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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Daniel 11

 

 

Introduction

APPENDIX

IN relation to the prediction in Dan , 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."


Verses 1-20

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXVIII.—THE KINGS OF THE NORTH AND OF THE SOUTH. (Chap. Dan .)

After mentioning Xerxes, the angel passes to the power by which the Persian empire was to be overthrown: "A mighty king shall stand up, which shall rule with great dominion, and shall do according to his will" (Dan ). Alexander the Great, thus referred to, with his rapid and extensive conquests, has been already before us in former visions as the founder of the Third or Grecian Empire. When in the height of his prosperity, however, he was to be cut off and his kingdom to be "broken, and divided toward the four winds of heaven," his successors being none of his own posterity (Dan 11:4). This also we have seen fulfilled in the untimely and unexpected death of Alexander, and in the division of his empire, not between his two sons, Alexander and Hercules, who were both murdered soon after their father's death, but among his four generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. See further under chap. Dan 7:6, and Dan 8:5-8; Dan 8:21-22. Although the condition of the Jews was considerably affected by Alexander, it is more as a link in the historical chain that he is here introduced.

II. The kings of Syria and Egypt, or of the North and South (Dan ). These, the most powerful of Alexander's successors, are made, with their mutual contendings, to occupy a considerable part of the prophecy, from the circumstance that Judea lay between them, and was often the bone of contention to the rival parties. "The Jews," says Luther, "placed thus between the door and the hinges, were sorely tormented on both sides. Now they fell a prey to Egypt, and anon to Syria, as the one kingdom or the other got the better; and they had to pay dearly for their neighbourhood, as is wont to be in time of war."

The angel proceeds. "But his sons (those of the king of Syria) shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress. And the king of the South shall be moved to choler, and shall come forth, and fight with him, even with the king of the North, and he shall set forth a great multitude, but the multitude shall be given into his hand. And when he shall take away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands; but he shall not be strengthened by it. For the king of the North shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after many years with a great army and with much riches" (Dan ). The following are the facts of history that verify this part of the prophecy:—The two sons of Callinicus, namely, Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus, surnamed the Great, stirred themselves up to recover their father's dominions. The former, though surnamed the Thunderer, was equally weak in body and mind, and after a reign of three years was poisoned by his generals, having done little more than assemble a large force, which, for want of money, he was unable to keep together. After his death, his brother Antiochus came with a great army, retook Seleucia, his fortress, and recovered Syria; and after a time he returned, overcame the Egyptian general, and had thoughts of invading Egypt itself. Ptolemy Philopator, having succeeded his father Euergetes, whom he had murdered, enraged at his losses, roused himself from his sensual indulgences, and marched with a numerous army us far us Raphia, between Rinocolura and Gaza, where he met Antiochus with a still more powerful host. The latter was defeated, and his numerous armament given into Ptolemy's hand, ten thousand of his troops having been slain, and four thousand made prisoners. The weak heart of Ptolemy was lifted up by his success, and on making a visit to Jerusalem, among other cities which sent their ambassadors to do him homage, he demanded to be allowed to enter the interior of the temple. When Simon the high priest remonstrated, alleging that not even ordinary priests were admitted into the inner sanctuary, the king haughtily answered that although they were forbidden, he ought not to be so, and then pressed forward. The Jewish historian relates that in passing through the inner court for that purpose, he was seized with a panic and fell speechless to the ground. He was carried out half dead; and soon after his recovery he departed, full of anger against the Jewish people. The result was that on returning to Alexandria, he commenced a bitter persecution of the numerous Jews residing there, so that "many ten thousands were cast down" by it; only three hundred retaining their civil rights at the expense of their religion, while, according to Eusebius, forty thousand, or, according to Jerome, half as many more, preferred death rather than obey the royal decree that commanded them to worship idols. Ptolemy, giving himself up to his pleasures instead of pursuing his victory over Antiochus, was "not strengthened by it." He died about a dozen years after, and Antiochus, raising an incredibly large army among the upper provinces of Babylonia and Media, came down upon his son, Ptolemy Epiphanes, an infant four years old.

The angel proceeds: "He shall also set his face to enter with (or against) the strength of his whole kingdom (or, ‘to enter by force into the whole kingdom,' i.e., of Egypt), and upright ones (or, according to the margin, ‘equal conditions,'—an agreement by a marriage alliance) with him: thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her; but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him. And after this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble, and fall, and not be found" (Dan ). History gives the fulfilment. Antiochus, having been so far successful against Egypt, formed schemes to seize upon the whole kingdom. His aim was to accomplish this by means of a marriage alliance, giving Ptolemy his beautiful daughter Cleopatra in marriage, thinking, through her affection for himself, to obtain the kingdom of her husband. In this, however, he was disappointed. The marriage took place, but Cleopatra was too true a wife for his ambitious schemes, and sided with her husband against her father. Antiochus then, collecting a large fleet, turned his face "to the isles" of the Mediterranean, including the Greek cities of the coast, many of which he took. As these, however, were in alliance with the Romans, the latter, under the consul Acilius, uniting with their allies, after gaining repeated victories over Antiochus, compelled him to return with his army into Asia. After his defeat at Magnesia, he fled to Sardis, and the next day reached Antioch, "the fort of his own land." Two years after he was slain by the Persians while plundering the temple of Jupiter Belus at Elymais, or, according to another account, by his companions while carousing at a banquet.

