Robert Jeffress - The Coming World Dictator
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. After the end of this life, those who faithfully follow Jesus are promised the reward of eternal life in heaven. But until then, we're also promised trials and suffering here on earth. Today, we'll open to Daniel chapter 8 for a shocking look at a time in the not-so-distant future when the persecution of Christians will reach an all-time high. I'm talking about the reign of the antichrist. And the picture that Daniel paints of this villain is truly terrifying to behold. My message is titled, "The Coming World Dictator" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
The character we're looking at, the historical character Daniel, as we're going to see tonight, was supernaturally transported to another location where, he too, participated in a recreation of the events that will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon. Daniel was shaken by what he saw. He was stunned as he looked down the corridor of history and saw the future for God's own people the Jews. We're going to look at that vision, that recreation of the end events in Daniel 8. If you have your Bibles turn there as we talk about the coming world dictator. Daniel 8.
Now for those of you who have been with us in this series, you'll remember that the first six chapters of Daniel are biographical. They deal with that historical period in which Daniel had been taken captive as a teenager from Jerusalem to Babylon. And God raised up Daniel to a place of prominence and great influence to different rulers in Babylon. But then beginning in chapter 7 it is more apocalyptic. It is prophetic. And we see a series of visions that were given to Daniel about the events that would culminate in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, in chapter 8 when we get to this vision, this vision is going to pull back and instead of looking at the fourth kingdom, Rome, it's going to look at kingdoms number two and three: Medo-Persia and Greece. And what we're going to see is that in these visions we're going to see a type of the world dictator who is yet to come, the antichrist. Now, with that background, let's look at the vision, beginning in Daniel 8:1. Daniel was living in Babylon at the time, but he was supernaturally, in a vision of some kind, transported to Susa.
Now, where in the world is Susa? Susa is 250 miles east of Babylon. Now, at the time Daniel was taken there, it was just a fork in the road: a no-account town. Now, hundreds of years later, during the Persian empire, it became one of the Persian capitols. It was the place, by the way, where Nehemiah was from. Nehemiah lived in Susa. It was a place of the great palace, where Esther was queen and prevented the genocide of the Jewish people. Susa would be a wonderful, magnificent capitol eventually. Many people believe it's in Susa that Daniel was buried and is buried today. There had been some remnants found there that seem to suggest that his burial place is in Susa, but all of that would be in the future. When Daniel was taken there it was a nothing, it was a non-descript town.
Now, notice the vision he saw there in verses 3-4, "Then I lifted my eyes and I looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. And I saw a ram butting westward, this ram was butting westward northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue him from his power, he did as he pleased and he magnified himself". Now, we don't have to sit around and speculate who this ram is. Because when we get down to verse 20, Gabriel the angel tells Daniel exactly who this ram is. This ram is the Medo-Persian empire. And the fact that it has two horns and one is longer than the other, corresponds to history - history we know that Persia was the stronger of Persia and Media. And remember Persia was under Cyrus and invaded Babylon on October 12, 539 B.C. and overtook the Babylonian empire. Now this kingdom, the Medo-Persian empire, it did move somewhat to the east, but it primarily moved westward, northward, and southward.
Now, look at the second vision. The vision of the male goat, verse 5. "While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground: and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes". Now, again, we don't have to wonder who this goat with one horn is. Verse 21, Gabriel tells us that it is Greece. Now, unlike most goats, this goat only had one conspicuous horn. And the fact that this goat was moving so quickly that its feet did not touch the ground: again, shows and it is found fulfilled in history in the rule of Alexander the Great. In just 12 short years, this young ruler conquered the entire world. That was Alexander the Great. And he did so without losing a battle.
Now, look at verses 6-7, "He came up to the ram", that is the goat came up to the ram, "that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath". Now get the picture? You've got this battle going on here between the ram and the goat. "I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him: and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand it. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power". Out of anger for what the Persians had done to Greece 150 years earlier, Alexander the Great launched an attack against Persia and in three successive battles, concluding with the battle at Nineveh in 331 B.C. Alexander absolutely trampled the Medo-Persian empire.
