Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents took you on a trip, you always wondered, “How long before we get there?” I would drive my Dad crazy asking, “Dad, how much longer?” We’re still asking the Father, “How long?” How long must I endure suffering? How long will I hurt? How long before I am reunited with my loved ones? How long will I be lonely? How long must I pray for my marriage is healed? How long for a a prodigal child to faith? How long, Lord, before you make things right?
In the eighth chapter of Daniel, he recorded a second vision that contained greater prophetic detail about the next two world kingdoms and specifically about a ruler that would severely persecute his people for a short time before the Lord removed him and restored their worship to its rightful state. This vision was fulfilled within 385 years. Although Daniel’s vision has already been fulfilled, we can still let it give us confidence in God’s plans for our future, for it foreshadows an ultimate fulfillment of a time of tribulation that the Prince of Princes, our Lord Jesus, will return and bring to a close.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:Thanks for listening to the podcast from Gary Combs and the preaching team at Wilson Community Church in Wilson, North Carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more. And now, here’s the sermon.
All right, good morning, church! We are back in Daniel; are you ready? We’re back in the book of Daniel. We took a couple of weeks off for Palm Sunday and Easter weekend; it was appropriate to do that. We had gotten up through Daniel, chapter seven. So we’re picking it up in Daniel, chapter eight.
By the way, on Easter weekend, , the Lord really moved. All of the goals that we had set for attendance and people coming to Christ and those types of goals were met. On Maundy Thursday, we came in here and we prayed over every seat. God answered our prayers. We blew away every attendance goal that we’ve ever had for 26 years as a church at both locations. In fact, this particular service , the 11 o’clock service, if you were here last week, you know that we were putting chairs in the aisles. That was one of our four services. We give all the glory to the Lord. Amen. We’re thankful for that.
If you’ve just recently started coming, maybe in the last couple of weeks, we’re in the book of Daniel; we’re back in The Book of Daniel. We call this series, “Living in Babylon.” Babylon, in the Bible, is a metaphor for the world. When we say, living in Babylon, what we’re really saying is that we’re living in the world that, as believers that are citizens of heaven, what is it like to live in the world.
In the book of Daniel, Daniel and his friends were carried off into exile from their homeland in Jerusalem to Babylon. Daniel is writing about his experiences and visions that he received there. As we study this, I think we can compare it to how we might live in our world system. Babylon represents the world system of government, of religion and of the world’s economy. We are living in Babylon and living in the world.
Our home is heaven and our destiny is with Christ, but here we are. We’re still here. This is one of the things that causes a longing within us; that causes us to ask, “how long?”
Maybe you remember being in the backseat of your car when you were a little kid and your dad or mom was driving on a long trip. I used to drive my daddy crazy when I was a little kid; I’m the oldest of four kids. I was the one in charge of the “how long?” question. “Daddy, how much longer until we get there?” One of the most difficult trips that we made was traveling to Michigan. A bunch of our family had moved to Detroit, Michigan, to get jobs. You know, with the car companies up there. A lot of people had moved from Southwest Virginia, Bristol, Virginia, where I grew up. A lot of my uncles had moved there to work for Ford and so forth. My family would go to see them in the summer. It was like a 12 to 14 hour drive. I’m telling you, that might as well be eternity for a six-year old. I would be in the back seat asking, “daddy, how much longer?” He would say, “soon.” I was thinking, my daddy didn’t used to lie to me like this, but he was lying to me by saying, “soon.”
The truth is, that as exiles in this world, living in this world, living in Babylon, we are just like a kid when we ask, “Father, how long? How much longer must I go through this time of suffering?”
Some people are here this morning. You’re going through a season of suffering. How long must I pray for my prodigal child? My prodigal son or daughter, who has been brought up right, but now they’ve left God. How long must I pray for my marriage? My marriage is in trouble. How long? How long, Lord? We have a lot of “how long” prayers today. How much longer before You fix it? Before You return and fix everything? We’re praying to the father, just like we did when we were kids.
