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Lowell Brueckner

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The Greek Period


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.”
Daniel 12:4

Chapter 8:1-27                                         The Greek Period

1.  In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 
2.  And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 
3.  I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 
4.  I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. 
5.  As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 
6.  He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 
7.  I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 
8.  Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. 
9.  Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 
10.  It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 
11.  It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 
12.  And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 
13.  Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, "For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?" 
14.  And he said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state." 

Daniel now writes in Hebrew to his people, because this vision has consequences that effect “the glorious land”. As is the case with the rest of the Old Testament, we, as non-Jews, must be grafted into the history, the literature and the prophecy of Israel. Everyone must humble himself and come to that small land that God has chosen for His own and receive instruction from its people, as many did, in Old and New Testament times.

A man does not receive divine illumination by the power of his will, but according to the purpose of God. God chooses the thing, which He will reveal, and the time and the place, in which it will be revealed. Man has nothing to do with it, except for his disposition and availability. Daniel’s dream took place at the beginning of Belshazzar’s reign, in 553 B.C. and now, some two years later in 551 B.C., he had this additional vision. He was fully awake this time in Susa, at the site of the Ulai River and he lifted his eyes.

His dream concerned four beasts and the vision revealed more about two of these beasts in another form. The bear in the dream was now depicted as a ram with two horns, one above the other, the higher one succeeding the lower. This chapter shows the leopard as a goat with a “conspicuous” horn. So this vision was progressive, adding detail to the former dream. In this progression, we have a spiritual principle, which is at work in the life of every believer: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Pr.4:18).

Daniel, either physically or by vision, was at the site of the future Persian capital, Susa, about 250 miles from Babylon, a fortress in the time of Belshazzar. It was situated in the nearby province of Elam, next to the central Babylonian province. Esther lived in the palace of the city at the height of Persian power, when it reigned over 127 provinces from Ethiopia to India. The river Ulai ran by the city and flowed into the united Tigris/Euphrates rivers. 

Alexander the Great
It was at the banks of the river Ulai that the ram stood, unchallenged, conquering at will in almost all directions. A male goat came swiftly out of the west, so swiftly that his feet did not touch the ground, and he came in fury against the ram. His wrath was such that he thoroughly destroyed the ram, breaking both horns and trampling on him, as he lay defenseless and without an ally to help.

As the goat reached the apex of his power, his horn was broken and four horns took its place. One of these horns is particularly important in prophecy, although it is called in the beginning, a “little horn”. It became great in the south, the east, and in the “glorious land”. This horn took on spiritual proportions, when it rose up against the purposes and people, chosen by heaven, represented by stars. It had some success in its spiritual warfare and cast some of the stars down and, as its predecessor, it trampled on its defeated foes.

In his greatness, he challenged the Prince of the host, the Messiah to come, to Whom all sacrifices pointed. He directed his attack against the temple, or the sanctuary, in particular, the morning and evening whole burnt offerings. Because of the sin of the people, he was given power to take over the sanctuary and prosper in throwing truth to the ground.

However, his success was temporary, as is all prosperity of men and devils. A holy one spoke and another holy one asked him a question for Daniel’s benefit. He did it also for the benefit of his readers, the Jew first, but also all who come to God through the word of the Jew and their prophet, Daniel.

The question concerned the limited time, given to the horn, in his success against the daily sacrifice and in trampling upon the sanctuary and its host of stars. A term was used, which in similar form will appear from now until the end of the book… “the transgression that makes desolate.” The other holy one gave the answer and stated that it will take place for 2,300 days of evening and morning sacrifices (6 years and 110 days), before things will return to their rightful, God-given state. The prophecies of Daniel are precise to the day. This is of extreme importance to future Jews, and because Daniel is writing in Hebrew now, he is directing the prophecy to them.

15.  When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 
16.  And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." 
17.  So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, "Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end." 
18.  And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 
19.  He said, "Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 
20.  As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 
21.  And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 
22.  As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 
23.  And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 
24.  His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 
25.  By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 
26.  The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now." 
27.  And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king's business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it. 

God’s experiences are not for the sake of just having experiences, but they always have significance and meaning. Daniel searched for an interpretation of the vision. A being in the form of a man stands before Daniel and God speaks to this one, calling him Gabriel, a mighty one of God, who approached him. Here, near the end of the Old Testament, a name is given to an angel for the first time.

Hundreds of years later, this same angel appeared to an old country priest, named Zachariah, from the hills of Judea, serving for a month inside the Jerusalem temple. It was probably the first and last time that he ever had that privilege. Gabriel appeared “on the right side of the altar of incense” (Lk.1:11,19), announcing the miraculous birth of a son, who would become John the Baptist. In the sixth month of his wife’s pregnancy, Gabriel came to a young virgin, Mary, declaring that she would become the mother of the Christ-child.

We will hear more from Gabriel in this book. The presence of an angel frightened the man of God to the extent that he fell on his face. Not only did he fall, he “fell into a deep sleep”, and it took an angelic touch to revive him.  Image the impact upon Saul of Tarsus and the apostle John, when they had an encounter with the glorified Son of God.

