Daniel 8:1-8 by Robert Dean
Series:Daniel (2001)
Duration:57 mins 36 secs

R. Dean/Daniel Lesson 33

Another "Little Horn;" The Rise of Greece – Daniel 8:1-8

We finished Daniel 7 but we still need to review a couple of things related to the 7th chapter of Daniel.  From Daniel 2:5 through Daniel 7:28 Daniel writes in Aramaic rather than Hebrew and the reason he is writing in Aramaic is because the subject matter in Daniel 2-7 has to do with the Gentile empires.  So he is writing in a Gentile language, Aramaic, in order to communicate God's plan and purposes for the kingdoms of men, the various stages.  That began in Daniel 2 where we have the image, the great image which gave a view of the kingdoms as they transitioned from the head of gold, which represents Babylon, down through silver which represented the Persian Empire, and then bronze which represented the Greek Empire, iron which represented the Roman Empire and then the mixture of iron and potter's clay which represented the Revived Roman Empire, which is yet future, that is, the kingdom of the antichrist that is going to dominate during the Tribulation period.

We have to understand that in terms of its overview of history.  It's interesting that in Daniel 2 we get this overview and then at the close of this section dealing with the Gentile nations we have a repetition.  But rather than repeating the image as it's given in Daniel 2, which uses precious metals to communicate the various characteristics of these empires, there's a different image given in Daniel 7 and that is of violent voracious beasts.  Daniel 2 pictures the kingdom of man as man sees his own exploits and his own achievements, whereas Daniel 7 portrays the kingdoms of man as God sees the kingdom of man. 

So Daniel 7 closes out the section dealing with the Gentile nations by giving us a panorama of history viewed from a moral or spiritual perspective.  Then we saw that Daniel was given various symbols in this dream that came in the first year of Belshazzar.  That's important because Daniel 8 is going to be in the third year of Belshazzar, and both events, the dream of chapter 7 and the vision of chapter 8 come many years prior to the episode in Daniel 6, which was Daniel in the lion's den.  So we are introduced to various symbols, we are introduced to the four winds of heaven which pictured angelic forces, spiritual forces that are at work influencing human history, and that's not designed to say that human history is simply the effect of these angelic forces but to recognize the fact that human history is not distinct from or is not neutral from the events going on in the angelic conflict, that together these two events, what happens in the angelic realm and what happens in the physical human realm work together.  It doesn't mean that human volition is somehow neutralized because there is influence from outside.  No matter what the influence might be, it is still up to human volition to decide whether they are going to follow God or not. 

We see the winds representing the unseen forces of the angels upon mankind and then the sea, the violent unrestrained salt sea which throughout Scripture is a picture of evil and it's a picture of how man in his natural state, in his fallen state, unrestrained by Bible doctrine is the breeding ground for violence, it's the breeding ground for trouble, it's the breeding ground for chaos and that's one reason the Bible authorizes capital punishment; it authorizes a military, it authorizes a just warfare, is because there is a need in human history, within human history, for man to restrain the effects of evil.  Only the Bible gives a view of evil whereby evil has an origin and then is ultimately going to be defeated and permanently restricted and refrained in the lake of fire.

But as I pointed out many times, we are not left to just try to guess at what these various symbols mean.  They are interpreted for us in the text, and the angel comes along in the second half of Daniel 7 and gives us an interpretation for these beasts.  Four beasts came out of the sea and these are the same empires that are represented by the great statue.  The first is like a lion, it had the wings of an eagle and that's the Babylonian Empire.  And then the second beast resembled a bear and it was a lopsided bear and it had three ribs in its mouth which represented the conquest of that bear and that bear is the Medo-Persian Empire.  And then the third beast is the leopard and that represents the third empire which was the empire of Greece under Alexander the Great.  And then the fourth beast is the Roman Empire, both in its historical manifestation and in its yet future manifestation.

Now the point of this is that these two images, the image in Daniel 2 and the image in Daniel 7 compliment each other.  They look at the same flow of human history from two different perspectives; one from the perspective of man and how he views himself, one from the perspective of God and how God views man.  That lays out the overview, the outline of human history. 

