Lesson: Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat

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Use this free lesson plan with your older elementary Sunday School class. This lesson continues the study of the Book of Daniel and covers his vision of a ram and goat.  Students will discover what God prophesied many years in advance came true exactly as He said they would.  He can be trusted with our futures because He is the sovereign ruler over all His creation.

Bible Story: Daniel’s Dream of a Ram and Goat
Scripture: Daniel 8
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Memory Verse: Colossians 2:6 NIV “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Gospel Connection:  As we have studied the visions that God has given Daniel we have learned that God wins over the battle of sin.  Those who put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins are on the winning team.  The Good News is that anyone who is not yet on the winning team can switch teams by believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins.  He was buried and three days later God raised Him from the dead.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sins against God by dying in our place.  Today you can switch from the losing team to the winning team by by believing in Jesus.  As you accept His gift of salvation you are made righteous before God and your sins are forgiven. Join the winning team today!
Learning Aim: As students hear how God gives Daniel another vision they will learn that God is sovereign and can be trusted.
Basic Supply List:

  • A Bible for each child to follow along as the lesson is taught.
  • Pictures or poster that has the names of the rulers that fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel’s vision (Example:  Shaggy Goat-Grecian Empire, Large horn-Alexander the Great etc.)
  • Building blocks with phrases from the verse stuck on them.

Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and Goat (Daniel 8) Lesson Plan

Teaching the Memory Verse: Colossians 2:6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (NIV)  Have a relay race with two teams of students racing to get blocks from one end of room to the other.  Once all the blocks are gathered the team may put the verse in correct order.  The team who finishes first recites the verse.  Repeat 2-3 times.
Learning Outcome Test:  By asking review questions at the end of the Bible lesson it helps clarify any misunderstandings and helps students demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson.

Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and Goat (Daniel 8) Lesson Plan

A person who reads Daniel’s visions might be overwhelmed and not understand how to even apply the Scriptures to his/her own life.  A principle that is seen in Daniel is how God builds on Daniel’s previous experiences to help him process the new information he receives in his visions.
In Daniel 2 God gives Daniel the interpretation for King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue.  This interpretation is a building block of knowledge that helps Daniel as he receives more revelation from God.
Last week as we studied Daniel 7 we saw how Daniel’s vision of the four beasts was symbolic of the different parts of the statue in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Let’s review what we remember from the beasts in Daniel’s dream:

  • First Beast:  Lion with wings-Head of Gold= Babylonian Empire
  • Second Beast: Lop-sided bear with 3 ribs in his mouth-Chest and arms of silver=Medo-Persian Empire
  • Third Beast:  Leopard with four wings and four heads-Stomach and thighs of bronze=Grecian Empire
  • Fourth Beast:  Unidentified beast with 10 horns-Legs and feet of iron and clay=Roman Empire/Future kingdom ruled by antichrist

