Journey with Daniel
“Daniel 8”Categories: Journey with Daniel
Daniel chapter eight, like much of the latter part of the book, is very strange to read. The visions Daniel was shown are bizarre and often push the limits of our imagination. It is important that we recognize this up front. If we find chapter eight to be strange and difficult to understand, that is okay. Daniel thought the same thing: “I was overcome and lay sick for some days. . . I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it” (Daniel 8:27, ESV). Daniel was shown this vision by God and given the interpretation directly and still had trouble understanding it! It should be no surprise if we face a similar difficulty.
The vision of chapter eight can be summarized fairly quickly. Daniel first saw a ram with magnificent horns, one slightly more magnificent than the other. The ram roamed the earth with great power and nothing was able to stop it. Soon after, Daniel saw a goat with a great single horn on its head, flying in from the west. In a gruesome battle, the goat broke the ram’s horns and trampled him underneath his hooves. Just as the goat reached the height of his power, his mighty horn broke and was replaced by four lesser horns. One of these grew in greatness and power, even to the point of challenging the stars and the “prince of the host.” This little-turned-mighty horn is said to have overthrown the sanctuary of the ruler, leaving it desolate for “2,300 evenings and mornings.”
Yes, that’s a weird vision. A few of the questions we might have are answered shortly when Gabriel interprets the vision for Daniel. The ram’s horns are the kings of Media and Persia. The goat and its first great horn are the king of Greece. The four horns are the four kingdoms that arise from Greece, one of which will rise to power and destroy many righteous people. The ruler of this kingdom will even try to match wits with the “Prince of princes,” but will end up being broken “by no human hand.”
There is much argument and speculation about the application and interpretation of this vision. Should it be taken literally to refer to the kings of the now-ancient nations of Media, Persia, and Greece? Should it be interpreted as some sort of analogy for the end of time here on earth? Could there be elements of both? While some arguments are certainly stronger than others, there are some over-arching principles which remain visible in Daniel chapter eight no matter what the interpretation:
- No human ruler will last forever. No matter how great or powerful, all nations of men will eventually fall and be destroyed.
- No power of earth will ever be able to match the power of heaven. To challenge God is to seal one’s own defeat.
- Even if the powers of evil appear to win in the short term, God will always be victorious in the end.
How encouraging it is to know that the Lord we serve will always be the victorious deliverer of his people!