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Daniel 8: World Powers in Conflict

For more context before you begin studying, read this introduction to the book of Daniel.

God gave Daniel the unique opportunity of looking at the future. But in chapter 8 that future gets very personal. The first seven chapters stressed the destinies of the Gentile world powers. In chapters 8-12, the emphasis is on the destiny of Israel.

Warming Up to God

Reflect on the current state of your country. What aspects of your nation's future concern you? Take time right now to pray for the future of your nation.

Read Daniel 8

Discovering the Word

  • Daniel is first given a rather strange vision involving a ram and a goat (vv. 1-14). No interpretation is given until after the scene has passed. Why do you think God chose to communicate future events to Daniel in this way? (Why not simply tell him the historical facts?)
  • In verse 20 Daniel is told that the ram represents the kings of the Medo-Persian Empire. From the events portrayed in verses 3-4, how would you expect this kingdom to come on the world scene?
  • The goat with one large horn is a symbol of the Greek Empire and their notable first king, Alexander the Great (v. 21). From the scene in verses 5-8, how would you describe the clash of these two empires?
  • From your experience and knowledge gained thus far in the "interpretation of visions," with Daniel as a guide, how would you interpret the symbolism of verses 9-12?
  • The "stern-faced king" (v. 23) whom Gabriel describes is probably Antiochus Epiphanes, who ruled Syria and Palestine from 175 to 164 B.C. He hated the Jews and their God. His most infamous act was desecrating the temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C. For just over three years ("2,300 evenings and mornings," v. 14), no sacrifices to God were permitted. Finally, the Jews were able to drive Antiochus out of Israel and reclaim the temple. If you had been a Jew living under the tyranny of Antiochus, how would it have made you feel to read Daniel's prophetic prediction of the very events you were experiencing?

Applying the Word

  • In what ways can this chapter be an encouragement to you as you face emotional discouragement or spiritual attack (or even political tyranny)?
  • How does this chapter fit with Daniel's main theme of God's sovereignty?
  • What perspective does this chapter give us in understanding how a good God can permit evil?

Responding in Prayer

Ask God to make his ways known to you as you seek to understand who he is and how he works in the world.

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