It is plain that chapters 10, 11, 12 are one continuous subject, and show us the circumstances in which Daniel received this last, and in some respects most remarkable of all his prophecies. For, in the whole compass of divine writ, there is no such circumstantial and minute statement of historical facts, and that, too, running down from the Persian monarchy, under which Daniel saw the vision, till the time when all the powers of this world shall be obliged to bow to the name of the Lord. Not that the prophecy runs on from the time of the Persian Empire to the reign of Christ without a single break: that would indeed be contrary to the analogy of all the rest of God's word. But we have, first of all, a concise, and, at the same time, clear, statement of the facts, until we come to a remarkable personage, who was the type of the great and notorious leader of the opposition to God's people at the close of the present age. Having brought us up to this, the prophecy breaks off, and then at once spans over the interval, and gives us "the time of the end"; so that we can understand how it is that there is that gap. For the present I must close where the break comes in. Upon a future occasion, I hope, the Lord willing, to take up the antitypical crisis at the close, which begins with Dan_11:36. We shall find that it is not confined to any particular evil one; but that in the end of the chapter we have the conflicts of the leaders of that day in and round the Holy Land. And then Dan. 12 shows us the dealings of God with His own people, until they and Daniel himself shall stand in their lot at the end of the days: this last - that is to say, the blessing of God's people, or at least of the godly remnant - being the great object of the close.
"In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar," etc. Daniel, we find, had not taken advantage of the decree of Cyrus, which went out two years before, leaving the Israelites at liberty to return to their own land, according to prophecy. Daniel was still in the scene of the captivity of the Jews. But more than that, the Spirit of God draws attention to the state of the prophet's soul. He was not enjoying himself in a stranger-land, but mourning and fasting; and this, in circumstances where he had all, of course, at his command. He was found, as it is said, eating no pleasant bread, "neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." Now surely it is not for nothing that the Spirit of God has shown us Daniel, not only before the decree of Cyrus was issued, but afterwards, in such an attitude before the Lord. We can all understand, when the moment approached for the little remnant to leave Babylon and return to the land of their fathers, that he should be found chastening his own soul before God, and passing in review the sin that had occasioned so fearful a chastening upon the people from the Lord - although he was even then doing exactly the contrary of what the flesh would have sought under these circumstances. For when some great outward mercy is vouchsafed, then is the time when man naturally is apt to give rather a loose rein to his enjoyment. In Daniel we see the contrary of this. He took the place of confession; and of confessing the sins, not merely of Israel, but his own. All was before him. None but a holy man could have so deep a sense of sin. But the same energy of the Holy Spirit, which gives real self-abasement, enables one also in love to take in the sad and abject condition of God's people. Such thoughts as these seem to have filled the soul of Daniel when he found out, by the prophecy of Jeremiah, that deliverance was just at hand for Israel. There was no kind of exultation over a fallen enemy - no shouts of triumph because the people were to go free; although Cyrus himself considered it a high honour that God had made him to be the instrument of both. Well might a man of God ponder over what sin had wrought, when the Lord could not even speak of Israel as His people, although faith in Daniel only the more led him to plead that they were.
Here the decree had gone forth according to his expectation. The Persian conqueror had opened the door for the prisoners of hope to leave Babylon, and those who pleased had gone back to their own land. Daniel was not among these. Instead of now anticipating nothing but bright visions of immediate glory, he is still found, and found more than ever, in a posture of humiliation before God. When the reason of this prolonged term of fasting comes out, we are let into the connection of the world that is seen with that which is unseen. The veil is not merely raised from the future, for all prophecy does this; but the statement of the vision here given us discloses, in an interesting light, what is around us now, but unseen. Daniel was permitted to hear it, in order that we might know it, and might also have the consciousness for ourselves, that, beside the things that are seen, there are things invisible, far more important to the people of God than all man looks upon.
If there are conflicts upon earth, they flow from higher conflicts - the angels contending with these evil beings, the instruments of Satan, who constantly seek to thwart the counsels of God with regard to the earth. This comes out remarkably here. We know that angels have to do with the saints of God; but we may not have discerned so clearly, that they have to do also with the outward events of this world. The light of God here shines upon the subject, so that we are enabled to understand, that there is not a movement of the world but what is connected with the providential dealings of God. And angels are the instruments of executing His will; they are expressly said to do His pleasure. On the other hand, there are those that oppose God constantly: evil angels are not found wanting. Those who are not alive to this certainly lose something, because it gives us a far stronger view of the necessity of having God as our strength. Were it a mere question between man and man, we could understand that one person, in the consciousness of his strength or his wisdom, or other resources, might not fear another. But if it is a fact, that we have to contend with powers that are immensely superior to us in everything of outward intelligence and might (for angels "excel in strength," as we are told), it is clear that we are thrown, if we are to be conquerors, upon the support of Another, who is mightier than all that can be against us. The faith that thus counts on God is a deliverance from anxiety about all that is taking place in the world. For although there are wicked spirits, and men are only as the pieces that are moved by them in the game of this life, yet, in fact, there is a supreme hand and mind that leads to the moves, behind the scene and unknown to the persons acting. This gives a much more solemn character to our thoughts of all that occurs here below.
