Daniel 028: A Hebrew Fourth of July – Part 2

Dr. Andy Woods | Jul 9, 2017 | Daniel 8:9-14 | Daniel

Andy Woods

A Jewish Fourth of July, Part 2

7-9-17      Daniel 8:9-14          Lesson 28

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Daniel, chapter 8 and verse 9.  I didn’t get a chance to finish my fourth of July message last week hence the title of this week’s message, a Hebrew Fourth of July, Part 2, Daniel 8:9.  As you’re turning there, you know baptism is a momentous occasion in the lives of the believer and baptism is an outward confession of an inward reality.  It’s typically done in the presence of witnesses so besides baptismal candidates what else do we need?  Witnesses, right?  So I would encourage you to come today to the baptism at 2:00, Wayne Pittman’s house, we’ve done it there many times.  Maps, I’m told, are on the table on your way out and just come to celebrate with us these people that are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have decided to submit to the ordinance of water baptism.    It will be a joyous time so I invite  you to come and participate.

The Book of Daniel is a strategic book in God’s Word.  God has raised up this man, Daniel, during the days of the Babylonian captivity to explain really prophetically what is happening during the captivity, a difficult time for the nation and beyond.  Daniel gives prophecies consequently from that time (the Babylonian captivity) stretching all the way into the return of Jesus Christ and the kingdom which follows.

The Book of Daniel basically has two parts; 1-7 is part 1, that’s the historical section.  We’ve gone through chapter 1 which lays the setting of the book.  And from there we moved into chapters 2-7 which, as we’ve explained in great detail is organized chiastically.  It’s a literary pattern where the theme’s that are begun at the beginning are repeated at the end.  So chapter 2 lines up with chapter 7.  Chapter 3 lines up with chapter 6 in terms of theme.  Chapter 4 lines up with chapter 5.  You might be saying to yourself all this chiastic stuff confuses me, can you make it easier?  Yes I can.  We can all think in terms of pictures, can’t we?  Just attach a picture to each chapter and you’ll understand the flow of the Book of Daniel.  Chapter 2 is the giant statue; chapter 3 think of fire, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego thrown into the fiery furnace.  Chapter 4 think of a tree being cut down, that’s the humiliation and restoration of Nebuchadnezzar.  Chapter 5, think about hand­writing on the wall; that’s where the Persians overthrew the Babylonians.  Chapter 6, think of Daniel in the lion’s den, that’s probably the most well-known chapter in the Book of Daniel.  Chapter 7, think of four beasts.

And last week we concluded all of that and we had actually moved into chapter 8 which is another picture.  When  you’re trying to remember the contents of chapter 8 just remember a ram and a goat because that’s what Daniel saw in this chapter.  Chapters 8-12 switches everything.  Daniel is no longer interpreting the visions that he sees but now an angel is; typically it’s the angel Gabriel.  Daniel start speaking of himself in the first person rather than the third person.  This whole section, chapters 8-12, is written in Hebrew; everything that came before, particularly chapters 2-7 is in Aramaic.  So he is speaking now no longer to the nations but he’s speaking specifically to the nation of Israel.  And chapter 8 is the ram and the goat; chapter 9 is the 70 weeks prophecy and chapters 10-12 is the final vision.  That’s the trajectory we’re moving in.

We started last week, did we not, the ram and the goat.  We saw, for example, the historical setting, chapter 8 and verse 1.  Here we learned that this was the third year of Belshazzar, which would make this about 551 B.C.  You say well who cares, don’t bore me with dates.  The reason the date is a big deal is because Daniel, as we’re going to see, is laying out a history lesson before it happens.  In fact, most of the things that Daniel describes in this chapter (and other chapters for that matter) would take place long after he was dead.  Well, how could Daniel have known that history in advance?  Because of God.  God is in the business of revealing things before they happen.  That’s what happened to the prophet, Daniel.  Daniel is in his mid-sixties at this particular point in time.

You’ll notice that from this chart Daniel received, moving into chapter 9 and then chapters 10-12, his greatest insights  and revelations in his old age.  He’s in his mid-sixties in chapters 7 and 8, and then he’s in his 80’s in chapters 9-12.  The same way with John on the Isle of Patmos.  John received his vision that we call the Book of Revelation on the island of Patmos 60 years after Jesus had left the earth.  John was probably in his 90’s, mid to late 90’s when he received that vision.  Why is that significant?  Because a lot of people have this attitude that well, you know, I’m old and God can’t use me anymore.  I’m retired, don’t bother me with church work, church activity.

