Prophecy of Daniel Chap 8 Commentary - The Cleansing of The Sanctuary Pt.1

Posted by Samuel Kadyakale  |  at  14:45 No comments

Click here for previous study - Prophecy of Daniel 7 Commentary

Daniel 8:1, 2 Commentary

The second chapter of Daniel gives us a very simple picture of what will happen in this world as God wins the final victory. The seventh chapter gives us more details. But this chapter brings the picture even closer so we can see more exactly what is to take place. Here we are permitted to see the Great judgment, of which we had only a glimpse in chapter 7.

Let us remember that the book of Daniel was written for us who are living in the time of the end (chapter 12:4,9,10), and that the prophecy in this chapter therefore concerns those living today, rather than the people who lived thousands of years ago.

Daniel 8:3, 4 Commentary

Daniel did not find it difficult to recognise who the ram was, for he had already learned that Medo-Persia was to conquer Babylon and rule the world. In verse 20 the angel tells Daniel clearly: 'The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.' The one horn that came up higher than the other shows that the Persians eventually dominated the alliance with the Medes (see comments on chapter 7, verse 5). At the height of their power, the Medo-Persians ruled over one hundred and twenty seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia, the whole of the then-known, civilised world (Esther 1:1).

Daniel 8:5 Commentary

Who is this 'he goat'? The answer is clear: 'And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king' (verse 21). At the age of only 20, Alexander ascended the throne of Macedonia, a part of Greece. Quickly he forced the scattered towns into a kingdom, trained a disciplined army, and set out to wage wars of conquest. Though his army was small, he taught his soldiers to march swiftly and tirelessly, to manoeuvre cleverly, and to fight with determination. After conquering all of Greece there was nothing left for the ambitious young king to do but attack giant Medo-Persia, the 'ram with two horns.'

Daniel 8:6,7 Commentary

Alexander clashed with the Persian armies in the bloody battle of Arbela in 331 BC, and completely overwhelmed them. It was a miracle that the tiny Grecian army was able to rout the huge Persian army. It was like a leopard killing an elephant.

Daniel 8:8 Commentary

Hardly had Alexander conquered the world at the age of only 32 than he himself, the great horn, 'was broken'. Conqueror of the world, he could not rule himself. He died as a result of a drunken spree, whispering that he was leaving his newly conquered empire 'to the strongest'. His generals therefore fought among themselves.

Finally exhausted, they agreed to divide the empire into four parts. Lysimachus took the North, or Asia minor; Cassander took the West, or Greece; Seleucus took the East,or Syria; and Ptolemy took the South, or Egypt. These four new kingdoms were the same as the four heads of the leopard in chapter 7, verse 6.

Daniel 8:9 Commentary

The original language gives the idea that it was out of one of the four winds of Heaven that this new power arose. Persia was called 'great'; Grecia was called 'very great'; now this power surpasses them all, because it is called 'exceeding great'. What truly great power arose to world prominence after the Greek empire became weak?

Every student in school knows that Rome followed Grecia. It grew from 'littleness' and swept into power in a marvellous way. From 168 BC Rome was recognised as the new and dominant world kingdom.

No single king of Macedonia could be called this 'little horn', because not one of them was 'exceeding great'. The strongest of them, Antiochus Epiphanes, was forced to leave Egypt at the command of the Romans. Does not the stronger drive out the weaker? Antiochus could not possibly be the 'exeeding great' power if Rome told him what to do! The details of this prophecy are as clear as a sharp photograph. But the enemy of souls would like to confuse minds with the idea that this great prophecy which concerns our salvation in these last days was fulfilled thousands of years ago by an insignificant king. The idea that Antiochus was this 'exceeding great' power brings such confusion. The purpose seems to be to turn men's minds away from the truth that the second coming of Jesus is near at hand.

'Toward the glorious land' refers to Palestine, which the Jews spoke of as their 'glory land' or 'land of beauty'.  Rome became connected with the Jews at the time of the Jewish League in 161 BC.

Daniel 8:10-12 Commentary

Daniel probably saw the 'vision' somewhat as we see the action on our TV screens. This new power, the 'little horn', swelled up and grew swiftly and marvellously, higher and higher, until it presumed to 'cause to fall' some of the 'stars' that is, the leaders of God's people. He 'magnified himself', or exalted himself, even against Christ, who is the Prince of host or the 'Prince of princes' as the angel spoke of Him in verse 25. In Revelation, Jesus is called 'KINGS OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS' (Revelation 19:16). Thus pagan Rome not only conquered the Jews and their rulers, but actually put to death their true and rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As to the meaning of the expression 'daily sacrifice', the King James Version prints the word 'sacrifice' in italics to show that it was supplied by the translators, and does not belong in the original text; nor does the expression 'burnt offering'. Daniel wrote that the 'daily' or 'continual' was taken away, 'lifted up' or 'picked up'. We should read the text as Daniel wrote it, simply: 'The continual was taken away...And an host was given him against the continual by reason of [or in] transgression.'