Besides these angels, another appears on the scene: "a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz." He, of whom we have so magnificent a description in verse 6, and whom Daniel alone sees, does not appear to have been a mere angel. He may have been seen in some features of angelic glory; but I conceive this is One, who often appears both in New and Old Testament history - the Lord of glory Himself. He appears now as a man - as One, who had the deepest sympathy with His servant upon the earth. All others had fled to hide themselves, Daniel abode: nevertheless, there remained no strength in him his comeliness was turned into corruption. Even a beloved man and faithful saint of God must prove that all his past wisdom was unavailing; for he was now a very aged man, and had been singularly faithful to the Lord. At this very time he was the one who best realized the true condition of Israel. For he saw well that a long time must elapse before the Messiah must come, and the revealing angel had announced that the Messiah should be cut off and have nothing. No wonder, then, that he was mourning. Others might be full of their bright hopes, that the Messiah would soon appear and exalt them as a nation in the world. But Daniel was found mourning and fasting; and now the vision passes before him, and this blessed Person reveals Himself to him. Yet, spite of all the love that rested upon him - spite of his familiar knowledge of God's ways, and the favour that had been shown him in previous visions, Daniel is made thoroughly conscious of his own utter weakness. All his strength crumbled into dust before the Lord of glory. And this has a moral for us of no little moment. However much may be the value of what a saint has learnt, the past alone does not enable us to understand the new lesson of God. God Himself is necessary for this - not merely what we have learnt already. I think that this is a weighty truth, and most practical. We all know the tendency in prudent men to lay up a store for the time to come. I do not deny the value of spiritual knowledge in various ways - whether in helping others, or in ourselves forming a right and holy opinion of circumstances that are passing round. But where the Lord brings out something not previously learnt, then Daniel, spite of all that he had known before, is utterly powerless. He is most of all prostrated in this last vision, and realizes more than ever the nothingness of everything within him. He is thrown entirely upon God for power to stand up, and enter into what the Lord was about to make known to him. The same thing appears as to John, who had lain in the Saviour's bosom while on earth, and of all the disciples had most entered into His thoughts. Yet, let that Saviour stand before him in His glory, to make known to him His mind about the future, and what was even the apostle John? The Lord has to lay His hand upon him, bidding him fear not. He has to encourage him by what He was himself - the Living One, who had died but was alive again, and had the keys of death and hades. Therefore it was that he was to listen with the most perfect confidence, because this was what Christ is. There was no power but must fail before Him.
Here Daniel, in his measure, enters into this. The death of the flesh must always be realized before the life of God can be enjoyed. This is important, practically. In the grace that brings salvation, it is not that death must be learnt first, and life afterwards. Life in Christ comes to me as a sinner, and that life exposes the death in which I lay. If I must realize my death in order for that life to come to me, it would be evidently man set into his true place, as a preparation for his blessing from God. This is not grace. "That which was from the beginning . . . which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." That is to say, it is the person of Christ Himself, who comes and brings the blessing. After that, the soul learns that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." It learns that if we say we have light, or fellowship with Him who is light, and yet walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. All the practical learning of what God is, and what we are, follows the manifestation of life to us in the person of Christ. If you speak of the order as to a sinner, it is sovereign grace which gives life in Another; but if of the order of progress in the believer, it is not so. The believer, having already got life, must mortify all that pertains to him merely in nature, in order that the life should be manifested and strengthened. This is all-important for the saint, as the other is for the sinner. Man in his natural state does not believe that he is dead, but he is labouring to get life. He wants life; he has none. It is Another alone that brings and gives it to him in perfect grace - seeing only evil in him, but coming with nothing but good, and bringing it in love. This is Christ. But in the believer's case, having already found life in Him, there must be the judgment of the evil, in order that the new and divine life should be developed and grow. So that, while to the one it is life, exposing the death, and meeting the man in death, and delivering him from it, to the other it is the practical putting to death everything that has already existence naturally in him. All this must have the sentence of death put upon it, in order that the life be unhindered in its growth and manifestation.
Daniel was proving this, as the practical means of entering into, and being made the suited witness of, the wonders that the Spirit of God was about to bring before him. Hence, whatever might have been the favour in which he stood - and he was "a man greatly beloved" - nevertheless, death must be realized by his soul. "And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words." And then we have an intimation conveyed to him how it was that there had been such a delay. "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one-and-twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia." Here, I apprehend, we have another person speaking. Not the first and glorious One that Daniel had seen, but one used as a servant - an angel, in fact, that the other employed. The last chapter will prove clearly that there was more than one person sent: and it is plain, from the language of the speaker, that he is subordinate. Daniel is encouraged by learning that, from the first day that he had set his heart to understand and to chasten himself before God, his words were heard. He did not receive the answer the first day nor the second. Not until one-and-twenty days after did the answer arrive, and yet it was sent from God the very first day. Of course, He could at once have given it. But what then? First of all, the terrible struggle, that is always raging between the instruments of God and the emissaries of Satan, would not have been so clearly understood. Then, again, faith and patience would not have had their perfect work.
