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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Daniel 12

Introduction

APPENDIX

IN relation to the prediction in Daniel 7:11, regarding the destruction by fire of the body of the Beast or fourth universal empire, that immediately preceding the kingdom of the Son of Man, and of the saints—his body being “given to the burning flame”—science has recently indicated another way in which this judgment might be inflicted on apostate Christendom and the Antichristian kingdoms. The following extract from the Spectator, in relation to a recent conclusion of astronomy, only met the writer’s eye while the preceding work was in the press:—“We sometimes doubt whether the world’s belief in science is quite as genuine as it seems. Here is Mr. Proctor, whose astronomical authority and ability nobody doubts, has told the world for some time back, we believe, that there is really a very considerable chance of a catastrophe only fifteen years hence, which may put an end to us and our earthly hopes and fears altogether; and, so far as we can see, the world has blandly treated Mr. Proctor’s warning as it would have treated an interesting speculation on the future of electricity—that is, has regarded it with a certain mild, literary satisfaction, but has not made any change in its arrangements in consequence.… Yet, supposing Mr. Proctor’s facts to be correctly stated—on which we should like to have the judgment of other astronomers—there does seem a remarkably good chance that in 1897 the sun will suddenly break out into the same kind of intensity of heat and light which caused the conflagration in the star of the Northern Crown in 1866, when for a day or two the heat and light emitted by it became suddenly many hundreds of times greater than they were before, after which the star relapsed into its former relative insignificance. Those few days of violence, however, must have been enough to destroy completely all vegetable and animal life in the planets circulating round that sun, if such planets were in existence; and Mr. Proctor shows no little reason to believe that the same catastrophe may very probably happen to us, doubtless from a precisely similar cause, if the astronomers who believe that the comet of 1880 was identical with the comet of 1843 and the comet of 1668 should be right,—which would imply that the same comet, with a rapidly diminishing period, is likely to return and fall into the sun, with all its meteoric appendages, in or about the year 1897. Mr. Proctor tells us that Professor Winnecke believes that the identity of the comets of 1843 and 1880 hardly admits of a doubt; while Mr. Marth thinks that both may be identical with the comet of 1668, its velocity having been reduced by its passing through the corona of the sun; so that on its next return, in a considerably reduced time, it may be altogether unable to pass out of the sphere of the sun’s influence, and may precipitate itself, with all its meteoric train, into the mass of the sun. If this event occurs—as at some return or other Mr. Proctor believes to be nearly certain—(the next but one, we suppose, if not the next), there will certainly be an abrupt arrest of an enormous momentum as the long train of meteors enters the sun, which arrest would show itself in the shape of enormously increased heat,—the probable result whereof would be the burning up of all vegetable and animal life existing on the planets of the solar system. It is true that Mr. Proctor is not quite sure how the absorption of this comet and its train into the sun would really affect us. He is by no means certain that our sun would burst into flame, as the star in the Northern Crown did in 1866, but he evidently thinks it much more likely than not. And he does not seriously doubt that in the behaviour of the star in the Northern Crown, which so suddenly broke into flame in 1866, we have the example of a real sidereal catastrophe which from time to time either actually destroys, or would destroy, if they existed, such worlds as ours, if they happen to be the planets of a sun thus suddenly fed with a great accession of cosmic heat.”

In connection with the same subject the writer has recently met with the following passage in Mr. Garrat’s “Midnight Cry,” written about twenty years ago:—“The fiery flood. So it is described in Peter’s second epistle. The destruction of the ungodly will be by fire; and out of that fire will issue the new heavens and the new earth. The question is often asked, whether that event will happen at the commencement or the close of the millennium. Perhaps, in different degrees, at both. Isaiah says, speaking of a period prior to the thousand years, ‘By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many.’ And he seems also to place the creation of new heavens and a new earth at the same period; while it is after the millennium, John says in Revelation, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth.’ This and many other apparent difficulties of the same nature are easily explained. ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ The whole millennium is, in God’s eye, but a day—the great day of the Lord God Almighty. It is the ‘regeneration,’—the period of earth’s new birth; and the events at its commencement and its close are sometimes looked upon as one. God will destroy His enemies with fire at the beginning of these thousand years. The conflagration at their close will be still more terrible. Both are looked upon as one event. And it is to both, regarded as one, that the words of Peter apply: ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.’ It will come as a thief in the night on the world. They will be alone, because the Church will have been translated. With what bitter remorse will men look on the fiery deluge as it comes sweeping along! They might have escaped, and they would not; and now escape is impossible.”

Verse 1

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLIV.—THE GREAT TRIBULATION. (Chap. Daniel 12:1.)

The angel continues his discourse regarding the things that should befall Daniel’s people in the last days. He had shown him the fall of their last great adversary in the “glorious holy mountain” where, in his pride and indignation against the people of God, he had planted the tabernacles of his palace. He now describes what should be the experience of men in general at that period, but with a special reference to Daniel’s own people. “There shall be a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” To this, the great tribulation, we now turn our attention. The Lord the Spirit give light!

That there should be such a time of trouble previous to the period of lasting peace and prosperity to Israel and the world, Daniel might have already read in the sacred books which he possessed. The song of Moses in the law had concluded with intimations of such a time (Deuteronomy 32:34-43). Isaiah had been led more than once to enlarge upon it, when foretelling the year of the Lord’s redeemed. It was with reference to it that the Lord exhorts His people when He says: “Come, My people, enter into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee, and hide thee for a little season, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity; and the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:20-21). In reference to the same period the prophet had asked, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments, from Bozrah? This that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?” The answer is given by the Redeemer and Deliverer of His people, “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” The prophet asks again, “Wherefore art thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat?” To which the answer is returned, “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment,”—the blood here that of his enemies, not His own. “For the day of vengeance is in Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come” (Isaiah 63:1-4). That day of vengeance was to follow “the acceptable year of the Lord;” and hence His object was only to declare the latter when, reading in the synagogue at Nazareth from Isaiah 61:1-2, Jesus stopped at the words, “the day of vengeance of our God.” Zephaniah had also predicted the same time of trouble as ushering in the glory of the future age. “For My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent” (Zephaniah 3:8-9). Jeremiah had written of the same period of tribulation, adding, “It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7). Ezekiel, about half a century before this last vision of Daniel, had been inspired to predict the same time of trouble in the following sublime and terrific language:—“Speak to every feathered fowl and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to the sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, and of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at My table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God. And I will set My glory among the nations, and the nations shall see My judgment that I have executed, and My hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they trespassed against Me, therefore hid I My face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies; so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness, and according to their transgressions, have I done unto them, and hid My face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for My holy name” (Ezekiel 39:17-25). This was, doubtless, the same tribulation of which Jesus forewarned His disciples when He said, “There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to that time, no, nor ever shall be;” adding, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” This time of tribulation the Saviour, like the prophets before Him, connects with that of His people’s redemption, adding, according to Luke, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

We may notice in connection with this time of trouble—

I. The time of it. The angel says, “At that time,” [340] i.e., when the last hostile power shall, as had just been mentioned, “go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to make away many,” and shall “plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain,” there to meet with his end (chap. Daniel 11:44-45). The last clause of the verse connects it with the time of returning mercy to the covenant people, when “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26); while the second verse connects it with the resurrection of the dead, both events being elsewhere connected with the Lord’s second appearing (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:39; Acts 3:19-21, R.V.; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). So Jesus, as we have seen, connects the time of tribulation with that of His own coming “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” From the events which are to follow it, however, it is obviously not to be confounded with the time of the general judgment. The fulfilment of the promises regarding Israel is to follow.

[340] “At that time.” Keil remarks that the expression points back to the “time of the end “(chap. Daniel 11:40), the time when the final hostile and persecuting power rises up to subdue the whole world, and sets up his camp in the Holy Land, to destroy many in great anger, and totally to uproot them. He observes that the description of this oppression seems to be based upon Jeremiah 30:7, the time of trouble being the climax which the hostile king shall bring upon Israel, and occurring with the expiry of the last or seventieth week (chap. Daniel 9:26); while, with Kranichfeld, he identifies Israel’s deliverance out of it with the setting up of Messiah’s kingdom as described in chap. Daniel 7:22-27. He agrees with Hävernick in opposing those who refer this verse to the period of persecution under Antiochus, on the ground that the statement regarding it is far too strong for such a period, while the promised deliverance of those “written in the book “does not accord with that Syrian oppression. Hävernick understands the “trouble” of the sufferings and oppressions which the people of Israel should endure at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, but which should be most fully realised only at the second coming of the Lord (Matthew 24:21-22). Hofmann finds in this and the two following verses the prophecy of the final close of the history of nations, the time of the great tribulation at the termination of the present course of the world, the complete salvation of Israel in it, and the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. Calvin interpreted the words of the increased troubles and heavier afflictions to be endured by the Church after the manifestation of Christ. Chrysostom, Grotius, and others understand them of the persecutions of Antiochus while his armies were still in Judea. Junius, with Calvin, applies them to the troubles of the Church in the times of the Gospel. Calovius limits them to the last times, in the “end of the days.” Brightman remarks that the tribulation cannot be applied to any trouble from Antiochus or the Romans, as after it no calamity is to be expected by the Jews, the suffering inflicted on them by those powers being insignificant compared with this misery in which, after sixteen, now eighteen, centuries, the Jews still lie buried. He considers the tribulation to have reference to the Jews, Daniel’s own people, of whom, however, he thinks, some will very likely hold obstinately to their legal rights and institutions, notwithstanding the deliverance of their nation, and the glory with which the truth shall then flourish.

II. The subjects of the tribulation. These, apparently, are twofold:

(1) The nations of apostate Christendom forming the great confederacy under the leadership of the infidel and final Antichrist, who is then to come to his end; and
(2) Israel or the Jews, whose great and final trouble it is to be, previous to their restoration as God’s covenant people,—“the time of Jacob’s trouble.” In regard to the former, the tribulation will apparently be both immediately from the hand of God, whose sacrifice their destruction is said to be, and who speaks of “raining upon the infidel leader, and his bands, and the many peoples that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone;” and also mediately, through the instrumentality both of others and themselves, as God declares by the same prophet, that He will call for a sword against the invading enemy throughout all His mountains, while every man’s sword shall be against his fellow, and that He will “plead against him with pestilence and with blood” (Ezekiel 38:21-22). In reference to Israel, the cause or instrument of the tribulation will apparently be the hostile power itself, whom God however brings up against them, and gives into his hand (Ezekiel 38:16-17; Ezekiel 39:23-24). The procuring cause of the tribulation in both cases is sin. On the part of the infidel leader and his followers and abettors throughout the nations, it is pride, infidelity, defiance of God, covetousness and rapacity, the enmity against God and His people culminating in one grand attack upon Israel now apparently prosperous and at ease in their own country (Ezekiel 38:8-13). On the part of Israel, it is unbelief and rejection of their Saviour-King yet unrepented of and unforgiven (Ezekiel 39:23-24), the curse called down upon themselves and their children now taking its full and final effect, when they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquity (Matthew 27:25).

III. The greatness of it. It is here spoken of as unparalleled, and is so characterised by Jeremiah: “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the day of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). The same language used by the Saviour in reference to it. The unparalleled greatness of it seen both in the extent and intensity of it. Terrible indeed the tribulation that shall exceed that of the Deluge, the Cities of the Plain, Jerusalem in its siege and capture by the Chaldeans and then by the Romans, the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Its greatness inferred from the exhortation of Jesus to His disciples and people in every age: “Watch and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). The same to be inferred from the object of it. It is the day of recompenses, both in regard to Israel and the nations of Christendom, when the blood of God’s saints shed from the beginning shall be avenged on Jew and Gentile, when “the earth shall disclose her blood—the blood which she has been caused to drink,—and shall no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:21). Its greatness may be inferred also from its results. It is to terminate, in a general sense, not only the sins and sufferings of Israel but of the world at large, and to usher in a period of righteousness and peace that shall continue for at least a thousand years. It is in reference to that period that the prophetic Psalmist writes, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the (war-) chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalms 46:8-10). It is as the result of it that God will turn upon the peoples a pure language, so that they shall all serve Him with one consent (Zephaniah 3:8). The greatness of the tribulation may also be gathered from its character and the agents in it. Proceeding, as in great part it is to do, from the great infidel leader and his Antichristian host, whose coming as the Man of Sin, the Son of perdition, and that Wicked or Lawless one, is after the power and energy of Satan, it shall inaugurate a time of unbridled wickedness, fully-developed ungodliness, and daring God-defying infidelity; and who, in his fury at the evil tidings that are to reach him in the midst of his triumphant iniquity, shall “go forth to destroy and utterly to make away many.” Of all evil times it will be the most evil, faith being scarcely any longer to be found in the earth, few if any godly men left, those there are being hidden as in a pavilion in the chambers of God’s protection provided for them, and the restraints of His grieved and insulted Spirit being for the time withdrawn from the earth; a period of which the three years and a half at the commencement of the French Revolution, during which religion was publicly and openly proscribed, the Sabbath abolished, the Bible dragged through the streets of Paris at the tail of an ass, and a beautiful but profligate woman worshipped in the church of Notre Dame as the Goddess of Reason, may have been an instalment and a type. Physical disturbances and commotions seem to be indicated both by the prophets and the Saviour Himself, as accompanying these civil and religious ones; signs appearing in the heavenly bodies, and the powers of heaven being shaken, both as symbols and accompaniments of the distress of nations; the godly being taught to sing in the prospect of that time of trouble: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge: therefore will we not fear, although the earth be removed, and the mountains be cast into the depths of the sea: though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof” (Psalms 46:2-3). Nothing is said in the text to indicate the duration of this time of trouble; but we may gather from other places that its brevity will be in proportion to its intensity. The godly are to hide themselves “for a little moment, till the indignation be overpast.” “A short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” For the elect’s sake “the days will be shortened,” for otherwise, according to the Saviour’s declaration, “no flesh should be saved” (Matthew 24:22).

The subject calls for solemn thought and earnest preparation. That this time of great and unparalleled tribulation shall come cannot be questioned by any believer in Revelation. The words of a great writer, philosopher, and divine, now passed away, express the conclusion of a simple-minded, unbiassed reader of the Word: “I utterly despair,” said the late Dr. Chalmers, “of the universal prevalence of Christianity as the result of a painful missionary process. I look for its conclusive establishment through a widening passage of desolating judgments, with the utter demolition of our present civil and ecclesiastical structures.” [341] How near we may be to this predicted state of things, or how far off from it, it is impossible for any one to say. Whether perceptibly or not, we are doubtless approaching to it. Signs are not wanting to indicate that such is the case. “This gospel of the kingdom,” said the Saviour when speaking of that future period, “shall first be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations”—preached, not believed in—“and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). This is rapidly taking place. Missionary operations are constantly multiplying. So also are infidelity and its agencies. It has recently been said by a high authority, that religion seems to be unsettled, and almost going away from various countries. [342] The rapidity with which great changes at present take place is the subject of general remark. A few years may suffice to bring the predicted period. For ought we know, the present living generation may see and participate in the great tribulation. It is for all to seek earnestly to secure for themselves and others a place of security in time, while the doors of the provided ark are open. “Seek righteousness; seek meekness; it may be ye may be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). The present time is to be embraced by earnestly laying hold of the gracious covenant held out to us in Christ, and persuading others also to do the same; and thus being prepared for the time when it will be said, in connection with predicted judgments, “Gather My saints together unto Me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (Psalms 50:5). “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little: blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Psalms 2:12).

[341] The same writer, in his “Sabbath Scripture Readings” on Revelation 15:0. says: “Can this sea of glass on which the saints might stand and look on the execution of God’s righteous sentence on the earth at large,—can it be what my friend Edward Irving imagined it to be,—one country in the world that should stand exempted from the desolations which are to go abroad over the face of it, and that country to be the evangelical and missionary Britain, standing aloof from popery, and actuated generally and throughout, or at least infiuentially, though it might be partially, by a pure, and scriptural, and Protestant faith? The song of Moses, as commemorating the destruction of the enemies of the Church, and the Church’s safety as well as prospects, might well harmonise with the song of the Lamb; and both together might harmonise with the circumstances of that transition period, when plagues were to be sent down from heaven upon the earth, and, as the fruit of God’s judgments being made manifest, all nations were to come and worship before Him.”

[342] “Any one,” said Cardinal Newman lately in a sermon at Birmingham, “who looked into the news of the day, would see quite enough in the state of things at home and abroad, to understand the great need of intercession. There was certainly a very dark prospect before them with regard to religion; and without saying whether the troubles were greater or less than those which had previously tried the Church, they had a depth which, to those who only saw the present, was more serious and more dangerous than any depth that had been.”

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLV.—THE DELIVERANCE OF THE JEWS. (Chap. Daniel 12:1, last clause.)

