“Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision” (Daniel 8:16)
Daniel is baffled by his vision of a powerful he-goat that overwhelmed every rival in sight, only finally to fail and give way to other powers. Here was prophesied the rise of Alexander the Great, whose military emblem emblazoned on his banners was indeed that of a he-goat. Daniel is overwhelmed; yet this divine message unfolds for him – and for us – the nature of godless kingdoms across history:
1. They are saturated with success. This was true of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, Alexander and the Greek kingdom, and eventually of the Roman empire – indeed of every totalitarian regime that arrogantly expects to last for a thousand years. Every mountain climbed, every ambition realised! Then comes either self-destruction from within, or an unforeseen outside influence that brings the whole edifice crashing down – sometimes in a single day. Nothing fails like success!
2. They are inflated with power. The later tyrant portrayed in v.23-25 has generally been interpreted as Antiochus Epiphanes who was to oppress God’s ancient people in unprecedented manner. He serves as an all-time prototype of the final Antichrist (Matthew 24:15-29). Godless and puffed up, we are aware of such leaders and governments today.
3. They are destined for failure. ‘Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power’ (v. 25). It’s God’s kingdom that has the last word. Attacked over the centuries, it outlasts all else (Revelation 11:15).
Take sides, then! Moses or Pharaoh? Elijah or wicked King Ahab? Daniel or Belshazzar? John the Baptist or King Herod? Felix the Roman governor or the apostle Paul? You can’t stay neutral in this game