Day 16

Good News in Unlikely Places

from the Daniel reading plan

Daniel 8:1-27, Romans 8:31-39

BY Raechel Myers

Because the Bible is true, even the parts that are confusing or hard to understand are good news.

You’ve probably heard us say this before at She Reads Truth, but do you think we can find it to be true in today’s difficult-to-understand passage? Is there good news in Daniel chapter 8?

Again today, we’re talking visions. And again today, we’re pulling our reading from the “apocalyptic literature” shelf (a real crowd-pleaser!). This time, the vision is focused on a ram, a goat, and more horns than a marching band. (I couldn’t help myself, you guys.)

One fascinating little side note: in Biblical literature, a horn almost always has to do with power, dominion, and authority. Consider:

  • the horns blown to take down Jericho’s walls (Joshua 6:5).
  • the ram’s horns caught in the thicket to be Abraham’s sacrifice instead of Isaac  (Genesis 22:13).
  • David calls the Lord the horn of his salvation (Psalm 18:3).

The horns in Daniel’s vision are no exception, but they’re still a little tricky to make sense of.

Fortunately for us, Gabriel appears to Daniel in verse 15 to explain what he saw. Here is the gist of the angel’s explanation:

  • The two-horned ram represents the kings of Media and Persia (v. 3-4, 20).
  • The shaggy goat represents the king of Greece (v. 5-7, 21).
  • Specifically, the large horn between his eyes is understood to be Alexander the Great (v. 8, 21).
  • Historically, after Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C., four smaller rulers (horns) rose in his place, but none were as powerful as him (v. 8, 22).

Gabriel goes on to talk about the little horn, “an insolent king, skilled in intrigue,” who causes “deceit to prosper.” This horn is widely believed to be Antiochus Epiphanes (who reigned much later, from 175–164 BC). A wicked ruler and persecutor of the Jews, he is historically renowned for desecrating the temple by sacrificing pigs on the altar and setting it up as a shrine to Zeus. He was a bad guy after a long string of bad guys, in what amounted to a prophetic foretelling to Daniel of centuries of persecution ahead for the Jews.

To be honest? This is a whole lot of crazy awful. And, I imagine, it was the last thing Daniel hoped to learn in a vision. He’d been praying for deliverance, something this dream promised he’d never see in his lifetime. You know those “good tidings of great joy” the same Gabriel would later deliver to Mary? This was not that. Not even close.

Terrible leaders and violent conquerors lay ahead, and things are going to get a whole lot worse for God’s people before they get better. No wonder verse 27 tells us Daniel “was overcome and lay sick for days.”

Maybe you feel like Daniel today. Maybe you’re also learning firsthand that God’s deliverance is rarely quick or tidy. Perhaps you’re beginning to understand, like the Israelites learned, that God doesn’t always take us out of pain or heartache. Instead, He gives us the grace and everything we need to persevere in heartache (2 Peter 1:3).

In one sense, our world is not what it used to be; in another, it’s exactly as bad as it’s always been. Headlines leave us confused and distraught like Daniel, knowing things may very well get worse before they get better.

Our omnipotent God is able to turn nations on a dime, just as He mercifully and quickly delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago from the flames. But even if He does not, He is able to preserve His people in the midst of their persecution.

I suppose Daniel 8 is good news then, isn’t it? Because the Bible is true, we can look all manner of persecution in the face and have confidence that nothing in the present or future can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).

And so, as believers who suffer or endure persecution, we can rise up and go about the King’s business just as Daniel did. Even when we don’t understand. Even when we are overwhelmed. Because the greatest evils in the world will come face to face with the Prince of princes and “will be shattered—not by human hands” (Daniel 8:25).

Thanks be to God.

Post Comments (100)

100 thoughts on "Good News in Unlikely Places"

  1. Alise says:

    I never thought about this before, but it is such a sweet mercy from God that He lets us in on what’s coming at the end. The end is coming, but it isn’t anything to be afraid of, since at the end of the end Jesus Christ conquers evil decisively and gloriously. What a beautiful hope! I forget that it’s this truth I need to set my hope on: God wins, and he graciously lets his children share in his winning.