I am not forgetting, that the Holy Ghost is sent down now to dwell in the hearts of believers in a way not known then. For, although the Spirit of God was always at work in the holy prophets and in holy men, yet the abiding indwelling of the Holy Ghost was that which was not, and could not be, till Jesus was glorified, and the great work of redemption was wrought, in virtue of which the Holy Ghost was sent down from heaven to take His abode in the hearts of those that believe, the seal of the blessing which is theirs in Christ. So that, besides the outward providential care of God, so beautifully brought out here, we have that blessed Divine Person constituting our bodies the temple of God. Yet the outward struggles go on. The same thing, that hindered Daniel from having the manifest answer to his prayer, may hinder us from having the answer of circumstances. The answer of faith we ought always to reckon on at once; the answer of circumstances, governed of God, so as to bring out a manifest answer, we may have to wait for. Daniel had to wait, and the reason is given us. From verse 13 we learn, that although God had sent the answer from the very first day, the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood for twenty-one days - exactly the time that Daniel was kept in mourning and fasting before God. "But, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia." Plainly it is an angel that speaks. It would be derogatory to the Lord to suppose, that He was the One who needed help from one of His own angels. But Michael was mentioned here, because he was well known to be the archangel, who took a special guardian care over the nation of Israel. So that, however people may make a mock at the truth of the interposition and guardianship of angels, yet Scripture is quite clear about it. Romanism, as we know, has made them objects of adoration. But the truth itself is of special interest.
That angels are employed of God in particular services is plain from the word of God. Nor was this merely a new truth. We find that Jude mentions, as a well-known circumstance, the contention of Michael the archangel with the devil about the body of Moses. The same truth comes out again in this. It was Michael's care over the Jewish people. He knew their tendency to idolatry, and that the man, whom they had rebelled against during life, they would make an idol of after his death. And thus, Michael, as the instrument of blessing on God's part to Israel, contends with Satan, so that the body of Moses was not found; the Lord is said to have buried it, though the instrument that the Lord employed was Michael. Now here we have this interesting ray of light cast upon earthly circumstances. The powers of this world may be governing, but angels have not given up their functions. There are the devil and his angels, and Michael and the holy angels with him, brought forward again in the last book of the Bible. The facts of Christ having come, and of the Holy Ghost having been given, do not supersede this. On the contrary, we know that there will be one most tremendous conflict at the close between the holy angels and the wicked ones, when the heavens shall be for ever cleared of those evil powers, which had for so long defiled them. This is most interesting, as showing the perfect patience of God. Because we know, that with a word He could put down the devil and all his host. But he does not. He allows Satan even to venture into the lower heavens - nay, still to have possession of them. Therefore it is that he is called "the prince of the power of the air," as he is called elsewhere "the prince" and "the god of this world." But I believe it is only there that he is prince. We never read of such a thing as Satan being prince in hell. It is a favourite dream of great poets, and of small ones too; but we never read of it in Scripture. The Bible shows us, that his real power now is either in the heavens or on the earth; but that when he is broken, both in his heavenly usurpation first, and then in his earthly power, he is cast down to hell; and that, instead of being a king in hell, he will be the most miserable object of the vengeance of God. The solemn thing is, that he is reigning here now, and people do not feel it. His worst reign is that which he acquired - not that which he had before. The death of Christ, although it is the ground on which he will eventually lose all his power, was, nevertheless, the means by which he became the great usurping power, opposing God in all His thoughts about this world. But here is a thought that is of importance for us. If God permits such a thing as this - if He allows the presence of this evil one, the enemy of His Son in heaven itself - if, instead of the crucifixion of Christ leading God to deprive Satan of all his power, we find him after this displaying His greatest long-suffering, what a lesson it all is for us not to trouble ourselves about circumstances! No man has ever trodden these unknown regions; there has been none to tell us about them except the word of God, which lays it bare before us. We do not know all, of course; but we know enough to see that there is this tremendous power of evil opposed to God, and that the power of God is always and infinitely mightier than the power of evil. Evil is but an accident, which has got into the world through the rebellion of the creature against God. By "accident," I mean that it was only the creature's interrupting for a time the purposes of God; while in truth it but served to bring them out with brighter lustre. To bless heaven and earth was the plan of God, and this will stand. Evil will be banished from the scene, and evil men will suffer the awful consequences of having rejected the only good and blessed One in Christ, the Lord.
But while the certainty of all has been made known to faith before the execution of the thoughts of God, we have the view opened to us of the grave conflict meanwhile that is unseen. This puts faith to the test. Daniel had to go on waiting, mourning, praying, spreading out all before God. We see in him the perseverance of faith - praying always. And how was not his faith rewarded! For when the angel does come, he makes known this at the bidding of the glorious One, who had first appeared to Daniel. It was the prince of the kingdom of Persia who had withstood him one-and-twenty days; but Michael had come to his help.