Now what's going to happen when we get into Daniel 8 is Daniel is going to shift the focus to Israel.  That's why there's a shift back to Hebrew as the main language in the original text, because the focus is now going to be on what God is going to do to preserve Israel in the midst of this time of the Gentiles.  Luke 23 mentions the times of the Gentiles, and this is a time when Jerusalem will be trodden under foot by Gentile powers, and even today Jerusalem is still under the control of Gentile powers.  The Arabs or Gentile powers, the Arabs still control Jerusalem, the Jews don't control Jerusalem.  Jerusalem has been under the control of Gentile power since 70 AD when the Roman armies under Titus completely destroyed it and destroyed the temple. 

So it's during this time, during the time of the Gentiles, starting with the original defeat of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 BC up to the present time, even though Israel was back in the land for a short period of time, historically speaking, from about 535 BC up to 70 AD, they were still there under the auspices of some Gentile power; if some Gentile power had withdrawn their protection the Jews would have been driven out of the land and it was not a complete return to the land but only a partial return for the purpose of having the birth of the Messiah.  So what we see here is a panorama of history in Daniel 7 and then in Daniel 8 we are going to start focusing on how Israel is going to survive, how they're going to be protected and what God's plan for Israel is going to be during this time of the Gentiles. 

Now as we wrap up with Daniel 7 there is two things that we ought to take with us in terms of application.  First of all, this is the flow of human history, and the flow of human history indicates that God is going to, to a large degree, leave the kingdom of man unrestrained.  And what we see as a lesson from this, in terms of the first application, is that the main struggle is not a struggle over moral or ethical issues; it's a struggle over spiritual issues and there's a vast difference.  Most people don't understand the difference between morality and spirituality; spirituality is moral because morality fits with the establishment code of the Old Testament; morality is for unbeliever and believer alike; there are all kinds of religious systems that are moral but they are not spiritual.  They don't know anything about Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity, the hypostatic union, God incarnate who died on the cross as a substitute for our sins, so that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.  Theirs is simply a system of morality trying to impress God through ritual or through good works, and most of the time the kingdom of man wants to define the issue in terms of morality or ethics. 

For example, we see this in our own nation, our own national history.  We go back to the early part of the 19th century and I always like to interpret American history from a Christian viewpoint as opposed to the normal secular garbage you get in school because your teachers never understood enough doctrine or anything about theology to understand that theology is always the key to history.  So when you look at the United States of America to understand how the trends of history have been affected you have to understand how the Church has apostacized at various times.  In the early 19th century there was what everybody calls the second great awakening, and it was not as powerful, and I don't think it was truly a work of the Holy Spirit like the first great awakening was. 

Everybody's heard about revivals and revivalism is sort of a theological position that God works through revivals that come periodically through history, but revivalism per se came out of America, it's an invention that came up because something wonderful and great happened in the 1740s that was called the first great awakening.  And then we tried to reduplicate that and in the second great awakening there was a real emphasis on morality as opposed to spirituality, there was a lot of false doctrine, there were a lot of extravagant things that happened.  You can read some of the wild stories that happened down in Cane Ridge, Kentucky and the camp meetings, they would have three or four thousand people together who probably hadn't seen another human being in months and they would all get together and they got into all kinds of emotionalism and ecstatics and there would be barking and yelping and running up trees and they weren't speaking in tongues but they were getting slain in the Spirit and they were doing all kinds of crazy things and so everybody thought this was a great work of God.  And in the north and along the Atlantic seaboard it didn't manifest itself in those bizarre antics but it did manifest itself in a religious movement, and I use that in a negative sense, in an emphasis on morality. 

What came out of the second great awakening was the idea that we could reform society because the second great awakening picked up a heavy postmillennial theology.  And that is the idea that Jesus Christ doesn't return to the earth until the end of the millennium.  And so the Church is going to have its influence on society and basically perfect society, gradually through time, until society becomes Christianized and once society and the world is Christianized, then Jesus Christ returns at the end of the millennium.  In other words, it is the Church that is going to bring in a perfect or utopic state, and so they viewed that as their role.  Now that went hand in glove with their view of man; their view of man that predominated during the second great awakening, not everyone but this was a dominant influence because of Charles Grandison Finney was the idea that man was perfectible; he's not really born a sinner, he's not really imputed with Adam's original sin like we believe, but that man is born in the same neutral free state Adam was created in, so that he's not influenced by Adam's bad decisions, he's not influenced by Adam's original sin, he simply has this totally autonomous free choice and man chooses to sin because of social influences and other influences, not because he is constitutionally flawed by Adam's original sin. 

