The On-Line Commentary
on the Book of Daniel

By Brother Given Blakely.

The Prophecy of Daniel

Lesson Number 25
TRANSLATION LEGEND: ASV=American Standard Version (1901), BBE=Bible in Basic English (1949), DRA=Douay-Rheims (1899), ESV=English Stand Version (2001), KJV=King James Version (1611), NKJV=New King James Version (1982), NAB=New American Bible, NASB=New American Standard Bible (1977), NAU=New American Standard Bible (1995), NIB=New International Bible, NIV=New International Version (1984), NJB=New Jerusalem Bible, NLT=New Living Translation, NRSV=New Revised Standard Version (1989), RSV=Revised Standard Version (1952), TNK=JPS Tanakj (1985), YLT-Young’s Literal Translation (1862).
8:9 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. 10 And it 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. 11 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. 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 practiced, and prospered. 13 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? 14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. 15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.” KJV (Dan 8:9-15)
In going through this vision, great care must be exercised not be diverted to academic or mere analytical approaches. We must remember that this is a revelation, not a subject for human speculation. By “academic approaches,” I mean a purely historical point of view. By “analytical approaches, I mean attempting to superimpose a humanly developed interpretation on the prophecy of the future. To be sure, there are historical realities and values to be gleaned from this text. As well, there are indications of things that will take place in the future. However, neither of these constitutes the hub of the text. We must engage both heart and mind to come away from this passage thinking soberly, and in accord with what the Lord intends for us to know. His purpose is NOT to open a limited Divine dialog that will spark the interest of men, and give them something to toss back and forth among themselves like a doctrinal ball. All too often, the book of Daniel is interpreted in precisely this way. This kind of approach has not proved profitable for others, nor will it be advantageous for us. God is not devoted to promoting mere scholarly discussion, but in advancing the faith and hope of His people.
There are times when God has spoken specifically about particular individuals, even mentioning them by name. Prophecies concerning the chastening work of Nebuchadnezzar were of this order. Jeremiah prophesied of the coming of “Nebuchadnezzar” several years before he actually came (Jer 27:6-8). The same thing is true of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Cyrus (Isa 44:28). In both of these cases, the individual himself was of importance, as well as what was to be done by him. Both were to accomplish the will of God. The first related to the chastening of Israel, and the second to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple.
However, when it comes to evil workers, the Holy Spirit is not always so specific. Because their work is of such an evil order, their names are often withheld from us. This is not to say there are not specific individuals who fulfilled these prophecies – such as the one set before us. However, the identity of the person is not the critical matter. Therefore, if we insist on engaging in an inordinate quest to know precisely who the person is, we will deprive ourselves of the benefit of the text. Also, we must take great care not to end up in an area of thought where God Himself is pushed into background, or fear is pulled into the foreground. If what we conclude or say does not promote faith and hope, it is not likely that it is true.
A word should be said about the nature of visions. The Scriptures record a number of visions that were given to the prophets. A brief record of some of them is provided below.
Isaiah: The Lord in glory (Isa 6:1-6) Isaiah: The valley of vision (Isa 22:1-25). Jeremiah: The rod of an almond tree (Jer 1:11). Jeremiah: The seething pot (Jer 1:13). Ezekiel: The glory of God (Ezek 1:3-14). Ezekiel: The roll of a book (Ezek 2:9).
Ezekiel: A man of fire (Ezek 8:1-18). Ezekiel: Cherubim (Ezek 10:1-7). Ezekiel: The valley of dry bones (Ezek 37). Ezekiel: The city of God and the Temple of God (Ezek 40). Ezekiel: The healing waters (Ezek 47). Daniel: The four beasts (Dan 7:1-8). Daniel: The Ancient of days (Dan 7:9-10). Daniel: The ram and the he goat (Dan 8:1-27). Daniel: An angel (Dan 10:5-21). Amos: Grasshoppers (Amos 7:1-2). Amos: Of fire (Amos 7:4). Amos: A plumbline (Amos 7:7-8). Amos: Summer fruit (Amos 8:1-2). Amos: The Lord upon the altar (Amos 9:1). Zechariah: A man on a red horse, with other horses behind him (Zech 1:8-11). Zechariah: Four horns and ofur carpenters (Zech 1:18-21). Zechariah: Joshua the high priest before the angel of the Lord (Zech 3:1-5). Zechariah: The golden candlestick (Zech 4:1-10). Zechariah: The flying roll (Zech 5:1-4). Zechariah: Two brass mountains and two chariots (Zech 6:1-8).
Others who had visions include Abraham (Gen 15:1), Jacob (Gen 28:12), Joshua (Josh 5:13-15), Moses (Ex 24:9-11), Balaam (Num 24:2-9), Elisha (2 Kgs 2:11), Michaiah (1 Kgs 22:17-23), Samuel (1 Sam 3:15), David (1 Chron 21:15-18), Job (Job 4:12-16), Nahum (Nah 1:1), Habakkuk (Hab 2:2), Zecharias (Lk 1:13-22), John the Baptist (Matt 3:16), Peter James and John (Matt 17:1-9), the women at the tomb (Lk 24:23), Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), Paul (Acts 16:9), Ananias (Acts 9:10-12), Cornelius (Acts 10:3), Peter (Acts 10:9-14), and John the Apostle. John alone was given to see at least sixty-three visions in the Revelation, ranging from the glorified Christ in chapter one to the tree of life in chapter twenty-two.
In nearly all of these visions, there was an overall thrust that emphasized what God Himself was doing. In many respects, visions were like parables. The details they outlined were not the real point, but the truth depicted by them. Further, while nearly all of them involved people and places, the accent was placed upon what would occur, and how it particularly related to the purpose of God. In no case were they mere commentaries on events that would take place among men.
In the visions given to Daniel, we will behold the utter futility of contradicting the God of heaven. No one who fights God can possibly succeed! This is true of the people who bear His name – like the children of Judah. It will also be true of those He uses to chasten His people, like Nebuchadnezzar, and those He uses to recover holy places, Like Cyrus.
On the other hand, the Lord will also show Daniel that ultimately those who put their trust in Him will be given the kingdom. Even though it may appear as though they have been deprived of all of God’s promises, they will eventually inherit all things.
It will also be confirmed to our hearts that all worldly power is temporal, and tends to human pride and the opposition of God, His will, and His people. We must not allow any theological or favored view to hide these things from us. As soon as any of these realities become secondary in our thinking, we are on a religious bypath that does not end with Divine approval!
With these things in mind, I will proceed with the text. My intent is to carefully protect the overall view the Lord is promoting. While there are specific fulfillments of this text in history, and possibly things in the future as well, those events are not themselves the point of the text. We are being exposed to a Divine commentary on, and confirmation of, the following kingdom principles.
The futility of a dominating and ostensibly enthroned evil. Although it prospers, it is only for a time.
The impregnability of Divine purpose, and how nothing can thwart, change, or inhibit what God has determined.
The impotence of humanity to stand against those to whom He gives power.
The sureness of the promises of God. They are to be believed, and the fulfillment of them anticipated.
The destiny of the saints of the Most High God will be fulfilled in the most precise detail. This will be done in spite of the rise of seemingly invincible worldly powers, and attacks that are most ruthless.
“ 8:9 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.”
Daniel is being shown the progress of worldly kingdoms. Consideration is being given to the progress of the Grecian kingdom, which overthrew the Medes and the Persians. First we saw a he goat, then the focus was upon a single “notable horn” on that he goat. That was followed by the breaking of the notable horn and consequent surfacing of four “notable ones” that rose in its place. Thus the Grecian kingdom was perceived as a whole. Then the focus was placed on its first king, through whom the Medo-Persians were brought down. The attention then passed to four
rulers who continued this empire. In all of this, the heavens were ruling, and nothing was out of control.
It may have appeared as though Satan was winning, working through idolaters and those who were not the people of God, as ordinarily perceived. But the devil was not winning, and the political entities that promoted violence and false religion were not driving the history of the world. It is still true, “The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psa 24:1). And again, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Dan 4:35).
It is no different with the power now to be introduced. We will find it is a wicked power, but subservient to God. It will oppose God and His people, but will ultimately fail. We are not, therefore, to marvel at the influence of this power, but rather glorify God that it could not survive the judgment of the Almighty.
“And out of one of them came forth a little horn . . . ” Other versions read, “out of one of them came a rather small horn,” NASB and “another horn, which started small.” NIV
Not the “little horn” of Chapter 7
This is not the “little horn” previously mentioned in chapter seven (7:8). That horn was said to “wear out the saints of the Most High,” who were given to him for a time, times, and half a time. He was also noted for deception, having a mouth that spoke great things (7:20). He also was deposed when his kingdom was taken away by judgment, and given to the saints (7:26-27). Additionally, that “horn” was related to the fourth beast, which was the Roman empire, surfacing amidst the ten horns, or kings, related to that empire.
This “little horn” is related to the third empire, which was Greece, and is depicted as springing from one of the four rulers who replaced the “notable horn,” Alexander the Great.
From One of the Four Notable Ones
I have already identified the four rulers called “notable ones” as Seleucus (Eastern), Lysimachus (Northern), Ptolemy (Southern), and Cassander (Western). While the “little horn” of chapter seven rose independently of the ten horns, supplanting three of them, this one proceeds from one of the four notable horns of Grecia. It is an extension of one of them.
