The Mighty Angels of Daniel 8: The Ram and the Goat
By Nathan Jones
Vision of a Ram and a Goat
Vic Batista: In the book of Daniel, chapter 8, God’s angelic hosts bring Daniel the interpretation to the vision God gave him involving a ram and a goat. In Daniel 8:1-16, Daniel describes his vision.
“In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, to me, Daniel after the one that appeared to me the first time. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.
And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.
Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, ‘How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?’
And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.’
Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, ‘Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.’”
Vic Batista: Daniel had been given by God an incredible yet undecipherable vision. So, an angel by the name of Gabriel is dispatched to provide Daniel with the necessary understanding. This story in the book of Daniel reminds me of Revelation 1:1 when the Apostle John was also given an incredible revelation. “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servant things that which might shortly take place.” God again sends an angel, but this time to his servant John. God dispatches His angelic beings to reveal the mysteries of the future.
Nathan Jones: Angels often serve as God’s messengers in the Bible. They also serve Him in the Heavenly Temple. They carry out His will. We read in the Bible about angels who even manage the weather! Behind the scenes of all that goes on there are angelic forces at work serving God and carrying out His commands, and one of those duties is to deliver messages to mankind that reveal God’s will.
In Daniel 8 we’re introduced to three angels, but particularly the angel Gabriel. He’s the one who has a prophetic message for Daniel and for us to read about today.
Vic Batista: All these messages that we are reading about in Daniel will piece together and tie the book of Daniel to the book of Revelation. The book of Daniel is indeed the mini-book of Revelation.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely right, Daniel is the Old Testament version of the book of Revelation. So much of Daniel can be found in the book of Revelation. They both complement one another.
Vic Batista: It’s important when reading the Bible, and especially Revelation and Daniel, that we take the time to let Scripture speak for Scripture. Prophetic books can become confusing, especially when people start putting in their own ideas about what they think the text means, rather than letting the text speak for itself. Poor hermeneutics will happen when we don’t examine context, especially when dealing with the books of Daniel and Revelation.
Nathan Jones: This Bible college word — hermeneutics — can be defined as the art and science of interpreting the Bible. In practice you interpret the Bible literally and in context, and you read all the parallel passages. You don’t come up with your own interpretation, and certainly never spiritualize the Scriptures. Instead, with good hermeneutics you let the Bible speak for itself.
Vic Batista: Absolutely, when interpreting a Bible passage, one must consider it in its context. That is why we stopped with verse 16 before the angel Gabriel provided the interpretation to the vision. We don’t wish to start stating what our ideas are, but rather let the text provide the interpretation.
Nathan Jones: Certainly! Because when it comes to prophecy, God usually also provides the interpretation to that prophecy. Likewise, Jesus would teach a parable, and then later He would turn around and tell His disciples what the parable meant. Gabriel was sent down to tell Daniel what the meaning of the vision was, and so we don’t have to guess what it means. In Daniel 11-12 we’ll read about another vision in Daniel that provides the historical fulfillment of these prophecies and which will also help us understand God’s overall plan for the ages better.
In the sixth segment of this series on the mighty angels of Daniel, the Angel Gabriel will provide the startling interpretation to Daniel’s vision.