I may also observe, that we have an important hint, in the next verse, of the main objects to which God had an eye in this prophecy. Only persons who have read much know the torture the chapter has suffered through men bringing their own thoughts to explain it by. The pope, of course, has been very prominently introduced into it. And then the daring soldier of the early days of this century was found in it too: I allude, of course, to Napoleon. In short, whatever has been going on in the world of extraordinary interest persons have tried to find in Daniel 11. Dan_10:14 puts to the rout all such thoughts. "I am come," says the angel, "to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days. for yet the vision is for many days." Nothing can be plainer. It is put as a sort of frontispiece to the prophecy to show, that the great thought of God for the earth is the Jewish people, and the main design of this prophecy is what must befall them in the latter days. We have the series of the history almost from the day in which Daniel lived, but the latter days are the point of it. Prophecy in general may afford to give a little earnest close at hand, but we never see the full drift of it, save in the latter day; and then the thoughts and plans of God always have, as their earthly centre, the Jews and their Messiah. I do not mean to deny that the Church is a far higher thing than the Jews, and the relations of Christ to the Church nearer and deeper than His relations to the Jews. But you do not lose Christ and the Church, because you believe in His link with Israel Nay, if you believe not this, you confound them with your own relations to Christ; and both are lost, as far as definite knowledge and full enjoyment go. This is for want of looking at Scripture as a whole. If Dan. 10 had been read as an introduction to Dan. 11, such a mistake might not have been made. But some read Scripture very much as others preach it. A few words are taken, and are made the motto of a discourse, which perhaps has no real connection with the scope of that passage - perhaps not with any other in the Bible. The thoughts may be true enough abstractedly, but what we want is a help to understand the word of God as a whole, as well as the details. If you were to take a letter from a friend, and were merely to fasten upon a sentence or a part of one, in the middle of it, and dislocate it from the rest, how could you understand it? And yet Scripture has infinitely larger connections than anything that could be written on our part; and therefore there ought to he far stronger reasons for taking Scripture in its connection than the little effusions of our own mind. This is a great key to the mistakes which many estimable people make in the interpretation of Scripture. They may be men of faith too; but still it is difficult to rise above their ordinary habits. The prophecy before us shows the importance of the principle I have been insisting on. Take the ordinary books on this prophecy - no matter when, where, or by whom written, and you will find that the great effort is to make a centre of their own days, etc. Here is the answer to all. Neither Rome, nor the papacy, nor Napoleon, is the object of the prophecy, but "what shall befall my people [Daniel's people, the Jews] in the latter days."
We then find Daniel expressing in humbleness of mind his unfitness for receiving such communications. First, one like the similitude of the sons of men touches his lips, and he is instructed to speak unto the Lord. He confesses his weakness - that there was no strength left in him. But "there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man, greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong." Men, until they are thoroughly established in peace, until their hearts know the real source of strength, are not capable of profiting by prophecy. Here we find Daniel set upon his feet, his mouth opened, his fears hushed, before the Lord can open out the future to him. His heart must be in perfect peace in the strength of the Lord, and in the presence of his God. Anxiety of spirit, the want of settled peace, has more to do than people think with the little progress that they make in understanding many parts of God's word. It is not enough that a man have life and the Spirit of God; but there must be the breaking down of the flesh and the simple, peaceful resting in the Lord. Daniel must go through this scene, in order to fit him for what he is to learn; and so must we in our measure. We must realize that same peace and strength in the Lord. If I am in terror of the Lord's coming, because I am not sure how I shall stand before Him, how can I honestly rejoice that it is so near? There will be a hindrance in my spirit to the clear understanding of the mind of God on that subject. The reason of this lack of competence is not want of learning, but of being thoroughly established in grace - the want of knowing what we are in Christ Jesus. No matter what other things there may be - nothing will repair this sad deficiency. I speak now of Christian men. As for mere scholars dabbling in these things, it is as completely out of their sphere as a horse would be in being set to judge of the mechanism of a watch. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: . . . neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." It is only a scribe of this age meddling with what belongs to another world, of which he knows nothing.
We have a rapid survey of what was about to befall Israel in the latter days. It is the same speaker here as in Dan. 10. "Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia." There we have the succession of Persian monarchs from Cyrus. Scripture does show us who these were, although their names are not mentioned here. I would refer you to Ezra 4, where will be found these very three kings mentioned. In Ezra 4 the occasion arose out of the attempt of the enemies of Israel to stop the building of the temple; and these hired "counsellors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus, king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius, king of Persia." Now in order to understand that chapter, you must bear in mind that, from the sixth verse down to the end of verse 23, is a parenthesis. The beginning and end of the chapter refer to events during the reign of Darius. But the Spirit of God goes back to show that these adversaries had been working from the days of Cyrus till the days of Darius. Consequently, in the parenthesis, from verse 6-23 inclusively, you have the various monarchs that had come between Cyrus and Darius, whose minds the adversaries had been trying to work upon. "In the reign of Ahasuerus" (i.e. the successor of Cyrus, called in profane history Cambyses), "in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem." Then we have the next king. "And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam," etc. This is a different person from the Artaxerxes mentioned in Nehemiah, who lived at a later epoch, and is called in profane history Smerdis the magician, who by wicked means acquired the crown for a time, and lent an ear to the accusations against the Jews. This usurper was put to death through a conspiracy headed by Darius, not the Mede of Daniel, but the Persian spoken of in the Book of Ezra. Darius Hystaspes was his historical name. He follows immediately. Hence we have these three kings enumerated in Ezra 4, exactly answering to the three in Dan_11:2. Thus we find one part of Scripture throwing light upon another, without the need of going into the territories of man at all. "Behold there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia." These came after Cyrus, and were called in Scripture, as we have seen, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius; and in profane history Cambyses, Smerdis the magician, and Darius Hystaspes. "And the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia." It is the celebrated Xerxes, who stirred up all against Greece. This confirms an idea thrown out on a former occasion, that the reason why the he-goat rushed with such fury against Persia was in return for the Persian assault upon Greece. Xerxes was the man who made that great attempt. His riches are proverbially known, and no event made so profound an impression on the world then as that expedition against Greece and its consequences.
In verse 3, Persia, the ram of Dan. 8, is dropped, and we find the he-goat of that chapter, or rather its horn. "A mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will." This is Alexander. "And when be shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven." That was true at his death: the Greek Empire was then shivered into fragments. "And not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides those." It was not to be a single head getting rid of the family of Alexander, and taking possession of all. His kingdom was to be divided into a number of parts, four more particularly; and out of these four divisions two acquire an immense importance. But what constitutes their chief importance here? When God speaks of things upon the earth, He always measures from Israel; because Israel is His earthly centre.
