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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Daniel 9

APPENDIX

IN relation to the prediction in Daniel 7:11, regarding the destruction by fire of the body of the Beast or fourth universal empire, that immediately preceding the kingdom of the Son of Man, and of the saints—his body being “given to the burning flame”—science has recently indicated another way in which this judgment might be inflicted on apostate Christendom and the Antichristian kingdoms. The following extract from the Spectator, in relation to a recent conclusion of astronomy, only met the writer’s eye while the preceding work was in the press:—“We sometimes doubt whether the world’s belief in science is quite as genuine as it seems. Here is Mr. Proctor, whose astronomical authority and ability nobody doubts, has told the world for some time back, we believe, that there is really a very considerable chance of a catastrophe only fifteen years hence, which may put an end to us and our earthly hopes and fears altogether; and, so far as we can see, the world has blandly treated Mr. Proctor’s warning as it would have treated an interesting speculation on the future of electricity—that is, has regarded it with a certain mild, literary satisfaction, but has not made any change in its arrangements in consequence.… Yet, supposing Mr. Proctor’s facts to be correctly stated—on which we should like to have the judgment of other astronomers—there does seem a remarkably good chance that in 1897 the sun will suddenly break out into the same kind of intensity of heat and light which caused the conflagration in the star of the Northern Crown in 1866, when for a day or two the heat and light emitted by it became suddenly many hundreds of times greater than they were before, after which the star relapsed into its former relative insignificance. Those few days of violence, however, must have been enough to destroy completely all vegetable and animal life in the planets circulating round that sun, if such planets were in existence; and Mr. Proctor shows no little reason to believe that the same catastrophe may very probably happen to us, doubtless from a precisely similar cause, if the astronomers who believe that the comet of 1880 was identical with the comet of 1843 and the comet of 1668 should be right,—which would imply that the same comet, with a rapidly diminishing period, is likely to return and fall into the sun, with all its meteoric appendages, in or about the year 1897. Mr. Proctor tells us that Professor Winnecke believes that the identity of the comets of 1843 and 1880 hardly admits of a doubt; while Mr. Marth thinks that both may be identical with the comet of 1668, its velocity having been reduced by its passing through the corona of the sun; so that on its next return, in a considerably reduced time, it may be altogether unable to pass out of the sphere of the sun’s influence, and may precipitate itself, with all its meteoric train, into the mass of the sun. If this event occurs—as at some return or other Mr. Proctor believes to be nearly certain—(the next but one, we suppose, if not the next), there will certainly be an abrupt arrest of an enormous momentum as the long train of meteors enters the sun, which arrest would show itself in the shape of enormously increased heat,—the probable result whereof would be the burning up of all vegetable and animal life existing on the planets of the solar system. It is true that Mr. Proctor is not quite sure how the absorption of this comet and its train into the sun would really affect us. He is by no means certain that our sun would burst into flame, as the star in the Northern Crown did in 1866, but he evidently thinks it much more likely than not. And he does not seriously doubt that in the behaviour of the star in the Northern Crown, which so suddenly broke into flame in 1866, we have the example of a real sidereal catastrophe which from time to time either actually destroys, or would destroy, if they existed, such worlds as ours, if they happen to be the planets of a sun thus suddenly fed with a great accession of cosmic heat.”

In connection with the same subject the writer has recently met with the following passage in Mr. Garrat’s “Midnight Cry,” written about twenty years ago:—“The fiery flood. So it is described in Peter’s second epistle. The destruction of the ungodly will be by fire; and out of that fire will issue the new heavens and the new earth. The question is often asked, whether that event will happen at the commencement or the close of the millennium. Perhaps, in different degrees, at both. Isaiah says, speaking of a period prior to the thousand years, ‘By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many.’ And he seems also to place the creation of new heavens and a new earth at the same period; while it is after the millennium, John says in Revelation, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth.’ This and many other apparent difficulties of the same nature are easily explained. ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ The whole millennium is, in God’s eye, but a day—the great day of the Lord God Almighty. It is the ‘regeneration,’—the period of earth’s new birth; and the events at its commencement and its close are sometimes looked upon as one. God will destroy His enemies with fire at the beginning of these thousand years. The conflagration at their close will be still more terrible. Both are looked upon as one event. And it is to both, regarded as one, that the words of Peter apply: ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.’ It will come as a thief in the night on the world. They will be alone, because the Church will have been translated. With what bitter remorse will men look on the fiery deluge as it comes sweeping along! They might have escaped, and they would not; and now escape is impossible.”

Verses 1-14

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXX.—DANIEL’S PRAYER (Chap. Daniel 9:1-14)

We come to what, in more than one respect, is among the most remarkable portions of Scripture. The chapter before us contains one of the most precious predictions concerning the promised Saviour and the work of redemption which He was to accomplish. It has two peculiarities which place it in advance of every other: the one, that it gives the name or title by which He was to be known throughout the dispensation He was to introduce, and which was at the same time to designate that dispensation, viz., Messiah or the Christ; the other, that the time of His advent is distinctly and unmistakably marked out.
This remarkable communication was given to the prophet in answer to prayer. That prayer, itself remarkable, is also recorded in this chapter,—the second circumstance that distinguishes it as a portion of Holy Scripture [247]. The prayer is peculiar, not only from its own intrinsic character, but as being the prayer of a prophet, a patriot, a statesman, holding the highest office in the second great universal empire, and an eminent saint of above fourscore, who had walked with God in Babylon for threescore years and ten. It is to this remarkable prayer we now turn our attention. We notice—

[247] This prayer, observes Keil, has been judged very severely by modern critics. According to Bertholdt, V. Langerke, Hitzig, Stähelin, and Ewald, its matter and its whole design are constructed according to older patterns; in part, according to the prayers of Nehemiah (chap. 9) and Ezra (chap. 9) But we have only to examine the parallel thoughts and words adduced in order at once to perceive that, without exception, they all have their roots in the Pentateuch, and afford not the slightest proof of the dependence of this chapter on Nehemiah 9:0. The whole tone and language of the prayer also is such that it seems impossible to conceive of it as a forgery under the name of Daniel.

I. The time of the prayer. “In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus [248], of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 9:1). This was that “Darius the Mede” who, on the death of Belshazzar and the fall of Babylon, “took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old” (chap. Daniel 5:31). As Darius reigned only two years, and as Cyrus his successor granted the Jews their liberty to return to their own land in the first year of his reign, after a captivity of seventy years, at the commencement of which Daniel was a youth of about fourteen or sixteen years of age, he must now have been something above eighty years old. Daniel, as we have seen, had been a man of prayer from his youth. Neither his engagements as a statesman and prime minister, nor the seductions of a luxurious court, had been able to turn him aside from his beloved practice. The path to the mercy-seat had become to Daniel a well-beaten one. The throne of grace was now well known to him for a refuge. He had long experienced the truth of the divine title, “Thou that hearest prayer” (Psalms 65:2). He spends his last days in the happy familiar exercise. As in the case of President Lincoln, prayer had become a confirmed habit. His constant resource amidst the difficulty and trials of life, it is his solace as he approaches the solemnities of death. As the burden of state business and the splendours of a palace, so the infirmities of old age failed to lessen his relish for the hallowed employment.

[248] “Son of Ahasuerus.” This Ahasuerus was a brother of Cyrus’s grandfather, Darius being Cyrus’s uncle. Ahasuerus was a common name among the kings of Persia, its Greek form being Artaxerxes. See note at chap. Daniel 5:31. The Ahasuerus, however, who is here mentioned, is called by heathen writers Astyages, Oriental monarchs usually having several names. The first year of the reign of Darius the Mede over Babylon was probably 538 b.c. Mr. Bosanquet indeed contends that this Darius was Darius Hystaspis, and that this vision was given in the sixty-second year of his age, 592 b.c. He also thinks of this Ahasuerus as Cyaxares, of the seed of the Medes, whose son or grandson he may have been by birth, adoption, inheritance, ancestral descent in male or female line, son-in-law, or simply successor to the throne of this Median king. He thinks that it was in the second year of that Darius that the indignation against Jerusalem ceased, and the seventy weeks of mercy began (Zechariah 1:12), and that it was therefore at that period when the present prophecy was delivered. See note (4).

II. The occasion of it. This was the reading and study of the Scriptures which he possessed, and more especially the prophecies of Jeremiah. “I, Daniel, understood by books [249] the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet that He would accomplish seventy years [250] in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2). From this prophet Daniel knew that the time for the termination of the captivity could not be far distant, from whatever period its commencement was to be dated. His concern was that no sin or unbelief on the part of his people might cause the promised term to be prolonged, as in the case of their fathers in the desert. Knowing well their past provocations, he sets himself to supplicate pardon and grace on their behalf, according to the divine direction given in the same prophet (Jeremiah 29:10-12). Not even a direct promise intended to supersede the duty of humiliation and prayer, but rather to stimulate to the performance of it. God free even in the fulfilment of His promises. “Ye shall know my breach of promise” (Numbers 14:33). “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you” (Jeremiah 5:25). The fulfilment of a promise to be secured by prayer and prepared for by humiliation. So the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1).

[249] “By books.” בַּסְּפָרִים (bassepharim), “in the books,” the sacred books which he possessed, especially those of the prophets, and more particularly the writings of Jeremiah. Neither the prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, nor the histories of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and the two Books of Chronicles, were yet written. Hengstenberg observes that nothing more can be gathered from this passage than that Daniel was in possession of certain sacred writings, embracing the Pentateuch, Isaiah, Obadiah, Micah, a collection of Psalms, and the Book of Job. Equally numerous were the writings which Zechariah had before him. Hence the text affords no argument that the Book of Daniel was first composed at a time when the rest of the canon was already made up and regarded as a complete whole. Keil, with Maurer and Hitzig, renders the words, “I marked or gave heed in the Scriptures;” and adds: “הַסְּפָרִים (hassepharim), τὰ βιβλία, is not synonymous with הַכְּתוּבִים (hakkethubhim), αἱ γραφαὶ; but denotes only writings in the plural, without saying that these writings formed already a recognised collection; so that from this expression nothing can be concluded regarding the formation of the Old Testament canon.” Dr. Pusey remarks that the date at which the Jews in the time of Josephus believed the canon of the Scriptures to have been closed was about four centuries before the birth of our Lord. Josephus probably fixed on the reign of Artaxerxes as being the period of Nehemiah’s great work of restoration, although the actual closing of the canon probably took place during the second visit to his country, the probable date of the prophet Malachi, under the son and successor of Artaxerxes or Darius Nothus. Dr. Pusey, however, remarks that what is said here about the books, i.e., the biblia, the Scriptures, exactly expresses what we see from the writings of the prophets before the Captivity to have been the fact, that the books of the prophets were collected together. He adds: “The canon was almost completed before the return from the Captivity. Of the former prophets or historical books, the Kings at most had yet to be formally added to it. Of the latter prophets, there remained perhaps the formal reception of Ezekiel; the three last prophets only had not been sent. Of the Hagiographa, there remained the collection of some later psalms,—some in the last Book of the Psalms were not yet written. Daniel was perhaps then formally added: the historical books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, the Chronicles, were as yet unwritten.” Professor R. Smith thinks we have here the prophetic literature referred to under the name of “the books,” which he understands as equivalent to Scriptures. He remarks that the first unambiguous evidence as to the close of the canon is contained in the list of Josephus, composed towards the close of the first century; and that we can affirm, with practical certainty, that the twenty-two books of Josephus are those of our present Hebrew canon. He thinks, however, that the force of this evidence is disguised by the controversial purpose of the writer, which leads him to put his facts in a false light, viewing the close of the canon as distinctly marked by the cessation of the succession of prophets in the time of Artaxerxes, while there was clearly no regular and unbroken series of sacred annals officially kept up from the time of Moses onwards. He regards the view of Josephus as a theory, and one inconsistent with the fact that we find no complete formal catalogue of Scriptures in earlier writers like the Son of Sirach, who, enumerating the literary worthies of his nation, had every motive to give a complete list, if he had been in a position to do so; inconsistent also with the fact that questions as to the canonicity of certain books were still undecided within the lifetime of Josephus himself; referring to those of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, about whose character, as inspired Scripture, the Mishna records some Rabbinical disputes. Mr. Smith thinks that the clearest evidence that the notion of canonicity was not fully established till long after the time of Artaxerxes is in the Septuagint, as containing some apocryphal additions; from which he concludes, that the canon of the Old Testament was of gradual formation; that some books, now accepted, had long a doubtful position, while others were for a time admitted to a measure of reputation, which made the line of demarcation between them and the canonical books uncertain and fluctuating; the canon of the Old Testament passing through much the same kind of history through which we know the New Testament canon to have passed; the position of several books being, as a matter of fact, still subject of controversy as Antilegomena in the apostolic age, and not finally determined till after the fall of the Temple and the Jewish state; the Hagiographa not forming before that date a closed collection with an undisputed list of contents, so that the general testimony of Christ and His apostles to the Old Testament Scripture cannot, in his opinion, be used as certainly including those books.

