W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
THE PLATEAUX OF DANIEL
There is little more fascinating than the plateaux of Daniel, and what is to be found there.
His work is partly the personal perspective, partly the political, the military, the militant, the devotional, the prayerful, the practical issuing in deliverance, that of the recipient, issuing in scripture, the receiver of visions, the interpreter of dreams, the man of action, the wayfarer in solemnity, the prophet of the Messiah, the chronological specialist, writing down the provisions for man from the divine mind.
What the book is not, we have formerly seen (as in Biblical Blessings 1, 2 and 6, chiefly 2, as in Chapter 12 above). What it is, requires for a better appreciation, some more attention. As we move, resting in what the book is, we find for our labours more realisation of what it is saying. It is like being addressed by a Headmaster in some great school. If you mistake him for a boy, his words will not be seen in their due setting. When you realise with whom you are dealing, then many things in his manner, speech and advice will appear in their good and godly meaning, far more readily!
At the outset, in Ch. 1 we find the EXILED YOUNG MEN IN THEIR GODLY INSISTENCE, so that they at once demonstrate their godly intentions, remonstrate concerning the godly way for them, and achieve recognition with their mentor, whose love grows for them. Captured from Jerusalem they may be; at rest in alien ways, they are not.
In Ch. 2, it appears that the respect now accorded these young men helps in their escape from summary execution by Nebuchadnezzar, who in his intemperate haste, has a thing or two to learn (which he does, as shown in Daniel Ch. 4). Daniel asks for information from Arioch of the king's guard, and is treated to a fascinatingly kindly exposition of the situation, instead of instant death; for that was very near, the king having become exasperated with his many Babylonian prodigies of wisdom, men of learning and intellect, magicians and soothsayers, as a witty tribe for their own survival and importance.
The imperious king was not willing to be imposed on further by their verbal devices. He wanted action, to be TOLD what he had dreamed and THEN to have it interpreted. IF the wise men had real access to the supernatural God, then of course... but if not, then equally obviously it was an impossible request. Whatever he wanted, he wanted it now, complete and satisfactory. In his own way, perhaps, inverted as it was, he was seeking for what could come only if one posited God. He did not, but was to do so, in the end, and more than posit; it would be assured to him.
Meanwhile, then, the king
decided to put things to the test, and with fraud, this does help, and
help immensely! It separates guile from godliness.
THE PLATEAU OF PROPRIETY, PURITY AND TRUTH
Daniel, caught in the midst, as a young executive trainee in this foreign land, accorded to him in his exile, then asked the king for time, and his purpose was this: "that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."
One notices the plateau of propriety, purity and truth. Daniel is not seeking knowledge to show superiority, to gain favour, in order to seek honour or exaltation. He seeks it in order to remain alive in the king's service, in the presence of God. He is explicit. It is from the GOD OF HEAVEN and not some pagan deity or admixture that he is to seek. It is in terms of MERCY, not merit, that he seeks it.
The structure is simple, profound and pure. Given the answer from God, he praises Him, tells the king of the fact that neither his merit nor his power has wrought the answer, but that the true God has shown it, and then relays and only then, relates the dream and its meaning. Startled Nebuchadnezzar is amazed and delighted. He had seen nothing like this before. On the other hand, it left him liable for divine action further, yes from the very source that his young exile had sought and found the answer. To whom much is given, from him much shall be required. Further steps of vast significance eventually were to lead to his own arrest ... by God!
So often people seem to imagine
that because sundry things have happened oh so nicely! that their is a
sort of special fount of favour for them, though they know no god, let
alone God; but it is in fact a prelude. It is the result that awaits. What
have you DONE with these things! and in particular, have you sought and
found where He is to to be found, the Almighty!
THE POLITICAL PLATEAU
This brings us to the next plateau. It is the political plateau.
In the process of relaying to the king his own dream and its meaning, as required, Daniel relates the story of the image, gold in the head and with various metals as one descends to the feet. This the young prophet duly shows as a depiction of a series of vast earthly empires to come, starting with the current one, Babylon, as the head. As you move down the statue to the toes, you are moving in history down the chronology of events, to later times.
The outcomes in these empires is treated, and the intriguing thing is the end, where a vulnerability in the last empire, in the feet, of mixed iron and clay, partly strong and partly broken, is hit by a stone which grows to a mountain to fill the earth. This last means that "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" - Daniel 2:44. Obviously there is a dramatic entry, a stone which becomes a mountain. Enough to break, it then grows to shake and cover the earth with its vast magnificence.
Anyone who has read Isaiah, which preceded Daniel by over a century, would have no difficulty in recognising the Messiah, as would those familiar with the far earlier Psalm 2 of David, and Psalm 40, with 110 (cf. Joyful Jottings 21, 22, 23, 25), not to mention the various coverages as in Isaiah 11, 32, 61 and so on (see With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Chs. 4 and following).
At once, after due honour for Daniel, now seen as a man of God and practical with it, and following likewise his request, for governmental positions for his three friends, those with whom he had spiritual accord and who had shared in his food requests at the first, with godly objectives, there comes in Ch. 3 a new and vigorous test.
How could this be ? In this
world, one is not set for honour, to bask in it, but for work and honesty
for Christ, to live with it, and for Him. The world is not His in its spiritual
life, but follows the prince of this world (John 14:30, I John 5:18-19);
so that test and challenge is sure. Those who will live in godly fashion,
says Paul, will suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12). This is not in the
usual blue toning because it is not a correct rendering. The actual text
is this, and the difference makes ALL the difference in reality and in
practice: All who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
One can improve still further from the Greek. "All who are willing to live in godly fashion in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
is most true. The clash is like that of two vortices in mid-ocean. It is
inconceivable that the one does not impact on the other... if it is close
enough. IF you are willing to live in godly fashion in Christ Jesus then
obviously, you will be close, for the field is white and you are seeking
souls, which have another prince, loth to leave them.
THE PLATEAU OF GODLY WILL
Nebuchadnezzar did not sit still. Perhaps excited by these dramatic events, he decided to live in his own worldly and selfish way, and to erect a golden statue (now that Daniel had mentioned it), making not just the head but ALL of gold! Men must now worship this. It is Nebuchadnezzar's image, emblem of power, empire, authority, and perhaps grandeur in more than that! How often in this or that form, power in the corrupted heart of self-elevated man, his head in clouds, his mind in recess, have such things been done! Recall the Japanese shrines of the thirties, to which, in glory of the emperor, missionaries were to bow!
Let us however return to Daniel. Here then is the SECOND PLATEAU. It is a new combination of trial and challenge.
Now this second plateau is similar to the first, but also most clearly a matter of will. It is not the obtaining of understanding per se which is prominent, now, but the application of it! One has now to DO what is right and not simply FIND it. So do our challenges move, and like different waves on a stout timbered ship, the vessel of our lives is tested.
A statue of gold, then, a seemingly perverse application on the king's part, of the dream about the golden head of the image to interpret coming history, and as such a marked comment on the depravity of the human heart without the salvation of God, as seen in contrast to the condition of Daniel and his friends, who quite simply KNEW GOD (cf. John 17:3): this evil shrine was to be erected. This infamous idol was to be a sort of outward sign of the idolatry of the king as such, since it was to be worshipped at his order! This then will the plateau of godly will. It is a matter of volition, determination, commitment, dedicated pursuit of the will of God, delight in godliness. WILL the friends of Daniel rise to this challenge or fall on it ?
WILL they sacrifice their lives if necessary, for the sake of true worship. Many have done so at the hands of Romanism, Islam, Communism in our own recent past, and that somewhat more distant; would the godly group of exiles from Judah, make their own contribution to willingness to die daily, and if necessary, to die literally! This was the question as the King invented his new abomination.
It was not slow to be answered. The three friends figure in this case, Daniel possibly being on outside duties, or on leave. The hypnotic effect of "all kinds of music" was deftly devised to lull the conscience and exalt the feelings, in order to make more plausible this ludicrous obeisance and submission to a mere statue, as if worthy of worship. Even if, and indeed all the more if, it represented the authority and majesty of this earthly king, the worship of any who was born without consent and would die without decision, a mere man, was in the last degree irrational, cowardly, and indeed it was contemptible.
The friends of course refused to bow at the prescribed time, and when the king heard, he was furious, gave them another opportunity and met from the young cadets a reply that is part of history's wonders.
Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed
toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego."
This reminds one of the time in Old Testament Class, when the author had a not dissimilar change to experience! It is most revealing how the hatred of man can overtake one and how quickly! how direly! when one stands for what is written above all majesty and dominion, pride and power of man, ecclesiastical, political or commercial.
Notice meanwhile the interstices of the reply. GOD IS ABLE to deliver us, one. As to the fire with which you threaten, that is a solid fact, two. As to the KING'S HAND, however, his power to MAKE people what he want, GOD WILL DELIVER THEM, and this is the third element in their reply!
This kind of reply is far more important than fire, as Anglican Archbishop Cranmer realised, as he first burnt the hand that signed the recantation when he was subjected to Romanist duress. In his speech before death, he recanted the recantation, and addressed the topic nobly. Daniel's friends did not decline in their ways, but they did decline the king's ... invitation to shame. Lost in an awesome display of power run amok, like those who ran their airliners into the World Trade Centre, Nebuchadnezzar's own heat of angry heart led to the deaths of those who so much as threw the culprits into the over-heated flames. Within the furnace, God appeared, the next reference to Christ, the expression of God: in the flames, they were not harmed, nor did the very smell adhere to them. What was seen was coincident with what was claimed, for it was all gauged as one: one like the son of God was seen WITH THEM.
So on this plateau, as we see the need for company, with or without inflammation. The word of Christ experienced by thousands as in Matthew 28:19-20, Lo, I am with you always... on the missionary, preaching, teaching tasks of life, whether one be ordained or not!
Likewise in the more contemporary instance, is the case of Corrie ten Boom, when after being incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp, and losing both her beloved father and sister, she met after the war, a camp officer, at church; for he had now become a Christian. Here was the test: COULD she reach out her hand in answer to his; and could she so receive a man whose regime and perhaps actions had hastened the death of one she greatly admired and loved, and had shown the hatred of the Nazi system not only to Jew, but to those who like herself, would dare even to help them in the face of the Nazi contempt ?
No, in herself, she could not; but in the power of God, SHE DID IT! She shook his hand in the new bond of fellowship in Christ.
Forgiveness is a necessary condition of Christian grace. So the flames did not scorch the soul. THAT, it is even more important than any consideration about their touching the BODY! So is will seen above the clouds of pollution, the dust and the dirt, a will on fire with faith, and a faith inspired by God, whose empathy was such that He appeared as if one of them, amongst them, reminding us of the promise of Christ to His people (Matthew 18:20).
They were bullied, they were harassed, they were harried; but when helped to extermination, they did not burn.
What then is the position of this pagan king at this stage ? Nebuchadnezzar has by now received his SECOND LESSON, that not only does GOD KNOW, but that GOD ACTS as He sees fit, and IF He sees fit to replace burning with escape, then this is as well within His power as is knowledge and wisdom, enlightenment and understanding. Accordingly, Nebuchadnezzar is again tutored by history, shown in the laboratory of life, the answer, written bold and large. What a colossal requirement is not to be made of him, who received so much, so freely!
In fact, the king then made an extravagant decree, being impressed rather than humbled into holiness, that those who should speak amiss, in any country, against this God of heaven, should suffer grossly for it!
Not too surprisingly, though the ways of the Lord are not predictable (except where a promise is invoked by faith, or HE has predicted it!), Nebuchadnezzar, so intensely involved by now in the things of God, was now to meet his own test. He has yet another dream.
His dream is now a subject for Daniel once more to interpret. With punctilious courtliness but utter boldness, Daniel shows the meaning of the cut down tree (Daniel 4:14ff.): that it refers to Nebuchadnezzar himself, who is to be humbled to the earth, go out like a beast without reason, and after a season be given back his sanity, so that "you may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses."
It is now to be seen that the POLITICAL PLATEAU is contiguous to the PLATEAU OF PROPRIETY, PURITY AND TRUTH. God is personal, and His dealings with persons are personal, unless of course they as chaff, inveterately wicked, are to be blown away, unseemly in spirit and in result (as in Psalm 1). Here knowledge and action combine. Nebuchadnezzar duly loses sanity, is abased like a beast, is restored, and announces after this brush with insanity, he declared:
"...at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
"For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'
"At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down."
It is apparent that as in the days of Elijah and Elisha when miracles were deftly interwoven in the fabric of history (as in I Kings 17 to II Kings 13 for example, when likewise the prophets and kings were in rigorous relationships!), so in the exile period, though Judah is abased and humbled, yes humiliated and harassed, yet there is an answer from God. He continues His mission through the disobedient nation, as indeed He did in the days of Jonah to Assyria, and deep as with Joseph in Egypt, is the impact on the foreign power which He has allowed to have temporary rights, as He exposes His people to the light of common day.
By now, this polytheistic nation is being treated to more and more test for its own part, not just in the king, but in the country. The wheel has turned.The predictions of Isaiah 13-14 are about to transpire. The warnings of Isaiah 36-37 are about to be fulfilled. TIme has past, and opportunity lost, Babylon itself is facing an entire ruin, as the next Empire on the form of the image, the Medes and Persians, comes into power, and so Babylon is fallen, fallen...