Not only are we praying, but as we look at the book of Daniel, chapter eight, we’ll see that even the angels in heaven are asking, “How long?” Because they don’t know either. Only God knows how long. But God knows more than that. He knows not only how long, but He knows that everything is going to be brought together in the end for the good.
Daniel, chapter eight, is one of those chapters. The book of Daniel, as we said the last time we were in Daniel, is called apocalyptic literature. This means “the unveiling;” it’s a certain kind of literature that has a lot of symbols and a lot of imagery that you have to understand. You have to kind of decode it in order to understand it. As I said, the last time we were in Daniel, the first six chapters of Daniel is kind of like we were tuned into the History Channel. It is historical and it is heavy lifting, but we could understand it.
When we hit chapter seven, it was like we accidentally flipped over to the Sci-Fi Network. All of a sudden, whoa, what are we looking at? It’s because we’re seeing things from a heavenly perspective; the imagery is foreign to us unless we really dig in and listen.
One of the things that we have that’s wonderful about chapter eight, because chapter eight is one of the most amazing chapters in the whole Bible, is that the first fourteen verses are the vision that Daniel has and the last verses 15 to 27 are the interpretation given by the angel. This angel is none other than the angel Gabriel. He’s going to tell Daniel what it means. It’s going to be awesome.
Are you ready to get back into it again? That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to dig back in. In the eighth chapter of Daniel, he recorded a second vision that contained greater prophetic detail from chapter seven. It’s not necessarily all that much new, although there is one portion that’s very new. The new part is going to focus on this ruler who is going to persecute Israel. But then the prince of princes will bring him to his end. Here’s the thing about Chapter eight; it’s already been completely and totally fulfilled.
You might think, well, why are we studying it then? Because it foreshadows a future happening, that’s why we’re studying it. We’ll see some other reasons why we’re studying this. It all became fulfilled 385 years after Daniel wrote it. That’s what makes it one of the most spectacular chapters in the Bible.
As we study it today, I think the text gives us three ways that Daniel’s vision can give us confidence in God’s plans for our future. We’re going to see how God keeps His word. Let’s dig in; I’m getting ready to read the Bible to you people. Are you ready? We read the Bible around here. We’re gonna read chapter eight and then we’ll unpack it together.
Daniel 8:1-27 (ESV) 1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. 5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. 9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” 15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” 18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great––but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken–– but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” 27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it. This is God’s word. Amen.
Three ways that we can be confident in God’s plans for a future. Here’s the first.
1. Recognize the sure fulfillment of God’s plans.
There’s no other chapter that I can think of like this chapter. It has been fulfilled in every minute detail already; 385 years before it happened. This vision, as we’ve noted in the first fourteen verses, is the second vision recorded that Daniel had; the first being recorded in chapter seven and then the second in verses 15 through 27. Those verses are where the angel Gabriel gives him the interpretation. I can’t think of any place else like this. We don’t have to guess who the goat, or rather, the ram with two horns one taller than the other is. That is the Medes and the Persians, he told us. He told Daniel, We don’t have to guess who the male goat with the one horn is. That’s Greece and the one horn is Alexander the Great. We know it from history, but we also know it from Gabriel. He’s very clear about it. This is the second vision this was written.
Chapter eight was written about 550 bc; 550 years before Christ it was fulfilled. The fulfillment of the vision took place by 165 BC, 385 years later. In other words, Daniel is writing this 385 years before it happens. That’s in our rear view mirror. It’s 2000 years ago for us. But for Daniel, it is 385 years into the future. This is astounding.
Those who take a low view of scripture, start with the premise of saying that the supernatural is impossible ; therefore, any supernatural occurrences in the Bible must not be true. When they look at the book of Daniel, (remember the first six chapters) they were always attacking whether or not it was accurate. Remember, we talked about that. Archaeologists are our great friends; they dig something up accurately. So since that plan wasn’t working, those who would attack the Bible started saying, it wasn’t accurate enough. Well, that turned out to be too accurate. So it could not have been made up by Daniel because this stuff really happened.
