Remarks on the Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel






Seventh Edition, 1965



When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth, let him understand.














The Remarks on the Prophecies in Daniel, contained in the following pages, originally appeared in separate portions, at different times, from 1845 to 1847.  They were then printed and published just as I had time to prepare them from the notes with which was furnished, which had been carefully and efficiently taken whilst I went through these portions of prophecy orally with some Christian friends.  My work of preparation, from the notes which were put into my hands for the purpose, was carried on while I had but little access to books of reference, and thus I could give my “Remarks” no such complete revision as I could have wished.


When the last of the separate parts appeared, the whole was published in one volume, which has twice been reprinted, just as it was, to meet an existing demand, without however any revision on my part, or I believe any intentional alteration.


These three impressions having been out of print for some time, I was requested to publish a new edition, but I was unwilling that the book should be again printed without giving to the whole that careful and thorough revision which ought to be bestowed on everything relating to those truths which God has taught in His word.  I have, therefore, examined every part with Scripture; and although the alterations in the statements of the “Remarks” are but few, yet here and there various additions have been made, such as appeared to me to be either needful or desirable.  It has thus been during more than two years under my hand, at times, for the purpose of this revision.


To the original “Remarks”, as first published, I have now added so much as almost to make this to be a new book.  It contains all that was published before, but with more than an equal quantity in addition of what is new.


The principal material enlargements have been in the “Note on the Year-day System” (which has now extended to a whole chapter, in order to consider the subject fully), the “Note on the Interpretation of Daniel 11 by past History”, and the “Note on Prophetic Interpretation in Connection with Popery and the Corruption of Christianity.”  In this last-mentioned Note I have now endeavoured fully to show how the word of God meets Romish and non-evangelical error, and that the simple application of Scripture, as literally understood, does not in any sense palliate Popery, whether regarded in its doctrines or its practices.


It is not, I believe, needful to specify the minor enlargements and alterations throughout the “Remarks”, they have been introduced without making any change in the general principles as to the explanation of Daniel, or in their application to particular details.


The “Note on the Roman Empire and its Divisions” is entirely an addition.


In “Concluding Remarks” I have stated some particulars relative to the origin of the following pages, and also spoken of some of the dangers against which students of prophecy do well to be on their guard.


The “Map of the Ancient Persian and Roman Empires”, and the “Explanatory Notice”, are also amongst the additions now made.


The reader will perceive that my “Remarks” are so connected with the portions of Scripture to which they relate, that, for them to be rightly followed, the Bible should be kept open for continual reference.


I believe that these “Remarks” have already been found of use to some, in their endeavours to know what is taught us in the word of God.  That they may continue to be blessed to this end is my earnest desire and prayer.  Whatever leads us simply to the Scripture, which is the testimony of the Holy Ghost concerning Jesus Christ our Lord, in His sufferings and in His glory, may be known by our souls as replete with establishment in the apprehension of His truth and grace.


If readers, who pass by all Prefaces, find themselves on good terms with the books they read, authors perhaps have no right to complain; but as with our friends, so with our books; might not many mistakes be avoided, and after-explanations be rendered needless, if we took care not to overlook the conventional ceremony of an introduction?



       - S. P. T. Plymouth, August 15, 1852.



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In issuing a fresh reprint of this volume no alteration has been made beyond mere verbal corrections and occasionally the addition of a brief note or of a few words; an Alphabetical Index has also been added.  I have not judged it best to make allusions to works on the subject which have appeared since 1852: I have not, however, neglected them; though in no case have I seen it needful to change the views previously expressed; indeed, on many points they have been materially confirmed.  I had two reasons for not discussing the opinions expressed in more recent works; the one is that such discussions would so add to the bulk of the volume as to change its character, which unless it were needful I did not wish: the other is that it would have been too great a demand on my time and attention, seeing that it is not right for me to do anything which would materially interfere with that work in which I have specially to seek to serve the Church of Christ; I mean the Greek Testament on Ancient Authorities, for which I have collated every accessible ancient Greek document, and of which the four Gospels were some time ago completed, before I was compelled by seriously impaired health to lay aside my work for a time.


It is not for those who value the word of God to shut their eyes to the condition of things in the professing Church.  On the one side we find the sacrifice of Christ owned as a fact, but its application to us is made to depend on ecclesiastical ordinances and not on the operation of the Holy Ghost in leading the soul of the sinner to the blood of the Cross: on the other hand there are those who would own Christ (and in word perhaps the Holy Ghost) as acting on the soul, and thus they speak of our deliverance by a Redemption in power by a living Saviour, while redemption by price paid, a perfect propitiation wrought out once and for ever by the death of Christ, is utterly ignored and even denied.  Thus on either side the truth of God is rejected; but what rejection equals that in which the Cross of Christ is not allowed its true place? that in which “sacrifice”, “shedding of blood for the remission of sin”, etc., are words only (if owned at all), and not substantive realities?


It has been a portent amongst us that those in office and profession holding the place of Christian teachers have even set themselves to argue against the very books of Holy Scripture which they were bound to maintain, and which are commended to us with all the authority of the incarnate Son of God.*  Such attacks had been but little expected, except from those not professing to be under the banner of the Lord Jesus.


[* Under the guise of courtesy we often now find a willingness to concede to opposers almost every vital point: so that professed defenders of the authority of Holy Scripture themselves give up, and commend others for giving up the absolutely decisive teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost, through the Apostles, as to questions of simple fact.  Thus one who has professed to vindicate the Pentateuch as to its historic character has been commended in that he “very wisely declines to avail himself of the testimony of the New Testament in his attempt to prove the historic character or Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch.  The use that has been made in this controversy of the supposed testimony of Jesus Christ is for the purposes of general criticism wholly irrelevant.  It involves certain theological hypotheses which would be rejected by very many who are unquestionably orthodox, and to a reverent piety it is every way offensive. Nothing can be more impolitic (to put the matter on the very lowest ground) than to make the Divine wisdom of our Lord responsible for those canons of criticism and literary opinions which are notoriously uncertain, fluctuating, and progressive”, etc.  If professed defenders can thus write, what line of demarcation remains between truth and error?  If our Lord’s own statements are but a “supposed testimony”, on what can we rely?  We have not to make our Lord’s Divine wisdom responsible for any uncertain, fluctuating, and progressive canons of criticism, but we have to subject our notions on such subjects to His divine teaching.  If we are not to believe Him when He said “Moses wrote of me”, if we may doubt His wisdom and truth in saying this, then (and not till then) we may be Christians of “reverent piety”, though rejecting alike the writings of Moses and the words of Jesus.  It is not surprising that those who set aside the reality of our Lord’s work of propitiatory sacrifice should contemn first the law in which sacrifice is so taught, and then our Lord Himself as an authoritative teacher.]


Also, in that which professes to be the true spiritual part of Christ’s Church, what laxity do we find!  All that I said in the conclusion of this volume as to Definite Confessions of faith has a tenfold force now.  New things seem so opposed by some who make pretensions to the holding of Evangelical truth as the doctrine of Scripture (so firmly held by the Reformers) of our acceptance in the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They admit anything rather than that He so kept the Law for us that His living obedience is put down to the account of every sinner who is cleansed in His blood.  This is one way in which Christ’s real substitution is set aside: He obeyed for us meritoriously in His life, even as He suffered penally for us in His death.  But the reality of His incarnation (as set forth in all the old and orthodox confessions) is opposed by those who either deny the true sacrifice of the cross or who contradict the true doctrine of imputation.  The Lord in His life obeyed the Law, and it is in vain to contemn such living obedience by asking if it was “mere law fulfilling”: for if Jesus did ever and in all things obey the Law, loving the Lord His God with all His heart and with all His mind and soul, and strength, then was His whole life a righteous law-fulfilling, beyond which He could not go: and by God’s grace, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”.  But in fact those who suggest such doubts seem not to know what is meant by the holiness of God, the law of God, the one obedience by which many shall be constituted righteous; and they only confuse the unwary by some new and false notions on the whole subject of substitution and sacrifice as a sweet savour before God. But the denial of a doctrine of God does not make it the less true and precious, or its maintenance of the less importance.


       -  S. P. T. Plymouth, July 9, 1863.



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First published in 1852.  The last hundred years have seen six editions of this invaluable book, revised and amplified by the author.  The sixth edition has been in demand since his death and through two World Wars has informed and instructed Christians in the sure word of prophecy.  Mr G. H. Lang in his various books recommended it highly; and C. H. Spurgeon in his Commenting and Commentariessaid of the book ‘Tregelles is deservedly regarded as a great authority upon prophetical subjects’.  The S.G.A.T. Council recommends it today.  The last, long chapter on a Defence of the authenticity of the Book of Danielhas been omitted, not because of any disagreement but for economic reasons and because no prophetic student today has any doubts about the subject in view of our Lord’s endorsement. An appendix has been added on the life and works of Dr. Tregelles.



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These maps have been introduced as showing the extent of the territory to which the prophecies of Daniel refer: these ancient empires are exhibited on the same scale.  So that they may at once be easily compared.


The limits of the Babylonian monarchy, under Nebuchadnezzar, cannot be defined with certainty; besides the territory which he actually held, there was also, in all probability, a large extent of country under his sway and influence, although actually governed by subordinate sovereigns.  The territory of the Medo-Persian kings is accurately known.  It must however be borne in mind that the Persian empire comprised large districts of mountain and desert, and that the provinces, separated by such regions, often owned a very partial allegiance to a monarch ruling in Susa or Ecbatana.  There were also districts which, though lying within the Persian monarchy, were governed by vassal kings.


For many years before the reign of the last Darius the Perersian empire was materially weakened; whole provinces cast off their allegiance, and if reduced at all, it was to a very doubtful submission.  Thus the conquests of Alexander gave him not only a more extensive territory than that of the Persian kings, but also a sovereignty more truly under his sway. The four kingdoms which were formed out of Alexander’s empire are defined, page 79.  Of these, that of Seleucus was by far the largest, but much of its extent was not retained by his successors; the eastern provinces became independent, and in other parts, such as Cappadocia, distinct sovereignties were formed.


The Roman empire is exhibited in the map according to its widest extent (as described in pages 12-15).  It will exhibit to the eye what the territory is, which, according to Daniel 7, is to be divided into ten kingdoms, out of one of which another king shall rise, who shall conquer three of the former kings, and whose actings are so minutely detailed in prophecy, as carried on against the people of Christ, until He shall have received the kingdom and shall come in the clouds of glory.


These maps were supplied by Bishop D.A. Thompson, as used in his booklet “TheVisions & Prophecies of Daniel Illustrated.”




THE FOUR EMPIRES OF DANIEL (Chapters 2, 7, & 8.





At one time Thrace was also included in this Empire












Now learn a parable of the fig-tree: When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matt. 24: 32, 33).


In this instruction of our Lord to His disciples He shows them the manner in which their expectation was to be directed to coming events.  He had told them of the condition of things, in connection with Jerusalem, which should immediately precede His coming in the clouds of heaven; and He then employs this illustration in order to show the real practical use which there was in the things which He had thus unfolded.


Centuries have passed since the discourse on the Mount of Olives, but still the intimations which our Lord gave have not taken place; in other words, the fig-tree has not yet budded.  If we then desire to use the truths which Christ then spoke, we have still to turn our eyes to the spot which He has marked out for us, and wait to see the appointed intimations.


It may be said, What use can it have been to the Church to have had to wait for so many years?  What profit is there to us in being directed to that which for eighteen hundred years has not taken place?  If Christ has commanded it, that is enough - He will always vouchsafe blessing to those who are doers of His will - but further, here is profit which a spiritual mind can apprehend; for if this word had been heeded by saints, it would have kept them from many of those associations and objects which are contrary to the leadings of the Spirit: for thus they would have had before their minds the character and close of this dispensation, and the place of Christ’s faithful servants in the midst of the nations, holding the gospel of the kingdom as a witness, but seeing the world’s corruption as a thing which flows on unchanged in its nature (while souls are gathered one by one out of it), even up to the coming of the Lord Himself.  Had this exhortation been rightly heeded, the hope of the coming of Christ would not have passed away from the minds of saints, so as to be looked at as a thing which, at all events, is not a practical doctrine.


Suppose I were cast upon some uninhabited isle, in a clime in which I could not (from my ignorance of its situation) count the seasons by months; and if the object of my hopes was the summer, and I found a fig-tree, and knew that its budding forth would intimate the approach of that season.  I should watch the tree; I should often examine whether it was beginning to bud forth.  I might look week after week and see nothing; I might think I saw some indications of sprouting, and then find it all come to nothing, but still I should watch on. Now, if I also knew that a ship came to the island at a particular time in the summer, this would be a point of hope to me, for it would hold out the prospect of deliverance; and this would make me doubly diligent in watching and waiting for the budding.  Hope would connect itself with those things which indicate its accomplishment.  And these things occupying my mind, I should be preserved from the thought of regarding the solitary isle as my abode.  I might find long patience to be needful, but at length the buds would come forth; and then, according to the indication of the season, the wished-for vessel.


Thus is it with regard to the Church.  God has given us a point of hope, and He has also instructed us with regard to indications of its accomplishment: the point of hope is that to which the soul tends, while the detail of intervening circumstances affords the needed instruction, from which is learned the practical walk of those who possess such a hope.  If held in the Spirit, these things cannot take away from the power of the hope - they were revealed for the directly contrary purpose: the early Church knew them, and found them to have a practical and separating power; and in the body of detail with which the epistles (especially the later ones) are furnished, the dark statements of coming evil are given in order that the evil may be avoided, and the bright hope of the glory of the day of Christ might shine through it all and in contrast to it all.  Had not the Church been so taught, the taunt, “Where is the promise of His coming?” might indeed be felt as troubling the soul; but when we know that we have been warned of deeper darkness before the morning, we may indeed feel that the more conscious we are of deepening gloom, the more rejoicingly may we look onward to the dawn.


Nothing gives us any indication of the immediate introduction of the latter day, except this to which Christ directs us; we may see many things to make us expect that the fig-tree would soon bud, but when we see the buds (and not till then) can we speak with certainty as to what is forthwith to come to pass.  We might see attempts of the nations to set the Jews in the Holy Land - this ought to make us look carefully to Jerusalem; God might hinder those efforts, or He might allow the fearful closing scenes of this dispensation to issue out of them, as at length He will do.


The importance of the detail of prophecy is very great to the believer: it certainly is a sad thing to see this extensive portion of God’s truth overlooked and neglected.  It is by the detail of prophecy that we learn how to walk in the midst of present things according to God; it is thus we learn His judgment about them, and what their issue will be.  Many Christians directed their minds much to this a few years ago; but it cannot, I believe, be denied that this portion of revealed truth has more recently been neglected and overlooked.  Those who have done this have surely omitted to see how important its present bearing is on the conscience and conduct: what other portion of revelation shows so clearly the separateness from all that is opposed to the Lord, to which believers are called?


There is such a thing as having held truths and then let them slip; this shows a want of Christian watchfulness. There is such a thing as having set truths before others, and when the time of their application arrives, failing in using them ourselves.  Most spiritual minds feel conscious of the power of Satan being great at this time and his workings peculiarly dangerous; but if I see from the word of God that these things are to be, I shall be one of those who know these things beforehand, and this knowledge is to be used as my safeguard, that I be not carried away with the error of the wicked.  The voyager who knows from his charts those parts of his course in which danger most exists should be found the most prepared to act in the emergency; it will not take him by surprise.


But it may be said that if results are rightly known nothing more is needed; but surely then we should be using our own thoughts as to all the things connected with those results.  The mere knowledge of a coming deluge would never have led to the construction and arrangement of the ark.  The knowledge of a result may lead to presumption of the most fearful kind.  The whole testimony of the word is our safeguard.


The following Remarks on the Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel are intended especially to direct the mind towards some of the important portions of the detail of prophecy with which the Scripture furnishes us.  Should they be found helpful to Christians who desire to learn from the prophetic word and to know for themselves what that word teaches, their object will be fully attained.  To this end may the Lord vouchsafe His blessing!



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THE IMAGE (DANIEL 2) [Pages 6-23]



The book of Daniel is that part of Scripture which especially treats of the power of the world during the time of its committal into the hands of the Gentiles, whilst the ancient people of God, the children of Israel, are under chastisement on account of their sin.


The first chapter opens with the statement that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up against Jerusalem, that he besieged the city, that “the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar, to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god”.  This may, I believe, be regarded as such an introduction to the book as shall guide our thoughts as to its subject; the nation of Israel had departed from God, and He now delivers Judah, that portion of them with whom He had dealt in the most protracted long-suffering, into the hands of Gentiles, to whom He now commits power over His chosen city, Jerusalem.  The distinctive object in the book of Daniel is to reveal, at the very period at which this committal has been made, what would be the course, character, and consummation of the power so bestowed.


We may divide this book into two portions - that part which is written in the Chaldee language, and that which is written in Hebrew.  While we see that the book has one general scope - namely, Jerusalem given by God for a time into the power of the Gentiles who bear rule - we may regard this in two ways; we may either look at Gentile power in the outline of its history, or we may look at those things relating to this power in their local connection with Jerusalem.  Now, the course, character, and crises of Gentile power are taken up in this book in the Chaldee language, while those things which are limited in their application to the Jews and Jerusalem are written in Hebrew.


There are very few portions of the Scripture which are written in Chaldee; there are some parts of Ezra (chap. 5: 8 to 6: 19, and 7: 12-27) so written, which bring before us the children of Israel as being under the power of the Gentiles; there are some parts of this book; and there one verse in Jeremiah (10: 11) which contains a message sent to the Gentiles.  This verse occurs just as the gods of the nations had been mentioned in contrast with the living God.


It is important that we should so bear in mind the inspiration of Scripture as to recognise that nothing respecting it can be looked on as accidental; there must be every circumstance a reason as to whatever God has written, and however He has written it, whether we possess sufficient spiritual intelligence or not to apprehend it.  Now, in such a case as the present we may be sure that God has not made this difference of language without a very definite object.  The Chaldee portion of Daniel commences at the fourth verse of the second chapter, and continues to the end of the seventh chapter: all the rest of the book is written in Hebrew.  In the Chaldee portion we see power in the hands of the Gentile presented before us to its character, course, and consummation; and in the portion of the book we see the same power localised in connection with the Jews and Jerusalem.  The Gentile power is in each part that which is prominently before us, although looked at in different aspects.


We are often instructed in Scripture by having the same set of facts presented before us in different aspects: each aspect may show but a few features of difference, but still enough will be found to evince that the variety is not without its value.  As an illustration of this we may take the parables of our Lord, in the thirteenth chapter of St Matthew.  He teaches there on one general subject, the effects which would result from the introduction of the gospel amongst men: He illustrates the results, both of good and of evil (from the counter working of Satan), until the day when the tares shall be separated from among the wheat - when the fishes, good and bad, shall receive their respective allotments.  Instead of one narrative, or one continuous parable, He uses many, and thus we receive instruction in its individuality as to its several parts, and also in its completeness as to the whole instruction given.


This mode of Scripture teaching, by the presentation of many pictures of the same truths, in order that their bearings and connections may be clearly and rightly apprehended, is especially found in the book of Daniel; in the first chapter of which we see Judah, because of sin, delivered into the hands of their enemies and carried into exile to Babylon.


Thus it is that the prophet is placed in the land of strangers: Daniel had not personally committed the sins which led to the captivity, but as part of the Israelitish nation it was his to share their lot.  He and his companions are brought into a place of particular connection with the king’s court, and this was an occasion of proving if their hearts were faithful to God or not.  Daniel refused the appointed portion of the king’s meat, of which he, as an Israelite, could not partake without defilement, and thus in the midst of Babylon was separate unto the Lord his God.  This was nothing in which he sought to bear any ostentatious testimony; in the then circumstances of his nation, rejected by God because of their sins, it was not a time for endeavouring to set forth before the Gentiles that Israel was God’s favoured and chosen people, to whom was confided the knowledge of God’s truth in the earth.  Each had now to stand in a great measure on his own individual responsibility before God.  And thus Daniel maintains a separation which was well-pleasing to God, so that in the midst of Nebuchadnezzar’s court, and whilst occupied in the service of Gentile kings, his heart was right with God and his actions were directed by a conscience duly exercised.  To most he might have seemed but as a faithful servant of the Babylonian king, while the eye of God could mark him as rejecting “the portion of the king’s meat”, as avoiding those things in which he could not obey God, thus truly owning allegiance and service to earthly sovereigns, but always with the limitation that God’s supreme authority should be upheld.


In the second chapter we read of the vision shown by God to the king of Babylon.  God appears to be meeting him in the thoughts and inquiries of his own heart.  Nebuchadnezzar had seen his own power rising to a great extent, and his own soul was in some measure bent on knowing what the issue of all this would be.  We see this from verse 29, “Thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter”.  The extent of his power, so different from that of any who had gone before him, seems to have led his heart to meditate upon the circumstances in which he was set, and the vision declared to him the course and crisis of the power so committed.  But although the vision was shown to him, yet he had to receive not only the interpretation, but even the vision itself again, through the instrumentality of the prophet.


In the vision of this chapter the moral character and acting of this power towards God are not stated (except indeed as one who knew the mind of God might gather it from the crisis), but for this we must look for further light in the subsequent visions of the book.


Here all is presented as set before the king according to his ability of apprehension, the external and visible things being shown as man might regard them.  The vision of Nebuchadnezzar was of a great image with the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, and the legs of iron; in the interpretation all these several parts are taken up, and the symbolic meaning of each is stated.  The four metals of which the image consisted represented four kingdoms which should successively bear rule in the earth.


To understand the Scriptures aright we have no occasion to go beyond the limit of the Scriptures themselves. The same passage of revealed truth which tells us of the authority of holy Scripture tells us also of its sufficiency: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17).  Thus nothing can be needed by the man of God, in order that he should be “thoroughly furnished”, beyond the inspired writings contained in the Bible.  We have then no necessity to go out of the Scripture itself in order to gain information as to those things of which we read in Scripture; we may find many things which are interesting as bearing upon Scripture, but still whatever God looks on as needful for the establishment of the souls of His people, and for their spiritual intelligence in His truth, is to be found within the limits of His Scripture.  History is not revelation; and we are nowhere commanded to search history to learn the truths found in God’s word; although it may be owned most freely that God’s word sheds a light upon the things which man has written as history, and that many lessons may be learned from seeing how different are the thoughts of God and of man about the same events.


