In the 8th chapter of Daniel is an astounding prophecy. Some believe it was fulfilled in 1844. Others say in 165 B.C. by Antiochus Epiphanes. Daniel could not understand it! It was sealed from human comprehension "until the time of the end" — this 20th century!
THE MOMENT has come to reveal this astonishing, yet little-known prophecy for "the latter days" — this 20th century! Did you know that the book of Daniel, in your Bible, was closed to human understanding until these latter days? Daniel was commanded: "... shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end...." Again we read: "... for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand" (Dan. 12:4, 9-10). Now open your Bible to Daniel 8. Here is this vital prophecy for our time. Notice particularly verse 26. Daniel is commanded "... shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days" — far into the future. Daniel "was astonished at the vision, but none understood it" (verse 27, last part). This prophecy was not meant to be understood till the time of the end.
Time Setting of the Prophecy
Notice the setting of the prophecy in Daniel 8. It is the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king of Babylon, about 550 B.C. Daniel is given a vision while at Shushan in the palace in the province of Elam (Dan. 8:1-2). Here is what he sees in the vision: "Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great" (verses 3 and 4). Here is a mysterious "ram." What does this ram symbolize? Notice God's explanation, revealed in verse 20! "The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia"! This ram symbolized the Medo-Persian Empire. It destroyed the Kingdom of Babylon in the autumn of 539 B.C. It ruled to 331 B.C. But this is only the beginning of the prophecy. Now read verse 5: "And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes." What is the BIBLE explanation of this mysterious symbol? "And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king" (verse 21). This is not man's interpretation. This is the Bible's own explanation of its symbols. These symbols were revealed to Daniel. He was inspired to write them in Scripture so that we today can understand the important TIME SETTING of this end-time prophecy. Notice the verse-by-verse movement of time. The ram — the Medo-Persian Empire — came on the world scene in the autumn, 539 B.C. It ruled until 331 B.C. Then the Greco-Macedonian Empire came on the scene with its first great king, Alexander the Great (verses 6 and 7). The final conquest of the Medo-Persian Empire by Alexander the Great occurred in 331 B.C. Understand what this means. By the end of verse 7 we have moved in history from 539 B.C. to the time of Alexander the Great. Continue, now, with verse 8. "...the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven." Remember, the great horn in the goat's head symbolized the "first king" of the Greco-Macedonian Empire. That was Alexander the Great. But this horn was suddenly "broken"! Alexander the Great died suddenly of a fever in Babylon in 323 B.C., about thirty-three years of age! Then what followed in time sequence? Continuing in verse 8: "for it [that is, "in its place" after Alexander's death — after 323 B.C.] came up four notable ones [four other horns] toward the four winds of heaven" — in more modern English, in the four directions of the compass. The Bible interpretation of this verse is found in verse 22: "Now that being broken," — Alexander the Great being dead — "whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power." Alexander's Empire was divided among his generals after his death. By 301 B.C. four generals divided the Empire, fulfilling this verse of the prophecy. In the South — Egypt — ruled Ptolemy. Syria — the North and East — was held by Seleucus. The Northwest — Thrace — was under the control of Lysimachus. Macedonia, in the far West, was dominated by Cassander. Later, in 281 B.C., Seleucus overthrew Lysimachus and completely controlled the North.
The Kingdom of the North, prophesied in Daniel 11, was at first a Greek Empire with its capital in Syria.
Thereafter the two dominant areas of the Empire were the Kingdom of the South, under the Ptolemies, and the Kingdom of the North under the Seleucidae. (The struggles between these two kingdoms — down to our day, this 20th century — are made plain in the longest prophecy in the Bible — Daniel 11. The explanation of this famous prophecy is available in our free article, "The Middle East in Prophecy.") Consider again the vital time setting of the prophecy of Daniel 8. It commenced with the Medo-Persian Empire which lasted until 331 B.C. Then the Greco-Macedonian Empire came on the scene with its first king, Alexander the Great. In 323 B.C. Alexander died at the age of 33. Alexander's Empire was divided into four major parts — verse 22. None of these parts was as strong as the whole kingdom had been under Alexander the Great. The time setting of the four divisions of Alexander's Empire, foretold in this prophecy, brings us to the date 301 B.C.! The rest of the prophecy therefore cannot begin before this date! Now notice what is to happen next on the world scene — after 301 B.C.
A Prophecy for the Latter Time!
Turn in your Bible to verse 9: "And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land." Look at this verse again. Here a "little horn" appears, coming out of one of the four divisions of Alexander's Empire. This "little horn" therefore cannot have arisen before 301 B.C. because not until then was the four fold division of Alexander's Empire settled! Notice that again! "Out of one of them came forth a little horn"! Out of one of the four! The prophecy will later disclose out of which one! Whatever this little horn does on the world scene must occur AFTER the death of Alexander the Great — and after the division of his empire in 301 B.C. into four parts! We come now to the climax of this astounding vision. Daniel is told: "...for at the time of the end shall be the vision" (verse 17). The vision of "the little horn" is for the time of the end! The same time setting is recorded also in verse 23, "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full..." Who — what — does this "little horn" symbolize?
