“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” — Daniel 8:25
It never pays to stand up against God. This is true of nations and world leaders, but it is also true of individuals. Walt Smith was one who learned that lesson. He acknowledged, “I was an unbeliever and a fighter against God. I had no use for anything connected with religion; it was all foolishness to me. But I was one of the biggest fools on this earth — a professed atheist. From the time I was just a boy, I cursed, drank, and smoked. For years I had preached atheism to the men who worked with me in a sawmill.
“The rattle and roar and screech of the saws in a mill is so loud one is barely able to hear a human voice. Yet one day while trimming lumber in that sawmill, about 2:30 in the afternoon, God spoke to my heart, revealing Himself to me. He said, ‘The only true happiness is in the Lord.’ There was not a man within thirty feet of me, but God spoke to me above the scream of that machinery. In that moment I knew there was a living God. I walked over to a fellow worker I had known for years, a hardened criminal who was worse than me, and said, ‘There is a God!’ He did not laugh. He seemed to realize something had happened to me.
“The following Sunday morning found me sitting in the back of an Apostolic Faith Church. I thought I was pretty hard and tough, but the Spirit of the living God came down and softened up this heart of mine that was hardened by years of fighting against God. Tears rolled down my cheeks. That gave me hope, and I went forward and prayed. I asked the very God I had denied for years to have mercy on me, and He did. He saved and transformed me in a moment of time.
“God helped me make restitution. Also, I went back to my work at that sawmill, and not an oath crossed my lips. I was not fighting my fellowmen or chewing tobacco, but I lived for God. When I left that mill, every man could tell that God had made a change in my life.”
Although Walt had magnified his opinion against God and stood up against Him, after God’s Spirit dealt with him, he believed and trusted in God for the rest of his life. He faithfully testified and preached the Word of God until the Lord took him home to Heaven. In contrast, our focus verse tells of a powerful leader who would magnify himself and stand against God but show no repentance, and consequently God would cause him to die.
Each individual will choose whether to submit to God or to resist Him. How much better it is to follow God! Walt Smith proved that, and so can we.
This vision appeared to Daniel in the final year of Belshazzar’s reign, just before the fall of the Babylonian empire to Darius the Mede (see Daniel 5:31). The vision was more directly targeted at Israel than previous ones, with references that would be of particular interest to the Jewish nation. The scene of the vision was Shushan (modern day Shush, Iran), more than two hundred miles east of Babylon where Daniel had been taken initially as a captive. Rather than taking him closer to home, it seemed this vision was taking him farther away.
In verses 3-14, Daniel’s vision describes conflict between a ram, thought to represent the Median/Persian empire, and a male goat, which portrayed the Grecian empire under Alexander the Great, who was succeeded by four generals. These ungodly kingdoms achieved governance by military dominance.
Verses 15-17 describe how Daniel was trying to understand the vision when the angel Gabriel appeared and made clear to him that the vision characterized events to happen “at the time of the end.”
In verses 18-21, Gabriel told Daniel of two empires that were looming in Israel’s near future. While the animals themselves represented kingdoms, horns were representative of individual heads-of-state. The two horns on the ram represented the kings of Media and Persia (Darius and Cyrus). The rough goat with a horn in verse 21 was an accurate portrayal of the rise of Greece under Alexander the Great. Upon his death, four generals divided up his kingdom, and from one of those “horns” arose the “little horn,” thought to describe Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who plundered the city of Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple around 168 B.C.
Verses 23-25 contain Gabriel’s description of a reign of terror in which a figure stood up against the Prince of princes, but was “broken without hand.” Many scholars believe that Antiochus fulfilled this prophecy, but it may also foreshadow the Antichrist of the last days.
In verse 9 Daniel saw a little horn waxing great toward “the pleasant land,” which is the land of Israel. This poignant portion of his vision was followed by the suspension of the regular offering, and the desolation of the sanctuary. The daily sacrifice, or regular offering, is also referenced in verses 11, 12, 13, 14 and 26. In verse 14, the 2300 “days” is translated from the Hebrew text that literally says 2300 “evenings and mornings,” corresponding to the times of day when regular offerings would have been presented by the priests.
This devastation of the Jews’ form of worship and access to the Lord made Daniel’s vision very troubling to him and to those who heard it. Verse 27 summarizes their reactions.
III. The prophetic history of the Jews
A. The vision of the ram and he-goat (Israel under Medo-Persia and Greece) (8:1-27)
1. The background (8:1-2)
2. The vision (8:3-14)
a. The vision of the ram (8:3-4)
b. The vision of the he-goat (8:5-14)
(1) The destruction of the ram (8:5-7)
(2) The description of the he-goat (8:8)
(3) The domination of the little horn (8:9-14)
3. The interpretation (8:15-26)
a. Gabriel’s intervention (8:15-18)
b. Gabriel’s interpretation (8:19-26)
(1) The ram (8:19-20)
(2) The he-goat (8:21-22)
(3) The destroyer (8:23-26)
4. The response (8:27)
Today we can purpose to yield ourselves to God and to follow Him with all our hearts. It’s the best way to live.