The object for which the angel was sent to Daniel was to communicate to him what should befall his people in the latter days. He had already intimated to him the coming of Messiah at a definite period, with the calamities which should follow their wicked rejection of Him even to the time of the end. These calamities, however, were to culminate, as the end approached, in a time of trouble such as had never yet been since there was a nation. It is now promised, however, for the comfort of Daniel and his godly countrymen, that his people should be delivered out of that tribulation, at least a portion of them,—“every one that shall be found written in the book.” We notice, in connection with this promised deliverance—

I. The deliverance itself. “Thy people shall be delivered.” Daniel’s people were the Jews, the descendants, with himself, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; those for whom he had so earnestly prayed, and whose sins he had so penitently confessed (chap, 9.) The whole twelve tribes are included. These, in consequence of Solomon’s apostasy, had indeed been divided into two kingdoms, those of Judah and Israel; the former consisting of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the latter of the remaining ten (1 Kings 11:9-13). They formed, however, but one people, and were yet again to be united in one kingdom (Ezekiel 37:16-24). Those constituting the kingdom of Israel, having been the first to apostatise to idolatry, were the first to be led captive from their own land, which was done by the Assyrians, who placed them in various cities of the Medes (2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:5-6). The two tribes forming the kingdom of Judah, having imitated the apostasy of the kingdom of Israel, were carried captive, on three separate occasions, by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon. It was more especially those two tribes who returned to Judea after the edict of Cyrus; and of these only a portion. The whole twelve tribes, however, were regarded as existing in the days of the apostles, though mostly scattered among the Gentiles (Acts 26:6-7; James 1:1; John 7:35). It is more especially those who formed the kingdom of Judah, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with a sprinkling from the other tribes, that are now known as Jews, the ten tribes being as yet comparatively unknown, though doubtless to be found in various parts of the world. It seems to be more especially those of the kingdom of Judah that are here indicated, as it appears to be they who shall be found in Jerusalem and Judea at the period referred to (Zechariah 12:2; Zechariah 12:4; Zechariah 12:6-10). These apparently intended to be the means of seeking out and bringing back their scattered brethren after their own conversion and acceptance of the Saviour (Isaiah 66:19-22). Even of those, however, who, being in Judea and Jerusalem at the time of the great tribulation under their final adversary, only a portion will be delivered. [343] Zechariah predicts that in all the land two-thirds should be cut off and die, but the third should be left therein, to be brought through the fire and refined as silver is refined, and be made God’s people, not merely in name as before, but in reality and truth (Zechariah 13:8-9). They are here spoken of as those “written in the book;” that book being doubtless the secret register of those whom, as an elect remnant, it was the Lord’s sovereign purpose to spare, as the nucleus of the future Church of Abraham’s seed; and doubtless those who, according to the prophet’s exhortation, had truly and in time sought righteousness and meekness, and under the outpoured Spirit of grace and supplication had looked to Him whom they had pierced, and had mourned because of Him, and had thus been led to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1). Such a book frequently referred to as “the book of life,” or “of the living” (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Luke 10:35; Exodus 32:35; Psalms 69:28). The deliverance is, in the first instance, one from death by the sword of the enemy. According to Zechariah, all nations will be gathered at that time, doubtless under this same infidel chief, against Jerusalem; and the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the inhabitants shall go into captivity; but “the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:2). This residue doubtless the remnant in the text. This deliverance from death, however, to be followed with a still more important and blessed one, the deliverance from spiritual death and introduction into Messiah’s kingdom.

[343] “Every one that shall be found written,” &c. According to Professor Lee and others, these are not to be the Jews at large, but the holy remnant who embraced Jesus as the Messiah, and escape to carry the tidings of salvation to the ends of the earth. Speaking of Isaiah 24:6, “Few men left,” Dr. Chalmers remarks: “a remnant, however, will be left, and a good remnant; and this not confined to the land of Israel, but among all the neighbouring countries that had been laid waste; for the voice of praise was to arise from the sea and from the isles, and this too to God as the Lord God of Israel. This voice was to arise from the midst of cruel sufferings, even ‘in the fires’ wherewith (Daniel 12:6) the houses were burnt by their invaders.” He adds: “In this prophecy is foreshown a visitation upon the earth still future, which is to emerge in the Millennium—how emphatically told in this place!—when the Lord shall reign in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.”

II. The agency employed in effecting it. This is said to be “Michael,” called elsewhere “Michael your prince,” and “the prince that standeth up for the children of thy people.” [344] In the New Testament called Michael the archangel (Jude 1:9). Represented in the book of Revelation as, in conjunction with the angels under him, fighting with the devil and his angels (Revelation 12:7). He appears especially charged with the defence of God’s ancient people. The ministry of angels with their allotment to various charges already referred to under chap. 10. Michael, as the chief of the angel princes, and especial intrusted with the defence and care of Israel, naturally introduced in this their final conflict with the powers of this world, under the leadership of one whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and deceivableness (2 Thessalonians 2:9), and against whom, with his mighty force, it might seem impossible that Israel should be able to stand. Quite in accordance with the economy of God’s providential government of the Church and the world, to employ angelic agency for the accomplishment of His purposes, whether of mercy or of judgment. In what particular manner Michael executes the charge committed to him on this occasion, it is not for us to inquire. An angel smote in one night a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians that lay encamped about Jerusalem. “The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” In a thousand ways of which we have now no conception the angelic agents fulfil their ministry.

[344] “Michael.” Regarded by Calvin and some others of the older commentators as Christ Himself. So Hävernick interprets the text of the first appearance of Christ. Most understand Michael to be the archangel. Dr. Cox thinks that the standing up of Michael for Daniel’s people corresponds with the going forth of Him who is called Faithful and True upon the white horse; the trouble here predicted agreeing with the mighty overthrow of the Antichristian powers, who are to be cast into the “lake burning with brimstone,” as there represented. Brightman thinks Michael to be some certain angel, whose ministry the great Prince will employ in that battle.

III. The results of the deliverance. The deliverance, in the first instance, was one from the sword of Antichrist and his infidel host. It is also the deliverance of Israel from their last oppressor, and the termination of that captivity under which, in consequence of their unbelief and rejection of their divine King and Saviour, they had lain for so many centuries, as the curse which their fathers who crucified their King called down upon themselves and their children. The time of their rejection by God, and their scattering and crushing under the hand of the Gentiles into which they had been delivered, will now come to an end. The “seven times” of punishment that were to pass over them for their sin will now have expired. The time to favour Zion, even the set time, will now have come. He that had scattered Israel is now, according to the promise, to gather him. [345] The threatenings and the curses had in righteous judgment been executed, and now in like manner the promises made to their fathers were in unmerited mercy to be fulfilled also. The curse can now be removed and the blessing bestowed, because Israel, through the Spirit of grace and supplication poured upon them, will have penitently accepted their long-rejected King and Saviour. They will have been brought, with the veil removed from their hearts, to say in faith, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” and their house is to remain no longer desolate. They are now to be betrothed in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, in mercies, and in faithfulness,—to be betrothed for ever (Hosea 2:19-20). The blindness that in part overtook Israel as the result of their rejection of their Messiah, was to be taken away when the fulness of the times of the Gentiles should be come in, when all Israel should be saved. That time will now have come. The Deliverer was to come out of Zion to them that turn from ungodliness in Jacob, and to those who have looked on their once pierced Redeemer. That Deliverer now comes. He comes to turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and to graft the natural branches, broken off on account of unbelief, again into their own olive tree. The casting away of Israel for a time was the reconciling of the world; the receiving back of them again was to be to that same world “life from the dead.” [346] They are now to be restored to the high and holy position originally intended for them, as a kingdom of priests unto God in the service of humanity. [347] A mere external deliverance without this spiritual one would have left Israel but as they were. But now the new covenant is to be made with them, in virtue of which, while their iniquities are all forgiven, God’s law is put within their hearts and written indelibly on their minds by the Holy Ghost. That better covenant they accept when they look by faith on Him whom they pierced and mourn for Him, a covenant made through the sacrifice of the Son of God (Psalms 50:5).

[345] Auberlen remarks: “The predictions contained in Leviticus 26:31-45; Deuteronomy 28:62-68; Deuteronomy 29:22; Deuteronomy 30:14; Deuteronomy 32:15-43, concerning Israel’s apostasy and dispersion among the heathen, and then concerning their conversion and glorious re-establishment in the Holy Land, were not exhaustively fulfilled in the short decennia of the Assyrian and Babylonian exile, and in the troublous centuries of the restoration that followed those captivities. On the contrary, the curse lies even this day on the Jewish nation; and the promised restoration awaits yet its fulfilment and realisation. For him who believes in the fulfilment of prophecy, it is only necessary to read the words of Scripture in order to be persuaded of this. The great commentary on the history of revelation is given us in the miraculous preservation of the Jewish nation through all centuries to our time, while other nationalities are either destroyed or have mixed to such an extent with other nations, that they are disfigured to such a degree that they can scarcely be recognised,—a preservation which is doubly miraculous; since Israel is dispersed in all countries of the earth, while other nations have their filed stationary residence.”

[346] “The conversion of Israel stands in a causal, and not merely temporal or chronological connection with the coming of Christ; and is succeeded by a new state of the world in which a new ‘life,’ in a greater, more richly characteristic fulness of Spirit, will spread from the people of God to all the nations of the earth; and in comparison with which the life of nations, during the preceding ages, might be called ‘death.’ The Apostle designates this new state of the world by the same expression which he uses when speaking of the regeneration of individuals, as ‘life from the dead’ (Romans 6:13, compare Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13). As there is at present a regeneration of individuals, so in the future the life of nations, as such, shall be renewed: there shall be a world-regeneration. Quite in accordance with this is the expression used by our Lord when He denotes the new Æon or age Palingenesia, or ‘the regeneration’ (Matthew 19:28); and by Peter when he designates it as ‘the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord’ (Acts 3:19-21).”—Auberlen.

[347] “The people of Israel,” says Auberlen, “receives for all time the destiny to be the recipient and mediator of divine communications.” Referring to Exodus 19:5-6, he says: “Israel stands in the same relation to humanity as a priest stands to the nation; a mediator in the relations of humanity to God. Hereby the relations of Israel are fixed; not merely for the times of the old covenant, during which Israel did not even exercise his priestly office as regards the heathen; but for all times and forever.… From the religious point of view, in their relation to God and Christ, as needing mercy and salvation, Gentiles and Jews stand on a perfect equality; the same righteousness is imputed to them; the same glory is given to them; they have the same participation in Christ, and by Him both have access to the Father in one Spirit. We see this also in the transfigured (or glorified) church, which consists of both Jews and Gentiles. But from the standpoint of the history of revelation, as regards the way in which God uses men as instruments to bring about the objects of His kingdom, the case is altogether different. From this point of view, Israel is, and ever shall be, the chosen people through which God executes His plans concerning humanity.”

We may make one reflection. The deliverance in the text suggests the deliverance which every individual, whether Jew or Gentile, needs, and that which, procured by the Son of God incarnate for us, is freely held out to each in the Gospel; that with which no external deliverance is once to be compared, but of which Israel’s deliverance from their external enemies is a type. It is deliverance from the curse of a broken law from the deserved wrath of God, from the dominion of sin, from the power of Satan, and from the pains of eternal death. It is deliverance from a tribulation with which that of Israel under Antichrist, great as it will be, is only as a shadow; a tribulation from which, beyond a certain period, deliverance will be impossible. “After death, the judgment.” It is a deliverance, too, Which, like that of Israel in the text, places the subjects of it in the glorious position of kings and priests to God. This deliverance also, like that in the text, is experienced in looking through the Spirit of grace and supplication, believingly and penitently, on Him whom we too, by our sins and unbelief, have pierced, and, as penitents, washing our guilty souls in the fountain of a Redeemer’s blood, opened for sin and for uncleanness. That deliverance is freely offered in the Gospel. A believing, humble, hearty acceptance of it makes it our own. And it is to be accepted now. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Verse 2

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLVI.—THE RESURRECTION. (Chap. Daniel 12:2.)

We come to a most precious and important part of the angel’s communication. It is that in which he declares more distinctly than had ever been done before the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, and that in connection with retribution, which had not previously been done. The object for which the statement concerning this great truth is now so distinctly made, is obviously to comfort Daniel and his faithful though suffering people, and especially to sustain and encourage those who should be called to lay down their life in the maintenance of God’s truth and worship. That the statement produced this effect in the case of those who suffered under Antiochus in the Maccabæan age, we have historical evidence in the first book of the Maccabees; and more especially in the narrative there given of the Jewish mother and her seven sons, who chose rather to endure a horrible death than renounce their religion, under the assured hope of “the better resurrection.” [348] The statement is made here in connection with the promise of deliverance to an elect remnant during the last great attack upon Israel from the hostile world-power, in which so many should miserably perish; and it is there made apparently with the view of assuring them that at that period of deliverance those who had fallen in maintenance of the truth, or had died in the faith and service of Jehovah, should also receive their reward. The comfort intended appears similar to that designed by the Apostle when he assures believers, who are mourning the departure of those who had fallen asleep in Jesus, that when the Lord should come again to take His people to glory, He would not glorify those who should then be found alive till He had first raised from the dead those that slept in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

[348] “It is good,” said one of these seven sons, when his body was lacerated by the scourge “being put to death by man, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by Him.”

In connection with the passage before us, we have to notice—

I. The fact of the resurrection. “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” There should be little doubt that a true physical and literal resurrection of the body is here intended, and not a moral, spiritual, and figurative one, such as that described in Ezekiel 36:0. [349] If a resurrection of the body is not here declared, it will be difficult to find where it is, or to imagine words in which it can be so. Although the doctrine may be found in earlier inspired writings, yet it is doubtless on this passage that the Jewish martyrs more especially based their hope, and from this that the Jews in general drew their assurance that there should be a resurrection of the dead, and that both of the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15). [350] It is justly believed also that to this passage the Saviour’s words had reference when, announcing Himself to be the Lord and Giver of life, He declared, “The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29). Of this resurrection Jesus Himself rose as a specimen and firstfruits, in whom, as the second Adam and Head of redeemed humanity, those who died literally and physically in the first Adam, should in the same sense be “made alive.” Accordingly after His resurrection, Matthew relates, that many of the bodies of the saints which slept arose, and “went into the holy city and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52-53). To such a resurrection Paul referred in his appeal to Agrippa and his audience at Cæsarea when he asked, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). It is the resurrection of the body that sleeps in the grave, or “in the dust of the earth,” [351] the same, yet changed. In respect to the bodies of believers at least, “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). The expression of the angel, “them that sleep in the dust,” though a similar one had been already used by Isaiah (Isaiah 26:19), and even by the Psalmist (Psalms 17:15), and still more in the book of Job (Job 14:12), that which more especially gave occasion to the practice of speaking of death as a sleep (Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). More than from the mere resemblance between the state of death and sleep, which even the heathen recognised, the expression derives its significance from the fact that out of that sleep there is an awaking, which mere natural reason seems never to have been able to anticipate, and still less to obtain the certainty of; although the transformation of insects might well suggest the possibility, if not the probability, of a similar change for man.

[349] Grotius referred the resurrection in the text, in the first instance, figuratively, to the deliverance of the Jews in the time of Antiochus, as Porphyry had done before him; and in the second instance, to the literal resurrection of the body, as rather hinted at than explicitly declared. He has had, however, but few followers in the Christian Church. Brightman understood the resurrection here as pointing to the victories of the Jewish nation, and their being called to the faith in Christ, as John 5:25; Ephesians 5:15; Romans 11:15; Ezekiel 37:1, &c. Some, he thinks, partaking of the deliverance predicted, shall yet persist in their wickedness, and shall rise indeed, but to eternal destruction.

[350] It was a saying of Rabbi Eleazar of Capernaum: “They who are born are to die, and the dead to live, and the living to be judged; that we might know, and understand, to be informed, that He is God the Former, the Creator, the Intelligent One, the Judge.… Let not thine imagination persuade thee that the grave shall be a house of refuge for thee; for against thy will thou wast formed, and against thy will thou wast born, and against thy will thou dost live, and against thy will wilt thou die, and against thy will must thou hereafter give in thine account.”—Pirke Abhoth, Daniel 4:23.

[351] “In the dust of the earth.” אַדְמַת־עָפָר of dust, the dusty ground; the expression formed after Genesis 3:19, and denoting the grave, as in Psalms 22:30, “the dust of death.”

II. The time of it. This apparently indicated by the place which the statement occupies, and its connection with the preceding one, expressed by the copula “and.” [352] The angel appears to intimate that when the Jewish remnant experience the promised deliverance, this other deliverance shall also take place in reference to those that shall have slept the sleep of death. These two events, Israel’s conversion and restoration, and the resurrection of the dead, are elsewhere brought together in the Scriptures, as taking place soon after each other. The resurrection is coincident with the Lord’s second appearing: “Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” But Israel’s conversion and restoration is connected with the same glorious advent. Peter exhorts the Jews to repent and be converted, not only that their sins may be blotted out, but “that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached” unto them, and whom “the heavens must receive till the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21, R.V.) The Jews were not to see Jesus again until they should say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). The promise that they should look on Him whom they had pierced and mourn because of Him, is viewed by the Apostle John as pointing to the Lord’s visible appearing: “Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). The Apostle Paul appears to connect the conversion of Israel with the Redeemer’s coming: “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob;” or, as it stands in Isaiah, “The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob” (Isaiah 59:20; Romans 11:26). The destruction of Antichrist, too, when he has “planted the tabernacles of his palace between the seas on the glorious holy mountain,” in the great gathering at Armageddon connected with Israel’s conversion, is also apparently represented in the Apocalypse as speedily, if not immediately, followed by the first resurrection (Revelation 19:19-20; Revelation 20:4-5). Paul also appears unmistakably to connect the destruction of the Man of Sin or Son of perdition, doubtless the same Wicked or Lawless One of whom Daniel prophesied, with the personal and glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus: “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit (breath) of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness (manifestation) of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:8, R.V.) Daniel 7:0 seems also plainly to connect the destruction of the fourth beast and the little horn with the coming of the Son of Man with the clouds of heaven.” The destruction of Antichrist, the conversion and restoration of Israel, the resurrection of the just, thus appear closely connected with each other, and all with the Lord’s glorious appearing.

[352] “And many,” &c. “Keil remarks that the copula ו(and) connects this verse with the preceding one, and indicates the continuance of the thought in the latter half of that verse, i.e., the further representation of the deliverance of God’s people, namely, of all those who are written in the book of life. Auberlen and some others separate the resurrection from the predicted time of tribulation, simply because they refer that time to the persecution under Antiochus. He believes, however, that the resurrection will follow immediately after the period of Antichrist, and be contemporary with the coming of the Messiah in glory. Calvin thinks that the angel passes over the intermediate state between the preaching of the Gospel and the final resurrection, because the salvation of the church is connected with that event, it being till then like a dead body. Bishop Newton connects the resurrection with the tribulation as taking place immediately after it. Dr. Chalmers, on Isaiah 26:11-21, remarks that “it will take a time even after they (the Jews) are set upon enlargement, ere the deliverance can be wrought, and their enemies have fallen. But it will come at length, and come gloriously. Then will there be the first resurrection.”

