Daniel’s prophecies outline history in advance. They cover the same periods of time under different perspectives; they cover the same ground more than once. In Daniel 7, the kingdom of God is under attack. Cruel earthly rulers try to dominate the world.
A religious political power, a strange combination of church and state, establishes its authority with supremacy. The Law of God, the fundamental of His government, is changed by this new power that pretends to be the world leader. Human traditions substitute for biblical truth. Church councils substitute the Scriptures as the final authority in religious matters. An earthly religious power tries to establish the kingdom of God on Earth in its own great plan.
In Daniel 8, God makes His final move to put everything in order. He takes charge. The truth, thrown to the ground, is restored. In sincere and honest prayer, God’s people confess their sin. They repent from their rebellion against His purposes. They are forgiven by His grace, transformed by His love, and renewed by His power. Kneeling before His heavenly throne, they seek Him and they renounce everything. God’s final judgment call inspires them to an even deeper spiritual experience.
I. THE VISION OF THE RAM AND THE GOAT
Daniel’s vision focuses on the final judgment in Heaven. It also moves our attention to the sanctuary. Two symbolic animals are described in chapter 8: A ram (Dan. 8:3, 4) and a goat (Dan. 8:5). Both the ram and the goat were animals from the sanctuary. They were used specially in the service on the last day of the Jewish year, the Atonement Day. These symbolic animals point to the future and to the end of sin. They tell us about a day when the universe will be cleansed and the human race will once more be in harmony with God.
A. Who does the ram represent? (Dan. 8:20). The Medes and Persians reigned from 539 B.C. to 331 B.C. Under the government of Cyrus the Great, the Persian empire became the dominant power, fulfilling the prophecy that the higher of the two horns would ascend last.
B. Who does the goat represent? (Dan. 8:21). Alexander the Great, the first king of Greece, adjusted himself appropriately to each detail of this prophecy. When he died at age 33, his four generals divided the kingdom among themselves.
II. THE GROWTH OF THE LITTLE HORN
A. Daniel describes a power that would follow Greece (Dan. 8:9). The power of the little horn grew in two directions. It moved geographically, attacking all armies in its way. This power grew to the South, East, and to Palestine. Pagan Rome defeated Greece and rapidly expanded its empire to the entire Mediterranean region. Rome became the most feared power of the world. However, the power described here is not merely satisfied with a political empire. The political phase of Rome gave way to the religious phase. It extended itself to Heaven to defy even God’s government.
How much power did the little horn want (Dan. 8:11)? “Prince of the Host” is another name for Jesus Christ. This earthly religious power pretended to be equal to the Lord of Heaven and the place of God’s sanctuary “was overthrown.” Earthly priests substituted for Jesus, our Heavenly High Priest.
Any system that fixes our attention on earthly temples, built by human beings, is directing our attention in the wrong direction. Heaven invites us to focus on the true sanctuary, where our real High Priest lives for us.
The power of the little horn cast to the ground the truth about Jesus as our real High Priest in the Heavenly sanctuary (Dan. 8:12).
What question is asked in Daniel 8:13, and what answer is given in Daniel 8:14? In the Bible, a day means a day. But when we use the symbolic language of Daniel and Revelation, a prophetic day equals a literal year. That’s why the 2,300 prophetic days equal 2,300 literal years (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6). The prophecy of the 2,300 days is the longest one in the Bible (Dan. 8:17, 26). It takes us to the end of time.
The Bible describes two sanctuaries, one built by Moses on Earth, and the other built by God in heaven. God gave Moses instructions about the earthly sanctuary (Exod. 25:8). Everything about the earthly sanctuary represented Jesus. The lamb dying on the courtyard represented Jesus as our sacrifice. The priest ministering in the holy place represented Jesus, our Priest in the heavenly sanctuary offering forgiveness, mercy, and power for a new life. The High Priest entering the most holy place, standing in front of God’s Law, in the presence of God in the atonement day, represented Jesus our High Priest and His faithful work of judgment to end sin forever
The Day of Atonement symbolizes God’s plan to purify or cleanse the universe from sin. Some individuals will be purified by fire. They cling to their sins; they do not want to abandon them. Hardened by the rebellion against God, they refuse to surrender themselves to Him. In the presence of the Holy God, sin is a combustible material. Our God is a consuming fire for sin wherever it is found (Heb. 12:29).
