Teaching series from Daniel

The Ram, The Goat and The Small Horn

Daniel 8:1-27

Teaching t13922

We’re studying 5 weeks of what I am calling the five greatest predictive prophecies in the history of the human race. Daniel is the greatest collection of these. And, if you missed last week you missed a lot. You missed our coverage of this big statue. We’re in the year, close to 600 BC all the way on the other side of the world in the modern-day Iran/Iraq area. Daniel is a Jewish teen exiled to Babylon, a prisoner of war and he ends up interpreting a dream for the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar where God predicts a succession of empires, starting with Babylon and leading right down to the end of the world where Jesus Christ will set up the Kingdom of God. We saw that the head exactly predicted Babylon, and he predicted the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Medo-Persian empire. We saw the fall of the Medo-Persian empire and the rise of the Greeks. We saw the fall of the Greeks and the rise of mighty Rome and then finally we saw that Rome would split up into a number of different nations, but as the world approaches the final days, the end of the history, the old offshoots of Rome would reunite into a coalition that would be more powerful than any nation in the world. We didn’t say that necessarily has happened in our day, but we could at least see that it is plausible as we talked about the effort of the European nations to unite into the European Union in order to create a common currency, free internal borders, and a common defense. We talked about all of that last week and Daniel predicted that all in advance 2500 years ago. 

I also said, “nothing compares to biblical prophecy” and I said if you know of anything like this you’ve got to let me know. I am really interested in this and I have never been able to find anything in all the years that I have been studying this. Well, none of you emailed me last week so, if you’ve got something please don’t hold back. I just want to contrast it with our feeble attempts to predict the future. Look at modern movies, modern attempts to predict the future. Look at a movie like Back to the Future from 1985, simply trying to predict 30 years in the future, Daniel is shooting 2500 years in the future. With all of the most brilliant minds of Hollywood. The clothes they’ve got us wearing; it looks like 80s clothes with metal on them. There’s also a hoverboard, the closest thing we’ve got to that is this thing that would explode and were forbidden to be taken on airplanes. It definitely didn’t happen by 2015. What about Blade Runner? The original Blade Runner was made in the early 80s and predicted events taking place in 2019! I wonder how we’re doing on those human robots that look and function exactly like humans? How are we doing on flying police cars? Not too well. 

Nostradamus

Sometimes people will say, “well what about Nostradamus?” I hear that he predicted 9/11, I hear he predicted a lot of things. Well, what about him? Let’s take a look at what a lot of Nostradomites would call the most impressive predictive prophecy. His prediction of September 11th, a contemporary event, Nostradamus in the early 1500s AD. Here is his quatrain 10-72. He wrote in these little four-line quatrains. 

In the year 1999, in the seventh month, from the sky will come the great King of Terror, bringing back to life the great King of the Mongols. Before and after, Mars to reign by good fortune.

(nostradamususa.com/911prophecy.html)

What Nostradamites would argue is that this accurately predicts the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. For example, you can read about this on the Nostradamus Society of the United States, here’s what they have to say about this quatrain”

The real clue is that the date 1999 is nothing more than a numeric anagram. If we reverse the order of the “1”s and “9”s, we arrive at the date 9-11-1 (the date of the 9-11 attacks). From the sky (suggesting an aerial event, perhaps through means of aircraft, missiles or something else) will come the great (as in powerful) King of Terror (suggesting an unnamed leader of a nation who possess a powerful military, probably a foe of Europe and the West). Bringing back to life (rebirthing) the great King of the Mongols (Genghis Khan was the Mongolian king who conquered Asia in the 13th century, thus an Asian military leader). Mars (the symbolic planet of war in astrology) to reign by good fortune (war appears to reign fortunate for an unnamed nation, or group of nations, “before and after” July of 1999). The tragic events of 9-11 were truly foreshadowed here…It is obvious that Osama bin Laden is the “great king of terror who comes from the sky.”

