Prophecies of DANIEL
and the REVELATION
Picture: Very truly yours, Uriah Smith.
Daniel And The Revelation, the response of history to the voice of prophecy;
a verse by verse study of these important books of the Bible, By Uriah
Smith; Author of : Here and Hereafter,: "Looking Unto Jesus,"
"The Marvel of Nations," "Synopsis of Present Truth,"
and other works on Bible subjects.
Uriah Smith - 1897
- Part A
Start the Book of Daniel
p 3 -- 1.
With Enoch, the seventh from Adam, and for three hundred and eight years
contemporary with Adam, the voice of prophecy began to be heard through
human lips. For so the apostle
Jude declares: "And
Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold,
the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment
upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their
ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard
speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Jude 14,
15. This sublime and earliest prophecy
reaches to the end of time. And through all the intervening ages, other
prophecies have covered all the more important events in the great drama
coming to pass of these great events has been but the response of history
to what the prophecies had declared. And thus amid the ever-present evidences
of the short-sightedness of men, and the ever-recurring failures of human
schemes, a voice has continually gone up from earth to heaven, "The
word of the Lord endureth forever." TOP
is for the purpose of calling attention to some of these important prophetico-historical
lessons, if we may be permitted to coin a word, that this volume is written.
And the books of Daniel and the Revelation are chosen for this purpose,
because in some respects their prophecies are more direct than are to
be found elsewhere upon the prophetic page, and the fulfilments more striking.
The object before us is threefold: (1) To gain an understanding
of the wonderful testimony of the books themselves; (2)
To acquaint ourselves with some of the more interesting and important
events in the history of civilized nations, and mark how accurately the
prophecies, some of them depending upon the developments of the then far-distant
future, and upon conditions the most minute and complicated, have been
fulfilled in these events; and (3) To draw from these
things important lessons relative to practical Christian duties, which
were not given for past ages merely, but are for the learning and admonition
of the world to-day.
The books of Daniel and the Revelation are counterparts
of each other. They naturally stand side by side, and should be studied
4 -- 5. We are aware that any attempt to explain these
books and make an application of their prophecies, is generally looked
upon as a futile and fanatical task, and is sometimes met even with open
hostility. It is much to be regretted that any portions of that volume
which all Christians believe to be the book wherein God has undertaken
to reveal his will to mankind, should come to be regarded in such
a light. But a great fact, to which the reader's attention is called in
the following paragraph, is believed to contain for this state of things
both an explanation and an antidote.
There are two general systems of interpretation adopted
by different expositors in their efforts to explain the sacred Scriptures.
The first is the mystical or spiritualizing system invented by Origen,
to the shame of sound criticism and the curse of Christendom; the second
is the system of literal interpretation, used by such men as Tyndale,
Luther, and all the Reformers, and furnishing the basis for every advance
step which has thus far been made in the reformation from error to truth
as taught in the Scriptures. According to the first system, every declaration
is supposed to have a mystical or hidden sense, which it is the province
of the Interpreter to bring forth; by the second, every declaration is
to be taken in its most obvious and literal sense, except where the context
and the well-known laws of language show that the terms are figurative,
and not literal; and whatever is figurative must be explained by other
portions of the Bible which are literal.
By the mystical method of Origen, it is vain to hope for any
uniform understanding of either Daniel or the Revelation, or of any other
book of the Bible; for that system (if it can be called a system) knows
no law but the uncurbed imagination of its adherents; hence there are
on its side as many different interpretations of Scripture as there are
different fancies of different writers. By the literal method, everything
is subject to well-established and clearly-defined law; and, viewed from
this standpoint, the reader will be surprised to see how simple, easy,
and clear many portions of the Scriptures at once become, which, according
to any other system, are dark and unsolvable. It is admitted that many
figures are used in the Bible, and that much of the books under consideration,
especially that of the Revelation, is clothed in symbolic language; but
it is also claimed that the Scriptures introduce no figure which they
do not somewhere furnish literal language to explain. This volume is offered
as a consistent exposition of the books of Daniel and the Revelation according
to the literal system.
The study of prophecy should by no means be neglected;
for it is the prophetic portions of the word of God which especially constitute
it a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. So both David and Peter
unequivocally testify. Ps. 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19.
No sublimer study can occupy the mind than the study
of those books in which He who sees the end from the beginning, looking
forward through all the ages, gives, through his inspired prophets, a
description of coming events for the benefit of those whose lot it would
be to meet them.
5 -- 10. An increase of knowledge respecting the prophetic
portions of the word of God was to be one of the characteristics of the
last days. Said the angel to Daniel, "But thou, 0 Daniel, shut up
the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall
run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased;" or, as Michaelis's
translation reads: "When many
shall give their sedulous attention to the understanding of these
things, and knowledge shall be increased." It is our lot to live
this side the time to which the angel told Daniel to thus shut up the
words and seal the book. That restriction has now expired by limitation.
In the language of the figure, the seal has been removed, and many are
running to and fro, and knowledge has marvelously increased in every department
of science; yet it is evident that this prophecy specially contemplates
an increase of knowledge concerning those prophecies that are designed
to give us light in reference to the age in which we live, the close of
this dispensation, and the soon-coming transfer of all earthly governments
to the great King of Righteousness, who shall destroy his enemies, and
crown with an infinite reward every one of his friends. The fulfilment
of the prophecy in the increase of this knowledge, is one of the pleasing
signs of the present time. For more than half a century, light upon the
prophetic word has been increasing, and shining with ever-growing luster
to our own day.
no portion of the word of God is this more apparent than in the books
of Daniel and the Revelation; and we may well congratulate ourselves on
this, for no other parts of that word deal so largely in prophecies that
pertain to the closing scenes of this world's history. No other books
contain so many chains of prophecy reaching down to the end. In no other
books is the grand procession of events that leads us through to the termination
of probationary time, and ushers us into the realities of the eternal
state, so fully and minutely set forth. No other books embrace so completely,
as it were in one grand sweep, all the truths that concern the last generation
of the inhabitants of the earth, and set forth so comprehensively all
the aspects of the times, physical, moral, and political, in which the
triumphs of earthly woe and wickedness shall end, and the eternal reign
of righteousness begin. We take pleasure in calling attention especially
to these features of the books of Daniel and the Revelation, which seem
heretofore to have been too generally overlooked or misinterpreted.
seems to be no prophecy which a person can have so little excuse for misunderstanding
as the prophecy of Daniel, especially as relates to its main features.
Dealing but sparingly in language that is highly figurative, explaining
all the symbols it introduces, locating its events within the rigid confines
of prophetic periods, it points out the first advent of the Messiah in
so clear and unmistakable a manner as to call forth the execration of
the Jews upon any attempt to explain it, and gives so accurately, and
so many ages in advance, the outlines of the great events of our world's
history, that infidelity stands confounded and dumb before its inspired
no effort to arrive at a correct understanding of the book of the Revelation
needs any apology; for the Lord of prophecy
p 6 -- has himself
pronounced a blessing upon him that readeth and they that hear the words
of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein; for the
time is at hand. Rev. 1:1-3. And it is with an honest purpose of aiding
somewhat in arriving at this understanding, which is set forth by the
language above referred to as not only possible but praiseworthy, that
an exposition of this book, according to the literal rule of interpretation,
has been attempted.
thrilling interest we behold to-day the nations marshaling their forces,
and pressing forward in the very movements described by the royal seer
in the court of Babylon twenty-five hundred years ago, and by John on
Patmos eighteen hundred years ago; and these movements - hear it, ye children
of men - are the last political revolutions to be accomplished before
this earth plunges into her final time of trouble, and Michael, the great
Prince, stands up, and his people, all who are found written in the book,
are crowned with full and final deliverance. Dan. 12:1, 2.
these things so? "Seek," says our Saviour, "and ye shall
find; knock , and it shall be opened unto you." God has not so concealed
his truth that it will elude the search of the humble seeker.
With a prayer that the same
Spirit by which those portions of Scripture which form the basis of this
volume were at first inspired, and whose aid the writer has sought in
his expository efforts, may rest abundantly upon the reader in his investigations,
according to the promise of the Saviour in John 16:7, 13, 15, this work
is commended to the candid and careful attention of all who are interested
in prophetic themes. U. S.
Battle Creek, Mich.,
p 7-15 Table
of Contents TOP
p 16-18 Table
the book of Daniel was written by the person whose name it bears, there
is no reason to doubt. Ezekiel, who was contemporary with Daniel, bears
testimony, through the spirit of prophecy, to his piety and uprightness,
ranking him in this respect with Noah and Job:
"Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour
out My fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast; though
Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they
shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own
souls by their righteousness." Ezekiel 14:19, 20. His
wisdom, also, even at that early day, had become proverbial, as appears
from the same writer. To the prince of Tyrus he was directed by the Lord
to say, "Behold, thou
art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee."
Ezekiel 28:3. But above all, our Lord recognized him as a prophet
of God, and bade His disciples understand the predictions given through
him for the benefit of His church:
"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), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains."
Matthew 24:15, 16.
we have a more minute account of his early life than is recorded of that
of any other prophet, yet his birth and lineage are left in complete obscurity,
except that he was of the royal line, probably of the house of David,
which had at this time become very numerous. He first appears as one of
the noble captives of Judah, in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, king
of Babylon, at the commencement of the seventy years' captivity, B.C.
606. Jeremiah and Habakkuk were yet uttering
20 -- their prophecies. Ezekiel commenced soon after, and a little
later, Obadiah; but both these finished their work years before the close
of the long and brilliant career of Daniel. Three prophets only succeeded
him, Haggai and Zechariah, who exercised the prophetic office for a brief
period contemporaneously, B.C. 520-518, and Malachi, the last of the Old
Testament prophets who flourished a little season about B.C. 397.
the seventy years' captivity of the Jews, B.C. 606-536, predicted by Jeremiah
(Jeremiah 25:11), Daniel resided at the court of Babylon, most of the
time prime minister of that brilliant monarchy. His life affords a most
impressive lesson of the importance and advantage of maintaining from
earliest youth strict integrity toward God, and furnishes a notable instance
of a man's maintaining eminent piety, and faithfully discharging all the
duties that pertain to the service of God, while at the same time engaging
in the most stirring activities, and bearing the weightiest cares and
responsibilities that can devolve upon men in this earthly life.
a rebuke is his course to many at the present day, who, having not a hundredth
part of the cares to absorb their time and engross their attention that
he had, yet plead as an excuse for their almost utter neglect of Christian
duties, that they have no time for them. What will the God of Daniel say
to such, when He comes to reward His servants impartially, according to
their improvement or neglect of the opportunities offered them?
But it is not alone nor chiefly his connection with the Chaldean monarchy,
the glory of kingdoms, that perpetuates the memory of Daniel, and covers
his name with honor. From the height of its glory he saw that kingdom
decline, and pass into other hands. Its period of greatest prosperity
was embraced within the limits of the lifetime of one man. So brief was
its supremacy, so transient its glory. But Daniel was intrusted with more
enduring honors. While beloved and honored by the princes and potentates
of Babylon, he enjoyed an infinitely higher exaltation, in being beloved
and honored by God and His holy angels, and admitted to a knowledge of
the counsels of the Most High.
21 -- His prophecy is, in many respects, the most remarkable of any
in the sacred record. It is the most comprehensive. It was the first prophecy
giving a consecutive history of the world from that time to the end. It
located the most of its predictions within well-defined prophetic periods,
though reaching many centuries into the future. It gave the first definite
chronological prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. It marked the time
of this event so definitely that the Jews forbid any attempt to interpret
its numbers, since that prophecy shows them to be without excuse in rejecting
Christ; and so accurately had its minute and literal predictions been
fulfilled down to the time of Porphyry, A. D. 250, that he declared (the
only loophole he could devise for his hard-pressed skepticism) that the
predictions were not written in the age of Babylon, but after the events
themselves had transpired. This shift, however, is not now available;
for every succeeding century has borne additional evidence to the truthfulness
of the prophecy, and we are just now, in our own day, approaching the
climax of its fulfillment.
personal history of Daniel reaches to a date a few years subsequent to
the subversion of the Babylonian kingdom by the Medes and Persians. He
is supposed to have died at Shushan, or Susa, in Persia, about the year
B.C. 530, aged nearly ninety-four years; his age being the probable reason
why he returned not to Judea with other Hebrew captives, under the proclamation
of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1), B.C. 536, which marked the close of the seventy years'
of History in the Prophecy of Daniel
-- I -- Daniel
23 -- Verse 1 In
the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2. And
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.
a directness characteristic of the sacred writers, Daniel enters at once
upon his subject. He commences in the simple, historical style, his book,
with the exception of a portion of chapter 2, being of a historical nature
till we reach the seventh chapter, when the prophetical portion, more
properly so called, commences. Like one conscious of uttering only well-known
truth, he proceeds at once to state a variety of particulars by which
his accuracy could
24 -- at once be tested. Thus in the two verses quoted, he states
five particulars purporting to be historical facts, such as no writer
would be likely to introduce into a fictitious narrative: (1)
That Jehoiakim was king of Judah; (2) That
Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon; (3) That
the latter came against the former; (4) That
this was the third year of Jehoiakim's reign; and (5)
That Jehoiakim was given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar,
who took a portion of the sacred vessels of the house of God, and carrying
them into the land of Shinar, the country of Babylon (Gen. 10:10), placed
them in the treasure-house of his heathen divinity. Subsequent portions
of the narrative abound as fully in historical facts of a like nature.
overthrow of Jerusalem was predicted by Jeremiah, and immediately accomplished,
B.C. 606. Jeremiah 25:8-11. Jeremiah places this captivity in the fourth
year of Jehoiakim, Daniel in the third. This seeming discrepancy is explained
by the fact that Nebuchadnezzar set out on his expedition near the close
of the third year of Jehoiakim, from which point Daniel reckons. But he
did not accomplish the subjugation of Jerusalem till about the ninth month
of the year following; and from this year Jeremiah reckons. (Prideaux,
Vol. I, pp. 99, 100.) Jehoiakim, though bound for the purpose of being
taken to Babylon, having humbled himself, was permitted to remain as ruler
in Jerusalem, tributary to the king of Babylon.
was the first time Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Twice subsequently,
the city, having revolted, was captured by the same king, being more severely
dealt with each succeeding time. Of these subsequent overthrows, the first
was under Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, B.C. 599, when all the sacred
vessels were either taken or destroyed, and the best of the inhabitants,
with the king, were led into captivity. The second was under Zedekiah,
when the city endured the most formidable siege it ever sustained, except
that by Titus, in A. D. 70. During the two years' continuance of this
siege, the inhabitants of the city suffered all the horrors of extreme
famine. At length the garrison and king attempting to escape from the
city, were captured by the Chaldeans. The sons of the king were slain
before his face. His eyes were put out,
(Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar)
p 26 -- and he was taken to Babylon; and thus was fulfilled the
prediction of Ezekiel, who declared that he should be carried to Babylon,
and die there, but yet should not see the place. Ezekiel 12:13. The city
and temple were at this time utterly destroyed, and the entire population
of the city and country, with the exception of a few husbandmen, were
carried captive to Babylon, B.C. 588.
was God's passing testimony against sin. Not that the Chaldeans were the
favorites of Heaven, but God made use of them to punish the iniquities
of his people. Had the Israelites been faithful to God, and kept his Sabbath,
Jerusalem would have stood forever. Jeremiah 17:24-27. But they departed
from him, and he abandoned them. They first profaned the sacred vessels
by sin, in introducing heathen idols among them; and he then profaned
them by judgments in letting them go as trophies into heathen temples
these days of trouble and distress upon Jerusalem, Daniel and his companions
were nourished and instructed in the palace of the king of Babylon; and,
though captives in a strange land, they were doubtless in some respects
much more favorably situated than they could have been in their native
3 -- And the
king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring
certain of the children of Israel, and of
the king's seed, and of the princes; 4 children in
whom was no blemish, but well-favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and
cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability
in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning
and the tongue of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed
them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank;
so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand
before the king.
have in these verses the record of the probable fulfillment of the announcement
of coming judgments made to King Hezekiah by the prophet Isaiah, more
than a hundred years before. When this king had vaingloriously shown to
the messengers of the king of Babylon all the treasures and holy things
of his palace and kingdom, he was told that all these good things should
be carried as trophies to the city of Babylon,
27 -- and nothing should be left; and that even his own children,
his descendants, should be taken away, and be eunuchs in the palace of
the king there. 2 Kings 20:14-18. It is probable that Daniel and his companions
were treated as indicated in the prophecy; at least we hear nothing of
their posterity, which can be more easily accounted for on this hypothesis
than on any other; though some think that the term eunuch had come
to signify office rather than condition.
word children, as applied to these captives, is not to be confined
to the sense to which it is limited at the present time. It included youth
also. And we learned from the record that these children were already
skillful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,
and had ability in them to stand in the king's palace. In other words,
they had already acquired a good degree of education, and their physical
and mental powers were so far developed that a skillful reader of human
nature could form quite an accurate estimate of their capabilities. They
are supposed to have been about eighteen or twenty years of age.
the treatment which these Hebrew captives received, we see an instance
of the wise policy and the liberality of the rising king, Nebuchadnezzar.
Instead of choosing, like too many kings of later times,
means for gratification of low and base desires, he chose young men who
should be educated in all matters pertaining to the kingdom, that he might
have efficient help in administering its affairs.
2. He appointed them daily provision of his own meat
and wine. Instead of the coarse fare which some would have thought good
enough for captives, he offered them his own royal viands.
For the space of three years, they had all the advantages the kingdom
afforded. Though captives, they were royal children, and they were treated
as such by the humane king of the Chaldeans. TOP
question may be raised, why these persons were selected to take part,
after suitable preparation, in the affairs of the kingdom. Were there
not enough native Babylonians to fill
28 -- these
positions of trust and honor? It could have been for no other reason than
that the Chaldean youth could not compete with those of Israel in the
qualifications, both mental and physical, necessary to such a position.
6 Now among
these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names; for
he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar;
and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah,
change of names was probably made on account of the signification of the
words. Thus, Daniel signified, in the Hebrew, God is my judge; Hananiah,
gift of the Lord; Mishael, he that is a strong God; and Azariah, help
of the Lord. These names, each having some reference to the true God,
and signifying some connection with his worship, were changed to names
the definition of which bore a like relation to the heathen divinities
and worship of the Chaldeans. Thus Belteshazzar, the name given to Daniel,
signified keeper of the hid treasures of Bel; Shadrach, inspiration of
the sun (which the Chaldeans worshiped); Meshach, of the goddess Shaca
(under which name Venus was worshiped); and Abed-nego, servant of the
shining fire (which they also worshiped).
8 But Daniel
purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion
of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he
drank; therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might
not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into
favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. 10
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king,
who hath appointed your meat and your drink; for why should he see your
faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? Then shall
ye make me endanger my head to the king. 11 Then said
Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel,
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 Prove thy servants,
I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water
to drink. 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon
before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion
of the king's meat; and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten
days. 15 And at the end of ten days their countenances
appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat
the portion of the king's meat. 16 Thus Melzar took
away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and
gave them pulse.
29 -- Nebuchadnezzar appears upon this record wonderfully free from
bigotry. It seems that he took no means to compel his royal captives to
change their religion. Provided they had some religion, he seemed to be
satisfied, whether it was the religion he professed or not. And although
their names had been changed to signify some connection with heathen worship,
this may have been more to avoid the use of Jewish names by the Chaldeans
than to indicate any change of sentiment or practice on the part of those
to whom these names were given.
Daniel purposed not to defile himself with the king 's meat nor with his
wine. Daniel had other reasons for this course than simply the effect
of such a diet upon his physical system, though he would derive great
advantage in this respect from the fare he proposed to adopt. But it was
frequently the case that meat used by the kings and princes of heathen
nations, who were often the high priests of their religion, was first
offered in sacrifice to idols, and the wine they used, poured out as a
libation before them; and again, some of the meat of which they made use,
was pronounced unclean by the Jewish law; and on either of these grounds
Daniel could not, consistently with his religion, partake of these articles;
hence he requested, not from any morose or sullen temper, but from conscientious
scruples, that he might not be obliged to defile himself; and he respectfully
made his request known to the proper officer. TOP
prince of the eunuchs feared to grant Daniel's request, since the king
himself had appointed their meat. This shows the great personal interest
the king took in these persons. He did not commit them to the hands of
his servants, telling them to care for them in the best manner, without
himself entering into its details; but he himself appointed their meat
and drink. And this was of a kind which it was honestly supposed would
be best for them, in as much as the prince of the eunuchs thought that
a departure from it would render them poorer in flesh and less ruddy of
countenance than those who continued it; and thus he would be brought
to account for neglect or ill-treatment of them, and so loose his head.
Yet it was equally well understood that if they maintained good physical
30 -- king would take no exception to the means used, though it might
be contrary to his own express direction. It appears that the king's sincere
object was to secure in them, by whatever means it could be done, the
very best mental and physical development that could be attained. How
different this from the bigotry and tyranny which usually hold supreme
control over the hearts of of those who are clothed with absolute power.
In the character of Nebuchadnezzar we shall find many things worthy of
our highest admiration.
requested pulse and water for himself and his three companions. Pulse
is a vegetable food of the leguminous kind, like peas, beans, etc. Bagster
says, "Zeroim denotes all leguminous plants, which are not
reaped, but pulled or plucked; which, however wholesome, were not naturally
calculated to render them fatter in flesh than the others."
ten days' trial of this diet resulting favorably, they were permitted
to continue it during the whole course of their training for the duties
of the palace. Their increase in flesh and improvement in countenance
which took place during these ten days can hardly be attributed to the
natural result of the diet; for it would hardly produce such marked effects
in so short a time. Is it not much more natural to conclude that this
result was produced by a special interposition of the Lord, as a token
of his approbation of the course on which they had entered, which course,
if preserved in, would in process of time lead to the same result through
the natural operation of the laws of their being?
17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in
all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and
dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days that the king
had said that he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs
brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king
communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah; therefore stood they before the king. 20 And
in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them,
he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers
that were in all his realm. 21 And Daniel continued
even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
Daniel alone seems to have been committed an understanding in visions
and dreams. But the Lord's dealing with
31 -- Daniel in this respect does not prove the others any less accepted
in his sight. Preservation in the midst of the fiery furnace was as good
evidence of the divine favor as they could have had. Daniel probably had
some natural qualifications that peculiarly fitted him for this special
same personal interest in these individuals heretofore manifested by the
king, he still continued to maintain. At the end of the three years, he
called them to a personal interview. He must know for himself how they
had fared, and what proficiency they had made. This interview also shows
the king to have been a man well versed in all the arts and sciences of
the Chaldeans, else he would not have been qualified to examine others
therein. As the result, recognizing merit wherever he saw it, without
respect to religion or nationality, he acknowledged them to be ten times
superior to any in his own land.
it is added that Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.
This is an instance of the somewhat singular use of the word unto,
or until, which occasionally occurs in the sacred writings. It
does not mean that he continued no longer than to the first year of Cyrus,
for he lived some years after the commencement of his reign; but this
is the time to which the writer wished to direct special attention, as
it brought deliverance to the captive Jews. A similar use of the word
is found in Ps. 112:8 and Matt. 5:18. TOP
-- II -- The
32 --Verse 1 And
in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed
dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
was carried into captivity in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. For three
years he was placed under instructors, during which time he would not,
of course, be reckoned among the wise men of the kingdom, nor take part
in public affairs. Yet in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, the transactions
recorded in this chapter took place. How, then, could Daniel be brought
in to interpret the king's dream in his second year? The explanation lies
in the fact that Nebuchadnezzar reigned for two years conjointly with
his father, Nabopolassar. From this point the Jews reckoned, while the
Chaldeans reckoned from the time he commenced
33 -- to reign alone on the death of his father. Hence, the year here
mentioned was the second year of his reign according to the Chaldean reckoning,
but the fourth according to the Jewish. It
thus appears that the very next year after Daniel had completed his preparation
to participate in the affairs of the Chaldean empire, the providence of
God brought him into sudden and wonderful notoriety throughout all the
2 Then the
king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers,
and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood
before the king.
magicians were such as practiced magic, using the term in its bad sense;
that is, they practiced all the superstitious rites and ceremonies of
fortune-tellers, casters of nativities, etc. Astrologers were men who
pretended to foretell future events by the study of the stars. The science,
or the superstition, of astrology was extensively cultivated by the Eastern
nations of antiquity. Sorcerers were such as pretended to hold communication
with the dead. In this sense, we believe, it is always used in the Scriptures.
Modern Spiritualism is simply ancient heathen sorcery revived. The Chaldeans
here mentioned were a sect of philosophers similar to the magicians and
astrologers, who made physic, divinations, etc., their study. All these
sects or professions abounded in Babylon. The end aimed at by each was
the same; namely, the explaining of mysteries and the foretelling of future
events, the principal difference between them being the means by which
they sought to accomplish their object. The king's difficulty lay equally
within the province of each to explain; hence he summoned them all. With
the king it was an important matter. He was greatly troubled, and therefore
concentrated upon the solution of his perplexity the whole wisdom of his
3. And the
king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled
to know the dream. 4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the
king in Syriac, 0 king, live forever; tell thy servants the dream, and
we will show the interpretation.
