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Daniel, like Ezekiel, was an Israelite in Babylonian captivity, but of a little earlier date (1-4, compared with Ezekiel 1:1, 2). Of royal blood, fine physique, strong intellectuality and deep knowledge, he became trained in the language, traditions and astrological science of his captors that, with the other eunuchs, he might serve their king in responsible relations in the palace (4-7). For religious reasons, and out of reverence to the true God, he sought the privilege of abstention from a certain part of the physical preparation (8), with the happy result indicated in the chapter. God was preparing Daniel better than Nebuchadnezzar was and for a greater purpose than he knew.
The Testing Time. 2:1-30.
In process of time the testing came (1-13).
"Each victory will aid you
Another to win."
Daniel had won one, and his faith had been strengthened to essay another (14-16). We gather from these verses and the preceding that he had not been consulted with the heathen advisers above (2). Observe the character of his piety (17, 18), and note the first young men's prayer-meeting on record, and its results (19-23). "Belteshazzar" (26) is the Babylonian name bestowed on Daniel. Note his unfaltering witness to the true God (27-30).
The Dream and Interpretation, vv. 31-45.
At this point the book of Daniel differs from the preceding prophets in that they deal chiefly with Israel or Judah, and only secondarily with the Gentile nations; while he deals chiefly with the latter, and secondarily with the former. In other words, he is giving us the outline history of these nations during the time Israel is scattered among them in punishment, and up until the period of her restoration to her land and deliverance from their oppression.
Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which he interpreted, shows that this period of Gentile dominion in the earth, lasting from the time of that king, when Judah is taken from her land until the end of this age when she shall be restored there again, is divided among four world-powers (31-35).
The metal image equals Gentile dominion in all this period. The head of gold, the Babylonian power, the breast and arms of silver, the Medo-Persian power succeeding; the belly and thighs of brass, the Grecian; the legs and feet of iron and clay, the Roman. The stone "cut out of the mountain without hands" represents the Kingdom of the Messiah, which shall be set up on the earth at the end of this age, and whose establishment shall involve the demolition of all the earthly powers (36-45).
An interpretation of some of the difficulties follows: Note the two words of verse 31, "excellent," "terrible," as characterizing the history of the Gentile powers in all this period. They will have that to attract and that to repel to the very end. Note that the stone smites the image (34); in other words, the establishment of God's Kingdom on the earth will be with destructive judgments, as all the prophets have shown. Note that some day after the present kingdoms as such, are destroyed, but not before, God's Kingdom will be supreme in the earth (35). For the meaning of verses 37, 38, see Jeremiah 27.
Note that all the world-powers following Babylon will be inferior to it in a descending scale (39, 40). Inferior not in territorial extent or military prowess, but in the character of their government. Babylon was an absolute monarchy, Nebuchadnezzar's word was law (12, 13). The Medo-Persian power represented a limited monarchy -- Darius hearkened to his princes and his lords (6:4-16). The Grecian was weaker, in that after the death of Alexander the Great, the empire was divided into four parts. The Roman, the weakest of all, the clay mingled with iron, indicating the development of the democracy in the latter times; in other words, constitutional monarchies and republics.
Note particularly the fourth, or Roman, power (40-43). The two legs foreshadow the later division of that empire into the eastern and western halves. The ten toes speak of a time when five separate kingdoms shall represent each half. The iron and clay show the monarchical elements in more or less contention with the democratic, and vice versa. These governmental features are to characterize the end of this age (44), when God shall set up His Kingdom in the midst of heavy and destructive judgments.
1. In whose reign was Daniel taken captive?
2. State in your own words his history down to the time of the dream.
3. How does his book differ from the other prophets?
4. State the beginning and the ending of Gentile dominion.
5. Name its four great historical divisions.
6. Shall this age end in peace or disorder?
7. Have you compared Jeremiah 27?
8. In what sense do the world-powers grow inferior to one another?
FROM NEBUCHADNEZZAR TO CYRUS
The effect of the interpretation of his dream on Nebuchadnezzar is the inflation of his pride. To be sure, he was grateful to Daniel (2:46-49), to whom he offered worship, although the latter rejected it no doubt, as did Paul later (Acts 14:11-18). His apprehension of Daniel's God, however, is yet only as one amongst the national or tribal gods, although greater than they. This is clear from what follows in chapter 3:1-7, which is an attempt "to unify the religions of his empire by self-deification." The tower of Babel (Gen. 11) was an attempt of the same kind in the same place, and it will be again tried there by the "Beast," the last head of Gentile world-dominion (Dan. 7:8; Rev. 13:11-15; 19-20).
