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The Prophet is here favoured with more visions of God. An angel interprets the vision to Daniel. special allusions in the vision to the Church.
The third year of the reign of Belshazzar must have been before what is related of his death in the fifth Chapter; only this vision of Daniel is not placed in that order. The Prophet had his mind so impressed with this vision, that he puts down the place in which he supposed himself to have been in vision, and twice repeats, that it was to him, even to him, the vision was shown. Under the figure of a ram with two horns, might not unaptly represent the divided kingdom or government of Media and Persia; as the after explanation of Gabriel makes it to be. But what I am chiefly earnest the Reader should keep in view, is, the reference the whole hath to the Church of Christ. Were it not for this one grand object, the very name of Babylon, and of the Medes and Persians, would hardly have been remembered at the present hour.
The principal feature of this history, in the battle of rams and he-goats, (meaning the kings of the earth,) is what is said of this creature magnifying himself against the Prince of the host, even Jesus and his people. And the host given unto him, against the daily sacrifice, can mean no other than the obstruction given by the king to the ordinances of God's house. The history of the Church confirms this. An Eastern monarch of the name of Antiochus, literally prohibited the Jews from this daily sacrifice, as we are informed in history.
There is somewhat interesting in this short account; short as it is, of what the Prophet over-heard of this conversation. It shows how attentive ministering spirits are in their office, who are sent forth to minister unto them who are heirs of salvation. Depend upon it, Reader! we are never less alone than when alone! Various have been the calculations of curious persons, concerning this period of two thousand and three hundred days. But the subject is left just where men find it. No one hath been taught of God the Spirit the method of ascertaining it with exactness. And to me, I confess, it borders on presumption to attempt being wise above what is written. When the thing predicted is accomplished, the end is then seen. But how should unenlightened, unawakened men, who were never taught of God, be competent to discover secret things which belong to the Lord.
I feel more disposed to enquire who this man was whose voice Daniel heard, than to attend to what the laboured efforts of unawakened, unregenerated men have written, in determining according to their presumptuous reasonings concerning the period of the two thousand three hundred days. The former is instructive, interesting, and profitable. The latter can be no more than conjecture after all, and too much obscured with mystery to speak of with any certainty. But I would humbly propose to the gracious mind, as a subject of meditation, whether this man, whose voice Daniel heard, was not the Glory-man Christ Jesus! Who, indeed, but Jesus could it be to command Gabriel to instruct Daniel? Reader! it is very blessed to observe in the goings forth of him, who hath been as the head and husband of his Church from everlasting, how the Lord watched over the interests of his people in all ages: and how by the very frequent manifestation of himself to Old Testament saints, he intimated his earnestness for the time to arrive, when he should openly tabernacle among his people.
Who this fierce king points at, or what awful indignation is to take place at the time, when the latter kingdom shall come, and the transgressions are come to the full; I presume not to say. But one spiritual improvement ariseth out of it, which both Writer and Reader will do well to regard: namely, how awful are all the Lord's visitations, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. We behold Daniel's mind so affected in the very contemplation of it, that though he knew it would not happen in his days, yet, it induced sickness and fear. There is a sickness of soul as well as sickness of body, and both may be supposed to have their operations on the Lord's faithful ones in times of sorrow for Zion's welfare. But in the midst of these, while the soul lives on the Person, Work, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ; the purposes of an unchangeable God in Covenant, will bring comfort within, when matters are ever so unpromising without. Oh! how truly blessed is it to have this Covenant God in Christ to fly to, and to trust in, when the world is convulsed with storms and tempests; and all things in disorder!
READER! let us both beg of God for grace to gather suitable improvements from this Chapter, and such as God the Holy Ghost evidently intended the Church should derive from the perusal of it in all ages. The image of the ram with two horns, and the goat with a notable horn between his eyes, these similitudes are explained to us in the Chapter, and had their accomplishment in the kingdoms of Media and Persia, and of Grecia that succeeded both, and have long since been done away. But the vision of the evening, and the morning, and the daily sacrifice; these are subjects of everlasting meditation, and lead to unceasing improvement under divine teaching, as long as the Church shall continue on the earth. And who doth not see, blessed and eternal Spirit, when taught by thee, the sweet allusions in those things in the lamb of the morning, and the lamb of the evening, and daily sacrifice, to the person, blood, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is not Jesus the lamb slain from the foundation of the world? And if the exhibition by type of this sacrifice was needful, so the Lord thought fit that it should be set forth both morning and evening, to manifest, that from the morning of life to the evening of it in death, a propitiation is needful for sin, and becomes continually necessary! And Reader! do not fail to connect with this view of the subject, as often as the Holy Ghost graciously brings it before thee, that this contemplation of the Lamb of God taking away sin by the sacrifice of himself, is of all subjects the most momentous and interesting. Think, Reader! how infinitely meritorious in itself. Think how blessed must it have been in the sight of God the Father, when for four thousand years together, before the thing to be accomplished was brought to pass, the Lord appointed a daily memorial of it, in the lamb of the morning, and the lamb of the evening, to be sacrificed! Precious Jesus! let it be our daily delight, both in the morning and evening of every day, to contemplate thy body bruised, and thy soul made an offering for sin! Frequently, Lord, at thy table, and in thine house of prayer, be it our happiness to commemorate thy death in holy communion. And while we behold the Lamb of God taking away sin by the sacrifice of himself; give to us such rich views of God the Father's complacency, in the blessed act of Christ dying for us, that we may enter into the most lively conviction and certainty, that when he died on the cross, for the sin of his people, he died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Jesus was then made sin, and a curse for his redeemed, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany