Ladies Bible Study
The Book of Daniel
Relevance for Today
"The Ram and The Goat"
The past few months have been very exciting, as we have gone through this Book chapter by chapter. Last month we began our study of the prophetic sections of Daniel.
We discussed the first prophetic dream given to Daniel. It paralleled the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and the multi-stone image. Nebuchadnezzarís dream for the Gentiles, Danielís for the Israelites. It foretold events in the near future that have been fulfilled and those that will occur in the end times, during the tribulation. We see the rise of the Antichrist foretold and we see the rise and fall of the three empires leading up to the reemergence of the ancient Roman Empire as it occurs in the last days.
We now proceed to more prophecy aimed at the Jewish people. The Book of Daniel switches languages again in Chapter 8, returning to ancient Hebrew from the Aramaic in which the first seven chapters were written. The first seven chapters were for the Gentile nations, this last section of Daniel for the Hebrew people.
Letís look at our Text:
Daniel 8:1-27: In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me to me, Daniel after the one that appeared to me the first time. 2. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. 3. Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no beast could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great. 5. And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 6. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. 7. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. 8. Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. 9. And 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. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. 11. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. 12. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered. 13. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?''
14. And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.'' 15. Now it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly 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, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.'' 17. So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.'' 18. Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. 19. And he said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be. 20. "The ram which you saw, having the two horns they are the kings of Media and Persia. 21. "And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. 22. "As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.
23. "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes.
24. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.
25. "Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. he shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human hand.
26. "And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future.''
27. And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king's business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.
At first glance this echoes parts of the previous chapter and the description of the "lopsided bear" and the beast with four horns. Letís see how these two chapters correlate.
Daniel 8:1-2: 1. In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me to me, Daniel after the one that appeared to me the first time. 2. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.
This dream takes place during the third year of King Belshazzarís reign. It is very near the end of the Babylonian Empire. King Belshazzar is the ruler who saw "the handwriting on the wall", you will remember. Immediately thereafter, he died and the kingdom was conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire under Darius.
Now, in this prophetic dream, Daniel is transported to Shushan, or Susa the capital of the Medo-Persian Empire, on the banks of the Kerkah River. Daniel is transported to the capital of the next ruling empire and he sees the future of this empire and the portent of the one to come. It is a very troubling dream. If you notice in the first verse, Daniel says the dream is "to me, to me Daniel." Why he stresses this in this way, I do not know, nor have I been able to find an answer. I do know that Daniel found many of these visions troubling. I believe he wants to stress to the Jews, that it was to a Jew the dreams were given and the impact they will have on the "Holy People" or the Israelis.
As Daniel was standing on the shore of the river he sees the ram with two horns.
The horns were high, with one being higher than the other and the higher one coming up last. He then sees the ram push westward, northward and southward. This of course is describing the rise and expansion of the Medo-Persian Empire with the Persian empire gaining dominance. This chapter is describing the future conflict of east against west, Europe against Asia. The ram does not push eastward, as this is where the Persian Empire lies and to go further east would push into India and China. Persia is what we now know of as the nation of Iran.
I am attempting to go deeper in the Word of God with this study and not overwhelm us with too many geopolitical facts. There is so much happening in the world today in the Middle East that is a direct fulfillment of prophecy with implications for tomorrow. I frankly have been almost overwhelmed by the information. I want us to concentrate on basic prophecy and the relevance of the Book of Daniel for us today and not drown us in "knowledge." This is an area requiring a lifetime of study and I am only scratching the surface. Please be open-minded when you study this and pray for guidance in applying it to your heart.
The goat seen in verse 5 is of course, the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. We discussed last month the speed with which he conquered the know world. Alexander the Great was a young man God raised up who became arrogant in his rule and thus was swiftly put down by God. If you remember one of the realizations that saved Nebuchadnezzar was that God raised up one and put down another.
Daniel 2:20-21: Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. 21. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.
Daniel 4:37: Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase.
Alexander became full of pride believing that he was of the ancestral line of Achilles, the mighty Greek warrior and the god Hercules. He even required that the conquered people worship him as a god. We know this kind of behavior never prospers long. Alexander accomplished what God intended him to accomplish, the spreading of the Greek language throughout the know world and then his time was finished. He died of a fever, some say after a drunken spree, others say of malaria, at the early age of 32 years. Interestingly Alexander died in Babylon in the year 323 B. C. Years later in Egypt the Hebrew texts were translated into Greek, known as the Septuagint because approximately 70 to 72 people were involved in its translation. It was and is a main source in Biblical Translation today.
In the next verses we see the kingdom divided into four kingdoms. This is described well in the previous lesson and I will only briefly review it.
The Greek Empire was divided among the four generals under Alexander.
