“I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business…”
Daniel 8:27 (NIV)
The world of the prophetic can be a strange place and I’ve observed that those who choose to abide there do not remain unaffected by doing so. In this chapter-a-day journey, I have more than once noted that prophetic visions often sound to me like an LSD trip. I find it fascinating that after receiving the vision in today’s chapter, Daniel was exhausted and worn out. Even for scholars, the study of prophetic writings can have that effect. Because of this, I’ve observed individuals who choose to avoid and skip over prophetic passages, which I think is a shame. Sometimes the prophetic metaphors are actually fairly simple in their interpretation now that we can look back on them with historical hindsight.
A couple of things to note that aren’t abundantly clear to modern readers in English. The book of Daniel was originally written in two different languages. The first seven chapters are written in Aramaic, which was the international language of Daniel’s day. Starting with today’s chapter, the language switches to Hebrew. The language itself becomes a metaphor. As I’ve observed in previous posts, the first seven chapters are very much about what God is doing on an international scale as He works in the lives and reigns of the Babylonian ruler(s). From chapter eight forward, the focus shifts to what will happen to the Hebrew people.
Also, the dream in yesterday’s chapter is considered different than the vision in today’s chapter. The former was a natural dream and is categorized as a “Dream Report” while the vision in today’s chapter is “epiphanal” in which is given via angelic visitation.
A little world history helps in cracking this particular vision. The ram Daniel sees is the empire of the Medes and Persians which conquered the Babylonians and ruled from 550-330 BC. The larger horn is the more prominent Persians who ascended to dominance. The goat with one horn is the Greek empire under Alexander the Great (330-323) who will swiftly sweep in and destroy the Medo-Persians. Alexander will die and his empire divided by four generals. The one horn becomes four.
Out of this divided empire will arise a king named Antiochus IV, described in verses 23-25. He was a nasty, crazy ruler. He called himself Epiphanes (“God manifest”) while others mocked that he was Epimanes (“madman”). Antiochus would desecrate the rebuilt Hebrew temple and bring tragic persecution to the Hebrew people.
All of this would take place 200 years in Daniel’s future, and I can’t help but that this is like me prophetically predicting the geopolitical landscape of the year 2223. Scholars look back now and are amazed at how precisely Daniel’s vision described the actual future events, but for Daniel I’m sure it seemed all a bit non-sensical.
In the quiet this morning, as I thought about the mystical rabbit-hole that many fall down in their study of the prophetic, I couldn’t help but appreciate that Daniel “got up and went about the King’s business.” Daniel may have been the instrument through which God provided a prophetic vision, but it really wasn’t for him. He didn’t understand it. His role was merely to record what he saw and heard. He had everyday responsibilities to which he had to attend.
That’s a good reminder for me when it comes to the prophetic passages in the Great Story. I believe it would be a mistake for me to ignore them as if they were irrelevant. It would equally be a mistake to get sucked down the rabbit-hole of thinking too much about them. After all, I’ve got the King’s business to which I am called to attend.
And so, I leave Daniel’s vision here and enter another day on life’s journey.
Featured image on today’s post: “The Angel Gabriel visits Daniel” created with Wonder AI
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