15.—What Shall Befall Judah in the Latter Days
The thing recorded in the eighth and ninth chapters gave Daniel more particularly to understand what should befall Judah and Jerusalem in “the last days” of the Mosaic constitution of things. The idea of a great national overthrow after the expiration of the Seventy Heptades, or 490 years, was distinctly impressed on his mind. But, then there was a long lapse of time to be accounted for in the history of Judah, first from the appearance of the Four Horns of the Goat in the place of the great horn that was broken until the occupation of Judea by the Little Horn that was to arise out of the Northern Horn of the Four: and secondly, from the destruction of the Holy City and suppression of the Daily unto the breaking of the Little Horn of the Goat without help to save it, and consequent deliverance of Judah by their great commander and prince in “the latter days” of the seven times of the kingdom of men. This was a subject Daniel desired much to hear discoursed upon. His anxiety to understand had at length become so acute, that he mourned for its gratification during three whole weeks.
At the end of that period, while near the Tigris, a man appeared to him whose appearance was representative of the perfect Prince Royal in glory. He saw him whom he styles “a certain man”, in the third year of Cyrus, the year of his decease, now 2,407 years ago (Dan. 1:21; 10:1–5). That “certain man” represented to him, was what Paul styles in Eph. 4:4; 1:22–23, the “One Body, the Ecclesia”, of which Christ is “the Head”. Daniel describes this body corporate of the quickened Just ones, as “a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude”. Of this host, Daniel was assured he should be one, “at the end of 1335 days”: which would reach from a given event to the epoch of resurrection “in the latter days”. Now, while contemplating “this great vision”, he was subjected to an operation indicative of his approaching decease; and of the process he and others would have to go through, in passing from the death-sleep of Sheol, to the firmamental and enduring brightness of the kingdom.
The decease he was about to accomplish, and which he speaks of as though he were already in the dust of death, is specified in the words, “I was left alone, and there remained no strength in me; for my vigour was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face upon the earth. I was dumb; nor is breath left in me”. Now, after remaining thus an indefinite period, the time arrived for him to awake from this death sleep; and to be raised from his recumbent position on the ground. He did not make a sudden and vigorous leap to an upright position in which he was fearless, fluent of speech, corruptionless, and strong, as some imagine the dead to be, when they dream of their leaping forth incorruptible and immortal. No, he had to progress by stages from his proneness in corruption, to a state of confidence and power. In the first stage of the process, a hand touched him. This was the application of power for his resuscitation. Its effect was partial, not complete. It gave him existence; but it was not vigorous: for it only placed him upon his knees and the palms of his hands; and in a state of mind apparently expressed by the word quandary. He was awake, but in perplexity, not knowing what move to make; he was, however, relieved of this, by being invited to “stand upon his feet”. Although he was addressed as “a man greatly beloved”, he arose from his hands and knees with fear and trembling. “I stood”, said he, “trembling”.
Daniel was now in the second stage of the process. Standing upright, he was the subject of anastasis, or “standing up”; but he was nevertheless in trembling and fear: and still tending earthward, and speechless. But, he was bidden not to fear; and was further encouraged by assurances of good, based upon his previous devotion to the Word, and his conduct before God. This judicial conference, though it would gladden the heart of Daniel, did not of itself impart vigour to his constitution. He was still earthward and speechless; for after the words of comfort were spoken, he says, “I set my face earthward (pahnai artzah) and I was dumb”.
He had now arrived at the third stage in which he was to be quickened into courageousness, tranquillity, and strength; by which he might “stand in his lot at the end of the days”, and shine a star of great brilliancy in the constellations of the “New Heavens”, in which alone righteousness shall reign. This quickening is accomplished by “one like the similitude of the sons of men”, touching him. In this way he alludes to Jesus, then unborn, who, in “the time of the dead”, shall touch him with spirit-power; and impart to him the peace, wisdom, and potency of incorruptibility and life. His ability to speak, and so to give account of himself in regard to his existence, had been restored to him in the second stage by the touching of his lips; but this did not make him “strong”, nor give him “peace”. It only enabled him to confess his condition of utter feebleness. It remained, therefore, that there should be a greater impartation of power by which his whole man should be strengthened. He was thus touched a second time by the same “appearance of a man”; not upon the lips, but upon the body. “He came again, and touched me; and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened”.
Such was the preface, dramatically exhibited, of a prophecy revealing to Daniel the awakening and recompensing of sleepers in the dust in “the time of the end”. It was the last of his visions, and the greatest of them all; because it culminated in “the Apocalypse of the Sons of the Deity” (Rom. 8:19). In the vision John had in Patmos, a like instance occurs in Rev. 11:1, in which a prophecy ending in resurrection and judgment (verses 18, 19) is perfected by the dramatic rising of the prophet himself. The things seen by Daniel in his last vision began to transpire “in the first year of Darius the Mede”, which was two years before he had the vision; and are strewn along a period reaching “to the time of the end”, in which is the resurrection of himself and people. It is an amplification of what he saw in the third year of Belshazzar, when he was also a subject of symbolic resurrection (8:18); and for the same reason. From the tenth chapter to the end of his book is one continuous record of “that which is noted in the scripture of truth”.
