We have now another and final type of the Gentile powers brought upon the scene. But in looking at types we must always bear in mind that the question is not about the personal character of him that affords the type. Thus, Aaron officially was a type of Christ, but we are not therefore to suppose that his ways were like His. In some respects he was a very guilty man. It was he who made the calf of gold and who even sought to deceive about it. But this does not disqualify him from being a type of Christ. He was a type of Christ in spite of all that, not in that. David typified Christ, not as a priest but as a king - as a suffering and rejected king first, and then as one reigning and exalted. There are two parts in the life of David. First, the time when he was anointed king but when the power of evil was still allowed and he was hunted about and persecuted; and secondly, when Saul died, he takes the throne and puts down his enemies. In both respects, David was a type of Christ. But there was manifestly also the contrast of Christ in the failure of king David, and the dreadful sin into which he fell.
But if on the other hand, we find a type here, as I believe there is, of an awful scene, that closes the present dispensation, we are not to suppose that it cannot be its type, because there were good qualities in the king. King Darius, rather than Belshazzar, foreshadows the way in which man will take the place of being God. It was what Darius did, or suffered to be done, that sets this forth in principle. While Belshazzar was one of the most degraded of the human race, Darius was a person who, in his own character and ways, had much that was exceedingly amiable, if not something better. But I am not now raising a question of Darius personally. We have had the type of Babylon's fall, and the judgment of God that will come down upon it, because of its wickedness in insulting and profaning what belongs to the true God, and in mixing up its own idols, and giving its praise and worship to them, in indifference to the sorrows of God's people. This will be verified a great deal more in future history. There is that upon the earth which takes the highest place as being the church of God. There is that, which boasts of its unity, of its strength, and antiquity; which boasts of its uninterrupted lineage; which takes credit to itself for sanctity and the blood of martyrs. But God is not indifferent to its sins, which have been going on increasing and deepening from generation to generation; and they are only awaiting the day of the Lord to come, for judgment to be executed and to receive the sentence that is due to them. In the Revelation there are two great objects of judgment - Babylon and the beast. The one represents religious corruption, and the other violence; two different forms of human wickedness. In the latter form of it, we see a man, urged on by Satan, presuming to take the place of God upon the earth. Now this is what Darius permits to be done. He might not know it himself, but there were others around him that led him to the dreadful deed.
The historical circumstances that led to it were these: - They wanted an occasion against Daniel, and they well knew that it was impossible to find one except they found it against him "concerning the law of his God." So they put their heads together, and taking advantage of the usage of the Medes and Persians for the nobles to form the law and for the king to establish and sign it, they devise a decree that it should be lawful for none to ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days save of the king. What was this but for a man to take the place of God? That no prayer was to be offered to the true God, and that every prayer that was offered at all was to be offered to the king: if that was not giving the rights of God to man, I know not what is. The king fell into the trap, and signed the decree.
But now we have to mark the beautiful conduct of Daniel. There is no intimation that the decree was a secret to Daniel. On the contrary, he was perfectly aware (v. 10) of what had passed into law. But, on the other hand, he could not compromise his God. His course, therefore, was taken. He was an old man, and the faith that had burned within him from early days was at least as bright as ever. So when he knew that all was signed, and sealed, and settled, as far as man could, and that the unchangeable law of the Medes and Persians demanded that no knee of man should bow down to God for thirty days, - knowing it all, he goes to his chamber. There is no ostentation, but he does not hide it. With his windows open, as usual, toward Jerusalem, he bows down before his God three times a day, and prays and gives thanks as he had done aforetime. He gives his enemies the occasion that they sought. They at once remind the king of the decree that he had made, and proceed to arraign Daniel before him. "That Daniel," they say, "which is of the captivity of the children of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day." Then the king "was sore displeased with himself," and labours in vain till the going down of the sun, to deliver the one whom he respected at least. Miserable though he was, yet, on the appeal of the nobles to him on the ground of the immutability of the laws of the Medes and Persians, he sins again. He gives up the prophet to the rage of his enemies, to be cast into the lions' den, with the hope, which perhaps he scarcely allowed himself, that his God would deliver him. And God appears for His servant. God does deliver: and the dreadful fate, that was intended for the prophet, fell upon those who had accused him to the king. "The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." (Psa_9:15-16) Nothing can be plainer than the bearing of this on the deliverance of the godly remnant at the close by the outpouring of wrath and destruction upon the traitors within and the oppressors without of the last days. The end will be as here - the acknowledgment on the part of the Gentiles, that the living God is the God of delivered Israel, and that His kingdom shall not be destroyed.
