Home stretch...you can see the finish line looming up yonder! Don't make me finish this by myself. Push through. Think of this as MK practice! Overcome Revelation while reading about the rewards of overcomers!
8:1 In this vision I was at the fortress of Susa, in the province of Elam, standing beside the Ulai River. The fortress of Susa clued me in that this was in the region where Queen Esther lived, and in the next chapter, we find that Daniel is working under Darius the Mede, possibly the son of King Ahasuerus (Esther's husband, also called Xerxes). From what I can tell, Daniel barely preceded Queen Esther! It gets hard to keep track of all these kings, especially since there were 3 Darius' and 3 Artexerxes in the Persian Empire. I tried to unravel it all but only got more confused. So then I found a helpful piece about the kings and their reigns in the book Secrets of Time, by Stephen Jones.
8:9-12 Then from one of the prominent horns came a small horn whose power grew very great. It extended toward the south and the east and toward the glorious land of Israel. Its power reached to the heavens, where it attacked the heavenly army, throwing some of the heavenly beings and some of the stars to the ground and trampling them. It even challenged the Commander of heaven's army by canceling the daily sacrifices offered to him and by destroying his Temple. The army of heaven was restrained from responding to this rebellion. So the daily sacrifice was halted, and truth was overthrown. The horn succeeded in everything it did. There seems to be consensus that the "little horn" described in Bible prophecy was the religious-political power that came out of Rome in the early Church age. Here is one perspective from Stephen Jones:
The Roman Empire itself had been divided in 395 A.D. The East was ruled by emperors based in Constantinople. The West was ruled by emperors based in Rome. When Rome fell in 476 A.D., the Eastern Roman Empire continued for nearly a thousand years until Constantinople fell in 1453 A.D. Hence, this iron-toothed beast, or the "iron legs" of the image in king Nebuchadnezzar's dream, extended from 63 B.C. to at least 1453 A.D. The little horn was said to come out of this beast, "uttering great boasts." In Revelation 13:5 we are given more details of this little horn, but John writes that this beast had "a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies."
Generally speaking, I believe this is not just about a named religion, but about a system of religion that has dominated the Church Age with hypocrisy, pride, greed, unbelief, and corruption. Perhaps it was manifest in the natural world in one place and time in history, but I believe it is more about a spiritual system that fights truth under the guise of "truth." Revelation has plenty to say about this system, and it is (I believe) the biggest threat to the true believers/overcomers. I don't believe it is a purely political system, but a religious system that deceives the world.
8:23-25 At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant; he will destroy many without warning. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power. Interestingly, the Church in the early centuries persecuted true believing, faithful Jews and Christians who observed the Holy Days of God just because they wouldn't comply with man made traditions. I wonder if this is pertaining to the papal system (popes) in the early Church centuries who were vindictive, controlling, and many corrupt. Of course, there is another level that people believe this will also be an end times antichrist, which could certainly be on another level!
2:1-2 (NAS) And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation (conciliatory offering) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. Wow, that's a powerful verse! NLT says: "He takes away not only our sins but the sins of all the world."
2:3-4 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him... I was just asked today on a radio interview: How do you know you are saved? I gave a really lame meandering version of this verse that you would be appalled to read even if I could try to cough it up the way I said it. But, it comes down to evidence of the Spirit working in your life, through acts of faith and obedience. Now why couldn't I have said it that succinctly?