The reality of the situation is in your older years, your golden years so to speak, that’s just when God is getting ready to use you, perhaps in the most fruitful way He has ever used you in your whole life.  That’s what happened with John on Patmos.  That’s also what happened with Daniel.  We disqualify ourselves many times, we think we’re too young to be used by the Lord.  That’s what Timothy thought; that’s what Jeremiah thought; God had corrected those false ideas to those two men.  And then people say well, I’m too old to be used by God, I’m over the hill.  Well, so was Daniel, so was John from the worldly point of view, from the human point of view, and yet this is the time in their lives which was the most fruitful in terms of their ministries.  I encourage  you, no matter what your age is, young or old or middle aged to just continue to walk with the Lord, fellowship with the Lord, be like that vine connected to the branch and you’re going to be stunned at what God can and will do through you, whether you’re young or old or middle aged.

It doesn’t really matter what your abilities are; what really matters is your availability.  So many times we’re just not available.  We’re too busy, we disqualify ourselves and yet you’ll discover with God that no matter where you’re at He wants to use you, and we see that pattern in the Bible.  As Daniel has this vision Babylon is still in power, the last days of Neo-Babylonia were unfolding.  Twelve years later Babylon would be overthrown by the Persians which is actually the initial firstfruits, if you will, of Daniel’s visions.

And really the key to understanding chapter 8 is verses 20-21.  Notice those verses very quickly. “The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. [21] The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king.”  Earlier in this book Daniel has had a vision of many, many different empires that would come and go.  I count a total of six empires; that’s what Daniel sees in Daniel 2, the giant statue, Daniel 7, the various ravenous beasts.  But you see, this chapter narrows the focus to the middle two empires, Persia which is represented by the two-horned ram and Greece which is represented by the goat.  What we’re focused on in chapter 1 is different than what we saw in chapter 2 and chapter  7.  We’re not focused on the whole statue, we’re just focused on the chest and arms of silver and the belly and thighs of bronze.  We’re focused not on all the animals but just the bear and the leopard.  It’s just in our particular chapter they’re called the ram and the goat.

We move from the historical setting into the actual vision itself and last time we studied this two-horned ram.  This is the rise of the empire of Medo-Persia.  Medo-Persia, as we have studied, came to power in Daniel’s own lifetime when he was in his 80’s.  This is what is recorded in Daniel 5, the handwriting on the wall chapter where Medo-Persia did something no one thought could ever be possible—politically overthrow the Babylonian Empire.  It happened in a single night without even a battle.  Babylon, who felt that they were so powerful, so strong, so invincible, so invulnerable, was deposed of by the hand of God as God used the Persians in one night.  If this book doesn’t talk to us or communicate to us the sovereignty of God I don’t know what will.  These empires of the earth are just “Silly Putty “ if you will, in the hands of an all-powerful God.  He puts one in place and removes another, over and over again throughout history.  We’re seeing it here happen in the Book of Daniel.

So the Persians would come to power in Daniel’s lifetime, Daniel 5, about 539 B.C.  And then in this vision of chapter 8 he sees the goat, which represents Greece, charging at the ram, which represents Persia and its speaking of something that would happen long after Daniel was dead.  This would take us to about 331 B.C. where Greece would overthrow the Persian Empire.  That’s what is described there in the way of a vision, verses 5-8.

We talked about how that was actually the hand of God because the Greeks brought in the Greek language.  The Greek language, as we have studied, is one of the fullest dialects known to man.  You have one word for love in English; you’ve got four in Greek.  And the right language was now in place for the recording of the revelation of the New Testament and the entrance of Jesus Christ into our world.  God is setting the stage here through these prophecies and their fulfillment of what is going to come to pass in New Testament times.

The horns on the goat, verses 5-8, begin to change.  First of all the large horn on the goat is broken off.  We talked about how that is a reference to the very early death of Alexander the Great.  Alexander the Great could conquer the entire world but he could not conquer his own lusts and his own passions.  He died around the age of 32 of venereal diseases, alcoholism, a debauched lifestyle and Daniel, all the way back in the 6th century sees this as the goat comes to power and its horn is broken off.

