Let’s look at Daniel, chapter 8. We’re running a little late tonight, and didn’t know if I was ever going to get to preach, but I think I will, but Daniel, chapter 8. So wonderful to see a full, packed church on Sunday night, and so thrilled that the Spirit of God has laid it upon our hearts to be together for this tremendous study. What a wonderful, glorious occasion it is, when we can open the Word of God, and meet the prophet Daniel, and hear the message that the Lord gave to him.
Now, as you remember, as we approached Daniel, chapter 8, Daniel’s visions cover the sweep of history. They cover the time from Daniel till - till the return of Christ to set up His Kingdom. And you will recall that, as it is outlined in the book of Daniel - both through some visions that came to Nebuchadnezzar, and some visions that came to Daniel - there will be four great world empires until the time of Christ: the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman.
And the Roman empire will drift into some kind of an abeyance, and then it will resurge itself at the end in a ten-nation confederacy, over which the antichrist will rule, and he will be destroyed, and that final form of the empire with him, by the return of Jesus Christ. Well, we’ve been noting, as we look at Daniel, that Daniel focuses quite extensively on this final personality called antichrist, that he sees the last great world empire being the Roman world empire.
And we know that, as far as history is concerned, the Roman empire faded away, but it is being revived again today in the - the modern Europe, the European economic community, the European Common Market, which is a resurgence, really, of what was, territorially, the Roman empire. And this is as the Bible indicates. And so, we learn, then, from reading the book of Daniel, that Europe will rise again; Europe, which was the area of the Roman empire, will come to the fore in the end times in a ten-nation confederacy.
And that is precisely what has happened today in the Common Market. I was interested the other day when they said there were nine nations in the Common Market, so we made some phone calls, and some of the nations aren’t too sure whether they’re in or out yet. Some are on the way in, and some are the way out. The best we could ascertain is that there would be ten, except Norway dropped out, but by May of 1981, Greece will be in, so there will be ten again.
But I told you there would be some in and out and some fluctuation, but in the final form, Europe would rise again in a ten-nation confederacy, and over that would rule this one we call the antichrist. Now, there have been other attempts in history to unify the world under European domination. There have been other attempts to bring all the fragmented pieces of the Roman empire back together. I believe Charlemagne tried to do that in 800 AD. I believe Napoleon tried to do it and failed.
I believe Hitler tried to do it and failed, as you well know, miserably. But coming in history will be one man who will not fail, who will be able to bring together a cohesive Europe, a ten-nation confederacy that will stand as a formidable foe to all other powers in the world. And he will head what we might call a United States of Europe, which, in effect, is a revival of that which was, at one time, the old Roman empire.
Now, the Bible tells us this individual is the antichrist. He is the false Christ, the one who comes to try to hold the world so that Christ can’t take it back. He is Satan’s man, to capture the world with such power and such force that Christ Himself can’t wrest it from his control. Now, Daniel speaks about this individual with great detail. In chapter 9, he will speak, in chapter 11, he will speak, and here, we find he is speaking in chapter 8, and we’ve already heard him speak of this individual in chapter 7.
So, history is moving toward this final ten-nation confederacy with this antichrist ruling. And, of course, if you watch the recent developments in history, you find yourself being amazed, I trust, at how accurate the Bible is, as we can see Europe moving this way with such a tremendous force. The pressures to produce a unified United States of Europe are greater than they’ve ever been, in rapid-fire succession.
For example, in a single week back as early as 1975, in the month of May, Mexico opened talks to explore the possibilities of economic ties with the Common Market. China agreed to send an ambassador to the European economic community, or the Common Market, and thus, becoming the first Communist nation to recognize the Common Market countries. And so, we see that the Common Market is being recognized - by the free world, such as Mexico, by the Communist world, such as China - even back as early as 1975.
They have already been able to link up somewhat with the Arab world in the need that they have for oil, and so forth, and so, they are being recognized now as a coalition, even though they are not finally welded together as such. And I don’t guess they ever will be, until the antichrist himself comes to pull it all together, because the Bible tells us, as we remember, in the 7th chapter of Daniel, that out of this multiplicity of ten kings, one will rise up, subduing three others, to take control of the whole thing.
And so, I think there will be kind of a loose affiliation in the Common Market until the final antichrist finally comes, and he will put down the three strongest leaders and assert himself as the ruler and the only ruler, and pull the whole thing together, and we’ll see the United States of Europe. Now, unfortunately, Europe will rise again, but Europe will rise again at a terrible price. For while the antichrist will definitely be a political savior, he will be a spiritual devil; while he may salvage Europe economically, he will damn the souls of all those who listen to his message.
So, Europe will again know its tremendous power, that it once knew in the time of the Roman empire, but at the same time, it will be in the process of losing all moral and all spiritual values. For seven terrible years, the Bible tells us, this man will dominate the world, and he will seem well-nigh invincible, his power broken only by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
And so, Daniel makes a tremendous point of this individual, to let the reader and the people of his own time know that there is coming a day in human history when Gentile power reaches its climax, and it will be under this charlatan, this fraud called antichrist. And he, like all the rest, will come to his own demise. His Waterloo will be the battle of Armageddon, and in the battle of Armageddon, the plains of Megiddo in the north of Israel, he will lose the battle. He will be destroyed.