It is generally understood that this “little horn” is fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, who sprang out of the Seleucidaen kingdom in Syria – from Seleucus king of Syria. As we proceed through this passage, the probability of this being true will become more evident.
Antiochus Epiphanes is here considered a “little horn” because in the beginning it did not appear evident that he would be a significant ruler. He was the younger son of Antiochus the Great.
After securing the kingdom through “fraud, cruelty, and stratagem,” he assumed the title of Epiphanes, which means “the illustrious.” EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE It will become apparent that he was an
especially evil man, as has been confirmed by both worldly and religious historians. His reign was from 176-164 B.C.
A Principle to be Seen
There is an important principle to be seen here. This “little horn” did not come from an honorable or godly source. It had heathen origins, or sprang out of a godless environment. In this we have confirmed that evil begets evil.
What is of itself morally wicked cannot produce something that is good. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6). The idea is that it can never be anything else. Flesh cannot be converted, reformed, or caused to be a source of God-honoring good.
In another place Jesus reminded us, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit” (Mat 12:33) And again,“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Luke 6:43).
Ultimately, this ruler did not come from a good tree, but from an evil one. I say “ultimately” because I recognize there are some unusual circumstances in Scripture – like wicked Absalom coming from David, and faithful Rahab from Jericho. Therefore, this ruler, whom I believe to be Antiochus Epiphanes, is to be seen as one of Satan’s children, seeking to compete against, and even overthrow, the purpose of God.
“ . . . which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east... ” Other versions read, “grew exceedingly great toward,” NASB and “grew in power to.” NIV
The idea is that this king expanded his kingdom toward the South and the East. Egypt was toward the South. In 170 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes conquered Egypt. Maccabean history records the following. “Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt, that he might have the dominion of two realms. Wherefore he entered Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy. And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death. Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils thereof.” 1 Macc 1:16-19
Persia and other countries were in the East, toward which this wicked king also expanded his kingdom. Of these exploits books of the Maccabees records, “
“He saw that the money of his treasures failed, and that the tributes in the country were small, because of the dissension and plague which he had brought upon the land, and he feared that he should not be able to bear the charges any longer, nor to have such gifts to give so liberally as he did before; wherefore, being greatly perplexed in his mind, he determined to go into Persia, there to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money. So the king departed from Antioch, his royal city, the hundred forty and seventh year; and having passed the river Euphrates, he went through the high countries.” 1 Macc 3:21-37
The core army with which he pushed out the borders of his kingdom consisted of “46,000 foot soldiers . . . among them a Macedonian phalanx of 20,000 men and 500 mercenaries equipped with Roman arms, followed by 8,500 horsemen and 306 armoured elephants.” BRITANNICA 2002 He was powerful and rapid in his spread toward the South and East.
“ . . . and toward the pleasant land.” Other versions read, “toward the Glorious land,” NKJV “the Beautiful land,” NASB “the beauty of the earth,” DARBY “Land of Splendour,” NJB and “the glorious land of Israel” NLT
Conquering Egypt and countries in the East may have been significant in the realm of politics. However, it was only incidental in the Divine economy. This word concerning the aggression of the “little horn” who waxed great is particularly noted in heaven.
The “pleasant land” is “the land of the Jews” (Acts 10:39), and is mentioned by this name four times in Scripture. When Antiochus Epiphanes thought to move against the “land of the Jews,” he made a strategic blunder from which he would not be able tor ecover.
“Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His word” (Psa 106:24).
“But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me” (Jer 3:19)
“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” (Dan 8:9).
“But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate” (Zec 7:14).
Other references to this land accent its prominence in the Divine economy.
A Glorious Land “In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands” (Ezek 20:6).
“Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands” (Ezek 20:15).
“Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands” (Ezek 20:15).
“But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed” (Dan 11:16).
“He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon” (Dan 11:41).
God Calls it “MY Land”
Eight times God refers to the land of Israel, the promised land, as “MY land” (2 Chron 7:20; Isa 14:25; Jer 2:7; 16:18; Ezek 36:5; 38:16; Joel 1:6; 3:2). Five times the Prophets refer to it as “His land” (Deut 32:43; Psa 10:16; Ezek 36:10; Joel 2:18; Zech 9:16).
Other Stimulating References
To Moses, God referred to this land as “the Sanctuary” (Ex 15:17). Zechariah referred to it as “the holy land”(Zech 2:12). Hosea called it “the Lord’s land” (Hos 9:3). Isaiah speaks to the land as “O Immanuel” (Isa 8:8), and prophesies it will be called “Beulah” (Isa 62:4). Moses called it a “good land” Deut 9:7), and “a land which the Lord thy God careth for” (Deut 11:12). Thirty-one times it is called “the land of Israel” (Josh 11:22; 1 Sam 13:19; 2 Kgs 5:2,4; 6:23; 1 Chron 13:2; 22:2; 2 Chron 2:17; 30:25; 34:7; Ezek 7:2; 11:17;12:19,22; 13:9; 18:2; 20:38,42; 21:2,3; 25:3,6; 27:17; 33:24; 36:6; 37:12; 38:18,19; 40:2; 47:18; Matt 2:20,21). Once it is called “the land of the Jews” (Acts 10:39).
The Land Was Defiled
The Lord indicted and judged Israel because they “defiled” His land (Jer 2:7; 16:18). He told them if they forsook His statutes and served other gods, He would “pluck them by the roots” out of His land (2 Chron 7:20). He judged nations who made His land their own possession (Ezek 36:5). The Lord also pledged to destroy those nations that “parted,” or “divided up” His land (Joel 3:2). Those who defiled this land or moved against it in personal ambition sealed their own doom.
It is difficult to conceive of a land in this world having any more prominence in the purpose of God. When, therefore, this king turned his attention toward “the pleasant land” – a land which God, in a particular way, claimed for His own – his deeds drew special attention. His advance against this land is not to be ignored, for it is an attack against God Himself, as will be confirmed. He is touching what belongs to God.
“ 10 And it 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.”
We now come to a description of this despotic power that is most challenging. Commencing with the spread of this ruler into “the pleasant land” of Israel, a different kind of language is employed. It is stronger, more significant, and indicates that something more was required to overcome this territory than was involved in overthrowing Egypt, or countries in the East.
“And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven . . . ” Other versions read, “It grew up to the hosts of heaven,” NKJV “It grew until it reached the host of heaven,” NIV “It grew as high as the host of heaven,” NRSV “It magnified itself to the host of heaven,” Septuagint and “It grew right up to the armies of heaven.” NJB
The vision depicts the ruler of reference as a horn growing upwards until it penetrates the starry heavens. This reveals a Satanic type spirit, for it is said of our adversary, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa 14:13-14).
When Antiochus Epiphanes came against “the pleasant land,” it was like a ruthless horn penetrating the heavens. He came into a land that belonged to God, and which was identified as “His land.” The ruler entered a place that was related more directly to the Lord than any other land. The people in that land were, in this world, like stars in the heavens.
“ . . . and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” Other versions read, “caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth,” NASB “the some of the starry host to the earth,” NIV “pulling down some of the army, even of the stars, to the earth,” BBE and “and flung armies and stars to the ground.” NJB
We will learn later that this language refers to the overthrow of the people of God. Daniel will be given further details of this vision. Referring to the very ruler we are now considering, and to the very events we are not beholding, the prophet is told, “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people” (Dan 8:24).
The vision thus portrays Antiochus Epiphanes entering the holy land and casting down its leaders and rulers. He did not thoroughly expunge the race, but only “cast down some” of them.
There is, however, an additional observation that I want to make on this passage. This overthrow of the people of God in God’s own land involved more than earthly warfare. We know from later revelations given to Daniel that the shaking of earthly powers also involves a disruption in lofty realms, where the principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world reside.
That reference is most remarkable, and is found in verses 13-21 of the tenth chapter. It will suffice only to mention it here, for I will deal more at length with it when we come to that section.
Suffice it to say, the occasion mentioned above found a holy angel detained for twenty-one days by a wicked prince. Furthermore, the battle was so fierce Michael the archangel had to help the angel. Additionally, the angel told Daniel he was going to return to that very battle, after which the “prince of Grecia” would come – another principality. It was then that the Grecian kingdom would arise – the very kingdom out of which the ruler of whom we are now speaking arose.
Antiochus Epiphanes was, then, driven and empowered by some wicked principality – one which compelled him to move against those who were aligned with the God of heaven. All of this was under the strict administration of God, as will be confirmed, and there was a Divinely established reason for it happening.
A Difficulty Introduced
I understand this does introduce some difficulties. The novice will ask, “Is not God more powerful than Satan? And are not the holy angels able to repel the advances of wicked angels?” Indeed, were we only speaking about angelic hosts and the powers of darkness, that would be true. However, we are now beholding how the affairs of men have been impacted by these powers, and that changes the entire picture. While God is Sovereign over the devil, and holy angels are more powerful that wicked ones, their involvement with men is directly impacted by the human condition.
