Daniel had a vision in the last chapter (ch. 7) while he was serving under the Babylonian king: “in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon” according to 7:1.
Now we will see Daniel in his third year serving under King Belshazzar (two years later), and here he has another vision. We learned that God is King and Creator of the universe and that He knows the future because He holds the future.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
~ Psalm 33:11
God foretold the future in chapter 7, and what was prophesied then happened. Now we see in chapter 8 that again, God will tell Daniel what the future holds and the interpretation given by the angel is incredibly specific.
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.
So we have some facts:
– Third year of King Belshezzar’s reign,
– Daniel is in a fortress area called Susa (or Shushan)
– This is in the province (like a state) of Elam
– Standing on the bank of a canal or river called Ulai.
Babylon is still securely in power, but this vision will predict (or prophesy) the rise of the Greek Empire which at this time was not even a force.
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.
This “ram” represents the Medo-Persia empire which rises up and overtakes Babylon. If you recall, we learned all about how that happened in Daniel Ch. 5. The rise of the Medo-Persia empire has been prophesied now three times – as bronze in the statue on Daniel 2, as a bear in Daniel 7 (remember that the bear had a hump on one side for the stronger of the two kingdoms?), and now we see them as a two-horned ram in Daniel 8.
“The ram is noted for the proportion of its two horns – one was higher than the other. This was an accurate prediction of the partnership between the Medes and the Persians, because the Persians were larger and stronger in the partnership. They also emerged after the Medes – the higher one came up last.”
(From sermon notes of David Guzik)
4 I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.
“It wasn’t a stretch to use a ram to represent the Medo-Persian Empire. ‘Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth century historian, states that the Persian ruler bore the head of a ram as he stood at the head of his army.’ (Wood) ‘The ram was the national emblem of Persia, a ram being stamped on Persian coins as well as on the headdress of Persian emperors.’ (Strauss)”
(From the notes of David Guzik)
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.
Now we see a goat “from the west” rise up against the ram. This goat represents the coming Greek Empire under Alexander the Great.
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.
More great teaching from David Guzik:
The prophetic description of the male goat was proved to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire.
– The Greek Empire rose from the west of previous empires
– The Greek Empire rose with great speed (suddenly … without touching the ground)
– The Greek Empire had a notable ruler, Alexander the Great (a notable horn)
– The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire (I saw him confronting the ram)
– The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other (with furious power … moved with rage). Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians
– The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire (no one that could deliver the ram from his hand)
– The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire was suddenly cut short (the large horn was broken)
– After the end of Alexander the Great’s reign, the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers (in place of it four notable ones came up)
– The four rulers of the Greek Empire after Alexander ruled their own dominions, not the entire empire together (came up toward the four winds of heaven)
Alexander did not divide the empire among his four generals himself. His four leading generals divided it among themselves by force after his death.
– Cassander, ruling over Greece and its region
– Lysimachus, ruling over Asia Minor
– Seleucus, ruling over Syria and Israel’s land
– Ptolemy, ruling over Egypt
The male goat grew very great: The greatness of Alexander’s Empire was not only in its vast dominion, but also in its cultural power. Alexander the Great was determined to spread Greek civilization, culture, and language across every land he conquered.
As God guided history, He used Alexander’s passion to spread Greek culture to prepare the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Alexander’s influence koine (common) Greek became the common language of the civilized world – and the language of the New Testament.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
~ Romans 1:16
Because Greek culture and language became the common language for the known world at the time, the Gospel was spread easily among the nations. Additionally, the later conquest by Rome (which was predicted in Daniel chapters 2 and 7) created a world where travel and communication had increased dramatically. Rome is known for their incredible road system and for their enormously effective postal system.
By the time that Jesus was teaching, Rome had control over the known world. So one could travel fairly easily over a great road system to a incredibly broad area of the world. Once there, they could preach, teach, and plant a new church simply because everyone knew Greek. And to follow up, they could write letters in Greek and send them via the Roman postal couriers.
Romans 1:16 tells us that the Gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”. It’s our job as disciples of Jesus to carry that message wherever and whenever He tells us to. We have the internet, email, social media, air travel, excellent ground travel, and almost every language is known. While it is true that there are still “unreached people groups”, there is absolutely no excuse for us to not be spreading the Good News.
Jesus Christ died for every single one of us. Now for kids, that’s harder to do right? You can’t easily go get your passport and jump on a plane to preach in other countries. But we can share Jesus right where we are.
I was on an airplane last week and I sat next to a guy from Montana. this man had just spent the last four days going to Seattle Mariners baseball games. He bragged to me about how much alcohol he drank with his buddies for those four days in Seattle. This man needs Jesus in his life and in his heart! If I don’t tell him he can be saved and go to heaven, who will? So what do you think I did?
Nothing. I did nothing. I should have told him all about how much God loves him, and how Jesus has changed my heart and my life! I did nothing.
When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
~ Ezekial 3:18
God tells us in the Old Testament that if we see someone who is destined for hell and we don’t tell them about Jesus, it’s our fault!
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
~ Romans 10:14
How can they hear if no one tells them? It is so easy to tell others about Jesus in today’s world. Even simply inviting someone to church with you is easy.
9 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 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them.
11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.
12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper.
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?”
14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, 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, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”
So now the angel Gabriel is going to interpret this vision for Daniel. Where else do we see the angel Gabriel in the Bible? Right! It’s the same angel that visited Mary the mother of Jesus to tell her that Jesus would be born of her.
17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up.
19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end.
20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.
21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king.
22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.
23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise.
24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.
25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.
26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.
So this angel Gabriel explains the vision to Daniel. Sometime shortly after this vision, the Medo-Persians do capture Babylon. Then sometime after that, the Greeks do take over the Medo-Persian empire.
Only God, in his power and might, knows our future. He offers us eternity with Him through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Jesus died for my sins so that I can live with God forever.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” ~ Mark 16:15-16
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. ~ Matthew 28:19
We have Good News to share. It’s easy to share this Good News. Let’s just do what God has told us to do.
(To read David Guzik’s complete teaching on Daniel 8, go to http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2708.htm )