Speaking of the "Beast" brings to mind the tribulation Israel shall suffer at his hands; and the three faithful Jews of verses 8-18 are a type of the faithful remnant in that day which will not bow the knee to him (Isa. 1:9; Rom. 11:5; Rev. 7:14).
"The Son of God" (25) is translated in the R. V., "A son of the gods," and possibly refers to an angel which the king beheld (Psa. 34:7) though some apply it to the Second Person of the Trinity (Isa. 43:2). The result of Nebuchadnezzar's experience in this instance is a further confession of the true God, but still He is only the God of the Hebrews, ruler of angels and the rewarder of them who honor Him. At the conclusion of the next chapter his vision is cleared considerably.
The King's Confession. 4.
This next chapter is his confession in the nature of a general proclamation (1). The tree he saw in vision (10) symbolized himself grown great in the earth, as God, through Daniel, had foretold. Its hewing down (14) was the punishment coming on him for his pride. The stump left in the earth (15) was his return to power again after the lesson of his humiliation was learned. He became a lunatic, and lived like a beast for seven years (16). The reason for it all is in verse 17. Daniel is kind and sympathetic towards him though obliged to speak the awful truth (19). He is faithful also (27), and who can tell what the outcome may have been had the king heeded his warning? In a twelvemonth, however, the stroke fell (29-33). But at the end of the experience the king has a different testimony to bear of God (34, 35).
Passing of Babylon. 5.
Many years have elapsed since the events of the last chapter. Nebuchadnezzar is dead and his son-in-law, Nabonidus is reigning, with his son (and Nebuchadnezzar's grandson), Belshazzar, as co-regent (1). His name means "Bel protect the king," while "Belteshazzar," the name assigned to Daniel, means "Bel protect his life." In verse 2 Nebuchadnezzar is called "his father," but there is no discrepancy here, because the Semitic tongues have no equivalent for "grandfather" or "grandson." A corroboration of the position here assigned Belshazzar is found in verse 7, where the interpreter of the mysterious handwriting is promised the "third" place in the kingdom -- Nabonidus being first and Belshazzar himself second.
The "queen" (10) is probably the aged widow of Nebuchadnezzar and grandmother of the present king, who has not forgotten Daniel, though her offspring and his court seem to have done so in their degeneracy. Like herself, the prophet is now old, perhaps eighty, but as the result shows, God has more service in store for him, and the honor that accompanies it. Note his words and the character of his indictment against the king (17-28). And yet the king acts like a king in verse 29. In that night the power was wrested from the Babylonians by the Medes and Persians, and the breast and arms of the image had become realized in history.
"Darius the Mede" (31) is unknown to history by that name outside of this book, and is not to be confounded with the later Darius of Ezra (5:5). When it is said he "took the kingdom," some think it means that it was taken in his name merely, but really by his general, who was also his relative, Cyrus, who afterward became king, and who is named at the close of chapters 1 and 6. There is obscurity surrounding this subject on which our space will not permit elaboration.
Daniel in the Lion's Den. 6.
Darius had heard of Daniel and his prophecies, and desired to honor him (1-3), but human jealousy is at work (4, 5). How does the first word of verse 7 prove that these rulers told a falsehood to the king? Is not this sin into which he fell practically the same as that committed by Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 3? Was ever faith more beautifully displayed than by God's aged servant in verse 10? Referring to our last lesson, how does verse 14 illustrate the inferiority in character of this kingdom over the preceding?
As another says, "Well may we think here of another law and another love." God's holy law condemned man, and justly so, yet He found a way to save him (2 Cor. 5:21). An absolute monarchy is what man wants, if only it be a holy monarchy. It was a terrific judgment that fell on Daniel's accusers, but remember the age in which it occurred, and also that it was not commanded by God, although permitted as a judicial retribution.
Notice in closing, the last verse of the chapter. Do we recall that Isaiah had prophesied of Cyrus between one and two hundred years before his birth (44-45)? He is the one under whom the Medo-Persian kingdom was consolidated, and who later gave liberty to the Jews to return to Jerusalem at the close of their seventy years' captivity, as we saw in Ezra (1:1-4). Doubtless Daniel's influence had much to do with this.