From this part of the prophecy we may note—

1. The foreknowledge and providence of God. The Apostle only declared what reason itself may teach us, when he said, "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." The architect knows beforehand what he will do in the erection of the building when he prepares the plan. The weaver knows beforehand what he will do with his web when he has fixed upon the pattern. God's works embrace those of providence as well as of creation. "My Father worketh hitherto," said Jesus, "and I work." His almighty power and boundless wisdom are continually occupied in relation to all that His creating hand has produced, upholding and governing all His creatures and all their actions, so that without Him not even a sparrow falls to the ground. "In Him we live and move," as well as "have our being." The details predicted in this section, now matters of history, were all included within the divine foreknowledge and Providence, like every other event that takes place. Being foreknown by God, it was easy to communicate the knowledge of them beforehand, as far as divine wisdom saw meet. It is our comfort to know that "the Lord reigneth;" and that not only matters connected with rulers and empires, but all events, whether great or small, are not only known by God beforehand, but are ordered and controlled in His all-wise providence, so that the ends He designs shall be accomplished; making even the wrath of man to praise Him, while the remainder of that wrath He restrains; and causing all things to "work together for good to them that love God, and who are called according to His purpose" (Psa ; Rom 8:28). This gracious purpose continually kept in view in all His doings. The thing that is determined shall be done (Dan 11:36).

2. The character and condition of human nature apart from divine grace. The section valuable as confirming the view given of the kingdoms of the world in Daniel's vision of the Four Beasts, of which the third is here partially exhibited. It affords an epitome of secular history extending over three centuries, and a specimen of that history in all ages of the world. It is especially valuable inasmuch as the period brought before us in the section is that in which Greek culture had reached its highest perfection. It exhibits sin and misery as the characteristics of fallen humanity with all the advantages that worldly art and science could afford it. It shows the works of the flesh, or of man's fallen nature unrenewed by divine grace, to be what the Bible represents them,—"enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions; unrighteousness, covetousness, envy, murder, deceit, malignity (Gal ; Rom 1:29). Fifty thousand unoffending Jews cruelly massacred by a Ptolemy in and around his own metropolis, because he was refused a profane entrance into the Holy of Holies at Jerusalem! God's long-suffering patience and fatherly pity exercised on such a world. The world was shown to need a Saviour, and a Saviour was provided. Into such a world Christ came. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish but have everlasting life." The view here given of the kingdoms of the world, such as to awaken the longing for the setting up and universal extension of the promised kingdom, which is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."


Verses 21-35

HOMILETICS

SECTION XXXIX.—ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES OR, THE VILE PERSON. (Chaps. Dan .)

The section suggestive of the following reflections:—

1. The prophecy regarding Antiochus, together with its exact fulfilment, may serve as a confirmation of our faith in God's constant superintendence of the world, and His watchful care over the interests of His Church and people. Everything pertaining to this furious adversary of His people and cause, all the steps that conducted to his elevation, as well as his bitter hostility and cruel proceedings after he reached it, were foreseen and foretold centuries before his appearance. Like Pharaoh, he was raised up for an important purpose in the all-wise providence of God; and that purpose being served, he is brought to his predicted end.

2. God's Church and people never long without suffering. Afflictions, in one shape or other, their appointed lot in this world. "In the world ye shall have tribulation." "Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom." So long as the world lies in wickedness (or "in the wicked one"), so long they are in an enemy's country, where hostility seldom sleeps, and where they must either conform and sin, or say No and suffer. It was against the holy covenant that Antiochus was filled with such enmity; and that covenant still exists wherever God has His people, to whom it is all their salvation and all their desire, while it must still provoke the enmity of the world who are without God. Besides, so long as God's people are in the world, so long they will require chastening, and all the more likely after seasons of quiet and prosperity.

3. Grace is able to sustain the people of God under the severest trial and hottest persecution. The furnace may be heated seven times more than usual, but One is with them who has all power in heaven and in earth, and who is able to make His grace sufficient for them, so that they shall even glory in tribulation and be made more than conquerors in all their persecutions. The lamp which God has kindled is constantly guarded and fed, so that no wind of persecution can extinguish it. Many professors may fall in times of trial, but true grace is fast colours. Believers are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." "As thy days, so shall thy strength be."

4. The godly ultimately delivered out of trouble. The persecution may be hot and the sufferings severe, but they have their appointed end. The trouble is weighed and measured. The Refiner sits over the gold in the fire. The ten days' or ten years' tribulation comes to an end. The storm may rage and the boat appear in danger of sinking; but in the fourth watch of the night the Master will appear and say, "Peace, be still;" and there shall be a great calm. Patience is first to have her perfect work; and in due time "He that shall come, will come and will not tarry." Weeping may endure for a night during the Bridegroom's absence; joy cometh in the morning, when all tears shall be wiped away.