We are now going to spend the remainder of our time discussing the ruler of Syria and Israel, Seleucus dynasty, particularly the precursor to the antichrist, Antiochus IV.
Antiochus IV or Ephiphanes was the son of Antiochus the Great. He is the little horn described in verse 9, growing toward the south, the east and toward the "Glorious Land" or Israel. He grows in this direction for he rose out of Syria. Please pay close attention, this little horn grows out of the third section of Nebuchadnezzarís statue the Greek Empire. The little horn of the previous chapter grows out of the 4th section or empire or the future resurrected Roman Empire. If you remember, that little horn grew out of the ten horns, and destroyed three horns taking their place. (See Daniel 7:7-8.)
Antiochusí rule is significant as he foreshadows what unbelievably horrible things the antichrist will do at his rise. Antiochus is referred to as a "madman" and in rabbinical sources as "the wicked." He is known in history for his hatred for the Jews.
As I said before, many of Antiochusí actions were only a foretaste of what is to come.
Recall that by now many of the captives had returned to the Holy Land and had rebuilt the temple. As we remember from our teachings in previous lessons, one of the main practices of a conquering nation was to destroy the conquered nationsí heritage. They enacted laws and changes to require the conquered people to take on the heritage of the conquerors. Antiochus practiced this with evil glee. He had no desire to make the Jewish people into Greeks, but to destroy them totally. We see true hatred of the Jews emerging here. He enacted cruel laws and rules. Forbidding sacrifices to God, requiring sacrifices to be made to Greek gods and using the army to enforce these laws. (See Daniel 8:10-12.) He was also known to have poured pig broth over the holy vessels and to have pillaged the Temple, stealing many of the Holy vessels including the golden candlesticks and the table of showbread. He also set up an altar to Zeus in the temple.
Daniel 8:13-14: Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?'' 14. And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.''
I am going to briefly discuss this time line. If taken literally, we can see it being fulfilled in a six or seven year period. This was the time Antiochus IV was in control. His brutal treatment of the Jews and His cruel enforcement of ungodly behavior finally led to revolt and the brief rise of a Jewish Nation under the Hasmonians. This is known in history as the Macabeen Revolt. Begun by a Jewish priest Mattathias who revolted when the Greek army came to their area requiring them to sacrifice to Greek gods. The entire village was ordered to make sacrifices or die. When one poor fearful village went forward to begin, Mattathias rose up in anger and disgust, slaying the poor villager and the soldiers sent to enforce the law. He died shortly thereafter and the rebellion was taken up by his son Judas, surnamed Macabee, and his brothers. Eventual victory was obtained, Jerusalem taken back and the temple cleansed of desolation. This is where the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah began at the rededication of the Temple after this desecration. We see Jesus celebrating the Festival of Lights in The Gospel of John.
John 10:22-23: Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
Daniel received this vision and it made him physically ill. I can only imagine if we truly understood what would happen in the tribulation, the unimaginable evil, the ungodliness that will be unleashed after the believers are raptured, that I cannot but stop and think it would have the same effect on us.
Remember that everything in The Word, especially in the Old Testament are often dual or foreshadowing of things to come. God has not and will not forsake His chosen people. We as believers need to understand some Biblical terminology. The Word of God refers to three distinct types of people, The Jews, the Church and the nations or the lost. The Jews are Godís chosen people, we are the Church, made up of born again believers and the nations are those without Christ.
12. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! 13. For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14. if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16. For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18. do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19. You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.''
20. Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27. For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'' 28. Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
29. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience,
31. even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34. "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?'' 35. "Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?''
God is sovereign. That is a pretty simple statement yet full of importance. We see in the above text Godís plan for His chosen people. We as the church are grafted in, we are "adopted" into the family through our rebirth. We are also chosen, but God in His goodness and mercy made a convenant with the Jews and He will fulfill it. They were and always will be His chosen people. They will be redeemed. Verse 29 tells us the gifts and calling are irrevocable. We use this to talk about the gifts of the spirit, but if you look at it in context, it is referring to the Jewish nationís salvation and Godís mercy toward them. Godís mercy and wisdom are unsearchable and His ways past finding out. We cannot know the mind of God. We can know what He has shown us and that is His promises. They will obtain mercy and salvation, this has always been his plan. This will occur when the "fullness of the Gentiles" has come. When that is, only God knows.
When will all this take place, I have no idea and wouldnít even begin to speculate. It is not for me to know. I have a mandate from God, it is to take you deeper in the Word. Anything else from me is disobedience. Pray for God to open your eyes to truths in His Word and to grow in wisdom and knowledge each day. God Bless each of you, see you next month.
Questions Chapter 8
2. to where is Daniel transported in the vision and why is this significant?
little horn in chapter 7?
9. Define the terms Jewish people, The church and the nations.