Men Cannot Sin with Impunity
Men cannot sin with impunity – without it affecting God and the heavenly hosts. There is sufficient evidence of this throughout Scripture, even though some have conveniently chosen to ignore it in their theology. When Adam and Eve sinned, God, angels, and the devil himself were affected. God drove them out. An angelic spirit kept them out with a flaming sword. The devil gained fuller access to them. When the world refused to retain God in their knowledge, and violence finally filled the whole earth, it impacted upon God and the holy angels as well. God sent a flood upon the earth, and Enoch says He was attended by heavenly hosts in doing so (Jude 1:14-15).
For Israel, they were a “holy people” by Divine choice. However, they were a wicked and gainsaying people by personal choice. This condition gave wicked powers increased authority – although they by no means were omnipotent. God is not unrighteous, and thus will not lavish His care and grace upon those who insist on being sinful, even though He has revealed Himself to them.
The withdrawal of Divine protection is depicted in the words, “and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” This is similar, though not identical, to the case of Job, where the “hedge” was lowered (Job 1:10). Only God can grant access to things belonging to Him!
For the Land’s Sake
Notice how arresting the language is. Because the state of the people themselves was so deplorable before the Lord, the Spirit says the little horn who waxed great came into “the pleasant land.” While his action might have appeared fully justifiable from the standpoint of the people, it was utterly wrong because of the God whose land he entered. If God’s people had not
themselves “defiled the land” (Jer 3:9), this horn could not have grown up into heaven, pulled down some of its stars, and mercilessly trampled them.
For the sake of clarification, we are now being taught about the Israelites – the fleshly offspring of Abraham. That is why “the pleasant land” is introduced. The “saints of the Most High,” by comparison, do not have a land in this world. They have been made to sit “in heavenly places,” and are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 2:11). They too were assaulted, as was revealed in the revelation about the “little horn” of chapter seven. However, those events took place after Jesus had received the kingdom, together with all dominion and power. Daniel is now being shown how that very conflict was prefigured in Israel, prior to Christ’s enthronement. For Daniel, both events were in the future.
“ 11 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.”
Even if we could know nothing more of this text than the words themselves, our hearts and minds would be seriously affected by it. When we read of someone magnifying himself to, or up against, the prince of the host, taking away the daily sacrifice, and casting down the place of the sanctuary, we are reading of something that cannot be incidental. The language itself shouts of something that is of great significance. The land, the host, the sacrifice, and the sanctuary – all have to do with the God of heaven!
Remember, this is happening within the context of Judaism, and in “the pleasant land.” We will now see how this assault was viewed in heaven. Whatever we may observe from history – and there is much to be observed – we must not allow it to detract us from what actually was happening. History can blind our eyes to what really occurred, as well as assisting us to see something of earthly circumstances associated with the event. If we allow the light of God to illuminate historic events that are mentioned in Scripture, they will bring benefit to us. However, if we allow our attention to stop with them, our considerations will bring nothing of lasting benefit to us.
“Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host . . . ” Other versions read, “He exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host,” NKJV “It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host,” NASB “It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host,” NIV “Even against the Prince of the host it acted arrogantly,” NRSV “He extolled himself against the prince of the host,” GENEVA “It even challenged the power of the Prince of the army,” NJB “He even challenged the Commander of heaven’s armies,” NLT and “It vaunted itself against the very chief of the host.” TNK
The Sin of Self Magnification
To “magnify”ones self is to push self beyond the moral boundaries assigned to men. Men are to “magnify the Lord” (Psa 34:13; Luke1:46), exalting Him, and assigning the glory and the power to Him. Because He is Himself supreme, the Lord can Himself “magnify” people. He “magnified Joshua” (Josh 4:14) and Solomon (1 Chron 29:25), making them great. He magnifies His own mercy (Gen 19:19), and His Word (Psa 138:2), assigning greatness and effectiveness too them. God alone can rightly magnify people and things.
The strength of Moab was abruptly terminated because he “magnified himself against the Lord.” Thus it is written, “The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD. Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision” (Jer 48:25-26). If fact God said Moab would be “utterly destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord” (Jer 48:42). When Jeremiah lamented the condition his people before the Lord, he called for mercy, “for the enemy hath magnified himself” (Lam 1:9).
The act of self-magnification, therefore, is a sin of the greatest magnitude. It will not be overlooked by the Lord. It is ever true, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased” (Luke 14:11). The very fact, therefore, that any person in general, and Antiochus Epiphanes specifically, has magnified or exalted themselves mandates that they will fall, being brought down by the very God to whom they refused to submit.
The Prince of Hosts Is God
Some have taken this expression to refer to the high priest in those times. But such a lofty title was never assigned to a high priest. This is language that is only befitting of God Himself.
The Redeemer is referred to as the “Prince of peace” (Isa 9:6), “the Prince of princes” (Dan 8:25), “the Messiah the Prince”(Dan 9:25), “the Prince of life” (Acts 3:15), and “Prince and Savior”(Acts 5:31). An earthly ruler magnifying himself against another earthly ruler, or religious dignitary, would not be significant. Such things do not draw the attention of heaven. But when an assault is made against the people of God, the law of God, or the house of God, the matter at once is noted.
When, therefore, this ruler “magnified himself,” he did so against God. That is, by assigning preeminence to himself, he attempted to take it away from the God of heaven. His action was considered an attack against the Lord, even though it would prove utterly futile. Thus we read of individuals who are said to have “magnified himself against he Lord” (Jer 48:26,42), and groups who “magnified themselves against the Lord” (Zeph 2:8,10).
This Is Heaven’s View
It is important to note that this is heaven’s view of the situation. A news analyst would not have assessed the deeds of Antiochus Epiphanes in this manner. They would have viewed his assault as against the Jews themselves and their religion. In fact, the encyclopedia says of him, “His attempts to suppress Judaism brought on the Wars of the Maccabees.” BRITANNICA 2002 The activities of Antiochus Epiphanes was an act of self magnification, and was against the God of heaven. It was a bold, yet fruitless, initiative to usurp the throne of God.
An attack against the saints, or against what God has revealed, constitutes an attack against God Himself. That is how it is viewed from the heavenly chambers. Even Gamaliel knew this. When the Apostles were fiercely opposed by the Jewish council, he said, “But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:39). On another occasion, Paul fomented a conflict between the Sadducees and Pharisees by saying he was called into question concerning “the hope and resurrection of the dead.” Because the Sadducees denied the resurrection, the Pharisees declared, “We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (Acts 23:9).
For this reason we often are given the Divine perspective of words and deeds done against His people and His Word. Israel, for example, is said to have spoken “against God” in their murmurings (Num 21:5; Psa 78:19). The “carnal mind,” though energetically defended by men, is said to be “enmity against God” (Rom 8:7). Aachan’s covetous sin was said to be “against the Lord” (Josh 7:20). In assessing the death of king Saul, the Spirit says, “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it” (1 Chron 10:13). When a war broke out between Abijah and Jeroboam, Abijah spoke in defense of the Lord, urging the men to choose the right. He said, “O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper” (2 Chr 13:12).
Consistently throughout Scripture, opposition to God’s people and His Word are viewed as opposition to God Himself. Thus we read of this ruler coming against the Prince of the host, engaging in an initiative against the God of heaven. From viewpoint of earth, it was an assault against the Jews, and an attempt to overthrow Judaism, or the religion of the Jews. But God took it personally.
There are several things revealed in this text. There was no authority this ruler respected.
There was no authority or ruler he feared, or whom he was not forward to attack.
He engaged in an assault against the God of heaven, who is the Prince of the host.
A Trend in Worldly Rulers
Before going further, I do want to observe that it is a tendency in earthly rulers to magnify themselves. Although there have been good and beneficent rulers, they have not been the norm. Men such as Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and the likes, have overcome the corrupt tendencies that accompany earthly leadership. This is no doubt one of the reasons “supplications, prayers, and intercessions” are to be made “for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Tim 2:1-2). Nowithstanding that tendency, whenever a ruler magnified himself, as did Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Herod, and others, it is always duly noted by the God of heaven.
“ . . . and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away . . . ” Other versions read, “it removed the regular sacrifice from Him,” NASB “it took away the daily sacrifice from Him,” NIV “it took the regular
burnt offering away from Him,” NRSV “the continual burnt offering was taken away from Him,” RSV “and it took away from Him the continual sacrifice,” DOUAY “abolished the perpetual sacrifice,” NJB “cancelling the daily sacrifices offered to Him,” NLT and “on its account the regular offering was suspended.” TNK
Here is one of the things considered to be a direct initiative against the living God. The “little horn,” who waxed great, magnifying itself, terminated the daily sacrifices. This same transgression is committed by others who are classed with Antiochus Epiphanes (11:31). The cessation of the daily sacrifices is again mentioned in 12:11.
The Daily Sacrifices
The law for daily sacrifices was established by God, and was very clear. “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you” NKJV (Ex 29:38-42).
This requirement is again specified in Numbers 28:3-4. “And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even.”
When the Lord revealed to Ezekiel the reestablishment of the Temple service, He specified a pertetual sacrifice, although no mention is made of the evening sacrifice. “And thou shalt prepare a meat offering for it every morning, the sixth part of an ephah, and the third part of an hin of oil, to temper with the fine flour; a meat offering continually by a perpetual ordinance unto the LORD. Thus shall they prepare the lamb, and the meat offering, and the oil, every morning for a continual burnt offering” (Ezek 46:14-15).
In opening up the High Priesthood of Christ, the Spirit referred to these sacrifices which were “offered year by year continually” (Heb 10:1).