SECT. XL.—THE ROMANS. (Chap. Dan .)

In these verses, it is believed by many, a transition is made by the angel from Antiochus to that power which was to succeed the Grecian as the fourth great empire of the world, and which we know is brought upon the stage in Dan , as "the ships of Chittim." Dan 11:31 may be the place referred to by the Saviour in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which would be decisive as to the application of the passage. But it might also be chap. Dan 9:27, as read in the Greek version. The section before us may indeed still have its primary reference to Antiochus, while it may also point to a second enemy of God and His truth of whom Antiochus was a type. The Old Testament "little horn" of the Third Empire might be, and possibly was intended to be, a type of the New Testament "little horn" of the Fourth or Roman Empire, now again to be introduced to the prophet's view as the Wilful King. It is certain that much that took place under the persecution of Antiochus, as detailed in these verses, had its counterpart in the calamities afterwards suffered under the Romans; while much that is predicted of Antiochus was verified in that mysterious power into whose hands the saints of the New Testament were for a lengthened period to be delivered. "All that has passed," says Calvin, "is in some sense typical of all that is to come." "The saints of the Most High," says his translator, "are always the special objects of Jehovah's regard: they ever meet with an oppressor as fierce as Antiochus and as hateful as the ‘Man of Sin;' but still, whatever their sufferings under a Guise or an Alva, they shall ultimately ‘take the kingdom,' and possess it for ever. Strongholds of Mahuzzim there always will be, under either the successors of the Medici or the descendants of Mahomet.… It may be safely asserted that every social and political change from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to those of Constantine have had their historic parallel from the days of Charlemagne to those of Napoleon. Hence predictions which originally related to the empires of the East might be naturally transferred to the transactions of Western Christendom." In this section we shall trace the passage before us in its application to the Fourth Empire, or to the Romans who succeeded the Greeks as rulers of the world.

II. Their effects. "And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries; but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, and by captivity, and by spoil, many days" (Dan ). Bishop Newton thinks the former of these verses might be applied to the times of Antiochus, but not so properly the latter; as it does not appear that the Maccabees instructed the people, though they led them to battle and to victory. Neither could it so well be said that the sufferings of the Jews under Antiochus were for "many days," or years, according to the prophetic import of the expression; that persecution having lasted only a few years. "All these things," he says, "are much more truly applicable to the Christian Jews; for now the daily sacrifice was taken away, the temple was given to desolation, and the Christian Church had succeeded to the place of the Jewish, and the New Covenant in the room of the Old." In reference to the clause, "such as do wickedly he shall corrupt by flatteries," he observes: "The Roman magistrates and officers, it is well known made use of the most alluring promises, as well as the most terrible threatenings, to prevail upon the primitive Christians to renounce their religion, and offer incense to the statues of the emperors and images of the gods." He quotes an old commentator, who says: "There are some who think that the prophet here had respect to the Christians whom the wicked idolaters endeavoured, from the beginning of the rising Church, to seduce by flatteries; but the persecution of tyrants raged chiefly against the apostles and holy teachers." Times of persecution will doubtless have much in common; and Christians, suffering as they did, and so long and often so severely under the Roman emperors and magistrates, would naturally find much in the description of the times of Antiochus applicable to their own. The word of prophecy was intended to be a "light shining in a dark place," in the New as it had been in the Old Testament dispensation. "These things happened unto them (the Old Testament Church) for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1Co 10:11). The bishop adds: "It may, too, with the strictest truth and propriety be said of the primitive Christians that, being dispersed everywhere, and preaching the Gospel in all the parts of the Roman empire, they ‘instructed many,' and gained a great number of proselytes to their religion: yet they fell by the sword, &c., ‘many days;' for they were exposed to the malice and fury of ten general persecutions, and suffered all manner of injuries, afflictions, and tortures, with little intermission, for the space of three hundred years."