[250] “Seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2). There have been two reckonings of these seventy years: one, which is generally accepted, from the captivity in the third year of Jehoiakim, ending with the first year of Cyrus; the other, from the captivity of Zedekiah, ending nineteen years later, in the second year of Darius Hystaspis (Zechariah 1:12). The later adopted by Theodoret, Pellican, and Œcolampadius. The Duke of Manchester thinks there were two periods of seventy years: the one, that of the servitude in Babylon; the other, that of the desolation of Jerusalem, terminating in the first year of Darius Nothus. Dr. Pusey observes that the time of seventy years, counting from the year when captives were first taken to Babylon, the first of a long series of such removals, viz., in the third year of Jehoiakim, was fulfilled to the exact year. According to the canon of Ptolemy, Nebuchadnezzar reigned forty-three years; Evil-Merodach, two; Neriglissar, four; Nabunahit, who for a time associated his son Belshazzar in the government, seventeen; to which should probably be added a year or eighteen months preceding that part of the fourth of Jehoiakim with which Nebuchadnezzar’s accession to his father’s throne coincides, and the two years during which Darius the Mede was viceroy in Babylon after Belshazzar’s death. Prideaux thinks that it was not only exactly after seventy years that the release from the Captivity took place, but that it was in the very month, viz., November, in which, seventy years before, it had commenced; the Jews who returned being found for the first time in Jerusalem in the month Nisan (our April), after a four months’ march and one month’s preparation for it.

III. The preparation for it. “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication [251], with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” [252] (Daniel 9:3). Daniel’s prayer was to be no ordinary one, and to be engaged in in no ordinary manner. The prayer was to be for an object of the highest importance, not so much to himself personally, as to his people, the cause of religion, and the glory of God. It was to be for the promised removal of evils long threatened and justly executed on account of the aggravated and long-continued sins of his people, and which impenitence and unbelief on their part might still retard. The prayer needed therefore to be not only made with deepest earnestness and fervour, but to be accompanied with heartfelt humiliation and confession of sin, in the name of his guilty countrymen as well as his own. All the powers of his soul must therefore be aroused to intense exercise, while he must be brought under a deep sense of the sins which he has to confess as the cause of his people’s severe and protracted calamities. He has recourse, therefore, to what were not only the ordinary outward expressions of self-abasement, humiliation, and sorrow, but natural helps to the attainment and maintenance of such a state of soul, and suitable accompaniments of it. Special prayer demands special preparation. “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” “Thou wilt prepare their heart; Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear.”

[251] “Prayer and supplication” (Daniel 9:3). Keil thinks that תְּפִלָּח (tephillah), “prayer,” is prayer in general; תַּהֲנוּנִים (takhanunim), “supplications,” prayer for mercy and compassion, as also petition for something, such as the turning away of misfortune or evil. Dr. Cox observes that Daniel’s prayer divides itself into three parts—the address, the confession, and the petition. He remarks that the prayer is remarkable for the large proportion of it that is occupied with confession; the reiteration of phrases descriptive of sin, examplifying the depth of his penitential sorrow; the simplicity of the diction; the minuteness of the detail; the profound humility indicated; the vindication of God and the spirit of self-reproach; the high estimation expressed of the mercy and forgiveness of God.

[252] “With fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Calvin remarks that Daniel, though naturally alert in prayer to God, was yet conscious of the want of sufficiency in himself; and hence he adds the use of sackcloth and ashes and fasting. He observes that every one conscious of his infirmity, ought to collect all the aids he can command for the correction of his sluggishness, and thus to stimulate himself to ardour in supplicating God.

IV. The prayer itself. This prayer of Daniel, perhaps beyond any other in the Bible, contains in it all the elements of devotion. Those in Ezra 9:6, &c., and Nehemiah 9:5, &c., dictated by the same spirit, probably moulded by this of Daniel. As its constituent parts we have—

1. Adoration. Expressing—

(1.) Reverence. “O Lord, the great and dreadful God” (Daniel 9:4). The Lord is great and greatly to be praised, to be held in reverence of all that are about Him. Great fear due to Him in the meeting of His saints and in all their approaches to His throne of grace. “Of all the people will I be sanctified.” Filial confidence not inconsistent with the deepest reverence. The song of the glorified on the sea of glass: “Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name for Thou only art holy” (Revelation 15:4). The tendency of such adoration to deepen our sense of sin.

(2.) Faith. “Keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments” (Daniel 9:4). Faith in God as merciful, gracious, and ready to forgive, also expressed in Daniel 9:9 : “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him.” “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Confidence in God’s mercy to be coupled with reverence and holy fear. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Daniel’s faith further expressed in his appropriation of the Lord as his God. Not satisfied with calling Him “our God,” he twice over invokes him as “my God.” Faith believes, accepts, and appropriates God as our covenant God in and through Christ. “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” “My Lord and my God.” “If we wish our prayers to be heard,” says Keil, “then God, to whom we pray, must become our God.”

2. Confession. “We have sinned,” &c. (Daniel 9:5-14). This confession, large and full, occupying the greatest part of the prayer. Felt by Daniel, in the circumstances, to be that which was so much called for, and so necessary to the obtaining of the object sought He confesses the sins of the whole people in both its sections, and of all classes, including his own. With the sins he acknowledges the sufferings entailed by them, and the justice that inflicted them. “Righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of face” (Daniel 9:7-8). Mentions as an aggravation of their case that while the Lord was visiting them for their sin they still refused to repent and pray, and hardened themselves against His corrections. In confessing sin we are to remember and confess its peculiar aggravations.

3. Thanksgiving and praise. Daniel makes thankful acknowledgment of God’s past mercies. “O Lord God, that hast brought Thy people out of the land of Egypt,” &c. (Daniel 9:15). Thanksgiving to accompany prayer and supplication in making our requests known unto God (Philippians 4:7). Thanksgiving for past mercies a tribute due to their Author and the means of obtaining more. Gratitude both glorifying to God and a gain to ourselves. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you.” What God has already done, a never-failing source of thanksgiving.

4. Petition or supplication [253]. “O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away,” &c. (Daniel 9:16-19). Supplication and petition, prayer properly so called. To pray is properly to ask or make request; supplication is earnest asking. Without this there may be devotion and communion with God, but scarcely prayer. This part of Daniel’s prayer the centre and kernel of the whole. His object in the exercise to entreat for forgiveness and favour on behalf of his people and country. In this part of the prayer we observe—

(1.) Intense earnestness. “O Lord, I beseech thee.… O my God, incline Thine ear and hear.… O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God.” An instructive specimen of earnest pleading. This the “effectual fervent prayer” of the righteous man that “availeth much.” Jacob wrestling with the angel and refusing to let him go without bestowing a blessing.

(2.) Deep humility. “We do not present our supplications before Thee for our own righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies.” “To us belongeth confusion of face.” Humility refuges every plea for acceptance but God’s free mercy. It can indeed plead a righteousness, but not its own. The Lord Himself is its righteousness, wrought out in the person of the Son and freely made over to faith. “This is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.” “I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only.”

(3.) The prevailing plea. “For the Lord’s sake” (Daniel 9:17)

(8). No doubt as to who this is. “Daniel sets before God the Mediator by whose favour he hopes to obtain his request.”—Calvin. “The Lord (Jehovah) said unto my Lord (the Anointed or the Christ, the promised Saviour), Sit Thou on my right hand,” &c. (Psalms 110:1). The same Messiah who forms the subject of the following vision, God’s anointed King of Israel on His holy hill of Zion (Psalms 2:0) Raising Him from the dead and placing Him on His own right hand, God declared Jesus to be “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). It was through Him that God blessed Israel and that He now blesses men. Prayer accepted and answered on His account, and therefore to be made in His name. Thus David prayed: “Behold, O God, our shield; look on the face of Thine Anointed.” “Let Thy hand be upon the Man of Thy right hand, upon the Son of Man, whom Thou hast made strong for Thyself” (Psalms 84:9; Psalms 80:17). This divine and God-given plea made more fully known after His appearance in the flesh and the acceptance of His offered sacrifice. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” “Having a great High Priest who is passed into the heavens, let us come boldly to the throne of grace.” “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 4:14-16; Romans 8:32).

(4.) Large-heartedness and unselfishness. Daniel’s petitions and pleadings more on behalf of others than himself. Self forgotten in his deep concern for his country and the cause of God. He pleads for Jerusalem, God’s city and sanctuary that was desolate, His holy mountain, and His people. Personally, Daniel himself was in comfort, and never expected to see again his native land and beloved city. But his people were still captives and Jerusalem was in desolation. The cause of God and of His Christ was in the dust. Hence his unselfish pleading. Grace enlarges the heart and makes the cause of others our own. The mark of the spirit of Jesus to be burdened with the sins and sorrows of others. True patriotism and benevolence learned at the feet of Him who wept over Jerusalem. “For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, till the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.” The sign of a mere nominal Christianity and a heartless religion when its professors “drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the chief spices, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:6). Such was not Daniel’s. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning” (Psalms 137:5).

[253] Dr. Rule observes that it is evident from the utterances of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, that after the giving of the promise of a gracious return of the captives from Babylon, the wickedness of those left behind in Jerusalem had exceedingly increased; that there was not yet any appearance of the restoration of the Jews in captivity; and that all that was royal, noble, brave, or worthy in that city had been swept away. See Ezekiel 8-11; Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 32:34. The captives themselves in general apparently not much improved by their affliction. See Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 33:30-32.

From the whole prayer we may learn—

1. The spirit of prayer characteristic of a child of God. Prayer in a child of God as natural as a child’s cry to its mother. God has many suffering children, but no silent ones. “We cry, Abba, Father!”

2. God’s Word the study and enjoyment of His people. Daniel not only a man of prayer but a man of study. “I understood by books.” These books the Scriptures. Other books not neglected, but these his daily food. “It is my meditation all the day.” “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he doth meditate day and night.” God’s Word the stream that nourishes the roots of godliness, the oil that makes the lamp of grace to burn. This inclusive of prophetic Scripture. Prophecy a large proportion of the Bible. Daniel moved to pray by the word of prophecy. That word to be taken heed to “as to a light shining in a dark place.” Daniel, though a prophet, himself a careful reader of the prophecies of others.

3. The Word read to be turned into prayer. Believing prayer a fruit of the study of Scripture. Daniel read and then prayed. To read little is often to pray little; and reading without praying is of little worth. That is the most profitable reading of the Scriptures that sends us to our knees. That the most lively, fervent, and successful prayer that is the child of a precept, a promise, or a prophecy.

4. Prayer to be accompanied with thanksgiving and confession of sin. God’s past mercies and our own past sins never to be forgotten at the throne of grace. He prays ill who forgets God’s favours and his own faults.

5. Believers especially to cultivate intercessory prayer. For this purpose Christ makes us priests. Our high calling to be God’s remembrancers. God’s people watchmen set on Zion’s walls to give Him no rest till He establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. A wide field and a loud call for earnest intercessory prayer. Prayers and intercessions to be made for all men (1 Timothy 2:1). “Seek the peace of the city, and pray unto the Lord for it.” “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” “Brethren, pray for us.” “For all saints.” “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” Abraham’s intercession all but saved Sodom. Paul’s prayers saved the lives of all that sailed with him (Acts 27:24).

