27. And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and in they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for the end shall be at the time appointed.
27. Et duorum regum cor ipsorum, hoc est, et cor his duobus regibus, in malum: et in mensa eadam, una, mendacium loquentur, et non prospere eveniet, quia adhuc finis ad tempus statutum.
The angel here narrates that the close of this war should be by treaties and a hollow pretense of peace after the slaughter which Ptolemy had sustained. Although Antiochus might have followed up his own good fortune, yet he durst not venture to push his advantage to the extremity, but according to his disposition, he thought it more to his interest to make peace with his enemy. We have already alluded to his craftiness and his want of openness and integrity. The angel predicts the existence of bad faith in both these kings; the uncle and nephew will meet, says he, and sup together, and pretend the greatest friendship, but they shall speak lies, says he, at the same table; meaning, they shall plot against each other, and each shall act fraudulently for his own ends. This prophecy indeed seems to be of little consequence to the faithful; but it was needful to shew that in such a state of confusion they could not hold out without being furnished with all kinds of support. If the angel had only said generally, first there shall be war, and then a temporary peace, this would not have been sufficient to sustain the minds of the pious; but when the details are so clearly pointed out, a remarkable confirmation is afforded them. Thus the faithful have no reason for doubting that God has spoken, when the angel predicts the future so exactly, and so openly narrates it, as if a matter of history.
He next adds, Yet it shall not prosper, because the end is for the time, says he. The angel recalls the faithful to the providence of God, as our minds always naturally rest in the midst of earthly things. We apprehend with our minds only as far as we see with our eyes. We always ask the reasons "why this happens" and "why that course of proceeding has not turned out well," entirely omitting the will of God. Hence the angel meets this fault and stupidity of men by saying, that whatever these kings were plotting should fail of success, since the end was for the time; meaning, God would hold many occurrences in suspense. While, therefore, we are considering only second causes, we perceive how the supreme power resides with God alone, and he governs by his will the mutual transactions of mankind. No slight advantage would result to the faithful from this instruction, because, while kings are devising many schemes, and using great cunning and all the perverse artifices of diplomacy, God still restrains their minds. He holds events by his secret bridle, and allows nothing to happen without his heavenly decree. Although we may gather this general instruction from this passage, yet the angel doubtless restricts what I have said to the historical events immediately before us. The end had not yet approached, yet the fitting time was fixed beforehand by God's secret counsel, so that Antiochus conquers at one period and retreats at another, as we shall see. It follows: --