Daniel 8 foretells the resurgence in the Latter Days of Iran and Greece as opposing forces.
In previous chapters, Daniel already discussed these kingdoms under the figures of the Great Image and various beasts. Iran, known by the biblical name Persia, was portrayed as the arms and chest of silver and a bear with one side raised up. Greece was discussed as bronze thighs and legs and a winged leopard.
Why now does Daniel revisit these powers already discussed at length?
It appears Daniel is setting the stage for the arrival of the Little Horn as the great event of chapter 8. His emphasis on Iran and Greece is therefore of secondary importance.
It is not likely literal Greece will again revive as a mighty power to counteract the expansionary aims of Iran. Greece is cited because the Little Horn power is from Macedonian descent and compared and contrasted with the great single horn adorning the goat stirred with choler against Iran.
Alexander the Great is customarily understood to be this single horn adorning the goat. The Little Horn is like Alexander the Great, but while Alexander "waxed very great" (verse 8), the Little Horn is "exceeding great, even unto heaven" (verses 9, 10).
IRAN AND GREECE
Iran and Greece represent the competing ideologies of Eastern autocracy and Western democracy. Daniel 8 predicts that Iran will fail to the interests of popular democracy. It is uncertain whether the transition will be voluntary or involuntary; and, what form of democracy will succeed the governmental models of militant Islam.
Daniel 8 notes a political or military alliance of the Medes and Persians, suggesting Iran and Iraq will unite their interests before forming a significant threat to the West.
The prophecies regarding Greater Israel encompassing the territory currently held by Iraq further complicate the factors bearing upon the strategic alignments of the Middle East. Greater Israel will ultimately extend to the border of Iran at the Euphrates River, incentivizing Iraq to either settle with Israel or align with the kindred Islamic state of Iran.
The Middle East is being politically and religiously divided between a Shia North and a Sunni South, fueling regional sectarian strife and significant bloodshed. Already seventy thousand jihadists and civilians have died in the two-year-long civil war in Syria, which is one theatre in the growing conflict between North and South.
Israel is situated between the combatants in a regional civil war, complicating its security and relations with Arab Palestinians.
The Sunni and Shia are the primary sects of Islam. The essential differences between Shia and Sunni are historical and philosophical. Historically, Shia and Sunni disagree regarding the line of succession of the caliphs following the death of the prophet Mohammed. The caliphs are political successors of Mohammed entrusted with the duty of governing Islam. Matters of religion and state were not separated by Mohammed.
The Shia and Sunni philosophical approaches to both religion and law is also expressed in their attitude toward inspiration and authority, not unlike the divide between Catholicism and Protestantism within Christianity. At the basis of Sunni thought is the notion that inspiration and authority rest in the the people. Shia, on the other hand, find their inspiration and authority in "revealed" sources, such as the Quran and the demigod-like leaders found in their line of succession.
The Syrian Conflict is a proxy struggle between East and West, and North and South. Syria is viewed as a critical factor in quelling the expansionary aims of Iran at the threshold of Europe.
EXTENDING THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
There are two primary actors in the Last Days scenario of Daniel 8: the goat and the ram. The goat represents the West; the ram, the Iranian sect of Shia Islam. Daniel is shown that the West prevails against Shia Islam, leading to the emergence of the Little Horn.
The Jews in Daniel 8 are not a primary actor; they are passively caught in the conflict between the imperial designs of the West to promote democracy and the imperial designs of Iran to extend the Shia militant version of a trans-national Nation of Islam.
In chapter 8, Daniel foresaw the current conflict between the West and Iran. Daniel also saw the solution. The Little Horn is Daniel's consummate peacemaker.
Daniel 9 and 10 are further commentary on chapter 8. Chapter 11 appears to describe in detail the conflict between the kings of the North and South as the civil war between the Shia North and the Sunni South rages. This conflict is already underway. We know this because Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia have already fallen to the democratizing forces of the Arab Spring, as predicted in Daniel 11:43. A Time of Jacob's Trouble is foretold for Israel in Daniel 12:1 as it finds itself nestled between the great powers in this North/South Conflict.
Commentators generally agree the Little Horn power is the personal Antichrist. I agree. However, I depart from them in assigning a malignant motive to the authentic Antichrist. My research shows the Antichrist is the second of complementary Dual Messiahs.
THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL 8
The Little Horn appears in the Book of Daniel in two passages. The first passage is Daniel 7:8; the second is Daniel 8:9.
Both passages prefigure the Antichrist, the first demonstrating his Roman connection and the second his Macedonian connection. We are concerned here with the latter.
THE CHARACTERISTICS AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL 8
In Daniel 8:23-25, we are shown the characteristics, achievements, and fate of the Little Horn Antichrist:
1. He comes at the darkest moment in history, when "transgressors are come to the full" (verse 23).
2. He is stern and determined.
3. He "understands dark sentences" (verse 23); i.e., he is able to explain the meaning the mysteries of Scripture.
4. He possesses a "mighty power" that comes from a source other than himself (verse 24).
5. He uses his power to "destroy wonderfully"; i.e., to solve extraordinarily hard or difficult problems.
6. He prospers in religious matters (verse 24).
7. He is successful in promoting the "craft"; i.e., the study of prophecy.
8. He shall "magnify [himself] in his heart" (verse 25); i.e, do great things as a humanitarian.
9. He brings peace.
10. He takes his "stand up against [i.e., alongside] the Prince of princes" (verse 25); i.e., alongside the Jesus Christ; as the second of Dual Messiahs.
11. He "shall be broken without hand" (verse 25); i.e., he comes to his end without human interference.
The Little Horn Antichrist is the primary theme of Daniel 8. His emergence is the outcome of the ideological struggle between East and West, and the internecine North and South. Daniel pits world and regional players against each other in order to set the stage for the Little Horn Antichrist as God's solution.
From Daniel, we know enough to make these conclusions and recommendations:
1. The outcome of the conflict between East and West favors the West. Popular, representative democracy should be instituted throughout the Middle East.
2. Militant, violent Islam will be defeated. State constitutions should be modified to renounce violence as state policy. This is particularly true for Iran.
As part of a commitment to end its nuclear program, Iran ought to demand security assurances.
3. Iraq should avoid aligning its interests too closely to those of Iran.
4. Muslim states should develop political and religious institutions for resolving sectarian differences.
5. Israel should brace itself against spill-over from sectarian violence in neighboring Muslim states.