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Alexanderís empire was divided up between four of his generals. The spotlight of the vision now turns on one of these kingdoms, as we hear of:
THE RISE OF THE LITTLE HORN
It is described as little because from the beginning of its career there was nothing great or noble about it, although it became very powerful indeed (9). The policies of this personality were described by Danielís interpreter as deceit and cunning. He is spoken of as a far more dangerous enemy of Godís purposes than ever was Alexander because his target was the people of God. The Jews, not for the first or the last time, were to be involved in a life-and-death struggle for survival as a people who worshipped God as had been revealed to them.
The little horn was undoubtedly one of the kings of the Grecian empire, Antiochus Epiphanes. In about the year 170 BC his kingdom, which was based in the region of Turkey and Armenia, expanded towards the south and east, as Daniel put it, "towards the Beautiful Land" (9). Once established there, he devoted himself to the destruction of everything the Jewish religion stood for. It was an all-out onslaught against God himself. He was setting himself against "the Prince of princes" (11, 25), none other than the God of Israel. He did so by going to the heart of the Jewish religion by abolishing the daily sacrifice, the religious festivals and Sabbath observance. The climax came when Antiochus placed an armed guard in the temple area, desecrating the sanctuary itself. He tried to introduce the worship of the Greek god Zeus. Anyone who stood in his way was ruthlessly persecuted and many were the martyrs who would not forsake the God of Israel.
There seemed to be no end to this wickedness. Daniel said "It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground". Nothing could happen without the permission of the Almighty and it was by his permissive will that Antiochus had been allowed to continue in his blasphemous course. Why did God allow this to happen? Daniel tells us that it was "because of rebellion" (12). It was because of national iniquity that the Jewish nation was suffering under such an oppressor. The lessons of the exile of the nation to Babylon due to the withdrawal of Godís blessing and protection had not been learnt. A well-deserved retribution had come upon them for their guilt.
Daniel tells us that he overheard two angels in conversation. One asked,"How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled?" (13). He was relieved to hear that the time was limited. It was only for a restricted period that God would permit the sacrifices to be halted. The victory of wrong over right has been the source of perplexity to many of Godís saints through the ages, until they realize that there is a divine hand - although unseen - holding everything in restraint. Nothing can happen but by Godís will and to achieve some purpose which in his divine wisdom he had planned. The "whyís and whereforeís"
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