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Who is Daniel Chapter 8 Talking About? (Part 2) - Steve Schmutzer - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8698
Part 2: The Facts Don't Add Up
In Part 1 of this series, I stated my disagreement with the argument that Daniel 8:9-14 is referring to Antiochus Epiphanes, the eighth ruler of the Seleucid dynasty from 175BC to 164BC. My position is an awkward one given that many reputable commentators and scholars claim that's exactly who this passage is about.
I explained that we are all obligated to study the Scriptures for ourselves. This is the posture the Bible commends (Acts 17:11), and I feel it may be more necessary today than it's ever been.
A "directional dilemma" emerges with the assumption that Daniel 8:9-14 refers to Antiochus Epiphanes. Daniel 8:9 says this individual extends his conquests "....to the south and to the east and towards the Beautiful Land." There is no part of Israel past or present that lies in that direction from the headquarters of the historic Seleucid dynasty in northern Syria.
Furthermore, Antiochus Epiphanes had unremarkable military campaigns in more southwesterly and westerly directions, and he didn't need to conquer Israel since he'd inherited it from his predecessor. If anything, he lost it by provoking the Maccabean revolt. These facts make it a tough sell to say Antiochus Epiphanes is the subject of this passage.
But this portion of Daniel aligns well with the premise that it's referring to the antichrist. Due to lands she will gain from wars she will yet be forced to fight, Israel is likely to extend her territory significantly in an eastern direction. This may take place soon as the Psalm 83 prophecy seems to suggest, and the results of that would conform to the land covenant God gave to Abraham.
With the antichrist in view, the explanation that Daniel received from Gabriel makes sense. It's one about "....the distant future" (Dan. 8:26), and it provides a strong clue that Israel will be a much larger nation going into the last seven years before Christ's return.
Given that Jordan is likely to be part of the territory Israel gains before the Tribulation according to Psalm 83, it explains why Jesus instructed a future Jewish remnant to "....flee to the mountains" (Matt. 24:15-22). It is territory they will own at that point, and they will be protected there (Dan. 11:41; Rev. 12:14-16).
At His Second Coming, Jesus first goes to Bozrah (Jordan) to defeat His enemies (Isaiah 63:1-6) and to rescue His faithful remnant. The blood stains He gets on His garments in that conflict are evident when He subsequently appears to fight the antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:13-14).
Everything falls into place if we can accept the literal truth within each relevant passage in the greater context. It's only when we force our own interpretations upon the texts that confusion and questions arise.
There are more reasons why I believe Daniel 8:9-14 is not referring to Antiochus Epiphanes, and unlike the "directional dilemma" I've already unpacked, these reasons are more straightforward. They comprise a series of facts that don't add up if one believes Daniel chapter 8 is about this historical ruler.
To begin, there is a campaign against "the host" in Daniel 8:12, or as other translations put it, "the heavenly army." This specific group of individuals is mentioned alongside earthbound rituals like "the daily sacrifices" which reinforces the self-evident case that these are not angels.
This vulnerable group is fully subjected to the will of this leader, and this dynamic is repeated in Gabriel's explanation to Daniel (Dan. 8:24) where we find it being destroyed together with "mighty men" or "powerful people." Here, this group is called "holy people," "saints," and "God's people." Whoever they are, they are seen as God's possession and they're marked by righteous character.
While many commentators point to the fact that Antiochus Epiphanes persecuted the Jews for roughly seven years, this is not sufficient logic to claim he is the fulfillment of the "small horn." Multiple passages in the Bible clearly state that the final antichrist will horribly persecute the Jews and will try to exterminate them, so that activity is not confined to Antiochus Epiphanes any more than it is with any other anti-Semitic despot.
Valid questions are raised if we assume that the descriptors of various translations like "saints," "holy people," "God's people," and "the heavenly army" are an exclusive reference to the Jews. This is not in conformity to common sense and the balance of God's Word. Given that the "saints" of Daniel chapter 7 are presented in context with the onset of the Millennial Kingdom, we can reasonably assume that the same term is used in chapter eight to refer to Jews and Gentiles who come to saving faith after the rapture.
Gabriel also explains in Daniel 8:25 that this "small horn" has a unique end; he "....will be broken without human agency or human power." What Gabriel is saying is this: the subject of Daniel 8:9-14 succumbs to some sort of supernatural intervention which brings this ruler's reign to an abrupt and unique end.
But we learned in Part 1 that it was natural causes that killed Antiochus Epiphanes. There are no records to suggest his death was anything apart from those events and processes which have always defined the human experience.