Verses 20-23

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXI.—PRAYER ANSWERED (Chap. Daniel 9:20-23)

The character ascribed to God by the Psalmist founded on absolute truth, and in accordance with the universal experience of the godly in all ages, “Thou that hearest prayer.” The promise, “Call on me and I will answer thee,” verified in believers both in the Old and New Testament times. Natural, if God stands to them in the relation of a father. Natural for a child to ask and a parent to bestow. The promise, “Ask, and ye shall receive,” never broken when the conditions are fulfilled. The constant experience of Daniel through his whole life in Babylon. Another distinguished instance to be added in his extreme old age. Concerning this last recorded answer to his prayers, related by himself, we notice—

I. It was prompt and immediate. In his prayer Daniel had said, “Hearken and do; defer not.” Deep earnestness with difficulty brooks delay. “Haste thee to help me; make no tarrying, O my God.” “Sir, come down ere my child die.” So Daniel gives special emphasis to the fact that while he was yet speaking the answer to his prayer came. “While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, &c.; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel,” &c. (Daniel 9:20-21). So literally does God in His kindness fulfil His promise in regard to His children’s prayer, “Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). Prayer and its answer not unfrequently simultaneous. Thus with Abraham’s servant at the well (Genesis 24:12; Genesis 24:15). So Daniel is told by Gabriel [254] that at the very beginning of his supplication the command came forth from God that it should be answered, or the message given which Gabriel was to carry to him (Daniel 9:23). Nor had Gabriel delayed, although he only reached Daniel with the message at the time of the evening oblation, or three o’clock in the afternoon. He had been “caused to fly swiftly,” and comes as one who had accomplished a lengthened journey (Daniel 9:21) [255]. Angels not ubiquitous or omnipresent. Their abode, and the place of the eternal throne before which they stand, apparently far distant from earth, which is but a speck in the Great Creator’s dominions. Answers to prayer may require time. The exact time of the answer reaching Daniel, however, wisely chosen. Daniel’s prayer and confession of sin must have their full expression. Delays often only apparent, and never denials.

[254] “Gabriel.” Some render the name, “God is my champion;” others, “God will prevail;” others, as Keil, the “man of God,” standing here with the adjunct הָאִישׁ (ha-ish), “the man,” with the definite article, as referring back to chap. Daniel 8:15, where Gabriel appeared as a man, גֶּבֶר (gebher), probably the first part of the name, “a man,” from גָּבַר (gabhar), to “be strong,” “to prevail;” hence expressive of strength, a strong one; hence also גִּבּוֹר (gibbor), a mighty man, a hero (Isaiah 9:7).

[255] “Being caused to fly swiftly” (Daniel 9:2). מֻעָף בִּיעָף (mu’afbi’af). Calvin observes that some take the expression to mean “flying swiftly,” implying fatigue and alacrity, as if from עוּף (’uph), to “fly,” having its participle connected with it; others derive it from יָעֵף (ya’eph), to “be fatigued,” explaining it metaphorically, as “flying hastily.” The Sept renders it “borne with speed” (τάχει φερόμενος); Theodotion, “flying;” Vulg., “flying swiftly;” from which, observes Keil, the Church Fathers concluded that the angels were winged. So the E.V., which is also adopted by Hävernick, V. Lengerke, Hitzig, and some Rabbies. Keil maintains that this translation is without any foundation in the words, being probably derived by the old translators from a confounding of יָעֵף (ya’eph) with עוּף (’ooph); the former meaning only wearied, to become tired, to weary one’s self by exertion, in certain cases by a long journey or course, as in Jeremiah 2:24; but nowhere to run or fly. He understands יְעָף (ye’aph), the noun, from יָעֵף, and translates the words, “wearied in weariness,” i.e., very wearied; applying them not to the angel, but to Daniel himself, as perfectly agreeing with his condition described in chap. Daniel 8:17; Daniel 8:27; Daniel now mentioning this circumstance, because Gabriel, at his former coming to him, not only helped to strengthen him, but also gave him understanding of the vision, so that his appearing again at once awakened joyful hope. He observes that we cannot speak of an angel who is an unearthly being as being wearied, although, with Kranichfeld, one may think of the way from the dwelling-place of God, removed far from His sinful people, to this earth as very long. He thinks also that the words, from their position, belong to the relative clause, or specially to רָאִיתִי (raithi), I had seen; no reason being perceivable for placing the adverbial clause before the verb.

II. Given through an angelic medium (Daniel 9:21). The angel here called “the man Gabriel.” Reference to Gabriel’s former appearance (chap. Daniel 8:16). Angels generally represented under a human form. Gabriel’s name especially connected with this fact. Denotes “the man of God,” or “God’s champion “or hero. Perhaps, “God will prevail.” The name indicative of strength, in which angels generally excel (Psalms 103:20). Angels often represented as warriors. The “hosts or armies of Jehovah;” the “chariots of God.” Gabriel especially employed in errands to men. His place to stand in the presence of God to receive His commission (Luke 1:19). Had already appeared to Daniel at the beginning (chap. Daniel 8:16) [256], or at an earlier period. The name not found earlier in the Old Testament. Unknown to us to what extent angels are employed by God in answering our prayers. All of them ministering spirits sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Ministered even to Jesus, the Elder Brother, in His humiliation as one of us (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43). Their ministry promised to both Head and members (Psalms 91:11-12). Hezekiah prays, and an angel destroys the host of the Assyrians. Cornelius prays, and an angel directs him to send for Peter. The Church at Jerusalem prays, and an angel opens the doors of Peter’s prison (Isaiah 37:0; Acts 10:12.) Their agency no less real because invisible. At Elisha’s prayer his servant’s eyes were opened, and he saw the mountain where his master lived full of angelic chariots and horsemen (2 Kings 6:17). God in no want of agents in answering the prayers of His people.

[256] “At the beginning” (Daniel 9:21). בַּתְּחלָּה (battekhil’lah), “at the first,” as in chap. Daniel 8:1; with the general signification, as Keil observes, of earlier, and synonymous with בָּרִאשׁנָה (barishonah), in the beginning, in Genesis 13:3; Genesis 41:21; Genesis 43:18; Genesis 43:20; Isaiah 1:26.

III. The answer given in a different way from what Daniel probably expected. The thing asked by Daniel, that God would visit and restore Jerusalem and the Jews in mercy. The answer, a divine messenger sent to inform him of what should afterwards take place. That information included the restoration of Jerusalem, and a great deal besides. The information both doleful and delightful, enough to make Daniel weep, and yet greatly to rejoice. Prayer often answered in a way different from our expectation. Paul prayed for his way to be opened to visit Rome. God answered his prayer, and sent him there two years afterwards, but bound with a prisoner’s chain. “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation” (Psalms 65:5).

IV. The answer far beyond the request. Daniel prayed only for the restoration of “the holy mountain of his God” (Daniel 9:20). God answers by the promise that not only should Jerusalem be restored, but Messiah Himself should at no very distant period appear—a period expressly declared—with the glorious benefits that should result from his Advent (Daniel 9:24-25). Thus God, in His kindness to His children, often far exceeds their prayers in the answers He sends them. Solomon asked for wisdom, and God in addition gave him power and riches beyond those of any other monarch. He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” and in the riches of His love He often does so.

V. The answer a consequence of Daniel’s character. The answer given, according to Gabriel’s statement, because Daniel was a man “greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:23) [257]. Prayer answered from God’s own kindness and love, though not without regard to the character of the asker. The person accepted before the prayer is answered. “The prayer of the wicked is abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the righteous is His delight.” “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” To receive Daniel’s answer to prayer we must possess Daniel’s character. Our prayers probably answered in proportion as we are “greatly beloved.” John, the beloved disciple, desired by Peter to ask the Lord who it was that should betray Him. The faith that brings answers to our prayers gives acceptance to our person. Faith, love, humility, and obedience the graces that make a man “greatly beloved,” and that secure answer to prayer. “Whatsoever we ask,” says the beloved disciple, the Daniel of the New Testament, as John was the Daniel of the Old, “we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” “If ye abide in me,” said the Master, “and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (1 John 3:22; John 15:7).

[257] “Greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:23). חֲמוּדוֹת (khamoodhoth), “desires,” equivalent to אִישׁ חֲמוּדוֹת (ish Khamoodhoth), “a man of desires,” in chap. Daniel 10:11; Daniel 10:19; meaning “most desired” or “delighted in,” or, as in the E.V., “greatly beloved,” from חָמַד (khamadh), to desire or delight in; from which also the title given by the prophet to Messiah, the “Desire of all nations,” חֶמְדּת כָּל־גּוֹיִם (khemdath kolgoim), Haggai 2:7. Keil observes that the expression in the text does not contain the reason for Gabriel’s coming in haste, but for the principal thought of the verse—the going forth of the commandment or word of God immediately at the commencement of Daniel’s prayer.

From the whole observe—

1. The blessedness of a truly godly life. Fellowship with God a leading element in such a life. Freedom in asking and readiness in bestowing included in such fellowship. Asking and receiving the privilege of children, and constantly realised in family life. Not less so among the children of God and in the “household of faith.”

2. The encouragement to persevere in prayer. Prayer offered according to God’s Word and for things according to His will sure, sooner or later, and in one way or other, to be answered. A parent’s ear never shut to his children’s cry, be the parent otherwise ever so wicked. “And shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night to Him continually, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8). Daniel one example out of millions.

3. God’s love in giving His children much more than they ask. When He answers prayer, He gives “heaped up and running over;” and when He withholds the thing asked, it is only to give something better. Moses prayed to be taken over Jordan to Canaan; God instead takes him to the country of which Canaan was but a shadow. Paul asks for the removal of the thorn in the flesh; Christ instead gives him an assurance that was to comfort and strengthen him in all the trials, sufferings, and conflicts of his future life.

4. Precious grace that makes a sinful man to be one “greatly beloved” of God. Paul’s testimony of himself and others, including Daniel, in their natural condition as the fallen children of Adam, apart from divine renewing grace, is, “Foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another;” “Children of wrath even as others” (Titus 3:3; Ephesians 2:3). How rich the love and how mighty the grace that out of such materials can form such characters as Paul, and John, and Daniel, men “greatly beloved”! “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes and to make them inherit the throne of glory” (1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 113:7-8).

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXII.—THE MAN GREATLY BELOVED (Chap. Daniel 9:23)

This remarkable and precious testimony borne to Daniel by the Angel Gabriel. The same thing done twice over in the next chapter by the same person, if not by one greater than he; the difference being that in the latter cases it is used as an epithet to Daniel, “O man greatly beloved,” and “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved” (chap. Daniel 10:11; Daniel 10:19). The expression may be viewed either as the ascription of a character—worthy to be greatly beloved, or as the declaration of a fact,—actually so beloved. A “man of desires” (the literal marginal rendering of the word) is either one worthy of such desires or the actual object of them. The expression may also be viewed as indicating both what Daniel was in himself, very lovable or lovely, and what he was in relation to others, actually beloved. In the latter case, those by whom he was beloved were, in the first instance, the Divine Being Himself; then the angels, especially Gabriel, who speaks; then good men in general, including the spirits of the just made perfect, who were doubtless cognisant of Daniel’s character and worth. The testimony, in any case, expressive of Daniel’s moral excellence, as rendering him both lovely and lovable and actually beloved. It is remarkable as coming not from a man but from a celestial being, lovely and lovable himself, as a spotless and unfallen creature, and a correct judge of what is truly lovely and lovable, and well acquainted with the facts of the case as an angel of light. The text affords an occasion of gathering up and considering some of the points of Daniel’s character as brought to our view in the book before us, and as justifying the testimony borne in the text. Some of these are—

1. His early piety. Piety in youth is especially lovely and attractive. This conspicuous in Daniel. Daniel still a youth when, though a captive in a foreign land and surrounded with temptations in a heathen and luxurious court, he resolved to deny himself the luxuries of the king’s table, and to live upon beans and water, rather than do what he believed was contrary to the law of God. His amiability and sweetness of disposition were such as to gain for him the favour and attachment of the officer in the palace, under whose charge he and the other Jewish youths were placed. Daniel was still only a young man when, in a crisis of great danger to others as well as himself, he, in childlike confidence, carried the matter to the Lord, and obtained, through a divine communication vouchsafed to him, deliverance both for himself and the wise men of Babylon. Daniel’s piety in youth the foundation of his character and greatness as a man.

2. His steadfastness and perseverance in well-doing. Daniel’s piety, which began in youth, was retained to the end of a long life. Beloved while a young man by the chief of the eunuchs for his amiability and good behaviour, he receives the angelic testimony, when above fourscore, that he was still “greatly beloved.” From a youth of fourteen he had lived among idolaters and in a licentious court, yet his piety remained unshaken. More than once his religion brought him into danger of his life, but he remained the same. Neither the plots of enemies, nor the elevation of earthly greatness, nor the seductions of pleasure, nor the cares of statesmanship, were able to draw him from the paths of piety and virtue. In prosperity and adversity, in sunshine and storm, Daniel remained the same faithful servant of God and of the king, walking with his Maker and seeking the welfare of his fellow-men.

3. His consistency and symmetry of character. Daniel’s conduct was the same throughout, always in harmony with itself. Attentive to his duty to God, he was equally so in his duty to man. Faithful to his God, he is equally faithful to his king. His morality is no less conspicuous than his religion. He is fervent in spirit, but no less diligent in business. Regular and earnest in his closet, he is equally assiduous in his office. Studious in his Bible, as a man of business he is well acquainted with his books. His enemies can find no fault in him, and no ground of accusation with the king, but in the matter of his religion. He is favoured with revelations from Heaven and the visits of angels; yet no sooner are his visions withdrawn and his usual state of health recovered, than he returns to do “the king’s business.” He is endowed, even while yet young, with a wisdom and understanding superior to that of all the wise men of Babylon, yet disclaims all merit and wisdom of his own as being greater than those of other men. He is tender and gentle, while bold and uncompromising in professing the truth and reproving sin. He is distressed as being the bearer of evil tidings to Nebuchadnezzar, yet fearlessly declares to the hardened Belshazzar both his sin and his doom.

4. His conscientiousness even in the smallest matters. This exhibited in his carefulness in regard to the law respecting forbidden meats, as also in his observance of his usual practice in his devotions, although at the risk of his life, when to have done otherwise would have appeared a want of faith in God and obedience to His will. He that is faithful in the least is faithful in much. The smallest duty, because a duty and the will of God, attended to by Daniel, as well as those of apparently a much more important character. Love will be obedient and seek to please in the least as well as in the greatest matters. Such conscientiousness a feature in the man “greatly beloved,” and a considerable part of what made him such.

5. His faith and confidence in God. Seen in early life in his proposal to put the desired change of diet to the proof, assured that God would answer prayer and honour obedience to his will. The same trust in God as the hearer of prayer exhibited in the matter of the king’s dream. So afterwards Daniel went calmly to the lion’s den, believing in his God, and assured that he was safe in His keeping, whatever might be the result. Daniel enabled to walk in the steps of his father Abraham, and of that faith which gives glory to God. Nothing more pleasing to God, or likely to make a man “greatly beloved “of Him, than a simple, childlike, and unwavering trust. Jesus was pleased wherever he found faith in Himself. Daniel’s childlike faith made him, like Abraham, “the friend of God.”

6. His prayerfulness. From youth to old age Daniel characterised as a man of prayer. His whole life an example of the Apostle’s words, “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Prayer to God the natural fruit of faith in God. Prayer the element in which Daniel lived. Each life presents constant calls to prayer, and constant opportunities for it. No place where prayer is not needed, and none where it may not be made. Daniel’s prayers both regular and special. Daniel prayed in his closet, and prayed by the river-side. Had his stated prayer morning, evening, and at noon, and yet set himself to pray for a whole day with fasting and sackcloth. Prayed for himself, but with at least as much fervency for others. Had his whole days of prayer and fasting for his brethren, his country, and the cause of God. His prayerfulness well known to his heathen neighbours. This the charge brought against him, and that which all but cost him his life. Daniel prayed with a cruel death before him as its probable consequence. His prayerfulness the secret of all his other excellences, the key that unlocked to him the treasury of all spiritual blessings; brought and kept him in fellowship with the source and sum of all excellence, and so made him like Him; made him walk with God as a man with his friend, so that, like Moses, his face shone with the reflected glory. Prayer the continual source and supply of strength for every duty and every trial; not only for doing and suffering, but for doing and suffering in the right spirit. Makes Christ’s strength our own, and at all times sufficient for us. Daniel waited on the Lord, and so renewed his strength.

7. His amiableness of disposition and kindness to others. When God brought him into tender love with Ashpenaz, his superintendent in the palace at Babylon, it was doubtless by giving Daniel that which gendered such love. Daniel’s amiable spirit and loving demeanour such as to commend him to his superiors. Love in others towards us begotten by love and lovableness in ourselves. The amiableness of his disposition and tenderness of his spirit followed Daniel into mature age. Struck dumb and unable at once to declare to the king the unhappy import of his dream, he only does so when urged by his royal master, and then does it in the tenderest and most loving manner, while yet faithfully seeking the king’s best interests. Daniel seemed to care for the imperilled lives of the wise men in Babylon more than his own; and on his deliverance from the death which his heathen enemies had devised, for him, he makes not the slightest reference to their cruelty and wickedness while declaring his innocence to the king.

8. His patriotism and concern for his country’s welfare. It was concern for his country that moved him to that day of solemn prayer and fasting which the chapter before us relates, and which brought Gabriel down with an answer and the testimony in the text. To an enlightened man the cause of his country will be bound up with the cause of God and of religion, as it can be well with the former only as it is so with the latter. This was especially the case with Daniel, whose country God had made and called His own, and whose city, Jerusalem, was God’s holy mountain, the city of the great King, who had chosen it for the place of His special worship. That country was now in desolation, and Jerusalem with its Temple was in ruins. God’s worship there had been brought to an end. Sin on the part of the people had brought the desolating foe that had put a stop to their solemn feasts. Provoked to anger by their continued rebellion and apostasy, the Lord had “caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and had despised, in the indignation of His anger, the king and the priest. The Lord had cast off His altar; He had abhorred His sanctuary; He had given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces” (Lamentations 2:6-7). This was the burden that pressed upon the heart of the beloved prophet. The cause of his people, and with that the cause of God and of true religion, which was bound up with it, was his deep sorrow, and drove him to incessant prayer as the time of the promised deliverance drew nigh. He was concerned not only for his country’s peace, but for his people’s repentance, which must be at the foundation of it. It was this that led him, as a true patriot, to pour out his heart before God in the fervent prayer and deep humiliation here recorded.

9. His unselfishness. This sufficiently apparent from the last particular. In the remarkable prayer of this chapter, self is entirely forgotten in his concern for his brethren and his country. The same renunciation and forgetfulness of self conspicuous on many occasions. He associates with himself his three companions in the interpretation of the king’s dream, first asking their participation in his prayers, and then giving the interpretation as if from them all conjointly—“We will tell the king his dream.” He makes no mention of himself in relating the noble stand which his three companions made in the matter of the golden image, refraining from saying anything to account for his non-participation in their steadfast refusal to worship it, and leaving the entire honour of it to themselves. When Belshazzar holds out to him the promise of the highest reward he could bestow for the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall, his answer is, “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards unto another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation” (chap. Daniel 5:17). Dr. Pusey well remarks: “A self-laudatory school has spoken much of the laudation, as they call it, of Daniel, as being unnatural, on our belief that he was the author of the book. To me certainly much more striking is his reticence about himself.” At the very commencement of his remarkable course he distinctly renounces in the king’s presence all claim to any superior wisdom or merit of his own in the interpretation of his dream, and ascribes it entirely to God, who wished to acquaint the king with its meaning. In like manner, all that he is obliged to relate in regard to his gifts and attainments, his answers to prayer and divine revelations, he ascribes to the same source—the free bounty of a gracious prayer-hearing God, who does what He will with His own. “He giveth wisdom to the wise and knowledge to them that have understanding.… I thank Thee and praise Thee, O Thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of Thee” (chap. Daniel 2:22-23).

In leaving the character of this man “greatly beloved,” we may remark with Dr. Cox: “It is characteristic of Scripture biography to record the censurable actions of good men as well as their virtues and graces; the entire omission of the former, therefore, in the account of Daniel, naturally leads to the conclusion that he was a person of preeminent excellence.” The same writer adds: “The estimation in which Daniel was held by successive potentates, the public honours he received, the eminent rank he held, all fade into nothingness before the testimony from Heaven, a testimony founded on no external glory, but on a character invulnerable to reproaches, and formed of all the elements of pure religion.” Nor in thinking of Daniel’s character, which entitled him to this high testimony, should we forget that he was only an Old Testament saint, living in what is called by the Apostle the “ministration of the letter that killeth,” instead of the ministration of the Spirit that succeeded it; the former, glorious as it was, “having no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth,” the glory of the dispensation of the Spirit in which it is our privilege to live (2 Corinthians 3:6-10). If that inferior dispensation which possessed comparatively so little of the Spirit that renews and sanctifies, produced a character of such excellence as to merit this angelic testimony, to what moral excellence ought New Testament believers not to be able to attain? Daniel beheld God and His sanctifying truth only with the veil of Moses on his face, and yet attained to so much of his likeness. What may, what ought we not to attain to when the veil is done away in Christ, and when we, beholding with unveiled face, and reflecting, as in a mirror, the “glory of the Lord,” enjoy the privilege of being “transformed into the same image from glory unto glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit”? (2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 3:18, R.V.) The character of Daniel is portrayed in this book by the Holy Ghost for our imitation, even in these last days of the ministration of the Spirit; for “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,” that the man of God might be “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work” (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:17). The present dispensation has produced many Daniels,—its Fletchers, its Paysons, its M‘Cheynes, its Pennyfathers, and multitudes besides, whose record is only on high. It will produce many more. It is the privilege both of the reader and the writer, by contemplating in the Word not merely the character of Daniel, but of Daniel’s Lord, to possess Daniel’s character, by possessing more and more of the character of Him from whom that eminent saint derived all his excellence; learning of the Master, who was “meek and lowly in heart,” and walking in the spirit and steps of Him who was “holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners.” For this, however, we must become one with that Master, united to Him as a branch is to the tree by a cordial acceptance of Him, surrender to Him, and trust in Him, as the provided Saviour for poor helpless sinners. Reader, may that be your happiness and mine!

Verses 24-27

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXIII.—THE PROMISED MESSIAH (Chap. Daniel 9:24-27)

We now come to that part of Daniel’s prophecies which perhaps more than any other distinguishes him as a prophet, and which was communicated to him as a man “greatly beloved.” It is the prediction regarding the promised Messiah, more full and explicit, especially in regard to the time of His appearing, than any that had hitherto been given [258]. The communication was made to the prophet in connection with the announcement as to what was to befall his people and country, in whom Daniel felt so deep an interest, and for whom he had prayed so fervently. The prediction, therefore, was twofold, having relation in the first instance to Messiah, and in the second to the Jewish people to whom He should come, and whose King He was to be. Daniel had prayed that God would graciously visit His people, now captive in Babylon, as well as the Holy City and its Temple, now lying in ruins. In the promise of the Messiah this prayer was answered. No more gracious visitation of Israel could be vouchsafed than in the Advent of Him who was to come as the consolation and glory of His people, and who had been so long promised and waited for as such (Luke 1:68-69). The mere return of the exiles to Judea, and the restoration of their polity and worship, was insignificant in itself compared with the birth of that Saviour who was to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel,” an event of which none less than angels were to be the immediate heralds (Luke 2:8-14; Luke 2:25-38). In the present section we shall confine our attention to the Messiah Himself, as here promised, with the time of His appearing, leaving for a succeeding one the blessed results that should follow His Advent.