And then Daniel sees in this vision, verse 8, as we studied last time, four horns on the goat that grow up in the place of the horn that had just been severed or broken off.  And that, as we have talked about, is a perfect description of history and what happened.  You see, Alexander the Great, because of his very early death, had no heirs so his empire went to his four generals; that’s the four horns that Daniel sees emerge on this goat.  One general is named Cassandra and he took Macedonia, part of Alexander’s empire.  One was named Ptolemy, he took Egypt.  One was named Lysimachus and he took Thrace and Asia Minor.  One was named Seleucus and he took Syria.  You have to keep your eye on Seleucus because Seleucus gains a part of the territory of Alexander’s empire that went into the land of Israel.

Here is a map that shows  you sort of what happened after Alexander the Great left the scene as the Grecian Empire was divided.  And from these four generals came four dynasties.  You have the Ptolemy Dynasty, you have the Seleucid Dynasty; now the one to keep your eye on is the Seleucid Dynasty coming from Seleucus because there is going to arise someone, not immediately, not overnight, but down the road a bit, a Seleucid by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is going to bring against the nation of Israel perhaps the worst form of persecution they have ever received in their history.  And Daniel’s prophecies are going to focus on him like a laser beam because his wave of persecution against the nation of Israel became so horrific that he becomes a type or a foreshadowing of the antichrist, this man, Antiochus Epiphanes.  He is not THE antichrist, but probably more than any other character in the Bible that we know of he is set up by the Holy Spirit as a prefigurement, if you will, a type of the coming antichrist who is still future from our time period.

And this is the description of the boastful little horn, Antiochus Epiphanes.  Notice if you will verse 9 as Daniel’s prophecies continue.  It says, “Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land.”  Greece will come to power; Greece (as we talked about) is mentioned by name in the biblical text, chapter 8 and verse 21.  [Daniel 8:21, “The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king.”]  But Daniel focuses in his prophecy as the Spirit is allowing these things to be shown to Daniel he focuses on a leader that’s coming forth from Greece, a Seleucid, someone coming forth from the lineage of General Seleucus, the Seleucid Dynasty which reigned over Syria (which is to the north of Israel) and Israel itself. This man’s name is Antiochus, the ruler of this Seleucid Dynasty.  He even becomes the subject of Daniel’s prophecies in verses 9-14.  Verse 9 is describing the rise of this empire and this man.

And then it mentions, verse 9, “the Beautiful Land,” I mean, that’s got to be the United States of America, isn’t it?  As much as we love the United States  of America as the beautiful land the fact of the matter is this is not a reference to the United States of America, it is not a reference to any Gentile country.  The land in these prophecies always refers to the nation of Israel.  Why is that?  Because to God Jerusalem is the center of the nation, Ezekiel 5:5.  [Ezekiel 5:5, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.”]

To God the nation of Israel is referred to as those who live at the center of the world, Ezekiel 38:12.  [Ezekiel 38:12, “to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.’”]  In fact, in the Hebrew, based on these translations the word in Hebrew that’s translated “live at the center of the world” the center of the nations, is the word navel or bellybutton, which is the center of the body.

When we study Bible prophecy we have to learn to think, not the way the Washington Post wants us to think or the New  York Times or the Houston Comical (Chronicle, excuse me), but we have to think the way God thinks.  God looks at the nation of Israel as the center of history.  It’s, as some have said, the fulcrum of history.  It’s where God’s program began; it’s where God’s program will end.  It’s the land that God covenanted to the patriarch Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant, Genesis 15.  It’s the centerpiece of all things.

And so this man, Antiochus, with his boasts as he is described here in verse 9 as this boasting little horn is someone who is coming to power in the Grecian Empire and he is someone who is a foreshadowing, a type, a prefigurement of the coming antichrist.

Now what is this little horn who prefigures the antichrist going to do exactly.  Notice if you will verse 10, as the prophecy conies.  “It” that’s the little horn, Antiochus Epiphanes, “It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down.”  This is describing a wave of persecution that Daniel prophetically saw about 386 years in advance.  Daniel saw these prophecies, as we said earlier, in 551 B.C.  He is now seeing something that the historians tell us happened around B.C. 170-164.  Antiochus would begin to persecute Israel.  Why is that?  Because his goal was the same as Alexander the Great’s goal—Hellenization.  He wanted to make a monolithic singular Greek culture.  Same Greek thought, same Greek language, same Greek religion, same Greek culture, and who stood right in the way?  The tiny nation of Israel with its own language, its own culture, and its own religion.