III. The subjects of the resurrection. “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth.” Although the Scriptures, and probably this very passage, assure us that all the dead shall rise again, both just and unjust; yet this does not appear to be expressly declared by the angel in the words before us. Not all that sleep, but many of them, shall awake. [353] “Many” are not here equivalent to “all,” as in Romans 5:15; Romans 5:19; both because of the absence of the article, and because the “of,” or from among, that follows gives what is called a partitive signification,—indicating a part, and not the whole. The “many” who shall awake are the godly,—the “some,” or literally “these,” who shall awake to everlasting life, and of whom it is the angel’s special object now to speak. That the rest of the sleepers, or the ungodly, shall also awake, appears to be also intimated; these being the second “some,” or literally “those,” who shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt. It being the angel’s object rather to speak of the future blessedness of the faithful, it is their resurrection which is here especially declared as taking place in connection with the predicted deliverance. The resurrection of the rest or the ungodly, not being here especially intended to be spoken of, though plainly intimated, was apparently indicated as taking place at a period posterior to that of the others. Such we find to be in accordance with the manner in which the resurrection is generally spoken of in the New Testament. The “resurrection of the just” is spoken of by the Saviour as a thing by itself. “Thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). “In the resurrection”—that is, the state which it introduces—“they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God” (Matthew 22:30). Still more expressly in Luke: “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36). The resurrection here spoken of obviously includes only the godly,—the “resurrection of the just,” which only some shall be accounted worthy to obtain, even the children of God, who are therefore also called “the children of the resurrection.” This is that which the Epistle to the Hebrews represents the ancient martyrs as being so eager to obtain, called “a better,” or rather “the better, resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). This also apparently that which in the Apocalypse is called “the first resurrection,”—that, namely, of the martyrs and faithful followers of Jesus; the rest of the dead not living again till the thousand years’ reign of Christ and His saints is finished (Revelation 20:4-5). The Apostle also only speaks of them that are Christ’s being raised at His coming, this being according to the appointed order: “Every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterwards they that are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23). So when Christ shall descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, it is “the dead in Christ” that “rise first,”—before the living saints are changed (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). It is, however, only in the Apocalypse, which closes the canon of Scripture, that we seem to learn anything of the length of the interval elapsing between the resurrection of the just and that of the unjust. [354] It is thus that, according to the Psalmist, the upright “have dominion” over the ungodly “in the morning” (Psalms 49:14); theirs being not merely a resurrection of the dead, but a resurrection from, or from among, the dead (Luke 20:35), where it is literally and emphatically “the resurrection, that from the dead.” This general mode of representing the resurrection is not really at variance with the Saviour’s words in John 5:28, though apparently so. The resurrection of both classes is not said to be simultaneous; the “hour” in which that of both shall take place being simply the time when it shall happen, without defining it to be either at the same moment, or with a lengthened interval between. This was to be learned from other testimonies of Scripture. It may be added that, in like manner, Jewish doctors generally spoke of the resurrection as peculiarly belonging to the righteous; though they also taught that at some period or other the bodies also of the wicked should be restored to life.

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[353] “Many of them that sleep,” &c. וְרַבִּים מִיּשְנֵי (verabbim miyoshene). Keil remarks that רַבִּים (rabbim) does not mean all, and that the partitive interpretation of מִן (min), “of or from among,” is the only simple and natural one, and therefore with most interpreters he prefers it. Some, as C. B. Michaelis, following the Masoretic accentuation, separate רַבִּים from מִיּשְׁנֵי, “And [there shall be many]; of them that sleep, some, or these, shall awake,” &c. Brightman reads the word as equivalent to all, meaning the Jewish nation. Broughton understands it of the universality of them that sleep. Calvin, also, after Augustine, understands the word to mean all. Keil thinks that it is not the object of the angel to give a general statement regarding the resurrection of the dead, but only to give the information that the final salvation of the people shall not be limited to those who shall be living at the end of the great tribulation, but shall include also those who have lost their lives during that period. He thinks, however, that the Israel of the time of the end, who are here referred to, consist not merely of Jews or of Jewish Christians, but embraces all peoples who belong to God’s kingdom of the New Covenant; in which respect the resurrection of all is implied, as it is explicitly declared by Christ when speaking in John 5:28, with unmistakable reference to this verse. He adds: “As with the living (at that time), so also with the dead, not all attain to blessedness. Also among those that arise there shall be a distinction, in which the reward of the faithful and of the unfaithful shall be made known.” He considers the word “many” used only “with allusion to and in contrast with the small number of those who shall then be living, and not with reference either to the universality of the resurrection of the dead or to a portion only of the dead;” the object being merely “to add to the multitude of the dead, who shall then have part with the living, the small number of those who shall experience in the flesh the conclusion of the matter.” Osiander, Bullinger, and Vatablus understand the word many to be chosen instead of all, as some believers will be alive at the Lord’s coming.

[354] On Revelation 20:4, Bishop Newton remarks: “The martyrs and confessors of Jesus,—not only those who were beheaded or who suffered death under the heathen emperors, but also those who refused to comply with the idolatrous worship of ‘the beast and his image,’—are raised from the dead, and have the principal share in the felicities of Christ’s kingdom upon earth.… This is the first resurrection,—a particular resurrection preceding the general one at least a thou and years.” Auberlen, on the same passage, says: “Among the saints who are called to reign with Christ, the martyrs of ancient and modern times are mentioned first; because, most like to the Lord Jesus in their suffering and death, they are therefore nearer Him in His life and reign.… Next to the martyrs are mentioned all who had not worshipped the beast, be it in more remote times or in the last days;—all they who refused to take the power of this world as a reality, and to serve it instead of looking to the things invisible and future” (2 Corinthians 4:17). This he says is “the ‘first resurrection,’ as distinguished from the general one, which is mentioned in Daniel 12:12.” A Jewish tradition of the school of Elias is quoted by Bishop Newton, which states that “the righteous whom God shall raise up shall not again be turned to dust, but shall live a thousand years, in which the Holy and Blessed One shall renew His world.” The early fathers in general held the same view. Justin Martyr, in the second century, says: “A certain man among us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, in a revelation made to him, did prophesy that the faithful believers in Christ should live a thousand years in the New Jerusalem, and afterwards there should be a general resurrection and judgment.” Tertullian, in the third century, speaks of it as the belief of himself and the general Church, that “there shall be a resurrection for a thousand years in the New Jerusalem, and after that the destruction of the world, and the general judgment.” Lactantius, in the following century, speaks to the same effect. Mosheim, treating of the third century, says: “Long before this period, an opinion had prevailed that Christ was to come to reign a thousand years among men before the entire and final dissolution of this world. This opinion, which had hitherto met with no opposition, was differently interpreted by different persons; nor did all promise themselves the same kind of enjoyments in the future and glorious kingdom. But in this century its credit began to decline, principally through the influence and authority of Origen, who opposed it with the greatest warmth, because it was incompatible with some of his favourite sentiments. Nepos, an Egyptian bishop, endeavoured to restore this opinion to its former credit, in a book written against the Allegorists; for so he called, by way of contempt, the adversaries of the millennarian system. This work and the hypothesis it defended was extremely well received by great numbers in the canton of Arsinoë; and among others by Colacion, a priest of no mean influence and reputation. But Dionysius of Alexandria, a disciple of Origen, stopped the growing progress of the doctrine by his private discourses, and also by two learned and judicious dissertations concerning the divine promises.” Mr. Miles (Lectures on Daniel) observes, after Mede, that we have strong evidence that so late as the Council of Nice (a.d. 325) the current of public opinion was in favour of the orthodox primitive belief. “New heavens and a new earth,” says that Council, “we expect according to the sacred writings, when there shall shine forth the appearance and kingdom of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; and then, as saith Daniel, the saints of the Most High shall receive a kingdom, and the earth shall be pure and holy, an earth of the living and not of the dead.” After the fourth century, as the same author observes, “the leading fundamental doctrines of the Gospel were eclipsed by the rapid growth of error, tradition superseding the authority of Scripture. ‘The doctrine,’ says Bishop Burnet in his Sacred Theory of the Earth, ‘was always uneasy, and gave offence to the Church of Rome, because it does not suit to that scheme of Christianity which they have drawn. They suppose that Christ reigns already by His Vicar the Pope.’ ” Auberlen also remarks: “Chiliasm—the doctrine of the thousand years’ reign of Christ—disappeared in the Church in proportion as Roman papal Catholicism advanced.… The papacy, with its fundamental tendency to seek power and external glory, is, in its innermost essence, a false anticipation of the millennial kingdom. Bengel says: ‘When Christianity became a worldly power by Constantine, the hope of the future was weakened by the joy over the present success.’ ” The doctrine appears, however, to have revived with the Reformation. John Bradford the martyr, quoted by Mr. Miles, says: “Methinks it is the duty of a godly mind simply to acknowledge, and thereof to brag in the Lord, that in our resurrection all things shall be so repaired to eternity, as for our sin they were made subject to corruption.” And again: “Now every creature travaileth and groaneth with us; but we being restored, they also shall be restored; there shall be new heavens and new earth, and all things new.” Auberlen observes: “The Reformation protested successfully against the harlot (the papal Church) by opposing to it the original Christian principle of faith, which is opposed, not only to the works of the law, but to living by sight, and to a false externalisation of the Church.… The fundamental principle of apostolical Christianity, viz., of faith, is inseparable from apostolical Chiliasm.… The Reformers did not carry out their principle far enough to attain biblical Chiliasm.… Scholastic priestly tyranny, Cæsaropapism, besides the papacy, brought Antichiliasm.… The conscience of the Reformation protested against this new corruption of the Church in the person of Spener.” In the time of the commonwealth the ancient doctrine seems to have revived in England. Baillie in his Letters says: “The most of the chief divines here (in the Westminster Assembly), not only Independents, but others, such as Twisse, Marshall, Palmer, and many others, are express Chiliasts.” Peter Sterry, one of Cromwell’s Censors, says of the premillennial advent and the thousand years’ reign: “Like a rich coin, which hath been long buried in the earth, and lately dug up again, it begins to grow bright with handling, and to pass current with great numbers of saints and learned men of great authority.” Joseph Caryl, the author of the commentary on Job, his fellow-censor, speaks similarly in his Recommendation of Holmes’s book on the resurrection, in which pre-millennarian views are strongly advocated. “Though I have not skill enough in the exposition of hard prophecies,” says the spiritually minded Baxter, “to make a particular determination about the thousand years’ reign of Christ on the earth before the final judgment, yet I may say that I cannot confute what such learned men as Mr. Mede, and Dr. Twisse, and others (after the old Fathers) have hereof asserted.” John Bunyan expresses his views thus: “The world therefore beginning thus, doth show how it will end, namely, by the reign of the Second Adam, as it began with the reign of the first. These long-lived men, therefore, show us the glory that the Church shall have in the latter day, even the seventh thousand years of the world, the Sabbath when Christ shall set up His kingdom upon earth, according to that which is written, They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” “Christ,” says Dr. Gill, “will be in His kingdom not only by His Spirit and the effusions of His grace, but He will personally appear in all His glory; hence His appearing and kingdom are put together as contemporaneous in 2 Timothy 4:1. This glorious and visible kingdom will not take place till after the resurrection of the just and the renovation of the world. As soon as He personally appears, the dead in Christ shall rise first; this is the first resurrection, in which they who have a part shall reign with Christ a thousand years. This kingdom of Christ will be bounded by two resurrections.” Delitzsch, quoted by Auberlen, marks the general prevalence of the doctrine among believers in Germany, and traces it to the influence of Bengel and his writings. “To whom also,” he asks, “do we owe it that the orthodox Church of the present time does not brand the Chiliastic view of the Last Times as a heterodoxy, as is done in almost all old manuals of dogmatics; but, on the contrary, has allowed it to enter into her innermost life, so that there is scarcely a believing Christian now (that is, in Germany) who does not take this view?”

IV. The results of the resurrection. “Some (or these) to everlasting life; some (or those) to shame and everlasting contempt.” The results in the two cases infinitely opposite to each other. In regard to the faithful, of whom the angel particularly speaks, the result is everlasting life. Life the term employed in the Scriptures to express happiness of experience and holiness of character, and likeness to God in both; that happiness being especially found in the enjoyment of His favour, friendship, and fellowship, and that holiness in the possession of His own nature and character. “In His favour is life.” Sin is “alienation” or estrangement “from the life of God.” The term “everlasting” life, so often used in the New Testament, doubtless taken from this very passage, is here met with for the first time. It is everlasting life, as enjoyed in that kingdom of Christ and of God, which is for ever and ever (chap, 7.) It is everlasting, in contrast to the same life enjoyed in Paradise, but which came to an end through Adam’s transgression. Believers who have this life are “saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.” It is found only in, or in vital union with, the Lord Jesus Himself, who is the Life. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). It is obtained in believing on, or accepting of and trusting in, the Lord Jesus as a Saviour for lost sinners. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). The “shame and contempt” of the rest of the risen dead is that which properly belongs to sin, the abominable thing that God hates, and which makes all those abominable in whom it dwells. The first mark of true repentance is to see this to be the case, and to loathe ourselves for our iniquities. “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?” (Romans 6:21). One part of the punishment of sin is, to be made a loathing to others as well as ourselves. “They shall be an abhorring to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24). That shame and abhorring also everlasting. “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still,” as true as, “He that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). Continuance, and perhaps growth and intensification, but no change.

Let us, from the subject before us, learn—

1. To have our minds deeply and permanently impressed with the truth and reality of the resurrection. It was for this that the statement was made to Daniel by the angel. It is one of the truths most plainly revealed and most frequently referred to in the Word of God. Christ’s resurrection is to be the object of our faith; our own resurrection the object of our hope. It was in the hope and expectation of the resurrection that the Apostle exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. It was the source of his joy and triumph, that this corruption should put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. In this blessed hope he cheerfully renounced the world and died daily, ready, “after the manner of men,” to “fight with beasts at Ephesus.” It was this hope that enabled the Jewish martyrs to dare all the rage of their furious persecutors; and will enable us, though not martyrs, to look not at the things that are seen and temporal, but at those that are unseen and eternal. It is our comfort when we part with beloved ones who fall asleep in Jesus, and commit their bodies to the dust of the earth, to know that that body, now sown as a precious seed-corn in weakness and dishonour, shall be raised in power and glory, the same voice of Jesus that comforted Martha and Mary speaking to us at the side of that open grave, “Thy brother shall rise again.” “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:18).

2. To regard everything in the light of the resurrection. It is our wisdom to view things now as they will appear on that day. Everything will then stand forth in its true character. Things often appear quite otherwise now. “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination with God,” and will so appear at the resurrection. Paul and his fellow-apostles were regarded on earth as “the filth of the world and the offscourings of all things.” In the resurrection they will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Men tike Herod Agrippa, who had shed their blood and put them in prison to please the Jews, and who, while seated on his throne in gorgeous array, and delivering his oration to the people, was applauded as a god and not a man, will on that day be the objects of “shame and everlasting contempt.” Dives and Lazarus will then change places. Lazarus, with his ulcered body changed and transfigured into the fashion of Christ’s glorious body, will have his place among the princes of God’s people, inheriting the throne of glory, on which he will reign with Christ for ever and ever, in the enjoyment of an everlasting felicity. The rich man, appearing in a body allied to his unrenewed and sin-polluted soul, will be “an abhorring to all flesh.” The “mighty,” who only lived to the gratification of their own pride and passions, will be “put down from their seats;” while those “of low degree,” who in their poverty trusted in God and, possessing their blood-washed souls in thankful patience, waited for the coming of His Son from heaven, shall be exalted to the position of kings and priests unto God, in mansions of unfading joy and a kingdom of righteousness and peace, with the Lamb for their companion and God for their everlasting light and glory.

Verse 3

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLVII.—THE WISE AND THE WINNERS OF SOULS, WITH THEIR GLORIOUS REWARD. (Chap. Daniel 12:3.)

This verse stands in close connection with the preceding one. It describes the character and blessedness of those who, at the resurrection of the just, shall awake out of the sleep of death to the enjoyment of eternal life. Perseverance in a life of faith and good-doing, whatever suffering and trial it may have involved, is at length crowned with a glorious and an everlasting reward. The verse partakes of the nature of Hebrew poetry, consisting of two members, each of which contains both a character and the blessedness promised to it.

I. The characters mentioned. These are given in two expressions; they are “wise,” and “they turn many to righteousness.” The first is probably to be regarded as the general description, embracing the whole; the second as a more special one, applying more particularly to some. The first expresses the character as viewed with reference to the individuals themselves; the second, the same character, but in its relation to others. All here spoken of are “wise,” with the wisdom more or less developed. One natural and necessary effect of that wisdom is that it acts more or less beneficially upon others, leading them also to the possession and practice of righteousness. But in some this fruit and effect of wisdom in relation to others is more abundant and extensive than in the case of the rest. There are those who, being wise themselves, as a fruit and effect of that wisdom, turn not only others but many others to righteousness. The wisdom is a thing in ourselves, but its influence and action are to be upon others, who are to receive the benefit of it. The wisdom possessed by ourselves will evince and manifest its existence by leading us to seek, and enabling us to promote, the welfare of others, by turning them to righteousness; while to do this requires the possession and exercise of wisdom in ourselves, “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). To win souls requires wisdom, while it is the evidence and manifestation of it. Accordingly, the wisdom that is from above is described by the Apostle as “full of mercy and of good fruits,” leading us to sow the fruit of righteousness in peace, and so enabling us to make peace (James 3:17-18). Notice—

1. The wise. “They that are wise.” [355] Wisdom has been defined as that which chooses the best ends and pursues them by the best means. The best ends are

(1) the glory of God our Maker, who has created all things, and for whose pleasure all “things are and were created;” who has made all things for Himself, and whose glory it is both our duty and happiness, as His rational creatures, to seek in every competent way to promote. Next to this is

(2) the present and eternal happiness of ourselves and others in the enjoyment of their Maker’s favour and friendship, the possession of His character, and obedience to His will. To confine our aims to lower ends than these is unworthy of intelligent and immortal natures, and marks us as unwise. The Scriptures accordingly declare wisdom to consist in the true fear of God, and describe ungodliness and wickedness as at the same time fully and madness. This wisdom is that which “comes from above,” and of which God, the only Wise, is the Author; and is described as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and of good fruits, without partiality or wrangling, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Any wisdom which is not this is described by the same inspired writer as “earthly, sensual, devilish;” allying us less to the only wise God, than to him who is the prince of darkness, though able to transform himself into what he originally was, an angel of light.

[355] “They that be wise.” הַמַּשְׁכִּילִים (hammashkilim), the wise or understanding. The margin has “teachers.” The same word used in chap. Daniel 11:33; Daniel 11:35, and rendered “they that understand,” and “them of understanding.” Keil observes that the term is here, as there, not limited to the teachers, but denotes the intelligent, who, by instructing their contemporaries by means of word and deed, have awakened them to steadfastness and fidelity to their confession in the times of tribulation, and have strengthened their faith.

