Daniel
Introduction 1-2 Time and Place of the Vision 3-4 The Ram and its Performance 5-7 The Goat and the Ram 8 The Large Horn and the Four Horns 9-12 The Small Horn 13-14 How Long? 15-18 Understanding the Vision 19-25 The Interpretation of the Vision 26-27 The Effect on Daniel
Introduction

From Daniel 8 until the end of the book, the description of the events is again in Hebrew. The part from Daniel 2:4 up to and including Daniel 7 is written in Aramaic, the language of the first great empire. This change will have to do with the content of the following chapters. In the description of these events it is mainly about the consequences these events have for Israel, that is called “the Beautiful [Land]” (Dan 8:99Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful [Land].). They also concern God and “the place of His sanctuary”, which is the temple (verse 1111It even magnified [itself] to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.). Israel is the land over which God’s eyes are open day and night (Deu 11:1212a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.; 1Kgs 9:33The LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.).

Daniel 8 is about the second and third empires, that is to say the world empire of the Medes and Persians and the Greek empire. In Daniel 7 these empires are presented as a bear and a leopard. Here they are presented as a ram and a goat. The bear and leopard are predators, they devour, they are impure beasts. Rams and goats are pure animals. They could be eaten in Israel and were also used for the sacrificial service.

The world empires are unclean powers that devour horribly. Yet there is also an aspect in those world empires that makes it possible to compare them to a ram and a goat, which indicates that they are a pleasure to God. For they accomplish the pleasure of God by doing His work. That work consists of executing His judgment, first and foremost on His people, but then also on the people who executed His judgment, because this people went beyond God’s will.

Cyrus, the head of the Medo-Persian empire, is called the “anointed” of God (Isa 45:1a1Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
). He is the executer of God’s discipline, and he also cares for His people. We also find this in the book of Zechariah where the black horses that go north make the Spirit of God rest, that is, they do His pleasure (Zec 6:6-86with one of which the black horses are going forth to the north country; and the white ones go forth after them, while the dappled ones go forth to the south country.7When the strong ones went out, they were eager to go to patrol the earth.” And He said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth.8Then He cried out to me and spoke to me saying, “See, those who are going to the land of the north have appeased My wrath in the land of the north.”). So in this chapter the goat is a pleasure to God if he destroys the ram. But he loses this pleasure when he exalts himself.


Time and Place of the Vision

1In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously. 2I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal.

When Daniel gets the vision, he is still under the reign of the ruler of Babylon, while the vision is about the judgment of the Medes and Persians through the Greeks. So he sees in advance that the second empire is conquered by the third empire. The vision he gets is in line with the previous one, that of the four world empires in the previous chapter. That was two years ago (Dan 7:11In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind [as he lay] on his bed; then he wrote the dream down [and] related the [following] summary of it.), but he still remembers it well. Of those four empires, the second and the third empire, that is the empires of the Medes and Persians and of Greece, are now highlighted (verses 20-2120The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.21The shaggy goat [represents] the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king.).

When Daniel sees the vision, he is not in Babylon, but in the citadel of Susa, in the province of Elam. Susa is the capital of the province of Elam, which must have been located west of Persia, east of Babylon and south of the Medes. In the vision Daniel is beside the Ulai Canal. Other visions are also connected to a river (Dan 10:44On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris,; Eze 1:11Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth [day] of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.; Psa 137:11By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
). Here the Ulai Canal is the place where Daniel sees the ram.


The Ram and its Performance

3Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns [were] long, but one [was] longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. 4I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no [other] beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified [himself].

In the vision Daniel is an attentive spectator. He is not passive, but involved. That is clear from the remark ”I lifted my eyes”. He sees a ram which has two horns standing in front of the canal. A horn is a picture of power. If a horn is broken, it means the end of power. He also sees that both horns are long, that there is a difference in length, and that the length of one changes with respect to the other. We have also seen this with the bear, which is raised up on one side (Dan 7:55And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs [were] in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’).

We do not have to guess for the meaning of the ram. In verse 2020The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. is the explanation: the ram with the two horns “are the kings of Media and Persia”. It is one ram with two horns. This suggests that it is one empire, with two distinct powers.