We have no occasion whatever to go beyond the limits of Scripture to learn what the four kingdoms are which are thus mentioned in Daniel.


First.  It was said expressly to Nebuchadnezzar that the head of gold symbolised his kingdom (ver. 37, 38): “Thou, 0 king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory: and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all.  Thou art this head of gold.”  These last words fix the first kingdom incontestably to be that of Babylon, which had grown to its greatness under Nebuchadnezzar.


Now, as to the terms in which the extent of Nebuchadnezzar’s power is stated, of course we are not to understand that he actually held and exercised this rule over every part of the inhabited earth, but rather that, so far as God was concerned, all was given into his hand, so that he was not limited as to the power which he might obtain in whatever direction he might turn himself as conqueror; the only earthly bound to his empire was his own ambition.  This is just what we find also in Jer. 67: 5, 6: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts. ... I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.  And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.”  Of course Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing of all this when carrying on his conquests; he had gratified himself without being aware that he was thus the instrument in the hand of God.*


[* The extent of Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion was, however, very great, far greater than many have supposed. In the course of his conquests he must have become the wielder of most of the powers of the earth, as it then was.  We know something of the greatness which Nineveh and Egypt had possessed in previous ages: all this (as the Scripture shows) had now been rendered subordinate to Babylon.  We know how the merchandise of the earth was in the hands of Tyre; this, too, we see from Scripture, had become Nebuchadnezzar’s.  Before this time the Phoenician colonies had extended themselves widely, and these colonies owned a connection with Tyre (and, perhaps, a sort of dependence) in the offerings sent to the altar of the Tyrian Hercules (i.e. Baal). The Phoenician colonies had extended to almost every coast of the Mediterranean, and over these the conquest of Tyre must have given Nebuchadnezzar at least a certain superiority.  The early extent of the Phoenician colonies is exhibited in a map and accompanying memoir on the early diffusion of the Hebrew language through the Phoenician colonies in The Bible of Every Land.  Besides the places mentioned in the “Memoir” as those where Phoenician inscriptions had been found, Marseilles must now be added: the Phoenicians appear to have formed a mercantile settlement at that port, before the colony of Phocaeans.]


Second. He was told, “after thee shall rise another kingdom inferior to thee”.  To find out what kingdom was intended we have only to inquire what kingdom succeeded to that of Babylon; in 2 Chron. 36: 20 we read of Nebuchadnezzar, “them that had escaped from the sword, carried he away to Babylon, where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia”.  And indeed in this book of Daniel itself we find a plain intimation of what the second kingdom should be which should succeed that of Babylon; in chap. 5: 28 it is said, “Peres; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”  Although these were two nations, yet the Medo-Persian kingdom is regarded as being one, as we also find in chap. 8: 20.


Third.  In the vision the king had seen “his belly and his thighs of brass” (verse 32), and this is defined in the interpretation to be “another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth”.  In chap. 8 we learn (verse 21) what this kingdom was, to which dominion was given after that of the Medes and Persians – “the rough goat is the king of Grecia”; this symbolic goat had been previously spoken of as destroying the ram, which was used in that vision as the symbol of the Medo-Persian kingdom.  The commencement of chap. 11. tells us the same thing.


Fourth.  In the vision the image had been seen with “his legs of iron” (verse 33); in the interpretation we read, “the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things, and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise” (verse 40).  We shall not find the name of this fourth kingdom in the Old Testament, although we see here, and in other places, its character and description.  But we learn from the New Testament what this kingdom is; for we there find another bearing rule over the earth after that of Greece had passed away.  Thus in Luke 2 we read that there was a certain empire or kingdom which professed to bear rule over the whole inhabited earth at the time when our Lord was born, and in Luke 3 we find things so fully spoken of after the Roman arrangement and order that the ministry of our Lord’s forerunner is dated “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea”; thus we see that the empire of the Caesars had then begun, and that the governor sent by that empire exercised authority for it in the land of the Jews.  The same thing is also shown by the reply of our Lord to the question which was put to Him about the tribute-money, and also by the frequent mention made of Rome and Roman power in the book of the Acts.


Thus we may see that it is wholly needless to go to any other source than that of the Revelation of God in order to discover what these four successive kingdoms are - the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, Roman.


It must be obvious to the Christian student of Scripture how much more satisfactory it is thus to learn the details of facts from the word of God than from the records of history; the latter may be true, but the former commands our faith, and leaves us with a confidence of certainty which we never can have with regard to facts derived from other sources.  It would have been indeed strange if it had been necessary for us to draw from the doubtful statements of profane historians in order to understand prophecy; and we must also remember how many would find it impossible to do this.


The metals which symbolise these kingdoms become less and less pure.  A certain process of deterioration appears to be marked out as to power, while passing from one kingdom to another.*


[* It may be worthy of observation that the metals in the image lessen in their specific gravity as they go downwards; iron is not so heavy as brass, and thus the weight is so arranged as to exhibit the reverse of stability, even before we reach the mixture of clay and iron.]


When Nebuchadnezzar received the committal from God it was simply power from Himself, not derived from man, not dependent on the will of others, but put by God into his hand and exercised in responsibility to Him alone, as the only ruler of princes.  Nebuchadnezzar might rightly bear, as far as man was concerned, the name of autocrat: his will was law.  Now, we can see in part from Scripture how power deteriorated in its character in the other kingdoms.  The kingdom of Persia was said to be “inferior” to that of Nebuchadnezzar, and we see that this was the case as to the power of its kings.  In chapter 6 of this book we find Darius unable to deliver Daniel from the hands of the princes who sought to cast him into the lions’ den; not so had Nebuchadnezzar ruled – “all people, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him; whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive(5: 19).  In the case, too, of Ahasuerus in the book of Esther, the king and the princes act together, and the king could not undo what they had jointly decreed about queen Vashti.  In Ezra 7: 14 we find authority given to that servant of God from the king and his seven counsellors.  All this shows us not a king acting in the mere right of his royal prerogative, but a king in a certain sense controlled by counsellors, without whose advice and consent he could not act.


In the continual hindrances thrown in the way of the Jews after their return from Babylon, when they attempted to carry out the edicts of the Persian kings in their favour, we see manifest proof how the governors, and others in authority under the Persian kings, could oppose the execution of the pleasure of the sovereign.


We do not read much in Scripture as to the Grecian power, and therefore details as to the manner of the      deterioration are not to be pressed; only the fact of such deterioration of power being intimated should be noticed.


In one respect the Scripture appears to indicate the mode of this deterioration, when it tells us of the divisions of the third kingdom, so that it continued in a fragmentary and not a united form.  Babylon and Persia stood as kingdoms and fell as kingdoms; the empire of Alexander continued in broken parts, and these parts were destroyed one by one.


The fourth kingdom is said to be “as strong as iron”.  As a metal this is in many respects inferior to brass, although possessed of much more strength for certain purposes, and capable of far more extensive application. Strength and force are spoken of, but still apparently deterioration.


It may also be noticed that the deterioration of the fourth kingdom is especially shown in its last state.


Each of the four kingdoms appears as succeeding that which had gone before, not as annihilating it, but as incorporating it with itself - each making, as it were, the dominion of the metal which had gone before a part of itself, just so do we read in chap. 5: 28 of the manner in which the kingdom of the Medes and Persians succeeded to that of Babylon: “Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians”; the kingdom not being, as it were, destroyed, but transferred - that is, the cities and nations were to continue in existence, while the glory which had belonged to them passed into the hand of other powers.  Babylon stands as the head of the image, and this headship existing throughout the whole gives the image its identity.  The four powers succeeded one another as the actual holders of the dominion, and as they thus came into view, so is their place seen successively in the image.


Babylon may be defined as having been power in the form of absolute autocracy; Persia, power in the hands of the king, while nobility of person and descent were everything - the nobles were the king’s equals in rank though not in office.  In Greece there was the aristocracy not of birth but of supposed excellence as evinced by the power of the mind of man, and individual influence.  In Rome, power had a still lower character, for the emperor was entirely dependent upon, popular choice, the soldiers commonly bestowing the imperial dignity upon a successful general - in fact, the very name of “emperor” (Im-perator) arose from any commander having been so saluted by his soldiers after a victory if they were satisfied with his conduct; if they did not so salute him, then he could not receive the public honours of a triumph.*  Thus we see that in the Roman Empire power actually was derived from the people, and it may also be worthy of observation that the emperors succeeded one another rather in the way of popular military election than in that of hereditary rule.


[* The senate often made a show of appointing the emperor, but their decree was, in general, simply a needful compliance on their part. So, too, in the case of Vespasian, although the people of Rome professed to bestow on him the imperial power (as recorded in the still existing bronze tablets), yet, in fact, they had no real power, for Vespasian already had the military rule in his own hands.]


The committal of power in all the fullness spoken of in verses 37, 38 appears to belong to Nebuchadnezzar personally, or at all events to have been confined to the kingdom of Babylon.


In verse 40 we have rather the character of the Roman power than its territorial extent; this latter subject does not appear to belong to the scope of the present vision, which we have to regard especially as speaking of these kingdoms in their succession from Babylon, and the crisis to which they tend.


The “potter’s clay” (verse 41) means, I believe, simply “earthenware” - that which is hard but yet brittle; softness does not seem to be at all the thing pointed out.  Now, an image which stood partly upon feet of earthenware would be very stable so long as there was nothing but direct pressure brought to bear upon these feet, while a blow falling upon them would break them to pieces, and that only the more thoroughly from the fact of iron being intermixed with the earthenware; this I believe to be the thought here presented to us.


We see from verse 42 that the part of the feet thus formed of iron and clay intermixed was the toes; and the interpretation which is given is, “the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken” (or, rather, “brittle”).  In verse 43 the explanation is continued, “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men”; thus there will be power (in its deteriorated form, iron) mixed up with that which is wholly of man, and which, when put to the proof, is found to be only weakness itself.


Thus we see this fourth empire especially brought before us at a time when in a divided condition, and when thus debased.  The number of the toes of the feet appears to imply a tenfold division: this may be taken as a hint given to us here, although the more specific statement of the fact is not told us till farther on in this book. This kingdom is then divided into parts, which we shall see from other portions of the Scripture (especially chap. 7) to be exactly ten.  Power in the hands of the people is seen, having no internal stability, although something is still left of the strength of the iron.


Verse 44.  Here we see that when the image is fully developed, even to the toes of the feet, then destruction falls on it.  In the vision it had been stated (verse 35) that all the materials of the image became, when smitten, “like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them”.  This expression may give us some intimation of the moral character of these kingdoms before God, such as we do not find anywhere else in the chapter; just as we read in the first Psalm, “The ungodly ... are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”


The expression in verse 44, “in the days of these kings”,  is worthy of attention, for it brings before our minds more than had been expressly stated, either in the vision or in the interpretation; namely, that the kingdom which had last borne rule has been divided, and that the toes of the feet do actually symbolise such divided parts.  These kings” cannot mean the four successional monarchies, because in that case the plural number could not be used seeing that they do not co-exist as the holders of power.  The fourth kingdom is divided into parts (which other Scriptures show to be exactly ten), and “in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed”.


This kingdom is in its character utterly unlike the four which had preceded it; it has nothing springing from Babylonian headship, which may be transferred, and become deteriorated in the hands of men, but it stands in direct contrast to all that has been.


It is important to observe very distinctly what is the crisis of the image: “a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.  Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the mage became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (ver. 34, 35).


Now, what does the stone so falling upon the feet of the image symbolise?  It has been sometimes thought that it alludes to grace, or to the spread of the gospel; but surely if the very words of the Scripture be followed, we shall see that destroying judgment on Gentile power is here spoken of, and not any gradual diffusion of the knowledge of grace.  The image is standing on its feet, part of iron and part of earthenware; the stone then falls from above upon these feet, and the whole image is destroyed as it were with one crash.


Now, our Lord speaks of Himself as the stone”, and makes reference, or direct citation of, several passages in the Old Testament in which he had been so designated.  Thus in Matt. 21 He says, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? ... And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (ver. 42, 44).  Our Lord here cites from Psalm 118, and alludes to the mention made in Isaiah 8 to the stone on which Israel has stumbled and been broken; and he likewise clearly refers to the destroying judgment which takes place when the stone, now exalted at the head of the corner, falls thus upon the fabric of Gentile power – “it will grind him to powder”.


The stonemust be taken as a definite appellation of our Lord.  We see this from Psalm 118: 22, Isaiah 8: 14 and 28: 16, Acts 4: 11, and 1 Peter 2: 4, 6, in all of which Christ is spoken of under this name.  Now, this cannot refer to Him as born into the world, because the fourth kingdom was not then in its divided condition - no toes were then in existence.  This falling on the feet of the image could not, therefore, have anything to do with our Lord when He was upon earth.  Equally impossible is it for this to symbolise the spread of the gospel; for, so far from Christians being put in the place of destroying those that bear earthly rule, they are taught submission to the powers that be as ordained of God, and their place is to suffer, if needs be, but not to rebel.


Thus, it is clear that the Lord Jesus is here referred to as coming again - in the day when He shall take to Himself his great power and shall reign - when He shall be revealed “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1: 8).


It might occur as a difficulty that the Roman empire does not exist as one united body; and hence it might be thought that the stone falling on the image must have been some past event: but observe, the Roman empire is presented in its divided condition.  It is true that these divisions commenced about 1,400 years ago, but under the divided parts of the Roman empire we still live,* and its last condition is that in which the stone of destruction falls upon it - a condition in which as yet it has never been.


[* Not only did the monarchies of Western Europe spring up, as each holding a portion of Roman sovereignty, but also in their continued administration this fact has been habitually recognised.  Each has regarded as holding a portion of Roman imperium.  See Note on the Roman Empire and its Divisions, after Remarks on the Four Beasts, chap. 7.]


Now, we may regard “the stone” in three different ways, for we find it in Scripture so spoken of, in connection with Israel, with the Church, and with the Gentile powers.  In Isaiah 8: 14, 15 we read that the Lord of Hosts would become “a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken and snared and taken.”  We see from the words of our Lord already cited from Matt. 21, and from what Peter says, Acts 4: 11, how Judah stumbled upon Christ according to the words of the Prophecy.  We see also from 1 Peter 2: 7, 8 how Israel in their dispersions did also stumble upon Christ as preached unto them – “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed”.  Thus both the houses of Israel have fallen upon this stone, and they are broken, not destroyed - cast off for a time though still “beloved for the fathers’ sakes.”  How different is the connection of the Church with this stone!  To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood”, etc.  Thus could the Apostle Peter address those who by nation belonged to Israel, who through grace had trusted in the blood of the Lamb, without blemish and without spot.  And as the Church consists of “us whom he bath called, not of the Jews only but also of the Gentiles”, this blessing is true of the whole family of faith - we are built upon this “stone”, this tried foundation; we are thus identified with it, and not with those who have fallen upon it, nor yet with those upon whom it shall fall.


I have already spoken of the relation of this stone to Gentile power, but I would remark further, that the utter distinctness of this power from that which stands in grace is most vividly presented to us in the crisis of this power.  The Church is built upon the stone; the image is destroyed by the stone falling upon it.  We ought carefully to note the distinctions which God makes in His word, and no line of demarcation which He has laid down is more plain than that which exists between the world and its power on the one hand and the Church on the other.  How wondrously does it show the power of Satan in confusing the mind as to things that differ, that it should have been supposed to be possible for the Church rightly to rest upon the power of this world upon that which the Lord Jesus is going thus to judge!


Let the saints rightly value their place as identified with Christ, as resting upon Him, and then they will see aright how to act as to any connection with the world and its power.  A saint who identified himself with the image would be, as it were, so far seeking to put himself in the place of that which will receive destroying judgement.  It is quite true that God will keep from final condemnation every soul that He has quickened by the Spirit to believe in Christ; but it would evince a hardihood of mind which seems scarcely compatible with grace for any one deliberately to say, “God will keep me, and so I may put myself in the place where judgment will fall.”  It is for us to have nothing to do with that upon which the judgment of God will fall, but to realise our union with Him who will execute the judgment, and in whose coming kingdom his people will share.


The second chapter of Daniel may be looked on as the alphabet of the prophetic statements contained in the book; and it is well for the mind to be grounded in the truths contained in this portion of the book, before other parts of it are searched into.  We have here the four successive empires, the last of these in a divided and deteriorated condition and then, in contrast to the whole that had preceded, a kingdom, which shall last for ever, set up by the God of heaven - the coming of the Lord Jesus in destroying judgment being the turning point which changes the whole scene; all that had failed in the hand of man then passing away, and that which is kept in the Lord’s own hand being then introduced.


If we refer to the 8th Psalm, we shall see the extent of Christ’s dominion spoken of in terms very similar to those which in this chapter had been used to describe the power committed to Nebuchadnezzar: we thus see how the power of the earth, entrusted to him, and which failed in his hand, is taken up by Christ, as One who really is able to hold and to exercise aright this dominion in all its wide extent.



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THE GREAT TREE (DANIEL 4) [Pages 24-29]



The Vision in this chapter does not particularly connect itself with the object proposed in these “Remarks”, which was to speak of those portions of Daniel which are still, in a great measure, future; it is, however, one of much interest, for here we find, in the past accomplishment of a vision, an earnest of the exact and precise fulfilment which all these visions must necessarily receive.


The form of this chapter is remarkable; it is a decree proceeding from Nebuchadnezzar himself, after those things had passed over him which God foretold to him in vision; when he was forced to confess “the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought towards me.  How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation” (ver. 2, 3).  Thus did the king, at length, acknowledge the hand and power of God.  After the vision in the second chapter had been declared to him by Daniel, he looked to the prophet as though he were the source of the communication of divine truth to him: “then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him” (2: 46); he then acknowledged God as the revealer of secrets, although it is evident that his heart was in no way humbled before Him.


And thus, in the next chapter, so far from honouring the living and true God, the king set up his golden image in the plain of Dura, commanding that all should worship the idol; as if he, who was himself the receiver of power from God, could himself possess authority to decree anything as to who should or should not be the object of religious worship.  The miraculous deliverance of those who refused to obey the king’s command to commit idolatry leads to an acknowledgment, on his part, of the God whose power had thus shown itself; so that he made an edict that no one should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, on pain of death.


But still his heart was lifted up in pride; he continued to trust in his own power; and this fourth chapter is his own remarkable declaration how God had dealt with him to humble his haughty spirit.


After acknowledging the power of God, he goes on to say, “I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace; I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.”  He then describes (ver. 6, 9) how he sought in vain, from the wise men of Babylon, to learn the meaning of the vision, until Daniel came in before him.  To the prophet the king thus detailed his vision: “Thus were the visions of my head in my bed: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.  The tree grew and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.  The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it” (ver. 10-12).  Such, then, was the tree as seen in its greatness; but the sentence of God followed: “I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven.  He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit, let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches. Nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field: and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth.”  The next verse shows that even the dream intimated that the tree symbolised a person: Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him, and let seven times pass over him.  This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand of the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”


Having thus narrated the dream, the king sought the interpretation from the prophet.  Daniel shows us that the communication of truth from God, or a place of special service to Him, does not at all interfere with the full action of right human feelings.  He saw that the vision foretold a solemn chastisement from God which should fall upon Nebuchadnezzar, and therefore he felt deeply his own position as being thus the communicator of evil tidings.  Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.  The king spake and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.”  He then, after describing the tree in all its greatness, adds: “It is thou, 0 king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.” He then applies the Judgment on the tree to the king: “They shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”  But still the king was told that his kingdom should be sure unto him, after he knew that the heavens do rule.  Daniel’s feeling towards the king did not allow him to rest with merely delivering the prophecy of chastening; he exhorts the king as having a true and earnest desire for his welfare: “Wherefore, 0 king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.”


A year passed on: the king’s heart was not humbled; he still looked on his power and might as his own, and did not confess that rule and authority are from above, and not from beneath.  He was walking in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon, and his haughty utterance was, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”  According to the thoughts of man this was only natural: it was Nebuchadnezzar who had made Babylon what it was in its greatness and vastness, not merely politically, but also as to the actual, visible, edifices.*  At once there came to him a voice from heaven declaring the immediate accomplishment of the prediction, which was fulfilled the same hour.


[* It was reserved to our day to bring out to light an abiding record of the extent of the works of Nebuchadnezzar: the inscription in the arrow-headed character, found on the bricks in every part of the plain of Babylon, is “Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabopolassar”.  Turned to so many new uses, they still speak of the establisher of Babylon’s greatness.]


The appointed seven years were at length accomplished in the king’s humiliation, and then (he says), “At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me; and I blessed the most High; and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever”, etc. (ver. 34).  And then, according to the word of the Lord by Daniel, his kingdom was restored to him, and “excellent majesty was added to him.”  He whose earthly power had been so great had now learned to “praise, and extol, and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride, he is able to abase”.


This is an instructive lesson of the exactitude with which prophecy is accomplished: it may teach us how we should expect the fulfilment of what is yet future.  These things took place under the head of the first of the four great monarchies, and thus they might have been regarded as a warning to those possessed of the power of the earth, that they might learn who gives them their power, and who it is that ruleth among the children of men.


How little this was heeded is shown us in the next chapter, where Belshazzar, unmindful of what he had known (chap. 5: 22) of the actings of God, went on in a course of un-humbled blasphemy.  The neglected warning made the condemnation all the greater. The kingdom of Belshazzar was numbered and finished; he was weighed in the balances and found wanting; to him there was no ulterior promise of restoration, for he had sinned wilfully after having had the lesson of God’s dealing set before him.


Thus has God, from the beginning, shown us what the result is of power in the hands of the Gentile monarchs: the Giver of authority has been continually forgotten; it has been regarded as something not received, or else it has been attributed to wrong sources.


In the sixth chapter of Daniel we find one remarkable exemplification of what man may do when possessed of authority: Darius was led by the craft of the presidents and princes to decree that no petition should be asked for thirty days of any God or man save of himself only.  He seems to have thus unwittingly put himself in the place of God, and thus became an aider of the evil design formed against Daniel - a design which, by the miraculous interposition of God, issued in the destruction of those that formed it.