2. The soul-winners. “They that turn many to righteousness.” [356] Literally, “that make many righteous.” Righteousness has reference both to character and standing. In its relation to character, it is conformity in heart and life to the law of God, that law which is a transcript of His own character, and which is summarily described as love, even as God is love. In relation to standing, it is a state of acceptance and approval with God, as of those against whom His law has no charges, a freedom from condemnation, or, as the Scriptures often speak of it, a state of justification, which is simply that of one who is declared righteous or innocent in the eye of the law. How is a man made righteous in this sense? How can a man be just with God? or how can he that is a sinner be righteous with his Maker? To be a sinner is to be a transgressor of the law of God; which appears to be the opposite of righteousness both in character and standing. For a transgressor of the law to be righteous before God seems a contradiction in terms. It is the scheme of divine wisdom and mercy in the provision of a Saviour that reconciles this contradiction, and shows how the thing that appeared impossible is actually effected, while truth is strictly maintained and justice retains its rights. It is this provision that constitutes the Gospel, whose object it is to reveal it. It is by the substitution of a righteous person, who while He is man is at the same time God, in the place of the unrighteous, that the latter, on their acceptance of Him as their Surety, are regarded in the eye of the law as righteous, being viewed as one person with Him, and entitled to the same standing which He Himself occupies as righteous before God. This divine plan of making sinners righteous before God by substitution, suretyship, or representation, corresponds with the way in which the race has become guilty. Just as in and by the first Adam, or head of the human race, men were made sinners, so in and by the second Adam, God’s Son made flesh, as the second Head of the race, they that accept of and trust in Him are made righteous (Romans 5:0.) They stand righteous before God because He who is their Head and Surety does so, and they are, in the eye of the law, one with Him. With this righteousness in state or standing, believing sinners, at the same time and by the same means, obtain righteousness of character. A new inward spiritual life, or principle of righteousness and holiness, is infused in or imparted to them by the Spirit of God, in virtue of and in connection with that same union with the second Adam, or divine Surety, which takes place on their acceptance of and trust in Him; just as a graft partakes not only of the fortunes of the tree but of its life and sap. Accordingly the Word of God declares that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ is made to those who are thus in Him not only righteousness, for their righteous standing before God, but sanctification for their righteous, holy character. In the Lord they have both “righteousness and strength,”—righteousness for their accepted standing before God, and strength for a holy character and life of new obedience. Thus actually to make persons righteous, as it is of God’s providing, is also of God’s effecting; for it is He that, by His Spirit disposing and enabling us to accept of and trust in Christ as sinners, makes us legally one with Him. Accordingly we read: “Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). How, then, do the persons mentioned in the text make others righteous? Instrumentally. He that makes them one with Christ, or grafts them into Him by giving them to accept of and trust in Him as sinners, is the Holy Spirit. But in doing this He employs, as the means of effecting it, the testimony concerning Christ, whether conveyed in the written word or uttered by human lips. For Christ to be accepted of or trusted in, He must be known. “Who is He, Lord, that I should believe on Him?” “How shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14.) It is for this especially that the Spirit employs human instrumentality. “How shall they hear without a preacher?” “It hath pleased God by the foolishness of preaching”—by the preaching of the glad tidings of salvation, which appears foolishness to the world—“to save them that believe.” By this testimony concerning Jesus, and God’s way of making men righteous through Him, whether brought to the eye or the ear, the Spirit persuades and enables men to accept of and trust in Him as their Surety and Saviour, and so be made righteous. To bear this testimony, and so instrumentally to turn others to righteousness, is the privilege and duty of those who have themselves been made personally and experimentally acquainted with it. Accordingly, this is by no means confined to those who are in an official sense teachers or preachers, though especially incumbent on such. It is, in one way or other, within the ability of all who know Christ themselves to tell others of Him, and is accordingly made their duty and privilege. “The Spirit and the Bride—all believing and renewed souls—say, Come: and let him that heareth say, Come.” Even those who do so officially must first have approved themselves by doing so unofficially. “Without doubt,” says Calvin, “the angel here specially denotes the teachers of the truth; but in my opinion he embraces also all the pious worshippers of God. No one of God’s children ought to confine himself privately to himself; but as far as possible, every one ought to interest himself in the welfare of his brethren. God has deposited the doctrine of His salvation with us, not for the purpose of our privately keeping it to ourselves, but of our pointing out the way of salvation to all mankind. This therefore is the common duty of the children of God, to promote the salvation of their brethren.”

[356] “They that turn many to righteousness.” מַצְדִּיקֵי הָרַבִּים (matsdiqé harabbim), “they that make the many righteous.” Brightman has, “they that justify others, by teaching, admonishing, exhorting, reproving, and comforting, which are parts and duties of the teachers, and those who enjoy public office in the church.” According to Keil, the word here signifies to assist in obtaining, or to lead to, righteousness; and is here to be read in this general interpretation, and not to be identified with the Pauline δικαιοῦσθαι (justification). The persons here intended, he says, are those who by their fidelity to the law led others to צִדְקָה (Isidhqah, righteousness),—showed them by their example and teaching the way to righteousness. The same word used in Isaiah 53:11 of Christ as God’s Righteous Servant; who by the knowledge of Himself as their sin-bearer should “justify many.” The only way of being made righteous is by the same knowledge, for the communication of which His people are made His witnesses (Acts 1:8).

The angel says, “They that turn many to righteousness.” While all who know Christ themselves are bound to aim at making Him known to others, and so turning them to righteousness, all who do so are not equally successful. The extent to which souls are actually won or turned to righteousness depends, under God, on many things. This will especially depend on the measure in which the requisite wisdom is possessed, the faithfulness and diligence with which it is exercised, and the prayer of faith with which it is accompanied. While Paul plants and Apollos waters, it is God that gives the increase. But there must be the planting and the watering; and ordinarily in proportion to the wisdom, diligence, and prayer in doing this, will the increase be given. “They so spake that many believed.” “In so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” To catch men with the Gospel net we require both the skill and the diligence of successful fishermen. “Being crafty, I caught you with guile. I am made all things to all men, if by any means I may save some.” Among the things requisite for turning many to righteousness, whether in a public or private capacity, must be mentioned—love, that both gains the ear and moves the heart, earnestness, that shows the speaker to believe his own words, and so makes others earnest; perseverance, that after toiling all night and taking nothing, will yet again and again let down the net; judgment, to speak the word in season, and to deal with each case as occasion and circumstances require; faith, including both assurance of God’s promised blessing, certainty regarding the truths stated, and the realisation of things unseen; knowledge, so as to give clear and correct direction as to the way of truth and peace; singleness of aim, so as to seek the glory of God in the salvation of men as our one object in all our labour; prayerfulness, seeking continually His aid, blessing, and power, without which we can neither work aright nor work to any effect,—imitating the resolve of the apostles, “We will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word;” finally, consistency of life, both as regards our spirit and conduct, the testimony of the lips being seconded by the concurring testimony of the life.

II. The reward. This also is exhibited in a twofold manner, a simile being employed in each member of the verse, corresponding with the twofold description of the character. The wise shall “shine as the brightness of the firmament;” [357] they that turn many to righteousness “shall be, or shine, as the stars for ever and ever.” [358] The former, like the character with which it is associated, is a glory of a more general kind, that of the celestial expanse lighted up with the splendour of the noonday sun. The latter is the brilliancy of the stars as they sparkle in the nocturnal sky, especially as seen in a southern or oriental country like Syria or Chaldea, with a radiance all the more glorious from the dark ground in which, like diamonds, they appear to be set. The former comparison, though not to the body of the sun but to the brightness which emanates from it, yet connects itself with that made by the Saviour probably with reference to it: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43).

[357] “As the brightness of the firmament.” Keil observes that the splendour of the vault of heaven (Exodus 24:10) is a figure of the glory which Christ designates as a light like the sun, in Matthew 13:43, referring to the passage before us. He refers also to Revelation 2:28 and 1 Corinthians 15:40, &c., as examples of the figure. Brightman remarks: “The firmament itself, whither no cloud aspireth, nor any earthly pollution ascendeth, to cast any aspersion or blot thereupon: here, not as it often seemeth to us, covered all over with thick clouds, but as it is in itself.” He thinks, however, that this is a less reward than that which is laid up for the righteous at the last day, when they shall shine forth like the sun itself.

[358] “As the start.” Stars, says Bright-man, wherewith the firmament shall be beautified and adorned, themselves in the meantime enjoying the chiefest glory. So Revelation 1:10. More especially, he thinks, teachers of the Jews, being the precious stones of which the wall of the New Jerusalem is built (Revelation 21:19). Keil observes: “The salvation of the people, which the end shall bring in, consists in the consummation of the people of God, by the resurrection of the dead and the judgment dividing the pious from the godless, according to which the pious shall be raised to eternal life, and the godless shall be given up to everlasting shame and contempt. But the leaders of the people, who, amid the wars and conflicts of this life, have turned many to righteousness, shall shine in the imperishable glory of heaven.”

The comparisons, taken together, suggest, in relation to the promised reward,—

1. An external visible glory. Christ’s glorified body, which is said to shine as the sun as it appeared to the disciples on the mount, emitted a visible refulgence. But the bodies of His people when raised from the dead are to be “fashioned like to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). As He shall appear, or be manifested, with a visible glory, they shall appear, or be manifested, in glory with Him (Colossians 3:4). As we have borne the image of the earthy, so even in body we who are His members shall also “bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49). How poor in comparison with such a glory will appear the most gorgeous splendour of earth’s loftiest princes! It was probably a portion of this glory that made the face of Moses to shine as he came down from the mount, and that made that of Stephen appear to the Jewish council as the face of an angel.

2. Purity and moral excellence. There is a moral and spiritual glory as well as a visible external one, of which indeed the latter is but a symbol and outward expression. Light itself the symbol of moral purity and excellence. God is light; and goodness is the armour of light, as contrasted with sin, which is the work of darkness. The image of Christ’s perfect moral character believers at the resurrection shall also bear, and that in a perfect degree; as well those who shall be alive and remain at His coming, as those who shall be raised from the dead. For “we shall not all sleep (or die), but we shall all be changed, in a moment” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Even here, while we behold (or reflect) as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). “It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when. He shall appear we shall be like Him,”—spiritually and visibly, in spirit and in character as well as in body,—“for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

3. Dignity and honour. Sun and stars are employed in Scripture as symbols of dignity and lofty rank. Balaam, prophesying of Messiah, said: “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a sceptre out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). Hence stars usually worn as decorations of princely honour. Christ redeemed His people to make them kings and priests unto God. Like Christ Himself, they are hidden for a time, and often appear mean and contemptible. But the time for the manifestation of their royal rank and princely dignity as the sons of God and brethren of the King of kings at length arrives. “When Christ who is our life shall be manifested, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory.” “He that over-cometh and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and I will give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:26; Revelation 2:28). This dignity and princely rank will belong to each of the persons spoken of, though, doubtless, in different degrees, as “one star differeth from another star in glory.”

4. Joy and felicity. Light a standing emblem of joy and gladness. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” On the destruction of their enemies, the Jews “had light and gladness and joy and honour” (Esther 8:16). Clouds and darkness the emblems of sorrow. The future of God’s now tried and afflicted people one of unmingled joy, as well as purity and honour. Their experience after the resurrection like the brightness of a cloudless sky, or like the untarnished radiance of the stars in the midnight vault of heaven. No cloud of grief or care to bring a shadow over their happy spirits. The joy of their future experience heightened by the sorrow through which they had passed on their way to it, as the moon and stars appear most beautiful when the clouds that hid them have passed away. Much of their joy the very fruit of their sorrow, as they see around them those whom with tears and travail of soul they sought to turn to righteousness, and on whom they now look as the mother, after her pangs, looks on the child to whom she has given birth. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, for they do rest from their labours, and their works do follow them,”—the fruits of their labours in those radiant and happy beings, whom they were made the honoured instruments of turning to righteousness, and who now, as stars in their crown, enhance their own felicity.

5. Permanence. “As the stars for ever and ever.” The stars themselves appear the very emblem of permanence, appearing from year to year and from generation to generation, to occupy the same place and to shine with the same brilliancy that they did thousands of years before. This apparent permanence and unchangeableness pictures forth the real permanence and unchanging glory of the wise and those who turn many unto righteousness. They shall reign for ever and ever. Their life is an everlasting one; their crown one that fadeth not away. Their sun never goes down, neither does their moon withdraw itself. Their glory is necessarily abiding and unchanging, as the Lord Jehovah Himself is their everlasting light, and their God their glory. As one with Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, their joy and felicity, their purity and dignity, must be as permanent as His own. Even the stars may lose their lustre, and the sun may cease to fill the firmament with brightness. It is said that during the last three hundred years thirteen fixed stars have disappeared, one of them after presenting a peculiar brilliancy as if on fire, then exhibiting a reddish yellow hue, and before its final disappearance becoming ashy pale, the time occupied by the change being about sixteen months. Philosophers also calculate that in the course of some seventeen millions of years the sun may have emitted all its rays and entirely lost its lustre. The Word of God does not teach that either sun or stars are everlasting, but, on the contrary, that they shall one day cease to be. They will have served their purpose of showing forth their Maker’s glory and ministering to others of His creatures, and then, like a worn-out garment, be laid aside (Psalms 102:25-26). Their Maker, however, remains the same, and so shall all who as His children partake of His nature. “Whatever possible changes may take place with the glorious fabric of the material heavens, though the sun should lose its splendour, or pale before more glorious suns, as the stars disappear before the orb of day; and though the stars, which are mostly only other suns, shall attract no more by their brightness and beauty;” yet those glorious children of the resurrection, who fulfilled on earth their day of labour in doing the will of their Creator and seeking to bring back to Him His banished ones, shall still shine on with unchanged and unchanging glory, like their glorious Head whom they are made to resemble. “In the lapse of millions of ages hence,” says Arthur Butler, “for aught we can tell, it may be the purpose of God that all this universe should gradually give place to some new creation; that other planets should circle around other suns; that unheard-of forms of animated existence should crowd all the chambers of the sensitive universe,—forms of life unlike all that we can dream of; that in slow progression, the immense cycle of our present system of nature shall at length expire; [359] but even then no decay shall dare to touch the universe of souls.” We may add, nor yet the glorified spiritual bodies of those who, having been “wise “in time, shall shine at the resurrection “as the brightness of the firmament,” and of those who, having laboured to turn many to righteousness, shall shine “as the stars for ever and ever.”

[359] It is well known that the stars owe their different degrees of size and splendour mainly to their different distances from us; and that the number of those which are visible to the eye even when aided by a powerful telescope, probably bear only a small proportion to those that are scattered through the boundless regions of space. Even the Milky Way, which is simply an immense cluster of countless stars to which our solar system belongs as a unit, is only one of innumerable such clusters.

Reader, believest thou this? They are the words of Him that cannot lie. How infinitely important then to make it our first business to secure a place among those who are “wise,” and then through the grace given to us to seek faithfully to do the Master’s work in turning others to righteousness by communicating, in every competent way and in whatever sphere we may move, the knowledge of Him whose name is the Lord our Righteousness! The day is hastening apace when everything else will appear as insignificant as the dust under our feet, and when all earth’s glory will burst and vanish as the empty soap-bubble. The harvest is approaching, when he that went forth bearing precious seed and weeping, shall come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him,—when “both he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together.” Hold on, brother, ready to faint in the sowing time under the burden and heat of the day. In due time you shall reap, if you faint not. “Harvest home” will soon be sung amid the acclamations of angels; when, after the throes of a dissolving world, the Lord of the harvest shall proclaim, “Behold, I make all things new.” Has the reader not yet begun to be a candidate for that glory? It is not yet too late. Begin now.

Verse 4

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLVIII.—THE INCREASE OF KNOWLEDGE AS A SIGN OF THE TIME. (Chap. Daniel 12:4.)

Daniel had already received a very full and minute account of what was to befall his people in the latter days. The information communicated, however, was to be “shut up and sealed,” [360] as a precious treasure that was to be carefully guarded, and as something that would be more known and appreciated hereafter than at present. The same order we find to have been given in relation to the vision of the Ram and the He-goat, the reason given being that the vision was to be “for many days,” or only to receive its fulfilment after a length of time. So here; the words were to be shut up and the book sealed “even to the time of the end,” when they should be about to receive their entire accomplishment. The meaning conveyed apparently that as the end approached the prophecy would be both more studied and better understood. There would seem to be a time when, for wise reasons, the right understanding of prophetic scripture is withheld, and when that part of the word is not even studied equally with the rest. The prophet was commanded to “bind up the testimony and seal the law among the disciples” (Isaiah 8:16); so that when the book was handed to one to read, the reply should be, “I cannot, for it is sealed” (Isaiah 29:11). John in Patmos, on the other hand, was commanded not to seal the sayings of the Apocalypse, because the time for their fulfilment was at hand (Revelation 22:10). For the same reason a blessing is promised to those who read and those who hear the words of that prophecy, and who keep what is written in it (Revelation 1:3). A sealed book not able to be read till the seals are broken (Revelation 5:1, &c.) The prophecies of the Old Testament confirmed or made “more sure” by the events of the New; so that we are encouraged to take heed to that word of prophecy, as to a light shining in a dark place till the day of clearer knowledge dawn (2 Peter 1:19).