The "Little Horn"
Notice the Bible explanation! "...a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty... and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [the margin says "prosperity"] shall destroy many: HE SHALL ALSO STAND UP AGAINST THE PRINCE OF PRINCES; but he shall be broken without hand" (verses 23-25). There is the answer! Could anything be more astounding! Look at this prophecy again. It is a prophecy for the last days. The little horn symbolizes "a king" — a ruler — who shall arise "in the latter time of their kingdom" (verse 23). Not immediately after the fourfold division of Alexander's empire — but in the "latter time" of human misrule. This "little horn" — this ruler — this mortal man stands up against the Prince of princes — that is Christ at His second coming! Here is a great Gentile world ruler who stands up against Christ and is supernaturally destroyed — "without hand" — not by human hand but by divine intervention in human affairs. The Bible interprets this "little horn" as a great ruler who shall exist at the second coming of Christ! He comes on the scene when world transgression — world sin — has reached its climax (Daniel 8:23).
What the "Little Horn" Will Do
Continue with this amazing prophecy for the latter days! "And it [the little horn] waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down" (Dan. 8:10-11). The next verse — 12 — is not clearly translated in the King James Version. It reads: "And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression" — the margin reads: "the host was given over for the transgression against the daily sacrifice" — "and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered." A clearer rendering of verse 12 is found in the Jewish translation: "And the host was given over to it (the little horn] together with the continual burnt-offering through transgression..." (The Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society). But what about the "daily sacrifice" — the "continual burnt-offering" — that is to be taken away? Where is the "sanctuary" that is to be cast down? What do these symbolize? What do they mean?
Two Common Opinions
One opinion — found in most Bible commentaries on Daniel 8 — is that Antiochus Epiphanes (died 163 B.C.) is the "little horn." Antiochus did indeed prohibit the daily sacrifice — from 168-165 B.C. He defiled the Temple with an idol of Jupiter Olympus, and offered swine's blood upon the altar. He burnt as many scrolls of the Law as he could lay hands on. He attempted to stamp out the truth. But he did not fulfill this prophecy of the "little horn" — except, perhaps, as a forerunner. Antiochus Epiphanes died long ago — in 163 B.C. The ruler symbolized by the "little horn" is to be alive at the second coming of Jesus Christ. He comes on the world scene in the "latter days" when human transgression — sin and suffering — is to reach its climax. He is to stand up and resist Christ at His second coming! Antiochus Epiphanes came over two thousand years too early to fulfill this prophecy! He is not the "little horn." Another opinion has it that the "sanctuary" is not on earth, but in heaven — that it is God's throne. The daily sacrifice, according to this view, is the work Christ has been performing in heaven as High Priest. Is this the Bible explanation?
NOT Heavenly Sanctuary!
Turn to Daniel 8:11. See the Bible answer with your own eyes: "Yea, he [the "little horn"] magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down." The margin in the King James Version provides an alternative rendering. Instead of "by him" — meaning the "little horn" — it has "from him" — meaning the Prince of the host. The original inspired Hebrew can be translated both ways into English. Either translation is correct. But notice what this scripture says! The daily sacrifice is to be taken away! The sanctuary is to be cast down! Now consider: If the daily sacrifice is, as some believe, the daily work of Christ in heaven, then a mortal man — the "little horn" — would have power to intervene in heaven and stop the work of Jesus Christ! Further, if the "sanctuary" were in heaven, he would have the power to "cast down" the sanctuary — the very throne of God in heaven! IMPOSSIBLE! No man can stop Jesus Christ from performing His work in heaven! No man — no ruler — not even the devil himself — can cast down the throne of God and profane His Holy Sanctuary! Then what is the meaning of this astounding prophecy for our day?