He began, this man Antiochus, according to Daniel’s prophecies, view the Jews as an obstacle to his goal.  And isn’t it interesting how things haven’t changed much.  This is exactly how the world community looks at the tiny state of Israel today.  I call it the transforming David into Goliath syndrome where Israel, about the size of Vermont, about the size of Rhode Island, about the size of New Jersey, is a little tiny nation, about 1% or less of all Middle Eastern territories fighting for its very existence in a sea of Islamic theocracies threatening to drive Israel into the Sea, and yet the world community says if Israel would just give up a little more we’d be happy.  This is exactly what was happening during the days of Antiochus.

Zechariah 12:2-3 God made a prediction through Zechariah concerning Israel in the last days.  He said, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. [3] It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”  The last time I checked all means all!  I wish it said this: All the nations of the earth (with the exception of the United States of America) will be gathered against it.  It doesn’t say that; it says every nation against Israel.  Sort of the scenario that plays in my mind is following the rapture of the church with the Christian influence of America completely gone and no one left to complain anymore about American’s foreign policy, the United States of America will fit right into the pattern of every other nation.

Do you understand this, that in the minds of the Jews in Israel America is almost looked at as the last beacon of hope for them in terms of an ally?  And the Jews in the land of Israel don’t really understand our theology as Christians, they don’t necessarily agree with our theology as Christians but I have to make you aware of something; they love you because they understand the political lobbying force evangelicalism is, even in this late great United States of America.  They understand that because of the way we think about the Bible and the end times we are almost looked at as the last resort.  They love you, they value you, and when you go to the land of Israel, and you’re going to go there one way or another, either you can take a trip there or you’re going to rule there in the millennial kingdom.  Either way you’re going to get there, right?

But when you go there, even today, there’s just smiles and love because they know what you represent.  Think of all that salt and light is removed; think if there’s really nothing left to speak for, or anybody left to speak for Israel.  Think how fast American would change, would switch.

So what did this man, Antiochus do?  He outlawed the Hebrew Scriptures; he executed Jewish families who observed the Sabbath.  He executed Jewish families who were involved in Jewish circumcision.  Why?  Because of Hellenization, they were in His way of progress.  This is why this man, Antiochus, is almost like a prefigurement, or a type, if you will, of the coming antichrist.

And it makes the most interesting statement here and as God is my witness I’ve been studying this verse all week, I still don’t know fully what it means.  It says this there in verse 10, “It” that’s Antiochus, “It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down.”  Now what in the world does that mean?  One of the things that’s interesting is stars in the Bible are used as metaphors for angels.  Did you know that?  Job 38:7 talks about the angels as God was bringing forth creation, on the days of creation, and Job 38:7 says, “When the morning stars sang together” well who are “the morning stars”?  It goes on and it says, “And all the sons of “ angels in other words, “shouted for joy?”

Daniel 12:1 says this: “Now at that time Michael,” an angel, “the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise….”  God loves Israel so much that a person’s position on the nation of Israel, pro or con, good or bad, causes a human being, whether they realize it or not to take sides in the angelic conflict.  The nation of Israel is so intimately connected with the angels of God and the stars of God that this attack, unprovoked, against Israel is portrayed here as stars falling to the earth.  I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about that verse but it seems to me that what Antiochus did is he declared war against Israel and in the process he declared war against the angels, at least the two-thirds that didn’t fall originally with Lucifer.  Whatever your view on Israel will tell you where you stand in the angelic conflict.  Satan’s desire to obliterate Israel because through Israel the kingdom will come, God’s desire to protect Israel, to promote Israel, to see Israel get saved.

Where are you on this?  Where do you stand?  What’s your theological belief system?  Anti-Israel or pro-Israel?  You just took a side in the angelic conflict.  It doesn’t seem to me there’s any neutrality here.  Who do you vote for?  Can I get a little personal here?  There are so many candidates, Republican and Democrat, I might add that I will not touch with a ten foot pole.  Why not?  They might be right on all kinds of things but they’re wrong on the nation of Israel.  There are so many candidates that are called pro-family, pro-Christian candidates that you agree with on abortion, you agree with them on prayer in school, you agree with them on euthanasia or stopping euthanasia I should say, and moral issue after moral issue and the Christian public gets behind them and yet they won’t say a word about the nation of Israel when in reality what you believe about the nation of Israel to God may in fact be the most important issue.  And we have to start allowing the written Word of God to inform how we think, even about something as simple as casting a vote for or against someone.