(nostradamususa.com/911prophecy.html)

 

What do you think? Nostradamus; let’s think about this a little bit more. Well, as you do a little more background reading some other things come to light. Ian Wilson’s book, here is what he has to say about that, 

The original 1555 edition of Nostradamus says: “From the sky will come a great appeaser King, the great King of the Mongols” is the French word “Angolmois.” In Nostradamus’ time, this word actually referred to “one of the territories belonging to the Queen of Navarre… NE of Bordeaux.

Wilson, Ian. Nostradamus: The Man behind the Prophecies. New York: St. Martin’s., 2003. 282-3. 

So, we have to amend our text to be what Nostradamus actually wrote, it’s not about the great King of the Mongols, it’s about a territory in Northern France, that’s what the word meant in Nostradamus’s day. Also, if you reverse 1999 it doesn’t spell out September 11, 2001. It’s either September 99, 2001 or September 9, 1991. Neither of which were really big days in the history of terror. I guess if you reverse the numbers and then change half of them you could sort of get to 9/11/01. If you think about this, a few more features come up. There is no context. It’s not like there is a long passage here about the September 11 attacks, each quatrain is completely unrelated to the one that comes before in a lot of cases. Secondly, there is no syntax or grammar here. “Before or after Mars to reign with good fortune?” What does that mean? Also, there isn’t correlation. 

What would be nice if you had a passage here about them, and a passage there about them, and then there about them, and that is what we find in biblical prophecy. You have these visions and these prophecies repeated over and over again. Different prophecies fleshing out different versions of it and then clearly all tying into one another, like the prophecies we see right here in the book of Daniel. And so, Nostradamus, this is nothing anywhere close to biblical prophecy, even the best they have to offer. This week we are going to see him further refine this scaffolding that he set up for us last week with these five kingdoms, and what we are really going to focus in on are the Medo-Persian and the Greek Empires (chest, belly, thighs on the statue). 

Vision of the Ram and the Goat 

Let’s start reading Daniel 8.

During the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign [in the year 550 BC]

I, Daniel, saw another vision, following the one that had already appeared to me.

Daniel was in his mid to late teens last week, this week he is 70 years old when he gets this vision that he is about to narrate to us. And he is an old man by now. 

In this vision I was at the fortress of Susa, in the province of Elam, standing beside the Ulai River.

He is transported from his duties at the capital of Babylon and suddenly he is hundreds of miles away at the fortress of Susa, which at that time was the capital of the Elamite province, which would become the Persians pretty shortly here. He was whisked away to Susa standing beside the Ulai River. This was a man made, engineered canal that was 900 ft across, massive. He says, 

As I looked up, I saw a ram with two long horns standing beside the river.

So last week it was a vision of a statue, this week it is a vision of a battle. The first combatant is a ram with two long horns. 

One of the horns was longer than the other, even though it had grown later than the other one.

This ram, maybe back in high school when one of his horns sprung up, maybe the other rams were laughing at him, but no one was laughing when big lefty grew in. 

The ram butted everything out of his way to the west, to the north, and to the south,

and no one could stand against him or help his victims. He did as he pleased and became very great.

As the ram is standing there over his vanquished foes, Daniel looks to the west and he sees a challenger arise. This ram, even though he did as he pleased and became very great, suddenly he saw, 

While I was watching, suddenly a male goat appeared from the west,

And it’s a uni-goat. We’ll see later that it only has one horn. 

crossing the land so swiftly that he didn’t even touch the ground.

Now that is fast, cartoon fast. 

This goat, which had one very large horn between its eyes, headed toward the two-horned ram that I had seen standing beside the river, rushing at him in a rage.

Angry goat. Daniel is standing there watching these two massive animals rushing at each other, the goat at the ram, who will be victorious?

The goat charged furiously at the ram and struck him, breaking off both his horns. Now the ram was helpless, and the goat knocked him down and trampled him. No one could rescue the ram from the goat’s power. The goat became very powerful. But at the height of his power, his large horn was broken off. In the large horn’s place grew four prominent horns pointing in the four directions of the earth. 

Well that’s very strange. 