What then is to happen next ? What befell the last king of Babylon, or regent ?
we come to the ...
PLATEAU OF MORAL MEASUREMENT
In this case, there is the fascinating externalisation of the dream phenomenon.
Here the famous 'writing on the wall' which has with many Biblical phrasings, come into our language, appears. Belshazzar, perhaps a co-regent at the time, is living at the edge. Babylon the powerful and the lofty has come to an end. The Medes and the Persians are at his steps. Perhaps in weak frustration, and lofty headiness, he has a feast in which he not merely USES the fabulously expensive and carefully contrived symbolic gold and silver of the Jewish temple's furnishings, seized when Babylon defeated Israel many years before; he not only uses them for a drunken feast. Not even this is enough. The King goes further. He explicitly praises the gods of "gold and silver ..." and such things, WHILE using these golden and silver objects for Temple worship, prostituting holiness in a sort of acrid contempt!
In the midst of the plenteous profanity, and how like is this to so many other feasts in which the spirit is not far different, perhaps even in some worldly and virtually ex-church bodies today, there appears a vision extraordinary. This time it is not like the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, but is something capable of being seen BY ALL! Called to interpret, in view of his reputation in times past, in the days of the former king, Daniel does so precisely and with much wit. As enabled by the Lord, the young prophet shows that the days of this Babylonian kingdom have been declared finished by God, that the king himself has been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; that his kingdom is to be divided and given to Medes and Persians. Before the night is out, so is Belshazzar. So it is that Isaiah's prophecy of Isaiah 44:24-45:2 is to be fulfilled, and the indictment of Isaiah 47 reaches its time. As in Isaiah 13:17, Daniel 8:20, it is Media which figures, yes and Persia.
But what of the handwriting which for centuries now has been "the handwriting on the wall", expressive of doom ? In this, the meticulous use and what appear puns on the use of monetary units in order to have a message for interpretation, is a declaration concerning worth. With Babylon, we have seen the place of power. This now is wilting. What then of worth ?
God EVALUATES. There IS moral measurement given in this handwriting on the wall, before the terrified eyes of the king. His time has come; and as to him, so will it come to all. As Proverbs 11:31 declares,
For a time, the latter, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, Mao may seem invulnerable, but soon their day comes, their systems decline, their wisdom is not near. There is an end, there is a reason, there is a judgment; and if it is not instant at all times, since human freedom has to find its function and what is wrong has to have its opportunity by grace to show its own intrinsic disgrace, that it might be seen that none in the end can rule but God, yet these things are lessons, and their meaning continues as in Nineveh, Egypt, Babylon, in Tyre and the putridities of Romanist torture. As to the last, Revelation 17-18 dwells on it in depth, just as does Isaiah 47 on Babylon, in its own day. For long they seem invulnerable; in a short time, their number is up, they are weighed. Men continue them; they continue to fail. Indeed, shortly now m an is to have his last fling in this philosophic aggrandisement of flesh; but this too fails, and in failing, the devil's messiah, little horn number 2, meets his inglorious end.
These things, they are laboratory experiments for the benefit of all who watch, and their message is clear. God who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 47:10), now DISPLAYS it for all (cf. Ephesians 3:9-10)*2. God has set times and seasons for all if by any means any might seek and perhaps find Him! (as Paul declares in Acts 17:26-27). If they do not, then are they found out!
Thus in the case of Daniel with Belshazzar (Daniel 5), the divinely sent hand is seen writing a series of passive participles, all indicating a thing done. However, Keil considers the last a noun form, and makes various other comments, some of which are included in the presentation below.
What is the message, then, that Daniel, taking the screed on the wall, translates into meaning from the subtle but strong symbolic notation ?
MENE, MENE - from mena to number: Numbered, numbered. GOD has numbered YOUR kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL - from tekal to weigh, but this, is coincident with the niphal form of the verb to be light, or to be found light, so enabling a joint verdict: YOU are weighed in the balances and found wanting. Deficient in moral worth, numbered, you are without weight.
UPHARSIN - from peres to divide, with 'Persians' from paras, allowing a word play delivering: The kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. The term rendered division is linked to the concept of dissolution, destruction, so that there is a double impact.
with Keil it be taken as a noun, then it is broken pieces, fragments.
This would give:
Fragments in dissolution, your kingdom is to the Medes and Persians.
The repetition of MENE is not only a matter of emphasis, but of development. Numbered, numbered. It is like a lament or a taunt. 'Your number is up' is our own apt correlative.
We have already seen the double sense in tekel. In upharsin we come to a threefold venue. There is a movement of the whole so that two parties may have some of it; there is a dissolution of the whole, so that its integrity is destroyed, there is a Persian clue, so that this body can be appealed to, and since there Medes and Persians are already available for inspection, this being a prophecy of immediately impending events, we see this result likewise, in the division.
There are further suggestions, but this will here suffice, except for one point which one must here add, that to the extent there is by word play an allusion to monetary units in this divine warning, indeed judgment, this would merely reinforce the rebuke to the worship of the gods of gold and silver, by the foolish ignoring of the spiritual SIGNIFICANCE of these profaned temple utensils from Jerusalem, and merely looking on their material value. Of no material value for Belshazzar would these riches be, since the spiritual significance comes from GOD who now SPIRITUALLY judges him for SPIRITUAL reasons. If then such overtones are present, they add to the impact as shown by Daniel.
In moral measurement terms, Daniel reminds Belshazzar of the divine dealings with his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, whose lofty heart found an abased body in which to dwell, as he ate grass in mental oblivion, like beasts, UNTIL HE KNEW that the Most High rules and appoints as rulers whom he will. Human majesty is mere mockery, when it is intoxicated with itself! It comes, it goes, it flows, it is dammed up, it is damaged, it is gone: moral worth ?
What was its measurement!
Lifting himself up, Belshazzar, as if incapable of thought, has glorified the illiterate, the uncomprehending, material means of life, or even adornments, treating the sacred as profane, and ignoring meaning in a bombastic mentality that sees nothing but things, not their reason or purpose, their responsibility or purport. He has ignored the author of comprehension who comprehends us and our ways very well! It is He, the divine, "in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways" and this God, "you have not glorified", says Daniel with a glorious restraint!
The prophet then proceeded to interpret, in this paralleling of metallic and moral worth, economic serviceability and spiritual power being set together and contrasted. The irony is readily extended into a sort of market place figure, in the stress on NUMBERED and WEIGHED, and perhaps more as above, mocking the mocker, debasing the coinage of his kingdom to its valueless worth, when the OWNERSHIP passes, as that very night, it did!
Is this then a meaning ? To lose control of means! Perhaps now the deluded and debased king will awaken, on his death bed... Is meaning not so unnecessary after all ? Is what you mean a function of what you are, and is a purposeless existence, merely exulting in means of life, ignoring where and why it is going! It ignores the question of intention, debases the consideration of responsibility, trades in the point of answerability, invents clottishness of heart as an anodyne for clottishness of spirit, and collapses in mere ignorance. But God is not ignorant of such wilful ignorance; and in His time, He acts, as He will act to perfection, in the consummation, to which the entire book of Daniel repeatedly points (cf. Psalm 50). These, they are Matterhorns strikingly suggestive; in time, is Everest, looming through the mist, the rock that has stood. To remove the figure, even it will go; but the Maker of rationality and the Lord of life will not go.
goes to Him; it renders account. Belshazzar for all times is an illustration
of this principle.
THE PLATEAU OF PRAYERFUL PRIORITY
Daniel himself, however, does not sit like a lord. To be sure, Nebuchadnezzar had raised him to lofty heights of authority, and given his three friends high place in the land. These his comrades had had their test, in the flames, and it was a severe one, requiring the preference of spirit to flesh, God to mortal life and fearlessness to faint-heartedness. Now at this juncture, Belshazzar had elevated Daniel to 3rd ruler in the Kingdom, confirming his own position as a second ruler, which fits with the discovery of textual material placing Nabonidus as the father of Belshazzar, away on campaigns and deputing to his son regal powers. Only the 3rd rulership would be available therefore. (See E.J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel pp. 115ff..)
It is in passing of great interest that cuneiform evidence has come to light to provide the above data and indeed much more; and it is so common, that ignorance is not bliss, where the Bible is concerned, and routinely people with a desire to delete it, imagine vain things, as they did in the days of the Messiah (cf. Psalm 2 and Joyful Jottings Ch. 21). They never work.
However, to return to our plateaux, we note that Daniel has now come for his own test (Daniel 6). To be sure, he had been tested in a preliminary way, in a spiritual milieu, when new in Babylon, and still quite young. Now however he is a lord indeed, quite great. Will he have the same candour, ardour and fearless demeanour, be as holy as once he was ?
Would it be thus; OR WOULD he quietly demean his conscience and make vulnerable his spiritual concord with the Lord, by accepting now the modes of Babylon, as presented in his upbringing ? Not at all. With some care and courtesy, with a methodical caution, he had proposed a change, and obtained it, at his junior stage, as we saw. His ways evidently pleased his mentor, and his treatment as earlier noted, in the time of peril of being put to death in a regal roar against ALL wise men, may well have been associated with the fact that he had impressed people as he studied, with a quality of dedication and wisdom.
Now, he had arrived in the political sense. Everything was to be lost; and it was much.
test him, there appear characters, associates, subordinates in whom is
to be found jealousy of the most determinate character, hand joining hand,
in a seditious plot. What were their evil and criminal thoughts ?
Could not the king be contacted beyond Daniel, be induced make a rule to
prohibit prayer, Daniel's strength thus being turned into vulnerability,
so that he would be
destroyed ? If they could only lead the king by vanity to embarrass Daniel in the land where the king's command could not be changed, force him to disobey a law, they he would HAVE to be deleted, just as it had seemed this would be the result earlier, with his friends! They would try it. They did so. How often do people protect their power, ambition, seat, position and do evil to others, following evil as if it were mother's milk, only to survive, unprincipled, morally puny, as if worthless conveyors of evil.
People love to ignore the ways of God in the world, and to make a sort of mental take-over where they do not actually make a martial one, as of course will be attempted at the end of our Age, and is currently very near (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8). Hence one can understand the failure of these jealous associates of Daniel, to remember the Lord's deliverance of Daniel's friends. As Christ put it, though one should rise from the dead, they still would not believe (Luke 16:31). What an exposure of the rationalising and self-justifying heart of the chronically disobedient and faithless lies there! How common the error, how incisive the rebuke from the lips of the Lord!
The glorious irony of that statement of Christ, recorded in Luke 16, of course lay in this, that HE as He had stated, was going to do JUST that! rise from the dead. THEY were going to do just what he had shown concerning the rich man in the parable of Lazarus: disbelieve. Just as there was no point in sending him back to earth to warn his brothers, for they still would not believe, so would the political and religious Establishment of Israel fail to believe. In fact, Christ was going to take that extra step, not for them only, but for all, and Himself come back and tell them of His resurrection and let them see Him. Yet still they would not believe; but MANY WOULD, even among the Gentiles (predicted in Isaiah 49:6). Nevertheless, as the scripture HAD long since predicted (Isaiah 49:7), the nation of Israel, in His day on earth, they WOULD not believe...
Their time is to come, but not then, and not for a long while afterwards (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3, and Ch. 3 *1, SMR Ch. 9).
The subordinates of Daniel also did not believe. In vain had so much wonder of wisdom and power been shown. Nothing persuades the impersuasible. It is their joy to labour in vain, become irrational, arbitrary; but not believe (cf. SMR Ch. 3, Repent or PerishCh. 7). So needlessly benighted, like many today, they proceeded. They kept to their evil course through disbelief, and were in the end to be emptied into the pit.
Meanwhile, the plot proceeded. The vain king, flattered, accedes to the infamous request that ONLY TO HIM, the king on earth, should prayer be made, to the obvious exclusion of the One who put him there. Daniel is 'trapped', the skill of the intriguers appears dominant, the net is drawn, the penalty is invoked, the incorrigible character of the regal law is emphasised, so that Daniel despite the royal liking for him, is consigned to the lions, with however this expression of the extent of the king's internal accolade to Daniel's sincerity and his God's power. What was this ? "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you!" - Daniel 6:16. When the morning came on the heels of the disconsolate evening, the King asked Daniel - "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions ?"
This is the way the winds of the human mind often work in the ungrounded, the unfounded. They hope and they fear; they fear and they hope. First came the hope, now the fear, or wonder... HAS HE DONE IT!
It is so like the resurrection that it reeks of it; and the position has much in common. Daniel is attacked by those jealous, vying or resentful (Matthew 27:18 cf. Daniel 6:3-5); they resent and desire his evacuation from his place in terms of their possessive desire to retain their own at all costs. The martial power of the kingdom is invoked against him. He is caught on a point which is dependent on a misuse of justice (Pilate with Christ having taken the futile step of washing his own hands, while committing what left blood on them, notwithstanding). Despite the king's desire to deliver Daniel, however, the law of the Medes and the Persians demands that he be killed (and, in the parallel, one notes that Christ was vicariously offered as a substitutionary sacrifice for all who would receive Him, so the law did make such a demand, but not in the way of the farce and facade of justice and judgment in the mockery of a court, of Pilate).
