These prophecies that were given to Daniel can be hard to understand. I fully identify with Daniel when he writes this in verse 27, “I Daniel, was overcome, and lay sick for some days.” These visions are NOT easy to understand, but God is the one who has given them to us so that we know they are for our good, amen? When you are committed to expository preaching you will be forced to preach through difficult passages.
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me mat the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had ya conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, band he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward fthe four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some1 of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression,2 and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me,3 “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened band fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat4 is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his5 nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind she shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.
Outline of this chapter
The prophetic vision (verses 1-14)
The interpretation of the prophetic vision (verses 15-27)
The RAM is the Medo-Persians
The GOAT is the Greeks.
The two primary men that ruled these mentioned kingdoms are:
Alexander the Great: The four horns that come from him are generals that ruled after he died. The one special horn is a man By the name of….
Antiochus Epiphanes: Ruled over Palestine from 175-64 B.C. He gave himself the name Epiphanes which means “god manifest.” He was ruthless to the Jews, when they revolts against him he went into the temple, stopped the sacrifices, had a pig sacrificed for the false god Zeus. This is the abomination of desolation.
The 2300 days that is mentioned in verse is probably a reference to the length of time that it would take for the temple to be cleansed of the desecration from Antiochus Epiphanes.
Do we see mention of the Antichrist in this passage?
I believe the answer is yes. Why do I say that? The Antichrist will fight against the Prince of Hosts (verse 25). The Prince of Hosts is a reference to Jesus Christ. There is a clear foreshadowing of the future abomination of desolation that happens in the end times (Matthew 24).
Macro and micro look at what God is doing in and through Israel
MACRO: Disciplining the nation of Israel because he (God) loves them. This is reason they are in Babylon in the first place. They are in Babylon and being disciplined because they are not seeking after God with all of their heart.
MICRO: Transforming them (each person) so that that their lives bring him glory. In Isaiah 49:6 we read this, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” God wanted to be first in their life and he also desired to use them to reach others. Are you seeking after God with all of your heart these days? Is their an area of your life that you need to surrender to God?
How are you dealing with the difficulties of living in our Babylonian culture?
In this passage God is going out of his way to let us know that difficult time are coming. The Jews were only going to be in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. But this vision is revealing that more trials are coming even after they are out of captivity! Daniel’s reaction to this vision is quite telling, he became sick for days. How ae you responding to the trials you are experiencing? Is God bringing discipline into your life to shape you into the image of his Son Jesus Christ? Are you cooperating with the work he wants to do in you?
What do you need to know in a world filled with pain and suffering? God is in control and he is working all things for the good.
How do we see that God is in control in this passage? God is giving specific details about what will happen in the future. Details that come true. God wants Daniel, God wants you and I to know that even though the world looks out of control, it’s not.
We should not be surprised that life is hard! In 1 Peter 4:12 we read this, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
As we turn to Romans 8:28 we learn “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good…”
Consider the young Jewish family that returned from Babylonian Captivity only to find this madman by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes was waging war against your homeland…
The teenage Jewish girl might have wondered if it was worth it to continue and pursue godliness, she wondered if God even noticed her anymore.
The Jewish dad who was giving into rage because of the politics of his day, he wondered where in the world God was to be found.
The young adult who began to think he should just live for the day, maybe all these prophecies were just old myths.
God is saying in Daniel 8, don’t give up! God is saying to each one of us, don’t give up! Jesus is coming to return, let’s trust him, walk with him, live for him with abandon.