Then from one of the prominent horns came a small horn whose power grew very great. It extended toward the south and the east and toward the glorious land of Israel.

You can see we have switched over to talking about nations. 

Its power reached to the heavens, where it attacked the heavenly army, throwing some of the heavenly beings and some of the stars to the ground and trampling them It even challenged the Commander of heaven’s army by canceling the daily sacrifices offered to him and by destroying his Temple. The army of heaven was restrained from responding to this rebellion.

Very weird. 

So, the daily sacrifice was halted, and truth was overthrown. The horn succeeded in everything it did. Then I heard two holy ones talking to each other. One of them asked, “How long will the events of this vision last? How long will the rebellion that causes desecration stop the daily sacrifices? How long will the Temple and heaven’s army be trampled on?” The other replied, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again.”

 

There’s the vision, what do we do with it? Like I said last week, with biblical prophecy we don’t need to speculate and take the numbers and change them and flip them around and try and read events into it, if you are confused about what the prophecy means, usually a pretty good bet is that you just keep reading and things become a lot more clear. That’s what happens here. Daniel says, 

As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision, someone who looked like a man stood in front of me. And I heard a human voice calling out from the Ulai River, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of his vision.”

The angel Gabriel, one of two angels named in scripture. 

As Gabriel approached the place where I was standing, I became so terrified that I fell with my face to the ground. “Son of man,” he said, “you must understand that the events you have seen in your vision relate to the time of the end.”

Which didn’t help at all, it’s a little much for old Daniel, he’s 70, a little more excitement than a normal day. He says, 

While he was speaking, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. But Gabriel roused me with a touch and helped me to my feet. Then he said, “I am here to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath. What you have seen pertains to the very end of time.

There is something relevant for the end times here that we are going to see. He says, 

The two-horned ram represents the kings of Media and Persia.

Remember last week, the silver chest? That was the Medo-Persian Empire. Here he explicitely names this empire. And that is a great description of the Medo-Persian empire. This was one empire really with two phases. First the Medes, and then the Persians. It was united under a very important under a very important biblical figure. Cyrus the Great comes up in the bible, predicted by name by the prophecy Isaiah 20 year in advance. Cyrus the Great became the king of this little province, the Elamite province in 559 BC. Cyrus was part Persian part Mede. His dad was a Persian, but his mom’s dad was the last king of the Medes. In fact, Cyrus and his grandpa battled one another for the empire. They battled one another from 553-550 BC. In its initial form, the Mede empire was there as far back as 3000 BC and little kingdoms eventually get spliced into this thing. By 600 BC they had expanded even though they were under Babylon. Then the Persian empire starts, Cyrus battles his grandpa, starts to defeat him, and then he takes over the whole thing. They push westward and north into Turkey, and then finally south, taking over the Babylonian empire. At its height, Cyrus, in a period of only about a decade, he took over this much land, from Turkey and Israel in the west all the way east as far as the border of India. Notice how each of these empires are subsuming the one who came before and expanding and adding to it. 

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Persia-Cyrus2-World3.png

This is what Daniel predicted with that two-horned ram. The first horn and then the other bigger horn coming up. This dominated for 200 years from 540-330s BC. They actually tried to bust west into Greece for about 50 years, (if you’ve seen the movie 300 the Persians are the guys who fought at the battle of Thermopolis and they lost.) Finally, after 50 years of trying to take down the Greeks they gave up, retreated, and signed a treaty. Which gave Greece about 100 years to get more and more powerful before the shaggy goat comes onto the scene. He says, 

The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king of the Greek Empire.

Alexander the Great 

This is none other than Alexander the Great. Alexander, he was the son of King Philip of Macedon. Philip ruled Macedon for 20 years and he ended up uniting the different tribes of Greece under one federation. He basically united Greece. Part of that, he was so successful because he basically invented the phalanx, which basically made the Greek army unstoppable. He also hired a guy named Aristotle to tutor his brilliant son Alexander. So, Alexander grew up under military genius and one of the great philosophical intellectual geniuses of all time. He left his studies at 16 to go start leading the army into battle. He became king at age 20, how would you like to be the king of Greece at 20 years old? Imagine being thrust into that role. But for Alexander it was no problem. His dad had been assassinated so he spent the first two years of his reign killing all of his rivals and then 334 BC, this is what his kingdom looked like. 