I talk a lot about Israel because God talks a lot about Israel.  I talk a lot about Israel because I want Christians to understand that this tiny state, as much as it is looked at as a hindrance to world progress it is VERY important to God.  And Antiochus and every other world dictator that follows his pattern, you just went the wrong way.   You just stuck your finger in the eyeballs of God Himself.  Zechariah 12 and other passages talk about this.

So what did Antiochus do?  Daniel’s prophecies continue, verse 11, “It” that’s the little horn, Antiochus, “even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.”  What did Antiochus do?  Number 1, he magnified himself.  You know, Jesus, when He came into this world never magnified Himself.  John 6:38 quotes the words of Christ and it says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”  And in Mark 10:45 Jesus says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  How opposite Antiochus is who comes for his own will.

Let me ask you, this week as  you walked with the Lord, whose will was executed in your life moment by moment?  Was it God repeatedly guiding you, directing you, empowering you to do His will and His work no matter what the situation you were in or was it self coming to the throne and demanding your own way.  How you answer that question determines whether you’re walking in the Spirit of Jesus Christ or God forbid the spirit of the antichrist.  And cheer up folks, it gets worse; not only did he magnify himself, he made himself equal with the commander of the host.  This is a man who made himself equal with God.  In fact, the very name, Antiochus Epiphanes means God manifest.  That’s his name; no ego problem, right?  And this is exactly what the future antichrist is like; he magnifies himself.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 of the coming antichrist says he “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, [so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God].”  Well Andy, don’t you believe the antichrist is going to be a Muslim?  Maybe so, I have my suspicions of that theory though, because my Bible says the antichrist will exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship.  I cannot imagine a fundamentalist or a devout Muslim elevating himself over Allah.  To do so would contradict everything that’s in the Qur’an, the Hadith.  So I have my suspicions on the Islamic identity of the antichrist but  I know this much, whoever it is there’ll be no barrier between promoting himself and God.  He will do as he pleases; he will exalt himself even above God.  This, to a large extent, is what Antiochus did.

What else did he do?  It says here, verse 11, he “removed the regular sacrifice,” well what’s “the regular sacrifice”?  You see, the temple that Solomon built was destroyed in Daniel’s lifetime by the Babylonians who also took Daniel into captivity, 586 B.C.  After the time of Daniel the Jews, in what we call the returnees from the exile, came back into the land of Israel and they rebuilt the temple.  You can read about it in the Book of Ezra.  And they had a difficult time with the job, they got discouraged and so God raised up a couple of prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, and sort of kicked them in the backside to get the job done.

So by the time the Persian Empire leaves the scene, by the time Greece comes to power Israel has a functioning temple with animal sacrifices taking place within it, and according to these prophecies Antiochus Epiphanes will go into the temple and he will say no more sacrifices.  Isn’t it interesting how there were no sacrifices when Daniel has his prophecy.  And yet God moved the furniture around so that the stage could be set for a temple with sacrifices in it to fulfill the specifics of His Word.   Beloved, that is exactly what’s happening right now.   There is no temple in the land of Israel; there are not functioning sacrifices as of yet but just give it enough time.  In fact, when you go to the land of Israel and you go to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem you can go in there and it’s an eerie feeling walking through there; I’ve been there twice, you see the whole blueprint for the temple laid out; the priestly garbs selected, instructions regarding these animal sacrifices once they get them started.  And they think in their blindness that they’re building a temple for the Messiah.  No, no, no, they’re building a temple for the antichrist who will do exactly what Antiochus did by putting an end to the animal sacrifices.  If these prophecies concerning Antiochus were very literal why wouldn’t the prophecies concerning the coming antichrist, who is prefigured by Antiochus, also not be very, very literal.

What else did this man Antiochus do?  He desecrated the temple; he took a pig, we all know Jews don’t eat pork, he took a pig and sacrificed it on the altar of this temple to humiliate the Jewish people.  He even took a statue of Zeus and set it up in the temple that the exiles, the returnees from the exile had built.  Did you know that’s exactly what the antichrist is going to do?  He’s going to set up an actual image or statue in the rebuilt Jewish temple yet future.  You say well, where does the Bible teach that?  You can read it for yourself, it’s in Revelation 13:15.  It says, “And it was given to him” that’s the antichrist, “to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”

What has happened will be again; didn’t Solomon say that?  Ecclesiastes 1:9 Solomon, the wisest man that’s ever lived other than Christ Himself said this, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.”  The whole history yet future that is coming following the rapture of the church has already been performed in a rehearsal that we’re reading about here in chapter 8 as Daniel is receiving prophecies about Greece in particular and Antiochus Epiphanes.

