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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Daniel 12

 

 

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."


Verse 1

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLIV.—THE GREAT TRIBULATION. (Chap. Dan .)

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 (Deu ). 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" (Isa 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" (Isa 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 Isa 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" (Zep 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" (Jer 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" (Eze 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" (Luk 21:28).

We may notice in connection with this time of trouble—

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" (Eze ). 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 (Eze 38:16-17; Eze 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 (Eze 38:8-13). On the part of Israel, it is unbelief and rejection of their Saviour-King yet unrepented of and unforgiven (Eze 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 (Mat 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" (Jer ). 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" (Luk 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" (Isa 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" (Psa 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 (Zep 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" (Psa 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" (Mat 24:22).

HOMILETICS

SECT. XLV.—THE DELIVERANCE OF THE JEWS. (Chap. Dan , 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—

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. Dan .)

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

(8)

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" (1Jn ). 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" (Joh 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?" (Rom 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" (Isa 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" (Rev 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" (1Th ; 1Th 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. Dan .)

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" (Pro ). 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 (Jas 3:17-18). Notice—

(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" (Jas ). 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.

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.

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" (Php ). As He shall appear, or be manifested, with a visible glory, they shall appear, or be manifested, in glory with Him (Col 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" (1Co 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" (1Co ). 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 (2Co 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" (1Jn 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" (Num ). 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" (Rev 2:26; Rev 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" (Est ). 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" (1Th 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.

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. Dan .)

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.

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. Dan .)

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" (Isa ). 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" (Dan 12:9-10). They were "written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1Co 10:11).

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 (Dan ); secondly, a period of time that should be reckoned from the occurrence of certain events (Dan 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 (Exo ; Lev 20:26; Deu 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" (Lev 26:18-19; Lev 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. Dan 9:26). Paul speaks of them as already in his day broken off and cast away (Rom 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 (Lev 26:40-45; Deu 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?" (Rom 11:15). The period during which this scattering or crushing was to take place is the enigmatical one already occurring in the prophecy (chap. Dan 7:27), "a time, times, and a half," or three and a half times. From chap. Dan 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 (Rev 11:3; Rev 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 (Rev 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. Dan 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" (Act 3:19-21, R.V.)

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?" (Dan .) 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 (1Pe 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 (Dan 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?" (Dan 12:8.) This question, so far from being discouraged, is answered by still fuller information on the subject (Dan 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" (Joh 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" (2Pe 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 (Rev 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).

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" (2Th ). 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? (2Th 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" (Rom 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" (Rev 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" (Act 1:8; Rev 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. Dan .)

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" (Isa ; Isa 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" (Rom 8:21; Rom 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" (1Pe 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" (Mal ). 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" (Psa 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" (Heb 12:6; Rev 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" (Eph ). 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 (2Co 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; 1Th 5:24).

4. Godliness the only true wisdom. "The wise shall understand." So in Dan , "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" (Mic 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" (Jas 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 (1Co 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 (1Co ). 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" (Mat 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" (1Jn 2:20; 1Jn 2:27). Christ counsels the vain, conceited Laodiceans to anoint their eyes with His eye-salve, that they may see (Rev 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 (2Th ).

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" (Isa ). 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" (2Ti 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 (Isa 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" (Jer ).

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."


Verse 12-13

HOMILETICS

SECTION LI.—WAITING AND WORKING. (Chap. Dan .)

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.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 12:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/daniel-12.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 27th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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