[360] “Shut up the words, and seal the book.” According to some, the prophecy was to be only enigmatically delivered to a few, because scarcely one in a hundred would be worthy to receive it, or give it any attention. Calvin thinks the meaning of the order to be that, although it should be universally despised and ridiculed, it was yet to be shut up like a precious treasure; and not to be treated as valueless, because so few should embrace the teaching it contained; the direction being given for the consolation and encouragement of the prophet himself, lest he grew weary and despondent, because it failed to command the applause of all the world. Jerome says the prophet was to fold up the prophecy in dark speech, and sign it that many might read and seek the truth of the history. Bullinger thinks the command meant that nothing was to be added to the prophecy, it being perfect and absolute; Willet, that he should commit it to writing, and set it forth in obscure terms and words, to take care of it as a treasure, and not impart it generally to all; and that many years should elapse before its fulfilment. According to Brightman, the angel would have Daniel to write the prophecy in precisely the same words and after the same manner in which he had received it, and to add nothing of his own by way of exposition. Dr. Cox thinks the command implies that those last events will only be unravelled, in their full glory and meaning, as the time for their accomplishment approaches, when great inquiry should be excited and increasing knowledge acquired, as they should break one after another in rapid and splendid succession upon the view of the Church. Hengstenberg thinks the command only relates to a symbolical action, to be understood of something internal; and after the removal of the mere drapery, the imperatives are to be resolved into futures, thus,—“These prophecies will be closed and sealed till the time of the end.” Keil understands the words in the sense of guarding, while he supposes that the command refers to the whole of the visions received by Daniel, all of which he understands the prophet to have committed to writing. The prophet was to guard the entire book containing them from disfigurement, “till the time of the end,” because its contents stretched out to that period

The words in the second clause of the verse, from the place which they occupy, have been thought by many to refer to what should take place toward the time of the end, viz., that there should be a greater amount of study given, as to other subjects of knowledge, so more especially to the written word, and to the word of prophecy in particular, and that accordingly there should be a much better understanding of its contents; [361] as well as that, from the increased facilities for locomotion, its dissemination should be greatly increased. And it is a remarkable fact, and one that cannot fail to be regarded as a striking feature of the time in which we live, and a sign of an approaching state of things different from what has hitherto existed, that these words of the prophet have received so literal and extensive a fulfilment during the last eighty or a hundred years far beyond any former period. That many have “run to and fro,” and that a spirit of inquiry and awakened interest in Daniel’s prophecies, and in the teachings of the prophetic scriptures in general, has appeared in our own time, none acquainted with the religious literature and history of the present century can hesitate to acknowledge. In England especially, it is well known that from the time of the first French Revolution the attention has been in a remarkable degree drawn to the subject of prophecy; many thoughtful and enlightened Christians having been led to view, in that event and those which followed, what might probably prove “the beginning of the end.” From that time to the present numerous books have continued to be written on the subject, a thing which had previously been exceedingly rare. The number of those who have been led to give deep and earnest attention to the prophetic word, and who have consequently become comparatively well acquainted with its contents and teaching, has been largely increased. Evidences of the same increased interest, and means tending to the same result, have been seen in the courses of lectures delivered, and the periodicals started, in connection with the same subject. In Germany, somewhat earlier, the attention of the Church was awakened in a similar manner by the writings of Spener, and still more by those of Bengel. This increased attention to and knowledge of prophetic scripture, while it is itself a remarkable fulfilment of such scripture, is at the same time a sign of the approaching “end,” when all prophecy shall have its accomplishment. “Apocalyptic prophecy,” says Auberlen, “is approaching its fulfilment. For this reason the Lord adds to the light of faith also the light of hope. He leads us ever deeper into the understanding of the Apocalypse, and will give us apostolic knowledge for apostolic times and struggles. It is the undisputable merit of Bengel that he prepared the way for such a knowledge.”

[361] “Many shall run to and fro.” יְשֹׁטְטוּ (yeshotetoo), “shall go up and down,” especially with the view of searching and investigating. So Job 1:7; Job 2:2. Keil remarks that שׁוּט (shoot) signifies neither to “go astray,” as J. D. Michaelis supposed, nor to “wander about” as in consciousness of misery, as Hävernick thought; but only to go to and fro, to pass through a land, in order to seek out or search, to go about spying. It is used of the eyes of God in Zechariah 4:10, as well as of Satan in Job 1:7, &c. Here the idea is that of searching a book, not merely reading it industriously, as Hitzig or Ewald renders the word; but, as Gesenius says, thoroughly searching in it. Keil, however, would not confine the passage to the time of the end; and agrees with Kliefoth in his interpretation of it, that Daniel must place in security the prophecies he has received until the time of the end, so that through all times many men may be able to read them and gain understanding from them. Calvin says: “Many shall investigate; this prophecy shall not always be buried in obscurity; the Lord will at length cause many to embrace it to their own salvation.” He adds that this really came to pass: “Before Christ’s coming, this doctrine was not esteemed according to its value; whereas now this divine assistance affords us strength and enables us to overcome all the attacks of the world and the devil.” Vatablus understands the prediction to mean that many should go to and fro to obtain knowledge.

In relation to the diffusion of divine truth in general, and of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, its central subject, the prediction in the text receives a fulfilment in the present beyond any previous period of the world. Probably not even in apostolic times was it true to an equal extent. In reference to England, preeminently the country of Bibles and missions, never were earnest living witness-bearers for Christ, whether as ministers, city missionaries, evangelists, lay-preachers, and Sabbath-school teachers, even in proportion to the increased population, nearly so numerous as at present; and never was the Gospel, in its purity, so widely promulgated in heathen lands. The empire of China, which with its four hundred millions has now opened her doors to the Gospel; India, which, with its two hundred and fifty millions, is now all our own and everywhere accessible to the truth; Japan, Africa, and the islands of the South Seas are now visited by the heralds of salvation as never before. [362] In India, the Zenanas, or apartments of the women, hitherto secluded from Christian intercourse, are now open to the female teacher and missionary of the cross. “The year (1881) upon which we have entered,” says an American publication, “begins with the whole world open to the Gospel; with an array of nearly 3000 foreign missionaries encircling the globe; with one hundred and fifty millions of copies of the Holy Bible proclaiming their message in two hundred and fifty tongues, and with a great multitude of nearly two million converts from heathenism as the firstfruits of the Gentiles. More than one thousand seraglios in India are open to the missionaries of our Women’s Boards; imperial palaces in China are open to our medical missionaries, and imperial patronage is fostering our missionary hospitals; pagan religions are becoming effete, and even Mahommedanism is at last beginning to yield to the Gospel.” “Since the commencement of the nineteenth century,” says Dr. Christlieb, “Protestant missions have been spreading among people of every race, and in every possible state of civilisation; they have been growing ever vaster in extent and in plan of operation, while they are always becoming more difficult to estimate in their effects and fruits, in their leavening influence on the faith and life of the heathen, as well as in their reflex action on the Church at home.” “We live in an age of missions,” he says again, “such—the mere outward extent of them shows it—as the Church has never seen.… The cross of Christ is being lifted up no longer in a few non-Christian lands, but in every one, among all races of men, the comparatively civilised as the most degraded; in colonies, as in independent heathen lands; in hundreds of languages and dialects. Those provinces of the Church, too, once lost to her, and crushed beneath the bloody heel of Islam, by the light of the Gospel are now being awakened to newness of life.”

[362] “Knowledge shall be increased.” In the year 1797, says E. Irving, “when the two witnesses were to recover life (Revelation 11:0), the London Missionary Society was called into being, or, at least, began its first active operations amongst the heathens; for in that year missionaries were landed in the island of Otaheite, which with all that group hath now been yielded to the preaching of the Word. And since that time, the society has laboured with its chief diligence and success among the islands of the Pacific Ocean, the tribes of Southern Africa, the expatriated and enslaved negroes, and the tribes of Northern Asia. The same year the prophecy began to be fulfilled in another way, by the Baptist missionaries in India addressing themselves to the first new translation of the Scriptures which had been undertaken since the Reformation. From that time till this (1826), the spirit of translating the Scriptures into all languages hath never slumbered nor slept, but been aroused in the Church to an extent beyond all former example; insomuch that within the last thirty years more versions of the Scriptures have been made than existed in all languages before.… And when they began to multiply beyond the means of the various societies to print and circulate them, the Lord raised up that most noble instrument, the Bible Society, which hath taken from the hands of the translators their works as fast as they were finished, and brought them into widest circulation.”

The increased diffusion of Scripture as well as other knowledge by the printed pages is as remarkable as that by the living teacher. Only during the past year the Religious Tract Society alone has issued no less than eighty-one millions of separate publications, no fewer than sixty millions of these being in our mother tongue and circulated in our own country or in the colonies; while above two thousand millions of books, tracts, and periodicals, all containing the truth as it is in Jesus, have been circulated since the formation of the society. At present the British and Foreign Bible Society alone produces at the rate of two copies of the Scriptures every minute throughout the twenty-four hours of the day, working every day in the week; and these copies are transmitted over the whole habitable globe in no less than a hundred and seventy languages. “At the beginning of the present century,” says Dr. Christlieb, “the Scriptures existed in some fifty translations, and were circulated in certainly not more than five millions of copies. Since 1804, i.e., since the formation of the British and Foreign Bible Society, new translations of the Bible, or of its more important parts, have been accomplished in at least two hundred and twenty-six languages and dialects. There are translations of all the Sacred Scriptures into fifty-five, of the New Testament into eighty-four, of particular parts into eighty-seven languages; and now the circulation of the Scriptures, in whole or in part, has amounted to a hundred and forty-eight millions of copies. These translations have been made chiefly by missionaries; and within seventy years over sixty languages have been made to possess a literary history.” In this way the visions of Daniel have been read and searched into as they had never been before.

If we apply the text to the increase of knowledge in general, the prediction is equally verified in the days in which we live. The present is emphatically the age of travel, of exploration, of investigation, and discovery. In whichever of the two senses we take the word, “many run to and fro,” and as the result, “knowledge is increased.” The cheap and rapid mode of printing by steam is itself a means of the fulfilment of the prophecy. By the discovery and use of steam as a motive power, the age in which we live is an age of books and cheap literature. The diffusion of knowledge, by means of books, journals, schools, and lectures, is one of the characteristics of the present age. The facilities for cheap and rapid travelling and transit tend in the same direction. The productions of authors, as well as the living teachers, are thus continually speeding over land and ocean as at no former period of the world. By these means, as well as the advance of education, mental activity has reached a greater height than ever before. Probably never was the desire to acquire and to communicate knowledge so great as it is at present. Not only do we live in the days of gas and steam, two discoveries of the present century, but of an agent of still greater power, and one likely to produce still greater effects than it has done already in the telegraph,—namely, electricity. At the International Electrical Exhibition recently opened in Paris, visitors are conveyed from the Place de la Concorde to the exhibition building by a tramcar worked by electricity; and when there, they find that the objects exhibited are divided into no less than sixteen classes, and that no less than twenty-eight rooms are each lighted by a different electric system, and contain specimens of electric railways, electric boats, and electric balloons, with vast masses of machinery driven by electricity. [363]

[363] In relation to the increase of mere natural knowledge as predicted in the text, the same writer, more than half a century ago, observed: “Of all characteristics of the present times, the increase of our natural knowledge is perhaps the most remarkable, except the dissemination of it. The zeal with which the earth hath been run over, for facts and specimens, in all departments of science, the numbers of travellers and voyagers, and the apparatus for discovery and observation with which they go attended; the books which teem from the press in that kind, and the exactness with which they are written, are only surpassed by the inventions of printing and copying by which they are circulated through the earth with the speed of life and death: and cultivation of the intellect in all that respects outward visible things, is the great end of education; and hath been carried to a wonderful perfection; insomuch that these intellectual tastes have rooted out many of the sensual excesses and indulgences of our fathers. And education is the rallying word of all well-disposed men. For the perfecting of which, the inventions which have taken place of late are altogether marvellous; so that from the swaddling-band of childhood up to the fathers of families, you shall find the people in some school or other, either infantine, academical, or mechanical.” If true in 1826, how much more so now in 1881!

The prediction in the text may well stimulate the friends of Jesus and of their fellowmen to greater zeal. Much has been done already in diffusing the knowledge of the truth, but still more remains to be done. Millions are still perishing in all parts of the world for lack of knowledge. Only five thousand missionaries are sent to a thousand millions of heathens, or one to two hundred thousand souls. The cry of Macedonia reaches us still from a thousand places, “Come over and help us.” The appeal for more men, and more means for their support, is still addressed to the churches. Increased openings, increased facilities, and increased prosperity, call for greatly increased operations in the field of missions. “Friends of Jesus,” says the author of the Telegraphic Sign, “make haste to the rescue of those who are perishing in ignorance, because they are ‘out of the way.’ Let there be promptness and rapidity in your movements. Everything around you is on the wing, as if the world were running a race, and had scarcely time to take breath, even for a moment. Let there be speed in your operations. In commerce, literature, and the arts, all is expedition. Things are done quickly, fast, in haste. The work of years is accomplished in as many days. The instinctive, predominant, prevailing propensity, as if from some strange presentiment, is, to save time. For what purpose is never seriously inquired. But that which is done is given out to be done without delay. It is getting late. Every moment is precious. The clock is just on the stroke. Hurry, Hurry. Let not a second be lost. Yet what is all this for? What is all this busy, bustling hurry intended to subserve? Merely to relieve, and lighten, and help on the brief hours of a temporary existence. It is vanity and vexation of spirit after all; a scrambling for gain, a labouring only for the meat that perisheth. And yet for this all the world is taxed. Land and water are laid under revenue in the shortest possible time. Steam engines, steam presses, steam ploughs, steam ships, are all charged to do their utmost. The sails of commerce whiten every shore. Screws and paddles propel the mighty merchandise of the seas. Railway carriages ‘run.’ The telegraph outstrips the winds. Power to overcome resistance, derived from natural forces and not from brute strength, is summoned and put on the stretch to do the bidding of man at a word. Do we not rejoice at the wonderful facilities and improvements of our time? We do. We bless God for endowing His creatures with the marvellous faculty of invention, by which various and even opposite properties are combined and utilities created, that would have lain in the crypts and caverns of unexplored nature, had they not been brought out and dominated by the laws of mechanical science, and rendered so beautifully and amazingly subservient to the wants and interests of society. We could not, we would not, go back to the Middle Ages of slow travelling, slow production, slow printing, slow progress in every department of service. We are more than satisfied with our present vantage ground, while we are almost dizzy with our lofty, elevated, far-stretching advance. But here is our condemnation and our shame. Our religious improvement has not gone on in the same ratio with our commercial and political progression. The march of evangelism has not kept pace with the march of intellect. Education is putting out the leaden eyes of ignorance, pouring the light of knowledge on the visual ray, and kindling the spark of intelligence in the minds of the untutored masses, while ‘darkness still covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.’ All else with impetuous stride has nearly reached the goal, while the chariot of the everlasting Gospel, bearing the message of salvation to dying millions, still drags its slow length along; and though above eighteen hundred years on the highway of the world’s amelioration, has not yet traversed half the globe, seeing two-thirds of its population at least are to this day unacquainted with the ‘faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,’ that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the chief. On whom does the charge of negligence in this matter rest? All religious parties are more or less implicated. We have none of us put our shoulder to the wheel as we ought to have done. We have not been zealous for the Lord of Hosts. We have set our affections too much on earthly things. We have hoarded our substance instead of giving it to Christ. We have hid our Lord’s money, instead of employing it for the spread of the Gospel. The streams of wealth that have flowed to us from the bountiful hand of God, we have diverted from their legitimate channels, for their transmission into dry and thirsty lands where no spiritual water is. We have selfishly turned them into our own reservoirs, and made them administer to our whims, and fancies, and pride.”

May the time past suffice to have been guilty of our brother’s blood; and may we now at length, in the self-denying spirit of the Master, rise and do our utmost to spread the Gospel of the kingdom among all nations, that the promised end may come!

Verses 5-12

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLIX.—THE TIME OF THE END. (Chap. Daniel 12:5-12.)

Daniel had just received orders from the angel to shut up the words of the vision, and to seal the book that contained them, “even to the time of the end.” As yet, however, there had been no distinct intimation when that time should be. Information on this point was greatly desired by Daniel, and was not to be entirely withheld from him. The time of Messiah’s advent had already been expressly indicated; after sixty-nine weeks of years He was to be cut off; and after that event, war and desolation was determined upon the people for the terrible guilt thus incurred. The time when the first captivity should terminate, and Israel be restored to their own land, had also been distinctly foretold; and the event had verified the prediction. Daniel was, therefore, naturally wishful to be informed as to the end of these predicted “wonders” which had just been communicated to him. Like the prophets in general, who “searched diligently what and what manner of time the Spirit that was in them did signify, when he testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow,” Daniel, having already learned the time of the sufferings, wished now to learn something regarding that of the glory that was to succeed them. This was now in part to be communicated; but in a way that should rather lead to the exercise of faith and patience than satisfy curiosity. The scattering and crushing of the power of the covenant but unbelieving and guilty people must first be fully accomplished. The time when that should be completed is indicated in the enigmatical terms with which the prophet’s ear was already acquainted, as that during which the saints were to be given into the hand of the little horn of the fourth universal empire. It was the mysterious “time, times, and half a time,” or three times and a half; but what that period exactly meant, or from what point it was precisely to take its commencement, definite information was not vouchsafed. Some indication, however, as to the length of the period was given. A thousand two hundred and ninety days, probably understood by Daniel as indicative of so many years, were to elapse, after a certain event yet to take place. That event is also named,—the taking away of the daily sacrifice, and the setting up of the abomination that maketh desolate. These terms also Daniel had already heard, and something of their meaning he had already seen in connection with his own personal history. Another period is mentioned, extending forty-five days beyond the preceding one; when all the indignation shall have entirely passed away, and when Israel, visited with Jehovah’s returning mercy, shall, according to the prophetic promise, have sung, “O Lord, I will praise Thee; for though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me” (Isaiah 12:1). Further information Daniel was not to receive. As God’s faithful and accepted servant, he was to go his way and rest in faith and patience till the end should come. What the angel had commanded Daniel to do, he now speaks of as done: “The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Intimation, however, is given that, sealed as they are, “the wise” should “understand” (Daniel 12:9-10). They were “written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

The information regarding the time of the end was communicated to Daniel in a peculiarly solemn and impressive manner. After the angel had ceased making his communication, Daniel continued to gaze on his celestial informant; when, as he did so, he saw other two, one on each side of the river, [364] on or over which the chief angel, or the man clothed in linen, stood, as Lord of it and what it represented. One of these, addressing the latter, probably for Daniel’s information, possibly for his own, asked, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” [365] Upon which the chief angel, solemnly lifting up both his hands to heaven, and swearing by Him that liveth for ever and ever, as about to make some most important statement, deeply affecting not Daniel only but the Church at large, and calling for the most deep and devout attention to it, declares that “it shall be for a time and times and a half; [366] and when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, [367] all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 12:5-7). Daniel, not understanding the precise meaning of the statement, ventures, in his earnestness, to ask for himself, “O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” Daniel, however, is forbidden to inquire further, and is only assured that though the troubles of his people should be many, the end should be the purification of the wise, who should also understand the vision. Additional information, however, is vouchsafed; and then Daniel is bidden to go his way till the end be, as he should rest and stand in his lot “at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:10-13).