So man is perfectible; society is perfectible.  And if society is perfectible, then who's going to perfect it?  Well the Church has to perfect it, so what they did is they came in and they said that we have to reform society and the big sin in society, and in our American culture it was always identifying major social sins that we have to solve, that we have to clean up and once we clean them up, then society is going to be great.  And what that has engendered is a messianic view of government.  And this is exactly the kind of thinking that characterizes the kingdom of man, is that government becomes the means of affecting social perfection and therefore individual perfection so we can do away with social ills because they're legislated and then we're going to bring in a perfect kingdom. 

Now once we've dropped off all of our Christian heritage, which disappeared by the early 1960s, most Christian or Church historians would say 1963 was the death knell and the last year where there was any impact from the old Puritan theology, once we got rid of that it becomes a secular perfectionism and that's where we are today.  You go back to the 19th century and the outline of the big social ills were, first of all, slavery and after you get rid of slavery, then it was temperance, and prohibition; after you get rid of that it's child labor and after you solve that problem it's women's rights and voting rights.  Look at the whole history of American politics from the 1820s up to the 1930s and you just click it off, it's the story about first we did away with slavery, then it was dealing with labor laws and we had the rise of the unions, and after that you deal with women's rights and women's voting.  What most people don't understand is the reason that women were not given the right to vote under the constitution was because the founding fathers viewed the core unit in society not as the individual, which is how we look at it today, but the core unit in society was the family, and so the man voted because he was the head of the household, and households were voting, not individuals.  But once our nation got away from using the old Roman Republic history as a model and shifted more by the early 1800s to a Greek model, the emphasis went to the individual as opposed to a more Republican concept focusing on the family. 

We're getting way off our subject but the point I'm making is that in the kingdom of man government picks up this messianic role because the government is going to be able to solve the problems and perfect society and so more and more Americans began to look to the government as the ultimate solution to problems rather than fulfilling their Biblical mandate of simply restraining evil, both internally through a police force and externally through a standing army.  So they began to look at social reformation as the big issue and that's the problem that we still deal with today and I'm not saying that these social problems aren't problems or that they shouldn't be addressed; it's the framework within which they are addressed that makes a difference.  If you address them within a framework of social perfection you're grounding in on human arrogance and so the ultimate result is always going to be flawed because the target is flawed.  

The issue really isn't social reformation; the issue is related to the ultimate authority of God.  Who's going to solve the problems?  Is it going to be man in man's institutions or is it going to be God.  And if you place God at the center of society then these other social problems are ultimately going to be resolved and everything will fall in line.  But if you make that the focus then you're ultimately going to create problems because now you're operating independently from God and you're no longer dependent upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and so we believe firmly in the separation of Church and State, that these are two completely different spheres of authority.  The State itself does not give us freedom; we believe that the Church is completely independent from the authority of the State and that the State just recognizes that and that's been the historical doctrine on the separation of Church and State ever since it was first clearly articulated by Pope Gelasius in about the 5th century AD. 

Now that's the first thing we come away with, that the issue is not moral, the issue is really spiritual and has to do with the authority of God and the kingdom of man can never solve man's problems.  The kingdom of man is always going to progress and is going to go through these stages until Jesus Christ returns and it is only then that there is going to be any kind of perfect society set up on the earth.  And if we don't operate within that framework then all of our political decisions and all of our social decisions are going to end up with flawed consequences.

The second application is that the leader and ruler of the fifth and final kingdom has already come and that was in the person of Jesus Christ at the First Advent and only when He returns again will there be a perfect environment with a perfect society and perfect government.  So as believers we should not become distracted by the Messianic pretensions of secular government or secular society.  I think it was J. Vernon McGee used to say we don't need to be polishing brass on a sinking ship, and that's exactly what most Christians today are trying to do.  Now we have to remember that as Christians we are not out to reform society but our role as Christians is to function within society and as citizens.  So when we go and get involved politically we're getting involved politically not as Christians, but as citizens. 