The Medes and the Persians really did overthrow Belshazzar in Babylon and then Alexander the Great and the Greeks, really did overthrow the Medes and the Persians. Therefore, there’s no way that he wrote this 385 years into the future. The only problem with that is we have proof that Daniel really wrote this and the accuracy and the dating of Belshazzar .
There have been archaeological digs in the ancient site of Babylon in modern day Iraq, where they have found Belshazzar; where they found the dating of his life. And so he dates it very accurately in the third year; it’s 550 bc. This stuff is true; you can stand on it. You can know this right now, that when God says something, it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen exactly the way it was supposed to happen.
So this is the vision. Where was Daniel carried to? In the vision, he was carried to the city of Susa. And I’ve got a map here just to help you see; Susa is right here. It’s right here on the Persian Gulf. Susa was a city within the Babylonian Empire; it was about 200 miles from Babylon to Susa. I don’t believe he was there in person or physically. He was caught in a vision and carried there. He had seen it before. He’s a leader in Babylon and he’s seen it before, but why Susa?
It’s because Susa would become the future capital of the Persian Empire, but not yet. See, now, it’s still Babylon. He sees this vision of a ram with two horns on the Ulai canal in the city of Susa. Why? Because that’s where the future capital will be. He’s carried away in this vision. The first image that he sees is in verse 3 and the interpretations are verse 20.
The ram with two horns, one higher than the other. Remember, how the bear, in chapter seven, was also the image of the Medes and the Persians, and how it had one side higher than the other? Well, here’s this ram that has one horn higher than the other. There’s a consistency to this; the Persians were the greater empire. So the bigger horn represents the Persians. The smaller horn represents the Medes. The Persians ruled the Middle East from 539 to 331 BC.
Then, in verse five , we have the introduction of the male goat with this big old horn. Look at this photo; this is one artist’s rendering of this.This is the goat that represents Greece. It flew without touching the ground, which talks about the speed that the Greeks conquered the known world and attacked the Persians, utterly trampling and destroying them. The single horn represents the king whose name was Alexander the Great. This stuff really happened. This came to pass.
There’s a story told, that when Alexander came to the city of Jerusalem, he did not attack it. He found it so beautiful that he came there. Some of the priests came to him and said, hey, you are in our scriptures. They showed him Daniel, chapter eight and showed him the story about how he would defeat the Persians and how he was the horn on the male goat. It says, according to the story, that he fell to his knees and worshipped. He should have read the rest, but he was moved by that. We know that Alexander the Great died at age 33. He died just as the scripture says, not according to someone else. He never was defeated in battle; his “horn” was just broken off, as if God had broken it off. He died, probably of malaria. Some say, he possibly died of a venereal disease, but he died in the city of ancient Babylon. That’s Alexander the Great.
And then we see, according to what he says as you’re reading this, that four horns sprouted up. So now, we’re in verses five through eight that talk about it and then in verses 21 through 22, Gabriel explains it. Gabriel says the goat, in verse 21, is the king of Greece and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken and, in its place, four others arose, four kingdoms that will rise, but they won’t have his kind of power. They’ll have lesser power. So there’s these four kingdoms.
One of them was the Northeast Kingdom, which was the Seleucid Empire. I found a picture of a ram that has four horns. That’s a real ram. I didn’t know that such a thing existed, but that’s a picture of four horns on this male goat.
And then, we see the little horn in verse nine. This is where the vision was trying to get the whole time because up until now, Daniel had already got this in chapter seven, really two images. It’s repetitive. Then, he aims towards this little horn. Now this little horn is not to be confused with the little horn of chapter seven. This is different. They’re related by kind, but they’re different people. You’ll see why in just a second. Pop up this chart that I’ve made; this this is the best way I know how to try to get our minds around this.
