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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition, 2017

Prophecies of Daniel Explained: Part 1
“The King of Fierce Countenance”

The two passages under consideration here are Daniel 8:23-27 and 11:36-45. For your convenience our discussion is based on the familiar KJV.

The Roman Empire Seem in Daniel 8:23-27

8:23a: “In the latter time of their kingdom when the transgressions are come to a full” ---- The “their kingdom” of this text refers to the four kingdoms of 8:22 that resulted from the break-up of Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Empire. These four kingdoms were Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.

8:23b: “a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences shall stand up” ---- the word “king” here is a personification for the word “kingdom,” as we see by comparing Daniel 7:17 with 7:23, where the words “king” and “kingdom” are used interchangeably.

Thus, the “king” (translate “kingdom”) that stands up when the transgressions of Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt have come to a full is not the final end-time Antichrist, as many modern evangelicals mistakenly believe. It refers, instead, to the emergence of the fourth beast kingdom of Daniel chapter seven, which was the Roman Empire.

Some will object to this interpretation by pointing to the “fierce countenance and the understanding dark sentences” statement that characterize this “king” (translate “kingdom”) that stands up in Daniel 8:23.

The “fierce countenance” expression itself does not prove that a single individual must be intended. Rather the description of the “fierce countenance” fits exactly with the appearance of the Roman beast empire, as it is described in Daniel 7:7.

Second, the “understanding dark sentences” relates to the demonic influence that gave rise to the Roman Empire, as indicated by the very next phrase of 8:24: “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.”

The Christian commentary on the meaning of Daniel 8:24 comes in Revelation 13:1-2. There we read that the dragon (Satan) gives this Roman beast “his power, his seat, and great authority.”

We note further that the Roman Empire is portrayed in Daniel 8:24 as “destroying the mighty and holy people.” This statement clearly prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.

We see here also that in the days of the Roman Empire the God of heaven sets up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, as announced in Daniel 2:44, and as reflected by the sealed vision of the 2,300 “evenings and mornings” in 8:26-27.

The Mystery of the 2,300 Days Explained

The 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 are tied to a vision in this chapter that is said to be shut up for many days (verse 26). Now both from the context and from the common historical interpretation of Daniel chapter eight we note that the 2,300 days of verse 14--literally “evenings and mornings”--began during the inter-testament era with the desecration of the Jewish temple under the Syrian tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes in December, 167 B.C.

These 2,300 evenings and mornings point to those evening and morning periods for the customary sighting of the moon, which determine the passage of time. Thus the 2,300 days is revealing the total number of lunar cycles or months until the sanctuary would be cleansed or properly restored.

Twenty-three hundred lunar cycles or months translates into 191 years and eight months. We get this by dividing 2,300 by 12. Now adding these 191 years and eight months to December 167 B.C. brings us to the year 26 A.D. and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry among the Jews, when He began to raise up the new cleansed and restored true temple of God on earth the Christian Church. Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 460, places Christ’s baptism as early as the Fall of 26 A.D.

The Old Testament Jerusalem temple, which was desecrated on so many occasions by the Jews and their enemies, is replaced in this fullness of times by the New Testament Christian Church as the eternal dwelling place of God through the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 12:13; II Corinthians 5:1; 6:16; Ephesians 2:18-22; and Hebrews 3:6).

This interpretation of the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 is quoted from our new booklet, The Biblical Countdown to Armageddon, which we plan to mail to all of our current Advocate recipients shortly, the Lord willing.

The Roman Empire Seen in Daniel 11:36-45

The Daniel 11:36-45 passage is parallel to Daniel 8:23-27. It, too, refers to the emergence of the Roman Empire as the successor to the Greek empire, following the war between the king of the north and the king of the south, or the Seleucids and the Ptolemies, during the inter-testament era, as described in Daniel 11:5-35.

Here again the use of personification is the key to understanding this passage. The pronouns “he” and “him” that both the king of the north (Syria) and the king of the south (Egypt) engage, beginning at verse forty, does not refer to some future personal end-time Antichrist figure at the end of the Church age. It refers, instead, to the “king” (translate “kingdom”) beginning at verse 36, which was the Roman Empire.

The conflict between the Syria and Egypt (the Seleucids and the Ptolemies) is terminated by the emergence of the Roman Empire that eventual conquered both warring parties.

Daniel 11:45: “And he shall plant the tabernacle of his place between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” ---- this phrase does not refer to the career of some future personal Antichrist in the context of seven years. Nowhere does Daniel say anything about Antichrist or the existence of any future seven years! Daniel 11:45 is talking, rather, about the Roman subjugation of Palestine at the time of the First Advent of Jesus Christ


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