Hence it is, that the powers which meddle with Israel are those that in God's view are important. This is the reason why the other kingdoms are not noticed; only those of the north and of the south. And why are they so described? Palestine is the place from which God reckons. The king of the north means north of the land that His eyes were upon: and the southern power means south of that same land. These are the countries commonly called Syria and Egypt. They are the two referred to throughout the chapter, the other divisions of Alexander's empire being put aside. Only those are looked at which had to do with Israel. Now we are told that "the king of the south shall be strong" - he is the person well known as one of the Ptolemies or Lagidae - "and one of his princes" (i.e. of the chiefs of Alexander); "and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion." This is another person, the first king of the north, who rises in strength above Ptolemy. In profane history he is called Seleucus. The descendants of both these and their strife are often spoken of in the history of the Maccabees. There minute accounts are given of the transactions predicted in this chapter; and of the two, what God says in few words is infinitely more to the point that man's elaborate detail.
Put let us look a little at some of these events. "And in the end of years they [i.e. the kings of the north and of the south] shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement." One remark before going further. In this chapter it is not the same king of the north, nor the same king of the south, that we have all the way through, but a great many that succeed each other. The same official title runs throughout. As people say in law, The king, or the queen never dies. That is just the way we are to fool; at it here. This sixth verse is an instance. "In the end of years they shall join themselves together." They are not the same kings of the north and south, who had been spoken of in verse 5, but their descendants. "In the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement." They made, not only an alliance, but a marriage between their families. "But she shall not retain the power of the arm." The attempt to make a cordial understanding between Syria and Egypt, by marriage, would be a failure. Of course, this was exactly verified in history. There was such a marriage, and the king of the north even got rid of his former wife in order to marry the daughter of the king of the south. But it only made matters a great deal worse They had hoped to terminate their bloody wars, but it really laid the foundation of an incomparably deeper grudge between them. As it is said here, "Neither shall he stand, nor his arm; but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and prevail." It was not her seed, but her brother - out of the same parental stock. She was one branch, and he another. The brother of this Bernice, daughter of the Egyptian king, comes up to avenge the murder of his sister, and prevails against the king of the north. Here we have the explanation confirmed of what the kingdom of the south is. "He shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land." There we see Egypt triumphant for a time; but the tide was soon to turn. "His sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come [the other disappeared], and overflow and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress. And the king of the south shall he moved with choler." Now comes another war al a subsequent date; and this time it is the south returning the blow of the north. "The king of the south. . . shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand." There the Spirit of God refers to several notable facts. The two principal actors are the kings of Syria and Egypt. The land of Israel, that lay between them, was a sort of burdensome stone to these kings who made it their battle-field, which ever went to the conqueror. If the king of the north was victorious, Palestine fell under Syria; and in the same way if the king of Egypt got the better. But God never allowed rest to those who took His land. They might intermarry and contract alliances; but it only proved the prelude to graver outbreaks - brothers, sons, grandsons, etc., taking up the quarrels of their kindred. "The Scripture cannot be broken." All was distinctly laid down beforehand.
"And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it." Then we find that the king of the north returns and "sets forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision." Allow me to call attention to these words. It at once settles the question that might be asked - How do you know that Daniel's people do not mean God's people in a spiritual sense? The answer is given here - "the robbers of thy people." This at once puts aside the plea for a spiritual sense. We could hardly talk about "robbers" in that case. This confirms what ought not to have needed further evidence - that Daniel's people mean the Jewish people, and nothing else. Here we find that some of the Jews form a connection with one of these contending monarchs of the north. These are called here "the robbers of thy people," and take the part of Antiochus, the king of the north, against Ptolemy Philopater, or rather his son; but all came to nought. The Syrian king might hope that, by bringing in this new element, by getting the countenance of the Jews, perhaps God would be with him. But no. They were the robbers of the people - unfaithful to God, and not holding fast their separation from the Gentiles. They, too, might think to establish the vision, "but they shall fall."
"So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will [that is, the king of the north], and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed." Another remarkable thing that we see here is, that the Spirit of God still holds to the importance of that little strip of land - the territory of Palestine. It was God's gift to God's people. Whatever might be its deplorable condition, it is the glorious land still. God repents not of His purposes: "He will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land." And if, when it is a question of God's earthly purposes, He thus holds to them, spite of every hindrance, what will He not do for His heavenly people? Who can doubt that He will bring them to heavenly glory with Christ?
"He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him." This is another attempt at marriage; only it is the converse. It is not now the king's daughter of the south coming to the king of the north; but the king of the north gives his daughter Cleopatra to the king of the south, hoping that she will maintain Syrian influence at the court of Egypt That is what is called here "corrupting her"; because it was plainly contrary to the very essence of the marriage-tie: it was an attempt to use her in order to serve his political purposes "But she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him." The reasons of state - the innermost secrets of their hearts, alike come out here.
There is another disgrace, which is not only known to God, but is made known to His servants. "After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.'' That is, Antiochus meddles with Greece, and takes many of the isles; but this other prince, for his own behalf, takes up the contest against the king of the north. Here we have the entrance upon the scene of a new power - the first allusion to the Romans. A Roman consul is meant by the prince that comes on his own behalf against the king of the north. He will not allow Greece to be touched. It was one of the Scipios who interfered. "Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, - and not be found." He is obliged to return to Syria, but he shall stumble and fall.
