Brief Exposition of Daniel 8

Daniel 8  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Two years after the vision in Daniel 7 Daniel was given another vision, filling in details not given formerly.
The prophet sees in vision a ram having two horns, one higher than the other, and the higher coining up last. The interpretation is given in verse 20, “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the Kings of Media and Persia.” The monarchy was dual, and the Persian element coming in later than the Median, became the more prominent, thus illustrating the correctness of Daniel's vision in its details.
The Medo-Persian Kingdom was greater in extent than the Babylonian, extending westward and northward and southward. But it was in its attempt to travel westward that it brought about its own destruction, and the fulfillment of Scripture.
An he goat, in Daniel's vision, appeared, having a notable horn between his eyes, coming from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touching not the ground.
Daniel 8:2121And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. (Daniel 8:21) tells us this rough goat symbolizes the King of Greece, and the notable horn, Alexander the Great. Coming from the west describes the first contest of Europe with Asia for world power.
Suddenly this wonderful conqueror came upon the scene, touching not the ground, the wonderful rapidity of his conquests being thus graphically described.
The he goat came close to the ram, brake his two horns, cast him to the ground, and stamped upon him. In other words, Greece, led by Alexander the Great, smashed up the world-empire of the Medes and Persians, that is, the breast and arms of silver are succeeded by the belly and thighs of brass.
Then we read of the he goat waxing very great, and when strong the great horn was broken. Alexander died in his early thirties at the zenith of his power and success.
The notable horn being broken, in their place four horns sprang up towards the four winds of heaven. At Alexander's death the Grecian Empire was divided among his four generals. How exact and accurate Scripture is. The foreknowledge of events requiring centuries for their fulfillment is an absolutely irrefutable proof of divine inspiration. Out of one of these four horns came forth a little horn,* of whom many details are given. He waxed exceeding great, toward the south and east and toward the pleasant land, that is, Palestine. He cast down some of the host of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
The host and stars evidently refer to the governing dignitaries and classes among the Jews, those who outwardly proposed allegiance to God and the Jewish system of worship. The prince of the host is evidently Jehovah, who is to appear as the Prince of Israel.
We read further that he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away. The whole outlook at this point is Jewish. This little horn refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, who ill-treated the Jew, overrunning the pleasant land, and subjecting God's ancient people to indignity and persecution.
“It,” referring to the little horn, is changed to “he” in verse 11, alluding in both cases to the same person, Antiochus Epiphanes. He takes away the daily sacrifice from the temple, and is allowed to do so as the scourge of God because of the transgression of the people.
It is well known that this king cherished very bitter feelings against the Jew, such that he attempted to force heathen worship upon them. He went so far as to put to death those Jews who resisted his attempts to subvert their religion.
In the end he was defeated, and set on one side by the united efforts of the Romans and the Maccabees. This doubtless is the meaning of the sanctuary being trodden down 2300 days, a period of a little less than six and a half years, when Antiochus Epiphanes, being defeated, the worship of the temple was restored.
Doubtless this king is typical of a greater prince, who shall arise in the last days from the same part as Antiochus Epiphanes did. He will be the revival of the King of the North, the open and avowed enemy of the Jew.
The Antichrist will be King in Jerusalem, the enemy of God inside; the Assyrian King of the North will be the avowed enemy of God's people outside.
It looks as if the results of the Great War may be leading up to the fulfillment of this. The Turk has been almost driven out of Europe, and we should judge from Scripture will be altogether. Palestine and Mesopotamia, together covering the promised land, have been cleared of the Turk. The Jew is returning to his own land in the fulfillment of Scripture. The Turk, driven out of Europe, Palestine, Arabia, and Mesopotamia, has set up his capital in Asia Minor. It looks as if we are within measurable distance of what may be the re-appearance of this terrible adversary, the King of the North, in the Turk.
Further, putting the expressions “ in the latter time of their kingdom” and “when the transgressors are come to the full” together, and the fact that “ he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand,” that is, he shall come into conflict with the Lord Himself, proves that the king will arise in the last days, and that his end will take place at the very end of the latter half of Daniel's seventieth week.
Understanding dark sentences points to him posing as a religious though anti-Christian teacher. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power. He will be powerful only because of his backing. He shall destroy wonderfully and prosper. His chief hatred and objective will be “the mighty and the holy people,” that is, the Jews, whom he will persecute and destroy.
Not only will he practice the arts of war, but he will, also, be a great diplomatist. His peace tactics will be as dangerous as his war policy, and lead to much destruction.
His heart will be lifted up with pride, and he shall dare to stand against the Lord Himself, the Prince of princes.
His end is described with grim brevity. “But he shall be broken without hand,” that is, by divine power. This vision carries us well into Revelation, right up to chapter 19.
Antiochus Epiphanes, described in verses 9-12, may well be typical of this king of fierce countenance. The former has long since passed off the scene, the latter is still to come. Will he be the King of the North? We think so.