A close up of a map

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He attacked Persia and over the next ten years, here is what his kingdom came to look like. 

A close up of a map

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He took everything Persia had, plus he took Egypt, plus he took everything further up and north on the east side of the kingdom. Absolutely incredible. 1.5 million square miles and he conquered all this in a decade with an ancient army. They call him Alexander the Great for a reason. What is interesting here, Daniel is predicting all of this in advance. The horn flying across without even touching the ground, the speed with which Alexander came from the west to conquer the Medo-Perisan empire. You can see why skeptical scholars say that there is no way that there are written in advance because they are too accurate, but we argued a couple of weeks ago why these were written in the 500s BC by Daniel. 

One interesting side story I want to tell here. On his way through Jerusalem, conquering Israel Alexander rolled up to Jerusalem with his army Josephus (Antiquities 11.327-337) tells us a very interesting story about Alexander’s conquest in his antiquities. Everyone is terrified because Alexander the Great is marching on Jerusalem. The High Priest (Jaddus) has a dream, and in that dream, God says, ‘Just walk out unarmed, you and the other priests and meet Alexander and I’m going to keep you guys safe.’ And so, they walk out unarmed. They walk up to Alexander, and Alexander, in front of all of his army, in front of all of his generals, rides up to the priests and he walks up and he salutes the High Priest. And Josephus says at this point,

“the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind…”

They said, ‘what are you doing?’ Alexander says, ‘back when I was in Greece, I had a dream. And in my dream, I saw this guy right here. And, in my dream this guy told me that I am going to conquer all of Persia.’ Josephus says, the priests at that point, they welcomed him warmly, they brought him into the city, and what did they show him? The Book of Daniel, 

“the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad”

Josephus, Antiquities 11.327-337

He is very kind to the Jews in part because of this experience right here. One point I want to take away from this is that Alexander’s success was no accident. God saw this coming and God is going to use Alexander’s conquest to spread the Greek language all over that entire area. God knew that one day he was going to write the New Testament in Greek, not Hebrew. And that eventually the Septuagint was going to be written in Greek, the translation of the Old Testament. This would also set the stage for the famous Pax Romana which was the peace across the borders of the entire Roman empire, which allowed for free travel and for good and safe roads. What that would provide for is in the fullness of time, at just the right moment, Jesus Chris would be born into this Greek speaking world under the Pax Romana and it would be just the right time for the good news about the forgiveness that he offers to spread all over that entire part of the world. 

Alexander died suddenly in age 32. He conquers the known world in 10 or 11 years, what is there left to do? Well remember that Daniel said at the height of his power the large horn was broke off. We know from history that he contracted and illness at the palace of Susa, the very place that Daniel’s vision is taking place, that’s pretty interesting. He contracted and illness there and then died suddenly. This just sent the entire Greek empire into disarray; people could not believe this. In fact, when people came back with the news to Greece, they didn’t believe it at first, they had no plans for his successor, his oldest son was still in the womb at this point. He has no valid prince to take over. On his death bed they asked him, “Alexander, you’re dying, to who do you give your kingdom?” and he said, “Give it to the strongest.” A lot of his generals were thinking, ‘He must be talking about me.’ What ensued was a 20-year power struggle. He spent 10 years conquering the world and then after he died his family and his generals spent 20 years fighting over what he had conquered until finally in 301 BC things stabilized somewhat. This is just what Daniel predicted, he said, “The four prominent horns that replaced the one large horn show that the Greek Empire will break into four kingdoms, but none as great as the first.” We can read out history and find that is exactly what happened, Greece broke into four kingdoms. 

Image result for diadochi map

The green is the Seleucid empire, that is going to be important later. It splits into four kingdoms, the four horns, just like Daniel said. And then, things stay that way for about 25 years.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes: The Little Horn

And then Daniel says, 

At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power.