The Reasoning Behind These Sacrifices
There were at least two reasons for these continual sacrifices.
First, sin, which is the transgression of the law, is so serious, a continual sacrifice was required to keep Divine wrath from breaking out upon the people. No day could pass without these sacrifices being made. Thus, from the higher view, a nonstop appeal was being made to the mercy of God.
Second, it was also necessary to prefigure the sacrifice of Christ, which is continually effective, and never without power. From this view, the continual sacrifices reminded God of the ultimate sacrifice He had appointed. In that sacrifice, the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for
all” (Heb 10:10), God would be vindicated in being forbearing with the sins of those prior to Christ. Thus it is said of Jesus, “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom 3:25). It was in anticipation of His own Lamb that God refrained from utterly destroying the people of old. The daily sacrifices served to foreshadow that coming redemption.
With This In Mind
With this in mind, taking away the daily sacrifices, and causing them to cease, was a sin of monumental proportions. It was not merely an attack upon Judaism, as Antiochus Epiphanes and the historians imagined! This was something that had been directed by political statute toward the Lord Himself. The daily sacrifices were not presented to the people or the priests, but to the Lord. Therefore, when they were taken away, they were taken away from HIM – He was robbed of them, so to speak. Several of the translations underscore this. “ . . . removed the regular sacrifice from Him,” NASB “took away the daily sacrifice from Him,” NIV and “the continual burnt offering was taken away from Him.” RSV
Note, “the daily sacrifice” did not cease out of mere neglect, which would have been bad enough. It was taken away “by him!” He intruded into the affairs of the people of God, and brought to an end something that God Almighty had ordained to be done every day!
Here was one small portion of the earth – a land God had chosen for Himself, and in which He had placed a people for Himself. In this special land, and among this chosen people, He had ordained certain sacrifices that were setting the stage for the coming Savior, who would impact the entire world. And what does Antiochus Epiphanes think of all of this? He sets his eye upon the “pleasant land,” and boldly moves against it. It forces his way into the activities of the chosen people and halts the daily sacrifice. Thus he magnified himself “against the Prince of the host.” NRSV
A full account of deeds against the sacrifices and the Temple is found in the book of First Maccabees. I here provide that passage. While it is not inspired, it is considered to be accurate Jewish history.
1:20 And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude,
1:21 And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.
1:23 He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found.
1:24 And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly.
1:25 Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were;
1:26 So that the princes and elders mourned, the virgins and young men were made feeble, and the beauty of women was changed.
1:27 Every bridegroom took up lamentation, and she that sat in the marriage chamber was in heaviness,
1:28 The land also was moved for the inhabitants thereof, and all the house of Jacob was covered with confusion.
1:29 And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude,
1:30 And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel.
1:31 And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side.
1:32 But the women and children took they captive, and possessed the cattle.
1:33 Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them.
1:34 And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein. They stored it also with armour and victuals, and when they had gathered together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and so they became a sore snare:
1:36 For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel.
1:37 Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it:
1:38 Insomuch that the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them: whereupon the city was made an habitation of strangers, and became strange to those that were born in her; and her own children left her.
1:39 Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach her honour into contempt.
1:40 As had been her glory, so was her dishonour increased, and her excellency was turned into mourning.
1:41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people,
1:42 And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king.
1:43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.
1:44 For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,
1:45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:
1:46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people: Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:
1:48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation:
1:49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.
1:50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.
1:51 In the selfsame manner wrote he to his whole kingdom, and appointed overseers over all the people, commanding the cities of Juda to sacrifice, city by city.
1:52 Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit every one that forsook the law; and so they committed evils in the land;
1:53 And drove the Israelites into secret places, even wheresoever they could flee for succour.
1:54 Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;
1:55 And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets.
1:56 And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.
1:57 And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death.
1:58 Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities.
1:59 Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised.
1:61 And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them.
1:62 Howbeit many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat any unclean thing.
1:63 Wherefore the rather to die, that they might not be defiled with meats, and that they might not profane the holy covenant: so then they died.
1:64 And there was very great wrath upon Israel.
1 Maccabees 1:20-64
It might be asked why God allowed such abuses to be wrought upon His people, and how such a wicked man could “take away” the “daily sacrifices.” In the verses that follow, this will be explained. However, until that time, I must say that a God who can tell you what a wicked king is going to do over three hundred years in the future, surely does not lack power to deal with him in whatever manner He pleases. Rather than ask WHY such atrocities occurred, we should lean forward to hear how God will speak on the matter.
Suffice it to say, we have in this king an example of the depths to which a man who does not know God can sink. We also see what wickedness a man is capable of when power over others is given into his hand. If God had not allowed such men to surface, having their own way for a season, men would have speculated about man’s innate wickedness, and never known the desperate need for a Savior. Even after such things have occurred, foolish men still choose to contend that man is fundamentally good. Such men surmise that if wickedness erupts in a person it is owing to some disease, physiological weaknesses, or psychological abnormalities.
Human reason cannot satisfactorily account for the depravity made known in Pharaoh, Sodom and Gomorrah, Manasseh, Herod, Pilate, and the likes. Scripture does, however, declare the reason for such vile expressions. It is that man “comes short of the glory of God”(Rom 3:23). Should God choose
to deliver men over to vile affections, they at once become capable of staggering outbursts of wickedness.
“ . . . and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.” Other versions read, “the place of His sanctuary was thrown down,” NASB “overthrew the place of His sanctuary,” NRSV “the place overturned and the holy place made waste,” BBE “the holy place shall be made desolate,” Septuagint and “destroying His temple.” NLT
Although the Temple was not utterly destroyed by Antiochus Epiphanes, it was pillaged and its functionality destroyed. The book of Maccabees records, “And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off. He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found.” 1 Maccabees 1:21-22
The Temple, which was the heart of Judaism, was no longer functional. Laws were passed and enforced that strictly forbade “burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple.” 1 Maccabees 1:45
“His Sanctuary”
Daniel is told this was the place of “HIS sanctuary” – i.e., the place where God was identified with His people, received their sacrifices, and honored them as a people. Thus this king took God’s sacrifices from Him, and pillaged His sanctuary, so that it no longer served its intended purpose.
When Jesus dwelt among men, He referred to the Temple of His day as “My Father’s house” (John 2:16). When He was a twelve year old boy, and his “parents” found Him in the Temple, He told them He had to be about “His Father's business,” thereby associating the Temple with His Father and what He was doing (Lk 2:49). Other references to the Temple include the following.
Temple of the Lord (2 Kgs 11:10). Holy Temple (Psa 79:1). Holy House (1 Chron 29:3). House of God (2 Chron 23:9) House of the Lord (2 Chron 23:5). The House of the God of Jacob (Isa 2:3). The House of My glory (Isa 60:7). Sanctuary (2 Chron 20:8).
Originally, when Solomon built the Temple, he was impressed with the greatness of God, and the inability of any house to contain Him. He therefore acknowledged the house was primarily for burning sacrifices to the Lord. “But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?” (2 Chron 2:6). That was a staggering insight!
With this in mind, you see the magnitude of the transgression of Antiochus Ephiphanes, who took away the sacrifice – God’s sacrifice – and cast down the Temple where the sacrifices were made. His was a transgression of unspeakable magnitude.
“ 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 practiced, and prospered.”
An explanation is now given for the seeming liberty with which Antiochus Ephiphanes operated. It was not self-power that enabled him to invade “the pleasant land,” take away sacrifices belonging to God, and cast down the sanctuary.
A Reason for the Position
Before proceeding further, I also want to reaffirm WHY I am applying this prophecy to Antiochus Ephiphanes, and not to someone who will appear in the future. This ruthless ruler is said to come from one of the four kings that replaced the “notable horn” on the he goat (8:8-9). That horn is specifically said to be the “first king” of Grecia, or Greece (8:21). Antiochus Ephiphanes’ rule was, in fact, an extension of the Seleucian kingdom, which was first ruled by Seleucus, one of the “four notable ones” that followed the death of Alexander the Great – when his horn was “broken.”
I do undertand that some notable expositors have taken the position the “little horn” is the Roman government, which started very small and grew to great prominence. Newton However, this would not allow for the sequence of the governments given in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and the first vision of Daniel. In each of them, Governments arose independently of each other, and none were an extension of the previous one. The “little horn” of Daniel eight is an extension of the he goat, which is specifically said to be the kingdom of Grecia. To me, this does not allow for the “little horn” of chapter eight being the Roman government.
Others take the position that “little horn” of chapter eight is the same as the “little horn” of chapter seven. This is largely based upon the expression “little horn,” and is wholly improper. The “little horn” of chapter seven is said to have sprung out of the ten horns that were on the fourth beast (7:8). In order for this to be the same “little horn” referenced in chapter eight, the fourth beast would have to be Greece, and not Rome. And, indeed, some contend that this is the case. However, such a position now distorts the continuity of the visions. The second section of Nebuchadnezzar’s image is identified as the kingdom that displaces Babylon. God specifically revealed to Belshazzar that this was the “Medes and Persians”(5:28). The third kingdom would displace the Medes and Persians,
which is declared in this chapter. The “he goat” is said to be Grecia, the ram with two horns that it overthrew is identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).
