Lecture 9 Daniel 8
Last week we were stuck with the ambiguity of the text. The Fourth Kingdom was not named. The little horn was not named. The details that were given regarding the little horn could fit Nero, Vespasian, Titus, or Domitian. It does not mean that Daniel’s prophecy did not come true, but simply that the text was ambiguous, and meant to be interpreted in light of future happenings.
The present text, Daniel 8, is very easy to interpret as far as the predicted referents are concerned. They are explained.
- Ram with two horns (v3) is the Medes and Persians (vs 20)
- The Unicorn Goat (v5) is the Greek Empire (21a)
- The Single Horn is the First King (21b) (Alexander the Great , d. 332bc)
- The Four Conspicuous Horns (8) are the Greek Generals (22)
- Europe- The Greek mainland
- Asia-Minor- Cilicia (Modern Turkey)
- Syria/Assyria- Seleucids (Palestine through the Fertile Crescent, depending on date)
- Egypt- Ptolemies (North Africa)
- During this time Persia remained somewhat self contained but was paying tribute to Greece, and was ruled by the Cilician kings.
- The Latter Horn (9) was a latter king from one of these kingdoms (23)
- He will attack the South, and the Holy Land (24)
The Only Ambiguity in the text is the identity of the final horn of verse 9 and 23. This is Antiochus Epiphanes. The details which are given in the text fit him clearly. For example:
- He ruled the Syrian Kingdom to the north of Palestine. (v 9)
- He made constant war with the Egyptian kingdom (to the south, see v 9 and 24)
- He caused “stars” to fall- meaning “nations” to fall (v 10, see Mt 24:29, Ezek 32:7, Is 13:10, 24:23)
- He oppressed the people of god in 165 bc when he desecrated the Temple by slaughtering a pig on the altar (see v 25)
- He claimed deity in his name “Epiphanes” which means the “Manifest” connoting a god seeming to be in the flesh, in Greek thought.
The End of What?
These things are said to be “at the end” or “pertaining to the end” (vv 17, 19, 26). This was obviously not the end of the world, nor the end of the Jewish age, so to what does this word “end” refer? The best way to understand this is that this gives the principle that though something is speaking about the “end” that end is not necessarily “the end of the world.” The things prophesied about the end have more reference to their lateness, or their futureness, then they do the actual end. We shall see that this principle, or, at least, phraseological precedence, gives us reason to say that just because the Bible says the end, it does not mean the very end of the world in every instance.
For example, Jesus mentioned the “end will come” with the Abomination mentioned in Daniel 9:27 (Mat 24:15). Many interpret this “end” too refer to the end of the world. However, the principle seen here is that it does not refer to the end, but simply to an event which is theologically pertinent to the movement toward the consummation of the Kingdom. For example in Matthew 24:15, the end referred to, as we shall see in great detail next week, is the destruction of Jerusalem (See Matthew 24:3, 34).
These “end” events refer to events which are pertinent to the work of God redeeming his people. Think about it this way. Daniel saw a vision of the future (to him) Temple desecrated. This seems rather unimportant until one realizes that the temple had not yet been rebuilt, nor had the decree to rebuild been set forth! He was still in Babylon (v 1). Further, Daniel already knew that there would be a fourth Kingdom after this. Since, the “Greek” Kingdom would be succeeded by the Fourth kingdom (Dan 2). And since the Fourth Kingdom had already been revealed in ambiguous detail in the last chapter (7), then this was certainly not the end of the world, nor the inauguration of the Kingdom of God which would come after the Fourth Kingdom!
What all this means is that the end does not mean THE END. So what can it mean? The right way to interpret these events is typologically. A type is an analogy shaped by events, institutions, and persons in the Old Testament which prefigure the work of God redeeming his people. Types are foreshadows of the work of God in Christ and his Saints in union with Christ.
Therefore, the principle set forth here is that of judgment. God’s people, especially personified in the Land (9), and the Temple (12-13), and explicitly as the “Holy People”(24), are going to be persecuted by evil. These point forward to the ultimate day of judgment as types or foreshadows of the work of God to preserve his people through the wrath to come. There are constant trials, tribulations, etc. There will also be a great day of final tribulation through which the Church will be preserved directly preceding the resurrection and final judgment.
Further, God will deliver them. It is not by human hands alone that they will be delivered, but by the divine work. Verse 8:25 points to the fact that God will deliver his people miraculously from the hand of this self-divinized ruler to come. It will be “without human agency.” We see this same principle come about on the final day when the Devil will be released from his prison.
Rev 20:7-12 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. (9) And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (10) And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
(11) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. (12) And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
Revelation 20 pints to the destruction of the devil and his seed in a final cataclysmic act. This is immediately succeeded by the resurrection and final judgment (vv 11-12), and the renewal of the heavens and the earth (21).
A conclusion to Draw for this is that all events like this trial can be take as types of the struggle which Christians face in this world. Trial does come, and we must be ready for it. See Matt 24:5-14. Jesus there made the point that there will be many different kinds of trials (eg famine, earthquakes, wars, etc). However, these are not THE END. They are simply pictures of the end. Much like the specific “end” which he was talking about in Mat 24:15.
Also , those who persevere to the end will indeed persevere through until that actual final day! In Matthew 24 there is a sense of the need to persevere into glory by way of death, but at that final day, the not yet, there will be a perseverance which results in a direct transfer into the resurrected state.
The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way, “At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed.” The point being that 1) there will be some still alive after the judgment. 2) they will remain in their same bodies while being changed!
They prove this from
1Th 4:17 “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
1Co 15:51-52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
This is something to be hoped for. The judgment comes in the present, and it will come cataclysmically at the end. Nevertheless, the Christian has one application which our Lord utter, “Those who persevere to the end shall be saved.” (Mat 24:13)