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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
Daniel 6

 

 

Verses 1-28

Chapter Six The Faithful Remnant

The interesting historical incident in Daniel 6 portrays what should be comforting for every trusting soul: God’s tender care over all who walk uprightly before Him and confide in His love and power. Like the previous events it also has a typical character; it illustrates the peculiarly trying position in which the faithful remnant of Judah will find themselves in the days of the antichrist.

Darius, the satrap of Babylon, was pleased to set a hundred and twenty princes over the kingdom; over these he set three presidents, of whom Daniel was first. The prophet was thus appointed to a position very similar to that of a present day prime minister or secretary of state. Because of his excellent spirit and his faithfulness in administering the affairs of the kingdom, he was preferred above all the other dignitaries. In this exalted office he became, as many in similar circumstances have been, the object of hatred by unprincipled political plotters who sought their own advancement at the expense of his downfall. They tried to find occasion against him, taking it for granted that he was actuated by the same selfish motives as they were. They endeavored in every way to obtain proof of some dereliction of duty on his part, concerning which they might accuse him to the king. But at last they were forced to confess, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (5:5).

The cunning plotters, knowing the intensity of Daniel’s religious convictions, put their heads together and drew up a statute. They felt sure that if they could prevail on the king to sign it, this edict would ensure the downfall of his favorite. With this in mind, they came into the presence of the king, pretending great loyalty and zeal for the dignity of his office. They said:

King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not (6:6-8).

Their statement was false, for at least one of the presidents, and he the most preferred by the king, had not been consulted in the matter; but it was he whose destruction they desired. Darius, though perhaps generally a good man, like many others, was easily persuaded by the tongue of flattery. Without consulting with his chief minister he signed the decree; this established it as a law unalterable even by royal veto. By the signing of this statute Darius practically put himself into the place that the man of sin will occupy in the last days. He became a type of the antichrist, who “sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

It is important to realize that there may be a vast difference between what a man is in himself and the place he occupies in Scripture typology. Darius, as a man, was doubtless very different in character from the coming false Messiah. He was kindly and amiable, and as we know, was afterwards deeply repentant for having permitted himself to act so foolishly. But as the king, making himself an object of worship and denying the liberty of any to offer prayers or adoration to any other god except himself, he fittingly pictures the antichrist.

We see the same principle brought out, for instance, in the case of David. Officially he was one of the most nearly perfect types of Christ that we have in the Old Testament, but as a man he possessed the same faults and committed as serious sins as many others.

After Darius had allowed himself to be flattered into appending the royal seal to the infamous interdict, the plotters doubtless congratulated themselves that Daniel’s doom was sealed. His holiness of life was a continual rebuke to their impiety, and his integrity only accentuated their crookedness. As we read of their inability to find anything to accuse him of except in the matter of the Lord his God, we are reminded of Proverbs 16:7 which tells us that “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (or, silent to him); that is, they cannot truthfully allege anything against the man who walks with God.

When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, there was no evidence of either fear or ostentation. He simply pursued his godly course as though the decree were not in existence. Verse 10 tells us, “He went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (italics added). Notice, it does not say that he opened his windows; on the contrary, it says, “his windows being open.” To shut them now would have been cowardice; to open them, if he had previously been in the habit of keeping them closed, would have been courting persecution- a foolhardy thing, which the child of God is never called on to do.

Daniel remembered the words of Solomon, which he prayed concerning the people of Israel:

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee (2 Chronicles 6:36-39).

In full accord with Solomon’s prayer, Daniel went up into his house three times daily. Kneeling before his windows, opened toward Jerusalem, he offered his prayers and thanksgivings and made his confession to his God. Now he knows that he takes his life in his hand each time he carries out his pious custom, yet he does not shrink for a moment or seek in any way to hide from his enemies the fact that he is a follower of the God of Israel. He kneeled with bowed head facing the direction of the desolated city of Jehovah, Jerusalem, the place where the Lord had set His name. We may be assured that his prayer was no less fervent and his thanksgiving no less real because he knew that malicious spies were waiting to report his conduct to the king; and, according to the unalterable laws of the Medes and Persians, Darius was bound to carry out its provisions and to enforce on each offender the penalty prescribed.

Having secured the evidence they desired, the conspirators went to the king and made accusation against Daniel. Darius at once realized the mistake he had made, and we are told he “laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him” (14). But the unhappy ruler found himself helpless in the hands of his crafty advisers. He had to admit the authenticity of the decree and of his signature. He could do nothing except enforce the law. In this we see one great point of difference between the head of gold and the silver breast. Nebuchadnezzar’s word was absolute. No law held him in check: “Whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive” (5:19). But it was otherwise with the Persian rulers. The law of the state had authority even over kings. And in each empire that followed we find imperial power more and more curtailed; the voice of the people made itself heard with ever greater force and intensity until the days of the feet of the image, part of iron and part of brittle pottery-a union of social democracy and imperialism.

