“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) How can a message written 2,500 years ago, about which good theologians disagree as to its meaning, be “useful” and applicable to our lives today? As we will see as we unpack Daniel’s vision about the ram and the shaggy, male goat, these rulers (Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes) foreshadow the ultimate godless world ruler, the Antichrist. And the Antichrist, a man who will ultimately be incarnated by Satan, shows the battle for power that began in heaven when Satan (Lucifer) rebelled against God (seen in Isa. 14 and Ezekiel 28 as evil kings inspired by Satan): ”I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” (Isa. 14:13) Then Satan deceives man (Adam and Eve) and takes the God-given dominion to rule for God on earth away from man. Since then Satan continues to raise up evil rulers (from Nimrod, to Pharaoh, to Alexander the Great and Antiochus Ephihanes, to Hitler, to Antichrist) to rule for him against God. All of these evil rulers together give us a picture of the ultimate Antichrist who will try to usurp the place of the only One worthy to rule for God as a human being – the God-Man Jesus Christ. “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it (i.e., to rule righteously with all authority and power). Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” (Rev. 5:2-5) Jesus was both a Lamb (totally submitted to God – Phil. 2) and a Lion (able to rule righteously with all power and authority). “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12) and rule on earth in the Millennial kingdom and forever in heaven.
“In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously.” (V.1) In chapter 7 God gave Daniel a vision of the four Gentile nations that would rule and oppress Israel and even predicted the rise of the revived Roman empire over which the Antichrist would reign for seven years, the latter 3 1/2 years being the “reign of terror” as it has been called. (See last week’s lesson – http://www.lensykes.com/archives/1203) Here we see the kingdom of the Medes and Persians (the ram – V.20) and Greece (the male, shaggy goat – V.21) and a closer look at Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes (the little horn) both foreshadowing the Antichrist; Alexander for his invincible military power (see Revelation 13:4) and Antiochus for his unmerciful, evil slaughter of the Jews and forbidding their worship of God and desecrating the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus on the altar (see Revelation 13:14-15). Antiochus added “Epiphanes” to his name which means “God manifest.”
Vv. 2-4 – a prophecy of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians – Remember, Daniel received this vision from God some ten years before the Medes and Persians defeated Babylon as seen in Daniel 5. At that time Babylon looked invincible. (“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18) [“The ram was Persia (Iran), and the two horns the kings of Media and Persia. One horn was higher than the other, the Persian king being the more powerful. The ram was on a rampage of conquest, westward, northward, and southward. Seemingly he was irresistible.” MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S.] “He (the ram- now Persia) did as he pleased and magnified himself.” (V.4) Here we are with the problem of pride again and we see how God brings them down again. After some 220 years of dominant rule the ram was defeated by the male goat (Greece – Alexander the Great). It is interesting that a male goat (buck) is known to be able to defeat a ram (a male sheep).
Vv. 5-8 – a prophecy about the kingdom of Greece – the “conspicuous (or notable) horn” is Alexander himself. Horns symbolize power and this male goat had one horn between his eyes (like a unicorn). “Without touching the ground” refers to the lightning speed with which Alexander conquered Persia (appx. 12 years). Like all the previous world rulers we see the sin of pride in Alexander: “Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly.” Then God took him out as He did the other proud kings: “But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken.” (This predicts Alexander’s untimely death at age 33 (in a drunken stupor) of Babylonian swamp fever.) Charles Ross Weede compares him to our Lord Jesus who also died at the young age of 33 in his poem, “The Perfect Example”:
“Jesus and Alexander died at 33. One lived and died for self; one died for you and me.
The Greek died on a throne; the Jew died on a cross. One’s life a triumph seemed; the other but a loss.
One led vast armies forth; the other walked alone. One shed a whole world’s blood; the other gave His own.
One won the world in life and lost it all in death; the other lost His life to win the whole world’s faith.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33. One died in Babylon, and one at Calvary.
One gained all for self; and one Himself He gave. One conquered every tongue; the other every grave.
The one made himself God; the other made Himself less. The one lived but to blast; the other but to bless.
When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords; but Jesus died to live forever Lord of Lords.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33. The Greek made all men slaves; the Jew made all men free.
One built a throne on blood; the other built on love. The one was born of earth; the other from above.
One won all this earth, to lose all earth and heaven. The other gave up all, that all to Him be given.
The Greek forever died; the Jew forever lives. He loses all who gets, and wins all things who gives.”