Now, look at verse 8, "Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly", this is Alexander the Great, "but as soon as he was mighty, the large horn", that is Alexander the ruler of Greece, "was broken: and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heavens". Now, I've got to have you all stay with me tonight because we've got horns everywhere. They're just all over the place, ok? We know, again, from history what happens. Alexander, before his 33rd birthday died, he died because of his addiction to alcohol. That coupled with exertion and disease caused him to lose his life before his 33rd birthday. One writer puts it this way, "Alexander who would conquer the world was unable to conquer himself".
And again, we know from history what happened after Alexander died, over a period of the next 20 years, four of Alexander's generals took over a fourth of the kingdom. These are the four horns that grew up to replace the one conspicuous horn, the four different generals under Alexander. But look, beginning in verse 9, Daniel is going to center his vision on one of those horns, the small horn. Again, let's check where we are on our horns, ok? We're not talking about the little horn found in Daniel 7, which is the antichrist. We saw that last time. This is a small horn that arises out of the Greek empire. Now look at verse 9, "Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land". That is toward Israel.
Now almost all scholars regardless of their eschatological views will agree that the small horn represents Antiochus Epiphanes who ruled over Syria from 175-164 B.C. He is pictured as arising from one of the four horns because he was a descendent of Seleucus, one of Alexander's generals who was given the kingdom of Syria. Now, stay with me here, Daniel wrote this prophecy in 551 B.C., so Daniel is fast-forwarding past Babylon, past Medo-Persia, past Greece to the time that the Grecian empire is broken up in 300 B.C. and it takes from 300 B.C. to about 174 B .C. for Antiochus Epiphanes to become the leader over Syria.
Now, as I said, this small horn is not the little horn of Daniel 7, but he does resemble the antichrist in this way - he is going to launch a terrible attack against God's own people the Jews. As Antiochus, the leader of Syria, sought to gain control over Egypt, guess what he had to cross to get from Syria to Egypt? He had to go through Israel. Israel became the battleground just as it is the battleground today. Look at verse 10. Now, talking about this small horn, that is Antiochus Epiphanes, "It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down".
In Genesis 15:5 and 22:17 Abraham's descendants are referred to as the stars of heaven. Now look at verses 11-12, "It even magnified itself", that's talking about Antiochus, "he magnified himself to be equal with the commander of the host: and it removed the regular sacrifices from him, and the place of his sanctuary was thrown down. And on account of transgression the host", that is Israel, "will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice: and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper". There is no doubt here that he is referring to, Daniel to the historical reign of terror of Antiochus Epiphanes.
Daniel prophesied it in 551 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes ruled over Syria from about 175 B.C. to 164 B.C. And during that time he encountered tremendous opposition in his attempt to take over Egypt. He was so infuriated by the opposition that he turned his ire against Israel, and he launched a persecution of God's own people. He wanted to stamp out any culture that was not in keeping with the Greek culture. And so when Antiochus Epiphanes entered into Jerusalem, this is what he did. He first of all killed 80.000 men, women, and children: he took 40.000 captive. That is Antiochus Epiphanes, and Daniel saw this coming: this time of persecution against God's people.
Naturally, when he saw it, saw the horror of it, he wanted to know, look at verse 13, how long this would happen. He said, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled? And he said to me, 'for 2.300 evenings and mornings the holy place will be properly restored'". For 2.300 days this reign of terror is going to occur. Now, you know the story that Antiochus desecrated the temple: he offered the swine: he rededicated it to Zeus in 167 B.C. For 3 years the temple was defiled. But then remember from history, Judas Maccabeus led the revolt - the Maccabean revolt. And in 165 B.C. the temple was restored to its original purpose. And the Jews today celebrate that restoration of the temple under Judas Maccabeus. That's what Hanukkah is all about. Hanukkah is a celebration of that time that the temple was delivered from the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes and restored to the worship of the one true God.
Now, I think it has its immediate fulfillment in Antiochus Epiphanes, but its ultimate fulfillment is found in this world dictator known as antichrist. How do I know that? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:15-16? He was describing the last 7 years of earth's history: the Great Tribulation. The first three and a half years of his rule will be relatively peaceful. He will have brokered a deal for peace in the Middle East. People will bow down and worship him for his ability to do so. And yet Jesus said halfway through that 7 years: after the first three and a half year, antichrist will stand in the temple and he will break his peace treaty with Israel. He will desecrate the temple and he will unleash horrible persecution against the Jewish people.
