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Lesson 5: Daniel 8 *

Introduction: Daniel dreams he is strolling by the water when suddenly he is face to face with a powerful sheep with two big horns - and no one is there to rescue him. It turns out his dream is not so much about danger, or adventure, but rather about the future. Let's jump into Daniel's dream and see what we can learn about the future!

  1. The Ram

    1. Read Daniel 8:1-3. How would you react if you had this dream? Would you be frightened?

      1. Has Daniel had enough frightening animals in last week's dream that he is probably not frightened?

    2. Read Daniel 8:4. Given the context of the past dreams which Daniel either interpreted or had, what are your thoughts about this ram? (It clearly seems to be a world power. An empire that rules other nations.)

  2. The Goat

    1. Read Daniel 8:5-8. What do you think about this goat with the broken horn? (This seems to be another world power that defeats the "ram" empire.)

  3. Gabriel on the Ram and Goat

    1. Let's skip down a bit in this chapter. Read Daniel 8:15-16. Why would Daniel write that someone "looked like a man?" Why not just say, "A man stood in front of me?" (Daniel is telling us that this was not a man. He only looked like one.)

      1. Who is standing in front of Daniel? (Gabriel.)

        1. Who is Gabriel? (Read Luke 1:19. He stands in God's presence.)

        2. Other than speaking to Daniel, who what other important mission has Gabriel handled? (Read Luke 1:26-28. Gabriel brought the message of Jesus coming to Mary!)

        3. Daniel 8:16 reports that a "man's voice" was giving Gabriel directions. Who gets to give Gabriel directions? (God!)

        4. What does this suggest to you about Gabriel's message to Daniel? (When God has an important message, He sends Gabriel. God sent him now to Daniel.)

    2. Read Daniel 8:17. How does Daniel react to Gabriel?

      1. Why? Why is Daniel not afraid of these wild animals, but is afraid of Gabriel? (Either he knew who Gabriel was, or Gabriel must have looked not simply like a man, but like someone from heaven.)

      2. How should we react to Gabriel's message? Should we put great faith in it? (It comes straight from the throne of God!)

      3. What does Gabriel say this dream concerns? (The time of the end.)

    3. Read Daniel 8:18. What is happening here? Is Daniel still dreaming? (Either this is a dream within a dream, or Daniel is coming out of his dream state to listen to Gabriel's explanation.)

    4. Read Daniel 8:19-22. What are these two beasts? (Medo-Persia and Greece.)

      1. Have we seen this before? (You bet! We saw these two empires symbolized in Nebuchadnezzar's dream of Daniel 2 and we saw them in Daniel's dream in Daniel 7.)

        1. Why does God keep repeating the same prophecy? (Have you heard that you need to repeat something three times for your listener to understand? God apparently wants us to understand this. In addition, with each new dream we seem to have more information. God may well be repeating the old information to help us get a better grasp on the new information.)

  4. The Horn

    1. Now let's go back and pick up the rest of the dream. Read Daniel 8:9-12. Have we seen a "horn" power before? (Our study of Daniel 7 revealed the "little horn"( Daniel 7:8).)

      1. Do you think the horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the little horn of Daniel 7?(This puts us in the middle of a great debate. Many commentators believe that the horn of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same, and that they represent Antiochus Epiphanes, a Seleucid king who we previously learned reigned for 11 years (175-164 B.C.). When we studied Daniel 7 last week we found that the timing was all wrong for the little horn to be Antiochus. Not only was Antiochus 500 years too early (coming after the Greek, not the Roman empire), but his reign did not stretch to the end of time.)

      2. Is the timing wrong for Antiochus to be the horn of Daniel 8:9? (The timing of Antiochus fits a lot better in Daniel 8. He came out of the fragmented Grecian Empire (which was the reason he could not be the "little horn" of Daniel 7 - it came out of the fragmented Roman Empire). While I am hardly an expert on this, it seems to me that most commentators who understand the horn of Daniel 8 to be Antiochus, read their interpretation back into Daniel 7 - where Antiochus does not fit - and understand him to be the "little horn" of Daniel 7).

