Endtime Bible Studies

Daniel 8

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg


Before either the Medo-Persian or Grecian empires ever ruled, the prophet Daniel, in the year 539 B.C., predicted that war would be fought between these two world empires, and prophesied its outcome. It was precisely fulfilled just as he predicted over 200 years later, in 333 B.C.!

This remarkable vision of Daniel chapter 8 begins with this prophecy regarding the conflict between Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great. Then the prophet, using this vision as a springboard, thrusts far off into the future and the events of the endtime. (The vision is covered in verses 1–14, and interpretation in verses 15–27.)

Vision: “In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar (539 B.C.) a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel … And I saw in a vision … before the river a ram which had two horns … one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward” (Daniel 8:1–4).

Interpretation: “And it came to pass, when I … had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning … I heard a man’s voice … which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision … And he said … The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia” (Daniel 8:15–16,19­–20).

The Medo-Persian empire was a dual power, “two horns,” but the Persians were the stronger of the two. “One was higher than the other.” Though Darius the Mede was a great conqueror and conquered the so-called impregnable city of Babylon, it was Cyrus the Persian and his Persian empire that eventually reigned supreme. “The higher came up last.”

Vision: “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

“And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and he smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand … Therefore the he goat waxed very great” (Daniel 8:5,7,8a).

Interpretation: “The rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king” (Daniel 8:21).

Here we have the he goat of Greece with its “great horn,” Alexander the Great, furiously bounding from the west (Greece) to destroy the ram of Persia. During this war the Persian kings put nearly five million men into battle, one of the largest war machines ever assembled in all history. Yet Alexander, with a force of only 500,000, outnumbered ten to one, totally routed this superior force and did it with very few casualties.

God was behind the Greeks in these battles in order to prepare the world for the coming of Christ by giving the world a common language, Greek, and awakening a great interest in philosophy and religion through the Hellenistic culture.

In fact, it was this very prophecy which saved Israel when Alexander came to Jerusalem during the course of his conquests. The Jews took him and showed him the scroll of this prophecy that named his empire, and it so pleased Alexander that he left Israel alone and didn’t ravage it as he had all the other nations that he conquered.

Vision: “Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong the great horn was broken” (Daniel 8:8a).

Interpretation: At 20 years of age Alexander began his military campaign, conquering all the civilized world from Greece to India, and from southern Russia to northern Africa in only ten years. No doubt this swift conquest is why the Lord pictured his kingdom as a winged leopard in the vision of Daniel 7, and here as a he goat that didn’t touch the ground!

But just as he was at the height of his power, “when he was strong,” at the young age of only 33 years, Alexander died.

Vision: “And for it (the great horn) came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven” (Daniel 8:8b).

Interpretation: “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power” (Daniel 8:22).

The Medo-Persian empire fell to Alexander, and when he fell, his four generals divided his empire up into four major divisions toward the four winds—east, west, north, and south. These four kingdoms were depicted as a four-headed leopard in Daniel 7.

Going clockwise from west to south, the names of these four kingdoms are: west—Greece: This is about the same area as modern Greece, but included a lot more territory back then; north—Assyria or modern Turkey: This included what is today even part of Russia; east—Syria: This was the old Syrian Empire, which today includes not only modern Syria, but also Iraq, Iran and parts of Pakistan and India. South—Egypt: Also Libya, Ethiopia and all the area of northeast Africa were ruled by Egypt in those days.

It is from this verse that the prophet now suddenly jumps into the far future and endtime events.

Vision: “And out of one of them (these four land divisions) came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (Daniel 8:9).

Interpretation: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” (Daniel 8:23).

Here we have not only the geographical location from which the Antichrist (this little horn) will come, but also the time of his coming. “Out of one” of the four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom in the “latter time” a “little horn,” or a “king of fierce countenance,” shall “come forth.”

Egypt could be that kingdom from which the little horn is to spring. Let’s see if the description of the three directions of its expansion or “waxing” fits.

Egypt has lots of room for expansion “toward the south”—the whole continent of Africa; “toward the east”—lots of room for growth toward Asia; and “toward the pleasant land,” which is Israel (Psalm 106:24 and Jeremiah 3:19). If he is going to expand toward the 1) south, 2) east, and 3) the pleasant land, he must be located south of the pleasant land, because if he were north of it, the pleasant land would be south and the prophecy would have given only two directions, south and east; but instead it gives three separate directions here.

It says that he will “understand dark sentences.” In Ezekiel 28 the Antichrist is allegorically pictured as the “prince of Tyrus,” of whom it says, “thou art wiser than Daniel: there is no secret that they can hide from thee” (Ezekiel 28:3). In Revelation it says of the beast, or Antichrist, that “the dragon (or devil) gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). He’s going to be in direct communication with the Devil himself.

