Sunday, March 26, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Al;exander(Great); Antiochus Epipphanes; Hannukkah ]

Lonnie Branam

Daniel 8 contains a vision of future history the prophet saw about 550 B.C. I:n one of the visions of this book Daniel predicted the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 A.D. Jesus Christ referred to this prediction in Matthew 24:15 and thereby verified the book of Daniel as the inspired word of God. In this vision before us in Daniel 8, he predicts the most important events that would take place between the Testaments. In the chapter under study, Daniel saw a great battle between two animals, a two horned ram and a one horned billy goat. He saw a ram standing beside a river. The pushed north, south and west. No beast could stop him so he conquerecd and became very great. But finally Daniel saw a billy goat coning from the west with one with one outstamding horn between his eyes, with great fury and anger. The two animals locked horns in battle. The goat smote the ran with a mighty blow, broke the two horns of the ram, knocked the ram to the ground and trampled furiously upon him,. There was none to save or deliver the ram. Then the goat became very great, and none could stop him as he pushed in all directions. He advanced over the whole face of the earth. But when the goat reached the height of his power, the great horn was broken and in its place came up four other horns And out of one of those four horns emerged another born,a little And this little horn pushed to the east and west toward the land of Palestine. He even exalted himself against God, against the people of God, stopped the daily sacrifices of the temple, cast down the truth to the ground, and defiled and profaned the Temple of God. Then one angel said to another angel, “How long shall the desolation of Jerusalem and the tmple last under the little horn.”(verses 1-14). And the other angel answered, “For 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed...” . The angel Gabriel explains the meaning of the vision to Daniel The meaning of this fascinating vision was revealed to Danie b the angel Gabriel. Verse 20 says, “The ram which you saw, having he two horns–they are the kings of Media and Persia.” The ram represented the Medo-Persian World Empire. The two horns represented the two nations of Media and Persia. The differen directions in which the ram was seen pushing indicate the directions in which the Medes and Persians carried out their conquests. No earthly powers could stand up against the Medo-Persian kingdom. when it was in the height of its world domination. The Medo-Persian Empire ruled the world fom 539 B.C. to 331 B.C.
The one horned billy goat came from the West. He covered all the ground as he passed by and swept everything before him. He mote the ram, broke both horns, knocked him to the ground and trampled him to death. Verse 2l says, “And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that between his eyes is the first king.” With Daniel's help, it is difficult to identify the first of the Greek Empire symbolized by the one great horn. It was Alexander the Great. Did you know that Alexander the Great was mentioned in the Bible before he was born. He must have b een an important man. He is not mnetioned byname, but the Holy Spirit saw fit to mention by symbol Alexander the Great in Godd's word. Alexander was the first world conqueror, and he was one of the most remarkable men in the histdoryh of the world. In his brief twelve year reign, he accomplished more conquests than any human being before him.
At age 14, he was a student of the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle. At 20 he was king of Macedonia. At 32 he had conquered the whole world. The he goat defeating the ram was a reference to the famous battle at Arbela(now called Arbil in Iraq) The Persians were ruled by Darius II. Tie battle was in 331 B.C. and ended the Medo-Persian Empire. This battle is called one of the 15 most famous battles in the history of the world. When he took over Egypt, he founded a city there and called it Alexadria after himself. It has always been a famous city of learning and is the 2nd largest city in Egypt today with over 1½ million people. When Alexander defeated the Persians, the two horns of the Ram in this vision were broken, and the ram was cast to the ground and stamped upon. Persia was subdued, the country ravaged, its army cut to pieces and scattered,its cities plundered, and Persepolis, the capital of the Persian Empire, was sacked and burned--now Iran. Even in its ruins this city is one of the wonders of the world to the present day. When he took that city, it took 10,000 pairs of mules and 3,O00 camels to carry away the treasures. Alexander died at age of 33. His s death was believed due to his excessive drinking. He died drunk. This great general and king helped to make the spread of Christianity possible 400 years after his time. His armies had gone almost to the entire civilized world, and he even conquered India. He brought with him to the nations he conquered Greek ideas, language, culture and Arts. The Greeks had developed the most beautiful language of any people in history. It had such beauty, precision and refinement that all other languages seemed barbarous in comparison. The Greek language followed Alexander's conquests so that by 300 B.C. Greek was the language of the Mediterranean world and so dominated it that the Jews themselves ceased to speak Hebrew, and even put the Old Testament scriptures into the Greek language By 250 B. C. .the 39 books of the Old Testament bad been translated into Greek.. This is known as the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Jesus quoted from this version. Another honor that belongs to the Bible is that it was the first book ever translated from one language to another. All these things occurred between the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, during the third world kingdom predicted by Daniel in chapters 2, 7, and 8. Before I leave this point I would like to add that this explains why the New Testament was written in he Greek language. When Jesus and the apostles lived on earth Greek was the chief language of the world. It was taught and spoken in all nations of the civilized world. Alexander the Great was chiefly responsible for this remarkable situation. Greek was the common he language of the people when the Christian religion began. The New Testament . was written in the language that most people knew and spoke. It was also the common Greek spoken by the common people, not the Greek of the intellectuals. Today we have street Spanish and book Spanish, and we have high and low German. The street Greek of conmon men was called Koine Greek. Later scholars were puzzled over the dialect of the New Testament because because none of the great works by scholarly and classical writers looked like New Testament Greek. Finally they found it was written in the common Greek language of the day. This Greek period between the Testaments explains why our English New Testament why translated from Greek, whereas the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew.