1. How was Nebuchadnezzar affected by his dream?
2. Illustrate his development in the knowledge of the true God.
3. What was the motive or aim of his action in chapter 3?
4. To what event in the "end" period does this point?
5. Of what is the faithfulness of the three Jews a type?
6. Give the story of chapter 4 in your own words.
7. What was Belshazzar's relation to Nebuchadnezzar?
8. Who was the real conqueror of Babylon?
9. Quote from memory 2 Cor. 5:21.
10. Tell what you know of the story of Cyrus.
DANIEL'S VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS
This and the vision in chapter 8 are the prophet's "dream and visions," and not the king's, and they occurred apparently during his political retirement in the earlier years of Belshazzar (7:1, 8:1). They cover the same ground as Nebuchadnezzar's dream and give us in more detail, and from a different point of view, the same story of Gentile dominion from his period to the end of the present age. One difference is that Nebuchadnezzar's dream revealed the imposing outward splendor of the world-powers, while Daniel's shows their moral character as indicated by ferocious and rapacious beasts. "It is remarkable that the heraldic insignia of the Gentile nations are all beasts or birds of prey."
The "sea," in Scripture, stands for the peoples of the earth (Isa. 17:5, Rev. 17:15). The "great sea" Daniel saw was the Mediterranean, the center of the prophetic earth. That is, where not otherwise indicated, the nations with which prophecy has to do chiefly, are those that border on that sea, or whose political affiliations are closely related to them.
The Four Beasts. 7:1-8.
The first of these two visions (chapter 7), when more closely viewed, resolves itself into four, with their interpretations, but we shall treat it singly.
The lion (v. 4) corresponds to the golden head of Nebuchadnezzar's image, and stands for Babylon. The bear (v. 5) corresponds to the breast and arms of silver, and stands for the Medo-Persian empire. Being "raised up on one side," means that one part of the empire was stronger than the other, which was Persia. The "three ribs in the mouth of it" are the three provinces conquered by it not long before, Susiana, Lydia and Asia Minor. The leopard (v. 6) is the Grecian empire, corresponding to the "belly and thighs of brass." The four wings denote the swiftness with which it carried its victories in every direction, and the four heads its ultimate partition into as many parts on the death of its great head, Alexander. The dreadful and terrible beast, too dreadful and terrible for a name (v. 7) corresponds to the legs of iron, and is equivalent to the Roman empire. Its ten horns, like the ten toes in the other case, speak of the ten kingdoms into which it shall be divided at the end of this age; while the little horn (v. 8) "who subdues three of the ten kings so completely that the identity of their kingdoms is lost," is the important additional feature of this vision over that of Nebuchadnezzar. We will again refer to this.
The Ancient of Days. vv. 9-14.
While these events are culminating on the earth others are transpiring in heaven -- a great judgment scene is before us (compare Ps. 2; Matt. 25:31-46, and Rev. 19: 19-21). "The Ancient of Days" is identified by some as the First, and by others as the Second Person of the Godhead (Rev. 1:12-14; John 5:22). The slaying of the "beast" (v. 11) means the destruction of the world-powers as represented in their final form of the revived Roman Empire. As to the "rest of the beasts" whose dominion was taken away while their lives were prolonged for a season (v. 12), the meaning is that each of the preceding empires was, in turn, swallowed up by its successor, and lived in it, though it lost its place of independent power. "The Son of man" (v. 13) needs no identification as He comes forward to receive His earthly Kingdom -- the stone cut out of the mountains without hands. (Compare the parable of the nobleman, Luke 19.)
The Inspired Interpretation, vv. 15-27.
Note that while the Son of man receives the Kingdom (v. 13) "the saints of the Most High" take and possess it with him (v. 18). These may mean the faithful Israelites on earth, but the glorified church will be with the King as her Head in the air reigning over the earth.
The great interest for the prophet in this interpretation focuses on "the little horn" (v. 24), which is referred to under the title of the "Beast" in Revelation 13 and 17. He is a blasphemer of God and a persecutor of His saints (v. 25), who shall have great power for three and one-half years at the close of this age, and just before God interposes with judgments to set up His Kingdom. "Time" here stands for a year, "times" for two years, and "the dividing of time," half a year. (See Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6.)
1. To whom is this vision revealed, and at what period in his life?
2. How does it correspond with Nebuchadnezzar's dream?
3. How does it differ in its point of view?
4. What does the "sea" symbolize in the Bible?
5. What particular sea is now in mind, and what gives it its great importance prophetically?
6. Which was the stronger part of the second empire?
7. What is the interpretation of verse 12?
8. What is the meaning of "a time, and times, and the dividing of time?"
THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT
How much later was this vision than the preceding? Where was it revealed to Daniel (v. 2)? It is important to keep in mind that it covers the same ground as the preceding, except that the story begins, not with Babylon's supremacy, but that of the Medes and Persians represented by the ram (v. 3), though in the former vision by the bear. The higher horn of the ram is the Persian half of the empire. The united empire made conquests* west, north and south, but in its western campaigns it awakened the triumphing opposition of the Greeks represented by the "he-goat," whose "notable horn" was Alexander the Great (vv. 5-7). In the former vision this empire was represented by the leopard.
