Read vs. 1-4
Chapter 7 covered the timespan of thousands of years. From Babylonian rule through Roman rule to the world rule of Antichrist ending with the rule of Christ. Chapter eight narrows that focus down to cover just two of those world rulers. The Mede-Persians and Greeks.
Currently in scripture timeline, Belshazzar is still king of Babylon, the Mede-Persian’s have not killed the king and taken over Babylon yet, so for Daniel no parts of his dream have come to pass.
Here he is two years later and he is having another “God vision”. In Chapter 7 Daniel was sleeping and the vision came while he was asleep. There is no indication that Daniel is sleeping here, so we can assume these are only visions and they happened while he was fully awake and aware of what was going on around him. KJV says “a vision appeared to me, even unto me Daniel.” It’s as if he could not believe this was happening to little ole me. To think that Daniel was caught off guard when God chose him for this vision, is awesome. It must be a universal feeling for people to feel that they are not worthy of the call of God. To be shocked when God chooses to use you is a common emotion.
Alas, God chose to show Daniel this vision. Daniel was in Shushan, also called Susa, which was in the capital of Babylon, where the palace was located, but his vision actually transported him to another place. The vision took him to the Ulai Canal which is about 230 miles from the palace.
During Daniels vision this place had no significance what so ever. This was just some city located in the middle of a desert. However fast forward into the future this is the location King Cyrus of the Medes-Persians designated as a royal city. This will be the city where Esther will live in the palace. This will also be the same place where Nehemiah will be commissioned to leave the palace and return back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.
God doesn’t do anything by accident. This was a very specific location, even if Daniel didn’t understand it at the time. One more point to make with this section is the word river, which is found in KJV. This is the only place that specific word is used and it’s interesting that NIV uses the word canal. The “river” Daniel found himself standing beside was a manmade river, it was a canal. Its purpose was to bring water (life) to this desert land.
To summarize, Daniel was transported via a vision to a small, very insignificant city (at that time), located in the middle of nowhere, standing beside a canal. To what to his wondering eyes should appear, but a ram with two horns. The ram was pushing all other animals out of his way, driving them back. No other animal could stand up to or defeat this ram.
Before we move on let’s discuss the symbolism. We have one ram, which is unusual, typically sheep are in flocks. This was one ram who had two horns, no big deal rams have horns. The significance of the horns is that they are high, or they were really long. The tallest horn was a late bloomer, it grew last but then became the longest horn.
We know from past lessons, that horns represent power or kings, two horns so two rulers. But the ram, what does the ram represent? The ram represents the Medo-Persian empire. We know this empire has two rulers. What you may not know is that those rulers would have a ram symbols placed on his garments or especially on his armor when going into battle. Rams represent the Medes-Persian empire.
The first horn to develop was the Medes. The second horn came onto the scene later and represents the Persians. At the time of Daniel’s vision, the Medo-Persian empire did not exist. King Cyrus led this military, he was unstoppable and he conquered the south, west and northern territories. He took over Syria, Asia Minor, Babylon, Armenia, Egypt and Ethiopia. He conquered all this within 10 years, and it was all according to God’s plan.
Read vs. 5-7
Daniel is standing there thinking about the vision. Trying to figure out the meaning, it was so bizarre for him, when the vision continues. He is looking at the ram, when out of nowhere a male goat comes from the west. This goat was not charging, its hooves didn’t touch the ground, it was sweeping across the whole earth. Notice this goat has only one horn located right between his eyes.
We know that the goat represents the Greek empire and the single horn represents the single king, Alexander the Great, as he would be known as. Daniel saw the Medo-Persian empire take over; it would be about two hundred years later that the Greeks would conquer the Persians.
Daniel watched as the goat would furiously attack the ram, shattering his two long horns. The ram was powerless against this goat as it knocked him to the ground and trampled on it. No one could rescue the ram from this attack.
This is what Alexander did when he conquered the Persians. He swooped in and took control. Remember in chapter 7, Greece was represented as a leopard with wings, because it swoops and is so swift and agile it never touches the ground. His territory was larger than the Babylonian and Persian empires combined. Covering Europe to Asia and a large chunk of Africa.
Read vs. 8-9
The goat starts off like a unicorn. He has only one horn, then he tramples the ram and becomes the ruler over this huge world empire. It was at the height of Alexanders reign that he died. And just as the Bible predicted, Alexander was replaced by four of his generals.
These four generals are represented as the four horns in vs. 8. The four generals divided up the empire and each one staked their claim in their areas, North, South, East and West and it took them about 22 years to make this happen. This wasn’t an easy task for them, they had to fight and earn their territories.
Looking at verse 9 Daniel watching the goat when out of one of the horns, he notices another horn branching out. This horn started out small and insignificant, but grew to power and took over the land to the south and to the east toward the Beautiful Land or pleasant land which is Israel.
Again, horns represent kings, this is a king or a ruler, just like the others, except he takes over as a king about 150 years past Daniel’s life. Now hang on because we are about to go a little bit deep here. This little horn grows out of the fourth horn on the goat. So, this king will eventually take over the fourth kingdom of the Greek empire.
We know that this man’s name is Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He was the eighth ruler of the Seleucid dynasty. Daniel describes him as starting out small. Antiochus had no claim to the throne, he was not an heir, however, he managed to claim the throne following the murder of his brother; the rightful heir was a man named Demetrius, who at this time was a hostage. Antiochus took the throne, even though he didn’t deserve it. Basically, he made himself king. He did everything in his power to obtain and then maintain his control.
I want to point out something so there is no confusion. In chapter 7 Daniel saw a “little horn”, the little horn in 7 is different from the little horn here in 8. However, both represent an antichrist. The horn in 7 has not been identified yet, and it will form from the Roman empire, and it will be the antichrist who will reign just before Christ becomes king.
The little horn here in 8 is also an antichrist. Their goal and purpose are similar; however, this antichrist rises up from the Greek empire, not the Roman. Sort of like a sample of what it will be like in the end times.