Daniel 8:1-8, 15-22; The Wisdom of God ~ 20220515 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
05/15_Daniel 08:1-8; 15-22; The Wisdom of God; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220515_dan08.mp3
Daniel chapter 8 switches back to the Hebrew language, the language of God’s chosen people. Daniel 2-7 was written in Aramaic, the language of Babylon, the language of the nations. Chapters 2 – 7 focus on God’s people sent into captivity, serving as ambassadors to bring the good news of who God is to the nations. Chapters 8 – 12 are written in Hebrew, the language of God’s people, preparing his people for suffering, reminding them of the sovereignty of God, encouraging them that although it may be hard, remaining faithful to the Lord will be worth it in the end.
Peter tells us:
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. ...17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
We should not be surprised at fiery trials, because Jesus said ‘if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (Jn.15:20). Israel should not be surprised at the fiery trials, because God told them long before exactly what was coming.
The Date and Setting
Let’s look at what it says.
Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal.
Daniel tells us when and where this vision took place. This is essential for us to get the importance of the vision. It is in the third year of Belshazzar, two years after the vision he was given in chapter 7. Remember, Belshazzar was unknown to history until 1853 when the Nabonidus cylinder was discovered in a ziggurat in Ur that named Belshazzar as the son of Nabonidus. The verse account of Nabonidus says that in his third year, he entrusted the kingdom to his son, and left on a long journey. If Nabonidus began his reign 556 BC then Belshazzar became co-regent of Babylon in 553BC (which is when chapter 7 was written); Belshazzar’s third year would then be 550 or 551 BC, 11 or 12 yrs before the events of chapter 5, when Babylon fell to the Persians in October of 539 BC.
The setting for the book of Daniel is Babylon, but in this vision, Daniel finds himself in the citadel of Susa, some 230 miles east of Babylon. These are real places. Susa had been completely destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal about 90 years earlier. It had been rebuilt, but it was again conquered by Cyrus the Great in 540 BC, on his way to conquer Babylon. It did not become the capital of the Persian empire until the reign of Cambyses II (529-522 BC), over 20 years after this vision. Later in history both Esther and Nehemiah would find themselves in the citadel at Susa.
At the time of this vision, Susa was the capital of the Elamites. It may have surprised Daniel to find himself in a city which at the time seemed to have no major significance, so much so that he felt it necessary to describe its location.
This Vision and Chapters 2 and 7
This chapter divides into two halves, Daniel’s vision is given in verses 1-14 and the interpretation is given to him in verses 15-26. We are going to go back and forth between the vision and its interpretation as we work our way through understanding what was revealed to Daniel.
Daniel 8:3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
In chapter 7, Daniel had seen a vision of four great beasts coming up out of the sea; a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear raised on one side, a four headed leopard with four wings, and a terrifying beast with iron teeth and claws of bronze and ten horns. He was told that the four beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.
Back in chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a colossal image with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, middle and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Daniel was given the interpretation; Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold, and another inferior kingdom would arise after him, and a third kingdom shall rule over all the earth, and there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron.
If Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was the first kingdom, then the second kingdom was the Medo-Persian empire who conquered Babylon under Cyrus the Great in 539 BC.
Gabriel and Revelation
What was this ram with two horns? We are not left guessing. Jump down to verse 15.
Daniel 8:15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” 18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “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.
Daniel seeks to understand the vision, and a voice commands Gabriel to make him understand. This is the first time in Scripture that an angel is named, and one of only two angels named in all the Bible. Gabriel shows up again in chapter 9, and again in Luke (1:19, 26) announcing the birth of John to Zechariah and the birth of Jesus to Mary.
Notice the response of Daniel to this angel. He was afraid and fell on his face. The experience overwhelmed him so much that he passed out. He had to be strengthened to be able to receive the revelation. If you look down at the last verse, in response to this vision, Daniel was overcome and sick for several days, appalled by the vision. This was a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally draining.
Cyrus the Great; Medo-Persia (Achaemenid Dynasty)
After strengthening him, Gabriel gives him the interpretation of his vision.
Daniel 2:20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.