It is challenging to explain the plain language of Daniel 8:25 any other way than to say there is a supernatural element which directly results in this leader's demise. This conforms to the details of the antichrist's end as Revelation 19:19-20 makes clear, but no other leader in history has had a similar fate.
Another reason why I believe Daniel 8:9-14 is not talking about Antiochus Epiphanes is the matter of timing. In Daniel 8:23 there is the point Gabriel makes which is stated, "....in the latter part of their reign." It is during the waning elements of an established ruling situation that this leader arises.
The problem is Antiochus Epiphanes did not come to power during the latter period of anything. He was the eighth ruler of about 30 that led the Seleucid Kingdom, so he didn't even reach the midpoint. If Daniel had envisioned Antiochus Epiphanes as the subject of this text and vision, Gabriel would have placed him instead "before the middle part of their rule."
The bottom line is there is nothing pertaining to the notion of "the latter part" that has anything to do with Antiochus Epiphanes. His life and reign is unremarkable in such respects, and this is an issue which poses a problem to efforts to make Antiochus Epiphanes the subject of this passage.
One last problem with trying to force the life and events of Antiochus Epiphanes into Daniel 8:9-14 is the statement that this leader "....magnified itself to be equal with the Commander (or Prince) of the host" (Dan 8:11). Gabriel elaborates more on this fact in verse 25 where he explains, "He will even oppose the Prince of princes."
Some folks argue that coins which have been found from the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes and which read, "King Antiochus, God manifest," are proof that these Daniel passages are talking about this specific historical leader.
But it was not uncommon for rulers of that time to display extreme pride, and it was not unique to Antiochus Epiphanes that he considered himself divine. Other rulers from the Seleucid dynasty regarded themselves similarly, the same way ancient rulers from Egypt and Babylon also did.
If we dissect Gabriel's additional explanation in verse 25, challenges emerge if we try to argue that Antiochus Epiphanes was unique and extreme in his opposition to the "Prince of princes." It's a stretch to claim he deserves this special distinction the same way the antichrist does.
I believe it is arguments like these that drive the nail deeper into the coffin with the claim that Daniel 8:9-14 - and Gabriel's subsequent explanations in verses 23-25 - are referring to Antiochus Epiphanes. Although that interpretation was even presented in The Septuagint, it is little more than an early example of how commentators from all times have imposed past events onto future prophecies.
These interpretive dilemmas evaporate if one properly makes the antichrist the subject of these passages in Daniel chapter eight, and to start that process here, I want to take note of some general assessments.
The language and ideas which pertain to this diminutive "horn" of Daniel 8:9 closely parallel the language and ideas seen in Daniel Ch. 7, a portion of Scripture that most commentators argue is directed to the final antichrist. In many cases, these are the same commentators that push the Antiochus Epiphanes interpretation for Daniel Ch. 8.
Here are three broad examples of this similar dynamic:
First, the descriptions are much alike. We have "the little horn" of Daniel 7:8 which is very similar to the description of "the small horn" of Daniel 8:9. Whether one describes a zebra as "white with black stripes" or "black with white stripes," the two descriptions are pretty much saying the same thing.
Second, there is the matter of this leader's development. Daniel 7:8 describes the rise of a leader from a place "among other horns," and this leader grows in power. Daniel 8:8-10 also describes a leader which emerges from a collection of horns. He too "grows in power." The descriptions are similar.
Lastly, there is the issue of demeanor, and we find the "little horn" in Daniel 7:8 to be boastful and arrogant. Likewise, the "small horn" of Daniel 8:11 is described as "magnifying itself" and "acting arrogantly." Again, we are seeing very similar concepts here in the behavior patterns of each horn.
Now I want to get more granular. The "little horn" in Daniel's first vision in chapter 7 and the "small horn" in Daniel's second vision in chapter 8 display a number of commonalities. In both quantity and quality, I feel these similarities graduate the matter to something more than coincidence:
"So what?" I can already hear some folks asking this question - and I have faced some who have. Some people really don't care whether or not the "little horn" is this ruler, or the "small horn" is that ruler, or whether this or that passage is about Antiochus Epiphanes or the antichrist or whomever. They really don't care.
Basically, it's folks like these that fail to grasp the importance of the prophetic Scriptures in the first place. Being as God has placed all Scriptures on an equal par (2 Tim. 3:16), it is dismissive attitudes like this that endanger one's spiritual welfare. Since Paul commended the Bereans for their due diligence with the Word of God, he would most assuredly hold accountable those who scorn the themes that comprise one quarter of it.
The best way to understand prophecy is to study it in context with other portions of God's Word that speak to similar matters. This approach introduces clarity and minimizes confusion.