Verse 8 foreshadows the death of Alexander, and the division of the Grecian empire into four parts -- Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, Asia Minor, under the rule respectively of four of Alexander's generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy.
Antiochus Epiphanes. vv. 9-14.
"A little horn," as in the preceding vision, comes out from these four (v. 9), whose power developed towards the south and east, and especially "the pleasant land," the land of Israel. The "little horn" is the eighth of the dynasty of Seleucus on the Syrian throne, whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes, although he was sometimes called "Epimanes," or the "madman," because of his life and deeds.
As an oppressor of the Jews he fulfilled the prophecy in verses 10-12, as will be seen by the book of Maccabees. "The host of heaven" and "the stars" are types of Israel, especially their leaders -- the princes, priests, rabbis of the period, which was about 171 B. C.
"The prince of the host" (v. 11) is doubtless the Lord Himself, from whom the daily sacrifice was taken away, and whose sanctuary was polluted. Indeed, when Antiochus conquered Jerusalem he caused a sow to be sacrificed on the altar, and its broth sprinkled over the entire temple. He changed the feast of tabernacles into the feast of Bacchus, and greatly corrupted the Jewish youth who were spared from the sword, one hundred thousand of whom were massacred.
The time during which this continued is revealed by a conversation between two angels which Daniel in vision hears (vv. 13, 14). The 2,300 days is sometimes identified by going back from the time of Judas Maccabees' victory, or rather the date when he cleansed the sanctuary from its abomination, about December 25, 165 B. C, to 171 B. C, the date of the interference of Antiochus. This Antiochus is a forerunner, or an approximate fulfillment of that "little horn" spoken of in the preceding vision, and again in the closing part of the present one.
The Inspired Interpretation, vv. 15-27.
The angel Gabriel here appears for the first time, and in the likeness of a man (vv. 15, 16), but it is evident that the interpretation he is to give has reference not so much to Antiochus and his deeds as to the greater than he who shall arise "at the time of the end" (5:17), the same one possibly, and the same period as are referred to in the preceding vision. "The time of the end" is identified in verse 19 as "the last end of the indignation," an expression frequently met with in the Old Testament, and meaning God's indignation against Israel on account of her disobedience and apostasy, an indignation which will be poured out upon her at the end of this age.
This being of whom Antiochus is the forerunner or approximate fulfillment, and who is possibly the same as in the preceding vision, is further described in verses 23-25. What language in verse 23 shows that he appears at the end of the age? How are his spirit and character described in the same verse? How does the next verse suggest superhuman agency in his case? And his animus towards Israel? Express the deceitfulness indicated in verse 25, in your own words. What language in this verse shows his opposition to the Messiah personally? How is his destruction expressed? (Compare 2 Thess. 2:8.) It may be objected that this being can not be the same as the "little horn" of the preceding vision, because that is seen to come up out of the ten horns; in other words, out of the Roman Empire or the last form of Gentile dominion on the earth, while this comes up out of the four, or the Grecian Empire, which is next to the last. But a simple answer is that he may come up out of that part of the Roman Empire which was originally the Grecian; in other words, that his rise may be expected in that quarter of the world and from such antecedents.
Nevertheless some think the "little horn" of this chapter, who shall arise at the end, is a different person from the one in chapter 7. They hold that he of chapter 7 will be the head of the revived Roman Empire, but that he of chapter 8 is another king of the north, who is to be the foe of Israel, and at the same time the enemy of the head of the revived Roman Empire. This may be true, and we would not dogmatize in a matter of such uncertainty, but we think the view suggested here of the identity of the two is the simpler and more practical one to hold awaiting light.
1. Flow far is the scope of this vision identical with the preceding?
2. Name the geographic divisions of the Grecian Empire and their respective, rulers.
3. Historically, who is meant by the "little horn"?
4. Give as much as you can of the history of Antiochus Epiphanes.
5. Of whom is he a type or forerunner?
6. What is meant by "the time of the end"?
7. What objection might be raised as to the identity of the "little horn" in chapter 7 with that of chapter 8?
8. How might it be met?
THE SEVENTY WEEKS
Thus far in Daniel we have been dealing with the prophetic history of the times of the Gentiles, but now we return to that of his own people, the Jews.