The reason I say that and make that distinction, I want to make it clear, every now and then you'll run into somebody and they'll say well, I don't drink, I don't dance or I don't go to movies, I don't do this or that because I'm a Christian.  I want you to think about that sentence.  What they are saying is that because they're a Christian they're not doing something.  Now as a Christian you may study the Scripture and decide that in terms of applying the law of love you're not going to do any number of things that are in a gray area, but you made that decision not because you're a Christian, it's not related to becoming a Christian, it's not at the core of what it means to be a Christian, it is just a decision that you've made related to application of doctrine and it may be different for somebody else.  But as soon as you make a statement like I don't drink because I'm a Christian, what you're saying is alcohol is an issue in being a Christian. 

That's the same problem you run into when you say that I'm going to vote a certain way or make certain political decisions because I'm a Christian.  That doesn't have to do with being a Christian; all of a sudden you're blurring those distinctions between Church and State.  But because you are an individual political unit in this country, known as a citizen, and as a citizen you have certain responsibilities under the Constitution, then when you come to the voting booth and you come to political involvement, you're going to make decisions because they are informed by the doctrine in your soul, but you should never make the mistake of saying I vote a certain way or make certain decisions because I'm a Christian.  It's the application of doctrine in your individual priesthood but it is not a pro-Christian position.

Daniel 8 is going to advance our concept.  We've looked at Daniel 7 and the flow of history and now we come to Daniel 8 which is going to give us a profile of the kind of leadership that is typical of the kingdom of man; at least in its most extreme form.  It's a profile in leadership in the kingdom of man and it's going to zero in on the kind of characteristics that are going to be found in the antichrist.  So as we look at Daniel 8 we are going to get a picture, it's going to present a type of the antichrist, a historical type that occurred in the ancient world and was manifest in a Syrian king by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes.  He was one of the most evil rulers in all of the ancient world but he was well-loved, at first, he was a charismatic personality, people thought he was wonderful.  He did many great things socially, he had very good justification for many of the decisions he made in the early years and he's going to give us an interesting perspective of what the antichrist will be like, what his personality will be like and what his character will be like. 

He was Antiochus IV, he was a member of the Seleucid Dynasty and the term Epiphanes was a name he attached to himself because it had to do with the appearance, a brilliant appearance or the appearance of God.  When we talk about the when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared on the earth we talk about that as an epiphany, an appearance of God.  So there was a pun that was developed on his name by people who weren't really impressed with his character and they would mutter under their breath, epimanies [?*] and epimanies was the Greek word for idiot.  So they had a little play on words for that; it's kind of like we perhaps talk about one of our former Presidents as "slick Willie."  It's the same kind of dynamic going on there. 

So Daniel 8 is a passage of Scripture that is going to talk about an event that took place in the past but the events that it talks about aren't fully exhausted in the past.  It represents the antichrist as a type in historical figure of Antiochus Epiphanes and yet Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of the future antichrist.  One thing we might say is he presents a psychological profile of the future antichrist.  So when we start to look at some of the attributes of Antiochus Epiphanes you'll discover that the antichrist is going to be one of the most wonderful, kind, winsome personalities in all of history.  Too often when we think of the antichrist we think he's going to show up on the scene with "antichrist" tattooed across his forehead and he's going to be dressed in all leather, have his ears pierced and his nose pierced, he's going to be whatever your image of evil is, that's what he's going to look like.  But this guy is not going to look like that; he's not even going to appear like some self-righteous terrorist, like Osama Bin Laden, but he is going to be somebody who is well-dressed, well-groomed, he's going to have a wonderful personality. 

He's going to be the kind of individual that criticism will not stick to, he will be a Teflon antichrist, and he's going to attract hundreds of thousands, millions of people to his cause because he is going to demonstrate a pseudo compassion and a care for people that goes unmatched.  And you know the masses always want to vote for people who are going to give them something; they never vote for principle, they never vote from objective doctrine, they always vote for somebody who is going to do something to make their own life a little better.  And that's the kind of person Antiochus Epiphanes was.  He was a master politician, he was skilled in military leadership, and even though he was faced with a number of political problems because of their situation, he was in Syria and he was faced with enemies on his flanks, he solved his economic, social and political problems on the backs of the Jews. 

