Daniel 8:1-27; 1 John 2:1-17;
Psalm 120:1-7; Proverbs 28:25-26
The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world...is to clearly see poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one. ~John Ruskin
Today, Daniel is given a vision that fleshes out the prior dream, but focuses on two of the kingdoms that are coming during the "times of the Gentiles." Not only this, God reveals the nature of the future "man of sin," who is the Antichrist, by showing Daniel two other world leaders, who foreshadow the Antichrist in human history.
As our reading begins, Daniel is given a vision, instead of a dream. He is taken to the city of Susa and is by the Ulai River. Two things are interesting about these facts. First, when Daniel is taken to Susa, the city at this time is of no significance. It is out in the desert and not important to the Babylonian Empire. We know from history that Susa becomes a major royal city in the Persian Empire. As a matter of fact, both Esther and Nehemiah are in the city of Susa in the future. The Hebrew word that is used for river in describing the Ulai River is not the normal word for river and implies that it is not a natural river. Archeology has proven that the Ulai River was actually a large man-made canal that ran through Susa. Amazing.
One other point that should be made is that the first seven chapters of Daniel are written in Aramaic. These prophecies are given to the Gentile world about the gentile influence in the world. From chapter 8 of Daniel and forward, the book is written in the Hebrew language. This is because starting with today's chapter, the book of Daniel focuses on the impact that the "times of the Gentiles" has on the Jewish nation/people of Israel in particular. It is written in Hebrew so that the Jews have a warning in their own language that their time of indignation/punishment during the "times of the Gentiles" will include much suffering and hardship. The prophecies indicate that God will rescue Israel in the end, but that does not prevent the trampling down of the Jews throughout history until Jesus returns to rescue them. This is God's story.
In the vision Daniel sees a ram with two long horns. One horn is longer than the other. The ram butts everything out of its way to the west, north, and south. No one can stop the ram, until a goat appears from the west, crossing the land without appearing to touch the ground. The goat charges the ram breaking off both of its horns. It knocks the ram down and tramples it. The goat becomes powerful and its large horn breaks off. In its place, four prominent horns grow and face the four directions of the earth. One of the horns, which was small becomes very great. It extends to Israel and the power of the little horn reaches into heaven and attacks even heavenly armies. The army of heaven is restrained from stopping this horn, even though he is blaspheming God and stopping daily sacrifice at God's Temple. This is allowed to go on for 2300 days, which is a little over six years.
Next, we see that the angel Gabriel is sent to explain the vision to Daniel. This is the first time that Gabriel is introduced in Scripture. We see him again when he tells Zachariah that he will have John the Baptist as his child and then again when Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be the mother of the Messiah. Gabriel is the mighty angel of God, who is the messenger and spokesperson for God. The only other named angels in Scripture are Michael, who is an arch angel/head warrior, and Satan, who was the most perfect and beautiful angel ever created, but was filled with pride and rebelled against God.
Gabriel clarifies to Daniel that these visions relate to the end times in the future. Daniel faints at this point. Gabriel revives him and explains that Israel is to go through a time of wrath. The Tribulation actually means indignation. This is the time of God's indignation against the nation of Israel for rejecting Him as their God and for their sin and their disobedience to His Law. The indignation lasts throughout the "times of the Gentiles" and culminates in the final indignation, which is the Great Tribulation on earth. This period is for their chastening and purification.
Notice that there are always horns on the creatures that represent kingdoms. The horns represent powerful leaders of the kingdoms.
Here is Gabriel's explanation:
- The two horns on the ram represent the kings of Media and Persia.
- The shaggy male goat is the king of Greece. The first king is the large horn that is very powerful.
- The four prominent horns that replace the large horn are four kings that will replace that first king.
- None of these four will be as great as the first.
- From them a fierce king will arise who is a master of intrigue. He will become very powerful, but not from his own power. He will cause great destruction and be very successful.
- He will devastate the holy people/Jews.
- Deception is the tool through which he catches people off guard.
- He will even fight the Prince of princes.
After Alexander died, the Greek Empire was divided up between four generals: Cassander, who took Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus ,who took Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey; Seleucus, who took Asia and all places east except Egypt; and Ptolemy, who took Egypt and North Africa.
Now, a little horn is described as coming out of this third kingdom, the Greek Empire. This is not the same little horn that was seen in Daniel's dream that is covered in eyes and is boasting. This little horn is a foreshadowing of that future little horn. This horn comes out of the Seleucid dynasty in Syria. His name is Antiochus Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus the Great. He comes to the throne in 175 B.C. and makes an attack on Jerusalem. This anti-Semitic monster tries to exterminate the Jews and is stopped by the Maccabean revolt. This little horn sets up an image of Jupiter in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was the first abomination of desolation spoken of in Scripture. This abomination will occur again in the end times under the Antichrist. Antiochus Epiphanes also had pig broth poured over the holy vessels in the Temple. His contempt for the Jews was epic.
Although this man challenges God, he is allowed to capture Jerusalem and reigns for 7 years. We see that God considers this spiritual warfare, as well as physical warfare. The man was more than likely demon possessed. The title he chose for himself was "Theos Epiphanes," which means "God manifest."
Judas Maccabeas, a priest, also known as "the hammer", drove out the Syrian army and cleansed the Temple after its pollution. The Jewish Feast of Lights celebrates this victory.
It is clear that this little horn is a projection of the future little horn, who will war against Jesus Christ in the future after the Great Tribulation period. It is no wonder that Daniel has a physical and psychological reaction to these devastating visions.
God's call and hand upon Israel is a mystery to behold. To whom much is given, much is required.
The three horns are Alexander the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes, and the future Antichrist. We do not yet know his name. But all of these men are used by God to chasten the Jewish people for their sin and disobedience to God. Any Gentiles who do not follow God are also chastened under these men. This is the meaning of this vision.
How do you react to seeing God fulfill prophecy? Do you believe there will be a future Antichrist on this earth?
1 John 2:1-17
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus explains that true followers of God must change and become like little children. This means being trusting of God and willing to absorb all of His words and ways. Little children are little imitators. One must be careful what is said and done in front of children, because they will copy what they see. Jesus wants us to copy him like little children would.
Today, John calls his listeners little children. He call upon these children of God not to sin, reminding them that Jesus pleased God with his life, and as a result, he was worthy to be the sacrifice for our sins.
Obedience to Christ is a key way to clarify that you belong to God. Imitation of Christ is key for the Christian. This means loving other Christians. Do not fool yourself into thinking you love God, if you hate His Church on earth. Do you have bitterness toward Christians as a whole? Do you despise all things Christian? If so, you may be wrong about your own salvation. Christ loved people who were flawed. He had grace and mercy toward others. Do you? Do I? Self examination is warranted.
John breaks into a short poetic interlude to remind the children of God to acknowledge that Jesus is from the beginning and we have won the battle over Satan through Jesus. Therefore, we should not love the world. This would mean our lives are not marked by lust for physical pleasure, lust for all that we seek to obtain, or taking pride in possessions. Ouch. We need to monitor this in our lives. These attitudes are not from our heavenly Father.
John reminds us that this world is fading away. Finding God and doing His will is what brings us to everlasting life.
How's this working for ya?
Take your troubles to the Lord. He will hear you and answer your prayers.
Don't be greedy. Trust in God.
What did you notice as you read today? Please share.