SCRIPTURE READING – Daniel 8:1-27
So what is a VISION?
A “VISION” is a clear mental image of a preferable future, imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based on an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstance. [See Footnote  ]
Based on this definition, there become three aspects of having a VISION:
(1) GOD – Your vision comes from God, it is not something you thought overnight;
(2) SELF – Your priorities and spiritual gifts will help you focus on your vision;
(3) CIRCUMSTANCES – Your vision begins where you are now; so you must face and solve your problem and then overcome all barriers to fulfill your dream.
For Daniel, this was one of his many visions and his most troubling, even after the angel Gabriel explained it to him. Notice Daniels reaction in VERSE 27:
 “I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” (NIV Bible)
However, as we stand today on the other side of this PROPHECY, its one of the easiest for us to understand. What Daniel prophesied in Chapter 8 was FUTURE for him, but much of it is HISTORY for us and we have ample historical evidence of the exact fulfillment of this VISION.
One reason I enjoy this section of Daniel is that I love to study history, and this is one of the best places in the Bible to compare history and prophecy. When we see things predicted in the Bible that have already come true, it should give us great assurance that those things yet to happen in God’s Word will also come true.
The Basics of Daniel’s Dream –
Daniel dreamed of a mighty Ram with two massive horns, but one horn was bigger than the other.
The Ram was powerful and it charged with beating every other animal.
But then Daniel saw a strange-looking Goat approaching the Ram. It had one horn growing out of its forehead (almost like a Unicorn, but probably more like a rhinoceros).
Well, this one-horned goat whipped the ram and trampled it down in the dirt. But suddenly its horn was snapped off, and growing in its place was four other horns and growing out of one of those horns was another little horn.
Daniel 8:13-14 reads, Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled–the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people? He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be constructed.” (NIV Bible)
Daniel himself was troubled and confused, so VERSE 16 tells us that Gabriel comes to give him a clear interpretation.
Today, Christians have been given by God the Holy Spirit to bring wisdom and understanding to the spiritual mysteries.
Gabriel explains the dream to Daniel, v. 20-24
 The ram you saw having two horns, they are the kings of Media and Persia.  And the shaggy and rough he-goat is the king of Greece, and the great 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.  In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking 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 those who are mighty, the holy people.
A VIOLENT RAM: Medo-Persian Empire
When Daniel received this VISION, the Babylonian Empire was still in place, but God showed him a new empire on the horizon, one that God would use to fulfill the PROPHECY to all the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar.
This Ram had one horn and was larger than the other. This symbolizes the Persians, always the more powerful of the two nation coalition.
A UNI-HORN GOAT: The Greek Empire under Alexander the Great –
The GOAT represents the Greek Empire, and the single horn, Alexander.
Alexander has always fascinated me. When Alexander was a boy, his father enlisted Plato’s disciple Aristotle to be his personal tutor. At the age of 18, Alexander was already leading armies into battle. When he was only 20, his father was murdered (some say, Alexander, had a hand in it) and he became ruler of the Greeks. His decisive battle against the Persians took place near modern Syria at the battle of Issus, which he won in 323 B.C. at the ripe old age of 23. Within the next ten years, Alexander conquered the entire world from Italy to Egypt and to modern Pakistan.
Alexander and his army headed south towards Egypt after his victory at Issus.
As Alexander and his army approached Jerusalem, he was planning to destroy the city. Remember, the city had just been rebuilt 100 years earlier by Ezra and Nehemiah.
Josephus writes that while Alexander was considering the destruction of the city, the High Priest went out from the Temple with a scroll of Daniel 8 saying that he and his army (the GOAT) were destined by God of the Hebrews to conquer the RAM (the Persians). The account says Alexander was so impressed that instead of destroying the city, he enriched it and then bypassed it on his way to capture and control Egypt.
God is always active in His plans for mankind.
It always exciting to read the Bible and realize PROPHECY is being fulfilled at that moment. That’s the way I’ve felt ever since the resettling of Israel in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967, both events examples of PROPHECY fulfillment in our times.
So Alexander is this UNI-HORN on the Goat.
But at the height of its power, this single horn is suddenly broken off. Even so, Alexander the Great died suddenly at the age of 33.
THE FOUR HORNS: The four generals who divided Alexander’s territory –
Alexander made no plans for the continuation of his kingdom. He had children, but he cared little for them and never designated an heir to his empire.
When he died suddenly, a conflict between the leading generals finally arrived at a questionable agreement of dividing the empire. This is merely history for us to take in, but remember Daniel predicted all of this almost 300 years before it happened.
This ‘Little Big Horn’: Antiochus Epiphanes IV –
He is a forerunner, as a type of the Antichrist.
This man Antiochus Epiphanes (Epiphanes means “Great”) is a wicked and vicious ruler. He hated the Jews and they hated him. He demanded crowds of people honor him by crying out, “Epiphanes”, whenever he would pass by. Instead, the Jews had nicknamed him, “Antiochus Epimanes”, a play on his name: Epimanes means “madman”, or “idiot”, and so they shouted “Epimanes”, when he passed by driving him even madder.
Here are just a few of the low-lights I found in the study of his treatment of God’s people. He forbade circumcision, he outlawed the Sabbath observance and made it a criminal offense for anyone to possess or read the Jewish scriptures.
As you can imagine, Jews rebelled against him, and his punishment was quick and brutal. On one occasion, Antiochus forced a Jewish mother to watch as her seven sons were fried to death, then her eyes were blinded so that would be her last thought.
He was cruel, vicious, and he was evil. He slaughtered 80,000 Jews on a single occasion.
But the vilest thing he did from a Jewish standpoint was to set up an image of Zeus in the Jewish Temple (the statue had a striking resemblance to, who else? Antiochus).