'''Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom. The Romans, who defeated the father, obliged his son to raise a heavy annual tribute. That was all that the. poor man did during his life. "Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes.... but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle." He was killed by one of his own sons. "And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people." This is the man who typifies the last king of the north. Called in profane history Antiochus Epiphanes, he was morally abominable, but most notorious for his interference with the Jews; first by flattery and corruption, and afterwards by violence. This is the man the Spirit of God dwells most on, because he most meddled with Israel, the glorious land, and the sanctuary. He it was who enforced idolatry in the temple itself, setting up an image to be worshipped even in the Holy of Holies. Therefore it is that he acquires importance. Otherwise he was a man little known, except for daring wickedness. Nothing can be more simple. His history consists of intrigues, first against the king of the south, and shell against the Jews; and of various expeditions, in some of which he was successful at first but afterwards entirely defeated. "He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers.... And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand." These kings meet and plan against each other, but all is vain. "Both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land [ie. in the north]. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter." Then we have further details.
"For the ships of Chittim shall come against him." There are these indefatigable Romans that come in again. They had dealt with his father when he had made an attack upon Greece; and now that the son had his hand over the throat of his prey, the Roman consul came, and at once forbade his doing anything further. He even drew a circle round him, as is well known, when the artful king wished to gain time to evade. The answer was demanded before he stepped out of the circle, and he was obliged to give it. This was a death-blow to all his policy. He went home a miserable, defeated man, with a heart vexed and infuriate, though putting on a humble appearance before the Romans. What should hinder him from wreaking out the anger of his heart upon the Jews? As it is said here, "Therefore shall he be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant." Poor as the Jews were, they were witnesses for God upon the earth; and Antiochus hastens to pour out his fury upon whatever bore a testimony to God among them. This was his ruin, and brought God's vengeance upon him. "He shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant," i.e. with the apostates of the Jews. "And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate." He will put an end to the Jewish service, and will set up an idol, "the abomination that maketh desolate," in the temple of Jerusalem. It is a mistake to suppose that this refers to the last days. It is only a type of what will take place then. The latter part of the chapter, and the next chapter, do refer to the latter day in the full sense of the word. But here is the step of transition from what is past to the future.
We come down in regular historical order to Antiochus Epiphanes, and then meet with a great break. Scripture itself intimates as much. But Antiochus did on a small scale what the great northern king of the latter day will do on a larger one. It is said (verse 35).... "even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed." There God stops. He says, as it were, I have come to the man that shows you in type what is to befall you in the latter days; and so He dwells emphatically upon this king, laying before them the extreme wickedness of his heart and conduct. The Spirit then cuts short the course of the history, and plunges at once into the last scene. This, however, must be reserved for another occasion. What we have seen shows us that whatever may be the general outline of events elsewhere, God can be, and sometimes is, singularly minute in the details of a prophecy, and nowhere more so than in this very chapter. And what is the main objection raised by infidels against it? That it must have been written after the events had taken place! Certain it is, that there is no historian since these times who gives us such an admirable account as we have in these few verses. If I want to know the history of these two contending monarchies, Syria and Egypt, I must look here. How entirely we can confide in the word of God about everything! It may be an exception to His general rule to dwell upon the kings of the north and of. the south, but He does so at times. The great thing on which He bestows care is the souls of His people. May our hearts answer to the interest He takes in us!
From the twenty-first verse we have had the account of the king of the north, known in profane history as Antiochus Epiphanes. The Spirit of God has entered into much fuller detail in speaking of his history, because his conduct, specially at the close, in meddling with the Jews, and their city, and their sanctuary, furnished the occasion for a type of the last king of the north, who will be found following in his predecessors' wake, save that his guilt will be incomparably graver in the sight of God - so flagrant indeed, that His judgment can tarry no longer. This accounts for a circumstance that has often perplexed the students of Daniel's prophecy. We read of an ''abomination that maketh desolate" in the predicted account of Antiochus (Dan_11:31); and it has been commonly supposed that our Lord refers to this in Mat_24:15. Those who looked for the future fulfilment of this abomination have sought to reconcile it with the facts by the assumption that the Spirit of God must have branched off to the future personage that Antiochus represented. But in my judgment there is no need for anything so unnatural. Antiochus Epiphanes was only a type, and verse 31 does not go beyond his history, save as a foreshadowing.
In other words, to the end of verse 31 all is strictly historical - typical, of course, of the future, but nothing more. And therefore the answer to the difficulty that some find in our Lord's quoting, as they suppose, Dan_11:31, is really as plain as possible. He does not quote this verse. The passage He refers to is in Dan. 12. In Dan_12:11, you will find an expression similar to this. "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety Jays." There we. have a defined date, which connects this last setting up of the desolating abomination with the deliverance our Lord predicts in Matthew 24; for Jacob's most fiery trial is that which just precedes his deliverance.