He reigned from 171- BC to 164 BC and during that time, or at least the second half of that time he led a reign of terror in Israel.  At no point in history has anyone been as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel as Antiochus IV was, and yet in terms of his personality…  I took German when I was in college, I never reached a level of fluency in it where I could sit and understand any of Hitler's speeches, but those that I have talked to who know German fluently and who listened to his speeches say there was just a mesmerizing quality about them, and they were so charismatic and it just sucked people in and they just thought he was so wonderful, and that's the kind of thing we're going to see with the antichrist.  And of course he's going to be Satan indwelt so he's going to have all of that going for him as well.  And yet he is also the most evil person in all of history. 

Now we have to remember that Daniel 8 is part of prophetic literature and prophetic literature is written in times of extreme suffering in order to give comfort, primarily to Israel, that the suffering is going to last forever, that God is saying to them I'm still in control of history, even though you're out of the land.  Remember at the time of Daniel 8 they'd been in captivity for about 50 to 60 years, it's about 550 BC so they have about another 13 years to go before they start to trickle back into the land.  And so they are wondering if they are ever going to get back into the land.  So when they see what Daniel reveals here in Daniel 8 it's going to give them hope because there's the element in here that Antiochus, or this goat, that is going to be attacking is going to go down through the land.  He's going to go through the beautiful land which is Israel.  In other words, they will be back in the land.  So it is designed to comfort them and to let them know that God is still in control and even as chaotic as history might appear at times, God is still in control and history does not operate independently from God. 

So Daniel 8, like any prophetic vision, has three basic parts.  It gives the vision in the first 14 verses and then there is a request for information by Daniel, verses 15-16, and then there is the revelation or the interpretation given by the angel Gabriel in verses 17-26.  Just like I used the analogy in Daniel 7 that you ought to look at this, when Daniel is having a vision or a dream, you ought to think about this almost in the sense that the angel has set him down in front of a big screen high definition television with a VCR or DVD and he's running this thing and as Daniel is watching the future, every now and then he says wait a minute, so the angel hits the pause button and then explains what it is that Daniel is watching. 

In Daniel 8:1 we're given the background to this particular dream and by the time we get down to verse 17 the angel is going to start telling him what it means.  "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."  So Daniel is going to have a vision this time as opposed to a dream.  In Daniel 7:1 it was a dream, a dream of something that came while he was asleep at night whereas a vision is something that comes during the daytime.  A vision is something where he would be seeing his surroundings around him in Babylon and then all of a sudden it was as if somebody inserted a screen in front of his eyes and rather than seeing what was physically before him he was seeing off into the distance, something that God was revealing to him.  "In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar" is 551 BC; Daniel is almost 70 years of age by this time and he has been in captivity over fifty years.  The vision of Daniel 8 comes two years after the time of the vision in Daniel 7:1 and at this point the language shifts back to Hebrew which tells us that the focus is going to be more on God's plan for Israel.  Daniel sees this vision and it's an external vision and he is going to see the world or see history unfold before his eyes as if he were there.  It is "subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously," and that is that it comes two years after the first vision. 

Daniel 8: 2 says, "And I looked in the vision, and it came about while I was looking," and the use of participles in the Hebrew here indicates action; this is ongoing, while he is looking at the vision, actions taking place before his eyes, he sees himself, he says, "that I was in the citadel" that is the fortress, "of Susa," in the Hebrew it's Shushan, "the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision, and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal."  Now Daniel is in Babylon when the vision occurred, he is not transported to the Ulai Canal, he is still physically in Babylon but he is seeing himself in Susa. 

Now Susa is located about 230 miles east of Babylon.  At this time it is a relatively small city but it had a history.  Previously it had been the capital of Elam; the Elamites were a Semitic people that had a kingdom that flourished from before the time of Abraham.  And it had been a major power block to the east of Babylon, but when Nebuchadnezzar rose, or really when his father Nabopolassar rose they assimilated, they conquered the Elamites and assimilated them into their kingdom.  Assyria had previously conquered them and it had been relegated to a position of a minor province under Ashurbanipal but it was in Susa, in this very town, that archeologists discovered the famous code of Hammurabi.  It was also in this city, in Susa, that later, when the Persians came in and under the Persian Empire that Darius Hystapses would built a fantastic citadel and castle, and that is part of what Daniel is seeing here, this would be the palace where Esther would serve as queen.  So Susa is going to become the capital of the second kingdom, the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians, so Daniel's vision is taking him into the period of the second kingdom, the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.