Now let us see what happened as Rome developed. Beginning as a purely pagan power, Rome eventually changed to a professedly Christian power - ultimately dominated by the papacy. In Daniel 7, the prophet was shown the papacy as a 'little horn' growing out of the body of the fourth beast, or kingdom, which was the Roman Empire. In chapter 8, the 'little horn' is the same power - Rome in its two phases, pagan and papal, the only world empire that changed its religion midway through its history. It is the same Rome in both forms, the same bloody persecuting power that warred incessantly against God and His truth.

In Daniel's day, and for nearly a thousand years thereafter, the power that oppressed the people of God was heathenism. Living as we do in comparative freedom and security today, under our various enlightened governments, we can have but little idea of the terrible suffering God's people endured under cruel pagan tyranny in ancient times. It was never God's plan that His people should have to endure agony. Their unfaithfulness to Him as their rightful King opened the way for this subjugation. It was only natural that Daniel should have this question uppermost in his mind: 'How long is this oppression to continue?'

Daniel very naturally hoped, as we would in his place, that the time would soon come when paganism should be ended, and the people of God freed from oppression. But to his surprise, he saw in the 'vision' that the 'little horn' would change its form into something worse - and continue warring against the 'host' and the 'truth' while it professed to be Christian! In fact, he recognised in the 'little horn' of this vision the same 'little horn' that he had seen in the vision of chapter 7. Here was the same blasphemy against God, the same war against the saints, the same enmity against God's law.

Those who live in Africa (and other areas where Christianity is fairly new) in these stirring times of change can easily see what happened when Rome changed from it pagan to its papal form. We have seen many people give up their pagan religion only to embrace a religion that professes to be Christian but still advocates idolatry and superstition. The pure faith of Jesus is trodden down, and truth cast down to the ground.

In the Roman Empire, the new Christian faith was so appealing and so satisfying to the human heart that paganism trembled and fell away before it. Satan saw that the only way he could hold the world in deception was to invent a religion that appeared to be Christian, but was in fact in the same old pagan darkness. His plan was to lead the Church away from the original purity and simplicity of the Gospel by bringing in heathen errors to be mixed with the Gospel, as poison mixed with good food is the more deceptive, and therefore more fatal. The result was the great 'falling away' that Paul mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4, which would become so terrible that the 'man of sin' would sit in the 'temple of God, shewing himself that he is God'.

Doctrines, borrowed from ancient heathenism and mixed with Christian teaching, prepared the way for the Roman Bishop to be exalted to the position of Pope. While the pagan Roman Empire declined, the seat of its government was moved from the city of Rome to Constantinople. The same transfer is brought to view in Revelation 13:2, where we read that the dragon, pagan Rome, gave to the beast, papal Rome, 'his power, and his seat, and great authority'. The apostle Paul said that 'he who now restrains' would be taken out of the way in order that the 'man of sin' might be established (2 Thessalonians 2:7, RSV; 2:3).
Vatican Coat of Arms

Vast hordes of pagan tribes of Europe rushed down into Italy and sacked the city of Rome. These heathen tribes then outwardly accepted the doctrines of Christianity, while their hearts were still unrenewed by the Holy Spirit. Wars were fought to destroy their pagan religion, and to set in power the religion of papal Rome. Thus papal Rome destroyed European paganism as a political power, 'cast down' the truth of simple Bible religion to the ground, usurped the place of Christ as head of His Church, and 'practised, and prospered'.

For more than a thousand years God's people had suffered from pagan oppression; now, for more than a thousand years, they were to suffer under papal oppression. It seemed that all that Christ had to achieve was to be made void.

The papacy taught people to look to the Pope or to the priests as their spiritual fathers, and that it is possible to approach Christ only through the intercession of Mary and other saints. Christ's work as High Priest and loving Saviour was hidden from the minds of many during the Dark Ages. Thus the sanctuary in Heaven where Christ ministers as High Priest was to be 'trodden under foot', and the 'host' of God's people likewise were made to suffer.

We can imagine that uppermost in Daniel's mind was the agonising question, 'How long is this to carry on? When will God's truth triumph? When will God's name be honoured and vindicated before everyone?'

As his vision continues, two heavenly beings discuss the matter in Daniel's hearing and for his benefit:

Continued in part 2

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