When Daniel recovered from the effects of “this great sight”, the glorious-looking personage informed him that he was sent to him to answer to his desire; and that his mission was to make him understand what should befall his people in the latter days; because the vision was still for days; that is, beyond the 490 years of the Seventy Heptades: and that he would show him what was noted in the scripture of truth. The eleventh and twelfth chapters contain the revelator’s discourse, which Daniel says he understood.
In the beginning of the tenth chapter he informs us that “the time appointed was long”. When the truth of the matter was revealed to Daniel, the third year of Cyrus had arrived, b.c. 540. The first event of the vision he had witnessed; that, namely, of the Persian Horn of the Ram exceeding the Median Horn in altitude. This was 116 years before the commencement of the Seventy Weeks, or 490 years. The vision, however, is still for days, which will not expire until the Seven Times of the kingdom of Babylon shall have ended in the reconcentration of the power of the Holy People. Then all things foretold in the Book of Daniel will be finished (Dan. 12:7). Well might it be said, “the time appointed is long”. Upwards of 2,400 years have elapsed since the first year of Cyrus’ sole reign, or the third after his conquest of Babylon, when “the word was revealed unto Daniel”; and, some forty at least will still be required for the full accomplishment of the things which are noted in the Scriptures of truth.
The word revealed, then, may be distributed into three sections: the first terminates at the end of the thirty-fifth verse of the eleventh chapter; the second ends at the conclusion of the thirty-ninth; and to the third belongs the rest of the chapter to the end of the twelfth.
From the third verse of the eleventh chapter the discourse treats of the Goat’s notable horn in respect of the succession to his dominion; and from the fifth to the twenty-ninth, of the mutual rivalries, wars, and policy of the northern and southern horns of the Goat; and from the thirtieth to the thirty-third inclusive, of the indignation of the northern horn against Judah, Jerusalem, and the evening-morning sacrifice; and the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth verses, of the help the Jews experienced under the Asmoneans till they were subjected to the Little Horn of the Goat, or “nation of a fierce countenance, whose tongue they did not understand”.
The second section is descriptive of the Latino-Greek Babylonian power which established its dominion over the territories of the northern and southern horns of the Goat, and over the Holy Land; and which was to prosper, or maintain its position to the exclusion of Judah till the indignation against them should be accomplished, or for a short space after the termination of the 2,400 years.
The third section of the discourse reveals the reappearance of the southern and northern horns of the Goat upon their ancient territories, and their reaction upon the Moslemized Latino-Greek Little Horn; the pushing at this, and the subjection of the southern horn, by the northern horn; the invasion of the Holy Land by this horn; the destruction of this power by Michael the great commander; the deliverance of Judah; the resurrection of some of the dead; and the reconcentration of the power of all the tribes of Israel, in a time of trouble such as the world has never known since the confusion of human speech.
If we may judge from the utter failures of commentators to interpret the eleventh of Daniel, it may be pronounced to be the most difficult and incomprehensible chapter in the Bible. Moses Stuart, formerly “Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological Seminary at Andover”, tells us, that, at verse 20, “we come upon Antiochus Epiphanes, whose history (as we may almost name it) occupies the rest of the chapter”. This absurdity is but a specimen of the rest. In his “Commentary”, he says he follows “the simple grammatical interpretation”; hence, having assumed that the last verse of the eleventh refers to Antiochus’s death, he makes the first verse of the twelfth announce the standing up of Michael to be at that time! This shows how little the grammatical interpretation is to be depended on apart from an understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Seeing then that these mere grammarians are ignorant of this gospel, it is no use wasting precious time in considering their speculations, which can never come out right, inasmuch as the gospel is no constituent of the materials from which they work out their conclusions. We shall be better employed in excavating the truth for ourselves. Let us, then, apply ourselves to the agreeable task, and see in what our labour will result.
In presenting the reader with an interpretation of this chapter, I shall have regard to the above divisions of the revelator’s discourse. I shall give it in the form of paraphrases, incorporating the prophecy with the interpretation, but at the same time giving the angel’s words in italics to distinguish them from my own. I may remark as to the date, that the revelator introduces his discourse with an allusion to “the first year of Darius the Mede”. This was also the first year of Cyrus, who reigned conjointly with Darius; so that the third year of Cyrus was the first of his reign by himself. The reigns of Darius and Cyrus will therefore count as one, after which four are to be reckoned.