I have been in uncertainty about the statement of “one [was] longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last”. I asked Gerard Kramer if he could help me. I know him as a reliable and competent Bible interpreter and historian, and I consult him more often. I am happy to pass on the clarification from his reply, which has given me the requested clarification:

The Medes and the Persians have lived in the same area for centuries. First the Medes dominated that area and later the Persians. But both of them stayed to live there; the roles were literally reversed, however. The last king of the Medes, Astyages, had to his sorrow only a daughter, called Mandane. He deliberately married this one to a Persian, called Cambyses, to prevent that a possible descendant (his grandson) could assert rights on the Medes’ throne. The descendant came; it was the later Cyrus – who at first would have been called differently. This boy was considered a Persian - because his father Cambyses was a Persian – and was also a foundling, so that he knew nothing of his royal ancestry. However, when he was an adult, his identity came to light and he rebelled against his grandfather Astyages; he won, and thus became the first Persian king. The empire of the Medes was now replaced by the Persian empire.

In this Persian empire, ruled by the Persian kings, Medo vassal princes could occasionally be placed over certain areas to rule. Such a person was Darius the Mede. He “received the kingdom” at the age of 62, says Dn5:31 – according to some this expression indicates receiving the kingdom from a higher authority – in this case the Persian king Cyrus (=Cores). Indeed he ruled, according to Dn9:1, over the Babylonian part. However, Cyrus was not first the most powerful, but permanently the most powerful: he ruled over the entire Persian empire, as did his successors. After that there was no Medo empire anymore. Alexander the Great put an end to the Persian empire.

By the way, the Greeks, who fought 100 years prior to Alexander the Great against the Persians, always referred to these wars as the Medo wars, although they fought against two Persian kings; however, we refer to them as the Persian wars. I am only telling this to show that the Medes are always a recognizable constant factor in the empire dominated by the Persians. [End of quotation.]

In short, it comes down to the fact that the moment the Medes and Persians are given world domination, the Persians are in power, with Cyrus at the head (Ezra 1:2a2“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.). That is the moment when, to say with Daniel 7, the bear rises up on one side (Dan 7:55And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs [were] in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’), or to say with Daniel 8, one horn is longer than the other (Dan 8:33Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns [were] long, but one [was] longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last.).

The ram, the Medo-Persian empire, was first very powerful. It exercised its power against Babylon, Syria, Greece and Asia Minor in the west, against the Lydians, Armenians and Scythians in the north and against Israel, Arabia, Ethiopia and Egypt in the south. This kingdom itself came from the east (Isa 46:11a11Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned [it, surely] I will do it.
; 41:22“Who has aroused one from the east
Whom He calls in righteousness to His feet?
He delivers up nations before him
And subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
As the wind-driven chaff with his bow.
). These three wind directions with the areas in them are possibly the three ribs in the mouth of the bear (Dan 7:55And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs [were] in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’). His power was so great that no one could hold out or free himself from his power. In all his conquests there was no thought of God. He acted only out of self-interest and seemed to succeed in his intention. He rose in power.


The Goat and the Ram

5While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat [had] a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath. 7I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power.

What Daniel sees, fascinates him very much. His attention does not slacken. He keeps watching closely and sees a ram coming. He notices that the ram comes from the west. Here too we do not have to guess who the ram represents. It is according to verse 2121The shaggy goat [represents] the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Greece. Greece lies west of Persia.

From the west, Alexander stormed into the mighty Medo-Persian empire at enormous speed. It is proposed here that he, as it were with a giant leap, without touching the earth, attacks the second empire. His punching power is so great, that he shatters the “two horns” of this empire. That means that both realms of the Medes and Persians are made completely powerless. In this powerless state, Greece trampled this empire underfoot, leaving nothing remaining of it.

The power that Greece, led by Alexander, exercises is irresistible. There is no one in the once mighty second world empire who is powerful enough to launch a counteroffensive. Nor are there any empires or allied friends who can come to his aid. Alexander crushes the Medo-Persian empire in two wars. The power of Greece is absolute and world-wide. The execution of judgement over the Medo-Persian empire is according to God’s pleasure. The destroyer, the Medo-Persian empire, is now being destroyed himself (Isa 33:1b1Woe to you, O destroyer,
While you were not destroyed;
And he who is treacherous, while [others] did not deal treacherously with him.
As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed;
As soon as you cease to deal treacherously, [others] will deal treacherously with you.
). Alexander has no awareness of it, but he is a tool in God’s hand to exercise judgment.