III. The relief. "Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall; to try them, and to purge, and to make them white; even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed" (Dan ). According to Sir Isaac Newton, the "little help" was that afforded to the Christians in the time of Constantine the Great; the result of which was that many of the heathen, on account of the favour shown them by the emperor, and especially when Christianity was made the religion of the empire, as is well known, joined the Church without any real change of heart or faith in Jesus as a Saviour. While the edict of Diocletian, as Dr. Cox observes, was nearly fatal to the Christian cause, the elevation of Constantine to the imperial throne in the year 306 produced a period of external prosperity and peace to the Church. Bishop Newton remarks: "Here Porphyry hath many followers besides Grotius, supposing that by the ‘little help' was meant Mattathias of Modin, who with his five sons rebelled against the generals of Antiochus, and endeavoured to preserve the worship of the true God. But Mattathias died of old age; and his son Judas Maccabæus several times vanquished the generals of Antiochus, and after recovering the holy city, cleansing the sanctuary and restoring the worship of God, survived Antiochus some years; while the united dignity of the high priesthood and the sovereignty descended to his brother Simon's son, and continued in the family for many generations: which was much more than being ‘holpen with a little help;' while the Jews were so far from falling again by persecution, that their religion and government were established upon a firmer basis than before." He quotes Jerome, who says that some of the Jewish doctors understood these things of the Roman emperors Severus and Antoninus, who greatly loved the Jews; and others, of the Emperor Julian, who pretended to love them, and promised to sacrifice in their temple. The bishop, however, thinks the most natural way of interpretation is to follow the course and series of events; and thus to understand the "little help" of the entire suppression of the protracted persecutions of the Church by Constantine, when instead of being persecuted it was protected and favoured by the civil power; called, however, only a "little help," first, because while it added much to the temporal prosperity of the Church, it contributed little to its spiritual welfare, proving, on the contrary, the means of corrupting its doctrine and relaxing its discipline, while it caused many to "cleave to them by flatteries," simply because Christianity was made the religion of the empire; and, further, because this help lasted but a little while, the spirit of persecution soon after reviving, especially under the Arians. "And such," he adds, "more or less has been the face and condition of the Church ever since." Calvin remarks on the latter part of the verse, that "in these days (the latter part of the sixteenth century) the very counterpart of this prophecy is exhibited before our eyes. The whole Papacy is called the Church of God, and we the Protestants are but few in number; and yet what a mixture exists even among us! How many in these days profess attachment to the Gospel, in whom there is nothing either solid or sincere." Mr. Birks, on the passage before us, remarks: "The afflictions of the Maccabees were indeed a brief rehearsal of a longer series of changes, which serve, in the prophecy, to conduct us into a fresh dispensation, and down to the rise of a more dangerous and powerful persecutor than Antiochus, to prevail afterwards in the latter days." And again, in regard to the words of the prophecy, he observes: "They answer exactly to the troubles of the Jews under Antiochus; but they correspond also with no less accuracy, on a wider scale, to the whole course of Providence towards the Jews and the Christian Church, from the time of the Maccabees far into the present dispensation." He thinks that the very place which these verses occupy may prove of itself that they form a transition from Antiochus to the time of the end; and that the leading events of that interval, here portrayed in their natural order, are "the gradual encroachment of the Romans in Judea, till at length they destroyed the city and temple, and brought on the desolation which has now for ages brooded over Jerusalem; the preaching of the apostles; the spread of the Gospel through the Roman empire; the pagan persecutions; the triumph of the faith when the whole empire nominally received it; the corruption of the visible Church; renewed troubles and persecutions; and the growth of an apostate tyranny without example in the history of the world. Some of the followers of Jesus, like these men of understanding in the days of Antiochus, were to "fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white." After the elevation of Christianity as the religion of the empire, "Christians themselves," says Dr. Cox, "became miserably disunited, and the character of the Church of Christ awfully corrupted. An unholy hierarchy gradually rose to distinction and dominion; and ‘men of understanding,' or those who obeyed the dictates of conscience, combining with sober inquiry unto the truth,—in fact, multitudes of the faithful followers of the Saviour, became the victims of papal intolerance—a trying indeed, but still a whitening or purifying process." This was to be "to the time of the end,"—the time when the purposes of God regarding the "scattering" of Israel on account of their sin should be accomplished, and the promised period for their restoration, and the visible and universal establishment of the kingdom of God under the Messiah, should arrive. "Because it is yet for an appointed time." The time for the fulfilment of the prophecy was fixed in the purpose of God. "The vision is yet for an appointed time; but in the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry" (Hab 2:3).

It is our comfort to know that the promises of God, the troubles of His people, and the triumphs of His enemies, have all their appointed time. "It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you that are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven" (2Th ). In the meantime it is comforting to know that these troubles and persecutions have for believers a gracious mission and a blessed result. Their object on the part of Him who permits them, is to prove and to purify them. The will of God is the sanctification of His people; and afflictions and persecutions are but the fire which He employs for their purification. "This is all the fruit, to take away their sin."


Verses 36-39

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLI.—THE WILFUL KING. (Chap. Dan .)

I. The power itself. "The king" (Dan ). The term might either indicate a single individual ruler, as in the case of Alexander (Dan 11:3), or a series of rulers—as in the expression "four kings which shall arise" (chap. Dan 7:17). From the lengthened period of his predicted continuance, the term would seem here to have the latter meaning, and, like the Little Horn in chap. 7, to indicate an arrogant and blasphemous power that should rise in or out of the Roman empire. This, with most expositors of prophecy, we can only regard as, in the first instance at least, the papacy. The expression "the king" seems emphatic; and it is scarcely likely that it should be used to designate Antiochus whom the angel had introduced as a "vile person" to whom they should "not give the honour of the kingdom" (Dan 11:21). The emphatic term might naturally be chosen to indicate a new power that should occupy a conspicuous place in the future history of God's people. The type, which doubtless Antiochus was, appears now, as Archdeacon Harrison observes, to be lost sight of in the prophecy, and the antitype to be almost exclusively in view. According to the view of Christian antiquity, the prophecy is now occupied for some time at least with the description of that tyrannical and persecuting power already indicated in the Little Horn of the Fourth Beast, the description of which so closely corresponds with that of this Wilful King. The papacy or popedom may well be spoken of as "the king," inasmuch as the popes not only claimed to be sovereigns, but sovereigns above all others however exalted, combining with a temporal sovereignty a spiritual jurisdiction which embraced all Christendom. It is justly viewed as the power to which the Apostle referred in 2Th 2:3-4, as that which should arise in the Church as the result of an apostasy, or mystery of iniquity, which had even in his time begun to work, and which was only then withheld from fully developing itself by an existing hindrance which he does not name, and which, on the removal of that hindrance, would reveal itself, and continue until destroyed by the Lord's second appearing.