It’s interesting, though, that even now, as you look at the Common Market, they are calling out for such a man to lead them. They realize the fragmentation of their system, and they know they can’t really survive unless they all get together. They sense the tremendous external pressure being applied to them from the Middle East. They also feel the pressure of the Russian bear and its allies in Eastern Europe, and they are moving very rapidly toward consolidation.
One of the major factors in their favor is the discovery of oil in the North Sea, which could give them, theoretically, a measure of independence from the Middle East, which they might need someday, should Russia totally seal off the Middle East to them. But it’s amazing how in all of the things that are happening politically in Europe, the one thing they don’t have is a great leader. And some time ago, a Belgian premier by the name of Spock made this statement, which I thought was very interesting, and I quote: “The truth is that the method of international committees has failed.
“What we need is a man, someone of the highest order of great experience, of great authority, of wide influence, of great energy. Let him come, and let him come quickly. Either a civilian or a military man, no matter what his nationality, who will, out of all - who will cut all the red tape, shove out of the way all the committees, wake up all the people, and galvanize all governments into action. Let him come quickly. This man we need and for whom we wait will take charge of the defense of the West,” end quote.
They’re looking for a man, and Satan will give them a man to take charge. And the Bible gives us explicit information as to the character and the nature of this man. Let’s look at Daniel, chapter 8, again, and see what Daniel has to say about him. Now, as Daniel perceives the coming of this individual, he wants his readers, and he wants his hearers, to understand as clearly as possible what he will be like. He is trying to give us the full sweep of human history, culminating in the return of Christ.
And he focuses in on this final great world ruler, who will be crushed in the power of Christ. But along the way, before he really explains all there is about this final individual, he gives in the eighth chapter two other prophecies, related to men who will live before antichrist, but who will be a demonstration of the kind of man that antichrist will be. And so, you have, then, in this chapter, first the big horn, secondly, the little horn, and then the final horn, who is antichrist.
Now, I really believe there are three reasons - and I shared them with you last time, I’ll just remind you - three reasons why Daniel gives this prophecy. Number one, he wants to prepare God’s people for persecution. They don’t want to be under any illusion that things are going to get better, and better, and better, when they’re going to get worse, and worse, and worse, or they’ll misunderstand the fact that God is still in control.
So, Daniel wants the people to know that it’s going to get worse before it ever gets better, and he wants them to be aware of persecution, so he tells them that along the path of Gentile dominion till antichrist, there will be some horrible things that’ll take place. Secondly, I think Daniel wants to warn them of the general trend of history. By giving them God’s Word on the general trend of history, they will see God’s hand at work as they watch the way of the world.
And thirdly, I believe that in spite of all of this, Daniel points to the Kingdom of Christ to show that when Satan releases all of his power, he still falls infinitely short of a victory. Now, if you look at the first two verses, you get the setting, or the scene, for this, the second vision Daniel received. It was in the third year of reign of King Belshazzar - that is, before the Medes and Persians had conquered the Babylonian kingdom.
A vision came to him, and in the vision, he saw himself in Shushan - or Susa - a city in the east, which is in the area of Elam, and he was in the vision by the river Ulai. He sees himself at Susa - which at this time was an insignificant city, as I pointed out, but soon after this, would become a very, very significant city - And he has this amazing vision. And in the vision, he sees three figures.
The first one is Alexander the Great - although he’s not even born yet - the second is Antiochus Epiphanes, and the third is the final antichrist. Let me remind you of the first one, in verse 3. “I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram that had two horns: and two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.” And here, he sees the Medo-Persian empire in the figure of a ram, with its two parts, the Medes, and the Persians.
And he sees “the ram pushing westward and northward and southward” - which is exactly where the Medes and the Persians went to conquer – “and nobody could stand before them, nobody could deliver - be delivered out of their hand; he did according to his will, and became great.” The Medo-Persian empire swept over Babylon, swept to the west, the north, and the south, and conquered the world. Now, as he was watching the Medes and the Persians, “Behold, a he-goat came from the west.”
And the he-goat, you’ll remember, signifies the third world empire, Greece; this ties in very well with the vision in chapter 7, and also Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in chapter 2. So, from the west came the Greek empire, and it came rapidly and speedily, not even touching the ground, and this he-goat had a notable horn between his eyes, and this horn refers to the ruler of the Greek empire. It tells us that very clearly in verse 21.
In fact, in verse 20, it says the ram with the two horns is Mede and - Media and Persia, and the he-goat - or the rough goat - is the king of Greece, and the great horn is the first king, and the first king was Alexander the Great. So, Daniel, first of all, predicts the coming of Alexander the Great, and he comes with tremendous force, and tremendous power, and in verse 7, he comes against the ram - or the Medo-Persian ram - he destroys, and shatters, and crushes, and stamps into the ground.