Whatever else the ancient magicians and astrologers may have been efficient
in, they seem to have been thoroughly
34 -- schooled in the art of drawing out sufficient information to
form a basis for some shrewd calculation, or of framing their answers
in so an ambiguous manner that they would be equally applicable, let the
event turn either way. In the present case, true to their cunning instincts,
they called upon the king to make known to them his dream. If they could
get full information respecting this, they could easily agree on some
interpretation which would not endanger their reputation. They addressed
themselves to the king in Syriac, a dialect of the Chaldean language which
was used by the educated and cultured classes. From this point to the
end of chapter 7, the record continues in Chaldaic.
5. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing
is gone from me; if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the
interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall
be made a dunghill. 6 But if ye show the dream, and
the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and
great honor; therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
7 They answered again and said, Let the king tell his
servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it. 8
The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain
the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. 9
But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one
decree for you; for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak
before me, till the time be changed; therefore tell me the dream, and
I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof. 10
The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon
the earth that can show the king's matter; therefore there is no king,
lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer,
or Chaldean. 11 And it is a rare thing that the king
requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except
the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. 12 For
this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy
all the wise men of Babylon. 13 And the decree went
forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his
fellows to be slain.
verses contain the record of the desperate struggle between the wise men,
so called, and the king. The former seeking some avenue of escape, seeing
they were caught on their own ground, and the latter determined that they
should make known his dream, which was no more than their profession would
warrant him in demanding. Some have severely censured Nebuchadnezzar in
this matter, as acting the part of
35 -- a heartless, unreasonable tyrant. But what did these magicians
profess to be able to do? - To reveal hidden things; to foretell future
events; to make known mysteries entirely beyond human foresight and penetration;
and to do this by the aid of supernatural agencies. If, then, their claim
was worth anything, could they not make known to the king what he had
dreamed? - They certainly could. And if they were able, knowing the dream,
to give a reliable interpretation thereof, would they not also be able
to make known the dream itself when it had gone from the king? - Certainly,
if there was any virtue in their pretended intercourse with the other
world. There was therefore nothing unjust in Nebuchadnezzar's demand that
they should make known his dream. And when they declared (verse 11) that
none but the gods whose dwelling was not with flesh could make known the
king's matter, it was a tacit acknowledgment that they had no communication
with these gods, and knew nothing beyond what human wisdom and discernment
could reveal. For this cause, the king was angry and very furious. He
saw that he and all his people were being made the victims of deception.
He accused them (verse 9) of endeavoring to dally along till the "time
be changed," or till the matter had so passed from his mind that
his anger at their duplicity should abate, and he would either recall
the dream himself, or be unsolicitous whether it were made known and interpreted
or not. And while we cannot justify the extreme measures to which he resorted,
dooming them to death, and their houses to destruction, we cannot but
feel a hearty sympathy with him in his condemnation of a class of miserable
severity of his sentence was probably attributable more to the customs
of those times than to any malignity on the part of the king. Yet it was
a bold and desperate step. Consider who these were who thus incurred the
wrath of the king. They were numerous, opulent, and influential sects.
Moreover, they were the learned and cultivated classes of those times;
yet the king was not so wedded to his false religion as to spare it even
with all this influence in its favor. If the system was one of fraud and
imposition, it must fall, however
(Daniel and his fellows are sought to be slain)
high its votaries might stand in numbers or position, or however many
of them might be involved in its ruin. The
king would be no party to dishonesty or deception.
14. Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch
the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise
men of Babylon. 15 he answered and said to Arioch the king's
captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the
thing known to Daniel. 16 Then Daniel went in, and
desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show
the king the interpretation. 17 Then Daniel went to
his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
his companions; 18 That they would desire mercies of
the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows
should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
In this narrative we see the providence of God working in several remarkable
It was providential that the dream of the king should
leave such a powerful impression upon his mind as to raise him to the
greatest height of anxiety, and yet the thing itself should be held from
his recollection. This led to the complete exposure of the false system
of the magicians and other pagan teachers; for when put to the test to
make known the dream, it was found that they were unable to do what their
profession made it incumbent on them to do.
was remarkable that Daniel and his companions, so lately pronounced by
the king ten times better than all his magicians and astrologers, should
not sooner have been consulted, or, rather, should not have been consulted
at all, in this matter. But there was a providence in this. Just as the
dream was held from the king, so he was unaccountably held from appealing
to Daniel for a solution of the mystery. For had he called on Daniel at
first, and had he at once made known the matter, the magicians would not
have been brought to the test. But God would give the heathen systems
of the Chaldeans the first chance. He would let them try, and ignominiously
fail, and confess their utter incompetency, even under the penalty of
death, that they might be the better prepared to acknowledge his hand
when he should finally reach it down in behalf of his captive servants,
and for the honor of his own name.
38 -- 3. It appears that the first intimation Daniel
had of the matter was the presence of the executioners, come for his arrest.
His own life being thus at stake, he would be led to seek the Lord with
all his heart till he should work for their deliverance. Daniel gains
his request of the king for time to consider the matter, - a privilege
which probably none of the magicians could have secured, as the king had
already accused them of preparing lying and corrupt words, and of seeking
to gain time for this very purpose. Daniel at once went to his three companions,
and engaged them to unite with him in desiring mercy of the God of heaven
concerning this secret. He could have prayed alone, and doubtless would
have been heard; but then, as now, in the union of God's people there
is prevailing power; and the promise of the accomplishment of that which
is asked, is to the two or three who shall agree concerning it. Matthew
18:19, 20. TOP
19. Then was
the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed
the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed
be the name of God forever and ever; for wisdom and might are his; 21
And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth
up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know
understanding; 22 He revealeth the deep and secret
things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with
him. 23 I thank thee, and praise thee, 0 thou God of
my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto
me now what we desired of thee; for thou hast now made known unto us the
or not the answer came while Daniel and his companions were yet offering
up their petitions, we are not informed. If it did, it shows their importunity
in the matter; for it was through a night vision that God revealed himself
in their behalf, which would show that they continued their supplications,
as might reasonably be inferred, far into the night, and ceased not till
the answer was obtained. Or, if their season of prayer had closed, and
God at a subsequent time sent the answer, it would show us that, as is
sometimes the case, prayers are not unavailing though not immediately
answered. Some think the matter was made known to Daniel by his dreaming
the same dream that Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed; but
39 -- Matthew Henry considers it more probable that "when he
was awake, and continuing instant in prayer, and watching in the same,
the dream itself and the interpretation of it were communicated to him
by the ministry of an angel, abundantly to his satisfaction." The
words "night vision" mean anything that is seen, whether through
dreams or visions.
immediately offered up praise to God for his gracious dealing with them;
and while his prayer is not preserved, his responsive thanksgiving is
fully recorded. God is honored by our rendering him praise for the things
he has done for us, as well as by our acknowledging through prayer our
need of his help. Let Daniel's course be our example in this respect.
Let no mercy from the hand of God fail of its due return of thanksgiving
and praise. Were not ten lepers cleansed? "But where," asks
Christ sorrowfully, "are the nine?" Luke 17:17.
had the utmost confidence in what had been shown him. He did not first
go to the king, to see if what had been revealed to him was indeed the
king's dream; but he immediately praised God for having answered his prayer.
the matter was revealed to Daniel, he did not take honor to himself as
though it were by his prayers alone that this thing had been obtained,
but immediately associated his companions with himself, and acknowledged
it to be as much an answer to their prayers as to his own. It was, said
he, "what we desired of thee," and thou hast made it
"known unto us."
Verse 24. --
Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy
the wise men of Babylon; he went and said thus unto him: Destroy not the
wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show unto
the king the interpretation. TOP
first plea is for the wise men of Babylon. Destroy them not, for the king's
secret is revealed. True it was through no merit of theirs or their heathen
systems of divination that this revelation was made; they were worthy
of just as much condemnation as before. But their own confession of utter
impotence in the matter was humiliation enough for them, and Daniel was
anxious that they should so far partake of
40 -- the benefits shown to him as to have their lives spared. Thus
they were saved because there was a man of God among them. And thus it
ever is. For the sake of Paul and Silas, all the prisoners with them were
loosed. Acts 16:26. For the sake of Paul, the lives of all that sailed
with him were saved. Chapter 27:24. Thus the wicked are benefited by the
presence of the righteous. Well would it be if they would remember the
obligations under which they are thus placed. What saves the world today?
For whose sake is it still spared? - For the sake of the few righteous
persons who are yet left. Remove these, and how long would the wicked
be suffered to run their guilty career? - No longer than the antediluvians
were suffered, after Noah had entered the ark, or the Sodomites, after
Lot had departed from their polluted and polluting presence. If only ten
righteous persons could have been found in Sodom, the multitude of its
wicked inhabitants would, for their sakes, have been spared. Yet the wicked
will despise, ridicule, and oppress the very ones on whose account it
is that they are still permitted the enjoyment of life and all its blessings.
25. Then Arioch
brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I
have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the
king the interpretation.
is ever a characteristic of ministers and courtiers to ingratiate themselves
with their sovereign. So here Arioch represented that he had found a man
who could make known the desired interpretation; as if with great disinterestedness,
in behalf of the king, he had been searching for someone to solve his
difficulty, and had at last found him. In order to see through this deception
of his chief executioner, the king had but to remember, as he probably
did, his interview with Daniel (verse 16), and Daniel's promise, if time
could be granted, to show the interpretation thereof.
26. The king
answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able
to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation
thereof? 27 Daniel answered in the presence of the
king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise
men, the astrologers, the magicians,
41 -- the soothsayers,
show unto the king; 28 but there is a God in heaven
that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what
shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon
thy bed, are these.
thou able to make known the dream? was the king's doubtful salutation
to Daniel, as he came into his presence. Notwithstanding his previous
acquaintance with Daniel, the king seems to have questioned his ability,
so young and inexperienced, to make known a matter in which the aged and
venerable magicians and soothsayers had utterly failed. Daniel declared
plainly that the wise men, the astrologers, the soothsayers, and the magicians
could not make known this secret. It was beyond their power. Therefore
the king should not be angry with them, nor put confidence in their inefficient
superstitions. He then proceeds to make known the true God, who rules
in heaven, and is the only revealer of secrets. And he it is, says Daniel,
who maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter
29. As, for
thee, 0 king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should
come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to
thee what shall come to pass. 30 But
as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have
more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation
to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. TOP
is brought out another of the commendable traits of Nebuchadnezzar's character.
Unlike some rulers, who fill up the present with folly and debauchery
without regard to the future, he thought forward upon the days to come,
with an anxious desire to know with what events they should be filled.
His object in this was, doubtless, that he might the better know how to
make a wise improvement of the present. For this reason God gave him this
dream, which we must regard as a token of the divine favor toward the
king, as there were many other ways in which the truth involved in this
matter could have been brought out, equally to the honor of God's name,
and the good of his people both at that time and through subsequent generations.
Yet God would not work for the king independently of his own people; hence,
though he gave the dream to
p 42 --the king, he sent the interpretation through one of his
own acknowledged servants. Daniel first disclaimed all credit for himself
in the transaction, and then to modify somewhat the feelings of pride
which it would have been natural for the king to have, in view of being
thus noticed by the God of heaven, he informed him indirectly, that, although
the dream had been given to him, it was not for his sake altogether that
the interpretation was sent, but for their sakes through whom it should
be made known. Ah! God had some servants there, and it was for them that
he was working. They are of more value in his sight than the mightiest
kings and potentates of earth. Had it not been for them, the king would
never have had the interpretation of his dream, probably not even the
dream itself. Thus, when traced to their source, all favors, upon whomsoever
bestowed, are found to be due to the regard which God has for his own
children. How comprehensive was the work of God in this instance. By this
one act of revealing the king's dream to Daniel, he accomplished the following
objects: (1) He made known to the king the things
he desired; (2) He saved his servants who
trusted in him; (3) He brought conspicuously
before the Chaldean nation the knowledge of the true God; (4)
He poured contempt on the false systems of the soothsayers
and magicians; and (5) He honored
his own name, and exalted his servants in their eyes.
Thou, 0 king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image,
whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form
thereof was terrible. 32 This image's head was
of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his
thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet
part of iron and part of clay. 34 Thou sawest
till that 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.
35 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 image
became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
practicing the Chaldean religion, was an idolater. An image was an object
which would at once command his attention and respect. Moreover, earthly
kingdoms, which, as we shall hereafter see, were represented by this
p 43 - image, were objects of esteem and value in his eyes. With
a mind enlightened by the light of revelation, he was unprepared to put
a true estimate upon earthly wealth and glory, and to look upon earthly
governments in their true light. Hence the striking harmony between the
estimate which he put upon these things, and the object by which they
were symbolized before him. To him they were presented under the form
of a great image, an object in his eyes of worth and admiration. With
Daniel the case was far different. He was able to view in its true light
all greatness and glory not built on the favor and approbation of God;
and therefore to him these same earthly kingdoms were afterward shown
(see chapter 7) under the form of cruel and ravenous wild beasts.
how admirably adapted was this representation to convey a great and needful
truth to the mind of Nebuchadnezzar. Besides delineating the progress
of events through the whole course of time for the benefit of his people,
God would show Nebuchadnezzar the utter emptiness and worthlessness of
earthly pomp and glory. And how could this be more impressively done than
by an image commencing with the most precious of metals, and continually
descending to the baser, till we finally have the coarsest and crudest
of materials, - iron mingled with the miry clay, - the whole then dashed
to pieces, and made like the empty chaff, no good thing in it, but altogether
lighter than vanity, and finally blown away where no place could be found
for it, after which something durable and of heavenly worth occupies its
place? So would God show to the children of men that earthly kingdoms
were to pass away, and earthly greatness and glory, like a gaudy bubble,
would break and vanish; and the kingdom of God, in the place so long usurped
by these, should be set up, to have no end, and all who had an interest
therein should rest under the shadow of its peaceful wings forever and
ever. But this is anticipating.
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before
the king. 37 Thou, 0 king, art a king of kings; for
God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the
44 -- 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.
Now opens one of the sublimest chapters of human history. Eight short
verses of the inspired record tell the whole story; yet that story embraces
the history of this world's pomp and power. A few moments will suffice
to commit it to memory; yet the period which it covers, commencing more
than twenty-five centuries ago, reaches on from that far-distant point
past the rise and fall of kingdoms, past the setting up and overthrow
of empires, past cycles and ages, past our own day, over into the eternal
state. It is so comprehensive that it embraces all this; yet it is so
minute that it gives us all the great outlines of earthly kingdoms from
that time to this. Human wisdom never devised so brief a record which
embraced so much. Human language never set forth in so few words, so great
a volume of historical truth. The finger of God is here. Let us heed the
lesson well. TOP
what interest, as well as astonishment, must the king have listened, as
he was informed by the prophet that he, or rather his kingdom, the king
being here put for his kingdom (see the following verse), was the golden
head of the magnificent image which he had seen. Ancient kings were grateful
for success; and in cases of prosperity, the tutelar deity, to whom they
attributed their success, was the adorable object upon which they would
lavish their richest treasures and bestow their best devotions. Daniel
indirectly informs the king that in this case all these are due to the
God of heaven, since he is the one who has given him his kingdom, and
made him ruler over all. This would restrain him from the pride of thinking
that he had attained his position by his own power and wisdom, and would
enlist the gratitude of his heart toward the true God.
kingdom of Babylon, which finally developed into the golden head of the
great historic image, was founded by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah,
over two thousand years before Christ. Gen. 10:8-10: "And Cush begat
Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty
45 -- hunter before the Lord; wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod,
the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was
Babel [margin Babylon], and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the
land of Shinar." It appears that Nimrod also founded the city of
Nineveh, which afterward became the capital of Syria. (See marginal reading
of Genesis 10:11, and Johnson's Cyclopedia, art. Syria.) The following
sketch of the history of Babylon, from Johnson's
art. Babylon, is according to the latest authorities on this subject:
1270 B.C., the Assyrian kings became masters of Chaldea, or Babylonia,
of which Babylon was the capital. This country was afterward ruled by
an Assyrian dynasty of kings, who reigned at Babylon, and sometimes waged
war against those who reigned in Assyria proper. At other times the kings
of Babylon were tributary to those of Assyria. Several centuries elapsed
in which the history of Babylon is almost a blank. In the time of Tiglath-pileser
of Assyria, Nabonassar ascended the throne of Babylon in 747 B.C. He is
celebrated for the chronological era which bears his name, and which began
in 747 B.C. About 720 Merodach-baladan became king of Babylon, and sent
ambassadors to Hezekiah, king of Judah (see 2 Kings 20, and Isa. 39).
A few years later, Sargon, king of Assyria, defeated and dethroned Merodach-baladan.
Sennacherib completed the subjection of Babylon, which he annexed to the
Assyrian empire about 690 B.C. The conquest of Nineveh and the subversion
of the Assyrian empire, which was effected about 625 B.C., By Cyaxeres
the Mede, and his ally Nabopolassar, the rebellious governor of Babylon,
enabled the latter to found the Babylonian empire, which was the fourth
of Rawlinson's ' Five Great Monarchies,' and included the valley of the
Euphrates, Susiana, Syria, and Palestine. His reign lasted about twenty-one
years, and was probably pacific, as the history of it is nearly a blank;
but in 605 B.C. his army defeated Necho, king of Egypt, who had invaded
Syria. He was succeeded by his more famous son, Nebuchadnezzar (604 B.C.)
who was the greatest of the kings of Babylon."
46 -- Jerusalem
was taken by Nebuchadnezzar in the first year of his reign, and the third
year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah (Dan. 1:1), B.C. 606. Nebuchadnezzar
reigned two years conjointly with his father, Nabopolassar. From this
point the Jews computed his reign, but the Chaldeans from the date of
his sole reign, 604 B.C., as stated above. Respecting the successors of
Nebuchadnezzar, the authority above quoted adds: -
died in 561 B.C., and was succeeded by his son Evil-merodach, who reigned
only two years. Nabonadius (or Labynetus), who became king in 555 B.C.,
formed an alliance with Croesus against Cyrus the Great. He appears to
have shared the royal power with his son, Belshazzar, whose mother was
a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus besieged Babylon, which be took by
stratagem in 538 B.C., and with the death of Belshazzar, whom the Persians
killed, the kingdom of Babylon ceased to exist." TOP
When we say that the image of Daniel 2 symbolizes the four great prophetic
universal monarchies, and reckon Babylon as the first of these, it is
asked how this can be true, when every country in the world was not absolutely
under the dominon of any one of them. Thus Babylon never conquered Grecia
or Rome; but Rome was founded before Babylon had risen to the zenith of
its power. Rome's position and influence, however, were then altogether
prospective; and it is nothing against the prophecy that God begins to
prepare his agents long years before they enter upon the prominent part
they are to perform in the fulfilment of prophecy. We must place ourselves
with the prophet, and view these kingdoms from the same standpoint. We
shall then, as is right, consider his statements in the light of the location
he occupied, the time in which he wrote, and the circumstances by which
he was surrounded. It is a manifest rule of interpretation that we may
look for nations to be noticed in prophecy when they become so far connected
with the people of God that mention of them becomes necessary to make
the records of sacred history complete. When this was the case with Babylon,
it was, from the standpoint of the prophet, the great and overtowering
47 -- object in the political world. In his eye, it necessarily eclipsed
all else; and he would naturally speak of it as a kingdom having rule
over all the earth. So far as we know, all provinces or countries against
which Babylon did move in the height of its power, were subdued by its
arms. In this sense, all were in its power; and this fact will explain
the somewhat hyperbolical language of verse 38. That there were some portions
of territory and considerable numbers of people unknown to history, and
outside the pale of civilization as it then existed, which were neither
discovered nor subdued, is not a fact of sufficient strength or importance
to condemn the expression of the prophet, or to falsify the prophecy.
606 B.C. Babylon came in contact with the people of God, when Nebuchadnezzar
conquered Jerusalem, and led Judah into captivity. It comes at this point,
consequently, into the field of prophecy, at the end of the Jewish theocracy.
character of this empire is indicated by the nature of the material composing
that portion of the image by which it was symbolized - the head of gold.
It was the golden kingdom of a golden age. Babylon, its metropolis, towered
to a height never reached by any of its successors. Situated in the garden
of the East; laid out in a perfect square sixty miles in circumference,
fifteen miles on each side; surrounded by a wall three hundred and fifty
feet high and eighty-seven feet thick, with a moat, or ditch, around this,
of equal cubic capacity with the wall itself; divided into six hundred
and seventy-six squares, each two and a quarter miles in circumference,
by its fifty streets, each one hundred and fifty feet in width, crossing
each other at right angles, twenty-five running each way, every one of
them straight and level and fifteen miles in length; its two hundred and
twenty-five square miles of inclosed surface, divided as just described,
laid out in luxurant pleasure-grounds and gardens, interspersed with magniftcent
dwellings, - this city, with its sixty miles of moat, its sixty miles
of outer wall, its thirty miles of river wall through its center, its
hundred and fifty gates of solid brass, its hanging gardens, rising terrace
above terrace, till they equaled in height the walls themselves, its temple
of Belus, three miles in
(A Babylonian Palace) TOP
p 49 -- circumference, its two royal palaces, one three and a half,
and the other eight miles in circumference, with its subterranean tunnel
under the River Euphrates connecting these two palaces, its perfect arrangement
for convenience, ornament, and defense, and its unlimited resources, -
this city, containing in itself many things which were themselves wonders
of the world, was itself another and still mighter wonder. Never before
saw the earth a city like that; never since has it seen its equal. And
there, with the whole earth prostrate at her feet, a queen in peerless
grandeur, drawing from the pen of inspiration itself this glowing title,
"The glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency,"
sat this city, fit capital of that kingdom which constituted the golden
head of this grat historic image.
was Babylon, with Nebuchadnezzar, in the prime of life, bold, vigorous,
and accomplished, seated upon its throne, when Daniel entered its impregnable
walls to serve a captive for seventy years in its gorgeous palaces. There
the children of the Lord, oppressed more than cheered by the glory and
prosperity of the land of their captivity, hung their harps on the willows
of the sparkling Euphrates, and wept when they remembered Zion.
there commenced the captive state of the church in a still broader sense;
for, ever since that time, the people of God have been in subjection to,
and more or less oppressed by, earthly powers. And so they will be, till
all earthly powers shall finally yield to Him whose right it is to reign.
And lo, that day of deliverance draws on apace.
Into another city, not only Daniel, but all the children of God, from
least to greatest, from lowest to highest, from first to last, are soon
to enter; a city not merely sixty miles in circumference, but fifteen
hundred miles; a city whose walls are not brick and bitumen, but precious
stones and jasper; whose streets are not the stone-paved streets of Babylon,
smooth and beautiful as they were, but transparent gold; whose river is
not the mournful waters of the Euphrates, but the river of life; whose
music is not the sighs and laments of broken-hearted captives, but the
thrilling paeans of victory over death and the grave,
50 -- which ransomed multitudes shall raise; whose light is not the
intermittent light of earth, but the unceasing and ineffable glory of
God and the Lamb. Into this city they shall enter, not as captives entering
a foreign land, but as exiles returning to their father's house; not as
to a place where such chilling words as "bondage," "servitude,"
and "oppression," shall weigh down their spirits, but to one
where the sweet words, "home," "freedom," "peace,"
"purity," "unutterable bliss," and "unending
life," shall thrill their bosoms with delight forever and ever. Yea;
our mouths shall be filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing,
when the Lord shall turn again the captivity of Zion. Ps. 126:1, 2; Rev.
39. And after
thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom
of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
reigned forty-three years, and was succeeded by the following rulers:
His son, Evil-merodach, two years; Neriglissar, his son-in-law, four years;
Laborosoarchod, Neriglissar's son, nine months, which, being less than
one year, is not counted in the canon of Ptolemy; and lastly, Nabonadius,
whose son, Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was associated with
him on the throne, and with whom that kingdom came to an end. TOP
the first year of Neriglissar,
only two years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, broke out that fatal
war between the Babylonians and the Medes, which was to result in the
utter subversion of the Babylonian kingdom. Cyaxares, king of the Medes,
who is called "Darius" in Dan. 5:31, summoned to his aid his
nephew, Cyrus, of the Persian line, in his efforts against the Babylonians.
The war was prosecuted with uninterrupted success on the part of the Medes
and Persians, until, in the eighteenth year of Nabonadius (the third year
of his son Belshazzar), Cyrus laid siege to Babylon, the only city in
all the East which then held out against him. The Babylonians, gathered
within their impregitable walls, with provision on hand for twenty years,
and land within the limits of their broad city sufficient to furnish food
for the inhabitants
51 -- and
garrison for an indefinite period, scoffed at Cyrus from their lofty walls,
and derided his seemingly useless efforts to bring them into subjeetion.