While it should be very obvious, I will reaffirm that the “little horn” of chapter eight is not the “little horn”of chapter seven. The “little horn”of chapter seven made war with the saints, and was followed by the saints possessing the kingdom (7:25-27). This was within the framework of the exalted Christ, who had received the kingdom (7:13-14).
While I do not choose to be contentious about this, I am going to proceed with the text viewing Antiochus Ephiphanes as that “little horn” which waxed great and entered “the pleasant land.” I take this to be the primary fulfillment of the text, acknowledging that in it there is a type of other opponents of the truth and saints of God.
“And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice . . . ” Other translations present a somewhat confusing picture. “An army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices,” NKJV “the host will be given over to the horn along with the daily sacrifice,” NASB “the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it,” NIV “the host was given over to it together with the regular burnt offerings,” NRSV and “But the army of heaven was restrained from destroying him for this sin.” NLT
Confusion Cultivated
In these various translations (if that is what they can be properly called), the following views are presented. It will be obvious that considerable confusion is cultivated by them.
A host was given to this ruler that enabled him to successfully oppose the daily sacrifices.
A host of Jews was given over to him in addition to the daily sacrifices; that is, that the people offering the sacrifices and the sacrifices themselves were given to him.
That angelic hosts were restrained from stopping this ruler from oppressing the people and taking away the sacrifices.
Others think the text means that a host of advisors was given to the ruler who counseled him to take away the daily sacrifices. Jacchiades
“The Host”
The “host” of reference are the Jews in general, and particularly those who were associated with battle, or defending the city an Jerusalem and the Temple. The Hebrew word used here is ab'Þc'w> (tsaw-baw), which is often translated “armies.” When the Lord told Moses He was going to deliver Israel from Egypt, He used this word, saying He would “bring forth Mine armies” [“hosts,” NASB] (Ex 7:4). He later spoke of that great exodus as the day He “brought your armies [“hosts,” NASB] out of the land of Egypt” (Ex 12:17). In recording the events of the exodus, the Scriptures say, “It came to pass that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt” (Ex 12:41).
This same word is used to describe those who served the tabernacle. Such servants are referred to in Numbers 4:3: “From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host [“the service” NASB], to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.”
I therefore understand the passage to mean that the host related to the offering of the sacrifice and the general service of the Temple, were “given” to this wicked ruler, else he could not have overcome the people and ended the daily sacrifices. Created beings cannot intrude upon Divine possessions.
The Spirit’s Setting
In order to obtain the profit intended by the Lord, the setting revealed by the Spirit must be considered. The statement of this text is to be view within the light that has already been focused on this ruler. He waxed great toward “the pleasant land,” focusing his attention on it. 8:9
He grew in power, casting down luminaries and powers related to “the pleasant land” – that is, Jewish leaders. 8:10
He magnified himself against the Prince of hosts, who is the Lord Himself, daring to oppose the God of heaven. 8:11a
He took away the daily sacrifice which belonged to the Lord. 8:11b
He cast down the sanctuary of God. 8:11c
None of these things could have been accomplished by mere human power. They cannot be explained within the context of earthly governments, fleshly wisdom, and worldly aptitude.
Therefore, the heavenly messenger provides the true explanation for this travesty. The “host” given to him is the one mentioned in verse ten. The “daily sacrifice” is the one he took away, or caused to cease. What Daniel is now seeing is the explanation for that wicked triumph.
The Case of Job
The people and the daily sacrifice were given into his hand by God Himself. It is precisely the same kind of thing God did in the case of Job. When Satan said Job would “curse Thee to Thy face” if God put forth His hand and touched his possessions, the Lord gave Job’s possessions into his hand. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:12), Again, when Satan challenged the Lord to put His hand against Job, saying he would “curse Thee to Thy face,” God gave Job into his hand. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6). In both of these cases, the reason for giving Satan power against Job was in order to confirm the patriarch would NOT curse the Lord, but would rather stand. It was not owing to any sin in Job’s life. The allocation of power was also accompanied with restrictions. The devil could only go so far, and the time of his power was limited.
The Case of the Lord JesusThe supreme example of a righteous man being given over to godless men is the Lord Jesus Christ. God gave Pilate power over Him. Jesus said to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11). Prior to that, when Jesus was arrested in the Garden, He told the soldiers they were powerless to take Him before that. However, they had now been given power to do so. That is why He said to them, “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). As in the case of Job, the power given to these men was limited. They could only do so much, and their time was restricted.
There were other righteous men over whom the wicked were given power. They include Joseph, the Prophets, John the Baptist, and the Apostles. If we can account for the temporary triumph of their enemies by seeing God gave them their power, how much more is this true when the people over whom power was given were sinful? There are numerous instances of this in Scripture – times when the Lord gave His people over to their enemies. If He did not do so, their enemies could not have triumphed over them – even in a fallen state.
He delivered Israel “into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies” (Judg 2:14).
The Lord delivered Israel “into the hand of Midian seven years” (Judg 6:1).
He delivered them “into the hand of the Philistines forty years” (Judg 13:1).
He once delivered them “into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days” (2 Ki 13:3).
Again, because of their grievous sin, “the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight” (2 Kgs 17:20).
When the host of Samaria came out against Israel, and treated them too brutally, the Lord send Oded to them, who said, “Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven” (2 Chr 28:9).
These references could be multiplied many fold. There is so much about this matter in Scripture, it boggles the mind to consider how it is so easily missed. Take, for example, the book of the Revelation. All manner of judgments are declared in this book. There are even triumphs over the saints themselves. Yet, in the midst of these awful declarations, it is stated no less than twenty-one times, that the power exhibited was “given” to them by God, whether for good or for evil (6:2,4,8,11; 7:2; 8:2,3; 9:1,3,5; 11:1,2; 12:14; 13:5,7; 16:6,8; 20:4).
In our text, the astounding manner in which Antiochus Ephiphanes came against God’s “pleasant land,” took away God’s “sacrifices,” and plundered God’s “sanctuary,” can only be accounted for by God giving him the power to do so. There is no need to speculate on this matter, for Scriptures are
literally filled with such judgments. Not the least of these judgments is the sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. After the “servants of Nebuchadnezzar” attacked Jerusalem (2 Kgs 24:10), and Nebuchadnezzar himself swept into the “holy city” (2 Kgs 24:11), “Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon,” came “unto Jerusalem: and he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about” (2 Ki 25:8-10). In this very capacity, God referred to Nebuchadnezzar as “my servant” (Jer 27:6). Had God not given Jerusalem into his hands, together with its people, he would have been overthrown like Sennacherib before him (2 Chron 32:21).
“ . . . by reason of transgression.” Other versions read, “because of transgression,” NKJV “on account of transgression,” NASB “because of rebellion,” NIV and “because of wickedness.” NRSV
Some have taken this transgression to refer to the initiative of the little horn who waxed great. In this view, because of the heinousness of his own transgression he took away the daily sacrifice and cast down the sanctuary. I find this too foolish a notion to even address. It would have hosts given to him because of his transgression – a sort of reward for being wicked.
The transgression of reference is that of Israel, for the people of God are not punished for the sins of Gentile kings! Although the people had preciously come to the end of the Babylonian captivity, began returning to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, revived the ancient order under Ezra, and rebuilt the walls under Nehemiah, they still regressed again into sin!
Malachi, who, along with Nehemiah, lived in the middle of the 400's B.C. spoke throughout his book of the spiritual poverty of the nation. His words are most arresting! This was around eighty years after Daniel died.
They “despised” the name of the Lord (Mal 1:6).
They offered polluted bread upon His altar (1:7).
The offered animal sacrifices of the blind, halt, and lame (1:8).
They profaned the table of the Lord (1:12).
They were weary of their revealed religion (1:13).
The priests departed from the ways of the Lord and caused the people to stumble (2:8).
The priests were partial in their judgment, not administering the Law correctly (2:9).
They profaned the covenant (2:10). Judah profaned the holiness of God by marrying the daughter of a strange God (2:11).
The people wearied the Lord with their words (2:17a).
They said the ones doing evil were good in the sight of the Lord (2L17b).
They robbed God (3:8-9).
Their words were stout against the Lord (3:13).
They said it was vain to serve the Lord (3:14). They called the proud happy (3:15).
After a seventy-year chastening in the Babylonian captivity, the people still returned to their sinful ways. They did so in spite of the marvelous awakening and work of Zerubbabel’s time, the resurgence of hope in Ezra’s time, and the advancements in Nehemiah’s time. Iniquity still swept in like a flood.
Do such departures from the truth have any impact upon the God of heaven? Is it possible for His own people – the ones He has chosen – to so provoke Him that He actually comes to despise them? Some of the sophists of our day would have us believe this cannot be. But that is only because they are blind and sitting in darkness. Such men should never find a hearing among the people of God, like wayward priests in Malachi’s day were heard by the people! It is said of the Lord,“Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance” (Psa 106:40). Knowing the Lord’s reaction to His people, Maschil the musician cried out to the Lord, “O God, why hast Thou cast us off for ever? why doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture?” (Psa 74:1).
Jeremiah lamented the judgment of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. His language could well be applied to the very text we are reviewing. “The Lord hath cast off His altar, He hath abhorred His sanctuary, He hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces” (Lam 2:7).
This very condition is what provoked the Lord to give Antiochus Ephiphanes power against His people, His sacrifice, and His sanctuary.