By comparing the details of Daniel chapters 7 and 8, a responsible assessment is permitted to speak. The result is we can see why the identification of the "small horn" in chapter 8 as Antiochus Epiphanes isn't a reasonable conclusion.
Hamas Is Jealous of Hezbollah - By Eyal Zisser -
This week will mark 12 years since the Second Lebanon War ended. Since then, the Israel-Lebanon border has been the quietest it has been for decades.
It is true that Hezbollah has been using this peace and quiet to build up its missile arsenal. It is believed that the Shi'ite terrorist group is currently in possession of more than 100,000 missiles--10 times more than it had in 2006--and it is no secret that it currently strives to increase their range and improve their accuracy.
Still, Hezbollah has made sure to avoid any provocation along the border. The memory of the blow Israel dealt it is still fresh, as is the memory of the humiliation suffered by its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
One cannot forget, however, that there are two sides to this coin. Yes, Hezbollah remains deterred but Israel is also careful not to target its interests, neither on the border nor on Lebanese soil. Thus, in the shadow of a balance of mutual deterrence, both parties are careful not to violate the tacit understandings formed between them following the 2006 conflict.
A similar balance of mutual deterrence is also being hammered out on Syrian soil, opposite Iran. Foreign media outlets may keep reporting on alleged Israeli strikes against Iranian assets in Syria, but since Israel and Iran traded blows in May--after Iranian-backed troops fired missiles at the Golan Heights--Israel has been making a conscious effort not to target Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officials in Syria.
In Gaza, however, Israeli deterrence has been eroded, at times to the point of seeming hollow, and the last few weeks have taught us that deterrence is not enough to prevent rocket fire and flare-ups on the border.
Hamas may avoid, at this time, firing rockets deeper into Israel, but it does not hesitate to fire a barrage of mortar shells and Qassam rockets at Israeli border-adjacent communities. Israel, for its part, has opted to exercise restraint, and while it does not carry out lethal attacks in Gaza, it has been pounding Hamas positions there.
In recent weeks, it seems that Hamas has become envious of the equation reached with Hezbollah and seeks to impose a similar one on the Gaza border, meaning to deny the Israel Defense Forces its operational freedom along the security fence by way of cementing a reality in which any Israeli strike in Gaza would trigger a rocket salvo on the south.
In the absence of a comprehensive, long-term Israeli strategy with respect to Hamas rule in Gaza, and in the absence of a viable alternative to this rule, Israel has, time and again, been forced to accept understanding brokers with Hamas via Egyptian mediation.
It seems that now, Israel is willing to undertake even broader understandings that would limit its operational freedom along the border. This time, however, it is doubtful Hamas can ensure peace and quiet along the border.
Hamas, unlike Hezbollah, lacks solid domestic support, and it would struggle to enforce a ceasefire on the rival terrorist groups in Gaza, which repeatedly flout its authority.
Moreover, Gaza is under a maritime Israeli blockade, as well as strict Israeli and Egyptian limitations on land crossings, which have rendered its economy to shambles. This means that Hamas has no clear interest to enforce a ceasefire and prevent an escalation.
One can only hope that despite the Swiss cheese-like nature of any deal with Hamas, Gaza's rulers would be able to uphold the temporary truce for a while.
Nearing Midnight: Catalyst for Cataclysm - Terry James -
Economics on a worldwide scale continue to broil under intensive pressures exerted by America's president. It is such squeezing, I am convinced, that will help induce the prophesied Tribulation era. That time, known as Daniel's Seventieth Week, looks to be on the near horizon.
The pressure has forced what many experts of the fiscal sort-before the advent of Donald J. Trump-would have said could not have resulted in movement away from the globalist model. An example I have in mind is seen in a current story out of Germany.
A transfer of nearly $400 million in cash to Iran has been blocked by Germany's central bank in what appears to be a response to efforts by the U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Last month, Ambassador Richard Grenell urged Berlin to prevent Iran's withdrawal of large sums of cash from German bank accounts in an effort to offset U.S. sanctions that took effect following Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. (Source: "'This is huge': US Ambassador Grenell quietly blocks $400 million transfer from Germany to Iran," by Frieda Powers, Conservative News, August 3, 2018)
Ever since the new American president began to deal with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in such matters, the dynamics of economic interaction on the international scene has been in dramatic flux. While it has been, in my opinion, good for the United States and our position economically, the president's influence has continued to drive the one-worlders crazy. But, they nonetheless seem to have no choice but to go along with Trump's pressure-to this point, at any rate.
