DANIEL’S VISION OF THE RAM AND GOAT

In my conversations with Christians, I have been surprised by how little they know about end time prophecy. The thing that has surprised me most is that many of them don’t understand the events prophesied about Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Many have what I call a “romantic” notion about Jerusalem and the Jewish people. They have an unrealistic and even fanciful belief that Israel will not be harmed during the horrendous events of the end times. It comes from an erroneous interpretation of Romans 11:26 that says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Yes, all Israel will be saved when the Messiah comes. But before Messiah comes, they will experience a great time of trouble. An angelic messenger sent from God told Daniel that the Jewish people will experience “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Dan. 12:1). Daniel’s Vision of the Ram and Goat gives us more insight as to what will happen to the Jewish people during this “time of trouble.” If you want to learn more, keep reading.

DANIEL’S VISION OF THE RAM AND GOAT

By Karen Thompson
Second in a Five-Part Series

In our last post, we studied the first nine verses of Daniel’s vision of the ram and goat. Let’s quickly recap what we learned in the first post. Daniel described seeing a goat with a great horn furiously advance toward a ram with two horns. As a result of their clash, the two horns of the ram broke off. We learned the ram with its two horns symbolized the Medo/Persian Empire. The goat symbolized the Grecian Empire, and its great horn symbolized Alexander the Great. The goat furiously advancing toward the ram and breaking off its two horns symbolized the defeat of the Medo/Persian Empire by Alexander the Great. Right after that, the goat’s great horn broke off. This symbolized the death of Alexander the Great who died from an illness. Then Daniel described seeing four horns growing in the place of the great horn. The four horns symbolized Alexander’s four generals. That brings us up to date.

In this post, we will learn more about the little horn figure and his war with the Jewish people. As a refresher, I highly suggest you re-read the portion of scripture we studied from our last post: Daniel 8:1–7.

 The Location of Little Horn’s Kingdom Revealed

Dan. 8:8–9 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. 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.

Now we come to the really exciting portion of scripture! Verse nine tells us what part of the world the little horn’s kingdom will be located: “And out of one of them came forth a little horn.” The word “them” refers to Alexander’s four generals. The phrase “out of one of them” is telling us is that the area of the world Antichrist will come from is an area that was ruled by one of Alexander’s four generals. Now all we have to do is figure out where each of their empires was located. Below is a list of Alexander’s four generals and the sections of Alexander’s empire that was allotted to them.

  1. General Ptolemy Lagi ruled over Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and Peterea (Jordan). (General Ptolemy was assisted by a general named Seleucus who was originally given rule over Babylon but was forced out by General Antigonus.)
  2. General Antigonus ruled over Syria, Babylonia, and central Asia.
  3. General Cassander ruled over Macedonia and Greece.
  4. And General Lysimachus ruled over Thrace and Bythinia. (Thrace was located in present-day southeastern Bulgaria, northeastern Greece and the European part of Turkey. Bythinia was located in present-day central northern Turkey.)

When you compare the boundaries of Alexander’s empire to a modern-day map, you will find the present-day nations located in Alexander’s empire are Israel, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and small portions of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

The vision of the ram and goat removes all the guessing as to the location of Antichrist’s kingdom. The areas the four generals had rule over were all located in the Middle East. Consequently, we now know the area of the world that Antichrist’s kingdom will be located is in the Middle East! At this point, we don’t yet know which Middle Eastern nation he comes from. That information is provided to us in a later vision.

The Three Uprooted Horns

Now let’s look at the latter portion of verse nine: “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.” The little horn, or Antichrist, will wax exceeding great “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” The phrase “wax exceeding great” means he will increase. Specifically, he will increase his kingdom by conquering three nations.

We read about these three nations in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts when he described the fourth beast as having ten horns. Then he said, “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots” (v. 8). These three uprooted horns are the three nations that will be to “the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.”

In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, we were told of three nations the little horn will uproot, meaning conquer. Now in this vision of the ram and goat, we are told the location of these three nations in terms of where they are located to the nation of the little horn. The nations Antichrist will uproot will be to the south of him, toward the east of him, and toward the “pleasant land.”

The Pleasant Land

Let’s focus on the description “pleasant land.” This description is the detail that confirms that one of the three horns that Antichrist uproots is Israel. Israel is called the “pleasant land” by the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 7:14: “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.” (See also Jer. 3:19.)

The other two nations that Antichrist will subdue will be south and east of his kingdom. If the order in which they are listed means anything (and I believe it does), then that means Antichrist will uproot the nation to the south of him first, then he will uproot the nation to the east of him next, and then he will uproot the pleasant land, meaning Israel. In a later chapter, it is confirmed that the other two horns will also be Middle Eastern nations. This confirms, once again, that Antichrist’s kingdom will be located in the Middle East.