[364] “Upon the waters of the river.” Keil remarks that the river, which, according to chap. Daniel 10:4, is the Hiddekel or Tigris, is here called יְאֹר (yeor), a name only given in the Old Testament to the Nile; as if to indicate that, as the angel of the Lord once smote the waters of the Nile to ransom His people out of Egypt, so in the future shall He calm and suppress the waves of the river which in Daniel’s time represented the might of the world-kingdom; the river Hiddekel being thus a figure of the Persian monarchy, through whose territory it flowed. The other two angels who appear on the banks of the river, he views as standing by the side of the Angel of the Lord, represented as the ruler of the Hiddekel, as servants prepared to execute His will. Brightman observes that, while in the first vision, the four winds of heaven strove on the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of it, the matters there treated being in regard to all peoples, which were to be described with their four universal empires; the second was given at Ulai, no sea nor any famous river, as it treated only of some particular nations; and the last on Hiddekel, a particular river also, but one that flowed out of Paradise; the matter treated pertaining to a holy and elect people, whose origin was the infinite grace of a merciful God. He views the man clothed in linen as Christ Himself, the only Priest who, as the Spirit moved upon the waters of chaos (Genesis 1:2), sustaining them in that confusion by His mighty power, watches over the affairs of His Church to preserve and support it. He thinks the other two on the banks of the river are added for confirmation of the whole matter, every word being, according to Deuteronomy 19:15, established in the mouth of two or three witnesses, the one of these waiting in silence and modesty, while the other speaks, these holy beings having the Author of order ever before their eyes. Willet observes that the most general opinion regarding the angel on the river is, that it was Gabriel. So De Lyra, Pererius, Bullinger, &c. His own view, however, is that it was Christ Himself, the Palmoni or Certain One, in chap. Daniel 8:13, who, as the “Wonderful,” hath “secrets in account and number.”

[365] “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” Kranichfeld reads, “When shall the end of these things be?” Keil, however, thinks that the question rather is, How long continues the end of these things,—Heb.,—“Till when is the end?” Not, How long shall they continue? but, How long shall the end of them do so? the end being the “time of the end” prophesied of from chap. Daniel 11:40 to Daniel 12:3, with all that shall happen in it; the wonders being particularly the unheard-of oppressions described in chap. Daniel 11:39, &c. Brightman thinks the “end of these wonders” shall be when the blasphemous kingdom of the Turks shall come to an end, God then making an end of “scattering the power of the holy people.” Auberlen views this period as referring to the time of Antichrist, and pointing back to chap. Daniel 7:25, which refers to the same period, as the time of the world-power, in which the earthly kingdoms rule over the heavenly; and mentioned in the Apocalypse as the times of the Gentiles, extending from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans to the second advent of Christ.

[366] “A time, times, and a half.” Keil thinks that the definition of time here given leads to the conclusion that the answer of the angel refers not to the period of persecution under Antiochus, but to that under the last enemy, the Antichrist; as it accurately agrees with the period of time named in chap. Daniel 7:25, as that of the duration of the enemy of God who should arise out of the fourth world-kingdom. Three and a half times, according to the prophecy of chaps. Daniel 7:25, and Daniel 9:26-27, are given, he thinks, for the fullest unfolding of the power of the last enemy of God till his destruction; and when, in this time of unparalleled oppression, the natural strength of the holy people shall be completely broken to pieces, then shall these terrible things have reached their end. As regards the place here, and the periods named in Revelation 13:5; Revelation 11:2-3, where forty months and 1260 days are used interchangeably, he thinks it is questionable whether the weeks and the days represent the ordinary weeks of the year and days of the week, and whether these periods of time are to be taken chronologically. He thinks the choice of the chronologically indefinite expression “time” shows that a chronological determination of the period is not in view, but that the designation of time is to be understood symbolically. The three and a half times, he observes, are, beyond doubt, the half of “seven times;” but, in his opinion, they only indicate a testing period, a period of judgment, which, according to Matthew 24:22, Proverbs 10:27, will for the elect’s sake be intercepted and shortened. He thinks, however, they refer to a period still future. Several modern interpreters, on the other hand, especially in Germany, refer the period to the duration of the oppression of the Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes. Mr. Habershon (Dissertation on the Prophecies) writes: “It was the opinion of the celebrated Mr. Mede that the time, times, and a half, of Daniel and John, was but the bisection of a complete number of seven times, which he called the Sacred Calendar of the Great Almanack of Prophecy; and which he thought all mention of time in the Scriptures had reference.” The same writer thinks the “time of the end” to signify the same point of time as the termination of these “times;” the “wonders” taking place not only at the fall of the Little Horn of popery but at the restoration of the Jews. Faber observes: “At the close of the self-same period of 1260 years (the time, times, and a half), we are taught by Daniel that the Jews are to be restored.… At the outflowing of the last vial, the 1260 years apparently expire, and the restoration of Judah commences. To this period, therefore, we must ascribe the expedition of the Wilful King; and at the same period the Stone begins to smite the Image upon his feet, and the Ancient of Days to sit in judgment upon the Roman beast and his tyrannical little horn.… During this period of unexampled trouble, which so awfully terminates with the slaughter of Megiddo, we are expressly taught by Daniel, in perfect harmony with the other inspired prophets, that the restoration of Judah shall take place.” Faber, after Mede, recognises the captivity of Israel under the four successive hostile monarchies, as forming the complete period or Great Calendar of Prophecy; and assumes as a datum the number of “seven times” in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the tree, which he considers to mark the duration of the four tyrannical monarchies; the period having a double application to Judah and Israel, while each application has a double commencement and a double termination, the last of these terminations being in the Millennium.

[367] “To scatter the power of the holy people.” נַפֵּץ יַד (nappets yadh), literally, to “shatter or crush the hand.” Keil observes that the expression נַפֵּץ (nappets) primarily denotes to beat to pieces, to shatter, as in Psalms 2:9; Psalms 137:9; and is the meaning to be given to it in the text, as has been done by Hengstenberg, Maurer, Auberlen, and others. יַד (yadh), hand, is the emblem of active power; and the shattering of the hand he views as the complete destruction of power to work, and the placing in a helpless and powerless condition, as in Deuteronomy 32:36, referring to the crushing by Antichrist of the holy people in the last great tribulation. Jerome understands the oppression of God’s people under the hand of Antichrist, this general dispersion of them being given as a sign of the end of these things. Calvin understands the entire weakening of their strength through persecution.

In indicating the time of the end, the man clothed in linen mentions, first, a period that should elapse during which a certain purpose of Jehovah regarding the chosen people should be accomplished (Daniel 12:7); secondly, a period of time that should be reckoned from the occurrence of certain events (Daniel 12:11). We notice both—

I. The period to elapse during which a certain purpose of Jehovah should be accomplished. The purpose referred to is the scattering or crushing of the power of the holy people, that is, the Jews, so called as having been taken into covenant with Jehovah, who declared that they should be to Him a holy people or nation (Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:6). In case of His people’s continued disobedience, He threatened to “break the pride of their power” and to “scatter them among the heathen” (Leviticus 26:18-19; Leviticus 26:33); both apparently indicated in the text, “when He shall have accomplished to scatter or crush the power of the holy people.” We have seen how this scattering or crushing commenced after the rejection and cutting off of the Messiah, when, according to the prophecy, “the people of the prince that should come—the Romans under whose subjection they then were—should destroy the city and the sanctuary,” and the end should be with a flood, even war and desolations determined upon them (chap. Daniel 9:26). Paul speaks of them as already in his day broken off and cast away (Romans 11:15-20). They have been so up to the present time; a nation scattered and peeled, tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast. Even now thousands of them are said to contemplate leaving Germany, from whence they have been all but expelled, in order to return to Spain, from whence their persecuted fathers fled for refuge to Germany several centuries ago. The scattering and crushing of their power is still going on, their own country being still in the hands of the Gentiles. But this is to have an end; and when this purpose of chastening shall have been accomplished, when Jehovah shall see that “their power is gone,” and they “accept the punishment of their iniquity,” and acknowledge their guilt in rejecting and crucifying the Lord’s Anointed, the fulfilment of His gracious promises regarding them shall begin (Leviticus 26:40-45; Deuteronomy 32:36). “If the casting away of them be—as it has been—the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15). The period during which this scattering or crushing was to take place is the enigmatical one already occurring in the prophecy (chap. Daniel 7:27), “a time, times, and a half,” or three and a half times. From chap. Daniel 11:13 (margin) we may gather that the term “time” was understood to indicate a year; “at the end of times, even years,” was the language of the angel. A year was usually reckoned as containing 360 days; so that the period in the text would be that which we twice meet with in the Revelation, a thousand two hundred and sixty days (Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:6); or, according to prophetical reckoning, each day being considered a year, 1260 years; a period also spoken of in the Revelation as a time, times, and half a time (Revelation 12:14). The two periods thus similarly described in the two Revelations of the Old and New Testament, as of the same length, are probably one and the same, commencing and concluding together, as it is certain that they possess the same character of suffering, persecution, and oppression of the people of God. Its application to the duration of the Little Horn of the Fourth Beast or Roman empire, we have already considered under chap. Daniel 7:27. Although the temporal power of the Little Horn appears since 1870 to be a thing of the past, still its spiritual power continues; and it is certain that the scattering and crushing of the covenant people is not yet at an end. How near, however, in both cases the consummation may be, time alone will show. Far distant, it would seem, it cannot well be. O Israel, return unto the Lord, from whom ye have revolted. “Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, in order that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He may send again Jesus, who before was preached unto you; whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:19-21, R.V.)

The period mentioned in Daniel 12:11, “twelve hundred and ninety days,” is doubtless the same three times and a half with the addition of thirty more; while the third period (Daniel 12:12), or the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days, is a still further extension of it by forty-five; these additions or extensions having probable reference to what should take place between the termination of the scattering and crushing of Israel’s power in their deliverance out of the great tribulation (Daniel 12:1), and their full enjoyment of the blessings promised in connection with their return to their Saviour and King. [368]

[368] “A thousand two hundred and ninety days; the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” Mr. Faber thinks that though the restoration of Judah takes place at the close of the 1260 years, or “a time, times, and a half,” the “lost sheep of the house of Israel remain still to be gathered.” He considers the circumstance of the two-fold restoration the reason why the angel divides the seventy-five days or years beyond the 1260 into thirty and forty-five, the former being the period for the restoration of Judah, the latter for that of Israel, the whole seventy-five belonging exclusively to the period of the last vial in the Apocalypse. Bishop Newton considers that it is to the three great events of the fall of Antichrist, the restoration of the Jews, and the beginning of the Millennium, that the three different dates of 1260, 1290, and 1335 years are to be referred. Dr. Cox observes that a further period of thirty days or years is here added, as perhaps marking the season during which the predicted overthrow of the Antichristian powers shall be accomplished, or, as some suppose, the restoration of the Jews. “We presume not to decipher the particular events of the third era of forty-five additional years, producing a period of 1335, the close of the prophetic revelations. As he is pronounced ‘blessed’ who attains that age, we must conclude that it will be the last and most glorious manifestation of God to mankind.” Keil thinks that Daniel 12:11-12 treat of an earlier period of oppression than Daniel 12:7, and that thus the 1290 and 1335 days are not reckoned after the three and a half times. He thinks also that they are not to be reckoned chronologically, but interpreted symbolically; days being used instead of times, to indicate that the time of the tribulation is not one of an immeasurable extent, but limited to a period of moderate duration, which is exactly measured out by God; the 1290 days denoting in general the period of Israel’s affliction on the part of Autiochus Epiphanes, by the taking away of the Mosaic ordinances of worship and the setting up of the worship of idols, but without giving a statement of the duration of this oppression which can be chronologically reckoned. The second definition of time, 1335 days, by which the period is increased by forty-five, he thinks more strictly represents the same idea of a limited period of duration; the oppression wholly ceasing with the expiry of that extended period. Several modern interpreters reckon these two latter periods from chap. Daniel 8:14; Kliefoth remarking that we know from the book of Maccabees that the consecration of the temple took place on the 25th day of the month Kisleu, in the 148th year of the Seleucidan era, and that Antiochus died in the year following, which he thinks may be the end of the 1290 days, while the 1335, or forty-five days longer, reach to the entire cessation of the persecution. Junius and others referred these forty-five days to the time between the restoration of the Jewish worship and the death of Antiochus. The Duke of Manchester (Finished Mystery), with some others, regards the “time of the end” as a period probably of only 1290 or 1335 literal days, ending with the general resurrection. Mr. Habershon thinks that the events to take place during those seventy-five years, about which nothing is said in the vision, correspond with those things which, in Revelation 10:0., were uttered by the seven thunders, but which the Apostle was to seal up and not to write; the information not concerning the disciples of Jesus, who would be taken out of the reach of those troubles, as Noah was from the deluge, Lot from Sodom, and the Christians from Jerusalem in the siege. Some suppose that of these additional seventy-five years, the first thirty were to be taken up with the outpouring of the vials upon apostate Christendom, after the papal power was brought to an end, and the remaining forty-five with the troubles consequent on the rise and doings of the infidel Antichrist, terminating with the battle of Armageddon. So Mr. Irving, who says: “Knowing as we do from the former vision that the 1260 years bring the Little Horn’s power to an end, and introduce the awful scene of the judgment of the Beast which obeyed his blasphemy, it must necessarily be that these thirty years should run over into that period of judgment; but whether they conclude it or not, no one has a right to declare, because it is not so declared, nor are any grounds revealed for concluding or even conjecturing so. But on the other hand, from the wording of the following verse, I think there was reason for concluding or conjecturing the contrary. ‘Blessed is he that waiteth,’ &c. The language, waiting and coming to, seems to me to imply the exercise of tried patience and the escape from imminent peril, and carrieth to my ear a certain note of trouble, which being safely passed, all will be well, and the blessed time and condition of the world attained to.… And I think that the 1290 days doth not announce the completion of anything; but doth announce the woeful beginning of a long day of trouble and desolation to the Church, whereof the period 1335 announceth not only the complete determination, but the beginning of another period of universal blessedness.” De Lyra, Pintus, and other Roman Catholic writers apply the 1290 days to the reign of Antichrist, which they consider equivalent to the time, times, and half a time, or three and a half years. Jerome considers the additional forty-five days to be between the death of Antichrist and the coming of Christ in glory. So Pererius and the Roman Catholics in general. Calvin, who says he is no conjuror in numerical calculations, thinks that the 1290 days indicate the unlimited period of Antichrist’s long reign, and that the additional forty-five is no certain definite time, but is intended to intimate that the godly should wait with patience, though the time of deliverance seemed long. Melanchthon puts both the numbers together, making seven years and three months, ending with the overthrow of Nicanor, the general of Antiochus. Osiander applies the 1290 days to the profession of religion under the papal Antichrist from its beginning to its end; and thinks the 1335 years mark the continuance of the kingdom of Antichrist, of which the beginning is uncertain. Bullinger refers the 1290 days to the time of the Jewish war begun by Vespasian in the fourteenth of Nero, and ended in the second year of Vespasian, after continuing about three years and a half. He thinks the additional forty-five days began from the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans, multitudes of the Jews being then sold into captivity and subjected to other miseries. Mr. Bosanquet remarks that when the Wilful King is interpreted as representing the personification of the Mahomedan apostasy, these periods of 1290 and 1335 days or years necessarily count from his time even beyond the present days.

II. The period of time to be reckoned from the occurrence of certain events (Daniel 12:11). This period is that just mentioned, twelve hundred and ninety days, or thirty days (or years) beyond the 1260, or the “time, times, and half a time.” The events from which this period is to be reckoned are spoken of as the taking away of the daily sacrifice, [369] and the setting up of the abomination that maketh desolate. [370] We have to inquire when these events took place. But first we have to consider what the expressions mean. We have had them before (chap. Daniel 8:11, Daniel 11:31). Literally and primarily in relation to Israel, they are understood to indicate the cessation, or rather violent removal, of the Jewish worship as prescribed in the law of Moses, and the introduction of a false and idolatrous worship, under whatever form, in its stead. This took place first under Antiochus Epiphanes, and afterwards again under the Romans and their successors the Mahomedans, as it is this day. In relation to the Church, or the Israel of the New Testament, the expressions would denote the violent removing or changing of the Christian worship, and corrupting the great doctrine of the one sacrifice for sin, with the substituting of an unscriptural creed and idolatrous worship in their place; things which we have already seen were done by the Little Horn, both of the Fourth and the Third Beast (chap. Daniel 7:25, Daniel 8:11). In relation to the chosen people of the Old Covenant to whom the prophecy seems to have a special reference, it is more difficult to point to a period when these predicted events took place, and from which the 1290 days or years were to take their commencement. It is remarkable, however, as was formerly noted, that the oppression of the Church under the Little Horn of the Fourth or Roman empire, viewed as the Papacy, commenced almost simultaneously with the oppression of Israel by the Little Horn of the Third or Grecian Empire, viewed as Mahomedanism; namely, soon after the beginning of the seventh century; while it is certain that both the Papacy and Mahomedanism have been equally oppressive to the Church of the New Testament and that of the Old. And it appears equally certain that the faithful in both the Old and New Covenants will be the objects of the wrath of the Antichrist under the last or infidel form which he seems destined to assume, when he shall “go forth in great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many” (chap. Daniel 11:45).

[369] “The daily sacrifice shall be taken away.” Irving, with many others, views the taking away of the daily sacrifice as equivalent to the violent putting down of the true worship of Jehovah, which was done by the papal power. “In the interpretation of prophecy, respect ought to be had continually to the form of religious truth and religions language in which the prophet and the people to whom he prophesied were instructed, and in which they could be intelligently addressed. That is, we ought to put ourselves as much as we can into their condition of knowledge, in order to understand what the words spoken to them of the Lord signify. Now to the mind of an Israelite, trained under the dispensation of Moses, the taking away of the daily sacrifice from the temple on Mount Zion, signifies no less than the violent putting down of the worship of Jehovah; and the setting up of ‘the abomination that maketh desolate,’ or ‘that astonisheth,’ signified the placing, in its stead, of some form of blasphemous and idolatrous worship. This language, therefore, is applicable only to those great invasions of the Church, whereby the true worship is abolished, and a false one substituted in its stead.” Irving regards the taking away of the daily sacrifice in the text as ascribed to the Wilful King or infidel Antichrist (chap. Daniel 11:31), and understands it of his reconstituting “the papal abomination within the bounds of his empire after it had been for many years abolished.” Brightman, on the other hand, understands the abolition of the ceremonial law of sacrifices accomplished by Christ through His death.

