End Time Studies

Daniel Chapter 8

A Vision of the Future

By Joseph Candel

In 552 BC, long before Macedonia-led Greek city-states became the dominant power in the Western world, the Hebrew prophet Daniel foretold of war between Greece and Persia, and its outcome. Over 200 years later, in 333 BC, Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled exactly as he predicted!

This remarkable prophecy is recorded in the eighth chapter of the Bible’s book of Daniel. (The vision is recounted in verses 1 through 14, and interpretation is given in verses 15 through 27.) Then, in the same chapter, the prophet takes us far into the future, to events of the Endtime, the time in which we are now living.

Vision: “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar [552 BC] a vision appeared to me [Daniel]. … 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. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward” (Daniel 8:1-4).

Interpretation: “Then 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. And I heard a man’s voice [saying], ‘Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.’ And he said … ‘The ram which you saw, having the two horns–they are the kings of Media and Persia'” (Daniel 8:15-16,19-20).

The Medes ruled an empire that included a tribe known as the Persians. In 552 BC, Cyrus (later Cyrus the Great) was ruler of the Persian district of Anshan. Cyrus rebelled with the help of many disaffected Medes and overthrew the Median Empire in 550 BC. Cyrus then established the Persian Empire. Because Medes had helped Cyrus rise to power, a Mede traditionally held the second most important position in the kingdom–“two horns [but] one was higher than the other.”

Vision: “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. 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. 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. Therefore the male goat grew very great” (Daniel 8:5-8a).

Interpretation: “The male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king” (Daniel 8:21).

Here we have the male goat, with its “large horn” [Alexander the Great] furiously attacking the ram [Persia]. At the battles of Issus in 333 BC (in which Alexander himself led the cavalry charge across the Pinarus River) and Gaugamela in 331 BC, Alexander the Great’s forces soundly defeated the army of the Persian king, Darius III, ushering in the rule of Alexander the Great over the Persian Empire.

Vision: “The male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken” (Daniel 8:8a).

Interpretation: Alexander began his military campaign when he was 20 years old and conquered all the known world that he considered important–from Greece to India and southern Russia to northern Africa–in only eight years. No doubt this swift conquest is why the Lord pictured his kingdom as a winged leopard in the vision of Daniel 7:6, and here as a goat that moved so fast it didn’t touch the ground. But at the height of his power–“when he was strong”–Alexander died at the age of 33.

Vision: “In place of it [the large horn] four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven” (Daniel 8:8b).

Interpretation: “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” (Daniel 8:22).

When Alexander died, his generals (called collectively the Diadochi) fought over his empire, dividing it to “the four winds.” These weaker successor kingdoms were depicted as a four-headed leopard in Daniel 7:6.

Beginning with Daniel 8:9, the prophecy suddenly jumps far into the future, to events of the Endtime. “Out of one of them [the four notable horns] came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land [Israel].”

Vision: “Out of one of them [the kingdoms into which Alexander the Great’s empire fractured after his death] came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land” (Daniel 8:9).

Interpretation: The angelic messenger who showed Daniel this vision made it unmistakably clear that this “little horn” was to arise in the time of the end by saying so three times–in verses 17, 19, and 23.

We know from a number of other scriptures, such as Daniel 7:8, that this “little horn” is the soon coming world dictator known as the Antichrist. There is much in the Bible describing this man and his rule and reign, even though his reign is short–only seven years (Daniel 9:27).

“In the latter time of their kingdom [the Endtime, just prior to Jesus’ return], when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes” (Daniel 8:23).

Here Daniel refers to the Antichrist as “a king having fierce features,” and in Daniel 11:21 as a “vile person.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:3,8, the apostle Paul calls him the “son of perdition” and “the lawless one” (or “the wicked one,” in other translations). In the book of Revelation he is the final embodiment of “the Beast.”

It’s not exactly clear in this passage or other scriptures which geographical part of Alexander’s empire the Antichrist will come from. Some people have speculated that he will come out of Egypt because of the three directions of his expansion–“toward the south [Africa], toward the east [the Mideast and possibly Asia], and toward the Glorious Land.” To Jewish prophets like Daniel, the Glorious Land could only mean Israel. The Scriptures also make it clear that the Antichrist will eventually invade Israel (Ezekiel chapter 38; Daniel 11:40-43).

