From Contamination to Purification

Daniel 8
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 9

From Contamination to Purification

(Daniel 8)

Copr. 2020, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 Biblica, Inc. (TM), unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Two years after his first dream, Daniel dreams he is strolling by the water when suddenly he is face to face with a powerful sheep with two big horns - and no one is there to rescue him. It turns out his dream is not so much about danger, or adventure, as about the future. Let's jump into Daniel's dream and see what we can learn about the future!

  1. The Ram
    1. Read Daniel 8:1-3. How would you react if you had this dream? Daniel had some pretty frightening animals in his prior dream, do you think he is frightened now?
    2. Read Daniel 8:4. Given the context of the past dreams, what are your thoughts about this ram? (It clearly seems to be a world power. An empire that rules other nations.)
  2. The Goat
    1. Read Daniel 8:5-8. What do you think about this goat with the broken horn? (This seems to be another world power that defeats the "ram" empire.)
  3. Gabriel on the Ram and the Goat
    1. Let's skip down a bit in this chapter. Read Daniel 8:15-16. Why would Daniel write that someone "looked like a man?" Why not just say, "A man stood in front of me?" (Daniel is telling us that this was not a man. He only looked like one.)
      1. Who is standing in front of Daniel? (Gabriel.)
        1. Who is Gabriel? (Read Luke 1:19. He stands in God's presence.)
        2. Other than speaking to Daniel, what other important mission has Gabriel handled? (Read Luke 1:26-28. Gabriel brought the message of Jesus’ coming to Mary!)
      2. Daniel 8:16 reports that a "man's voice" is giving Gabriel directions. Who gets to give Gabriel directions? (God!)
        1. What does this suggest to you about Gabriel's message to Daniel? (When God has an important message, He sends Gabriel.)
    2. Read Daniel 8:17. How does Daniel react to Gabriel? Why?
      1. What does Gabriel say this dream concerns? (The time of the end.)
    3. Read Daniel 8:18. What is happening here? Is Daniel still dreaming? (Either this is a dream within a dream, or Daniel is coming out of his dream state to listen to Gabriel's explanation.)
    4. Read Daniel 8:19. Gabriel says for a second time that this concerns the time of the end. What conclusion do you draw from Gabriel calling it “the appointed” time of the end? (God has a specific time in mind and at least some of the details are being shared with Daniel.)
    5. Read Daniel 8:20-22. What are these two beasts? (Medo-Persia and Greece.)
      1. Have we seen this before? (You bet! We saw these two empires symbolized in Nebuchadnezzar's dream of Daniel 2 and we saw them again in Daniel's dream in Daniel 7.)
      2. Why does God keep repeating the same prophecy? (Have you heard that you need to repeat something three times for your listener to understand? God apparently wants us to understand this message. In addition, with each new dream we seem to have more information. God may well be repeating the old information to help us get a better grasp on the new information.)
  4. The Horn
    1. Let's go back and pick up the rest of the dream. Read Daniel 8:8-12. Now let’s hear what Gabriel says about this. Read Daniel 8:22-23. Have we seen a "horn" power before? (Our study of Daniel 7 revealed the "little horn"(Daniel 7:8). Gabriel says that this horn is “a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue.”)
    2. Do you think the “small” horn of Daniel 8 is the same as the little horn of Daniel 7? (This puts us in the middle of a great historic debate. Many commentators believe that these horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same, and that they represent Antiochus Epiphanes, a Seleucid king who we previously learned reigned for 11 years (175-164 B.C.). When we studied Daniel 7(Lesson 8) we found that the timing was all wrong for the little horn to be Antiochus. Not only was Antiochus 500 years too early (coming after the Greek, not the Roman empire), but his reign did not stretch to the end of time.)
