Year 3 Day 30
Read - Daniel 8
Message - Scott Woodburn
Another vision was given to Daniel in which he saw a two horned ram charging over the earth with no beast being able to stand against him (v1-4). But soon a male goat joined Daniel's vision. This goat moved so quickly that his feet didn't touch the ground and he had a great horn between his eyes (v5). The goat attacked the ram and destroyed him and soon the goat became great (v8). Yet just when it seemed that the goat was untouchable, his great horn was broken and four other horns grew up to take it's place (v8).
From those four horns came a little horn which grew great towards the land of Judah - called the glorious land (v9). The little horn was so great that it threw down the stars of the sky (v10) and burnt offering was stopped and the sanctuary overthrown (v11). The sanctuary would not be restored for 2300 evenings and mornings (v14)
At first glance none of this makes much sense to our modern eyes. But thanks be to God, for just as he gave Daniel this vision, so too did He interpret it via the angel Gabriel. The ram represents the Persian empire which grew great during Daniel's lifetime (v20). The fast moving goat represents the Greek empire under Alexander the Great who is seen in this passage as the great horn (v21).
Alexander died in his early thirties and in his place four of his generals ruled over his empire. The generals are seen in this passage as the four horns which replaced the broken horn (v22). The kingdom of Alexander continued under these men but they never enjoyed his power (v22). Then just as the days of the four horns were coming to an end, another little horn rose up. Gabriel tells Daniel that this little horn would be bold in countenance and great in power. But who was he?
History tells us that his name was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a name which means "god manifest". Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, he turned the temple into a centre for worshipping the false god Zeus, he slaughtered almost 80,000 people and he stopped sacrifice to the Lord completely. These twice daily sacrifices would be stopped for a period of 1150 days (2 sacrifices per day X 1150 days = 2300 evenings and mornings (v14)). He opposed Christ Himself (the prince of princes (v25)) and therefore can rightly be called antichrist.
Eventually the temple would be cleansed and the altar rebuilt, an event called Hanukkah which is still celebrated by Jews today but Daniel was so overcome by this vision that he lay sick for some days (v27).
We can only imagine the brutality of Antiochus and we don't want to imagine the scale of the slaughter in Jerusalem when his armies swept through the great city. Yet as we well know, Antiochus is dead and gone and even now lies in a grave. He wasn't destroyed by human might but by the power of God (v25) and this in itself teaches us a valuable lesson.
As we journey through this world we will certainly meet trouble and antichrists like Antiochus IV Epiphanes will come and go. How do we respond? By taking up the weapons God has given us. The Christian church does not fight with weapons of war but with the ordinary means of grace that the Lord has given to His church. Brothers and sisters do not fear those who can kill only the body but instead fear God who can kill body and soul (Matthew 10v28).
Remember the exhortation of our brother Paul "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." (Ephesians 6v10-18)
Q34. What is adoption? Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.