II. Its character. "The king shall do according to his will" (Dan ). The leading characteristic of this power was to be absolute and arbitrary conduct. Of all absolute and arbitrary rulers he should be the chief. Antiochus acted as a type and shadow of this "king "when he commanded all the peoples under his sway to receive his laws and follow his religion. It is well known that the popes claimed, and for a time obtained, an absolute sway over the greatest earthly rulers in virtue of their assuming the place and authority of the Vicar of Christ, with power over both worlds, and possessing both the spiritual and the temporal sword, with a judgment that was infallible, and an authority that could set aside oaths and the most sacred obligations. The language of the Decretals and Bulls of the popes, to which the nations of Europe submitted for centuries, is, as Mr. Birks observes, that emperors ought to obey and not to rule over the pontiffs; that they owe an oath of fealty and subjection to the pope as their superior and head; that what the bishops of Rome decree ought to be observed by all; that it is permitted neither to speak nor to think differently from the pope; that he imparts authority to laws, but is not bound by them; and that he is made the head of the whole world. One example may suffice. Hume relates of Pope Paul IV., to whom Ferdinand, the brother of Charles V., applied for his coronation, that "he thundered always in the ears of all ambassadors, that he stood in no need of the assistance of any prince; that he was above all the potentates of the earth; that he would not accustom monarchs to pretend to a familiarity or equality with him; that it belonged to him to alter and regulate kingdoms; that he was successor of those who had deposed kings and emperors; and that rather than submit to anything below his dignity, he would set fire to the four corners of the world. He went so far as, at table, in the presence of many persons, and even openly, in a public consistory, to say that he would not admit any kings for his companions; they were all his subjects, and he would hold them under his feet; so saying, he stamped on the ground with his old and infirm limbs: for he was now past fourscore years of age." Such was "the king," the king with emphasis; the king that by his absolute will and arbitrary power was to rule and afflict the Church and the world for many centuries.

III. Its doings. Described in various particulars in Dan .

The Wilful King was not only to continue but to "prosper "during his appointed period. This purpose of God has been the secret of the mysterious continuance and more mysterious prosperity of the papacy during the past twelve centuries. "Four times," says Macaulay (Essay on Ranke's History of the Popes), "since the authority of the Church of Rome was established in Western Christendom, has the human intellect risen up against her yoke. Twice that Church remained completely victorious. Twice she came forth from the conflict, bearing the marks of cruel wounds, but with the principle of life strong within her. When we reflect on the tremendous assaults which she has survived, we find it difficult to conceive in what way she is to perish." It was thus that while the mighty work of reformation was proceeding in the north of Europe, and in all the countries on this side of the Alps and the Pyrenees it seemed on the point of triumphing, a counter-reformation took place, carried on with equal energy and success. Hence the mysterious rise and progress of the Order of Jesus, a concentration of the spirit of the papacy, the main instrument in the great papal reaction. Till the appointed time of his decay and overthrow should come, the Wilful King was to be invincible. That time, however, was to come. In May 1514, the orator of the Lateran Council proclaimed that there was an end of resistance to papal rule, and that the whole body of Christendom was now subjected to its head, Pope Leo X. In October 1517, exactly three years and a half after, Luther fixed up his famous Theses at the door of the University of Wittemberg, which were to shake the papacy to its foundations. Three centuries and a half longer were to transpire before "the king," divested of all his territory, was to cease to be a temporal ruler. But the time came. That that was determined was done. But the end is not yet.

We may pause to reflect—

1. How unsearchable are God's judgments, and His ways past finding out! How mysterious that such a power should be permitted to arise in the Church, and to continue and prosper for so long a period!

2. No evil or calamity but is under God's control. Evils in Church and state can only exist and continue by His permission and appointment, and will be overruled for His own glory.

3. Solemn responsibility connected with the possession of the Gospel. The misuse or non-acceptance of that Gospel, proceeding from want of love to the truth, the sin that gave rise to this fearful judgment upon the Church of the New Testament, as a similar sin had done with that of the Old (2Th ).

4. The power and malignity of Satan in contriving, preparing, and employing agencies for evil where they might be least expected. It is our comfort, however, to know that this power is counteracted by the still greater power of God, in controlling these agencies and overruling them for His own glory and the good of His people.

