In our study of Daniel chapter eight, we examine the events of the last days as a great Islamic empire led by Iran is defeated by Europe ushering in a time of relative tranquility and the emergence of the anti-christ.
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After that first vision, it was in the third year of the reign of King Belshatzar that another vision appeared to me, Dani'el. I looked into the vision; and as I looked, I found myself in Shushan the capital, in the province of 'Eilam. I looked into the vision, and I was by the Ulai canal.
We remember that the number three is associated with the revelation of God's will for men on the earth. Daniel tells us that this vision was after the dream that we saw in chapter 7 and in fact we see that it was about two years later. He sees himself transported from Babylon to the capitol of the Persian empire which is now the country of Iran.
I looked up; and as I watched, there in front of the stream stood a ram with two horns. The horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up later [than the other].
In Hebrew the phrase lifted up my eyes is an idiom that is related to prayer and we see that Daniel was in worship and prayer when this vision happened. The ram was the national symbol of Persia and we see that this ram had two horns of different lengths. Throughout the Bible, the horn is a symbol of strength and power. These two horns speak of the fact that the Persians of Daniel's time would be strong but they would also fade only to emerge again stronger than they were before. This speaks of the fact that, in the last days, the modern country of Iran will once again be a leading power in the world just as it is today and its goal is the proliferation of Islam.
I saw the ram pushing to the west, north and south; and no animals could stand up against it; nor was there anyone that could rescue from its power. So it did as it pleased and became very strong.
We see that this modern Iranian empire will expand to the west, north, and south just as we see today with its influence in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and even parts of Israel. Just as Daniel describes, the Persians of today (Iran) pretty much do as they please because of the fear of a wider war in the Middle East region.
I was beginning to understand, when a male goat came from the west, passing over the whole earth without touching the ground. The goat had a prominent horn between its eyes. It approached the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the river, and charged it with savage force. I watched as it advanced on the ram, filled with rage against it, and struck the ram, breaking its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it. It threw the ram to the ground and trampled it down, and there was no one that could rescue it from the goat's power.
This passage tells of the rise of another empire that is described as "without touching the ground" which speaks of demonic influence. We see that another characteristic of this empire is anger which again speaks of demonic influence as anger is the opposite of joy which comes from God.
The male goat then became extremely strong; but when it was strong, the big horn was broken; and in its place arose what appeared to be four horns in the directions of the four winds of heaven.
When this demonic empire is at its strongest, power will be given to four others and the empire will be spread throughout the earth.
Out of one of them came a little horn which grew extremely big in the directions of the south and east, and in the direction of the Glory. It grew so great that it reached the army of heaven; it hurled some of the army and the stars to the ground and trampled on them. Yes, it even considered itself as great as the prince of the army; the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was thrown down. Through sin, the army was put in its power, along with the regular burnt offering. It flung truth on the ground as it acted and prospered.
From one of those four leaders will come another leader from the east (Europe) whose objective is the land of Israel. This speaks of the coming Anti-Christ which is Satan incarnate and who desires to not only rule over the earth but also the heavens. We see that, for a time, this leader will be successful and establish a temple in Jerusalem and have an army that will try to stop the worship of the God of Israel.
Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the speaker, "How long will the events of the vision last, this vision concerning the regular offering and the transgression which is so appalling, that allows the sanctuary and the army to be trampled underfoot?" The first said to me, "Two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, after which the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state."
There have been many attempts to explain this prophecy and its relation to future end time events. To rightly understand this passage, we must remember that this portion (unlike the part before it) of the Book of Daniel was written in Hebrew instead of Aramaic. The Jewish day begins with the evening due to the description of a day in Genesis 1:5. We can therefore know that this is speaking about the fact that the desolation of the temple would last for 2300 Jewish days which is about 6.3 years and that corresponds to the portion of the Great Tribulation of Revelation before the power of that evil empire is brought to an end. During the first part of this period of time, the anti-christ is not in power but after he comes to power it will last 2300 days. After the 2300 days of anti-christ being in power, the kingdom of heaven will be established.
After I, Dani'el, had seen the vision and was trying to understand it, suddenly there stood in front of me someone who appeared to be a man. I heard a human voice calling from between the banks of the Ulai, "Gavri'el, make this man understand the vision!"
Daniel tells us that he did not have to guess at the meaning of the vision and that reminds us that God does not want us to be ignorant about the end times. We see that the angel Gabriel was instructed to help Daniel to understand the vision.
He came up to where I was standing, and his approach so terrified me that I fell on my face. But he said to me, "Human being! Understand that the vision refers to the time of the end." As he was speaking with me, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face toward the ground; but he touched me, set me on my feet,
The first thing that Gabriel tells Daniel is that the vision has to do with the last days.
and said, "I am going to explain to you what will happen at the end of the period of fury, because [the vision] has to do with the time at the end. You saw a ram with two horns which are the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy male goat is the king of Greece, and the prominent horn between its eyes is the first king. As for the horn that broke and the four which rose up in its place, four kingdoms will arise out of this nation, but not with the power the first king had.
The period of fury refers to the pouring out of God's wrath at the appointed time. Gabriel tells Daniel that the ram is Persia (Iran) and the goat is Greece referring to the west or Europe. We see that out of this empire (Europe) will come the four leaders that rule with demonic power.
In the latter part of their reign, when the evildoers have become as evil as possible, there will arise an arrogant king skilled in intrigue. His power will be great, but not with the power the first king had. He will be amazingly destructive, he will succeed in whatever he does, and he will destroy the mighty and the holy ones. He will succeed through craftiness and deceit, become swelled with pride, and destroy many people just when they feel the most secure. He will even challenge the prince of princes; but, without human intervention, he will be broken.
Out of one of these leaders will come one who is full of pride, wisdom about hidden things, and the power of Satan. This leader will bring massive corruption and deceit that will even affect some of the people of Israel. In this, we see that the demonic empire of the four leaders will be stablished during a time of chaos caused by the rise of the Islamic Empire (Iran or the ram) but the anti-christ will come to power during a time of tranquility. The anti-christ will even challenge Yeshua Messiah but his power will be broken by the power of Messiah which is by speaking truth.
The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; but you are to keep the vision secret, because it is about days in the distant future."
Gabriel tells Daniel (and us as well) that the prophecy concerns the distant future of the Anti-Christ and he is told to close up the prophecy because it does not have anything to do with the time of Daniel. We must remember that what was distant to Daniel is very close today.
I, Dani'el, grew weak and was ill for some days. Then I got up and took care of the king's affairs; but I was appalled at the vision and still couldn't understand it.
Daniel was so shaken by this vision that he became sick. After his recovery, he went on with his life of service to the king. That is a good lesson for us as Christians because many people get so caught up in prophecy that they don't pay any attention to what is happening now.