Reading through the Bible together
As we saw in Chapter 5, Belshashar was left in charge of Babylon by his father Nabonidus who left to live in Tema and to worship the Moongod Sin. While there he cleansed and rebuilt this god’s temple. Then he had a dream message and was told that the Moongod would give him the whole world.
About this time Daniel was given a vision confirming Cyrus' rule stated first by Isaiah (see Isa. 45:1). This was in the third year of Belshashar (vv. 1-2). Daniel saw in vision a ram and a goat, and Christ instructed Gabriel to explain the dream to Daniel. The ram had two horns, one small and one big (vv. 3). The small one represented Cyrus’s general, Gobryas, who took Babylon and assumed the name Darius. He reigned for almost two years when Cyrus, represented by the big horn, took over. They are referred to as the “kings of Media and Persia” (v. 20).
The empire grew, but suddenly Alexander the Great from Greece came represented by a goat (v. 4). He was successful against the ram (v. 6-7) and became great (v. 8). Then "four horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven" which represent the four kingdoms of the generals who took over from Alexander. The horns grew and expanded towards the four winds. Following their time in history, there came forth a little horn which grew greatly and in different directions (vv. 9, 23). The little horn was not part of the goat's horns, and did not come out of one of them as so many commentators interpret it, but came from one of the four wind-directions. Commentators overlook the gender difference in the verse so they attached it to one of Alexander's generals and successors, especially to Antiochus Epiphanes.
In the latter part of the four horns which came out of
Greece, a stern-faced Roman emperor named Justinian, a master of intrigue “would arise" (v. 23). This happened shortly before 538 A.D. According to his biographer, Procopius, Justinian was known for his intrigues and did become strong, but not by his own power (v. 24). He needed the help of his wife and the Catholic popes. Justinian took control of the Mediterranean and northern Africa. It also says, “he will succeed in whatever he does and destroy the mighty men and the holy people" (v. 24). Persecution of Christians increased by leaps and bounds and in 538 A.D. Justinian changed his coins from representing him riding a horse and dressed as a soldier to carrying a cross in his hand.
The Holy Roman Empire now officially started and persecution became fashion. Deceit prospered and the papal institution became the representative and substitute of Christ, and unfortunately spoke "against the Prince of Princes" the only Mediator between God and man God (v. 25). In this sense it reached into heaven and “threw some of the starry host to the ground and trampled on them (v. 10). In Daniel’s mind, these actions reminded him of Lucifer’s work in heaven.
The Little Horn, represented by the papal institution of the Holy Roman Empire, took away the daily offering of Him (Christ's Sovereign Meditorial function in heaven) and His work in the Temple in heaven was cast down (v.11). Because the church rebelled against God like Lucifer did in heaven, the daily atonement was now in the hands of a human institution performing an earthly meditorial work of substitution of Christ; and it prospered and became wealthy and powerful.
In his dream, Daniel also heard two angels in conversation. One asked the other how long the vision concerning the daily sacrifice will be, that is, the false work of the Holy Roman Empire regarding the atonement and the substitution of Christ as our Mediator. How long will the Sanctuary in heaven and the holy people here be trampled under foot? (v. 13). The question was asking: How long is this period and when will it be finished? The answer was that it would be a long period, but after that "the Sanctuary will be cleansed" (v. 14). The thrust of the question is focused on what is to take place at the end of this time span. (Notice the time span discussed in chapter 7 as being 1260 years which equals time, times and half a time). So it had to be after 1798, the end of this long period, that a new phase of events regarding the Meditorial work of Christ in the heavenly Sanctuary would begin.
Daniel was very exhausted after the vision and if he understood the interpretation correctly, he should have been exhausted because the Messiah's coming was a long way off from his time. But with us, it is so different, living close to the end of all things.
Your justification ministered for us in the Heavenly Sanctuary is operative as we speak. Think of our lives one by one and clear our records before the heavenly host we earnestly plead. Amen.
Koot van Wyk, DLitt et Phil, ThD.
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea.