Daniel 8 part 2: understanding the little horn
It is the case that prophecy is understood fully only in retrospect. When we see the accuracy of fulfilled prophecy, we know that prophecy which is not yet fulfilled will also be accurate.
For us today, Daniel 8 does contain retrospective fulfillment (the ram and the goat), which gives us confidence that the other prophecies of Daniel 8 (the little horn and the 2300 days) will also be accurate (the 2300 days prophecy is addressed in the separate study: ‘The 2300 days prophecy’).
In study: ‘Daniel 8, part 1’ (which should be studied first), we began our study of the little horn (of Daniel 8). Here, we continue the study of the Daniel 8 little horn.
2. Daniel 8, the little horn, summarized (Da 8:9-12)
A little horn came out of one of the four horns of the Grecian Goat. It became great, toward the south (Egypt), the east (Syria), and the pleasant land (Palestine).
It grew great even towards ‘the host of heaven’, and cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground and stamped on them.
The little horn magnified itself to the prince of the host and took away the ‘daily’ sacrifice, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. A ‘host’ was given him against the daily because of transgression (Strong’s H6588, revolt). It cast down the truth to the ground, and it practised and prospered.
The Angel Gabriel explains (Da 8:17,19,20-25)
The vision is for the time of the end (v17), which will come at the appointed time (v19).
In the latter end of their kingdom (The four horns of the Grecian goat) when the transgressors (Strong’s H6586, trespass, apostasize) are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and ‘understanding dark sentences’ (Strong’s H2420, a puzzle, a trick) shall arise.
He shall be a mighty king, but not by his own power, and by his policy (Strong’s H792 , intelligence) he shall cause craft (Strong’s H4820, deceit) to prosper.
He shall magnify himself, and will destroy many by peace. He will stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall be ‘broken without hand’.
3. Understanding the little horn
Overall, we have here a portrait of a mighty power which we are told by the Angel Gabriel will exist in the time of the end (Da 8:17). It will deceive many, and persecute God’s people. It will receive its power from elsewhere, which, given such evil, can only be from the dragon, i.e. Satan (Re 13:4; 20:2). We must therefore identify and understand the little horn.
3.1 Identifying the Daniel 8 little horn: common features with Dan 7 and Rev 13
The features of the Daniel 8 little horn portray a power comparable directly to both the little horn of Daniel 7 and the first beast of Revelation 13 (see study: ‘Daniel 8 part 1’).
This is particularly true with respect to all three of them blaspheming against Heaven, to their persecution of God’s people, and to their trampling upon scripture truth . Furthermore, all three occupy the same period in history (the end time).
In study: ‘Daniel 7 and Revelation 13’ we identify both the Daniel 7 little horn and the end time manifestation of the first beast of Revelation 13 as Papal Rome.
In addition, we see here that the features of the little horn of Daniel 8 are in common with those of the other two. Thus the little horn of Daniel 8 must also represent Papal Rome.
By their attributes, their behaviour, and their placement in history, all three represent the same antichrist power: the Papacy.
3.2 The little horn and ‘the daily’
Da 8:11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [Strong’s H8548, tamiyd] sacrifice was taken away….
Because it concerns Christ’s saving ministry, understanding this point is critical. In study: ‘The Sanctuary on Earth’ we see that the earthly Sanctuary had two components, the daily (continual) ministration (the evening and morning sacrifices) and the annual ministration (the Day of Atonement).
Generally in the Old Testament, where ‘daily’ and ‘continual’ occur in the context of the Sanctuary ministrations, they appear in conjunction with ‘sacrifice’ and ‘offering’ (e.g. Numbers ch 28).
However, in the Daniel 8 Hebrew text ‘the daily’ (ISA2basic, e∙thmid) occurs without the word 'sacrifice’, as indicated by the KJV where ‘sacrifice’ is italicized (‘the daily’ also occurs without ‘sacrifice’ in Da 11:31;12:11).
Where ‘daily’ and ‘continual’ occur in the Old Testament in conjunction with ‘sacrifice’ and ‘offering’, it embraces all the daily/continual offerings and sacrifices of the earthly Sanctuary, which comprised the worship of the One True God up to the Cross.