[258] This is the general view regarding the prophecy. Keil observes that the interpretations of the passage may be divided into three principal classes. 1. That of most of the Church fathers and the older orthodox interpreters, who find prophesied here—the appearance of Christ in the flesh, His death, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; the view held also by Hävernick, Hengstenberg, Auberlen, and Dr. Pusey. 2. That of the majority of the modern interpreters (that is, mainly, the German Rationalists), who refer the whole passage to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes; a view held also by Hofmann and Delitzsch, who, however, have united with what they consider the primary historical reference of Daniel 9:25-27 to Antiochus, an eschatological reference, according to which the prophecy will be perfectly accomplished only in the appearance of Antichrist and the final completion of the kingdom of God. 3. That of some of the Church fathers, and several modern theologians, who interpret the prophecy eschatologically, as an announcement of the development of the kingdom of God from the end of the exile on to the perfecting of the kingdom by the second coming of Christ at the end of the days. This last view is that of Keil himself, as well as Kliefoth, the germs of it appearing in Hippolytus and Apollinaris of Laodicea, who refer the statement in Daniel 9:27, regarding the last week, to the end of the world, viewing the first half as the time of the return of Elijah, and the second as that of Antichrist. From the contents of Daniel 9:24, Keil concludes that the termination of the seventy weeks coincides with the end of the present course of the world. Differently from most, he thinks the periods are not to be reckoned chronologically, but to be viewed symbolically, as a divinely-appointed period measured by sevens, the reckoning of their actual duration being withdrawn beyond the reach of our human research, but leaving us the strong consolation of knowing that the fortunes of God’s people are safe in His hands.

I. The Messiah Himself. He is here called by two names, or, perhaps more strictly, by a name and a title, “Messiah the Prince” [259].

[259] “Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25). נָגִיד מָשִׁיתַ (Mashiakh Naghidh), not, as Bertholdt thinks, are anointed prince; for מָשִׁיחַ cannot be an adjective to נָגִיד, because in Hebrew the adjective is, with few exceptions, which are inapplicable in this case, always placed after the noun. Nor is מָשִׁיחַ a participle, as Steudel makes it, but a noun with נָגִיד in apposition—an anointed one who is also a prince. According to Keil, it is one who is first and specially a priest, and, in addition, a prince of the people or a king, it being chiefly priests and kings who in the Old Testament were anointed to their office. He remarks that this could neither be Zerubbabel, as many old interpreters thought, nor Ezra, nor Onias III., nor Cyrus, as some Rabbis and Rationalists have supposed. The Old Testament knows only One who shall be both priest and king in one person (Psalms 110:4; Zechariah 6:13), Christ, the Messias (John 4:25); in whom the two essential requisites of the theocratic king, the anointing and the appointment to be the נָגִיד or prince of the people of God (1 Samuel 10:1; 2 Samuel 1:21), are found in the most perfect manner. Some explain the want of the article on the ground that מָשִׁיחַ (Mashiakh) “Messiah” is used as a proper name, like צֶמַח (tsemakh) the Branch, in Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12; the term having certainly been used as a proper name before it was applied to Jesus (John 1:41; John 4:25). Keil, who thinks that in this case the article would have stood before נָגִיד (naghidh) “the prince,” prefers to read—till one comet who is anointed and at the same time prince; because He that is to come is not definitely designated as the expected Messiah, but must only be made prominent by what is ascribed to Him as a personage altogether singular.

1. “Messiah.” This Hebrew term, equivalent to the Greek Christ, denotes “the Anointed.” The promised Deliverer had already been spoken of by the prophets as God’s Anointed. See 1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Samuel 12:3; 1 Samuel 12:5; Psalms 2:2; Psalms 18:50; Psalms 84:9. Now, however, perhaps for the first time, He is designated by this name alone, Messiah or the Anointed. God speaks in the Psalms of having anointed Him, as the King whom He had chosen and appointed to rule over Israel on the throne of His father David, Solomon’s antitype (Psalms 89:19-20; Psalms 2:6, marg.) Isaiah speaks of Him as anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, as a prophet to make known the glad tidings of salvation to fallen men (Isaiah 61:10). This in accordance with the practice of both kings and prophets being installed in their office with the anointing of oil, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, with whom, as the true king and prophet, Messiah was to be anointed. As the great High Priest also, He was to receive the same anointing, it being appointed under the law that the priests should be introduced into their office by the anointing with oil (Exodus 30:30; Exodus 40:15; Psalms 133:2). This symbolical anointing, which was to receive its fulfilment in the promised Deliverer, hence called the Messiah or Anointed, was actually fulfilled in Jesus, on whom the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape at His baptism, and of whom Peter testifies, that He went about doing good, being anointed by God “with the Holy Ghost, and with power” (Acts 10:38). The evangelists relate that Jesus went up from the Jordan full of the Holy Ghost, and was led by the same Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that it was through the eternal Spirit that Jesus, as the Great High Priest, “offered Himself without spot unto God” (Hebrews 9:14). Through the Holy Ghost He gave commandments to His apostles after His resurrection (Acts 1:2). He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. God gave not His Spirit by measure unto Him (Psalms 45:7; John 3:34).

2. “The Prince.” [260] The Hebrew term here used also applied to the promised Saviour in Isaiah 55:4, and there rendered Leader. It may be regarded as equivalent to king, head, or ruler. Jehovah, in the passage referred to, declares, in regard to the provided and promised Saviour, “I have given Him for a witness to the people (His prophetical office); a leader and a commander to the people,” thus indicating at the same time His office as a king. So we read of Jesus, that He has been exalted by the Father with His own right hand, “a prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel and the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). He is “the Prince of the kings of the earth;” equivalent to “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 1:5; Revelation 19:16). The Saviour was especially promised in the character of a prince or king. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; for behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek and having salvation” (Zechariah 9:9). It was in this character that He was to bruise the serpent’s head, and deprive him of his usurped dominion. His language to Joshua, “as Captain of the Lord’s host am I come.” He is the “Captain of our salvation;” “travelling in the greatness of His strength, mighty to save;” the “King of glory, mighty in battle” (Hebrews 2:10; Isaiah 63:2; Psalms 24:8). His princedom as head of all principality and power, given to Him by the Father as the reward of His mediatorial work, and at the same time as the means of fully securing the ends of that undertaking (Philippians 2:6-11; Ephesians 1:20-22; Matthew 28:18; John 17:2; Psalms 110:1, &c.)

[260] “The prince” (Daniel 9:25). Here the Messiah, though in the following verse an earthly prince, probably Titus or the Roman emperor. Josephus applies the term even in this verse to Vespasian as the person intended. Theodoret and Eusebius thought of John Hyrcanus, who was both prince and high priest. Others hare applied it to the anointed governors and elders among the Jews in general. Some of the Jews applied it to Herod Agrippa, who was slain shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem.

It may here be interesting to inquire how far Messiah had been promised and made known previously to this communication made to Daniel concerning Him, and through Daniel to the Church. We may mark seven leading promises, previously given, revealing so many particulars concerning the Saviour who was to come:—

(1.) The original promise in Eden, showing that the Saviour of men was to be a man, and that while He was to be the destroyer of him who had overcome and sought to ruin man, He was Himself to suffer (Genesis 3:15). Hence the name He generally gave Himself, the Son of Man.

(2.) The promise made to Abraham, and renewed to Isaac and Jacob, indicating the nation from which the Saviour was to spring, that of which Abraham was to be the head, the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3). Salvation was to be of the Jews.

(3.) The promise made through Jacob on his dying bed, intimating the tribe in the Jewish nation out of which the Messiah was to spring, viz., that of Judah, the royal tribe, indicating that Messiah was to be a king (Genesis 49:10). Jesus claimed the title of King of the Jews.

(4.) The promise through Moses, showing that the Saviour was to be a prophet as well as a king (Deuteronomy 18:15). It was more especially in this character that He exercised His three and a half years’ ministry, teaching the people.

(5.) The promise by David, showing the family in which Messiah was to be born, viz., that of David the son of Jesse; and that though He was to succeed His father David as king of Israel, He was to be rejected by the leaders of the people, and to suffer and die; while, as a priest, He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the world, the very kind of death He was to suffer being indicated (Acts 2:30; Psalms 89:4; Psalms 110:4; Psalms 118:22; Psalms 40:6-8; Psalms 22:16). The Son of David, the name by which the Jews generally designated the promised Messiah.

(6.) The promise by Isaiah, B.C. 714–50, that He was to be miraculously born of a virgin, intimating also that while truly man He was also to possess a divine nature, as Emmanuel, the Mighty God; and showing at the same time more distinctly than before that He was to be rejected by men, and made by God a sacrifice for the sins of the people (Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 53:0.) Isaiah especially the evangelical prophet, or prophet of the Gospel.

(7.) The promise given through Micah, B.C. 710, shortly after the preceding, and showing the place where Messiah was to be born, viz., in Bethlehem, a small village in Judah, and declaring still more explicitly that, notwithstanding the lowly place of His birth, He was the everlasting God (Micah 5:2). Singularly fulfilled, while Mary and Joseph were at the time inhabitants of Nazareth.

II. The time of Messiah’s appearing. This is expressly intimated in the text, though somewhat enigmatically. Seventy weeks are said to be determined upon Daniel’s people for the accomplishment of those gracious purposes connected with Messiah’s advent (Daniel 9:24). These prophetic weeks are again divided into three portions, of seven, sixty-two, and one; each portion having some important event or transaction connected with it (Daniel 9:25-27). The points requiring consideration are—

1. The seventy weeks and the event they bring. No room is left for doubt that these weeks are prophetic weeks or weeks of years, each week being seven years, and the whole thus making up 490 years, or seventy times seven [261]. The events to take place in the course of them render every other meaning of the expression out of the question. The event with which these years were to terminate is not so certain, and is differently understood [262]. Not improbably that event is the ceasing of the Gospel to be preached exclusively to the Jews, when the kingdom of God was to be given to another people bringing forth the fruits of it. This took place only a few years after the death of Christ (Acts 10:0.) It is possible that, as some suppose, they extend to the period when the Jews shall be restored.

[261] “Seventy weeks” (Daniel 9:24). Seventy שָׁבֻעִים (shabhu’im), “sevens,” hence, weeks. Dr. Taylor observes that here it is not necessary to adopt the year-day theory, although itself resting on sufficient grounds. The prophet says, “seventy weeks,” or “seventy sevens,” which might either be days or years; and as this allusion appears to be to the seventy years of the captivity, so years are naturally to be understood here. “For the one seventy in exile, there should be seven seventies of continued occupation of the holy city.” Auberlen thinks the seventy weeks, or 490 years, extend to the year 33 a.d. “The fixed chronological point from which to calculate we find in the death of the Messiah, which falls in the middle of the last week, that is, three and a half years before the end of the whole period, consequently the year 30 a.d. But it is in this very year, according to the soundest chronological investigations, and the most generally adopted reckoning, in which Bengel and Wieseler, for example, coincide, that the Lord Jesus was crucified.” So Willet, reckoning from the first year of Cyrus, computes,—the Persian monarchy lasted 130 years; the Greek or Macedonian, 300; the Roman, to the death of Christ, 60; in all, 490. He observes that, “although in the particular account of time there be some disagreement, yet herein most Christian interpreters agree, that all those years expired either at the birth or passion of Christ, or in the destruction of Jerusalem; so that whichever account be received, two main points are proved, namely, that Messiah is come, and that He came not as a temporal prince, but was put to death.” Calvin, who remarks that “the diversity of opinions among interpreters doth not evacuate or extenuate the authority of Scripture,” says that “the Jews agree with us in considering the prophet to reckon the weeks not by days but by years, as in Leviticus 25:8; only they consider them to have begun at the destruction of the former temple, and closed at the overthrow of the second, when God would disperse them over all the earth, as a chastisement for their sin, till at length Messiah should come.” He paraphrases thus: “Sorrowful darkness has brooded over you for seventy years; but God will now follow up this period by one of favour of sevenfold duration, because, by lightening your cares and moderating your sorrow, He will not cease to prove Himself propitious to you, even to the advent of Christ.” Dr. Pusey also, who observes that the choice of the form of the prophecy was itself prophetical, thinks that the interval which God assigned had an evident reference to the seventy years of the captivity; and that that number had a bearing on the broken Sabbaths, in punishment of which Moses foretold that the land should enjoy her Sabbaths in the captivity of the people. “Seventy years were the term of their captivity; seven times seventy years were to be the main term of their new probation in the possession of their land and of their restored city.” Mr. Bosanquet also thinks these seventy weeks are seventy Sabbaths of years, “each ending with a shemittah, or ‘year of release,’ such as were to be observed under the Levitical law; the period of seven weeks representing seven Sabbaths of years, or 49 years, ending with a year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-9), and with the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem.” Professor Stuart calls them seventy heptades of years, Daniel having been making diligent inquiry regarding the seventy years of the captivity. Professor Lee understands only an indefinite period. Hofmann and Kliefoth too, with whom Keil agrees, remark that שָׁבֻעִים (shabh u’im) does not necessarily mean year-weeks, but an intentionally indefinite designation of a period of time measured by the number seven, whose chronological duration must be determined on other grounds. Hengstenberg and Krauichfeld, however, are in favour of year-weeks (periods of seven years), on the ground that such an interpretation is very natural, since they hold so prominent a place in the law of Moses; and the exile had brought them anew very distinctly into remembrance, inasmuch as the seventy years’ desolation of the land was viewed as a punishment for the interrupted festival of the Sabbatical year (2 Chronicles 36:21). So Junius, Pellican, Polanus, &c., the last remarking that the number seven is of great observance among the Jews, indicating periods of holy rest, and pointing to the great year of rest in the redemption of the world by Messiah.