He ordered the Jews to worship the image, and horror of horrors, he personally sacrificed a hog on the sacred altar and sprinkled the blood of the hog all around the holy place and this became a monthly ritual. In doing this he defiled the Temple.
It is in VERSE 13, we read “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled–the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?”
That means the faithful Jews left or deserted the Temple, so it became “desolate”.
In this dream (VISION), Daniel predicted Antiochus would invade the Holy Land and desecrate the Temple and cause the sacrifices to cease.
Daniel 8:14 reads “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings, then the sanctuary will be reconstructed.”
Just as today, a morning and evening make one day, so if you divide 2,300 by two, you get 1,150 days.
History says that Judas Maccabees and his sons rose in revolt and led the people of Israel to retake Jerusalem, cleansed the sanctuary and restored the offerings at the end of 1,150 days, exactly as predicted!
The rededication of the Temple on December 14, 164 B.C. is the reason our Jewish friends celebrate Hanukkah each December.
Looking then at the TIMELINE:
- Daniel (550 B.C.)
- Antiochus (170-163 B.C.)
- Jesus Came (4 B.C.)
What does all this mean?
Here are but a few lessons that can be learned from this PROPHECY in Daniel 8.
Kingdoms of this world (and presidents) come and go but the Kingdom of God is forever!
Because we find God to be trustworthy in the middle of PROPHECY we can trust Him in the details in our lives right now.
Alexander is a picture of worldly greatness marked by personal failure.
Though conqueror of the world, he was unable to conquer his own passions. He died of a combination of malaria and acute alcoholism.
Proverbs 16:32 says, Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Some of you have conquered the kingdoms of your careers. You fought and won battles but there’s one battle you haven’t won; the SIN BATTLE. You can’t CONQUER your own sinful appetites and anger.
Alexander is a picture of plenty of people today who have gained worldly success, yet their personal and spiritual lives are running on empty.
Only Jesus can win the SIN BATTLE for you.
2,000 years ago, He carried our sins to the cross with Him and our SINS were nailed to the cross, covered by His BLOOD.
Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?” ~ Mark 8:36 (AMP)
What does it profit a man or woman if they are known as Alexander the Great or John the great businessman or Mary the great salesperson or Tom the great community leader…and they never CONQUER their SIN PROBLEM? It’s simply a tragic picture of a sad, wasted life.
Antiochus (past) is a prototype of the Antichrist (future).
A clear characteristic of prophetic literature in the Bible often has a dual fulfillment; like peeling the layers of an onion.
That is, it may have a fulfillment in the near future (the outer onion layer), and then it may have another fulfillment in the distant future (the inner layer of the onion). I believe that’s the case here in Daniel 8.
Without a doubt, the Little Horn in Daniel 8 was fulfilled in Antiochus, but he is also the preview of coming attractions of the future Antichrist.
There are many comparisons. For instance, reviewing the TIMELINE of the future: Today’s Antichrist (?? AD); Jesus Returns (? AD).
I want to point out at this point of discussion how long Antiochus’ reign of terror was: He murdered the Jewish High Priest, Onias III, in 170 B.C. and died in 163 B.C.; that’s SEVEN years.
The future Antichrist will rule for SEVEN years (Revelation 13:5).
Antiochus had an intense hatred for the Jews and so will the Antichrist.
These are all remarkable parallels with what the Antichrist will do in the FUTURE. Here’s your link: Revelation 13:15.
- He [the false prophet, the chief of staff for the Antichrist] was given the power to give breath to the IMAGE of the first BEAST [antichrist] so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
- He also forced everyone to receive a MARK on the right hand or forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the MARK, which is the name of the BEAST or the number of his name.
He [the false prophet, the chief of staff for the Antichrist] was given the power to give breath to the image of the first BEAST [Antichrist] so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
He also forced everyone, to receive a MARK on the right hand or forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the MARK, which is the name of the BEAST or the number of his name.
If you think I’m reading something into this that isn’t there; notice what Jesus Christ Himself said about this future desecration of the Temple in Matthew 24.
Just as Antiochus set up an image of Zeus in the Temple, and commanded the Jews to WORSHIP it, the Bible tells us in the Book of Revelation that the Antichrist will do the same thing in the future.
CONCLUSION: Looking through A Camera’s Lens.
Years ago, I saw a strange episode of the TV show, “The Twilight Zone”. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember that someone had a Polaroid camera. When you took a picture, what developed wasn’t that given moment but 24 hours into the future. It was like having a PROPHETIC CAMERA that revealed the future.
It seems in this episode, everyone who possessed the Camera, died a tragic death. No one was willing to use their ability to forecast the future for good.
Some of you reading this may make the same tragic mistake.
We know Jesus is going to return (Acts 1:9-11). We just don’t know when.
We know that those left behind after the Rapture will face a terrible time of tribulation.
We have this information but are we doing anything about it?
We need to get up, get out and do the King’s business!
What is the King’s business?
Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
A message like this shouldn’t turn you into a ‘star-gazer’; it should turn you into a ‘Soul Winner’!
A message of PROPHECY, on Dreams and Visions, shouldn’t make you smug in your salvation; it should make you a SERVANT of Jesus.
The King’s business is to tell the lost and dying world the only HOPE is Jesus!
My hope and prayer is that God will let Jesus speak to you as he has for me with these words from Mark 13:32-34:
We all have a job to do. Our job is to keep watching, keep witnessing, and keep working until Jesus returns!!!
CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –
FOOTNOTE [i]: The Power Of Biblical Vision by Rodelio Mallari.
SOURCES: Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI; Daniel’s Prophecy of Antiochus Epiphanes by Jason Jackson; The Book of the Maccabees.
PHOTOS: Google Image Search.
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); all other translations used in the study are so noted in the photos or text.