Monday, August 16, 2010

The Book of Daniel Chapter 8 - Daniels Vision of a Ram and a Goat

Chapter 8 precedes chapter 5 chronologically. The dream most probably occurred in 551BC when Daniel was about 70 years old.

Susa was one of the capitals of the Babylonian empire and was located in what is now Iran. It was a well developed city and was the winter capital of the Persian empire.

The 2 Horns were the kings of Media and Persia. The longer horn represented the growing dominance of Persia in the Medo-Persian empire.

The goat represented Greece and its large horn, Alexander the great. This is an amazing prediction because Greece was not even considered a world power when the prediction occurred. Alexender the great conquered the world with great speed and military strategy, indicated by the goats rapid movement. Shattering both horns symbolised Alexander breaking both parts of the Medo-Persian empire. Alexander the great ultimately conquered most of the known world and Greece became the greatest nation on the planet.

In vs 8 the large horn was "broken off" this is at the height of its power. Alexander the great died of a fever in his 30's at the height of his power. Before he died he had let success get to his head. He convinced himself that Achilles (the mightiest Greek warrior of the Trojan war) and the God Hercules were his ancestors. Whether out of pride or for political reasons or both, Alexander required the provinces to worship him as a god. note though that there is nothing wrong with doing great things though,sometimes asking God to cause us to do great things may not be wise. Why you may ask........we may become big headed and think its our own doing and forget to honour God i.e. we may become arrogant. Its a very fine line we walk when we ask as such. If we are not careful, the deeper motive could be using God as a means toward our own greatness. The point I'm trying to make here is that our being here is FOR GODS GREATNESS. A wiser prayer could be to ask God to do great things and if we play a part no matter how small then all the glory is his. In this way, we are humbling ourselves. Our aim should be to give glory to the father. Our lives would be greatly infuential if we simply ask God to empower us to do that for which we were created.

It would have done Alexander the great a great deal of good to realise that it is not for us that we achieve great things but for Gods glory. Alexander would have been greater if he had seen himself as smaller. Alexander the great accomplished great things because God ( the one who sets up kings and deposes them Dan 2:21) had an agenda. Amongst other things God used Alexander to spread the Greek language and culture all over the world an act that prepared the world for the gospel by giving common speech, the language of the new testament. Alexanders conquests paved roads for the circulation of scripture. How awesome is that. However God who deposes kings, deposed him when his heart became proud but God has accomplished his purpose.

Goats come Goats go but the greatness of God will always remain.

Alexanders kingdom was split into 4 parts under 4 generals:

Antipater - Macedonia and Greece
Lysimachus - Thrace and parts of Asia Minor
Seleucus - Syria, Israel, Mesopotamia
Ptolemy 1 - Egypt and Palestine

Daniel 8:9 states that out of one of them came another horn which started small but grew big. The horn we read about in Daniel 7 known to us as Anti Christ was prefigured in Daniel 8 through a smaller horn that history has named Antiochus IV Epiphanes. With Antiochus, God was giving us a taste of things to come. i.e. we know what Antiochus did i.e from the word:

- he threw some of the starry hosts down to earth and trampled them
- he set himself up to be as great as the prince of the host
he took away daily sacrifice from and the place of his sanctuary was brought down low and given to him
- he prospered in everything and truth was brought to the ground.

Eeeeish imagine how terrible things must have been under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Memorize this name coz I tell you under the Anti Christ things will be much worse. Antiochus was just the dress rehearsal.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the small horn) attacked Israel in 2nd century BC. He was the 8th ruler of the Seleucid empire (Babylonia and Syria). He ruled for 11 years aggressively attempting to strip the Jews of all things Jewish and turn them into Greeks. He overthrew Israels high priest, looted the temple and replaced worship of God with a Greek form of worship. He executed thousands of Jews who resisted him. In 167 BC Antiochus erected an altar of Zeus in the temple precincts and offered swine on it. He decreed that sacrifice to Greek deities be offered in every city and village.

But our Great God again comes into the picture. A revolt started by Mattathias an elderly priest from the village of Modein and later carried on by Judas Maccabeus when Mattathias died using small Jewish forces (guerilla style)led to the defeat of the Syrian armies. Sounds like the work of God doesn't it. Antiochus himself went insane and died in Persia in 164BC. Gods power and justice will prevail.

Judas Maccabeus crowning victory was in the recapture of Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple which is now one of the Jewish festivals i.e. The Dedication or Hanukkah celebrated by all Jews in December.

If we fully grasp the devastation to come in the last days under the ultimate "master of intrigue" the thought would be almost unbearable like it was for Daniel. All the things that happened under Antiochus IV will be repeated on a broader scale just before Christs second coming.

The stern faced king describes both Antiochus IV and the anti christ.

Note that what is now history to us was foretold by Daniel. Hmmmmmmmm

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