The 2300 Days
Lesson 21

At the time the prophecies of Daniel were written, the Israelites were in captivity. They had lost their kingdom and had no king. Their temple had been destroyed, and their temple services suspended. Their religion had centered in the ceremonies of the sacrificial service, and they had made the outward forms all important. In doing this they had lost the true spirit of worship, and their services had become corrupted with the traditions and practices of heathenism. In the performance of the sacrificial rites they did not look beyond the shadow to the substance. Consequently, in all these, they did not discern Christ, the true offering for the sins of men. That the outward ceremonies might not become the sum-total of their religion, the outward glory was removed, that the spiritual might be revealed.

In the land of their captivity, lacking the outward representation of the Lord’s presence, the people turned to Him, and He revealed Himself to them. When in their distress they called upon God, visions were given to His prophets, unfolding the events of the future—the overthrow of the oppressors of God’s people, the coming of the Redeemer, and the establishment of His everlasting kingdom.

This history of the world is the story of an ongoing conflict between the powers of good and evil. This conflict, having begun in the courts of heaven, is to be finally played out upon the stage of earth. In our earlier studies of the prophecies of Daniel 2 and 7, we were introduced to an outline of world history from the time of Daniel until the close of the great controversy. In Daniel 8 and 9 we are going to look at another outline from a slightly different perspective, revealing more details of this controversy between the two great opposing principles. The outline is given in two different visions. The first, given in chapter 8, was but partially explained to Daniel when he was overcome with emotion and fainted. The rest of the explanation, as recorded in chapter 9, was given to him some time later.

At the time this vision was given, Babylon was about to fall to the combined armies of the Medes and Persians and had no significant role to play in world politics.

1. What was the first animal Daniel saw?

Daniel 8:2–4
Daniel 8:2–4

2. What nations were represented by the ram?

Daniel 8:20
Daniel 8:20

3. What animal attacked this ram?

Daniel 8:5–6
Daniel 8:5–6

4. What nation was represented by this animal?

Daniel 8:21
Daniel 8:21

Note: Notice that the ram pushed west and north and to the south. The goat pushed east and north and to the south. If you will look at a map in your Bible, you will see that Persia was on the eastern side of the empire, so that when conquering, its forces moved from the east in the other three directions. Greece, on the other hand, was on the far western part of the empire and had to come from the west pushing toward the east and north and south. The fact that the details are so carefully given and are so specific is important in helping us to determine what nation follows Greece.

5. What did the notable horn on the goat represent?

Daniel 8:21
Daniel 8:21

Note: Just as the leopard had four heads, representing four divisions of the empire, following Alexander’s death, so also when the great horn, representing Alexander, the first king of the united kingdom, was broken off, four came up in its place. Although there were four divisions, none of them was as strong as the nation had been under Alexander the Great.

6. What then appeared?

Daniel 8:9
Daniel 8:9

Note: Notice that while the ram became great, and the goat became very great, indicating it was to be even more powerful than the ram, this horn became even greater, in that it was exceeding great.

7. What direction did it push?

Daniel 8:9
Daniel 8:9

Note: As it conquered, it pushed east and south and towards the pleasant land (the land of Israel, or Palestine). From this we know that this power, if it were to conquer the whole empire, as it must do if it were to be even greater than the goat had been, must have come from the north and west.

8. How was this horn to be broken?

Daniel 8:25
Daniel 8:25

Note: This horn obviously represents the Roman Empire, and yet there are some things about it that show it is more than that. It could not be said of the Roman Empire that it was broken without hands because Rome fell to the barbarians. We also saw in chapter 7 that a great deal that was said about the little horn is also said about this horn.

By comparing text with text we see that this little horn referred first of all to pagan Rome, the fourth great empire to rule the world, but secondarily to the ecclesiastical, or church power, that came out of, and replaced pagan Rome with what became known as the Holy Roman Empire, over which the church of Rome held control. Papal Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, held control over the nations of Europe for many centuries until the Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. When its power was broken, it was not by the force of arms, but by the preaching of God’s Word, and so the power was broken without hands.

9. What period of time would pass before the sanctuary would be cleansed?

Daniel 8:14
Daniel 8:14

Note: While some Bibles either translate the text as saying, or put in footnotes, the idea that the period of time spoken of is 1150 days, the original text does not warrant such a conclusion. In the original it says evening morning 2300. The terminology is exactly the same as you will find in Genesis when it speaks of Creation, where the evening and the morning were complete units—one day.

10. Did Daniel fully understand the vision?

Daniel 8:27
Daniel 8:27

Note: Part of the vision given to Daniel pertained to a time in the distant future and was, according to the angel, sealed up. See verse 26. We know that this was not the part dealing with the ram and the he-goat, as this part of the vision had been clearly laid out in an earlier vision. Not only had it been revealed and explained in two earlier visions, but it was explained in this vision and was at that time taking place, or about to take place, before their very eyes. There was, however, a part of the vision that was not to be fulfilled for many days, and that related to a time in the far distant future; this is the part that was to be sealed up.

11. At the time of the second vision, with what was Daniel greatly concerned?

Daniel 9:2
Daniel 9:2

12. What did this lead him to do?

Daniel 9:3
Daniel 9:3

13. What particularly concerned Daniel at this time?

Daniel 9:17
Daniel 9:17

Note: Daniel knew that, as a people, they were in captivity because they had rebelled against God. He knew that while Jeremiah had prophesied that the captivity would last for 70 years, their return to the land of Israel was dependent upon their having repented and having returned to God. When the angel spoke of the sanctuary being cleansed, or restored to its rightful state, at some far distant time in the future, Daniel was greatly troubled. The only sanctuary he knew anything about lay in ruins in Jerusalem, and he feared that because of Israel’s condition, their captivity was being extended for a much longer period of time.

14. While Daniel was praying about the desolate temple, who appeared to him?

Daniel 9:21
Daniel 9:21

15. For what purpose did the angel say he had come?

Daniel 9:22–23
Daniel 9:22–23

It was Gabriel who had been commissioned to explain the previous vision to Daniel at the time it was given. He had explained all but the part about the 2300 days and the cleansing of the sanctuary when Daniel fainted. By the way he spoke to Daniel when he first appeared to him the second time, it is very clear that his purpose in coming was to make clear that part of the vision that he had been unable to explain earlier. In the next lesson we will examine the explanation given in the second vision.

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