The Large Horn and the Four Horns

8Then the male goat magnified [himself] exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous [horns] toward the four winds of heaven.

When Greece has the power, that empire will grow larger and larger. This is not only about the size of his area, but also about his arrogance. In his arrogance he has Greek culture imported into the conquered areas, including Judea. This entering of Greek culture into its entire empire is sometimes called ‘Hellenizing’, after the formal name for Greece, Hellas.

Then comes the moment that “the large horn”, that is Alexander the Great, is broken. This means that he dies. It is known from non-biblical history that he started war at the age of twenty. When he is thirty-two or thirty-three years old, he “magnified [himself] exceedingly”. He is in the power of his life and at the height of his fame. Suddenly, however, Alexander dies. He is not killed in war. His death has been attributed to a sudden fever.

Because Alexander has no son, his empire is divided among his four generals, all of whom gain power over a part of the great empire. They are represented in the four conspicuous horns. These four horns have the same meaning as the four heads of the leopard in the vision Daniel saw in the previous chapter (Dan 7:66After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.; 11:44But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his [own] descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and [given] to others besides them.).

The four areas are divided among the four generals as follows:
1. Seleucus got Syria in the east,
2. Lysimachus got Asia Minor in the north,
3. Ptolemy got Egypt in the south and
4. Cassander got Macedonia in the west.


The Small Horn

9Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful [Land]. 10It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. 11It even magnified [itself] to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. 12And on account of transgression the host will be given over [to the horn] along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform [its will] and prosper.

The small horn that appears should not be confused with the small horn from the previous chapter (Dan 7:88While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great [boasts].). The small horn here belongs to the ram and therefore comes from the third empire; the small horn from the previous chapter comes from the fourth empire. Nor is it here a horn that is given an independent place by exterminating three horns, but this horn originates from one of the four horns.

That means, that one of the four empires rises above the other empires and draws power to itself. Non-biblical history shows that it is the Syrian part of the empire of Alexander the Great. Nothing is said about when this will happen. With this little horn we will have to think of Antiochus Epiphanes. So much is known about him in history, that there seems to be no doubt about it.

This Antiochus Epiphanes will be exceptionally great. In his lust for power he extends toward the south, Egypt, toward the east, Persia, and toward “the Beautiful [land]”, Israel. This is where God’s land and people come into view, and that is what prophecy in particular is all about. The “stars” are leaders and rulers of the people. Of one of them, Eleazar, an old man, is known that Antiochus kills him because the old man does not want to eat pig meat. That’s how he trampled many down. He also magnifies himself to be equal with “the Commander of the host” which is against God.

He shows his horror of God by taking away the regular sacrifice, that is to say the morning and evening burnt offering. God has commanded that these sacrifices should be offered on His altar every day and that He dwells among His people on the basis of these two sacrifices (Exo 29:38-4638“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously.39The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight;40and there [shall be] one-tenth [of an ephah] of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb.41The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD.42It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there.43I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory.44I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me.45I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.46They shall know that I am the LORD their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God.). Antiochus forbids making these sacrifices. In fact, God is taken away from the people. Also “the place of His sanctuary” is thrown down. Antiochus does not burn and destroy the temple, but he desecrates it by making it a temple for Jupiter Olympus and placing his statue in it. He also flings the truth to the ground; he tramples the word of truth, which is the book of the law. He does what he can to destroy its entirety so that it will be lost and forgotten forever.

In all that the wicked Antiochus does, he is prosperous. He succeeds. Thus, the service of God seems to have ended. No more sacrifices can be made, the temple is desecrated, the book of the law rejected. God seems to be the loser. But Antiochus would never have succeeded if God had not allowed it. He would not have had any power against Israel if he had not been given it from above (cf. Jn 19:1111Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has [the] greater sin.”). It all happens under the permissive will of God.