And then in verse 8, the he-goat grows very great, very strong, and so forth. And yet, in the middle of his strength, his horn is broken - Alexander the Great died in a drunken orgy at the age of 33 - and out of that Greek chaos in the death of Alexander, four generals split up the kingdom. And that’s the end of verse 8; four notable ones will take over. Amazing Biblical accuracy. Medo-Persia would rise; Greece would conquer it with Alexander the Great, who would move speedily to conquer the world.
At the height of his power, his horn would be broken; and out of that, four would take over, and that is exactly what happened; exactly. Now, 22 years after the death of Alexander, the generals of Alexander, fighting and skirmishing in all of that time, for those 22 years, but finally, 22 years later, the kingdom of the Greeks was divided among those four generals. And so, we have met already the big horn; let’s look at the little horn.
Verse 9, out of one of those four horns, from the area of one of those four generals, we meet the little horn. “And out of one of them” - one of the four, and the one that you need to keep in mind is the Seleucus. There was Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus, were the four, and they were given sections of the air - of the land in the empire of the Greeks. Seleucus is the one in mind here. “Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant place” - or the pleasant land, or as it calls it in chapter 11, the glory, and that refers to Israel.
Now we meet a little horn. From one of the four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom - and mind you, now, none of these people were even alive when Daniel prophesied; this is all the omniscience of God. Out of one of those four - namely Seleucus - would rise a little horn, who would grow exceedingly great, and his power would be expressed to the south, and the east, and the pleasant land. And actually, he did express some power toward the north, in taking over the area known as Armenia.
But his great extension was to the south, and the east, and the west, to the land of Israel. Now, notice something about him, in verse 9. It’s a little horn, which grew exceedingly. Literally, the Hebrew says he went out from littleness. He began in a small way, but expanded in an amazing fashion. Now, the little horn of chapter 8 - make a mental note - is not to be confused with the little horn of chapter 7. The little horn of chapter 7, which started out little and grew, was the antichrist.
And don’t be confused by that - horns on animals were always the symbol of power and dominion, and so they are used very commonly, and we shouldn’t be surprised that Daniel would speak of two horns starting out little, and he would mean two different people. Because it’s obvious that the antichrist would start out and grow very powerful, and so would this particular one out of the reign of Seleucus. But you must keep a distinction, for this reason: the little horn in chapter 7 comes out of the Roman empire; the little horn in chapter 8 comes out of the Greek empire, and so they are to be kept distinct.
One is the antichrist, and the other is one that prefigures the antichrist. Now, all of the commentators who study the Bible, with almost little or no exception, see this individual as a man named Antiochus; Antiochus Epiphanes. He was the eighth ruler of the Seleucids, from General Seleucus’ area, and he reigned from 175 to 164 before Christ, BC, in what is known as the intertestamental period. The Old Testament shut down at 400 BC. The New Testament picked up at AD, the time of Christ.
In those 400 years, you have a Biblical time of silence. And it was in that time that this Greek power dominated the land of Israel, and at that time, this man Antiochus rose to a place of prominence. Now, up until his time, the land of Palestine had been under the control of the Ptolemies. One of the four generals was a man named Ptolemy, and out of him came a - a series of rulers called the Ptolemies, and they occupied Egypt; and up until the time of the father of Antiochus, Egypt ruled Palestine.
But at around 195 BC, Antiochus’ father, a man who was apparently a very powerful man, defeated the fifth in the line of the Ptolemies, and took Palestine into the possession of the Seleucids. So, when Antiochus came to reign, it belonged to the Seleucid territory. Now, let me just give you a little bit of an insight on what that means. This basically means that the Seleucids, who were extremely Greek in their culture, began to impose upon the land of Palestine a very Greek approach to life.
They wanted to do everything they could to destroy their Jewishness. Everything they could to destroy and break their backs, so that they would be willing members of the dominion of the Seleucids. One of the things that conquerors often do when they take over a new land is to destroy the religion of the people that are there, so they don’t hold to the traditions of the past. The Japanese attempted to do that in Korea. That’s very common in history.
And so, the Seleucids began to really put the pressure on the Jews to become Hellenized, or to be made into Greek-thinking people, in terms of culture. And when Antiochus became the king after his father, he pushed even harder at this. In fact, there’s some resource that we have to look at this period, and I’m going to be quoting from it, so keep it in mind. We have several books called the Maccabees. If you have come from a Catholic background, you’ve seen in the middle of your Bible a section of books called the Apocrypha; have you ever seen that?
The Apocrypha includes some books that were written to comment on that intertestamental time. They are not Biblical books, they are not inspired by the Spirit, but they do give us some interesting historical insight, and some of them are known as the Maccabees. And if we look at the Maccabees, we get some insight into this man Antiochus, because they comment on what he was involved in. Let me quote you from the first chapter of 1 Maccabees.
