Daniel’s longest prophecy

We’ve spent the last few posts identifying the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and the “best” of Revelation 13.  Now we’re going to head back to Daniel to cover chapter eight, Daniel’s longest prophecy.

2 years after Daniel’s first vision, he has another vision (Daniel 8:1).  He sees a ram, and as he watches it grows a horn, and then another, and the one that came up second became the longer horn (Daniel 8:2-3).  He watches as this ram conquers west, north and south and that nothing can stop it, that it did what it want and became great (Daniel 8:4).

Now we’ve seen symbolism like this before, remember the bear from Daniel 7?  This sounds a lot like Medo-Persia to me.  Luckily, this chapter gives us the interpretation for these.  The horns are the kings of Media and Persia, so, as we suspected, the ram is Medo-Persia (Daniel 8:20).

Then Daniel sees a goat coming from the west, flying across from the other side of the world, without touching the ground.  This goat has a single horn and attacks the ram with two horns, and breaks the ram’s horns and tramples it underfoot (Daniel 8:5-7).  So the goat grows and when it is at it’s strongest, the single horn breaks off and four more horns rise in it’s place (Daniel 7:8).  This sounds a lot like the leopard with wings of Daniel 7, and again it’s confirmed later on in this chapter.  This kingdom is Greece, and the four horns are the territories of the four generals that take over after Alexander the Great dies during his conquest of the world (Daniel 8:21-22).  These kingdoms were Egypt, Thrace, Macedonia and Syria, governed by Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander and Seleucus.

Then Daniel sees another little horn grow and it starts doing things that are blasphemous (Daniel 8:12):

  • He exults himself as high as the Prince of the Host
  • Takes away the daily sacrifice
  • Casts down God’s sanctuary
  • Casts down the truth to the ground
  • Practiced and prospered

This, of course, is the “little horn” in Daniel’s last vision.  Then Daniel hears a voice asking how this will last, these transgressions against God (Daniel 8:13), and the answer is that it would be 2300 days, and then the Sanctuary will be cleansed (Daniel 8:14).  Now, obviously this isn’t a literal 2300 days, because that’s only 6 years and a bit.  Not enough time for these kingdoms to come and go.  So, we must be dealing with prophetic time: a day being a year (Ezekiel 4:6), the pattern we’ve seen before.  So, this prophecy is 2300 years long.  Daniel is told to seal up this vision, because it is for the far off future (Daniel 8:26).  Unfortunately, we aren’t told exactly what this last part all means in Daniel 8, because Daniel faints before Gabriel can interpret it for him, and ends up being sick for days (Daniel 8:27).

This bothers Daniel for quite a while.  Belshazzar dies, Babylon falls, Darius is king now, and Daniel has been studying Jeremiah’s prophecy of the 70 years in captivity, looking for some clue to this 2300 year long prophecy (Daniel 9:1-2).  He turns to God, with prayer and fasting to confess the sins of his people, now that he understands why they were exiled from Jeremiah’s writings (Daniel 9:3-15), he begs God to forgive them, and not to be angry with them anymore, even though they deserve it (Daniel 9:16-19).

While Daniel is praying, Gabriel, shows up again, the same angel from the vision in chapter 8 (Daniel 9:20-21).  He tells Daniel that he’s come to give him the interpretation (Daniel 9:22) because Daniel is greatly loved by God, and so God wants him to understand this 2300 year prophecy (Daniel 9:23).

Daniel is told that 70 weeks are for the Jewish people and Jerusalem, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy (Daniel 9:24).  70 weeks * 7 days in a week = 490 prophetic days = 490 years.  The Jews have 490 years basically to get right with God.  Starting when?  Well, starting from the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25) which happens in 457 BC, when Artaxerxes let’s the Jews go home to rebuilt Jerusalem (Ezra 6:14).  It takes them another 49 years to actually rebuild Jerusalem, thus the 7 weeks + 62 weeks.

But, there’s more.  Gabriel tells Daniel that from that command, after 69 weeks, the Messiah (the original is actually the anointed one) would come (Daniel 9:25).  So, 69 weeks * 7 days in a week = 483 prophetic days = 483 years.  Jesus is baptized right on time and then His ministry, the ministry of being the Messiah begins (Luke 3:21-22, Acts 10:38).  457 BC + 483 years = 27 A.D. (don’t forget to account for the extra year when switching from BC to AD), the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1).  Perhaps this is why, after Jesus’ baptism, He starts preaching with “The time is fulfilled” (Mark 1:15).

Daniel gets still more information about this Messiah to come.  He’s told that after the Messiah is anointed, He would be killed (Daniel 9:26).  He’s told that the Messiah’s ministry would last a week (7 years), but that in the middle of that week (3.5 years in) he would bring an end to the sacrifices and offerings.  Daniel doesn’t realize it, but this is talking about Jesus’ death.  Jesus started His ministry at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23), and spent 3.5 years teaching the gospel before being crucified, when the temple curtain was torn, signifying the end of the sacrificial system.  Why?  Because the sacrificial system had all been pointing to Jesus (Matthew 5:17).

So, what happens after the entire 70 years that were for the Jewish people and Jerusalem?  Stephen was stoned, causing the church to scatter for fear of the Jews.  This event is what caused the gospel to be preached to other nations (Acts 7).

That explains the first 490 years of this 2300 year prophecy.  So far we’ve got this:

   /---------------70 weeks for the Jews -----------------------\
   /---7 weeks---+--------62 weeks-------+-------1 week---------\
   |             |                       |    Jesus Crucified   |
457 BC         408 BC                 27 AD                   34 AD
Decree         Jerusalem              Baptism                 Stoning of
to rebuild     Rebuilt                of Jesus                Stephen

So, what do we do with the other 1810 years?  What does that signify?  Daniel is told that when that time period is over, the sanctuary will be cleansed (Daniel 8:14).  What does that mean?  We’re going to take a look in our next post.

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