What Antiochus Ephiphanes did to the Jews was terrible, ruthless, and beastly to the extreme. However, if you get high enough, what Israel did in forsaking God, despising His altar, robbing Him, and viewing His ordinances as wearisome, was infinitely worse. It was because they sinned against greater light.
Every sensitive heart ought to be able, to take these things and view the present condition of the church with some degree of insight.
“ . . . and it cast down the truth to the ground . . . ” Other versions read, “fling truth to the ground,” NASB “truth was thrown to the ground,” NIV and “truth was overthrown.” NLT
The meaning is that the truth of God, particularly as revealed in the Law, or first covenant, was no longer accessible to men. Antiochus Ephiphanes actually did remove the Scriptures, aggressively seeking to expunge them from the face of the earth. Again, I turn to the book of Maccabbees, which is to Jewish history what school books today are to American history. “And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire. And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death.” (1 Macc 1:56-57). Thus truth was cast down to the ground.
If truth is not used, it will be withdrawn from the people! This is an exceedingly difficult thing to grasp, but it is a matter of revelation. Amos declared a condition that is like truth being cast down to the ground – and it was a condition caused by God. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst” (Amos 8:11-13). That is another view of truth being cast to the ground. In our text, a particular ruler is identified who did this.
The condition of Israel is highlighted by the fact that she herself was also guilty of this sin. She had allowed the truth to die in her streets! Thus Isaiah lamented, “for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment” (Isa 59:14-15). That is why this wicked king was given power against her. That is why he was given power to cast the truth down to the ground. The people of God had neglected and abused it, and thus it was taken from them. They fell into “the hands of the living God.” Their experience occurred and is written for our learning!
The Principle
Jesus said, “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath” (Mark 4:25). Matthew’s account reads, “but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” NKJV (Mat 13:12).
Ultimately unfaithful stewards will have their goods taken from them in the day of judgment. However, such loses often begin in this world. Adam and Eve had their stewardship of Eden’s garden removed. Esau despised his inheritance, bartered it for a meager meal, and never got it back. King Saul proved unfaithful, and thus his kingdom was given to another. Those who have been given much do well to be faithful in handling it.
The requirement God placed upon the priests of old is still applicable to those who are in Christ Jesus. “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD” (Isa 52:11). Does this not remind you of the word delivered particularly to the church? “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17).
If truth has been cast down in our day, perhaps it is because those into whose hands it had been entrusted have not proved faithful in their handling of it. After all, the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Her ministers are told, “Be diligent to present yourself approved
to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” NASB (2 Tim 2:15).
“ . . . and it practiced, and prospered.” Other versions read,”He did all this and prospered,” NKJV “it will . . . perform its will and prosper,” NASB “It prospered in everything it did,” NIV “and kept prospering in what it did,” NRSV and “The horn succeeded in everything it did.” NLT
The idea is this: even though this horn did such wickedness as to enter the “pleasant land,” make an end of God’s sacrifices, and cast down God’s sanctuary, it still prospered in everything it did. Such a circumstance seems to defy all reasoning. Yet, we have been told the success was because, and only because, power was given to it by God. Furthermore, that power was not granted because of any virtue found in the horn. Rather, it was because of the transgression of the people of God. Their sin, then, affected a territory significantly larger than their own boundaries. The success of this miserable horn, like that of Nebuchadnezzar, was due to the sins of God’s people. Had they been faithful, Antiochus Ephiphanes would have fallen to them!
An Application
Here we have a key to some of the declarations of the Revelation. When describing “Babylon the great,” the Apostate church, she was called “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev 17:5). The success of worldly kingdoms was traced to her, for they mourned when she fell. It is said of those who marketed worldly things, “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth theirmerchandise any more” (Rev 18:11). The success of these marketers was owing to corrupt religion! Spiritual harlotry has bred all manner of wickedness in the earth. Such things are worthy of much thought and cogitation.
“ 13 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? 14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
Daniel is now made privy to a lofty conversation. The vision itself has concluded for the moment, and the prophet overhears some heavenly dialog concerning it. The nature of the conversation reveals an intense interest in the government of God. It provides some additional insight into the angelic interest in the Gospel we have been given to understand. “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have
preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into” NKJV (1 Pet 1:10-12).
An Observation
Wherever God is known to any measurable degree, earnest inquiry is made into His Word and works. This includes the heavenly chambers as well as the earth, which is the Lord’s footstool (Isa 66:1). The absence of interest in the things of God is confirmation that God is not known. I realize this statement has alarming ramifications, but it is nevertheless true. An understanding of it will assist us in correctly evaluating many of the seemingly religious circumstances of our time.
On earth, true religion is too often a novelty, worthy only of some time and effort now and then. But this is not so when the Lord is known. The knowledge of God moves those who possess it beyond the borders of casualness and distinterest – and those characteristics DO cause impenetrable borders. As soon as the heart becomes casual or perfunctory, a wall of obscurity is thrown up between the individual and God. That wall cannot be scaled by human wisdom. This is precisely what is reflected in the statement, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14).
It always reflects a most serious condition when a person wearing the name of Christ does not pursue “spiritual understanding” (Col 1:9).
One Saint Speaking
“Then I heard one saint speaking . . . ” We are not told what this angelic personage was saying. From the response of the other “saint,” we assume it concerned the things that were being revealed to Daniel. That circumstance is most intriguing! When holy angels speak among themselves about matters revealed to the sons of men, it indicates what marvelous things have been vouchsafed to those who have faith in God. In the day of judgment, I imagine one will be hard pressed to explain why matters that solicited the attention of holy angels were despised and ignored among men.
The Desire to Know
“ . . . 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?”
The Daily Sacrifice
The inquiring angel knows that matters of great gravity have been made known to Daniel. During the time of the New Covenant, the cessation of the daily sacrifice would be of no consequence, for God invalidated those sacrifices when Jesus offered Himself. However, under the Old Covenant, this was a most serious matter. The matter concerning “the daily sacrifice” was this: “the daily sacrifice was taken away” (8:11). The time into which the angel inquires, therefore is pre-Christian, not after the exaltation of Christ Jesus the Lord.
The Transgression of Desolation
Other versions read, “the transgressions causes horror,” NASB “the rebellion that causes desolation,” NIV “the transgression that makes desolate,” NRSV “the bringing in of the sin of desolation,” Septuagint and “the transgression of desolation.” WEBSTER
The “desolation,” is a devastation so great that it causes amazement among both men and angels. God’s sacrifice is taken away. The sanctuary of God is plundered and cast down. Truth is thrown down to the ground. The whole thrust of revealed religion is thus neutralized, and the people of God become utterly powerless. This is a spiritual desolation when, for the most part, all things pertaining to God were taken from the people. It is called “the transgression of desolation” because it was brought on by the sinful presumption of the Jews. Their heartless and perfunctory service to God, as described by Malachi, had unleashed the wrath of God against them, and they were made desolate. Spiritually speaking, they became an arrid desert.
The Sanctuary
The sanctuary, intended for God, together with those who ministered in it, fell into the hands of wicked men:”to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” Other versions read, “the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot,” NKJV “so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled,” NASB “the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled under foot,” NIV and “the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot.” ESV
The angel knows that Antiochus Ephiphanes could never have dominated the sanctuary and the host if they had not been “given” to him. He also knows the arrangement cannot be permanent, and that it must have an appointed conclusion. Such a condition must have a cessation. He therefore inquires how long these conditions will be permitted by God.
The question “How long?” is found frequently in Scripture.
David asked the Lord about the vexation of his own soul. “My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, HOW LONG?” (Psa 6:3).
Again, during a time of chastening he asked the Lord, “HOW LONG wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? HOW LONG shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psa 13:1-2).
When the enemy continued to reproach the people of God David asked, “O God, HOW LONG shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?” (Psa 74:10).
Again he asked, “HOW LONG, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?” (Psa 79:5).
When the prayers of the people were not being answered, the Psalmist pled, “O LORD God of hosts, HOW LONG wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?” (Psa 80:4).
In keeping with the passage consider that David asked, “LORD, HOW LONG shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?” (Psa 94:3).
When Isaiah was told God would make the heart of the people “fat,” and their ears “heavy,” so that they would not be able to understand, Isaiah asked, “HOW LONG?” (Isa 6:10-11).
When Habakkuk witnessed the spread of violence and ungodliness among the people, he pled with the Lord, “O LORD, HOW LONG shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” (Hab 1:2).
John the beloved saw martyrs souls under the altar – souls that had been slain for the word of their testimony. They were asking, “HOW LONG, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10).
Divine Government Assumed
There is an underlying assumption in the question “How long?” It is that God is the “Governor among the nations” (Psa22:28). The duration of hardship is under His strict control. It can neither be initiated nor continued independently of Him.
This understanding neutralizes the power of calamity for those who will believe. Not only is there a just reason for what occurs, there is also a point at which it will terminate. In the case of chastening, for example, there is a terminal point. Therefore, “afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb 12:11). The triumph of the wicked is also only for a time – an appointed time – for eventually all enemies will be put under Christ’s feet, openly and apparently (1 Cor15:25).
The angel has asked about the Divine timetable. What has been “determined?”