“When Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, reigned in the 130 and 7th year of the kingdom of the Greeks, and Jason labored underhand to be high priest” - in other words, Jason, a man who became the high priest, did it in an underhanded manner under Antiochus - “He forthwith brought his own nation to the Greekish fashion.” Now get this: Antiochus moves in. The first thing he does is get a Greek - Jason is not a Jewish name - get a Greek to become high priest, and then he tries to dominate the Jewish people with Greek culture.
Now, it may be that Jason was a Jew, but the fact that he had taken a Greek name is indicative of where his commitment was. Further, it says, “He built gladly a place of exercise under the tower itself, and brought the chief young men under his subjection. Now, such was the height of Greek fashions” - say the Maccabees – “an increase of heathenish manners through the exceeding profaneness of Jason, that ungodly wretch, and no high priest at all, that the priests had no courage to serve any more at the altar, but despising the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, hastened to be partakers of the unlawful allowances in the place of exercise after the game of discus called them forth.”
Now, that’s out of 2 Maccabees, chapter 4 - let me tell you what that means. Jason got - by subterfuge - got in to being high priest, and immediately, he wanted to Hellenize everybody - he wanted to stop the Jewish religion. And one of the things that he did was, right outside the tower where the Holy of Holies is located, right under the shadow of the Holy of Holies in the temple, he built a place of exercise. And you say, “well, what’s wrong with that?”
Well, the place of exercise literally means a gaming place, or a gaming house - a sporting stadium is what it is. He built a sports arena right there. You say, “Well, I still don’t understand the point. Why are they so concerned about it? What’s such a big deal, if the priests want to go out on their lunch hour and have a little exercise? What’s the deal? Why should God be so displeased with the discus throwers? Is this something wrong?”
Well, the issue was simply this, folks: it was the custom of the Greeks to participate stark naked; only covering they had on their bodies was a thin coat of oil. That was the Olympic pattern. Now, nakedness was a major issue with the Jewish people, especially next door to the Holy of Holies. Nakedness itself certainly was regarded by all orthodox believers in Judah as a - as an affront to God, who had clothed man in the Garden. And they firmly believed in the corruption of human nature, they firmly believed that there was sinfulness connected with the human body, and that this would only bring lust.
And it was impossible that true Jews could tolerate all this nakedness running around in this arena, right in full view of the Holy of Holies. That was an outrageous insult, and to think that it was all accomplished by this man, Jason. In fact, if you’d study the topography, you’ll find out that the temple is built on a hill, and he built his stadium in a valley, just to make sure everybody could see. But that was not the end of the scandal, folks.
It wasn’t enough that the Greeks were over there doing their thing, and playing the games that were supposed to be played, but pretty soon, the Jews began to join them. And not only did the Jews begin to join them, but the priests abandoned the temple, and went out there stark naked, and began to participate in the games. Now, I think you’re getting the picture. And when they got out there, according to history, they began to recognize, according to 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, that the Gentiles and the Greeks were uncircumcised, and so they thought that was the best way to be, and they began to propagate a view of uncircumcision.
Now, they are really hitting at the very heart of the mark of their Judaism. The Greek conception of beauty was different than the circumcision of the Jews, and here they were giving in - probably because the Greeks ridiculed them and scorned them when they saw them in their nakedness. And so they desired to fit in, and there was so much disgust over what was going on that it literally led to the Maccabean revolution; we’ll talk about that in a few minutes.
Nakedness had come again to Judah, and the last time nakedness had come to Judah, it had been the outstanding characteristic of the fertility goddesses of the Canaanites; for they, too, were engaged in naked orgies, and now here we go again. Nakedness being paraded all over by the athletes on the sporting grounds. And beyond that, did you know this, that all of the Greek games were dedicated to the gods, Zeus and Apollo? And so, there was paganism at the foot of the Holy of Holies.
Now, Antiochus had introduced all of this to corrupt the people of God, to infuriate them, and to introduce them to Greek culture. Well, what he did was set up an inevitable war; that’s what he did. Because while there were some who followed him, there were some who did not. Now, go back to verse 9. This little horn, this Antiochus, grew exceedingly great. He ascended the throne, following the murder of his brother, Seleucus Philopator - the rightful heir, by the way, who was the son of Seleucus, was a hostage in Rome.
And so, it says in chapter 11 that Antiochus took the throne by treachery, and once he had taken it, he began to move out. It says he went toward the south - and he did; he made some great gains in Egypt. He went toward the east - that is, into Mesopotamia, and then even drifted a little north into Armenia. And then he went to the west, the glory land, the pleasant place, the pleasant land, which is Palestine. Now let’s look at verse 10.
“And it grew great” - that is, this little horn; he got more powerful and more powerful – “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.” Now what is the host of heaven? You look up in the sky, and you see the host of heaven, and what are the host of heaven? Stars; they’re stars. And what it is saying is, that he cast down some of the stars. Now, who are these stars that this Antiochus approached?
Well, I think the best explanation is to look at chapter 12, verse 3. It says this: “And they that be wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” The stars, as Daniel comments on it in 12:3, are those who are wise, and wisdom is to know God and follow him; those who turn many to righteousness. The stars, then, in Daniel’s mind, refer to the people of God; the obedient, faithful people of God.
