Monday, January 19, 2009
DANIEL CHAPTER 8:1-27
The Reign of the Antichrist
Before we close this chapter, it's important to review the activity of the Antichrist for the eighty-four months that he appears on earth. His reign begins when he makes a peace contract with Israel and the nations. Daniel 9:27 says, And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. The Hebrew word for week in the above passage is shabua, a time period of seven years, or eighty-four months.
In the midst of the week or shabua-after forty-two months-he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. His first item of business is to make peace with Israel, an agreement he honors for three and one-half years. At that point, however, Russia begins its march southward to Israel to break the peace contract that the Antichrist originally made with Israel. Then Gog and Magog (Russia) go up against the land of unwalled villages when Israel is at rest (Ezekiel 38:11).
We know that since she became a nation in 1948, Israel has neither been at rest nor at peace. Soon a peace program of seven years duration will be contracted. But it will be short-lived. Russia ruins it. During this battle the Antichrist comes to his end (Daniel 11:45). Yes, he actually dies, but Revelation 13:3 says, his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered [marveled] after the beast. In other words, the Antichrist is resurrected. He comes back to life. That's why everyone marvels at him, literally standing in awe of his great political prowess and enormous ability to move the minds and hearts of people globally.
To the world, he appears to be like Jesus, returning to life. It's at this point he magnifies himself above every God (Daniel 11:36) and exalts himself above all gods to a deluded and deceived world (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He literally says, I am God. Today, as you watch an acceleration of the New Age movement and its I am God philosophy, crystals, shamans, chants, and channeled messages that permeate every segment of our society-even entering the church of Jesus Christ-be aware that this global satanic activity has already proved instrumental in preparing the way for this great deceiver to set himself up for worship (Revelation 13:15), a time when he literally wears out the saints (Daniel 7:25). This activity takes place through to the end of the seven years when Jesus Christ ultimately returns and destroys the evil one with the brightness of His glory, casting him into the lake of fire where he remains forever and ever (Revelation 19:20).
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
When his dream had been explained by the angel Gabriel, Daniel felt a sorrow of heart, for he now began to understand what would one day happen to his people, the Jews. His dream had helped him catch a glimpse of the terrible times of persecution that would fall upon them. He was rightly disturbed and confused because he was not totally privy to understanding the great blessings-the rest of the story-that would ultimately come to his people-blessings we will discover as we continue to unwrap the sealed mysteries of the time of the end, even as we see Daniel's humanity surface when he is physically and psychologically devastated by the vision he sees in chapter eight.
We have come to the close of the section that addresses God's rule over the Gentiles. To help you understand where Daniel is emotionally at this point, I'd like you to put yourself in his position for a moment. You have just dreamed something tantamount to a nightmare in chapter seven that has unnerved you. You fainted; you became anxious-so fearful that you needed help to interpret what you experienced. Now, you are taking your agitation and dismay to the next practical level by asking yourself:
If three more Gentile kingdoms, as suggested by the dream, are supposed to arrive on the scene to dominate the world after Babylon, what will be the fate of my people, the Jews, during that period of time? How long will their trials last? What will be the end result?
These vexing questions are coursing through Daniel's mind, but still, he has no answers.
But God never leaves His people in a state of confusion. For that reason, God begins to provide Daniel with specific revelations that relate to the future history of His people. With that brief background, we now spend the remainder of the book reviewing these revelations, giving special emphasis to interpreting the prophecies that address the time of the end-predictions that not only relate to Israel during the latter days, but also speak to you and me-Jew or Gentile-today.
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. 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.
The year is 551 B.C. Daniel sees himself at the Palace of Shushan, a city in Persia about 230 miles east of Babylon and 120 miles north of the Persian Gulf. Daniel makes it clear that this vision took place before his troubling dream in chapter seven. What we are about to learn is that the vision Daniel now sees again projects him into the future when the superpower Medo-Persia would rule the then-known world-a partial rerun of what Daniel has already learned in earlier dreams.
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.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. 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.
;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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 practiced, and prospered. 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? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
New Symbolism-Same Message
Daniel's been here before. The difference is that in this vision the symbols have been changed. Just as the bear appeared in chapter seven as rising higher on one side, so, in similar fashion, there is now a picture of one of the horns of the ram rising higher than the other, indicating again the dominance the Persians exercised over their partners, the Medes. So far, this is not new information, but this reiteration does not diminish the significance of the drama.