      3. What if we reverse this, can we read our "little horn" understanding of Daniel 7 (that the horn is the Papal phase of the Roman Empire) into Daniel 8? Could the timing fit for Papal Rome?

        1. Re-read Daniel 8:8-9. Does the horn come up out of one of the four winds or one of the four horns? (It is not clear. The SDA Bible Commentary on this text points out that the gender identification in the Hebrew fits better with the winds, not the horns. If the horn arises out of the winds, then this dream looks just like the dreams of Daniel 2 & 7 - that the horn is the Roman Empire which follows Medo-Persia and Greece.)

    1. Let's review again Daniel 8:9-12. Consider the rest of the description of this horn. Does it better match Pagan and Papal Rome or Antiochus? (The description of the power of this horn meets or exceeds the description of the power of the ram and the goat. (For example, the ram is called (v.4) "great" and the goat is called (v.8) "very great." Most translations (but not the NIV) translate the description of the horn (v.9) to be "exceedingly great" (NAS, KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV). Since the horn is described as being greater than Medo-Persia and Greece, it hardly seems appropriate to conclude the 11 year rule of Antiochus, a minor Seleucid king, is comparable to the Persian and the Greek empires! On the other hand, the Roman empire (in both its pagan and Papal phase, is clearly comparable to the Persian and Greek empires.)

      1. Did Rome ( Daniel 8:11) bring low the sanctuary? (The Romans destroyed God's temple in 70 A.D.. Psalms 79:1 refers to the first destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as "defiling" the temple.)

      2. Did Rome ( Daniel 8:10) reach to heaven, throw part of heaven's citizens to the ground and trample on them?

  1. Gabriel on the Horn

    1. Read Daniel 8:23-25. We now turn to Gabriel's further explanation of the horn part of the dream for Daniel. Who is the Prince of princes referred to in verse 25? (It must be Jesus.)

      1. Did Rome take a stand against Jesus?

      2. How does this fit the reference in Daniel 8:10 to the horn reaching to heaven and trampling part of the starry hosts? (Rome crucified Jesus. I think this fits both the description of trampling heaven's citizens and standing against the Prince of Princes.)

    2. How does the horn end? ( Daniel 8:25 tells us it is destroyed by something other than human power.)

      1. What do you think that means? (The logical conclusion is that it is destroyed by God.)

    3. I understand the argument of those who conclude that the horn power of Daniel 8 is Antiochus Epiphanes, based on the timing (when Greece was fragmenting) and the fact that he sacrificed a pig on the altar of the sanctuary. On the other hand, I believe Rome (in both its pagan and Papal phases) fits the prophecy better. First, the horn of Daniel 7 clearly fits Papal Rome. The parallels between the grand sweep of history in Daniel 2, 7 and 8 make the horn of Daniel 8 the parallel of Rome in Daniel 2 and 7. That, coupled with the description of the horn in Daniel 8 as being as great, or greater than Medo-Persia and Greece, make the Antiochus Epiphanes identification most doubtful. How can a minor king, who ruled for 11 years, be considered a world power or compared to the great empires of Persia and Rome? Antiochus Epiphanes just does not fit the description in the way Rome fits.

  2. The Time

    1. Read Daniel 8:13-14 & 26. How long will this horn have power? (2,300 days.)

      1. What time markers do we have in Daniel 8 to better understand this time period? For example, when does the power of the horn begin and when does it end? (Clearly, it begins after the goat (Greek empire) and it continues ( Daniel 8:17)until the time of the end.)

      2. Would a literal 2,300 days, or a prophetic 2,300 days (a day = a year, see Ezekiel 4:6) better fit this time span? (To stretch from the fall of Greece to the time of the end would have to be 2,300 years and not days.)

    2. What happens at the end of this 2,300 years? What does it mean for the sanctuary to be reconsecrated? Is it the end of the world? Daniel 8:26 tells Daniel it concerns the distant future - but we will work on solving this mystery in the next studies!

    3. Friend, God wants His followers to know that He controls kings and kingdoms and he is willing to share this knowledge with you. Are you willing to take the time to listen and learn?

  3. Next week: Daniel 9.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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