Antiochus is used to bring God’s people into this misery “on account of transgression”. Because of the rebellion of God’s people against God, because of the apostasy of His people from Him, a self-willed sacrificial service is instituted as a substitute for the true service to the true God. The true service to God has been pushed aside by the Jewish people. Now the judgment comes by replacing the true service by religion of the Greek main god Zeus. If the beautiful land and all its beautiful things have been destroyed, it must be acknowledged that the cause of this destruction is sin. “Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned, And in whose ways they were not willing to walk, And whose law they did not obey?” (Isa 42:2424Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned,
And in whose ways they were not willing to walk,
And whose law they did not obey?
).

The great apostasy of the Jews after exile consists of contempt and desecration of the holy things, a contempt for the service of God. This is expressed by offering the lame and the sick beasts as a sacrifice. In this way they say that they find the LORD’s table despicable (Mic 1:7-87All of her idols will be smashed,
All of her earnings will be burned with fire
And all of her images I will make desolate,
For she collected [them] from a harlot’s earnings,
And to the earnings of a harlot they will return.
8Because of this I must lament and wail,
I must go barefoot and naked;
I must make a lament like the jackals
And a mourning like the ostriches.
). Therefore God sends Antiochus to take away the regular sacrifice and to throw down His holy dwelling. And so it can be said he could “perform [his will] and prosper.”


How Long?

13Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision [about] the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” 14He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings [and] mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

After Daniel has seen the performance of the goat and especially that of the little horn, he hears “a holy one” speak. This turns out to be “that particular one”. It seems that we have to do with the Lord Jesus again here. We are not told what He has said. Then we hear another holy one, probably an angel, asking Him a question. The question is “how long” the devastating activities of the little horn will last. The angel repeats the activities mentioned in the previous verses. This question is asked because of the suffering that the saints endure because the service to God has been taken away. How long will the regular sacrifice remain taken away, how long will God not receive His daily sacrifice? How long will the apostasy last?

Remarkably, the answer is not given to the angel, but to Daniel. It is therefore the answer to the question of his heart. He is the type of the faithful remnant of Israel that will ask that question in the end times if they resist the oppression that the antichrist, of whom Antiochus is in certain respects a picture, brings upon them.

The duration of the taken away sacrifice is not given in days – 1150 days – but in evenings and mornings. This has to do with the daily morning and evening burnt offering (Exo 29:38-4138“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously.39The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight;40and there [shall be] one-tenth [of an ephah] of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb.41The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD.), whose fragrance must constantly rise to God and on the basis of which He can dwell among His people. God counts according to the sacrifices that are withheld from Him. The 2300 evenings and mornings mean as many burnt offerings are withheld from God.

God counts the time of trial of His people in days. Thus the Lord Jesus, when He speaks of a great tribulation, speaks of “those days” (Mt 24:21-2221For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.22Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.; cf. Rev 2:1010Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.). However, those days are coming to an end. After its expiry, the holy temple will be cleansed and the people will be able to bring the prescribed sacrifices again. Although God in His righteousness can allow His sanctuary to be desecrated for a time, He will also ensure that His sanctuary is sanctified in His time.


Understanding the Vision

15When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man. 16And I heard the voice of a man between [the banks of] Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this [man] an understanding of the vision.” 17So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.” 18Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright.

Daniel is not only a spectator. He experiences what he sees. He tries to understand what he sees in the vision. Then he sees someone “who looked like a man” before him and he hears a voice. It is the voice of a Man. He hears the voice “between [the banks of] Ulai”, where it is just like the Person is floating over the water. The Man of Whom he hears the voice is the Lord Jesus. He speaks to the angel Gabriel who Daniel sees standing before him.

Gabriel is commissioned by the Lord Jesus to let Daniel understand the vision. Gabriel changes place and stands next to Daniel. By entering that place he looks in the same direction together with Daniel. From this position he will tell him the meaning of the vision. But Daniel is first overpowered by fear and throws himself on the ground with his face down. He, as a sinful and mortal man, cannot bear the presence of this holy and powerful angel who brings God’s presence so close to him.

When Daniel lies thus on the ground, Gabriel says to him that he must understand “that the vision pertains to the time of the end”. Gabriel addresses Daniel as a “son of man”, emphasizing Daniel’s humanity. That’s contrary to what he has seen, because that comes from heaven. He also depends on a messenger from heaven for its explanation. The expression “the time of the end” refers to the last days just before the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth. The explanation goes beyond the vision. It is not only about what is already history for us, but there is also a prophetic meaning for the future.