Remember the little horn that grew out of one of the horns? This is the guy that he is talking about here. We definitely know who this is from history, King Antiochus IV. This guy call himself Antiochus Epiphanes, which means “Antiochus, God has appeared.” Other people called him Antiochus Epimanes, which means, “Antiochus, the madman.” He rose from the Seleucid empire. This is the small horn that came out of one of the offshoots of the Greek empire. Daniel predicted him too. This guy was bad new, this guy is one of the most notorious enemies of the Jews in all the history of the Jews and that is really saying something because the Jews have been persecuted a lot down through their history. Antiochus Epiphanes, 

He will become very strong, but not by his own power.

What does that mean? It could refer to the fact that he usurped others. The way that became king is one of the military guys killed his brother and Antiochus kind of stepped in to fill the void. He killed his nephew to ensure that he would stay king. It could be that, but it could also be something more sinister. It could be a reference to his rise to power was not just mere human ingenuity, but there was an evil power behind it, bringing hm to the fore and is also what instigated this persecution of the Jews that began under Antiochus Epiphanes shortly after he took office in 175 BC. 

He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant; he will destroy many without warning.

These lies, these surprise attacks, a devastation of the Holy People. His persecution of Israel. This was the most intense persecution that they had seen up until that point. One of the most intense ones they would ever see for all their history as well. 

Antiochus Epiphanes, we should talk about him some. 

He launched the greatest persecution the Jews had ever experienced. He wanted to make the Jews into Greeks. He departed from the strategy of earlier kings. The Greek kings would conquer and then they would let the people do their own thing as long as they pay their taxes. Antiochus said, “No you will become Greek, I will force you and I want your worship as well.” He started by exiling and then killing the High Priest (Onias III) and then he sold the high priest job to Onias’s Greek loving brother, Jason. Jason, he had a Greek name and he instituted all kinds of Greek reforms. What was he doing to the Jews? Gundry says, 

“A gymnasium and an adjoining racetrack were built. There, to the outrage of strict Jews, Jewish lads exercised in the Greek fashion—nude.”

 

Greeks thought that the human body was beautiful and that you shouldn’t cover it up. The only clothing that they would wear was olive oil when they would compete in the ancient Olympic games. That is why they were appalled at circumcision, they wondered how you could mutilate the human body like that. 

“Track races opened with invocations to pagan deities. Even Jewish priests attended these events.”

Some of the Jews just joined right up with Greek culture, others were like “no, we can’t abandon our roots” and so there was tension there. This was called Hellenization (greekifying). 

“Such Hellenization also included attendance at Greek theaters, the adoption of Greek dress, surgery to disguise circumcision when exercising in the nude,”

Yeah… I don’t know how this works, I have never looked into it, I don’t want to know. These Jewish boys would get circumcised when they were babies and then they would grow up and want to be Greek and so they would undergo some sort of a surgery to get uncircumcised. In the New Testament Paul says, “if you are circumcised you don’t need to become uncircumcised,” he may have been speaking a little more literally than we had thought. 

“and the exchange of Hebrew names for Greek names.” [Jason, the High Priest for example, Jason is a Greek name.] 

Robert Horton Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, 4th ed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 7.

Antiochus Epiphanies tries to conquer Egypt in 169 BC and then something very unexpected happened, something that really made him angry. He marched down into Egypt to take over the country (he thought he had it in the bag) and then all of a sudden, who sails in but the Romans. A second century Greek historian tells the story of what happened when Antiochus met the rising might of Rome, 

“When Antiochus had advanced to attack Ptolemy … he was met by the Roman commander Gaius Popilius Laenas. Upon the king greeting him from some distance, and holding out his right hand to him, Popilius answered by holding out the tablets which contained the decree of the Senate, and bade Antiochus read that first…”

Antiochus offers a handshake, and the Roman commander just looks at it and instead he says, “Antiochus, you should read that first.” These tablets said, ‘if you attack Egypt, you consider yourself at war with Rome because we get all our food from Egypt and we are not going to have you destroying our kitchen.’ 