In other passages of scripture, however, the Antichrist is referred to as “the king of the north” (Ezekiel 38:14-16; Daniel 11:40-43). In Ezekiel 38:2, the Antichrist is called “Gog” of the land of Magog. He is the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and the place called Tubal, where he is said to come from. “Ros” or “Rus” is the name of the people who settled around the Volga River and from which the word “Russia” is derived.

How can the Antichrist possibly come from Egypt, yet eventually come from the north–Russia? Perhaps he comes from Egypt or has some strong connection to Egypt, but rises to power in Russia.

At this point, where the Antichrist comes from is one of the great Endtime mysteries, but keep a watch on Egypt and Russia.

Vision: “And it [the little horn, the Antichrist] 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” (Daniel 8:10).

Interpretation: Because of the context and what we know from other scriptures, it’s clear that this is talking about the Antichrist’s campaign to wipe out true believers in God–the “holy people” of verse 24–during the last half of his rule, the 3?-year period known as the Great Tribulation.

“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” (Daniel 8:24).

In Revelation 12:9 and 13:2 we find out that the Antichrist gets his power from Satan. We also know from other scriptures that the Antichrist will speak “great things and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5), try to change times and laws (Daniel 7:25), officially abolish all religion except worship of himself, persecute believers of all faiths (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), corrupt with flattery (Daniel 11:32), and make war with the people of God and overcome them for 3? years (Revelation 13:7).

It’s not all bad news for the followers of God, though. We are also given the assurance that during the Great Tribulation “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits, and those of the people who understand shall instruct many” (Daniel 11:32-33). The people of the world who hate the Antichrist’s dictatorship are going to be desperate for the truth, and those who know God’s Word are going to teach and encourage millions. In spite of all that the Devil’s forces will do to try to stop them, millions of God’s children will keep going for God till the very end (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Vision: “He [the Antichrist] 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” (Daniel 8:11).

Interpretation: The Prince of the host (and the Prince of princes in verse 25) is either God or Jesus. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 confirms this where it says that the Antichrist “exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped.”

“By him [the Antichrist] the daily sacrifice was taken away.” “Daily sacrifice” refers to ritual animal sacrifices carried out in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, a practice that has been suspended since the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 ad. It appears, however, that some time between now and the Great Tribulation, the Jews will finally be able to rebuild their Temple on Jerusalem’s Mount Moriah and reinstitute animal sacrifices on its altar. But in the middle of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign, when he exalts himself above all religions, he will bring an end to this practice (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; Matthew 24:15,21).

Then, in that holy place, the Temple area, the world government will erect some kind of “living” (probably computer-controlled) image of the Antichrist. This is the “abomination of desolation” that both Daniel and Jesus spoke of (Daniel 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15). The Antichrist will then demand that the whole world worship his image or be killed (Revelation 13:14-18).

“The place of His sanctuary was cast down.” It doesn’t seem that the Antichrist is going to destroy the Temple, but rather occupy it himself, because we are told in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that he “sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” So “cast down” apparently means that the Temple will no longer be sacred; it will be desecrated or “polluted” (Daniel 11:31) by the abominable Image of the Beast.

Vision: “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” (Daniel 8:12).

Interpretation: “Army” (or “host,” as the King James Version [KJV] renders it) may refer to the Antichrist’s followers in general, not only his army or police force (Daniel 11:31).

“And he cast truth down to the ground.” The ultimate fulfillment of this will be when the Antichrist demands that the whole world worship him as God, but anti-God, anti-Christ propaganda is already rampant in the world today, particularly in the mass media. “As you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour [Endtime]” (1 John 2:18).

“Through his cunning he shall cause deceit (or “craft” in the KJV) to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt 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 means” (Daniel 8:25).

The Antichrist is going to be full of pride and try to exalt himself above every other world leader that ever lived, even claiming to be God (Daniel 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

“He shall even rise against the Prince of princes: but he shall be broken without human means.” The Antichrist is even going to try to fight God, Jesus Christ, and the army of Heaven (Revelation 17:12-14), but the Antichrist and his forces will be totally vanquished in the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:11-21). That will be the unhappy end of them, but the happy beginning for all who have received and sided with Jesus!

If you haven’t yet met Jesus or received His forgiveness and gift of eternal life, you can do so right now by praying the following:

Thank You, Jesus, for paying the price for my mistakes and wrongs, so I can be forgiven. I ask You now, dear Jesus, to please come into my heart, forgive me, and give me Your gift of eternal life. Amen.

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