[370] “The abomination that maketh desolate.” Bishop Newton understood the desolation here referred to as that of the Eastern Church by Mahomet. “That same time, therefore, is prefixed for the desolation and oppression of the Eastern Church, as for the tyranny of the Little Horn (chap. Daniel 7:25) in the Western Church; and it is wonderfully remarkable that the doctrine of Mahomet was first forged in Mecca, and the supremacy of the pope was established by virtue of a grant from the wicked tyrant Phocas, in the very same year of Christ, 606.” He adds: “The ‘setting up of the abomination of desolation’ appears to be a general phrase, and comprehensive of various events. It is applied by the writer of the first book of the Maccabees (1Ma. 1:54) to the profanation of the temple by Antiochus, and his setting up the image of Jupiter Olympius upon the altar of God. It is applied by our Saviour (Matthew 24:15) to the destruction of the city and temple by the Romans under the conduct of Titus in the reign of Vespasian. It may for the same reason be applied to the Roman emperor Adrian’s building a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus in the same place where the temple of God had stood, and to the misery of the Jews, and the desolation of Judea that followed. It may with equal justice be applied to the Mahomedans invading and desolating Christendom, and converting the churches into mosques; and this latter event seemeth to have been particularly intended in this passage.” Brightman, as well as Calvin, understands by ‘the abomination that maketh desolate’ the adulterate and counterfeit worship set up by the Jewish nation since they rejected Christ, and which is a most loathsome abomination before God. He reads שׁוֹמֵם (shomem) as passive, “made desolate,” denoting the time when Christ utterly abolished that impious manner of sacrificing, or the ceremonial worship; this abomination standing in the holy place up to the time of Vespasian, when the temple was destroyed, and being especially put an end to in the time of the emperor Julian (about the year a.d. 360), when, as the historian Socrates says, the temple was utterly overthrown, instead of the new edifice being prepared; so that nothing after that was ever attempted, the abomination being made utterly desolate. Bullinger understood this ‘abomination’ of the laying waste of the nation and city of the Jews; for example, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Osiander, like Irving and others, understands it of the idolatrous service introduced into the Church by the Roman Antichrist. Willet again refers all to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes historically, though typically to that of Antichrist. That the application of the text by Osiander and others to the papal corruptions is not without solid grounds, will appear when it is remembered that article 4 of the creed of Pope Pius is that “in the mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead;” that article 5 is, “I profess that in the most holy sacrifice of the eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ;” that article 7 declares that “the saints reigning together with Christ are to be venerated and invoked;” and that in article 8 it is said, “I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the mother of God ever virgin, and also of other saints, may be had and retained, and that due honour and veneration is to be given them.” The practice is accordingly. The following tragical story, taken from an American paper, is told in the Newcastle Chronicle of March 25, 1881:—“The Italian barque Ajace, from Antwerp, bound for an American port, went ashore during a storm on the 4th inst. (March 1881), on Cooney Island, and was lost with all hands, except one man named Pietro Sala. The crew consisted of fourteen, composed of Italians, Austrians, and one Greek. The survivor states that after the vessel struck, the officers and sailors lost all self-control. The captain offered a bottle of brandy to the crew, telling them to drink and die like men who were not afraid of death. The men were too much excited to pay attention to the captain’s offer. He then took a small image of Madonna (the Virgin Mary), which he held aloft in both hands, and the crew all knelt before it, shrieking, and crying, and imploring the Madonna to rescue them. Another man caught the image from the steward’s hands, and carried it into the sea. Then the steward cried out aloud, ‘The Madonna has deserted us; there is no hope;’ and pulling out his sheath-knife, cut his throat, declaring that he would rather die by his own hand than be drowned. The sight of his blood, as it spurted from his neck and fell on the deck where he had fallen, seemed to madden some of the crew; and immediately the carpenter, a Neapolitan, and a Genoese lad, drew their knives and followed his example.”

From the whole passage we may make the following reflections and inferences:—

1. The passage appears to teach the duty of taking a lively interest in the future of the Church and in what God has been pleased to reveal in His word regarding the end and the time of it. This is indicated in the very fact that such revelations have been communicated to the Church. These have certainly been given to be studied and inquired into. Christians might possibly give too much attention to such subjects, but it is much easier to give too little. The passage before us exhibits the interest which the angels take in the Church’s future, and in the things revealed regarding it, with the time of their occurrence. It is an angel that asks, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (Daniel 12:6.) The question suggestive, whether we regard it as asked by the angel for his own information or that of the prophet. When angels are concerned about the future of the Church, its own intelligent members may well be so. Not only into the sufferings of Christ, but the glory that should follow them, the angels desire to look (1 Peter 1:12). The manner in which the exalted personage clothed in linen, and standing over the river, gives the information sought regarding the end, suggestive of the same duty. The information is given by him in the form of a most solemn attestation; lifting up both his hands to heaven, and swearing by Him that liveth for ever and ever (Daniel 12:7). Finally, the same thing seems to be taught by Daniel, who, as if not yet satisfied—such, as Brightman quaintly observes, being the difference of perception in the heavenly and earthly schools—inquires, “O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Daniel 12:8.) This question, so far from being discouraged, is answered by still fuller information on the subject (Daniel 12:11). Indifference on the subject of unfulfilled prophecy in relation to the Church and the world, in the presence of these facts, should hardly be found in the clearer dispensation of the Spirit, when that divine Teacher is promised, among other purposes, to show us “things to come” (John 16:13); still more at a period when we may well believe that the things promised must be hastening to their fulfilment. It is of such prophecy that the Apostle speaks as “a light shining in a dark place,” to which we “do well to take heed until the day dawn” (2 Peter 1:19). It cannot, one should think, be becoming on the part of believers, nor either pleasing or honouring to the Master, to be in any degree indifferent to that which awakened so much interest in heaven,—the unsealing of the book which contained the disclosures of the Church’s future and the things of the end, and which it was the sole prerogative and glory of the Lamb slain to take and unseal (Revelation 5:1, &c.) “There is a point to which we may legitimately pursue our inquiries, but where it becomes us to pause. Prophecy is intended to guide us along the bright outlines of the future, but not to make us historians by anticipation; to impart sufficient for the needful instruction and encouragement of the people of God, amidst the tribulation of these latter days, which will precede the ultimate triumph and glory of the Church; but not to acquaint them with the secret intentions of God with regard to the minuter character of those events which are written in the book of His decrees. To steer between the Scylla and Charybdis of a desponding and neglectful indifference to prophecy, and a dogmatic interpretation, is an important attainment; and is precisely that course which tends to tranquillise the spirit amidst surprising changes, and sustain it by pleasing hopes” (Cox). “As God revealed to the prophets who prophesied of the grace that should come to us, ‘the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow,’ that they might search and inquire ‘what and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify;’ so in the times of the accomplishment, we who are living are not exempted from searching and inquiring, but are led by the prophetic word to consider the ‘signs of the times’ in the light of this word; and from that which is already fulfilled, as well as from the nature and manner of the fulfilment, to confirm our faith, for endurance amid the tribulations which prophecy has made known to us; that God, according to His eternal gracious counsel, has measured them, according to their beginning, middle, and end, that thereby we should be purified and guarded for the eternal life” (Keil).

2. It should be the comfort of the Church to know that the time of the end, about which so much interest was felt both by the angels and the “man greatly beloved,” cannot now be far distant. It seems impossible but that the period appointed and predicted for the “scattering and crushing the power of the holy people,” should be near its expiry. [371] For eighteen centuries has that scattering and crushing been going on; and still Jerusalem is trodden under foot of the Gentiles, and the land, given to Abraham and his seed for an everlasting inheritance, lies well-nigh desolate in the hand of their adversaries, while they themselves are still shut up in unbelief. Israel was to be punished “seven times” for their sins. We may well believe that these times of chastening and abandonment are well nigh at an end. Everything indicates that such is the case. Signs of an approaching crisis in the history of Israel, the Church, and the world, are far from being wanting. The great river Euphrates—the Turkish empire—is being rapidly “dried up, that the way of the kings of the East,” whoever they may be—believed by many to be Israel themselves—“may be prepared” (Revelation 16:12). And we know that the drying up of that river synchronises with the time of the end, when Antichrist shall be overthrown, Israel be restored, and “the mystery of God be finished, according to the good tidings which He declared to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:7, R.V.) Simultaneously with the drying up of the Euphrates, the beloved disciple saw “coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits as it were frogs; for they are spirits of devils, working signs; which go forth unto the kings of the whole world, to gather them together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:13-14, RV.) While this was going, the voice came forth from Him whose coming again was promised on the day He went up: “Behold I come as a thief; blessed is he who watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” The events of the last hundred years might justly lead to the conclusion that we had fallen upon “the time of the end,” especially when predicted chronological periods seemed to be probably drawing near their completion. Such events as the French Revolution of 1789, with the shaking of every Continental throne that ensued upon it; the gradual decay and diminution of the Turkish empire, from 1820 till now when the Turkish vizier gives it as his opinion that, if Turkey engages in a war with Cyprus, it will be the last time she will ever fight in Europe; the entire cessation of the pope’s temporal power in 1870; the unexampled increase of knowledge in general, and diffusion of the Gospel in particular, with the special attention given to the word of prophecy; and, finally, the fearful spread of infidelity at home and abroad;—these should be sufficient to convince us, with the Bible in our hands, that our lot is fallen in days when the time of the end is not far distant.

[371] “He shall have accomplished to scatter,” &c. It is not a little remarkable that at the time of the French Revolution, when many believed that prophecy was receiving its fulfilment, there were not wanting appearances of the probable termination of the scattering of Israel’s power. Milman, in his History of the Jews, writes: “In the year 1780, the avant-courier of the Revolution, Joseph II., ascended the throne (of Austria). Among the first measures of this restless reformer was a measure for the amelioration of the condition of the Jews.” In his Edict of Toleration he “opened to the Jews the schools and the universities of the empire, and gave them the privilege of taking degrees as doctors in philosophy, medicine, and civil law.… It threw open the whole circle of trade to their speculations, permitting them to establish manufactures of all sorts, excepting gunpowder, and to attend fairs in towns where they were not domiciliated.… It gave them equal rights, and subjugated them to the same laws as the Christians.” Matters are now changed, however, with the Jews in the German empire. After nearly a century of comparative external prosperity, though as yet, alas! far from having returned to the Lord their God and to the true David their King, the popular voice is now lifted, in Prussia especially, to demand their expulsion.—According to an article in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, there are only about 21,000 Jews at present in the Holy Land, living mostly in the rabbinical cities—Jerusalem, Saffed, Tiberias, and Hebron; about 1500 are found in the commercial centres, but the largest number, about 1300, in Jerusalem.

3. Our duty to prepare ourselves for the changes that may speedily come, and to help in preparing others. In connection with the casting off of the Jews, the Gentiles would have their times of Gospel privilege. The casting away of Israel was to be the reconciling of the world, and has been so. These times of the Gentiles have been going on for eighteen centuries. But they were not to be for ever. The time was to come when the Gentiles should be dealt with for their use or abuse of the privileges of the kingdom of God, as Israel had been after their rejection of their King and Saviour. That King was to come again, and reckon with His servants to whom He had intrusted His talents. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” so that “every eye shall see Him, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Such a time of reckoning with those who have possessed the Gospel and the privileges of the kingdom, awaits the Gentiles as truly as it did Israel. An account must be taken of the manner in which that Gospel has been received. What if the Spirit of grace should be withdrawn from Christendom as He was from Israel, and, for the misuse of the Gospel, the Gentile churches be judicially given over to a spirit of unbelief and impenitence, so as to become the willing followers of Antichrist and partake of his doom? (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.) “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” “Be not highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee” (Romans 11:20-21). “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation:” although that day with the Gentiles is now hastening to its close. “To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. “Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give unto every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). To all who accept His Gospel and receive Himself as their King and Saviour, He assigns their work till He shall come. “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.” “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come” (Acts 1:8; Revelation 22:17). Have we received that Saviour, and are we faithfully endeavouring to do the work He assigns us? The door of the Ark still stands open; let us make sure of entering it ourselves, and endeavour to persuade our kindred, and as many others as possible, to enter it along with us.

HOMILETICS

SECT. L.—THE CONTRAST. (Chap. Daniel 12:10.)

This verse stands, like many in the book of the Revelation, like a bright light in a dark and surging sea, both for solemn warning and at the same time for sweet consolation, in the midst of prophecies which might appear dark and unintelligible. It is such as Dr. Chalmers was accustomed to speak of as the memorabilia of Scripture, or passages worthy to be especially noted and remembered. It has special relation to the prophetic communications just delivered by the angel to Daniel, regarding the latter days and what should befall his people in them. It is applicable, however, to the whole contents of Revelation, and to the whole period of the present dispensation, with those who live in it. They imply trouble and affliction; but this is characteristic of our present state on earth, until the happy time arrive when “they shall not hurt nor destroy” in all God’s holy mountain, and when His people “shall dwell in peaceable habitations, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places” (Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 32:18). Till Christ, who is “the bright and morning star,” shall visibly and gloriously arise on the earth, as He did above eighteen centuries ago “in great humility,” the time of believers on earth will be one of discipline and of patient waiting. The “whole creation” will continue to “groan and travail together in pain,” as it has done until now, till “delivered from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the children of God. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:21; Romans 8:23). The children of the bridechamber were to mourn while the Bridegroom is away. In the salvation already experienced, and especially in that which is to be revealed, believers “greatly rejoice; though now for a season if need be,” they are “in heaviness through manifold temptations.” The effect, however, of these is a blessed one: “that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). Such is the comfort held out in the text. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” We may note—

1. The blessedness of sanctified trouble. Trouble is sanctified and blessed in two different ways, and to two different classes. It is sanctified to the ungodly, and to those still out of Christ; and it is so when, accompanied by God’s quickening and convicting Spirit, it leads the troubled one to a consideration of sin and its baneful effects, and to an earnest desire to be saved from it, and to be reconciled to God. Such a case was that of Manasseb, who in his captivity and affliction sought the Lord and found Him. Of such sanctified trouble the prodigal son is a standing and divinely given picture. The conversion of Israel in the great tribulation probably to be a distinguished example of the same thing. But trouble is also and especially sanctified to the godly, who are already in Christ. These probably more particularly referred to in the text. The “many” were not only to be purified and made white, but tried,—proved and made manifest as God’s pure gold, His faithful people, who choose rather to suffer than to sin, and who prefer death to denial of His truth. In the case of such, trouble however severe, and persecution however bitter, is only the fire employed by the Purifier to purge away the dross from the precious metal, until He sees His own image perfectly reflected in it. “This is all the fruit to take away their sin.” Persecutors are only God’s rough polishing-stone to brighten His Church. It is the gracious office of the Redeemer to “sit as a refiner of silver, and to purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3). As trouble and affliction is the instrument employed by Him for that purpose, the man is pronounced blessed whom He thus “chastens and teaches out of His law” (Psalms 94:12). Such trouble and suffering is only the evidence of His fatherly and faithful love. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19).

2. Persecutions and struggles endured by the godly are overruled for good. Many shall be purified and made white. The result of the suffering predicted. The authors of these meant them, as in the case of Joseph’s brethren, for evil, but God overrules them for good. His people’s purification shall be promoted by them. Instead of being losers they shall be gainers. Thus the wisdom and goodness of God are manifested in permitting them. The wrath of men is made to praise Him by contributing to the purification of His children. The storm is not permitted to destroy, but employed to purify them. The furnace-fires of Babylon, kindled by the ungodly, were made only to consume the bonds of those they were intended by them to destroy. Believers have therefore no cause to fear the wrath and persecution of any adversary. These, with everything else, are only made to work together for their good.

3. Moral purification the great end intended by God in regard to his people. The will of God is their sanctification. Perfect holiness their true excellence and real happiness. Such holiness conformity to God’s own character. This the high calling and destiny of His children. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” God is love, and His children are to be perfected in love. Sin, which is opposed to this, the only real evil. God’s purpose, therefore, to deliver them from it. The object of Christ’s incarnation, life, and death to save His people from their sins, to “redeem them from all iniquity, and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” This moral purification and perfection of His children constantly aimed at by God in His providential dealings both with themselves and the world. Life, with all its chequered experiences and all its varied history, God’s school for the education of His children in order to their moral perfection in His likeness. The Church with its ordinances designed for the same end. “He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water, by the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26). That glorious end ultimately secured. Many shall be purified. An Almighty Agent employed for its accomplishment. Whatever may be the instrumentality, whether events in providence or ordinances in the Church, the Agent is the Spirit of holiness, by whose almighty grace we are changed from glory unto glory, into the perfect image of Him whom in the Word we are enabled by Him to contemplate (2 Corinthians 3:17). He is able to present the subjects of His moral training “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” “Faithful is He who calleth you, who also will do it” (Jude 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:24).

4. Godliness the only true wisdom. “The wise shall understand.” So in Daniel 12:3, “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.” Wisdom something very different from mere knowledge or science. Knowledge is precious, but at best is only light; wisdom is light, with life and love combined. Knowledge not necessarily accompanied with moral excellence. Probably a much greater amount of knowledge possessed by fallen spirits than by any human being in this life. “Knowledge puffeth up;” dissociated from renewing grace, is apt to make men vain, heady, highminded. Pythagoras, conscious of the excellence of wisdom, refused to be called by the title which others affected, a “wise man,” claiming only to be a “lover of wisdom,”—a philosopher. Wisdom a practical thing. Chooses the highest and best ends, and pursues them by the best means. Such is true godliness. The highest and best end, the glory of God the Creator of all, and the enjoyment of His friendship, fellowship, and image. Godliness is Godlikeness, and the continual aiming at such by the way that God has revealed. It is “to do justly, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8). “Pure and undefiled religion before God even the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). This is wisdom, exemplified in the life and character of Him who was Wisdom personified, and who is made wisdom to all who receive and trust in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30).