5. The extent to which human depravity may, under Satan's influence, be carried, even in connection with the highest profession of religion and piety. Hence the constant need of the Psalmist's prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."


Verses 40-45

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLII.—SARACENS AND TURKS. (Chap. Dan .)

III. The doings of the parties. Those of the Turkish power or king of the North mainly described.

1. "The king of the South shall push at him" (Dan ). Mr. Birks remarks: "The Saracens, however wide their other conquests, did really push, with furious vehemence, against the papal dominions, whether we interpret them in a narrower sense of St. Peter's patrimony, or more widely of the nations in communion with the See of Rome. How violent their inroads on the Western nations at large, till their defeat by Charles Martel, is known to the most cursory reader of history or romance." He quotes Gibbon, who says: "A fleet of Saracens from the African coast presumed to enter the mouth of the Tiber, and to approach a city which even yet, in her fallen state, was revered as the metropolis of the Christian world." The "African coast" marks the invaders as a power from the South.

2. "The king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind with chariots," &c. History decides what the construction seems to leave uncertain, whether the attack of the king of the North was to be directed against the same power pushed at by the king of the South, or against the king of the South himself. We read of the attacks made by hordes of Turkish cavalry, first on the provinces of the Eastern empire, and then on the papal kingdoms of the West, as if following in the steps of the Saracens. Gibbon, speaking of the conquests of Togrul and Alp Arslan, says: "The Asiatic provinces of Rome were irretrievably sacrificed." After overthrowing the Greek empire, by means of their horsemen and their ships, they directed their attack on the West, more particularly predicted in the words, "He shall enter into the countries, and overflow, and pass over." Mr. Birks remarks: "These words aptly describe the first passage of the Turks into Europe. They had already entered into the countries of Asia Minor, and established themselves there as kings of the North. But they were not restrained within these narrow bounds.… The results of this first overflow of the Turks into Europe are too well known, and too legible on the map of Europe for centuries, to require further details." He observes that Sismondi describes Italy and the pope as the true objects, at that time, of the Turkish aggression; and quotes Gibbon, who says: "The grief and terror of the Latins revived, or seemed to revive, the old enthusiasm of the crusades.… The devastation advanced towards the West, and every year saw a new kingdom fall." These attacks of the king of the North, like those of his predecessor, were the divinely appointed chastisement of the idolatry which had already found so large a place in the Christian churches. The words of the Sultan Mahomet II., read in connection with Rev , at once show this to have been the case, and to confirm the view of this power being identical with the second woe and the king of the North: "I will not turn my face from the west to the east, till I overthrow and tread under the feet of my horses the gods of the nations; these gods of wood, of brass, of silver, and of gold, or of painting, which the disciples of Christ have made with their hands,"—as if he had read the passage above referred to,—"and the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils (demons, or departed spirits), and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood."

IV. The end of the hostile power. "He shall come to his end, and none shall help him" (Dan ). This being the first time we read of the end of the power whose doings are described in the preceding verses, since the introduction of the vile person in Dan 11:21, some have been led to think that the same power is spoken of throughout. It is probable, however, that the end here foretold is that of the hostile power under its last form, which is at the same time the termination and destruction of all the world-powers that have set themselves in opposition to God's people whether in Old or New Testament times, and which, of course, is still future. The blending, in the prophecy, of one Antichristian power, or of one form of Antichrist, into another has its parallel in the prophecy of the Saviour Himself, in which the prediction regarding Jerusalem's destruction blends into that of His second appearing, when He shall take "vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of His Son," and when the "Man of Sin "shall be destroyed "with the brightness of His coming." It seems certain, from chap. Dan 12:1, that the end of the hostile power here predicted is connected with the great tribulation, and the resurrection from the dead which is probably soon to follow it. The angel then adds: "And at that time"—the time referred to in the end of the preceding chapter—"shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." This time of trouble, again, is connected with the resurrection from the dead, which appears to follow it chap. Dan 12:2), and which we know to be the result of the Lord's second appearing (1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:15-17). The manner in which the end of this and, at the same time, of every hostile power is described, corresponds with this view of the time and circumstances in which it shall happen. It is simply said, "He shall come to his end, and none shall help him." As if a breath from the Lord's mouth, or a glance from His eye, brought him and all his chivalry in a moment to destruction. No word is spoken as to the means by which, or the manner in which, the end should be brought about. The scene closes in sublime and mysterious silence. For a fuller description of the solemn event we must, doubtless, look to the prophecy of Zechariah, Zec 14:3-4, and especially to the awful and magnificent picture of the battle of the great day of God Almighty presented in Rev 19:11-21. May both reader and writer be prepared for the terrors and solemnities of that infinitely momentous and rapidly approaching day!

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLIII.—THE INFIDEL AND FINAL ANTICHRIST. (Chap. Dan .)