Note the time and circumstances, verses 1, 2. The prophet is studying such books of the Old Testament as he possessed, especially Jeremiah, and knows the seventy years' captivity nears its end, therefore he is moved to offer one of the most notable prayers in the Bible. This prayer is divisible into confession, verses 3-15, and supplication, verses 16-19, and it is remarkable that in the former, holy man as Daniel was, he includes himself as partaker in the national sins. It is equally remarkable that his supplication is based on desire for God's glory, verses 17, 18. Israel has no merit to claim, but the Lord's honor is at stake. We have seen this before in the prayers of the patriarchs, the prophets and the psalmists, and we need to keep its lesson in mind.
Gabriel's Visit, vv. 20-23.
What mystery is shrouded in these verses! The nearness of heaven, the interest of God in the petition of His people, the nature and ministry of angels, the divine estimate of the saints, who can fathom these things?
Answer to the Prayer, vv. 24-27.
"Weeks," verse 24, might be translated "sevens," but whether is meant "sevens" of days, or weeks, or months or years must be determined by the context. The context points to years, "Seventy sevens" of years, i. e., 490 years, are decreed upon Israel and the city of Jerusalem is the sense of the first phrase of this verse. At the close of this period six things shall have been accomplished for that people. In other words, Gabriel's message is not merely an answer to Daniel's prayer about the return from the seventy years' captivity, but a revelation of the entire future of Israel from the end of that captivity to the end of the present age. This is evident from the nature of the six things mentioned:
1. To finish the transgression.
2. To make an end of sins.
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity.
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness.
5. To seal up the vision and prophecy.
6. To anoint the Most Holy.
The first three of the above refer to a time still future, for Israel's transgression is not yet finished, nor her sins ended, nor her iniquity covered. The time, therefore, is that spoken of by all the prophets, and especially named in Zechariah 13:1 and Romans 11:26-27. This is the time, moreover, when "everlasting righteousness" shall be brought in, otherwise the blessings of the millennial age. The vision and prophecy will be sealed then, in the sense that their final accomplishment in the history of God's earthly people shall have taken place. The most holy place will be anointed then in that new temple to be erected, as we saw in Ezekiel.
The Division of the Sevens.
"From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks," verse 25. This is the first of three divisions in this period of 490 years, and covers forty-nine years, seven weeks of years being equal to that number. This division begins to be counted "from the going forth of the commandment to build Jerusalem," which, it is commonly thought, means the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, who gave that authority to Nehemiah, in the month Nisan (see Neh. 2). It is proved historically that this was 454 B. C. During this period of forty-nine years the street and wall were built again "even in troublous times." (See S. P. Tregelles on Daniel.)
But to this period of seven weeks, or forty-nine years, is added another of three-score and two weeks, or 434 years, a total of 483 years, "unto the Messiah the Prince," i. e., until "Messiah be cut off," verse 26.
Observe that this period extends not merely to the birth but to the death of Christ, when He is "cut off, but not for Himself." It is now admitted that our Lord was crucified April A. D. 32, and those competent in such calculations show that this was precisely 483 years of 360 days each, allowing for leap years, changes in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and matters of that sort. That the Messiah was cut off, "but not for Himself," has been translated, "and there shall be nothing for Him," which probably means that He did not then receive the Messianic Kingdom.
[Anstey maintains that the point of departure for the 70 weeks is the first year of Cyrus. However the outcome is not different so far as the fulfillment of the prophecy is concerned, as the calculation in the other case is based, in his judgment, on an error of 82 years in the Ptolemaic chronology.]
"And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary," refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans under Titus, A. D. 70. They, i. e., the Romans, are "the people of the prince that shall come," but this "prince" himself is identical, not with the Messiah, but with the little horn of Daniel 7, the terrible despot who will be at the head of the restored empire at the end of this age.
The End Period.
We now come to the last of the seventy sevens, or the closing seven years of this age. In other words, there is a long ellipsis between the close of the sixty-ninth and the beginning of the seventieth week, indeed, the whole of the Christian age, of which more will be said later.
The events of the seventieth week begin with the words "and the end thereof shall be with a flood," which should be, as in the Revised Version, "his" end, not "the" end, for the allusion is still to the "prince that shall come," i. e., the Antichrist. The word "flood" also might be rendered "overflowing," which, to quote Tregelles, is doubtless the same overflowing as in Isaiah 10:22 and as that of the final crisis of Israel's history at the end of the age. The interval until this time will be characterized by war and desolation (compare Matt. 24:3-8).
"And he," i. e., "the prince that shall come," "shall confirm the covenant with many for one week." The "many" refers to the people of Israel then to be in their own land, but still in an unconverted state as far as the acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah is concerned. It will be to the mutual interest of the "little horn," i. e., the Antichrist, and Israel to enter into this covenant for seven years. There will be a faithful remnant, however, who will not bow the knee to him -- the covenant will be made with "many" but not all (compare Isa. 28:15-18).