Antichrist Makes War Against Israel

Dan. 8:10 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 the 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 practised, and prospered.

The last words of verse nine says Antichrist will “wax great” toward the south, the east, and the pleasant land. Verses 10–12 confirm that the phrase “pleasant land” is Israel because Daniel goes on to describe Antichrist’s invasion of Israel. Verse 10 starts out by repeating that the little horn will “wax great,” then the rest of the verse speaks specifically how he will increase his kingdom: “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.” These verses give us specifics on how Antichrist will invade and conquer Israel.

Let’s break these verses down phrase by phrase. Antichrist will wax great even to the “host of heaven.” The word “host” is the Hebrew word tsaba which means “that which goes forth, army, war, warfare, host.” In other places in the Bible, tsaba is also translated as army, angels, or the sun, moon, and stars. Essentially, the word host is used to describe something that is of great number be it men in an army, people, or the stars of heaven.

When it says Antichrist will wax great even to the “host of heaven,” it is saying Antichrist will increase his kingdom, and it will include the host of heaven which refers to the army of the Jewish people. The last portion of verse 10 gives us a little detail as to how he increases his kingdom: “…and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” Antichrist is going to “cast down” and “stamp on” some of the host and the stars.

Cast Down and Stamp On

Let’s first talk about what the symbolism of the words “cast down” and “stamp on” means. The Word of God clearly indicates that these two phrases are acts of violence toward one’s enemy. There are many places in the Bible that uses the term “cast down” to convey the defeat of your enemy. For instance, Psalm 37:14 says, “The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.” In this verse, the term “cast down” is connected with the words “slay the poor and needy.” Another example is in 2nd Chronicles 25:8 where it says God has “power to help and to cast down.” The Lord has the ability to either help you or to cast you down, meaning He can bring about your defeat. There are many such verses of scripture that illustrate the definition of cast down.

Then the act of “stamping on” is also an idiom that conveys an act of violence. For instance, 2nd Samuel 22:43 is speaking about an enemy: “Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street….” Clearly, the term stamp is being used to express an act of violence. When Daniel first described the dreadful and terrible beast in the vision of the four beasts, he said, “behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it…” (Dan. 7:7). In both the vision of the four beasts and the vision of the ram and goat, Daniel described Antichrist’s violent actions as stamping.

Identity of the Host and Stars

The little horn, or Antichrist, will “cast down some of the host and of the stars….” Let’s now identify the host and the stars. The star, throughout the Bible, is used to symbolize how great in number the children of Israel would become. God promised Abraham that He would multiply his descendants as the stars of heaven. For example, God said in Genesis 22:17, “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven…” And in Exodus 32:13, “…I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven.” As well as in Deuteronomy 1:10, “The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.” There are several other scriptures that say this same thing.

The most significant scripture that connects the symbolism of stars to the 12 tribes of Israel is in Genesis chapter 37. It’s the account of when Joseph, Israel’s son, dreamed a prophetic dream. Israel loved his son, Joseph, more than his other children, and this open favoritism caused Joseph’s brothers to despise him. Joseph stirred up his brothers’ hatred of him even more when he told them of a dream that he dreamed. Joseph dreamed that the sun, the moon, and eleven stars made obeisance to him, meaning to bow down to show respect to a superior. The interpretation of the dream was that the sun and moon were Joseph’s parents and the eleven stars were his eleven brothers. Joseph told his family about the dream. Even his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” (v. 10)

The dream would eventually prove to be prophetic and foretold of a future event. To make a long story short, Joseph fell victim to a scheme of his brothers to get rid of him. He was sold as a slave in Egypt, but through a series of amazing events, Joseph would one day find himself in charge of all of Egypt, under the command of pharaoh. Joseph’s position of power in Egypt would result in his 11 brothers coming to Egypt in search of food during a time of famine. Just as the dream prophesied, Joseph’s family ended up making obeisance to him.

Right from the start, the star symbol has been connected to the children of Israel. So what does it mean when it says Antichrist will cast down and stamp some of the “host” and some of the “stars?” It means he will kill both Israel’s soldiers (host) as well as its citizens (stars). The phraseology of verse 10 simply means that Antichrist will increase his kingdom by engaging in war with Israel, and in the process, he will kill both military personnel and civilians. The last part of Daniel 8:24 confirms that the identity of the third uprooted horn referred to as the pleasant land to be the Jewish people: “…he shall destroy wonderfully … and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” Exodus 19:6 identifies Israel as a holy nation: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Make no mistake about it, Israel is one of the three nations the little horn will uproot.

In the next post, we will study the portion of Daniel’s vision of the ram and goat that reveals the character of the Antichrist figure.

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