All the results set before us in this book show that power will never be held as from God, and for God, until Christ takes it into his own hand.  God dealt with the first head of Gentile power for the instruction of those who should come after (“to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men”); but the result has only been farther and yet farther estrangement from God, until this shall be fully exhibited in the last head of Gentile power.



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THE FOUR BEASTS (DANIEL 7) [Pages 30-50]



This chapter contains a prophetic vision, and its interpretation given to the prophet, in which the objects are presented not merely according to their external aspect (as had been the case in the second chapter, in the vision seen by the king), but according to the mind of God concerning them.


In this vision we not only have again four successive kingdoms upon earth, and an everlasting kingdom set up by God on the destruction of the last of these, but we find also distinct details as to moral features, as regards God and those who belong to Him.


This vision was seen in the first year of King Belshazzar, when the power of Babylon, which had risen to its height under Nebuchadnezzar, was about to pass away, the warnings given by God to that king having been wholly disregarded by his successor.


In speaking of the origin of these four kingdoms we read (verse 2.) of “the great sea” as the scene from which the four symbolic beasts arise; this is not, I believe, an expression which we should overlook, for the “great sea” is always used in every other passage of Scripture in which the phrase occurs as meaning distinctively the Mediterranean Sea.  This, I believe, presents that sea before us as the centre territorially of the scene of this vision.


Four beasts arise out of this sea (verse 3), and these are (verse 17) interpreted to be “four kings which shall arise out of the earth”.  From the words of verse 23, “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth”, it is clear that the words “king” and “kingdom” are used, in passages of this kind, almost in an interchangeable sense - a kingdom is sometimes looked at as headed up in its sovereign, whose name is used; at other times the name of the kingdom is used in speaking of the power, designs, etc., of the sovereign.  This must be borne in mind just as much in reading prophetic narrations as in the common language of life.


We may thus, interchangeably, speak of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, or of those of Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander, and Augustus.


The distinct scriptural proof of what these four kingdoms thus succeeding each other must be has been given in Remarks on the Great Image, chap. 2, pp. 12. 15: it is needless to repeat it here; but it may not be amiss to add that the four individuals regarded by God as the heads of these several monarchies are all of them definitely brought before us in Scripture, either in historical account or else in distinct prophecy as to their persons, or both.  Of the four personal heads, Alexander alone is not a subject of Scripture history, as well as of prophecy.


Now while I believe it to be most important for us to remember that, for the real spiritual understanding of the word of God, and for its use as bearing on our consciences, we need no knowledge but that which the Spirit has given us in the word, yet we may often find truths intimated in the prophetic Scripture, which throw much light upon what we learn as facts from other sources.  This is a very different thing from using history in a manner for which God has given us no warrant, as though the world could be illuminated by any such doubtful, defective, and glimmering light of man’s kindling.


Now, in looking at “the great sea” as the territorial scene of the vision, we must also remember that the time to which the visions in Daniel belong is that of Gentile power ruling over Jerusalem and the Jews, and also that the powers are defined (verse 17) to be monarchies; we thus find that each of these beasts symbolises a monarchy bordering on the Mediterranean and having Jerusalem under its dominion.  Now, in point of fact, we find that this was the case with regard to these powers; each stood as symbolised by a beast, and it superseded the one that had gone before it, when these three particulars were true of it, and not before.


Babylon had existed as a monarchy originally under Nimrod, and again afterwards in the days of Hezekiah, but it did not border on the Mediterranean, nor bear rule over Jerusalem. until the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and then both of these things took place simultaneously; its empire extended along the eastern coasts of that sea.


Persia had been a monarchy previously, but so soon as the empire of Cyrus reached the Mediterranean, the empire of Babylon passed into his hands, and Jerusalem became part of his dominions; this empire encircled more of the Mediterranean, from the Hellespont to Cyrene.


Greece, although locally situated on the Mediterranean Sea, had not been a monarchy previous to the time of Alexander, but so soon as this took place the power of Persia passed away before it, and Jerusalem became a part of the new empire.  The Grecian monarchy surrounded yet more of the Mediterranean; for it added all the coasts of Greece to that part which had been held by Persia.


Rome, too, was locally a Mediterranean power, but not a monarchy.  Three things took place, however, at the same time: the last of the four parts of Alexander’s empire (symbolised; even in this vision, by the four heads of the third beast) passed into the hand of the Romans, Jerusalem became a mere dependency, and Rome became a monarchy under Augustus - this fourth empire surrounding all the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.


This, as it appears to me, is what we have presented before us in the territorial allotment of the sphere of this vision.


The brief interpretation of the vision is given in verses 17, 18: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth: but the saints of the most high [places] shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”  This gives us the general outline of the truths here taught us - the succession of the monarchies, and a kingdom which should arise in contrast to the earthly empires.


The first of these four kingdoms is here symbolised by a lion (verse 4) with eagles’ wings: the prophet beheld it until the wings were plucked - until (I suppose) its ability for widespread conquest had passed away; it was made to stand on its feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given unto it.  These words seem to me an intimation of what had taken place with regard to Nebuchadnezzar, who was taught by the remarkable discipline of God that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.


The second monarchy was symbolised by a bear: this beast made for itself “one dominion” (for so I believe we should render the expression which stands in our version “one side”).  The Medes were an ancient people, and the Persians were a comparatively modern tribe; neither of these could be looked on as likely to overturn the power of Babylon; but by the expression “one dominion” there seems to be a hint of the second kingdom being a united power, so that the one dominion should be a combination, and thus it stands in contrast to the third and fourth monarchies which were at first united and afterwards were divided.  The three ribs seen in the mouth of the bear seem to indicate the conquests which it was devouring, according to what was said to it, “Arise, devour much flesh.”


The four-headed winged leopard, which symbolised the third kingdom, seems to indicate the rapidity of the conquests of that power, and the fourfold division which was its after condition.


But it is impossible to read this vision without seeing that the fourth kingdom is the principal topic brought before us, and that the other three simply appear as introductory.  We see from verse 19 that this was the impression made upon Daniel’s mind by that which was exhibited to him in symbol.  But not only was the fourth beast the most conspicuous object, but it was while in a certain condition that the details concerning it are given, we look in fact rather at the crisis than the course of its history.  The description of the beast is given in verse 7: “After this I saw in the night visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it”; this is the general description, and then there is added, “and it had ten horns,” and then another horn is spoken of as springing up amongst the former ten. Now, it is clear that it is the actings of the beast when possessed of this horn, or rather perhaps of this horn as concentrating the power of the beast, with which in this vision we have to do.


In the statement which was made to Daniel we find a very distinct explanation of these things: it was said to him (verse 23), “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and break it in pieces: and the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.”  Thus we see that the horns symbolise what this kingdom would become at a particular point of time, namely, when that empire, which was once united as a monarchy under the power of the Caesars, should be divided into ten kingdoms.  An intimation of this had been given in the number of the toes of the image in chap. 2, and the same thing is found both in symbol and in direct statement in the book of Revelation (see, for instance, chap. 13: 1, and 17: 12).


This, then, must be the state of the Roman earth at the time when another king, whose actings are here detailed, arises in the midst of the other kings.


This king is at first symbolised by “a little horn”: this is not his designation when acting in blasphemy and persecution, for then the symbolic horn had become very great, “his look was more stout than his fellows”; but at first he rises like “a little horn” in the midst of the other horns, and then so increases in power as far to surpass them all.


The rise of this last horn was thus shown in the symbol: “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (verse 8).  This is explained, in verse 24, to be another king rising after the first ten, “and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings”: and then his persecution and blasphemy are mentioned.


As spoken of at first, we meet with nothing but his blasphemy against God, and then (verse 11) judgment from God falling upon the beast because of this blasphemy; but when Daniel is making inquiry as to what all this might mean, some further particulars are brought before us: “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came [as had been shown in the previous vision, ver. 9], and judgment was given to the saints of the most high [places]; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (verses 21, 22).  This is explained (verse 25), “And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most high [places], and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times and the dividing of time.”


Thus, we see this king using his power in a twofold form of opposition to God - in open and direct blasphemy against Him, and in the persecution of his saints.  We also find that this opposition continues to the end of his reign, and that this is consummated by the direct judgment of God.


While the scene presented on earth is the beast energised by this last horn, wearing out the saints and blaspheming the name of God, we have also the veil so withdrawn as to unfold to us what at the same time takes place in heaven.  In verses 9 and 10 we have this displayed to us; a court of judicature is set in heaven, where God judges, and, in consequence of His judgment, the sentence which is pronounced above, unseen by any eye save that of faith, is executed upon the earth.  I beheld till the thrones were cast down [or rather were set], and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire; ... the judgment was set, and the books were opened”; and then the effect on earth of the judgment in heaven is thus spoken of.  I beheld then because a cloud received him out of their sight”: to instance one of these places:- when our Lord stood before the high priest, He said, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26: 64).  Now, in the expression “sitting on the right hand of power” He clearly referred to Psalm 110: 1 (see also Psalm 80: 17), but in speaking of the clouds of heaven He as manifestly alluded to this place in Daniel: the one passage of the Old Testament brings before us the place into which He, who has thus been rejected by men, is received by God; the other brings before us the glory which shall be manifested in His coming and taking the rule into His own hands.


But there is this difference between the mention made of “the clouds of heaven” in Daniel from that in the New Testament, that here we have not the coming forth of Christ spoken of, but that which immediately precedes it; I say advisedly immediately precedes, because He sits at the right hand of Jehovah until His enemies are made His footstool, and when God has accomplished that, then this kingdom is given in actual investiture to the Son, and He comes forth to crush His so prepared footstool beneath his feet.


But though this scene, in which the clouds of heaven are mentioned, is not identical with the actual coming forth of Christ, yet even this passage might be taken as intimating the very close connection between the two things  - for the court of judicature set in heaven is, so to speak, the intermediate point between His seat in glory, where He now is, and the manifestation of His person, when “every eye shall see him”; He has with Him the same adjuncts that He will have when He returns to this earth.


We have then as the parties before us in the crisis of this chapter‑


Upon earth: 1. The last horn of the fourth beast, persecuting the saints and blaspheming God.


2. The beast itself with ten horns (three plucked up before the last horn), so connected with the horn of blasphemy that it is involved in the judgment on that horn and is in several important senses responsible for its acts.


3. The saints worn out and warred against by the horn of blasphemy.


In heaven: 1. The Ancient of Days taking the place of judicature and condemning the fourth beast because of the words spoken by the horn.


2. The Son of Man brought before Him with adjuncts of heavenly glory, and receiving above a kingdom which He will exercise in government upon earth.


If we learn simply from Scripture, I think that there can be no question as to who or what the fourth beast symbolises - that has been considered already - but with regard to the horn of blasphemy, it is very important for us distinctly to see from the word of God whether this be a power past, present, or future.  One thing is clear, that his dominion and actings in blasphemy and persecution continue up to the coming of the Lord, because it is then the saints take the kingdom and not before, and till they take the kingdom he wears them out.

Thus, if he be a power whose rise is past, he must also be present, and some of his actings must be future.  And, further, if his wearing out of the saints has begun, it must also be now going on and must still continue until the judgment of verse 10.  It might also be left to the consciences of Christians to say whether they are now at this time enduring active persecutions of this kind, or  whether they are in most places permitted to dwell in external rest and tranquillity.


We cannot, then, possibly speak of this horn of blasphemy as already past; just as manifest is it that his dominion is entirely future.  The considerations just stated appear to prove this point.


But, further, it is said (verse 25), “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High [places], and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times and the dividing of time.”  Here then we have a chronological statement, to which we shall do well to take heed.  It is true that this is a period reckoned backward, and thus we can form no calculation of our own upon it as to times or seasons, but for the purpose for which God has revealed it, it is so stated as fully to meet the object; it is a period which runs on to the coming of the Lord Jesus, and must be reckoned backward from that time.  This then gives the limit of the distinct actings of this horn in blasphemy and persecution; it commences at the beginning of the “time, times, and a half”, and runs on to the coming of Christ without any intermission.


This period has been commonly taken (and I have no doubt rightly so) as signifying three years and a half. Now, we know that it must mean a period exactly defined, and not about such or such a time; for had it been merely an indefinite statement, the mention of “half a time” would be useless.  It is impossible to be definite and indefinite at one and the same time.  The word rendered “time” is that which denotes either a stated period or else a set feast, or else an idea blended, as it were, of the two, namely, the interval from one of the great set feasts to its recurrence, i.e. a year; thus then we find a time, i.e. one year; times (the smallest plural, as the statement is definite), two years, and half a year, i.e. three years and a half.


The word “time” is similarly used in chap. 4, where it was foretold to Nebuchadnezzar that he should be driven from men until “seven times should pass over him, i.e. seven years; also in Lev. 23, where the feasts are mentioned, the Hebrew word which corresponds to the Chaldee word here used (and which itself is found in chap. 12: 7) is employed in the sense of denoting a set feast, or the period from one recurrence to another.


Thus then the period at which the especial blasphemy and persecutions of this horn begin is three years and a half before the coming of the Lord Jesus - a short time, during which evil will be allowed greatly to prevail, but then in consequence of its full development the judgment of God will come in.


This then is briefly his history as given in this vision.  The Roman earth is found divided into ten kingdoms: another king arises who destroys three of the former kings: for three years and a half he acts in open defiance of God, and in persecution of his saints: the whole Roman earth is so connected with his deeds as to share in the judgment which comes from the hand of God upon him, and this occurs at the very time when the kingdom is given into the hand of the Son of Man, and when the saints take it with Him.


But many may object, Is not the horn here spoken of the Papacy?  Does not history warrant us in charging these blasphemies and persecutions upon that power?


To this I reply, No appeal to history can be of any avail in opposition to direct testimony in the word of God. Thus, unless this power be wearing out the saints continuously up to the coming of the Lord, the chief point in supposed resemblance is lost.  And even further, if any one chooses openly and fairly to appeal to history, he will find discrepancies at every point - for instance, the tenfold division of the Roman earth of which mention is here made has never yet taken place, and therefore, of course, the horn which was to arise after the others has not yet come into existence.  It is quite true that many have given lists of kingdoms which arose in the fifth and sixth centuries out of the broken parts of the Roman empire, but these have all been sought merely in the west, as though the eastern half were not to be considered, when in fact the existence of the eastern empire was protracted for a thousand years after that period.*  And further, whatever lists have been made out of ten kingdoms, they have all varied widely both as to the kingdoms themselves and also as to which were the three which the Papacy overcame.  It has also been entirely forgotten that the Papacy existed before the breaking up of even the western empire, instead of being a horn springing up after the other ten.


[* Till May 29, 1453, when the Turks took Constantinople and the last Constantine fell.]


But it has been said that this horn must be a power existing through a long period of time, and not a single king; because it is alleged that in prophetic language a day is used as a symbol of a year, and therefore a year as that of three hundred and sixty days (twelve months of thirty days each), and thus the whole time of the persecution of this horn is twelve hundred and sixty years.  This question is one into which, in its full statement, I cannot enter in this place, but the reader will find it examined elsewhere more fully.* I will only here remark, that if this canon of interpretation were sound the period of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness (“seven times”) would be still continuing; and not only should we be left in utter uncertainty in every prophecy in which time was mentioned, but in some we should even find inextricable incongruities and contradictions. What, for instance, could we make of the three days during which our Lord was to lie in the grave?  But the comparison of the “seven times” which should pass over Nebuchadnezzar is sufficient in this place: the dominion of this horn is half of that time, both are prophetic statements, and thus the allegation is utterly groundless, that we have here a period predicted or 1,260 years.  The accomplished prediction of chap. 4 is authority to us for understanding the expressions of chap. 7.  Let us take it simply as being what it states - three years and a half, a short period, immediately followed by the coming of the Lord Himself.


[* See Note on the Year-day System, after Remarks on The Seventy Heptads (Daniel 9).]


The same considerations which show the non-applicability of this horn to the Papacy will equally evince that it cannot be any other power whatever which has as yet come into existence; we have yet to see the tenfold division of the Roman earth before it can arise.


If we look on corrupted Christianity as the worst form of evil, we should fail greatly in estimating aright those things of which the Spirit teaches us in the word.  Corrupt Christianity - the introduction of other things as the ground of peace with God besides faith in the one sacrifice of Christ once offered, the admixture of idolatry with the worship of God, even as the mixed multitude did in the cities of Samaria (2 Kings 17) - these are indeed abominations; but our eyes are directed to see “greater abominations than these”.  The consequence of the non-reception of the truth will be the solemn act of God in sending upon men “strong delusion”, so that they will receive, own, and honour, in the place of God, that person “whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders”.  God will act in this manner to prepare the foes of Christ to be crushed by His feet (see Psalm 92: 7).  Corrupt Christianity may obscure every fundamental truth of God’s revelation, but it would cease to be Christianity at all (whether in substance, form, or name) if the God whom we own should be denied and counselledly rejected, both in heart and also in word - and yet this will be done.  He will “deny the Father and the Son”.


Let then our thoughts of the evil of corrupt Christianity be what they may, let us form a just estimate of its awfulness from its contrast to that which God reveals as His truth - here is something which goes beyond it: it is true that it issues out of it, but still it is not to be measured by its precursors.  If then we apply these solemn truths to things past or present, we lose the true purpose for which God has revealed them, and blunt (so to speak) the edge of His truth.


There is one point in the vision and interpretation which must not be overlooked: in the vision (ver. 13, 14) the Son of Man takes the kingdom; in the interpretation (verse 18) it is said, “the saints of the most high [places] take the kingdom”.  How simply does the light of New Testament truth explain to us that which at first sight might seem a contrast instead of a connection!  This is one of the passages of the Old Testament Scripture which may be taken as an intimation of that union which was afterwards to be declared as existing between Christ and His people - the union which was brought out in His death and resurrection.  That which had been said of Him in the vision is said of them in the interpretation.


In verse 27 it is said that the kingdom, etc., “under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high [places]”.  This appears to me to be a different statement, informing us that a certain kingdom, not co-extensive with that of the Son of Man, will be given to a certain nation.  Who then can this nation be? Now, it is clear from many Scriptures that Israel will, after they are set in grace, and their blindness and consequent rejection are ended, be the head of the nations, and bear rule over the earth.  In chap. 8: 24 we find the expression “the mighty and the holy people”, or, more literally, “people of the holy ones”, or “people of the saints”, this Hebrew phrase answering pretty accurately to the Chaldee used in the passage before us.  Now, as in chap. 8, the Jews are clearly the nation denoted, so do I consider that they are intended here.  But it may be asked, Why are they so called in this place? and why are the saints of the most high [places] thus connected with them?  To give a complete answer to these inquiries in all their branches would involve the consideration of very many portions of Scripture; reference to a few passages may suffice to guide the mind aright.


In Rom. 9: 24 we read concerning the saints of God, “us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles”.  In Rom. 11: 24 we read of “their own olive tree” (Israel’s) as being that into which Gentile believers are grafted.  Now, I believe that if we would give a Scriptural definition of the Church of God, we should say that they are Abraham’s seed: if we would define the Church as it now exists upon this earth, from the time of Christ’s first coming, resurrection, and ascension, to His second coming, we should say that they are a body “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1: 3), including believing Jews, during the time that the nation at large is under blindness, with whom God in sovereign and marvellous grace has associated believing Gentiles, making all one body, joint heirs, etc.  Thus, although on every side we see many Gentiles professing or holding the faith of Jesus, and very few Jews, we must not forget that at Pentecost the gathered company was entirely Jewish as to nation.  Hopes, thoughts, and glory were opened to them beyond those of their nation: they were instructed to look upwards to a risen Messiah, waiting at God’s right hand till His foes should have been made His footstool (Acts 2: 33-35), they were told of blessing while their nation was in blindness (verse 40), and they heard of judgment as necessarily preceding Israel’s earthly blessing, but still they were Jews; and most gradual was the opening to them of the possibility of Gentiles sharing in the new fellowship, hopes, and glory, which they learned to be their true portion.  Gentiles were one by one brought into this believing body; and thus we see the meaning of the words “us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles”.  Whatever the Church on earth may seem to us now to be, it is still, as to its constituent parts, a company comprising Jews, partakers of grace, with whom God has brought in certain Gentiles, setting them on the same ground as to essential blessings, even as all the redeemed of every age are essentially one in the relations in which they are set.


In Isaiah 8.  A Christ speaks of His brethren – God’s children given into His hand to be redeemed – “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs and wonders in Israel”; this can only be from their having that connection with Israel of which I have been speaking. God’s faithfulness to the Church is the pledge and security of His faithfulness in His promises to Israel, but it is also more; His continuing faithful to His Church is actually the continuance of His faithfulness to Israel; it is thus that the Apostle Paul argues in Rom. 11: 1, 6.  God had not cast off His people, for Paul was not cast off - the believing branches yet remained in “their own olive tree”; and, as the branches grafted in with them were made one body, so His faithfulness to this one body was actually His faithfulness to Israel (exemplified yet more than had been the case in the days of Elias), and also the pledge of their future national blessing, as had been promised of old (verses 26-29).


Thus, then, may we understand how in this chapter of Daniel we find the expression “people of the saints of the most high [places]” - that nation to which the saints stand in some peculiar relation, although they themselves may, for the most part, be of other origin, according to the flesh.  But it may be thought that Daniel could have no apprehension of saints who were not Jews; let this be granted, but what then?  The meaning of the statements in God’s revelation must not be limited by the thoughts of those to whom they were addressed; for if we were to interpret Scripture in this manner, we should be continually bounding the truth of God by the finite apprehension of man.  The oneness of the body, jointness of the inheritance of those who are made partakers of grace, whether Jews or Gentiles, was a truth which God purposed in after times to reveal; but while this is fully admitted, we must avoid the dangerous error of excluding from Old Testament statements those whom we learn from the New Testament to have been included in the mind of God in the promised blessings.  If we had to look at any of those things according to Daniel’s apprehension of them, what, we might ask, could he have .mown of the Son of Man taking the kingdom in the vision, the saints taking it in the interpretation?  What could he have thought of their being designated “saints of the most high [places]”? - a name which so clearly refers to the position above, which belongs to those who have a portion in Christ.  Christ was not yet risen and ascended, and therefore the saints (see Eph. 1.) were not risen and ascended in Him, and yet the Holy Ghost could beforehand make use of such terms as these.