Then there is the seemingly final win of the wicked, so that Daniel is swept like rubbish to the den, going downward into the unthinkable depths; just as Christ was irrevocably FINISHED, as it would seem to the superficial, as the blood slowly drained out on the afternoon's slow hours, ignominy and mockery making the consignment sure. To the immutable heights, He committed His Spirit. As the body is but a clothing, it was returned with interest, with new powers*3.
A stone is over the aperture, and it is sealed, in each case.
The ones concerned are troubled in the interim, the king of Babylon, on the one hand, Christ's disciples on the other. The early morning sees action in each case. The carnally unthinkable happens in each case, and the message is given in each case. GOD IS ABLE TO DELIVER. He will do so according to plan and purpose, fulfilling WHATSOEVER He declares He will do, and whatever else is in His counsel.
But what of the world ? Crucifixion was not deliverance as this world thinks; but resurrection was.
Being cast in ignominy to lions like an animal, was not deliverance as this world thinks, for a KING (another parallel, in that Daniel was a type of high ruler - remember the Belshazzar offer!); yet what was ? This: being removed by the divine care in making the lions uninterested in making meat of this particular protoplasmic cover for spirit, by name Daniel, this was deliverance.
Daniel is humble in deliverance as was Christ. SO for the Lord was it written (cf. Joyful Jottings Chs. 21, 22, 25). Daniel was willing for whatever should come; but since the Lord was interested in vindicating his servant's innocence, He had done so. He also similarly showed His own (cf. Isaiah 50:4-8)*4. ALWAYS the emphasis is on the Lord's CAPACITY, HIS POWER, to deliver; and as Daniel's friends made eminently clear in their famous retort (see above) to the persecuting King, THAT was what mattered. If they died, they died. BUT they would not bow. THAT was the issue, and THIS was their response. HOW God would respond was HIS business; and not the outcome of forces at all.
Daniel, then, has this prayer plateau to depict in this case. HE CONTINUED to pray when things seemed ILLEGAL so to act; he continued to do it openly. He accepted the consignment, the test, not grumbling but going, and did it with a trusting heart. That God puts down and raises up kings is a (comparatively) slight thing. What is not in the least slight is this, that HE is KING and that under no circumstances, life or death, torture or mischievous falsification and slander, is one to alter the obeisance and prayer to the SPIRITUAL KING, whose material world is just a book He has published. It is the author, not the tattered volume, who matters.
therefore kept on praying despite the royal interdict; did it openly; and
changed his ways towards his God, not at all. It is reminiscent of Peter
and John before the authorities
in Acts 4 and 5:
'Work it out for yourself whether it is right
in the sight of God
to obey you rather than God!'
This was the testimony of the two apostles. One apostle, James, was slaughtered. Peter and John continued at that time. So did Daniel.
As for God, as the King Darius then declared, on Daniel's deliverance (so like Peter's as recorded in Acts 5:17-29, 12:4-19):
THIS is precisely as one would expect in the order of things, when the author is concerned for some of the characters of his book, who, calling on him, related to His intentions and inventions. This book, the history of the world, is alight with such things and its current works, our contemporary history, as we have reviewed more than once, is flaming with the submission in meekness of events to His prophetic word. Hence our work on one segment of news was entitled, Scoop of the Universe. The way of things in substantial detail is outlined millenia in advance. That is verification; the fact that God attests that it is HIS INTENTION and INVENTION to give such incomparable attestation in advance, this is a mutual and second verification (Isaiah 49).
as the moral is in splendour set above the mundane, with
Belshazzar, so here in Daniel 6, the communication company with the
Lord, prayer, is set in value above the lords of this earth, in
their puny authority subject to death at any moment, as from the King of
Eternity. His children, however, relish His royalty and love His
eternity. When a King is so filled with goodness, eternity is a fine time
to spend with Him! THIS is not the least delight in eternal life (John
3:16, I John 1:1-4). As for Abraham, God is our shield and our exceedingly
great reward: HE is exceedingly great; and the reward par excellence, it
THE PLATEAU OF SERENE SOVEREIGNTY
Now in Daniel 7-9, we come to the precise predictive feats of God through Daniel. We have already noted in Ch. 12 above, the personal side of the interaction, the response and the realisation on the part of Daniel. People are personal, and there is always the personal side, which so far from being a defect, is an advantage; for how would a non-person 'understand' a person! It is in tutorial mode of instruction from the Lord, that we see Daniel, not a little, in these places.
In Biblical Blessings Chs. 2, 6 and SMR pp. 886, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds - AWME - Ch. 10, The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 4, for example, we see the precision of prophecy relative to the death date of the Messiah, the procedure of the kingdoms, the world empires in their correct order, with details set in brilliant profusion, mixing implicit interpretation and comment with a coverage open to the most rigorous demands, and meeting them with ease.
History from Daniel's own time right down to the death of Christ is presented with this majestic ease on the one hand, and with that personal combination of anguish at such wonder and love at such a provision, on the part of almost overwhelmed Daniel, who worships the King who rules, in this as in other things. Indeed, so great is this ease, so complete this consummate hold on history, that the Lord not only can, but does simultaneously expose evil, giving to it its little day of shame like an X-ray plate for storage, and test and even purify His saints, preparing in them the free-flowing hearts that are unclogged from mixed motives and blessed with new beauties (as in Daniel 11:32-35, 12:10).
In Ch. 7 we see as in Daniel 2, the 4 Kingdoms, the last, Rome, having continued to the 5th. century with Rome itself, and to the 15th in its Eastern arm, at Constantinople, while the Holy Roman Empire (cf. SMR pp. 886ff.), continued its Roman and imperial impact with the horror of the Roman inquisition and system, in its debased form of religion (cf. SMR pp. 1032ff.), its fierce intolerance and royal self-adornment with virtually divine attributes, right to our modern era. In some ways, it is almost a parody of some of the claims of Roman Emperors, who required worship or death from time to time, just as the Pope has demanded submission or death, torture and financial ruin. Now the European Union now arises on the ashes of what went before, the futile endeavours to unite of Napoleon and Hitler, to continue the European unity, and to move into the final mode of its domain, encompassing in its ways, a new version of the old power (cf. SMR pp. 902-931, 683ff., Biblical Blessings Ch. 2).
The fourth empire, the final one, is as Daniel made so clear, a matter of a kingdom partly strong and partly broken. The Roman version of European 'unity' has shown enormous evidence of both of these qualities! (cf. Daniel 2:42).
Ch. 8 of Daniel we see as we have seen (cf. AWME
10), there is an intense specialisation on the second kingdom, and
the attention to the third is included. It is in Ch. 9 that Daniel provides
that amazingly clear and clearly amazing coverage which gives the date
of the Messianic death, further information on its reason and result, and
a long-range prophecy of such arithmetical simplicity*5
and brilliance as to attest the perfection in the mind of the Author of
history, who knows how to abase the most splendid pretenders, and to exalt
the most ruinously treated butts (cf. Matthew 22). For this latter point,
see Highway of Holiness, Path of Peace, Way of Truth Ch.
10 of Daniel brings us to the height of the personal side of the prophet's
involvement, and this we have also already considered in Ch.12
above. How clearly this contrast of the prophet's awe and the King of heaven's
wisdom illustrates the sublimity of the living God in history, as in prayer,
so in wisdom, as in understanding, so over all things, as yet contending
with things and subordinating them despite the intensity of wickedness,
to the plans He has. Wholly good, He knows precisely how to handle wickedness,
even though in the process, as we see in Daniel 11 and 12, "some
of those of understanding shall fall, to test them, to purge, and to make
them white, even to the time of the end, because it is yet for a time appointed"
(11:35), and "Many shall be purified, and
made white, and tested, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the
wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand"
Thus does the Lord interweave into the pattern of history, many things:
Within all the action, there is the highly personal knowledge of individuals such as Daniel (cf. Psalm 1), and the certainties of outcomes which Communism seems to have sought to ape, with apish results (cf. SMR pp. 925ff., 645ff., 684ff., 965, 971 at *13, and end-note) for its brutalities. It has IGNORED people, in theory at least, as individuals, whereas God both made them each one, as he/she is, and tests, purifies and further, as shown in the MORAL MEASUREMENT PLATEAU, judges! In humanistic systems, man judges man, corporately, incompetently, without possibility of truth (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7, SMR Ch. 3), without understanding, with results so co-ordinate with failure, that it is like considering rubbish. That, it is what man makes of man when he unmans him by making himself god, though man, and assessing all things with the inability to know even the truth!
If however Daniel 1-10 by contrast of divine composure and competence, and historic oversight, has exposed the emptiness of such things as these of man the god-maker, or the self as god maker, we have much more to come. It is soon reinforced by areas in Daniel 11-12, where in what amazing detail does Daniel proceed! This time, it is not as before, with dates and dealings of empires and in centre-piece, the Messiah to whom man in his merciless contusion of spirit grants NOTHING (9:24), though He is the only remedy to the whole gamut of operations, and heralded as to time, for over half a millenium.
All things as in Daniel 9:24-27, are to be wrapped up, and this time, in the last chapters of Daniel, we proceed to an outcome of floribund wonder in the things pertaining to the rescued the saints of God. Much suffering comes first as we shall see, and it is long.
To be sure, something of these earlier things does appear; but the new specialty is other. It is now the intensely complicated character of history, the intermesh of strategies and wickedness of men not merely in large kingdoms, but in endless schemes and seditions, plots and counter-plots, so that while on the one hand we sense the majesty of the King who commands the ends and measures the worth of things, we perceive in the most vivid and indeed virulent contrast, the moral minuteness, the selfish squalor of what is evil. As Israel is more closely affected, so the more intimately are the wars and wanderings, the greeds and travesties followed in the world about it.
For all that, the precision of the presentation of coming history, right up to the Messiah is so intense that it makes clear this message: EVERYTHING MATTERS, from the highest to the least. Little things can enlarge to calamity, or to wonder; and all things have an end in the One who, as in Daniel 12, at the resurrection has for each one ... the result. This is when it is being published!
Daniel, there is a lot, a place, a spiritual address and being prepared
for eternity, just as for all Christians, shown in parallel in John 14.
The ultimate division, then, is not merely of the kingdom of such as Belshazzar,
dissolving into alien pieces, but of the redeemed as in Daniel 9, Isaiah
53, and the relentless, whose self-worth forbids their submission, whose
sins rule and whose pardon is despised by ... themselves.
THE PLATEAU OF SURVEY
MANY MOUNTS OF EMPIRE 3 YIELD AT LAST TO THE THRUST OF EMPIRE 4
In Ch. 11, we find in an intimate sort of way, the flow and sequence, as the angel divulges the detail to Daniel, the spread of the relevant parts, concerning Israel in particular, of Empire 3, that of Alexander the Great (as outlined from the first in Daniel 2, and then in Daniel 8 in some detail).
How does the movement go from Empire 3 to this end type Empire 4 ?
In fact, we rove from 527 to 165 B.C. in the mere verses of Daniel 11: 2-35. First there are those kings following Cyrus (as in 10:1), namely Cambyses II (527-522), Smerdis the Pretender (522), Darius I, Hystaspis (522-485 B.C.), the one we apparently meet in Ezra 5:6. These are the "three kings" who "stand up" in Persia. The latter part of 11:2 appears to refer to the Graeco-Persian war of Xerxes (480-479), his reign 486-465.
Moving rapidly on with Greece, which overcame the might of Xerxes in amazing manner, largely perhaps through the famous naval defeat and its strategic consequences, of Salamis, and Xerxes' own flight back to Persia, leaving another in command, we come to its own prominent world class ruler. This 3rd Empire, Grecian, has none less than Alexander the Great as in 11:4 (parallel with 7:6 and 8:22). He is given the verbal clue in the four kingdoms into which, most prominently (rather like the famous identification of the 7 hills of Rome), his suddenly gained empire was divided at his death in his early thirties! (cf. Daniel 8:5-6).
Now commences a special focus on the Syrian phase of Alexander's residual empire, that sector, and its actions include much of conflict with Egypt, a nation also rife with strife against Israel. Alas how foolishly they played the fool as a nation with their own Lord who had delivered them from Egypt (cf. Isaiah 31:1-3). We shall seek to follow these predictions, interweaving the fulfilments with some note on their nature, as we proceed.
In Daniel 11:5, the historical fit is with Ptolemy 1 Soter, 323-285 B.C., himself a Macedonian, while the strong one is Seleucid I Nicator, who, inivited as a military leader, grew great in Egypt (11:5b).
11:6 relays the marriage of the houses of Syria and Egypt. However, Antiochus' divorced wife, murdered the newly imported Bernice, the donation for the nuptials, for whose sake she was reportedly cast aside; and continued in her work by murdering likewise the son of the new international union, and then Antiochus the king likewise, perhaps to make sure that not again should she suffer either from the former rival, or any other import or replacement!
