Lesson 1: The Prophecy

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

— John 1:9

The Prophecy

We will begin with a prophecy in Daniel 8. For sake of space, I won’t copy the chapter down, but just take a moment to get your Bible out and read Daniel 8. Take note of this rough outline of the chapter:

  1. Setting (1–2)
  2. Narrative of Prophecy (3–12)
  3. Interpretation (13–27)

The Ram

The first main character in this prophecy is a ram. This ram has two high horns. One horn is said to be higher than the other and came up later. These horns stand for the kingdoms of Media and Persia (v. 20), Persia being the later and more prominent horn.

The Goat

While Daniel was studying this ram, out of the west comes barging a strong, rough goat. This goat charges in the air with such power, fury, and speed that he appears to not even be touching the ground! We read about a very strange (and I might say, ugly) feature of this goat: a horn between his eyes. He smites the ram, breaks off the ram’s horns, and gains complete preeminence over the ram. In verse 21, Gabriel interprets the goat to be the kingdom of Greece and the middle horn to be the king of Greece. Although this goat is powerful and waxed great, the horn is broken and before it comes up four horns. When in history do we find a powerful king of Greece who destroys the Persian empire and is succeeded by four kings? Alexander the Great lived from 356–323 BC. He defeats the Persian army and establishes a magnificent Greek empire, spreading the Greek, Hellenistic culture throughout the world. When Alexander died, the Greek empire was split among his four generals who continually fought each other for control. These four kingdoms were located in Macedonia (Greece), Asia Minor (Turkey), Syria, and Egypt. Each of these generals began their own dynasties in their kingdoms.

The Little Horn

Out of one of the four horns comes up a little horn. This little horn waxes “exceeding great” and moves toward the south, east, and toward the “pleasant land.” This little horn takes away the daily sacrifice (v. 11) and causes many to transgress and “cast down truth to the ground” (v. 12). In verses 23–25, we read further that this little horn rises up in the “latter time” of the kingdom. We also read he is of fierce countenance and destroys the holy people. This description can match no other than a man named Antiochus IV.

Some Notes

How Long?

In verse 12, we read that “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.” Immediately following this verse, Daniel hears a conversation between two saints. These two saints are not angels. A “saint” is a “holy one” and refers to someone who has been saved and redeemed by the Lord. Maybe one of them was David. Maybe one was Moses. We have no clue exactly who these are, but they are Old Testament saints. I’m pointing out this significance because, though the angels of heaven serve and do the bidding of the Lord God Almighty, the saints understand redemption in a much more personal way that angels can only imagine. One of these saints witnessed the same vision as Daniel. He has just heard that the daily sacrifice has been taken away. He learns that this little horn has gathered to himself a host of people to help stop the daily sacrifice. He wants to know when this abomination will end. The other saint answers, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (v. 14). 2,300 days = 6 years, 140 days

There are several interpretations for this dialogue, but I won’t present them all. I don’t believe it is clear enough to me to make a dogmatic statement, but I have settled on an interpretation that I believe lines up very well. The key is to understand the context immediately preceding the dialogue between the two saints. When did this “transgression of desolation” take place and a host gathered to the little horn to prevent the daily sacrifice? In 171 BC, a legitimate Jewish High Priest named Onias III was ousted from his position and replaced by a priest who was devoted to the wishes of Antiochus IV, the little horn. Later that year, Onias III was murdered.  Obeying the wishes of Antiochus IV, the new, pagan high priest led a host of priests in the pagan abominations and desecrations of the temple. This continued until Jerusalem was captured and the temple cleansed and rededicated in 165 BC. Although we do not have the exact dates for when Onias III was killed and the pagan line of priests established, the period beginning with the murder of Onias III and ending with the cleansing of the temple would be very close to the required 2,300 days.

Whether this is the correct interpretation or not, praise the Lord for His infinite wisdom and knowledge!

What is the link between Antiochus IV and the Antichrist?

Well, I’m glad you asked! In the book of Daniel, there are four other visions that have very similar characteristics as this vision in Chapter 8. However, as we have seen, Gabriel wonderfully interprets this vision for us and lets us know very clearly that we are dealing with only the Medo-Persian and Greek empires. This prophecy is closed and completed. The other visions have yet to be fulfilled in their entirety. We find out about another “little horn” in Chapter 7 who, in the words of the New Testament, is called the Antichrist. This Antichrist is also referred to in Chapters 9, 11, and 12. The account in Chapter 8, though very significant and major in history, is actually just a small preview of the terrible events to come. Antiochus IV was wicked and very possibly empowered by Satan himself. He hated the Jews with a passion and called himself “Epiphanes” (God Manifest). Antiochus IV is indeed a type of the terrible Antichrist to come, but Antiochus IV is dead and in hell right now. We won’t be seeing any more of him until the Great White Throne Judgment where he will be on his knees before a Jew named Jesus Christ who will send him to the lake of fire for the rest of eternity.

Accompanying Slides:

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