Cyrus the Great, according to Herodotus, was son of Cambyses I, King of Anshan (in Persia), and Mandane, daughter of Astyages, king of Media. Cyrus succeeded the throne in 559 BC following his father’s death. But Anshan was under Median control until Cyrus defeated the Medes and captured Ecbatana around 550 BC. He spared Astyages and married his daughter Amytis, successfully merging the Median and Persian empires. Cyrus pushed north and west to defeat Lydia and captured the capital city of Sardis. In 540 he defeated the Elamites and captured Susa, and then took Babylon in 539. The Medo-Persian empire controlled the area of Babylon for the next 200 years.
This fits the description of the chest and arms of silver, the bear raised up on one side, the ram with two horns, the later horn higher than the first, pushing west and north and south. The Persians rose to power after the Medes, but became much greater.
Alexander the Great and Greece (Macedon)
Daniel 8:5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
Again, we are not left wondering what this might mean. Gabriel gives the interpretation in verse 21.
Daniel 8:21 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 nation, but not with his power.
Alexander the Great conquered Susa in 331 BC. Alexander was son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, although he believed himself divine, his mother claiming that he was virgin born, miraculously impregnated by the god Zeus. Already and accomplished military leader, he took the throne at the age of 20, after his father was assassinated. After crushing a revolt in Thrace and Illyria, he asserted his authority in Greece, and then mobilized his army to realize his father’s dream of conquering Persia. Alexander held much resentment toward Persia due to constant tension between Persia and Greece. In 490 BC Darius I had invaded at the famous battle of Marathon, where the Persians were soundly defeated. Ten years later his son Xerxes I launched a full scale attack on Greece, defeating the Spartans at Thermopylae, burning Athens, and finally being defeated in a naval battle in the strait of Salamis, and by the Spartans near Plataea.
Alexander first defeated the Persians at Granicus in 334, and advancing across Asia Minor, he defeated them again at Issus in 333. After taking Egypt he returned to Mesopotamia, decisively defeating the Persians at Gaugamela in 331 BC. He continued on to take Babylon and then Susa. After pushing all the way to the borders of Indai, he returned to Babylon, intending to make it his capitol. He died there in 323 BC at the age of 33, having conquered the known world.
Alexander had become ill after a prolonged banquet and drinking bout and he never recovered. When asked who his successor should be, he reportedly said ‘the strongest’. After his death, and after much intrigue, the newly conquered Macedonian empire was divided up into satrapies governed by Alexander’s generals and officers, referred to as the Diadochi or successors. After 22 years of disagreement and fighting among them, when the dust settled, there were four prominent dynasties that ruled the major territories conquered by Alexander; Cassander ruling Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus ruling Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Seleucus ruling Syria and the east; and Ptolemy ruling Egypt.
With lightning speed and fury, Alexander threw down Persian ram. But he died at the zenith of his glory. So when the great horn was broken, four conspicuous horns divided his empire to the four winds.
God who Knows the Future
We’re going to pick up this story and the rest of the chapter next time, but here’s what I want us to take away from this today. Daniel was given this vision at at the time Cyrus the Persian was defeating the Medes at Ecbatana, some 10 years before he came and took Susa and then Babylon. The setting of the vision was Susa, a city in the province of Elam, unimportant at the time, but destined to become the capital of the Medo-Persian empire for the next 200 years. But that empire would fall to the Macedonian/Greek forces under Alexander. But Alexander’s time would be brief, his empire divided up among his successors. Daniel was given more than he could understand, events from his perspective in the far distant future, but he wrote it down to preserve it for us, so that we can look back and see that we serve a God who knows the future.
Daniel 8 is amazing prophecy. God says in Isaiah 46
Isaiah 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Psalm 115:2 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
John 13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
2022.05.15 Sermon Notes
Daniel 8:1-8, 15-22; The Wisdom of God
Daniel 1:1-2:4 – Hebrew – Israel
Daniel 2:4–7:28 – Aramaic – the Nations
Daniel 8 - 12 – Hebrew – Israel
God’s people are on mission to the nations
Do not be surprised at the fiery trial
1 Peter 4:12-17; John 15:20
The citadel at Susa [Shush in Iran]
Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2
Daniel 2 -------Daniel 7-------Daniel 8-----Interpretation
iron legs------- iron beast----------------------
God can tell us what will happen, so when it happens, we believe he is who he says he is
Isaiah 46:9-10; Psalm 115:2-3; John 13:19
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org