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The Goat and the Ram

Sovereignty in Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sunday Morning Worship March 21, 2021
Sermon Text: Daniel 8:15-27
Title: The Goat and the Ram

Introduction:

As we begin this morning, we begin with Belshazzar. He first came on the scene in Chapter 5.
This event occurs before the events described in Chapter 5. Chapter 5 ends with the fall of Babylon and Belshazzar’s death with occurred on October 12, 539 b.c.,[1] as history records.
As we turn to chapter 8, I want to tell you that chapter 11 is a companion chapter. Chapter 11 gives more detail to what is described in this chapter.
Because we cannot cover all of this in a sermon, I encourage you to read Daniel 8:1-14 and Daniel 11 to get a larger context to this chapter. I will tell you that because of how specific chapter 11 is, some scholars date this book at a later date because they cannot believe in the accuracy of its prophecies.
For me, this only gives me the assurance that since God’s word came true as revealed in Daniel 8 and 11, what he says about Christ’s coming kingdom is also true. We can have confidence in God’s word.
Chapter 8 begins in the third year of his reign which would have been 542 BC about 3 years before his death.[2]
One of the things we discover through the text is that while Daniel may have been marginalized during Belshazzar’s reign (he didn’t even know who he was, see Daniel 5:10ff), God does not marginalize him.
We will see in this chapter and the ones to follow that God highly values Daniel. In this chapter God sends his special envoy Gabriel to speak to Daniel.
Because Gabriel’s presence indicates a significant act of God in the world, I want to concentrate on what we learn about God’s person and work through the events revealed in Daniel 8. I invite you to turn in your bibles to our text: Daniel 8:15-27.
Shall we pray?
Almighty God and Loving Father, our text this morning deals with the powerless and the Powerful. I pray that with humble hearts we may hear the powerful message of God’s supremacy and be strengthened in that fact. Let what we learn about God be our shield as we face this week. Free us from wandering thoughts. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

I. God cares for us (Daniel 8:15-19)

Before we go on, let me tell you that there is general agreement among scholars about who is spoken of in history with the exception of maybe which refers to Antiochus Epiphanes and the Anti-Christ.
I used the New American Commentary published by Broadman and Holman extensively in this sermon because of it’s clarity and scholarship.
Secondly, I don’t want you to be distracted by the term “vision” that’s used here. The Aramaic word translated “vision” in chapter 8 can be translated dream or vision.[3] Visions were a means of revealing previously hidden truth.[4]
Lastly since our situation and Daniel’s are different, I will try to reveal how Christ fulfills what Daniel reveals in his text.
Let’s turn our attention to God’s care for Daniel.
Two years before Chapter 8, Daniel ends chapter 7 in this way: ““Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”” (Daniel 7:28, ESV)
But here in chapter 8, God sends Gabriel.
Gabriel is one of the two angels whom the Bible names: the other is Michael.[5] He appears three times in Scripture; ministering to Daniel in chapters 8 and 9; when he announced the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in Luke 1:19, 26-33.[6]
It is significant that God sent his special messenger to offer comfort to Daniel. In Chapter 9 we will learn that he fights for Daniel and tells him that God knows who he is and loves him.
Notice what is said about Gabriel:
Look at the language in verse 15: “… And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.” (Daniel 8:15, ESV)
This is similar to the language found in Revelation 1:12-13: “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.” (Revelation 1:12–13, ESV)
Notice, the reaction was the same:
Daniel 8:17-18: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17–18, ESV)
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17–18, ESV)
We see here God’s concern for Daniel.
I want you to also think about God’s concern for you.
While I don’t know what Daniel felt during this time in his life. We know he was at least 70 years old. He was not as prominent in this kingdom as he was under Nebuchadnezzar.
If he felt of little or no use, imagine what this example of God remembering and caring for him could do for him.
I want you to know that God cares for you as well. I want to draw your attention to a couple of places:
From Jesus’ lips: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28–30, ESV)
While Jesus doesn’t promise to take trouble away, he promises to give us rest.