Daniel 9:27 says, right in the middle of the future seven  year tribulation period the antichrist will go into the temple, desecrate it, offer an image in the temple and stop the sacrifices.  [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]  And how can any of those things happen unless you have an Israel in unbelief, check, got that one!  Existing as a nation, check, got that one!  With a functioning temple with sacrifices, well we can’t check those off yet but maybe next Sunday we will check those boxes, or better yet maybe we’ll be raptured and have the best seat in the house.

Notice if you will verse 12 as these prophecies continue, “And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with regular sacrifice” which we just got done talking about, “and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper.”  [Daniel 8:12]  Antiochus did what in the year 170-164 B.C.  Number 1, persecuted the Jews.  Number 2, stopped the sacrifices that Ezra had started.  Number 3, desecrated the temple.  Number 4, disregarded the truth.  Number 5, performed his own will, and it will seem as if according to Daniel’s prophecies that Antiochus will prosper.  Do you see that there at the end of verse 12, “and perform its will and prosper.”

You mean evil people prosper? For a season they do, and this is something that disturbs us, doesn’t it?  Lord, I am reading my Bible every day.  I’m obeying the rules in the tax system.  I’m obeying the rules at the work place.  And yet the wicked keep getting ahead.  The people that cheat keep getting rich.  The people that are dishonest and cheat on finances and their spouses and use gutter language keep getting promoted ahead of me.  What’s the deal, Lord?  Have  you ever thought that way?  It’s easy to get that way as a Christian, isn’t it.  Asaph, the Psalmist, thought that way.

Psalm 73:3, Asaph says, this, “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  [4] For there are no pains in their death, and their body is fat.  [5] They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind. [6] Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them.  [7] Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run riot.  [8] They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high.  [9] They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth.”

And this Psalm goes on and on like this.  What’s the deal Lord, I’m obeying the rules?  I’m trying to live godly, why is it that all these people who hate  your guts are prospering?  Until you get to verse 16 of Psalm 73.  Asaph says… “it was troublesome in my sight until…” until what?   [17] “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.  [18] Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.  [19] How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! [20] Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.”

Isn’t it interesting that in a dream it seems so real and then you wake up and what seemed so real you quickly understand that that’s just something that was in the mind and passed away.  That’s the destiny of the wicked; they are, from the human point of view, prospering today.  One of my first counselling sessions at the church I was pastoring in California, a  young man came to me and he was just so distraught that everything he tried to do seemed to fail and yet he was godly, he was praying, he was reading his Bible, and yet people that didn’t know God at all were wildly succeeding, wildly being promoted ahead of him.  And he was so upset at God over this.  And fortunately I had the wherewithal from this counseling session and I said you need to go home and you need to read Psalm 73 because when you read Psalm 73 you’re going to see the big picture, you’re going to see eternity which at the present time you cannot see and you’re actually going to start to feel sorry for these wicked people that are being elevated and prospering.

Antiochus gets his day in the sun; Antiochus seems to prosper but beloved, it is so short-lived, it’s such a raw deal, a bad deal, to live one’s life as if God didn’t exist, to get a little ahead in this life, because we move from verse 12 into verse 13 where we start to see God moving into history to respond to what is happening.  Verse 13 says, “Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, ‘How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?”’  This scene is so bothersome that one angel in Daniel’s vision asks another angel, this desecration of the temple that Antiochus is doing, how long is it going to last.

“How long” oh Lord and you get the answer in verse 14.  Verse 14 says, “He said to me, ‘For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”’  Antiochus, you’re on a leash, you get 2300 evenings and mornings and then the temple is going to be restored.  2300 “evenings and mornings,” what is that talking about?  Wait a minute, I’ve heard that expression before, “evening and morning,” where have I heard that before?  Genesis 1.  Genesis 1:5 says there was evening and there was morning, day one.  [Genesis 1:5, “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”]

You say well, you don’t really believe those creation days in Genesis 1 are 24 hour days do you?  I mean, you can’t be that much of a flat-earther to believe that?   Well then  you explain to me what evening and morning means.  Evening and morning—does it not mean one rotation of the earth?   What it’s saying here is the desecration is going to last for 2300 evenings and mornings or days.   Oh the mistakes people have made with this verse, setting dates for the return of Christ.  Who’s doing that?

