Daniel 8:3-4, and 20 says
I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I
watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and
became great…(Gabriel said,) “The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.”
Daniel 8:5-8, and 22 says,
As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. He came toward
the two-horned ram I saw standing beside the canal and charged him in great rage. I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was
powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, none could rescue the ram from his power. The goat became very great, but at the height
of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up towards the four winds of heaven…The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large
horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from this nation, but will not have the
“As I was thinking about this,” Daniel had ruled Babylon as the #2 man for about 50 years. He would be wondering about the conspicuous absence of the Babylonian kingdom from this contest for world domination.
We know the goat is a symbol of Greece for two reasons: God tells us this thru the angel Gabriel in verse 22. That’s good enough. Also, the goat was the self-proclaimed symbol
of Greece/Macedonia (similar to the American eagle or Russian bear). According to Jerry Vines and John Phillips,
The goat was the symbol of Macedonia. According to tradition, Caremus, the first Macedonia king, was directed by an oracle to take a goat and build a city. This he did,
following a herd of goats to Edessa which he made his capital, changing the name to Egaea (The Goat City). (This sounds like a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
Not only was Caremus a goat appreciator, but, according to Hal Lindsey, “…Alexander himself later chose as the symbol of his empire, Capricorn, which is another part of the
zodiac. Do you know what Capricorn is? A buck goat.” (Likewise the Medes and the Persians believed that their sign was Aries, the ram. Sound familiar?)
Note that the vision used animal imagery, but that the meaning was extremely clear for the original hearers and it isn’t hard for us to know the meaning even today, especially
since God had Gabriel spell it out for us.
“…crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.” This phrase speaks of the great speed Alexander used to conquer. Daymond Duck wrote that Alexander conquered
the million man Persian army in only three years. Stephen Miller wrote about the Greeks hatred of the Persians:
Hatred for the Persians had grown steadily…due to constant quarreling and fighting between Persia and Greece, and the Greeks were especially bitter over the invasions of Darius I (490
B.C.) and Xerxes I (Esther’s soon-to-be-husband in 480 B.C.). Alexander determined to avenge these attacks on his homeland.
David Jeremiah said Alexander conquered the entire civilized world in only 12 years and without losing a battle. That is fast.
“The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off…”
It is said that Alexander wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. That is probably a fable. Alexander actually wanted to conquer India, but his men were tired of
battle. According to Vines and Philip, “Coenus, one of his faithful officers, now old and ill,…(told) Alexander, ‘Sir, if there is one thing a successful man should know, it is when
to stop.’ ” According to Miller, Alexander’s empire was over 1.5 million square miles. In a battle on the way back to Babylon, Alexander was serious wounded by an arrow and
almost died. Here is how Vines and Phillips described Alexander’s death:
On the evening of May 29, (323 B.C.)Alexander attended a function held in honor of his admiral, Nearchus. There was heavy drinking. After dinner Alexander decided to go to
bed but was persuaded by his friend Medius to attend another party instead. After further drinking, someone handed Alexander a large cup of undiluted wine. He drained it off in
(one breathe). Then he cried out as though smitten. He was carried off to bed and awoke the next morning with a high fever…(By) June 6 he handed his ring to Perdiccas, his
senior officer, so that everyday administration could function smoothly…On the night of his death, a group of his friends asked him who should have his kingdom. Alexander was
beyond caring. “The strongest,” he whispered. His last words were these: “I foresee a great funeral contest over me.” (Alexander died on June 10, 323 B.C. (How did he die?)
Rumor persisted that Alexander had been poisoned, that his old tutor, Aristotle, had prepared the brew, that Cassander brought it to Babylon, and that it was administered by
Iolaus, the king’s cupbearer. It may be so. It may have been that he died from malaria, aggravated by his drunkenness. It may have been that he never fully recovered from the
terrible wound…In any case, the tyrant was dead.
“The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up towards the four winds of heaven…The
shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will
emerge from this nation, but will not have the same power.”
After Alexander’s death, his wife and children were eventually murdered and the Greek empire was divided into four kingdoms. Each was under one of Alexander’s generals,
just as the prophecy had foretold – more than 120 years earlier. Who can name two or three of these generals? For history buffs, they were Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus,
and Ptolemy. Is the prophecy correct in saying “The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from this nation, but will not
have the same power.”?