II. The time of suffering has a time limit (Daniel 8: 20-22)

Listen to verse 16: “And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”” (Daniel 8:16, ESV)
The banks of the Ulai sets the stage for where this vision occurs. This was located about 220 miles east of Babylon and 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf.[7]
Verses 20-22 identify what the Ram , Goat and horns signify. Look at verse 20: “As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise.” (Daniel 8:20–23, ESV)
There are two things referred to here, kingdom and king. The kingdom is the Medo Persian kingdom, The King is Alexander the Great. The four horns that follow are the four generals who succeeded Alexander the Great. [8]
We look back and can see the accuracy of this prophecy.
Notice the words: “and at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit…”
This reveals an important aspect of God’s sovereignty. There is a determined limit to the destructive influence of these kingdoms.
One commentator comments: “God allows the sins of these kingdoms to become extreme before he intervenes with radical judgment. Similarly in Genesis 15:16 God postpones judgment ‘for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached the full measure’. This is another example of how both God’s purposes work out unfailingly” [9] for the good of his people.
For Daniel, this is a promise that while the power of these kingdoms is great, their time is pre-ordained.
As I think of our situation, I am reminded of two teachings in the New Testatment. The first is Paul’s testimony of God’s providence in the midst of very difficult circumstances:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; … Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7–18, ESV)
This reminds me of the promise of restoration from the hand of God. Because of Jesus Christ, what I’m about to read is true about you and me: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10–11, ESV)

III. The word of the LORD will not be stopped (8:23-27)

Look again at verse 23: “And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.” (Daniel 8:23–27, ESV)
Who is this taking about?
The New American Commentary writes theses versesare the heart of the vision and the reason for the revelation to Daniel. God disclosed this historical summary to the prophet to prepare the Jewish people for the coming crisis—Antiochus’s persecution.
Antiochus began to rule a rather weak kingdom in 175 b.c. but attained great power through military conquests.
Through his numerous wars, Antiochus “[caused] astounding devastation.”
Antiochus even dared to “take his stand against the Prince of princes,” that is, the “greatest Prince,” an allusion to God himself
Gabriel then assured Daniel that “the vision of the evenings and mornings” was true and would be fulfilled.
Verse fourteen addresses the “evenings and mornings”: “And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”” (Daniel 8:14, ESV)
There are two ways to look at this:
Most scholars believe that 2,300 evenings and mornings involve only a total of 1,150 days, since the 1,150 evening and 1,150 morning sacrifices (which would not be offered) equal a total of 2,300. This method of calculation results in a period that was a little more than three years. In December 167 Antiochus set up an altar (and possibly a statue) to Zeus in the temple (1 Macc 1:54), and Judas Maccabeus rededicated the temple on December 14, 164 b.c. (1 Macc 4:52).
On the other hand, 2,300 evenings and mornings represent a total of 2,300 days. [ I prefer this because] the Hebrew text the phrase is literally “until evening morning, 2,300.”
… the period in view covers six years and almost four months. December 164 (the reconsecration of the sanctuary) is the termination date given in the text, thus the 2,300 days began in the fall of 170 b.c. In 170 b.c. Onias III (a former high priest) was murdered at the urging of the wicked high priest Menelaus, whom Antiochus had appointed to that position for a bribe. According to the 2,300-day view, therefore, the whole persecution period (the time that the saints “will be trampled underfoot”) was involved, not just the span from the cessation of the sacrifice and the desecration of the sanctuary until the rededication of the temple. [10]
The astounding accuracy of this prophecy is amazing. God’s word never fails.
Jesus testifies to the permanence of God’s word when he said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, ESV)
The fulfillment of this prophecy would take some 400 years after Daniel’s ministry. [11] He would not see it’s fulfillment, but we have!
In these days of Covid fatigue, and all other forms of fatigue I challenge you to face these days with anticipatory hope. Hope because God is always true to his word. And hope because of Christ’s imminent return.
Paul teaches us to “wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:13–14, ESV)
Amen!
Shall we pray?
Almighty God and Loving Father, now as we hear your Word, fill us with your Spirit. Soften our hearts that we may delight in your presence. Sharpen our minds that we may discern your truth. Shape our wills that we may desire your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Benediction:
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:22–26, ESV)
[1] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 151.
[2] John A. McLean, “Belshazzar, King of Babylon,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
[3] Andrew W. Litke, “Dreams and Visions,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
[4] J. G. S. S. Thomson, “Vision,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 1227.
[5] R. J. Bauckham, “Gabriel,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 389.
[6] Thomas J. Shepherd, The Westminster Bible Dictionary (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1880), 211.
[7] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 221.
[8] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 233–234.
[9] Bob Fyall, Daniel: A Tale of Two Cities, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 124–125.
[10] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 234–236.
[11] Bob Fyall, Daniel: A Tale of Two Cities, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 126.
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