However, in the end time prophetic context of Daniel 8, ‘the daily’’ is used without ‘sacrifice’. It must therefore be looking to the worship of the One True God after the Cross, at which the Messiah caused ‘sacrifices and oblations to cease’ (Da 9:26,27), replacing them with His own ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary (see study: 'The Priesthood of Christ'), which is the heart of our faith and worship.
Notably, ‘the daily’ is used without ‘sacrifice’ only in conjunction with the little horn power (which, as an end time power, emerges after the Cross). The 'daily', even though after the Cross it is no longer associated with temple sacrifices on Earth, it is still associated with a Sacrifice: that of Christ, the True Sacrifice.
Thus the little horn, in taking away 'the daily', attempts to replace Christ's saving ministry with a false teaching of salvation - this point is addressed further in section 4.2.
4. Confirming the Papacy as the end time power
We have identified the end time power represented in both Daniel 7 and 8, and in Revelation 13, as the Papacy. There are two notable features of this power that confirm it’s identity.
4.1 Destruction by Peace (Da 8:25)
In the Christian world there is surely one process that fits this feature perfectly, i.e. Ecumenism, which teaches the sacrifice of distinctive doctrine for the achievement of unity and peace between denominations.
The Lima Text of Jan 12th 1982 is a major plank of Ecumenism. It was drawn up by over 100 theologians and issued by the World Council of Churches. The Lima Text focuses on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM).
The main thrust of the Lima Text is on doctrinal convergence, but it promotes Roman Catholic dogma, especially the Eucharist, in which a priest claims to create the very body and blood of Christ (see section 4.2).
In opposition to the Eucharist, countless protestants were martyred (murdered).
Doctrinal unity: major protestant denominations have signed a document of doctrinal unity with Rome: the Lutherans (1999), the Methodists (2006), and the Anglicans (Oct 31st 2017).
Additionally, world renowned leaders of the Charismatic Christian movement have declared their allegiance to Rome openly.
Ecumenism has achieved the surrender of Protestantism to Papal Rome, where Papal Rome has sacrificed nothing and Protestantism has sacrificed everything.
All religions: the Papacy has reached out to all the world’s religions, healing rifts and building peace bridges.
The world’s religions have surrendered to Papal Rome on points of common principle (albeit on false premises).
Thus peace has achieved what many centuries of religious wars and persecution could not: the almost complete destruction of a simple faith in God’s true Word, and also the uniting of all the world’s religions.
4.2 Truth cast to the ground (Da 8:12)
In study: ‘‘Identifying the antichrist beast’, we see the Papacy ‘casts truth to the ground’ - this it does in several ways, the Papacy has:
Altered the Ten Commandments by eliminating the 2nd Commandment and splitting the 10th Commandment into two (see study: ‘Identifying the antichrist beast’,3.3).
Changed the Sabbath of the Lord by substituting the First-day (Sunday) in place of the seventh day Sabbath of the 4th commandment
Claimed to be god on Earth (see study: ‘Identifying the antichrist beast’,3.3), placing herself above God's Word.
Cast down Christ’s Sanctuary (Da 8:11) and taken away 'the daily'. It does so by setting its own doctrines of salvation above the true saving ministry of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary, thus magnifying herself above Christ (see section 3.2).
The Roman Catholic Eucharist
Rome’s false doctrine of salvation is manifested in the Roman Catholic Eucharist, which is a brazen attack on Christ’s saving ministry.
When the priests celebrate the Eucharist they claim to turn the bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, thus sacrificing Christ over and over, while Scripture teaches plainly that Christ made one sacrifice for sin.
Even the Douay-Rheims Roman Catholic Bible confirms this:
Douay-Rheims: He 7:27 Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, in offering himself.
Douay-Rheims: He 10:12 But this man, offering one sacrifice for sins, for ever sitteth on the right hand of God,
Thus the Papacy teaches and practices contrary to its own Bible.
The first Communion
The first Communion was conducted by Christ Himself before His death. Thus the bread and wine must have been symbols only. Christ's instruction was for all to continue doing the same (Lk 22:19) - thus the Communion bread and wine are symbols only, commemorating what Christ has already completed.