The ram with the two horns standing before the Ulai River again represents Medo-Persia and corresponds to the arms and breast of silver we saw in chapter two and to the appearance of the bear in chapter seven. Historically, this is 100 percent correct, as we would expect. It's God's Word. We know that the symbolic, protective force of the Medes and the Persians was a ram with a sharp horn. Not only that, but the Persian ruler, when engaging in foreign military expeditions, proudly wore the head of a ram on his head as a symbol of his enormous power.
Now the ram goes into action, lowering its fierce head and butting at prey to the west, north, and south. Ultimately, as our history books tell us, Medo-Persia laid waste Babylonia, Asia Minor, and Syria to the west; Armenia, and the area of the Caspian Sea to the north; and then conquered Ethiopia and Egypt to the south. Symbolized by a ram, the Medo-Persian Empire butted up against virtually every nation and principality in sight and soon became the greatest power on the face of the earth.
So far, this is more of a confirmation of Daniel's earlier dream than anything else, and such confirmation continues as we now see the nation of Greece symbolized by a goat, the equivalent of the brass stomach and thighs of Nebuchadnezzar's image in chapter two, and the leopard with wings in chapter seven. So fleet of foot is this goat that when it runs its feet do not touch the ground-an apt description of the awesome power of the swift, far-reaching campaigns of the Greco-Macedonian army.
Suddenly, however, the vision provides us with additional, detailed information, more than we saw in Daniel's earlier dream. Greece is not only the goat, but now we see a great horn appear between its eyes, a symbol of Greece's first great monarch, Alexander the Great. There had not been a military strategist the likes of Alexander in the annals of history. Son of the great militarist Philip of Macedon and student of Aristotle, Alexander, in the course of his short life, conquered one and one half million square miles. While in power, he was revered by all as a young king with singular skills and enormous intelligence, amazing the world with his military prowess.
His crowning victory came with the destruction of the once-invincible Medo-Persian empire in less than a three-year interval- 334-331 B.C. But he did not live long. He died of malaria and syphilis at age thirty-two, lamenting that there were no more worlds to conquer. During the final years of his life, Alexander spent as much time indulging his passion for sex, immoral conduct, and alcohol as he did in destroying his foes. In the end, Alexander's true enemy lay within.
The Alexander Complex
Again the Bible is completely accurate as it predicts the events of Alexander's demise, describing in detail the four horns that replaced the single broken horn between the goat's eyes. These four horns represent the four generals who would later divide the sum of Alexander's great conquests among themselves: Ptolemy became master of Egypt, Cyrene, Cyprus, and Palestine; Seleucus grabbed Syria, Babylonia, and the southern area of Asia Minor; Cassander took possession of Macedonia and Greece; while Lysimachus became the uncontested ruler of Thrace and western Asia Minor.
As I ponder Alexander the Great's abbreviated life, I recall the story of a newspaper reporter who went to a nursing home to interview one of the senior patients. The reporter was surprised to see that the gentleman looked so young. He asked the standard question: To what do you attribute your long life? The man looked the reporter in the eye and said, Son, I drink a lot of whiskey, and I live a very promiscuous life. I smoke a box of cigars every other day, and do just about anything I want-everything the world calls wrong. The reporter, taking notes furiously, asked, Well, sir, you've got to tell me: how old are you? The man replied, Thirty-two.
This man, like Alexander the Great, figured he had the world on a string, but when the string suddenly broke sin found him out, and sin won. Alexander the Great had conquered the outside world but had failed to deal with the demons within.
Enter the Madmen
Now the plot thickens, providing us with a prophecy that should make anyone who doubts the veracity of the Book of Daniel a believer. As Daniel watched the vision unfold before his eyes, there came out yet another horn-a fifth horn. It started small, but quickly grew to great influence and power toward the south, the east, and the Beautiful Land.
Remember, Daniel's vision was describing events that would not take place for another two centuries, yet the prediction is accurate down to the very person described, Antiochus IV, also known as Epiphanes, the eighth ruler of the Seleucid division of the expanded Greek empire. Since he did not possess a legitimate right to the throne, Antiochus stooped to bribery and chicanery to become king, and what a cruel monarch he was.
He was a madman-one of the two we'll speak of in this chapter. His anti-Semitism ran high. He hated God's chosen people as no ruler had ever hated them. Why did this tyrant take center stage in Daniel's vision? For two reasons: First, to remind us that almighty God knows-in minute detail-what will happen in history. Antiochus really did appear on the scene, he really did hate the Jews, and he really was the cruelest, most diabolical king anyone could imagine. But there is a second reason why Antiochus is mentioned here: Antiochus Epiphanes is a symbol of the Antichrist and how he will act during the time of the Tribulation.
