Key Verse: “The vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”
THE VISION OF THE “evening and the morning,” as stated in our Key Verse, is the subject of today’s lesson. In this vision of Daniel, he saw a ram with two horns, but the horn which came up last became higher than the first horn. The ram with these horns pushed to the west, north, and south, and became great. (Dan. 8:3,4) As Daniel considered this, he then saw a “he goat” coming from the west which had a “notable” horn between its eyes. The goat came to the ram, and smote it, utterly destroying it. The “he goat waxed very great,” but at the height of his power, his “great horn was broken,” and in its place four horns appeared.—vss. 5-8
Continuing the description of his vision, Daniel noted that out of one of these four horns came another small horn, “which waxed exceeding 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.” (vss. 9,10) This horn “magnified himself,” and took away “the daily sacrifice,” casting down God’s sanctuary and his truth. Yet in these terrible acts, this horn “prospered.” In the vision, some asked how long these conditions would be allowed to continue, to which the answer was given, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”—vss. 11-14
God used the angel Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel, yet with the understanding that the full meaning would not be clear until “the time of the end.” (vss. 15-17) We are now living at this foretold time, and we can confirm, not just by Gabriel’s interpretation, but by history itself, the events spoken of in this vision.
First, Gabriel explained, and history corroborates, that the ram with two horns represented the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. Indeed, even as Daniel saw this vision, the kingdom of Babylon was about to fall to the Medes and Persians. Of these two horns, the kingdom of Persia became the more dominant, absorbing the Medes into its far-reaching empire. Second, Gabriel explained that the “he goat” was the kingdom of Greece, or as we speak of it today, the Greek Empire, with its “great horn,” Alexander the Great, who conquered and defeated the Persian Empire. The great horn of this goat, however, was suddenly broken, corroborated in history by the fact that Alexander the Great died suddenly, at a very young age, at the height of his power.—vss. 20-22
Eventually, after a four-way division occurred within the Greek Empire, one of those four divisions, Rome, rose to power and became known as the Roman Empire. Gabriel explained that this empire would destroy “the holy people.” (vss. 23,24) This, we believe, had two distinct fulfillments. First, Israel, God’s typical “holy people,” was destroyed and scattered near the end of the first century A.D. by the Roman Empire. Second, when the Roman Empire later expanded to create a church-state system of both civil and religious rulership, many of God’s “holy people” were martyred for the cause of Christ. We are thankful, however, that in God’s “due time,” the casting down of God’s “sanctuary” ended, resulting in an outpouring of truth to his people.—vs. 25