In Daniel 7 we saw that this little horn rising after the other ten kingdoms represented a young world power, with the eyes and mouth showing that the little horn is ultimately fulfilled in an individual.

God Himself is going to permit and allow the Antichrist to rise to power, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1), and the Antichrist will do the world good at first. He will be just like Satan, who started out as a servant of God but then became exalted in self-worship and lost God’s blessing.

Now some have said that this little horn was fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, a Grecian ruler of Syria who wrought great persecution against the Jews during the years 168–165 B.C. and no doubt he was an intermediate fulfillment of the final little horn, as others also have been.

However, the angelic messenger who gives Daniel the vision makes it perfectly clear when this little horn is to arise when he stated four times, “at the time of the end shall be the vision” (verse 17); “I will make thee to know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be” (verse 19); “In the latter time of their kingdom” (verse 23).

Vision: “And it (little horn) waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them” (Daniel 8:10).

Interpretation: “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power (but “the dragon” or Devil “gave him his power” [Revelation 13:2]): and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people” (Daniel 8:24).

Some people say, “Well, that ‘host of heaven’ must be some of the Devil’s angels.” Do you think the Antichrist, or really the Devil (as the Antichrist will be the Devil in the flesh) would be stamping on some of his own angels? No, it’s the church! The host of heaven represents God’s children! Certainly the AC couldn’t stamp on God’s angels, that’s for sure. So it has to be the church.

The “host of heaven” in verse ten is the same as the “holy people” of verse 24. “Holy” means “set apart,” or “separate.” So, contrary to the opinion of some churches, God’s people will still be here during the Antichrist reign, undergoing a time of great tribulation and persecution, as we saw in Daniel 7:21.

Vision: “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and it prospered” (Daniel 8:11–12).

Interpretation: “Through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand, and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes: but he shall be broken without hand” (Daniel 8:25).

The daily sacrifice is the religious worship of all faiths, which he will replace with an abomination, or “transgression of desolation” of his own image (verse 13). Verses 12 and 13 of this chapter (which will be explained in our class on Daniel 9) and other references predict that the Antichrist will make a covenant to permit a daily sacrifice of religious worship, which shows that he gets into power with the cooperation of the religious world. But when he finally does come to power, the thing goes to his head, and he becomes completely possessed of the Devil and wants all religions wiped out and only complete worship of himself!

Many prophetic passages about the endtime refer to what seems to be a literal sanctuary or temple which is to be desecrated by the Antichrist. “The son of perdition (the Antichrist) … he as God sitteth in the temple of God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4; see also Matthew 24:15 and Daniel 11:31), so it seems that the ancient Jewish temple that used to stand on Mount Moriah where the Mosque of Omar now stands will be rebuilt.

However, the sanctuary that he casts down is not only the temple at Jerusalem, but also the true temple of God, the one and only temple of God, the spiritual temple of God—you and me (1 Peter 2:5). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

It says here that this fierce king will cause “craft” (witchcraft, or spiritualism) to prosper in his hand. But today the whole world has been so despiritualized and de-religionised that they will no longer accept anything “spiritual” or “religious” as being “scientific” or true. However, the Devil, in the Antichrist, is going to demonstrate his supernatural power by explaining that the power is purely scientific, and that he’s only using scientific power.

“By peace he shall destroy many.” How can he destroy many by peace? The communists captured the people’s minds with their peaceful propaganda: “Come and die for the truth and you’ll live forever in the people you have liberated!” But it was a lie. So instead they died for a lie and died forever! By peace they destroyed many!

“The prince of princes” is, of course, Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:16). By fighting against the church, he will be fighting Christ. As Jesus said to Saul, who was persecutor of the Early Church before being converted and becoming the great apostle Paul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4–5).

God gets the victory in the end, though, and the little horn “shall be broken without hand,” “by the sword of Him (Jesus) that sat upon the horse, which sword proceedeth out of His mouth” (Revelation 19:21). As Martin Luther said, “The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.” And that Word is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”—Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:17; John 1:1).

In spite of all the wrath of bestial, atrocious man against the children of God during the coming worldwide devilish dictatorship of the Antichrist regime, which will war on God’s saints throughout three-and-a-half years of a reign of terror, called in the Bible the Great Tribulation, the forces of evil will never be able to completely destroy God’s true children, and multitudes of them will still be here to joyously welcome Christ’s triumphal re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere to destroy God’s enemies.

“The vision,” Daniel said, “is true,” and it is going to come to pass (Daniel 8:26). Our only hope of survival, therefore, is to be prepared spiritually and even practically, with both the personal experience of salvation—a change of heart by God’s love in Jesus—and by a working knowledge of His Word and what it advises us to do under such conditions of the difficult days that are coming.





Copyright © March 1981 by the Family International





Related: Endtime


Author: Frederick Olson

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.