The first statement concerned the time of the fulfillment of this vision, “the time of the end”. The angel later defined that time more clearly as “the latter end of the indignation… the appointed time of the end… and at the latter end of their kingdom”. It occurred at the completion of all things revealed in this vision, that is, at the end of the Grecian period.  

You may have already discerned the interpretation of the ram and the goat, since we have already seen them as the second and third beast in Daniel’s dream. Now clearly, the angel revealed that the ram represents the Median and Persian kingdoms. Media was the oldest and then, Persia formed and became the more powerful of the two.

The goat was Alexander the Great who, with a small army of 35,000, came from the west and, in a period of only twelve years, brought the entire world into subjection. He is said to have wept, because there was no more world to conquer and he died at 33 years of age. He represented the fury of Greece, caused by repeated Persian invasions, and the Greeks, although not conquered, never forgot the wrongs attempted by the Persians. Alexander spread Greek culture and language around the world, but he was broken by an early death and his conquests were divided among four generals… “the four winds of heaven”.

None of these generals had the power of Alexander, but they continued to spread Greek culture and language in their four dynasties. The Greek influence (Hellenization) continued through the time of Christ and that is the reason our New Testament was originally written in ancient Greek. General Seleucus obtained control of an area, which included Syria, Phoenicia, Babylonia, and Media. Another important area included Egypt and Arabia and that was taken by Ptolemy.

Antiochus Epiphanes
The term little horn is the same as that used in chapter seven; however they do not represent the same thing. The little horn in chapter seven appeared among 10 horns, related to the Roman Empire, and replaced three. This one appears among four horns, relating to the Grecian period. The little horn in chapter seven depicts the Antichrist, but the little horn in chapter eight also has an important significance among students of prophecy.  The name Antiochus Epiphanes is a familiar one to these students and is one, to which all the readers of these commentaries should become familiar.

He is a fore type of the Antichrist, because of his mistreatment and interference with the Jews and their worship. He is also a fore type, because he came before the first coming of Christ, and the final Antichrist will come before His second coming. There is an historic book, called Maccabees, which describes the events of his day. Antiochus inherited the Syrian section of Greek domination, eight generations after the death of Alexander, between 176 and 164 B.C. and Antioch was the capital city.  

As was the case with many other enemy nations, God empowered him in order to bring discipline upon his people, because “transgressions have reached their limit”. Antiochus prospered by deceit, at first, feigning peaceful relations with the Jews. He ended his rule by shaking his fist at the God of Israel and His coming Christ, persecuting the priests and desecrating their temple, by sacrificing a sow on the altar.

We can be sure that he introduced the pagan, idolatrous Greek religion*. In 167 B.C. he killed 40,000 inhabitants of Jerusalem and sold 40,000 more as slaves. He caused desolation in the city of Jerusalem and particularly in temple worship, bringing an end to the sacrificial system. Consequently, he was broken by insanity and a disease of the bowels and died a horrible death, under the just judgment of God.

The 2,300 days at last were numbered and the Greek power came to its “latter end”. As mentioned in verse 14, the sanctuary was cleansed, a priesthood was appointed to serve there and a new feast was inaugurated, called in the New Testament, “The Feast of Dedication” (Jn.10:22) or “The Feast of Lights”. The whole city was illuminated, in an expression of joy. You have probably heard the Jewish greeting, “Happy Hanukkah”, which begins on December 15 and continues for eight days, and so the feast continues to this day. Shortly thereafter the Roman period began.

*One reason, among several, that I am dogmatically opposed to ¨Christian¨ drama, especially mime, which, by the way, has only become popular in the evangelical church during the last several decades, is because it comes directly from ancient Greek religion. Greek culture was totally idolatrous and perverse. (Homosexual practice was common in Greek society and Alexander the Great was well-known as a homosexual.) The words drama and mime are direct translations from the Greek. Wikipedia explains, “The performance of mime originates at its earliest in Ancient Greece; the name is taken from a single masked dancer called Pantomimus.”  

In Jesus’ day, the Romans, in a great many ways, had adopted the Greek culture and religion; theaters were very popular throughout the Middle East. They also existed in Israel. There is absolutely no suggestion in the New Testament of making use of dramas as a way of presenting the gospel. It is inconceivable to anyone, who has been instructed on the nature of the biblical Christ, that He should participate in any such thing, or teach His disciples to do so. The gospel is a real and legitimate declaration of a reality that is biblically presented by preaching. To present the gospel through drama is playacting and discredits its very message. It is a perversion and surely Paul would define it as “another gospel”.   

Jesus used the word hypocrisy as a condemnation of the religious people of His day. Hypocrisy is also a Greek word, related to the theater. Again Wikipedia defines it: “The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means "jealous", "play-acting", "acting out", "coward" or "dissembling". Alternatively, the word is an amalgam of the Greek prefix hypo-, meaning "under", and the verb krinein, meaning "to sift or decide". Thus the original meaning implied a deficiency in the ability to sift or decide. This deficiency, as it pertains to one's own beliefs and feelings, informs the word's contemporary meaning.”


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