And the antichrist is going to do that very same thing when he comes. He is going to do everything he can to massacre the people of God. He will bring about a worldwide bloodbath. The Bible says he will wear out the saints of the Most High. He will slaughter two out of three Jews across the earth. He will do all he can to destroy all of the godly from all of the nations, and peoples, and tribes, and tongues, that come to Christ in the time of the tribulation.
He will be one who massacres the godly, and that is exactly what we see with Antiochus. He is casting down the people of God; he is stamping on the people of God. Now, Alexander the Great showed us the power of antichrist to conquer. He didn’t - he didn’t get into the persecution and the slaughter of the Jews, so much. He shows us the swiftness, and the power, and the comprehensiveness of his conquering. But Antiochus shows us the personality, the murderous personality, of antichrist, and Antiochus executed large numbers of Jews.
They had known persecution under the Babylonians. They had known persecution, to some degree, under the Assyrians, before the Babylonians. There were even some tough times under the Medes and the Persians. And it wasn’t easy under Alexander. But they never knew anything in their history to rival this man, Antiochus. What he did was utterly beyond understanding. In 1 Maccabees - again going back to that historical source - chapter 1, verse 44, of that writing says, “He made the people” - watch this – “follow strange laws.”
He made them follow strange laws. For example, he started out with the worship of Zeus and Apollo at - at the stadium at the foot of the temple, and pretty soon, he brought it in to God’s temple. He set up Zeus in the Holy of Holies. Now, you can imagine what that did to the Jewish people. And he went further than that. If any Jew participated in any Jewish ceremony - all right? If you kept the Sabbath, if you circumcised your child, if you offered a sacrifice - the penalty was death.
In 1 Maccabees, again, chapter 1, verse 63 says that “many Jews chose rather to die than to be defiled.” And so, he slaughtered them, in massive amounts, did this Antiochus, and that’s what verse 10 is saying. And he is an amped - apt picture of antichrist, who will do the same thing; the very same thing. He persecutes God’s people. You read into Revelation, read chapter 12. It’ll describe how antichrist persecutes the Jews. Then read chapter 17, and it’ll tell you how antichrist persecutes the unbelieving Gentile church, the apostate church.
Ultimately, he wipes out both true and false believers. He wipes out all the people who associate themselves at all with God. And then he sets himself to be worshiped. He makes himself God. That’s what antichrist does; that’s exactly what this fellow did, too. Now, let’s see how he attacked them; let me give you some illustrations of this. Just reading from Maccabees, chapter 1, a couple of sections.
“After two years’ time, Antiochus sent his chief collector of tribute to the cities of Judah, and he came to Jerusalem with a great multitude, and He spake works of peace unto them in deceit. And they gave him credence, and he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel. And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and the walls there around about, and the women and the children took they captive, and took possession of all the cattle.
“And many of the people were gathered unto them; everyone that forsook the law, and they committed evils in the land, and drove the Israelites into hiding places, wherever they could find a refuge. And on the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the 140 and fifth year, they built an abomination of desolation upon the altar.” They abominated the altar. “They burned incense at the door of their houses” - which was pagan – “and in the streets.
“They rent in pieces the books of the law when they found them” - they literally ripped the books of the law apart, and they – “burned them with fire. And where was found any with a book of the covenant, or if any found pleasure in the law, the king’s commandment was that they should be put to death. Thus did they, according to their might, unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities, and on the twenty-fifth day of the month, they sacrificed upon the altar, which was upon the altar of burnt offering.
“And according to the commandment, they put to death women that had caused their children to be circumcised” - listen to this – “and they hanged the babies around their mothers’ necks, and plundered their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them.” What he did was, when he found a mother who circumcised a child, he slew the baby, and tied the baby around the mother’s neck, marched her right through the middle of town to the edge of town, and threw her over a cliff to be crushed to death.
Verse 11 tells us something of further explanation in regard to his anti-Jewish activities. “Yea” - verse 11 – “he magnified himself even to the prince of the host.” I ask you a simple question. Who is the host? God’s people. Who is their prince? God Himself; Christ Himself. And so, he magnifies himself even to the equivalency of the prince of the host. I mean, he makes himself equal with God. First of all, then we could say he attacks their God. This man will come and attack their God.
He will set himself up to be - up to be equal with God. And then he will attack their sacrifices, their worship – “by him, the daily sacrifice by taken away” - and then he will attack their place of worship – “and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.” He goes after God, he goes after their worship, and he goes after their temple, to destroy their whole system. Again, in the first chapter of Maccabees it says, “And the King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be as one people, and everyone should abandon - abandon his customs.
“And all the heathen agreed to the commandment of the king. Yea, many of the Israelites found pleasure in his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah: that they should follow the foreign customs of the land, and keep burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and drink offerings out of the sanctuary, and that they should profane Sabbaths and festival days, and pollute the sanctuary and the priests.
