Series: Thru the Bible
Message: Daniel’s vision of future Kingdoms
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Daniel’s vision of future Kingdoms
“(1) In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me previously.
(2) In this vision I saw myself in Susa the citadel, which is located in the province of Elam.”
Last week when we mentioned the winged Lion of the Medo–Persian Empire in connection with Darius it’s first ruler in Babylon. I remembered that the famous glazed brick friezes were in the apadana (Darius the Great’s palace) in Susa, which was a Babylonian city some 225 miles away. Now, here we are in chapter 8 and Daniel’s vision begins with him apparently in that very citadel.
“In the vision I saw myself at the Ulai Canal.”
Furthermore Daniel’s vision was beside the Ulai Canal. The KJV as well as some older translations translate this as the Ulai River, but the word for river was not used. Daniel was in fact referring to a canal which is now dry, which separated the royal city at Susa from the lower city. This canal served to bring water to the city and as a type of partial mote on their eastern side.
“(3) I looked up and saw a ram with two horns standing at the canal. Its two horns were both long, but one was longer than the other. The longer one was coming up after the shorter one. (4) I saw that the ram was butting westward, northward, and southward. No animal was able to stand before it, and there was none who could deliver from its power. It did as it pleased and acted arrogantly.”
It was my first thought that this vision was going a little further into the details of the first vision of Daniel and that is correct, but at first I was not certain to what end other than the fact that this conquest of Babylon was long foretold in Israeli prophecy and the impact of this event would be substantial.
God used Jeremiah to foretell that Judah would “become a desolate wasteland and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years” – Jeremiah 25:11
Ezra and Isaiah both prophesied regarding thoe who, why and what of Cyrus.
Ezra said, “in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia [539 B.C.], in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus” – Ezra 1:1
and Isaiah 45:1-7,
“(1) This is what the LORD says to his chosen one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I hold in order to subdue nations before him, and disarm kings, to open doors before him, so gates remain unclosed:
(2) “I will go before you and level mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter and iron bars I will hack through. (3) I will give you hidden treasures, riches stashed away in secret places, so you may recognize that I am the LORD, the One Who calls you by name, the God of Israel.
(4) For the sake of my servant Jacob, Israel, My chosen one, I call you by name and give you a title of respect, even though you do not submit to Me.
(5) I am the LORD, I have no peer, there is no God but Me. I arm you for battle, even though you do not recognize Me.
(6) I do this so people will recognize from east to west that there is no God but Me; I am the LORD, I have no peer.
(7) I am the One Who forms light and creates darkness; the One Who brings about peace and creates calamity. I am the LORD, Who accomplishes all these things.”
When Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon he allowed all the Jews to return to Judah, he restored the temple artifacts stolen by Nebuchadnezzar and actually funded their rebuilding efforts.
This was a pivotal time for the Jews because not only were the city of Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt and restored, restored as well was the position the Law held in the hearts of the Jewish people.
Isaiah 13:17-18 says, “See, I will stir up against them the Medes. . . . Their bows will strike down the young men”.
Jeremiah chapter 51 also predicts that the Medes would expand beyond Babylon and affect all nations in order to fulfill God’s plans and purposes which Jeremiah clearly states as being “to destroy Babylon” and gain “vengeance for [God’s] temple” – Jeremiah 51:11.
Finally and most recently for us, we see that Daniel interpreted a dream for Nebuchadnezzar and writing on a wall for Belshazzar which also foretold the fall of Babylon.
So, the Ram corresponding to the first beast of a lion with wings in Daniel’s previous dream then this vision would make sense, in that the single ram with two horns would be the Medo–Persian Empire. The collective Empire being the Ram itself and the two horns the individual powers which comprise it.
At first the Persians were controlled by the Medes who had helped Nebuchadnezzar overthrow the Assyrians. Later the Persians became a dominant force and the Medo–Persian Empire was born so to speak. In the end this united empire was just called the Persian Empire which is why the Persians would be the larger of the two horns on the beast.
In addition to these things is another key event in what was to become part of Israel’s history and that is the events recorded in the book of Esther in which King Artaxerxes planned a mass murdering of Jews when Esther and Mordecai were used by God to deliver Israel which led to a new feast in Israel – that of Purim.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown say,
“Susa. Though then comparatively insignificant, it was destined to be the capital of Persia after Cyrus’ time. Therefore Daniel is transported into it, as being the capital of the kingdom signified by the two-horned ram.
So knowing this interpretation is accurate, we would expect that the next animal mentioned should correspond to the second beast in Daniel’s former vision – that of the Grecian Empire, headed by Alexander the Great.”
