February 20, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXI: The Ram, The Goat & Another Little Horn-Part II

Tetradrachm of Aniochus IV Epiphanes
(Reverse: Basileus Antiochus-"God Manifest, Bearer of Victory")
[a.k.a.: Epimanes "The Mad One"]

Daniel 8:2 says, “In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam”. It may be that Daniel was present physically in that city when he received the vision. It is more probable that he was in Susa only in vision. Ezekiel appears to have had similar visionary experiences in which he was physically present in one place and was transported in the spirit to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 8–11). According to Scripture, both Esther and Nehemiah lived in Susa, and Daniel probably had visited the city on official business.

The Ram

So Daniel has the vision of the ram in verse 3–4. Verse 20 goes on later to clearly state that the angel Gabriel interpreted the ram with the two horns as the Medo-Persian Empire. Scripture interprets Scripture for us here. Ancient documents claim that the Persian ruler carried the gold head of a ram when he marched before his army – thus a ram is most fitting as a symbol of this empire. This ram had odd horns. One horn came up later yet grew longer than the other. To me this symbolism shows a two-fold division of the empire, and signifies that one part of this empire would begin with less strength yet subsequently become more powerful than the other division. Historically this was exactly what happened to the Medo-Persian Empire. As with many empires, the ram seems invincible as it charged toward the west “toward the sea” [Mediterranean Sea] , the north, and the south. Verse 4”… No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.” All this allowed by a Sovereign God.

The Goat

As Daniel is thinking about this Gabriel again interprets the vision for Daniel. In v. 21 the goat is specifically identified as a symbol of the Greek Empire and, “the large horn between its eyes is the first king” which is a fair obvious allusion to Alexander the Great in historical hindsight. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation after Alexander’s death, “but will not have the same power.”

I believe the rest of the symbolic language is nearly self-explanatory. “Crossing the whole earth without touching the ground” refers to the absolute domination militarily of the entire known world of his day with immense speed (to appear as if the goat was flying). The other indication is the association in Chapter 7 or Greece being symbolized by a leopard. I will not go over Alexander’s history but it is available in many sources. It would suffice to say this was symbolic of him and his empire. Within three years Alexander had conquered the entire Near East up to India.

At the peak of power at age 32 he died of a fever. Alexander’s two sons were murdered leaving no heirs. After a ton of infighting the empire was sectioned into four pieces with four Greek military leaders or the “four prominent horns”. The four-way division is almost certainly this reference mentioned in Daniel. In Daniel 7 the leopard even had four heads.

The Vision of The Other Little Horn (8:9-14)

Out of one of the four horns grew another little horn that “started small” but became very large and powerful. A king distinguished by his difference from others that had come before him would arise out of one of the divisions of the Greek empire. What distinguished him was the fact that he was horribly evil and demonic and specifically singled out God's people for harm and God's mandates as a target of destruction.

Enter...Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–163 B.C.) the brutal inhuman tyrant.

The "Little Horn" in chap. 8 needs to be distinguished from the one that will arise in 7 which symbolizes a ruler who will come from the fourth beast, Rome, and will be living in the last days when the “son of man” appears. Chapter 8's little horn in will be from Greek Empire and proceeds from one of four horns, not ten horns (a la Ch 7). The chapter 8 monster will be a prototype Antichrist. Just like the one we will read of at the End of Time. Both find their source of evil and demonic activity in Satanic origin. I believe Antiochus IV Epiphanes actions Israel are the whole point of chapter 8's vision and become obvious upon introduction of this evil character and even a precursory review of Antiochus' atrocities in history. Scripture tells us this king will become so arrogant that he is willing to assert himself against the saints of God and even against God himself...claiming deity. One needs only look at the coin attached to this post to see this happened with Antiochus. He "trampled upon" the "starry host" seems to imply he we subjugate and persecute the Jews.