5. The ‘host’, the ‘mighty and the holy people’, and the ‘pleasant’ land
The ‘host of Heaven’ (Da 8:10)
In Da 8:12 (below) a 'host' refers clearly to unfaithful peoples.
Thus the 'host of heaven' must be a faithful people. That this host is ‘stamped on’ (persecuted) by the little horn (the Papacy) indicates again that these are God’s people.
The ‘stars’ are also ‘stamped on’, and are therefore God’s people.
The unfaithful ‘host’
Dan 8:12 And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
Here, the host is ‘given’ to the little horn - a host which is against the 'daily' by reason of transgression. Thus the host must apply to peoples and powers who, by choice or because they are deceived, assist the little horn (the Papacy) in its ‘transgression’ (apostasy).
The ‘mighty and the holy people’ (Da 8:24)
The common interpretation is that these are the Jewish nation. However, Daniel 8 is a prophetic chapter dealing with the time of the Papal power. Thus the understanding must be far broader than the nation of Israel.
In study: 'Salvation 2: mankind's response',2 we see that Paul teaches that all who believe are Abraham’s children. Furthermore, Paul teaches that circumcision of the heart is what matters, making a believer a Jew inwardly.
Thus the ‘holy and the mighty people’ are all true-hearted believers who are Jews inwardly, and who are righteous by faith in Scriptural truth, and who stand mightily for God.
Excluded are those attempting to be righteous by the commandments of men (as were, for example, the Pharisees, Mt 15:9; Mk 7:7; Tit 1:14).
The ‘pleasant’ land (Da 8:9)
This refers to the Holy land (Palestine) - the land of the ‘holy and the mighty people’. The Holy Land became subservient to pagan Rome in 63 BC.
6. The transgression of desolation
Da 8:13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression [Strong’s 6588, revolt] of desolation [Strong’s 8074, devastate], to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
The idea of a power causing desolation occurs elsewhere in Daniel:
Da 11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination [Strong’s H8251, disgusting] that maketh desolate [Strong’s 8074].
Da 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
In the book of Daniel, the desolating power, in each instance, is associated with ‘the daily’ without ‘sacrifice’ (it is italicized). Thus they must each refer to the same power at the same point in history, i.e. the end time.
The desolating power must therefore be Papal Rome.
6.1 Christ speaking of the abomination of desolation
Mt 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Mk 13:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
Clearly, Christ places the abomination of desolation as future to His day - thus it cannot refer to the common interpretation of the little horn, i.e. that it applies to the Hellenistic Greek king Antiochus IV (ruled 175-164 BC), known as Antiochus Epiphanes (see study: ‘The 2300 days prophecy’, 3).
In fact, this prophecy given by Christ has a dual application:
Firstly, it applies to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the army of pagan Rome in 70 AD. A siege of Jerusalem began under Cestius Gallus in 66 AD, but the Roman army withdrew, allowing Christians to escape.
The Roman army under Titus returned in 70 AD and this time destroyed Jerusalem and the temple utterly. However, not one Christian perished in the destruction.
Secondly, it is made clear in Da 8:17 that the vision (which includes the ‘transgression of devastation’) is for the time of the end.
Thus Christ’s prophecy also applies to the experience of God’s people at the end of time when Papal Rome (the continuation of pagan Rome) will regain all its power.
The desolating power takes away the ‘daily’ (true worship, see section 3.2), and treads the sanctuary underfoot (see Da 8:13 above). It thus teaches a false religion that misrepresents Christ’s saving work in the Heavenly Sanctuary (see study: ‘The Sanctuary in Heaven’).
Papal Rome replaces Bible truth with unscriptural doctrines borrowed from pagan sources, and thus confirms her identity as the desolating power.
7. Summary overall
Daniel 8 reinforces the prophecies of the course of history found elsewhere in the book of Daniel, especially with respect to the teaching on the little horn of Daniel 7, and also the final end time manifestation of the first beast of Revelation 13.
We are left in no doubt about when the end time power emerges, about its nature, and about its behaviour. Only one such power fits perfectly: Papal Rome.
The Identity of the end time power (Papal Rome) is given in great detail, three times. Thus the Lord has left us in a strong position to recognize end time powers and events, and thus we are without excuse should we choose to follow our own ideas, or the erroneous teachings of Papal Rome.