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Other versions read “2,300 evenings and mornings,” NASB/NIV/NRSV
The word translated “days” literally means “evening-mornings,” and is derived from the concept of a “day” introduced in Genesis, where the same word is used: “the evening and morning was the ____ day” (Gen 1:5,8,13, 19,23,31). That is why several translations read “2,300 evenings and mornings.” It is concluded, therefore, that these are 24-hour days, and not a symbolic use of day, as when a day stood for a prophetic year (Num 14:34; Ezek 4:6).
Some have taken the position that the “evening and morning” do refer to the two sacrifices offered each day. That would cause the text to mean “after 2,300 sacrifices,” or 1,150 days. With all of the disagreement on what the days signify, there is near-total unanimity among students of Scripture as to the fulfillment of the statement. Antiochus Epiphanes is considered to be the person involved. The only difference is in how men calculate the period of time the devastation he instituted would continue. Whether they do so from the beginning of Antiochus Ephiphanes defilement of the temple, or from the
time he outlawed the daily sacrifice. But the villain remains the same, as well as the cleansing of the sanctuary.
The duration of the oppression would be until the sanctuary was “cleansed,” or returned to its proper use, with sacrifices being offered to God and the sanctuary devoted to His service. If , then, we can identify when the sanctuary was cleansed, and returned to its rightful use, we should be able to identify more precisely the period of 2,300 days, or evenings and mornings. That would be six years, three months, and eighteen days.
It is generally conceded that the sanctuary was cleansed by Judas Maccabeus, who purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places. The book of the Maccabees records the following.
“41 Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. 42 So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: 43 Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place. 44 And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; 45 They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, 46 And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them. 47 Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; 48 And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts. 49 They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table. 50 And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple. 51 Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make.” (1Maccabees 4:46-51).
It surely is not mere coincidence that from the day Antiochus set up the abomination upon the altar in the fifteenth day of the month Cisleu, in the year 171 B.C., until the victory over Nicanor by Judas, on which day the Jews kept the annual feast, on the thirteenth day of Adar, 165 B.C. is 2,300 days, or six years, three months, and eighteen days.
If, as some reckon the 2,300 evenings and mornings, this period stands for 2,300 sacrifices, or 1,150 days, the period is still remarkably precise. In this view, to which I do not subscribe, the period would be equal to three and a half years – the period during which the daily sacrifice was forbidden by Antiochus Epiphanes. [JOSEPHUS, Wars of the Jews, 1:1.1]
The book of Maccabees records that “cleansing” in these words, “52 Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, 53 And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made. “ (1 Maccabees 4:52-53).
The Feast of Dedication
When Judas Maccabeus re-consecrated the whole service of God, cleansing the sanctuary of the heathen defilements brought into it, a festival of eight days was instituted. This is understood to be the “the feast of dedication” mentioned in John 10:22, and said to have been in the “winter.” Jesus honored this feast with his presence. As it is written, “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch” (John 10:22-23).
This particular feast (“the feast of dedication”) was one of renewal, for the word “dedication” means “renewal,” or a fresh start. Concerning this feast, the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature says the following.
“(ta< ejgkai>nia, the renewal, John 10:22 [which the Sept. has in Numbers 7:10]; Vulg. encania), the festival instituted to commemorate the purging of the Temple and the rebuilding of the altar after Judas Maccabaeus had driven out the Syrians, B.C. 164 (1 Maccabees 4:52-59, where it is O` ejgkainismo
ou, the restoration of the altar, because the old and profaned altar was then replaced; but in 2 Maccabees 10:5, o` kaqarismoWhile it is not my practice to do this, I do want to confirm the unanimity among Biblical commentators on this subject. Namely, that “the feast of dedication” of John 10:22, is the official Jewish remembrance of the cleansing of the sanctuary, or Temple, mentioned in Daniel 8:14. This is only a small sampling of the agreement of men of God on this matter.
1. “. . . properly signifies renovations; because the temple, which had been polluted, was again consecrated by the command of Judas Maccabaeus; and at that time it was enacted that the day of the new dedication or consecration should be celebrated every year as a festival, that the people might recall to remembrance the grace of God, which had put an end to the tyranny of Antiochus.” JOHN CALVIN
2. “The feast of the dedication Literally, the feast of the renewing, or of the renovation. This feast was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus, in the year 164 B.C. The temple and city were taken by Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 167 B.C.” ALBERT BARNES
3. “The feast of the dedication— This was a feast instituted by Judas Maccabeus, in commemoration of his purifying the temple after it had been defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes.” ADAM CLARKE
4. “We have here the time when this conference was: It was at the feast of dedication, and it was winter, a feast that was annually observed byconsent, in remembrance of the dedication of a new altar and the purging of the temple, by Judas Maccabaeus, after the temple had been profaned and the altar defiled; we have the story of it at large in the history of the Maccabees (lib. 1, cap. 4); we have the prophecy of it, Daniel 8:13, 14.” MATTHEW HENRY
4. “. . . it was ... the feast of the dedication — celebrated rather more than two months after the feast of tabernacles, during which intermediate period our Lord seems to have remained in the neighborhood
of Jerusalem. It was instituted by Jude Maccabeus, to commemorate the purification of the temple from the profanations to which it had been subjected by Antiochus Epiphanes.” JAMIESON, FAUSSET, BROWN
5. “Now, the Feast of Dedication (the enkainia) was(celebrated) in Jerusalem. This feast is not elsewhere noticed in the NewTestament. The account of its origin is found in 1 Macc. 4:36, etc.; 2Macc. 10:1 — 8; Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 12:7. 7. And it was winter. It was held on the 25th of Chisleu, which, in A.D. 29, would correspond with the 19th of December, in commemoration of the “renewal,” reconsecration, of the temple by Judas Maccabaeus after the gross profanation of it by Antiochus Epiphanes.” PULPIT COMMENTARY
6. “ . . . this was the feast of dedication, appointed by Judas Maccabaeus and his brethren, on account of the purging the temple, and renewing the altar, after the profanation of them by Antiochus; which feast lasted eight days, and began on the twenty fifth of the month Cisleu, which answers to part of our December.”JOHN GILL
Why Mention This?
It might appear quite pointless to mention all of this, seeing the information has come from uninspired resources. However, there is sound reason for this effort.
First, Daniel is being shown events that will take place during a time when there was no prophet, and in which no Scripture was written. There would be no Divine commentary made on the events when they happened. When the time of this prophecy came, the Jewish people also knew of this circumstance, and thus relied upon their priests and those with an understanding of Scripture. When Judas Maccabaeus instituted the “feast of the dedication,” I do not doubt he did so because of the prophecy of Daniel, although he himself was not aware of it. I will go so far as to say that if it was not for the words of Daniel, a fair appraisal of the desecration of Antiochus Epiphanes and the restoration of Judas Maccabaeus would not have been possible.
Beside this, when we have the Lord Jesus Himself honoring “the feast of the dedication,” no more need be said about its significance. In my judgment, Jesus was honoring the prophecy of Daniel as well as the diligence and faithfulness of Judas Maccabaeus, For centuries, people devoted to God have correlated the evils of Antiochus Epiphanes and the restoration of Judas Maccabaeus with the prophecy of Daniel.
While I consent this is not of itself sufficient reason to acknowledge the validity of this understanding, I also affirm it is exceedingly difficult to explain this prophecy in any other way. I have found that those objecting to this view are generally trying to harmonize Daniel with theological positions that have their only basis in human opinion and analysis. Such theories should not drive our views of Scripture.
Understanding must be founded upon Divine affirmation, not human explanation. If God did not SAY it, it cannot be foundational!
“ 15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.”
Some primary aspects of revelation are unfolded in this text. What is revealed by God is not always understood by those to whom it is revealed. Some sophists, content to remain on the surface of Scripture equate Divine revelation with personal understanding. Thus they imagine that having the text of Scripture, the Bible, is sufficient to have received from God. From that point on, they imagine, the human intellect is fully capable of processing the information. In this verse, we will see the utter folly of such an assumption.
“And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning . . . ” Other versions read,
“I sought to understand it,” NASB “trying to understand it,” NIV “I had a desire for the sense of it to be unfolded,” BBE and “I require understanding.” YLT
The Person of Daniel
Ponder of whom this text speaks. This is not a child, or a novice, or even a young man. This is man of seasoned years, an aged man by some peoples’ definition. He has had considerable experience in the matter of dreams and visions. He was given a rather lengthy interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream of the great image (2:31-45). He unfolded the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream of a great tree in the midst of the earth (4:20-27). He opened up the mysterious writing of the supernatural hand on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace (5:24-28). Two years before this vision, he was given an extensive explanation of the four kingdoms previous introduced to Nebuchadnezzar (7:1-28).
If it is a matter of having credentials, consider those of Daniel.
When young, he was “well favored, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science” (Dan 1:4a).
He was an expert in both language and literature NKJV (1:4b).
He had skill in all learning and wisdom (1:17a).
He had understanding in all visions and dreams (1:17b).
From his very first exposure to the king and the best wisdom of Babylon, there was none like him (1:19).
In all matters of wisdom and understanding, even when he was young, he was ten times better than the cultured Chaldeans’ best (1:20).
He was noted for having “an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts” (5:12).
He was an expert in Scripture (9:2).