As the scripture succinctly puts it, "neither shall she retain the power of the arm, nor shall he stand, nor his arm" (11:7). Father, the imported wife and their son all die. The support cast, parent, offspring all pass: she is not maintained and indeed her own father, involved perhaps with complicity in the event, passed away. The moral force of the entire proceeding is vast! The devastations are abundantly exhibited in the scripture following the arrangements with the Egyptian King's daughter, clearly intended as marriage, since it is a question of "joining forces", the daughter then going to the King of the North. It is left ot history to confirm the abundant reasons for the desolatory result.
Perhaps then jealousy and fear of competition, national pride all played a part in this reaction to the action of Antiochus.
As Proverbs declares (27:4),
Egypt for its varied reasons, is not done yet! Let us see how the matter
The "branch of her roots" is Bernice's brother Ptolemy III (246-212 B.C.) of Egypt, the kingdom of the "south", who did as stated, defeating Seleucus II. This takes us to 11:9. So do we trace the movement from Alexander himself, to this relevant quadrant in Syria, the sector concerned with Israel, through the contests to the eventual impact on Israel. At the same time, we see this third empire stretching itself out until it is overcome, as multiply predicted, by the fourth, which is the Roman Empire.
In Daniel 11:10, from the ensuing words in 11:11, we come to revert to the Northern kingdom, thus humiliated by Ptolemy III, and find the sons of the king, namely Seleucus III (226-223) and Antiochus III (223-187) assembling forces, the latter attacking Egypt, as Payne in his notable Encyclopedia of Prophecy, p. 390, points out, this action being "probably against Gaza on the Egyptian border", thus impinging on the Egyptian realm and sovereignty. Daniel 11:11 shows the reaction of Egypt, as the initial action of Syria now leads on to the defeat of Antiochus III, the Great, in 217 B.C. despite his massively manned army, his mustered multitude. In 11:12, we see reflection of the fact that despite his victory over Antiochus, Ptolemy IV did not effectually capitalise on the result.
Indeed, as Keil points out, the literal sense is this "as the multitude rises up, so his heart is lifted up": there being no copula between the record of the two actions, the clauses stand in correlation.
Thus his heart is more lifted up than his arm: he thrust about, but the result is limited.
In fact, pride or pomp intervenes, and so we find the moral element focussed. Thus, despite the ravaging rage of Ptolemy (11:12), he does not attain to the triumphant control he wishes to secure ("does not prevail"). Keil also points out that there would be no need to refer to "the multitude" which Antiochus raised up being "given into his hand" if it simply meant that he in fact governed them. That would follow naturally, and its re-statement in such a brief coverage would be redundant; and further, the phrase is not used in scripture in the sense of taking, command but of being given up, overcome.
Hence the rendering showing
and the result is
More however is to follow.
In 11:13 we see Antiochus again raising an army to assail his adversary, a greater one, and having some success (202 B.C.).
In Daniel 11:14 we come to the days of the boy king in Egypt, Ptolemy V, who however had a General Scopas, who retook Palestine in 200 B.C. and wasted Jerusalem - hence the specialised interest (cf. Amos 3:7). Jews who sought to take to war (Daniel 11:14) were indeed to suffer; and as Payne suggests, this relates to Zech. 11:6, where it assuredly fits in moral tenor and predicted rebuke. It is this continual combination and resonance which truth displays, constantly found in things small and great in the word of the Lord.
In the complex morass, Egypt having done so much harm to Israel, was itself still duly defeated, Scopas surrendering in 198, Antiochus for his part taking a major city, probably that of Sidon, as fits with history (11:15). There was "no strength to withstand" him. However he was not to last long.
At this time Philip V of Macedon also was adverse to Egypt (fulfilling 11:14), but the result was still disastrous for Jerusalem, whose only stable and reliable ally was the Lord, against whom she so sinned (cf. Isaiah 30-31, and in particular in seeking aid from the unstable waters of human waves!)*6.
Complexities within complexities now arise, martial, marital and diplomatic matters entwining like burs in a spaniel's curly ears. Antiochus reels with realisation of his ostensible 'greatness' (11:16), already becoming a sort of mini-trailer of the first of the little horns, Antiochus Epiphanes, to come (cf. Biblical Blessings Chs. 1 - 2).
The screed seems so often to have these elements:
intoxication with power,Such or so very nearly, was the case of Sennacherib, as may readily be seen in Isaiah 36-37. Vanity, guile, pretence, deception, arrogance, disdain, short shrift for God, supra-religious delusion and so forth, all are there! But let us return to our current case, in Antiochus 'the Great'.
prestige and authority,
victory and pleasure;
wild folly disdaining the Lord Himself,
either directly or merely indirectly,
ruin prodigious and sustained, in due course.
The history that follows the word now proceeds, as we follow the works of this king, in action prior to his death (i.e. Daniel 11:16 before 11:17): Antiochus gives his daughter to the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, intending that she help ruin his Southern adversary. However, instead of being a thorn in his flesh of his opponent, this lady becomes adverse to her own father, preferring to favour her husband (Daniel 11:17). In this project, accordingly, "she shall not stand", rather falling in with her husband, while we follow the imperious path of this little Napoleon, Antiochus who sent her on such a mission, one which folded. No, she is "not for him. After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands."
Thus following this null result for his craft, when his daughterly ambassador fails to stand in her unnatural mission, the second improper alliance in our series thus failing in its 'mission', Antiochus turns militantly to Asia Minor, but in his ravaging times, he meets his match in the Roman, Scipio (Lucius Scipio Asiaticus), who defeated him in B.C. 190 at Magnesia. Indeed, there is a sense of humiliation and abasement already in this, for as Berkeley renders it,
"He will then turn his attention to the coastlands and occupy many, but a general shall stop his insolence and throw his insults back on himself. Subsequently he shall busy himself with the strongholds of his own lands; but he shall stumble, fall and disappear."This rebuff is, for Syria, a sign of things to come, the fourth empire of Daniel's multiple predictions on this topic, already coming into its domain. Syria, as one of the regions resulting from Alexander the Great's victories, was by Daniel's prediction, to fall; and as history moves from Antiochus, with the rest of the Empire that preceded, it is eclipsed by Rome. That was the prediction of prophecy; that is the fact of history.
Indeed, the writhing with false glory, profane contempt, contemptibly, that whole panorama of evil louting is luxuriant way with disasters and devices, moving up the ladder of heady aspiration, afflicting the people of the Lord, only to fall into ignominy and merited shame in puny overthrow: this is the more complex pattern already becoming clear.
As we study Daniel's prophecy, we find this pattern appearing in Antiochus the Great and his exalted death march. It is seen after that, in Antiochus' son who largely repeats it, as we shall see; and just such a pattern, magnified man with inordinate vanity against the true God, exulting before being minimised and dismissed, is going to be no small pattern for the antichrist, when the fourth and final Empire receives its come-uppance, which duly becomes its donwfall! Then will it also be dashed with the dynamic that being divine, is irresistible, exposed with the truth which, being manifest, condemns. So does Daniel exhibit not only the pattern, but occupants of its scene! We are sensitised and instructed, alike. The account impacts in the spiritual realm, being instructive for wisdom (cf. The Other News 5).
Let us however revert to the detailed affairs of Antiochus 'the Great' in his own day.
As to Syria: Rome, then, in this instance, has proved a stumbling block to Antiochus, and his own headiness another. As to Rome itself, more will follow. This is after all the indicated Empire to follow in Daniel's prediction not only in chapter 7, but in parallel, in that of chapter 2. The 3rd Empire being present in the days of the heady King; the 4th was therefore impending at that time. Rome was to arise, to occupy its fatal and fateful place (as it has done as we have traced, and continued partly strong, partly broken for millenia); and then it too is to fall in the final catastrophe of the Gentile nations.
We revert, then, to Antiochus' defeat by the Roman Scipio.
Thus, victorious, Scipio is not entrammelled but victorious (11:18); and indeed, programs frustrated, Antiochus on a following expedition meets his death, concerned with what he CAN 'rule', with Palestine, and yet is humiliated also even in this (Young Prophecy of Daniel p. 240), so taking us to the end of Daniel 11:19.
In all this, Israel has in two major ways been implicated, yes in three. Thus firstly, her false reliance on Egypt, seen so clearly in Isaiah, is shown to bring a retribution for her unfaithfulness to the Lord in such misplaced trust in the very Empire from the sins of which, and the slavery, God had delivered her. Secondly, the devastation wrought on her, is attested, as an instalment on what was to come. Thirdly, her domain is seen, in that part, that quadrant of the Empire of Alexander the Great which was Syria's, to be a highly troubled one. It has for occupant as we see, a king of fervent folly and wild paranoia, who however does not endure. It is his son who now comes into focus.
In Daniel 11:20, we come thus to the Syrian, Seleucus IV (187-175). This 'exactor' in fact tried to rob the Jewish temple, but was assassinated. Money his lure, murder his coffin... His destruction was thus "neither in anger nor in battle" - that is, it was not in clash of arm or arms, but by another thing, a murderous thrust.
In Daniel 11:21 we find the great precursor of the antichrist, the first 'little horn', Antiochus Epiphanes, who was in historical terms, Antiochus IV. The books of the Maccabees show much of what is here noted, in great detail. In this succinct prophetic coverage of Daniel, this overview, from the Plateau of Survey, we see here that the person himself is vile, contemptible (11:21).
Young cites an estimate of Antiochus Epiphanes from Moses Stuart, in the latter's Commentary on Daniel. It is quite fascinating, revealing for Antiochus IV, a low creature of subtlety, intrigue, passion, strategy, vast ambition, spiritual folly who in the midst of hope and plans, grandeur of heart and soaring self-estimate (god manifest) dies in a way very like that of his father, brought to nothing in an adroit divine commentary. (See Young p. 241). Verbal wit turned his self-acclaimed epiphanes, to the tag, epimanes, madman! So do the Hitlers rest restlessly, and their vainglorious boasting does not endure.
The reference concerning him, "to whom shall not be given the honour of the kingdom" in 11:21, with added notation of his intrigues without war, to gain the pre-eminence, relates precisely to the fact that his was not the kingdom by due lineage, for this belonged in that way to Demetrius Soter, son of Seleucus Philopator. Winning over surrounding kings to his desire and design, however, Antiochus Epiphanes took the kingdom.
Young renders v. 22a: "and forces shall be completely overflooded before him". This covers the efforts of Egypt to overthrow him, whereas they were themselves overthrown. Young does not know what the reference is intended to cover, in the next clause, "yes, also the prince of the covenant", making it general in some way or relative to some prince or other. It may have an ironic ring, however, and refer to the fact that NOT ONLY does Antiochus overcome the mighty power of Egypt, in his initial Hitleresque parade of power, but is to proceed in due course, to invade the Jewish temple and place within it a foul image, that of Zeus, as if nothing could be withheld from him.
The irony of the passage (Daniel 11:22), of course, would be then intense, a disparagement through offering no comment! That comes in its own place, on his quiet departure as a withered branch, from the prophetic scene. On the other hand, the term 'prince' or leader, captain, might refer more simply merely to the high priest, whose region of work the tyrant invaded with such contemptuous arrogance. Thus the faithful Onias was deposed: he was in the way, and money could be obtained by selling off the high priesthood, for the benefit of the royal tyrant.
If so, however, if this be the intention and referent of the phrase noted, why is it not "the prince of THE covenant", and merely the prince of covenant, or a covenant ? In answer, let us consider the following. In v. 32, we find that Antiochus is corrupting with flattery some of Israel, even such "as do wickedly against the covenant", whilst the "people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits." We have already in Daniel 11:31 seen his thrusting of the abominable idol into the temple precincts, taking away the daily sacrifice in this parody and portent for all time, removing one thing, the meaning, introducing another, the substitute, and keeping the shell intact, so preserving appearance with disappearance, and bringing an apostate unity into the befouled yard.
In this context, then, the phrase, 'prince of covenant' (Daniel 11:22), is taken by Keil in a generic sense, citing such parallels as Genesis 14:13 for the omission of the definite article. However just as Young notes it is not written, the prince of the covenant, but prince of a covenant, or as Keil insists, prince of covenant in a generic sense, so neither is it written, A prince of covenant, but THE prince of covenant!
Who then is so specific as this, so sure and clear ? Could it then refer to the high priest whom Antiochus deposed ? The lack of the second definite article in the phrase would then refer to the generic covenant, in contrast to the LACK of regard to such a generic, to the complete disregard of all honour and agreement, the pathological seeming incapacity of Antiochus to recognise the very meaning of such a thing as COVENANT.
Thus in contrast would be the generic, covenant; but as to the phrase, "the prince" it seems in context sure to refer to an obvious party, and there is none so obvious in such a condensed account as the high priest, with perhaps an intended irony as if in so treating the high priest, appointed by divine instruction, Antiochus was seeking to grind under foot ANY covenant and ANY prince who would adhere to such a thing, celestial or other! COVENANT and all that went with it, he Antiochus would grind! This indeed was an attitude SOON to evidence itself, and here it appears as a sort of preface to what followed later, in the introduction of the Zeus idol into the very heart of the Temple.
