Daniel’s Vision of the Ram and the Goat
8 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 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. 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. 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. 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?” And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
The Interpretation of the Vision
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. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 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.”
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. 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. As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
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.
Daniel 8 Commentary
by Hank Workman
While in Susa, the well-developed and winter capital of the Babylonian Empire (modern-day Iran), Daniel was given another vision. This troubling revelation would remarkably be fulfilled as historical documents and commentators alike have it do so in the years that followed. But also the last spoken of here in the vision does not only pertain to the ruthless and vile Antiochus IV rule but also speaks of and mirrors the Antichrist in the last days.
It was a showdown between a Ram and a Goat. Keeping it simple, a ram pushed toward the west, north, and south that was seemingly unstoppable. Suddenly, a goat with a large horn appeared far more powerful that came charging against the ram destroying it. This goat grew great in power. In the process of the head butt, the large horn broke off and 4 replaced it. From one of these horns a smaller horn grew and contended against Prince of Heaven, coming against Israel.
Completely distraught, Daniel sought answers when the angel Gabriel appeared to explain the vision. This vision and all it entailed dealt not only with historical fulfillment but also speaks toward the end of time. Completely sick from the vision, he goes about his business of the days in serving the king but struggles with what the entire dream means for the future and application.
There are 2 things worth noting from today’s reading. The first is Daniel earnestly desired to understand the vision God gave. He sought the meaning. There are so many times in this life we simply don’t understand the ways of God or what He is doing. By default, we armchair speculate when truly our response to such things is to seek God for the answer. His seeking was a process done through prayer. God answered even though that answer was a mystery.
What of late has brought such consideration or struggle personally? Where are we seeking answers to things of where we believe God is leading or speaking of toward the future even? The point to consider is we will never have the answers we seek if we rely on our own human reason. We will never find the peace in the struggle of today even without our own commitment to prayer and asking for divine instruction and revelation.
The second thing to consider however deals with the power of this ruler who will bring such devastation. His gain or foothold will not be through necessary success, courage or wisdom but by deceit. What is most troubling is he will destroy many in their complacency.
“His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people. And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; and he will magnify himself in his heart, and he will destroy many while they are at ease.”Daniel 8:24-25
As stated these things Daniel saw not only were fulfilled historically but also pertain toward the end of the age. Jesus spoke quite clearly in Matthew 25 of one in the end who would lead others astray from the truth of God. John’s revelation speaks very clearly to this as well.
The deceit of the enemy is wide and far-reaching. He tickles our ears with what we want to hear. He lures us into a spiritual slumber. The fires of serving our God slowly grow dim; the passion of our heart is replaced by many other things. The call and challenge today is to consider our own state. Have the embers of our fire for God slowly gone out? Have we become at ease in our relationship with Jesus? According to this vision, according to Jesus, according to John’s revelation, many will be hoodwinked and be led astray.
A holy passion to serve God is only stirred by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to be diligent in our love and service to Him as so easily our human nature leads us toward complacency. May God this day, stir anew, rekindle the flame through whatever source necessary to draw us back to Him.
Daniel 8 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
This chapter is one of the most controversial and heavily debated chapters in all the Bible. However, there is still solid truth we can take away.
First, we must realize that even the interpreter could not come to terms with the interpretation. Daniel himself said it perplexed him and he kept it to himself. He was physically ill and exhausted for many days. This should cause us to pause. We would do well to saturate our minds in the text and come to the Lord diligently in prayer to receive wisdom and discernment on how to apply these verses. Many times, I have read the same verses over and over only to learn more and more each time I study them.
The ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire. The unequal horns could have represented the fact that the Persians were larger and stronger in the union. They emerged after the Medes and grew up larger. They also made no major conquests to the east. (I watched the ram butting with his horns to the west, the north, and the south.)
The Male Goat
The goat represents the Greek Empire.
“Newton very properly observes that, two hundred years before the time of Daniel, they were called, the goats’ people.”Adam Clarke
“As God guided history, He used Alexander’s passion to spread Greek culture to prepare the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Alexander’s influence koine (common) Greek became the common language of the civilized world – and the language of the New Testament.”David Guzik
The Little Horn
This little horn does not seem to be the same one from the previous chapter. The former little horn came out of the beast (Rome) while this one comes out of Greece.
“Some think that Antiochus Epiphanes is meant; but Bp. Newton contends that it is the Roman government that is intended; and although very great at its zenith, yet very little in its rising.”Adam Clarke
2300 Evenings and Mornings
If we count back 2300 days (almost 7 years) from when the temple was cleansed, we end up at the date when Epiphanes started his persecution. If we assume 1 day means a morning and a night, we get 1150 days which is when the temple was actually desecrated. Either way, we can’t know for certain and this passage illustrates the danger of not using discernment to interpret passages.
“This passage has been a favorite springboard for elaborate and fanciful prophetic interpretations. A popular and tragic interpretation of this passage took one year for every day, and William Miller used 2,300 “year-days” to calculate that Jesus would return in 1844 (2,300 years after Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the temple). His movement ended up giving birth to the Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and several other movements.”David Guzik
Most commentators agree that the near view of this prophecy is speaking to Antiochus Epiphanes who was mentioned earlier. The long view of the prophecy would represent the Antichrist. There are striking similarities.
- They both would have brutal features.
- They both would understand sinister schemes.
- They both would channel power not of their own.
- They both would experience immense success.
- They both would annihilate the people of God.
- They both would be deceitful and magnify themselves.
- They both would not be defeated by a man, but by an act of God.
In sealing up the vision, Daniel is preparing it for the future. Note the wording used is similar to the seals in Revelation.
What does this mean for us?
We have a picture of what deceit and rebellion look like. We know which signs to watch for. We know the indicators of such deception and how the enemy works through humans to accomplish his sinister plan. These are the takeaways. We may never know exactly what the prophecy means, but the general themes are clear. The warnings God prepared were not meant to be confusing but were given in grace so that we could be ready.
What many people miss is that we already have the battle plan. We are to trust that all authority has been handed over the Jesus and believe He is with us until the end as we go and make disciples of all nations. Unfortunately, many have chosen to spin their wheels trying to uncover the exact meaning of prophecies instead of loving God and discipling people. Jesus gave us the battle plan. It’s time that we executed it.