This vision/prophecy of the ram and the goat here in Daniel 8 has already been fulfilled. It is proof that God knows what will happen in the future, and that He can communicate
the future to men. It is astounding verification of the divine nature of the Bible. An even more astonishing prophecy about Jesus will come in Daniel 9.
Let’s have an aside on prophecy and prophets. Prophecy is speaking for God or telling God’s will, plans, or words. Prophecy is like teaching except that prophecy involves
knowledge that only God could reveal. Teaching is making the ways and words of God understandable. Gleason Archer reviewed three Hebrew words for prophet:
1. “Nabi”/prophet: from the word to call, summon, or announce.
a. A herald of God’s message/God’s messenger
b. One who is called. Note that a prophet is not self-appointed to convince others of his own opinions. A true prophet is someone who has heard from God and faithfully repeats
only what God has said.
2. “Ish elohim”/man of God
a. Belongs first and foremost to God.
b. Wholly devoted to God and His cause.
c. Enjoyed fellowship with God. Thus, he could be trusted to transmit God’s message (not his own thoughts and opinions). This is critical because of the importance of obeying
God once He has spoken and we understand what He has said.
3. “Seer”: could see the issues from God’s perspective. Conveyed spiritual realities. Not deceived by worldly appearances.
Principal Elements of Old Testament Prophets:
1. Encouraged people to trust in God’s mercy and deliverance, not in their own merits, strength, or in human allies.
2. Encouraged people to obey God with their whole hearts – not just to go thru the motions. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” 1 Samuel 15:22b “These people serve Me with their
lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” Isaiah 29:13
3. Prophets were deeply involved in the life of their nation. They spoke about things like the religious practices of the king; “prophets” who said what they were paid by men to say;
priests who didn’t teach God’s ways; merchants who cheated people; judges who accepted bribes; greedy women who drive their husbands to evil practices so they can bask in
luxury. For example, Amos 4:1-2 says
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” The
Sovereign Lord has sworn by His holiness, “The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.” These were messages of
4. Prophets encouraged people that God had a plan and that His plans would prevail. Prophets usually spoke about both of judgment and hope. Not just judgment.
5. God’s messaged was verified when it came true.
6. Prophecy usually had meaning for the present and the future. William La Sor, et al wrote:
By simply picking verses from prophets and pasting them together to give “prophecies that prove the Bible” or “Jesus Christ in prophecy,” one creates the impression that
prophecy is “history written in advance.” However, when one studies the prophets, this glamorous concept suddenly disappears. It is necessary to plow through chapters that
have nothing to do with the future in order to find a single verse, or even a part of a verse that is “prophecy.”
(Prophecy) is a message of judgment because God’s people are constantly in need of correction. At the same time, it is a message of hope, for (God) has not broken His
covenant and will complete His redemptive purpose…
God is never concerned with the present simply for the sake of the moment. Ever since creation He has been working out His purpose for mankind, and He never forgets where
He is going and what He is doing. The prophets are let in on that purpose. (Amos 3:7) Prophecy is therefore not simply God’s message to the present situation, but is intended
primarily to show how that situation fits into His plan, how He will use it to judge and refine or comfort and encourage His people. Prophecy is God’s message to His people in
light of His on-going redemptive purpose.
On exceptional occasions, He gives rather precise details about what He is going to do. Yet even in this instruction, usually called “predictive prophecy,” the predictive element
almost always is firmly attached to the present situation.
Prophecy is a window that God has opened for His people by His servants the prophets. Thru it one can see more of God’s purpose in His redemptive work than would be
possible otherwise. It gives a better understanding of what He has done for and with and thru His people in the past, and a clearer comprehension of His purpose in the
present. And, while it may never satisfy insatiable demands for specific details of the future, it nevertheless gives a clear view of where God is taking humanity and what
obligations therefore are laid on His people.
7. The bottom line is that one way God validates the Bible as his Word is by telling things hundreds of years in advance. Hank Hanegraaff wrote,
“The Bible records predictions of events that could not be known or predicted by chance or common sense. Surprisingly the predictive nature of many Bible passages was
once a popular argument by liberals against the reliability of the Bible. Critics argued that the prophecies actually were written after the events and that editors had merely
dressed up the Bible text to look like they contained predictions made before the events. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The many predictions of Christ’s
birth life and death were indisputably rendered more than a century before they occurred as proven by the Death Sea scrolls of Isaiah and other prophetic books…all dating
from earlier than 100BC.”
