By Rev. Bill Lee-Warner
The careful student of prophetic Scripture is well-aware of the importance of Daniel’s prophecies. In Daniel chapter 8, we are given insight into that critical time of history known as the 70th week of Daniel. Although it is not until Daniel 9 that we learn of the 70 Week prophecy, we nevertheless have in Daniel 8, some important information that expands our understanding of what will transpire during that time period.
Following chapter 7, where we are given the sequence of “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), we come to chapter 8 where information is given regarding the overthrow of the Persian Empire (the Ram – 8:20) by Greece (the Goat – 8:21) and the subsequent result toward God’s people in the “Beautiful Land” (Daniel 8:9). In 8:8, we are introduced to the fact that the “large horn”, prophetically fulfilled in Alexander the Great, would be “broken” (die) and “in its place there [would come] up four conspicuous horns toward the “four winds of heaven.” In other words, after the large horn is broken, his empire will be divided up among four individuals. We learn from history that Alexander the Great’s empire was indeed divided up among the four generals of his army. Beginning in Daniel 8:9, we are told that “out of one of them [one of the kingdoms of the four generals] came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great…toward the Beautiful Land.” If we are going to properly understand the remainder of the chapter, we need to note carefully, verse 9. The information that follows in the chapter will primarily deal with a descendent of one of those generals.
In Daniel 8:9-12, we are given (1) character and (2) activity information concerning the “small horn”. We are told that he will:(A) kill some of the Jews in the land when he arises to power, (B) magnify himself “to be equal with the Commander of the host” (God), (C) remove the regular sacrifice, (D) “throw down” the place of His sanctuary (desecrate the sanctuary), and (E) “fling truth to the ground” and perform his own will. The vision recorded in Daniel 8:9-12 concludes with the question of 8:13: “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply…so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” One of the “holy one[s]” responded to Daniel by saying, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings (a Hebraism for a 24-hour day, [cf. Gen. 1:5]); then the holy place will be properly restored.”
A few verses later in 8:17, Gabriel told Daniel, “Son of man, understand that the vision [the one just given] pertains to [Heb. – dabar: with respect to or having relationship to] the time of the end“.
In other words, the vision just given has reference to the character and activity of a person hostile to Israel during a future time period and that he is similar in character and activity to another person who will appear during the “the time of the end” (8:17) or “the final period of the indignation…” (8:19). The expressions “the end” (used 127 times in Scripture) and “the final period of the indignation” (used 31 times in Scripture) have clear prophetic implications. Prophetically in Scripture, the expression “the end” is used to refer to “the time of the end” or “the end of the age” (cf. Daniel 12:13; Matthew 24:3) where the ultimate end of all God’s dealings with Israel and the nations takes place during the time of the 70th Week of Daniel. The word “indignation” means wrath/anger and the context defines whether it has reference to God’s wrath/anger or someone else’s. Daniel 11:36 indicates to us that the “final indignation” is during the time of the ultimate end when God brings all rebellion against Him to a conclusion.
In Daniel 8:19, Gabriel now informs Daniel that he’s going to expand Daniel’s understanding regarding the “final period of indignation” by adding to the previous vision of 8:9-12. The “near” prophecy of Daniel 8:9-12 (the first vision) was fulfilled in the historical figure of Antiochus Epiphanes (175 B.C. to 164 B.C.), “the small horn” (Daniel 8:9). The “far” prophecy of Daniel 8:23-25 (the second vision) will be fulfilled when “the fourth beast”, “the little horn” (Daniel 7:8) appears at the end of history or at “the time of the end”. Between the two visions there has been so far, nearly 2,500 years. When “the little horn” (the ultimate fulfillment – Antichrist) does come, the prefigurement of his character and activity will have been typified in Antiochus Epiphanes.
The comment about the 2,300 days then has a contextual reference to the “small horn” issuing from the line of one of the generals who would arise after the “male goat” (Alexander the Great) was “broken” (Daniel 8:8). The duration of the desecration of the temple, “2,300 evenings and mornings”, referred to in Daniel 8:13, would occur in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes whose activity in Israel fulfilled the particulars of the first vision in 163 B.C.
Following the specific ethnic identification of the Ram and the Goat (Daniel 8:21-22), Gabriel went on to give the 2nd vision in 8:22-25. Verse 23 clearly tells us that the vision that follows has reference to “the latter period of their rule”. The “their” refers in context to the kings who would rule after the death of Alexander the Great (cf. 22). The specific focus of chapter 8 is on that king who would rule territorially (the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East) in relationship to “the Beautiful Land” (Dan. 8:9). Extending from the time of the “near” fulfillment of the first prophecy to the ultimate fulfillment of the second prophecy, there would be a continued territorial connection. In other words, the ethnic roots of the nations existing during the time of the first prophecy will continue to exist in some manner until “the time of the end” when the ultimate prophecy will be fulfilled in “the little horn” or “the fourth beast”. The term “latter period” in Daniel 8:23 gives indication regarding that ultimate fulfillment beyond the initial fulfillment in Antiochus Epiphanes. The expression “latter” is used 19 times in the Scripture. Nine times it is used in a prophetic context. In each of those prophetic uses, it clearly means the final end or the conclusion of history when the final indignation of God is completed against both Israel (for her sin and transgression against God) and the nations of the earth in their wickedness and rebellion against God. So, when history comes to its conclusion, the vision in Daniel 8:23-25 will be fulfilled.
In Daniel 8:26, Gabriel connects the prophetic character and activities of the first vision to the second vision when he says, “And the vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told [the first vision] is true; but keep the vision secret, for it pertains to [has an ultimate reference to] many days in the future” [the final fulfillment in the “latter period”]. The two prophecies are separated in time. The “2,300 evenings and mornings” event takes place in the fulfillment of the first vision with Antiochus Epiphanes.
Although both visions were yet future for Daniel, the first vision in Daniel 8:9-12, was fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, the “small horn”, the antitype or foreshadow of the “little horn” (Daniel 7:8).The second vision in Daniel 8:23-25, including the character and general activities of the first vision, will be fulfilled in the “little horn” who will appear on the stage of history in a time yet future.
The emphasis of chapter 8 is the character and certain activity of the “small horn”. The 2,300 days referred to in Daniel 8:14 has specific reference to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (the near prophecy) and not Antichrist (the far prophecy), for nowhere else in Scripture do we find any teaching regarding a 2,300 day period in reference to Antichrist. A face value biblical study method of reading Scripture in context and comparing Scripture with Scripture clarifies the prophetic and historical fulfillment of both visions given to Daniel in chapter 8 of his prophecy.