
“He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant” The coins of Antiochus Epiphanes were inscribed with this title: theos epiphanies meaning, “God manifest.” The coming Antichrist will also have control over money there will be a mark issued for everyone to buy and sell. (rev 13:16-18) The coming Antichrist will also be arrogant and exalt himself: So that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
“He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle” Though Antiochus Epiphanes hated and fought against the people of God, it was because he really hated God. The same will be true of the coming Antichrist. He will fight against the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He will fight against the Prince of Princes.
“but he will be broken, though not by human power” History tells us that Antiochus Epiphanes died of disease, not by the hand of man. In a similar way, no man will defeat the coming Antichrist. The hand of Jesus will strike him down (Revelation 19:20).
“But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret” Other versions say that Daniel was told to seal up the vision. This would be done after he wrote the vision on a scroll. This is a process where a seal is placed within the scroll itself. Typically this could be done by pouring hot wax along a section of the scroll creating a seal. (Rev 6) This could be why Daniel started using Hebrew at the beginning of this chapter. It was his way of keeping this vision secret or sealed from all nations except the Jewish people.
The King James version of the bible calls the desecration of the temple the Abomination of Desolation. It is an event were the temple sacrifice is stopped and the temple is defiled. Then the person responsible for doing this sets themselves up to be worshiped as God.
While Antiochus fits this description, the book of Thessalonians says this event will happen once again in the future. Jesus also declared this to be a future event in Mathew 24, and Mark 13. It is important to note Antiochus Lived 160 years before Jesus.
Mathew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
I believe that chapter 8 of Daniel was fulfilled by Antiochus but I also believe that the coming Antichrist we see in chapter 7 of Daniel will also fulfill the same prophecies. I believe that Antiochus is a type or foreshadow of the coming Antichrist. The book of Daniel is no longer sealed to us and the secret of the vision is revealed. History verifies the accuracy of this vision. Time for us is not distant in light of Revelation 1:3 and the book of prophecy is not sealed in light of Revelation 22:10. Today we are shown the coming world events. Today they serve as a warning of the events that will happen before the coming of our Lord Jesus the Christ!