The chapter concludes by telling us, “As for me, Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.”  This seems to intimate that the mind of the prophet was as yet enabled but little to apprehend intelligently the things which he saw and heard.  Their significance therefore must most assuredly not be limited by the thoughts which occupied Daniel’s mind.


We have then “the people of the saints of the most high [places]” as one of the parties to partake in the blessing to which this chapter leads us on.


I believe that it was intended that our minds should rest very particularly upon the brief interpretation given in ver. 17, 18.


There we have in contrast “four kings which shall arise out of the earth” on the one hand, and “the saints of the most high [places]” who “shall take the kingdom”, etc., on the other.  The issue of earthly power is told us here: to what does it all lead? - to greater and greater opposition to God, so that the last state of the fourth beast (the period when earthly power has had before it the light of Christ’s gospel, and has rejected it) is found to be of the most malignant character of evil against God and His saints; but all this ends in “the burning flame”!


On the other hand, we have saints whose portion is found to be one of deepest suffering during this very period, and God allows them to suffer; but they belong to the most high places, not to the earth from which the four beasts have arisen, and the end of the whole matter to them is, reigning with Christ - with Him whose precious blood is their title to glory, for whom they have been allowed to testify in suffering, and by whose continuous grace they have been sustained.


This chapter of Daniel teaches us some of the characteristics of our own dispensation - Jerusalem under Gentile power, the fourth beast bearing rule, the saints called to a place of testimony.  The characteristics of such a period as the present must not be confounded with its blessings and privileges. We have to look at that which stands in contrast to other periods.


Now, is it possible to be identified with the actings of this fourth beast and yet to be one of these saints?  The question might seem needless, but, practically, men have said that the two things are compatible and consistent.


Again, is it possible that it could be according to the pleasure of God that those who now bear earthly rule should also take the superintendence of His Church?  In other words, can authority in the Church rightly spring from the fourth beast - the throne of the Caesars?  If this can be so, then let the wolves be the shepherds, instead of their being the adversaries into whose midst the sheep are sent forth.  Also, let us remember that the horn of persecution and blasphemy will be the last holder of the power of the fourth beast: can he be the sources of power in the Church? and if not, can his predecessors?  Could Tiberius or Nero be this?  The present state of the fourth beast lies between these two points.


How rarely do men make such confusion as this in natural things - then, should real Christians make them in the things of God?  In matters of civil government is our place to obey the powers that be, to own them as set of God, but never to forget the Supreme Lordship of Christ over us: and for the right discerning of these things it is our place to take heed to the word, doctrinal, preceptive, and prophetic, knowing that it is thus the Spirit of God instructs us.


As believing in Christ we ought to esteem it a high and wondrous blessing that we are not only cleansed in His precious blood, and made heirs of glory with Him, but that we are instructed now as to things around us and before us, that we may judge of them according to His mind.


May we be taught, as one part of our Christian walk and discipleship, to understand how opposite is earthly authority in its course and issue to all that to which we are called; and, especially, to see the Church so contrasted with the power of the world that the one cannot possibly be the source of office or authority in the other!


We see grievous confusion around us: the word of God teaches us that it will increase - how blessed and cheering it is to our souls to look on the coming of Christ as beyond it all, our point of hope and joyful expectation!  What though the wearing out of the saints will intervene? - it is only until the judgment of the Ancient of Days, when the Son of Man takes the kingdom, and we take it with Him.  Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”



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Of the four monarchies, symbolised by metals in the image and by beasts in the vision of Daniel 7, that which is chiefly of interest to us is the fourth; for under it, during its changes and processes of division, do we now live.  I shall therefore state the extent, etc., of that empire when it stood in its entirety, and then show (what to some minds is difficult to be understood) that this empire is that which still bears sway, though in a divided condition.


Let it be observed that I do not say that it is of absolute necessity, for our spiritual apprehension of the vision, that we should know the detail of geographical and historical facts; but surely we are, if we possess the opportunity, to compare such facts with Scripture, and thus use Scripture as giving us right thoughts as to the facts.  If God gives us a prophecy in Scripture concerning Egypt or Tyre, we are of course to use those powers of observation with which He has furnished us so as to know what and where Egypt and Tyre are; how much more, then, must this be the case as to territories and nations with which we are ourselves concerned?


The power of Rome was of very gradual rise; the city, which at the first bore the name of seven-hilled, not from its being built on seven different hills, but only from seven ascents or points of hill on which it stood,* expanded as to its own circumference, and as to its dominion, until it became the metropolis and mistress of the civilised earth - until her sway extended throughout the East and the West alike.


[* The seven hills which originally gave the well-known designation to Rome were Palatium, Velia, Cermalus, Caelius, Fagutal, Oppius, Cispius.  [So Niebuhr.] The three first of these belonged to the Palatine, the two next to the Calian, and the other two to the Esquiline; being thus, in fact, so many ascents, and not distinct hills.  The name of Septicollis having been applied to Rome in its early form, was retained long after it ceased to be applicable in its original connection.  After Rome had extended, it was supposed by some to relate to seven distinct hills: and thus the number was made to correspond by counting the Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Esquiline, Caelian, Aventine, and the trans-Tiberine Janiculum.  In this arrangement the Viminal (which lies between the Quirinal and the Esquiline) was omitted, in order not to exceed the number; in another arrangement, Janiculum, as being on the right side of the Tiber, was excluded and the Viminal reckoned: the seven hills were thus arbitrarily restricted to the left bank of the river, although the hill on the other side is the highest of the whole.  In the days of Augustus and his successors, a large part of Rome had extended far beyond the hills and the intervening hollows, into the flat plain of the Campus Martius, which is the site of the greater part of the modem city of the popes.]


The internal changes of the Roman commonwealth had been equally great: the stern republic of patricians, who, on the one hand, had expelled their kings and, on the other, had pressed down the plebeians, had been gradually compelled to admit all its citizens into almost every office of honour, trust, and power.  The early course of Roman government, after the expulsion of the Tarquins, was in many respects like that which the state of Venice actually succeeded in establishing and perpetuating to the end of its independence of thirteen hundred years.  Not so was the course of events as to Rome: plebeians and patricians, in the latter days of its republic, were alike holders of power; and if certain honours in religious rites were the exclusive possession of the latter of these bodies, the substantial powers of the office of tribune belonged entirely to the former.


From this latter condition of the republic arose that imperial rule which was prefigured by the fourth beast seen in Daniel’s vision.


At the time of this prophecy the power of Rome was in an undeveloped condition: this vision was seen about half a century before the expulsion of the kings, an event which was followed by a long period of diminished power.  At this very time the third monarchy (although the elements of which it was to be constructed were occupying a prominent place) had no formed nucleus, so utterly was all that God now revealed irrespective of the ideas of the future which human sagacity might form.  God’s anticipative history was now written as to the outlines of the monarchies of the earth, a century before the time of Herodotus, the father of profane history.


Rome had, in its republican days, added to its territories the kingdoms of several of Alexander’s successors; the Egyptian sovereignty, however, still continued, and in it there was a perpetuation of the third great kingdom until the time when Rome should be a monarchy.  This almost took place when Caius Julius Caesar made himself the virtual master of the Roman world: this same conqueror, besides what he added to the Roman territory in the west, so connected himself also with Egypt as to bring that last fragment of Grecian sovereignty under Roman influence.  After the assassination of Julius Caesar, changes of a few years’ duration followed: the western territory was in the hands of Octavius, the nephew and adopted son of Julius; while in the east, Antonius had leagued a portion of the Roman power with Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, the last representative of Alexander’s empire.


The battle of Actium (September 2, 31 B.C.) decided two at once; it placed the sovereign authority of the Roman earth in the hands of Octavius, and it destroyed the power of the Egyptian kingdom.  The two events occurred by a kind of necessary connection: Rome received the obelisks of Egypt to adorn the shores of the Tiber, and, acknowledging the imperial power in the hands of Octavius, bestowed on him the dignified designation of Augustus.*


[* The following extract from Spalding’s Italy (vol. 1, p. 96) describes the kind of authority which was exercised by Augustus:


The title by which Augustus pretended to the sovereignty was that of a free election by the people, renewed from time to time.  All names, forms, and ceremonies, which the free constitution held illegal, were carefully shunned; and all that the spirit of liberty had honoured were protected aria brought paradingly forward.  But the republicanism was a wretched mask through which every man of information saw distinctly, though none was strong enough to tear off the disguise.  From the very commencement of the first reign all the powers, both of the senate, the popular conventions, and the magistracies, were virtually and effectually secured to the emperor.  The new prince united by degrees in his own person all the ancient offices of state; or, at least, though he allowed the appointment of colleagues, he entrusted to them no share of the real administration.  He founded, on his assumption of the tribuneship, a claim of personal inviolability, and his title of Imperator, which we translate Emperor, a prerogative of absolute military command, not only beyond the city, which was the republican rule, but also within it - an extension of powers which directly contradicted the old constitution. His generalship of the armies, indeed, aided by the official weakness and personal subserviency of the senate, constituted the true ground on which his monarchy rested.  But, in appearance, he was only the first of senators; the august forms of the assembly were treated with profound respect; and the sovereign sheltered his ordinances under its name.”


Such was the nature of Roman monarchy: it comprehended the absolute military Imperium beyond the city; to this it added a similar Imperium, not so confined, decreed by the senate; and, as a third element, it comprehended the Tribunitian power derived from the people - the long-cherished prerogative which the plebeians had earned for themselves on the day of their secession to the Mons Sacer.


Julius Caesar had endeavoured, like Sulla, to rule as perpetual dictator, a name of ancient historic importance in Rome, but utterly deprived of its old significance by the adjunct of perpetual.  When Caesar fell beneath the daggers of conspirators, staining with his blood the statue of Pompey, the name and office of dictator were abolished by the senate.  It was therefore no longer available for his politic nephew when he rose to supreme power: in the three-fold relation in which he stood as connected with the army, the senate, and the plebs, he combined that substantiality of power which he never could have done had he, like his uncle, depended on mere military prowess or on the support of one class.]


At the commencement of the rule of the fourth monarchy it possessed in Europe, Italy, Gaul, the Spanish peninsula, Greece, Macedon, Thrace, and Illyricum, so that its boundary was pretty nearly the line of the rivers Rhine and Danube; in Africa it possessed the northern coasts and Egypt; and in Asia, Syria, and Asia Minor, the Euphrates being about the limit.  Judaea, which formed at this time a dependent kingdom, became, during the reign of Augustus, a Roman province. 


Such, then, was the original empire of the fourth beast.  Under the successors of Augustus other conquests were made.  Britain, which had been invaded by Julius Caesar, and which for many subsequent years maintained only a commercial connection with Rome, was made a part of the empire, so far at least as the line of forts carried from the Clyde to the Forth.*  In Germany the Roman boundary was carried by a defined rampart from the Rhine near Bingen, along the Taunus mountains, then in a direction mostly south-east until it reached the Danube at the most northern point of that river.  The Emperor Trajan added the province of Dacia, north of the Danube: the western boundary of this conquest was marked by a fortification skirting the extensive marshes which lie to the east of the river Theiss.  The northern limit of Dacia crossed the Carpathian mountains to the river Dniester.  In the east Trajan made many conquests beyond the Euphrates, but few of which were attempted to be retained as possessions; they might however be considered as belonging to the Roman empire in its widest extent. To the countries which have been mentioned must also be added the southern coasts of the Crimea.


[* Roman Britain - The first invasion of this island by Rome was conducted by Julius Caesar, who, on the 26th of August, 55 B.C., in the consul-ship of Pompey and Crassus, planted the standard of the eagle on our shores. But Caesar founded no permanent dominion in Britain; he left no garrison, and added no territory to the Roman state.  However, from that day, Britain was known to the Romans; and in the reign of Augustus not a little commercial intercourse had sprung up: hence parts of the island were Romanised before they were at all brought under the sway of Rome.  The subjugation of the island was undertaken by Claudius a century after the expedition of Julius Caesar.  The exports of grain from Britain had rendered its possession an object of importance in the eyes of Rome.  Of the Roman legions, originally sent into Britain by Claudius, the second was stationed at Caerleon-upon-Usk and the twentieth at Chester; these, together with the sixth, brought over by the Emperor Hadrian, and stationed at York, formed the permanent garrison of our island.  Besides these troops, however, there were also military colonists out of almost every conceivable part of the Roman empire, placed at different stations.  Amongst other names we find those of Thracians, Dacians, Spaniards, Moors, Dalmatians, Batavians, Sarmatians, and Indians: these hetero-geneous tribes introduced their own forms of idolatry; so that under the Roman dominion there was hardly a single kind of worship then known which did not flourish: this fact is attested by inscriptions and altars still extant.  Under the Roman rule Christianity had penetrated into Britain, and that, probably, at an early period, so that the Roman dominion was instrumental in spreading the gospel of Christ.  There is even reason for supposing that some of those whose names occur in the end of the 2nd Epistle to Timothy were Britons; at least the names of Pudens, Linus, and Claudia were at that very time borne by three of a family in part British.  The Diocletian persecution found some of its martyrs in Britain, of whom Alban, who suffered at Verulamium (the metropolis of Cassivellaunus in Caesar’s days), was the first.  That persecution however was greatly restrained in the western countries which were under the rule of Constantius Chlorus.  At the Council of Arles, in 314, we find the subscriptions of three British bishops; and before the close of the fourth century Britons joined with others in the vain pilgrimages to Jerusalem.


Amongst the more important events during the Roman occupation of Britain were the deaths of Septimius Severus, at York, in 211, and of Constantius Chlorus, in 306, at the same city; this caused his son Constantine to assume the imperial purple, which led to the cessation of all persecutions of Christians.  The extent of the Roman dominion in Britain varied at different times: the rampart of Hadrian (the Picts’ wall, as it is often called) crossed the island from Carlisle to Newcastle; but the vallum of Antoninus included a greater extent of country, running as it did from the Forth to the Clyde; while even farther north there were Roman towns.]


Besides the conquests of Trajan, which were at once resigned, Rome withdrew, in the reign of Aurelian, from the province of Dacia: the name was thence forward given to a district south of the Danube.  In other points also there was afterwards some contraction of boundary: the Rhine from the lake of Constance and onward had become the limit; from that lake the line was drawn northward to the Danube.  Such was the extent of the Roman earth at the time of the division into East and West.


Before the formal division of the imperial power there had frequently been a partition of the sovereign authority of Rome.  Thus Augustus, the first emperor, associated with himself, in his later years, Tiberius, who became his successor.  In the second century the principle of association in the imperial rank and authority became frequent in the time of the Antonines, but still the empire was not divided as to its territory.  This was almost the case in the latter part of the third century, when Diocledan, two years after his assumption of the imperial dignity, took (in 286) Maximian as his associate in the empire; from this time the administration was divided, and the one emperor making Nicomedia, in Bithynia, his place of government, and the other Milan, Rome itself ceased as much to be the actual seat and centre of empire as Macedon had in the latter days of Alexander’s successors.


Under Constantine there was again an united empire, but this monarch, by founding the city which still bears his name on the side of the ancient Byzantium, gave a principle of permanence to the territorial division, for he thus established what has been from that time and onward the metropolis of the eastern empire.  Constantine at his death (in 337) divided his dominions amongst his three sons, a form of partition which lasted but three years.


After the death of the last surviving son of Constantine, and the short reigns of his two successors, the formal division of the government of the empire into East and West took place.  In the year 364 Valentinian I retained the West for himself and invested his brother, Valens, with the empire of the East; the line of division was nearly that which separates Thrace from Macedon, continued northward to the Danube; Crete with some of the islands of the Aegean sea were appropriated to the West; and in Africa the western limit of Cyrene was the boundary.


In this division it was intended that the West should be the more important empire.  However, in 395, when the East was appropriated to Arcadius, the eldest son of Theodosius the Great, and the West to Honorius, his younger brother, the boundary was so changed as to unite the greater part of what is now European Turkey to the East.  The boundary left the shores of the Adriatic, between Ragusa and the mouths of the Cattaro, and running northward till it approached the river Save, reached that stream by a bend to the east.


In the year 425, when Theodosius II took Valentinian III as his associate in the empire, he united a still further portion of territory to the East; the West (of which the seat of government was now Ravenna) no longer retained the provinces east of Venetia and Rhaetia.  The boundary was thus formed by the Julian Alps, then by a line drawn to the river Inn just where its course turns to the north (at the point where it now flows from the Austrian into the Bavarian territory), and then by the course of the Inn to the Danube.


This was the definite line of demarcation by which the Roman earth was fully divided into East and West; the separation was occasioned by internal as well as external causes.  Within, the empire had consisted of elements utterly distinct, mentally and morally; it needed a strong hand to cause such contrary materials to coalesce; and when the Parthian power on the east and the vast immigration of tribes from the north pressed on the Roman territory, a separation of administration was almost the necessary result: thus the long-admitted principle of association in the empire now assumed the form of distinct and separate government.*


[* The Roman hold on Britain was almost entirely relinquished at the time of this ultimate division of empire. In the year 383, when the usurper Maximus endeavoured to establish his authority in the west, he left Britain with all the military force that he could raise.  This army never returned, and as its place was not supplied, and as Roman policy had put the defence of the provinces into the hands of strangers, or of military colonists, the Britons were left almost unprotected; they had to oppose the northern Caledonians and maritime marauders. Only about twelve years had elapsed before the Britons were compelled to apply to the court of Ravenna for aid, when they received inadequate succours.  The sack of Rome by Alaric, in 410, shook the imperial power in distant provinces, and this event virtually closed the Roman rule over Britain.  At the beginning of this century we find the twentieth legion no longer in the island, the second was removed from Caerleon to Richborough in Kent (Rutupiae), while the northern defences of the sixth legion at York, and the troops on the wall of Hadrian, still continued.  In 418 there was a great migration of the Roman population from Britain, and the final abandonment by Roman troops took place in 436.]


The western empire soon became a prey to the northern invaders, so that in 475 the succession ceased in the person of Romulus Augustulus: not so, however, at Constantinople, where, with varied circumstances and a circumscribed territory, the imperial dignity continued, until it expired with the last Constantine, when (in 1453) the eastern metropolis passed into the hands of Mahometan invaders.


This, then, is the empire whose whole extent is marked out in prophecy as that which shall be divided into ten kingdoms, just as the dominion of Alexander was separated into four.


It may be questioned whether, with regard to this division, the empire must be looked at as it existed under Augustus, or in its widest extent, or according to its limits when the complete division took place of East and West.  The first of these limits is not, I believe, the true one (reasons for this opinion will appear presently), and as to the second, it may be doubted whether territories which Rome voluntarily resigned could be regarded as integral parts of the empire; hence it seems to me that we should include Southern Britain, and take on the Continent the line of the Danube and Rhine in a general sense.*


[* The Emperor Caracalla (whose reign began in 211) extended the privilege of Roman citizenship to all persons born within the empire who were not slaves.  This was done for the purpose of raising an increased property-tax; it had, however, a very important effect in giving a certain unity to the races within the empire.]


In this territory, according to the terms of Daniel’s prophecy, written before Rome rose to be a mighty power, and according to the Apocalypse, seen when that power had almost approached its height, we may expect a division to be found into ten kingdoms.


We have, in accordance with Scripture, to look at all the present period as one in which changes and divisions take place within the Roman earth, prior to that tenfold development into kingdoms which shall precede the rise of the terrible but transient horn of blasphemy.


Does this seem difficult to any mind?  If so, let it be considered that in the vision of Daniel 7 the fourth beast is regarded as reigning until the Son of Man takes the kingdom and His saints take it with him.  If this has not taken place as yet, then the fourth beast still bears rule, however changed may be the form of his power.


The example of the third beast may illustrate this: the united empire of Alexander began to dissolve at his death; but still as long as any of its great divided parts remained as sovereignties (whatever changes they had undergone) any person would have been living under the third beast.  This would have been true before the battle of Ipsus (301 B.C.) effected the fourfold division; it would have been equally true when that great division had in many respects changed, and until the fourth beast had by the conquest of Egypt superseded the last of the four Grecian sovereignties.


In one respect the third and fourth beasts stand in definite contrast: the fourfold division of Alexander’s empire took place without any great interval of years after his death; and then other changes ensued: the territory of the fourth beast, whether intermediate divisions had taken place or not, was to be found separated into ten kingdoms just before its utter destruction by the Lord Himself.  Thus, unless we can say that Christ has taken His kingdom and destroyed the divided sovereignties of Rome, we are still living under this fourth monarchy, and its tenfold division is what we must expect.


How fully the Roman character has been impressed on the sovereignties formed within its territory is shown by the circumstances of their rise.  They were in general founded by some king or chief of an invading tribe, who succeeded in planting his people within the imperial territory; over his own followers he possessed a defined military authority.  To the Roman provincials it was a very indifferent matter who their sovereign might be: they were heavily taxed and dispirited, so that to the greater part of them it seemed preferable to be ruled by a military conqueror who from Jocal connection might be interested in improving their condition, than by an emperor who secluded himself in the luxury of Ravenna, or one who, reigning on the shore of the Bosphorus, cared only for the eastern provinces.  The provincials, too, had seen examples enough of barbarian rule during the days of the united empire not to object to any sovereign because of his birth or nation.  Thus they acknowledged their new rulers as holders of Roman imperium, and regarded them as possessed of that absolute power which the Roman emperors had claimed and exercised.


The new rulers willingly accepted the acknowledgment of the provincials, and thus, without exchanging their kingly titles for the imperial name, they governed as holding an associated authority within the empire.  The twofold power which they thus possessed, that over their original followers and that over the provincials, led to the development of new forms of government containing opposing principles.  The followers of the invading chiefs owed them but a kind of limited allegiance, they possessed privileges which were as indefeasible as was the power of the sovereign; the new subjects, on the contrary, knew of no relations between the governed and those governing, other than had been recognised by Roman rule.*  The municipalities, indeed, had possessed certain privileges, and when permanent conquest and not mere devastation was the object of the invaders, they found it to be for their own interest to preserve such bodies.  It was by means of the municipalities, with their local organisation, that much of what had been Roman floated above the wreck of ages down to our days.**


[* Thus it has been said that the Franks occupied the soil of Gaul for three centuries, without any amalgamation having taken place between the new dominant body and the old Roman provincials; the terms might seem to be borrowed from what Daniel 2 says of the iron and clay.