Such language lends itself perfectly to the irony of Antiochus Epiphanes dying in ignominy very like that of his father; and as to that, it WAS ignominy, a quiet removal after unspeakable bombast, interested in NO other power of man; and in the case of the son, interested in the specific overthrow of, contempt for and devastation upon the very emblems of covenant, exhibited by God Himself!
Daniel 11:23-29 deals with his other preliminary steps, allowing us to paint a portrait of folly before the lordly king applies his newly consummated spiritual mania to the issue at hand, and that ? It was to be his persecution of the holy people, those appointed by God, for all their faults, to show His praise and His truth (Isaiah 43:21). Thus his thrusting aside of the high priest, his idolatrous adventure, the rise of the Maccabees in their famous insurgency, leading to a very considerable kingdom in the whole area for these fired zealots, all this follows. We note this here, so that the detail will not obscure the process. We see the man, see his nature, we get an overview.
What was the style of the thing, the sequence ? Step one done, with the high priest summarily dismissed, and the new high priest, installed for money, swelling the royal treasury with disloyal betrayal of office, we come to step two.
Now we trace the base royal actions leading to the power and position to corrupt many, flatter some, mould, manipulate and desecrate the very temple; and to do so with such thoroughness that only a pagan deity will suffice, for insertion into heart of the still erect sacred structure. The action rather reminds one of thrusting the nails into Christ's hands, an action however which was not as this, symbolical, but grotesquely physical. The grotesquerie however has much the same illimitably profane spirit, justly termed an abomination, indeed marked for all time as the "abomination of desolation". Such things do not rest till their outcome arrives! It is, as the reader may recall from Matthew 24:15 (cf. Daniel 12:11, noted later).
It is this infamy against the infinite which is the very criterion of the man. Hence it is a focus of the antichrist, by virtue of his being ONE of the TWO little horns (as noted earlier and in Biblical Blessings Chs. 1-2). This duo of peaking evil, one 'little horn' for Empire 3 and one for Empire 4 (Daniel 8:9, 7:8,11, 20-21), like two black mountain tops surveyed in a mountainous panorama, are in clear parallel, the former instructing us concerning the latter in spirit and tenor. So are we prepared.
In step three, we see, then, the outcome in the abominations. In step 4, found in v. 36, we move as we shall see, from the empire 3 specialist in sacrilege, to the final outcome in history of this style of thing (at "the time of the end, because it is yet for a time appointed"). Via little horns, we come to the next peak, this time in the final empire, leading to the final end of the whole matter.
In this way, we have not merely Antiochus himself to study for his features, focus and functions, but the 11:36-45 gentleman leading to the resurrect ion as depicted in 12:1. With this, we have merely to add II Thessalonians, for what by then is the well-known an carefully drawn portrait of what is then called the "man of sin" and we are replete. To this we shall return very shortly.
Meanwhile, because these tableaux are for our instruction, let us cover briefly the developments before the abomination outcome is dealt with in detail, in 11:21-29.
In Daniel 11:23-24, we see his amiable leagues as noted above, and his dealings with "a small people". These - Israel - because of their past, their prominence and their power in times of yore, their temple symbolising so much, as also their sacrificial approach to deity (he overthrew that regime categorically for the 2300 days stated in Daniel 8, as noted previously*1 ), stirred the king. Indeed, they seemed to render him intoxicated with crusade and craft, in their midst. Moving to attract Hellenists, those wanting a "broader interpretation" of things, actually of course a guileful repudiation of the most clear law of God, Antiochus deceived. Deceiving, he divided.
His modes are so like those of later Communism in affected interest to cause division, gain a local standing ground, and then take over, that it is a testimony to the evil craft of human nature. If Hellenism was nearer to his mind than Judaism, yet rule was the royal desire, and idolatry his mode. The idolatries of man, in principle or in practice, the notions of self-aggrandisement of nature, of the psyche, of the State, whatever it may be, are as rich in variety but as similar in substance, as golden sand on the beaches. This however, like sand, is not really gold, but only so in appearance. Put where it does not belong, it is merely grit!
What then was happening ? People might think all was well, but the crafty ruler knew the subtleties of overthrow without arms, not less than those from direct impact of arms. In liberality a prince, the subtle rewarder of conformism to his plots, Antiochus is historically known to have scattered gifts (as in Daniel 11:24). In his mind, meanwhile, he is thinking of overthrow, devising it.
His purr and his paws come together, but not at the first.
In 11:25, we find reference to his campaign against Egypt, when Ptolemy could not stand against him because of internal treachery. Some of Ptolemy's army in fact deserted.
Daniel 11:26 covers the fact that Antiochus and the Egytpian Philometor professed friendship to one another, as Young notes, but in fact Antiochus plotted against the power of Egypt. It is fascinating to see the moral realities brought to the fore, the deception focussed, the personal aspects in such high relief, as one would expect when it is the personal God who surveys, assesses, whose eyes behold, whose eyelids try the children of men (as in Psalm 11).
While, ostensibly, Philometor was to be helped to get Egypt by Antiochus, and the former affected to believe it, in fact this double deception did not issue in much; for GOD HAD NOT APPOINTED this end of the matter. Such is the outcome of Daniel 11:27b.
Antiochus then returned from Egypt with great riches, planning more evil for the holy people, for those who knew their God (11:29).
Then (11:29) he makes his next Egyptian incursion, perhaps 168 B.C., but this expedition is not to be enabled to prevail as did the former one ("not be as the former"). The nature of divine providence is still ringing in our ears (Daniel 11:27), and the divine and ultimate rule over the rulers is becoming apparent in the double exposure:
Triremes of Rome now afflict the excited, self-exalting, exultant man of emptiness (Young op. cit. p. 244 noting the translation relative to Daniel 11:30). A navy under Roman, Popilius Laenas sailed to Egypt, to divert Antiochus from taking country, and it appears from the famous historian providing this information, Livy, that the king was the man stupefied, Polybius, attested by Young (op.cit), describing him as "weighed down and groaning in spirit".
One can perhaps understand well enough. Breached and broken... he! The new empire is already beginning, if indirectly, to assert its coming pre-eminence to fulfil Daniel 2 and 7, upon the earth, as if a hungry dog, lusting for meat soon to arrive. Anitochus perhaps realising this to the very heart, finds an incompatible force ruining his artful plans.
Fancy all those schemes, deceits, hypnotisms, arrangements, thwarted by another player, as when Hitler was in trouble at Stalingrad, and the Mediterranean also came to a be a campaign in tatters, with invasions and thoughts of them on all sides.
In fact, this is the second Roman rebuff we have noted in the sequence, in the series of events before us; and before long, as the history unfolds, we see Syria swallowed up by Rome, so fulfilling the predicted decline of the 3rd Empire, and the arrival of the tough and tenacious 4th Empire. The process is not pleasant, but the result is sure. On the way, the people of the Lord are severely tested, but just as Christ gave help in prediction to His people of the New Covenant (Matthew 24:24-26, Mark 13:22-23, John 14:29 cf. II Peter 1:19 cf. Ch. 9 above), so has the Lord done for those of old. He does as He said in Amos 3:7 for them, as He shows, for us, always faithful, reasonable, reliable, though His testing is sure also; but then, His love does not fail, nor His power, nor His word. As Paul puts it, "Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).
Thwarted, desolated, Antiochus was yet not so readily to be aborted. In his most extensive plans, frustrated, he went back to make the most of his little fiefdom; the world not for sale, it has yet perhaps a place, and this he will seize! Such in exasperated fury, it would seem, he turns in spirit to seek to turn the heights of Israel's past into his play-pen, or such, it appears was his thought (Daniel 11:31-35 cf. Biblical Blessings Chs. 2, 6, in Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 10 and in Ch.12 above.).
In militancy and madness, then, he went to ANY length in the holy land, as we have seen, delving into the depths of the temple, to insert the idolatrous heights of folly, as if to dispossess before its time (when it became irrelevant because of Christ's own sacrifice cf. SMR pp. 822ff., Hebrews 8-10, Jeremiah 3:16, Isaiah 53, 66:2), that express Covenant between man and divinity, the Old Testamental provision through Moses, of any meaning. In this sense, Antiochus in the wild extremities of his spiritually lusting behaviour, appeared not only antagonised by "the prince of covenant" or "the covenantal prince": he wanted this deleted, subjected, and of course, made to pay ... him.
The high priest being removed, what more ? the sacrificial system stopped, the idol in the heart of the Temple, placed, the whole princely place of the Messianic symbolism raped ... The irony seems intense as his aspirations deliver nothing but the removal of leaves from the path. Soon the Temple - in but a very few years - is cleansed, and he is dead!
In fact, it was the retention, or effort to retain, the temple and all for which it stood, when that had been fulfilled by Christ as planned and written for so long, which brought real ruin on Israel. However, this was not so at that time, though there is no little irony in the tyrannical removal of temple worship as prescribed by God, in that day, being followed, some two centuries later, by the tyrannical JEWISH insistence on retaining it, when they had themselves removed the real Temple, their own Messiah (cf. Isaiah 4:6, 32:1-5, Hebrews 7-10, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13 and 20).
The former assault on the land was associated with victorious triumph, cleansing of the Temple in 165 B.C. , with a remarkable if temporary kingdom from the uprising of the Maccabees; the latter found its place with downfall of the nation, an dwith the final desolation of the Temple by Rome.
Indeed, the former was persecution
of Israel; the latter regicide by it. Small however is the impact
comparison, though vast its scope and endurance, of the result
for the nation and the Temple, with that "there is
nothing for Him" assault on the Messiah Himself of Daniel 9:24,
for those who do not come to Him. Theirs, though well symbolised by the
architectural destruction of the Temple, far surpasses it in gravity. Admittedly,
then, the temple destruction and scattering of the nation of Israel
for millenia, symbolises the "everlasting destruction"
Thessalonians 1:9) of those who reject the mercy of God and kill
the King in spirit, in their own hearts. For that exile, there
is eventual return (predicted as in Appendix
B, SMR, and done in1948, 1967); for the spiritual realities so
symbolised, however, there is no return, no not of a part, nor any at all;
and the pathos is not merely for time, but for eternity.
That is in the consummation. However we are still in Daniel 11, and must for the moment await Daniel 12.
In Daniel 11:32-34, then, we see the efforts of Antiochus, coming from outside the people, even though with a phalanx or part of Judah in spiritual abandon joining him; and before the Lord these trials and challenges continued to search the people, many paying with their lives for their resistance to his malignant onsets, and some perhaps for self-preservation, joining with the resistance.
Antiochus, however, though used of God for the refinement of many, the exposure of others, some reaching understanding through instruction under these gaunt conditions, some corrupted by the flatteries of the insidious tyrant, did not prevail in the end, as we have already observed this in Daniel 8:13-14,25.
Indeed, as in Daniel 11:32b, these disruptive challenges to the whole sacrificial system, exploitations of the Temple and cheap barbarisms led to amazing "exploits" from the Maccabees, and that predictive term was abundantly fulfilled in that swelling tide of resistance and conquest, though long the endeavours and substantial the price.
The pollution then was followed by the purification, both in the people and in the Temple, in the very short term. This was an atrocity, but one laid to rest in a little time. This symbolic antithesis of goodness, Antiochus, set a stage and prepared a path. What however of the terminus, beyond his little day, for such a path ?
No, it was only when the NATION as a nation, betrayed the Lord categorically, and crucified Him just as Isaiah 52-53, 49:7, Psalm 22, Zechariah 11, 13, Daniel 9, directly or indirectly indicated, that their 1900 year exile was to come! This was to say no more, considerably more extensive! In that, millions were to perish! In the time of Daniel 11, it is not even a decade, let alone nearly two millenia such as was the penalty to come. In the yet earlier time, they were permitted to rebuild after the events preceding downfall of 586 B.C.. In 165, there was an early terminus to the desolation of the purity of the Temple, itself not destroyed. When the action was played out with the Messiah, what then ? In this case, not 70 years but an epoch in the expanse of millenia was to transpire before the "time determined" would come. Only then could they return.
The emphasis in Daniel is constantly, yes continually on the things "determined". We see it in the reflection on the 70 year exile as predicted by Jeremiah, as the time drew to its conclusion (Daniel 9:2), in the implication of 11:24 (meaningful in terms of the 2300 prediction of Daniel 8) - "but only for a time." It is spoken again in Daniel 11:35, "until the time of the end, because it is still for the appointed time." It is found once more in Daniel 11:40 - "at the time of the end."
It is measured arithmetically in Daniel 8:14, expanded in spans from 9:2 to 9:24, units becoming heptads. This comes with the equivalent of the last half seven*7 of 9:24-27, in 12:7 ("time, times and half a time"), and is expanded judiciously in 12:11 and 12:12, to 1290 and 1335. Things CANNOT happen because their appointed time is not yet scheduled (Daniel 11:27). Here the double deception of Philometor and Antiochus, each speaking lies, has political intention, a charged situation at the devious tables of mutual betrayal; but it does not have its expected outcome. Their planning is quite irrelevant in this, that God has another plan which is scheduled, and this purely human endeavour to chain history to its command, is utterly futile. Things will come, but each must wait its due apportionment (cf. Acts 17:26).
Indeed Paul expounds from the Lord in Acts most categorically: He "has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, if accordingly they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us..."