"He shall come to his end, and none shall help him." It has been remarked that in this last prophecy of Daniel one predicted hostile power appears to merge into and blend with another that succeeds it. This prophetic blending sometimes takes place almost insensibly; so that the same power would almost seem still to continue to be spoken of. Of these various successive powers Antiochus Epiphanes, who is introduced in Dan , seems to be regarded as a kind of general type. The powers themselves may be regarded as so many Antichrists,—for, according to the Apostle, "there are many Antichrists,"—or Antichrist under so many different forms. The destruction of all these Antichristian powers would seem to take place together, and to be that "end" predicted in the closing verse of the chapter, of which the sudden and signal end of Antiochus was a type. As the papal Antichrist seemed to blend into the Mahometan in Dan 11:40, so the Mahometan would appear to blend into the infidel and final one in the last verse of the chapter. From what is said to take place when the power thus predicted comes to his end, viz., the time of great tribulation, the deliverance of the Jewish remnant, and the resurrection from the dead, there can be little doubt that this power is the last enemy that shall appear against the people of God, till the end of the thousand years' reign of righteousness and peace (Rev 20:7-9). That last enemy is apparently still the Little Horn of Daniel's Fourth Beast, and Paul's Man of Sin; but, as may be gathered from the book of Revelation, under an openly infidel form, as the scarlet-coloured beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit and goeth into perdition, "full of names of blasphemy," having seven heads and ten horns, who with the false prophet gathers together the kings of the earth and their armies, to make war against Christ in the "battle of the great day of God Almighty," and who with the same false prophet shall then be taken and "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev 17:3; Rev 16:14; Rev 19:20).

Following Mr. Frere in his "Combined View of the Prophecies," Mr. Irving observes that in the book of Daniel we have four main streams of prophecy, all commencing from the period at which the prophet lived, and running down to the time of the end. The fourth stream is contained in this eleventh chapter, which connects itself with the time of Daniel by the mention of certain "kings" immediately succeeding it, and then makes large leaps to reach the description of a third blasphemous and ungodly power, which was to arise in the form, not of an institution, but of an individual, close to the time of the end; these three powers being the Papal, Mahometan, and the Infidel; all to arise within the bounds of the four great monarchies, which may be called the prophetic earth. The prophet, he remarks, gives a most particular account of one king who should, at the time of the end, exalt himself against God, and prosper in war, till he should "come to his end, and none should help him." This end of the infidel king, for whose manifestation the whole history was given, shall also be the end or accomplishment of God's purposes in dispersing the Jews; which, he observes, was most important for Daniel, and is still most important both to the dispersed Jews and the Church of the Gentiles, whose fulness comes not in till the dispersed are gathered again; inasmuch as the prophecy makes this ingathering contemporaneous with the downfall of the great infidel king. Much to the same effect, Mr. Faber, in his "View of the Prophecies regarding Israel," observes that nearly every prophecy that treats of the restoration of the Jews treats likewise of the contemporary overthrow of some great and impious combination of God's enemies; a confederacy of which an infidel power, which should appear at the time of the end, should be so powerful as to take the lead, and which should include the ten-horned beast or Roman empire under its last head, the ecclesiastical power represented by Daniel's little horn, and certain kings of the earth, apparently in a state of vassalage to that sovereign power. All these are said to come to their end, and to be destroyed by some divine interposition after the expiration of a certain period (a "time, times, and half a time"); and that in Palestine, a region between the seas, in the neighbourhood of the glorious holy mountain, or Mount Zion, and in the more immediate vicinity of the town of Megiddo. At the close of the same period, he observes, the prophet teaches (chap. Dan ) that the restoration of the Jews, the goal to which the angelic communication pointed, should take place. The restoration, contemporaneous with the overthrow of the infidel power, Mr. Faber regarded as prepared for by the fall of the Ottoman empire, or the drying up of the river Euphrates (Rev 16:12), which takes place previous to the gathering together of the great confederacy. A writer on prophecy already quoted remarks that the manifestation of the last Antichristian apostasy or infidelity consists, like that of the former two, the Papal and the Mahometan, of two parts; the latter and the chief part being the account of the infidel person, his acts, and his destruction; the other part being the historical chain which connects the account with the time of the giving of the vision,—a chain of persons, remarkable kings, who were to intervene. This chain, Mr. Irving observes, brings us to a new dynasty (Dan 11:18), when the Roman arms under Scipio took the sovereignty of the parts that had constituted the Grecian monarchy; and then the prophecy at one stride brings us down to the immediate predecessor of the infidel king, who is said to be in his estate a "raiser of taxes" (Dan 11:20). The chain, he thinks, thus brings us to the first manifestation of the infidel power in the "vile person" (Dan 11:21), whose acts the prophet describes through the remaining part of the chapter. The countries he enters into (Dan 11:40) he considers to be already prepared, by the dissemination of his infidel sentiments, to give him a welcome; when he will "overflow" and level, like a terrible inundation, ancient thrones and establishments before him. This first manifestation of the infidel power he, with many others, believed to have its realisation in the first Napoleon, to be succeeded by a second like to him. He thinks that the prophet then immediately carries the infidel prince over to another scene of action, quite out of the bounds of the ten-horned papal empire, to the Holy Land (Dan 11:41), and gives a narrative of his conquests there, carried on probably from a motive of mad ambition: Perhaps, having subdued the western Roman empire, he is to be God's instrument to bring the Turk to his end, and may thus pass over to the Asiatic and African states, to possess himself of Egypt and the neighbouring kingdoms, to rally the nations of the ancient empire under his banner, the time of the destruction of the fourth beast being nigh at hand. The tidings out of the east, he, with Brightman, thinks refer to the event predicted in Rev 16:12, regarding the kings of the East, while those from the north refer to Russia. Thus troubled and "moved by what natural impulse we know not, but overruled by all those prophecies that have doomed him and all his chivalry to fall upon the mountains of Israel, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, by the rock of Zion, he plants in Jerusalem the ‘tabernacles of his palace,' the insignia of his royal state, upon the ‘glorious holy mountain between the seas,' and there he comes to his end by a mighty overthrow, in a great battle of God Almighty, to which the nations have been gathered together." He characterises the infidelity or infidel apostasy, contemplated here in the light not of an institution but of a person, as that which has grown like a disease out of the body of the papacy, and been nourished by the very grossness of that superstition, and gathering every evil and corrupt humour out of the wicked mass, till we see it, as it now is, all over its kingdom, ready to burst out and destroy the very organisation of the body. This impersonation of infidelity, or infidel chief, he considers, is to conduct and guide that infidelity to its sure purpose of dissolving that constitution of evil which has so long sat as an incubus upon the spirit of the Church. This infidel Antichrist, having obtained the victory over the papal constitution in order to destroy every vestige of lingering life within it, and being then led onwards to the East where he shall find the Mahometan superstition in its last throes; and thus coming in time to take up the abandoned sceptre of the Eastern empire, and having under him that power of nations and of kingdoms, which both the apostasies of the East and West once possessed,—"he hath accomplished his end, and his time is come." With his destruction, which is accomplished at Armageddon, the three apostasies are all finished, and Satan's last desperate throw is ended, and "the kingdom of Christ in good earnest spreads with all the prosperity of the divine blessing over all the earth."

