Daniel 8. The Little Horn of Daniel 8 Is Not the Same As the Little Horn of Daniel 7. Antiochus IV Is Not the Antichrist.

Key Notes: Misinterpreting prophecy. The Host. Good uses of bad news. History of the Antiochus Epiphanes in Maccabees.

As Daniel becomes deeper and more difficult, the reader is tempted to turn away in frustration or confusion. The frustration may be worsened if we find people who have tried to understand it and have made wrong interpretations. Today we will examine one such mistake, and analyze the reasons for it. We will also try to find the correct solution to a puzzle--the reappearance of a "little horn" that we read about in Daniel 7.

8:1 In the third year of Belshazzar, Daniel was at Susa, destined to become the capitol of Medo-Persia. He was beside a large canal, the Ulai, that connected two rivers.

8:3 In a vision, he saw a ram with two horns, one higher than the other, running north, south and west. The ram was Medo-Persia (8:20), the victor over Babylon. Medo-Persia occupied Mesopotamia (North), Syria, Egypt and Canaan (South), and was going to war with the Greeks (West).

8:5 While Daniel thought about that, a he-goat with a horn between his eyes flew over the earth, and ran the ram into the ground, breaking off his horns. The he-goat took on god-like properties but his horn was broken at the height of his strength and replaced by four horns facing the compass-points. The he-goat was Alexander of Macedon. (8:21). Alexander died at age 32 without leaving a dynasty and divided the world between four of his generals. Four kingdoms came out of his conquests.

8:9 From one of these kings came a little horn that became powerful, taking on the attributes of a god, defying the true God. This king overthrew the temple and stopped the daily sacrifices.
This king would be bold and clever, powerful, destructive, successful, deceitful, and treacherous (8:23–25). How long would this go on? For 2300 evenings and mornings. Although he rebelled against God he would die in his bed. 8:25

8:27 The vision made Daniel ill.

The "little horn" of Daniel 8 destroys the people of the saints (8:24) and rises up against God. (8:25). Similarly, the "little horn" of Daniel 7 has great power, blasphemes God and attacks the saints. (7:8,21,25). Some have thought the two were the same--the Antichrist. Since the time during which the sanctuary would be trodden down by Gentiles is given a time limit--2300 days, it should be possible to calculate when the sanctuary would be restored to its rightful state. "The vision is for the time of the end." (8:17). If the 2300 days are really 2300 years, and the time when the temple was ordered rebuilt is taken as 457BC, then 1843 should be the correct date for the end of the Antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ.

William Miller drew this conclusion in 1818 after a personal two-year study of the Bible. He became a minister and started to travel giving week-long conferences. He was met with enthusiasm. As the clock ran down on 1843 he proclaimed

"This is the last year that Satan will reign on our earth." "The captive will be released, the prison doors will be opened, death will have no dominion over us, and life, eternal life, be our everlasting reward".

It was heart-breaking when his followers stood on the hill and waited all that night for the call that never came. It was the beginning of the Seventh Day Adventists. How the movement could have continued after the embarrassment of 1843--and 1844--when the date was recalculated, is hard to explain. (Another Gospel. R.A. Tucker; Academic Books, Grand Rapids,’89; p.96).

Careful study reveals the obvious errors. The "little horn" of Daniel 7 emerges from a field of ten kings of the fourth beast--Rome (7:20). The "little horn" of Daniel 8 comes from a group of four kings of Greece. (8:23). The 2300 evenings and mornings are literal days, about six years. A final error is ignoring Jesus' statement that no one knows the time of His Second Coming. Matt.24:36

The message for Israel through Daniel is clear. Belshazzar and Babylon will be conquered by the Medes and Persians. When Belshazzar's feast was held (Dan. 5), Daniel was already informed by this vision which occutrred during the third year of his reign and he could speak to Belshazzar with cofidence and authority.

There was a second message. Beware of persecution coming under the Greek king of Palestine. The prophecy was fulfilled. It all happened as Daniel heard and saw in his vision. The Greek "little horn" was Antiochus IV, "Theos Epiphanes"--"the Appearance of God". The period of persecution was about six years, from 171–165BC. The history is reported in a book of the Apocrypha; I Maccabees describes his evil work. (See Appendix attached.)

Legend has it that after Judas Maccabeus reclaimed the temple from the Greeks, a small vial of sacred oil was found and the temple candelabra was relit. It miraculously stayed lit for eight days. A celebration, the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, dates from this event. Jesus was in the Temple on such a winter celebration (Jn.10:22), also called the Feast of the Dedication.

Before we go on, we must work with some of the unusual expressions in this chapter. In each case we must try to use Scripture to answer the questions. First, the 'host of heaven."

8:10 "It grew great, even to the host of heaven and some of the host of the stars it cast down to the ground...."

What is the host of heaven?
*The host of Heaven are stars. "...the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven." (Deut.17:3)
"It was my hands that stretched out the heavens and I commanded all their host." (Isa.45:12)

•The host of heaven are angels. 'Praise Him all you angels; praise Him all His host." (Psa.148:2).
"I saw the Lord sitting His throne, with all the host of heaven standing beside Him to his right hand and on his left." (IK.22:19)

•The host are God's people. "All the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt." (Ex.12:41).
"{He will} destroy mighty men and the people of the saints." (Dan.8:24). This verse interprets Dan.8:10--"Some of the host of the stars it cast to the ground".