In chapter two, Nebuchadnezzar had a vision; remember that? Daniel interpreted it for him.It was this image that had a head of gold, breasts and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet with ten toes made of iron with clay and stone that was carved away, not by human hands, that destroyed the whole thing. In Daniel, chapter seven, the lion represented Babylon, the breasts and arms of silver. In Daniel, chapter seven, it was the bear with one side higher. In Daniel, chapter eight, it’s the ram with two horns and one horn was longer. That’s the Medo-Persian empire. The belly and thighs of bronze in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision was in Daniel seven. The leopard with four heads. In Daniel, chapter eight, it’s the male goat with one large horn representing Alexander the Great, which is replaced by four horns representing the four Greecian kingdoms. What we’re going to focus on is the Seleucid Empire, which is in the Northeast.
Here’s the unique piece that really is the point of chapter eight. It’s to let Daniel know that there is a persecutor coming that’s going to persecute the Jews. Take note that chapters, two through seven, of Daniel are very unique. They’re written in the international language of Aramaic. But, beginning with verse one of chapter eight, he reverts back to Hebrew.
In chapters two through seven, I think he was aimed at the Gentile nations and what God wants to do there and how he wants them to turn to his Messiah, to Christ ultimately. But in chapter eight, he tells Daniel stuff that the Jews need to know because this is coming their way in 385 years, and this is something he wants them to know. And so he reverts back to Hebrew, I think at this point, because he wants to tell them about the little horn.
Now what’s different, right on the face of it, about the little horn? It comes out of one of the four Greek horns. The little horn in chapter seven comes out of one of the 10 horns of Rome; of the beast with iron teeth.
Now I’m looking at your faces right now. Some of you are looking at me like, what, pastor? Stay with me, okay? Study during the week. Read about this. Go to your community groups and talk about this.
The little horn here is given to us. This is the antiChrist; he has not come yet. The time of the 10 horns. The time of the 10 toes, if you will. That’s the Western World nations of today. That time is present and future. Paul calls him the man of lawlessness. John calls him the antiChrist. The book of Revelation calls him the beast.
This is the first point I want to make; we can be sure that what God says is going to happen. Why do we have chapter eight? Well, it was there for Daniel 385 years. It encouraged the Jews to be ready for a future time of suffering and to recognize that it was really coming. Why is it here for us? Because it’s a type; it’s a foreshadowing of something that’s going to come in our world in the future.
Isaiah 46:9-11 (NIV) Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. This is what God says. I am going to do everything that I said I was going to do. Noone can change it; it’s coming.
Chapter eight sets right here to tell us it already happened. Which shows us that everything else is gonna happen to you. You can have confidence in it. You can be sure God has plans. Here’s what he’s saying to each of us. I’m God and you’re not. I’m in control and you’re not.
From the time when we were born, we were born with what the Bible calls a sin nature, Here’s what the attitude of sin is. That attitude of sin is, I will do it my way rather than God’s way . I will be my own God. I am in control of my own destiny. We don’t have to wait long for the toddler to speak his or her first complete sentence, which usually goes something like this, “I do it myself.”
Little Stephen was my firstborn. Everytime I would try to teach him something, he would say, “Daddy, I do it myself.” I had a strong willed child. We’re all born with that. We want to be God. We want to be in control. Friends, in order to be a Christ follower, the first move is to move to your knees. To say, I’m not God, I’m not in control. I trust your plans, God. Daniel would see this dismay and he was overcome. We see that this blew him away and we can see why. But we don’t have to be dismayed. We can be confident, because God will surely accomplish what He has planned. Let’s get on the Lord’s side. Let’s make sure we’re on His side because He’s going to do what He said He was going to do.
Here’s the second way we can be confident in God’s plans for our future:
2. Understand that God has limited the days of worldly kingdoms.
He’s drawn a limit to how far He’s gonna let sin go. It’s a good thing he did. I think it’s out of mercy that He limits kingdoms. He limits all the kings and queens I’m looking at right now, too. He limits our days. I think it’s mercy, because if He gave us too much time, we’d sin that much more. If he left us to ourselves, who knows how far we would go?