Vv. 8-14 – a prophecy about Antiochus Epiphanes – “And in its place (in Alexander’s place) there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.” [“The four horns represent the fourfold division of Alexander’s empire, also known as the Diodachi on June 10, 323, when Alexander died in Babylon at the age of 33. Thus, Seleucus I took Syria and Mesopotamia (what was left of Medo-Persia) (East), Macedonia and Greece went to Cassander (West); Ptolemy I took Egypt and Israel (South); and Lysimachus took Asia Minor and Thrace (North).” http://www.kenboa.org/search/?q=DANIEL]
“Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land (Israel). (V.9) [“The small (or little) horn comes from the Seleucids. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was eighth in the line of successors from Seleucus, and reigned in Syria from 175-164B.C. Thus the prophecy skips from 323 B.C. (the time of the division of Alexander’s empire) to 175 B.C.” Selucid Empire list source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seleucid]
Vv. 10-14 – “It (the small horn – Antiochus) grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. (This speaks of his persecution of the Jews – stars – see Dan. 12:3 that refers to saved Jews as stars.) It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host (God, Christ); and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. And on account of transgression (this speaks of the sin of the Jews and God’s chastening) the host will be given over (i.e., by God) to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.” [“Antiochus Epiphanes, the enemy of the Jews in the intertestamental period, foreshadowed Antichrist, the enemy of the Jews in the tribulation period. Both hate the Jews and God, and profane the temple.” Source: Money in the Bible.] To read more of the evil rule of Antiochus, see 1 Maccabees 1 in the following link. It is clearly Satan-inspired evil as will be true of the Antichrist. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Maccabees+1&version=GNT The Apocrypha, in Catholic Bibles, is a historical account of Israel in the intertestamental period; it is not inspired Scripture. We will see more about Antiochus in Daniel 11:6-35
The feast of Hanukkah (“dedication”) marks the 165 B.C. cleansing of the temple in the Maccabean revolt after Antiochus had desecrated it. It is also called The Festival of Lights, because of the discovery of the oil for the temple lamps. Pharaoh tried to destroy the Jews, but the result was the Passover. Haman attempted to destroy the Jews, but the result was the Feast of Purim. Antiochus Epiphanes tried to destroy the Jews, but the result was Hanukkah, The Feast of Dedication. Antichrist will try to destroy the Jews and it will lead the Jews (the national remnant) to receive Jesus as their Messiah and bring about His Second Coming. (See Matt. 23:39)
“Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright. He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end.” (Vv. 18-19) [“There are four views of Daniel 8:9-26 about Antiochus Epiphanes and Antichrist.
(1) The historical view holds that it has been completely fulfilled by Antiochus.
(2) The futuristic view holds that it is entirely future to us and refers to the tribulation period (the little horn of Daniel 8 is a type of the little horn of Daniel 7).
(3) This is a double fulfillment; fulfilled both in Antiochus and in the final world ruler.
(4) This passage was historically fulfilled but illustrates the future (this avoids mixing the four empires).” http://www.kenboa.org/search/?q=DANIEL]
[“The explanation of the vision begins in verses 19–22, but at verse 23 we seem to see beyond Antiochus Epiphanes to his future counterpart—a king with fierce features ( or “Insolent and skilled in intrigue” – NASB) who will ruthlessly persecute the holy people in the Tribulation Period. He will be cunning, proud, and deceitful, and even rise against the Prince of princes (the Lord Jesus Christ), but he will be destroyed by divine intervention. Daniel was told that the vision referred to the future.” MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S.]
[“God’s purpose in revealing the vision to Daniel was not to enable him to (fully) understand the future before it happened nor is it His purpose for revealing this vision to us. Prophecy has never been fully understood in advance, nor will it ever be so. God revealed this prophecy not so that we might understand completely His plan or be able to recognize every event as it is fulfilled, but to reveal to us some of what lies ahead, and to assure us that His purposes and promises will be fulfilled.” http://bible.org/seriespage/ram-goat-and-horn-daniel-81-27]
Prophecy is given to show God’s over-ruling power to move history according to His ultimate consummation as He allows and even uses the rebellion of Satan and man to accomplish His good purposes for those who love Him while holding each one accountable for their actions.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life? 2. “Human defiance only enhances your (God’s) glory, for you use it as a weapon.” (Psalm 76:10) How was God’s glory enhanced as Pharaoh continued to defy Him?
3. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20) Joseph saw the over-ruling good purposes of God and forgave his sinful brothers. Does this mean they had no consequences for their sins? Why or why not?
4. “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur (Jesus’ crucifixion).” (Acts 4:27-28) List the different groups of people responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion. Since God predestined it how can He hold them accountable? Are there others who participated in Jesus’ crucifixion? (See Rom. 3:23 and 6:23)
5. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) What does “all things” refer to? What two conditions are necessary for God’s ultimate good to be worked out for us?
6. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33-36) How do people try to be God’s counselor? What does God owe us? What does the last (underlined) sentence mean and how does it relate to our response to God and His prophecies?