Indeed, Christ expostulated with Peter, "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must happen thus ?" Christ's end as envisaged by the tyrannical combined forces of State, Roman and that of Judah, with the the potent stimulus of ecclesiastical corruption behind it, was of course merely a beginning, a necessary part:
That however was not the attested place of the Syrian King!
Antiochus, then, came to his end. His little perturbation in history ended, like waves about a sinking ship. We pass on, like tourists over the Rockies, noticing first this and then that highest tip, to the final 'little horn', the 4th Empire occupant, because, this, it is the last, whereas Antiochus was, as we recall, merely the exponent in the 3rd in the Empire succession highlighted in Daniel.
Daniel 11:31-35 gives detail on this sacrilegious rage of the primary "little horn"; but then, without fanfare, we pass to the terminal 'little horn', the mature expression of it, like gorgonzola. We are moved in thought to "the time of the end" because this is "the appointed time". Indeed, all throughout verse 33-35 we have been tracing results and atmosphere, like the case of an oceanic vortex in full flow and force, leaving the perpetrator behind for the time.
It is then, in 11:36ff, a thrust to the end*8, so that after being advised of what is "to the time of the end"), we turn to the eventual outcome of such a spirit, in the final flourish of evil, to what lies there, to what is then to occur. In this, this terminal face of evil, either the devil's 'messiah' or his regional correlate, proceeds "till the wrath has been accomplished, for what has been determined shall be done." Here as in the epoch described in Daniel Chs. 2, in 7 and in 9, we become terminal in treatment.
is to be found now ? It is a time of immense devastation, but it is insidious
and serpentine, and its subtle and scheming flower of evil, has the scent
of the earlier "little horn",
complete with all false floral arrangements intact, though they be but
the flowers of fungus.
THE PLATEAU OF CONSUMMATION
Who is this king of Daniel 11:36ff., who at the end, to which his career comes, even to the resurrection in 12:1ff., is an epic of eviction, a romance of ruin and a bathos of word and wit, in puny seeming dismissal in punishment at his termination date ?
Keil in his Daniel volume, in the Commentaries on the Old Testament, a set co-authored with Delitzsch, makes the point elegantly that not only is there an ANNOUNCEMENT that we move to the end, but there is no way of fitting Antiochus with the data which follows Daniel 11:36 and on from there.
Thus, it is not meant to be prophetically pre-announced history of continuity, at this point; rather it announces itself in an area that is future even to Antiochus, namely the end, whereas he is back, stuck in the 3rd Empire of the oft-repeated series presented in Daniel. As we proceed, then, to 11:36ff., and hence to the 4th. Empire, having had the distinction made with care in Daniel often enough, what do we find ? The surge is from the prototype to the underlying archetype, the outcome, the consummation of the preliminary, the proud vessel that sails into the sunset, only to find that it is his own sun that has set, the orb remaining aloft.
What then, in verification, does not fit with the 3rd Empire petty tyrant who went so far, but no further, in 11:36ff. ? The point is that Antiochus Epiphanes is noted for his Zeus statue in the temple, for his emphasis on that alleged deity, and that was his weapon of offence. He did not put himself above all gods (as the king for the end does Daniel 11:37), nor of him is it known that he did "not regard any god", far less this for the reason that "he shall magnify himself above all". Paranoid and pretentious he seems to be; but this is not the same as becoming God in intention or intensity or both!
Farcical indeed the desire to be thus; but not far-fetched the evidence of it!
However, in the eventual antichrist aura there depicted as Ch. 11 ends, we do indeed find one set to ignore ALL gods, the antichrist figure at this end of the Age epoch, willing himself to be above EACH of the gods men might have, and to be himself, the ULTIMATE display, not just in this world, but in the next. By contrast, returning to Antiochus, Keil cites Kliefoth to this effect: "Antiochus was not an aqeos; he even wished to render the worship of Zeus universal," referring to 2 Macc. ix.12.
Again, the final figure is to exalt himself, but as to the added datum that he shall "not regard the gods of his fathers", evidence lacks of any such wholesale anti-religious thrust from Antiochus, the case being rather a specifically anti-covenant approach to the Jewish religion. In frustration at the denial of broader world dominion, because of Scipio (11:18) earlier, and in the later time, of with the Roman navy, he appears to have set himself to achieve persecutory pre-eminence with the Jews, as if they were a mere fiefdom, furnished for his malice and malignity.
It is not Antiochus, then, but it is assuredly the second of the two phase series of little horns. The shape is similar; the time is not. The evil is notable; but the final essence it is not in Empire 3, nor COULD it be, since it is not the end, and ... this is! Who more precisely then is the figure of 11:36ff., fit for the end, and the end of such a series as this!
Whether this last noted king is regionally defined, is in fact the regional representative of the antichrist at the times surrounding whose demise the things of the resurrection appear, as in 12:1, or the antichrist himself, it is not a simple thing to depict. As to this final king, for all his universal desire to get all greatness concealed and congealed, and then revealed in himself, it is difficult to determine whether he is the be all and end all of historical evil in the flow of kings and empires, or the antichrist himself. Is he an arm or the head ?
If he be the antichrist himself, then Daniel 11:37 would fit well with this, none being outside his spiritually insane and intellectually inane self-exaltation. If however there is a sort of madness type so that they can, the main 'man of sin' and some parallels under him, lay claim to some exultant glory, the one an apex, with various tentacular strands, then it could be a regional representative. His end in Daniel 11:45 is not inconsistent with II Thessalonians 1 and 2, in their highly dramatic indication; but it would fit well with a subordinate lost in the mists of picturesque but odious spiritual paranoia. On the other hand, it could be that there is an intentional playing down of the end, in this, that it is left like the murder that went before to end a rule of one of his ancestors, so that the Lord exhibits judgment and this imitation agent is ... on this earth as a power, simply ... NO MORE!
That is, as to the treatment of his end in Daniel 11:45, it could well be an expression of contempt for all his parade of power. None helps him; he comes to his end, the appointed end (cf. Daniel 11:35).
It is not easy to know which is intended; but one thing is sure, this is the very spirit of antichrist, in the very nexus of it, in the very head of it, whether there be a divesting of power to a region, where summary madness exhibits itself, in that domain, or this is the very glory grabber per se, "the man of sin" of II Thess. 2, himself, the antichrist of I John 2:18. In favour of the latter concept is the fact that Jerusalem is the PLACE where at one time Antiochus came to bring his image of abomination, and that the word of Paul expressly refers to "the temple of God" . To the extent that he is a trailer, a preview, this is suggestive. Since this phase of Antiochus receives in such an overview as this, such strong emphasis, it is highly suggestive concerning the final antichrist.
Indeed, it would be natural if the antichrist COMES to emplace himself here, in the light of II Thess. 2; and in the implications from Daniel's two 'little horns', there is a strong indication that the Middle East may well require his attendance. Indeed, in that this final king of Daniel 11 is to plant his battle tent between the seas and Mount Zion (Daniel 11:45), he fits admirably for the antichrist of Paul's depiction. As to the Danielic figure, there is no question, then, that he is a familiar of the environment of Jerusalem! When the Lord comes as in Zechariah 14:5 with His saints, the environmental juxtaposition would fit to perfection, indeed, as He comes to Mount Zion.
In Daniel 11:39 our eyes are fixed on this abominable ‘branch’, so that "he shall act" and "he shall acknowledge", "he shall cause" and "divide". In 11:40 accordingly, "at the time of the end, the King of the South shall attack him", proceeds on immediately. We are of course not being asked to jump an empire and substitute another, in full course and stream of events, and continue unmoved to move centuries, without even altering the pronoun*9, or the designation by it as we read "shall attack him"! It is the evil ultimate himself, or his surrogate. There is not pause for reflection, nor any jump, leap or alteration of course. It is fateful, final, ultimate in concept of self-exaltation and final in thrust. To the end we came, and there we stay, now in its last throbbings.
Where however is this to occur, as to placement ?
Perhaps the most likely point of this still future episode is this, that just as the abomination of desolation is noted by Christ to appear as a siren of culminating crisis and imminent coming of the Lord in judgment, so here "the man of sin" may make his final stand, seeking according to type, to invest the temple with his person, and his person with divine supremacy, the final issue of inebriated humanism, weak as water, wilful as a volcano and supremely fatuous in its outcome, the more obviously so in this, that the Lord so plans that the acme of arrogance is suddenly replaced by the depths of indignity (cf. II Thessalonians 1 and 2). Whatever the 'temple' may here be, it would seem perfectly clear that it must at the least be some recognisable object invested in the eyes of the many, with a highly sacred kind of significance. In his ludicrous self-evaluation (II Thess. 2:4), he merely exposes the site for a very different one, where the true power of the Word of God is found irresistible (II Thess. 2:8), being truth.
supremacy of reality supervenes, and ill-assorted thought and fact are
brought to their only possible conclusion, ruin.
THE PLATEAU OF JOY, JUDGMENT AND ETERNITY
The man of sin gone, we come to the resurrection in Daniel 12:1-3. Stark reality is now with us, in its final expression.
is a peace in beauty, found as the fires of desolation burn afar off, and
the purifications of time are seen in the plenitude of wonder in eternity.
On the very threshold of such purity and peace is "a
time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, to that time.
" He adds what is often ignored, "and
at that time your people shall be delivered..."
However this is not ALL that is added. It would be as far from truth to
omit what follows as what has just been noted. After "delivered", we read,
one who is found written in the book."
Passion is in it, personal compassion, not distorted by feeble feeling or anxious pretence, but according to truth. It is seen enacted with justice in Isaiah 53, and those who put in their hearts His sacrifice as their sin offering will be found*10.
But WHO has believed ? Even all whom the Father appoints. And WHO is appointed ? All whom the Father anoints (I John 2:27). WHO IS ANOINTED ? Whosoever will come and does come. HOW are they able ? They are effectually called, when the Christ lifted up, draws all men to Himself. WHO are not called ? Those who in the presence of God do not come. Why do they not come ? Because they would have darkness rather than light. Is it then simply their wills ? Far from it, as in Romans 9, for it is NOT of him who wills but of God who shows mercy.
What of those then who "sleep in the dust" (Daniel 12:2) ? Barton Payne cites from S.G. Tregelles' periphrastic translation or rendering, to help vision: "Many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earth shall awake; these shall be unto everlasting life; but those the rest of the sleepers, those who do not awake at this time, shall be unto shame and everlasting contempt" (Remarks on the Prophetic visions in the Book of Daniel p. 162).
Literally, it is THESE to everlasting life, "THESE to shame". It is to this that many awake. The MANY of the sleepers who awake are to do so to everlasting life (as in John 6:54). As to the sleepers in the dust, whose destiny is the valid question and the entire point here, what of them ? THESE ? These of those who sleep in the dust, who have passed from this world, like Stephen to breathe no more, but unlike him in the manner of it ? The trembling finger all but failing in horror at the gross shame of being lost in the very face of love such as the love of God, the mind in awe at the respect to their image-of-God vocation, now shown in their departure, with all light extinguished even before the Lord who is mighty to save: THESE to shame make their goings. (Cf. John 3:36, Palm 49:19 "they shall never see the light", and each such "shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him").
Thus THOSE WHO SLEEP in the dust (cf. Acts 7:60, Luke 9:30ff.) is the subject in view, notionally. We see diverse operations upon them. Their coming careers are given more attention (12:3,10,13), like the living whose lives are alert performance units.
"Many" is one category of the sleepers, and these awake. That is WHY they are merely MANY (cf. Matthew 20:28, 26:28). They are not all. All things come to them, for whom the Lord is delivered up (Romans 8:32), in effectual substitution. Those in this class now awake. These are designated as THESE!
SOME OTHERS of those who sleep in the dust is another class, another 'these". Nothing but shame comes to those in whom the offering is not taken up, who do not, who will not receive (John 3:19). These are consigned to the domain of shame. This is the constant and invariable usage of scripture (cf. Isaiah 66:23-24, Matthew 24:29-31, John 5:26-30, I Thessalonians 4, Revelation 20-21). Some awake; some await judgment. In the end (cf. Matthew 25), before the great white throne (Rev. 20), all indeed appear, those WRITTEN in the book of life being neither charged with their covered sins, in Christ, nor passed over for other reason. As also in Matthew 25, their good deeds are remembered, not to GIVE them a category, but as apt for notation within that category already accorded (Romans 9:9-11,16). It is however only at this termination of the Revelation millenium that their final fate is furnished. Known from all time (I Peter 2:9, John 10:26, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.), they are found in time and fashioned through faith.
Hence the tact of Daniel 12, in his marvellous notation. MANY shall awake. Many does NOT mean ALL.
THESE in view, being many and not all, are mercifully to awake to everlasting life.
THESE, not so in view and merged into a shame of darkness: for them it is not so. As for these, shame is their situation, as will was their lord and salvation their rejection (John 3:19). Not a defect in the scope of the divine love (John 3:16, I John 4:7-9, I John 2:3, I Timothy 2:1-6, Ezekiel 33:11), not a speck without the light of love in His character (I John 4:7-9), not a flaw in the sufficiency of the divine offering is to be found; rather it is a static in the soul, a roar against the Lord, for "I would ... but you would not" as we saw in SMR Appendix B, before the God who would have ALL men to be saved (I Tim. 2). It is God who knows who are His, has foreknown them and regenerated them; but this sovereign action is not a denial, but of course an APPLICATION of His love, which wavers not at all, either into lust or into dimness.