It is difficult to conceive of anyone being more qualified to figure things out! Stated in twentieth century jargon, he was a child prodigy, a genius, very gifted, a linguist, well and extensively educated, and a theologian – like a “PhD.” In fact, an extremely educated person in our times, i.e., “Dr Hornblower,” would probably be humbled before Daniel, even as a peer.
These days we hear a lot about Paul’s extensive education (even though there is no evidence this is true). But we do not hear much about the educational qualifications of Daniel – to say nothing of his Divine tutelage.
Yet, when it came to this vision, all of Daniel’s natural resources dried up. His expertise in language and literature were of no assistance to him. The context of other dreams and visions did not provide the key to understanding what he had been shown. Even though He knew Moses and the Prophets, they did not clarify what he had now been shown. If God did not give him the understanding of this vision, he would simply would never know it.
Under these circumstances, some would have abandoned any effort to know the meaning of the vision. They would have reasoned that it was beyond being comprehended. Thus they would remained content to talk about beasts, horns, and devastation. But Daniel was not such a spirit. He extended himself to understand the vision. If there was anything in him that would help, he sought for it. If there was anything available to him that would give assistance, he sought to find it.
It is because of this inquiring spirit that Daniel will be given more insight.
An Application
Although I have said this before, it should be said again. Many professing believers are miserably deficient in their spiritual understanding because they have never “sought for the meaning,” or engaged in a diligent effort to understand the Scriptures. They do not have the spirit of the Psalmist who cried out, “Give me understanding” (Psa 119:34,73, 125, 144,169).
There is nothing that will compensate for this self-imposed spiritual ignorance. There is no professed Christian activity that magically propels the individual into a state that makes up for a lack of “spiritual understanding.” The lack of such knowledge actually alienates one from God (Eph 4:18). Let it be clear that where “the love of the truth” is not possessed salvation is impossible, and damnation is sure. As it is written, “ . . . because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:10-12).
I realize this sounds extremely “negative,” as some are wont to say. However, in the midst of a obvious waning of commitment to the Lord, souls must be stabbed awake with any ordained means that can be effectively wielded.
Daniel was given to know more because he sought to know more. He was given understanding because he engaged in a quest to obtain it. He saw further because he stretched his soul to do so. Understanding came to him from heaven because he “sought for the meaning” – the “meaning” of something God had shown him! O, that such a spirit was more prevalent in our time!
“ . . . then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.” Other versions read, “suddenly there stood before me,” NKJV/NIV and “one who looked like a man.” NASB
The New Jerusalem Bible says this occurred while Daniel “gazed at the vision and tried to understand it.” Daniel sought, and now he will find. He asked, and now it will be given. He knocked, and now it shall be opened to him. “Suddenly,” as he peered into the vision, seeking to know what it meant, a figure appeared before him that resembled a man.
We will find in the next verse that this personality was none other than Gabriel, one of the premier angels of Scripture. I will reserve my remarks on Gabriel until the next lesson, when they will be more appropriate. However, it is in order to here comment briefly on the appearances of angels in human form, or in the “similitude of a man.”
Regarding their essential nature, angels are “spirits.” As it is written, “Who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire” (Psa 104:4). And again, “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire” (Heb 1:7). And again, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb 1:13-14). Also, angels cannot not “die” (Lk 20:36). Yet, they have appeared to men in the form of mortal men. Some of these instances are listed below.
To Abraham as three men (Gen 18:2-3). To Hagar (Gen 16:7). To Lot as two men (Gen 19:1-10). To Jacob as a multitude (Gen 28:12). To Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:2). To all the children of Israel (Judges 2:1-4). To Balaam (Num 22:31). To Joshua (Josh 5:15). To Gideon (Judges 6:11-20). To Monoah and his wife, who more Samson (Judges 13:6, 16-20). David saw an angel at the threshing floor of Araunah (2 Sam 24:16-17). To Elijah saw one under the juniper tree (1 Kings 19:5). One appeared to Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan 6:22). An angel appeared t Zechariah the prophet (Zech 2:3; 4:1). To Joseph, the husband of Mary (Matt 1:20; 2:13; 2:19). To Mary, mother of Jesus (Lk 1:26). To Zacharias, father of John the Baptist (Lk 1:11). To the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth (Lk 2:9-14). To Jesus after his temptation in the wilderness (Matt 4:11). To Jesus as He struggled in Gethsemane (Lk 22:43). To the women at the tomb (Matt 28:2-5; Mk 16:5-7; Lk 24:23). To Mary at the tomb (John 20:11-12). To the disciples at the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:10-11). To Peter and John when they were in prison (Acts 5:19-20). To Philip, commissioning him to go down to the desert (Acts 8:26). To Cornelius in a vision (Acts 10:3). To Peter in prison (Acts 12:7-11). To Paul on a ship (Acts 27:23). To John on Patmos (Rev 1:1).
Several of the above texts make a point of saying the angel was in the form, or likeness, of a man (Gen 18:2; 19:5,10,12,16; Judges 13:6; Ezek 1:5-10; Acts 10:30; Dan 8:15; 10:18; Acts 1:10).
The names of two of these angels have been revealed: Michael (Dan 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:7) and Gabriel (Dan 8:16; 9:21; Lk 1:16,26). Both of these angels are mentioned by Daniel. Gabriel came to him, and Michael fought in order that he might receive God’s message.
There are different kinds, or orders, of angels. They include seraphs (Isa 6:2), archangels (1 Thess 4:16), and cherubs (Ex 25:19; Ezek 10:2-9). Their ministries are vast, and their power far beyond that of men, for they “excel in strength” (Psa 103:20).
It is always a significant matter when angels appear to men. They are never sent on trival missions, nor do they deal with mere novelties. Their messages are weighty, and are to be received in faith.
Thus heaven has dispatched an angel to Daniel in order to provide the understanding for which he seeks. What a marvelous circumstance, indeed! How precious it must have been to Daniel in Babylon, relatively alone.
We have been exposed to a heavenly assessment of earthly history. Here is a large portion of what the Britannica Encyclopedia says about Antiochus Epiphanes.
“Antiochus' hellenizing policies brought him into conflict with the prosperous Oriental temple organizations, and particularly with the Jews. Since Antiochus III's reign the Jews had enjoyed extensive autonomy under their high priest. They were divided into two parties, the orthodox Hasideans (Pious Ones) and a reform party that favoured Hellenism. For financial reasons Antiochus supported the reform party and, in return for a considerable sum, permitted the high priest, Jason, to build a gymnasium in Jerusalem and to introduce the Greek mode of educating young people. In 172, for an even bigger tribute, he appointed Menelaus in place of Jason. In 169, however, while Antiochus was campaigning in Egypt, Jason conquered Jerusalem—with the exception of the citadel—and murdered many adherents of his rival Menelaus. When Antiochus returned from Egypt in 167 he took Jerusalem by storm and enforced its Hellenization. The city forfeited its privileges and was permanently garrisoned by Syrian soldiers.
The revolt of Judas Maccabeus. The Greeks and those friendly toward them were united into the community of Antiochians; the worship of Yahweh and all of the Jewish rites were forbidden on pain of death. In the Temple an altar to Zeus Olympios was erected, and sacrifices were to be made at the feet of an idol in the image of the King. Against that desecration Judas Maccabeus, leader of the anti-Greek Jews, led the aroused Hasideans in a guerrilla war and several times defeated the generals Antiochus had commissioned to deal with the uprising. Judas refused a partial amnesty, conquered Judaea with the exception of the Acra in Jerusalem, and in December 164 was able to tear down the altar of Zeus and reconsecrate the Temple. Antiochus apparently had underestimated the strength of the Hasidean movement, which was behind the success in maintaining an independent Judaean state for about a century. The fighting spirit of the Jews was all the more impressive because at the beginning of their rebellion in 166 Antiochus had just demonstrated his might to the world at Daphne, near Antioch, with a grand review of his army: 46,000 foot soldiers were on parade, among them a Macedonian phalanx of 20,000 men and 500 mercenaries equipped with Roman arms, followed by 8,500 horsemen and 306 armoured elephants.” BRITANNICA 2000
How differently God speaks of those very events. What historians refer to as Antiochus’ attempt to hellenize the Jews, God calls coming against His “pleasant land.” What history describes as Antiochus returning to Jerusalem and taking it by force, enforcing its hellenization, God describes as the host, and sacrifice being “given” to him, as well as the ability to cast down the truth and practice and prosper. What history calls the tearing down of the altar of Zeus and the reconsecration of the temple, God calls the “cleansing of the sanctuary.” What history casually refers to as the “fighting spirit of the Jews,” God refers to as a Divine limitation of “2,300 days.”
If God had not revealed these things to Daniel, God would not have been duly glorified in the events described. Men would have been cast upon their own feeble explanations to account for these things, and we would have nothing more than their words. Perhaps some would even have thought them too insignificant to even peruse.
These things have been recorded in order for us to learn from them. Here are some things that have occurred to me. Perhaps they will be the catalyst for some of your own personal observations .
Those who neglect Divine privileges that have been vouchsafed to them will be judged for doing so.
Truth that is neglected will be taken from men.
God can cause enemies to ride over the heads of the unfaithful.
Power given into the hands of the enemy is limited, and is only for an appointed time.
Those who are zealous for the truth will be duly noted by the Lord, and their hearts satisfied.
The Lord will not allow vast segments of time to remain uninterpreted, or without some Divine perspective being given.

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