Now there are more reasons than one for believing this passage in Daniel 12 to be what our Lord cites. Some of them depend upon considerations more fit for the study than for public ministry. But the sum of the matter is, that the expressions the Holy Ghost employs, in Dan_11:31 and in Dan_12:11, differ. In Dan_11:31 it means the abomination of him that desolates, or of the desolator. Whereas, in Dan_12:11, the true meaning is that which is given in our Lord's words - not the abomination of him that maketh desolate, but the "abomination of desolation"; which is, I suppose, what is meant in the English version by the words, "that maketh desolate." Thus the two phrases are distinct. Although there is a resemblance between them, there is also a difference; and that difference is enough to show that our Lord spoke not of the abomination set up by Antiochus, but of that mentioned in Dan. 12. Consequently, there is, in fact, no difficulty to be removed; because the desolation spoken of in Dan. 11 is past, and the desolation of Dan. 12, that our Lord draws attention to, is future.
That this is so, will appear from other considerations also. Thus, in the verses that follow, we have a state of things distinct from what will be in the future tribulation of Israel. "Such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Now we find from the Revelation, and other parts of Scripture which speak about the future of Israel, that the godly remnant could hardly be said to do exploits. They will suffer; but I do not think that deeds of power thus characterize the blessed ones who are to pass through the dreadful crisis of the future. In the days of Antiochus, it was not so much suffering, but being "strong," and doing "exploits" - exactly what was true of the Maccabees and others, who undoubtedly were not so much a band of martyrs as a set of men who roused the spirit of Israel, and resisted the cruel and profane scourge of that day. Again, we read, "And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days." There is a long period, observe, of sorrow and trouble, that follows the outbursts of courage and prowess against the desolator, and this is still continued in the following verses. "Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed." Clearly, then, these trials are before the time of the end. The Spirit of God is here referring to what has already taken place. Accordingly we have a picture of terrible disaster that goes on, as it is said, "to the time of the end."
From all this, I infer, then, that the Spirit of God singles out the desolation which then befell the people of Israel, and the defiling of the sanctuary under Antiochus or his generals. This brought vividly out the circumstances of the last days; but, along with them, certain other circumstances were added, which ought not to be expected in those days. In other words, we arrive at what may be called the long and dreary blank that severs the past history of Israel, and the struggles in their land against neighbouring aggressors, from the great crisis of the last days. This is where the true break occurs. Certain disasters were to go on "to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed." There is no place in the chapter where the interruption of the history so well fits in as after verse 35.
But now, in verse 36, we have another person abruptly introduced into the scene. We are not told who he was, or whence he came; but the character that is given of him, the scene that he occupies, the history that the Spirit of God enters into in connection with him - all declare, too plainly, that it is the terrible king who will set himself up in the land of Israel in personal antagonism to the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus. He it was of whom our Lord spoke, when He said that, if they refused Him who had come in His Father's name, they would receive another coming in his own name. Nor is this the only passage of Scripture, where this same false Christ, or rather Antichrist (for there is a difference between the terms), is described as "the king." Not only are there different references to him under other epithets, but in the greatest and most comprehensive prophecy of Scripture, Isaiah, like Daniel, introduces "the king," as if he must be known at once. In Isa. 30 we have an enemy of Israel, called the Assyrian. Doubtless, looking at past history, Sennacherib was their great head in that day. But he only furnished the opportunity to the Spirit of God to bring out the future and final adversary of Israel. His fall is here brought before us. "For through the voice of the Lord, shall the Assyrian he beaten down, which smote with a rod. And in every place where the grounded star shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall he with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will He fight with it." After the end of that victory there will be exceeding joy for Israel; instead of the train of sorrow, which most victories bring, there follows unfeigned gladness before the Lord. "It shall be with tabrets and harps." For the enemy there will be proportionate misery. Something still more awful and unending than temporal destruction falls upon the proud foe. "For Tophet is ordained of old: yea, for the king it is prepared; He hath made it deep and large: the pile therefore is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." In our version there is a singular obscurity' remarked by another, in this verse At first sight it might appear that the Assyrian and "the king" were the same person. The true rendering is, "For the king also it is prepared" - that is, Tophet is prepared for the Assyrian, but besides, for THE KING also. Just as in our passage in Daniel, we have the Assyrian or king of the north on the one hand, and "the king" on the other. The same frightful end awaits them both. But I only refer to this now for the purpose of showing, that the expression, "the king," is not unprecedented in Scripture, and that it applies to a notorious personage the Jews were taught in prophecy to expect. God, in judicial retribution for their rejection of the true Christ, would give them up to receive the Antichrist. This is "the king." He would arrogate to himself the royal rights of the true King, the Anointed of God. Tophet was prepared for the king of the north, and also for "the king."
But this is not all. In Isaiah 57 we have him introduced quite as unexpectedly. In Isaiah 55 are shown the moral qualities that God will produce in His people. In Isaiah 57 He shows us the fearfully iniquitous state then also found in Israel. And in that day God will no longer endure anything but reality. Forms of piety, covering uncleanness and ungodliness, will have passed away. There "the king" is suddenly introduced to us. (v. 9) "Thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off; and didst debase thyself even unto hell." To have to do with him was to debase oneself unto hell. No wonder that for "the king also" Tophet was prepared. This shows that, before the mind of Israel from the first, there was one that the Spirit of God led them to expect to reign over the land in the last days, who is called "the king."