You know, there is a philosophy that’s alive today called humanism. Humanism says that we are our own gods, that man is perfectible. They believe in the perfection of man; that man’s getting better. But just look at the news. I don’t see man getting any better. I see it’s waxing worse and worse all the time. Be careful about putting your faith in man and in man’s kingdoms and in nations because they’re all stuck with a sin nature.
Maybe some of you took a class called psychology when you were in school. In psychology, perhaps you remember the conversation about nature versus nurture. Remember that and there was one philosopher who said, and he came up with this idea that human children are born as a blank slate. He called it the Tabula rasa; the blank slate. You’re born with nothing there, and it’s just whatever the parents in the world writes on them. That’s how they will become whatever they are. So if you’re born poor and uneducated, you might become a criminal. But if you’re born wealthy and well educated, you’ll be a contributor to society. The unfortunate thing about that is we have history and it doesn’t work out that way.
The Bible says that both are important; nature and nurture. Nature is the part that the humanist leaves out. The Bible says our nature is sinful and that we have the “bends.” We bend towards evil rather than good; we choose the short cut rather than the right way. We choose the broad path rather than the narrow one. Humanism is a failure. It’s a failed system.
This little horn, that’s in chapter eight, he’s humanist gone amok. He believes he is God. Let’s talk about him a little bit more. I told you I would. The first thing to take note of is what the holy one asks in verse 13. This holy one surely is an angel, and he says, how long? How long is the vision concerning? He has four features: the burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, the giving over of the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot. He wants to know how long, how long is this going to take? A voice is heard saying, (and this is the voice of the Lord because Daniel doesn’t know where it came from. He just hears a voice) 2300 days.
That’s a very specific number. So I got my calculator out and I divided it by 365 and I came up with six years and four months. Six years and four months. Well, it just so happens that Antiochus IV Epiphanes first appointed a wicked high priest, and the real high priest was murdered. He was assassinated in 170 BC. Antiochus was then in charge over Jerusalem and persecuting Jerusalem. He stopped the temple, worsening Jerusalem for the next six years and four months through 164 bc. You can’t make this stuff up. This is what happened. This guy, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, fulfilled every detail of the little horn of Daniel, chapter eight. He’s right there in the history books.
Look at this coin I found of him. This is the man with a bold face that we read about. This is Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He’s got that Greek nose going; he is looking good. Over here we have in the Greek (and I can’t resist Greek. Somebody in the first service says, man, you’re like that old man from the Greek wedding movie or something. Every time you see Greek, you have to say it. But I do. I can’t help it right here.) the word, epiphany, which means manifest or glory. It means in the flesh. That’s who he says he is. He gave himself that title. I’m God in the flesh. He sounds like Satan himself. That sounds like the antiChrist; that’s Antiochus.
And then, he has this word right here, niki, which is where we get the word Nike. It means victor or conqueror. He says, I’m a conqueror. And then over here we have his name. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟY ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟYΣ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ which means king in Greek. So he says this: King Antiochus conqueror, God in the flesh, that’s on his coin. That’s the coin that he gave to the Hebrews to use to spend. This is who this man is. He’s the little horn, in verse nine, “which grew exceedingly great.”
His nephew, the son of his older brother, was supposed to be the king. But through flattery, deception and bribery, he became king. It says in verse 9, “Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.”
Remember seeing that some translations say, “the beautiful?” What is that? That’s Jerusalem. So, he became ruler, in verse 9, over the glorious land. It says he overthrew the host of Heaven and he cast down the stars of heaven. The word, host, in the Bible means army or armies. Who are the armies of heaven? That’s the Jewish army. He defeated them. The stars are the saints. How do we know that? We have Gabriel to tell us.
Go over to look at what he says in verse 24; he says, “His power shall be great––but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.” Speaking of this little horn, this Antiochus, “but not by his own power he shall cause fearful destruction and succeed in what he does and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.” The host of heaven and the stars are the army’s mighty men and saints of Israel.