Take a look at Seventh Day Adventism for example.  The Millerites, 1844, called the great disappointment, who left livelihoods, houses to go out on a hill and wait for Jesus because He’s got to come back in 2300 evenings and mornings.  They never listened to my Daniel series because if they had listened to my Daniel series they would understand that this doesn’t concern Rome; they started with Rome, they came up with a date for the destruction of Rome, I think 476 A.D.  This vision doesn’t concern Rome at all but it concerns who?  Persia and Greece.  Didn’t we cover that, verses 20-21.  Their starting point is the wrong place.

The second thing they did is they took 2300 days and said “days” really means years, the day-year theory, so they deviated from what the text says.  And so there they are waiting for the return of the Lord, Jesus never showed up.   Taking 2300 years from 476 forward to 1844, convinced they are right and they suffered total humiliation in the process and suffered ridicule all their lives because they deviated from the fundamentals of Bible prophecy.  They didn’t take it at face value and they didn’t pay attention to the context of the chapter.  This is not talking about 2300 years, it’s not talking about Rome, it’s talking about a time period of 2300 days (evenings and mornings is very clear) that Antiochus would desecrate the temple during the intertestamental period.

Well how does this whole thing work out?  Well, relations between Antiochus and the Jews really started to collapse about 170 B.C.  When Judas Maccabaeus restored the temple to its proper place, I’ll talk about what that is in just a moment, that happened December 25, 164 B.C.  So from 170 B.C. when relations between Antiochus and Israel began to fall apart to the restoration of the temple, Dec 25, 164 B.C. you can easily fit a time period in there of 2,300 evenings and mornings or six years.  You say I don’t like that solution.

Okay, here’s another one; this comes from my professor, J. Dwight Pentecost.  He says: A sacrifice was offered twice a day, evening and morning.  So let’s just take 2,300 days divided by 2 and we get 1150 days; that fits perfectly  as well.  Why is that? Because the temple was first desecrated by Antiochus December 16, 167 B.C. and it was liberated by Judas Maccabeus December 25, 164 B.C. and so we can fit very easily a 1150 day days into that time period.  So whether you want to take 2300 days or 1150 days, both of them work.  You don’t have to sit in judgment on the Bible; the Bible is always going to be vindicated at the end.

So what happened exactly after these 2,300 days elapsed.  There’s a man in history who led what is called the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucids and restored the Jewish temple to its proper place that Antiochus had been desecrating all that time.  And they won this battle, this is why it fits very nicely as a 4th of July sermon which I wanted to get to last week but didn’t, it describes very nicely a battle or a war that took place where Israel was outnumbered against overwhelming odds and yet succeeded in taking the temple back from Antiochus, his desecration and the Seleucid dynasty.

1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”  You see, one plus God is a majority.  All you need on your side is God; it doesn’t matter that you don’t have the armament, the education, the intelligence to pull it off, if you have God on  your side you’re going to win.  This is what happened with the Maccabees in the intertestamental period.  In fact, this victory that they achieved, taking the temple back from Seleucid rule was so monumental in Israel’s history that she started a feast day because of it called what?  Anybody know?  Hanukah.  What happened at Hanukah exactly?  By the way, Daniel is seeing these things 400 years before they happened.  Hanukah, December 24, 164 BC (roughly) is also called the Festival of Lights, the Festival of Dedication.  It represents a time in history where the temple was retrieved from Antiochus’ rule, liberated and re-dedicated.  That’s what Daniel is seeing here; he’s seeing history before it unfolds 400 years later.

How do we know this history unfolded 400 years later?  Because we have a historical record of it called 1 and 2 Maccabees.  You say wait a minute, that’s in the Roman Catholic Bible and it is. We, as Protestants do not accept 1 and 2 Maccabees as canonical but it’s like the writings of Josephus, it contains in it valid history.  1 and 2 Maccabees will show you, if you read it, how Daniel’s prophecies in chapter 8 were fulfilled exactly like God said.

So why is it called The Feast of Lights?  Because the Greeks, under Antiochus, in the temple extinguished the Menorah.  You see a picture of the Menorah there at the bottom of the screen.  The priests needed eight days according to Jewish law to rededicate the temple after it had been desecrated by Antiochus for 2300 days.   You need eight days of oil.  The problem is they only had an oil supply for how many days?  One day.  So with faith, according to tradition, they lit the Menorah anyway and guess what happened?  It burned eight days; it’s a miracle of God.  And so profound is this miracle of God that Daniel predicted, which roughly unfolded between the two testaments as recorded in the historical Maccabees books, that the Jews got a holiday out of it.

