Daniel Chapter Eight, A Picture Of The Anti-Christ

In our study of Daniel chapter eight, we examine the rise and fall of the Greek empire and see a picture of the coming anti-christ.

Daniel 8:1 & 2

In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal.

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.

Daniel 8:3

I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later.

The ram was the national symbol of Persia and we see that this ram had two horns of different lengths. This ram represented the alliance of the Medes and the Persians and the longer horn was Persia while the shorter one was the Medes. This was also shown to Daniel in his dream of the bear raised up on one of its sides in chapter seven. Throughout the Bible a horn is a symbol of strength and we see that this was a strong alliance but the Persians were the strongest part of the alliance.

Daniel 8:4

I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.

As we have seen, the Media-Persian empire replaced the Babylonians as the greatest power on the earth. We see that they looked to expand and attacked Babylon, Egypt, and Asia Minor.

Daniel 8:5-7

As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power.

This passage tells of the rise of the Greek empire under Alexander the Great. They were such a fast moving army that they are described as "without touching the ground".

Daniel 8:8

The goat became very great, but at the height of its power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven

The Greco-Macedonian empire grew to dominate the known world including defeating the Media-Persian empire. Alexander had greater ambitions of moving further east but his army refused after eight long years of battle. They returned to Babylon which was going to be the capitol of his empire. After a drunken party, Alexander became sick and died ten days later probably due to poisoning. His empire was divided into four parts by his generals.

Daniel 8:9-12

Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host, it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.

The horn refers to Seleucus one of the generals that took a part of Alexander's empire. And in his line came Antiochus IV Epiphanes who would become the king of the Seleucid Empire. They would rule over Israel and even the city of Jerusalem. The rest of the passage describes the desecration of the temple that happened under his reign. The passage also speaks of the coming Anti-Christ who will also set himself up to replace God.

Daniel 8:13 & 14

Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, 'How long will it take for the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?' He said to me, 'It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.'

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. The temple was cleansed on December 25, 165 B.C. and if we count back we see that the desolation and persecution under Antiochus began at this time. 2300 days is about seven years and that corresponds to the Great Tribulation of Revelation. Although Daniel's vision does not give us any clue about the day that Jesus will return, it does show us the truth of the length of the Great Tribulation.

Daniel 8:15 & 16

While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, 'Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of 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.

Daniel 8:17 & 18

As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. 'Son of man,' he said to me, 'understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.' While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.

The first thing that the messenger tells Daniel is that the vision has to do with the last days. We saw that these events happened during the Old Testament but we also see that they have to do with the return of Jesus as well.

Daniel 8:19-22

He said, 'I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the King of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.'

We must remember that this was given to Daniel many years before Alexander was even born. It is amazing how the prophecy was fulfilled down to the smallest detail.

Daniel 8:23-25

'In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. he will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.

The messenger describes the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes as he became king by deceit and unleashed a reign of terror upon the Jews. He elevated himself to the place of God but was brought down to the grave by disease.

'The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.'

The messenger tells Daniel (and us as well) that the prophecy not only concerned the near future of Antiochus but also the distant future of the Anti-Christ. We must remember that what was distant to Daniel is very close today.

Daniel 8:27

I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

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.