[262] “Are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city to finish,” &c. (Daniel 9:24) נֶחְתַּךְ (nekhtach), from חָתַךְ (khathach), occurring only here in Hebrew, but in Chaldee meaning “to cut off, cut up into pieces,” hence “to decide,” or determine; so Pagn. Mont Jun., &c. Not abbreviated or shortened, as the Vulgate, abbreviatœ, and as Wieseler thinks. The singular used, either from a singular noun, as עֵת (‘eth) time, being before the prophet’s mind, as Hengstenberg thinks, or, as Keil prefers, from the seventy weeks being conceived of as a whole or absolute idea; but not from an inexact manner of writing of the later authors, as Ewald supposes. The expression “upon thy people,” &c., implies, according to Kliefoth and Keil, that the people and city of God should not remain in the state of desolation in which they then were, but should at some time be again restored, and should be continued during the time mentioned; Keil understanding these terms certainly to refer first to Israel after the flesh and to the geographical Jerusalem, but also as embracing the New Testament Church and the Church of God on earth. He remarks that the following infinitive clauses, “to finish,” &c., present the object for which the seventy weeks are determined, intimating what shall happen till, or with the expiry of the time determined; it being only to be concluded from the contents of the final clauses whether what is mentioned shall take place only at the end of the period, or shall develop itself gradually in the course of it. He thinks, from the contents of these six clauses, that the termination of the seventy weeks coincides with the end of the present course of the world. Sir Isaac Newton also inclined to apply the last seven weeks of the period to the time when Antichrist should be destroyed by the brightness of the Saviour’s coming. Œcolampadius understood this last week to be no definite number of years, but commencing with the time of Pompey, continuing to the death of Christ, and terminating in the reign of Adrian, ninety-eight years later. Melanchthon and Junius (first edition) viewed the second half of that week as commencing with Christ’s death and continuing onwards. Polanus and Junius make that latter half to include the destruction of Jerusalem. Bullinger, Broughton, and Willet make the last of the weeks the seven years previous to Christ’s death, the first half being a preparatory season before His baptism, which took place in the middle of it. Scaliger divided the last week into two parts, assigning four years and a half to Christ’s ministry, and the other two and a half to the destruction of Jerusalem. Apollinaris seems to have extended the prophecy to the end of the world. The Duke of Manchester, reckoning the whole period of 490 years from b.c. 424, or anno Nabonassar 325, the supposed time of the vision, brings its termination down to a.d. 66.

2. The three portions of the seventy weeks. The first of these appears to be seven weeks or forty-nine years, the event connected with it being, apparently, the rebuilding of Jerusalem [263], when “the street should be built again and the wall, even in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25). The historical fulfilment particularly related in the Book of Nehemiah [264]. The second portion of sixty-two weeks or 434 years, succeeding the former, and with it making up 483 years, would appear to terminate with the death of Messiah, which should take place either then or soon after. “After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off” (Daniel 9:26) [265]. The third portion, or one week of seven years, apparently succeeding the others, and including the death of Messiah, and the fruits of it among the Jews in connection with the preaching of the Gospel during the first few years succeeding that event. Some extend it so as to include the judgments to fall on the Jews for the rejection of the Gospel, according to the verses that immediately follow.

[263] “Seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks” (Daniel 9:25). Keil observes that most interpreters who understand Christ as Messiah the Prince, have referred both of these periods to the first clause, as being to be reckoned from the going forth of the commandment. Thus Theodotion and the Vulgate. So Hävernick, Hengstenberg, and Auberlen. Hengstenberg says: “The separation of the two periods of time was of great consequence, in order to show that the seven and the sixty-two weeks are not a mere arbitrary dividing into two of one whole period, but that to each of these two periods its own characteristic mark belongs.” He divides them thus: “Sixty weeks must pass away; seven till the completed restoration of the city, sixty from that time till the Anointed, the Prince.” Keil, however, who regards the periods symbolically and not chronologically, thinks that this interpretation distorts the language of the text, and ought to be suffered to fall aside as untenable, in order that we may do justice to the words of the prophecy. He thinks that the seven weeks are said to terminate with the appearance of Messiah the Prince, after which the sixty and two weeks take their commencement, terminating with the cutting off of the Messiah. Willet, after Calvin, Œcolampadius, and Broughton, reckoning from the first year of Cyrus, make the first seven weeks, or forty-nine years, to terminate with the finishing of the temple in the sixth year of Darius or Artaxerxes Longimanus.

[264] “The street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25). תָּשׁוּב (tashubh), “shall return,” is thus joined adverbially to the second verb, וְנִבְנְתָה (venibhnethah), “and shall be built.” So Hävernick, Hofmann, and Wieseler. Keil, on the other hand, thinks that the words refer undoubtedly to the expression in the former clause of the verse לְהָשִׁיב וְלִבְנוֹת (lehashibh velibhnoth), “to restore and to build;” and that therefore תָּשׁוּב (tashubh) is to be rendered intransitively, “shall be restored,” as Ezekiel 16:55; 1 Kings 13:6, and elsewhere He thinks, against Rosenmüller, Gesenius, and Hengstenberg, that the subject to both verbs is not רְחוֹב (rekhobh), “the street,” but Jerusalem, as is manifest both from the words of the commandment, and from the fact that in Zechariah 8:5 the noun is construed as masculine, while here the verb is feminine. He is also of the opinion that the words רְחוֹב וְחָרוּץ (rekhobh vekharuts), “the street and the wall,” contain together one definition, the former, רְחוֹב (rekhobh), the street and wide space before the gate of the temple, being taken as the adverbial accusative, “with wide spaces;” and the latter as a participle, “and yet cut off or limited,” the sense being, “Jerusalem shall be built so that the city takes in a wide space, has wide free places, but not, however, unlimited in width, but such that their compass is measured off, is fixed and bounded.” So Kliefoth, Theodotion, and the Vulgate have “the street and the wall.” To the latter word (חָרוּץ) Gesenius and others give the meaning “ditch, wall, aqueduct;”. Ewald, “a pond;” Hofmann, “a confined space;” Hitzig, “the court.” Hävernick, Hengstenberg, and others translate it as a participle, “and it is determined.” The expression “in troublous times,” בְּצוֹק הָעִתִּים (betsoq ha’ittim), “in the difficulty or oppression of the times,” points to the circumstances under which the building was to proceed, and which are fully recorded in the Book of Nehemiah (chaps, 3, 4, 6, 9); but, in Keil’s opinion, is, according to Psalms 51:17, to be applied also to the spiritual building of the city of God.

[265] “After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off” (Daniel 9:26). These weeks apparently the period immediately succeeding the seven weeks that constitute the first section of these weeks of years. Keil remarks that from the אַהֲרֵי (akharé) “after,” it does not follow with certainty that the “cutting off” of the Messiah falls wholly in the beginning of the seventieth week, but only that the “cutting off” shall constitute the first great event of this week, and that those things that are mentioned in the remaining part of the verse shall then follow. Many think that, according to Daniel 9:27, this great event will only take place in the midst of that last week, when, in consequence of it, the typical sacrifices and oblations shall be made to cease, the true sacrifice being now offered.

3. The period of their commencement. Where do the seventy weeks begin? Here also is some uncertainty and difference of opinion. [266] In the text, it is the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25). The uncertainty is as to what that time was, or what was the precise commandment referred to. There have been four commandments or edicts of the kings of Persia, to which the words of the angel have been referred, each a few years—though only a few—distant from the others. The first is the edict of Cyrus, B.C. 536, permitting the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1:1). The second, about sixteen years later, is that of Darius Hystaspis, in the second or third year of his reign, B.C. 520, confirmatory of that of Cyrus (Ezra 6:1). The third is that of Artaxerxes Longimanus, in the seventh year of his reign, B.C. 457, giving commission to Ezra to repair to Jerusalem and put matters right there (Ezra 7:7; Ezra 7:11). The fourth and last is that of the same monarch, in the twentieth year of his reign, B.C. 444, giving permission to Nehemiah to visit Jerusalem with the object of setting forward the restoration of the city (Nehemiah 1:2; Nehemiah 2:1, &c.) The first and the last two appear to have the most to be said in their favour, the third being, perhaps, the most probable. Whichever of these periods or edicts may be the exact one, there can be little doubt that the prophecy was intended to mean that somewhere about five centuries, more or less, after Daniel received the vision, Messiah was to appear. Although there is an uncertainty connected with ancient chronology, it appears that, as a matter of fact, the baptism of Jesus, which was preparatory to His death, like the setting apart of the passover lamb (Exodus 12:3; Exodus 12:6), took place somewhere about 483 years, or 69 prophetic weeks, from the third of the above edicts, and that in little more than seven years, or one prophetic week later, the Gospel had begun to be preached among the Gentiles. It is certain that at the very time when Jesus appeared, the Jews, guided by ancient prophecy, were in earnest expectation of the advent of their promised Messiah. When John the Baptist began to exercise his ministry, all men mused in their hearts whether he were the Christ. From his prison John sent two of his disciples to Jesus with the inquiry, “Art thou He that should come, or look we for another?” At the time of the birth of Jesus the godly in Jerusalem were waiting and looking for Him who was to be the Redeemer and Consolation of Israel. Even the Samaritans were looking for Him: “I know that Messias cometh; when He is come, He will tell us all things” (John 4:25). That there existed at that time a widespread report through all the East that a ruler should appear in Judea and obtain a universal dominion, even Roman historians testify. According to Josephus, it was that very expectation that moved the Jews to revolt from their Roman masters. It has even been believed by Jewish Rabbis that the Messiah was born at the time that the temple was destroyed, and that He lay hid among the lepers in Rome. So fully were the Jews persuaded that He should appear about that period, that, rejecting Him when He came in the person of Jesus, they were ready to embrace and welcome every pretender; till, always disappointed, their Rabbis pronounced a curse upon those who should attempt to calculate the time of His appearing, which could chiefly, and almost only, be done from this very prophecy of Daniel. “When the fulness of the time was come,” God did indeed “send forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

