What Daniel sees in this vision is similar to what he saw in his first vision. However, his second vision contains much more detail concerning the individual who becomes the supreme leader of the Beast alliance of nations, his persecution of the elect of God, his stopping of the daily sacrifices, and his desecration of the temple in Jerusalem:
Daniel 8:1-26 Paraphrased
"In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at first; and I saw in vision. And this happened to me when I was at Shushan the citadel which is in the province of Elam; and in the vision which I saw, I was by the canal Ulai" (vs.1-2)
"Then I lifted up my eyes, and looked, and, behold a ram was standing before the canal having two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. I saw the ram pushing west-ward, north-ward, and southward; so that no beast could stand before him, nor were any who could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great" (vs.3-4).
In verse 22 of this chapter, we are told that this ram's two horns represent the kings of Media and Persia. Therefore, the only questions that remain are whether these two kings will rule together or in succession over a unified Media and Persia, or will they rule separately over each individual nation, and are these kings spirit or physical beings? Eventually, time will reveal the answers to these questions.
It is clear that, during the fulfillment of this prophecy, the kings of Media and Persia are in conflict with kings to the west, north, and south of their geographical area. It is also clear that these two kings are extremely powerful and go unchallenged until the arrival of the he-goat that comes out of the west.
"And I was considering, and, behold, a he-goat came from the west, over the face of all the earth, and did not touch the ground; and the he-goat had an outstanding horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram with two horns, which I had seen standing before the canal, and he ran to it in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close to the ram, and he was moved with great anger against him, and struck the ram and shattered his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him. And he threw him down to the ground, and trampled him: and no one could deliver the ram out of his hand" (vs.5-7).
There are two important things to note here:
Because this prophetic male goat is obviously not God's servant, it must somehow be associated with Satan's evil empire.
Something causes the goat who is the powerful ruler of Greece (Dan.8:21) to crush the kings of Media and Persia and impose his will upon these nations.
"Then the he-goat became very great: and when he was mighty the great horn was broken. And in its place came up four outstanding ones [four more horns] toward the four winds of the heavens. And out of one of them [the four horns] came a little horn, which became very great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the bountiful land [the holy land]" (vs.8-9).
Verses 8 and 9 show the same individual of Daniel 7:8, 24 (the little horn) who becomes the supreme leader of the Beast alliance of nations rising to power over an alliance of nations that exists within the Beast system (four of the ten).
There are ten national leaders of the fourth beast in Daniel's first vision who come out of the same geographical area of the world. However, this part of the second vision only concerns four of these leaders. After the ruler who is represented by the great horn on the he-goat is either deposed or dies, four lesser individuals take his place and rule, and out of them comes an even lesser individual who assumes dominance.
The Physical and Spiritual Realms
"And it [the little horn] became very great even to the host of heavens: and it made some fall of the host and of the stars [spirit-beings] to the ground and trampled them" (v10).
This little horn is the same individual that uprooted the three horns (other national rulers) noted in Daniel's first vision (Dan.7:8). The little horn is also the one who sets himself against the Sovereign of Heaven and Earth and persecutes his elect children. See Rev.13:5-7.
This is a reference to battles that will probably transpire in both the physical and the spiritual dimensions of time and space.
The Temple Desecrated
"Yet, he magnified himself even to the ruler [God] of the host, and the daily sacrifice was taken away by him, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down. And a host was given over to it along with the daily sacrifice because of transgression, and it threw the truth down to the ground; and it worked and prospered" (vs.11-12).
The little horn who is the supreme leader of the Beast alliance of nations is responsible for the daily sacrifices being stopped and the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem.
Verses 13-14 show that this desecration of the temple will last 1,150 days after which God will bring about events to cleanse the sanctuary of the pollution brought in by this unholy man.
"Then I heard a certain holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that one who spoke, Until when is the vision the regular sacrifice, and the desolating transgression, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled? And he said to me, For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings [1,150 days]; then the sanctuary will be vindicated" (vs.13-14).
The temple, was desecrated in 168 B.C. by Antiochus Epiphanes, but this prophecy foretells a future desecration of the temple and will be fulfilled sometime in the fourth year before the return of Christ as noted in Daniel, chapter 8, verses 15 to 19 and others scriptures.
An End of This Age Prophecy
"And it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, then I sought the meaning, and behold, the form of a man stood before me. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, and he called, and said, Gabriel, make this one understand the vision. And he came beside my place: and when he came, I feared, and fell on my face: but he said to me, O son of man: understand for the vision is for the time of the end. And while he was speaking with me I was stunned and fell on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and made me stand. And he said behold I shall make you to know what shall happen in the latter end of the indignation: for it is for the time appointed for the end" (vs.15-19).
These are very clear statements that show this entire vision concerns the time period very near to Christ's return, just like Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the image (Dan.2:28) and Daniel's vision of the four beasts (Dan.7:22).
"The ram which you saw with two horns is the kings of Media and Persia. And the shaggy goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn, that is between his eyes, is the first king. And as for that which was broken, four stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with its power" (vs.20-22).
A review of historical and modern maps reveals that the modern counterparts of the ancient empires of Media and Persia are located to the north and east of the modern nation of Israel, and that ancient Greece is now modern Greece.
The Little Horn
Daniel, chapters eight, eleven, and twelve, speak of the emergence of the individual described as the "little horn" and the things he does to nations and people, including the Israelis (the Jews) and the elect of God who proclaim the coming Kingdom of God.
"And in the latter time of their kingdom [Greece, Media and Persia] when the transgressions have come to the full, a king of strong face, and skilled at intrigues, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power [spirit-power]: and he shall destroy marvelously, and he shall prosper, and work, and destroy the mighty and the holy people [the elect of God]. And also through his skill he shall make deceit succeed in his hand; and he will lift himself up in his heart, and be at ease: he shall destroy many: he shall also stand against the ruler of rulers [Jesus Christ]; but he shall be broken without hand" (vs.23-25).
This prophecy in Daniel is about the time when the earth will be full of lawlessness. These are as the days of Noah spoken of by Jesus Christ (Matt.24:37). During this time, a very crafty individual will rise to prominence and leadership and become the he-goat (ruler of Greece) and then the fourth beast (an alliance of ten rulers/nations). It is during his dominance of these other three rulers/nations that he becomes the supreme leader of the alliance of nations called the Fourth Beast in Daniel 7:7,18-23. This individual will destroy nations and people, persecute the elect of God, and then he will finally have his authority and power taken away in the events that lead to Jesus Christ's return.
The ability to recognize the alliance of nations called the Beast is extremely important to those who live in the times just prior to Christ's return. It is equally important to recognize the leader of the Beast once he comes to power, because he is the one whom the world will worship and give homage to as if he were a god in the flesh. See chapter 16 for more details about the Beast's political/religious governmental system.
By B. L. Cocherell and Charles E. Barrett b2w14d