23.—The King of the North
The eighth, ninth, and eleventh chapters of Daniel are principally a symbolical and descriptive prophecy concerning three of the five horns of the Grecian Goat in their relation to one another so far as their acts and policy affect the fortunes of Judah and the Holy Land. These three horns are the southern or Egyptian Horn, the northern or Greco-Assyrian Horn, and its conjunct, the Little Horn, which arose out of it, and will ere long subside into it, the power it represents being absorbed into it by forcible incorporation.
The Greco-Assyrian Horn Power, as we have already seen, was in its origin the Kingdom of Babylon incorporated with the Alexandrian Empire, afterwards acquired by the Seleucidæ, and by this dynasty surrendered to the Romans about sixty-five years before Christ. Till A.D. 324, Rome was exclusively the throne of the Greco-Assyrian Kingdom of Babylon; but from that date until the fall of the Western Empire about A.D. 476, the Power was enthroned in Rome and Constantinople, the former city being the place of the Senate and of the junior emperor, while the latter was the palatial residence of the chief. On the re-conquest of Italy from the Goths in the reign of Justinian, Rome was reduced to the rank of the second city of the Greco-Assyrian, or Constantinopolitan, dominion; but still retained her ecclesiastical pre-eminence, being the throne of the Chief Pontiff of the Kingdom of Babylon.
On the revival of the Latin empire of the west under Charlemagne, the separation between the East and West became complete. The Constantinopolitan continued the Greco-Assyrian Dragon-power, but deprived of its jurisdiction and authority over the West. This surrender of dominion to the New Confederacy of the West is apocalyptically represented in the saying, “And the Dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2); but what he retained was Greek and Assyrian.
This blending of the Romano-Greek power with the Assyrian is the reason why the Little Horn of the Goat is represented as coming out of one of its four horns. They occupy one and the same territory; that is, where the Seleucidian dynasty once ruled, the Little Horn’s dynasties afterwards ruled; and where the Little Horn’s present dynasty now rules, a Russian dynasty from the north will probably be enthroned; so that when this form of things obtains, the northern horn and the Little Horn will be blended into one power, still Constantinopolitan, but with a Russian instead of an Ottoman for its chief.
But before this can be accomplished these words to Daniel must be fulfilled: “And the King of the North shall rush on like a tempest against him with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into countries and overwhelm and pass over”. This plainly intimates war between the two horns in the time of the end; and such a war too that will sweep all before the King of the North. He will rush on against him both by land and sea, his forces being distinguished by their numerical strength in “chariots”, or artillery, cavalry and ships. The result of this tornado will be a successful one, for he will “overwhelm and pass over”.
The attack, answering to the words of the prophecy, has not yet commenced. All the western European world prophesies the impossibility of the King of the North doing anything with his ships against the combined fleets of the Little Horn’s allies! But to “overwhelm and pass over” is to prevail. He has only to bide his time, and to look out for eventualities. The elements have interposed for Russia in great extremity; and we know it is written, “Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind” (Psa. 48:7). In the absence of this, however, complications will doubtless arise in the West, which may divert the attention of the Ottoman’s allies from the Euxine. This diversion will be Russia’s opportunity; and when seized, the movement of the King of the North will answer to the full force of the prophetic word.
The tempest, then, is gathering. The King of the North is preparing his hosts, and fortifying with all the forces that iron can afford him, against the “drying up” Euphratean power and its infatuated protectors, until the time arrives to use them with effect. The Turks are alive to the danger they are in, and the French and English have proclaimed the integrity and independence of the Ottoman empire. But things are not yet quite ripe. The position of Prussia, Austria, and Germany yet delays the rushing forth of the storm in all its violence. Something must arise to cause these powers to declare themselves on one side or the other. Prussia and Austria have not declared their policy on the Eastern Question: they also fear the volcanic elements of their own dominions, and the ambitious projects of the ruler of the French. Maritime disasters, revolutionary outbreaks, or Russian appeals to their dynastic interests and fears, may necessitate their abandonment of neutrality and the declaration of a policy by one or both of them in favour of the king of the north. The division of the Kingdom of Babylon into two belligerent sections will then be complete, and Russia will be overwhelming. The rush of nations then ensuing will be terrific, and is well described by the prophet, who says, “Hark! a multitude of many peoples making an uproar as the noise of seas. Hark! a tumult among peoples, warring as a tumult of mighty waters; they rage against peoples like a roar of many waters” (Isa. 17:12). This is Isaiah’s description of things when “the nations are angry” (Rev. 11:18) and the King of the North rushes on like a tempest against the Little Horn. At present it is only the gathering of the storm, but when begun, who can say with effect, “Peace, be still”?
The king of the north’s career for a time will be most successful. Some of the countries he is to enter into and overwhelm are Egypt and the Goodly Land. “He shall send forth his hand upon countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” These are the forty-second and forty-third verses, and explain somewhat the passage in the fortieth, that “He shall enter into the countries, and shall overwhelm and pass over”. Then follows the saying in the forty-first verse, “He shall enter also into the goodly land”. To do what is foretold of him in regard to Egypt implies the conquest of Turkey; because not being a maritime power he cannot get at Egypt and Palestine (unless in alliance with a naval power) until he first overwhelm the Ottoman.
The last country he will invade will be the Holy Land; whose covenanted limits are from “the entering into Hamath” to the Nile, for its western frontier; and from thence by the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf for its south line; and from the Gulf along the Euphrates to the mountains of Amanus for its eastern side. He will not be able to occupy the whole country, the south and south-east of it being held by his antagonists; for it is written in the prophecy, “But these shall escape out of his hand, Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon”; the reason of their escape being because they will then be in the hands of a powerful antagonist.