[266] “From the going forth of the commandment,” &c. (Daniel 9:24). Various opinions as to what commandment is here referred to. Calvin and Œcolampadius, and, among the moderns, Kleinert, Ebrard, Kliefoth, Keil, and others, regard it as the edict of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1), from which, says Kliefoth, the termination of the exile is constantly dated, and from which time the return of the Jews, together with the building up of Jerusalem, began. Keil thinks that Isaiah 44:28 directs us to this view, as also the words in Ezra 6:14, “They builded according to the commandment of the king of Persia.” Hävernick and Hengstenberg, following some Church fathers, decide in favour of the second decree of Artaxerxes given in favour of Nehemiah in the twentieth year of his reign; Hengstenberg being of opinion that the words of the angel do not refer to the beginning of the building of Jerusalem, but much rather to the beginning of its complete restoration according to its ancient extent and glory. Luther and Bengel regard the “commandment” as the decree of Darius Hystaspis; while Bullinger, Pfaff, Sir Isaac Newton, Prideaux, Auberlen, and others prefer the edict of Artaxerxes given to Ezra in the seventh year of his reign. Dr. Rule, observes that the first decree by Cyrus related only to the temple, not the city; but that the great and decisive decree for rebuilding Jerusalem was issued by Artaxerxes, 457 b.c., in the seventh year of his reign, and is preserved in full in Ezra 7:0, being no doubt to be found in the archives of the realm. Seven weeks or forty-nine years from that date come down to the year 408 b.c., when Nehemiah finished his work of restoring the city. Sixty-two weeks, added to this, making sixty-nine weeks or 483 years, reach down to a.d. 26, when our Lord was about thirty years of age, and was baptised by John; which Dr. Rule considers to be meant by His being “cut off,” or separated as a victim for sacrifice. The remaining week or seven years was, in his view, occupied with the Saviour’s ministry till His death; during which He confirmed the covenant with many by His teaching. This is also the view of Dr. Pusey, who remarks, that of the four, two only are principal and leading decrees, that of Cyrus, and that in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus; that those of Cyrus and Darius relate to the rebuilding of the temple, those of Artaxerxes to the condition of Judea and Jerusalem; and that this rebuilding of the city and reorganisation of the Jewish polity, begun by Ezra and carried on and perfected by Nehemiah, corresponds with the words in Daniel, “From the going forth,” &c. He observes that the time also corresponds; that 483 years of the whole period of seventy weeks or 490 years, the last seven years being parted off, reckoned from the year 457 b.c., were completed in the year 27 a.d., which, since the nativity was four years earlier than our era, would coincide with our Lord’s baptism, when the Holy Ghost descending upon Him manifested Him to be the Anointed One, or the Messiah. He adds: “But the fact of these several periods being prophesied, and the last above six hundred years before, is the body, not the soul, of the prophecy; it is not that which is the chief evidence of its divinity.” Hesse thinks we are not forced to understand the angel’s words as referring, to only one of these edicts, but that they refer to the whole period during which such edicts were given, revoked, and renewed. Preiswerk thinks that, considering the uncertainty of ancient chronology, we ought not to lay much stress on calculating the exact year, but be content to point out a mere general coincidence of the prophecy with the historical time; and that if we show that possibly even a minute coincidence took place, and at least that no one can prove the contrary, we shall have done enough to prove the truth of the ancient prophecy. Sack thinks it was enough to strengthen faith and keep alive expectation, to leave only a general conception of the time when the Deliverer, Messiah the Prince, should appear.

We may observe from the text—

1. The cause of rejoicing afforded by this prediction. This is one of those portions of Scripture that cannot be attentively and believingly read without a thrill of joy. Here is not only a prediction concerning the Saviour who was to come, with the blessed results of His advent, but of the very time when He was to appear, though given nearly five centuries before the event, and given in terms so plain and precise, that in consequence of it the Jews looked for His coming at the very period indicated; [267] while exactly at that period, Jesus, with every prophetic mark of the true Messiah found in Him, actually came; and though rejected, a thing which was also predicted of the Messiah, by the mass of His countrymen, and more especially their leaders, was hailed, accepted, and trusted in as the promised Saviour of the world, by numbers during His life, and by millions more since then in almost every part of the world, and among the most civilised portions of the human race. The reading of the text may well awaken those feelings claimed by another angel for his statement when announcing the actual fulfilment of the prophecy: “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” If any tidings are fitted to evoke feelings of joy, surely it is these.

[267] Josephus says: “What gave them (the Jews) courage to fight was a saying found in the Holy Scriptures that about that time (shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem) one of their nation was to obtain the government of the world.” This report was widely spread. Tacitus says: “Many had the conviction that it stood written in their ancient priestly books that just about that very time the East would rise up in great power, and men from Judea would obtain the government of the world.” Suetonius, another Roman historian of the period, also says: “The old and common opinion was spread through all the East that it was destined by fate that met of Judea should obtain at this time the government of the world.” Jewish writings bear the same testimony. “Our Rabbins have delivered to us that in the week in which the Son of David comes,” &c. (Talmud, Sanh. 97, 1). “Seventy weeks after the destruction of the first temple shall intervene till the destruction of the second” (Seder Olam, Yalkut Shimeoni, 2:79, 4). “Why was Jonathan ben Uzziel forbidden to interpret the Hagiographa? Because in it is contained the term of Messiah’s advent” (Megillah, 3, 1). Rashi says, “The term of Messiah is found in the book of Daniel.” Bishop Hurd observes: “They (the Jews) were led by these prophecies, as interpreted by themselves, to expect that they would be completed at the time at which we say they were completed; and it was not till after the coming of Christ that they began to interpret them differently, and to look out for another completion of them.… The natural and proper sense will be thought to be that in which we take them; for that sense occurred first to themselves, and was, in truth, their sense before we adopted it. When I say their sense, I mean especially in respect to the time which they had fixed for the accomplishment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah.” Dr. Keith remarks: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, and Philo agree in testifying the antiquity of the prophecies, and their acknowledged reference to that period. Even the Jews to this day own that the time when their Messiah ought to have appeared is long since past; and they attribute the delay of His coming to the sinfulness of their nation. And thus, from the distinct prophecies themselves; from the testimony of profane historians; and from the concessions of the Jews, every requisite proof is afforded that Christ appeared when all the concurring circumstances of the time denoted the prophesied period of His advent.”

2. The duty of personally accepting that Saviour whose advent was thus graciously foretold, and at the predicted period actually took place. The text reveals a Saviour and promises a salvation which meets the requirements of every human being; a salvation not only from sin’s consequences, but from sin itself, and one which in the Gospel is freely tendered to every creature. Millions, accepting the announcement and cordially embracing the promised Saviour as their own, have experienced its truth both in life and death, and, made by it new creatures in Christ Jesus, have rejoiced with exceeding joy. Such an experience is for each to make his own, and that without delay. “To you is the word of this salvation sent.” “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” Has the reader embraced it?

3. The evidence here afforded of the truth of Christianity and the word of God. With this prophecy of Daniel before us, and the Gospel narrative in our hands, and the existence of the Christian Church before our eyes, we need nothing more to convince us that there is such a thing as divinely inspired prediction, and that Christianity is of God. Sir Isaac Newton, no mean authority in connection with such a subject, was willing to stake the truth of Christianity on this very prophecy of Daniel. With the prediction of the text and the facts of history before us, even the most scriptural may well exclaim with the magicians of Egypt, “This is the finger of God!” Believers, if only from the evidence afforded by this prophecy and its fulfilment, may rejoice with Peter in the assurance, that they “have not followed cunningly devised fables.” Calvin was right when he said, “How clear and sure a testimony we have in Daniel’s prophecy, where he counts the years till the advent of Christ; so that we may with boldness oppose Satan and all the scorn of the ungodly, if it be but true that the book of Daniel was in men’s hands before Christ came.” That it was so is doubted by none; even the keenest opposer of the genuineness of the book placing it at least 150 years before that event. [268]

[268] The views of the German Rationalists, and others of the same school, are thus expressed by an English writer, R. W. Mackay (Progress of the Intellect): “During the severe persecutions under Antiochus Epiphanes, when the cause of Hebrew faith, in its struggle with colossal heathenism, seemed desperate; and when, notwithstanding some bright examples of heroism, the majority of the higher class was inclined to submit and to apostatise; an unknown writer adopted the ancient name of Daniel, in order to revive the almost extinct hopes of his countrymen, and to exemplify the proper bearing of a faithful Hebrew in the presence of a Gentile tyrant.… The object of Pseudo-Daniel is to foreshadow, under a form adapted to make the deepest impression on his countrymen, by a prophecy, half-allusive, half-apocryphal, the approaching destruction of heathenism through the advent of Messiah.” The prophecies of Daniel are supposed by this school to extend to the death of Antiochus, but no further, the book being completed shortly after that event. The great effort is to make the periods mentioned in this chapter to coincide with the events of that time. The attempt, always failing, is renewed under another form again and again, with the same success. Dr. Pusey has counted thirteen various ways in which this school attempts to reckon the seventy weeks. Keil observes: “The opponents of the genuineness of the book of Daniel generally are agreed in this, that the destruction of this enemy of the Jews, or the purification of the temple occurring a few years earlier, forms the terminus ad quem (or termination) of the seventy weeks; and that their duration is to be reckoned, from the year 168 or 172 b.c., back either to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, or to the beginning of the exile. Hitzig, Ewald, Wieseler, and others suppose that the first seven year-weeks, or forty-nine years, are not to be taken into the reckoning along with the sixty-two weeks, and that only sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, are to be counted to the year 175 (as Ewald), or 172. (as Hitzig thinks), as the beginning of the last week, filled up by the assault of Antiochus against Judaism. But even this reckoning brings us to the year 609 or 606 b.c., the commencement of the exile, or three years further back. To date the sixty years from that event agrees too little with the announcement that “from the going forth of the commandment to restore,” &c. So that of the most recent representatives of this view, no one any longer consents to hold the seventy years of the exile for a time of the restoring and the building of Jerusalem. Thus Hitzig and Ewald openly declare that the reckoning is not correct, and that the Pseudo-Daniel has erred, and assumed ten weeks, or seventy years, too many.… By this change of the sixty-two weeks into fifty-two, or 434 years into 364, they reach from the year 174 to 538 b.c., the year of the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus, by whom the commandment to restore Jerusalem was promulgated. To this the seven weeks (or forty-nine years) are again added, in order to reach the year 588 or 587 b.c., the year of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, from which the year-weeks, shortened from seventy to sixty, are to be reckoned.” Keil adds: “This hypothesis needs no serious refutation; yet this supposition is made among these opponents a dogmatic axiom.”

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXIV.—THE OBJECTS OF MESSIAH’S ADVENT (Chap. Daniel 9:24)

We come to the cream of the prophecy. The angel foretells what were to be the blessed results of Messiah’s advent, which were to take place within the seventy weeks determined upon Daniel’s people. These objects and results are described in six particulars, or in three pairs, more or less connected. [269]

[269] The six statements are divided by Maurer, Hitzig, Krauichfeld, and others, into three passages of two members each, containing (1) the completion of the measure of sin; (2) the covering of sin and bringing in righteousness; (3) the fulfilling of prophecy and consecration of the temple. Keil regards the passage as rather containing two three-membered sentences; the first three treating of the taking away of sin, and thus giving the negative side of the deliverance; the three last treating of the bringing in of righteousness with its consequences, and thus of the positive deliverance; the members in both classes standing in reciprocal relation to each other.

I. Transgression was to be finished or restrained. Daniel 9:24. “To finish transgression.” The word rendered “finish” is ambiguous, [270] many preferring the translation given in the margin of our Bibles, to “restrain.” One blessed result of Messiah’s advent was to be that transgression and sin would be so restrained that it should no longer rule and prevail, and in multitudes of cases should for ever cease among men as before. Accordingly the name to be given to the Messiah, and by which He was to be known among men when He came, was JESUS, because He should “save His people from their sins.” Deliverance from sin the primary object of Messiah’s advent. Hence Zachariah’s song: “That He would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in righteousness and holiness before Him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75). Such deliverance impossible without an atonement or satisfaction to divine justice for human guilt. Sin must be forgiven before it can cease to reign. But “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Sin shall have no dominion over us, only because we are delivered from the condemning sentence of the law, and placed on a footing of grace and free favour through the satisfaction made by Christ’s death. It is the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, that purges our conscience “from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).

