Daniel Chapter 8: A New Approach
This article presents a new perspective on Daniel Chapter 8. It moves the interpretation away from the historical-literal framework, to focus on the symbolic and the eschatological. I present the interpretation in three sections. The first section discusses the Chapter in its symbolic and eschatological meaning. It interprets the chapter in the form of clash of cultures. The second and third sections will focus on the new meaning and end-time fulfillment of the abomination of desolation.
Section 1: Clash of Worldviews
Here is the word:
“… I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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. 9 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. 10 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.” Dan. 8: 2-10.
Daniel saw this vision around 538 BC. As the Book of the Maccabees and secular history attest, Daniel’s vision had come to pass by accurately predicting the events, which took place in the Middle East region during c. 300 – 100 BC period. However, it will be totally wrong to limit the understanding and application of this vision (and the other related visions of Daniel’s), only to the events that took place in that time frame and in that confined region.
We have a solid precedence in the New Testament usage of Old Testament history and prophesy to enable us to seek for wider and deeper meanings in Daniel’s vision. We also find enough exegesis precedence in Bible scholarship to take a vision like Daniel’s beyond its local and immediate context and apply it to far distant future events, including Endtime events. For that matter, the angel that was sent to Daniel to help him understand the vision had told Daniel that the vision has application to latter day events. If so, then Daniel’s vision should be interpreted in such a way that it becomes fully applicable in a meaningful way to make us understand better God’s workings in the last days. But the question will be - which of the available Scripture interpretation methods should we choose to attain our intent?
If Daniel’s vision is to apply to latter day events in its totality, there is a need for adopting a different interpretation method. One such technique is the figurative interpretation method. The figurative approach is chosen, because, Daniel’s vision is inherently typological, and hence such an interpretive approach will allow us to fully grasp the larger issues implied in the vision.
Once we adopt this interpretive method, the next step will be to single out the major protagonists and historical processes found in the vision for closer scrutiny, to evaluate them for their typological value. Later, we will map these protagonists and historical processes to their figurative counterparts of the last days. Only after such a course, then we will assign the abomination of desolation a new meaning based on what we have come to establish through the new approach. Hence, the logic we will apply to identify the abomination of desolation will be inductive rather than deductive.