And according to all human calculation, they had good ground for their
feelings of security. Never, weighed in the balance of any earthly probability,
with the means of warfare then known, could that city be taken. Hence,
they breathed as freely and slept as soundly as though no foe were waiting
and watching for their destruction around their beleaguered walls. But
God had decreed that the proud and wicked city should come down from her
throne of glory; and when he speaks, what mortal arm can defeat his word?
their very feeling of security lay the source of their danger. Cyrus resolved
to accomplish by stratagem what he could not effect by force; and learning
of the approach of an annual festival, in which the whole city would be
given up to mirth and revelry, he fixed upon that day as the time to carry
his purpose into execution. There was no entrance for him into that city
except he could find it where the River Euphrates entered and emerged,
passing under its walls. He resolved to make the channel of the river
his own highway into the stronghold of his enemy. To do this, the water
must be turned aside from its channel through the city. For this purose,
on the evening of the feast-day above referred to, he detailed three bodies
of soldiers, the first, to turn the river at a given hour into a large
artificial lake a short distance above the city; the second, to take their
station at the point where the river entered the city; the third to take
a position fifteen miles below, where the river emerged from the city;
and these two latter parties were instructed to enter the channel, just
as soon as they found the river fordable, and in the darkness of the night
explore their way beneath the walls, and press on to the palace of the
king, where they were to meet, surprise the palace, slay the guards, and
capture or slay the king. When the water was turned into the lake mentioned
above, the river soon became fordable, and the soldiers detailed for that
purpose followed its channel into the heart of the city of Babylon.
all this would have been in vain, had not the whole city, on that eventful
night, given themselves over to the most
p 52 --
(Babylon taken by the Medo-Persians)
53 -- reckless carelessness and presumption, a state of things upon
which Cyrus calculated largely for the carrying out of his purpose. For
on each side of the river, through the entire length of the city, were
walls of great height, and of equal thickness with the outer walls. In
these walls were huge gates of solid brass, which when closed and guarded,
debarred all entrance from the river-bed to any and all of the twenty-five
streets that crossed the river; and had they been thus closed at this
time, the soldiers of Cyrus might have marched into the city along the
river-bed, and then marched out again, for all that they would have been
able to accomplish toward the subjugation of the place. But in the drunken
revelry of that fatal night, these river gates were all left open, and
the entrance of the Persian soldiers was not perceived. Many a cheek would
have paled with terror, had they noticed the sudden going down of the
river, and understood its fearful import. Many a tongue would have spread
wild alarm through the city, had they seen the dark forms of their armed
foes stealthly treading their way to the citadel of their strength. But
no one noticed the sudden subsidence of the waters of the river; no one
saw the entrance of the Persian warriors; no one took care that the river
gates should be closed and guarded; no one cared for aught but to see
how deeply and recklessly he could plunge into the wild debauch. That
night's work cost them their kingdom and their freedom. They went into
their brutish revelry subjects of the king of Babylon; they awoke from
it slaves to the king of Persia. TOP
The soldiers of Cyrus first made known their presence in the city by falling
upon the royal guards in the very vestibule of the palace of the king.
Belshazzar soon became aware of the cause of the disturbance, and died
vainly fighting for his imperiled life. This feast of Belshazzar is described
in the fifth chapter of Daniel; and the scene closes with the simple record,
"In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And
Darins the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years
Thus the first division of the great image was completed. Another kingdom
had arisen, as the prophet had declared.
54 -- The first instalment of the prophetic dream was fulfilled.
before we take leave of Babylon, let us glance forward to the end of its
thenceforth melancholy history. It would naturally be supposed that the
conqueror, becoming possessed of so noble a city, far surpassing anything
in the world, would have taken it as the seat of his empire, and maintained
it in its primitive splendor. But God had said that that city should become
a heap, and the habitation of the beasts of the desert; that their houses
should be full of doleful creatures; that the wild beasts of the islands
should cry in their desolate dwellings, and dragons in their pleasant
palaces. Isa. 13:19-22. It must first be deserted. Cyrus removed the imperial
seat to Susa, a celebrated city in the province of Elam, east from Babylon,
on the banks of the River Choaspes, a branch of the Tigris. This was probably
done, says Prideaux (i. 180), in the first year of his sole reign. The
pride of the Babylonians being particularly provoked by this act, in the
fifth year of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 517, they rose in rebellion, which
brought upon themselves again the whole strength of the Persian empire.
The city was once more taken by stratagem. Zopyrus, one of the chief commanders
of Darius, having cut off his own nose and ears, and mangled his body
all over with stripes, fled in this condition to the besieged, apparently
burning with desire to be revenged on Darius for his great cruelty in
thus mutilating him. In this way he won the confidence of the Babylonians
till they at length made him chief commander of their forces: Whereupon
he betrayed the city into the hands of his master. And that they might
ever after be deterred from rebellion, Darius impaled three thousand of
those who had been most active in the revolt, took away the brazen gates
of the city, and beat down the walls from two hundred cubits to fifty
cubits. This was the commencement of its destruction. By this act, it
was left exposed to the ravages of every hostile band. Xerxes, on his
return from Greece, plundered the temple of Belus of its immense wealth,
and then laid the lofty structure in ruins. Alexander the Great endeavored
to rebuild it; but after employing ten thousand men two months to clear
away the rubbish, he died from excessive drunkenness and debauchery,
(Alexander removing the ruins of Babylon)
56 -- and the work was suspended. In the year 294 B.C., Seleucus Nicator
built the city of New Babylon in its neighborhood, and took much of the
material and many of the inhabitants of the old city, to build up and
people the new. Now almost exhausted of inhabitants, neglect and decay
were telling fearfully upon the ancient city. The violence of Parthian
princes hastened its ruin. About the end of the fourth century, it was
used by the Persian kings as an enclosure for wild beasts. At the end
of the twelfth century, according to a celebrated traveler, the few remaining
ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace were so full of serpents and venomous
reptiles that they could not, without great danger, be closely inspected.
And to-day scarcely enough even of the ruins is left to mark the spot
where once stood the largest, richest, and proudest city the world has
ever seen. Thus the ruin of great Babylon shows us how accurately God
will fulfil his word, and make the doubts of skepticism appear like wilful
after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee." The use
of the word kingdom here, shows that kingdoms, and not particular
kings, are represented by the different parts of this image; and hence
when it was said to Nebuchadnezzar, " Thou art this head of gold,"
although the personal pronoun was used, the kingdom, not the person of
the king, was meant. TOP
The succeeding kingdom, Medo-Persia, is the one which answers to the breast
and arms of silver of the great image. It was to be inferior to the preceding
kingdom. In what respect inferior? Not in power; for it was its conqueror.
Not in extent; for Cyrus subdued all the East from the Aegean Sea to the
River Indus, and thus erected the most extensive empire that up to that
time had ever existed. But it was inferior in wealth, luxury and magnificence.
from a Scriptural standpoint, the principal event under the Babylonish
empire was the captivity of the children of Israel; so the principil event
under the Medo-Persian kingdom was the restoration of Israel to their
own land. At the taking of Babylon, B.C. 538, Cyrus, as an act of courtesy,
assigned the first place in the kingdom to his uncle, Darius.
57 -- But,
two years afterward, B.C. 536, Darius died; and in the same year also
died Cambyses, king of Persia, Cyrus' father. By these events, Cyrus was
left sole monarch of the whole empire. In this year, which closed Israel's
seventy years of captivity, Cyrus issued his famous decree for the return
of the Jews and the rebuilding of their temple. This was the first instalment
of the great decree for the restoration and building again of Jerusalem
(Ezra 6:14), which was completed in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes,
B.C. 457, and marked, as will hereafter be shown, the commencement of
the 2300 days of Daniel 8, the longest and most important prophetic period
mentioned in the Bible. Dan. 9:25.
a reign of seven years, Cyrus left the kingdom to his son Cambyses, who
reigned seven years and five months, to B.C. 522. Eight monarchs, whose
reigns varied from seven months to forty-six years each, took the throne
in order till the year B.C. 336, as follows: Smerdis the Magian, seven
months, in the year B.C. 522; Darius Hystaspes, from B.C.521 to 486; Xerxes
from B.C. 485 to 465; Artaxerxes Longimanus, from B.C. 464 to 424; Darius
Nothus, from B.C. 423 to 405; Artaxerxes Mnemon, from B.C. 404 to 359;
Ochus, from B.C. 358 to 338; Arses, from B.C. 337 to 336. The year 335
is set down as the first of Darius Codomanus, the last of the line of
the old Persian kings. This man, according to Prideaux, was of noble stature,
of goodly person, of the greatest personal valor, and of a mild and generous
disposition. Had he lived at any other age, a long and splendid career
would have undoubtedly have been his. But it was his ill-forutne to have
to contend with one who was an agent in the fulfilment of prophecy; and
no qualifications, natural or acquired, could render him successful in
the unequal contest. "Scarcely was he warm upon the throne,"
says the last-named historian, "ere he found his formidible enemy,
Alexander, at the head of the Greek soldiers, preparing to dismount him
cause and particilars of the contest between the Greeks and Persians we
leave to histories specially devoted to such matters. Suffice it here
to say that the deciding point was
58 -- reached on the field of Arbela, B.C. 331, in which the Grecians,
though only one to twenty in number as compared with the Persians, were
entirely victorious; and Alexander thenceforth became absolute lord of
the Persian empire to the utmost extent that it was ever possessed by
any of its own kings.
another third kingdom of brass shall bear rule over all the earth,"
said the prophet. So few and brief are the inspired words which involved
in their fulfilment a change of the world's rulers. In the ever-changing
political kaleidoscope, Grecia now comes into the field of vision, to
be, for a time, the all-absorbing object of attention, as the third of
what are called the great universal empires of the earth. TOP
the fatal battle which decided the fate of the empire, Darius still endeavored
to rally tho shattered remnants of his army, and make a stand for his
kingdom and his rights. But he could not gather, out of all the host of
his recently so numerous and well-appointed army, a force with which he
deemed it prudent to hazard another engagement with the victorious Grecians.
Alexander pursued him on the wings of the wind. Time after time did Darius
barely elude the grasp of his swiftly following foe. At length two traitors,
Bessus and Nabarzanes, seized the unfortunate prince, shut him up in a
close cart, and fled with him as their prisoner toward Bactria. It was
their purpose, if Alexander pursued them, to purchase their own safety
by delivering up their king. Hereupon Alexander, learning of Darius's
dangerous position in the hands of the traitors, immediately put himself
with the lightest part of his army upon a forced pursuit. After several
days' hard march, he came up with the traitors. They urged Darius to mount
on horseback for a more speedy flight. Upon his refusing to do this, they
gave him several mortal wounds, and left him dying in his cart, while
they mounted their steeds and rode away.
Alexander came up, he beheld only the lifeless form of the Persian king.
As he gazed upon the corpse, he might have learned a profitable lesson
of the instability of human fortune. Here was a man who but a few months
before, possessing many noble and generous qualities, was seated upon
the throne of universal empire. Disaster, overthrow, and desertion
59 -- had come suddenly upon him. His kingdom had been conquered,
his treasure seized, and his family reduced to captivity. And now, brutally
slain by the hand of traitors, he lay a bloody corpse in a rude cart.
The sight of the melancholy spectacle drew tears even from the eyes of
Alexander, familar though he was with all the horrible vicissitudes and
bloody scenes of war. Throwing his cloak over the body, he commanded it
to be conveyed to the captive ladies of Susa, himself furnishing the necessary
means for a royal funeral. For this generous act let us give him credit;
for he stands sadly in need of all that is his due.
Darius fell, Alexander saw the field cleared of his last formidable foe.
Thenceforward he could spend his time in his own manner, now in the enjoyment
of rest and pleasure, and again in the prosecution of some minor conquest.
He entered upon a pompous campaign into India, because, according to Grecian
fable, Bacchus and Hercules, two sons of Jupiter, whose son he also claimed
to be, had done the same. With comptemptible arrogance, he claimed for
himself divine honors. He gave up conquered cities, freely and unprovoked,
to the absolute mercy of his blood-thirsty and licentious soldiery. He
himself often murdered his own friends and favorites in his drunken frenzies.
He sought out the vilest persons for the gratification of his lust. At
the instigation of a dissolute and drunken woman, he, with a company of
his courtiers, all in a state of frenzied intoxication, sallied out, torch
in hand, and fired the city and palace of Persepolis, one of the then
finest palaces in the world. He encouraged such excessive drinking among
his followers that one occasion twenty of them together died as the result
of their carousal. At length, having sat through one long drinking spree,
he was immediately invited to another, when, after drinking to each of
the twenty guests present, he twice drank full, says history, incredibe
as it may seem, the Herculean cup containing six of our quarts. He thereupon
fell down, seized with a violent fever, of which he died eleven days later,
in May or June, B.C. 323, while yet he stood only at the threshold of
mature life, in the thirty-second year of his age.
( Alexander commanding the conflagration of Persepolis) TOP
61 -- The progress of the Grecian empire we need not stop to trace
here, since its distinguishing features will claim more particular notice
under other prophecies. Daniel thus continues in his interpretation of
the great image: -
40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; for as
much as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that
breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
Thus far in the application of this prophecy there is a general agreement
among expositors. That Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Grecia are represented
respectively by the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, and the
sides of brass, is acknowledged by all. But with just as little ground
for a diversity of views, there is strangely a difference of opinion as
to what kingdom is symbolized by the fourth division of the great image,
- the legs of iron. On this point we have only to inquire, What kingdom
did succeed Grecia in the empire of the world? for the legs of iron denote
the fourth kingdom in the series. The testimony of history is full and
explicit on this point. One kingdom did this, and one only, and that was
Rome. It conquored Grecia; it subdued all things; like iron, it broke
in pieces and bruised. Gibbon,
following the symbolic imagery of Daniel, thus describes this empire:
arms of the Republic sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious
in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine,
and the ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might
serve to represent the nations or their kings, were successively broken
by the iron monarchy of Rome."
the opening of the Christian era, this empire took in the whole south
of Europe, France, England, the greater part of the Netherlands, Switzerland,
and the south of Germany, Hungary, Turkey, and Greece, not to speak of
its possessions in Asia and Africa. Well, therefore, may
of it: -
empire of the Romans filled the world. And when that empire fell into
the hands of a single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison
for his enemies. To resist was fatal; and it was impossible to fly."
62 -- It will be noticed that at first the kingdom is described unqualifiedly
as strong as iron. And this was the period of its strength, during which
it has been likened to a mighty Colossus, bestriding the nations, conquering
everything, and giving laws to the world. But this was not to continue.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes,
part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided;
but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou
sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42. And
as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom
shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
element of weakness symbolized by the clay, pertained to the feet as well
as to the toes. Rome, before its division into ten kingdoms, lost that
iron tenacity which it possessed to a superlative degree during the first
centuries of its career. Luxury, with its accompanying effeminacy and
degeneracy, the destroyer of nations as well as of individuals, began
to corrode and weaken its iron sinews, and thus prepared the way for its
subsequent disruption into ten kingdoms.
iron legs of the image terminate, to maintain the consistency of the figure,
in feet and toes. To the toes, of which there were of course just ten,
our attention is called by the explicit mention of thern in the prophecy;
and the kingdom represented by that portion of the image to which the
toes belonged, was finally divided into ten parts. The question therefore
naturally arises, Do the ten toes of the image represent the ten final
divisions of the Roman empire? To those who prefer what seems to be a
natural and straightforward interpretation of the word of God, it is a
matter of no little astonishment that any question should here be raised.
To take the ten toes to represent the ten kingdoms into which Rome was
divided seems like such an easy, consistent, and matter-of-course procedure,
that it requires a labored effort to interpret it otherwise. Yet such
an effort is made by some - by Romanists universally, and by such Protestants
as still cling to Romish errors. TOP
volume by H. Cowles, D. D., may perhaps best be taken as a representative
exposition on this side of the question.
63 -- The writer gives every evidence of extensive erudition and great
ability. It is the more to be regretted, therefore, that these powers
are devoted to the propagation of error, and to misleading the anxious
inquirer who wishes to know his whereabouts on the great highway of time.
can but briefly notice his positions. They are, (1) That
the third kingdom was Grecia during the lifetime of Alexander only;
(2) That the fourth kingdom was Alexander's successors;
(3) That the latest point to which the fourth kingdom
could extend, is the manifestation of the Messiah; for (4)
There the God of heaven set up his kingdom; there the stone smote the
image upon its feet, and commenced the process of grinding it up.
can we reply at any great length to these positions.
We might as well confine the Babylonian empire to the single reign of
Nebuchadnezzar, or that of Persia to the reign of Cyrus, as to confine
the third kingdom, Grecia, to the reign of Alexander.
Alexander's successors did not constitute another kingdom,
but a continuation of the same, the Grecian kingdom of the image; for
in this line of prophecy the succession of kingdoms is by conquest. When
Persia had conquered Babylon, we had the second empire; and when Grecia
had conquered Persia, we had the third. But Alexander's successors (his
four leading generals) did not conquer his empire, and erect another in
its place; they simply divided among themselves the empire which Alexander
had conquered, and left ready to their hand.
says Professor C., "the
fourth empire must
immediately succeed Alexander, and lie entirely between him and the birth
of Christ." Chronologically,
we reply, it must do no such thing; for the birth of Christ was not the
introduction of the fifth kingdom, as will in due time appear. Here he
overlooks almost the entire duration of the third division of the image,
confounding it with the fourth, and giving no room for the divided state
of the Grecian empire as symbolized by the four heads of the leopard of
chapter 7, and the four horns of the goat of chapter 8.
64 -- "Territorially,"
continues Professor C.,
" it [the fourth kingdom] should be sought in Western Asia, not in
Europe; in general, on the same territory where the first, second, and
third kingdoms stood." Why not Europe? we ask. Each of the
first three kingdoms possessed territory which was pecularily its own.
Why not the fourth? Analogy requires that it should. And was not the third
kingdom a European kingdom? that is, did it not rise on European territory,
and take its name from the land of its birth? Why not, then, go a degree
farther west for the place where the fourth great kingdom should be founded?
And how did Grecia ever occupy the territory of the first and second kingdoms?
- Only by conquest. And Rome did the same. Hence, so far as the territorial
requirements of the professor's theory are concerned, Rome could be the
fourth kingdom as truthfully as Grecia could be the third.
he adds, "it should be
the immediate successor of Alexander's empire, . . . changing the dynasty,
but not the nations." Analogy is against him here. Each of
the first three kingdoms was distinguished by its own peculiar nationality.
The Persian was not the same as the Babylonian, nor the Grecian the same
as either of the two that preceded it. Now analogy requires that the fourth
kingdom, instead of being composed of a fragment of this Grecian empire,
should possess a nationality of its own, distinct from the other three.
And this we find in the Roman kingdom, and in it alone. But, TOP
3. The grand fallacy which underlies this whole system
of misinterpretation, is the too commonly taught theory that the kingdom
of God was set up at the first advent of Christ. It can easily be seen
how fatal to this theory is the admission that the fourth empire is Rome.
For it was to be after the division of that fourth empire, that the God
of heaven was to set up his kingdom. But the division of the Roman empire
into ten parts was not accomplshed previous to A. D. 476; consequently
the kingdom of God could not have been set up at the first advent of Christ,
nearly five hundred years before that date. Rome must not, therefore,
from their standpoint, though it answers admirably to the prophecy in
every particular, be allowed to
65 -- be the kingdom in question. The position that the kingdom of
God was set up in the days when Christ was upon earth, must, these interpreters
seem to think, be maintained at all hazards.
is the ground on which some expositors appear, at least to reason. And
it is for the purpose of maintaining this theory that our author dwindles
down the third great empire of the world to the insignificant period of
about eight years! For this, he endeavors to prove that the fourth universal
empire was bearing full sway during a period when the providence of God
was simply filling up the outlines of the third! For this, he presumes
to fix the points of time between which we must look for the fourth, though
the prophecy does not deal in dates at all, and then whatever kingdom
he finds within his specified time, that he sets down as the fourth kingdom,
and endeavors to bend the prophecy to fit his interpretation, utterly
regardless of how much better material he might find outside of his little
inclosure, to answer to a fulfilment of the prophetic record. Is such
a course logical? Is the time the point to be first established? - No;
the kingdoms are the great features of the prophecy, and we are to look
for them; and when we find them, we must accept them, whatever may be
the chronology or location. Let them govern the time and place, not the
time and place govern them.
that view which is the cause of all this misapplication and confusion
is sheer assumption. Christ did not smite the image at his first advent.
Look at it! When the stone smites the image upon its feet, the image is
dashed in pieces. Violence is used. The effect is immediate. The image
becemes as chaff. And then what? Is it absorbed by the stone, and gradually
incorporated with it? - Nothing of the kind. It is blown off, removed
away, as incompatible and unavailable material; and no place is found
for it. The territory is entirely cleared; and then the stone becomes
a mountain, and fills the whole earth. Now what idea shall we attach to
this work of smiting and breaking in pieces? Is it a gentle, peaceful,
and quiet work? or is it a manifestation of vengeance and violence? How
did the kingdoms of the prophecy succeed the one to the
66 -- other? - It was through the violence and din of war, the shock
of armies and the roar of battle. "Confused noise and garments rolled
in blood," told of the force and violence with which one nation had
been brought into subjection to another. Yet all this is not called "smiting
" or "breaking in pieces."
When Persia conquered Babylon, and Greece Persia, neither of the conquered
empires is said to have been broken in pieces, though crushed beneath
the overwhelming power of a hostile nation. But when we reach tbe introduction
of the fifth kingdom, the image is smitten with violence; it is dashed
to pieces, and so scattered and obliterated that no place is found for
it. And now what shall we understand by this? - We must understand that
here a scene transpires in which is manifested so much more violence and
force and power than accompany the overthrow of one nation by another
through the strife of war, that the latter is not worthy even of mention
in connection with it. The subjugation of one nation by another by war,
is a scene of peace and quietude in comparison with that which transpires
when the image is dashed in pieces by the stone cut out of the mountain
without hands. TOP
what is the smiting of the image made to mean by the theory under notice?
- Oh, the peaceful, introduction of the gospel of Christ! the quiet spreading
abroad of the light of truth! the gathering out of a few from the nations
of the earth, to be made ready through obedience to the truth, for his
second coming, and reign! the calm and unpretending formation of a Christian
church, - a church that has been domineered over, persecuted, and oppressed
by the arrogant and triumphant powers of earth from that day to this!
And this is the smiting of the image! this is the breaking of it into
pieces, and violently removing the shattered fragments from the face of
the earth! Was ever absurdity more absurd?
this digression we return to the inquiry, Do the toes represent the ten
divisions of the Roman empire? We, answer, Yes; because, -
1. The image of chapter 2 is exactly parallel with
the vision of the four beasts of chapter 7. The fourth beast of chapter
7 represents the same as the iron legs of the image.
67 -- The ten horns of the beast, of course, correspond very naturally
to the ten toes of the image; and these horns are plainly declaired to
be ten kings which should arise; and they are just as much independent
kingdoms as are the beasts themselves; for the beasts are spoken of in
prcisely the same manner; name1y, as "four kings which should arise."
Verse 17. They do not denote a line of successive kings, but kings or
kingdoms which exist contemporaneously; for three of them were plucked
up by the little horn. The ten horns, beyond controversy, represen the
ten kingdoms into which Rome was divided.
We have seen that in Daniel's interpretation of the image he uses the
words king and
kingdom interchangeably, the former denoting the same as the
latter. In verse 44 he says that "in the days of these kings shall
the God of heaven set up a kingdom." This shows that at the time
the kingdom of God is set up, there will be a plurality of kings existing
contemporaneously. It cannot refer to the four preceding kingdoms; for
it would be absurd to use such language in reference to a line of successive
kings, since it would be in the days of the last king only, not in the
days of any of the preceeding, that the kingdom of God would be set up.
then, is a division presented; and what have we in the symbol to indicate
it? - Nothing but the toes of the image. Unless they do it, we are left
utterly in the dark as to the nature and extent of the division which
the prophecy shows did exist. To suppose this would be to cast a serious
imputation upon the prophecy itself. We are therefore held to the conclusion
that the ten toes of the image denote the ten parts into which the Roman
empire was divided. 1 TOP
1 -- This
division was accomplished between the years A. D. 351 and A. D. 476. The
era of this dissolution thus covered a hundred and twenty-five years,
from about the middle of the fourth century to the last quarter of the
fifth. No historians of whom we are aware, place the beginning of this
work of the dismemberment of the Roman empire earlier than A. D. 351,
and there is general agreement in assigning its close in A. D. 476. Concerning
the intermediate dates, that is, the precise time from which each of the
ten kingdoms that arose on the ruins of the Roman empire is to be dated,
there is some difference of views among historians. Nor does this seem
strange, when we consider that there was an era of great confusion, that
the map of the Roman empire during that time underwent many sudden and
violent changes, and that the paths of hostile nations charging upon its
territory, crossed and recrossed each other in a labyrinth of confusion.
But all historians agree in this, that out of the territory of Western
Rome, ten seperate kingdoms were ultimately established, and we may safely
assign them to the time between the dates above named; namely, A. D. 351
ten nations which were most instrumental in breaking up the Roman empire,
and which at some time in their history held respectively portions of
Roman territory as separate and independent kingdoms, may be enumerated
(with out respect to the time of their establishment) as follows: The
Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Suevi, Burgundians, Heruli,
Anglo-Saxons, and Lombards. The connection between these and some of the
modern nations of Europe, is still traceable in the names, as England,
Burgundy, Lombardy, France, etc. Such authorities as Calmet, Faber, Lloyd,
Hales, Scott, Barnes, etc., concur in the foregoing enumeration. (See
Barnes's concluding notes on Daniel 7.)