From the relation in which the followers of the invading leaders stood to them sprang much of the notion of modern European nobility.  The almost independent ground which this class could assume, seven centuries ago, shows what a limited allegiance chiefs even then rendered to their sovereigns.  Thus the original form of the homage of the Aragoriese nobles to the sovereign ran thus: “We who are as good as you, and together are more than you, will be faithful to you as our king and lord, if you govern us well and truly, IF NOT, NOT.” The privilege of remaining covered in the presence of the sovereign is all that the Spanish nobles now retain of these high-sounding claims.  So long as the ancient office of hereditary Lord High Steward of England continued, the sovereign was treated, in word, with as much independence.  This officer, at the coronation of a king, receiving from his hands a sword, addressed him thus, “With this sword I will defend thee, so long as thou governest well, as thou hast sworn; but with this sword I and the people of England will depose thee, if thou governest contrary to thy coronation oath.”  After the attainder and execution of the Duke of Buckingham, in the reign of Henry VIII, this office and ceremony ceased.]


** In this country, London held a remarkable place as a municipality.  It to have risen to its importance through traffic, between the time of us Caesar and the Roman occupation under Claudius. It afterwards became the capital of the country, though not a military station.  After the departure of the Romans, it maintained a kind of municipal independence; and it was not until the consolidation of the Saxon kingdoms that it submitted to the supreme state, without however giving up its own privileges.  Thus, in the changes of dynasties, religions, and races, London, as a municipality, has been the most stable of the links of connection between the present hour and the time of Roman rule.  The whole history of the municipalities has thrown (by means of modem research) no small light on the permanence of Roman institutions.]


The twofold relations of the new sovereigns seem to have occasioned what we should now call constitutional governments, in which, however, almost all that controlled the king was to be found amongst his original followers.  From the greater submission of the provincials, the kings had an interest in bestowing on them such privileges as might check (what might be termed) the military nobility.


In some cases the kings, whose power had arisen within the Roman earth, sought and obtained imperial recognition from Constantinople.  This was the case in England, where, during the days of the Heptarchy, one sovereign bore supreme rule, being acknowledged as an associate in the empire by the reigning emperor in the East.  Hence, we find on Saxon coins the title as borne by the Greek Emperors, and the she-wolf with Romulus and Remus.  Thus did the invading rulers, who had established themselves in this country, identify themselves with the authority, the institutions, and with the historical associations of Ancient Rome.  This fact indicates (as it appears to me) that we are not to exclude from the prophetic history of the Roman earth such territories as were not included within its limits in the days of Augustus.*


[* Sir Francis Palgrave in his Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth has done much to show the relation in which sovereignty within the Roman empire, and in particular in Britain, was connected with imperial recognition and association.


The rise of Saxon rule, however, was marked by some peculiarities.  At the departure of the Romans, three races occupied the country: First, the non-Romanised Britons, whose abode was principally to the west of the Severn and Exe.  Second, the Romans and the mixed population which had become Romanised.  The districts especially Romanised were the country from Bath and Cirencester, north-eastward as far as Northamptonshire, and south-eastward as far as Sussex.  Third, the Saxon population, which thus early had established themselves: this body of inhabitants were probably confined to the littus Saxonicum, from the south of Kent to the edge of Lincolnshire.  The settlement of this Teutonic race seems to have originated in their mercantile and predatory expeditions, which led to their being encouraged by the Romans, in the hope, probably, that they would guard the exposed coast.  It was apparently the frequency of piratical attacks which caused the removal of the second legion from Caerleon to Richborough.


After the withdrawal of the Romans, sovereignty became independent amongst the non-Romanised Britons; while the Roman population sought weakly and vainly to maintain their authority in the island.  The dominion of the Saxons arose, not by breaking down Roman authority, but by occupying the ground which Rome had left vacant.  Successive bodies of Saxons, Jutes, and Angles (the last being the race whose name was to be perpetuated) planted themselves in Britain, and the only independence from their sway was found by withdrawal to the non-Romanised Britons in Wales and Cornwall.  The partially-received Christianity was so extinguished, except in those districts, that on the arrival of Augustine the Monk, in 596 (one hundred and sixty years after the final withdrawal of the Romans), not one Christian, whether Roman or Saxon, could he find - and that in a land whose bishops had assisted at early councils, and where Christian profession had so far extended that important doctrinal differences were widely discussed, and much pains bestowed for rooting errors and teaching dogmatic truth.]


Although from the year 476 there ceased to be an emperor reigning in the West, the authority of the imperial name was not finally extinct in its original centre of dominion.  Odoacer, the king of the Heruli (a tribe issuing from the shores of the Baltic), who in 476 had deposed Romulus Augustulus, was invested, at the request of the Roman senate, with the title of Patrician by Zeno, the eastern emperor, and under this designation he exercised sovereign power.  Theodoric, the king of the Ostrogoths, by whom Odoacer was displaced and slain (in 493), had been educated at Constantinople, and it was as a province of the empire, and under the (disregarded) condition of tribute, that he received the grant of Italy from Zeno.  In the middle of the following century the victories of Belisarius and Narses united to the empire of Justinian the Carthaginian provinces, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica.  That part of Italy which continued to belong to the Empire after the Lombard invasion was ruled by a governor bearing the title of Exarch, whose abode was at Ravenna.  Thus was the direct authority of the emperors maintained over Rome and other portions of the West, till the year 731.


Seventy years had not passed from that date when Charlemagne, the monarch of the Franks and the German tribes, was (in the year 800) solemnly crowned emperor, at Rome, by the pope.  This has been regarded by some as though he thus became the remote successor of Augustulus: it was, however, rather as the associate of Irene, then ruling the eastern empire, that the imperial dignity and name were conferred on the western conqueror.


In his family the imperial title continued with diminished lustre; at Coblentz, in the church of St. Castor, his descendants agreed to divide his territories; and after various vicissitudes, the title of Roman Emperor, together with the supremacy over Italy (real at that time), was appropriated in the person of Otho, 962, to an elective German monarch.  But though his rule was principally beyond the Alps, yet for ages it was considered that the imperial title was not rightly his until he had been crowned in Rome as Emperor of the West.


The latest traces of the power of the eastern emperors in the West are to be found in the Italian islands and the territory of Naples.  Much of the latter was conquered from the Lombards, in 891, by the generals of the Emperor Leo; and even after the Norman kingdom of Naples had arisen in the eleventh century, the claim of Constantinople was not withdrawn; nor was it till 1157 that William of Naples was acknowledged as king by the Greek emperor.


Thus it was by gradual steps that changes took place in the Roman earth; and thus plain is it that the sovereignties of South-western Europe not only were, but were considered to be, perpetuations of Roman power.


This sometimes led to formal transactions resembling the ancient assumption of an associate in the empire. Thus, in November 1337 the Emperor Lewis, the Bavarian, met Edward III of England at Coblentz and there at the church at St. Castor, where the empire had been divided five hundred years before, he constituted him Imperial Vicar of all territories and peoples on the left bank of the Rhine, with authority to coin money in those districts - an authority on which he acted at Antwerp.  This imperial title was distinctly declared in an Act of Parliament in the time of his grandson Henry IV, and it explains part of the ceremonial observed in the threefold coronation of Queen Elizabeth, first as Queen of England, second, Queen of Ireland, third, “Sovereign Lady and Empress of all Nations and Countries from the Islands Orcades to the Mountains Pyrenees”.


Thus, though the Ottoman arms destroyed the imperial name and power in the East in the fifteenth century, its different western branches have continued, whether as bearing imperial or royal names.  It was common to consider France as successionally perpetuating the empire in the West,* while even to our days the head of the Germanic body was styled Roman emperor and successor of Augustus.


[* This was done partly through the strange transaction between Andreas PaIaeologus and Charles VIII in 1494; the latter, in 1495, when in session of Naples, formally received and bore the title of Emperor; he seems to have considered himself as then holding part of the Eastern Empire.]


It may be questioned whether the tenfold division of the Roman earth must be precisely in accordance with its geographical boundaries: but at all events it seems clear that the seat of all the kingdoms must be within the Roman bounds as well as the main body of the territory: further than this it may not be safe to venture an opinion.  The Romans conquered far beyond the limits which they retained: the Eyder, between Holstein and Schleswig, appears to have been the line to which they penetrated in that direction: they also occupied military positions beyond the boundaries of the empire, just as Napoleon held Magdeburg and other places which were no part of his territory.  Thus there may be districts beyond the Roman earth which will be connected with parts of the ten kingdoms.  It is “out of” the fourth kingdom that ten others arise, whatever exterior territory any of them may possess or conquer.


From the vision of Daniel 2, and that of chap. 7, we may see that the ten kingdoms do not arise until a certain process of deterioration (the mixture of clay with iron) is complete; and that these kingdoms, when all developed, have not any protracted course before them.  Just as the sovereignty, out of which they sprung, was

secular, so of course are they also secular.  Whatever have been the changes in the Roman earth, as yet we have not seen the definite tenfold division; indeed, had we seen it we could have expected nothing other than the appearance of the last horn and the judgment of the Son of Man at his coming.


To suppose this last horn to be the Papacy would interfere with almost every point that the visions in Daniel teach us; it would involve us in the supposition that before the rise of the Papacy the imperial power had passed away, and that its territory was in the hands of ten definite kings.  If so, those kingdoms must continue as such (unless the three which fall before the last horn be excepted) until the coming of Christ: whereas we know how change after change has passed upon Europe since the Popedom began.  The time at which many have sought for ten kingdoms has been the fifth and sixth centuries, and they have mostly sought them in the invading hosts.  But although Rome had been severed for a time from the imperial sway, and though many provinces had become independent kingdoms, the dignity of emperor still continued, and the power of those who held it was again to be exercised over Rome itself for two centuries.  This might have been an intimation that it was vain to look for the defined division, even of the West at least before the year 731.  But of course we ought not (if we follow the terms of the vision) to exclude the East, even after that year: five toes were on each foot of the image.  And thus we are led on, so as to find that no point of time prior to the extinction of the imperial name and power at Constantinople (1453) could be assigned for any such division.


The tenfold division of the Roman empire (even if we had a right to exclude the eastern half) could never be definitely pointed out, whether in the early centuries or since.  The lists differ exceedingly, and very frequently countries wholly disconnected with the Roman empire are introduced simply because in later days they have been upholders of the Popedom.*  But even if the lists of kings could be made out, and if the commencement of the divisions of the empire were the proper time, and not a little before the second advent of Christ, it would still remain to be shown how the Popedom then rose after the ten kings, and how it destroyed three of the former kings, and what three.


[* The following note, from [the late] Mr. Conder’s Literary History of the New Testament (P. 576), shows what ideas have been advanced as the division of the Roman empire into ten kingdoms:


At the epoch of A.D. 532, which is fixed upon by Mr. Elliott, there existed on the platform of the western Roman empire the following ten kingdoms: the Anglo-Saxons, the Franks, the Allman Franks, the Burgundians, the Visigoths, the Suevi, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Bavarians, and the Lombards. Notwithstanding many intervening revolutions and changes in Western Europe, ten has generally been noted as the number of the Papal kingdoms.  Thus Gibbon, speaking of Roger, first king of Sieily, A.D. 1130, says: ‘The nine kings of the Latin world might disclaim their new associate unless he were consecrated by the authority of the supreme pontiff.’  The nine kings were those of France, England, Scotland, Castille, Aragon, Navarre, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary.”


I do not discuss the points stated as historical facts (such as whether there was one united Anglo-Saxon kingdom in 532); the kingdoms being sought in the West alone is sufficient to show the fallacy of the scheme which ignores the eastern empire; the date, too, is not a fortunate one, as it is just before the eastern emperors again extended their influence over the West.  But what relation has the extract from Gibbon to the matter in hand?  If we are to seek for ten kingdoms in the Roman empire, to the Roman empire let us confine ourselves. On what principle are we to bring in countries never Roman, such as Sweden and Denmark?  And if we take the West Roman empire, why wander as far as Hungary, which never did or could pertain to it?  (See note on Luther’s enumeration at the end of this chapter.)]


Some place the rise of the Papacy, as the little horn, in the reign of Justinian, in the middle of the sixth century; at that very time, however, the Popedom, both in temporal and spiritual things, was ruled over by Justinian: Vigilius, the weak and vacillating Roman bishop, who, according to circumstances, adopted or renounced the monophysite heresy, possessed no temporal authority; and in doctrinal points he bound himself by oath to the emperor.  As if to reverse the relations in which things afterwards stood, the emperor declared the pope, when un-submissive, to be excluded from the fellowship of the Church.


Others regarded the Papacy as thus arising when Boniface III was addressed by the Emperor Phocas in 606 as “Universal Bishop”.*  That the secular authority of Rome, then, belonged to the emperor we have proof existing in the Roman Forum itself, where, in our days, excavations around “the nameless column with the buried base” have caused the base to be no longer buried, and the column to be no longer nameless, since the inscription on the pedestal shows that it was erected to the honour of this very Phocas by his Italian representative.  How completely the popes were subjects, at a later period, is shown in the case of Pope Martin I, who, for his firm opposition to the monothelite heresy, was seized at Rome, in 653, as a traitor to the emperor, and, after having been conveyed to Constantinople, ended his days in banishment at the ancient Cherson in the Crimea.


[* The title of “Universal Bishop” had been used for some time in the East as a complimentary title: it was not intended to signify that the person to whom it was applied excluded the jurisdiction of other bishops, nor yet was it so understood as if it could belong to one only.  In England the legal designation of the Archbishop of Canterbury is “Primate of ALL England”; but this is not designed to interfere with the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of York, within his own province, who is styled “Primate of England”.  This may illustrate the complimentary character of this high-sounding title.  Complimentary designations, when expressed by superlatives, are never strictly interpreted.


More has been made out of the title of “Universal Bishop” than it really involves.  Boniface III accepted a title which the cooler judgment of his predecessor, Gregory I, had rejected.  The title gave no added jurisdiction, spiritual or temporal.]


It is to the age of Pepin and his son Charlemagne that we must descend before we find the popes as holders of temporal sovereignty.  This, however, they held as feudatories of the western emperors, so that Leo III was required by Charlemagne to vindicate himself from treasonable charges.


In later days popes did indeed claim a power of conferring sovereignty, as though all the kingdoms of the earth were theirs, but this was not through the territorial dominion which they held, but as a supposed attribute of their spiritual jurisdiction.  As yet they claimed no part of the dominion of the Caesars, for even in the districts of Italy ruled by the popes the inhabitants swore allegiance to the emperors.  It was not till the accession of Rudolf of Hapsburg, 1273, that the popes claimed independent temporal rule: the claim was admitted by the emperor, more occupied with transalpine than Italian objects; and thus, from 1278, the oath of allegiance to the emperor was not imposed in the territory of the popes, who thus became independent secular sovereigns - an accession of dignity which was soon marked by a double crown, and then by the triple, as still borne.*


[* How gradually the popes acquired independent temporal sovereignty is shown by their transactions with the emperors.


Since the revival of the Roman Empire under Otho the Great (962), the emperors had regularly placed in Rome a prefect or legate, who swore allegiance to them, and exercised a control over the civil administration


At home the pontiffs were weak, often despised, and sometimes expelled; but abroad their name grew and flourished. ... The minority of Frederick II enabled the resolute Innocent III (1198-1216), a middle-aged Roman noble, to fortify the temporal sovereignty of the holy see over a large district of Central Italy.  He revived, and, partly by force, partly by the submission of the principal towns, was able to bring into effect that famous donation by which, in the times of Hildebrand and his successor, the Countess Matilda of Tuscany had bequeathed to the Papal see her extensive fiefs, the Duchy of Spoleto and the March of Ancona.” – Spalding’s Italy, ii. 103, 105.


The entire independence of the Papal states was secured in 1278: during the secession to Avignon (1305-77), however, and the subsequent schism of the West (1378-1417), the power of the popes over them was weakened and in part destroyed, so that it was not till after the French occupation of in 1494, under Charles VIII, that the Papal territorial rule was consolidated.  From that time it received various additions till the year 1644.  In modern days the whole of the Papal dominions have been swept away from their priestly sovereigns, and all (with the exception of Avignon and its territory) have been again restored and confirmed.  (Since this was written, other changes have caused a loss of a large portion: all, indeed, except what is held through French aid.  And thus it has been increasingly shown that the temporal power is not essential to the Papacy. 1863.]


But the actuality of a secular kingdom did not increase the Papal influence in temporal things.  Boniface VIII sought in vain to bestow kingdoms and to resume them, as Innocent III had done a century before.  From that time, in temporalities, the popes became petty Italian sovereigns, while in spiritual things their authority was equally recognised as before.  Such were the steps by which the popes gained secular sovereignty: for which secular sovereignty alone we are now concerned: it was that, and that alone, which had belonged to the Caesars, and the divided parts of their dominion could not be something differing entirely in kind from the dominion itself.


Thus there is really no point of time at which we could apply the vision of Daniel 7 to the Papacy.  We must look at the Roman power still continuing in its divided parts, and expect that its ultimate condition will be a tenfold division into kingdoms in which strength and weakness will be combined, when - three years and a half before the second advent of Christ - a power of blasphemy and persecution will arise who will overthrow three of the former kings.


The spread and use of the Roman law illustrates the continuance of the Roman power.  Throughout the Roman earth, Roman law became the basis of all jurisprudence, and though modified by custom or direct enactment, it still furnishes a body of principles of wide and various application.  The Corpus Juris Civilis itself supplies evidence of the continuance of Roman power and institutions, for there we find enactments of the Henrys and Frederics of the house of Hohenstaufen, as co-ordinate with those of Severus, Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian.  The same imperial authority attaches to the decree of Henry VII of Luxemburg (in which he styles Constantine “our illustrious predecessor”), dated in 1313 from Pisa, as to the Pandects of Justinian, the ardent Pisan MS of which* was the instructor of the dark ages, and laid the foundation of that maritime law which all civilised states alike recognise.


[* The Pisan Codex is said to have been brought thither from Amalfi: after the subjection of Pisa to Florence this MS became one of the spoils of the victorious city, where it is still preserved in the Laurentian library.


In connection with Roman law it may be observed that Britain seems to have profited not a little.  York was the place where Papinian, the celebrated jurist, presided in the early part of the third century: the law school in that city continued to flourish after the Saxon occupation had driven the name of Christianity out of the most part of England, and after the labours of Roman missionaries had again triumphed over idolatry.  We find proofs of the existence of this school of Roman law from the seventh to the ninth century.


(Luther gave an enumeration of ten kingdoms which did not exclude the East: but then he supposed the power which destroyed three of them be not Papal but Mahometan.  The Anti-Christian power spoken of in Dan. 11: 39, etc., was the Pope; that of Dan. 7: 8, etc., the Turk.  The Ten horns of the last or Roman kingdom were Spain, France, Italy, Africa, Egypt, Syria, Asia, Greece, Germany, etc.  The Little Horn coming up among them, or Mahomet, plucked up three of them by the roots, viz. Egypt, Asia,)? and Greece. Walch. XX, P. 2691, etc.”  Life of Martin Luther, by Henry Worsley, M.A., ii. 184, note.]


What does this long statement of facts teach?  Does it supply us with new light as to the bearing of Daniel’s prophecies, different from what we should have learned from the Scripture itself?


To the Scripture we may adhere simply: facts, or supposed facts, can never alter the force of what the Spirit of God has caused to be written.  This statement of facts is intended (and I trust it may serve) to show that objections to the simple reception of Scripture teaching, when based on facts in their supposed bearing, are manifested to be groundless, so soon as the facts themselves are correctly presented.  History thus possesses a negative value, and enables us to cast aside difficulties with which some would obscure the force of God’s word.



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THE RAM AND HE GOAT (DANIEL 8) [Pages 75-91]



The prophetic scene becomes narrowed before us in this chapter; one definite portion of future history is here anticipatively written for us by God.  The same is the way which God has taken in teaching us those things which were profitable for us to know, as to the past.  If we look at the history of man as given in Genesis, we have at first, after the flood, the general statement in outline of all nations in their ancestry and first formation, and then afterwards a narrower scene is brought before us - one family from which springs one nation and with this we principally have to do in the remainder of the Old Testament.  Just so in the prophetic visions of Daniel; we have Gentile power in its committal, course, and crisis, also in its wideness of extent, its moral relations to God, and its actings with regard to those who belong to God; and besides an account of who it is that succeeds to the dominion which has been forfeited by the last of the Gentile powers: and then comes the narrower scene, in which we see these things set before us in their connection with that same one nation which had been so early taken up in history.


With this chapter the Hebrew portion of the book recommences and this continues to be the language of all the remainder, the whole of these visions relating distinctly to the Jews and Jerusalem.


This vision was seen in the third year of king Belshazzar, the last king of the first monarchy, just when the Medo-Persian kingdom had so risen into power as to be ready to subvert the Babylonian.


The place where the prophet sees the vision is at one of the capitals of the Medo-Persian kingdom,  Shushan, in the province of Elam, by the river of Ulai”.  It may be doubted whether Daniel were actually there personally or whether it was only in vision.  The words are, “I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.”  This is wholly different from the manner in which he speaks in chap. 10: 4, of his being actually by the river Tigris: “I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel.”  Here it seems as though in vision the prophetic scene were selected within the territory of the power, the pre-eminence of which first comes into view: “there stood before the river a ram”.


The vision is given us from verses 3 to 14, the interpretation from verses 19 to 26.  Daniel first sees “a ram which had two* horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last”.  The ram is then described as to the exercise of its power, etc.: “I saw the ram pushing eastward, and northward, and southward, so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand, but he did according to his will, and became great.”


[* The word “two” in our modern English Bibles is in italics, as though it were supplied in translation.  This, however, is one of the needless changes introduced by Dr. Blayncy in 1769.  Two horns” is the rendering of the Hebrew dual, as our translators well knew.  In verse 7 the numeral is expressed.]


The interpretation of this, as given in verse 20, is – “The ram which thou sawest having two horns, are the kings of Media and Persia.”


The next object in the vision is thus stated: “As I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west, on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.” The following verses, 6, 7, describe the manner in which the prophet saw the ram destroyed by the he goat. The interpretation of the goat and its great horn is given in verse 21: “The rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.”