Other people will be purified by the blood of Jesus. Today He invites us to accept His mercy. Today He wants to forgive our sins. Today He wants to change lives. Today He longs for us to respond to the love that flows from the old rugged cross, where the Savior of the world, with hands stained by blood, was nailed on the cross and died for us.
III. UNDERSTANDING THE VISION OF THE 2,300 DAYS (DAN. 9:23-27)
Daniel was instructed by Gabriel to “consider the word” and “understand the vision.” We could ask, “What word? What vision?” The answer is obvious. Gabriel is talking about the vision (in the previous chapter) that Daniel had not understood—the vision of the 2,300 days. “What subject?” The purification of the sanctuary in the final judgment of Earth at the end time. Gabriel’s explanation does two things: (1) It explains the parts of the vision that were not explained in the vision of chapter 8, and (2) it answers Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9.
A. The time set apart for the people of Israel (Dan. 9:24). In the Hebrew language, the Word “determine” means “to cut out.” The 70 weeks, applicable to the people of Daniel’s day, were “cut out” of the 2,300 days (literal years), taking us to the period of time generally know as the “end time.”
Considering that a prophetic day equals a literal year, 70 weeks equals 70 x 7 days, or 490 prophetic days, or 490 literal years.
B. The beginning of the prophecy (Dan. 9:25). The whole prophecy starts with the order to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This decree was made by Artexerxes, king of Persia, in 457 B.C. (read Ezra 7:13-28). This decree, one of three decrees that allowed the nation of Israel to return from captivity to their native land, is significant because it not only allowed them to take their possessions with them, but also gave them the freedom to worship the true God, reestablishing Israel as a community of worshipers.
C. Christ, the center of the prophecy (Dan. 9:26). The main theme of this prophecy is Jesus Christ. The prophecy carefully narrates events in the life of Christ before they happen. The word “Messiah” means “the anointed.” Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit in His baptism (see Matt. 3:16; Acts 10:37, 38).
Note: If we advance 483 years from 457 B.C., we reach 27 A.D. (if there is no zero year). In 27 A.D., Jesus Christ was baptized and anointed with the Holy Spirit, as the prophecy predicted (see Luke 3:1-3). Jesus is the Messiah. He is not a falsification; He came at the right time. He was baptized at the right time. And He was crucified at the right time.
Jesus would be killed, but not for His own cause. He died for us. Sixty-nine weeks equals 7 x 69, or 483 prophetic days, or 483 literal years. In the middle of the last prophetic week of this prophecy, Christ would be crucified. The 69 prophetic weeks (483 years), ended in 27 A.D. Since the decree of Artexerxes was issued in the fall of 457 B.C., we come to the autumn of 34 A.D.
Three-and-one-half years from the fall of 27 A.D. takes us to the spring of 31 A.D. The prophecy of Daniel was accurately fulfilled! Christ was crucified at the right time. Jesus, our Passover, was crucified for us. He shed His blood for us. He provided mercy and forgive ness for us. God’s mercy to the Jewish nation was extended. For three-and-one-half more years, God appealed to His people. In the fall of 34 A.D., the apostle Stephen made a final appeal for the Jewish nation to repent. The Jewish leaders not only rejected the appeal, they also stoned Stephen. With Stephen’s death, the gospel went to the Gentiles. Individual Jews may still be saved, but now God operates through a new “Israel,” the Church of Christ. The church, the body of Christ, is also His bride. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood of believers of the New Testament (1 Peter 2:9).
The first portion of our prophecy, the 490 years, is applied to Christ’s first coming. It reveals a loving Savior who came right on time. If the first 490 years of the 2,300 years end in 34 A.D., this leaves 1,810 remaining years.
From 34 A.D., 1,810 years take us to the year 1844 A.D. In 1844, God’s great clock of time set the hour. Since 1844, we have been living in the judgment time, the end time. The destiny of the entire human race will soon be determined.
In 1844, God invited His faithful people to adore Him as the true God and surrender themselves to Him. Now God chooses those who would be His last representatives on earth to give a final warning message to the world.
Contributed by the South American Division.