68 -- As an objection to the view that the ten toes of the image denote
the ten kingdoms, we are sometimes reminded that Rome, before its division
into ten kingdoms, was divided into two parts, the Western and Eastern
empires, corresponding to the two legs of the image; and as the ten kingdoms
all arose out of the western division, if they are denoted by the toes,
we would have, it is claimed, ten toes on one foot of the image, and none
on the other; which would be unnatural and inconsistent.
this objection devours itself; for certainly if the two legs denote division,
the toes must denote division also. It would be inconsistent to say that
the legs symbolize division, but the toes do not. But if the toes do indicate
division at all, it can be nothing but the division of Rome into ten parts.
fallacy, however, which forms the basis of this objection, is the view
that the two legs of the image do signify the separation of the Roman
empire into its eastern and western divisions. To this view there are
1. The two legs of iron symbolize Rome, not merely
during its closing years, but from the very beginning of its existence
as a nation; and if these legs denote division, the kingdom should have
been divided from the very commencement of its history. This claim is
sustained by the other symbols. Thus the division (that is, the two elements)
of the Persian kingdom, denoted by the two horns of the ram (Dan. 8:20),
also by the elevation of the bear upon one side (Dan. 7:5), and perhaps
by the two arms of the image of this chapter, existed from the first.
The division of the Grecian kingdom, denoted by the four horns of the
goat and the four heads of the leopard, dates back to within eight years
of the time when it was introduced into prophecy. So Rome should have
been divided from the first, if the legs denote division, instead of remaining
a unit for nearly six hundred years, and separating into its eastern
69 -- and
western divisions only a few years prior to its final disruption into
such division into two great parts is denoted by other symbols under which
Rome is represented in the book of Daniel; namely, the great and terrible
beast of Daniel 7, and the little horn of chapter 8. Hence it is reasonable
to conclude that the two legs of the image were not designed to represent
such a division.
it may be asked,Why not suppose the two legs to denote division as well
as the toes? Would it not be just as inconsistent to say that the toes
denote division, and the legs do not, as to say that the legs denote divisions
and the toes do not? We answer that the prophecy itself must govern our
conclusions in this matter; and whereas it says nothing of division in
connection with the legs, it does introduce the subject of division as
we come down to the feet and toes. It says, "And whereas thou sawest
the feet and toes, part of potters' clay and part of iron, the kingdom
shall be divided." No division could take place, or at least none
is said to have taken place, till the weakening element of the clay is
introduced; and we do not find this till we come to the feet and toes.
But we are not to understand that the clay donotes one division and the
iron the other; for after the long-existing unity of the kingdom was broken,
no one of the fragments was as strong as the original iron, but all were
in a state of weakness denoted by the mixture of iron and clay. The conclusion
is inevitable, therefore, that the prophet has here stated the cause for
the effect. The introduction of the weakness of the clay element, as we
come to the feet, resulted in the division of the kingdom into ten parts,
as represented by the ten toes; and this result, or division, is more
than intimated in the sudden mention of a plurality of contemporaneous
kings. Therefore, while we find no evidence that the legs denote division,
but serious objections against such a view, we do find, we think, good
reason for supposing that the toes denote division, as here claimed. TOP
Each of the four monarchies had its own particular territory,
which was the kingdom proper, and where we are to
70 -- look for the chief events in its history shadowed forth by the
symbol. We are not, therefore, to look for the divisions of thc Roman
empire in the territory formerly occupied by Babylon, or Persia, or Grecia,
but in the territory proper of the Roman kingdom, which was what was finally
known as the Western empire. Rome conquered the world; but the kingdom
of Rome proper lay west of Grecia. That is what was represented by the
legs of iron. There, then, we look for the ten kingdoms; and there we
find them. We are not obliged to mutilate or deform the symbol to make
it a fit and accurate representation of historical events.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they
shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave
one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
Rome fell the last of the universal empires belonging to the world in
its present state. Heretofore the elements of society had been such that
it was possible for one nation, rising superior to its neighbors in prowess,
bravery, and the science of war, to attach them one after another to its
chariot wheels till all were consolidated into one vast empire, and one
man seated upon the dominant throne could send forth his will as law to
all the nations of the earth. When Rome fell, such possibilities forever
passed away. Crushed beneath the weight of its own vast proportions, it
crumbled to pieces, never to be united again. The iron was mixed with
the clay. Its elements lost the power of cohesion, and no man or combination
of men can again consolidate them. This point is so well set forth by
another that we take pleasure, in quoting his words: - "
From this, its divided state, the first strength of the empire departed;
but not as that of the others had done. No other kingdom was to succeed
it, as it had the three which went before it. It was to continue in this
tenfold division, until the kingdom of stone smote it upon its feet, broke
them in pieces, and scattered them as the wind does the chaff of the summer
threshing-floor! Yet, through all this time, a portion of its strength
was to remain. And so the prophet says, ' And as the toes of the feet
were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong,
and partly broken.' TOP
territory covered by the four universal kingdoms.
72 -- Verse 42. How in any
other way could you so strikingly represent the facts? For more than fourteen
hundred years, this tenfold division has existed. Time and again men have
dreamed of rearing on these dominions one mighty kingdom. Charlemagne
tried it. Charles V tried it. Louis XIV tried it. Napoleon tried it. But
none succedded. A single verse of prophecy was stronger than all their
hosts. Their own power was wasted, frittered away, destroyed. But the
ten kingdoms did not become one. ' Partly strong, and partly broken,'
was the prophetic description. And such, too, has been the historic fact
concerriing them. With the book of history open before you, I ask you,
Is not this an exact representation of the renmants of this once mighty
empire? It ruled with unlimited power. It was the throned mistress of
the world. its scepter was broken; its throne pulled down; its power taken
away. Ten kingdoms were formed out of it; and ' broken' as then it was,
it still continues; i.e., 'partly broken;' for its dimensions still
continue as when the kingdom of iron stood upright upon its feet. And
then it is 'partly strong; ' i.e., it retains, even in its broken
state, enough of its iron strength to resist all attempts to mold its
parts together. 'This shall not be,' says the word of God. 'This has not
been,' replies the book of history.
then,' men may say, 'another plan remains. If force cannot avail, diplomacy
and reasons of state may; we will try them.' And so the prophecy foreshadows
this when it says, 'They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men;
' i.e., marriages shall be formed, in hope thus to consolidate
their power, and, in the end, to unite these divided kingdoms into one.
shall this device succeed? - No. The prophet answers: 'They shalt not
cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.' And the history
of Europe is but a running commentary on the exact fulfilment of these
words. From the time of Canute to the present age, it has been the policy
of reigning monarchs, the beaten path which they have trodden in order
to reach a mightier scepter and a wider sway. And the most signal instance
of it which history has recorded
p 73 -- in our
own day, is in the case of Napoleon. He ruled in one of the kingdoms....He
sought to gain by alliance what he could not gain by force; i.e.,
to build up one mighty, consolidated empire. And did he succeed? - Nay.
The very power with which he was allied, proved his destruction, in the
troops of Blucher, on the field of Waterloo! The iron would not mingle
with clay. The ten kingdoms continue still.
yet, if as the result of these alliances or of other causes, that number
is sometimes disturbed, it need not surpirise us. It is, indeed, just
what the prophecy seems to call for. the iron was 'mixed with the clay.'
For a season, in the image, you might not distinguish between them. But
they would not remain so. 'They shall not cleave one to another.' The
nature of the substances forbids them to do so in the one case; the word
of prophecy In the other. Yel there was to be an attempt to mingle - nay,
more, there was an approach to mingle in both cases. But it was to be
abortive. And how marked the emphasis with which history affirms this
declaration of the word of God!" - Wm. Newton, Lectures on the First
Two Visions of the Book of Daniel, pp. 34-36. TOP
Yet with all these facts before them, asserting the irresistible power
of God's providence through the overturnings and changes of centuries,
the efforts of warriors, and the diplomacy and intrigues of courts and
kings, some modern expositors have manifested such a marvelous misapprehension
of this prophecy as to predict a future universal kingdom, and point to
a European ruler, even now of waning years and declining prestige, as
the "destined monarch of the world." Vain is the breath they
spend in promulgating such a theory, and delusive the hopes or fears they
may succeed in raising over such an expectation. 1
44. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven
set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall
not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume
all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45.
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without
after this language was penned, Nepoleon III, this "destined
monarch of the world"! was dethroned, and died in ignominious retirement,
and his son and heir has since fallen by the hands of savages in Africa.
74 -- hands,
and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver,
and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come
to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof
here reach the climax of this stupendous prophecy; and when Time in his
onward flight shall bring us to the sublime scene here predicted,we shall
have reached the end of human history. The kingdom of God! Grand provision
for a new and glorious dispensation, in which his people shall find a
happy terminus of this world's sad, degenerate, and changing career. Transporting
change for all the righteous, from gloom to glory, from strife to peace,
from a sinful to a holy world, from death to life, from tyranny and oppression
to the happy freedom and blessed privileges of a heavenly kingdom! Glorious
transition, from weakness to strength, from the changing and decaying
to the immutable and eternal!
when is this kingdom to be established ? May we hope for an answer to
an inquiry of such momentous concern to our race? These are the very questions
on which the word of God does not leave us in ignorance; and herein is
seen the surpassing value of this heavenly boon. We do not say that the
exact time is revealed (we emphasize the fact that it is not) either in
this or in any other prophecy; but so near an approximation is given that
the generation which is to see the establishment of this kingdom may mark
its approach unerringly, and make that preparation which will entitle
them to share in all its glories.
already explained, we are brought down by verses 41-43 this side of the
division of the Roman empire into ten kingdoms; which division was accomplislied,
as already noticed, between 351 aud 476. The kings, or kingdoms, in the
days of which the God of heaven is to set up his kingdom, are evidently
those kingdoms which arose out of the Roman empire. Then the kingdom of
God here brought to view could not have been set up, as some claim it
was, in connection with the first advent of Christ, four hundred and fifty
years before. But whether we apply this division to the ten kingdoms or
not, it is certain that some kind of division was to take place in
75 -- the
Roman empire before the kingdom of God should be set up; for the prophecy
expressly declares, "The kingdom shall be divided." And this
is equally fatal to the popular view; for after the unification of the
first elements of the Roman power down to the days of Christ, there was
no division of the kingdom; nor during his days, nor for many years after,
did any such thing take place. The civil wars were not divisions of the
empire; they were only the efforts of individuals worshiping at the shrine
of ambition, to obtain supreme control of the empire. The occasional petty
revolts of distant provinces, surpressed as with the power, and almost
with the speed, of a thunderbolt, did not constitute a division of the
kingdom. And these are all that can be pointed to as interfering with
the unity of the kingdom, for more than three hundred years this side
of the days of Christ. This one consideration is siifficient to disprove
forever the view that the kingdom of God, which constitutes the fifth
kingdom of this series as brought to view in Daniel 2, was set up at the
commencement of the Christian era. But a thought more may be in place.
1. This fifth kingdom, then, could not have been set
up at Christ's first advent, because it is not to exist contemporaneously
with earthly governments, but to succeed them. As the second kingdom succeeded
the first, the third the second, and the fourth the third, by violence
and overthrow, so the fifth succeeds the fourth. It does not exist at
the same time with it. The fourth kingdom is first destroyed, the fragments
are removed, the territory is cleared, and then the fifth is establislied
as a succeeding kingdom in the order of time. But the church has existed
contemporaneously with earthly governments ever since earthly governments
were formed. There was a church in Abel's day, in Enoch's, in Noah's,
in Abraham's, and so on to the present. No; the church is not the stone
that smote the image upon its feet. It existed too early in point of time,
and the work in which it is engaged is not that of smiting and overthrowing
The fifth kingdom is introduced by the stone smiting the
image. What part of the image does the stone smite? - The feet and toes.
But these were not developed until
76 -- four centuries and a half after the crucifixion of Christ. The
image was, at the time of the crucifixion, only developed to the thighs,
so to speak; and if the kingdom of God was there set up, if there the
stone smote the image, it smote it upon the thighs, not upon the feet,
where the prophecy places the smiting.
The stone that smites the image is cut out of the mountain
without hands. The margin reads, " Which was not in hand." This
shows that the smiting is not done by an agent acting for another, not
by the church, for instance, in the hands of Christ; but it is a work
which does by his own divine power, without any human agency.
Again, the kingdom of God is placed before the church
as a matter of hope. The Lord did not teach his disciples a prayer which
in two or three years was to become obsolete. The petition may as appropriately
ascend from the lips of the patient, waiting flock in these last days,
as from the lips of his first disciples, "Thy kingdom come."
We have plain Scripture declarations to establish the
following propositions: (1) The kingdom
was still future at the time of our Lord's last Passover.
Matt. 26:29. (2) Christ did not set it
up before his ascension. Acts 1:6. (3)
Flesh and blood cannot inherit it. I Cor. 15:50.
(4) It is a matter of promise to the apostles, and to
all those that love God. James 2:5. (5)
It is promised in the future to the little flock. Luke 12:32.
(6) Through much tribulation the saints are to enter therein.
Acts 14:22. (7) It is to be set up when
Christ shall judge the living and the dead. 2 Tim. 4:1.
(8) This is to be when he shall come in his glory with
all his holy angels. Matt. 25:31-34.
militating against the foregoing view, it may be asked if the expression
, "Kingdom of heaven," is not, in the New Testament, applied
to the church. In some instances it may be; but in others as evidently
it cannot be. In the decisive texts referred to above, which show that
it was still a matter of promise even after the church was fully established,
that mortality cannot inherit it, and that it is to be set up only in
connection with the coming of our Lord to judgment, the reference
77 -- cannot be to any state or organization here upon earth. The
object we have before us is to ascertain what constitutes the kingdom
of Dan. 2:44; and we have seen that the prophecy utterly forbids our applying
it there to the church, inasmuch as by the terms of the prophecy itself
we are prohibited from looking for that kingdom till over four hundred
years after the crucifixion of Christ and the establishment of the gospel
church. Therefore if in some expressions in the New Testament the word
"kingdom" can be found applying to the work of God's grace,
or the spread of the gospel, it cannot in such instances be the kingdom
mentioned in Daniel. That can only be the future literal kingdom of Christ's
glory, so often brought to view in both the Old Testament and the New.
may be objected again, that when the stone smites the image, the iron,
the brass, the silver, and the gold are broken to pieces together; hence
the stone must have smitten the image when all these parts were in existence.
In reply we ask, What is meant by their being broken to pieces together?
Does the expression mean that the same persons who constituted the kingdom
of gold would be alive when the image was dashed to pieces? - No; else
the, image covers but the duration of a single generation. Does it mean
that that would be a ruling kingdom? - No; for there is a succession of
kingdoms down to the fourth. On the supposition, then, that the fifth
kingdom was set up at the first advent, in what sense were the brass,
silver, and gold in existence then any more than at the present day? Does
it refer to the time of the second resurrection, when all these wicked
nations will be raised to life? - No; for the destruction of earthly governments
in this present state, which is here symbolized by the smiting of the
image, certainly takes place at the end of this dispensation; and in the
second resurrection national distinctions will be no more known.
objection really exists
in the point under consideration; for all the kingdoms symbolized by the
image are, in a certain sense, still in existence. Chaldea and Assyria
are still the first divisions of the image; Media and Persia, the second;
Macedonia, Greece, Thrace, Asia Minor, and Egypt, the third. Political
78 -- life and dominion, it, is true, have passed from one to the
other, till, so far as the image is concerned, it is all now concentrated
in the divisions of the fourth kingdom; but the others, in location and
substance, though without dominion, are still there; and together all
will be dashed to pieces when the fifth kingdom is introduced.
may still further be asked, by way of objection, Have not the ten kingdoms,
in the days of which the kingdom of God was to be set up, all passed away?
and as the kingdom of God is not yet set up, has not the prophecy, according
to the view here advocated, proved a failure? We answer: Those kingdoms
have not yet passed away. We are yet in the days of those kings. The following
illustration from Dr. Nelson's
Cause and Cure of Infidelity," pp. 374, 375,
will set this matter in a clear light: -
Suppose some feeble people should be suffering from the almost constant
invasions of numerous and ferocious enemies. Suppose some powerful and
benevolent prince sends them word that he will, for a number of years,
say thirty, maintain, for their safety along the frontier, ten garrisons,
each to contain one hundred well-armed men. Suppose the forts are built
and remain a few years, when two of them are burned to the ground and
rebuilt without delay; has there been any violation of the sovereign's
word? - No; there was no material interruption in the continuance of the
walls of strength; and, furthermore, the most important part of the safeguard
was still there. Again, suppose the monarch sends and has two posts of
strength demolished, but, adjoining the spot where these stood, and immediately,
he has other two buildings erected, more capacious and more desirable;
does the promise, still stand good? We answer in the affirmative, and
we believe no one would differ with us. Finally, suppose, in additon to
the ten garrisons, it could be shown that for several months during the
thirty years, one more had been maintained there; that for one or two
years out of the thirty, there had been there eleven instead of ten fortifications;
shall we call it a defeat or a failure of the original undertaking? 0r
shall any seeming interruptions, such as have been stated, destroy the
79 -- our calling these the ten garrisons of the frontier?
The answer is, No, without dispute. TOP
So it is, and has been, respecting the ten kingdoms of Europe once under
the Roman scepter. They have been there for twelve hundred and sixty years.
If several have had their names changed according to the caprice of him
who conquered, this change of name did not destroy existence. If others
have had their territorial limits changed, the nation was still there.
If others have fallen while successors were forming in their room, the
ten horns were still there. If, during a few years out of a thousand,
there were more than ten, if some temporary power reared its head, seeming
to claim a place with the rest and soon disappeared, it has not caused
the beast to have less than ten horns."
It is certain that the Roman empire was divided into ten kingdoms; and
though they might be sometimes more and sometimes fewer, yet they were
still known by the name of the ten kingdoms of the Western empire."
Thus the subject is cleared
of all difficulty. Time has fully developet this great image in all its
parts. Most strictly does it represent,
the important political events it was designed to symbolize. It stands
complete upon its feet. Thus it has been standing for over fourteen hundred
years. It waits to be smitten upon the feet by the stone cut out of the
mountain without hand, that is, the kingdom of Christ. This is to be accomplished
when the Lord shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them
that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(See Ps. 2:8, 9.) In the days of these kings the God of heaven is to set
up a kingdom. We have been in the days of these kings for over fourteen
centuries, and we are still in their days. So far as this prophecy is
concerned, the very next event is the setting up of God's everlasting
kingdom. Other prophecies and innumerable signs show unmistakably its
The coming kingdom! This ought to be the all-absorbing topic with the
present generation. Reader, are you ready for the issue? He who enters
this kingdom enters it not merely
80 -- for such a lifetime as men live in this present state, not to
see it degenerate, not to see it overthrown by a succeeding and more powerful
kingdom; but he enters it to participate in all its privileges and blessings,
and to share its glories forever; for this kingdom is not to " be
left to other people." Again we ask you, Are you ready? The terms
of heirship are most liberal: " If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's
seed, and heirs according to the promise." Are you on terms of friendship
with Christ, the coming King? Do you love his character? Are you trying
to walk humbly in his footsteps, and obey his teachings? If not, read
your fate in the cases of those in the parable, of whom it was said, "
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them,
bring hither, and slay them before me." There is to be no rival kingdom
where you can find an asylum if you remain an enemy to this; for this
is to occupy all the territory ever possessed by any and all of the kingdoms
of this world, past or present. It is to fill the whole earth. Happy they
to whom the rightful Sovereign, the all-conquering King, at last can say,
" Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world."
the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshiped Daniel, and
commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odors unto him.
47. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth
it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer
of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. 48.
Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many
great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and
chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
49. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abed-nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but
Daniel sat in the gate of the king. TOP
have dwelt quite at length on the interpretation of the dream, which Daniel
made known to the Chaldean monarch. From this we must now return to the
palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and to Daniel, as he stands in the presence
of the king, having made known to him the dream and the interpretation
thereof, while the courtiers and the baffled soothsayers and astrologers
wait around in silent awe and wonder.
81 -- It might be expected that an ambitious monarch, raised to the
highest earthly throne, and in the full flush of uninterrupted success,
would scarcely brook to be told that his kingdom, which he no doubt fondly
hoped would endure through all time, was to be overthrown by another people.
Yet Daniel plainly and boldly made known this fact to the king, and the
king, so far from being offended, fell upon his face before the prophet
of God, and offered him worship. Daniel doubtless immediately countermanded
the orders which the king issued to pay him divine honors. That Daniel
had some communication with the king which is not here recorded, is evident
from verse 47: "The king answered unto Daniel," etc. And it
may be still further inferred that Daniel labored to turn the king's feelings
of reverence from himself to the God of heaven, inasmuch as the king replies,
"Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings."
Then the king made Daniel a great man. There are two things which in this
life are specially supposed to make a man great, and both these Daniel
received from the king: (1) Riches.
A man is considered great if he is a man of wealth; and we
read that the king gave him many and great gifts. ( 2)
If in conjunction with riches a man has power, certainly in popular estimation
he is considered a great man; and power was bestowed upon Daniel in abundant
measure. He was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief
of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
speedily and abundantly did Daniel begin to be rewarded for his fidelity
to his own conscience and the requrements of God. So great was Balaam's
desire for the presents of a certain heathen king, that he endeavored
to obtain them in spite of the Lord's expressed will to the contrary,
and thus signally failed. Daniel did not act with a view of obtaining
these presents; yet by maintaining his integrity with the Lord they were
given abundantly into his hands. His advancement, both with respect to
wealth and power, was a matter of no small moment with him, as it enabled
him to be of service to his fellow-countrymen less favored than himself
in their long captivity.
82 -- Daniel did not become bewildered nor intoxicated by his signal
victory and his wonderful advancement. He first remembers the three who
were companions with him in anxiety respecting the king's matter; and
as they had helped him with their prayers, he determined that they should
share with him in his honors. At his reqnest they were placed over the
affairs of Babylon, while Daniel himself sat in the gate of the king.
The gate was the place where councils were held, and matters of chief
moment were deliberated upon. The record is a simple declaration that
Daniel became chief counselor to the king.
-- III -- The
83 -- VERSE
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore
cubits, and the breadth thereof
six cubits; he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
is a conjecture extant that this image had some reference to the dream
of the king as described in the previous chapter, it having been erected
only twenty-three years subsequently, according to the marginal chronology.
In that dream the head was of gold, representing Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.
That was succeeded by metals of inferior quality, denoting a succession
of kingdoms. Nebuchadnezzar was doubtless quite gratified that his kingdom
should be represented by the gold; but that it should ever be succeeded
by another kingdom was not so pleasing. Hence, instead of having simply
the head of his image of gold, he made it all of gold, to denote that
the gold of the head should extend through the entire image; or, in other
words, that his kingdom should not give way to another kingdom, but be
is probable that the height here mentioned, ninety feet at the lowest
estimate, was not the height of the image proper,
(The three Hebrews refusing to bow to the image)
85 -- but included the pedistal also. Nor is it probable that any
more than the image proper, if even that, was of solid gold. It could
have been overlaid with thin plates, nicely joined, at a much less expense,
without detracting at all from its external appearance.
2. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the
princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers,
the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to
come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had
set up. 3. Then the princes, the governors,
and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs,
and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication
of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before
the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4.
Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, 0 people, nations,
and languages, 5. That at what time ye
hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer,
and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that
Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up; 6.
And whoso falleth not down and worshipeth shall the same hour be cast
into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 7. Therefore
at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute,
harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations,
and the languages, fell down and worshiped the goIden image that Nebuchadnezzar
the king had set up.
dedication of this image was made a great occasion. The chief men of all
the kingdom were gathered together; so much pains and expense will men
undergo in sustaining idolarous and heathen systems of worship. So it
is and ever has been. Alas, that those who have the true religion should
be so far outdone in these respects by the upholders of the false and
counterfeit! The worship was accompanied with music; and whoso should
fail to participate therein was threatened with a fiery furnace. Such
are ever the strongest motives to impel rnen in any direction, - pleasure
on the one hand, pain on the other.
6 contains the first mention to be found in the Bible of the division
of time into hours. It was probably the invention of the Chaldeans. TOP
8. Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came
near, and accused the Jews. 9. They spake
and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, 0 king, live forever. 10.
Thou, 0 king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound
of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut,
86 -- psaltery, and dulcimer
and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image;
11. And whoso falleth not down and worshipeth,
that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12.
There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province
of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, 0 king, have
not regarded thee; they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image
which thou hast set up.
