On the other hand, the “Little Horn” of Daniel 8:25 refers specifically to Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Some of the details of chapter 8 are so specific that it could not refer to any other person. Then some of the same language and imagery of Daniel 8 is used again in Daniel 9:25-27, but this time to refer to Vespasian or Titus and the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, which Jesus interprets in the Mount Olivet Discourse passages.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand (Daniel 8:24,25).
In his Commentary on Daniel, John Calvin wrote:
Some think this prophet refers to Antichrist, thus they pass by Antiochus altogether, and describe to us the appearance of Antichrist, as if the angel had shown to Daniel what should happen after the second renovation of the Church. The first restoration took place when liberty was restored to the people, and they returned from exile to their native land, and the second occurred at the advent of Christ. These interpreters suppose this passage to unfold that devastation of the Church, which should take place after the coming of Christ, and the promulgation of the gospel. But as we have previously seen, this is not a suitable meaning, and I am surprised that men versed in the Scriptures should so pour forth clouds upon clear light. For, as we said yesterday, nothing can be clearer, or more perspicuous, or even more familiar, than this prophecy. And what is the tendency of ascribing so violently to Antichrist what even mere children clearly see to be spoken of Antiochus, except to deprive Scripture of all its authority? Others speak more modestly and more considerately, when they suppose the angel to treat of Antiochus for the purpose of depicting in his person the figure of Antichrist. But I do not think this reasoning sufficiently sound. I desire the sacred oracles to be treated so reverently, that no one may introduce any variety according to the will of man, but simply hold what is positively certain. It would please me better to see anyone wishing to adapt this prophecy to the present use of the Church, and to apply to Antichrist by analogy what is said of Antiochus. We know that whatever happened to the Church of old, belongs also to us, because we have fallen upon the fullness of times (Calvin, Commentary on Daniel 8:24,25).
Here Calvin masterfully distinguishes between the plain exegesis of Scripture and application of Scripture by analogy. One may use analogy to apply the “beasts” and “horns” of Daniel to anti-Christian rulers throughout history. But to make those applications the primary interpretations is a great mistake. It misses the whole point of the prophecy of Daniel, which is to point the Jews living in the Restoration period and later to events leading up to the coming of Christ.