Here we have then, in Daniel 5 and 6, the combined types of that which will close the present dispensation. For if you look later on in this Book of Daniel, you have a person introduced called "the king." (Dan_11:36, etc.) You have there a direct prophecy of similar deeds. "The king shall do according to his own will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods," etc. Not that Darius personally did these things. I am speaking of what his act or decree meant in the eye of God. The question is, what God thought of the sin Darius had been drawn into, and this, as a type of the future.
It is said, further, of "the king," in Dan. 11, "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers . . . for he shall magnify himself above all." In the New Testament we have this alluded to in more than one place. A person might say to me, That is about the Jews, and does not concern the present dispensation. Well, then, taking up what does refer to it, I would cite in proof 2Th_2:3-4: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [that is, the day of the Lord's judgment upon this world] shall not come except there come a falling away first, [strictly, it means 'the apostasy first,'] and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." Now, it is plain, that what Darius did was in effect to exalt himself above all that is called God or is worshipped. Because, to forbid prayer to God, and to demand that the prayer that was offered to God usually should be offered to himself, only for a certain space of time, was nothing more nor less than the type of him who would take this place in a far more dreadful and gross and literal way. We have clearly a New Testament proof that these days spoken of in Daniel, and typified then, are yet to come; that this person, who is looked forward to by prophecy, is one who is to set himself up as God, not as the vicar of Christ merely, having persons ready to bow before him and kiss his foot. All this is wicked and superstitious; but it is not a man saying that he is God, setting himself up in the temple of God, and saying, There is no prayer to be offered except to myself. Whatever be the evil of Popery and the presumption of the pope, there is a great deal worse to come. And the solemn thing to remember is this, that it will not be merely the issue of Popery, but of Popery AND Protestantism, etc., without God. Not even the spread of truth will be an infallible preservative against it. Most guilty and foolish were those who once fancied, that because Israel had the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they were necessarily safe in the conflict with the Philistines! The ark returned in triumph, but where were they?
Beware of the fond conceit that, because of religious zeal, no harm can befall this country. Rather be sure of this: the more light, the more Bibles, the more preaching, the more of everything that is good there is, if men are not conformed to it, and not walking in it, the greater the danger. If they treat it as a light thing, and despise it; if they have no conscience about practical bowing to the light of Scripture, they are most sure to fall under one delusion or another. For who is to say what is not of importance in Scripture, or by what means the devil gains power over the soul? Wherever the soul commits itself to a refusal to listen to God, gives itself up to disobedience to God in anything, who is to say where it is to end? There is no security except in the path of holy dependence upon God and obedience to His word. We are not to be choosing one part of Scripture above another because we get more comfort from it. There is no security save as we take all Scripture. It is very sweet to be enjoying the presence of the Lord, but; more than that, it is a fearful thing to be found in disobedience to the Lord. Disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft. There is nothing more terrible. To disobey God is virtually to destroy His honour. It was so in Israel, and yet there is much worse to come, arising out of the lax and evil state of Christendom.