Clarke observes that,
“Newton very properly observes that, two hundred years before the time of Daniel, they [the Grecians] were called, the goats’ people.”
“(5) While I was contemplating all this, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of all the land without touching the ground. This goat had a conspicuous horn between its eyes.
(6) It came to the two-horned ram that I had seen standing beside the canal and rushed against it with raging strength.
(7) I saw it approaching the ram. It went into a fit of rage against the ram and struck it and broke off its two horns. The ram had no ability to resist it. The goat hurled the ram to the ground and trampled it. No one could deliver the ram from its power.
(8) The male goat acted even more arrogantly. But no sooner had the large horn become strong than it was broken, and there arose four conspicuous horns in its place, extending toward the four winds of the sky.”
While we know that our assumptions are for the most part correct since the prophecy is explained FOR us at the end of this chapter, we still have what could easily be seen as a confirmation of our assumptions for no other world conqueror did so much in so short a period of time. Before 29 years of age Alexander the Great had quickly conquered the civilized world. The vision of Daniel had the goat coming ‘without touching the ground’. This might seem an obscure wording, but it very likely represented speed. Much like we use a similar phrase today. When someone is said to never let their feet touch the ground – it is to imply that they move quickly and they never stop moving.
“Nothing in the history of the world, was equal to the conquests of Alexander, who ran through all the countries from Illycrium and the Adriatic Sea to the Indian Ocean and the River Ganges; and in twelve years subdued part of Europe, and all Asia.”
And just like the four heads of the leopard in Daniel’s former vision which most likely represented the four divisions Alexander’s empire was divided into, this Goat’s horn (which represents power or ruling authority) was replaced by four other horns.
“After his (Alexander the Great’s) death his empire was divided into four parts (four heads). Specifically, the four heads were Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, who inherited Alexander’s domain after his death.”
Concerning Daniel’s description of this battle between Grecian Empire and the Medo–Persian Empire that it was “…with furious power…” and they “…moved with rage…” Guzik observes that,
“Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians.”
“(9) From one of them came a small horn. But it grew to be very big, toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land. (10) It grew so big it reached the army of heaven, and it brought about the fall of some of the army and some of the stars to the ground, where it trampled them. (11) It also acted arrogantly against the Prince of the army, from whom the daily sacrifice was removed and whose sanctuary was thrown down. (12) The army was given over, along with the daily sacrifice, in the course of his sinful rebellion. It hurled truth to the ground and enjoyed success.”
Now, as we concluded from Daniel’s former vision in chapter 7, this horn serves as a dual reference. This time the horn almost certainly represents both the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel’s more immediate future and to the antichrist at the end of the age.
To the South
This text says that this horn “grew very big toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land”. As far as his advances to the south which is relative to his home country of Syria, history tells us that Antiochus IV advanced south of Syria towards Egypt and fought against its King, Ptolemy Philometer, and took a good many cities there. He also besieged Alexandria and in all likelihood would have subdued the whole country, if the Romans hadn’t stepped in and restrained his enthusiasm.
To the East
His advancements to the east included Armenia, Persia & Media, as well as the countries beyond the Euphrates, whom he made to pay tribute to him as is recorded in the Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees 3:31,
“Wherefore, being greatly perplexed in his mind, he determined to go into Persia, there to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money.”
Towards the beautiful land
As to “the beautiful land” it is in reference to the land of Judea, so called because of its delightful situation, and great fruitfulness; and because God chose it above all others for the place He would place His name and where He would make His habitation.
It is also therefore where His word, and worship, and ordinances, were observed and enjoyed; and ultimately where the beauty and splendor that is Messiah would be born and live. Antiochus led his army into Judea and greatly afflicted and distressed it. He exalted himself as master of most of Galilee and Judea.
Just so you understand why all the history at this juncture – it is to help explain why it is so widely believed and accepted even among secular historians that Antiochus Epiphanes was the one to whom this part of Daniel’s vision was referring. This is SO true, that the secular world has insisted on a later date for the writing of the book of Daniel because in their humanistically limited view, that is the only way anyone could have so accurately described the person and activities of Antiochus Epiphanes. In reality Daniel was written nearly 350 years before the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
Verse 10 has Daniel saying, “ It grew so big it reached the army of heaven, and it brought about the fall of some of the army and some of the stars to the ground, where it trampled them.”
The word “stars” as used in the Bible are more general in meaning. They literally mean “luminaries” and are used symbolically throughout scripture to represent earthly rulers, angels and for God’s people as a whole. [See Gen. 12:3; 15:5; Exod. 12:41].
Here, as used of Antiochus Epiphanes, it is almost certainly referring to the Jewish people at large and some of its leaders in particular – of note are the priests.