We have thus a point of connection between this vision and those of the second and seventh chapters; we first of all have the power which was about to succeed to that of Babylon brought before us in a defined form; the “reign of the kingdom of Persia” (2 Chron. 36: 20) is that which we have seen as springing into power, that is the breast and arms of silver of chapter 2, or the second beast like to a bear of chapter 7.  The power of this second monarchy, detailed just prior to its taking its place of supremacy, and its overthrow by that of Grecia, next come before us, and then the rest of the vision has some relation to a form of things which results from the divided power of the third monarchy.


Is the general subject of the remainder of this vision past or future?  If past, our only concern with it would be to learn those lessons which the Spirit of God may have seen fit to record therein, but if future, it assumes, of course, a yet deeper interest, for in that case it would be one of those portions of revealed truth in which our God vouchsafes to call us to fellowship of mind and thoughts with Himself, opening to us those things which will come to pass in the development of His holy counsels.


Some may say, If the vision belongs (as seems clearly to be the case) to the third monarchy, and if that monarchy was superseded (as we know was the fact) long ages ago by the Roman, then, of course, this vision is a thing entirely accomplished and exhausted, as much so as the vision of the third chapter, which related personally to Nebuchadnezzar.


Now, in reply to the question as to the past or future aspect of this vision, we must mark as carefully the period on to which it reaches as we do that at which it commences.  In the beginning of the explanation given by Gabriel to the prophet he says (verse 17), “At the time of the end shall be the vision,” and again (verse 19), “Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.”  This is certainly an intimation that the distinguishing features of the vision belong to the time when God’s indignation against Daniel’s people shall reach its completion, when all the circumstances of their rejection and chastisement shall arrive at their end.  We know from many scriptures (such as Jer. 30: 7) that the time which immediately precedes Israel’s forgiveness and deliverance will be that of their extremest trouble and suffering: in other words, it will be thus in “the last end of the indignation”.


Thus we have a point to which the vision reaches, as well as a starting point, and we have therefore to see what portions belong respectively to the past and to the future.


After the rise of the empire of Alexander and his personal rule have been spoken of in the vision (verses 5-8), we find, “The great horn was broken: and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.”


In the interpretation this is stated (verse 22), “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.”  This we know to be a past thing, not merely historically, but as a simple matter of revelation; for these things were to spring out of the breaking off of the first king.  This fourfold division had been intimated in chap. 7 by the four heads of the third beast, and it is also mentioned in chap 11.


We know simply as a matter of historical fact that after the death of Alexander his dominions were parcelled out amongst his generals, and that after a few years (subsequently to the battle of Ipsus, 301 B.C.) four kingdoms were formed.


Ptolemy possessed Egypt, Cyrene, Coele-Syria, and some of the southern parts of Asia Minor.


Cassander, Macedon and Greece.


Lysimachus, Thrace, Western Bithynia, Lesser Phrygia, Mysia, and Lydia (the Meander being the boundary) ‑ and


Seleucus all the rest.*


[* Some of the districts included in the fourfold division became subordinate states.  The kingdom of Lysimachus included the territory in which his lieutenant founded the more durable kingdom of Pergamus; this may, perhaps, be regarded as a continuation of his kingdom.]


These historical facts enable us to give names, etc., to the four kingdoms here mentioned, and this is a convenience; but it cannot be too fully borne in mind that for the real understanding and use of the truths revealed in Scripture history possesses no authority whatever; the Scripture itself supplies us with all that is needful.


The vision, after speaking of the formation of the four horns, proceeds thus: “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceedingly great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.”  This is stated thus in the interpretation: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up”, etc.  The history of this horn or king is then given, and it reaches to the end of the vision; everything concerning this person and his actings must therefore belong to the period called “the last end of the indignation”.


The point then at which the vision divides itself between that which is past to us and that which is future is at the statement of the fourfold division of the kingdom of the he goat (verses 8 and 22); all that follows, “the latter time of their kingdom,” and the springing up of the persecuting power, must be future.


The dealings of God in the latter day with the Jews and Jerusalem possess an exceeding interest to all those who see the importance which God attaches to that place and people.  A degree of prominence, which might at first seem strange, is given in the prophetic word to those scenes; but it is our place to sit as learners, having our ears open to receive the instruction of God, even when we are most at a loss to perceive the bearing of that instruction.  Whatever is important in God’s eyes ought to be so in ours, as being made the children of God; He has said of Jerusalem, “My eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually.”  He has said of Israel that if His covenant with the day and night cannot be broken, then He will not cast off His ancient people.  Jesus died for that nation; they are still “beloved for the fathers’ sakes”.  No marvel then that our eyes are directed again and again to the closing scenes of the period of God’s indignation, and the dawn of that day in which God has said, “In those days and at that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.”  What soul is there that has tasted the mercy of God and rejoices in the grace which has been shown in the precious blood of Christ, that does not feel joy in the contemplation of this great and surpassing display of the same grace?  It is indeed a privilege to be allowed to know what God is going to perform; and, knowing what the result is, we cannot judge any of the details to be unimportant.


To this period, then, the issue of this vision belongs: a king rises from one of the four parts of that dominion which once was in the power of Alexander; his power extends in various directions, amongst others “towards the pleasant land”; this, of course, means the land of Israel, and this is the first direct intimation in the chapter of its connection with Daniel’s people.  Violent oppression and blasphemy appear to characterise this king both from the vision and the explanation given by Gabriel.  He shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and practise, and shall destroy the mighty, and the holy people [people or nation of the holy ones or saints]. 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 he destroy many.”  General as these terms are, they very clearly show the persecuting and oppressive power of this king; it is also clear, from the mention of the nation of the holy ones or saints, that these oppressions are especially inflicted on the Jews.


What the condition of the Jews may be at this time, how divided into classes as regards their recognised standing before God, etc., we can learn from other scriptures; but however these things will be, one thing is clear, that this horn is present in persecuting power at the last end of the indignation.


Another of his prominent characteristics is blasphemy: “He shall stand up against the Prince of princes” (verse 25).  He magnified himself even to the Prince of the Host” (verse 11), so that he is found not merely as the opposer of God’s ancient people, but also of the Lord Himself.


It is scarcely possible for us to have examined this chapter thus far without being struck with many points of resemblance between this horn and that which has been spoken of in he seventh chapter: that in the seventh chapter continues to act till Christ takes the kingdom, the one before us acts up to “the last end of the indignation.”  These two periods are synchronous, for the deliverance of Israel belongs to that point of time which is the epiphany of our blessed Lord: when He appears, then they will look upon Him whom they pierced, they will mourn for Him, and the fountain for sin and for uncleanness will be known by them as opened to their souls.  Thus the horn in this chapter and that in chapter 7 coincide as to period of time.


Further, the four divided kingdoms which formed themselves out of the empire of Alexander were one by one incorporated with the Roman empire, but it is out of one of these kingdoms that the horn in this chapter springs, hence it is clear that he belongs to the Roman earth.  Thus the persons spoken of in the two chapters are found within the same territorial limits.


The moral features which are alike in the two have been already noticed.  But it may be added that both the one and the other coincide remarkably in this respect with a king metioned in the eleventh chapter of this book: the origin of this king is altogether similar to the horn of chapter 8, that is, from one of the four parts of Alexander’s empire.


Compare the following passages:


Chap. 7: 25. “He shall speak great words                    Chap. 11: 36.  He shall speak marvellous

                      against the most High.”                                                   things against the God of gods.”


7: 25.  He shall “think to change                                  11: 37.  Neither shall he regard

           times and laws”.                                                               the God of his father”, etc.


7: 21, 22.  The same horn prevailed until the time     11: 36.  He shall prosper till the indignation

                   came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”          be accomplished.”


8: 9.  He waxed great “towards                                    11: 41.  He shall enter also into

         the pleasant land”.                                                              the glorious land.”


8: 17.  At the time of the end                                      11: 40.  And at the time

            of the indignation.”                                                         of the end”, etc.


8: 19.  In the last end of the                                        11: 36.  He shall prosper till the

            indignation.”                                                                   indignation be accomplished.”


The conclusion from all this appears to be inevitable,  that the horn of chapter 7 and that of chapter 8 are one and the same person.  If this be not the case, we have at the same time, within the same territorial limits and similarly described, two kings, alike in blasphemy and persecution, alike in claiming divine honours, alike in their almost unhindered course of evil.  The non-identity of the two would involve difficulties of the greatest magnitude - so great that the supposition may be regarded as a moral impossibility.  I believe that those who have considered that they are not one and the same have supposed that they were not marked as belonging to the same period: this, however, is utterly contradicted by the express statement of “the last end of the indignation” in this chapter, and by events which are detailed as following immediately on the destruction of the king in chapter 11.


But it has been sometimes asked (rather, I believe, in the way of difficulty than of objection), How can these powers be identical, for that in chapter 7 springs out of one of the ten parts of the Roman earth, that before us from one of the four parts of the third empire?  The answer to this is simple and, I believe, satisfactory: In chap. 7 we see that the whole of the Roman earth is to be divided into ten kingdoms, these ten being found in its whole extent, the East as well as the West.  The four parts of Alexander’s empire formed a considerable portion of the eastern half of the Roman territory, and as we see here these four existent as kingdoms at the time of the end, it only follows that four kingdoms out of the ten will be identical with the parts into which the third empire was long ago divided.  A horn springs out of one of these parts: it may be described in a general manner, as in chapter 7, as rising from one of the ten kingdoms, or else in a much more definite way, as in this chapter, in which we see even what part or direction of the Roman earth will give him his origin.


There appears to be a peculiar fitness in the way in which these things are presented in this chapter: the Medo-Persian power is first seen, and then the ground is cleared (so to speak) by the Grecian he goat; then that distributive form of the countries bordering upon the Holy Land, which came into existence after the death of Alexander, is mentioned.  The pleasant land” being the central object, there was no occasion for going beyond the countries with which that was locally connected; for here we have no statement about wideness of extent of dominion; it does not come at all into consideration; but it is the power as exercised in one place and over one people.  The consideration that this is in the Hebrew portion of the book, and that chapter 7 is in the Chaldee, tends to make the whole matter simple.


No one need find any difficulty in the idea of his being spoken of as springing from one of the ten parts of the

Roman earth, and here from one of the parts of Alexander’s empire: every one would see how Simeon (for instance) might be described as one the twelve sons of Jacob, or as one of the six sons of Leah; the latter designation would be the more definite, but the sons of Leah would be all comprehended under the more general expression “sons of Jacob”.


We may now consider particular statements which this chapter presents, both in the vision and the interpretation.  In verse 23 the description of the condition of the kingdoms when this power arises is worthy of particular attention: “in the latter time of their kingdom when the transgressors are come to the full”: these are solemn words - the line of demarcation between what is long past and what is yet future is found in the vision between verses 8 and 9, and in the interpretation between verses 22 and 23.  The fullness of transgression belongs to a yet future period.  These words do not state to what people, whether Jews or Gentiles, this description applies, but it surely must be regarded as a solemn, general statement of the condition of things which will immediately precede the advent of the Lord Jesus.


If we were to look backward at the history of past ages we should see scarcely a parallel to the wickedness found among Alexander’s successors, and this whether they were looked at in themselves, or in their treatment of God’s people, the Jews.  But evil as these things have been, here is something yet more dreadful.  God has given further light, and after this light has been received for awhile, it has been rejected.  The countries once subject to Alexander have been used as the scene on which God has especially acted; those were the lands in the midst of which Israel was set as a witness for God; there it was that Christ, God’s blessed Son, in due time appeared, was rejected and suffered: there by his command the gospel was first preached, and fruit was gathered from among Jews and Gentiles.  Indeed, the record of the book of Acts (with the exception of the very end) simply narrates the preaching of the gospel within those limits.


We can compare the statements in 2 Tim. 3 and similar passages with this expression, and thus we shall see how the fullness of transgression will come in amongst those, wherever they may be, who have in former times heard the gospel, but who have departed from the holy commandment delivered to them.  As to Israel, we know that the closing scenes of their blindness will be the darkest scenes, “If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”  They will not only be found as the rejectors of the Messiah, but also as the receivers of him who thus stands as the enemy of God, and blasphemer of His holy name.  Thus on every side there will be the full accomplishment of transgression.


Verse 24: “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.”  Light is thrown, I judge, on this statement by Rev. 13: 2: “The dragon gave him his power and his seat, and great authority.”  He acts by the power of Satan, and all the greatness that he displays is from this source.  God at length shall send on men who have wilfully rejected this truth, “strong delusion that they should believe a lie”.  Satan’s energies will be freed from many of those restraints which God now imposes; and then Gentile power will be found with this additional characteristic in the person of this king.


Verse 10: “It waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.”  This, we must remember, was a symbolic scene in vision: “the host of heaven” and “the stars” appear to me to be descriptive symbols of those whose portion from God is heavenly glory.  Here they seem destroyed by the horn, but they bear a symbolic name, taken from what they are in God’s purpose: we may compare chapter 12: 3, “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”  If this refers simply to those who are Jews by nation (and this seems to be the case from the mention of “the pleasant land” immediately before), then it must apply to that portion of them who are not under that blindness which has “in part happened to Israel”: it must belong to those whose calling is heavenly, as being believers in Him who is above at God’s right hand.


Verse 11: “Yea, he magnified himself also to the prince of the host.”  Verse 25: “He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes.”  These statements may be well compared with what we read in Isa. 14 of the king of Babylon and his blasphemy; he takes the place which belongs to Christ and to Christ alone, and says in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14: 13, 14).


The things stated about the connection of this horn with the daily sacrifice, in the eleventh and following verses, are obscure; but there are some points on which remark may be made, rather in the way of suggestion than in that of teaching.


From the mention of “the daily sacrifice” and the “sanctuary” it is plain that at part of the actings of the horn these things will be found in existence - a portion of the Jews will have returned in unbelief to their own land, and the worship of God will be attempted to be carried on according to the Mosaic ritual.  This horn takes away the daily sacrifice and casts down the place of the sanctuary; this apparently implies that he desecrates it to other purposes.  From verse 12 it appears as if God gave up these things into his hand as not owning or acknowledging the worship so rendered, “by reason of transgression”, and then the opposition of the horn to the truth, and its practising and prospering, are especially mentioned.


It appears that in the history of this horn there are various points or stages of narration to be observed; the particular point to be noticed is the difference between what precedes and what follows the taking away of the daily sacrifice; when that is done his blasphemous position becomes the more marked, as well as his acting in persecution.


In verses 13 and 14 we find the prophet listening to certain inquiries: one holy one speaks and asks, “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?”  And he said unto me [this is remarkable, the answer is made to Daniel and not the inquirer], “Unto two thousand and three hundred days, [evenings, mornings,] and then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” [justified or vindicated].  This term of 2,300* recurrences of the morning and evening sacrifice appears to me to relate to the whole period of this horn’s connection with it; during, first of all, the time in which, as found in other Scriptures (see in “Remarks on the Seventy Heptads, Daniel ix”), it is carried on as upheld and sanctioned by him, and also during the “time, times and a half” (three years and a half) in which he will directly and avowedly oppose God and all worship rendered to Him.


[* Some writers on prophecy have, in their explanations or interpretations of this vision, adopted the reading “two thousand and four hundred days”, and in vindication of it they have referred to the common printed copies of the LXX version.  In this book, however, the translation of Theodotion has been long substituted for the real LXX: and further, although “two thousand four hundred” is found in the common printed Greek copies, that is merely an erratum made in printing the Vatican edition of 1586, which has been habitually perpetuated.  I looked [in 18451 at the passage in the Vatican MS, which the Roman edition professedly followed, and it reads exactly the same as the Hebrew text; so also does the real LXX of Daniel. [So too Cardinal Mai’s edition from the Vatican MS which appeared in 1857.]


The expression “transgression of desolation” is not to be passed over without notice, for it is the first of the varied mentions made in the book of Daniel of that “abomination of desolation” to which our Lord refers us in Matthew 24.


In the explanation in verse 26 all the further light given to Daniel about this latter part of the vision is a confirmation of its truth and certainty: “and the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision: for it shall be for many days”.


The conclusion of the history of the “king of fierce countenance” is briefly this‑“he shall stand up also against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand (verse 25).  These latter words appear to be intended to call back our minds to the description which we had given us in chap. 2 of the destruction of the fabric of Gentile power by a stone cut out of a mountain without hands.  That stone is “the Prince of the kings of the earth, the first born from the dead”, the Lord of all glory; although the power of the enemy in blasphemy goes on long, it reaches its highest point, and the personal interference of the Lord Christ in judgment closes the scene and new things are introduced.  When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed for ever” (Ps. 92: 7).


We find then in this chapter‑


First, the rise of the Grecian power on the ruins of the Medo-Persian.  This gives us the territorial platform of the vision.


Second, the Grecian kingdom in a state of fourfold division.


Third, this fourfold division existing as a thing yet future, at the time of the last end of the indignation, and then another king rises from one of the divided parts.


Fourth, this king acts in blasphemy against God, in persecution against His saints, in tyranny and destructive power over Israel.


Fifth, he stands up against the Prince of princes, and is destroyed by the direct action of God’s power.


We must not leave unnoticed the effect which this vision had upon the mind of the prophet: “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterwards I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.”


The vision appeared as one which held forth a sad prospect for Daniel’s people: here were these sorrows to be endured in future ages.  It is true that, inferentially, a point of bright hope might be discovered, for these things belonged to “the last end of the indignation”.  Beyond, then, all that other prophets had spoken of, blessing and grace must lie in a bright perspective.  But Daniel was confounded at the intervening sorrows; his soul had not been as yet sustained (as we know that it afterwards was) to look through and beyond the sorrow and thus to see the exceeding brightness of the the distant glories.


The place in which we are set is indeed one of many privileges: God looks on His whole redeemed people as one body, “the heir”.  While in a state of nonage, i.e. before Christ came, the Spirit was not given as He now is, as the Spirit of sonship, and as the leader of God’s children into the apprehension of all the truth which is revealed to us in the word.  It is our place to enter into God’s revealed counsels and to see that He is making everything tend onward to the glory of Christ: every portion of truth will have unction for our souls, if we can see it as connected with Him.


In a vision like the present it is true that we have mostly a narrative of evil; but it is our place to see it where it is set in God’s counsels.  We have not to faint or be astonished like Daniel, but to have our souls so filled with the knowledge of Christ, and what God’s purposes of grace are, as to know assuredly that every intervening hindrance will only tend to its more full and glorious display.  Opposition to Christ, and the working of Satan, will reach to a head, and then the Lord, taking the power into His own hand, will be manifested as the King of Israel, as well as being our Head; then will the indignation be accomplished, and the remnant of Jacob will return to “the mighty God”, and Jerusalem, the holy city of the great King, will indeed be made “a praise in the earth”.*


[* I may refer the reader who wishes for further examination into Scripture testimonies concerning the person denoted by the horn in this chapter to a tract of mine entitled The Man of Sin, and also to Prospects of the Ten Kingdoms of the Roman Empire, by B. W. Newton, and to Aids to Prophetic Inquiry, by B. W. Newton (Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony).]



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The soul of a saint always finds establishment when it can truly repose upon the revealed will of God, when, amid the conflict of human thoughts and human actions, it can be brought simply to “God and the word of his grace”.  Those who are not so reposing may only look at the storm, but those who, like Paul in the tossed vessel, have had the word of God brought home to their ear can take courage themselves and rely upon the promise of safety even for the guidance of others.


This gives prophecy a peculiar value to the soul of the instructed Christian - he thus is warned of the coming events; but though he sees them he is not cast down, for he knows the issue beforehand.  Our present calling is to walk in the midst of human things in the full practical recognition of the glories which have been made known to us as belonging to us in Christ our head, above at God’s right hand.  Prophecy has been bestowed on us in order that we may know how, in the midst of confusion and the varied forms of Satan’s working, we may stand and act as those who belong to Christ.  We know as a simple fact how the Church has greatly overlooked this important portion of God’s revealed truth.  We know also how the enemy has sought to cast a kind of discredit upon every effort which is made either for any to understand and use prophecy themselves, or to give instruction to others therein.  But this, instead of leading us to overlook this precious deposit of God’s truth, ought to make us the more earnest in not neglecting that which is so important.


If discredit be cast upon such investigation it ought to cause us to look the more to the God of all grace, that He may vouchsafe to us the teaching of His Spirit that so we may use it aright.


In considering the ninth chapter of Daniel we see at once the value which previous prophecy possessed in his soul.  He had been favoured with many direct communications from God, but here we find him using the prophecy which had been given through Jeremiah as the ground of his confession and prayer.  In the first year of Darius, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”  The “books” to which Daniel refers were apparently the letters which Jeremiah had written to the captives in Babylon (Jer. 29: 10), as well as his other mention of “seventy years” (25: 11).  The date does not commence from the destruction in the reign of Zedekiah, but from the former part of the captivity, when those persons to whom Jeremiah’s letter was addressed were carried away to Babylon.*


[* “Thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29: 10).]


It is interesting to see how Daniel connected hope resting upon promise with prophecy: the hope was that the captives should return from Babylon; but instead of this being vaguely held he used the intelligence which God had given him through prophecy, so that he hoped confidently, while waiting for God’s time before appointed, for the hope to be accomplished.  The knowledge of the detail connected with these things brought his soul into a healthy condition before God as to the exercise of his conscience about these matters.


And so, surely, the Spirit always teaches: we may either follow our speculations about the things which God has revealed, or else have our ears open to hear all His instruction: the latter is our only safeguard against speculation.  Happy is that believer who holds what God has revealed, in dependence upon His grace, and the power of His Spirit, to enable him to use it aright.


But the mind of Daniel did not merely lay hold of the fact of the restoration of his people; this was, indeed, an object of hope, but he saw God, and the working of God in the matter: he saw God as the one who had laid on them this punishment of captivity, as the one who had promised to bring them back, and as the one who had a mind concerning the whole.