“They should build altars in groves, and idol temples, and sacrifice pigs’ flesh and unclean animals, and that they should leave their sons uncircumcised, make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation, to the end that they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances. And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he should die.” Devastating. “And after Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned in the 140 and third year, and went up against Israel.
“And went up against Jerusalem with a great multitude. And he entered in arrogance into the sanctuary, he took the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, and the table of the showbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censors of gold, and the veil, and the crowns, and the gold ornaments in front of the temple, and he scaled the gold off. and he took the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels, and the hidden treasure, which he found.
“And having taken all, he departed into his land, and he made a massacre, and spoke very arrogantly.” He just literally devastated the whole Jewish system; just devastated the people of God; utterly devastated them. Verse 12. “And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it continued and prospered.” A host? Who did I tell you the hosts were? People of God. Part of the people of God.
An ungodly host, a segment of Israel. That’s what it’s referring to, I believe. A portion of the people of God, apostate, was given to him, and they moved against the daily sacrifice. They were part and parcel of his attempt to slaughter. Can you imagine such traitors, Jews themselves, who joined Antiochus in the slaughter of their own people. And then it says, “By reason of transgression.” There are about a dozen ways to translate that.
I guess maybe the one I favor is that it simply says the reason they did all this was because they were such evil transgressors. Antiochus did it in flagrant transgression against God. And he cast the truth to the ground. What’s the truth? God’s Word. He tore it up and burned it. And when he started this, it says at the end of verse 12, it continued and prospered. Prosperous? How could God permit that?
How could God allow such a vile, wretched, wicked, evil man, who would slaughter a pig on the altar, stuff pork down the throats of the priests, set up the god Zeus in the Holy of Holies, bring nakedness? How could God allow him to continue? Sin will continue, beloved, wherever there is a willing heart and fertile soil. That’s the choice men make. But how long?
Verse 13. “Then I heard one saint speaking” - Daniel in his vision says – “and another saint said unto that certain saint who spoke, ‘How long’ - how long – ‘shall the vision be concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?’” I mean, how long is God going to let the temple, and the sacrifice, and the people of God, be crushed like this? How long will such desolation occur? How long?
The idea of the saint here is interesting. It’s probably a reference to a holy one. That’s what the literal Hebrew is. It probably refers to angels in his vision, because the host are the people; the saint is probably a reference to the holy ones, or the angels. And so, the angels are asking the question as they view this holocaust: “How long will God allow this to go on?” How long will God allow Antiochus? Let me tell you something. The antichrist, the Bible says, will only last 1,250 days, or three-and-a-half years.
And in Matthew 24, Jesus said if it lasted any longer, nobody in the world would be saved. If the time wasn’t shortened to three-and-a-half years, it would be the end of everybody; 1,250 days. Antichrist is so much beyond Antiochus - and you can’t even imagine what this man did - but antichrist will be so far worse than this, that antichrist’s time is confined to 1,250, and Antiochus, who isn’t as severe as antichrist, gets longer than that.
Look at verse 14. “And one said unto me” - how long? “2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” -2,300 days. Now, people, when the Bible starts getting that specific, that is really amazing. The Bible says there’ll be 2,300 days in which Antiochus will oppress the Jews. Historical data is rather unavailable at this point. We can’t really tell the precise point at which this horrible holocaust began. But - now listen - this is what’s fascinating.
We do know when the closing of the 2,300 days came, because it says the closing will be the sanctuary cleansed. On December 25th, 165 BC, under the leadership of one of the Maccabees, Judas Maccabeus, the great leader of that family, who led the revolution against Antiochus, came in and cleansed the temple. December 25th, 165 BC. Now, listen - this is remarkable. So, you start with December 25th, 165 BC, and go backwards, how many days?
Twenty-three hundred days, and you figure back, you wind up at September 6th, 171 BC; September 6th, 171 BC. That, then, would be the date when some event occurred that was sufficient enough to mark the beginning of Antiochus’ anti-Jewish atrocities. Now, September 6th, 171, we don’t have any record of what happened on that day. But I’ll tell you one thing, something did happen, because God knows his numbers. And just to confirm that, listen to this: though the nature of the event is not known, history is very clear about this.
The Jewish atrocities began in 171 BC. That’s very clear from history. Until 171, say the historians, there was peace between Antiochus and the Jews. The pious high priest, a good man by the name of Onias III, was removed from office. Jason, who bribed Antiochus for the position, was put in the place of the true high priest. The anger of the Jews became stirred - that is, the righteous Jews - and though the revolution didn’t break out for a while, the thing began to fester that eventually led to that revolution.
And then 2,300 days from September 6th, the temple was cleansed, as the Maccabeans won their battle against Antiochus. Now, you get a little idea of the history of this individual by looking at verses 9 to 14. Let me just give you a couple of other facts, and we’ll move on to a conclusion, because our time is gone. Antiochus was such a maniac that he imprinted on the coins - and by the way, you might be interested to know we found 126 coins - I say we, speaking of archeologists - have found 126 coins with this on them: Theos Antiochus Theos Epiphanes, which means Antiochus, God manifest.