He will break this covenant after three and one-half years and "cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease," no longer permitting them to worship God in their newly-erected temple. Now begins their great tribulation, "a time and times and the division of time" named in chapter 8:25 (compare Rev. 13:5, 11-17).
The latter part of this verse has been translated thus: "And upon the wing (or pinnacle) of abominations (shall be) that which causeth desolation, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolator."
The "abominations" are doubtless idols that shall be set up by this wicked prince to be worshipped in the temple, when the true God has been set aside. Then the "consummation" comes and with it the judgment and desolation of the "desolator."
1. With whose history are we dealing in this lesson?
2. What great feature marks the prayers of God's people in the Bible?
3. What are some of the suggestions growing out of Gabriel's visit?
4. What period of time is covered by the "seventy weeks"?
5. To what place and people does this period apply?
6. Name the six important things which will be accomplished in that people at its close.
7. When does this period begin and end?
8. Divide it into its three parts.
9. What event is identified with the first part?
10. With what event does part two close?
11. Explain the allusion to "the prince that shall come."
12. What age intervenes between the last two parts?
13. Tell what you know about the "covenant" of verse 27.
SUPPLEMENT ON BIBLE CHRONOLOGY
The last lesson referred to the lapse of time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks, and as other lapses have been noted in the sacred chronology, it is desirable to devote a lesson to that subject.
The chronology of the Bible has a system of its own, whose center would seem to be the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Forbes Clinton, an authority on such matters, has worked out the following dates without reference to any human system: Adam was created 4141 B. C, and Abram was called 2055 B. C, showing an intervening period of 2,086 years. But precisely the same period elapsed between the call of Abram and the crucifixion of Christ. The call of Abram, therefore, is the center date between creation and the cross, a supposition harmonizing perfectly with the importance of that event in the history of redemption.
Cycles of Years.
To take another illustration, God's dealings with Israel are in cycles of 490 years, (1) The period from Abram to Exodus was 490 years, plus the fifteen years during which the bondwoman and her child (Hagar and Ishmael) dominated in Abram's tent, and which are not counted. (2) The period from Exodus to the dedication of Solomon's temple was 490 years, plus the 131 years of captivity in the time of the Judges, which are not counted. (3) From the dedication to the return from Babylon was 490 years, plus the seventy years of that capacity not counted. (4) From the return from Babylon to the beginning of the millennial age is 490 years, plus the dispensation in which Israel is dispersed, and which is not counted.
When God Does Not Count Time.
Prophetically speaking, God does not count time with reference to Israel while she is in captivity, or dispersion, or dominated by any other nation. In evidence of this, note that in 1 Kings 6:1 mention is made of the fourth year of Solomon as being 480 years after the Exodus. But we know from Numbers 14:33 that they were forty years in the wilderness; then, according to the Book of Joshua, they were thirty-seven years in conquering Canaan and up until the period of the Judges; Acts 13:20 shows that they were 450 years under the Judges; then they were forty years under Saul (Acts 13:21), and forty years under David (2 Sam. 5:4, 5). These periods total up 607 years, to which should be added the four years of Solomon referred to, making a total of 611 years.
How shall we explain this discrepancy, of which infidels and others have made so much? The answer has been stated above, that God does not count time prophetically while Israel is in captivity. For example, seven captivities are mentioned in the Book of Judges, one of eight years (3:8); eighteen years (3:14); twenty years (4:3); seven years (6:1); eighteen years (10:8); forty years (13:1), and twenty years (1 Sam. 7:2), making a total of precisely 131 years. The above is a sufficient illustration of the principle.
We close this lesson with a rough diagram of the 490 years covered by Daniel 9:24-27, which may aid in fastening that important prediction in the memory:
Seventy-sevens -- 490 Years.
From the twentieth year of Artaxerxes to the end of this age.
Seven weeks, or forty-nine years. The street and wall of Jerusalem built.
Sixty-two weeks, or 434 years. At the close of this period the Messiah is cut off and has nothing. A. D. 32.
The Uncounted Period.
1. Jerusalem destroyed.
2. Jews dispersed.
3. Jerusalem trodden down.
4. The church called out.
5. Apostasy of Christendom.
6. Jews in part to return to Jerusalem in unbelief.
7. Coming of Christ for the Church.
One week, seven years.