Antiochus was shocked. It says, 

“On the king, after reading the dispatch, saying that he desired to consult with his friends on the situation, Popilius did a thing which was looked upon as exceedingly overbearing and insolent [rude]. Happening to have a vine stick in his hand, he drew a circle round Antiochus with it, and ordered him to give his answer to the letter before he stepped out of that circumference.” 

This is where our saying comes from, drawing a line in the sand. With everyone watching he said, ‘you need to give an answer to that letter before you step out of the circle.’

“The king was taken aback by this haughty proceeding. After a brief interval of embarrassed silence, he replied that he would do whatever the Romans demanded.”

Polybius, Histories (Medford, MA: Macmillan, 1889), 405–406.

 

Jewish Persecution and Maccabean Revolt

He knew better than to mess with Rome, but he was mad he had to retreat. He had heard of a revolt going on in Israel at the time and he vented his fury on the Jews. 2 Maccabees says, 

Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery.

2 Maccabees 5:11-14

This great tribulation that he launched, he took more and more drastic measures to convert the Jews. He made it a capital crime to practice Judaism, according to 1 Maccabee. He made the Jewish people sacrifice pigs and worship idols. Greek soldiers collected and burned the scriptures and killed anyone who possessed a bible. He killed Jewish mothers who circumcised the boys and “hung the infants from their mother’s necks.” That’s how they would kill these babies, by hanging. 2 Maccabees 7 tells the story of a mother who refused to eat pig meat. What did he do to her? He had the leader of the brothers tortured, cut his tongue out, cut off his hands, but off his feet and threw him on a heated frying pan while everyone had to watch. They wouldn’t recant and they did the same to each of the seven brothers, and then to the mother. Savage! 

And then in Dec of 167 BC, Antiochus did the unthinkable. He entered them temple, he set up a statue of Zeus and he offered a pig on the alter in Jerusalem. He desecrated the temple. This was too much. This pushed the Jews to the breaking point. In 167 BC there was a guy named Mattathias in a little town 20 miles NW of Jerusalem. A Greek official had called a public gathering and he was trying to force Mattathias to sacrifice to the Greek god and he refused. Another Jew stepped up and said they would make the sacrifice to the Greek gods. At that point, Mattathias lost it. 1 Maccabees says, 

When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred… he ran and killed him on the altar. At the same time, he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar… Then Mattathias cried out in the town with a loud voice, saying: “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!” Then he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the town.

1 Maccabees 1:24-28

And then he led a revolt, Braveheart style, three years of guerilla warfare. This is what launched the Maccabean Revolt. What’s crazy is, three years of this little band of Jews attacking the most powerful nation in that area, they won their freedom. 

He [Antiochus] will even take his stand against the Prince of princes [NIV],

Probably a reference to him defiling the temple of God. 

but he will be broken, though not by human power.

He is not going to die on the battlefield, he is going to die suddenly of disease in 164 BC. 

And then angel concludes by saying, 

This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true.

2300 Evenings and Mornings

Now what are these 2300 evenings and mornings? Do we need to switch it around, change some numbers to make it come out to what we want it to be? Does is symbolize something? No, it means 2300 evenings and mornings. The question is, how do you take the evenings and mornings? 

This refers to a time when there is a rebellion that causes desecration, stopping daily sacrifices. They would do these sacrifices every day in the temple. Antiochus put an end to those for three years. The temple is trampled upon and they said, “after 2300 evenings and mornings the temple will be made right again (Daniel 8:13-14).” What does it mean? Well we can be pretty certain we know the end point for this period of time, when the temple is made right again refers to one of the most famous events in the history of Judaism, December of 164 BC. This date was the date when Antiochus had died shortly before this in 164, they retook Jerusalem, they rededicated the temple, they built a new alter, they built all new stuff because the old stuff had been defiled and this is when they began offering sacrifices again, exactly three years after he had defiled it. And, to commemorate this occasion they instituted an 8-day festival to be held every December. Which is the festival of Hanukkah. December of 164 BC was the very first Hanukkah. It’s most just about getting presents for 8 days, it’s the 8 days of festival that they commemorated when they rededicated the temple. 