The Bible Answer
First read verses 13 and 14 of Daniel 8: "Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, 'How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?' And he said unto me, 'Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.' " Another enigma! This answer to this mysterious time period was hidden from Daniel's understanding — was not to be revealed until the latter days! This is a prophecy for our day — this climactic 20th century! Some have tried to explain this prophecy before God's time came to reveal it! Those who assume the "sanctuary" is in heaven claim that this vision of "2300 days" commenced in 457 B.C. and ended in A.D. 1844. (They say that the "2300 days" represent 2300 years in fulfillment.) They further insist that the "sanctuary" that was cast down — the Holy of Holies in heaven itself — God's very throne — was to be "cleansed" beginning in 1844. Is the date 457 B.C. the beginning date for the "2300 days"? Notice the Bible answer from this 8th chapter of Daniel: The Medo-Persian Empire — the "ram" in this prophecy — ruled the world until 331 B.C. Then Alexander came on the scene. He died in 323 B.C., after which his empire in 301 B.C., was divided into four parts. Out of one of the four divisions of Alexander's Empire is to rise the little horn "in the latter days"! It is the little horn which takes away the daily sacrifice and casts down the sanctuary! Whatever the little horn is to do for "2300 days" cannot have begun until after the division of Alexander's Empire into four parts! But 457 B.C. is over a century and a half too early! That date cannot be the commencement of the "2300 days"! The date 457 B.C. is the commencement of another prophecy altogether — the "seventy weeks" prophecy in Daniel 9:25. (Read our free reprint, "Daniel Nine Proves Jesus Is The Christ" for a full explanation of this prophecy.) The year 457 B.C. marks the commencement of Daniel's prophecy of "seventy weeks" which led to the first coming of Jesus Christ! That prophecy has nothing directly to do with the prophecy recorded here in Daniel 8! The prophecy of Daniel 9 is not the explanation of the "2300 days." The prophecy in chapter 9 was explained to Daniel. (See verse 23.) The prophecy in chapter 8 was sealed from human understanding until this "time of the end." Daniel did not understand it (verse 27 of chapter 8). But notice further. The little horn takes away the daily sacrifice for "2300 days." Was any daily sacrifice — whether on earth or in heaven — taken away from 457 B.C. until 1844? No! Did any religious authority or a king — or even a line of kings, the Roman Emperors for example — for 2300 years prevent the daily sacrifice from being offered? Did any cast down the sanctuary of God from 457 B.C. to 1844 A.D.? Of course not! The Jews were offering the daily sacrifice almost continuously from the days of Ezra and Nehemiah until the Jews were driven out of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. But, it is insisted, the sanctuary was not on earth but in heaven! Granted that the earthly sanctuary was a type of the heavenly sanctuary, God's throne. But what king or power has ever cast down God's throne in heaven for 2300 years? First, notice the last part of Daniel 8:13. The "sanctuary" is to be "trodden underfoot"! Has any kingdom, any power ever trodden underfoot God's heavenly sanctuary for 2300 years? Certainly not! The Bible itself proves that this amazing prophecy has nothing to do with a heavenly sanctuary. Nor was it fulfilled from 457 B.C. to 1844! Then what does the prophecy of the "2300 days" really mean?
A Common Misunderstanding
Notice Daniel 8:26, "And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true...." The vision of "2300 days" is actually called in the Scripture "the vision of the evening and the morning." Why? Turn in your Bible to verse 14 of chapter 8. In most Bibles you will find a marginal note for the word "days." This note reveals that the original Hebrew of the word "days" is "evening morning." This prophecy is not referring to 24-hour days but to evenings and mornings — the evening and morning sacrifice! According to verse 11 the little horn takes away the daily sacrifice. The daily sacrifice was offered in the evening and in the morning. See Lev. 6:9 and 12. Daniel 8:14 is a mistranslation in the text of the King James Version, though it is correct in the margin. The Revised Standard Version reads, "for two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings." In other words, here is a prophecy that two thousand three hundred evening and morning sacrifices would cease to be offered. Since the daily sacrifice was offered twice a day, this prophecy is actually speaking of one thousand one hundred fifty (1150) days. In 1150 days there would be exactly two thousand three hundred sacrifices offered at evening and morning. The Jewish Soncino Commentary, by Dr. Judah J. Slotki, comments on this verse: "... the numeral refers to the number of times the offerings, normally brought twice daily, will be omitted, giving a total period of 1,150 days...." At the end of this 1150-day period the sanctuary is to be "cleansed" or "justified." This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled! That's why it was shut up and sealed from human understanding until our time. It was not for God's people or the world until these latter days! Some scholars have contended that this prophecy of the taking away of the evening and morning sacrifice has already been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes. This is NOT TRUE! Notice why: what happened to the daily sacrifice in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes (168-165 B.C.) was only a type of what is yet to occur! The wicked deeds of Antiochus Epiphanes are recorded in Daniel 11:31. He polluted the ancient sanctuary. He took away the daily sacrifices, but not for exactly 1150 days. Daniel 11:31 is not referring to the same event described in Daniel 8. Notice especially in Daniel 11 that the latter days do not commence until verse 40. "And at the time of the end...." That's in this generation, almost two thousand years after the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. Therefore, the taking away of a daily sacrifice and treading down of a sanctuary is yet a FUTURE event. We are very near the fulfillment of these amazing prophecies. It is time we woke up to world events and freed ourselves from fables and traditions begun more than a century ago! It's time we believed the Bible. It's time we asked God for wisdom and asked Him to lead us and show us His truth!