1. The Roman prince, or little horn in covenant with the Jews.
2. The covenant broken in the midst of the week.
3. The great tribulation begins.
4. Antichrist in power.
5. Christ appears to deliver Israel.
(See reference to Anstey in previous lesson.)
1. What is peculiar to the chronology of the Bible?
2. What appears to be the central date between creation and the Cross?
3. How are God's dealings with Israel chronologically identified?
4. Name some of the cycles referred to.
5. When does God not reckon time prophetically in the case of Israel?
6. Can you illustrate this?
7. Name the chief events associated with the four periods of time in the preceding diagram.
"A GREAT WARFARE"
Note the late date of this prophecy (10 :1), and the different rendering of a phrase in the Revised Version, where "even a great warfare" is substituted for "the time appointed was long." As the unveiling of the lesson will show, this phrase is an appropriate title for it.
Note the physical and spiritual preparation of the prophet for the revelation that follows (2-4), a condition into which he had doubtless brought himself by prayer. Had he been seeking of heaven an explanation of the previous mysteries -- especially that of the ram and the he-goat? This seems probable, because what follows traverses so much of the ground of chapter 8.
Verses 5-9 bear so strong a resemblance to the description of the Son of Man in Revelation 1:12-17 as to suggest that it also is a Christophany, or manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity. But this does not carry with it that it is He who touches and speaks to the prophet in the verses succeeding.
Mysteries of Satan's Kingdom.
Verses 10-14 are full of mystery, yet note first, the appreciation of Daniel in the heavenly courts (11); and then the testimony to the potency of prayer (12). But who is "the prince of the Kingdom of Persia" (13)? Doubtless a spirit of eminence in the kingdom of darkness, to whose control Satan has committed the earthly affairs of Persia (compare Eph. 4:12). This interpretation seems confirmed by the reference to Michael, elsewhere known as the archangel, and who in the kingdom of light is the special guardian of Israel (10:21. 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7). What mighty power must Satan possess as judged by this verse, but what a relief to know that there is One stronger than he! Note in the conclusion of this section that the revelation now to be given chiefly concerns what we identify as the end period, the last seven years (14).
Intervening Events, 11:1-35.
Passing over the effect on the prophet, we come to the revelation of what shall take place between his time and that of Antiochus Epiphanes, with whom we were made acquainted in an earlier chapter.
The three kings of verse 2 were Cyrus, Ahasuerus (Cambyses) and Darius Hystaspes (see Anstey's The Romance of Chronology, Vol. I, p. 239). The fourth king was Xerxes (see Ezra 4:5-24). The "mighty king" (3) was Alexander the Great, while the next verse tells once more of the division of his kingdom at his death among his four generals.
Two of these kingdoms of the four now come into prominence, Egypt and Syria (5, 6), as those most closely related to Israel in their subsequent history. The "king's daughter" (6) was Bernice, offspring of Ptolemy II, who married Antiochus Theous of Syria, but was subsequently poisoned by him. Her brother is referred to in verses 7-9 -- Ptolemy Energetes of Egypt.
Verse 9 is a mistranslation, and refers to the king of the north (R. V.), whose sons (10) were nevertheless overcome by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy Philopater (11), who became weakened at length through licentious living (12).
We have now reached the period of about 200 B. C, when Syria, after many vicissitudes, turns the tide of battle in her favor under the leadership of one known as Antiochus the Great. He entered the Holy Land in the course of his campaign (13-16), treating it considerately, however, as the Jews had been his allies. The last part of verse 16 is an incorrect rendering and should be compared with the Revised Version. Later he made another effort to get possession of Egypt, the working out of his plan including a treaty engagement, and the espousal of his daughter, Cleopatra, to the Egyptian king, but the scheme did not succeed (17). Why the Cleopatra in this case is called "the daughter of the women" is not clear, but some suppose it to be because she was but a child and under the tutelage of both her mother and grandmother. Verses 18 and 19 speak of a contest with the Romans into which he unsuccessfully entered, and of his subsequent death.
The brief reign of Seleucus Philopater B. C. 187-176 is depicted in verse 20, and then we come upon Antiochus Epiphanes, whose story continues through verse 35. "Vile" is "contemptible" in the Revised Version. This man was a younger son of Antiochus the Great, to whom the kingdom did not by right belong, but who stole the hearts of the people as Absalom did from David. He is the "little horn" of chapter 8, and as we have seen, forerunner of the greater "little horn" of the end period. Of his atrocities against Israel and the holy city and temple we read in the books of the Maccabees.