Chaldeans who accused the Jews were probably the sect of philosophers
who went by that name, and who were still smarting under the chagrin of
their ignominious failure in respect to their interpretation of the king's
dream of chapter 2. They were eager to seize upon any pretext to accuse
the Jews before the king, and either disgrace or destroy them. They worked
upon the king's prejudice by strong insinuations of their ingratitude:
Thou hast set them over the affairs of Babylon, and yet they have disregarded
thee. Where Daniel was upon this occasion, is not known. He was probably
absent on some business of the empire, the importance of which demanded
his presence. But why should Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, since they
knew they could not worship the image, be present on the occasion? Was
it not because they were willing to comply with the king's requirements
as far as they could without compromising their religious principles?
The king required them to be present. With this requirement they could
comply, and they did. He required them to worship the image. This their
religion forbade, and this they therefore refused to do.
13. Then Nebuchadnezzar
in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Then they brought these men before the king. 14.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, 0 Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which
I have set up? 15. Now if ye be ready that
at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery,
and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image
which I have made, well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same
hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that
shall deliver you out of my hands? 16.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, 0 Nebuchadnezzar,
we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning
fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, 0 king.
18. But if not, be it known unto
87 -- thee,
0 king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image
which thou hast set up.
forbearance of the king is shown in his granting Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abed-nego another trial after their first failure to comply with his requirements.
Doubtless the matter was thoroughly understood. They could not plead ignorance.
They knew just what the king wanted, and their failure to do it was an
intentional and deliberate refusal to obey him. With most kings this would
have been enough to seal their fate. But no, says Nebuchadnezzar, I will
overlook this offense, if upon a second trial they comply with the law.
But they informed the king that he need not trouble himself to repeat
the farce. "We are not careful," said they, "to answer
thee in this matter." That is, you need not grant us the favor of
another trial; our mind is made up. We can answer just as well now as
at any future time; and our answer is, We will not serve thy gods, nor
worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Our God can deliver if
he will; but if not, it is just the same. We know his will, and to that
we shall render unconditional obedience. Their answer was both honest
and decisive. TOP
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; therefore he spake, and commanded
that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont
to be heated. 20. And he commanded the
most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego,
and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace, 21. Then
these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and
their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery
furnace. 22. Therefore because the king's
commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the
fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
23. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego,
fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose
up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast
three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto
the king, True, 0 king. 25. He answered and
said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and
they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
was not entirely free from the faults and follies into which an absolute
monarch so easily runs. Intoxicated
(The three Hebrews
in the fiery furnace)
89 -- with unlimited power, he could not brook disobedience or contradiction.
Let his expressed authority be resisted, on however good grounds, and
he exhibits the weakness common to our fallen humanity under like circumstances,
and flies into a passion. Ruler of the world, he was not equal to that
still harder task of ruling his own spirit. And even the form of his visage
was changed. Instead of the calm, dignified, self-possesed ruler that
he should have appeared, he betrayed himself in look and act as the slave
of ungovernable passion.
furnace was heated one seven times hotter than usual; in other words,
to its utmost capacity. The king overreached himself in this; for even
if the fire had been suffered to have its ordinary effect upon the ones
he cast into tho furnace, it would only have destroyed them the sooner.
Nothing would have been gained by that means on the part of the king.
But seeing they were delivered from it, much was gained on the part of
the cause of God and his truth; for the more intense the heat, the greater
and more impressive the miracle of being delivered from it. Every circumstance
was calculated to show the direct power of God. They were bound in all
their garments, but came out with not even the smell of fire upon them.
The most mighty men in the army were chosen to cast them in. These the
fire slew ere they came in contact with it; while on the Hebrews it had
no effect, though they were in the very midst of its flames. It was evident
that the fire was under the control of some supernatural intelligence;
for while it had effect upon the cords with which they were bound, destroying
them, so that they were free to walk about in the midst of the fire, it
did not even singe their garments. They did not, as soon as free, spring
out of the fire, but continued therein; for, first, the king had put them
in, and it was his place to call them out; and, secondly, the form of
the fourth was with them, and in his presence they could be content and
joyful, as well in the furnace of fire as well as in the delights and
luxuries of the palace. Let us in all our trials, afflictions, persecutions,
and straitened places, but have the "form of the fourth" with
us, and it is enough. TOP
90 -- The king said, "And the form of the fourth is like the
Son of God." This language is by some supposed to refer to Christ;
but it is not likely that the king had any idea of the Saviour. A better
rendering, according to good authorities, would be "like a son of
the gods;" that is, he had the appearance of a supernatural or divine
being. Nebuchadnezzar subsequently called him an angel.
a scathing rebuke upon the king for his folly and madness was the deliverance
of these worthies from the fiery furnace! A higher power than any on earth
had vindicated those who stood firm against idolatry, and poured contempt
on the worship and requirements of the king. None of the gods of the heathen
ever had wrought such deliverance as that, nor were they able to do so.
26. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery
furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants
of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abed-nego came forth of the midst of the fire. 27.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counselors, being
gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power,
nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed,
nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 28. Then
Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that
trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies,
that they might not serve nor worship any God, except their own God. 29.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which
speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego,
shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because
there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
30. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego
in the province of Babylon.
bidden, these three men came forth from the furnace. Then the princes,
governors, and king's counselors, through whose advice, or at least concurrence,
they had been cast into the furnace (for the king said to them, verse
24, "Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the
fire?"), were gathered together to look upon these men, and have
optical and tangible proof of their wonderful preservation. The worship
of the great image was lost sight of. The whole
91 -- interest of this vast concourse of people was now concentrated
upon these three remarkable men. All men's thoughts and minds were full
of this wonderful occurrence. And how the knowledge of it would be spread
abroad throughout the empire, as they should return to their respective
provinces! What a notable instance in which God caused the wrath of man
to praise him!
the king blessed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and made
a decree that none should speak against him. This the Chaldeans had undoubtedly
done. In those days, each nation had its god or gods; for there were "gods
many and lords many." And the victory of one nation over another
was supposed to occur because the gods of the conquered nation were not
able to deliver them from the conquerors. The Jews had been wholly subjugated
by the Babylonians, on which account the latter had no doubt spoken disparagingly
or contemptuously of the God of the Jews. This the king now prohibits;
for he is plainly given to understand that his success against the Jews
was owing to their sins, not to any lack of power on the part of their
God. In what a conspicuous and exalted light this placed the God of the
Hebrews in comparison with the gods of the nations! It was an acknowledgment
that he held men amenable to some high standard of moral character, and
that he did not regard with indifference their actions in reference to
it; since he would visit with punishment those who transgressed it, and
would consequently bestow his blessing on those who complied with it.
Had these Jews been time-servers, the name of the true God had not thus
been exalted in Babylon. What honor does the Lord put upon them that are
steadfast toward him!
king promoted them; that is, he restored to them the offices which they
held before the charges of disobedience and treason were brought against
them. At the end of verse 30 the Septuagint adds: "And he advanced
them to be governors over all the Jews that were in his kingdom."
It is not probable that he insisted on any further worship of his image.
-- IV -- Nebuchadnezzar's
92 -- VERSE 1.
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that
dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 2.
I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath
wrought toward me. 3. 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.
chapter opens, says Dr. Clarke, with "a regular decree, and one of
the most ancient on record." It was from the pen of Nebuchadnezzar,
and was promulgated in the usual form. He wishes to make known, not to
a few men only, but to all peoples, nations, and languages, the wonderful
dealings of God with him. People are ever ready to tell what God has done
for them in the way of benefits and blessings. We ought to be no less
ready to tell what God has done for us in the way of humiliation and chastisements;
and Nebuchadnezzar sets us a good example in this
93 -- respect,
as we shall see from the subsequent portions of this chapter. He frankly
confesses the vanity and pride of his heart, and the means that God took
to abase hirn. With a genuine spirit of repentance and humiliation, he
thinks it good, of his own free will, to show these things, that the sovereignty
of God may be extolled, and his name adored. In reference to the kingdom,
he no longer claims immutability for his own, but
makes a full surrender to God, acknowledging his kingdom. alone to be
everlasting, and his dominion from generahon to generation.
4. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house and flourishing
in my palace: 5. I saw a dream which made
me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled
me. 6. Therefore made I a decree to bring
in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto
me the interpretation of the dream. 7. Then
came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers;
and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me
the interpretation thereof. 8. But at the last
Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the
name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before
him I told the dream, saying, 9. 0 Belteshazzar,
master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods
is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream
that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. 10.
Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed: I saw, and behold
a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
11. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof
reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth;
12. 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. 13. I saw
in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy
one came down from heaven; 14. 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: 15.
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; 16. Let his heart be
changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given onto him; and let
seven times pass over him. 17. This matter
is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy
ones; to the intent that the living may know that Most High ruleth in
the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up
over it the basest of men. 18. This dream
I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, 0 Belteshazzar,
94 -- declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all
the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation:
but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. TOP
the events here narrated, several striking points may be noticed.
Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in
his house. He had accomplished successfully all his
enterprises. He had subdued Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Egypt, and Arabia.
It was probably these great conquests that puffed him up, and betrayed
him into such vanity and self-confidence. And this very time, when he
felt most at rest and secure, when it was most unlikely that he would
allow a thought to disturb his self-complacent tranquillity, - this very
time God takes to trouble him with fears and forebodings.
means by which God did this. What could strike with fear
the heart of such a monarch as Nebuchadnezzar? He had been a warrior from
his youth. With the perils of battle, the terrors of slaughter and carnage,
he had often stood face to face, and his countenance had not blanched,
nor his nerves trembled. And what should make him afraid now? No foe threatened,
no hostile cloud was visible? As the most unlikely time was taken for
him to be touched with fear, so the most unlikely means was selected by
which to accomplish it - a dream. His own thoughts, and the visions of
his own head, were taken to teach him what nothing else could, - a salutary
lesson of dependence and humility. He who had terrified others, but whom
no others could terrify, was made a terror to himself.
greater humiliation than that narrated in the second chapter was brought
upon the magicians. There, they boasted that if they only had the
dream, they could make known the interpretation. Here, Nebuchadnezzar
distinctly remembers the dream, but meets the mortification of having
his magicians ignominiously fail him again. They could not make known
the interpretation, and resort is again had to the prophet of God.
illustration of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This is symbolized
by a tree in the midst of the earth.
95 -- Babylon,
where Nebuchadnezzar reigned, was about in the center of the then known
world. The tree reached unto heaven, and the leaves thereof were fair.
Its external glory and splendor were great; but this was not all of it,
as is the case with too many kingdoms. It had internal excellences. Its
fruit was much, and it had meat for all. The beasts of the field had shadow
under it, the fowls of heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh
was fed of it. What could represent more plainly and forcibly the fact
that Nebuchadnezzar ruled his kingdom in such a way as to afford the fullest
protection, support, and prosperity to all his subjects?
that God mingles with his judgments. When order was given that
this tree should be cut down, it was commanded that the stump of the roots
should be left in the earth, and protected with a band of iron and brass,
that it might not be wholly given to decay, but that the source of future
growth and greatness might be left. The day is coming when the wicked
shall be cut down, and no such residue of hope be left them. No mercy
will be mingled with their punishment. They shall be destroyed both root
An important key to prophetic
interpretation. Verse 16. "Let seven
times pass over him," said the decree. This is plain,
literal narration; hence the time is here to be understood literally.
How long a period is denoted? This may be determined by ascertaining how
long Nebuchadnezzar, in fulfilment of this prediction, was driven out
to have his dwelling with the beasts of the field; and this, Josephus
informs us, was seven years. A "time," then, denotes one year.
When used in symbolic prophecy, it would, of course, denote symbolic or
prophetic time. A "time" would then denote a prophetic year,
or, each day standing for a year, three hundred and sixty literal years.
In Bible chronology thirty days are reckoned to the month, and 360 days
to the year. See Gen. 7:11;8:3, 4; " Sacred Chronology,"
by S. Bliss, under "The Day, Week, etc."
that the holy ones, or the angels, take in human affairs. They
are represented as demanding this dealing with Nebuebadnezzar. They see,
as mortals never can
Humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar) TOP
97 -- see, how unseemly a thing is pride in the human heart. And they
approve of, and sympathize with, the decrees and providences of God by
which he works for the correction of these evils. Man must know that he
is not the architect of his own fortune, but that there is One who ruleth
in the kingdom of men, on whom his dependence should be humbly placed.
A man may be a successful monarch, but he should not pride himself upon
that; for unless the Lord had set him up, he would never have reached
this position of honor.
acknowledges the supremacy of the true God over the heathen oracles.
He appeals to Daniel to solve the mystery. "Thou art able,"
he says; "for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee." The Septuagint
has the singular, the Spirit of the holy God.
19. Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was
astonied for 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.
20. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong,
whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the
earth; 21. Whose leaves were fair, and
the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts
of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had
their habitation: 22. 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. 23.
And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming
down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave
the stump of the roots thereof 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 of the field, till
seven times pass over him; 24. This is
the interpretation, 0 king, and this is the deecree of the Most High,
which is come upon my lord the king; 25. That
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. 26.
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom
shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens
do rule. 27. 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.
98 -- The hesitation of Daniel, who sat astonished for one hour, did
not arise from any difficulty he had in interpreting the dream, but from
its being so delicate a matter to make it known to the king. Daniel had
received favor from the king, - nothing but favor, so far as we know,
- and it came hard for him to be the bearer of so terrible a threatening
of judgment against him as was involved in this dream. He was troubled
to determine in what way he could best make it known. It seems the king
had anticipated something of this kind, and hence assured the prophet
by telling him not to let the dream, or the interpretation trouble him;
as if he had said, Do not hesitate to make it known, whatever bearing
it may have upon me. Thus assured, Daniel speaks; and where can we find
a parallel to the force and delicacy of his language: "The dream
be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies."
A calamity is set forth in this dream, which we would might come upon
your enemies rather than upon you.
had given a minute statement of his dream; and as soon as Daniel informed
him that the dream applied to himself, it was evident that he had pronounced
his own sentence. The interpretation which follows is so plain that it
need not detain us. The threatened judgments were conditional. They were
to teach the king that the Heavens do rule, the word heavens
here being put for God, the ruler of the heavens. Hence Daniel takes occasion
to give the king counsel in view of the threatened judgment. But he does
not denounce him with harshness and censoriousness. Kindness and persuasion
are the weapons he chooses to wield: "Let my counsel be acceptable
unto thee." So the apostle beseeches men to suffer the word of exhortation.
Heb. 13:22. If the king would break off his sins by righteousness, and
his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, it might result in a lengthening
of his tranquillity, or, as the margin reads, "An healing of thine
error." That is, he might even have averted the judgment the Lord
designed to bring upon him. TOP
28. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
29. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace
of the kingdom of
99 -- Babylon.
30. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon,
that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power,
and for the honor of my majesty? 31. While
the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying,
0 king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from
thee. 32. And they shall drive thee from
men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; they shall
make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee,
until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth
it unto whomsoever he will. 33. The same
hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from
men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven,
till his hairs were grown like eagle's feathers and his nails like bird's
failed to profit by the warning he had received; yet God bore with him
twelve months before the blow fell. All the time he was cherishing pride
in his heart, and at length it reached a climax beyond which God could
not suffer it to pass. The king walked in the palace, and as he looked
forth upon the wonders of that wonder of the world, great Babylon, the
beauty of kingdoms, he forgot the source of all his strength and greatness,
and exclaimed, "Is not this great Babylon, that
I have built?" The time had come for his humiliation.
A voice from heaven again announces the threatened judgment, and divine
Providence proceeds immediately to execute it. His reason departed. No
longer the pomp and glory of his great city charmed him, when God with
a touch of his finger took away his capability to appreciate and enjoy
it. He forsook the dwellings of men, and sought a home and companionship
among the beasts of the forest.
34. And 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 honored him that liveth
forever, whose dominion is an everlasting, dominion, and his kingdom is
from generation to generation: 35. And
all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth
according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants
of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest
thou? 36. At the same time my reason returned
unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned
unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established
in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. 37. Now
I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose
works are truth, and his ways judgment; and those that walk in pride he
is able to abase.
100 -- At the end of seven years, God removed his afflicting hand,
and the reason and understanding of the king returned to him again. His
first act then was to bless the Most High. On this
has the following appropriate remark: "Those
may justly be reckoned void of understanding that do not bless and praise
God; nor do men ever rightly use their reason till they begin to be religious,
nor live as men till they live to the glory of God. As reason is the substratum
or subject of religion (so that creatures which have no reason
are not capable of religion), so religion is the crown and glory of reason;
and we have our reason in vain, and shall one day wish we had never had
it, if we do not glorify God with it." TOP
honor and brightness returned to him, his counselors sought unto him,
and he was once more established in the kingdom. The promise was (verse
26) that his kingdom should be sure unto him. During his insanity, his
son, Evil-merodach, is said to have reigned as regent in his stead. Daniel's
interpretation of the dream was doubtless well understood throughout the
palace, and was probably more or less the subject of conversation. Hence
the return of Nebuchadnezzar to his kingdom must have been anticipated,
and looked for with interest. Why he was permitted to make his home in
the open field in so forlorn a condition, instead of being comfortably
cared for by the attendants of the palace, we are not informed. It is
supposed that he dexterously escaped from the palace, and eluded all search.
affiction had its designed effect. The lesson of humility was learned.
He did not forget it with returning prosperity. He was ready to acknowledge
that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever
he will; and he sent forth through all his realm a royal proclamation,
containing an acknowledgment of his pride, and a manifesto of praise and
adoration to the King of heaven.
is the last Scripture record we have of Nebuchadnezzar. This decree is
dated in the authorized version, says Dr. Clarke, 563 B.C., one year before
Nebuchadnezzar's death; though some place the date of this decree seventeen
years before his death. Be this as it may, it is probable that he did
101 -- not again relapse into idolatry but died in the faith of the
God of Israel.
Thus closed the life of this remarkable man. With all the temptations
incident to his exalted position as king, may we not suppose that God
saw in him honesty of heart, integrity, and purity of purpose, which he
could use to the glory of his name? Hence his wonderful dealings with
him, all of which seem to have been designed to wean him from his false
religion, and attach him to the service of the true God. We have, first,
his dream of the great image, containing such a valuable lesson for the
people of all coming generations. Secondly, his experience with Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abed-nego in reference to his golden image, wherein be was
again led to an acknowledgement of the supremacy of the true God. And
lastly, we have the wonderful incidents recorded in this chapter, showing
the still unceasing efforts of the Lord to bring him to a full acknowledgment
of himself. And may we not hope that the most illustrious king of the
first prophetic kingdom, the head of gold, may at last have part in that
kingdom before which all earthly kingdoms shall become as chaff, and the
glory of which shall never dim? TOP
-- V -- Belshazzar's Feast
102 -- VERSE 1.
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and
drank wine before the thousand.
chief feature of interest pertaining to this chapter is the fact that
it describes the closing scenes of the Babylonish empire, the transition
from the gold to the silver of the great image of chapter 2, and from
the lion to the bear of Daniel's vision in chapter 7. This feast is supposed
by some to have been a stated annual festival in honor of one of their
deities. On this account, Cyrus, who was then besieging Babylon, learned
of its approach, and knew when to lay his plans for the overthrow of the
city. Our translation reads that Belshazzar, having invited a thousand
of his lords, drank before the thousand. Some translate it "drank
against the thousand," showing that whatever other propensities
he may have had, he was at least an enormous drinker.
2. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded
to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar
had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king,
103 -- and
his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3.
Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of
the temple of the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king, and
his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
4. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver,
of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
this festival had some reference to former victories over the Jews may
be inferred from the fact that the king, when he began to be heated with
his wine, called for the sacred vessels which had been taken from Jerusalem.
It would be most likely that, lost to a sense of all sacred things, he
would use them to celebrate the victory by which they were obtained. No
other king, probably, had carried his impiety to such a height as this.
And while they drank wine from vessels dedicated to the true God, they
praised their gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone. Perhaps,
as noticed on chapter 3:29, they celebrated the superior power of their
gods over the God of the Jews, from whose vessels they now drank to their
5. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's
hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall
of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts
troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees
smote one against another. 7. The king
cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.
And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall
read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed
with scarlet,and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the
third ruler in the kingdom. 8. Then came
in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make
known to the king the interpretation thereof. 9. Then
was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed
in him, and his lords were astonied.
flashes of supernatural light, nor deafening peals of thunder, announce
the interference of God in their impious revelries. A hand silently appeared,
tracing mystic characters upon the wall. It wrote over against the candlestick.
In the light of their own lamp they saw it. Terror seized upon the king;
for his conscience accused him. Although he could not read the writing,
he knew it was no message of peace and
104 -- blessing that was traced
in glittering characters upon his palace wall. And the description the
prophet gives of the effect of the king's fear cannot be excelled in any
particular. The king's countenance was changed, his heart failed him,
pain seized upon him, and so violent was his trembling that his knees
smote one against another. He forgot his boasting and revelry; he forgot
his dignity; and he cried aloud for his astrologers and soothsayers to
solve the meaning of the mysterrious inscription. TOP
VERSE 10. Now the queen by reason of the words
of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake
and said, O king, live forever; let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor
let thy countenance be changed. 11. There
is a man in thy kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in
the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom
of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father,
the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers,
Chaldeans, and soothsayers; 12. Forasmuch
as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting
of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were
found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel
be called, and he will show the interpretation. 13.
Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said
unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity
of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
14. I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the
gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom
is found in thee. 15. And now the wise
men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should
read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof:
but they could not show the interpretation of the thing. 16.
And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve
doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation
thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold
about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
It appears from the circumstance
here narrated, that the fact that Daniel was a prophet of God had by some
means been lost sight of at the court and palace. This was doubtless owing
to his having been absent at Shushan, in the province of Elam, as narrated
in chapter 8:1, 2, 27, whither he had been sent to attend to the business
of the kingdom there. The country being swept by the Persian army would
compel his return to Babylon at this time. The queen, who came in and
p 105 --
p 106 -- made known
to the king that there was such a person to whom appeal could be made
for knowledge in supernatural things, is supposed to have been the queen
mother, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, in whose memory the wonderful
part Daniel had acted in her father's reign would still be fresh and vivid.
Nebuchadnezzar is here called Belshazzar's father, according to the then
common custom of calling any paternal ancestor father, and any male descendant
son. Nebuchadnezzar was in reality his grandfather. The king inquired
of Daniel, when he came in, if he was of the children of the captivity
of Judah. Thus it seems to have been ordered, that while they were holding
impious revelry in honor of their false gods, a servant of the true God,
and one whom they were holding in captivity, was called in to pronounce
the merited judgment upon their wicked course.
17. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy
gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read
the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18.
0 thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom,
and majesty, and glory, and honor; 19. And
for the majesty that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages,
trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would
he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
20. But when his heart was lifted up, and
his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and
they took his glory from him: 21.
And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the
beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass
like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that
the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth
over it whomsoever he will. 22. And thou
his son, 0 Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest
all this; 23. But hast lifted up thyself
against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house
before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have
drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold,
of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and
the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast
thou not glorified: 24. Then was the part
of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. TOP
Daniel first of all disclaims
the idea of being influenced by such motives as governed the soothsayers
and astrologers. He says, Let thy rewards be to another. He wishes it
distinctly understood that he does not enter upon the work of interpreting
p 107 -- this matter
on account of the offer of gifts and rewards. He then rehearses the experience
of the king's grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, as set forth in the preceding
chapter. He told the king that though he knew all this, yet he had not
humbled his heart, but had lifted up himself against the God of heaven,
and even carried his impiety so far as to profane his sacred vessels,
praising the senseless gods of men's making, and failing to glorify the
God in whose hand his breath was. For this reason, he tells him, it is,
that the hand has been sent forth from that God whom he had daringly and
insultingly challenged, to trace those characters of fearful, though hidden
import. He then proceeds to explain the writing.
25. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL,
UPHARSIN. 26. This is the interpretation
of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found
wanting. 28. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided,
and given to the Medes and Persians. 29.
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put
a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him,
that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
It is not known in what language
this inscription was written. If it had been in Chaldaic, the king's wise
men would have been able to read it. Dr. Clarke conjectures that it was
written in the Samaritan, the true Hebrew, a language with which Daniel
was familiar, as it was the character used by the Jews previous to the
Babylonish captivity. It seems much more likely that it was a character
strange to all the parties, and that it was specially made known to Daniel
by the Spirit of the Lord.
In this inscription each
word stands for a short sentence.
Upharsin, from the root
peres, divided. God, whom thou hast defied, has thy kingdom
in his own hands, and has numbered its days and finished its course just
at the time thou thoughtest it at the height of its prosperity. Thou,
who hast lifted up thy heart in pride as the great one of the earth, art
weighed, and found lighter than vanity. Thy kingdom, which thou didst
dream was to stand forever, is divided between the foes already waiting
p 108 --
thy gates. Notwithstanding this terrible denunciation, Belshazzar did
not forget his promise, but had Daniel at once invested with the scarlet
robe and chain of gold, and proclaimed him third ruler in the kingdom.