It is precisely this which gives the unique atmosphere of Daniel 12:3. It is not a mere whim, caprice or quirk of the divine mind which leaves those who do not here awake to shame to come; there has been purification before consummation as we have noted earlier in Daniel. It is as Titus 3:5-7 makes clear, a work of regeneration. God only knows His own, but the principles of love are abundantly stated. God did not love part of the world, but the world (John 3:16), any more than He did not work a part of all things after the counsel of His own will, but ALL THINGS; He would not have part of mankind saved, but all of it; He will not invade the soul, but deliver it. It is all there, neither Arminian nor a sovereignty which is the very ruler of God. God, who IS love, is the One who rules; and sovereignty is what HE makes of it. It is entirely His, and entirely loving.
Anything else is invention, and not interpretation. It savours of repudiation not realisation.
Accordingly, Daniel 12:4 proceeds with those resurrected to eternal life, the wise, those enabled by divine and sovereign grace to comprehend, John 3 making it clear that unless you are regenerated you CANNOT even see, far less enter the kingdom of heaven (cf. Ephesians 1:17-19). These "shall shine like the brightness of the firmament", and those who turn many to righteousness shall be like the stars forever.
One must pause to ask, What of those who being astray, play the evangelist ? and indeed the account of one evangelist comes to mind, who became anti-God in later life ... ? What of such as these ? Have they perhaps not amongst their various evils and errors turned many to righteousness ? Is it not after all the gospel which does the work, the word of God in the presence of His Spirit, which "blows where it wills" (John 3)!
Of course the answer is simple: of those who arise to light and life, there is AT THE OUTSET a cut-off, those who do not believe DO NOT understand, and CANNOT be in that category at all. It is only when faith is present that life is, that understanding is, and so only then that shining as stars is the lot of life. Indeed, many who think little of their own efforts, may have turned many to righteousness by their example. One of the author's most intimate companions was recently told by one lady that she felt sure only of a very small number of people, that they were indeed Christians, and that this one counted amongst them. Many help to turn many to the Lord, in many ways.
It was the force of the Christian character, wrought by the Spirit of God, it seems, the reflection of Christ which made such an impact. We cannot and must not imagine that evangelists are per se great, for the first shall be last and many of the last shall be first. This is a directional notation sufficient to abash the proud. Indeed, in our next volume, this very topic DV will be examined (that is, Highway of Holiness, Path of Peace, Way of Truth, Ch. 1).
In the kingdom of heaven, self-honouring is nothing. It is service which counts; and for that, it is enduement that matters; and in that, it is walking by faith in the Spirit which is functional; and those who directly or indirectly seek ANY greatness, are already exalting themselves, in whatever guile, manner of style: and these, these shall be abased.
It is then, a Plateau of Eternity that we are considering. It is also one of Judgment. Both we have been considering.
Now in the prophet Daniel's words, we note that it is a Plateau where the precursors of eternity evince themselves. Many shall go to and fro and knowledge shall increase, comes this delectably succinct word from the prophecy of Daniel (12:4), a subject examined in SMR pp. 707, 717, 724, 731), and observable in the 20th-21st centuries, the latter in full spate of motion now; and it is a prophecy like so many others, with amazing accuracy!
We then come to the arithmetic mode again (Daniel 12:11ff.), the reader recalling from Ch. 9 of Daniel, the reference to 70 7's in distinction from the 70 years, or 70 units if you will, which had constituted the exilic time in Babylon, the return from which is noted in Ezra and Nehemiah, those inspiring and inspiriting books of restoration. The Messiah came after 69 of these sevens, and in the midst of the remaining one, He decommissions the sacrificial slaughters, cancelled by His accomplishment in that death "which He should accomplish" (Luke 9:31), as Hebrews 2, 7-10 shows so carefully. (Cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13, 20 and Biblical Blessings Appendix 1).
What was the situation after this His death ? His sacrificial death as a lamb to the slaughter, so that sacrifice should then become as one who breaks a dog's neck (Isaiah 66) !
Only renegade action could now continue sacrificial action. It is finished, as is the priesthood because of the prior claim and credit production in the death of the Lord. But WHO HAS BELIEVED our report (Isaiah 53:1) ? What ! animals avail while God as man has done it all ? what nonsense! (as Isaiah indicates in 66:2-3, Jeremiah 3:16, a fascinating numerical parallel to John 3:16!).
What however of the one half of one remaining seven left ? That is roughly 1260 days or 42 months, figures which as we have seen in detail (cf. News 87, *1 ), appear in diverse usages in Revelation. As observed previously, in Acts 1, Christ after His resurrection, is approached concerning the immediate unleashing of the kingdom of God in its manifest form. Not so, He declares, "it is NOT FOR YOU to KNOW the times and seasons which the Father has put in His own power" (caps. added). Instead of providing this information on the date of the restoration, He announces this: YOU shall receive the Holy Spirit, He declared.
With this power, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:219-20 is to be accomplished. ONLY when it is done (Matthew 24:14), "shall the end come" as Christ stated categorically. The "messianic week" or seven is firmly in celestial control, and the size of the final unit will be known only when the Lord returns. There is no help to faithlessness in date setting here! (cf. Matthew 24:44-51). God cannot be outwitted, and He carries out both His purposes and His word. As to that, as always seen when the word of God is operative, "strong is He who executes His word" (Joel 2:11).
To this 1260 proceeds the prophecy of Daniel in 12:7, or times, time and one half, as often seen in combination. It is then that one finds that "the power of the holy people has been completely shattered", and indeed again appears the "abomination of desolation" spoken of by Christ, relative to the imminence of His return, when the time comes (cf. II Thessalonians 2:4ff.), and what an abomination THAT will be, a mere man masquerading as God! This, an advance on Antiochus, is in the arena of the ultimate (cf. The Other News Ch. 5).
Then that "all these things shall be finished", as in alliance with Daniel 9:24. In this connection (cf. SMR pp. 890ff.), one notes that the words of Romans 11, Isaiah 59, Micah 7 are an indication of a DIVINE work of deliverance, in which GOD HIMSELF makes the difference. It is so markedly likewise in Ezekiel 38-39. His intervention comes for Israel, whose vast return to their Messiah is so dramatically noted in Zech. 12:10, in the very midst of such martial and intimidatory actions from their enemies; and then we see Christ's return with His saints, as in Zechariah 14, I Thessalonians 3:13.
All this work is of His own power alone. Evil swarms meanwhile, and folly is exalted, like Antiochus in his preliminary version, and more so, the antichrist in the final action, only the more obviously to be abased by GOD HIMSELF, for NO FLESH shall glory in His presence, no nation and no notion of flesh.
This 1260, thus becomes little more than a mere eschatological implement at this stage as previously observed, being used for varied purposes of hidden scale size (sevens are units, no unit size being required once the death of the Messiah fulfilled, and the work of the Messiah was divinely encompassed for its eventual outcome cf. SMR pp. 959ff.). At that stage, it signifies WHAT IT TAKES (it is not for you to know the times or the seasons... from the lips of the LORD), to bring history to this point. This appears to be the return of Christ for His own. This is the first major and final episode. Is there then more ?
Yes, indeed, for we find that the arithmetic now grows a little, to 1290 (Daniel 12:11). The reference to the sacrifice evokes the Antiochan prelude, and in this case it was a matter of reaching the cleansing of the temple. This stage would appear to relate in kind to the RETURN of the saints WITH the Lord (per references above), the whole apparatus of faith being now in divine control and hands, manifest and purged from the polluters (cf. Micah Chs. 7, 4, Isaiah 2). What however of the 1335 extension with which the matter ends (Daniel 12:12) ?
"Blessed is he who waits and comes to ..." this. It is but a little extension and half of the 90 in 1290. What could it signify ? It may be that this refers to the purging of Psalm 2, where the Lord breaks and shatters evil with the rod, and the discipline of evil is made not merely organised on the earth, but stable and comprehensive, so that the millenium now blooms and there comes the approach of the new heavens and new earth, this earth and this heaven fleeing away, as Revelation 20, and II Peter 3 with Isaiah 51:6, tell us.
Stages in the consummation there certainly are. In the very end, as John tells us in Revelation 20, and in line with Isaiah 26:10, the works of this earth and its recalcitrants then purged, then past, the tares at last outlasted by grace and exhibited in their shamelessness, do not fail even then to seek to overthrow even millenial grace and righteousness, being without excuse in every and any sense, grabbing and grasping to the end, as if the earth were theirs. Alas, it is not merely environment which makes the unrighteous! Here is the final and ultimate exhibition of that fact! Give them felicity and they still fret to rule it, so abasing it which they kill on application! However, killing is what has been done enough: the Lord executes judgment, the heavens and earth flee away. The books are opened. The righteous shall shine like the sun.
So end Danielic Plateaux, surely one of the most prodigious undertakings, in the shortest of formats, the most intriguing, the most potent, unchanged, not needing change, conducting history like a tram driver on the rails on which it sits. We have sat and watched these plateaux as conducted on our observation journey. At times, we have provided more detail in a complementary way, from other scriptures; but these, short as they are, are themselves replete with specialised data. These prophecies of Daniel, they are very grand, like those heights seen in our picture at the commencement of this chapter, rising varied and magnificent, above the shores of time.
In time, they are all reached, and our journey ends as we await ...
but the coming of the One who did what it took, wrote what was needed (I Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 1:19-21, I John 2:27) and declares, "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" .
When ? Why, when "they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Once resurrected, they are at rest. But what shall He then do ? "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, form one end of heaven to the other." This is the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven... Ch. 9, pp. 161ff., SMR pp. 503ff.), and when He comes with all the saints, that is the beginning of the glory, which finishes when earth departing, indeed dismissed, tired, worn and old (Isaiah 51:6 II Peter 3), the Creator has a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Thus it is not the physical environment which is the cardinal concern; though its spoliation is despicable. It is the environment of the heart, of the soul, of the human spirit. Reading of 16 year olds, so immature and unformed, now becoming LEGAL prey in Western Australia for sodomy, we find - with the more bloodthirsty but not more lethal works of the Taliban and the virulent passages in the Koran such as they claim, and the clamour of misnamed communism, now a verbal screen for dictatorship in China and no more invoked in Russian government - that we readily may realise the situation of this world. It is a folly entire and absolute to worship this world, to play its games, follow its ways. It is on the way out.
The Creator who after all is the ONLY basis of it (SMR Chs. 1,3.10, TMR Chs. 1, 8, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-9, Wake Up World, Your Creator is Coming, Chs. 4, 5, 6, Spiritual Refreshings Chs. 6 and 13..., Stepping Out for Christ Chs. 2 and 7-10), is not bankrupt. To Him and for Him, as demonstrated so often, there is NO LIMIT. It is man who is limited (cf. Genesis 6:3, Isaiah 57:15-16). It is he who needs a new lease on life ... lease ? gift OF life, from the Maker of it. It is only this which is eternal, and its environment is ... GOD. Without Him, what folly to imagine you can twiddle the dials, divinely made, to ensure some sort of squalid continuance. As to salvation, NOW is the time! (II Cor. 6:1ff.).
It is better to find your lot with Daniel (12:13), the place Christ has prepared for you, being His by faith through the eternal redemption He has provided for those who receive Him, open to all, sufficient for all, effectual for those who receive Him and His salvation, not of their own mere will (John 1:12), but moved by the Lord, whose will is that all might be saved (I Tim. 2).
You are not acquainted ? Become acquainted with the Lord, then (John 17:3). You do not want to ? Do not blame Him! YOU said it. You do ? Thank Him for His grace and bind Him to you. See that door ? If He has put it in your heart, enter it. Those who do shall be saved (John 10:9). HE is the door, and says so. You do not trust God ? THAT then is your trouble, that you trust in your own heart, or its nominees, which you neither made nor can control, and are in essence as insufficient as you are. Trust Him who has displayed Himself trustworthy, whose goings are from eternity (Micah 5:1-3), and whose life is the light of men (John 1:4, 8:12, 9:5). Mistrust is disconnection; it endues the break with endurance!
Trust in the Lord; delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:3-4).
So does Daniel cover the gamut of many things, personal, spiritual, moral, hortatory, visionary, explicatory, consummatory. He declares, predicts, reminds, moves in the familiar venues, casting light from the Lord as he goes.
The emphasis is on the power of God to deliver, the fact that many will not in any physical sense be delivered, the length of time before the end, after Antiochus, a whole empire needing to arise, to have its varied expressions and die, over a century and a half to pass before the Messiah, following Antiochus, with a new 'little horn' of which he is the prototype to arise. This, it is in the interstices of that far ranging empire then still to come, but now long with us, a time of parallel persecution with subtlety and arrogance combined (in a way that in one aspect reminds one of Dickens atrocious Uriah Heep, combining both his early and his late trends, self-abasing and then triumphalist).