And then, here’s how he got in. He had tried to fight Egypt and to get that land back. But he got defeated and he was so angry. As he fell back, he attacked Jerusalem. He attacked some first by coming up to the gates and saying he was coming in peace. But when they opened the gates, he came in and, according to Dr. David Jeremiah’s book, “The Handwriting on the Wall,” he killed some 80,000 Jews, men, women and Children on that day, and he enslaved 40,000. He trampled them underfoot. He cast them down and sacked the city in a fury. He did it in verse 11; it says he was great as the prince.
I think a better translation, you might see, is in the New King James Version translation, “He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host.” He gave himself the title “Epiphanes,” meaning “God manifest.”It’s not that he really was as great as the prince. It’s that he made himself great or he exalted himself. As the prince, he wasn’t really great.
Who’s the prince? That’s the Lord. Later, who is the Prince of Prince? That’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That’s the Lord.
In verse 11, “It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.” It says he canceled the daily temple sacrifices. Here’s what he was doing. He was trying to “Hellenize” the Jews. He was trying to make them Greek, so he was trying to make them speak Greek. He was trying to make them stop the temple worship, so he canceled the daily sacrifices. Verse 11 says, “his sanctuary was overthrown.” This does not mean destroyed. He did not destroy the temple. He desecrated the temple. What did he do? He substituted Greek worship for the Jewish religion.
Here’s what historians tell us; he took the image of Zeus, which was the god of Greek religion, and he put that image in the Holy of Holies and said, here, worship Zeus. But, he was not satisfied with that. He took the unclean animal, the pig, and he sacrificed it in the Holy of Holies; he spread the pig blood all over the temple and all throughout the courts.
In the Book of Matthew, on the lips of Jesus, and here in the Book of Revelation, is “the abomination of desolation.” “The abomination of desolation,” is here in chapter eight. Look at verse 13, “Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” Later, he’ll call it abomination, but here he calls it transgression that makes desolate. What is it?
Here’s the abomination. Abomination because of the image of Zeus and the unclean blood. Desolation because the Temple became empty, desolate of true worshipers. They can’t go in there. Even if the temple wasn’t banned, they can’t do anything because he has ruined the temple. It’s not holy. It’s the abomination that makes desolation. Why did God allow it to happen at all?
Why did God even allow such a thing to happen? Look at verse 12, “And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper.” This was disciplined on the house of Judah; once again, they had turned to idolatry. He would leave them alone for a couple of centuries and then they would be right back at it . He’s allowing the short season of 2300 days to get them back on track. They really needed to get back on track because Jesus was coming the first time. This is 160 years before Jesus was born; He needs to get that temple cleaned up. He needs to get rid of that Greek leader Antiochus, but he also needs the Greek language so the New Testament could be written. It’s all perfect. It’s all in order, but the reason it’s happening is because of their transgression, and the reason it’s limited is because of His mercy.
Now, we keep reading. We get down into what Gabriel says. At verse 23, we start picking up some new details. He has a “boldface” going; if somebody says you’re a “bold faced” liar, that probably goes along pretty good here. Maybe that’s where it comes from. But he was fierce looking. He had had a certain kind of face. He couldn’t hide in a crowd. You would see this guy and you think, dude, that guy’s got an intense, a bold face.
It says in verse 23, “And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise.” He understands riddles. Another translation says he was a master of political intrigue. He was able to “put it over” on people. He could use people into thinking he was a good guy. He was very good at speaking, and people were enthralled by him and deceived by him.
Verse 24 says, “His power shall be great––but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.” He came into power not by his own power. He was empowered by satanic power. He was given power by the evil one.
Verse 25 says, “By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken–– but by no human hand.” Under him, deceit would prosper. In other words, he would make wrong right and right wrong. Does that sound familiar? During his reign, he burned copies of the Torah. He burned copies of the Hebrew Bible. Anytime he would find one, he’d have it burned. He hated God’s word . He hated truth.