This Daniel accepted, probably with a view to being better prepared to
look after the interests of his people during the transition to the succeeding
30. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the
Chaldeans slain. 31. And Darius the Median
took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
The scene here so briefly
mentioned is described in remarks on chapter 2, verse 39. While Belshazzar
was indulging in his presumptuous revelry, while the angel's hand was
tracing the doom of the empire on the walls of the palace, while Daniel
was making known the fearful import of the heavenly writing, the Persian
soldiery, through the emptied channel of the Euphrates, had made their
way into the heart of the city, and were speeding forward with drawn swords
to the palace of the king. Scarcely can it be said that they surprised
him, for God had just forewarned him of his doom. But they found him and
slew him; and with him the empire of Babylon ceased to be. TOP
As a fitting conclusion to
this chapter, we give the following beautiful poetic description of Belshazzar's
feast, from the pen of Edwin
Arnold, author of " The Light of Asia."
It was written in 1852, and obtained the Newdegate prize for an English
poem on the Feast of Belshazzar, at University College, Oxford: -
by one portal, or one path alone,
God's holy messages to men are known;
Waiting the glances of his awful eyes,
Silver-winged seraphs do him embassies;
And stars, interpreting his high behest,
Guide the lone feet and glad the falling breast;
The rolling thunder and the raging sea
Speak the stern purpose of the Deity,
And storms beneath and rainbow hues above
Herald his anger or proclaim his love;
The still small voices of the summer day,
The red sirocco, and the breath of May,
p 109 -- TOP
lingering harmony in ocean shells,
The fairy music of the meadow bells,
Earth and void air, water and wasting flame,
Have words to whisper, tongues to tell, his name.
Once, with no cloak of careful mystery,
Himself was herald of his own decree;
The hand that edicts on the marble drew,
Graved the stern sentence of their scorner too.
Listen and learn! Tyrants have heard the tale,
And turned from hearing, terror-struck and pale;
Spiritless captives, sinking with the chain,
Have read this page, and taken heart again.
sunlight unto starlight, trumpets told
Her king's command in Babylon the old;
From sunlight unto starlight, west and east,
A thousand satraps girt them for the feast,
And reined their chargers to the palace hall
Where king Belshazzar held high festival:
A pleasant palace under pleasant skies,
With cloistered courts and gilded galleries,
And gay kiosk and painted balustrade
For winter terraces and summer shade;
By court and terrace, minaret and dome,
Euphrates, rushing from his mountain home,
Rested his rage and curbed his crested pride
To belt that palace with his bluest tide;
Broad-fronted bulls with chiseled feathers barred,
In silent vigil keeping watch and ward,
Giants of granite, wrought by cunning hand,
Guard in the gate and frown upon the land.
Not summer's glow nor yellow autumn's glare
Pierced the broad tamarisks that blossomed there;
The moonbeams, darting through their leafy screen,
Lost half their silver in the softened green,
And fell with lessened luster, broken light,
Tracing quaint arabesque of dark and white,
Or dimly tinting on the graven stones
The pictured annals of Chaldean thrones.
There, from the rising to the setting day,
Birds of bright feathers sang the light away,
And fountain waters on the palace floor
Made even answer to the river's roar,
Rising in silver from the crystal well,
And breaking into spangles as they fell,
Though now ye heard them not - for far along
Rang the broad chorus of the banquet song,
And sounds as gentle, echoes soft as these,
Died out of hearing from the revelries.
110 -- TOP
on a throne of ivory and gold,
From crown to footstool clad in purple fold,
Lord of the East from sea to distant sea,
The king Belshazzar feasteth royally -
And not that dreamer in the desert cave
Peopled his paradise with pomp as brave;
Vessels of silver, cups of crusted gold,
Blush with a brighter red than all they hold.
Pendulous lamps, like planets of the night,
Flung on the diadems a fragrant light,
Or, slowly swinging in the midnight sky,
Gilded the ripples as they glided by.
And sweet and sweeter rose the cittern's ring,
Soft as the beating of a seraph's wing;
And swift and swifter in the measured dance
The tresses gather and the sandals glance;
And bright and brighter at the festal board
The flagons bubble, and the wines are poured.
No lack of goodly company was there,
No lack of laughing eyes to light the cheer;
From Dara trooped they, from Daremma's grove,
"The sons of battle and the moons of love;" 1
From where Arsissa's silver waters sleep
To Imla's marshes and the inland deep,
From pleasant Calah, and from Cattacene -
The horseman's captain and the harem's queen.
seemed no summer-cloud of passing woe
Could fling its shadow on so fair a show;
It seemed the gallant forms that feasted there
Were all too grand for woe, too great for care; -
Whence came the anxious eye, the altered tone,
The dull presentiment no heart would own,
That ever changed the smiling to a sigh
Sudden as sea-bird flashing from the sky?
It is not that they know the spoiler waits,
Harnessed for battle, at the brazen gates;
It is not that they hear the watchman's call
Mark the slow minutes on the leaguered wall;
The clash of quivers and the ring of spears
Make pleasant music in a soldier's ears,
And not a scabbard hideth sword to-night
That hath not glimmered in the front of fight.
May not the blood of every beating vein
Have quick foreknowledge of the coming pain,
Even as the prisoned silver, 2
dead and dumb,
Shrinks at cold winter's footfall ere he come?
Hafiz, the Persian Anacreon. 2
-- The quicksilver in the tube of the thermometer.
111 -- TOP
king hath felt it, and the heart's unrest
Heaves the broad purple of his belted breast.
Sudden he speaks: "What! doth the beaded juice
Savor like hyssop, that ye scorn its use?
Wear ye so pitiful and sad a soul,
That tramp of foemen scares ye from the bowl?
Think ye the gods of yonder starry floor
Tremble for terror when the thunders roar?
Are we not gods? have we not fought with God?
And shall we shiver at a robber's nod?
No; let them batter till the brazen bars
Ring merry mocking of their idle wars.
Their fall is fated for to-morrow's sun;
The lion rouses when his feast is done.
Crown me a cup, and fill the bowls we brought
From Judah's temple when the fight was fought;
Drink, till the merry madness fill the soul,
To Salem's conqueror in Salem's bowl;
Each from the goblet of a god shall sip,
And Juda's gold tread heavy on the lip." 1
The last loud answer dies along the line,
The last light bubble bursts upon the wine,
His eager lips are on the jeweled brink,
Hath the cup poison that he doubts to drink?
Is there a spell upon the sparkling gold,
That so his fevered fingers quit their hold?
Whom sees he where he gazes? what is there?
Freezing his vision into fearful stare?
Follow his lifted arm and lighted eye,
And watch with them the wondrous mystery.
cometh forth a hand, upon the stone
Graving the symbols of a speech unknown;
Fingers like mortal fingers, leaving there
The blank wall flashing characters of fear;
And still it glideth silently and slow,
And still beneath the spectral letters grow;
Now the scroll endeth; now the seal is set;
The hand is gone; the record tarries yet.
As one who waits the warrant of his death,
With pale lips parted and with bridled breath,
They watch the sign, and dare not turn to seek
Their fear reflected in their fellow's cheek,
But stand as statues where the life is none,
Half the jest uttered, half the laughter done,
-- "He never drinks But Timon's silver treads
upon his lips." -- Shakespeare, "Titus Adronicus"
p 112 -- TOP
the flask empty, half the flagon poured;
Each where the phantom found him at the board
Struck into silence, as December's arm
Curbs the quick ripples into crystal calm.
wand of ebony and sable stole,
Chaldea's wisest scan the spectral scroll.
Strong in the lessons of a lying art,
Each comes to gaze, but gazes to depart;
And still for mystic sign and muttered spell
The graven letters guard their secret well;
Gleam they for warning, glare they to condemn,
God speaketh, but he speaketh not for them.
ever, when the happy laugh is dumb,
All the joy gone, and all the anguish come;
When strong adversity and subtle pain
Wring the sad soul and rack the throbbing brain;
When friends once faithful, hearts once all our own,
Leave us to weep, to bleed and die alone;
When fears and cares the lonely thought employ,
And clouds of sorrow hide the sun of joy;
When weary life, breathing reluctant breath,
Hath no hope sweeter than the hope of death, -
Then the best counsel and the last relief,
To cheer the spirit or to cheat the grief,
The only calm, the only comfort heard,
Comes in the music of a woman's word,
Like beacon-bell on some wild island shore,
Silverly ringing in the tempest's roar;
Whose sound, borne shipward through the midnight gloom,
Tells of the path, and turns her from her doom.
in the silence of that awful hour,
When baffled magic mourned its parted power,
When kings were pale, and satraps shook for fear,
A woman speaketh, and the wisest hear.
She, the high daughter of a thousand thrones,
Telling with trembling lip and timid tones
Of him, the captive, in the feast forgot,
Who readeth visions; him whose wondrous lot
Sends him to lighten doubt and lessen gloom,
And gaze undazzled on the days to come;
Daniel, the Hebrew, such his name and race,
Held by a monarch highest in his grace,
He may declare - oh! bid them quickly send,
So may the mystery have happy end.
Calmly and silent as the fair, full moon
Comes smiling upward in the sky of June,
113 -- TOP
as the troubled clouds of night
Shrink from before the coming of its light,
So through the hall the prophet passed along,
So from before him fell the festal throng.
By broken wassail-cup, and wine o'erthrown,
Pressed he still onward for the monarch's throne;
His spirit failed him not, his quiet eye
Lost not its light for earthly majesty;
His lip was steady and his accent clear -
"The king hath needed me, and I am here."
thou the prophet? Read me yonder scroll,
Whose undeciphered horror daunts my soul.
There shall be guerdon for the grateful task,
Fitted for me to give, for thee to ask, -
A chain to deck thee, and a robe to grace,
Thine the third throne, and thou the third in place."
He heard, and turned him where the lighted wall
Dimmed the red torches of the festival,
Gazed on the sign with steady gaze and set;
And he who quailed not at a kingly threat
Bent the true knee and bowed the silver hair,
For that he knew the King of kings was there;
Then nerved his soul the sentence to unfold,
While his tongue trembled at the tale it told.
And never tongue shall echo tale as strange
Till that change cometh which shall never change.
for thyself the guerdon and the gold;
What God hath graved, God's prophet must unfold;
Could not thy father's crime, thy father's fate, .
Teach thee the terror thou hast learned too late?
Hast thou not read the lesson of his life, -
Who wars with God shall strive a losing strife?
His was a kingdom mighty as thine own,
The sword his scepter and the earth his throne;
The nations trembled when his awful eye
Gave to them leave to live or doom to die:
The lord of life, the keeper of the grave,
His frown could wither, and his smile could save.
Yet, when his heart was hard, his spirit high,
God drave him from his kingly majesty,
Far from the brotherhood of fellow-men,
To seek for dwelling in the desert den;
Where the wild asses feed and oxen roam,
He sought his pasture and he made his home;
And bitter-biting frost and dews of night,
Schooled him in sorrow till he knew the right, -
That God is ruler of the rulers still,
And setteth up the sovereign that he will.
p 114 --TOP
hadst thou treasured in repentant breast
His pride and fall, his penitence and rest,
And bowed submissive to Jehovah's will,
Then had thy scepter been a scepter still.
But thou hast mocked the Majesty of heaven;
And shamed the vessels to his service given.
And thou hast fashioned idols of thine own, -
Idols of gold, of silver, and of stone;
To them hast bowed the knee, and breathed the breath,
And they must help thee in the hour of death.
Woe for the sight unseen, the sin forgot!
God was among ye, and ye knew it not!
Hear what he sayeth now: 'Thy race is run,
Thy years are numbered, and thy days are done;
Thy soul hath mounted in the scale of fate,
The Lord hath weighed thee, and thou lackest weight;
Now in thy palace porch the spoilers stand,
To seize thy scepter, to divide thy land."'
ended, and his passing foot was heard,
But none made answer, not a lip was stirred;
Mute the free tongue, and bent the fearless brow;
The mystic letters had their meaning now.
Soon came there other sound, - the clash of steel,
The heavy ringing of the iron heel,
The curse in dying, and the cry for life, -
The bloody voices of the battle strife.
night they slew him on his father's throne,
The deed unnoticed and the hand unknown:
Crownless and scepterless Belshazzar lay,
A robe of purple round a form of clay. TOP
-- VI -- Daniel in the Lions'
p 115 -- VERSE
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an
hundred and twenty princes,
which should be over the whole kingdom; 2.
And over these three presidents; of
whom Daniel was the first; that the princes might give accounts unto them,
and the king should have no damage. 3. Then
this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an
excellent spirit was found in him; and the the king thought to set him
over the whole realm. 4. Then the presidents
and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom;
but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful,
neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5. Then
said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except
we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
Babylon was taken by the
Persians, and Darius the Median placed upon the throne, B.C. 538. Two
years later, B.C. 536, Darius dying, Cyrus took the throne. Somewhere,
therefore, between these two dates the event here narrated occurred.
Daniel was a chief actor
in the kingdom of Babylon in the height of its glory; and from that time
on to the time when the Medes and Persians took the throne of universal
empire, he was at least a resident of that city, and acquainted with all
p 116 -- the
affairs of the kingdom; yet he gives us no consecutive account of events
that occurred during his long connection with these kingdoms. He only
touches upon an event here and there such as is calculated to inspire
faith and hope and courage in the hearts of the people of God in every
age, and lead them to be steadfast in their adherence to the right.
The event narrated in this
chapter is alluded to by the apostle Paul in Hebrews 11, where he speaks
of some who through faith have "stopped the mouths of lions. "
Darius set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty princes, there being,
as is supposed, at that time a hundred and twenty provinces in the empire,
each one having its prince, or governor. By the victories of Cambyses
and Darius Hystaspes, it was afterward enlarged to a hundred and twenty-seven
provinces. Esther 1:1. Over these one hundred and twenty princes were
set three, and of these Daniel was chief. Preference was given to Daniel
because of his excellent spirit. Daniel, who, for being a great man in
the empire of Babylon, might have been esteemed an enemy by Darius, and
so have been banished or otherwise put out of the way; or, being a captive
from a nation then in ruins, might have been despised and set at naught,
was not treated in either of these ways; but to the credit of Darius be
it said, Daniel was preferred over all the others, because the discerning
king saw in him an excellent spirit. And the king thought to set him over
the whole realm. Then was the envy of the other rulers raised against
him, and they set about to destroy him. But Daniel's conduct was perfect
so far as related to the kingdom. He was faithful and true. They could
find no ground for complaint against him on that score. Then they said
they could find no occasion to accuse him, except as concerning the law
of his God. So let it be with us. A person can have no better recommendation.
6. Then these presidents and princes assembled together to
the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live forever.
7. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and
the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together
to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever
shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee,
0 king, he
p 117 -- shall
be cast into the den of lions. 8. Now,
0 king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed,
according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
9. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
10. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed,
he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward
Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and
gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. TOP
Mark the course these persons
took to accomplish their nefarious purposes. They came together to the
king, - came tumultuously, says the margin. They came as though some urgent
matter had suddenly sprung up, and they had come unanimously to present
it before him. They claimed that all were agreed. This was false; for
Daniel, the chief of them all, was not, of course, consulted in the matter.
The decree they fixed upon was one which would flatter the king's vanity,
and thus the more readily gain his assent. It would be a position before
unheard of, for a man to be the only dispenser of favors and granter of
petitions for thirty days. Hence the king, not fathoming their evil designs,
signed the decree, and it took its place on the statute-books as one of
the unalterable laws of the Medes and Persians.
Mark the subtlety of these
men - the length to which people will go to accomplish the ruin of the
good. If they had made the decree read that no petition should be asked
of the God of the Hebrews, which was the real design of the matter, the
king would at once have divined their object, and the decree would not
have been signed. So they gave it a general appplication, and were willing
to ignore and heap insult upon their whole system of religion, and all
the multitude of their gods, for the sake of ruining the object of their
Daniel foresaw the conspiracy
going on against him, but took no means to thwart it. He simply committed
himself to God, and left the issue to his providence. He, did not leave
the empire on pretended business, or perform his devotions with more than
ordinary secrecy; but when he knew the writing was signed, just as aforetime,
with his face turned toward his beloved Jerusalem, he kneeled down in
his chamber three times a day, and poured out his prayers and supplications
p 118 --
(Daniel in the Lion's Den)
p 119 -- VERSE
Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication
before his God. 12. Then they came near,
and spake before the king concerning the king's decree: Hast thou not
signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or
man within thirty days, save of thee, 0 king, shall be cast into the den
of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true according to the
law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13.
Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of
the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, 0 king, nor
the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times
a day. 14. Then the king, when he heard
these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel
to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver
him. 15. Then these men assembled unto
the king, and said unto the king, Know, 0 king, that the law of the Medes
and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth
may be changed. 16. Then the king commanded,
and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king
spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he
will deliver thee. 17. And a stone was
brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with
his own signet, and with the signet of his lords, that the purpose might
not be changed concerning Daniel.
It only remained for these
men, having set the trap, to watch their victim that they might ensnare
him therein. So they again came tumultuously together, this time at the
residence of Daniel, as though some important business had called them
suddenly together to consult the chief of the presidents; and lo, they
found him, just as they intended and hoped, praying to his God. So far
all had worked well. They were not long in going to the king with the
matter, and, to render it more sure, got an acknowledgment from the king
that such a decree was in force. Then they were ready to inform against
Daniel; and mark their mean resort to excite the prejudices of the king:
"That Daniel, which is of the children the captivity of Judah."
Yes; that poor captive, who is entirely dependent on you for all that
he enjoys, so far from being grateful and appreciating your favors, regards
not you, nor pays any attention to your decree. Then the king saw the
trap that had been prepared for him as well as for Daniel, and he labored
till the going down of the sun to deliver him, probably by personal efforts
with the conspirators to cause them to relent, or by arguments and endeavors
to procure the repeal of the law. But they were inexorable. The law was
p 120 -- sustained;
and Daniel, the venerable, the grave, the upright and faultless servant
of the kingdom, was thrown, as if he had been one of the vilest malefactors,
into the den of lions to be devoured by them. TOP
18. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night
fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him; and his
sleep went from him. 19. Then the king
arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable
voice unto Daniel; and the king spake and said to Daniel, 0 Daniel, servant
of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to
deliver thee from the lions? 21. Then said
Daniel unto the king, 0 king, live forever. 22.
My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they
have not hurt me; forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and
also before thee, 0 king, have I done no hurt. 23.
Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should
take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den,
and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24. And the king commanded, and they brought those men
which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them,
their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them,
and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of
The course of the king after
Daniel had been cast into the den of lions attests his genuine interest
in his behalf, and the severe condemnation be felt for his own course
in the matter. At earliest dawn he repaired to the den where his prime
minister had passed the night in company with hungry and ravenous beasts.
Daniel's response to his first salutation was no word of reproach for
the king's course in yielding to his persecutors, but a term of respect
and honor, "0 king, live forever." He afterward, however, reminds
the king, in a manner which be must have keenly felt, but to which he
could take no exception, that before him be had done no hurt. And on account
of his innocency, God, whom he served continually, not at intervals, nor
by fits and starts, had sent his angel, and shut the lions' mouths.
Here, then, stood Daniel,
preserved by a power higher than any power of earth. His cause was vindicated,
his innocency declared. No hurt was found on him, because be believed
in his God. Faith did it. A miracle had been wrought. Why,
p 121 -- then, were
Daniel's accusers brought and cast in? It is conjectured that they attributed
the preservation of Daniel, not to any miracle in his behalf, but to the
fact that the lions chanced at that time not to be hungry. Then, said
the king, they will no more attack you than him so we will test the matter
by putting you in. The lions were hungry enough when they could get hold
of the guilty; and these men were torn to pieces ere they reached the
bottom of the den. Thus was Daniel doubly vindicated; and thus strikingly
were the words of Solomon fulfilled: "The righteous is delivered
out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead." Prov. 11:8.
25. Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages,
that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you.
26. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom
men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God,
and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 27.
He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven
and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
28. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and
in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. TOP
The result of Daniel's deliverance
was that another proclamation went out through the empire in favor of
the true God, the God of Israel. All men were to fear and tremble before
him. What Daniel's enemies designed to prove his ruin, resulted only in
his advancement. In this case, and in the case of the three Hebrews in
the fiery furnace, the seal of God is set in favor of two great lines
of duty: (1) As in the case of the three
in the fiery furnace, not to yield to any known sin; and
(2) As in the present case, not to omit any known duty.
And from these instances, the people of God in all ages are to derive
The decree of the king sets
forth the character of the true God in fine terms. (1)
He is the living God; all others are dead. (2)
He is steadfast forever; all others change. (3)
He has a kingdom; for he made and governs all. (4)
His kingdom shall not be destroyed; all others come to an end.
(5) His dominion is without end; no human power can
prevail gainst it. (6) He delivereth those
who are in bondage.
p 122 -- (7)
He rescueth his servants from their enemies when they
call upon him for help. (8) He worketh
wonders in the heavens and signs upon the earth. (9)
And to complete all, he hath delivered Daniel, giving before our own eyes
the fullest proof of his power and goodness in rescuing his servant from
the power of the lions. How excellent an eulogium is this on the great
God and his faithful servant!
Thus closes the historical
part of the book of Daniel. We now come to the prophetic portion, which,
like a shining beacon light, has thrown its rays over all the course of
time from that point to the present, and is still lighting up the pathway
of the church onward to the eternal kingdom. TOP
-- VII -- The Four Beasts
p 123 --
VERSE 1. In
the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had
a dream and visions of his head upon his bed; then he wrote the dream,
and told the sum of the matters.
This is the same Belshazzar
mentioned in chapter 5. Chronologically, therefore, this chapter precedes
chapter 5; but chronological order has been disregarded in order that
the historical part of the book might stand by itself, and the prophetic
part, on which we now enter, might not be interrupted by writings of that
VERSE 2. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by
night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great
sea. 3. And four great beasts came up from
the sea, diverse one from another.
All Scripture language is
to be taken literally, unless there exists some good reason for supposing
it to be figurative; and all that is figurative is to be interpreted by
that which is literal. That the language here used is symbolic, is evident
from verse 17, which reads, "These great beasts, which are four,
are four kings which shall arise out of the earth." And to show that
kingdoms are intended, and not merely individual kings,
p 124 --
( The lion -- symbol of Babylon) TOP
p 125 -- the angel
continues, "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom."
And further, in the explanation of verse 23, the angel said, "The
fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth." These beasts
are therefore symbols of four great kingdoms; and the circumstances under
which they arose, and the means by which their elevation was accomplished,
as represented in the prophecy, are symbolic also. The symbols introduced
are, the four winds, the sea, four great beasts, ten horns, and another
horn which had eyes and a mouth, and rose up in war against God and his
people. We have now to inquire what they denote.
Winds, in symbolic language,
denote strife, political commotion, and war. Jer. 25:31, 32, 33: "Thus
saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation,
and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.
And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth
even unto the other end of the earth." Here the prophet speaks of
a controversy which the Lord is to have with all nations, when the wicked
shall be given to the sword, and the slain of the Lord shall be from one
end of the earth to the other; and the strife and commotion which produces
all this destruction is called a great whirlwind.
That winds denote strife
and war is further evident from a consideration of the vision itself;
for as the result of the striving of the winds, kingdoms arise and fall;
and these events are accomplished through political strife.
The Bible definition of sea,
or waters, when used, as a symbol is peoples, and nations, and tongues.
In proof of this, see Rev. 17:15, where it is expressly so declared.
The definition of the symbol
of the four beasts is given to Daniel ere the close of the vision. Verse
17: "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings which shall
arise out of the earth." The field of the vision is thus definitely
opened before us.
4. The first
was like a lion, and had eagle's wings; I beheld till the wings thereof
were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon
the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
p 126 --
(The bear -- symbol of Medo-Persia)
p 127 -- As these
beasts denote four kings, or kingdoms, we inquire, What four? Where shall
we commence to enumerate? These beasts do not rise all at once, but consecutively,
as they are spoken of as first, second, etc.; and the last one is in existence
when all earthly scenes are brought to an end by the final Judgment. Now,
from the time of Daniel to the end of this world's history, there were
to be but four universal kingdoms, as we learn from Nebuchadnezzar's dream
of the great image in chapter 2. Daniel was still living under the same
kingdom which he had declared, in his interpretation of the king's dream,
about sixty-five years before, to be the head of gold. The first beast
of this vision must therefore denote the same as the head of gold of the
great image, namely, the kingdom of Babylon, and the other beasts the
succeeding kingdoms shown by that image. But if this vision covers essentially
the same ground as the image of chapter 2, the query may arise why it
is given; why was not the vision of chapter 2 sufficient? We answer, The
ground is passed over again and again that additional characteristics
may be brought out, and additional facts and features may be presented.
It is thus that we have "line upon line." Here earthly governments
are viewed as represented in the light of Heaven. Their true character
is shown by the symbol of wild and ravenous beasts. TOP
At first the lion had eagle's
wings, denoting the rapidity with which Babylon extended its conquests
under Nebuchadnezzar. At this point in the vision a change had taken place;
its wings had been plucked. It no longer flew like an eagle upon its prey.
The boldness and spirit of the lion were gone. A man's heart, weak, timorous,
and faint, had taken its place. Such was emphatically the case with the
nation during the closing years of its history, when it had become enfeebled
and effeminate through wealth and luxury.
5. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and
it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of
it between the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour
As in the great image of
chapter 2, so in this series of symbols a marked deterioration will be
noticed as we descend from
p 128 -- one kingdom
to another. The silver of the breast and arms was inferior to the gold
of the head. The bear was inferior to the lion. Medo-Persia fell short
of Babylon in wealth and magnificence, and the brilliancy of its career.
And now we come to additional particulars respecting this power. The bear
raised itself up on one side. This kingdom was composed of two nationalities,
the Medes and Persians. The same fact is represented by the two horns
of the ram of chapter 8. Of these horns it is said that the higher came
up last; and of the bear that it raised itself up on one side; and this
was fulfilled by the Persian division of the kingdom, which came up last,
but attained the higher eminence, becoming the controlling influence in
the nation. (See on chapter 8:3.) The three ribs perhaps signify the three
provinces of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, which were especially ground down
and oppressed by this power. Their saying unto it, "Arise, devour
much flesh," would naturally refer to the stimulus given to the Medes
and Persians, by the overthrow of these provinces, to plan and undertake
more extensive conquests. The character of the power is well represented
by a bear. The Medes and Persians were cruel and rapacious, robbers and
spoilers of the people. As already noticed in the exposition of chapter
2, this kingdom dated from the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus, B.C. 538,
and continued to the battle of Arbela, B.C. 331, a period of 207 years.
6. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which
had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four
heads; and dominion was given to it.
The third kingdom, Grecia,
is represented by this symbol. If wings upon the lion signified rapidity
of conquest, they would signify the same here. The leopard itself is a
swiftfooted beast, but this was not sufficient to represent the career
of the nation which it symbolized in this respect; it must have wings
in addition. Two wings, the number the lion had, were not sufficient,
it must have four; this would denote unparalleled celerity of movement,
which we find to be historically true of the Grecian kingdom. The conquests
of Grecia under
p 129 --
(The leopard -- symbol of Grecia)
p 130 --
(The fourth beast -- symbol of Rome) TOP
p 131 -- Alexander
have no parallel in historic annals for suddenness and rapidity.
Ancient History, b. 15, sec. 2, gives
the following brief synopsis of Alexander's marches: "From
Macedonia to the Ganges, which river Alexander nearly approached, is computed
at least eleven hundred leagues. Add to this the various turnings in Alexander's
marches; first, from the extremity of Cilicia, where the battle of Issus
was fought, to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya; and his returning
from thence to Tyre, a journey of three hundred leagues at least, and
as much space at least for the windings of his route in different places;
we shall find that Alexander, in less than eight years, marched his army
upward of seventeen hundred leagues [or more than fifty-one hundred
miles], without including his return to Babylon."
"The beast had also
four heads." The Grecian empire maintained its unity but little longer
than the lifetime of Alexander. Within a few years after his brilliant
career ended in a fever induced by a drunken debauch, the empire was divided
among his four leading generals. Cassander had Macedon and Greece in the
west; Lysimachus had Thrace and the parts of Asia on the Hellespont and
Bosphorus in the north; Ptolemy received Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine,
and Coele-Syria in the South; and Seleucus had Syria and all the rest
of Alexander's dominions in the east. These divisions were denoted by
the four heads of the leopard; B.C. 308.
Thus accurately were the
words of the prophet fulfilled. As Alexander left no available successor,
why did not the huge empire break up into countless petty fragments? Why
into just four parts, and no more? - Because the prophecy had said that
there should be four. The leopard had four heads, the rough goat four
horns, the kingdom was to have four divisions; and thus it was. (See more
fully on chapter 8.)
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; and it had ten horns.
p 132 --
Inspiration finds no beast in nature which it can make even
the basis of a symbol to represent the power here illustrated. No addition
of hoofs, heads, horns, wings, scales, teeth, or nails to any beast found
in nature, would answer. This power was diverse from all the others, and
the symbol wholly nondescript.
The foundation for a volume
is laid in verse 7, just quoted; but we are compelled to treat it the
more briefly here, because anything like a full history is entirely beyond
the space that can be allowed in this brief exposition. This beast, of
course, corresponds to the fourth division of the great image - the legs
of iron. Under chapter 2:40 are given some reasons for supposing this
power to be Rome. The same reasons are applicable to the present prophecy.
How accurately Rome answered to the iron division of the image! How accurately
it answers to the beast before us! In the dread and terror which it inspired,
and in its exceeding strength, the world has never seen its equal. It
devoured as with iron teeth, and brake in pieces; and it ground the nations
into the very dust beneath its brazen feet. It had ten horns, which are
explained in verse 24 to be ten kings, or kingdoms, which should arise
out of this empire. As already noticed in chapter 2, Rome was divided
into ten kingdoms, enumerated as follows: The Huns, the Ostrogoths, the
Visigoths, the Franks, the Vandals, the Suevi, the Burgundians, the Heruli,
the Anglo-Saxons, and the Lombards. These divisions have ever since been
spoken of as the ten kingdoms of the Roman empire. See on chapter 2:41,
42; also Appendix III. TOP
8. 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.
Daniel considered the horns.
Indications of a strange movement appeared among them. A little horn (at
first little, but afterward more stout than its fellows) thrust itself
up among them. It was not content quietly to find a place of its own,
and fill it; it must thrust aside some of the others, and usurp their
places. Three kingdoms were plucked up before it. This little horn, as
we shall have occasion to notice
p 133 --
(The little horn - symbol of the Papacy)
p 134 -- more fully
hereafter, was the papacy. The three horns plucked up before it were the
Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals. And the reason why they were
plucked up was because they were opposed to the teaching and claims of
the papal hierarchy, and hence to the supremacy in the church of the bishop
And "in this horn were
eyes like the eyes of man, and a month speaking great things," -
the eyes, a fit emblem of the shrewdness, penetration, cunning, and foresight
of the papal hierarch; and the mouth speaking great things, a fit symbol
of the arrogant claims of the bishops of Rome.
9. I beheld
till the thrones were cast down, 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.
10. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before
him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten
thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
A sublimer description of
a sublimer scene is not to be found in the English language. But not only
on account of the grand and lofty imagery introduced should it arrest
our attention; the nature of the scene itself is such as to demand most
serious consideration. The Judgment is brought to view; and whenever the
Judgment is mentioned, it ought to take an irresistible hold upon every
mind; for all have an interest in its eternal issues.
By an unfortunate translation
in verse 9, a wrong idea is almost sure to be conveyed. The words cast
down are from a word which in the original signifies just the
opposite, namely, to set up. The word (Heb.) [r'mah]
Gesenius defines as follows:
1. To cast, to throw, Dan. 3:20, 21, 24; 6:16.
2. To set, to place, e. g., thrones,
Dan. 7:9. Comp. Rev. 4:2, qronoV ekeito and
(Heb.) No. 2." The
Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, by Davidson, also gives to
this word the definition "to set, to place," and refers to Dan.
7:9 as an example of its use in this sense. Why this word was used to
express the idea here intended may perhaps be learned from the following
note found in the Cottage Bible: "Ver. 9. The
p 135 --
were cast down. Wintle,
'Were placed.' So Boothroyd. But both come to the same meaning.
The Asiatics have neither chairs nor stools, but, to receive persons of
rank, 'cast down,' or 'place,' cushions round the room for seats, which
seems to be here alluded to. See Matt. 19:28; Rev. 20:4." Dr. Clarke
says that the word "might be translated erected;
so the Vulgate, positi sunt [were placed], and so all the versions."
The Septuagint has eteqhsan (etethesan),
which is defined to mean "'to set, put, place; to set up; to erect."
The thrones are not the thrones of earthly kingdoms, which are to be thrown
down at the last day, but thrones of judgment, which are to be "placed,"
or set up, in the court of God on high just before the end. TOP
"Ancient of days," God the Father, takes the throne of judgment.
Mark the description of his person. Those who believe in the impersonality
of God are obliged to admit that he is here described as a personal being;
but they console themselves by saying that it is the only description
of the kind in the Bible. We do not admit this latter assertion; but granting
that it were true, is not one description of this kind as fatal to their
theory as though it were repeated a score of times? The thousand thousands
who minister unto him, and the ten thousand times ten thousand who stand
before him, are not sinners arraigned before the judgment-seat, but heavenly
beings who wait before him, attendant on his will. An understanding of
these verses involves an understanding of the subject of the sanctuary;
and to the works on this question we refer the reader. The closing up
of the ministration of Christ, our great High Priest, in the heavenly
sanctuary, is the work of judgment here introduced. It is an investigative
judgment. The books are opened, and the cases of all come up for examination
before that great tribunal, that it may be determined beforehand who are
to receive eternal life when the Lord shall come to confer it upon his
people. John, as recorded in Revelation 5, had a view of this same place,
and saw the same number of heavenly attendants engaged with Christ in
the work of investigative judgment. Looking into the sanctuary (as we
learn from Revelation 4 that he was doing), in chapter 5:11
p 136 -- he says,
"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the
throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the number of them was ten
thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands."
It will appear from the testimony
of chapter 8:14, that this solemn work is even now transpiring in the
11. I beheld
then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld
even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the
burning flame. 12. As concerning the rest
of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were
prolonged for a season and time.
There are persons who believe
in a thousand years' triumph of the gospel and reign of righteousness
over all the world before the Lord comes; and there are others who believe
in probation after the Lord comes, and a mixed millennium, the immortal
righteous still proclaiming the gospel to mortal sinners, and turning
them into the way of salvation. But
both of these systems of error are completely demolished by the verses
fourth terrible beast continues without change of character, and the little
horn continues to utter its blasphemies, and hold its millions of votaries
in the bonds of a blind superstition, till the beast is given to the burning
flame; and this is not its conversion, but its destruction. (See 2 Thess.
life of the fourth beast is not prolonged after its dominion is gone,
as were the lives of the preceding beasts. Their dominion was taken away,
but their lives were prolonged for a season. The territory and subjects
of the Babylonian kingdom still existed, though made subject to the Persians.
So of the Persian kingdom in respect to Grecia, and of Grecia in respect
to Rome. But what succeeds the fourth kingdom? - No government or state
in which mortals have any part. Its career ends in the lake of fire, and
it has no existence beyond. The lion was merged into the bear; the bear
into the leopard; the leopard into the fourth beast; and the fourth beast
into what? - Not into another beast; but it is cast into the lake of fire,
under which destruction it rests till men shall
p 137 -- suffer the
second death. Then let no one talk of probation or a mixed millennium
after the Lord comes. TOP
The adverb then,
in the sentence, "I beheld then
because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake," etc.,
seems to refer to some particular time. The work of the investigative
judgment is introduced in the previous verses; and this verse would seem
to imply that while this work is going forward, and just before this power
is destroyed and given to the burning.flame, the little horn utters its
great words against the Most High. Have we not heard them, and that, too,
within a few years? Look at the decrees of the Vatican Council of 1870.
What can be more blasphemous than to attribute infallibility to a mortal
man? Yet in that year the world beheld the spectacle of an Ecumenical
Council assembled for the purpose of deliberately decreeing that the occupant
of the papal throne, the man of sin, possesses this prerogative of God,
and can not err. Can anything be more presumptuous and blasphemous? Is
not this the voice of the great words which the horn spake? and is not
this power ripe for the burning flame, and near its end?
13. I saw
in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the
clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him
near before him. 14. And there was given
him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and
languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which
shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
The scene here described
is not the second advent of Christ to this earth, unless the Ancient of
days is on this earth; for it is a coming to
the Ancient of days. There, in the presence of the Ancient of days, a
kingdom, dominion, and glory are given him. The Son of man receives his
kingdom before his return to this earth. (See Luke 19:10-12 and onward.)
This is a scene, therefore, which transpires in the heavenly temple, and
is closely connected with that brought to view in verses 9 and 10. He
receives the kingdom at the close of his priestly work in the sanctuary.
The people, nations, and languages, that shall serve him, are the nations
of the saved (Rev. 21:24),
p 138 -- not the
wicked nations of the earth; for these are dashed in pieces at the second
advent. Some out of all the nations, tribes, and kindreds of the earth
will find themselves at last in the kingdom of God, to serve him there
with joy and gladness forever and ever.
15. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body,
and the visions of my head troubled me. 16.
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of
all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
17. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings
which shall arise out of the earth. 18. But
the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom
forever, even forever and ever.
No less anxious should we
be than was Daniel to understand the truth of all this. And whenever we
inquire with equal sincerity of heart, we shall find the Lord no less
ready now than in the days of the prophet to lead to a correct knowledge
of these important truths. The beasts, and the kingdoms which they represent,
have already been explained. We have followed the prophet down through
the course of events, even to the complete destruction of the fourth and
last beast, the final subversion of all earthly governments. What next?
tells us: "The saints shall take the kingdom." The saints!
those of all others held in low esteem in this world, despised, reproached,
persecuted, cast out; those who were considered the least likely of all
men ever to realize their hopes; these shall take the kingdom, and possess
it forever. The usurpation and misrule of the wicked shall come to an
end. The forfeited inheritance shall be redeemed. Peace shall be restored
to its distracted borders, and righteousness shall reign over all the
fair expanse of the renovated earth.
19. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which
was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were
of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and
stamped the residue with his feet; 20.
And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came
up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a
mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his
Of the first three beasts
of this series, Daniel had so clear an understanding that he had no trouble
in reference to them. TOP
p 139 -- But he was
astonished at this fourth beast, so unnatural. and dreadful; for the further
we come down the stream of time, the further it is necessary to depart
from nature in forming symbols to represent accurately the degenerating
governments of this earth. The lion is a production of nature; but it
must have the unnatural addition of two wings to represent the kingdom
of Babylon. The bear we also find in nature; but as a symbol of Medo-Persia
an unnatural ferocity must be denoted by the insertion of three ribs into
its mouth. So the leopard is a beast of nature; but fitly to represent
Grecia there is a departure from nature in respect to wings, and the number
of heads. But nature furnishes no symbol which can fitly illustrate the
fourth kingdom. A beast the likeness of which never was seen, is taken;
a beast dreadful and terrible, with nails of brass, and teeth of iron,
so cruel, rapacious, and fierce that from mere love of oppression it devoured,
and brake in pieces, and trampled its victims beneath its feet.
Wonderful was all this to
the prophet; but something still more wonderful appeared. A little horn
came up, and, true to the nature of the beast from which it sprang, thrust
aside three of its fellows; and lo! the horn had eyes, not the uncultivated
eyes of a brute, but the keen, shrewd, intelligent eyes of a man; and,
stranger yet, it had a mouth, and with that mouth it uttered proud sayings,
and put forth preposterous and arrogant claims. No wonder the prophet
made special inquiry respecting this monster, so unearthly in its instincts,
and so fiendish in its works and ways. In the following verses some specifications
are given respecting the little horn, which enable the student of prophecy
to make an application of this symbol without danger of mistake.
21. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and
prevailed against them; 22. Until the Ancient
of days came, and judgmeat was given to the saints of the Most High; and
the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
The wonderful wrath of this
little horn against the saints particularly attracted the attention of
Daniel. The rise of the ten horns, or the division of Rome into ten kingdoms,
between the years A. D. 351 and 476, has already been noticed. (See
p 140 --
(Waldenses fleeing from Papal persecution)
p 141 -- on chapter
2:41.) As these horns denote kingdoms, the little horn must denote a kingdom
also, but not of the same nature, because it was diverse
from the others. They were political kingdoms. And now we have but to
inquire if any kingdom has arisen among the ten kingdoms of the Roman
empire since A. D. 476, and yet diverse from them all; and if so, what
one? The answer is, Yes; the spiritual kingdom of the papacy. This answers
to the symbol in every particular, as is easily proved; and nothing else
will do it. See the specifications more particularly mentioned in verse
Daniel beheld this horn making
war upon the saints. Has such a war been waged by the papacy? Fifty million
martyrs, with a voice like the sound of many waters, answer, Yes. Witness
the cruel persecutions of the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and Protestants
in general, by the papal power. It is stated on good authority that the
persecutions, massacres, and religious wars excited by the church and
bishop of Rome, have occasioned the shedding of far more blood of the
saints of the Most High than all the enmity, hostility, and persecutions
of professed heathen peoples from the foundation of the world. TOP
In verse 22 three consecutive
events seem to be brought to view. Daniel, looking onward from the time
when the little horn was in the height of its power to the full end of
the long contest between the saints and Satan with all his agents, notes
three prominent events that stand as mile-posts along the way.
(1) The coming of the Ancient of days; that is, the
position which Jehovah takes in the opening of the judgment scene described
in verses 9, 10. (2) The judgment that
is given to the saints; that is, the time when the saints sit with Christ
in judgment a thousand years, following the first resurrection (Rev. 20:1-4),
apportioning to the wicked the punishment due for their sins. Then the
martyrs will sit in judgment upon the great antichristian, persecuting
power, which, in the days of their trial, hunted them like the beasts
of the desert, and poured out their blood like water. (3)
The time that the saints possess the kingdom; that is, the time of their
entrance upon the possession of the new earth. Then the last vestige of
the curse of sin, and of sinners, root and branch,
p 142 -- will have
been wiped away, and the territory so long misruled by the wicked powers
of earth, the enemies of God's people, will be taken by the righteous,
to be held by them forever and ever. 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Matt. 25:34.
23. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom
upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour
the whole earth, and. shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. 24.
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise;
and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first,
and he shall subdue three kings. 25. And
he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the
saints of the Most High, 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. 26. But the judgment shall sit, and
they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the
have here further particulars respecting the fourth beast and the little
Perhaps enough has already
been said respecting the fourth beast (Rome) and the ten horns, or ten
kingdoms, which arose therefrom. The little horn now more particularly
demands attention. As stated on verse 8, we find the fulfilment of the
prophecy concerning this horn in the rise and work of the papacy. It is
a matter of both interest and importance, therefore, to inquire into the
causes which resulted in the development of this antichristian power.
The first pastors or bishops
of Rome enjoyed a respect proportionate to the rank of the city in which
they resided; and for the first few centuries of the Christian era, Rome
was the largest, richest, and most powerful city in the world. It was
the seat of empire, the capital of the nations.
"All the inhabitants of
the earth belong to her," said
declared her to be "the
fountain of laws." "If Rome is the queen of cities, why should
not her pastor be the king of bishops?" was
the reasoning these Roman pastors adopted. "Why
should not the Roman Church be the mother of Christendom? Why should not
all nations be her children, and her authority their sovereign law? It
was easy," says D'Aubigne,
from whom we quote these words
("History of the Reformation,"
Vol. I, chap. 1), "for
the ambitious heart of man to reason thus. Ambitious Rome did so."
p 143 --
(1. The Law of God - 2. The Law as changed by the Papacy) TOP
p 144 -- The bishops
in the different parts of the Roman empire felt a pleasure in yielding
to the bishop of Rome some portion of that honor which Rome, as the queen
city, received from the nations of the earth. There was originally no
dependence implied in the honor thus paid. "But,"
"usurped power increases like an avalanche. Admonitions, at first
simply fraternal, soon became absolute commands in the mouth of the pontiff.
The Western bishops favored this encroachment of the Roman pastors, either
from jealousy of the Eastern bishops, or because they preferred submitting
to the supremacy of a pope rather than to the dominion of a temporal power."
Such were the influences
clustering around the bishop of Rome, and thus was everything tending
toward his speedy elevation to the supreme spiritual throne of Christendom.
But the fourth century was destined to witness an obstacle thrown across
the path of this ambitious dream. Arius, parish priest of the ancient
and influential church of Alexandria, sprung his doctrine upon the world,
occasioning so fierce a controversy in the Christian church that a general
council was called at Nicaea, by the emperor Constantine, A. D. 325, to
consider and adjust it. Arius
maintained "that the Son
was totally and essentially distinct from the Father; that he was the
first and noblest of those beings whom the Father had created out of nothing,
the instrument by whose subordinate operation the Almighty Father formed
the universe, and therefore inferior to the Father both in nature and
opinion was condemned by the council, which decreed that Christ was of
one and the same substance with the Father. Hereupon Arius was banished
to Illyria, and his followers were compelled to give their assent to the
creed composed on that occasion. (Mosheim, cent. 4, part 2, chap. 4; Stanley,
History of the Eastern Church, p. 239.)
The controversy itself, however,
was not to be disposed of in this summary manner, but continued for ages
to agitate the Christian world, the Arians everywhere becoming the bitter
enemies of the pope and of the Roman Catholic Church. From these facts
it is evident that the spread of Arianism
p 145 -- would check
the influence of the Catholics; and the possession of Rome and Italy by
a people of the Arian persuasion, would be fatal to the supremacy of a
Catholic bishop. But the prophecy had declared that this horn would rise
to supreme power, and that in reaching this position it would subdue three
Some difference of opinion
has existed in regard to the particular powers which were overthrown in
the interest of the papacy, in reference to which the following remark
by Albert Barnes seems
"In the confusion that existed on the breaking up of the Roman empire,
and the imperfect accounts of the transactions which occurred in the rise
of the papal power, it would not be wonderful if it should be difficult
to find events distinctly recorded that would be in all respects
an accurate and absolute fulfilment of the vision. Yet it is possible
to make out the fulfilment of this with a good degree of certainty in
the history of the papacy." - Notes on Daniel 7.
Mede supposes the three kingdoms plucked up to have been the Greeks,
the Lombards, and the Franks; and Sir
Isaac Newton supposes they were the Exarchate of Ravenna, the Lombards,
and the Senate and Dukedom of Rome. Bishop
Newton (Dissertation on the Prophecies, pp. 217, 218) states
some serious objections to both these schemes. The Franks could not have
been one of these kingdoms; for they were never plucked up before the
papacy. The Lombards could not have been one; for they were never made
subject to the popes. Says
"I do not find, indeed, that the kingdom of the Lombards was, as
is commonly stated, among the number of the temporal sovereignties that
became subject to the authority of the popes." And the Senate
and Dukedom of Rome could not have been one; for they, as such, never
constituted one of the ten kingdoms, three of which were to be plucked
up before the little horn. TOP
But we apprehend that the
chief difficulty in the applicalion made by these eminent commentators,
lay in the fact that they supposed that the prophecy respecting the exaltation
of the papacy had not been fulfilled, and could not have been, till the
pope became a temporal prince; and hence they sought
p 146 -- to find an
accomplishment of the prophecy in the events which led to the pope's temporal
sovereignty. Whereas, evidently, the prophecy of verses 24, 25 refers,
not to his civil power, but to his power to domineer over the minds and
consciences of men; and the pope reached this position, as will hereafter
appear, in A. D. 538; and the plucking up of the three horns took place
and to make way for this very exaltation to spiritual dominion. The insuperable
difficulty in the way of all attempts to apply the prophecy to the Lombards
and the other powers named above is that they come altogether too late
in point of time; for the prophecy deals with the arrogant efforts of
the Roman pontiff to gain power, not with his endeavors to oppress and
humble the nations after he had secured the supremacy.
The position is here confidently
taken that the three powers, or horns, plucked up before the papacy, were
the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths;
and this position rests upon the following statements of historians.
Odoacer, the leader of the
Heruli, was the first of the barbarians who reigned over the Romans. He
took the throne of Italy, according to Gibbon
(Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. III, pp. 510, 515),
in 476. Of his religious belief Gibbon (p. 516)
"Like the rest of the barbarians, he had been instructed in the Arian
heresy; but he revered the monastic and episcopal characters, and the
silence of the Catholics attests the toleration which they enjoyed."
Again he says (p. 547) :
Ostrogoths, the Burgundians, the Suevi, and the Vandals, who had listened
to the eloquence of the Latin clergy, preferred the more intelligible
lessons of their domestic teachers; and Arianism was adopted as the national
faith of the warlike converts who were seated on the ruins of the Western
empire. This irreconcilable difference of religion was a perpetual source
of jealousy and hatred; and the reproach of barbarian was embittered
by the more odious epithet of heretic. The heroes of the North,
who had submitted, with some reluctance, to believe that all their ancestors
were in hell, were astonished and exasperated to learn
p 147 --
that they themselves had only changed the mode of their eteral condemnation."
The reader is requested to
consider carefully a few more historical statements which throw some light
on the situation at this time.
Stanley (History of the
Eastern Church, p. 151) says: "The
whole of the vast Gothic population which decended on the Roman empire,
so far as it was Christian at all, held to the faith of the Alexandrian
heretic. Our first Teutonic version of the Scriptures was by an Arian
The first conqueror of Rome, Alaric, and the first conqueror of Africa,
Genseric, were Arians. Theodoric, the great king of Italy, and hero of
the 'Nibelungen Lied,' was an Arian. The vacant place in his massive tomb
at Ravenna is a witness of the vengeance which the Orthodox took on his
memory, when, in their triumph, they tore down the porphyry vase in which
his Arian subjects had enshrined his ashes.
in his History of the Popes (London, edition of 1871), Vol. I,
p. 9, says:
"But she [the church] fell,
as was inevitable, into many embarrassments, and found herself in an entirely
altered condition. A pagan people took possession of Britain; Arian kings
seized the greater part of the remaining West; while the Lombards, long
attached to Arianism, and as neighbors most dangerous and hostile, established
a powerful sovereignty before the very gates of Rome. The Roman bishops,
meanwhile, beset on all sides, exerted themselves with all the prudence
and pertinacity which have remained their peculiar attributes, to regain
the mastery, at least in the patriarchal diocese." TOP
in his History of Florence, p. 14, says:
"Nearly all the wars which the northern barbarians carried on in
Italy, it may be here remarked, were occasioned by the pontiffs; and the
hordes with which the country was inundated, were generally called in
These extracts give us a
general view of the state of affairs at this time, and show us that though
the hands of the Roman pontiffs might not be visibly manifest in the movements
upon the political board, they constituted the power working assiduously
behind the scenes to secure their own purposes. The
p 148 -- relation
which these Arian kings sustained to the pope, from which we can see the
necessity of their being overthrown to make way for papal supremacy, is
shown in the following testimony from Mosheim,
given in his History of the Church, cent. 6, part 2, chap. 2, see.
