Today: [Daniel 08] How Much “End Time” Prophecy is Actually Ancient History? In chapter 8 of Daniel, the prophet receives another night vision that speaks of the coming of the Medes and the Persians and the eventual downfall of that kingdom as well. The part of the vision that comes after many content that none of it has come to pass in the 2500 years since. If we examine historical events however, we will find that much of the vision of Daniel in this chapter has in fact come to pass, a fact that should shape our understanding regarding things that are to come.
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[Dan 8:1-27 KJV] 1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, [even unto] me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. 2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I [was] at Shushan [in] the palace, which [is] in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. 3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had [two] horns: and the [two] horns [were] high; but one [was] higher than the other, and the higher came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither [was there any] that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. 5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat [had] a notable horn between his eyes. 6 And he came to the ram that had [two] horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. 7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. 8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. 9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant [land]. 10 And it waxed great, [even] to the host of heaven; and it cast down [some] of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11 Yea, he magnified [himself] even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [sacrifice] was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. 12 And an host was given [him] against the daily [sacrifice] by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
In chapter 7 during Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar’s first year in power Daniel sees a vision of four creatures coming out of a raging sea. The vision of this chapter is two years later. Daniel is in Shushan at the palace of the king. Shushan is located in the modern day city of Susa in Iran, about 160 miles from the Tigris river. In this vision Daniel sees a ram with two horns which represents the empire of the Medes and the Persians which in the near future will overthrow Babylon. Just as the bear in the vision of chapter 7 raised itself up on one side, so in this vision one of the horns of the ram in this vision is greater, because of the Medes and the Persians, the prominent power was that of Persia. The ram pushes westward, south and north without any restraining for against him until in verse 5 this ram is confronted by a he goat that speaks to us of Alexander the Great. In verse 6 the he goat brakes the two horns of the ram which is a prophecy of Alexander defeating the Medes and the Persians.
Verse 8 describes the he goat (Alexander the Great) becoming very great in the earth and then being cut off. Alexander died a relatively young man after a night of drunken reveling. However, the vision says that “four notable ones” would come forth out of the he goat which came to pass as Alexander’s empire was divided between his four top generals. Verse 9 then tells us that out of one of the “notable ones” that ruled after the removal of Alexander a “little horn” comes forth and becomes great and turns his cruelty upon the “pleasant land” or the holy land, the southern kingdom of Judah (which at this point when Daniel receives the vision in the 6th century before Jesus, Judah is depopulated, Jerusalem is devastated and the temple is destroyed – so for all of this that is prophesied the implied hope is that there will actually be a restored kingdom of Judah and a restored temple at the time of this “little horn” that rises up against it). All of this comes to pass when this “little horn” out of one of the generals who succeeded Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes from 168-164 made a determined effort to destroy the Jewish people and the Jewish faith. In so doing he was an early precursor of the anti-Christ. Antiochus in his cruelty commanded all sacrifices in the temple to cease and declared himself to be a human god – only worthy of worship. Eventually, Antiochus was overthrown by the Maccabees and the temple was rededicated, which is the occasion of the feast of Hanukkah, still celebrated today in Jewish traditions.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain [saint] which spake, How long [shall be] the vision [concerning] the daily [sacrifice], and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? 14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. 15 And it came to pass, when I, [even] I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between [the banks of] Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this [man] to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end [shall be] the vision. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end [shall be]. 20 The ram which thou sawest having [two] horns [are] the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat [is] the king of Grecia: and the great horn that [is] between his eyes [is] the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. 25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify [himself] in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. 26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told [is] true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it [shall be] for many days. 27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick [certain] days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood [it].
We can look at the prophecies in the first part of our chapter as seeming to fully come to pass even to the answer of the question posed about the length of the persecution mentioned concerning the cessation of the daily sacrifice. The number mentioned in verse 14 was the exact number of evening and morning sacrifices that were suspended during the reign of Antiochus until the reconsecration of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC. The 2300 days is a problematic number, but when you count the days as referring to the daily sacrifices then it comes out exactly to the day when the temple is cleansed and daily sacrifices that were suspended by Antiochus, reconstituted by Judas Maccabeus.
The 2300 days prophesy has given rise to various interpretations including one which takes 2 Peter 3:8 as a principle of measure a day for a year (although this isn’t exactly what that verse says). A day for a year from these events brings us to 1844 which a man named Miller calculated would be the return of Jesus. This was an inaccurate prophecy of the return of Christ as has happened with all date setters who are foolish enough to make such specific calculations. Jesus himself said in Matt. 24:36 that not even He knew the day nor the hour of the second coming. We can know the season, and we can see the signs pointing but it is absolutely a vain thing to try to pin down that exact time because there are just too many variables in which God has hidden this information even from Jesus Himself in His humanity.
In verse 15 Daniel is very troubled over this vision and is visited by the angel Gabriel. It is important to note here that this is the first mention of the angel Gabriel in the bible and in fact the first mention of a named angel in the bible. We therefore sit up and take notice regarding this exchange between Gabriel and Daniel. Gabriel is sent to Daniel to cause him to understand the vision of the ram and the he goat and the little horn. We see then that angels are at least in the Old Testament connected with meeting men’s needs, in this case explaining a vision to Daniel. This may not be applicable today because Jesus in John 14:26 says that the Holy Spirit, once sent into our lives would show us all things – apparently without the intervention of an angel. This is a very important point which should give us pause when people report to us or proclaim obscure revelations and mystical understandings of scripture received from angels. Information from an angel is not superior to the illumination of the Holy Spirit. You are better off with the Holy Spirit in you, revealing and making known what you need to know rather than Gabriel showing up at your door to explain a dream or a vision you may have had. This is the differentiation between Old Testament revelatory experiences and New Testament revelatory experiences.
In verse 17 Gabriel explains to Daniel that the vision is for the “time of the end”. This alone gives us pause to realize that while all of what Daniel saw may have been fulfilled in approximately 160-150 BC, what is the time of the end referred to? It isn’t necessarily the end of the time of man, but perhaps the end of what we call the Old Testament era and the heralding of the New Covenant that commenced with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We have to consider this as a possibility and not just read all these revelatory visions and assume that even though 2500 years has passed, none of it has transpired when clearly that seems not to be the case if we examine history. This is not to say that ALL has been fulfilled, as we will see in future studies that this is not the case, but in Daniel’s vision, Gabriel instructs him to seal the vision up for it will not be for many days.
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