    1. Brooke says:

      Such a good point, Alise! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Jen says:

    Weepy as I read this and think of the masses being persecuted in Syria and millions displaced and suffering. It is easy to ignore and heartbreaking to try to comprehend. Even when we don’t understand. Even when we are overwhelmed. The greatest evils WILL come face to face with the Prince of princes and will be shattered- not by human hands. Come Lord Jesus.

    1. CJ says:

      Jen.. I so can feel my heart break… And imagine what our Father of the universe thinks of the complacence. I have feet.. I have hands… What is his will for me.. That is my prayerful reflection tonight. Jesus already has the victory.. And already knows the plan..I long to do your will oh Lord. Praying to be a neon sign, that points straight to the Son if God as my risen and their Risen Savior. He IS.

  3. Michelle of LA CA says:

    "God doesn’t always take us out of pain or heartache. Instead, He gives us the grace and everything we need to persevere in heartache (2 Peter 1:3)."
    Wow wow , this statement spoke volume to me today , thank you . Powerful

  4. ~ B ~ says:

    Heather, there is so much to your story, but your faithfulness in hope is beautiful. I hope that you had a fantastic day yesterday and that as the year goes on, and kids are added to the equation, the days only get better. I can't begin to imagine your pain over Alexander. So good to hear how he has come, that Alexander is doing well and that you have felt God's love in the midst of it all. The devastation this causes has so many ripples, but your testimony over it surely will be a light to others. I'm going to be prayerful, moving forward, over Alexander H. 17 is so tough these days, my Bella is 17 too, there is so much coming at them. I will be praying that God draws very close to him and has freed him completely of any pain in the anxiety and depression, that A finds great comfort through knowing the Lord so personally, for your entire family as they continue to walk this out and that your heart be at peace, knowing that God is covering your sweet boy. Very much love to you friend. As I am prayerful this morning, in my mind, I'm sipping coffee with you and listening to your amazing story and heart H! ~ B

    1. MNmomma (heather) says:

      17 is crazy……and today's world makes it even crazier! Thank you for your prayers – I am sitting with my tea this morning praying right along with you my friend. It has been an adventure for sure……but also very amazing to see how God is using this season in our lives already. It is a journey to be sure. He has peaks and valleys, however the valleys now aren't quite as low….and we are prayerful that with time, they will improve. The start of school will be interesting – his goal is to interact more with his peers (he is AMAZING with adults….just has difficulty related to his peers). He has been blessed with the gift of conversationalism (with adults)…..and has the most kind, loving and generous heart – things that will serve him so very well in life….just not so "prized" in youth by your peers (especially in a very small school….40 kids in his class)….love and hugs!

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Sounds similar to my Bella. With moving so much, she is always able to make quick friends, but quality seems to become an issue. Moving here the middle of 9th grade really set her back. She went from a really small arts school to an academic giant. She struggled to find close friends and when she did, Junior year something shifted in her and she was finally ready to realize that it was ok that she didn't see eye to eye with them and that if she felt mistreated, she could choose to walk away from the hard relationships, it was ok. She felt so underappreciated for who she is and as if no one really "got" her, but this year she also discovered what she wants to do in life and has a new confidence rooted in that and a God-centered security. Friends are tough, peers aren't always the easiest to navigate. I will be prayerful that God delivers young people into Alexander's life that will show love to him and provide encouragement. That this year will be great and good change for him. That God reminds him of the sweet heart He has given him and shows him precisely how to use it. ~ B

  5. Tomeco says:

    Not even the worries about tomorrow can separate us from his love… his love for us surpasses all. I am so blessed to be loved by the KING!! His love endures forever!

  6. Molly J says:

    After hearing so many awful headlines for the past week or so in particular, my heart needed this message today. Grateful!

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