It’s all too much for Daniel. He falls asleep. This is not because of the lack of interest for the vision, or because of indifference, but because of the weakness and bewilderment of his mind. He wants to stay awake, but can’t. His powers are exhausted (cf. Dan 10:99But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.). Then Gabriel touches him. This means he gives Daniel the strength to stand up. Then he gives him the place he has taken first. That is the place where Gabriel stood next to him.


The Interpretation of the Vision

19He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for [it] pertains to the appointed time of the end. 20The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21The shaggy goat [represents] the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22The broken [horn] and the four [horns that] arose in its place [represent] four kingdoms [which] will arise from [his] nation, although not with his power.
23“In the latter period of their rule,
When the transgressors have run [their course],
A king will arise,
Insolent and skilled in intrigue.
24“His power will be mighty, but not by his [own] power,
And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree
And prosper and perform [his will];
He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.
25“And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify [himself] in his heart,
And he will destroy many while [they are] at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.

Gabriel introduces his interpretation with the promise that he will let Daniel know “what will occur at the final period of the indignation”. The application and interpretation is therefore about the end time. It is called here the “period of indignation”. The expression “indignation” is used in Isaiah for the indignation of God upon His people who have turned away from Him, following the antichrist (Isa 10:2525For in a very little while My indignation [against you] will be spent and My anger [will be directed] to their destruction.”; 26:2020Come, my people, enter into your rooms
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while
Until indignation runs [its] course.
). It is the time of great tribulation.

The fact that it is about the time of the end means that the explanation goes beyond the immediate or near future. The near future is about the conquest by the Greeks of the empire of the Medes and Persians. We see this in the meaning of the ram and the goat. What these represent, it is clearly said. We also hear about the one large horn and the four horns that replace it. The first king is Alexander. Upon his death, his kingdom was divided among his four generals. This division also means the end of the power of the Greek empire. None of the four parts had the power Alexander had.

When the four kings are at the end of their power, an “insolent” king will arise. That is the small horn, or the earlier mentioned Antiochus Epiphanes. The reason for his rise is not primarily the approaching end of the kingship of the four kings, but the behavior of the apostates. It concerns the apostates of God’s people. There comes a moment when the degenerate Jews have made the measure of their iniquity full (cf. Mt 23:3232Fill up, then, the measure [of the guilt] of your fathers.; Gen 15:1616Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”; 1Thes 2:1616hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.). That is the moment when they are ready for the destruction that God will bring upon them through Antiochus as a discipline. Besides his insolent deeds, this king is also “skilled in intrigue”, which indicates the corruptness of his character. He achieves his goals by exercising a reign of terror and the use of lies and deceit.

He does not possess the great power he develops by himself: “His power will be mighty, but not by his [own] power.” He owes his strength to another power. By this other power he is strong and he succeeds in his pursuit of causing destruction. It can’t be otherwise but if someone who takes pleasure in causing destruction is an instrument of the devil. The remark “that he will destroy to an extraordinary degree” also shows this. Someone of whom you do not expect to be so powerful and yet to be so, has help from the realm of darkness. He has sold his soul to the devil who rewards him with ‘power’. The devil uses Russia, the mighty empire in the far north (Eze 38:2-6,14-162“Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him3and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.4I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company [with] buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords;5Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them [with] shield and helmet;6Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah [from] the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you.14“Therefore prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “On that day when My people Israel are living securely, will you not know [it]?15You will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army;16and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.”; 39:1-21“And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal;2and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel.).

The fact that the driving force behind Antiochus is the devil is also shown by the fact that he wants to cause destruction among God’s people in particular. He will do it and he will succeed. We know it is because he - without being aware of it - is used by God as a disciplinarian in His hand. However, this does not absolve him from his corrupt actions through and through, which will also be judged by God, as we read at the end of verse 2525“And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify [himself] in his heart,
And he will destroy many while [they are] at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.
. God knows how to use man’s evil deeds, for which he is fully responsible himself, for His purpose. His goal is the welfare of His people and the glorification of His Son by those people.