What a picture of antichrist, who comes as the false god. When it’s all said and done, in just one record of one time period in Antiochus’ life, he sacked Jerusalem on one occasion, and killed 80,000 Jews, sold 40,000 more into slavery, plundered the temple, dedicated it to his idols, spread the fluids that gushed out of the pig that he slaughtered on the altar - he spread those fluids all through the temple, so they were everywhere.
And as I said, he forced pork down the throats of the priests, and he said, “From now on, the only thing you’re allowed to worship here is Zeus, Bacchus, Saturn,” et cetera. You know what else he did? He took the temple chambers, where the people had come to worship God, and he established prostitution in those temple chambers, and they became brothels. Terrible man, but he’s nothing like the one that’s coming. Hard to understand, isn’t it?
The Maccabeans came down out of the hills one day, and destroyed him; and they got 100 years of freedom, before the Romans finally clenched the fist around their necks again. And it must have been a glorious freedom, from such a horrible, horrible man. But it only lasted a hundred years, and it wasn’t long until Pompeii, the Roman general, marched through the kingdom of the Seleucids into Palestine, shattered the power of the Seleucids.
In 63 BC, Judah became a Roman province. Short freedom; political independence of Israel was over very soon. As you look at Alexander, you see the power and the swiftness of antichrist. As you look at this man, you see his evil, vile, wretched, God-hating persecution. This is what the antichrist will be. And with that we come to the final horn, in just a couple of comments. Verse 23. “And in the latter time of their kingdom” - the latter time of their kingdom; I believe the latter time of their kingdom means that, the latter time.
The latter time of whose kingdom? Their kingdom. Who’s that? In the end time, the latter time of the four kingdoms, the revived Roman empire time, the final phase time - “when the transgressors are come to the full” - in the latter time of the kingdom of man, in the latter time of the kingdom of the Gentiles, in the time when transgression has come to its apex and its fullness, when those literally who fully transgress are come, when sin has reached its pinnacle, then - “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.”
That’s the antichrist. Fierce countenance? What does that mean? Just what it says. Countenance has to do with his face, his demeanor, his personality; he will be fierce, he will be strong, he will be vehement. He will be a class one intimidator, like the world has never seen. And he will understand dark sentences; that can mean two things. One, it can mean that he solves riddles; He is a great problem solver. I think that’ll be true.
I think the antichrist will solve the problems of the world; at least, they’ll think he will. I think he’ll be an incredible intellect. But more than that, it also has the possibility, when it says understanding dark sentences, of meaning that he consults with those who come from the pit. In other words, he’s occultic. He deals with mediums and demons. And I think that’ll be true also, and so, a demonic genius will rise at the end, the final horn, the final and greatest of all of Satan’s personalities.
Verse 24. “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” Oh, listen to that. “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” Why? He is energized by Satan. In Revelation 13:2, it says, “And the dragon” - who is Satan – “gave him” - the beast, who is antichrist – “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” He’s energized by Satan, all the way. He is a Satan-indwelt individual. And he will be far worse than an Antiochus, and far more powerful and glorious than an Alexander.
He’ll come - mark it. And at the end of verse 24, it says, “He will prosper, and he will continue, and he will destroy the mighty and the holy people.” Summing it up, you could say, as it does earlier in the verse, “he will destroy wonderfully.” It doesn’t mean good; it means the world will be full of wonder at the power of his destruction and devastation. And he’ll be successful, like Antiochus was, and he’ll destroy the mighty and the holy people.
He’ll level the kings, and the rulers, and the leaders of the world, as well as the people of God, in a holocaust of devastation that’s beyond description. And if you want to see it, you have to continue to read in Daniel, and we’ll get to more of it later - and also read the book of Revelation. Verse 25, “And through his policy” - literally that means his cunning – “also he shall cause deceit to prosper in his hand; and shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes” - that’s Christ – “but he shall be broken without hand.”
You know what that means, without hand? Supernaturally, without any human power, he’ll be shattered and broken. His cunning is linked - look at verse 25 again – his cunning is linked to deceit. By treachery, and deceit, and cunning, he will accomplish his purposes. He will be a deceitful, treacherous, wise, brilliant, Satanically-indwelt genius; and he’ll get there by lies and deceit. By the way, the political system of the world’s set up for that; that’s politics nowadays.
And then it says in verse 25, “He shall magnify himself in his heart.” Proud, self-exalting, he even calls in Revelation 13 for the whole world to worship him. And then comes the crash. You have to rejoice. He’s used peace to destroy. As Revelation 6 says, “He comes with a bow,” but it doesn’t say he has arrows. He comes with a threat. He comes with a - with almost a Cold War approach. He comes as a genius, as an intimidator, and by peace, he gets control.
But he stands up against the Prince of princes, and that’s going too far, and he is broken without hand, supernaturally. And how and what happens after that? I believe he’s broken when Christ receives His Kingdom, and comes in power and glory, and shatters him, and says in Revelation that He takes him, and casts him into the pit for ever and ever and ever. It’s an incredible picture, isn’t it? What a prophecy. You can chart it right through history.