At the same time the caterwauling increases from those opposed to Trump in everything he does, the stock market, despite bumps and grinds, continues to be bursting at the seams to advance. This, many financial experts both welcome and fear.
They welcome the powerful forces trying to move things upward, but they have an innate fear of pending fiscal cataclysm.
I had a friend email me a week or so ago, including in the email an advisory from the emailer's financial expert. The advisory said the following:
The stock market has been responding positively to better than expected earnings, "The Melt Up is officially here. This is the boom we've been waiting for. And this phase should last 12 to 18 months", said Steve Sjuggerud, Stansberry Research. He went on to say, "The Melt Up will propel U.S. stocks to fantastic heights. The Melt Up is the final push of a bull market. It's when the leading companies of this near decade long boom really take off and propel the overall market dramatically higher."
As I have written before, do not be complacent; you must be vigilant. Please enjoy the melt-up as you prepare for a melt-down. I don't know what the catalyst might be for a reversal of fortune, but we all see the huge elephant in the room.
The friend went on to say simply, "We know what the catalyst might be."
That pleased me very much. My friend instinctively realized, because of her study of Bible prophecy, what the expert's advice contained but could not understand or explain.
We have gone over time after time in these commentaries the catalyst the expert mentioned that he himself instinctively knew was poised to bring economic cataclysm upon the world. That catalyst is wrapped up in Jesus' "days of Noah, days of Lot" prophecy found in Matthew 24:36-42 and Luke 17:26-30.
Jesus said the world will be in an economic uptick when he is next "revealed." It will not be at a time when as much as three-fourths of humanity on earth has been killed through judgment and wrath.
The catalyst for that coming cataclysm-the Tribulation-will be the Rapture of the Church, I am convinced.
We covered in last week's column the fact that five top hedge-fund billionaires sensed the coming cataclysm. They had questions for their futurist expert questions he wasn't prepared to answer. They wanted to know how to best survive a world-rending collapse that was, they obviously thought, imminent.
I wrote in that commentary: "The world is indeed moving toward some climactic event that will bring about a world more horrific than any yet experienced by earth's inhabitants. But, those mentioned here have no idea of what that 'event' is or the signals of its approach. They simply sense that something is on the brink of bringing their world crashing down around their ears."
Again, in a chapter in my newest book, Essays in Apocalypse: Some Thoughts On the End of Days, the chapter called "The Coming Economic Boom" presents an in-depth look at the catalyst for cataclysm that is even now coming into view within our hourly news.
These Are The Four Biblical Prophecies Playing Out In Israel Right Now - Rabbi Tuly Weisz -
When President Donald Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem many people of faith quickly recognized the biblical significance of such a move. Trump, like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled biblical prophecy, by recognizing that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel.
However, this was not the first time in the modern State of Israel's short 70 years that it has played a role in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Many of the miracles we are witnessing in Israel today were promised in the Bible long ago.
The Ingathering of the Jewish Exiles from the Four Corners of the World
It says in Ezekiel 34:13, "And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them."
This month, for the first time Israel has overtaken America to become the world's largest Jewish population center. The surge in the Jewish community is thought to have been fueled by returning members of the diaspora.
In addition, the total Jewish population has reached 6 million, which carries added significance as this was the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Spiritual Partnership Between Jews and Christians
The State of Israel, however, was not born through Jewish toil alone. Rather, as prophesied in Ezra 6:14 - "And according to the decree of Koresh, and Daryavesh, and Artachshasta king of Paras" - the State of Israel was birthed out of a spiritual partnership between Jews and non-Jews.
In biblical times, it was Cyrus' edict that allowed the people of Israel to return to the land of Israel and rebuild the Temple. In 1917, it was the British government's Balfour Declaration that turned the tide for the Jews in exile. Similarly, in 1948, when U.S. President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel, he said, "I am Cyrus." In the cases of Cyrus, Balfour, Truman and now Trump, it was non-Jews serving as God's agents who facilitated the return of the Jewish people to their land.
We read in Isaiah 49:22, that the Lord will "beckon to the Nations, I will lift up my banner to the Peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips." This prophecy is being fulfilled by the unprecedented number of non-Jews who visit, support and pray for Israel.
The Revitalization of the Hebrew Language
The prophet Zephaniah describes how in the end of days all the nations of the world will have "purity of speech." "For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, so that they all invoke Hashem by name and serve Him with one accord" (Zephaniah 3:9). We understand from Zephaniah that all the nations of the world will study Hebrew to call out the name of God together in His holy language.
Thanks in large parts to the efforts of Eliezer Ben Yehuda (1858-1922), who decided that "in order to have our own land and political life it is also necessary that we have our own language to hold us together," Hebrew is the official language of the State of Israel.