Now this is a city where the Jews are going to face some of the greatest attacks of anti-Semitism in their entire history.  It's going to be in Susa that Esther will defend her people and it will be in Susa where Artaxerxes is going to give Nehemiah the decree to go back and rebuild Jerusalem, but Nehemiah is going to face opposition.  It is in Susa that the Jews will have to apply doctrine that they are learning in Daniel 8 that there is a future for the nation.  And so part of the reason for this revelation is so that in that future generation the Jews will know from Daniel 8 that they have a future, there's a future for Jerusalem and a future for the Jews in Israel. 

The Ulai Canal was a canal that was constructed for agricultural purposes between two rivers just outside of Susa, the Choaspes River, the Koprates River; it was a canal that was cut through the desert, it was 900 feet wide.  So this was known by the Romans also by the name Eulaios, and archeologists have discovered its existence.  So this is grounded clearly in a historical situation.  That gives us the background.

In Daniel 8:3 we see the content of the vision.  Daniel writes, "Then I lifted m my gaze and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal.  Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last."  So it indicates that these horns grow on the ram while he is watching.  This ram is standing there, it's already in existence.  Now a ram is a male sheep, that's important because the next animal is a goat and a sheep is less aggressive and less agile than a goat and that plays into the interpretation of the dream.  So the ram is a male sheep and it's represented as already being on the world scene.  So he is taken out of time where he is, he's placed in Susa, and he's plopped down in time in the midst of the second kingdom, the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. 

Let's read down through verse 8 to pick up the context: Daniel 8:4, "I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him, nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself.  [5] While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes.  [6] And he came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath.  [7] And I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him.  So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power.  [8] Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly.  But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven."

So what we see here is two animals, these are different from the kinds of animals that we have in chapter 7, but these two animals are going to represent two of the kingdoms.  So whereas in Daniel 7 as in Daniel 2 we have this panorama of human history that starts off with the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, then the Romans and then the Revived Roman Empire, here we're going to focus on these two kingdoms; the second kingdom which was the Medo-Persian Empire, and the third kingdom, the kingdom of the Greeks.  The ram is going to represent the Medo-Persian kingdom and the he-goat, the male goat is going to represent the kingdom of Greece.  It's going to focus initially on its rise under Alexander but then it is going to shift the focus to the end time of this period on Antiochus Epiphanes as the fulfillment here. 

That gives you an overview so let's see how this is going to develop.  He uses two images here, that of the ram and that of the male goat.  Now remember Daniel was brought over as a captive from Jerusalem and he had to go through all the indoctrination of training from the Babylonians so he is well schooled in the Babylonian Zodiac and in astrology, in their astrological symbol the ram was a sign of Aries and the goat was associated with the sign of Capricorn.  Now these two animals are used as symbolism in Daniel's vision because in the astrological geography of the time, Persia is associated with Aries and the ram, and the Greeks are associated with Capricorn and the male goat.  So if you were living at that time and you were presented with these symbols of the ram and the male goat, that would make sense, just as if you talk about the U. S. in terms of the eagle or Britain in terms of a lion, that makes sense because these animals are associated with those nations. 

Furthermore, it's well known that in the ancient world when the Persians held a military review or when the Persians went into battle the king would always march before his troops carrying in front of him, not a crown but a ram's head.  So the symbol of the ram and the goat, which may seem strange to us because we don't normally think of them as aggressive animals like we usually associate with symbols of nations… you know you always pick some kind of aggressive animal for a football mascot.  There's a town down in central Texas, the whole area is well known for deer hunting, but they had this big sign coming into town that says "home of the fighting deer."  There's just something there that just doesn't fit.  We don't think of rams and male goats as being necessarily aggressive animals either but in the ancient world those were the symbols associated with these two particular empires. 

Now we're told in the text that the ram had two horns, the two horns came up while he's watching and the two horns are long, one is longer than the other, and the longer one comes up after the first one.  So the first horn represents the Median kingdom and the Medes were a kingdom first, and it was only after that that Persia came along; Persia at the time the Medes were a kingdom under Cambyses, Persia is just a minor district, an minor region called Anshan, and when Cyrus came to power he consolidated power over Anshan, which later became Persia and he gained control over the Medianites and united the two kingdoms.  So that's the picture here, the first kingdom kind of comes up, the first one that comes up is the Medes, the second one is the Persians.  So we're not left to wonder, remember the writer of Scripture is going to interpret this for us, we don't have to just guess at what these symbols mean.  When it's interpreted in Daniel 8:20 the angel says that "The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia."  Now it's important to understand this because this is prophecy and at the time that Daniel sees this vision he is still in Babylon and there is no Medo-Persian Empire; it is about to happen but it is not on the scene yet.  So verse 20 is true predictive prophecy where the angel specifically identifies what this nation is going to be. 

