Daniel 8 Devotional
Pastor Mark Hudson
Tremper Longman III makes some interesting observations about chapter 8 being similar to chapter 7 of Daniel. It comes from the same time period, the third year, two years after chapter 7. They both involve animals and those animals represent kingdoms or political entities. There is a focus on horns . Finally, both chapters concern hostility between the animal kingdom and divine realms.
But notice the differences. Chapter 7’s prophecy is a dream but chapter 8 is a vision. In chapter 7, we encounter hybrid animals while in chapter 8 the animals seem almost normal. Another difference is while chapters 2-7 are written in Aramaic, chapter 8 returns to Hebrew, as you have noticed.
The chapter easily divides into 8:1-14 (the vision) and 8:15-27 (interpretation of the vision). The vision is clearly stated and with the interpretation following. This is prophecy so we have to be careful that we are consistent within the book of Daniel and consistent with other prophetic books.
Daniel’s vision concerns the coming kingdoms is this: the ram with the two horns is Persia and Media. The one horn that grew larger is Persia swallowing up Media. The goat is Greece and the single horn represents Alexander the Great (v. 21). When he died in 323 B.C., and after his two sons were murdered, the four thorns represent the division of his kingdom between his four generals (v. 22). The next two centuries are covered in chapter 11. The horn that grew out of the four horns (v. 9) is Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In 167 B.C., Antiochus ordered the cessation of temple sacrifices. He also sacrificed a pig to a sacred object (a meteorite ?) in the temple all in the worship of Zeus. He will come to an end, “ . . . he shall be broken– but by no human hand..” v. 25.
There are a few things to point out. For those who do not believe in God’s sovereignty or predestination, these chapters must trouble them. This prophecy clearly shows what God knows and what He can do. God can tell Daniel what is coming and there is not a chance it won’t come true. We know that Daniel’s prophecy did come true if we know even a little history.
When life seems out of control it is reassuring to know the God who is always in control.
This is one of the great comforts in life whether you are living as an exile in a foreign land like Daniel or living in your own country as “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb 11:13). Right now we are living with Covid-19. But soon we will have other uncertainties. This is no small matter. My times are in your hands as Psalm 31:15 reminds us.
We also see that heavenly decrees lie behind earthly struggles. As a person who loves to read the news, especially international news, I like to read the names of leaders, the history behind events, and to follow the course of events in countries. While I wish more people read the news and were better informed, Christians know that the real battle is spiritual. We “are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . . (2Co 10:3-5).
We need to remind ourselves of this often. Although we are surrounded by physical things, our homes, our vehicles, our food, and all the things in our homes, what really matters is the Kingdom of God. God beckons us to see beyond the things of this life and like the saints of old, to “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” (Heb 11:16).
Since that is true, we ought to constantly be engaged in our spiritual lives. We should be busy praying for our world, thinking about and learning from the Word of God, serving the church, and caring for others. Be God-focused. Let your mind be directed to please God now where you are planted. This should keep us busy and at the same time: at rest.