How can the same expression, The Host, be applied in three ways? This is difficult. It appears that the host of heaven is primarily the stars, and secondarily the angels who are their spiritual counterparts. The children of Abraham are "like the stars" in number. (Gen.15:5). David says "I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts (JHWH Sabaoth), the God of the armies of Israel...." (ISam.17;45). That implies that these armies of Israel are the hosts of the Lord.
We can generalize that the Host of Heaven is the mass of those who serve God, in any of these three categories--stars, angels, and human armies. They may even be interactive. (Judg.5:20)

Second, who is " the Prince."
8:11 "It magnified itself, even up to the Prince of the host".
8:25 "He shall even rise up against the Prince of princes."
Who is the Prince of Princes? The expression is unique. Jesus Christ is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Rev.17:14;’:16). Then logic says he is also "Prince of Princes".

Third, what is "the time of the end."
8:17 "...the vision is for the time of the end"
What is the time of the end?"I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation; for it pertains to the appointed time of the end". (8:19). In this case, the time of the end is the end of the period of the indignation, Antiochus' persecution of Israel.

Compiling the sources, we find that there is not one but three terrible persecutors of the people of God, the Antichrist of Daniel 7, also described in Revelation 13 and 17, and his prototype in Daniel 8, Antiochus Epiphanes. Further, there is another "desolating sacrilege" described by Jesus in Matt.24:15, which would be locally fulfilled when Titus and his army planted the insignia of the Roman legions on the Temple Mount in 70AD. Thus we perceive that both Antiochus Epiphanes of Greece and Titus of Rome are prototypes of the Antichrist who will subjugate all of mankind in the final days before Christ's Second Coming and try to destroy all the believers.

Why are we told this unhappy news? For our warning and for encouragement. There are practical steps to take. First the warnings. Jesus told his disciples
    "When you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel standing in the holy place...then let those who in Judea flee to the mountains...." (Matt.24:15). The disciples did flee and saved their lives.

The second kind of warning is that persecutions are under God's permission. The writer of II Maccabees says:

"Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, it is a sign of great kindness not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately. For in the case of the other nations the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins; but he does not deal in this way with us, in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached their height. Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people. (2Macc. 6:12–16)

Other witnesses of persecution bear out this idea. Eusebius describes the situation before the persecution by Diocletian in 303AD:

"But increasing freedom transformed our character to arrogance and sloth; we began envying and abusing each other, cutting our own throats, as occasion offered, with weapons of sharp-edged words; rulers hurled themselves at rulers and laymen waged party fights against laymen, and unspeakable hypocrisy and dissimulation were carried to the limit of wickedness. At last, while the gatherings were still crowded, divine judgment, with its wonted mercy, gently and gradually began to order things its own way and with the Christians in the army the persecution began." (The History of the Church, Eusebius, Penguin Books, London,’65; p.328).

Another example came after the Reformation:

"'But for the war,' wrote the Venetian ambassador Correo in 1569, '...France would now be Huguenot, because the people were rapidly changing their faith and the ministers were much respected and exercised authority among them. But when they passed from words to weapons and began to rob, destroy, and kill, the people began to say: "What kind of religion is this?"' (The Reformation, O.Chadwick, Penguin Books,’64; p.163).

The massacre of the Huguenots is partly explained as a reaction to the violent looting of Roman Catholic churches, destruction of icons and altars, stained glass windows, etc.

But the warning and the encouragement come together. The punishment of persecution can be seen as God's purification of the Church. There is also the assurance that even at its worst, persecution has a time-limit--six to seven years. "Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." (Rev.14:12)

Appendix: I Maccabees account of Antiochus Epiphanes in Palestine.

1Macc. 1:1–9   "After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him. After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. So he summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died. Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their descendants after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth."

1Macc. 1:10–19   "From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.” This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil. When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, in order that he might reign over both kingdoms. So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. They captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt."

1Macc. 1:20–24   "After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lamp stand for the light, and all its utensils. He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found. Taking them all, he went into his own land. He shed much blood, and spoke with great arrogance."

1Macc. 1:25–37  " Israel mourned deeply in every community, rulers and elders groaned, young women and young men became faint, the beauty of the women faded. Every bridegroom took up the lament; she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning. Even the land trembled for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame. Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force. Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. They took captive the women and children, and seized the livestock. Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. They stationed there a sinful people, men who were renegades. These strengthened their position; they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great menace, for the citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary, an evil adversary of Israel at all times. On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood; they even defiled the sanctuary."

1Macc. 1:38–40   "Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled; she became a dwelling of strangers; she became strange to her offspring, and her children forsook her. Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into a reproach, her honor into contempt. Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory; her exaltation was turned into mourning."

1Macc. 1:41–50   "Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that all should give up their particular customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”

1Macc. 1:51–64   "In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had. Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks. But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Very great wrath came upon Israel."

1Macc. 2:1–9   "In those days Mattathias son of John son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein. He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi, Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus. He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem, and said, Alas! Why was I born to see this, the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city, and to live there when it was given over to the enemy, the sanctuary given over to aliens? Her temple has become like a person without honor; her glorious vessels have been carried into exile. Her infants have been killed in her streets, her youths by the sword of the foe."

The Maccabeans eventually restored temple worship and won the battle over the Greeks.