And so, what we see is Antiochus Epiphanes was a very real historical ruler who persecuted God's people in unspeakable ways, but he was only a type of this future dictator who is yet to come. Now, the vision is interpreted beginning in verses 15-20. Daniel says in verse 16, "And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of the Ulai, and he called out and said, 'Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision'". This is the first time in the Bible that we find an angel mentioned by name, Gabriel. The only other angel mentioned by name is Michael.
Now look at verses 19-20, "Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end. The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia". That tells us it was the Medo-Persian empire. Likewise, in verses 21-22, we find that the nation, the goat, is identified as Greece. But I want you to look here if you would, particularly at verses 23-25, the identification of the small horn. Now listen to what Gabriel says about the small horn that refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, but I believe ultimately the antichrist:
"In the latter period of their rule, when the transgressors have run their course, a king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue. His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will: he will destroy mighty men and the holy people. And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence: and he will magnify himself in his heart, and he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, but he will be broken without human agency".
Now, Antiochus Epiphanes did not die on the battlefield. He died of internal disease. But the antichrist, when he comes, he will not die on the battlefield of Armageddon. He will not die by human agency. Revelation 20 tells us, remember what happens when the Lord returns at the Battle of Armageddon? The angel snaps up the antichrist by the nape of his neck and deposits him and the false beast into the lake of fire, where they are persecuted day and night forever and ever. They are not killed by human agency - they are judged by Almighty God.
What I'm saying to you tonight is very simple. This small horn in Daniel 8 immediately refers to Antiochus Epiphanes. Daniel prophesied about him in 551 B.C., his prophecy amazingly was fulfilled 400 years later in this despicable ruler. But it wasn't completely fulfilled in him. Daniel was able to look past Antiochus Epiphanes and see the truth of this coming world dictator. Do you remember what John said? The apostle John in 1 John 2:18? He talked about that before the final antichrist comes there will be many little antichrists who will foreshadow his coming. John wrote: children, it is the last hour. Now let that thought sink in for a moment. John wrote 2.000 years ago. What does he mean by that? What he's saying is there is not one prophecy that has to be fulfilled before the Lord Jesus Christ raptures the church. Did you know that? There's not one prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled. It could happen at any moment.
He said: children, it is the last hour. And just as you heard that antichrist is coming - he's still future from John's perspective - even though you've heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared. From this we know that it is the last hour. The final antichrist will be preceded by many false antichrists, types of the antichrist who is yet to come. Antiochus Epiphanes was a type of the antichrist. Herod was a type of the antichrist who had the Hebrew children killed to try to stamp out the coming of Christ. All of the Roman emperors who persecuted the church were antichrists, types of the antichrist. Adolf Hitler who tried to exterminate the Jewish people, he was a type of the antichrist.
Today, millions of Chinese believers are being persecuted in unprecedented numbers at the hands of the type of antichrist in China today. But all of these are just precursors to the final world dictator that is yet to come. What should be our reaction to that knowledge that we are living in the last hour? How should we respond to a vision like this? If you look at verse 27 of Daniel chapter 8, you'll note what Daniel's response was. Daniel said, "After this vision I was exhausted and was sick for days".
I feel like that just preaching this passage. You probably feel like that listening to it. He was exhausted. He called in sick for days after he saw such a terrifying sight. I think the fact is when we contemplate what is coming it ought to have a sobering effect on each one of us to realize what is ahead of us. You see, ladies and gentlemen, history is not circular. It's not going around and round. History is linear. Every day that passes is moving us toward that final cataclysmic event when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. And that ought to have a sobering effect on us.
Remember what Peter said in 2 Peter 3? He said, "For the day of the Lord", he's talking about this time, the final 7 years, that's what the day of the Lord is: the tribulation, "For the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be burned up with intense heat. And the earth and all of its works will be burned up. Seeing all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness looking for and hastening the coming day of the Lord".
This vision tonight ought to sober all of us up about what is coming. But then in Daniel 8:27 it says after Daniel was sick for days, he said, "Finally I got up and I went about the king's business". Now, for him, the king was Belshazzar. After a few days of being sick over the vision he got up and went about the king's business. But I think there's a word for us as well. Instead of just sitting around and waiting for the King to come back and reclaim his kingdom - we're not to be sitting around and waiting - we are to be working. There's never a better time for God's people to be working then right now, because our time is limited. Remember what Jesus said in John 9:4? He said, "Work while it is day for the night is coming when no man can work".