What is the starting point of these 2300 evenings and mornings? 

  • If that’s a reference to 2300 days, then the starting point is mid 170 BC. What happened in mid 170 BC that could qualify? The best guess, (guys like Walvoord think this) is the assassination of that High Priest Onias III, that is when he was assassinated. You have about 6 and a half years from that until the rededication of the temple. 
  • On the other hand, if you take 2300 evenings and mornings to refer to the evening and the morning sacrifice that they would do, the sacrifices that Antiochus stopped. Instead of 2300 days, it would be 1150 days which is about 2.5 years, which would put our starting point around Nov of 167 BC. What would this correspond with? This was only a little over a month before Antiochus defiled the temple. This may have been the date when he put the sacrifices to a stop. You’ve got to imagine that if he is going to set up an alter to Zeus, he is going to have to have one made or ordered. That takes time, these things don’t just grow on trees, statues of Zeus. You can’t just get two day overnight shipping. 

I sort of lean towards the second of these options. It could be the other one as well. The point is that it refers to a specific time period and there are two important events at the potential beginning of this time period, and we know the event at the end of this period. And again, Daniel predicted this stuff in advance. 

He says, 

But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret.” [or “seal up the vision”]

Meaning either “don’t tell anybody” and that might be why he wrote this chapter in Hebrew, or he just means “put your official seal on it so that people will know that this is authentic prophecy and so they can read it.” And then he says, 

Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it.

Daniel is wiped out and confused by this vision. In fact, for certain parts of Daniel we are in a better position to understand than even Daniel was because we have the advantage of hindsight and history. 

What did Daniel predict in 550BC? Let’s try and summarize this. 

He predicted:

  • The regathering of Israel into a nation with a rebuilt and functioning temple. They weren’t in Israel at the time, they didn’t have a temple. His predictions imply there will be a temple again someday and that it will be functioning enough to be defiled by this guy, Antiochus Epiphanes (the small horn). 
  • The Medo-Persian empire will rise to power with the Medes coming first
  • Greece will rise to power with one single great, amazing king who will then be broken off and the kingdom will split into four parts, just like what happened.
  • And evil ruler will rise out of one of those Greek kingdom offshoots. That is exactly what happened with Antiochus. 
  • Antiochus will instigate the greatest persecution God’s people had seen up until that point, that is exactly what happened. 
  • Antiochus will commit some sort of abomination in the temple, which will spark a war lasting about 3 years. And at the end of that war, that evil ruler will be broken but not by human power. 

This is what he predicts, this is biblical prophecy. This is not some obscure thing, this has context, it has correlation with earlier prophecies, it’s extensive, he clearly defines certain parts of it (he leaves some in symbols), but so much is there to verify that this is from God. These are amazing predictions for all of these events were still future to Daniel. But these also pertain to the time of the end like the angel said. And the way they do that is by being “types” of what will happen in the end times. God will sometimes bring about an institution or an event or a person and that person (in this case) is sort of similar to something that is going to happen in the future. It is one of the ways that God predicts the future, through types. What he says is that in the end times, still future to us, Israel will be regathered again, with a functioning temple, that an evil ruler will rise again, that scripture calls that Antichrist who will be kind of like Antiochus. He will launch a Great Tribulation against the people of God, kind of like the one Antiochus launched. He will defile the temple in a way sort of like Antiochus did but still different. He will be broken in the end, and not by human hands but by God himself. 

This is a far cry from Nostradamus. This is so different. Biblical prophecy. God revealed this so that you will know that it is from Him, because he is trying to tell you what is coming in the future. It is a message of warning, but even more it is a message of grace. God is offering grace. He is offering forgiveness and because we have seen these events fulfilled in the past, we know these other things will happen in the future and we also know what to do to be ready. One question for you is, will you receive his grace that he is offering you? Will you be ready when the end comes?