Daniel's prophecy moves on to the deliverance of the body in two flaming or roaring cases (Daniel 3 and 6), something available on divinely selected occasions, these being a testimony of that permanent and indefeasible deliverance to come, the resurrection itself (12:1-3). These preliminary physical deliverances are like the case of Lazarus and Christ, the former being used to illustrate for and by the latter, the reality of the resurrection to come.
This ineluctable predictive word is far from being dismissive of suffering, correction, purification and the overthrow of the righteous in this world, in parts of the divinely construed and administered scope of the evil dynamic used to expose itself, and so condemn itself.
Its highly evocative and detailed parallel in Daniel to the resurrection of Christ (cf. SMR and The Rest Index), has been noted above, and this precise presentation so like in so many facets, is given centuries before the final expression in Christ risen, just as the antichrist prototype is millenia before the end.
The latter is seen in concentration in Daniel 11. This is part of the intensely methodical, logical and didactically profound arrangement in this prophetic book. In Daniel 2 and 7, you see the overview of the four empires in sequence, Babylon the first already at the first, in place for this depiction. In Daniel 7, we find the first 'little horn' (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 2); and this is seen in its finale of evil, and its utter destruction. In Daniel 8, thus aware of the most concentrated essence of evil to be exhibited in man, we find the focus is now on the 3rd, the penultimate Empire. In this too is to be found a 'little horn' whose historical outline is precise and fascinating, provided with detail down to the arithmetical wire! Forced to compare, we see the trailer , the preliminary in the dark light of the finale, the last little horn.
In Daniel 9, we move in the 4th Empire precincts to the Messiah, finding the end in the terminology provided. The utter removal of all things from Him, is a prelude and picture to the utter removal of all things blessed from those who finally abhor Him (Isaiah 49:7 expresses this for the period, Daniel 12 and Isaiah 66:1-4, 24 giving more amplitude). Daniel 10 shows something of the dynamics involved and Daniel 11 then allows us to follow with assured step, the 3rd Empire in vast detail, seeing the profile of evil in its subtle, arrogant and devious ways; and now placed well with comprehension found in the preceding expositions, we move as at a step, from the preliminary to the final 'little horn', these brothers in arms and alarms! At 11:36 we turn from the one to the other, as one who in studying peaks, notices right next to Mt Everest, nothing less than massive Mt Makalu, and turning to it, contemplates the all but twin peaks, with appropriate awe. As twins, they stand out.
To be sure, the peaks of the two little horns are massifs of evil; yet one moves from the one to the other, in this environment of terms, in one action. We see now the terrain, the panorama, with the one for comparison seen not only standing near the other, but as in affiliation with its heart, completing the works of the other. Thus, inclined to the Zeus idol, in the first instance, it is soon to become an utter exposure of darkness, in the ultimate humanistic idolatry of ... himself, man, enshrined in his own megalomaniac magnificence of nullity! (Daniel 11:36-37). Himself ... above all! It is like Psalm 8, but forgets but one: GOD!
It is He however whose composure, compassion and understanding is all-embracive, leaving out precisely nothing, just as man gave to Him, come as the Messiah, precisely nothing (Daniel 9:24 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Barbs 29).
This does the prophecy expose the the multiplied and multiplicitous wonders of the Lord. Majesty is in the sovereignty; mercy is in the Messiah; and outworkings are in the clinical display of pathology and divine passion leading to the consummation.
The prophecy of Daniel is a work of scope and grandeur, majesty and subtlety, frankness and freedom, and above all, showing a wisdom and liberty in expression and detail, whether in this or that time, whether in things past or future, which is stimulating to faith in this, that it shows the consummate ease of the Lord in achieving His wishes, the glaring fallacy of little faith in being over-awed by some merely current exhibit from the depravity of human bestiality, and the immense depth of the divine superintendence of history. It is this which brings worship, not fear of suffering, of which it predicates for a long future, very much, like bouquets of roses without end, fragrance without diffusion, in purity of heart that disdains grief if only it may fulfil the responsibilities of its day and time.
In this, it is rather a preliminary
to Christ, who despised suffering and shame to achieve the glory (Hebrews
12:2-3, Isaiah 53:10-11), which is not least, the salvation of souls and
the culmination in consummation of His plan to deliver sinners from the
prisons not of lions, but of liars, and the people of God, not from suffering
but from shame. As such, this book is a Matterhorn of majesty, a Milford
of wonder, a Grand Canyon of depth, an ocean of grandeur and a precision
instrument of perception. It clears the eyes, heartens the soul, enlightens
the mind and reminds one of much that was known before, but with this dash
as of salt spray when one swims free in the ocean, that it is holy, just
and true, all things worked in and worked out with a power wholly uncontrollable
by evil, which, given its head, merely loses it.
See especially Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 10, * 1B.
See also The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 4 and Biblical Blessings Ch. 6, and Chs. 1-2.
See SMR pp. 713ff., Beauty of Holiness Ch. 4 , The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Chs. 4, 6.
*3See indexes on the resurrection.
is so wonderful that it needs to be read, so that Isaiah 50 in these verses
is here presented, together with the next 3 verses, covering the negative
contingency for unbelief. The whole tang and power is rich in that reality
which has applied the resurrection validation to millions, enlivened them
in reality, given them savour in the truth, enabling them to find the promises
of God (II Peter 1) are those which are fully functional, like all His
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
"He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.
“For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.
Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?
Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
The moth will eat them up.
“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment."
*5 See SMR pp. 886ff., News 87, *1 , Biblical Blessings Chs. 1 and 6.
*6 This of course is unhappily parallel to the Allies making alliance with Russia, in World War II. The plague of obsequious irrationality which followed in many seats of learning in the West was part of what enabled vast sums to be spent on armaments, after World War II was won. It helped lead to the eventual loss of atomic security, with far too close a comradely spirit with an absolutist tyranny, at least as bad as that of Hitler in its complete disregard of individuals, and in much, worse; for it started with itself as virtual god, whereas Hitler was not in principle so deluded about people, merely ruthless towards some, and sacrificing others on the way. To be sure, the result is not dissimilar! Both Nazism and Communism are irrational projections without possibility of truth, but to hit one with the other, the USSR of the day, building it up in industrial base and close acquaintance the while, was a folly for which the cost is prodigious.
The loss of realism in this unholy alliance has allowed the world to be tainted anew, the build up of Communism during the alliance helping to turn the hearts of some to follies unspeakable. Weakness in spirit is a wonderful invitation to woe of heart.
Israel of old was not the only one, then, with this unstable savour for unusable allies.
Egypt ? a reed which pierces the hand if you lean on it, said Isaiah (36:6). The case in World War II was not notably different! As Isaiah declared in the case of Israel, looking for help where they should not (30:1-3):
“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord,
“Who take counsel, but not of Me,
And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit,
That they may add sin to sin;
Who walk to go down to Egypt,
And have not asked My advice,
To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,
And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
"Therefore the strength of Pharaoh
Shall be your shame,
And trust in the shadow of Egypt
Shall be your humiliation."
It is fascinating in this intriguing book of prophecy, in which everything is significant, and there is a sort of laboratory precision in the feeling, to note that the last half seven of Daniel 9:24 (cf. SMR pp. 959ff.), is in Daniel 12 related to "the fulfilment of these wonders" (12:6), in that the answer to the question "how long...?" comes in terms of "time, times and half a time" and proceeds to 1290, which is the first extension of the 31/2 times 360, and to 1335 which is the second extension.
What however are the "wonders" ? There have, in Daniel 11, been things which in some ways would be all but the antithesis of wonders, in that immoral, unethical, murderous, treacherous, insanely self-exaltant, irresponsible things are rife, ground down for viewing under the microscope of divinely accorded assessment, coming to fruition in "great fury to destroy and annihilate many", an inane ferocity ending in this, that "he shall come to his end and no one will help him".
To be sure, this very last section, Daniel 11:36ff. could be thought of in terms of wonders, for all that, provided it be read in conjunction with 12:1, for in that case the cohesion would be substance for mutual characterisation, and the 'wonder' part of the words just quoted would be their folly in riding to the ultimate as history is directed to a foreclosure on such antics. Certainly however, it is nothing to be wondered at, that the devious, duplicitous and wholly uninspiring grubbiness of the preceding parts of Daniel 11's record of evils, petty in mind, debauched in spirit, pedestrian in concept, have occurred. History is like that all too often in the combination of littleness of spirit and largeness of opportunity. It is part of the exhibit, like biological specimens in formalin, of what goes on, leading to a judgment as seen in Daniel 12, all too clearly needed.
It is in Daniel 12:1 that we come to the spectacular in kind, the finally eschatological in portent, the once only heights of trouble, explicitly distinguishing a period never to be repeated, issuing in the resurrection of the body itself. Destiny is then delivered to the justified and doom to the derelict; and this destiny stretches into an excitingly luminous eternity.
However, in 12:4, Daniel has it made clear to him that the time being now revealed in his words, closing down time for the prophecy has come. He hears some time constraints as in 12:5-12, but it is clear that the twilight has come, and it is time for rest.
Hence it appears certain that the "wonders" are these terminal events. If so, then it is precisely as in Revelation 13:5 where the 42 months are the correlate of the 31/2 years or the symbolical 1260 days. Thus in the Revelation passage, this is a time of wonders, of vast and unique seizure of the world in the grip of a tyranny at once organised and terminal, and by its very nature, short (Revelation 13:16-17). As noted in (cf. Beauty of Holiness Ch. 4), this is one usage of the famed half seven left after the death of Christ, from Daniel 9:24-27.
In Revelation 11 we find the other: in this occasion, it is the entire church age which is dealt with by this arithmetical device, expounded in this connection in SMR pp. 959ff., Biblical Blessings Ch. 6.
This is paralleled in Daniel by the fact that in 9:24-27, this last half seven is ALL THAT IS LEFT of the entirety of history till all prophecy is consummated!
It is delightful to see this complete parallel in the employment of the half seven in Revelation and Daniel. The usage in Revelation has already been characterised in ...., and it is not different in Daniel.
Whether in large or little, there is no very direct quantification that could be USED to DETERMINE just when Christ will appear. The notations of an historic ensemble allowing certainty about when it is NEAR (Luke 21, Matthew 24 cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5), is one thing. Words which would enable too sure a determination when the time is imminent, this would be another thing. It is this which is systematically excluded!
Perhaps having been required so much to teach in one's career, helps here. IF one's PURPOSE is to prevent certain eventuations in the student body, then one's MATERIAL will reflect this. Christ did not WANT to reveal the time of His return with sextant simplicity, since He desired to have a measure of the unexpected, like a master coming unforeseen upon His undiligent 'servants' (Matthew 24:45ff.). Hence just as in Acts 1, He personally declined to give information of this character, indeed did not Himself call on it for the purpose, though as He declared, "all that the Father has is Mine" ( John 16:15), so in other revelation, it is excluded.
Meanwhile, pending this consummatory fulfilment, His own return for His people, then with them in judgment, the Holy Spirit is given (Acts 1:8), so that the Gospel may be conveyed and purveyed to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20, 24:14). The purpose is clear, the task is great; and only when it is done is there the time for His sudden and vastly potent return, selecting His own and leaving the mess to its own bubblings a little, till after the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:8), He comes with His saints (I Thess. 3:13, Zech. 14:5), to occupy Himself along the predicted lines of Psalm 2:
- "...I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel."
It is not for nothing that the injunction of Psalm 2:10-12 then appears:
- "Now therefore, be wise, O king;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LROD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."
*8 You see the same sort of thrust from the phase to the finale, in both Revelation 6 and 7, and 11.
*9 Thus in Daniel 9, there is no requirement to imagine that we are talking of the Messiah in 9:26, followed by the "people of the prince who is to come" and what is thus to be done at that time after Christ's death; and then talking of some other prince, in some far distant period, intended by the mere pronoun "he".
To move from one point associated directly with the Messiah, as the focus, and then be imagined to move from the outworkings of what follows under the phrase "people of the prince", and further imagine that the next "he" is not the people, but the prince, and not the prince in view with the "people of the prince" but another one far later, is not only far-fetched. It is a virtual insult to the writer! however unintentional. It is the Messiah there in focus, without interruption of time, without gap of accounting, acting consistently and coherently, as the verse proceeds to the ultimate end, not without His involvement, but with His actions continually the source and sovereignty, the efforts to dislodge Him as vain as in Psalm 2 and in Acts 2:23-24.
His dismissal of sacrifice (9:27) in 'confirming the covenant' of the Age past, in His own apparent dereliction ('there is nothing for Him'), is dependent on His own will. Not some fleshly display of the power of Rome, it is in fact a sovereignly selected sacrifice which is precedes its intended import and impact, in the salvation of thousands. It is as such it was predicted by Isaiah, in Psalm 2,22,16, 40 (cf. Joyful Jottings), and in Zechariah 9-12.
Hence goodness irrupts, and evil is merely a comic opera as He performs the real removal, not in insanity of insalubrious lust, such as Antiochus intended, or the evil one will attempt in his new 'model', but in sanctity of spiritual beauty and holiness of life.
See The Kingdom of Heaven... , Ch. 9, No. 8.