When king Saul and his son Jonathan were slain, David sang a lament in the honor of Jonathan. These two men were friends, confidants, military generals and spiritual buddies. Their mission in life was Israel, the people of God. Into this context we understand the wonderful relationship between them as brothers in “the Messiah to come”. They were children of God. Here are selected verses:
2Sa 1:19 “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!”
2Sa 1:25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!”
On three occasions we read … “How the mighty have fallen.”
1) This was said (sung) in the context of a great warrior of God. Yet this same term could be said of a despot … a tyrant.
Da 8:8 The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven
(1) “Became very great” actually refers to his mammoth achievements at war causing him to be puffed up, arrogant and filled with pride.
(2) “His large horn was broken off” refers to the death of Alexander. At the height of his victorious power and pride, God took him down. He reached his climax of glory and God broke him down. “How the mighty have fallen.”
(3) In Alexander’s place four “prominent” horns arise. The word prominent refers to “appearance” and not power. They are the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s kingdom is divided.
(a) Macedonian kingdom under Cassander,
(b) The Kingdom of Thrace and Asia Minor under Lysimachus,
(c) The Syrian kingdom under Seleucus and
(d) The Egyptian kingdom under Ptolemy.
(4) The “four winds of heaven’ simply refers to the four points of a compass. Literally, the great kingdom Alexander built was cast to the four winds! “How the mighty have fallen.” Be it in military and political power, business empires, organizations and even Churches, few are able to execute their duties as unto the Lord. Very often men, as they grow in stature, grow in arrogance and pride. The more money, the more power, the more control … and the easier it is to walk over the small man, Church, country, business or organization. Yet, wherever man does not give God glory and attributes success to Him, king David’s lyrics apply in the negative … “How the mighty have fallen.” O my friend, whoever you are you need to be a prayer warrior looking at what happens around you in politics, business, social action, Church, education, trade unions … and pray for God to guide and direct that “organization” and it’s leaders away from self, arrogance and pride … to trusting Him and giving Him all glory for achievements. The humble do not consider themselves mighty, therefore the chances they fall are far less!
2) Now we arrive at the interpretation. Out of one of the four horns of verse 8 comes another horn. That is, out of Seleucus of the Syrian kingdom comes another horn (kingdom).
Da 8:9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land.
It started off small, but not “small” as in the horn of chapter 7. This horn starts off small and grows into a great power, shown here in three ways …
(a) The south is Egypt.
(b) The east is Elymais and Armenia.
(c) The Beautiful Land meaning the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. Antiochus became the great persecutor of the people of God.
3) Daniel sees in his vision this horn becoming so great, even beyond the south, east and Beautiful Land … he even touching heaven.
Da 8:10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them.
One needs to be cautious here and rather apply symbolism before our thoughts run off in the wrong direction. Where the text in Hebrews refers to those who have died, the truth at the end of the verse is true for all believers.
Heb 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
The apostle Peter also sees believers as “aliens and strangers”
1Pe 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Then Paul takes this thought and translates it into a positive … members of God’s Household:
Eph 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
The point I’m driving towards is that if this be so, then believers are seen here in Daniel as the host of heaven. Many were martyred, injured and suffered great pain and trauma. Right here is a great encouragement for believers … You might be hurt, injured or harassed because you align yourself with the Lord Jesus … but … your place in glory is booked and secure because you are already in the Family of God.
4) Remember Daniel is in “vision”. Good commentators suggest that verse 11 and 12 are not part of the vision but describe the wicked and sinister acts of Antiochus. The height of his evil was blaspheming God.
Da 8:11 It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low.
He assumes the place of God (Prince of the hosts). He removes all sacrifices to God required by Levitical Law … and more, he so desecrates the sanctuary so that is it not fit to be used for the worship of God. He is so wicked, one can only imagine what he did to the place of worship that Daniel describes as “brought low”. We live at a time where some people use God’s house for the wrong purposes. It might be for politics, for entertainment and for many other so called “exciting and supernatural gatherings”, but none of these are the worship of God. Yes they are for glorification … of man not of God. Pray that your Church Building will be used for the purpose it was built and dedicated for.
Father, when under pressure, attack and when in turmoil, help us to be wise in worship. Amen.