Have you ever known that a bad day was coming? You can see things lining up on the horizon and you just know, when I get to this point, it’s going to be bad? If you’ve ever been there, then you can relate to Daniel and the situation that he finds himself in in Daniel 8. In this second vision, there are some images that God uses in this vision that may initially seem confusing to us. Yet, what it seems Daniel 8 is moving us toward is this truth: We can trust that God is sovereign over all things and He will bring deliverance even if difficult times are in front of us.
What’s important for us to remember is the historical context that surrounds this vision. The people of God have been in captivity, and the thought of release may seduce them into thinking that a return to Jerusalem will fix all their problems. God gives this vision as both a warning and an encouragement to the people. Below, I’ll try to briefly explain what is meant by the various characters in the vision and then give us a sense of what this means for us or how this is applicable for us today.
- The Vision of the Ram: v.3-4; 15-20
The first character that is given to Daniel is one of a ram. This ram is a powerful creature that seems unstoppable. The text then eventually goes on to give us an interpretation of each of these creatures. It tells us that the ram is the Medes and Persians.
What does this mean: There will be suffering; but it will be temporary: It’s important for us to maintain an eternal perspective with respect to life. God’s warning to Daniel was that returning to Jerusalem wasn’t going to solve their problems. Further, there was more trouble up ahead. Things were going to still be difficult. Loved one, know that there will be suffering, but hold on to the fact and the promise that your suffering is temporary.
- The Vision of the Goat: v.5-8; 21-22
The second character that is given is one of a goat. This goat has a large horn in between its eyes. This goat comes and tramples the ram that a few verses ago seemed unstoppable. We’re told later in the chapter this goat is the Greek kingdom.
What does this mean: God is working good of all things: It’s hard to nuance and capture the weight of this in such a small space. Suffice to say, that you can be confident that God is using everything in your life to accomplish His good purposes and plans. What Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 4, is that our light, momentary afflictions are producing for us an eternal weight of glory. Even in that difficult thing you have in front of you right now, God’s using that to produce something of eternal good and value for you!
- The Vision of the Horn: v.9-14; 23-27
The final character that we’re given is that of a horn. This horn comes from the initial horn that was in between the goat’s eyes, but after that first horn broke, four smaller horns came out. From one of those horns is this horn that we’re speaking of. This final image is a far more ambiguous character. It is not explicitly connected to anyone, though it would seem this creature is most likely representative of Antiochus Epiphanes.
What does this mean: God will bring deliverance for His people: This is the encouragement that exists for all believers, that a day of deliverance is coming. Not simply a temporary or momentary deliverance, but an eternal, comprehensive, complete deliverance!
We finished our time together by reflecting upon a handful of questions. I’ll include them below in case you missed them or as a way to revisit what God was speaking to you this past Sunday.
- Will I choose to accept that there will be seasons of suffering in my life?
- Will I hold fast to the truth, that if suffering is currently present, a day is coming that God will bring it to its end?
- Will I choose to trust that God is using difficulty and suffering in my life for good, even if I can’t see it?
- Will I choose to believe that God is sovereignly orchestrating the events in my life?
- Have I embraced the truth that God will deliver me from sin?
If you would like to read ahead and be in prayer, next Sunday’s sermon will be from Daniel 9.