"The ships of Chittim" (30) are a Roman fleet whose power put an end to his victories in Egypt. Returning north, angry in his defeat, he committed those base things against Judea of which mention has been made and which are foretold again in verses 30-35. Apostate Jews sympathized with and aided him, as their successors will do in the case of his successor at the end period; but there were faithful ones under the lead of the Maccabees who valiantly resisted him (32). It was a period of testing for Israel, out of whose fires they came forth much purified.
1. When was this prophecy revealed to Daniel?
2. How was he prepared for it?
3. What illustration of "the law of recurrence" is seen in this lesson?
4. Who presumably is the "man" referred to in verse 5?
5. Who is meant by "the prince of Persia"?
6. What relation does Michael bear to Israel?
7. Name the four kings of Persia referred to in verse 2.
8. What does this lesson reveal about Antiochus Epiphanes?
THE ANTICHRIST AND THE TRIBULATION
In the introduction to this last vision of Daniel, it was stated (10:14) that it concerned his people "in the latter days," but thus far it has extended only to Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees. The dividing line is at the close of verse 35 and the beginning of 36, In the former we read of the testing and purifying experiences of the wise ones in Israel "even to the time of the end," and in the latter of a certain "king" who "shall do according to his will." Most students agree that the space between these two verses represents another lapse of time from the Maccabean period to the end of the age, and that the king now before us is the Antichrist of those coming days, who is referred to more particularly in Zechariah 11:15-17, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, and Revelation 13:11-17. Some identify him with the "little horn" of chapter 7 and the "little horn" of chapter 8, whom Antiochus Epiphanes typifies. This, indeed, may be true, i. e.. the restored head of the Roman Empire in that day, and the Antichrist, may be one and the same individual, but there are others who think that they may be two -- of this we cannot now be certain.
The King Described, vv. 36-39.
He is self-willed, proud, blasphemous, successful, idolatrous, materialistic, and covetous. "The God of his fathers" (37) is a phrase indicative of his Jewish extraction; "the desire of women," is taken by some as signifying the true Messiah, to whom all pious Jewish women in pre-Messianic times desired to give birth. "The god of forces," or "a god of fortresses" (38, R. V.), is difficult to understand except in some materialistic sense. Shall we say it finds interpretation in Revelation 13:11-17, by identifying the first beast as the restored head of the Roman Empire, and the second as this evil king, the Antichrist, who causes all men to worship the first? Is the first beast, this god, in other words?
The Last Campaign, vv. 40-45.
This king has enemies, the "king of the south" and the "king of the north" (40) of that period, but who they are cannot be conjectured. The last-named is more vigorous and successful, entering Jerusalem and overcoming countries (including the south country, Egypt, 41-43) until at length a menace in the east and north moves him to make quick work at Jerusalem (45), in which he meets his own inglorious end (compare Zech. 8 and 15, and Joel 2). It would appear from these passages that the coming of the Lord on behalf of Israel brings about his end, and we know that it is nothing less than this which also dispatches the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:8). There are deep things here for whose solution we can only wait, as Daniel was obliged to do (12:12).
Israel's Deliverance, 12:1-3.
The opening verses of this chapter, should be read in connection with Christ's words in Matthew 24, especially verse 21, and also Revelation 12, especially verses 7-12. Note the deliverance of the faithful remnant of the Jews in that day as shown in the latter part of verse 1, Zechariah 13:8, 9; Matthew 24:22. It is a question whether it is a physical or a moral resurrection that is spoken of in verse 2, but it would be harmonious with Ezekiel 37 to say the latter.
"They that be wise" (3), may be rendered "teachers," and refers doubtless to the faithful Jewish witnesses of the end period and the reward which comes to them; though, of course, it can be applied in a secondary sense to faithful witnesses anywhere and always, for "He that winneth souls is wise."
The Final Vision and Final Word to Daniel, vv. 4-13.
This book is still sealed to Daniel's people the Jews, but the time is coming when it will be unsealed (4). "The man clothed in linen" (5) is, it would seem, the same who appeared to the prophet at chapter 10:5, the blessed Lord Himself. Compare Daniel's question and its answer with Revelation 10:1-6. The answer once more identifies the last three and one-half years of the end period, "the time of Jacob's trouble," the 1,260 days of Revelation 11 and 12. But verse 11 adds another 30 days, and what may be understood by this we do not know. In the meantime may the promise to Daniel be fulfilled to us in our place and measure, "thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
1. What period of time is represented by the division between verses 35 and 36?
2. How might the "king" of verse 36 be identified?
3. How is he described?
4. Have you read Revelation 13?
5. Have you read Matthew 24?
6. Do you recall the subject of Ezekiel 37?
7. Where is found the verse "He that winneth souls is wise?"
8. Quote from memory the last verse of Daniel.
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