Many people do not understand that the New Testament Book of Revelation, like Daniel is written in Apocalyptic Language. God used the apostle John to pen the Revelation during extremely hard times. The persecution of the Christian Church was at an all-time high. John himself was a prisoner on the Island of Patmos.
Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
The Early Church in the First Century underwent extreme persecution. The Roman Empire used any means to put Christians to death (either in the Lions’ Den; rolled in tar, tied to polls and used as human torches at Caesar’s night orgies, wrapped in animal skin and thrown to wild gods to be eaten alive, etc.). Apocalyptic Language is not just Last Day language, it is also Hidden Language. The style used would be to use images, animals, colors, types, symbols, numbers, etc., which all had meanings to the Christian Church but unknown to the Roman Empire. Not only is Revelation Apocalyptic and Hidden, it is Evangelistic (to the lost) and Encouragement (to the saints). Daniel is the same! The first seven chapters were written in Arabic and from chapter eight the writing is in Hebrew. Daniel now needed to reveal to his readers (and to you and me) more detail about the development of the Kingdom of God that he had been speaking of. It is written in Hebrew, because the likelihood of those ruling over the exilic people would not understand it should they intercept it.
1) Now Daniel explains a vision he had of a ram and a goat.
Da 8:1 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me.
(1) The date is the third year of Belshazzar’s reign. He was the son of king Nebuchadnezzar. It seems as though this vision he has was about 2 years after the one of chapter 7. This means that chronologically, these visions were before the events of the night in chapter 5.
(2) By the language used in this section, Daniel was awake during this vision, unlike those mentioned before.
(3) This vision seems to be the second one during Belshazzar’s reign “after the one that had already appeared to me”.
2) In his vision, Daniel is in the Citadel of Susa.
Da 8:2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal
“Citadel” must be seen as a city within the province of Elam. The canal was man made, joining two rivers, namely the Choaspes and the Coprates on the north east side of Suza. So we have the date and the venue of the vision. Daniel was present in the spirit … it was a vision, he was not there physically.
3) The vision. This is found in verses 3 to 8.
Da 8:3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4 I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. 5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. 6 He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. 7 I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. 8 The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken of, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
(1) In verse 3 we find a ram with two horns. One horn was longer than the other. The ram represents princely power. One ram, two horns … this represents two kings in one kingdom
Da 8:20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
The longer horn represents Persia who under Cyprus grew bigger than the Medes.
(2) Verse 4 speaks of the ram head butting. If you have seen rams fight, you would have observed the massive impact contact makes.
(a) The picture is one of rapid victories made by Cyprus and Darius. The military pushing was in three directions, west, north and south. Only when Darius helped was there penetration into the east, but nothing of a permanent nature. The Persian Empire made her greatest conquests into the west (Babylonia, Syria and Asia Minor), to the north, Armenia and some areas near the Caspian Sea and to the south, Egypt, Ethiopia, etc.
(b) The “animal” refers to other kingdoms that could not withstand the ram.
(c) At will the ram’s despotic behavior made him irresistible in growing his domain.
(3) Verse 5 reminds us that this is a vision Daniel is having and within the vision he is able to think about what he “sees”. As he is evaluating and trying to understand what he is seeing … he sees a goat appearing from the west. The picture is one of tremendous power, moving at speed, so much so it appears as the goat is not touching ground … representing no opposition to his conquests. This goat represents the Grecian Empire.
Da 8:21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king.
The prominent horn of verse 5, explained as the large horn in verse 21 is the first King of Graecia, Alexander. Note the placing of the horn … it represents the “center of strength”. Verse 5 also shows the rapid progress of Alexander’s kingdom.
(4) In verse 6 we see Alexander’s victory over Persia. He is the goat destroying the two horned ram. This was the end of Persia.
Da 8:6 He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. 7 I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power.
It is significant that no other empire could come to Persia’s assistance. She was totally destroyed. So far for today, but did you see how much of history is in the Bible? It always depends who writes secular history because the author’s bias could be followed, but the Biblical record can be trusted because it is the Word of God.
Father, we are amazed at how accurate the Biblical record is. Thank You that You see all history in one glimpse and reveal the exact truth in the Bible for our benefit. Amen.