Darius found it impossible to evade the statute in the face of his insistent ministers; they demanded that the decree be carried out, and the chief of the presidents be cast into the den of lions. The king seems to have had some sense in his soul of the power of the God of Daniel, for after giving the command, he said to him confidently, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee” (6:16).

So Daniel was cast in, and Darius had a bad night, tossed between conflicting emotions of hope and fear as to his servant’s fate. Early in the morning he rushed to the mouth of the den, and called in great distress to find out whether Daniel had been destroyed or delivered. “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (20) His anxious query shows both a measure of confidence in what he must have learned from Daniel as to the omnipotent power of God and his own lack of acquaintance with Him. But, to his joy, he found that Daniel’s God was as good as His word; He had preserved the prophet unharmed in the midst of the ravenous beasts. Daniel’s reply is noble in its very simplicity: “O king, live for ever,” he said. “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (21-22).

The misguided king is delighted to find that his own wretched blunder had brought no real damage to his minister; at once he commanded him to be taken up out of the den. The law had been complied with fully, and the prophet suffered no harm. Thus was Daniel delivered, “because he believed in his God” (23). What a lesson to tried saints everywhere! “Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter 3:13) It may not always please God to deliver from the trial, but He will always preserve in it and eventually bring His own in peace out of it.

The king now commands that Daniel’s accusers with all their households be cast into the den. It was a heathenish way of visiting retribution on them, inasmuch as the wives and children were not offenders; however it was quite in keeping with ancient eastern conceptions of justice. The lions broke all their bones in pieces the moment they came to the bottom of the den. Thus was the righteous one delivered out of trouble, while the wicked suffered in his place.

Darius then made a new decree, which was sent to all people, nations, and languages in the Medo-Persian dominions. In the edict he bade men everywhere to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: “For he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” (26-27). We may hope that Darius had learned the same lesson that had been taught to Nebuchadnezzar in a very different school, long before. As for Daniel, the record says he prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. How much his influence had to do with the issuing of the decree later on permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem, we do not know. But there can be little doubt that his voice would be heard by Cyrus regarding the return of the exiles.

To fully understand this portion it is necessary to consider the symbolic character of Daniel’s experience. The whole scene points to a time when Daniel’s people will once more be restored to their land. There will rise up among them one who will magnify himself above all that is called God and will be worshiped; he will sit in the temple of God, displaying himself as god. He will make a decree that prayer and worship will be addressed to him alone and every other god ignored. All this will be considered in its place, when we come to take up the latter part of chapter 11 where we have a vivid description of the antichrist and his times. The common notion that the papacy is the antichrist also will be addressed then. What I especially wish to make clear now is that God’s word has distinctly foretold the regathering of the Jews to Palestine, though at first in unbelief, and that out of the whole company a remnant will be taken up in grace and turned to the Lord. The mass will accept the claims of the willful one, who will pose as their messiah. The remnant however will be distinguished by their unyielding opposition to his decrees, and therefore, as in the case of Daniel in this chapter, will be called upon to pass through a period of severe testing, designated in both Testaments as the tribulation. But through the power of God they will eventually emerge from their trials in triumph, and they will see their enemies suffer the desolation and destruction that they had thought to inflict upon the faithful remnant.

First, in order that it may be made plain that the restoration of Israel, so frequently referred to by the prophets, is yet in the future, I would direct your attention to Isaiah 11. You will do well to read the entire chapter at your leisure, though I will here quote but a few verses.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth… And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt (Isaiah 11:11-12,16).

That this passage has no reference to the return from Babylon in the past is evident, for it distinctly tells us that the Lord shall set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people. The first time was when they came up from the dominions of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The second recovery will be when they are brought back, not only from those lands, but from Egypt and all the islands of the sea. How they will return is described in Isaiah 18. There we learn that some great maritime nation will further the work of restoration by bringing them in many ships from the most distant places to their ancient homeland. “In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion” (18:7).

That this return must be carried out in order to fulfill the promises made by God to the fathers should be self-evident. In the book of Jeremiah the Lord corroborates the prophecy of Isaiah by saying, “For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it” (Jeremiah 30:3, italics added). And this return is still in the future, for in connection with it the pledge is given that when Jacob shall return he “shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.” This could hardly be said of the previous return from Babylon; for at no time did they dwell in rest and quietness undisturbed by their enemies, and possess the land. But they are Jehovah’s people, in spite of all their sins; and in His own time He will fulfill to the letter every pledge He has made.

