Of all the prophecies in the book of Daniel, the one in chapter 8 has been most misunderstood. Just look into the commentaries on this chapter. Many churches admit they do not understand it. But God has now revealed the full meaning behind this fascinating chapter. Understanding Daniel 8 will make Bible prophecy come alive!
In verse 26, God told Daniel to seal up the vision, “for it relates to the far future” (Moffatt). It was not to be understood until the end time because that is when it was to be fulfilled. Notice verse 17: “… Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end” (Revised Standard Version).
Now is the time of the end! Let’s understand this vitally important, end-time prophecy.
Verse 1 dates when the prophecy was written. Daniel recorded the vision in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar—550 b.c. He was at Shushan, at the palace in the province of Elam (verse 2).
The vision begins in verse 3: “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great” (verses 3-4).
Just what is this mysterious ram referred to in verse 3? God reveals the answer in verse 20: “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.” Daniel lived during the time of the first world-ruling empire—Babylonia. This prophecy begins by discussing the next major empire—the Medo-Persian Empire. The Medo-Persian Empire destroyed the Babylonian Empire in 539 b.c. and ruled until 331 b.c.
Verse 5 continues the prophecy: “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.” Who or what is this he goat, and what does the “notable horn” represent? Again, the Bible interprets itself. Continue in verse 21: “And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” How clear! The goat represents the Greco-Macedonian Empire, and the notable horn stands for its first king—Alexander the Great. Alexander’s empire overwhelmed the Medo-Persians in 331 b.c., just as verses 6 and 7 prophesied!
Continue in verse 8: “Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and [in its place] came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.” The horn that represented the first Grecian king, Alexander, was suddenly broken. Alexander the Great, at the height of his power, died of fever suddenly while in Babylon. He was only 33 years old.
Verse 22 reveals what was to happen after Alexander’s death: “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.” After Alexander died in 323 b.c., his kingdom was divided into four major parts, none of which were as strong as Alexander’s empire.
Keep in mind the time sequence as we proceed. Daniel recorded the vision in 550 b.c., while the Babylonian Empire ruled. It was destroyed in 539 b.c. by the Medo-Persians, who were then crushed by the Grecians in 331 b.c. Alexander died in 323 b.c. So the rest of this prophecy in Daniel could not have been fulfilled before 323 b.c.
The Little Horn
Let’s continue the prophecy in Daniel 8:9: “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” Some say this little horn arose before Alexander’s empire. But that’s impossible. It came forth out of the four divisions of the Grecian Empire. Whatever this horn is, it came on the scene after Alexander the Great, after the four divisions of his empire.
First, so there is no confusion, this is not referring to the little horn mentioned in Daniel 7:8. That little horn rose up in the midst of the other horns. In Daniel 8:9, the little horn springs up out of one of the four horns from Alexander’s empire.
Virtually all commentaries agree on who this little horn in Daniel 8 is: Antiochus Epiphanes. He came up out of one of the four divisions and, in a sense, bridged the gap between the Greco-Macedonian Empire and the Roman Empire. Antiochus was a ruthless dictator who, through deceitful lies and flatteries, obtained rule in Palestine in 176 b.c. He was responsible for setting up the abomination of desolation. In 168 b.c., Antiochus pillaged and desecrated the Jews’ temple in Jerusalem. Greek historian Polybius observed that he “despoiled most sanctuaries.” He also burdened the Jews with unbearable taxes. “Throughout the turbulent changes of its past history,” wrote Werner Keller in The Bible as History, “Israel had been spared none of the horror and ignominy which could befall a nation. But never before, neither under the Assyrians nor under the Babylonians, had it received such a blow as the edict issued by Antiochus Epiphanes by which he hoped to crush and destroy the faith of Israel” (see also 1 Maccabees 1:44, Jewish history).
This prophecy in Daniel also applies to an end-time Antiochus. His goal will be to crush the faith of spiritual Israel—God’s Church.
There is also an end-time abomination of desolation, as prophesied here in Daniel 8 and in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. This we have known for many years. But what we have not understood is the spiritual dimension to this prophecy.
As we have already noted, the last part of Daniel 8:17 reads, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end” (rsv). While there certainly is a historical fulfillment to this passage, most of it is to occur in our time today. Verse 23 verifies this: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full ….”
This whole vision is about an evening and morning sacrifice in the temple. The temple, today, is God’s Church (Ephesians 2:20-21). So the whole vision, as we shall see, is mainly about God’s Church! We have always taught that Antiochus is a type of one who will rule the resurrected Roman Empire in this end time. But he is also a type of one who would rule in God’s end-time Church!
Anciently, Antiochus went to Jerusalem and desecrated the temple first. Afterward, he ransacked the whole city. It’s important that we understand this critical time sequence.
“Yea, he magnified himself even to [margin reads ‘against’] the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered” (Daniel 8:11-12). There are several things to note here. Verse 11 is speaking in military terms. Someone, somewhere, has the gall to take on Jesus Christ, our military Commander. Only Satan could motivate a man to operate so boldly.
Verse 12 says an army was given to Satan “against the daily.” By him the “daily” was taken away. Just as in Daniel 12:11, “sacrifice” is in italics and should be left out of the translation. Anciently, the daily sacrifice was offered in the temple. Today, the temple is the Church—so, again, the daily in prophecy refers to the sacrifice, or work, of the Church.
Notice, here the daily is taken away because of transgression. So this is a different event than in Daniel 12:11, where there is a “daily” taken away because of righteousness—to the place of safety. Also, in Daniel 12 an end-time Antiochus violently shatters the power of the holy people. But here in Daniel 8, he subtly comes to the temple with flatteries.
Daniel 8 is discussing transgression, truth being cast to the ground—a satanic host practicing and prospering at destroying the daily—all from within the sanctuary, God’s own Church. This is not the destruction to occur in the Tribulation. It’s going on within the Church before the Tribulation. Inside the Church, a man is acting like God, magnifying himself even to the prince of the host, casting truth to the ground. Satan is behind him. This man took away the daily—the continual—the Work of God.
The word transgression in verse 12 means revolt, rebellion, sin against lawful authority. The daily was taken away because of sin. The Church of God was attacked from within. It doesn’t say the Church died or that the Work ended. The Work was just temporarily stopped because of sin. Satan, in a warlike expedition (like Antiochus anciently), took away the daily. He destroyed the faith of God’s people to do God’s Work—the same goal Antiochus had anciently!
“Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” (verse 13). In other words, how long shall the daily—the Work of God—be suspended?
The answer is in Daniel 8:14: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” The King James is not the best translation for this verse. The Revised Standard Version says, “For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings” (see margin of kjv). Not 2,300 days—2,300 evenings and mornings. Verse 26 even calls this the vision of the “evening and the morning.” Leviticus 6:9 and 12 show that the daily sacrifice was offered in the evening and in the morning.
The meaning of this prophecy is clear: The daily was to stop, because of sin, for 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices. As Mr. Armstrong always taught, since the sacrifices were offered twice a day anciently, the duration is actually 1,150 days. At the end of 1,150 days, “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” The word cleansed at the end of the verse means to be made right, straight, true, just or righteous. The Revised Standard Version says the sanctuary “shall be restored to its rightful state.” When? After 1,150 days from the time it was taken away because of sin.
Remember, here in Daniel 8, Satan takes away the daily because of sin. In Daniel 12:11, God takes it away because of righteousness when the Tribulation begins. The stoppage in God’s Work here in Daniel 8 actually occurs well before the Tribulation begins. The question is, when did Satan take away the daily because of sin, and when did the 1,150 days end?
The Man of Sin
2 Thessalonians 2 reveals when the 1,150 days began. It is a parallel passage to Daniel 8:10-12. The brethren in Thessalonica had been shaken by dissident literature and lies about Christ’s return. Paul wrote to clear up the confusion. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Malachi’s Message irrefutably proves that the temple of God is the Church in this end time—meaning this man of sin infiltrated the Church of God through craft and deceit, just as Antiochus did to the Jews anciently. This end-time man of sin exalts, or magnifies, himself above God, not by words necessarily, but by his actions. His primary mission is to stop the daily and cast God’s truth to the ground—but all in the name of “love” and “peace.”
“Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time” (verses 5-6). This sinful leader would have emerged sooner had it not been for a restraint, as it says in the Revised Standard Version. Someone held this man back. “For the mystery of iniquity [or sin] doth already work: only he who now letteth [or restrains] will let [restrain], until he be taken out of the way” (verse 7). Someone restrained this man of sin. Then the man who did the restraining was taken out of the way.