And very solemn were the thoughts of the prophet when his heart was thus brought before God: he saw the faithfulness of God in those things which told of judgment, for here was the proof - that they were in Babylon; and thus he was led to what God had said about restoration from captivity in the very places which in the Law of Moses denounced that punishment, Lev. 26: 40, etc.: “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept the punishment of their iniquity: then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraharn will I remember; and I will remember the land.”  So too in Deut. 30 repentance is spoken of as that which God calls for as the prerequisite to His bringing back His people to their land.  These promises of course belong, in their full application, to the future and final deliverance and restoration of Israel; but we find the principle of them taken up and used by Daniel. With regard to the return after the seventy years, God had distinctly said that the fulfilment of His absolute promise should be preceded by prayer: “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. ... And I will be found of you, saith the Lord; and I will turn away your captivity”, etc. (Jer. 29: 12-14).  God had promised to end the Babylonish captivity in seventy years; God had also said that repentance and the confession of their sin, and the sin of their fathers, were prerequisites.  Daniel, instead of seeing these things in opposition to each other, looked at the seeming condition, not as taking away from the certainty of the promise, but rather as stating what God Himself would work and provide.  He relies upon the promise of God, and doing this he takes himself the place of confession and humiliation; he makes confession of the sin of all Israel, their fathers, their kings, and all; he consents to the righteous judgment of God in all that He had wrought, and thus, as it were, on behalf of all Israel “accepts the punishment of their iniquity”.  He pleads with God to work on behalf of his people, and his land, and Jerusalem the holy city, for His own name’s sake that he would now show his faithfulness at the close of the seventy years, in ending the captivity:  0 Lord, hear; 0 Lord, forgive; 0 Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, 0 my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.”


Full of blessed instruction as all the former portion of this chapter is, I am only now regarding it as introductory to the response on God’s part to the prayer of the prophet.  In verses 20, 21, we find that the angel Gabriel was forthwith sent forth to the prophet – “0 Daniel, I am now come to give thee skill and understanding” (verse 22).  We find at the end of chapter 8 that the vision had not been understood; but now the teaching from God assumes a different form.  God gives the instruction by direct statement, and not by symbol which required interpretation.  It is also well to observe that the symbolic visions in this book and their interpretations do not run exactly parallel to each other; each presents certain features which are omitted in the other, and each helps to give definiteness and consistency to the truth taught.


Verse 23: “At the beginning of thy supplication the commandment came forth; and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved”: the margin has here “a man of desires”, whence some have questioned whether it refers to the desire on Daniel’s part to know the things, or to the desires being on God’s part towards him: it is clear from the form of the word that the latter is correct.  Therefore understand the matter and consider the vision.”


The following verses of the chapter contain the prophetic part of the vision: much is comprised in them, but the things spoken of are stated so concisely that they require very particular attention.


Daniel had made inquiry about seventy years of the captivity in Babylon; the answer speaks also of seventy periods, which in our English translation are called “weeks”; the word, however, does not necessarily mean seven days, but a period of seven parts: of course it is much more often used in speaking of a week than of anything else, because nothing is so often mentioned as a week which is similarly divided.  The Hebrews, however, used a septenary scale as to time, just as habitually as we should reckon by tens; the sabbatical years, the jubilees, all tended to give this thought a permanent place in their minds.  The denomination here is to be taken from the subject of Daniel’s prayer; he prayed about years, he is answered about periods of seven years, i.e. the recurrence of sabbatical years.


His prayer had related to the deliverance of Israel from their then captivity, the reply goes much farther: for it sets out, not from the release of the people, but from the edict to restore and to build Jerusalem, and it reaches through events of varied kinds, until the absolute and established blessing on the ground of righteousness and forgiveness is brought in.


I will now give the verses from the 24th to the end, departing in some places from our English translation, together with remarks interspersed; and the whole prophecy may be considered in detail.  I retain the word “week” for convenience sake, and not as implying seven days to be the import of the Hebrew word.*


[* See the Note on the “Year-day System”, below.]


Verse 24: “Seventy weeks have been determined (more strictly, ‘divided’) upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies.” (This expression is used in no other place as signifying a person, nor ought it, I believe, to be so taken here.)


Verse 25: “Know then and understand, from the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince (shall be) seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be again built, and the trench (or scarped rampart), even in pressure of times” (i.e. in times of straitness or pressure).


Verse 26: “And after the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and there shall be nothing for Him; and the city and the sanctuary shall the people destroy of a prince who shall come; and his end shall be in the overflowing; and until the end (there is) war (even) that which is determined for desolations.”


Verse 27: “And he (the prince who shall come) shall confirm a covenant with the many (or with the multitude) for one week; and at half the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing (or pinnacle) of abominations (shall be) that which causeth desolation, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the causer of desolation.”


Here, then, we have the objects of hope placed first, just as we find in the Psalms and so many other portions of prophetic Scripture: the soul is first set in the place of strength by the apprehension of the blessings which are to be brought about; and then the intermediate trials become subjects of prophetic instruction.


In verse 24 the expression “are determined” is more strictly “are divided”; this may relate to the seventy weeks being a period of time divided out, as it were, from the whole course of ages, for God to deal in a particular manner with the Jews and Jerusalem; or it may refer to the period being itself divided into parts, as we see in the verses which follow.


Daniel in his prayer, in addressing God, had constantly spoken of Israel as “thy people”, “thy holy city”, etc.; but the angel Gabriel in the reply takes them up simply as Daniel’s people – “thy people, thy holy city”, etc - as though God would intimate that until the everlasting righteousness should be brought in, He could not in the full sense own them as His.


The various things spoken of “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness”, are all, I believe, future.  I do not regard any of them as referring strictly to the work of Christ upon the cross (although we, as believers in Him, know that many of these things have a blessed application to us), but it rather appears to me that they all belong to the time of Israel’s blessing, when the preciousness of the blood of Christ shall be applied to those “who are spared of them”: when “thou shalt call me my Father; and shalt not turn away from me” (Jer. 3: 19).


I believe that “to seal vision and prophet” means this - to give the seal of confirmation to the vision by the issue of events as predicted; and in the same manner to confirm the prophet by the fulfilment of those things which God has spoken through him.


The expression “to anoint the most holy” (or rather “holy of holies”) has often been taken, as I am well aware, as referring to our blessed Lord; this I believe to be an erroneous application of the words: the expression does not in a single case in any other passage apply to any person, but always to the most holy place of the tabernacle or temple, or else to things such as sacrifices which were “most holy”.  Here I believe that it simply refers to the most holy place, the sanctuary of God, which in the days of Israel’s blessing will be set apart and owned by God as peculiarly His.  My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezek. 37: 77, 78).


These, then, are the objects of hope-circumstances which will be brought to pass when the seventy weeks have run to their termination.  The point from which they commence is next stated: “from the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem”.  This is not the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1: 1), for that was simply to build the house of the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem; neither was it the decree given to Ezra by Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his reign (Ezra 7), for that related to the worship of God, etc.; but it evidently must be the decree given to Nehemiah in the twentieth year of the same Artaxerxes in the month Nisan.  This last is the only decree which we find recorded in Scripture which relates to the restoring and building of the city.  It must be borne in mind that the very existence of a place as a city depended upon such a decree, for before that, any who returned from the land of captivity were only in the condition of sojourners; it was the decree that gave them a recognised and distinct political existence.*


[* On The 20th of Artaxerxes. - Some have found a difficulty in making out the chronology of the seventy weeks, because they have thought that the time from the 20th of Artaxerxes to the crucifixion of our Lord would not fully accord with that marked out in the prophecy.  If it had been so, it need have surprised no one; whatever be the result of chronological calculations, the word of God is the same; we know that it is certain, and everything else must bend to it.


But here I believe the difficulty to be wholly imaginary.  It is true that we may find some from the date pointed in the margin of our Bibles; but the history of this date, as it there stands, is rather curious.  Archbishop Ussher drew up a scheme of Chronology which is commonly followed, rather from convenience than from its absolute correctness being supposed.  About a hundred and fifty years ago Bishop Lloyd undertook to affix Archbishop Ussher’s dates to our English Bibles; but, in this instance, he made a considerable alteration and substituted another date of his own, so as to adapt the reign of Artaxerses to his own theory.


The date which stands in our Bibles for the 20th of Artaxerxes is 446 B.C. - this makes the commencement of his reign 465 B.C.; but the authority of the best and most nearly contemporary historian will put the matter in a very different light.  Thucydides mentions that the accession of Artaxerxes had taken place before the flight of Themistocles; this authorises us to adopt Ussher’s date and to place the commencement of the reign 473 or 474 B.C.  This would give the date of 454 or 455 B.C.  If we add to this the date of the crucifixion it will just give us the exact period of the sixty-nine weeks.  In doing this we must remember that the birth of our Lord was about four years before the common era, so that the thirty-third year of His life, when He is supposed to have suffered, would correspond with the year twenty-nine of our reckoning. I believe this to have been the true date; first because of the day of the week on which the passover commenced in that year; and also, because of the consuls of that year (the two Gemini) having been mentioned by several writers as those of the year when our Lord was put to death.


This remark does not affect the instruction given us by God in this chapter; it is a point which I only notice for the removal of difficulties.


It is great pity that Archbishop Ussher’s date should in this particular have been misrepresented: it was a point to which he had paid particular attention.  About the year 1613 he lectured on the subject at Trinity College, Dublin, resting on the testimony of Thucydides.  He then discussed difficulties connected with the supposed length of the reigns of Darius and Xerxes so as to adapt other events to this certain date.  From October 1615 he corresponded at various times on the point with Thomas Lydiat (the scholar most familiar with such subjects of any in England), until 1643; and in 1650, after thirty-seven years of minute consideration, he published the result in his Annales Veteris Testamenti, where the date is 3531.  This answers in Ussher’s Collatio Annorum to 474 13.c., or the third year of the seventy-sixth Olympiad.  His judgment in 1613 seems to have been doubtful; but in 1617 he says, “These things being laid together do show, that the expulsion of Themistocles from Athens fell no later than the beginning of the fourth year of the seventy-sixth Olympiad; to which time you (i.e. Lydiat) doubtfully refer the beginning of his troubles; how much sooner soever, my opinion is, that at that time Themistocles fled into Persia, as Eusebius noteth, whose testimony I have no reason to discredit, unless I have some better testimony or reason to oppose against it.  The year before that, which is the third of the seventy-sixth Olympiad, I suppose Artaxerxes Longimanus to have begun his reign: to whom, as yet Themistocles fled, as Thucydides sufficiently proveth” (Works, xv, p. 111).


Ussher in thus laying down this date had no motive for bringing the space of 485 years from the 2oth of Artaxerxes to A.D. 29; for his division of the seventy Heptads differs from mine, and he did not regard A.D. 29 as the date of the crucifixion of our Lord.]


The twentieth of Artaxerxes gives us a starting point from which the reckoning of the seventy weeks begins; we have next to pay attention to the manner in which this period is divided into distinct parts.  Two portions of the time are first spoken of – “From the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks”: i.e. two periods, the one forty-nine years, the other four hundred and thirty-four years; the whole period of the four hundred and ninety years being included, except seven years.


There is next added, “the street shall be built again, and the scarped rampart, even in pressure of times”; then follows, “and after the threescore and two weeks”, etc.  Hence it is clear that the whole period from the decree to Messiah the Prince is four hundred and eighty-three years, and that forty-nine of these years are appropriated to something peculiar; the only thing so mentioned has been the building of the street, rampart, etc. - these things are, I judge, to be allotted to the first division of the time, namely, forty-nine years.


Some have thought that this same interpretation was supported by the expression “in pressure of times”, which they would render “in the shorter space of time” - a rendering wholly destitute of ground, only supported indeed by its supposed fitness in this place.  I quite agree with the explanation which allots the first forty-nine years to these events, but I could not support it by any such supposed rendering.


But it may be asked, What is the evidence that forty-nine years were spent in the restoration of the city?  I answer, I believe it to have been so, simply on the authority of this passage; no other portion of Scripture says anything about the length of time, and here forty-nine years are mentioned, and also the restoration of the city is so placed in juxtaposition that they appear clearly to belong together.


Verse 26: “And after the threescore and two weeks, shall Messiah be cut off”; this period is marked by the definite article as identical with the threescore and two weeks of the preceding verse.  The four hundred and eighty-three years from the issuing of the decree run on “to Messiah the Prince”; it becomes then important to inquire to what part of our Lord’s earthly path the reference is made.  He was “born King of the Jews”, but this appears to be something more than the mere title: now, the only time in which we find the Lord Jesus taking this title in the presence of Jerusalem was six days before He suffered, when He came thither on the ass’s colt; He was then presented as King, and six days afterwards was put to death as the King of the Jews.  I should regard the limit “unto Messiah the Prince as reaching on to His having been thus presented to Jerusalem.  It is worthy of remark that the decree of Artaxerxes was issued in the month Nisan, the very month in which the passover was kept, and in which our Lord both rode into Jerusalem and was crucified.


I should not thus consider the expression After the threescore and two weeks” as implying an interval; but rather as being just the same as “at the end of the sixty-two weeks”, “when they are accomplished”.


The words which stand in our English version, “but not for Himself”, have often been taken as if they spoke of the vicarious character of our Saviour’s suffering; this would however be, I believe, placing a most true and important doctrine upon an insufficient basis.  I believe that the words simply imply, “and there shall be nothing for Him” - He will be rejected, and His earthly kingdom will be a thing on which He will not then enter.


The series of years has run on unhinderedly from the issuing of the edict to the cutting off of Messiah; but at this part of the vision there are various events spoken of before the one remaining week comes into notice at all.  And the city and the sanctuary shall the people destroy of a prince who shall come.”  This refers, I have no doubt, to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; as was also foretold by our Lord in Luke 21, “When ye see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”  This destruction is here said to be wrought by a certain people; not by the prince who shall come, but by his people. This refers us, I believe, to the Romans as the last holders of undivided Gentile power: they wrought the destruction long ages ago.  The prince who shall come is the last head of the Roman power, the person concerning whom Daniel had received so much previous instruction.  It is most important to attend to the exact words of the passage; it is thus that we avoid the mistake of confounding the people and the prince who afterwards springs up.


And his end shall be in the overflowing”: I suppose that this speaks of the end of the prince who shall come; in the expression “the overflowing” allusion seems to be made to some known event in prophecy; I suppose that it is the same overflowing as that which is alluded to in Isa. 10: 22 and 28: 18.  This would identify the time of this prince with the crisis of Israel’s history; this identification is (as we shall see) yet more decidedly brought out in the subsequent part of the vision.


The interval up to “the end” is only characterised by war and desolations; just so our Lord teaches us in Matt. 24, “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”  The expression “that which is determined” appears to be taken up from Isa. 10: 23.


The vision gives us no intimation about the times of events which belong to the interval - we only find at the cutting off of Messiah, one seven years is unaccomplished; this “reserved week”, as some have aptly called it, belongs to the time of the prince who shall come.


Verse 27: “And he (the prince who shall come) shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week.”  In “Remarks on Chapter 8” I sought to show that the horn spoken of in the two chapters is identical, and here he again appears to come before us; in fact, the allusion seems to be made to known circumstances about him.  He makes a covenant with the multitude; that of course means the multitude of Daniel’s people, they are leagued with him and he with them.  This takes place three years and a half before he causes sacrifice and oblation to cease, hence it is clear that they go on as under his patronage for some time.  This will, I believe, throw some light upon the two thousand three hundred days mentioned in chapter 8: 14.  We find him here making a covenant for one seven years, then breaking it at the end of three years and a half; and the removal of sacrifice, etc, is so spoken of as to connect it with the breaking of the covenant.  This tends, I think, to show that one thing done in pursuance of this covenant had been the establishment of the temple worship.  The period of two thousand three hundred days is a few months short of the whole term of the seven years, enough being not included, it may be, to be allotted for those preparations which will be needful for the worship to be set up; then follows the time during which it is carried on under his auspices, and then follow three years and a half of distinct persecuting and blasphemous power.


The character of this period of three years and a half is to be specially gathered from chapter 7, in which mention is made of “a time, times, and a half”, and also from the forty and two months, 1,260 days, etc., which are spoken of in the book of Revelation.


The identity of the time, times, and a half, of chapter 7, with the last half week of this chapter, might almost be taken for granted; the proof, however, is simple: the horn in chapter 7 acts in blasphemy and persecution until the Lord Jesus and His people take the kingdom; the three years and a half run on to that point; here in this chapter the whole period of seventy weeks issues in the absolute and established blessing of Israel, Daniel’s people - the week of this covenant is the last portion of the seventy weeks, and the half week after the sacrifice is taken away is the latter portion of that week.  Thus the period in chapter 7 and the concluding period before us run on to the same point, they are also equal in duration; hence they begin at the same time and are altogether identical.  If we would form a just estimate of the events of the last half week we must gather it from chapter 7.: here we have the same power in its local connection with Jerusalem.


The seventy weeks when distributed into portions will then stand thus:


1. From the edict to the building of the wall, etc. 49 years


2. From the building to Messiah the Prince, and his cutting off 434



[Then an interval of unmarked length.]



3. The period of the covenant of “the prince that shall come” 7


One of the blessings spoken of in verse 24 had been “to finish the transgression”; this may be suitably compared with the expression in chapter 8, “when the transgressors are come to the full”.


And upon the wing of abominations [shall be] that which causeth desolation.” The phraseology of this passage is rather obscure, but I believe that this is the meaning of the words.  The transgression of desolation” had been mentioned in the previous vision.  This appears to be a reference to what had been there said  - there is further elucidation to be obtained from what we find in the subsequent vision - but all these passages have a solemn interest and importance for us, when we remember what our Saviour said in Matt. 24, “When ye see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the Holy place; whoso readeth, let him understand” then do so and so.


The Holy place” is that in which this abomination will be set; this of course means the temple of God at Jerusalem.  This place was once honoured by His manifested presence; and, little as God can own or recognise the worship which the Jews may offer there in unbelief, whether in times past or future, yet the place is that which He looks upon as one with which His own honour is greatly connected: it is the Holy place still.  An abomination, in Scripture language, signifies an idol - that on account of which God brings in desolation.  This idol appears to be set in some most conspicuous place, the wing or pinnacle, which is thence called “the wing of abominations”.  Our Lord speaks of “the Holy place” as that in which the abomination of desolation is set - the place is here termed “the wing of abominations” - in the one case, the place is regarded according to the thoughts of God; in the other, according to the actings of man, in matured evil against God.


These things - the cessation of sacrifice, and that which causeth desolation standing on the pinnacle - continue, “even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the causer of desolation”.  The expression “the consummation and that determined” is quoted from Isa. 10: 22, 23.  This connection is one of great interest; for on the one hand the return of the remnant of Jacob to the mighty God is spoken of, and on the other, faith is encouraged not to be afraid of the terrible power of Asshur.


In rendering the concluding word by “the causer of desolation” I believe that I follow the true sense of the original.  I am quite aware that the verb, the participle of which is here employed, is used sometimes in a neuter, and at other times in an active, sense; sometimes implying that which is made desolate, at others that which occasions the desolation.  I believe that the former of these is the more common, but the latter is proved, I think, to be its sense in this connection, by chapter 12: 2, where it is clear that the abomination that maketh desolate is spoken of, and not anything which has been made desolate.


It is indeed remarkable to see how Daniel was confided with the counsels of God in these things; the response to his prayer gave him instruction as to far deeper truths.  He only thought of the past iniquity of his people, God thought of a deeper iniquity when they will receive one who comes in His own name, after Messiah has been rejected; when He makes a covenant with them, and it issues in awful idolatry.  Grace and faithfulness would have been displayed in bringing the people back from Babylon, but how much more would God manifest these things when they stand in contrast to the ripened iniquity of man as found in Jerusalem!  It was Daniel’s place to look at all these things and to learn God in them, to see Him as above the whole, and to apprehend something of what the full manifestation of this grace will be, and what the blessings in store for Jerusalem and for Israel are, when the seventy weeks have run their course.  This might in some measure enable Daniel to enter into God’s mind; and we must remember that Gabriel was expressly sent to give him skill and understanding.


These seventy weeks appear to me to relate to the period of God’s defined dealings with the city of Jerusalem and the people there, from the time when it should be reconstituted as a city, and onward.  At the cutting off of Messiah the recognition ends; then comes the interval, and the time is again taken up for one week at the close. There is one thing relative to this subject which it appears to me to be desirable to notice, though not exactly connected with the chapter.  Some have thought from such an interval being found here, and from the Church having become a constituted body upon earth just at the end of the sixty-ninth week, that it was no longer found on earth when the interval is past and the seventieth begins.  Nothing about the matter can be found from the vision, the Church not being mentioned in it.


But other parts of Daniel throw abundant light upon the matter; the horn of chapter 7 wears out the saints of the most high places, until the coming of the Son of Man and the taking of the kingdom; in fact, the time of their being persecuted is the same three years and a half as the last portion of time before us here.


But the whole question is rendered perfectly simple by such statements of the New Testament as “Let both grow together until the harvest” (Matt. 13: 30).  Thus there will be both tares and wheat upon this earth till then; true believers in Christ, and others who put on the semblance or profession, until the end of the age.


Also, “blindness in part hath happened unto Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11: 25, 26).  The issue stated in this passage is the same as that of the vision before us, namely, the established blessing of Daniel’s people.  That blindness in part which was upon them when the Apostle Paul wrote, and which is upon them still, will remain until the fullness of the Gentiles, those whom God by His grace converts from among the Gentiles, shall have been brought in.  And then what follows?  The salvation of all Israel.  If we suppose the [whole] Church to be taken away before the time of “the prince who shall come” of this chapter, then we must say that Israel’s deepest and most awful blindness, instead of being until the coming in of the fullness of the Gentiles, is after it is completed altogether.


I do not go into more elaborate evidence as to this point: I merely suggest a few simple facts.  I only add that our Lord, in His use of the prophecy of Daniel and His whole teaching in Matt. 24, assumes that some of His beloved Church will continue to be cared for as His sheep upon earth, until He comes in manifested glory, until He destroys “that wicked” with the breath of his mouth.


Some may think these observations on this point to be mere digression - I think so myself, and I only add them because of statements having been not only connected with the ninth of Daniel, but even based upon it, statements which have no relation whatever to the contents of the chapter.


It is remarkable to observe the difference between the manner in which God reveals truth, and that in which man would seek to gain knowledge.  Those things which God reveals are not only profitable themselves, but the manner also in which they are presented is for profit.  This we shall do well to bear in mind in reading God’s word: it is easy for us to get out minds informed about truth and to hold it apart from God; but what we have to seek is that our hearts and consciences may be so exercised by all we read of God’s revealed counsels that we may have deeper apprehensions of grace and learn more of the glories of Jesus our Lord.