“Antiochus was an infamous persecutor of the Jewish people. He wanted them to submit to Greek culture and customs and was more than willing to use murder and violence to compel them.”
The Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees describes in some detail how Antiochus blasphemed God and persecuted the Jews. Some estimate that he is responsible for the murder of more than 100,000 Jews. [1Maccabees 1:29-32; 41-61]
Of course the stars being flung down to the ground has a spiritual meaning as well, both in satan in his original rebellion from heaven where John, looking into the past describes him as a dragon whose tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and hurled them to the earth – Rev. 12:4. It is this same satan who is the spirit and power behind the antichrist (the beast) as is mentioned in Revelation 13:2-4.
Now Antiochus Epiphanes means “Illustrious one” or “God manifest”. The antichrist, when he comes, will appear quite illustrious and will set himself up in the Temple in Jerusalem proclaiming that he is God. So the name is most fitting for both personalities.
The similarities of these two people are significant, much of which will not become clear until we reach the 11th chapter of Daniel and compare what it says with the input of the New Testament writers. However, this proves without question that this vision of Daniel serves as a dual reference.
Both Antiochus and the antichrist desecrate the temple
Now the temple of God has been desecrated many times throughout history, but the mentions of the abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel and again by Jesus are on a whole other level. That they refer to two separate events is also clear since the one which happened under the old covenant by Antiochus Epiphanies was abhorrent, but it did not bring desolation on the same level as the one Jesus predicted as a future event relative to His location in human history and which would usher in the great tribulation and the second coming.
It is worthy of note that two other desecrations of the temple which were profound happened following Jesus’ foretelling of the ultimate fulfillment of Daniel’s vision, but neither of those ushered in the Great Tribulation or the Second Coming of Christ, so it “could be” argued that this vision of Daniel has in total 4 fulfillments.
The two greatest of which book end two lesser ones with Antiochus IV (Epiphanies) being the first and the antichrist being the last.
The two which fit in the middle will be described on the website but in brief the first desecration was that of blood and a false high priest and the second was by Rome’s destruction of the temple.
Ananus was the High Priest who, according to Josephus’ Antiquity of the Jews’, ordered the execution of Jesus’ brother James. Ananus was one of the main leaders of the Great Revolt of Judea, which erupted in 66 AD. He was appointed as one of the heads of the Judean provisional government.
The desecration of the temple by the Zealots was just before the attack on Jerusalem by the Roman army led by the then future emperor Titus Vespasian.
According to Josephus, they seized the temple, they made it a stronghold and “entered the sanctuary with polluted feet.”
He also says that a Ananus was replaced as high priest by a man named Phannias, who Josephus describes as “a man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but ignorant of what the high priesthood was.”
The temple areas were defiled with blood, and Ananus was murdered. His murder, says Josephus, was the beginning of the capture of the city. Then was the destruction of the temple.
Going back to the first fulfillment – Antiochus desecrated the temple in Jerusalem in a most deliberate and foul way. Barclay tells us, “He desecrated the Temple by offering swine’s flesh on the great altar and by setting up public brothels in the sacred courts. Before the very Holy Place itself he set up a great statue of the Olympian Zeus and ordered the Jews to worship it.”
“Antiochus’s suppression of the Jews came to a head in December of 168 B.C. when he returned in defeat from Alexandria. He ordered his generals to seize Jerusalem on a Sabbath. There he erected an idol of Zeus and desecrated the altar by an offering of swine and sprinkling the pig’s juices in the sanctuary. Sacrifice was ceased because the temple was desecrated.”
Worse yet, was what would happen at the end of the age when the antichrist desecrates the newly restored temple in Jerusalem bringing the desolation which is .
“The Hebrew word translated “abomination” as it appears in Daniel 11:31 is shikkoots. It appears in the Old Testament 29 times, and it has the idea of a filthy, disgusting idol. However, this is more than just an idol. First, it is an idol set in the holy place of the temple in Jerusalem – standing where it ought not, and as Matthew puts it, standing in the holy place (Matt. 24:15). Second, this is a filthy, disgusting idol that brings desolation – the complete and devastating judgment of God.”
In the final and ultimate fulfillment of Daniel’s vision and Jesus’ foretelling of the abomination of desolation is when in the newly restored temple in Jerusalem, the daily sacrifices will be stopped and the antichrist or as Paul calls him, the son of perdition, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he IS God.” – 2 Thess. 2:3-4.
So again, the meaning of Antiochus Epiphanies’ name of “God manifest” is an appropriate description for the actions of the antichrist.
God gave tremendous clarity to Daniel on this even to the point of marking the time as we will see when we get to Daniel12.