      1. Is the timing wrong for Antiochus to be the horn of Daniel 8:9? (The timing for Antiochus fits a lot better in Daniel 8. He came out of the fragmented Grecian Empire (which was the reason he could not be the "little horn" of Daniel 7 - it came out of the fragmented Roman Empire). It seems to me that most commentators who understand the horn of Daniel 8 to be Antiochus, read their interpretation back into Daniel 7 - where Antiochus does not fit - and understand him to be the "little horn" of Daniel 7).
      2. What if we reverse this, can we read our "little horn" understanding of Daniel 7 (that the horn is the Papal phase of the Roman Empire) into Daniel 8? Could the timing fit for Papal Rome?
        1. Re-read Daniel 8:8-9. Does the horn come up out of one of the four winds or one of the four horns? (It is not clear. One view is that one of these four horns is the Roman Empire which follows Medo-Persia and Greece, and the Papal phase of Rome arises out of that horn. That makes this more like Daniel 7.)
    3. Let's review again Daniel 8:9-12. Consider the rest of the description of this horn. Does it better match Pagan and Papal Rome or Antiochus? (The description of the power of this horn meets or exceeds the description of the power of the ram and the goat. (For example, the ram is called (v.4) "great" and the goat is called (v.8) "very great." Most translations (but not the NIV) translate the description of the horn (v.9) to be "exceedingly great" (NAS, KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV). Since the horn is described as being greater than Medo-Persia and Greece, it hardly seems appropriate to conclude that the 11 year rule of Antiochus, a minor Seleucid king, is greater than the Persian and the Greek empires! On the other hand, the Roman Empire (in both its pagan and Papal phase, is clearly comparable to the Persian and Greek empires.)
      1. Last night I was reading the comments of my friend, the late William H. Shea, on the little horn of Daniel 8. Bill Shea is a world expert on Daniel 8. He concludes that this little horn is not Antiochus, but rather Pagan and Papal Rome. Bill wrote that prior to the “Millerite Movement” (a huge theological movement of the early 19th century that focused on Daniel) Christian scholars were generally agreed that the little horn of Daniel 7 was Rome, but were evenly split on whether the little horn of Daniel 8 was the same as in Daniel 7 or represented “Mohammedanism.”)
      2. Did Rome (Daniel 8:11) throw down the sanctuary and end the daily sacrifice? (The Romans destroyed God's temple in 70 A.D.)
    4. Let’s re-read what Gabriel says in Daniel 8:23-25. Who is the Prince of princes referred to in verse 25? (It must be Jesus.)
      1. Did Rome take a stand against Jesus?
      2. Did Rome (Daniel 8:10) reach to heaven, throw part of heaven's citizens to the ground and trample on them? (Rome crucified Jesus. I think this roughly fits both the description of trampling heaven's citizens and standing against the Prince of Princes.)
  5. The Sanctuary
    1. Read Daniel 8:13. What event is being described? (The last part of Daniel’s dream that describes the destruction of the sanctuary. We are twice told that this dream is about the end of time.)
    2. Read Daniel 8:14 and Daniel 8:25-26. How long is “2,300" evenings and mornings?” (If it means literal days, it would be slightly more than six years. If it is prophetic, where a day equals a year (see Ezekiel 4:6), that would better fit something describing the destruction of the sanctuary and then its re-consecration.)
      1. What happens at the end of this time - what does the re-consecration of the sanctuary mean? (The Millerite Movement that I mentioned earlier thought it meant the Second Coming of Jesus. They ran the numbers (see our lesson next week) and arrived at 1843-44. Had I lived then, I would have agreed because the parallel visions of Daniel 2 and 7 end with the Second Coming. Obviously, I would have been wrong.)
      2. The temple in Jerusalem has never been rebuilt after 70 A.D., thus never re-consecrated. However, Hebrews 8 tells us specifically that there is a sanctuary in heaven. Is that what Gabriel meant?
    3. Friend, God has important prophetic messages for us. Will you continue to study with us to better understand God’s message about the end?
  6. Next week: From Confession to Consolation.