5. Knowledge and understanding, in all things necessary to true happiness, guaranteed to all God’s renewed children. “The wise shall understand.” To “be wise” is a character equivalent to godliness, and belonging to those who by grace are made new creatures in Christ, who is wisdom Himself, and is made wisdom to them that are in Him. To “understand” is something promised to that character. The promise, though standing absolutely, is yet necessarily limited. The limitation is to those things necessary and desirable for us to understand. Many things which it is the province of science to explore, it is not necessary that we should understand. The same thing true of the Word of God in general, and the word of prophecy in particular. In this life we may well be content to remain, as we must remain, ignorant of many things. Here at best we can but know in part. Hereafter we shall, if approved, know even as we are known. But knowledge and understanding of what is needful is promised to the wise. The promise has special reference to the predictions already delivered by the angel to Daniel; but doubtless intended to extend to the will of God in general. The exhortation is, “Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” It has reference to revealed truth as a whole. “Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things,”—in all things about which I have written, and whatever else is revealed and necessary to be understood. That understanding has especial respect to God Himself, to His will concerning us, to the revelations of His word, and to His dealings in the world. “He hath given us an understanding that we should know Him that is true.” This understanding is to make us to be no mere children, but men (1 Corinthians 14:20). Given, however, to those who are of a child-like, humble, and teachable spirit. “Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:26). The author of this understanding is not man but God, through His Holy Spirit. “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth and is no lie, even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). Christ counsels the vain, conceited Laodiceans to anoint their eyes with His eye-salve, that they may see (Revelation 3:17). “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”

6. The inability of the ungodly to understand divine truth, and more especially the word of prophecy. “The wicked shall not understand.” Ungodliness, when continued in, incapacitates for the perception of divine truth. The love and practice of sin associated with a moral blindness. “If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine.” A moral and spiritual nature necessary to discern moral and spiritual truth. Mere intellectual light often associated with thick moral darkness. Witness the ancient Greeks and Romans, and many of the heathen at the present day. The ungodly destitute of a taste and relish for divine truth, and therefore incapable of perceiving and appreciating it. Hence the counsel, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.” Ungodliness generally associated with pride and self-conceit, the great hindrance to the reception of true knowledge. “Whom shall He teach knowledge, and whom shall He cause to understand doctrine? Those that are drawn from the breasts.” The ungodly, rejecting divine knowledge, are often righteously given over to a mind incapable of discerning it—a “reprobate mind.” Such, especially, to be the case in the time of the end, more particularly referred to in the text. Antichrist’s false pretensions and lying wonders believed by those who received not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

7. A time when it may be too late for repentance. “The wicked shall do wickedly.” The effect of indulged sin and practised ungodliness is to perpetuate itself. A time when God may righteously leave ungodliness to follow its own inclinations. “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” Confirmed ungodliness seen in its persistency both in the time of bestowed mercy, and increased light, and manifested judgments. “Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. When thy hand is lifted up they will not see” (Isaiah 26:10-11). Such a state of things probably indicated in the text as taking place in the last days, when “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). The greatest blessing, when the wicked is made to turn from his wickedness and live; the greatest curse, when the wicked is left still to do wickedly. “To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart.” Sad indeed when neither mercy nor judgment, neither goodness nor severity, leads men to repentance, and when the more they are stricken the more they revolt, till God ceases even to smite (Isaiah 1:5).

8. Solemn contrast presented in the text. Scripture abounds in striking contrasts. Here is one, in relation, first, to persons; and, second, to what is said of them. The persons are the wise and the wicked. The only two classes mentioned, and in God’s eye the only two in the world. The contrast not always sharp or evident in man’s sight, though always in the eye of God—probably to be made more manifest as the end approaches. The wise, those who, like Mary, choose the good part that shall not be taken from them. The wicked, those who are content to have their portion in this life. The wise, those who seek God; the wicked, those who forget Him. The inward language of the wise, “Lord, lift Thou upon me the light of Thy countenance;” that of the wicked, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.” The wise are made such unto salvation, through the knowledge of the Scriptures; the wicked neglect the great salvation, and have no relish for the word that reveals it. The wise often poor and illiterate, with little of the knowledge which the world so eagerly prizes and pursues.

“Just know, and know no more, their Bible true;
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew.”

The wicked often only such in the eye of Him who looks not on the outward appearance, but looks upon the heart; in man’s eye, perhaps, enlightened, respectable, and even religious. That which is highly esteemed among men, often abomination with God. The Laodicean Christian congratulates himself that he is rich, and increased in goods, and having need of nothing; while, without knowing it, he is poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked; satisfied and pleased that he is neither cold nor hot, while, because he is only lukewarm, Christ is ready to spue him out of His mouth. The contrast similar in regard to what is said of the two classes. The wise are purified and made white by the trials and afflictions through which they are made to pass. The wicked, notwithstanding all they either see or experience, all the events of Providence, as well as all the warnings of the Word, still do wickedly. The Lord’s beseeching hand remains stretched out all day long in vain to a disobedient and gainsaying people. He calls, but they refuse; He stretches out His hand, but they do not regard. They refuse to repent. Again: the wise shall understand; shall see both the meaning and the beauty of God’s Word, especially in what it declares concerning the last things, both the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, with the perils and tribulations that shall usher in that glory, as well as the dealings of God’s providence, and the events that shall come one after another upon the world. But the wicked shall not understand, blind alike to the truths of God’s Word, and the character of His providential dealings with the world, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace, calling good evil and evil good, putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, darkness for light and light for darkness. It will be the misery of the wicked who refuse Him who is the Light of the world, that, while the godly in those days of darkness that are to come, shall, like Israel, have light in their dwellings, they shall still walk on in darkness, until their “feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while they look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness” (Jeremiah 13:16).

How important the question, On which side of the contrast am I?—Among those who are wise unto salvation, and hearken for the time, the eternity, to come; or among the wicked, who, Felix-like, say, Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will send for thee. Dying beds often bear witness to the contrast; and dying beds do not generally tell lies. Dying circumstances, when the approach of eternity opens men’s eyes, usually discover the wise man and the fool. “My principles,” said Altamont when in those circumstances, “have poisoned my friend; my extravagance has beggared my boy; my wickedness has murdered my wife: and is there another hell? Oh thou blasphemed, yet most indulgent Lord God, hell itself is a refuge if it hide me from Thy frown.” “Give me more laudanum,” said Mirabeau, “that I may not think of eternity and of what is to come.” “I would give worlds,” said Thomas Paine, “that the Age of Reason had never been written.” Let us hear from the other side. “I have pain,” said Richard Baxter—“there is no arguing against sense—but I have peace; I have peace.” “The battle is fought,” said Dr. Payson, “and the victory is won for ever: I am going to bathe in an ocean of purity, and benevolence, and happiness, to all eternity.” “My soul,” said John Brown of Haddington, “hath found inexpressibly more sweetness and satisfaction in a single line of the Bible, nay, in two such words as these, Thy God and My God, than all the pleasures found in the things of the world since the creation could equal.” “I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better; and though I have lived sixty years very comfortably in this world, yet I would gladly turn my back on you all to be with Christ.” “I think now that I could willingly die to see Him who is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand.” “Had I ten thousand hearts, they should all be given to Christ; and had I ten thousand bodies, they should all be employed in labouring for His honour.” His last words were “MY CHRIST.”

Verses 12-13

HOMILETICS

SECTION LI.—WAITING AND WORKING. (Chap. Daniel 12:12-13.)

Doctrine is to be followed by practice. Knowledge brings reponsibility. Faith evidences itself by works. Light is given, not that we may sleep, but work. The word of prophecy, made sure by its continual fulfilment, was given that we might take heed to it as “a light shining in a dark place till the day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts.” The communications made to Daniel closed with an intimation as to the use to be made of them. “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days: But go thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” [372] The latter verse is thus paraphrased by Brightman: “But thou, Daniel, go thy way and rest content, till all these things shall come to pass, towards or before the end; and although they seem to be long delayed, yet the tediousness thereof shall not be grievous unto thee: for thou in the meantime shalt yield to nature, and go the way of all flesh, and being freed from the miseries of this life, shalt quietly rest, and be partaker of that happiness which those enjoy who die in the Lord: and at length also shall thy body be raised up out of the grave, in that lot and condition which God shall give unto thee, that thou mayest be partaker of unspeakable joy with all the rest of the saints, and so reign with Christ for ever and ever.” These concluding verses suggest—

[372] “Go thy way till the end be.” Keil, with Theodoret and most interpreters, understands the words to mean, “Go to the end of thy life; the angel of the Lord thus dismissing the highly-favoured prophet from his life’s work, with the comforting assurance that he should stand in his own lot in the end of the days. Daniel was to rest, that is, in the grave, and to rise again, to enjoy his part in the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:12), to be possessed by the righteous, after the resurrection of the dead, in the heavenly Jerusalem; in those last days when, after the judgment of the world, the kingdom of glory should appear.” According to Calvin, he was to be content with his lot, and expect no more visions. Bullinger understands the words as an exhortation to persevere and continue to the end. According to Junius, he was to set all things in order, and make himself ready for his end, without curiously searching further into these things. Brightman understands the words as intimating that what the Lord might have further to reveal, He would do it by other prophets, as He did by Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

1. The duty of securing with all earnestness a personal interest in the blessedness predicted in the prophecy. We have been told, with Daniel, of the resurrection to everlasting life that shall follow the last great tribulation, and the kingdom of glory with and under the Messiah, when “the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” It was Daniel’s happiness to be assured of his interest in that predicted blessedness; and with that assurance quietly to wait till the time for the full experience of it arrived. It is for us who read or hear the words of this prophecy, to make sure our participation in the same blessedness. It is for us to secure in time our place among the wise, making sure that with the lamp of an outward possession of faith in Christ, and an intellectual knowledge of the truth, we have the oil of saving grace and spiritual light in the vessel of our hearts. Unless the Bridegroom come speedily, we too, like Daniel, shall lie down to rest in the grave till the resurrection trump shall awake us out of sleep. The question is, How shall we do so? Shall we, like the “man greatly beloved,” lie down renewed in the spirit of our mind, and made accepted in the Beloved; or as those who, unforgiven and destitute of the holiness without which no man shall see the Lord, awake only to shame and everlasting contempt; like the foolish virgins who, satisfied with the present, delayed to secure the needful supply for the future till it was too late? Let us make sure that we have gone to Him who has the oil of the Spirit of life and peace to sell, or rather to give freely to those who are willing to buy without money and without price; and let us not rest till with Simeon we are able joyfully to say, “Now, Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.

2. The duty of patient waiting for the future blessedness. The man pronounced “blessed,” who “waiteth and cometh” to the happy period predicted in connection with Israel’s restoration, the resurrection of the dead, and the future glory. That period was in Daniel’s day far distant. It is now two thousand four hundred years nearer than it was then. There must be much less time to wait. That time may be very short. But whatever it may be, it is still to be one of patient waiting. It may, and doubtless will, be one of peculiar trial, temptation, and distress. It will be one in which the enmity of Satan and the world against Christ, His truth, His people, and His cause, will reach its utmost violence; the time in which the great enemy will come forth with “great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.” It will be the time of the last manifestation of Antichrist, in which all that has been predicted of the two Little Horns, of the Wilful King, and of the Man of Sin, will be fully developed, summed up, and concentrated. It will be the time to which the Church has looked forward for eighteen centuries, as that of the great outbreak of wickedness and of Satanic power, that will call forth and be only terminated by the manifestation of the Lord’s coming. There will, therefore, be need of patient waiting. In patience believing men will need to possess their souls. The period will probably be short, though severe. Its end will be glorious. From the throes and birth-pangs of the period shall come forth a new and beauteous creation, the long-looked for and prayed for “regeneration,” the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, when the petition long presented shall be at length fulfilled, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is worth a long time of patient waiting for it. Like Daniel, we who are now living and working may have to go our way and rest in the grave till the end be, and our waiting be completed there in the dust. But others will follow and have their waiting time on earth, it may be for another generation or two, or perhaps more. Perhaps it may be less. Apparently we are entering upon an age of scientific, as well as grosser, atheism.[373] These are the days of rapid development. As England and the world have recently been reminded, immense strides have been made in the advance of science during the last fifty years; and the outcome seems to be an upsetting of notions hitherto entertained regarding God and His works; so that a prelate of the Church, in a discourse on the occasion, could ask, Will there at last, when the problem is solved, be any place left for God, or Christianity, or prayer, or conscience, or free-will, or responsibility, or duty, or faith in the unseen? and observed that the remarks of many scientific men showed that these questions were not superfluous, and that consequently alarm and anxiety had taken possession of many minds, and his own among the rest. Thus evidently is the time of patient waiting not only still existing, but intensifying. Faith and patience will doubtless yet be severely tried. “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Luke 18:8; Revelation 3:10). The proper attitude of the Church in these days in which we live, as it was in those of the Apostles, is that of a “patient waiting for Christ.” As the Old Testament Church was found waiting for the first Advent of Him who was the Consolation of Israel, so is it to be with the New Testament Church in relation to the second. This waiting posture is described by the Apostles in such language as, “Looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ;” “Our conversation is in heaven, from whom also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ;” “Waiting for His Son from heaven;” “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God;” “To them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Titus 2:13; Philippians 3:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Peter 3:12; Hebrews 9:28).

[373] “Fifty years ago,” said Sir John Lubbock in the presidential address at the late Jubilee of the British Association, “it was the general opinion that animals and plants came into existence just as we now see them.” This is represented as the general opinion no longer. “We perceive that there is a reason—and in many cases we know what that reason is—for every difference in form, in size, and in colour; for every bone and every feather, almost for every hair.” “We can now see precisely,” says the Christian World, “where the old opinion differs from the new. The modern biologist professes to understand better than his predecessors those forces or processes by which birds have become different from reptiles, and animals that suckle their young different from both. To put it still more pointedly, the modern doctrine affirms that, leaving out of consideration the unknown beginning (of which science takes no account), nature in the world of life, animal and vegetable, has always worked with the means and methods employed at this hour. Elephants and alligators, sharks, kangaroos, and humming-birds are blood relations.” Again a writer in the same journal says: “The two chief springs of that inspiration with which Christianity has quickened the cold, dead heart of humanity, are, without question, the love of God, and the boundless possibilities of that future which the Gospel opens to man. It is an inspiration which it seems that in these days our wise ones are doing their very utmost to destroy. Of God they tell us that we know nothing, and can know nothing; while of ‘the things which are before us’ we know as little. God’s love, we are now taught, is no more than the mere yearning of the sad human heart to find a living expression in that awful world-system which surrounds us, and whose cruel sternness drives great nations of our fellow-men to long for annihilation, as the supreme benediction which the universe can offer to its intelligent child; while the hope of immortality, by the same rule, is the vain effort of that faculty of our nature which ‘looks before and after,’ to construct a future which may soothe its imagination, but which is baseless and fruitless as its idlest dreams. It is without doubt,” the writer goes on to say, “a very dread aspect of these times, especially for the young who are nursed, as it were, in its atmosphere. But instead of wild denunciations of it, it is wiser for us to study the way in which it comes to be; how it is possible that this ghastly creed could have grown up in the heart of Christendom, in the very age and region in which the triumph of Christian truth and civilisation ought to be most complete.… The saddest result of this theological abuse of the world-system—we can call it nothing else—is to make men believe that it has no meaning or method that man can discover; that all its movements are all mechanical, and that man is but the most highly-finished part of the machinery; like the rest of it, sprung from and returning to the dust. The idea that the universe is guided by a living Intelligence, and that the development of man’s life is an object which the Intelligence that guides the universe has ever in sight, would be banished to the limbo of worn-out superstitions, effete idolatries, if some of our keen thinkers had their way.”

3. The duty of working as well as waiting. Daniel was told to go his way till the end be. It is said of him that, after his recovering from the fainting and sickness consequent on a former vision, he “rose and attended to the king’s business” (chap. Daniel 8:27). Although now considerably older, he might still be able to do the same. At the beginning of the present vision we find that he had been engaged for three full weeks in special prayer and fasting. Whatever he might be able to do in the business of his earthly master, he was still in a condition to serve his heavenly one. Whatever his hand found to do in that service, he was to go and do it with his might, before he was called to rest from his labour; whether that work might be in comforting his brethren with the consolation wherewith he himself was comforted of God, communicating to them the knowledge which he himself had just received, or exhorting them to a steadfast faith themselves and fidelity in strengthening the faith of others in the prospect of the trials that were yet before them. Daniel was to wait, but, so long as the Lord gave him strength, he was also to work, showing God’s strength unto that generation, and His saving power to every one that was to come (Psalms 71:18). The “waiting” in the text is not to be an idle, indolent one. Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God our Saviour, is associated by the Apostle with the denying ourselves to all ungodliness and worldly lust, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world (Titus 2:12-13). On the ground of the same hope, Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). While “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” we are to “have compassion” on others, and to seek to “save some with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 1:21-23). To be waiting for the Master’s return will naturally move us to diligence in doing the Master’s work. It is the servant who says in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, that begins to “beat his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken” (Luke 12:45-46). The use to be made of the study of the prophetic word, is, with the eunuch, to go on our way rejoicing in the blessed hope that it has set before us. That hope is one of a bright hereafter, not only for ourselves as faithful believers, but for the Church and the world. Like Daniel, we are to be attending diligently to “the king’s business,” till we also shall be called away from the field, as so many before us have been, to hear from the Master’s lips that blessed plaudit, “Well done, good and faithful servant! thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee faithful over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”[374]

[374] “Let us,” says Auberlen, “who love the word of prophecy, not forget the present, and what has been given us already in thinking of the things we hope for; lest our study of prophecy degenerate to a mere favourite pursuit of our infancy, and unspiritual excitement. Let this hope of the kingdom take the same place in our heart as is assigned to it in the Divine Word; and let us not change the proportion in which Holy Scripture has placed it to the fundamental truths of Christianity. Let the apostolic word be our motto: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men; teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God even our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13). All Christians of the present day find it difficult to lay to heart the words which apply to our days, as well as to the days of Isaiah: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But let us remember that we are living in a time when judgments are preparing; and our only duty is to be ever watchful and prayerful witnesses of the coming of the Lord. We are, for this reason, not slothful; we do not fold our hands; only we do not cherish illusive hopes and expectations from our work. Let us be faithful in the little things intrusted to us; as for the great things, we cannot take them to ourselves; but we wait till the Lord will bring them to us.… What our generation wants is, witnesses who can lift up their voice in the spirit and power of the prophets; men who can stand in the breach in the hour of temptation which is coming over the whole earth. In that hour we need to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” so that we may achieve the victory; then we must lift up our heads in blessed hope and joy, knowing that “our redemption draweth nigh.” May our merciful God prepare us for that hour, by teaching us to understand aright and to practise faithfully the word of the Apocalypse: “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 12". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/daniel-12.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.