Read Daniel 8:1-27
1In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. 2In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
5As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. 6He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. 7I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. 8The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
9Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. 12Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
13Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled — the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?"
14He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."
15While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. 16And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision."
17As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end."
18While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.
19He said: "I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. 20The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. 22The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
23"In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. 25He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
26"The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future."
27I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding. (NIV)
When we look at this vision by Daniel, this is a vision that was fulfilled in one part before the coming of Christ. We know that Alexander the Great, from Greece came and conquered much. No one could stop him it seemed. Many point to him as the goat. Even 1st century Jewish historians say this prophecy was fulfilled through Alexander the great.
After Alexander the Great’s death, the kingdom was divided in to w smaller kingdoms. One was ruled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire, also called “the king of the North.” It was Antiochus that persecuted the Jews and desecrated the temple. He sought to end the Jewish traditions and sacrifices. His goal was to make everyone follow the Greek ways. He persecuted the Jews and killed the mothers of Jewish infants whose infants boys were found to be circumcised. It was a terrible time for the Jewish people.
Out of this persecution came the Maccabean revolt lead by the Judas Maccabaeus. It was the Maccabees the rededicated the temple in about the time period mentioned in the verse 14 after the desecration of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Jews would have peace for a period of about 150 years until the Romans would come in and take over the land.
While this prophecy was fulfilled in one regard before Christ, it is still yet to be fulfilled in another aspect. The interpretation to Daniel was that this vision was for the end of times and that its understanding would be sealed until later. (verse 26). And so, we don’t have a full understanding of what it means as Daniel even struggled with it.
But this is one of the passages that Jesus quoted in Matthew when he was speaking of the end times. He has been asked about the signs and expectations of the end times by the disciples. Jesus responded by saying:
15"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel — let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.” Matt 24:15-25
What is interesting about these words of Jesus is that Jesus warned the people that when they see this horrible trouble coming they should flee. When Rome put Jerusalem to siege around 72 AD, the people did not flee to the mountains. Instead, they fled to the city of Jerusalem. Rome choose to starve the people out. When Jerusalem finally fell, there were reported over 1 million dead inside of Jerusalem. About 800,000 were taken captive. The Roman soldiers were horrified by what they found in the homes in Jerusalem.
The point is that we need to take heed of the instructions in the Bible. Scripture does give us sound advice one who to live. It can be hard to take sometime and hard to understand. But these are words of Life. This is what the disciples said to Jesus when everyone was leaving Jesus and he asked the disciples, are you going to leave too. They said, where can we go, you have the words of life. We don’t know what the end times will look like. But Scripture tells us that if our hearts and minds are with Christ, then we need not worry. It is walking with Christ today and seeking his will that is what matters.
Blessings and Peace