2 : "On
the other hand, it is certain, from a variety of the most authentic records,
that both the emperors and the nations in general were far from being
disposed to bear with patience the yoke of servitude which the popes were
imposing upon the Christian church. The Gothic princes set bounds to the
power of these arrogant prelates in Italy, permitted none to be raised
to the pontificate without their approbation, and reserved to themselves
the right of judging of the legality of every new election."
An instance in proof of this
statement occurs in the history of Odoacer, the first Arian king above
mentioned, as related by Bower
in his History
of the Popes, Vol.
1, p. 271.
When, on the death of Pope Simplicius, A. D. 483, the clergy
and people had assembled for the election of a new pope, suddenly Basilius,
lieutenant of King Odoacer, appeared in the assembly, expressed his surprise
that any such work as appointing a successor to the deceased pope should
be undertaken without him, in the name of the king declared all that had
been done null and void, and ordered the election to be begun anew. Certainly
the horn which exercised such a restrictive power over the papal pontiff
must be taken away before the pope could reach the predicted supremacy.
Meanwhile, Zeno, the emperor
of the East, and friend of the pope, was anxious to drive Odoacer out
of Italy (Machiavelli, p. 6),
a movement which he soon had the satisfaction of seeing accomplished
without trouble to himself, in the following manner. Theodoric had come
to the throne of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Moesia and Pannonia. Being
on friendly terms with Zeno, he wrote him, stating that it was impossible
for him to restrain his Goths within the impoverished province of Pannonia,
and asking his permission to lead them to some more favorable region,
which they might conquer and possess. Zeno gave him permission to march
against Odoacer, and take
p 149 -- possession
of Italy. Accordingly, after a three years' war, the Heralian kingdom
in Italy was overthrown, Odoacer was treacherously slain, and Theodoric
established his Ostrogoths in the Italian peninsula. As already stated,
he was an Arian, and the law of Odoacer subjecting the election of the
pope to the approval of the king was still retained.
The following incident will
show how completely the papacy was in subjection to his power. The Catholics
in the East, having commenced a persecution against the Arians in 523,
Theodoric summoned Pope John into his presence, and thus addressed him:
"If the emperor [Justin, the predecessor of Justinian] does not think
fit to revoke the edict which he has lately issued against those of my
persuasion [that is, the Arians], it is my firm resolution to issue the
like edict against those of his [that is, the Catholics]; and to see it
everywhere executed with the same rigor. Those who do not profess the
faith of Nicaea are heretics to him, and those who do are heretics to
me. Whatever can excuse or justify his severity to the former, will excuse
and justify mine to the latter. But the emperor," continued
the king, "has none about
him who dare freely and openly speak what they think, or to whom he would
hearken if they did. But the great veneration which he professes for
your See, leaves no room to doubt but he would hearken to you. I will
therefore have you to repair forthwith to Constantinople, and there to
remonstrate, both in my name and your own, against the violent measures
in which that court has so rashly engaged. It is in your power to divert
the emperor from them; and till you have, nay, till the Catholics [this
name Theodoric applies to the Arians] are restored to the free exercise
of their religion, and to all the churches from which they have been driven,
you must not think of returning to Italy." - Bower's
History of the Popes, Vol. I,
p. 325. TOP
The pope who was thus peremptorily
ordered not to set his foot again upon Italian soil until he had carried
out the will of the king, certainly could not hope for much advancement
toward any kind of supremacy till that power was taken out of the way.
Baronius, according to Bower, will have it that the pope sacrificed himself
on this occasion, and advised the
p 150 -- emperor not
by any means to comply with the demand the king had sent him. But
thinks this inconsistent, since he could not, he says, "sacrifice
himself without sacrificing, at the same time, the far greater part of
the innocent Catholics in the West, who were either subject to King
Theodoric, or to other Arian princes in alliance with him."
It is certain that the pope and the other ambassadors were treated with
severity on their return, which
Bower explains on this wise: "Others
arraign them all of high treason; and truly the chief men of Rome were
suspected at this very time of carrying on a treasonable correspondence
with the court of Constantinople, and machinating the ruin of the Gothic
empire in Italy." - Id.,
feelings of the papal party toward Theodoric may be accurately estimated,
according to a quotation already given, by the vengeance which the took
on his memory, when they tore from his massive tomb in Ravenna the porphyry
vase in which his Arian subjects had enshrined his ashes. But these feelings
are put into language by Baronius, who inveighs "against Theodoric
as a cruel barbarian, as a barbarous tyrant, as an impious Arian."
exaggerated with all his eloquence, and bewailed the deplorable condition
of the Roman Church reduced by that heretic to a state of slavery, he
comforts himself in the end, and dries up his tears, with the pious thought
that the author of such a calamity died soon after, and was eternally
damned!" - Bower, Vol.
I, p. 328; Compare Baronius' Annals, A. D. 526, p. 116.
While the Catholics were
thus feeling the restraining power of an Arian king in Italy, they were
suffering a violent persecation from the Arian Vandals in Africa. (Gibbon,
chap. 371 sec. 2.) Elliott,
in his Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. III, p. 152. note 3, says:
Vandal kings were not only Arians, but persecutors of the Catholics; in
Sardinia and Corsica, under the Roman Episcopate, we may presume, as well
as in Africa."
Such was the position of
affairs, when, in 533, Justinian entered upon his Vandal and Gothic wars.
Wishing to secure the influence of the pope and the Catholic party, he
issued that memorable decree which was to constitute the pope the
p 151 -- head of all
the churches, and from the carrying out of which, in 538, the period of
papal supremacy is to be dated. And whoever will read the history of the
African campaign, 533-534, and the Italian campaign, 534-538, will notice
that the Catholics everywhere hailed as deliverers the army of Belisarius,
the general of Justinian.
The testimony of
(Reformation, book 1, chap. 1)
also throws light upon the undercurrents which gave shape to
outward movements in these eventful times. He says: "Princes
whom these stormy times often shook upon their thrones, offered their
protection if Rome would in its turn support them. They conceded to her
the spiritual authority, provided she would make a return in secular power.
They were lavish of the souls of men, in the hope that she would aid them
against their enemies. The power of the hierarchy, which was ascending,
and the imperial power, which was declining, leaned thus one upon the
other, and by this alliance accelerated their twofold destiny. Rome could
not lose by it. An edict of Theodosius II and of Valerian III proclaimed
the Roman bishop 'rector of the whole church.' Justinian published a similar
But no decree of this nature
could be carried into effect until the Arian horns which stood in its
way were overthrown. The Vandals fell before the victorious arms of Belisarius
in 534; and the Goths received a crushing blow in connection with their
unsuccessful siege of Rome in 538. (Gibbon, chap. 41)TOP
Procopius relates that the
African war was undertaken by Justinian for the relief of the Christians
(Catholics) in that quarter; and that when he expressed his intention
in this respect, the prefect of the palace came very near dissuading him
from his purpose; but a dream appeared to him in which he was bidden
"not to shrink from the execution of his design; for by assisting
the Christians he would overthrow the power of the Vandals."
- Evagrius' Eccl. Hist., book 4, chap. 16.
again to Mosheim: "It is true that the Greeks
who had received the decrees
of the Council of Nicaea [that is, the Catholics], persecuted and oppressed
the Arians wherever their
p 152 --
(Belisarius entering Rome)
p 153 --
influence and authority could reach; but the Nicenians, in their turn,
were not less rigorously treated by their adversaries [the Arians], particularly
in Africa and Italy, where they felt, in a very severe manner, the weight
of the Arian power, and the bitterness of hostile resentment. The triumphs
of Arianism were, however, transitory, and its prosperous days were entirely
eclipsed when the Vandals were driven out of Africa, and the Goths out
of Italy, by the arms of Justinian." -
Mosheim's Church History, cent. 6, part 2, chap. 5, sec. 3.
Elliott, in his Horae Apocalypticae,
makes two enumerations of the
ten kingdoms which rose out of the Roman empire, varying the second list
from the first according to the changes which had taken place at the later
period to which the second list applies. His first list differs from that
mentioned in remarks on chap. 2:42, only in that he put the Alemanni in
place of the Huns, and the Bavarians in place of the Lombards, a variation
which can be easily accounted for. But out of this list he names the three
that were plucked up before the papacy, in these words:
" I might cite three that were eradicated from before the
pope out of the list first given; namely, the Heruli under Odoacer,
the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths." -
Vol. III, p. 152, note 1.
Although he prefers the second
list, in which he puts the Lombards instead of the Heruli, the foregoing
is good testimony that if we make the enumeration of the ten kingdoms
while the Heruli were a ruling power, they were one of the horns which
were plucked up.
From the historical testimony
above cited, we think it clearly established that the three horns plucked
up were the powers named; viz., the Heruli
in A. D. 493, the Vandals
in 534, and the Ostrogoths
in 553. The effective opposition of the Ostrogoths to the decree of Justinian,
however, it is to be noted, ceased when they were driven from Rome by
Belisarius in 538. TOP
"He shall speak great words against the Most High." Has
the papacy done this? Look at such self-approved titles of the pope as
"Vicegerent of the Son of God," and
God, the Pope."-
See gloss on the Extravagantes of Pope John XXII,
p 154 --
title 14, ch. 4,
"Declaramus." Said Pope Nicholas to
"The pope can never be bound or loosed by the secular power, since
it is plain that he was called God by the pious prince Constantine; .
. . and it is manifest that God can not be judged by man." - Decreti
Prima Pars. Distinctio XCVI, Caput 8. Is
there need of bolder blasphemy than this? Note also the adulation the
popes have received from their followers without rebuke. Lord Anthony
Pucci in the fifth Lateran,
said to the pope, "The
sight of thy divine majesty does not a little terrify me; for I am not
ignorant that all power both in heaven and in earth is given unto you;
that the prophetic saying is fulfilled in you, 'All the kings of the earth
shall worship him, and nations shall serve him.'" (See Oswald's Kingdom
Which Shall Not Be Destroyed, pp. 97-99.)
Again, Dr. Clarke,
on verse 25, says:
"'He shall speak as if he were God.' So St. Jerome quotes from Symmachus.
To none can this apply so well or so fully as to the popes of Rome. They
have assumed infallibility, which belongs only to God. They profess to
forgive sins, which belongs only to God. They profess to open and shut
heaven, which belongs only to God. They profess to be higher than all
the kings of the earth, which belongs only to God. And they go beyond
God in pretending to loose whole nations from their oath of allegiance
to their kings, when such kings do not please them. And they go against
God when they give indulgences for sin. This is the worst of all blasphemies."
shall wear out the saints of the Most High." Has
the papacy done this? For the mere information of any student of church
history, no answer need here be given. All know that for long years the
papal church has pursued its relentless work against the true followers
of God. Chapter after chapter might be given, would our limited space
permit. Wars, crusades, massacres, inquisitions, and persecutions of all
kinds, - these were their weapons of extinction.
Church History says:
"No computation can reach the numbers who have been put to death
in different ways, on account of their maintaining the profession of the
gospel, and opposing the corruptions of the Church of Rome. A million
p 155 --
of poor Waldenses perished in France; nine hundred thousand orthodox
Christians were slain in less than thirty years after the institution
of the order of the Jesuits. The Duke of Alva boasted of having put to
death in the Netherlands thirty-six thousand by the hand of the
common executioner during the space of a few years. The Inquisition destroyed,
by various tortures, one hundred and fifty thousand within thirty
years. These are a few specimens, and but a few, of those which history
has recorded. But the total amount will never be known till the earth
shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain."
Commenting on the prophecy
that the little horn should
"wear out the saints of the Most High,"
Barnes, in his Notes
on Dan. 7 :25,
Can any one doubt that this is true of the papacy? The Inqnisition, the
persecutions of the Waldenses, the ravages of the Duke of Alva, the fires
of Smithfield, the tortures of Goa, - indeed, the whole history of the
papacy, may be appealed to in proof that this is applicable to that power.
If anything could have worn out the saints of the Most High, -
could have cut them off from the earth so that evangelical religion would
have become extinct, - it would have been the persecutions of the papal
power. In the year 1208 a crusade was proclaimed by Pope Innocent III
against the Waldenses and Albigenses, in which a million men perished.
From the beginning of the order of Jesuits in the year 1540 to 1580, nine
hundred thousand were destroyed. One hundred and fifty thousand perished
by the Inquisition in thirty years. In the Low Countries fifty thousand
persons were hanged, beheaded, burned, or buried alive, for the crime
of heresy, within the space of thirty-eight years from the edict of Charles
V against the Protestants to the peace of Chateau Cambresis in 1559. Eighteen
thousand suffered by the hand of the executioner in the space of five
years and a half, during the administration of the Duke of Alva. Indeed,
the slightest acquaintance with the history of the papacy will convince
anyone that what is here said of 'making war with the saints' (verse 21),
and 'wearing out the saints of the Most High' (verse 25), is strictly
applicable to that power, and will accurately
p 156 --
(Prominent martyrs) TOP
p 157 --
describe its history." (See Buck's Theological Dictionary,
art., Persecutions; Oswald's Kingdom, etc., pp. 107-133; Dowling's
History of Romanism; Fox's Book of Martyrs, Charlotte Elizabeth's
Martyrology; The Wars of the Huguenots; The Great Red
Dragon, by Anthony Gavin, formerly one of the Roman Catholic priests
of Saragossa, Spain; Histories of the Reformation, etc.)
To parry the force of this
damaging testimony from all history, papists deny that the church has
ever persecuted any one; it has been the secular power; the church has
only passed decision upon the question of heresy, and then turned the
offenders over to the civil power, to be dealt with according to the pleasure
of the secular court. The impious hypocrisy of this claim is transparent
enough to make it an absolute insult to common sense. In those days of
persecution, what was the secular power? - Simply a tool in the hand of
the church, and under its control, to do its bloody bidding. And when
the church delivered its prisoners to the executioners to be destroyed,
with fiendish mockery it made use of the following formula:
"And we do leave thee to the secular arm, and to the power of the
secular court; but at the same time do most earnestly beseech that court
so to moderate its sentence as not to touch thy blood, nor to put thy
life in any sort of danger." And
then, as intended, the unfortunate victims of popish hate were immediately
executed. (Geddes's Tracts on Popery; View of the Court of Inquisition
in Portugal, p. 446; Limborch, Vol. II, p. 289.)
But the false claims of papists
in this respect have been flatly denied and disproved by one of their
own standard writers, Cardinal Bellarmine, who was born in Tuscany in
1542, and who, after his death in 1621, came very near being placed in
the calendar of saints on account of his great services in behalf of popery.
This man, on one occasion, under the spur of controversy, betrayed himself
into an admission of the real facts in the case. Luther having said that
the church (meaning the true church) never burned heretics, Bellarmine,
understanding it of the Romish Church, made answer:
"This argument proves not the sentiment, but the ignorance or impudence
p 158 -- of Luther;
for as almost an infinite
number were either burned or otherwise put to death, Luther
either did not know it, and was therefore ignorant; or if he knew it,
he was convicted of impudence and falsehood; for that heretics were often
burned by the church,
may be proved by adducing a few from many examples."
To show the relation of the
secular power to the church, as held by Romanists, we quote the answer
of the same writer to
the argument that the only weapon committed to the church is "the
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
To this he replied: "As
the church has ecclesiastical and secular princes, who are her two
arms, so she has two swords, the spiritual and material; and therefore
when her right hand is unable to convert a heretic with the sword of the
Spirit, she invokes the aid of the left hand, and coerces heretics
with the material sword." In answer
to the argument that the apostles never invoked the secular arm against
heretics, he says,
"The apostles did it not, because there was no Christian prince whom
thy could call on for aid. But afterward, in Constantine's time, . . .
the church called in the aid of the secular arm." - Dowling's
History of Romanism, pp. 547, 548. TOP
In corroboration of these
facts, fifty million martyrs - this is the lowest computation made by
any historian - will rise up in the judgment as witnesses against that
church's bloody work.
Pagan Rome persecuted relentlessly
the Christian church, and it is estimated that three
million Christians perished in the first three centuries, yet
it is said that the primitive Christians prayed for the continuance of
imperial Rome; for they knew that when this form of government should
cease, another far worse persecuting power would arise, which would literally,
as this prophecy declares, "wear
out the saints of the Most High."
Pagan Rome could slay the infants, but spare the mothers; but papal Rome
slew both mothers and infants together. No age, no sex, no condition in
life, was exempt from her relentless rage.
"When Herod died," says a
"he went down to the grave with infamy; and earth had one murderer,
one persecutor, less, and hell one victim
p 159 --
more. 0 Rome! what will not be thy hell, and that of thy votaries, when
thy judgment shall have come!"
3. And shall
"think to change times and laws."
What laws and whose? Not the laws of other earthly governments; for it
was nothing marvelous or strange for one power to change the laws of another,
whenever it could bring such power under its dominion. Not human laws
of any kind; for the little horn had power to change these so far as its
jurisdiction extended; but the times and laws in question were such as
this power should only think to change, but not be able to change. They
are the laws of the same Being to whom the saints belong who are worn
out by this power; namely, the laws of the Most High. And has the papacy
attempted this? - Yes, even this. It has, in its catechisms, expunged
the second commandment of the decalogue to make way for its adoration
of images. It has divided the tenth commandment to make up the number
ten. And, more audacious than all! it has taken hold of the fourth commandment,
torn from its place the Sabbath of Jehovah, the only memorial of the great
God ever given to man, and erected in its place a rival institution to
serve another purpose. 1
they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing
of time." The pronoun
they embraces the saints, the times, and the laws just mentioned.
How long a time were they to be given into the hands of this power? A
time, as we have seen from chapter 4:23, is one year; two times, the least
that could be denoted by the plural, two years, and the dividing of time,
or half a time (Sept., hmisu) half a year.
Gesenius also gives "[the same in Chald.,] a half. Dan. 7:25."
We thus have three years and a half for the continuance of this power.
The Hebrew, or rather the Chaldaic, word for time in the text before us,
is iddan, which
Gesenius defines thus:
"Time. Spec. in prophetic language for a year. Dan.
7:25, for a year, also two years and half a year; i. e.,
for three years and a half; comp. Jos. B. J. 1. 1. 1."
We must now consider that we are in the
See Catholic catechisms.
p 160 -- midst of
symbolic prophecy; hence in this measurement the time is not literal,
but symbolic also. The inquiry then arises, How long a period is denoted
by the three years and a half of prophetic time? The rule given us in
the Bible is, that when a day is used as a symbol, it stands for a year.
Eze. 4:6; Num. 14:34. Under the Hebrew word for day (yom),
Gesenius has this remark:
Sometimes [Yamim] marks a definite space of time; viz.,
a year; as also Syr. and Chald. [iddan] denotes both time
and year; and as in English several words signifying time,
weight, measure, are likewise used to denote certain specified times,
weights, and measures." The
ordinary Jewish year, which must be used as the basis of reckoning, contained
three hundred and sixty days. Three years and a half contained twelve
hundred and sixty days. As each day stands for a year, we have twelve
hundred and sixty years for the continuation of the supremacy of this
horn. Did the papacy possess dominion that length of time? The answer
again is, Yes. The edict of the emperor Justinian, dated A. D. 533, made
the bishop of Rome the head of all the churches. But this edict could
not go into effect until the Arian Ostrogoths, the last of the three horns
that were plucked up to make room for the papacy, were driven from Rome;
and this was not accomplished, as already shown, till A. D. 538. The edict
would have been of no effect had this latter event not been accomplished;
hence from this latter year we are to reckon, as this was the earliest
point where the saints were in reality in the hand of this power. From
this point did the papacy hold supremacy for twelve hundred and sixty
years? - Exactly. For 538 + 1260 = 1798; and in the year 1798, Berthier,
with a French army, entered Rome, proclaimed a republic, took the pope
prisoner, and for a time abolished the papacy. It has never since enjoyed
the privileges and immunities which it possessed before.
note: This was true as to the writing of
this book 1897, however, the papacy has been fully re-established to it's
former power "the deadly wound" is now fully healed as of the
reign of Mussolini in Italy around 1929.] Thus
again this power fulfils to the very letter the specifications of the
prophecy, which proves beyond question that the application is correct.
After describing the terrible
career of the little horn, and stating that the saints should be given
into his hand for 1260
p 161 -- years, bringing
us down to 1798, verse 26 declares:
"But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion,
to consume and to destroy it unto the end."
In verse 10 of the same chapter we have substantially the same expression
relative to the judgment: "The
judgment was set." It would seem consistent
to suppose that the same judgment is referred to in both instances. But
the sublime scene described in verse 10 is the opening of the investigative
Judgment in the sanctuary in heaven, as will appear in remarks on Dan.
8:14 and 9:25 27. The opening of this judgment scene is located by the
prophecy at the close of the great prophetic period of 2300 years, which
terminated in 1844. (See under chapter 9:25-27.) Four years after this,
in 1848, the great revolution which shook so many thrones in Europe, drove
the pope also from his dominions. His restoration shortly after was through
the force of foreign bayonets, by which alone he was upheld till his final
loss of temporal power in 1870. The overthrow of the papacy in 1798 marked
the conclusion of the prophetic period of 1260 years, and constituted
wound " prohphesied in Rev. 13:3,
to come upon this power; but this deadly wound was to be
In 1800 another pope
was elected; his palace and temporal dominion were restored, and every
prerogative except, as Mr. Croly says, that of a systematic persecutor,
was again under his control; and thus the wound was healed. But since
1870, he has enjoyed no prestige as a temporal prince, among the nations
of the earth.
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the
whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High,
whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve
and obey him. 28.
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much
troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in
After beholding the dark
and desolate picture of papal oppression upon the church, the prophet
is permitted once more to turn his eyes upon the glorious period of the
saints' rest, when they shall have the kingdom, free from all oppressive
powers, in everlasting possession. How could the children of God keep
heart in this present evil world, amid the misrule
p 162 -- and oppression
of the governments of earth, and the abominations that are done in the
land, if they could not look forward to the kingdom of God and the return
of their Lord, with full assurance that the promises concerning them both
shall certainly be fulfilled, and that speedily?
NOTE. - Some startling
events relative to the papacy, filling up the prophecies uttered in this
chapter concerning that power, have taken place within a few years of
the present time. Commencing in 1798, where the first great blow fell
upon the papacy, what have been the chief characteristics of its history?
Answer: The rapid defection
of its natural supporters, and greater assumptions on its own part. In
1844, the judgment of verse 10 began to sit; namely, the investigative
judgment, in the heavenly sanctuary, preparatory to the coming of Christ.
Dec. 8, 1854, the dogma of the
Immaculate Conception was decreed by the pope. July 21, 1870, in
the great Ecumenical Council assembled at Rome, it was deliberately decreed,
by a vote of 538 against 2, that the
pope was infallible. In the same year, France, by whose bayonets
the pope was kept upon his throne, was crushed by Prussia, and the last
prop was taken from under the papacy. Then Victor
Emmanuel, seeing his opportunity to carry out the long-cherished
dream of a united
Italy, seized Rome to make it the capital of his kingdom. To his
troops, under General Cadorna, Rome surrendered, Sept. 20, 1870. The pope's
temporal power was thus wholly taken away, nevermore, said Victor
Emmanael, to be restored; and since that time, the popes, shutting themselves
up in the Vatican, have styled themselves "prisoners." Because
of the great words which the horn uttered, Daniel saw the beast destroyed,
and given to the burning flame. This destruction is to take place at the
second coming of Christ and by means of that event; for the man of sin
is to be consumed by the spirit of Christ's mouth, and destroyed by the
brightness of his coming. 2 Thess. 2:8. What words could be more arrogant,
presumptuous, blasphemous, or insulting to high Heaven, than the deliberate
adoption of the dogma of infallibility,
thus clothing a mortal man with a prerogative of the Deity? And this was
accomplished by papal intrigue and influence, July 21, 1870. Following
in swift succession, the last vestige of temporal power was wrenched from
his grasp. It was because of these words, and as if in almost immediate
connection with them, that the prophet saw this power given to the burning
flame. His dominion was to be consumed unto the end, implying that when
his power as a civil ruler should be wholly destroyed, the end would not
be far off. And the prophet
immediately adds: "And
the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole
heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High."
All in this line of prophecy has now been fully accomplished except the
closing scene. Next comes the last, crowning act in the drama, when the
beast will be given to the burning flame, and the saints of the Most High
will take the kingdom. We must be, now, upon the very threshold of this
of Part A. To continue your study:
Part B -- Prophacies of Daniel