Back now to Daniel's remarkable vision. In verses 8 amd 9 said when when the he goat became very great, the big horn was broken and was replaced by 4 notable horns.. And then out of one of thoe horns came a little horn who fought against God' people, Israel. He defiled the temple and took away the daily sacrifiqe(verses 21-).
He said the the goat was Greece. We have learned that Alexander the Great was the one great horn, vs.22 tells us what the four horns referred to that which replaced the one horn. It says, ”four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation.” The great horn was broken when Alexander died in 331 B.C. After his death, his empire was divided among. four of his generals. That explains the 4 horns taking the place of the one horn. Out of 1 of these 4 horns arose a small horn who defiled tne temple. In verses 24 Daniel tells who the little horn was: ”And in the latter time of their kingdom a king of fierce countenance shall stand up.” The following verses reveal that he would oppose God and his people. Seleucus was the general who ruled over Palestine and Syria. He started a line of rulers out of which the little horn came. It is not too difficult to locate the king who was the little horn, He was Antiochus Eniphanes who ruled rrom 175 B.C. to 16)!. B.C. This man was a radical and was determined to force Greek philosophy, rel±gion and customs on all of his subjects. Moreover, this plan included Palestine. During his reign the Jews faced one of the most critical situations in all their history. Antiochus came to Jerusalem and killed 40,000 Jews and imprisoned and sold as slaves thousands of others, He meant business. He massacred thousands of men, woman and children who had assembled in the synagogues to study God's word. His intention was to destroy the worship of God. The temple was plundered,and all religious feast days banned. The Jews were forbidden to read the scriptures, observe the Sabbath, or perform the rite of circumcision. Two Jewish women defied his edict and had their boys circumcised. They were arrested and led through the streets with their children fastened to their necks and then were thrown headlong over the steepest part of the walls of Jerusalem to their deaths. To show his contempt for God's Temple, he sacrificed a hog on the brazen altar of sacrifice, and then poured the broth all over the temple. In addition, he erected an altar to the Greek god Zeus right in the Temple area.
However, this wicked ruler underestimated the devotion and loyalty of God's people. When Antiochus commanded the aged priest Mattathias and his sons to offer sacrifices to the pagan god, he refused. A young Jew came forward to obey Antiochus, but Mattathias struck the man and killed both him and emissary sent to deliver the message. Mattathias and his sons fled to the hiills, amassed an armiy and declared open war on Antiochus Epiphanes. He had a son Judas Maccabbeus. The complete story can ho found in the Apocrypha, 14 books written during the 400 year period between the Testaments.Eleven of the books are accepted by Roman Catholics, but they are rejected by Jews and Protestants. They are kept out of the Old Testament books and out of the books of the New Testament because they are not accepted as being inspired by Holy Spirit. Judas and his army finally won the war, entered Jerusalem, cleaned up the temple, destroyed all pagan gods and altars, repaired the temple, and put everything back in Order. On December 25, l65 B..C. the temple was rededicated to the worship of God free from the defilement of Antiochus. This day is observed as a Jewish holiday even to this day. In Old Testament times it was called the Feast of Dedication ; today it is called Hannukkah. . Jesus attended this celebration. John 10:22 says, “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the Temple in Solomon's porch.” The Maccabean war brought independence to the Jews from 167 B.C. to 63 B.C. In 63 B.C. Israel was conquered by the Romans. It is interesting that the two most important religious parties in the days of Jesus were the Pharisees and the Sadduces. The Old Testament writings came to an end in 400 B.C., and these two goups had not come int existence. They emerged during these 400 years between the Testaments.
The patriots who stood by Judas Maccabeus desired religious freedom and were willing to fight for it. As soon as religious freedom was won, they stopped fighting since they had no political ambitions. But they did not stop fighting for their ideas. Out of this group came the Pharisees. The word literally means “separatists,” and is usually interpreted as meaning separation from unclean things and persons. Gradually they came to be regarded as conservatives who held steadfastly to the law of Moses and the traditions of the fathers. In the days of Jesus they were the majority party and very influential. They were so radical in their ideas that they even accused Jesus of breaking the law of Moses. The Sadducees were the other group, who saw good in the Greek customs and culture. They felt they could accept many of the Greek ideas and customs and still be loyal to the law of Moses. The Pharisees denied this position. They wanted nothing to do with anything Greek. This group was also very influential in the days of Jesus. They gradually became known as the liberals as far as the Pharisees were concerned. It was these prewritten historicsl events in Daniel 8, in particular the influence of Alexander the Great's third Greek world Empire that caused these two sects arise in the nation of Israel. They were so hostile that after the Maccabean war, a civil war was fought between them. It so divided the nation that the Romans had very little trouble conquering them in 63 B.C. This helps us understand the bitter hostility between these two sects in the days of Jesus and the New Testament church. Consider the greatness of the historian Daniel, the prophet of God. In figurative language he pre-wrote history and predicted the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and Antiochus Epiphanes who corrupted the Temple and worship of God. The Bible is the greatest history book in the possession of the human race, and it is the only true history of the origin of the universe and the first 4,000 years of human race.

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