Do your eyes glaze over and lose interest when you come to passages in the Bible that just make no sense to you? Today, we come to a confusing section of Daniel, who has a vision about a ram and a goat with horns. This little horn in chapter 8 is not the same little horn of chapter 7. Here’s some help:
In chapter 7 that horn represented the lawless one, the man of sin, the Antichrist. Here in chapter 8 the little horn arises from the Grecian empire, not the Roman empire from which the Antichrist will come from. As we shall see, this little horn that arises from one of the divisions of the Grecian empire is none other than Antiochus Epiphanes from Syria. We will learn more about this evil man in the following verses. Also, I believe Antiochus is a picture of the Antichrist that is to come.
1. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the 8th king of the Seleucid empire to the north. He came to power in 175 BC by murdering his nephew and ended with his own death around 164 BC. But during those years he grew strong and invaded Egypt to the south, Parthia and Armenia to the east and against the “Glorious Land” or Jerusalem, as we shall see.
2. In 168 BC Antiochus returned to Alexandria, in Egypt, but was turned away by the Roman commander Popilius Laenas. Frustrated and humiliated by this defeat, Antiochus returned northward home and vented all his frustrations on Jerusalem. He sent his general Apollonius with 20,000 troops and invaded Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Thousands of Jewish people, (the host of heaven), and the spiritual leaders or priests, (the stars), were persecuted and many were murdered by him.
It was around this period of time that he entered the sanctuary and desecrated the temple by slaughtering a pig on the altar, in the inner court and poured swine broth over the holy vessels. He forbid the Jews from following the Mosaic Law, observing the Sabbath, observing the feasts, even the circumcision of their sons. He set up a image of Zeus in the holy place in the temple, and to the Jews this was known as the abomination of desolation.
3. Now we are told that he would only prosper for a time, 2,300 days, even though he thought of himself as a god, inscribing on his coinage the title THEOS EPIPHANES or “GOD MANIFEST.” But his days were also numbered. Back in 171 BC he murdered the high priest in Israel, Onias II, and that was the start of those 2,300 days or about 6 years.
Now from the priestly linage of Jehoiarib, I Chronicles 24:7, Judas Maccabeus came from and he had enough of the oppression and the blasphemy of God. So he led a revolt against Antiochus and overthrew them through a series of successful night attacks and with those attacks he gathered more troops. Then, on December 25, 165 BC, 2 years after the temple was desecrated, December 25, 167 BC, the sanctuary was cleansed by Judas Maccabeus.
4. Now each year the Jews celebrate the feast of lights or Hanukkah. This feast is a celebration of what took place at the re-dedication of the temple. Outside of the holy of holies stood the table of show bread, the altar of incense and then the seven branch oil burning lamp. Now when the temple was cleansed there was only enough oil for one night, and yet the light of that lamp was not to go out. And the problem was it took several days to make new oil for the lamp. But, by faith they lit the lamp and it not only burned for one day, or two days, but for eight days until the new oil was prepared. Thus we see this feast celebrated with a nine branch candle stick instead of a seven branch that was outside of the holy of holies. The reason is the lamp was burning supernaturally for eight days, and the ninth candle stick is the one that is used to light the other eight. And Jesus Himself, in the New Testament celebrated this feast in the temple back in John 10:22, which commemorated this event. It says “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.“ This is the only feast that is celebrated in the winter and not part of the feasts the Lord commanded the Jews to celebrate in the Old Testament!
5. So we can see what the nine branch candle stick represented, God’s miraculous work in keeping the lamps lit those eight days. But what does the seven branch oil burning lamp or Menorah represent? This is the one that was placed outside the holy of holies in the temple. Six is the number of man, incompleteness. Seven is the number of completeness. There are 3 branches on each side of the lamp with one in the middle. Jesus said in John 8:12, “…‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’“ And in John 15:5 we read “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.“ In other words, you are in darkness outside of Christ, there is no light and there is no life without Him!