Remember, the little horn of chapter seven is the actual Antichrist; the little horn in chapter eight is the Jew hater Antiochus Epiphanes, a photocopy of the Antichrist of the Tribulation. That's why we can use the texts in chapter eight to document the desecration the Antichrist will bring upon the house of Israel during the time of the end.
The Great Masquerade
Let's look further at the arrogance of this man-symbol of the Antichrist-who magnifies himself as the prince of the host, that is, prince of the Jewish people. He would glorify himself as their prince-just as Jesus Christ will one day reign as their King-again, an end-time hint that the Antichrist will also do his best to appear as Christ in what will be one of the greatest masquerade attempts of all time. Second Thessalonians 2:4 says that the Antichrist opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. This comparison is an absolute match between Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist.
While some Jews would go along with Antiochus' treachery-feeling they might con their way to independence by toadying up to the tyrant-they would soon discover they had backed the wrong candidate, their hypocrisy soon coming back to bite them. Even as these Jewish turncoats were hoping for the best deal they could strike with their foreign intruder, Antiochus began his slaughter of more than one hundred thousand Jews, demanding that the temporary survivors of his holocaust substitute heathen idols for the one, true God.
He tore up their law, defiled their women, desecrated their Sabbath, had circumcised babies hanged, and forced Jews to sacrifice a sow on the holy altar of the temple. He removed the candlestick of light, the censers of gold, the veil, and the crowns and golden ornaments that adorned the temple. He scaled off mountains of gold for his own amusement and stripped the temple of everything that held significance for the Jews. He laughed in the face of the God of the Hebrews as he commanded that coins be stamped with the inscription: Epiphanes-God! Such blasphemy then-or now-does not go unpunished.
The Signs of Things to Come
Having accomplished his filthy deeds, Antiochus Epiphanes continued to supervise one of the greatest massacres of all time, boasting of his actions at every possible moment. If you would like to know more of this man's reign of terror, read the Book of Maccabees 1:29-64. This madman's behavior is but a mild warning of the activities of the Antichrist yet to appear-who will arrive on the world scene sooner than most imagine.
Amazingly, Antiochus Epiphanes actually enjoyed a degree of acceptance in the early days of his reign, as we've noted, by those hypocrites willing to go along with him for their own gain-even as the Antichrist will dupe millions of our world's people with his charisma and international leadership skills. In the time of the end, this beast will make a peace contract with Israel, but in the middle of the peace process, he will break his word and rescind the treaty. Daniel 9:27 says,And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.
Antichrist-Temporarily in Control
This breaking of the peace is a significant time in history, for now those with eyes to see will observe that the Antichrist has, in fact, become the devil incarnate. Just as Jesus was God in human form, this Antichrist, during the second three and one-half years of the Tribulation, will have Satan living in him. That's when he will say, I am God, just as a haughty, maniacal Antiochus stamped coins with his own image in an attempt to promote his own deity. Remember, this is what Satan has always wanted to do-to be like the most high God (Isaiah 14:12-14). That's why he was ousted out of the third heaven and why Jesus said, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18).
We must remember that the evil one has never been successful. Not that he hasn't tried. You'll recall how one day, deep in the wilderness, Satan promised Jesus the world and everything in it if He'd simply bow in allegiance to him (Matthew 4). Jesus didn't take the bait. However, when we come to the time of the end, the Antichrist-the embodiment of Satan-will finally pull off his coup and become what he's always wanted to be, magnifying himself above every god, with the assistance of an international religious public relations machine that persuades most of the world that he is the man of the hour. In spite of the evil he will do, in all probability he will still become Time magazine's Man of the Year.
This is the one who one day will sit on the throne in the temple in Jerusalem, look into his mirror, admire himself for his accomplishments, smile, and tell himself, I am God, and there is none other like me. My friend, beware of New Agers who tell you that you can become God or like a god. To be seduced by this sweet-sounding rhetoric is the sort of banal thinking-or lack of thinking-that helps to set the stage for what will happen with the advent of the Antichrist. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. The day of the arrival of the Antichrist is rapidly approaching.
Daniel's Major Concern
At this point in the vision, Daniel heard one saint (angel) ask another saint how long this little horn would be allowed to carry on its transgression of desolation-for both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot. This was the key question as far as Daniel was concerned. The history of tyrants was one thing; the real issue for Daniel was how long this angst would be inflicted on his people, the Jews. The answer was twenty-three hundred days-just under six and one-half years.