We have first, then, the apostasy. Christianity will be given up, and the more light, the more certainly it will come for the mass who refuse that light. There never was a time in Israel that appeared so promising as the day when our Lord was upon earth, never such a time of religious activity, the scribes and Pharisees compassing sea and land to make one proselyte. They showed zeal, apparently, in the reading of the Scriptures. They had the priests and Levites; there was no idolatry, nothing gross. They were a Bible-reading people, and a Sabbath-keeping people; they called our Lord Himself a Sabbath-breaker, so rigid did they appear outwardly to observe the day. All this was going on, but what did it end in? What did they do? They crucified the Lord of glory, and they rejected the testimony and the gracious working of the Holy Ghost, so that the end was that the King sent forth His armies, destroyed those murderers and burned up their city. Nor was it that there was no conversion going on. God put forth His power and they were converted by thousands. James says, "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands [rather myriads] of Jews, there are, which believe." There were, then, thousands and tens of thousands converted after the cross of Jesus, and people might think that all Israel and the world were going to be converted. But what was the fact?, God was merely gathering out these thousands in His grace to leave the rest to be destroyed in the judgment that fell upon Jerusalem. That is a little foreshadowing of the judgment which is to fall upon the world by-and-bye. And if God is now putting forth His power and gathering out souls everywhere from the world, it is a solemn question for every one whether they are converted or not. And if they are converted, it is a call to them to be walking in the path of obedience, submitting in all things to the word of God, and looking for Christ. The idea that some have of universal conversion is a delusion. Babylon or the beast: these will be the two great snares of the latter day. The one will be the source of corruption coupled with religion and a profaning of all things holy. The other will be characterized by the last degree of pride and violence. It will appear that Christianity has been a complete failure, and men will think they have a new panacea for all the ills and miseries of man better than the Gospel. And they will praise up their idols of gold, and silver, and brass, glorying in the fact that Christianity, save the outward form, has disappeared from the face of the earth. Then will come the judgment.
Rev. 17 shows us that as with Babylon in Daniel, so it will be with the New Testament Babylon, the corrupted form of religious apostasy. Man will be used as the instrument of the downfall of Babylon, the woman drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. We have men wreaking their vengeance upon her. She is no longer seen riding upon the scarlet-coloured beast, but trampled upon, hated, and desolate. And then what do we have? Not Christianity everywhere overspreading the world. On the contrary, the beast fills the scene, and assumes the place of God. Instead of merely having an intoxicating, debased Christianity, it will then be man that sets himself up in proud defiance of God. He takes God's place upon the earth. I do not pretend to say what space of time will elapse between the destruction of Babylon and the fall of the beast. Rev. 17 proves that so far from the destruction of Babylon making the world to be an improved scene, we have only bold evil in place of hypocritical evil; and instead of religious corruption, you have irreligious pride and defiance of God. "The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings for one and the same time with the beast. These have one mind and shall give their power and strength unto the beast" - not to God. All is given to the beast for the purpose of exalting man. The hour will have come for man to have the supreme place in the world. But, contrary to the ambition of man generally, there will be the giving up of their own will to the will of another - the desire to have some one very high and exalted, to whom all must bow When this is achieved, "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them." That this follows the destruction of Babylon is plain. For it says afterwards, "The ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast [so it ought to be read], these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked." This is exactly what answers to the type of Darius. Darius comes in and destroys Babylon and takes the kingdom immediately; and the next thing is, he is led on by his courtiers to take the place of God Himself. He passes a law, or confirms one, that no prayer shall be offered to any save to himself, for thirty days. That is, he assumes, in effect, to be the object of all worship; he arrogates that which is exclusively due to the true God.
These two types are highly instructive, as closing the general history of the Gentiles. They show, not what had characterized them from the beginning and during their progress, but the main features of evil at the close. There will be destruction falling upon Babylon, because of its profaneness in the religious things of God; and then the height of blasphemous pride to which the head of empire will rise by assuming the honour and glory due only to God Himself. I was anxious to connect the two things together, because we cannot otherwise get the true force of them so well.
We have now concluded what I may call the first volume of Daniel, because it divides exactly into two portions at the close of this chapter; and that is one reason why it is mentioned that Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. In the next chapter we shall find that we come back to the reign of Belshazzar, when Daniel is again brought before us. But this I must leave, only praying that this sample of the great importance of reading Scripture typically, where it is so intended to be read, may stir up the children of God to see that there is much more to be learnt from Scripture than what appears on the surface at a first glance. What God says has got a character about it that is infinite. Instead of being exhausted by a draught taken from it here and there, it is the well itself; the constantly flowing spring of truth. The more we grow in the truth, the less we are satisfied with what we have got, and the more we feel what we have yet to learn. It is not to affect words of humility, but the real, deep feeling of our own total insufficiency, in presence of the greatness and goodness of our God, that has taken such poor worms as we are to set us in His own glory - for such indeed are the mighty ways of His grace.