In Mr. Faber's view, which is similar, the person who forms the subject of the closing verses of the chapter is the infidel king, the leader of the great Antichristian confederacy of the last days, who will, at the time of the end, or the close of the time, times, and half a time, be opposed by a king of the North and a king of the South; yet, in spite of this opposition, will succeed in overflowing many countries, and in conquering Palestine, Egypt, Libya, and the land of Cush or Ethiopia. In the unidst of these victories, he, being in Egypt, will be disturbed by some untoward tidings out of the North and out of the East, probably of the arrival in Palestine of the navy of the great maritime power with the converted of Judah. Enraged at such ungrateful news, he will hasten to Jerusalem, which he will succeed in taking. This, however, will be his last victory. Advancing to Megiddo, a town near the shores of the Mediterranean, in the great plain of Esdraelon, where, according to St. John, the conflict is to be decided, he will come unexpectedly to his end. The triumphant "Word of God" shall break his confederacy, and super-naturally overthrow him with a sudden destruction. The king of the North Mr. Faber thinks to be Russia; some terrible invasion from that quarter, symbolised by the great hailstorm of the Apocalypse, being made upon the papal Roman empire during the time that the infidel king is prosecuting his conquests in Palestine and Egypt.

Keil also views the latter verses of the chapter as all pointing to such an infidel power, whom he designates the Antichrist, the antitype of Antiochus Epiphanes. He says: "The undertaking of this king (Antiochus) to root out the worship of the living God, and destroy the Jewish religion, shows in type the great war which the world-power shall undertake against the kingdom of God, by exalting itself above every god, to hasten on its own destruction and the consummation of the kingdom of God. The description of this war, as to its origin, character, and issue, forms the principal subject of this prophecy.… From the typical relation in which Antiochus, the Old Testament enemy of God, stands to Antichrist, the New Testament enemy, is explained the connection of the end, the final salvation of the people of God, and the resurrection from the dead, with the description of this enemy, without any express mention being made of the fourth world-kingdom [the Roman empire], and of the last enemy [the little horn] arising out of it—already revealed to Daniel in chap. 7.… In chapter 8, the violent enemy of the people of Israel, who would arise from the Diadoch-kingdoms of the Javanic world-monarchy [the four divisions of the Grecian empire after Alexander's death], was already designated as the type of the last enemy who would arise out of the ten kingdoms of the fourth world- [or universal] monarchy. After these preceding revelations, the announcement of the great tribulation, that would come upon the people of God from these two enemies, could be presented in one comprehensive painting, wherein the assaults made by the prefigurative enemy against the covenant people should form the foreground of the picture, for a representation of the daring of the antitypical enemy, proceeding even to the extent of abolishing all divine and human ordinances, which shall bring the last and severest tribulation on the Church of God at the end of the days, for its purification and preparation for eternity."

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 11:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/daniel-11.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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