That they will have to pass through a season of severe testing before entering into the promised rest is equally clear, as the same chapter and many other portions of Scripture witness.

For thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:5-7).

In Isaiah 24 we read a fuller description of this time of trouble called the great tribulation. As you read this chapter change the word earth to land. The first twelve verses picture the land of Palestine as it will be in those days of distress. Now, notice verses 13-14:

When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done. They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea.

Here the remnant is distinguished from the mass. Instead of being overwhelmed with despair because of their sorrows when cast, as it were, into this den of lions, they lift up their voices in song, like Daniel glorifying the God of Heaven. To them will be fulfilled the precious promises of Isaiah 43: “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (6-7). These shall be Jehovah’s witnesses, testifying to the power and glory of the one true God, when apostate Christendom shall have been given up to the strong delusion to believe the lie of the antichrist.

The prophet Ezekiel, in chapter 36, foretold both their scattering and their regathering. Verse 24 says, “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” The verses that follow show us that at that time they will be cleansed from their filthiness; a new heart and a new spirit will be given them. The Spirit of God within them will cause them to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments. Now I ask any unprejudiced person, Has this ever been fulfilled in the past? When the remnant of Judah returned from Babylon, did they give any evidence of having been as a company regenerated, so that they found delight in the law of the Lord? Was not the opposite true as evidenced by their turning away from His statutes even in the lifetime of Ezra and his colaborers, and later their crucifixion of the Lord of glory?

The New Testament revelations on this subject show us plainly that their recovery awaits the close of the present dispensation. In our Lord’s prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem He said

When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh… And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:20, 24, italics added).

Jerusalem’s rehabilitation awaits, then, the falling of the Stone upon the feet of the Gentile image; for as we have already seen, that will conclude the Gentile times. But now a connected passage in Romans 11 will show us just where and when to place the turning of the remnant to God. In the 25th verse of that chapter the apostle wrote: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Now we are not to confuse the fullness of the Gentiles with the times of the Gentiles. The latter expression takes in the entire course of Gentile domination in the Holy Land. As long as the Jew is not master in Palestine the times of the Gentiles are running on. But the fullness of the Gentiles, as the context in this chapter makes clear, is an expression referring to spiritual blessing, not national nor temporal. This fullness will have come in when the message of the gospel has accomplished its purpose, and God has completed His present work of taking out from among the Gentiles a people for His name. In other words, the fullness of the Gentiles and the rapture of the church are coincident. Therefore between the fullness of the Gentiles and the close of the times of the Gentiles there will be a time-period in which the great bulk of prophecy will have its fulfillment. This is the period designated in Daniel “the time of the end.” A reference to the chart will help to make clear its proper position. The line running across the chart beneath the parenthetic portion that represents the present age, depicts the fullness of the Gentiles. The line below, immediately above the inscription concerning the kingdom, represents the close of the times of the Gentiles. Between these two lines we have the time of the end; and it is then that the conversion and testing of the remnant will take place.

The later chapters of Zechariah have much to tell us of that time of trouble, and the testimony that will be maintained in it.

And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God (Zechariah 13:8-9).

The greater part of the book of Revelation, from chapter four to the end of chapter nineteen, is concerned with the events of this time of the end. The saints seen on earth at that time are not Christians, but Jews who will then be called upon to suffer for the sake of their once-rejected Messiah. I agree that in chapter seven, after the account of the sealed 144,000 out of all the tribes of Israel, we have pictured a great multitude, whom no man can number, of saved Gentiles; but they do not form part of the church, nor do they appear throughout the book as in the place of testimony on earth. They come out of the great tribulation, emerging at last to take their place in the world-kingdom of our God and His Christ. But it is to the Israelite remnant alone that a place of testimony is given. This remnant will then heed the word of the Lord, search the Scriptures, and learn of their place in the course of time. They will understand that the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and that God is again taking up His earthly people. I have no doubt that the book of Daniel will show the Israelite remnant where they are, and will lead them to seek the face of God. They will stand for Him when all Christendom and the bulk of their own nation shall have gone into the last great apostasy. Through them a final call will go out to the heathen who have never yet heard the gospel, nor rejected its precious message. The result of that ministry will be the ingathering of the great multitude shown to us in the seventh chapter of Revelation.

I urge each one to search the Scriptures for himself to see whether these things be so.

 

 

 

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Daniel 6:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/daniel-6.html. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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