Although the vision that Daniel received from God was disturbing he was receiving information that was going to take place in the future.  God comforts His people with information of what takes place in the future.  If we didn’t know how God’s plans for mankind end it could be very discouraging and frightening as we see evil and tragic things happen in this world.  It is very comforting to remember God wins!
Just as God built on Daniel’s understanding, He helps believers by building their understanding.  He helps them understand more about Him and His plan for this life as they study His Word and grow in their faith.  Let’s recite our memory verse together:  Colossians 2:6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
As we continue in our study of Daniel, let’s turn in our Bibles to Daniel 8.
Two years had passed since God gave Daniel the vision of the four beasts.  It doesn’t tell us in the Bible what Daniel did in those two years.  If you were Daniel what would you be doing after you had such an amazing vision from God?  Do you think a day went by that Daniel didn’t think about the vision?  I wonder if he thought about what God revealed to him and in his prayer time he talked to God about the different things he understood and asked about the things he didn’t understand.
Daniel had been faithful as a captive in Babylon.  He was known for having an excellent reputation by others.  Daniel had been faithful with where God had placed him and God trusted Daniel with visions.  Daniel saw some of the things from the visions fulfilled in his lifetime.  (Fall of Babylon taken over by Medo-Persian Empire)  The majority of the visions were going to take place long after Daniel died.
Are you being faithful to Jesus where He has placed you?  (Matthew 25:21, Luke 12:48)  As you are faithful with the small things God gives you to do, He will trust you to have bigger responsibilities as you serve Him.
Let’s read Daniel 8:1-4.  Who was the king of Babylon when Daniel had this vision?  Where was Daniel in his vision?  What did he see?
Choose volunteers to read verses 5-8.  What animal appeared while Daniel was thinking about the ram?  What did the goat look like?
Daniel 8:9-12.  Out of one of the four horns came a small horn.  Let’s read what this horn did in verses 11-12.
As Daniel watched what took place in the vision, he tried to understand it.  The angel Gabriel was told to explain the vision to Daniel.  Gabriel came near to where Daniel was standing.  It frightened Daniel to see Gabriel and he fell flat on his face before him.
As Daniel is face down on the ground before Gabriel he is in a state of deep sleep (coma-like).  Gabriel touches Daniel and raises him to his feet.
Gabriel began to explain the vision to Daniel.  “This vision concerns the time of the end.”  Let’s read verse 19.  Wrath is a term that means God’s punishment.  Each day that God doesn’t pour out His punishment on this world for wickedness and sin He shows His great mercy.  One day He will punish those who do not turn to Him and receive forgiveness of sins through faith in His Son Jesus.  This time period that Gabriel is speaking about is still future to us.  Some of the names used for this time found in Scripture are day of the Lord and day of wrath.  (Isaiah 13:9, Amos 5:18)
Gabriel explains the vision to Daniel in verse 19-22.  Who does the ram represent?  Who does the goat represent?  How do you see this explanation building upon Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s dream of the beasts?
Out of the four generals (four horns) rises up a little horn that causes great devastation to the people of God.  (Daniel 8:23-24)
Throughout the Book of Daniel we consistently see an attribute of God.  An attribute is a character trait.  The attribute that we see in Daniel is God’s sovereignty.  God is the ultimate ruler over all creation.  He raises up kings to lead and removes kings from their position of leadership (Examples we have seen in Daniel:  Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling and Belshazzar’s defeat by the Medo-Persians) History doesn’t determine God’s plans; God determines history to fulfill His plans.  (Psalm 33:10-11)
The vision Daniel had over 2500 years ago has already taken place in history.  Alexander the Great from the Grecian Empire is the goat that destroys the Medo-Persian Empire.  When Alexander the Great died, four of his generals (the four horns) ruled different territories in the Grecian Empire.  A man named Antiochus Epiphanes IV rose up from one of those four territories.  He was a very wicked ruler and commanded that the Jewish people worship Zeus in their temple.  He even offered pigs (unclean animals forbidden to be used as offerings to God) on their altar.  He put to death over 80,000 Jewish men, women, boys and girls.
Let’s read how long this evil ruler was going to rule and desecrate God’s temple in verse 14.  2300 days equals 6 years.  Antiochus caused the Jews to suffer for six years. God raised up a Jewish family named Maccabeus (Maccabee).  The Maccabee’s fought against Antiochus and they were able to restore the proper worship of God in the temple.
God caused many things to happen in history in detail according to the vision He gave to Daniel many years before it happened.
Antiochus Epiphanes foreshadows the future antichrist (boastful little horn from the vision about the fourth beast).  One day the Antichrist will rule in the land and hurt God’s people but will be conquered by King Jesus.  This is still future to us and we learn about the antichrist in the Book of Revelation.  Everything written in God’s Word is true.  What He says is going to take place.  God can be trusted with our future.
Share Gospel Connection and close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1.  How many years passed since Daniel’s vision of the beasts? (2)
  2. What did Daniel see in his vision?  (Ram and goat)
  3. How do Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue and Daniel’s dream of the four beasts connect with this new vision?  (They are about the Medo-Persian Empire and the Grecian Empire which the other visions introduce.)
  4. Who explained the vision to Daniel? (Gabriel)
  5. What did the vision mean? (Allow several students to respond)
  6. How has this vision been fulfilled in history?  (Alexander the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Maccabees)
  7. Who does Antiochus foreshadow? (Antichrist)
  8. What changes do you need to make in your life after hearing this lesson?

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