The point is that some people used to charge that prophecy couldn’t be true and the earliest manuscripts we had were written after the events prophesied, especially
about Jesus. This position had to change when Old Testament manuscripts dating from 100 years before Jesus was born and too close to other events, were
8. Prophets and prophecy are not only concerned with future events. Prophets were especially concerned with people’s ethical choices made in their own time.
Is prophecy still alive today? Are there prophets among us? The bottom line is that as your pastor, I don’t know.
1. Prophecy is a spiritual gift and the spiritual gifts are definitely still alive today.
2. On the other hand, we have the complete Bible now. We struggle to comprehend and live out all that God has undeniably given us.
3. Acts 2:17-18 says “In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions and your old men
will dream dreams. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
a. We need to remember that prophecy is telling something only God could reveal. Sometimes it is about the future, but usually it has been about our hearts being right with Him.
It is usually balances judgment and hope.
b. This passage teaches that in the end times, both men and women – young and old – will prophecy.
4. Personally, I have had very limited experience with modern day prophets. I have never been at a meeting where a person was supposed to have prophesied, but I have heard
a. The Old Testament treatment for people who claimed to have spoken for God, but then their “prophecies” didn’t come true was death. Claiming to be a prophet or to “have a
word from God” is a huge thing. Notice in Daniel how he often was overwhelmed or needed days to physically recover after hearing from God. Daniel didn’t have three
“words from God” for someone he just met ten minutes ago.
b. Many of the “prophecies” I have heard about were tied to a health and wealth ambiance. “You are going to have a nation-wide ministry and bring many people into the
kingdom of God.” I haven’t heard of a prophecy like this: “Your ministry will last about a year. Then you will be arrested and beheaded. Yet Jesus will say, ‘There is not a
greater man born of woman than you.’ ”
c. In the incidents of “professional prophets” being brought into a church to prophecy over people, that I have had related to me by faithful men, there was much to question in
what was said, and what it meant. There was also a lot of divisiveness in the wake of the “prophecies.”
d. A true prophet would never say anything that disagreed with the Bible or tried to supersede it.
e. The bottom line is that we should be extremely careful of prophecy today.
What about other prophets outside the Bible? What about Nostradamus, Michel de Nostredame, who lived Europe in the 1500’s. Didn’t he specifically prophesy the coming
of Hitler and the rise of Germany, among many other things?
I purchased the book The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus by Ned Halley. Halley is a pro-Nostradamus source. In the introduction, Halley wrote, “whichever spin you put on
the verses, some of them are the clear, incontrovertible truth…By the time he died in 1566 many of his predictions had come palpably true, and the authenticity of his ‘supernatural”
powers had been proved far beyond doubt…” Halley listed 22 prophecies that were fulfilled by Hitler. Attempting to be fair, I put 22 numbers in a hat and drew out three at
random. The fourth listed here is the famous prophecy “linking” Hitler and Germany.
1. “From the deepest part of Western Europe
A baby will be born, to a poor family
He will seduce many by his speeches
His reputation will rise in the Eastern kingdom.”
Halley states that this is Hitler because he came from a poor family, was renowned for his oratory, and signed a pact with Japan (the Eastern Kingdom). Yet Hitler was born in
Austria, which is Southern or Eastern Europe more than Western Europe. The Eastern Kingdom is not well identified.
2. “A short while after an even shorter interval
A great storm will rise, by land and sea
Even fiercer sea battles will be fought
With fire, monstrous armaments, and even greater tumult.”
Halley wrote, the great storm is the Blitzkrieg on land and sea unleashed by Hitler and that the navel battles of W.W.II dwarfed those of W.W.I.
3. “A bad choice will be made by the shaven-headed ones.
He will be burdened with a load he cannot manage.
In great rage and fury he will declare
That everyone will die in fire and blood.”
Halley wrote that this prophecy could refer to Cromwell, Hitler or Napoleon equally. Note: The German propaganda machine under Goebbels used Nostradamus for their own
purposes. I wonder what they made of this one. I’m guessing they didn’t see Hitler in this.
4. “Beasts insane with hunger will cross the river.
Most of the field will be against Hister.
The great leader will be paraded in a cage of iron
While the German child sees nothing.
Halley says the beasts are the Russian army crossing the Elbe River to avenge the siege of Stalingrad of which 1,515 people survived out of 500,000 before the war. Halley says
the great one being paraded was Mussolini’s dead body. Halley also says the world did pass judgment on the German children for the very fact that they did, indeed, see nothing.