Again, the Bible predicted these events to the very day. Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple, persecuted the Jews, and wreaked havoc on all who believed from September 6, 171 to December 25, 165 B.C., exactly twenty-three hundred days as the Bible says. But, as we will see, these twenty-three hundred days have an even greater significance as we continue to unseal the mysteries of the time of the end.
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.And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.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.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.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.The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.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.And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.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.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.
Gabriel-Messenger from God
As Gabriel attempted to explain the details of the vision, Daniel fell to the ground-with good reason. Daniel now understood the terror that would be afflicted on his people. The historical parts of the vision were clear, concise, and to the point. But Daniel could not bear to hear about the pain his people would continue to endure. This segment of the vision was also difficult for Daniel to understand because he could not fathom end-time thinking.
That's when Gabriel's interpretation takes a different turn. In verse 17, the angel tells Daniel that his vision refers to the time of the end, and in verse 19 the appointed time of the end. It doesn't get any better for the Jews, but Daniel now at least understands that there is an end-time significance to what Gabriel is telling him. This is the time when the Tribulation will be in full force-that period of history when a time of indignation will fall on the heads of the Jews because of their hardhearted rebellion against God.
What Gabriel is saying is this: Daniel, the indignation that began around 730 B.C. will continue through to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Gabriel is saying, This is not for now.. it's not for your lifetime, Daniel. It's going to be at the time of the end. Verse 23 is the strongest proof that Antiochus represents the Antichrist, and that the latter portion of the vision is not for Daniel's time, because the events in this text will not occur for one hundred years after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes.
Then the Antichrist, symbolized by Antiochus's reign of terror, will be empowered by the dragon of Revelation 13:2- Satan. He will be a proud man, the great, final ruler of the revived Roman confederacy, subduing all who stand before him, making himself a master of the world. He destroys both the mighty and the holy as he employs tactics of deceit and treachery. He dupes the world with his peace proposal, and toward the close of his rule destroys millions because they discovered that he was not what he claimed to be. He will offer himself as the prince of peace (Daniel 11:21, 24). However, that designation is reserved only for our Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6).
Still, the Antichrist does his best to pull off his charade of imitating Christ until the bitter end-even riding on a kingly white horse (Revelation 6:2) because he knows that Jesus the King will also ride on a white horse (Revelation 19:11). The one is faithless and vile; the other faithful and true. In the end, however, this terrible Antichrist shall be broken without hand.
Again we see a prophetic parallel: Antiochus did not die at the hands of his enemies. He died of grief and remorse and went insane in Babylon, having just been defeated in the siege of Elymais and unable to bear the self-destructive impact of losing such an important battle. In like manner, the Antichrist will not die by the hand of his enemies after Satan incarnates his body. Instead, he will be destroyed by Christ at His second coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Finally, this personification of evil is cast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 19:20).
Daniel's Broken Heart
The final words of Gabriel are an attempt to comfort God's frightened servant. He reminds Daniel that the Antichrist is not going to rule in his lifetime, but at the time of the end-when his predictions will finally be unsealed and revealed. For that reason Daniel was ordered to preserve the message of his vision in written form so that future generations would be able to make sense of the events when they transpired. This is why the Book of Daniel is so crucial to our understanding of events yet to come.
These end-time prophecies, spoken on our behalf by a holy God, would not be understood until they began to be fulfilled-a sequence of events that began with the formation of the European Union, with Israel becoming a nation, and with Jerusalem being captured by the Israeli Army, June 5-10, 1967. Daniel himself could not grasp all of these latter-day prophecies because they would remain sealed mysteries until the time of the end.
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.
When you receive the news of an impending disaster, you know how you feel: sick to your stomach, unable to eat, and perhaps not able to pray. But then, you pull yourself together, deal with the problem, and go back to work. That's what happened to Daniel. He was so emotionally drained by his vision and Gabriel's interpretation that he lay sick upon his bed for many days. Finally, after longing for greater understanding-and praying for Jews who would be born and who would suffer long after his death-he arose and returned to his duties as a minister of the king.
Even after Gabriel's interpretation of the vision, Daniel still did not understand every detail fully, even as you and I will never completely fathom the great depths of every prophecy until they are unsealed and revealed at the time of the end. The chapter concludes with a text that implies Daniel remained puzzled for many days to come, during which time he mulled over the words of Gabriel repeatedly. With all this swirling turmoil within, Daniel comes before his God with a contrite spirit and prayer of true repentance, approaching God as Adonai-Lord and Master-trusting the Almighty to do what's right with his unanswered questions concerning the future. Soon he'll prove his sincerity by the wearing of sackcloth and ashes, the wonderful, heart-warming message of chapter nine.
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