Daniel 8:17

17. So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man; for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

17. Et venit ad stationem meam: et cum veniret territus sum, et cecidi super faciem meam: tunc dixit ad me, Intellige, fil hominis, quai ad tempus finis visio. 1


I will not repeat what I have already explained. I will proceed with what I had commenced, namely, the Prophet's need of instruction, because he could not understand the vision without an interpreter; wherefore the angel was ordered to explain his revelation of God more fully. But, before he narrates this, he says, he was frightened at the approach of the angel. Without doubt., this reverence was always present to his mind. Whenever he perceived himself called or taught by God, he was doubtless struck with fear; but here some special feeling is expressed, as God desired to influence his mind to set us an example, and to render us more attentive. Here Daniel explains his own mind to us, commending the magnitude and importance of the vision, lest we should read with carelessness what he will afterwards relate, and not treat the occasion with sufficient seriousness. For God used the angel as his servant to explain his intention to the Prophet; at the same time he inwardly touched his mind by his Spirit to show us the way, and thus he would not only train us to docility, but also to fear. He says, then, he was frightened and fell down. This, as I have said, was usual with the Prophet, as it ought to be with all the pious. Paul also, in celebrating the effect and power of prophecy, says, if any unbelievers should enter into the assembly and hear a prophet speaking in God's name, he would prostrate himself, says he, upon his face. (1 Corinthians 14:25.) If this happened to unbelievers, how great will be our troubles, unless we receive most reverently and humbly, what we know to have been uttered by the mouth of God? Meanwhile, we should remember what I have lately touched upon, -- the importance of the present oracle ,as here commended to us by the Prophet; for he fell upon his face through his fright, as he will repeat in the next verse.

Nor is the following exhortation superfluous; understated, says he, O son of Adam. It would be of little use to us to be moved and excited for a time, unless our minds were afterwards composed for hearing. For many are touched by fear when God appears to them; that is, when he compels them to feel the force and power of his sway; but they continue in their stupidity, and thus their fright is rendered profitless. But Daniel here makes a difference between himself and the profane, who are only astonished and by no means prepared for obedience. At the same time, he relates how his own excitement was effected by the assistance of the angel. The fear, then, of which we have lately made mention, was preparation for docility; but; this terror would have been useless by itself, unless it had been added, that he might understand. We ought. to understand how piety does not consist merely in acknowledging the fear of God, but obedience is also required, preparing us to receive with tranquil and composed feelings whatever we shall be taught. We ought diligently to observe this order.

It now follows: Because there shall be an end of the vision at a fixed time. Some join Pqatel legneth-ketz, making the sense "at the end of the time," Pq ketz, in this sense being in the genitive case by way of an epithet, as the Hebrews commonly use it. They elicit this sense -- the vision shall be for a prefixed time. But others prefer -- the end of the vision shall be for a time. I think this latter sense is better, as the former seems to me forced. On the whole, it is not of much consequence, yet as that form of expression is the easier, namely, the end or fulfillment of the vision should be at a definite time, I had rather follow that interpretation. The angel asserts, then, that this was no vain speculation, but a cause joined with its effect, which should have its completion at a stated period. There shall be an end, then, of the vision in its time; meaning, what you now behold shall neither vanish away nor be destroyed, but its end shall happen when the time shall arrive which God has determined. Pq, ketz, is often taken in this sense. Hence there shall be an end of the vision,; that is, the vision shall be completed when the fitting time shall arrive. We ought to bear in mind this exhortation of the angel, because unless we are certainly persuaded of the fixedness of anything when God speaks, we shall not be ready to receive whatever he pronounces. But when we are convinced of this saying, God never separates his hand from his mouth -- meaning, he is never unlike himself, but his power follows up his word, and thus he fulfills whatever he declares; this becomes a sure and firm foundation for our faith. This admonition of the angel ought to be extended generally to the whole of Scripture, since God does not throw words into the air, according to the common phrase. For nothing happens rashly, but as soon as he speaks, his truth, the matter itself and its necessary effect, are all consistent. It follows: --

1 Or, at the end of the vision. -- Calvin.