Those familiar with Herbert W. Armstrong and his writings know that over the course of his ministry he suppressed and restrained numerous rebellions and betrayals—especially during the 1970s when dozens of ministers, including his own son, had to be put out of the Church. Liberals wanted to water down God’s truth while Mr. Armstrong was away from headquarters visiting world leaders.
Shortly before his death in 1986, even though the Work had grown abundantly for seven years, Mr. Armstrong still perceived a liberal undercurrent within the Church. He even said there were those who, like vultures, wanted him to die so they could take over the Church!
Then, on Jan. 16, 1986, Mr. Armstrong was taken out of the way. On that day, the great spiritual war of Daniel 8 began. On that day, Satan began working mainly through one man, systematically dismantling and casting to the ground the truth that Mr. Armstrong had taught.
The 1,150 Days
This spiritual destruction has been well documented—even admitted to by those who have worked so hard to destroy any last vestige of Mr. Armstrong’s lifelong work. On Jan. 16, 1986, the daily was taken away, signaling the beginning of the 1,150 days.
Using Jan. 16, 1986, as our beginning point makes Saturday, March 11, 1989, the end of the 1,150 days. I was fired from the Worldwide Church of God on Dec. 7, 1989, for upholding what Mr. Armstrong taught. That was nearly nine months after the 1,150 days ended. I was fired for what I had been writing in my manuscript later printed as Malachi’s Message. And I had been working on the manuscript for nearly nine months! Though I do not remember the exact date God began revealing Malachi’s Message to me, it is safe to say that it was on or around March 11, 1989. Malachi’s Message exposed the great treachery and deceit going on within the Church at that time. It showed how the Work had been stopped because of sin—a “man of sin.”
God always starts things small (see Zechariah 4:10). Christ compared His Kingdom to a mustard seed, which is the smallest of seeds, but when fully grown, greatest among herbs (Matthew 13:31-32). On March 11, 1989, God began to cleanse the sanctuary. True, it began with just me. But doesn’t God always work through one man? God revealed Malachi’s Message to one man. Over the course of 1989, He did that—to me. Then on December 7, my assistant, John Amos, and I were summoned to Pasadena, California, where we were summarily fired from the ministry and excommunicated from the Worldwide Church of God because of Malachi’s Message. And just look at what God has done since—even after a most humble beginning. Where is the daily today? Which group continues with Mr. Armstrong’s work? For those with eyes to see, it is clear. Mr. Armstrong’s work has been revived. His work was stopped, but it did not die—thanks to what God has done through the Philadelphia Church of God. God has cleansed the sanctuary. He has cleansed those who have been willing to be measured.
We need to clearly understand the meaning of the word host. “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (Daniel 8:9). The little horn is Antiochus. Again, this is a type of the coming leader of the Holy Roman Empire. But it is also a type of a leader inside God’s own Church.
There is a duality here. First, there is an Antiochus used by Satan to destroy God’s Church, spiritual Israel, from the inside. Then there is an Antiochus, leading the Holy Roman Empire, who destroys the nations of Israel.
“And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them” (verse 10). The Revised Standard Version reads “of the host of the stars.” God’s own people are helped by the stars, or angels, of God (Revelation 1:20), if they desire help. This evil power “stamped upon them”—the end-time Laodiceans—those saints of God who transgressed God’s law.
Strong’s Concordance defines host this way: “a mass of persons, especially organized for war” and “soldiers, army.” The expression also means to muster soldiers for warfare.
Host can refer to an army of demons, angels or men. God has an army of angels and saints. Satan has an army of demons and men—in this case sinning saints.
“Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:11). These words are written in military terms. The Prince of the host is Christ. The word to should be against. This Antiochus, inside God’s Church, is fighting against Christ.
There are two great sins. The daily, or Work of God, has been taken away by this evil man. Also, the place of the sanctuary, the place where God’s Work was being done, was cast down.
This evil Antiochus took over God’s Church. Only the very elect remained loyal to God and were used to continue His Work.
God’s Work is always done through men and women. It takes time to continue God’s Work when it has been destroyed.
“And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered” (verse 12). This evil Antiochus was given an army of God’s own people to fight against God! Satan gave him this army because God’s people sinned.
In 2 Thessalonians 2, this same event is called “a great falling away” in the Greek. That is another way of saying they were “casting truth to the ground,” or destroying the faith of God’s people.