Yet…even by this understanding, the Russian army wasn’t insane with hunger as much as for revenge (which isn’t listed). And why the Elbe? The Russian army crossed many
rivers. And why W.W.II? The only link to W.W.II is the word “Hister,” which we will see is disputed. The great leader being paraded in an iron cage is at best shadowy. It
could be good (like in a tank during a parade) or bad (like in the burned out frame of a fire-bombed gas station -which is what happened to Mussolini). Finally, people passed
judgment on German adults, not a German child, for ignoring the German atrocities.
Here is another translation of this prophecy as found in the book The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel.
Beasts mad with hunger will swim across rivers.
Most of the army will be against the Lower Danube [Hister].
The great one will be dragged in an iron cage
When the child brother [de Germain] will observe nothing.
Here is how Norman Geisler analyzes this prophecy:
Obviously, this is not a reference to Adolph Hitler. The word isn’t “Hitler” but “Hister,” and it’s clearly not a person but a place (Lower Danube). The phrase “de Germain”
should be interpreted as “brother” or “near relative,” not “Germany.” He doesn’t cite any dates or even a general time frame…The pattern is that Nostradamus’ predictions
are very ambiguous and could fit a great variety of events…In fact, not a single prediction of Nostradamus has ever been proven genuine.
1. The “prophecies” of Nostradamus were self-admittedly “coded.” Halley wrote, “…it is crucial to accept the prophet’s own warning that his oracles were coded…He claimed he
could date all his predictions, but chose not to – with good reason. If any event came to pass in his own lifetime, exactly as foretold, he could have been indicted as a sorcerer.”
a. It is true that he was concerned about being indicted as a sorcerer. But why didn’t he date any of the events that were long in the future – like the events concerning Hitler?
That way neither he nor his family would have had to worry. Halley wrote, “(Nostradamus) cared enough about what he had to say to stand by his words. He was clearly
sincere.” Then why didn’t he date them as he claimed to be able? Also, since Nostradamus didn’t date any of his predictions, then the tabloid headlines we see in the checkout
stands about what he predicted for this year can not be true to his writings. (I hope that doesn’t crush your credence/burst your bubble about the tabloids’ credibility!)
b. The prophecies are so heavily coded that they must be pieced together after the events. Therefore, even if they were intended to be predictive, what predictive value would
they have? They could not be clear until after the events. Then what difference would they make? This would not be the same process of validating a prophecy like that Media
and Persia would become a major world empire, then be soundly defeated by the Greeks. With Daniel Chapter 8, the prophecy is clear (although not dated) before the event.
The exact kingdoms were named clearly and the predictions objectively came to pass.
c. One must string together a series of unrelated events and facts to piece these prophecies together. How could anyone ever be certain they had the correct events, places, and
2. Norman Geisler got it right when he said, “The pattern is that Nostradamus’ predictions are very ambiguous and could fit a great variety of events…In fact, not a single prediction of
Nostradamus has ever been proven genuine.”
3. Even Halley’s book writes that Nostradamus used astrology and studied the occult. Thus, his writings are not the legitimate study of Christ-followers. If Nostradamus had spiritual
power, it didn’t come from God the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit.
Listening and Commitment Time
1. One of the themes of Daniel is “Despite present appearances, God is in control.” This is an important point to think about in these days of build-up against Iraq. God knows the
future. He knows what we all face, especially our troops in the military and their families. He will give you strength to face your uncertain future. You will have the ability to make
choices that honor Him. If you haven’t ever placed your personal faith in Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross to make you right with God, right now is the best time to
accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Here is how to do it.
a. Understand that God loves you and wants what is best for you.
b. Admit you need Him. Tell God that you have violated His character. You have broken His law, and disobeyed His commands. You have shone Him disrespect.
c. Be willing to turn away from your sins. The Bible calls this “repentance.”
d. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the Cross and rose from the grave. Through prayer, ask Jesus to come into your life and take over. Pray this:
“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I have willfully separated myself from You. I believe You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins to
You. Right now, I invite You into my heart and life. I want to trust You and follow You forever. Amen”
If you have never asked Jesus to take over your life, what is stopping you? Why shouldn’t you ask Him now? Please write your answer here.
2. Why is prophecy important?
3. Does prophecy deal mostly with future events? What does most of the writings of the prophets deal with?
4. What were two of the major themes of the prophets? Hint: _ _ d _ m _ _ _ and _ _ p _.