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The Little Horns of Syria and Rome

Feb 02, 2011

Josephus gives us the date that Antiochus desecrated the temple in Jerusalem:

"Now it came to pass after two years, in the hundred and forty-fifth year ... he left the temple bare, and took away the golden candlesticks and the golden altar [of incense], and table [of showbread], and the altar [of burnt offering] and did not abstain from even the veils, which were made of fine linen and scarlet. He also emptied it of its secret treasures and left nothing at all remaining; and by this means cast the Jews into great lamentation, for he forbade them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God, according to the law." [Antiquities of the Jews, XII, v, 4]

The 145th year was dated according to the Seleucid Calendar whose first year was 312 B.C. Hence, this is the year 168 B.C. on our modern calendar. There was no Ark of the Covenant for Antiochus to carry away, since that had disappeared with Jeremiah before the Babylonian captivity many centuries earlier.

The desecration of the altar brought about the Maccabean Revolt which succeeded (after three years of war) in ending the rule of Syria over Judea. They purified the temple and built new vessels that had been stolen, and then began the eight-day dedication of the temple "on the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, which the Macedonians call Appelleus" (Antiquities, XII, vii, 6). This is the origin of Hanukkah, which commemorates the eight days of temple dedication. In John 10:22 it is called "the feast of dedication."

Josephus tells us:

"Now it so fell out that these things were done on the very same day on which their divine worship had fallen off, and was reduced to a profane and common use, after three years' time; for so it was, that the temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three years. This desolation happened to the temple in the hundred forty and fifth year on the twenty-fifth day of the month Appelleus, and on the hundred and fifty-third olympiad; but it was dedicated anew, on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month Appelleus, in the hundred and forty eighth year, and on the hundred and fifty-fourth olympiad.

"And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would dissolve that worship [for some] time."

Josephus was referring to Daniel 8:9-14, which speaks of the death of Alexander, the rise of his four generals, and the "rather small horn" (NASB) which arose out of these four. This horn was believed to be Antiochus himself, on account of Daniel's prophecy:

(11) It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. . . (13) Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?" (14) And he said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored."

"2,300 evenings and mornings" is approximately three years, if we understand that it means 1150 evenings and 1150 mornings for a total of 2,300. Three solar years would be 1095 days. The timing is not exact, but it may be that there is a broader fulfillment of this prophecy.

 Hence, the temple lay desecrated from 168-165 B.C., after which time Judas Maccabaeus led the Judeans to victory over the Syrians and rededicated the temple. At this point Judea became an independent nation from 165-63 B.C. when their long-term captivity resumed under the iron kingdom of Rome.

Antiochus has long been understood to be the "little horn" of Daniel 8:9. Many ancient and modern commentators call him "Antichrist."

It is interesting that in Daniel's previous vision, we see another "little horn" in Dan. 7:8. This horn (power) was different, because it was connected to the fourth beast (Rome), rather than to the third beast (Greek Syrian). So there are really two similar entities in different time periods that manifest this spirit of "antichrist."

If we step back and look at the overall pattern of events, we see that each of the four main beast nations have had to recognize Jesus Christ as the King of kings at some point in their history. However, the two "little horns" of Greece and Rome are like offshoots of those empires, and they are overthrown without recognizing God's sovereignty.

The Greek-speaking Syrian "horn" wages war upon God and the temple but is overthrown after three years. The Roman "horn" makes war on the saints and overpowers them for a season (7:21), in the same manner that Antiochus did during his reign.

These extensions of Greece and Rome usurped the authority of God after previously recognizing Christ as King. Hence, they are without excuse, legally speaking. They are "antichrist" in the classic sense of usurping the authority of Christ. When the second antichrist type (Rome) is overthrown, then the saints of the Most High are given dominion. Daniel 7 says,

(26) But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. (27) Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.

These four main kingdoms of men prophesied in Daniel were given authority by God Himself as part of the divine judgment against Israel and Judah for their refusal to obey the laws of God. They wanted to be ruled by men and men's laws, so God gave them the desires of their heart and put them under these four beast kingdoms for a long period of time. However, the usurping "horns" have gone beyond their mandate and are held accountable to God. God allowed these usurpers to fill up the cup of wrath against the kingdoms of men, so that God would have legal cause to overthrow them.

In the end, the overcomers are given the dominion when the Stone Kingdom crushes the Babylonian image on its feet. Those who qualify for the first resurrection are the ones who "will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6).


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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