Verse 25 says he was broken, but by no human hand. God killed him. God took him out. The Prince of Princes took him out. He was trying to expand his kingdom in a campaign against the Parthians. He was going towards them, he heard that the Maccabean had revolted in Jerusalem, and so he sent one of his generals. He divided his army and told one of his generals to go and fight that battle, that revolt. As it turned out, while he was fighting the Parthians, he was defeated.
In the years that his general was defeated by Judea, he swears that he is going to make Jerusalem a burial ground. He is going to kill them all . At that very moment, he was struck with an incurable disease and died.
Some writers say that whatever the death he had, whatever the disease he had, was so horrible that he couldn’t stand himself, that he smelled so bad. He died a horrible death in 164 bc. This is Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Jesus talks about the answer to a question from the disciples. The disciples ask Him what? How long? They just come out of Jerusalem and they are looking at these buildings and the temple. Everything is so beautiful, but Jesus says, in Matthew 24:2, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
How long will it be before that happens? The whole of Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus is talking about the last days and guess who He quotes? He quotes Daniel, chapter eight. Here we go. Look at it. So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken by the prophet Daniel, but now He’s talking about it in future tense, not past tense, because it’s already happened some years before.
Matthew 24:15-22 (ESV) “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” Now, this abomination of desolation is the future, he says. Did you see that when that happened? With Antiochus IV Epiphanes, another one’s coming. That’s what he says in Matthew, chapter 24.
Have you heard of the Jewish festival, Hanukkah? Have you heard of that? They light the menorah candles; there are nine candles. The one in the middle is the one you light with the other eight to represent the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah means, in Hebrew, dedication. It was the rededication of the temple when Judas Maccabeus, whose nickname was “The Hammer,” because he overthrew Antiochus IV Epiphanes and took Jerusalem back. He went in and cleansed the temple, which is a foreshadowing of Jesus. He cleansed the temple; he went in and cleansed the temple of the pig’s blood. When they went in there to light the menorah, they only found one cruse of purified holy olive oil. They lit one candle, and they were praying that the oil would last and it did. The miracle of Hanukkah, that is kept to this day, is that that one cruse of oil was enough until they could make more pure holy oil in it. Today, they read Daniel, chapter eight to celebrate Hanukkah. It really happened. Antiochus is a foreshadowing of the antiChrist that is to come just before the return of Christ. Jesus says that it’s coming. You saw it. It’s coming again.
Here’s number three.
3. Trust in Christ to be confident about the future.
God keeps his word. You can be sure of that. How do we face it? By trusting Christ to be confident about the future. We might not understand all the details, but we don’t have to if we understand the Lord and if we trust in the Lord.
Verse 25 says, “By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken–– but by no human hand.” He shall rise up against the Prince of princes and he shall be broken but by no human hand.
Who is this? I believe it has to be the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. This is God Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one that will overthrow the antiChrist.
Verse 26 says, “The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” Seal it up, he tells old Daniel, all of this is gonna happen. But I want you to seal it up. I think it’s because we won’t fully understand it until we can see it through the lens of the New Testament. You’re going to need it to get ready for Antiochus but they’re going to need it because Jesus is going to tell them about it. Seal it up because it refers to days to come. In the latter days, every detail was fulfilled, as I’ve said, but it’s a foreshadowing of the antiChrist, the man of lawlessness.
I want to read to you. It’s twelve verses. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (ESV) “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
I want you to compare this to Antiochus, the fourth, the little horn. This is Paul teaching the church at Thessalonica. Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; what he means is The Second Coming and we are being gathered together to him. We ask your brothers not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by a spirit or a spoken word or a letter seeming to be from us to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Don’t be thinking. The Lord has already come and you missed it because some stuff needs to happen. Here’s what needs to happen. Let no one deceive you in any way for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
Remember Paul calls him the man of lawlessness; John calls him the antiChrist. The book of Revelation calls him the beast. Daniel calls him the little horn, but he is the same guy, The man of lawless is revealed. The son of destruction. There’s another one of his nicknames who opposes and exalts himself against every so called god or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Rather than putting the image of Zeus up in there, he puts the image of the beast, which is his image in the holy of holies. Do you remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. I believe that the Holy Spirit, through the churches, the restraining that’s taking place, the spirit of the antiChrist in the world today. He’s being restrained. He’s being held back from his appearing for the mystery of long.