The “mighty men” he destroys are the leaders of Israel who lead the people into the apostasy. He will also destroy “the holy people”. Despite the apostasy of the people, God’s Spirit calls them here “the holy people”. That is what the people should have been: a people set apart from all peoples to live only for God. But because they rejected Him and surrendered to the idolatry of the nations, they are surrendered by God to their enemies, here in the person of the cruel, wicked Antiochus. This is not a new way of acting by God. We see in the book of Judges several times that God surrenders His people into the hands of their enemies when they have departed from Him. He does so that they may return to Him. When they call upon Him, He sends a liberator.

This can also happen in our personal lives. When we depart from the Lord, He sometimes has to give us up to the power of sin. Then we learn the reign of sin through experiencing the power of sin. By this we will remember how good it was when we followed the Lord and served Him. We hear that also from the prodigal son and what he says in the parable the Lord Jesus tells (Lk 15:1717But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!). The result is that we will then acknowledge with repentance our wrong path. We will know that the Father awaits us and puts us in His arms when we come back to Him.

In verse 2525“And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify [himself] in his heart,
And he will destroy many while [they are] at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.
attention is once again drawn to his craftiness. Because he is cunning, he manages to be deceitful. He may well conceal his true intention and exercise power over others. His success will make him proud. He will boast of his prosperity. Somehow he will succeed in gaining a foothold in Israel. If the Jews think they have nothing to fear from him and they are at rest, he will strike and kill many. In his pride he will even venture to stand up against the Lord Jesus, as if he could destroy Him too. But he dies suddenly by the hand of God (Dan 2:4545Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”; Job 34:2020“In a moment they die, and at midnight
People are shaken and pass away,
And the mighty are taken away without a hand.
).


The Effect on Daniel

26“The vision of the evenings and mornings
Which has been told is true;
But keep the vision secret,
For [it] pertains to many days [in the future].”
27Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up [again] and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain [it].

If we had to give this vision a name, we could call it ‘the vision of the ram and the goat’. God’s Spirit does not call this vision with that name. At the end of the vision the Spirit of God calls it “the vision of the evenings and the mornings”. We think it is about the battle between the Greeks and the Medes and Persians. But God’s Spirit says that in reality it is about the time when God’s sacrifice, repeated twice a day, is denied Him. It “is true”. We need not doubt it.

This is about the daily burnt offering. That speaks of the Lord Jesus in His work on the cross that was accomplished for God. Christ has glorified God perfectly and in everything. God wants us to tell Him what the Lord Jesus meant to Him on the cross. We often think about what the Lord Jesus did for us, what the consequences of His work are for us. But how often do we think about what His sacrifice means to God?

Daniel must keep the vision secret. It is not only important for the immediate future in connection with the coming of the Greek empire and in particular the small horn (Antiochus Epiphanes). What it lastly is all about is the time of the end. Then what this vision has shown will find its fulfilment in the great tribulation, when enemies will oppress both from the outside and from within God’s people. The (religious) main enemy inside is the antichrist. The (political) enemy from outside comes from the north, Syria, supported by the enemy from the far north, Russia.

When Daniel has seen the vision and heard the interpretation, he is exhausted. He is sick of it, because it all touched him deeply. For us it’s a bit different. It need not make us sick or even surprise us that there are world rulers who want to have nothing to do with God and persecute His people (1Pet 4:1212Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;).

What should touch us is how the believers are doing spiritually. Do we have an eye for the fact that there are spiritual powers that are gaining entrance among God’s people to draw this people away from bringing daily sacrifices to God? False brothers try to sneak in and challenge our faith (Gal 2:4-54But [it was] because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.5But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.). If a spirit of legalism gets a grip on the believers, it means the end of bringing sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to God. That this can happen should make us sick.

Because of everything that came down on Daniel, he is sick for a few days. He had to report sick to the king. We see here that prophets are not machines that receive a message mechanically and deliver it onto the people. Prophets are holy men of God who are driven by the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:2121for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.). They have not understood everything that has been told to them and have examined it carefully. Much has remained a mystery to them too, but they believed what is said: “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that [would come] to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look” (1Pet 1:10-1210As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that [would come] to you made careful searches and inquiries,11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.).

In Daniel we see that every vision has worked a deep soul exercise with him. It has brought him to fasting and reading the Word of God. The same is necessary for us. We cannot grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s Word if we do not pray and if there are no soul exercises. In the next chapter we will see another wonderful example of this. The question for us is also: How does the Lord’s teaching about future events affect us?


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