During his evil tyrannical reign he executed thousands of Jews who resisted his unfair regulations. In 169 B.C., Antiochus was humiliated after a militarily defeat in Egypt after which he back-lashed in rage and plundered the temple in Jerusalem (taking its treasures, including the furniture that was adorned with precious metals) and murdered people in the process of doing so. These murders include eighty thousand men, women, boys, girls, even infants by Antiochus’s soldiers during this attack. Many of these events are documented in 1 & 2 Maccabees of the Apocrypha. Although these are not Scripture they have been found to be reliable histories/historical documents. In 167 B.C. Antiochus appears to have committed the ultimate sacrilege against the Jews and God by erecting an altar to Zeus in the temple precincts and offering pigs on it (1 Maccabees 1:37, 39, 44–47, 54, 59; 2 Maccabees 6:2–5). He felt that he and his Greek gods were above Yahweh, and he blatantly attacked Yahweh and his worshipers. Antiochus forbid the Jews from following the Law (diet, circumcision, Sabbaths, and feasts); he desecrated Yahweh’s temple, etc. His offenses were not only against the Jews but against God...“the Prince of the host.” Because of the Jews sins this would have brought about God’s chastening in order to purify the nation. Hence the Jewish people “host of the saints” were “given over” to Antiochus (Little Horn). Antiochus ended the daily sacrifice. This nut-job threw “truth to the ground” (Ezek 19:12) by quelling the true teachings and attempting to destroy the Hebrew Scriptures. According to the Maccabees, “The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of anyone, by decree of Antiochus, they were condemned to death.

Antiochus, satanically inspired, was trying his darnedest to rid the world of the Word of God as all satanically inspired tyrants have attempted to do throughout history. Ironically though, the one who tries to successfully destroy the truth of God finds that he only succeeds in destroying himself.

Daniel then heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation (abomination of desolation), the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the LORD’s people?” “The rebellion that causes desolation” most likely was the erecting of Zeus' statue (or altar).

The answer Daniel was told is that the desolation would last “2,300 evenings and mornings. This then results in a time period understood as a little more than three years. At the end of 167 B.C. Antiochus set up an altar (and possibly a statue) to Zeus in the temple. At nearly the same time of year three years later Judas Maccabeus rededicated the temple in 164 B.C. (1 Maccabees 4:52).

The Interpretation of The Vision (8:15–26)

While Daniel was gazing at the vision, “trying to understand it,” suddenly he was confronted by one who had the appearance of “a man” and he began to explain the vision, which would have reassured Daniel that he had no reason to be alarmed.

“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. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his[b] nation, but not with his power. 23 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. 24 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. 25 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. 26 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.” Daniel 8:19-26

The "time of the end” should probably be taken to mean the end of the events prophesied in this chapter. Antiochus IV is certainly in view here. Even if some see a double fulfillment here in both Antiochus and Antichrist these people will have trouble reconciling that the Antichrist comes from a Roman Empire and Antiochus from Greece. Oops! It is my guess that Antiochus is an Old Testament typological Antichrist, not the one mentioned for the End of Time.

Antiochus was a proud, self-exalting ruler; in his own opinion he was great. Archer recounts that Antiochus’s coins were inscribed “theos epiphanies” (“God manifest in the illustrious one”). He did not literally attribute deity to himself (he was devoted to the Greek gods) but did understand himself to be the earthly representative of deity. Antiochus’ deceit will cause people to feel secure (bĕšalwâ) may be literally rendered either “in ease” or “in quietness.” Antiochus then attacked the people and destroyed “many” of them when the people were at “ease” because they felt “secure.”

This twisted individual was indeed a prototype of the End Times Antichrist.Daniel therefore was being instructed to take measures to ensure that the vision’s contents would be available for generations in the “distant future.” Antiochus IV lived almost four hundred years after Daniel. The message of Dan 8 concerns a distant time and place, but it illustrates pertinent truths for today but it is improbable that is was referring to the End of Days. There are still things that can be learned here.

From a theological standpoint God is sovereign and He knows and can control the future. Believers are also warned that at times they may be called upon to endure suffering and they are also told to remain faithful. By looking at the ancient madman king Antiochus we as believers today gain instruction concerning the character and career of another distant future madman controlled by Satan called Antichrist. Both start small and grow to dominate. In other words they we initially seem insignificant. They will blaspheme god. They will both be brought down by divine intervention, NOT MAN! Antiochus and Antichrist are brilliantly deceptive men with great power in the end that will attempt to destroy the people (saints) of God. Both will rule for a short time but it will be a brutal reign for the faithful of God because they will resist them.

Be Warned! At the heart of both of these hellspawn is the impetus of the Devil.

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