This chart here gives you the seven feast days of Israel Leviticus 23, all the way back to the time of Moses.  Four spring, three fall feasts.  By the way, as a side note, every time a feast day happens something monumental happens prophetically.  The first four feast days key events in the life of Jesus Christ took place.  For example, His death took place at which feast day?  Passover.  So you have the four spring feasts and then you have the three fall feasts; the four spring feasts deal with events related to the First Coming of Christ; the three fall feasts, later on in the year, describe things related to the Second Coming of Christ.  The conversion, for example, of the nation of Israel is going to take place on Atonement, a feast day.

Well what happens between the spring feast and the fall feast?  There’s a gap of time, isn’t there.  You know what we’re living in right now?  The church age, or the gap of time.  We’re living in between feast 1, 2, 3, 4, that happened in the spring already and we’re still waiting for the fall feasts, 1, 2 and 3, which will happen after the rapture of the church.

Here’s what the feasts look like on the calendar of the nation of Israel; seven feasts and then God moves His hand in history and He does things so significant that feasts get added to the calendar.  One of them is Purim or Lots which commemorated God’s deliverance of the nation of Israel from the wicked Haman during the Persian era in which book of the Bible?  The Book of Esther.  And then history continues to unfold; we move into the intertestamental time period, roughly 170-164 B.C. and Daniel’s prophecies happen.  The Maccabees win against all odds and they get another feast day out of it called Hanukah, December 25th.

So now we have seven feasts given by Moses, two more added to the calendar for a total of nine feasts.  You say well did Jesus take those feasts seriously?  Let me let you in on something here folks, and I can get myself lynched in Texas for saying this: Jesus was not a Southern Baptist.  [Laughter]  Nor was He an Episcopalian, nor was He Presbyterian, nor was He Methodist, and here’s the big secret, He wasn’t even a member of a Bible church.  He was as Jewish as they come and that’s why when you go into the New Testament you see Christ traveling to Jerusalem, what the Law of Moses said, to honor these feasts and when you look at John 10:22 it says, “At that time the Feast of the Dedication” what is that?  That’s Hanukkah, that’s the feast that was added later in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies.

At the time of the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem it was winter and Jesus was walking in the temple.  What’s He doing in the temple?  Why is He in Jerusalem?  Because it’s a feast day and He is honoring what God did with the Maccabees, liberating the temple from Antiochus and his Seleucid rule, honoring what God did through the Maccabees, how the temple was miraculously restored, rededicated.  How the Menorah, when it wasn’t supposed to, miraculously burned eight days.

That’s a pretty good 4th of July story, isn’t it?  It kind of sounds a little bit how God helped America, doesn’t it?  During a time when she needed it most, and it kind of sounds like God is going to help you this week with whatever Antiochus or giant you’re facing because the last time I checked no one has a corner on God.  And God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  He’s the God of miracles; He’s the God of history and it’s just a matter of walking with Him and trusting Him through the emergencies, the exigencies and the valleys of life.

Maybe you’re here today and you don’t know Christ personally.  Our exhortation to you is to believe the gospel. Well what’s that?  Good news.  Why is it good news?  Because Jesus did all the heavy lifting; He did the hard work through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.  He did everything possible necessary to bridge the chasm between sinful man and a Holy God.  And the only thing He asks you to do is to trust in what He’s done in your place.  The Holy Spirit has come into the world to place men and women under conviction so that they might respond, by way of faith, to the gloriousness of the gospel. If you’re here today or listening online or recording or whatever the case may be it’s no doubt that the Spirit is placing many of you if not all of you under conviction because that’s what the Holy Spirit does.  Do you understand that the Holy Spirit loves  you too much to see you go into hell?  And He does whatever He can to stir you up by way of conviction so that you might believe and receive this gift of salvation.  That’s the Holy Spirit’s work.  And so if you’re here today never having received Christ, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit our exhortation to you is to respond in your heart of hearts in a moment of privacy between you and God, the best you know how, to the convicting ministry of the Spirit of God, place your personal faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior for your salvation, for the safekeeping of your soul and in an instant you’ve transformed your eternal destiny.  If it’s something you need more information on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for Daniel 8 and the prophecies that it represents and what You did in history and how You worked.  And help us, Father, not to look at this as just prophecies about an ancient people or a history lesson that is far past but You’re a real God who wants to walk with us this week and perform great miracles as we rely upon You though difficulties of life.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, we ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said…  Amen.