8 In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously. 2 I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. 4 I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself. 5 While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath. 7 I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
Two years after the vision Daniel summarized in chapter 7, a new vision is given to him. The future narrative begins with a ram and a goat. The ram, which has two horns, one longer than the other, represents the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. It expanded its reign to the north, west, and south. But then came the Greek empire which conquered the Persian empire, and it was represented by the goat. The mighty horn on the goat represented Alexander the Great, but soon after his reign the kingdom was divided and ruled by four generals. The kingdom was not as strong at this point. (see also verses 20-22)
9 Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. 11 It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. 12 And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” 14 He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”
During the divided part of the Greek empire, there was a man who was a type of antichrist, and his name was Antiochus Epiphanes IV (see also Daniel 11:20-39). He attacked the Jews and boasted greatly by taking away the regular sacrifice in the temple in Jerusalem. He even offered up a pig on the altar, the abomination of desolation, the same thing the future antichrist will do (Daniel 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). Sadly, many of the Jews went along with him and allowed themselves to be corrupted by various Hellenistic practices thereby defiling the temple on their own. The casting down of some of the host of heaven could also infer some demonic backing to Antiochus’ reign of terror (see Daniel 8:24, 10:13, 20). Antiochus also claimed to be god and desired worship (see Daniel 11:20-39). That God allowed this to happen to His chosen nation is not evidence that He is powerless, but it was a divine punishment of God upon His people for sinning against Him. Just as Daniel experienced the effects of his forefathers’ sins by being carried off into captivity, the Jews during Antiochus’ time would suffer on account of their iniquity before God. Antiochus flung truth to the ground, boasted against God, defiled His sanctuary, and did as he pleased in the holy land of Israel. This divine punishment was to be allowed for approximately six and a half years before the Jews would be able to restore the holy place.
15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man. 16 And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” 17 So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.” 18 Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright. 19 He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end.
An angel who looked like a human being called out to Gabriel, another angel, and said that he should explain the vision to Daniel. So Gabriel came near to Daniel, and Daniel was afraid and fell on his face. Gabriel began explaining to Daniel that the vision pertains to the time of the end. Daniel fell into a deep sleep as he bowed with his face to the ground, but then Gabriel touched him and made him stand up. Gabriel said that he would explain what will happen in the final period of indignation, the appointed time of the end. The future, including the last days of this earth, is not a mystery to God, but it is already known, already determined, and explained thousands of years ahead of the fact.
20 The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power.
The Medes and Persians come after Babylon, followed by Greece and Alexander the Great. His four generals succeed him and rule over a divided and less powerful kingdom.
23 “In the latter period of their rule,
When the transgressors have run their course,
A king will arise,
Insolent and skilled in intrigue.
24 “His power will be mighty, but not by his own power,
And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree
And prosper and perform his will;
He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.
25 “And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify himself in his heart,
And he will destroy many while they are at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.
26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings
Which has been told is true;
But keep the vision secret,
For it pertains to many days in the future.”
This passage refers to a king who comes from the Greek empire, and thus it is not a reference directly to the antichrist who comes from the Roman empire (Daniel 7:23-27). Thus, it must be understood to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes IV and the deceit and destruction he waged against the Jews, defiling their temple and killing many of them (see also Daniel 11:20-39). That said, it is valid to understand Antiochus as a type of antichrist or a foreshadowing of the man to come still in the future. He will also be a man of great deceit and intrigue and a man of war, killing many. The coming antichrist will wage war against the saints and the Jews and defile his peace agreement with them (Daniel 9:27). He will defy God and boast against Him, but Jesus will win and cast Him into the lake of fire. Antiochus’ will also have a reign marked by intrigue, deceit and persecution. He will desire worship for himself, oppose God and His people, and have a reign marked by killing and provoking wars. His end, like that of the antichrist, will come not by human agency. History says that Antiochus died of a disease, while the future antichrist will be seized by the armies of God and cast into hell (Revelation 19:20). That is after he and his armies succumb to a divinely orchestrated flesh eating disease (Zechariah 14:12-15). God’s Word concerning Antiochus did come to pass, and it will also come to pass in the future concerning the antichrist.
27 Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.
Just as in Daniel 7:28, Daniel again is overwhelmed by the vision and exhausted and sick. But he got up and went back to work as a servant of the king in Babylon. Yet even so, the vision continued to astound him, and he still lacked an explanation and anybody who might be able to offer such an explanation. In v. 26, Gabriel told him to keep the vision secret, so this was a burden he had to bear alone. His job was to write down the divine revelation from God so that others could benefit from it later and could see that God knew the end from the beginning.