Thus at once is furnished a most important clue to Daniel 11. We are come to the time of the end. The blank is closed - the long dark night of Israel's dispersion is well-nigh over. The Jews are in the land. In what condition'' Are they under Christ? Alas! there is another and a terrible scene that must first be enacted there. "The king" that we have read of is there, and the course he pursues is just what we might expect from the landmarks of the Holy Ghost. "The king shall do according to his will." Ah! are any of us sufficiently aware what a fearful thing it is to be the doers of our own will? Here is the end of it. It was the first great characteristic of sin from the beginning. It is what Adam did, and the fall of the world was the immediate result. Here is one who at that day may seem to be the loftiest and most influential of Adam's sons. But he does "according to his will." And nothing worse. Are we to read such a history as this without moral profit to our own souls? To forget what an evil thing it is ever to be the doers of our own will? Let none suppose that, because they may be in a position to rule, they are therefore outside the danger. Alas! it is not so: no one thing so unfits a person for righteous rule as the inability to obey. It is good first to know what it is to be subject. Oh! may it strike deep into all our hearts, that "the king," the Antichrist, is first stamped as one doing his own will. May it test us how far we are seeking ours! - how far, under any circumstances, we are doing, or allowing anything, that we would not wish every soul in this world to see - perhaps even those that are nearest to us. Alas! one knows, from experience and observation, the difficulty and danger in these things from one's own heart. Yet there is no one thing more contrary to that Christ whom we have learnt. We are sanctified "unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." It is not only to the blessing, in the sprinkling of the blood, but to the obedience of Jesus Christ - to the same spirit and principle of obedience; for that is the meaning of the expression. We are not like the Jews who were put under the law, and whose obedience had the character of obligation to do such and such things under penalty of death. We are already alive unto God, conscious of the blessedness in which we stand, and awakened to see the beauty of the will of God; for His will it is which has saved and sanctified us. This is our calling, and our practical work here below. Christians have no other business, properly speaking, than to do the will of Another. We have to do God's will according to the character of the obedience of Christ - as sons delighting in the will of the Father. It does not matter what we may have to do. It may be one's natural daily occupation. But do not make two individuals of yourselves - with one principle in your business or family, and another for the Church and worship of God. Never allow such a thought. We have Christ for everything and every day. Christ is not a blessing for us merely when we meet together or are called to die; but if we have Christ, we have Him for ever, and from the first moment we are emancipated from doing our own will. This we learn is death; but it is gone now in Christ's death. We are delivered, for we are alive in Him risen. But what are we delivered for? To do the will of God. We are sanctified unto the obedience of Jesus Christ.
As for "the king," you have in him the awful principle of sin which has always been at work, but which here exceeds all bounds. The moment has come when God will remove the providential checks which, up to that time, He will have put upon men, when Satan will be allowed to bring about all his plans; and that, too, in the very land whereon the eyes of God rest continually.
"The king shall do according to his will, and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself" - not only above every man, but "above every god." And it is not only that he takes his place above these so-called gods, but "he shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods." And strange to say (if one did not know the perfect wisdom of God, and could not wait for His counsels to be matured), in spite of his fearful profanity, "he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; for that that is determined shall be done." This clause contains a word that gives us the key to the passage. For some have found immense difficulties in this portion of the word of God. Many have transported into this verse the Pope of Rome, others Mahomet, or Buonaparte. But here we find that "the king" is to prosper till the indignation be accomplished. What, or about whom? Has God indignation against His Church? Never. This is the time, too, of God's patience with man - not of His indignation. With whom, then, is it connected? The word of God is perfectly plain. It is when dealing with Israel that God speaks of indignation: I have already shown this fully from Isaiah 5, 10, 14, and other passages, as it is entirely confirmed by the whole nature of the revelation here. For we read of one that would be the king of Israel - not in Constantinople or Rome, but in Palestine. And the time is a future outburst of indignation against Israel in the promised land. He (the false king) shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished. "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women." The expression, "the desire of women," clearly, to my mind, refers to Christ - the One to whom all Jews were looking forward, and whose birth must have been above all things desired by Jewish women. It is plain from the connection that such is the true meaning. For it occurs between "the God of his fathers" (Jehovah) and "any god." Nothing is less likely than, if it had merely referred to natural relationships, that it would have been thus placed. It was, probably, from the wish to apply this to the pope that such an interpretation has found currency. But let us only understand that the prophecy concerns Israel and their land, and all is plain. He shall not "regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women." Christ is distinguished from "the God of his fathers," perhaps, because the Son was to become incarnate. But Christ is regarded no more than the God of his fathers - an expression, by the way, which implies that he himself is a Jew. It is "the God of his fathers." "For he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the god of forces." It is not that he goes forward as Antiochus did, trying to force Jupiter Olympus upon the Jews; but he adopts a new superstition. This also disproves the reference to the Syrian king, who was a Gentile. Here it is a Jew, who will take the place of the Christ, and who, of course, regards neither the true Christ nor Jehovah. It is a self-exalting personage who opposes the true God, i.e. who equally sets aside the superstitions of men and the faith of God's people. Self-exaltation is his marked feature.
But this is not all. The Antichrist will be infidel, but not merely infidel. He will have rejected the God of Israel, and the Messiah. Nor will he honour any of the gods of the Gentiles. But even this man, although he sets himself up as the true God upon the earth, will, for all that, have some one to whom he bows and causes others to bow along with himself. The human heart, even in Antichrist, cannot do without an object of idolatry. So, in ver. 38, there is this apparent inconsistency that comes out in the Antichrist. "But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces." He makes a god, as well as setting himself up to be God. "A god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things." It is entirely an invention of his own. More than that. He will divide the land among his adherents. "He shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land f