Yes, there was an Alexander, as Daniel said. Yes, there was an Antiochus. Yes, there will be an antichrist. People say, “Well, antichrist is just a spirit.” Listen, Alexander wasn’t a spirit, and neither was Antiochus, and antichrist won’t be either. He’ll be a real man. Listen, now that you know this, there’s a price to pay. There really is, and there was for Daniel. Look at it in verses 26 and 27. “And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true” - this is a true vision, he said; this is a true vision - “wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”
What does he mean, shut it up? Don’t tell it? No, because he wrote it out here. What he means is hold onto it. Literally, it should be translated preserve this vision; preserve it, for it’s going to be many days before it comes to pass. And there was a time gap before Alexander, and there was a time gap before Antiochus, and there’s a time gap before antichrist, and there would be millennia of God’s people who needed to understand this vision.
And so, Daniel is told to be sure he preserves the vision, for it is many days until it comes to pass. Now, what is this saying to us? It’s saying, beloved, this: that now that we have this understanding, it’s up to us to preserve its truths for people to hear. “Daniel, you have a responsibility to preserve this truth.” I believe we have to warn the world, don’t you, as to where it’s going. That’s why I’m warning you. And then, secondly, in verse 27, “And I Daniel fainted” - I don’t blame you, Daniel.
“I fainted.” He just passed out, just keeled over. That’s a severe emotional reaction. He got the message. He knew the way the world was going to go. He could see the people of God destroyed, and trampled, and devastated, and slaughtered, and massacred, and he fainted. You not only have a responsibility to preach the message, beloved, you have a responsibility to care for the people, don’t you? That’s what hurt him. That’s why he fainted.
He fainted because he was overwrought with the pain and the sorrow. And it says, “And I was sick certain days; and afterward I rose up, and went back to doing the kings business” - you remember, he was the prime minister of the land - “and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” In other words, “I did my part. I told them all, and I didn’t - didn’t close it in. I – I - I preserved it, in the sense not of shutting it up” - that’s an unfortunate translation - “but in the sense of letting it be known. But nobody understood it.”
So, he’s saying, “I was faithful to it.” Summing up the conclusion, it’s very easy to see what we’re to do. Number one, we have a responsibility to proclaim the message, because it’s true, and the world needs to know. Secondly, that’s only going to happen when we’re so emotionally overwrought that we want to warn men, like Daniel did. When’s the last time you read a truth in the Word of God, and fainted because you were so emotionally traumatized by it? When’s the last time you ever got that concerned at all?
I question myself about that. I go through the Bible time after time, learn great spiritual truths, and I take it just like water off a duck’s back. Take it or leave it. There are people who don’t even bother to come to hear it. You can tell people you’re going to tell them about the history of the world, and they - they’re not interested in that. They don’t even bother to come, and they’re Christians. It’s hard to understand, isn’t it?
Maybe some of us would do well if we didn’t have these things; we wouldn’t have to face the responsibility. But now that you’ve been here, you’ve got it, and you should have two reactions. One is the responsibility to tell people, and the other is the responsibility to care, ‘cause if you don’t care, you’re not going to tell. Well, let’s pray. Father, help us to react properly to these things. We’re so overwhelmed. We - we’ve tried just to squeeze so much history down, and I know I’ve probably muddled it from place to place.
And, Lord, I just pray that somehow, You’ll unscramble it in our minds, so we really understand that when You said it was going to get worse through Daniel, You meant it. And when you said to Israel that there was going to be a time of persecution and trampling, that’s exactly what happened. It’s going to happen in the future again. But, oh God, how wonderful to know that You made a way of escape in the sending of the Lord Jesus Christ. You provided a provision for sin.
The people who lived under Alexander, and lived under Antiochus, if they were faithful and looked ahead, if they were faithful to see the ultimate sacrifice, that was pictured in all those other sacrifices, if they believed You, then the blood of Christ cleansed their sins, even though, as of yet, it was not shed. And we, on the other side, Lord, who look down on the history and see the future, when antichrist again comes and slaughters across the world, know that there’ll be people then who, not looking forward as those in the Old Testament, but looking backward to the cross, will cling to the confidence that is theirs because Christ shed His own blood, and we’ll be delivered from the wrath to come.
Thank You for that confidence. Father, we pray, too, for any who might be in our midst tonight who don’t know Christ, who stand to be a part of the terrible holocaust of the future, who will be destroyed in antichrist’s day if they identify themself with the false church, for he consumes that, as Revelation 17 indicates. If they identify themself with the true people of God, they’ll be devastated in death, though raised in glorification.
If they identify themselves only with the secular system of the world, it, too, will be destroyed, by God. And so, Father, we pray that no one would leave this place who hasn’t put his trust or her trust in Jesus Christ, for what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? May we see, as clearly as Daniel saw, the way it’s going in the world, and may we see that the only one who can save us is Christ, who died and rose again for us.
Speak to our hearts, Father, in just that special way we need to hear, and we’ll thank You in Christ’s name. Amen.
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