However, before we continue… due to recent questions regarding this time in our future, I will go ahead and read the entire thought Paul lays out for us in 2 Thessalonians.
“(1) Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, (2) not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. (3) Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (4) He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (5) Surely you recall that I used to tell you these things while I was still with you. (6) And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. (7) For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way, (8) and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival. (9) The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, (10) and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. (11) Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. (12) And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned.”
In these ways both Antiochus and the antichrist will fulfill the statement we read of Daniel’s vision in verses 11-12, “(11) It also acted arrogantly against the Prince of the army, from whom the daily sacrifice was removed and whose sanctuary was thrown down. (12) The army was given over, along with the daily sacrifice, in the course of his sinful rebellion. It hurled truth to the ground and enjoyed success.”
“(13) Then I heard a holy one speaking. Another holy one said to the one who was speaking, “To what period of time does the vision pertain – this vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the destructive act of rebellion and the giving over of both the sanctuary and army to be trampled?”
(14) He said to me, “To 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be put right again.”
Now this is a numbers guessing game. It has been traditionally understood two different ways.
- One where the 2,300 referred to actual days.
One where it refers to 2,300 sacrifices which would cut the time in half.
Both are possible given these words – “To 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be put right again”.
The reason it could be seen as half of 2,300 days is BECAUSE, given the context of the temple and sacrifices the words “evening and morning” is likely referring to the sacrifices which were offered in the morning and in the evening of each day as we learned back in Exodus 29:38-43. If that is the meaning then there were two sacrifices each day thus reducing the time to 1,150 days.
Historically, we know that the temple was cleansed and rededicated to God in December 25, 165BC which was precisely 2,300 days AFTER Antiochus Epiphanes began his persecution of the Jews in 171 B.C..
If we take the days to be half days it can still work since that would have been the time of the Maccabean tribulation, 168-165 B.C.. Those days ended 1150 after Antiochus Epiphanes began his persecution of the Jews in 171 B.C. At which time the sanctuary was ‘cleansed’ by Judas Maccabeus and the evening and morning sacrifices were re-establish as is recorded in 2 Maccabees 10:1-5.
As to its future fulfillment, we know that the time of the debut of the antichrist until the time of the abomination of desolation will be approximately 3.5 years, though between Daniel and Revelation multiple times are offered for very closely related events one is 1,260 days, the next 1,290 days and the last 1,335 days.
This all leaves the head spinning, but suffice it to say that from the time of the advent of the antichrist to the time he is judged, the rapture of the church, the beginning of the Great tribulation and it’s end there are many dates and the great majority of them are very close in duration.
I will without a doubt mention this again, but I believe that to some degree these future events are intended to be somewhat ambiguous since Jesus made it clear that His return would be in the Father’s timing and that not even Jesus Himself knew the specific time. [Matt. 24:32-50; Mark 13:32].
“(15) While I, Daniel, was watching the vision, I sought to understand it. Now one who appeared to be a man was standing before me.
(16) Then I heard a human voice coming from between the banks of the Ulai. It called out, “Gabriel, enable this person to understand the vision.”
(17) So he approached the place where I was standing. As he came, I felt terrified and fell flat on the ground.
Then he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”
(18) As he spoke with me, I fell into a trance with my face to the ground. But he touched me and stood me upright.
(19) Then he said, “I am going to inform you about what will happen in the latter time of wrath, for the vision pertains to the appointed time of the end.
(20) The ram that you saw with the two horns stands for the kings of Media and Persia.
(21) The male goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. [Alexander the Great]
(22) The horn that was broken and in whose place there arose four others stands for four kingdoms that will arise from his nation, though they will not have his strength.
(23) Toward the end of their rule, when rebellious acts are complete, a rash and deceitful king will arise. (24) His power will be great, but it will not be by his strength alone. He will cause terrible destruction. He will be successful in what he undertakes. He will destroy powerful people and the people of the holy ones.
(25) By his treachery he will succeed through deceit. He will have an arrogant attitude, and he will destroy many who are unaware of his schemes.
He will rise up against the Prince of princes, yet he will be broken apart – but not by human agency.
(26) The vision of the evenings and mornings that was told to you is correct. But you should seal up the vision, for it refers to a time many days from now.”
(27) I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up and again carried out the king’s business. But I was astonished at the vision, and there was no one to explain it.”
This last portion clearly refers to the end which we have spoken of in some detail to night already.
Next week we will be working through chapter 9 where Daniel is broken in heart and spirit and is crying out to God regarding Israel as the immediate representation of God’s kingdom in the earth. He is devastated by all he hass seen and is wondering if Israel is being replaced and God, in His love and tenderness, answers Daniel’s prayer!