In Daniel 8:4 we see a description of this ram, after the longer horn takes over and it becomes a Persian Empire, Daniel says, "I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him, nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself."  Now this first phrase, "I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward" represents the three directions of military attack of Cyrus as he established the Persian Empire.  When he butted westward, he pushed westward first of all; his first major line of attack was to the west against the Lydian Empire.  We studied that previously and this was the time when he had a major battle against Croesus and the Lydians, when under Croesus they lined up their horse cavalry at the front of their troops and Cyrus got the brilliant idea, instead of having the horse cavalry and chariot… [tape turns] …camels up there because horses hate camels and so he attacked the Lydians with his camels at the front and the camels caused the horses and the chariots of the Lydians to bolt and they lost control of their horses and so the Persians were able to defeat them. 

So in 547 BC he defeated the Lydian Empire, then he went north from Persia and that was against the Medes and he captured the capital of the Medes at Ekbatana if 550 BC, and then he moved south and conquered the Babylonians in 539 BC.  I want you to notice that all of these events took place prior to the vision of Daniel 8.  Daniel 8 takes place in 551 BC and it's the first of these, it's not given in order, the "westward" was 547 but that was the second attack, the "northward" was the first attack, in case you thought I was out of order, the Scripture does not list them in chronological order, but the first attack chronologically was when he went north and captured the Median capital at Ekbatana and that occurs in 550 BC so this is 551 BC that Daniel sees the vision so it's true predictive prophecy, it's a year off and the Medo-Persian Empire is not yet a historical reality. 

Then we're told that after he conquers in these three directions, "no other beasts could stand before him," so apparently Daniel saw other beasts.  He doesn't mention them, he doesn't identify them, but apparently there are other unnamed, unmentioned beasts that he sees, other nations that are defeated by Cyrus, and this is true as the Persian Empire grew to take over most of what we call the Middle East today, around Iraq, down into Arabia, over to Egypt, as far west almost as the Indus River in Afghanistan and into central Asia.  Then Daniel says, "now was there anyone to rescue from his power; but he did as he pleased, and he magnified himself."  So this is a picture of the kings of Persia who were magnifying themselves and asserting their own authority independent from God. 

Now while this is happening, we recognize that this is the second manifestation of the kingdom of man in history and that God gives the kingdom of man power, power to do as he pleases.  But there will always come a time of collapse as the history marches forward, and in verse 5 we see the destruction of this second kingdom.  Daniel 8:5, "While I was observing, behold, a male goat" or a he-goat, literally in the Hebrew it says a buck of the goats, "a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth" and the term "whole earth" indicates the expanse of this kingdom; he comes "over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat," the male goat, "had a conspicuous horn between his eyes."  And the fact that he's coming "over the surface of the earth without touching the ground" indicates his speed, and so this is going to be a reference to a rise of the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great and is a picture of the rapidity of his conquest. 

That's the same thing that's betrayed by the leopard back in Daniel 7.  The leopard is a fast animal, speedy animal, and that represents the speed of Alexander's conquest.  Alexander was the son of Philip II of Macedon who had conquered Greece and was unifying Greece and was prepared to go after the Persians.  Now the Greeks and the Persians had a long standing rivalry and that's important for understanding what is said in verses 6-7.  They hated each other, ever since the Persians had come across under Xerxes and even earlier, and conquered the kingdoms in Asia Minor…see, the Greeks have always had their eye across the Aegean to Turkey and even today there's this continuous tension, the Greeks hate the Turks and the Turks hate the Greeks and you have all kinds of problems, historical problems on the island of Cyprus and this has its roots all the way back in ancient history.  The Greeks have always had their eyes on the peninsula of Asia Minor which today we call Turkey. 