First you must have the truth to cast it to the ground! Who had the truth in this end time? God sent an end-time Elijah (Herbert W. Armstrong) to “restore all things” (Matthew 17:10-11).
Elijah had to be the source of this truth discussed in Daniel 8, because he restored all things—all major truth in this end time!
Then, after the Church rebelled, God commanded His very elect to “prophesy again” (Revelation 10:11). We must do the continual by prophesying again as Mr. Armstrong did—with new revelation added, as always.
This is all so very simple and logical if we understand God’s truth.
The great responsibility that each of God’s members has is to keep the world and sin out of God’s Church. It is a continual battle when you have God’s truth. Satan is totally committed to destroying that truth.
We must fight to keep Satan and transgression out. That means you must have God’s government—headed by a leader like Mr. Armstrong—to implement God’s law. This is where the Laodiceans have transgressed. They rejected the government God gave to Mr. Armstrong. Only the pcg continues that same identical government. Every one of the Laodicean groups have rejected God’s government. That is why they are Laodicean!
What is our spiritual war about? It’s about fighting for truth. Once we have the truth, it is our basic duty to keep Satan from casting it to the ground. We are God’s loyal host—defenders of the faith.
Implementing God’s government and law is the only way to protect God’s precious truth.
God’s Church has suffered probably the worst defeat ever in this end time. And it all revolves around rejecting God’s government. That is where the great transgression lies.
Where do you find this war of Daniel chapter 8 today? If we know God’s truth, the answer is painfully clear!
The host, or God’s own army, has been “trodden under foot” because of its rebellion (verse 13). This is the greatest crisis in this end time! Why? Because many of those Laodicean people will lose their salvation. Nothing could be more serious.
The Last End
Daniel didn’t understand this vision God was giving him. God sent the archangel Gabriel to Daniel to explain (Daniel 8:15-16). “Understand, O son of man,” Gabriel said, “for at the time of the end shall be the vision” (verse 17). That means what it says! Though prophecy is dual, and this passage was fulfilled in part by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century b.c., its main fulfillment is for “the time of the end”—the time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this Earth.
“Now as he was speaking with me,” Daniel wrote, “I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be” (verses 18-19). This all unfolds in the “last end”—the end of the end time, as we have often said. We are in that time! Notice it says, “for at the time appointed the end shall be.” The time appointed at the “last end” means the 1,150 days. That has come and gone—meaning there is not much more time left before Christ returns.
Skip down to verse 23: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” Keep in mind the context. The main fulfillment of this is for the time of the end. It’s still speaking about what’s happening inside the Church. It’s a time when transgressors, or sinners, “are come to the full”—during the Laodicean era, led by a man of sin.
“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people” (verse 24). There is a far greater power here than just a physical being. Satan is behind this man. As we have taught in the past, this verse does refer to a Satan-inspired man in league with the great false church to rally a united Europe. In type, this verse applies to that Hitler-type leader. He will be the leader of the Holy Roman Empire.
The next verse is even more descriptive: “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (verse 25). This man will destroy many people by preaching peace, peace—or love, love—but he practices the opposite. His is a policy of craft, or deceit, as it reads in the Revised Standard Version.
Satan is to blame above all. He is the father of lies and deceit (John 8:44). He never comes with warlike rhetoric—it’s always with words of “love” and “peace.” (Paul even said the devil is disguised as an “angel of light” in 2 Corinthians 11:14.) But make no mistake, Satan comes to destroy! He destroys by peace and, as Lange’s Commentary adds, “with suddenness, by a malignant purpose.”
In verse 26 of chapter 8, Daniel writes, “And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.” Today we are right in the midst of it. This is happening in God’s temple. This whole vision is about God’s Church right now—the last end. Daniel is trying to get us to see the kind of warfare going on behind the scenes.
This is the only time of salvation for those members called into the Church of God today. Judgment is now on us. If we fail this time, there is no second chance.
God gets very specific with this prophecy. It’s carefully planned to the very day! What a loving God we have. If God did so much to help Daniel fight against Satan while this was being revealed, what kind of battle do you think we will face as God opens our minds to actually understandand proclaim this message? Satan is raging mad right now. He’s been cast down to this Earth and his sight is fixed on you—your faith. How will you respond to his attack? Will you be like so many Laodiceans who have caved in to the pressure? Or will you respond as Daniel did?
“And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it” (verse 27). He was astonished, and he didn’t even understand it! Now that you understand, how astonished are you?