In recent years, there has been growing interest by Christian Zionists to learn Hebrew, which is likely a step toward the redemption described by Zephaniah. Moreover, there has been an outpouring of interest by Christians to learn Torah from Jews.
Isaiah chapter 2 describes that in the end of days, the nations will stream up to Jerusalem for Torah "shall come forth from Zion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim" (Isaiah 2:3). Since the founding of the State of Israel - and even more so in the last decade - the Bible is being used as a source of unity between Jews and Christians, beginning to fulfill Isaiah's vision and the Jews' historic mandate to be a light unto the nations. That's one of the reasons I created "The Israel Bible," so both Jews and non-Jews could study the Bible, read study notes from leading Jewish Bible scholars, and see the vital connection between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.
Rebirth of the Physical Land of Israel
For nearly two millennia, while the land of Israel switched hands between various foreign powers, including the Romans, the Muslims and the Ottomans, the land lay utterly desolate. But just as the prophet Isaiah predicted, "He hath comforted all her waste places, and hath made her wilderness like Eden" (51:3).
The modern rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948 has brought with it an astounding development of the land, to the point where once again the Jewish people can claim a flourishing country all their own. The desert is literally blooming and growing. And in the realms of technology and culture, Israel ranks among the most advanced countries of the world.
Indeed, we are witnessing the Lord comfort "all her waste places."
Daily Jot: The coffee is brewing, but does anyone smell it? - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
There is a socio-political revolution occurring in America. The news media is complicit in giving this revolution a platform. We see it with the revolutionaries' visceral attacks on anyone who disagrees with their positions and the media's amplification of these assaults. These revolutionaries believe that their moral opinions justify breaking the law, fomenting violence, lying and bullying. These actions are seeded in political intolerance and ideological bigotry, and they are not going to go away any time soon. These are the days of great deception and unrest in America because a major political party is become the haven of unrest and revolution. A recent Gallup poll confirms the direction of this civil unrest.
For the first time since Gallup began polling the question in 2010, the Democratic Party favors socialism over capitalism by a significant margin. Gallup reports that 57% of Democrats surveyed had a positive view of socialism, while only 47% had a positive view of capitalism. This is the first time since this question has been asked that a majority of those associated with the Democratic Party did not favor capitalism over socialism. Contrast this with those who associate with the Republican Party where only 16% have a positive view of socialism and 71% have a positive view of capitalism. Gallup statistics confirm that the Democratic Party is turned toward socialism.
Moreover, the youth of this country are steaming toward socialism irrespective of party affiliation. Gallup reports: "Americans aged 18 to 29 are as positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%). This represents a 12-point decline in young adults' positive views of capitalism in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68% viewed it positively." The brand of socialism these people support is undoubtedly deeper than an economic debate over socialism vs. capitalism. This trend is particularly dangerous to religious freedom and freedom of speech. The ideological bigotry practiced by America's vocal socialists is targeted at anyone who suggests a Biblical moral code for society.
Progressivism, socialism, communism will end religious freedom in America because these forms of tyranny are based in the Communist Manifesto, which states: "Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis." Christians who believe socialism is true Christianity cite Acts 2:44, "And all that believed were together and had (shared) all things in common," as Biblical justification. Early Christians lovingly had all things in common-they were not forced to do so by a government. The very nature of communism is against God. We'd better wake up and smell the coffee, starting with ongoing conversations with our families, children and grandchildren.
Daily Devotion: Part of the Family - By Greg Laurie -
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. -1 John 3:14
Pastor J. Vernon McGee once said the only exercise some Christians get is running down others and jumping to conclusions.
It saddens me when I see Christians fighting with each other, and even worse, dividing over theological minutiae or even style of ministry.
When Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name," notice that He used the word our. Jesus is teaching us a family prayer that we offer together with other believers. When you become a Christian, you become part of God's family. It's called the church. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
In three moving prayers of confession in the Old Testament, in Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9, the pronoun we is used frequently in every one of those prayers. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel were not guilty of the sins they were confessing, but they identified themselves with the people who were praying. They said, in effect, "Lord, we have sinned against you. We have done this evil. We're all in this together."
Paul issued this warning to the Galatians: "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" (5:14-15 NKJV). We should not be biting and devouring one another. We should be loving and forgiving one another.
Some people are lovable. There is something we like about a person that is easy to love. But other people are not lovable. They're cantankerous. They're irritating. If they are part of the church, then they are our brothers and sisters, too, and we are to love them. If we can't love unlovable people, then how much do we really know about the love of God?
FROM THE HEART
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