This is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. Who is this? I think it speaks to the church, the Holy Spirit in the church, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. There he is, the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Princes.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion, one that would come with deception so that they may believe what is false in order that they may be condemned, who did not believe the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness.
This is Paul giving this detail about the one that is to come, that he’s the Prince of princes that defeats him. I like how he defeats him in Paul’s writing; by the appearance of his coming and the breath of his mouth. Take note of this as as we talk about this Jesus, this Prince of Princes, that Gabriel, the angel, only appears in two books of the Bible. He appears in Daniel twice. Once in chapter eight and then we’ll hear from him again in chapter 9.
He appears twice in the book of Luke, chapter one. In Luke, chapter one, he first appears to Zachariah the priest, and he tells him you’re about to have a son. He strikes Zachariah mute and wouldn’t allow him to speak because he doubted. And he had a son and his wife had a son named John the Baptist.
The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary right after that and told her she would have a son. Here’s what he says, Luke 1:19 (ESV) “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. God only sends him out when it has something to do with the Messiah. He sent him down there to Daniel a few years ago, and now he’s sent him to Zachariah and Mary. Gabriel, in the Hebrew, means ”mighty warrior of God” or “God is mighty. “
You can trust in Jesus. You may not know what the future holds, but you can know who holds the future. Do you trust in him? Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” You can trust in Jesus.
Daniel was overcome and sick after seeing the vision. But then after he got up, he went back to work for the King. He went back about the king’s business. That’s what we should do too. We don’t need to be overcome; we know Jesus. He’s the author of the future. He’s God and we’re not. We can bend the knee to Him. We can surrender to Him. We can entrust our future to Him. Even if you’re going through a time of suffering today, know that God draws a limit. He will not let it go on long. How long? Soon. Soon. He answers Soon I’m coming soon.
Let me pray for us. Lord Jesus, I pray first for the person here today that came in far from you but would leave near. Is that you, my friend? You’re someone here this morning. And you sense the Holy Spirit is knocking on the door of your heart. That’s Him. That’s the Lord Jesus desiring entrance. He died for you. He was raised from the grave. He lives today. Oh, He’s my Lord. He’s my Savior. He’s my best friend. Don’t you want to know Him right now? You can ask Him into your life. Pray a prayer like this; you can repeat it with me right there in your seat. Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’ve tried being in charge of my life, but I surrender. I give You my life. I give You control of my life. I surrender control. I believe You died on the cross, that You rose from the grave and that You live today. I believe it with all my heart; come into my life. Make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of God And I want you to be my Lord and Savior. Friends, iIf you’re praying that prayer right now, believing, He’ll save you. That’s why He came and that’s why He’s coming again to gather those that belong to Him to Himself. Others were here this morning. You’ve received Jesus, but would you pray with me right now? Because some of you are praying, how long? Pray with me. Even so, Lord, come quickly. Would you pray for that loved one that might be far from God, that neighbor, that family member right now. Maybe He’s waiting for them to come to Christ and He wants you to be busy. Would you be busy about telling them the Good News? Maybe this morning, you’re praying that prayer of, how long for me to get through this? How long before this? Now, would You say, I trust you, Jesus. I believe the future’s in Your hands. I give You control, Lord. We do that right now; we give You control of every arena, every concern. We put it all in Your capable hands because You said, “Come unto me, all you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Lord, we pray this right now. We’re carrying something too heavy that doesn’t belong to us. We need to give it to You. We do it all in the name of Jesus and for His sake. Amen.