So Alexander, at this time, because this is after the Persian attempts to conquer Greece, is out for revenge and after Philip II, his father, is assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander takes over and in 334 BC he attacks the Persians with a rapidity that is unparalleled in human history.  Alexander who was a young man in his mid-twenties conquered the world in under 5 years, and that's what it means "without touching the ground," he advanced because of his military genius and he developed the Greek phalanx and gave them 25 foot spears and so the charging or advancing forces of chariots would be impaled upon these long spears and then that would allow the phalanxes in reserve to come up and defeat the enemy.  So they came across the Bosporus in 334 BC and began to take on the Persians. 

Now we are told that this goat has "a conspicuous horn between his eyes."  Now we have to watch this goat because he's animated, he starts off with this large conspicuous horn, it's single; now that's not normal.  A goat, like a sheep, normally has two horns but here it's like a unicorn, he has one major horn between his eyes.  This is the first king as described in verse 21.  The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece.  Now Greece is not even on the historical horizon much at this point, we're talking about the 6th century BC, we haven't even come to the golden age of Athens yet when Daniel is looking at this and when Daniel is being told that in the future the kingdom of Greece is going to be more powerful than that of the Medes and the Persians, so that is a true revelation.  The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king, so that's Alexander.

In Daniel 8:6 we read, "And he came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath."  He is angry, there is this anger, this hatred, this vindictiveness that the Greeks had to the Persians because of the way the Persians had invaded Greece and raped and pillaged their way down through Achaia.  So this is a picture here, and they crossed the Dardanelles and if you remember I taught that Alexander had an army of about 35,000 and he was met with an army of several hundred thousand by Xerxes, and yet at this first encounter at the Granicus River the Greeks defeated the Persians.  And then again they're defeated at Issus, he defeats Darius III at Issus and then the third great defeat was down at Arbella in Persia near the sight of Nineveh and Alexander went on to sack Persepolis, Susa and Ekbatana, all the major cities in Persia and the Greeks in five years take control and expand their empire all the way to the Indus River. 

Daniel 8:8, "Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly.  But as soon as he was mighty," notice he doesn't last long, "as soon as he was mighty the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven."  So notice the animation here, you have this large horn that's broken off and in its place out comes four horns.  Now that's certainly something that doesn't happen in nature.  The breaking of the large horn relates to Alexander's death in 323 BC, he was drunk and went to a party and died in an alcoholic stupor that night and he did not know how to handle his prosperity and so his kingdom was then divided up among four of his generals.  

So in its place "four conspicuous horns" come up and these represent his four generals.  The first was Ptolemy who assumed control of the Egyptian sector of Alexander's empire, and he began a new line of Egyptian rulers, the Ptolemies, the last of which was Cleopatra.  Cleopatra was a Greek, she was not an Egyptian, she was a Greek.  The second general was Seleucus who assumed control of the Syrian and the Babylonian section of Alexander's empire, and began a hereditary line of rulers and that is going to be the line from which Antiochus Epiphanes comes.  The third general was Cassander and he took control of Macedonia and the Greek section of Alexander's empire and then Lysimachus took control over Thrace and Asia Minor or Turkey as we call it today.  

Now here's the image, you have a great horn, it's broken, it's replaced by these four conspicuous horns, and then in verse 9, "And out of one of them came forth a father small horn," it's insignificant compared to these others, at least its beginning is, it's "a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great," so it has inauspicious beginnings, but it gains in power.  But the power is directed geographically, it "grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land."  And the "Beautiful Land" is a term for Israel, and actually the word means a land that is to be desired, and it is the land that is to be desired from Israel.  And this "little horn" is Antiochus IV Epiphanes who is going to rise to power after the murder of his brother, Seleucus Philopator and he is going to use bribery and flattery in order to gain the throne and seize it from the rightful heir who's Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, but Demetrius is being held as a hostage in Rome and so Antiochus is going to weasel his way to the throne and then he is going to keep it from Demetrius and he is going to become one of the most evil rulers in all of history.  

Next time we'll look at the career of Antiochus as a type of the antichrist.  Now this is important because what we're going to see as we go through Daniel is Daniel 7 gave us the panorama; Daniel 8 comes in and starts focusing on two kingdoms and the role of Israel in those kingdoms, and then as we go through Daniel 9, and go into Daniel 10 and 11, it's going to narrow its focus even more and more as to what takes place in the inter advent period and then in the future, so it's going to become more and more detailed in terms of the prophecy that is given.