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Many have adopted a principle of interpretation with regard to designations of time, when they are found in prophecy, to which they have given the name of “the year-day system”.  This principle is that in such prophetic designations of time the literal meaning must not be held, but that in all expressions of periods of time in future events a day stands as the representative of a year, and all other spaces of time in similar proportion.


There are not a few who hold this as an opinion so established in their minds that they regard it as an undoubted truth, without knowing definitely on what grounds it was adopted; they speak of a prophetic day or a prophetic year as if it were an axiom that these expressions denote the one a literal year, and the other a term of three hundred and sixty literal years.


On this principle they would interpret the designations of time in the book of Daniel and in the Revelation; they thus speak of the I,260 years and the 2,300 years.  Of course, if we find distinct Scripture warrant for this assumed canon we must bow to it, and interpret accordingly.  But if this canon is supposed to be a deduction from Scripture, let us examine whether the inference be legitimate, and let the reception or the rejection depend on the grounds of proof.


It is not, I believe, stated by any that this canon is a subject of direct teaching in Scripture, at least none of the points advanced seem to be relied on as showing this; some of the maintainers of the system expressly repudiate such a thought, for instance Mr. Conder says:


The application of the year-day principle to the prophecy would, a priori, have been incapable of proof, and might seem scarcely compatible with probability(Literary History of the New Testament, P. 585).  And to this he subjoins the following note:


It is admitted that, for the first four centuries, the days mentioned in the prophecies of Daniel and in the Apocalypse were interpreted literally by the Fathers of the Church; but from the fifth to the twelfth century, a mystical meaning came to be attached to the period of 1,260 days, though not the true one.  At the close of the fourteenth century, Walter Brute first suggested the year-day interpretation, which was fully espoused by the Magdeburg Centuriators, and applied to the Papacy (Elliott, vol. ii, pp. 965‑972).  That the true solution of the enigma should not have occurred to the earlier writers, is not surprising.  It was not intended, and was scarcely possible, that it should be shown, a priori, that such was the principle of interpretation.  As Mr. Elliott remarks, while the period was yet distant, a moral purpose was answered by a temporary veil of mystery being thrown over the prophetic period; for the Church was not to know the times and seasons, that she might be kept from the earliest age in the attitude of watchful expectation.  It was accordingly, not till the time drew near, that the solution of the chronological enigma began to be perceived.  Nor does it form any objection to its truth, that the a priori evidence scarcely amounts to a probability, when the a posteriori demonstration is all but irresistible.  It seems to be the divine intention that the discovery of the prophetic mystery should wait upon the facts, not anticipate them.”  Some, who have received the year-day principle without inquiry, will be surprised at these admissions of the weakness of the a priori evidence by which it is upheld; others may think that too much is surrendered.  At all events, however, it must be owned that this canon of interpretation is not known as an intuitive truth; the early Church knew no such axiom; and therefore I hold that it should be shown to be either laid down in Scripture or else that it should be proved thereby, before any one can be expected to receive it, and before it is applied to the interpretation of prophetic statements.


In the quotation just given I do not suppose that anything irreverent was intended in saying that “a moral purpose was answered by a temporary veil of mystery being thrown over the prophetic period”; but surely such ideas and expressions should be avoided.  It is by truth that God teaches His people, and thus we can never attribute to Him the accomplishment of a moral purpose by that which would be a virtual deception.  He may produce a moral effect by leaving us uninformed as to many things; but this is wholly different from such an effect being wrought by positively false conclusions and opinions occupying the mind.  Where Scripture is silent, we know nothing as to God’s truth, and this silence may accomplish a moral purpose; but where the Scripture speaks to us, how can it be according to God’s mind and appointment that a moral purpose should be answered by our thoroughly misunderstanding it, by its being for ages a delusive light?  Scripture may mislead the rejecters of truth, but God can never have designed that it should direct His people wrongly: had He done this, He would have made the reverse of truth profitable to their souls.  If it is right that we should now understand the designations of time in prophecy, it was equally right from the earliest period of the gathering of the Church.  Unless the Scripture taught, as a fact, that God had drawn such a veil, I would not believe it; and if I thus learned that a veil existed, I would not believe that it had been withdrawn, unless I had distinct proof to that effect.  To do otherwise would be to assume the existence of some other depository of God’s truth beside the treasury of holy Scripture.  Observe, I do not say that Scripture truth on various points may not have been misunderstood, and that for long ages; this is wholly different from maintaining that God laid over His Scripture, from the first, a veil of mystery.  Our hearts are dull of apprehension, so that they constantly need the teaching of the Spirit of God; the Scripture itself is the recorded testimony of that same Spirit.


God has taught us in His word what is our object of hope; He also teaches us the intermediate scenes as to some of their more important features.  A right apprehension of any of the details set before us can never deaden in our minds the moral “attitude of watchful expectation”.  Nay, it is only so far as we are truthfully instructed that we can watch and expect aright.


What, then, are the Scripture proofs which are advanced in favour of the year-day system?


It is true that some expositors show that this principle is needful in their explanations of the prophecies themselves; this really is only a petitio principii: a certain exposition cannot stand, unless this canon is assumed, therefore (it is concluded) the canon must be true.  The right mode of treating the question would be this: if a certain exposition stands or falls together with a canon of interpretation on which it is based, then the exposition in question must be held or not according as that canon is proved or supported by God’s word.  I am quite aware that dogmatic arguments are sometimes employed: such a doctrinal system depends on such a mode of interpretation, therefore that mode of interpretation must be maintained; and then when a great deal has been said on the doctrinal importance of the points involved, it seems to some minds as if strong a posteriori grounds, at least, had been assigned for the mode of interpretation.  This, however, is not a legitimate mode of drawing deductions from Scripture. We can never judge of the truth of any part of Revelation by our notions of its importance.


If, then, the prophecies containing designations of time do not state anything on the face of them which supports such a mode of interpretation, we must look elsewhere for the a priori grounds of this opinion; I have then to consider certain passages which are commonly referred to in support of this hypothesis.


1. Numbers 14: 34: “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years.”


This passage speaks of a denounced fact, but in it there is nothing that implies a principle of interpretation.  The spies had searched the land of promise forty days, and God sentences the murmuring and rebellious Israelites to wander in the wilderness the same number of years.  In the prophetic part of the verse years are literal years and not the symbol of anything else.  Apply the year-day system to this passage, and then “forty years” will expand into a vast period of fourteen thousand four hundred years.  All that can be deduced from this passage, as to the connection of the terms “day” and “year”, is that as the search of the land had occupied forty literal days, so the wandering in the wilderness should continue for forty literal years.  Literal years answer to literal days.


2. Ezekiel 4: 4-6: “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity.  For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.  And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”


Now this is not a symbolic prophecy at all, but simply a symbolic action, which was commanded by God; and unless there had been the express statement we never could have known that what Ezekiel did, for so many days, really represented the actions of the same number of years.  It is true that this is an instance in which a day symbolically represents a year, but the way in which this is done is wholly different from any such ground being taken as though in prophetic language the one were used for the other.


If in this passage day meant year, or if it were to be interpreted by year, what should we find? - that Ezekiel was commanded to lie on his left side three hundred and ninety years, and on his right side forty years.


3. Another passage which has been used as a basis for this system is the latter part of the ninth of Daniel; some, however, of the strenuous advocates of the year-day principle fairly own that it has no bearing upon the question.  Its supposed connection arises from the word rendered “week”, having been taken as though it must be simply in its literal meaning seven days.  This might be called wholly a question of lexicography; the word itself is strictly something divided into or consisting of seven parts - a heptad, a hebdomad.  It bears the same grammatical relation to the numeral seven as one of the Hebrew words used for ten does to the other of similar meaning.  Gesenius simply defines its meaning to be “a septenary number”, he then speaks of its use as applied sometimes to days, sometimes to years; the word itself, however, defines nothing as to the denomination to which it belongs, whether the one or the other.  In Ezek. 45: 21 it is used almost entirely like a numeral, standing with a feminine plural termination in connection with a masculine noun (according to the peculiar usage of numerals in Hebrew and the cognate languages); and this passage is important as showing its use.  It is not to be denied nor yet to be wondered at that it should be more often used of week than anything else, for this obvious reason, that of all things admitting a septenary division there is nothing so often spoken of as a week.  In this sense, however, it more commonly takes the feminine plural termination.


In the present passage it takes its denomination from years, which had been previously mentioned in Daniel’s prayer.  Daniel had been praying to God, and making confession on behalf of his people, because he saw that the seventy years, which had been denounced as the term of the captivity of Judah, were accomplished; and thus the denomination of years connects itself with the answer granted to him.  He had made inquiry about the accomplishment of seventy years; he receives an answer relative to seventy heptads of years.  The word has here the masculine plural termination, which may arise from year being feminine; but this could not be absoluely stated as the reason, for it is once used (Dan. 10: 2) with the masculine plural joined to days.*


[* In this case, the addition of the [Hebrew] word … days, is important, as it shows that the term might else be understood differently: it is therefore a natural addition, especially as it comes just after the prophecy of the seventy heptads years.]


I am well aware that strong assertions have been made to this effect: that if we follow the conventional reading (i.e. with points) it is simply “seventy weeks” (i.e. of seven days), but that if we reject the points, it must mean “seventy seventies”; this statement is very incorrect.  I do read with the points, but the argument does not rest upon them.  I do not admit that periods of seven days are necessarily indicated by the word itself.  But if we paid no attention to the points, we are not left to any such meaningless rendering as “seventy seventies”; the fact must have been overlooked that in verse 27, where the word occurs in the singular, it is twice written full (i.e. with the letter Vav inserted), and this, without any points to help us, decides the matter.


In translating we may use the word “week” not at all as conceding the point of the meaning of the Hebrew word, but simply for convenience’ sake, and as requiring less explanation and circumlocution than any other in common use.  I believe that I need say no more to prove that this ninth of Daniel in no way upholds the year-day scheme.


4. Luke 13: 31, 37: “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out and depart hence, for Herod will kill thee.  And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.”


In transcribing this passage, I feel such astonishment at its ever having been used as the basis of an argument on the subject that I think that some readers may be incredulous as to the fact; I must inform such, that the passage was used a century and a half ago by Fleming (whose speculations as to the weakening of the Papacy were deemed by many, in 1848, so wonderfully convincing), and recently by Mr. Birks.  But what use can they make of the passage?  Mr. Birks says that the incident occurred several weeks before our Lord’s sufferings.  He therefore interprets it thus, “our Lord’s ministry commencing with a passover, closed at the passover, after an exact interval of three years.  The words of this passage would therefore exactly describe the continuance of that ministry: the three days importing the three years.”  On this I remark, first, that if our Lord’s ministry did continue exactly three years, it is what no one has distinctly proved, and if true, it is not what is commonly held;* and, secondly, that if in this instance our Lord meant years by days, there must at this very time have been at least two years (“to-morrow and the third day”) of His ministry yet to come.  Most readers will, I should think, consider that the three days here are as literal as the three days during which our Lord lay in the grave, and that the term “third day” is here as simply third day as in the passage which speaks of the marriage at Cana in Galilee.  I am not now concerned to expound the passage in Luke, but it seems to me to relate to our Lord’s arrival at Jerusalem, three days, I should think, after this conversation.


[* Three years and six months is the term ordinarily assigned to our Lord’s ministry, while others would limit it to a year and a few months, and others (such as Dr. Chr. Benson) think that the Gospels supply evidence that it continued for about two years and a half.  In the face of this uncertainty of opinion I was surprised to see the direct asertion that it lasted exactly three years.  I do not remember any writer who had held this.  I do not think that it could be proved from Scripture that it began at the passover; at least it had commenced before the passover in John 2, and is the first spoken of in connection with our Lord’s ministry.]


5. Mr. Elliott has recently brought forward Heb. 7: 27 as another passage to support the year-day system: “Who needed not daily as those high-priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s”.  Mr. Elliott supposes (following Macknight) that the high-priest offered sacrifice but once in a year and therefore daily must mean yearly.  On this mistake (for a simple mistake it is) the supposed argument drawn from this passage entirely rests.  On this point I need only refer to Mr. Newton’s Aids to Prophetic Inquiry (First Series, 2nd ed.), pp. 176, 177.


In all these passages the days when mentioned are simply days and the years simply years: there is not a single phrase in which it is said that the word days must mean years, except the very places the meaning of which is the point under discussion.  One supposition cannot be brought forward as proof of another.


A distinction has indeed been drawn between symbolic and literal prophecies: it is said that in the former we are not to understand days literally, but as the symbols of something else.  If this distinction be good, no literal prophecies ought to be brought forward amongst the supposed proofs: the sentence of forty years of wandering was a literal, not a symbolic, denunciation; Ezekiel, indeed, lay on his side symbolically; but there was no prophecy in the case at all.  The use which has been made of this distinction has been to seek thus to avoid the force of literal periods of time mentioned in prophecy which have been literally fulfilled.


And now, to consider the principal statements of time to which this supposed canon is applied:they are -


1. The time, times, and a half, Dan. 7: 25 and 12: 7.


2. The two thousand three hundred days, Dan. 8: 14.


3. The twelve hundred and ninety days, Dan. 12: 11.


4. The thirteen hundted and five and thirty days, Dan. 12: 12.


5. The five months, Rev. 9: 5, 10.


6. The hour, and day, and month, and year, Rev. 9: 15.


7. The three days and a half, Rev. 11: 9, 11.


The first of these periods is mentioned in the same manner in the book of Revelation 12: 14; in that book we also find a similar period spoken of as forty and two months, 11: 2, 13: 5; and twelve hundred and sixty days, 11: 3, 12: 6.  In neither of the passages in Daniel does this designation of time occur in the midst of a symbolic prophecy at all; for in chapter 7 the period is spoken of in the plain literal interpretation of the symbolic horn, which is said to mean a literal king, who shall subdue three literal kings (not described as horns in this part of the chapter), into whose hand the saints shall be given for a time, times, and half a time - three years and a half. If we make these words symbolic, may we not arbitrarily explain away any other expression of Scripture?  In chapter 12 there is no symbol at all; the communicator of truth to Daniel “held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half”.  It seems to me as if the solemnity of this oath, “by Him that liveth for ever”, would exclude the thought of mere metaphor and symbol: at least I know of no words in Scripture on which emphatic exactitude is more impressed.


But when we turn to the book of Revelation and see how variously this period is expressed, 1,260 days, forty and two months, a time times and half, it seems as if care had been taken to prevent all possibility of misconception; whether occurring in symbolic description or in literal explanation, the same isochronous expressions are repeated.* As to “time, times, and a half”, we have the period stated in three languages, Chaldee, Hebrew, and Greek.


[* I may mention that when first my attention was directed to the prophetic parts of Scripture it was by this threefold mode of speaking of the same term in the book of Revelation that I was led to inquire into the grounds of the year-day theory - a thing of which everyone who knows anything about Scripture has heard traditionally, whether interested in prophecy or not.  As a Hebraist I was already aware that the passage in Daniel 9 had no bearing in favour of the theory; and the varied mode of statement in the Revelation showed me that unless it possessed distinct proof it was not to be received.


The maintainers of the year-day theory accuse those who reject it with repeating the same arguments over and over again: perhaps they do this, but what of that?  If we seek truth, not originality, we shall often act thus. How can we set forth the foundation doctrines of Christianity - the redemption of Christ, and the testimony borne by the Holy Ghost to the efficacy of His blood for the salvation of every believing sinner - without repeating what has been spoken reiteratedly from the Day of Pentecost and onward?  And do not the upholders of this theory repeat the same arguments?  Although I care but little whether I say the same things as others have said before me (so long as the things are true), I may inform the reader that my views on the year-day system were published in 1836; so that at least I did not copy from subsequent writers.  Let, however, truth be maintained, as set forth in Scripture, irrespective of such points as who those may be who have previously held the same.]


The second passage (Dan. 8: 14) is literally “unto two thousand three hundred evenings mornings”, referring to the offering of the daily sacrifice each morning and evening.  This also occurs in an explanation, so that the symbolic theory (even if it had any true foundation, instead of being, as it is, a gratuitous assumption) would avail nothing.  The expression seems such as intentionally to exclude all thought of other than real days.


The third and fourth passages (in Dan. 12) have nothing whatever to connect them with symbols, or with anything other than literal statement.  In fact there is nothing to bring these under the year-day theory, except it be an assumed interpretation.


The fifth of the passages has nothing whatever in it to call for this theory as needful. There is nothing to hint any meaning except five literal months.


The sixth passage has been supposed by some to intimate a very precisely defined period of three hundred and ninety-one years, fifteen days.  This would require proof.  I cannot see that it speaks of a period of time at all; the passage only says that the four angels were loosed that “had been prepared for the hour, and day, and month, and year” - a solemn designation (as it seems to me) of the point of time spoken of; just so our Lord says, “of that day and hour knoweth no man”.


The seventh passage, “three days and a half”, Rev. 11, has nothing in it to require any other than the literal interpretation.  Some advocates of the year-day system have been fond of laying stress on this passage, because, they say, that it was early perceived by the Church that the period meant three.years and a day.  Had this been the fact it would have proved nothing to any who does not feel bound to follow a supposed consensus patrum in the understanding of Scripture.  The fact has, however, been over-stated.  Prosper, in the fifth century, says that the three days and a half of the slain witnesses answer to the three years and a half of antichrist.  Others repeated the expression a little more strongly; but such passing remarks do not invalidate the correctness of the statement of Mr. Conder that “at the close of the fourteenth century” “the year-day interpretation” was “first suggested”.*


[* As far as I know, the first who spoke of a period of twelve hundred and sixty years was the celebrated Abbot Joachim of Calabria at the close of twelfth century.  But he did not excogitate this as a prophetic period using any year-day theory, but he formed it from the designation of : “a time, times and the dividing of time”, thus: he assumed a time to be the largest measure of time in use amongst men, a thousand years; times  to be two of the next smaller measures of time, two hundred years: the dividing of time he assumed to be part of the last-named measure; he probably adopted sixty precisely (instead of fifty which he should have done as it is properly “half a time”) from the analogy of the 1,260 days.  I ought to inform the reader that Abbot Joachim considered himself to be inspired.  The year-day theory of two centuries later seems to be only a carrying out of the supposed revelation to Abbot Joachim.]


But still, even if we have no exact proof of the theory, may we not apply it to the interpretation of Scripture? Is every word in the Bible to be taken literally?


There is nothing relative to Scripture which can be pressed as a matter of teaching, unless it can be proved from Scripture, or from the force of the words, or from the facts of the case: and thus no one can be condemned for rejecting a theory not so proved.  No doubt that in the Bible, as well as in other books, figurative terms and expressions are used.  Thus, when our Lord called Herod “a fox” He used a figure which none could mistake; when He said “Destroy this temple” he used a figure of deep meaning, which was misunderstood.  But where there is no figure at all, we have no authority to go out of our way to invent one; especially when it is both inapt and inapplicable.  This mode of procedure will never aid us in understanding Scripture, for thus we should only be bending it to our own minds, instead of taking the place of learners and inquiring, What has the Spirit of God written for our instruction?


Thus the meaning of the words day and year may be considered a simple matter of lexicographical investigation, just as is the import of the word rendered week in Dan. 9; and then the responsibility of proving that they may signify something else rests upon those who so understand them.  But with regard to Scripture terms, we need not always treat them as mere matters of lexicography, and in the case before us we possess ample and absolute evidence against that theory, the supposed proofs of which have been discussed.


1. In Dan. 4: 16, 23, and 32, king Nebuchadnezzar was told that he should be driven from men, etc., “till seven times should pass over him”.  This on the year-day theory would be a period of two thousand five hundred and twenty years - longer than from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the present day.  And the term “seven times” occurs both in the symbolic part of the chapter and in the literal, so that the force of words cannot be avoided by any such distinction.  Nebuchadnezzar, however, says (verse 28). “All this came upon the king Nebuchidnezzar.”  The prophecy related to literal years, and in literal years was it accomplished.  If then, in chapter 4, seven times are seven actual years, of course the period in chapter 7 is half that number.  Thus king Nebuchadnezzar is an unexceptional witness that prophetic Scripture does not admit the year-day theory.


2. The next witness is Daniel the prophet himself.  In chapter 9: 2 he tells us that he understood by books the prophecy of Jeremiah that the Lord would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.  Daniel did not understand the period spoken of by Jeremiah, according to the arbitrary canon which some would now apply to his own prophecies.  He understood seventy years to mean seventy years and not twenty-five thousand two hundred years.  Thus this very chapter of Daniel, from which some (even though it is a prophecy free from all symbol) would draw a proof of their theory, supplies decisive evidence against it.


3. The prediction of our Lord as to his own resurrection on the third day is also of importance.  It is useless to evade the application of this and similar passages by saying that they do not occur in symbolic prophecies; the answer is simply, “Neither do some of the passages to which you apply the year-day theory; they, too, are in simple statements.”  Thus, if, in the case of our Lord’s burial, the third day meant day and not year, then we may plainly see that the canon which assigns the meaning of year to the word day, when it is used in prophecy, utterly fails in its application.


Instances might be multiplied - such for example as the four hundred years in Genesis 15 foretold to Abraham as the limit of the bondage of his descendants in Egypt - but it is needless to accumulate proofs when the point is established, according to the Scripture rule, at the mouth of two or three witnesses.


This, then, is a case in which the Scripture has spoken; we are not, therefore, at liberty to form any conclusions of our own (as if it had been silent) whether day might not mean or symbolise year; we are bound in subjection to the word of God to say that it does not and cannot so mean, and that thus every interpretation which depends on that theory is necessarily incorrect.


If we were to admit a non-scriptural canon of interpretation we should do much injury to truth, and we should adopt that to which we could not authoritatively direct the attention of any one; but the injury to truth is far greater when we admit a canon which is positively anti-scriptural - in the former case we should be adding to the word of God, but in the latter we should be even contradicting it.


It is by truth that God works on the hearts of His people; to this we must then adhere, however it may run counter to conventional ideas.  The prophecies of Scripture can never be used for their legitimate purposes if they are explained by the aid of a primary canon, which is in itself not only unsupported by Scripture but is actually in contradiction to it.



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IN THE LATTER DAYS (DANIEL 10, 11, 12.) [Pages 127-163]



To be continued (D.V) …