[270] “To finish transgression” (Daniel 9:24). לְכַלֵּא (lechallé), properly to “restrain.” Keil remarks that in this word a double reading is combined; the vowel points not belonging to the Kethibh or text, which rather has לִכְלֹה (lichloh), but to the Keri; the Masorites holding כלא to be of the same meaning with כלה, to be ended, as Theodotion, Aquila, and the Vulgate have translated it. Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Winer, and others, have followed them in supposing that ה has passed into א; and understand the expression to mean, the filling up or completing the measure of sin. Keil objects to this meaning as not agreeing with the context, and prefers to retain לכלא, to “restrain,” in the sense of hemming in or hindering wickedness, so that it can no longer spread about. Calvin understands the expression to mean putting an end to wickedness; Bullinger, that by the coming of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel, there should be a general restraint of sin, according to 1 Corinthians 6:10. Dr. Rule understands the finishing or ending the transgression which has lasted through so many ages, in the stubborn rebellion of the ancient people against God’s law.

II. Sin was to be forgiven. “To make an end of sin,” or, according to the margin, to “seal” it up, [271] as something that was no longer to see the light. This probably connected with the preceding as its ground or foundation. When sin, having been atoned for, is sealed up as a thing no longer to be seen, it loses its power or prevalence, and so is restrained as under bonds and imprisonment. Deliverance from the guilt of sin, inseparably connected with deliverance from its power; the latter deliverance being in consequence of the former, as it is the guilt or condemnation under which sin brings us that gives it its power. Sin, as an act of transgression against God’s law, brings death, spiritual as well as temporal, as its penalty; but spiritual death is simply the reign of sin in the soul. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” Forgiveness cancels the sentence, and so delivers not only from the guilt but from the reigning power of sin. Christ is made “righteousness” to us, in the forgiveness from sin and the acceptance of our person; and so is also immediately made to us “sanctification” for our personal holiness (1 Corinthians 1:30). “In the Lord” we have “righteousness and strength;” righteousness, or forgiveness and acceptance, first, and then, or along with it, strength, in order to overcome sin and serve God (Isaiah 45:24). God first forgives all the sinner’s “iniquities,” and then heals all his “diseases” (Psalms 103:3). This forgiveness is complete and permanent, a true “sealing” up of sin. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). “There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “He that believeth is justified from all things;” “hath everlasting life;” and “shall never come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” “Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Acts 13:38-39; John 3:36; John 5:24; Micah 7:19). This making an end of or “sealing” up of sin, by its entire and everlasting forgiveness, solely the result of Christ’s death. Constantly exhibited in the great central ordinance of the Church, the Lord’s Supper: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood shed for the remission of sins.”

[271] “To make an, end of sin.” לְחָתֵם (lekhathem), literally, to “seal up.” Hofmann, Kliefoth, and Keil understand the expression to mean that sins should be laid under custody, so as no more to be active or increase; while Hengstenberg and others think it means the taking away of sins or removing them out of God’s sight. Polanus and Willet also understand the meaning to be, that sins should be bound up, sealed, and closed, so as never more to be opened, read, or declared against us, as writings are sealed up to be concealed and buried in oblivion (Colossians 2:14). Dr. Rule understands it of the putting away of sin by the atoning sacrifice of One who should establish a better covenant (Hebrews 9:26).

III. Satisfaction or atonement was to be made for iniquity. “To make reconciliation for iniquity.” [272] This the ground of the preceding, as that again was of its predecessor. Before sin could be restrained or arrested in its power, it must be forgiven; and before it can be forgiven, it must be atoned for. This the significance of all the sacrificial blood that had flowed from the beginning; for “without shedding of blood is no remission.” The sin that is to be forgiven must be laid and punished somewhere. But “it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin”—atone or satisfy for man’s guilt. This could only point to blood that was able, from the dignity of the person whose blood it was, to effect this object. This was the Messiah, the Anointed, emphatically called “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Hence the evangelical prophet: “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief. Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin. He shall bear their iniquities. He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:5-6; Isaiah 53:10-12). Thus exhibited by the Apostle: “Whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood, to show His righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the showing, I say, of His righteousness at the present season; that He might Himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26, R. V.)

[272] “To make reconciliation for iniquity.” לְכַפֵּר (lehapper), to pardon, to blot out by means of a sin-offering, i.e., to forgive. So Keil. The term properly denotes, as in Leviticus 1:4, &c., to make atonement by a sacrifice; hence gives its name to the mercy-seat כַּפֹּרֶת (capporeth), that which makes atonement or propitiation; applied to Christ, and His atoning death,—the “propitiation through His blood” (Romans 3:25). The verb in its simple form or root,” כפר (caphar), to “cover;” applied to the covering or smearing of the ark with pitch; the atoning sacrifice covers the sin so as not to appear, and covers the sinner so that no deserved wrath shall reach him. Sin, when forgiven, said to be “covered” (Psalms 32:2). Keil observes that “the three expressions in the text—‘to finish or shut up transgression,’ &c.,—all treat alike of the setting aside of sin, but in different ways. The first presents the general thought, that the falling away shall be shut up, the progress and the spreading of the sin shall be prevented. The other two expressions define more closely how the source whence arises the apostasy shall be shut up, the going forth and the continued operation of the sin prevented. This happens in one way with unbelievers, and in a different way with believers. The sins of unbelievers are sealed, are guarded securely under a seal, so that they may no more spread about and increase, nor any longer be active and operative; but the sins of believers are forgiven through a reconciliation.”

“Die man or justice must, unless for him
Some other, able and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.”—Paradise Lost.

IV. Everlasting righteousness for man’s acceptance to be procured. “To bring in everlasting righteousness.” What righteousness is this? [273] Righteousness in the Bible is either judicial or moral; acceptance with God, or that conformity to His law which is the ground of it. In the former sense it includes forgiveness, which is the removal or cancelling of what would otherwise forbid our acceptance with God. Such acceptance, however, requires more than forgiveness. Besides the cancelling of transgressions against God’s law, it requires a perfect obedience to it. It is properly the righteous man, or the man who is able to present such a righteousness as the law demands, that is accepted, or regarded and pronounced righteous. Forgiveness is something negative; righteousness something positive. Forgiveness cancels disobedience; righteousness presents obedience. To be accepted requires both. Both provided for in the Messiah; the one in His atoning death, the other in His spotless life. As the result of both, the Lord was “well pleased for His (Messiah’s) righteousness; He hath magnified the law, and made it honourable” (Isaiah 42:21). It is in the righteousness of Messiah, including both His active and passive obedience, His rendering to the law the obedience it requires, and the penalty it demands for the transgressions which in becoming man and man’s Surety He took upon Him, that we sinners are accepted. We are righteous and accepted in Him who for our sakes became God’s righteous Servant, and is pre-eminently “the Righteous” and “the Just One.” His name was therefore to be called “the Lord Our Righteousness.” “In Him shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory. Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” In this respect the Messiah was to be the Second Adam, and the contrast as well as the antitype of the first. “As through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19, R. V.) This righteousness of Messiah was to be an “everlasting” righteousness. Unlike the obedience of the first Adam, His obedience was to continue to the end, and to be followed by no disobedience; and the result of it was to be everlasting and perpetual acceptance, as of Himself, the Head, so of all His members who are made to share in His righteousness and be accepted in Him. They, like the Head, were never to come into condemnation, but to be “saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation,” and never to be “ashamed or confounded world without end” (Isaiah 45:17). This everlasting righteousness was brought in by Messiah as the product of His whole life, terminating in the one great act of obedience to His Father’s will and surrender to the law’s demands, His vicarious atoning death. “He said, It is finished; and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” Thus brought in, it is made to belong to those for whom it was provided, on their belief in and acceptance of it as their own,—their entire trust and dependence on it alone for acceptance with God. This is faith, the means or instrument by which we are put in possession of it, and are justified. “Justified by faith, we have peace with God.” “He that believeth is justified from all things.” “The righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, unto all them that believe” (Acts 8:39; Romans 8:1; Romans 3:22, R.V.)

[273] “To bring in everlasting righteousness.” Keil and others, taking the word in its moral sense, understand by “righteousness” that which is practised by believers,—the internal and external righteousness of the new heavens and the new earth, according to 2 Peter 3:0; called everlasting, as corresponding to the eternity of the Messianic kingdom (chap. Daniel 2:44, Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:27). Vatablus understands it as Christ Himself; Bullinger and others, as Christ’s righteousness imputed to us (James 2:23).

“Oh, how unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven’s easy, artless, unencumber’d plan?
It stands like the cærulean arch we see,
Majestic in its own simplicity.
Inscribed above the portal, from afar,
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul-quickening words—BELIEVE AND LIVE.”

V. Prophecy was to receive its fulfilment and to cease. “To seal up the vision and prophecy;” or, literally, to “seal up vision and prophet.” [274] In the birth, life, death, resurrection, and kingdom of the Messiah, vision and prophecy would receive their fulfilment; for what the Spirit of Christ testified beforehand in the prophets was “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow them” (1 Peter 1:11, R. V.) “The testimony of Jesus was the spirit of prophecy.” Jesus could testify before His death with reference to the “vision and prophecy” of the Old Testament, “The things concerning Me have an end.” To this completion of prophecy His last words might also have reference: “It is finished.” He had told His disciples while yet with them, that “all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms” concerning Him. So after His resurrection, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44). As a precious gift indeed for the edification of His Church, and the extension of His kingdom in the world, as had also been made the subject of Old Testament prophecy in connection with the “glories” that should follow Messiah’s sufferings, the Spirit was poured out upon the believers, both men and women, so that they were enabled to “prophesy” (Acts 2:1-18; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Ephesians 4:11). But with the apostles and immediate disciples of Jesus vision and prophecy in relation to the future were to cease. These having received their fulfilment, either absolutely, or, as in the case of Messiah’s kingdom, incipiently, with the communications given to the beloved disciple, the last of the apostles, the canon of Scripture was closed.

[274] “To seal up the vision and prophecy,” חָזוֹן וְנָבִיא (Khazon venabhi), “vision and prophet.” Not only the prophecy, but the prophet or his calling, must be sealed; namely, when by the full realisation of all prophecies, prophecy itself ceases, and no more prophets appear. So Keil, who, however, thinks that the extinction of prophecy in consequence of its fulfilment is not, as Hengstenberg and others believe, “to be sought in the time of the manifestation of Christ in the flesh; for then only the prophecy of the Old Covenant reached its end, and its place is occupied by the prophecy of the New Testament, the fulfilling of which is still in the future, and which will not come to an end till the kingdom of God is perfected in glory; namely, at the termination of the present course of the world’s history, at the same time with the full conclusive fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy” (Acts 3:21). Willet and others think that the “vision” and “prophecy” intended was that of the Old Testament, which referred to the Messiah and had its fulfilment in Jesus. “Experience shows that long since all prophecies and visions among the Jews are ceased; hence they are convinced (or shown) that the Messiah is come.” Dr. Rule understands the clause to mean the fulfilling of the predictions of former ages, and the confirming of them by “making the events to correspond with the prophecies respecting the Messiah.” It is not, however, to be forgotten that the Old Testament prophets testified beforehand not merely “the sufferings of Christ,” but “the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:12).

VI. The new spiritual Temple was to be set up and consecrated. “To anoint the Most Holy;” or, literally, “to anoint a Holy of holies.” [275] The allusion to the most holy place in the tabernacle or temple is obvious. The question is, what is here particularly the thing predicted? The reference is probably to that New Testament Church, Temple, or House of God which Messiah was to establish, and of which He was to be the chief corner-stone. That Church or Temple, with Messiah as at once its foundation and builder, was made the subject of express prophecy. “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head stone of the corner.” “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation.” “Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH, and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord” (Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Zechariah 6:12). Of this spiritual temple, identified with Christ as His body, the anointed tabernacle and temple at Jerusalem was a type. Speaking of Himself, Christ said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And of His Church He said, “On this rock will I build My church.” So the Apostle Paul, addressing believers, says, “Ye are the temple of the living God;” “Ye are God’s building;” built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Peter, in like manner: “To whom coming as unto a living stone, ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house” (1 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:5). This New Testament Church was to be set up by Messiah at His advent, and in conformity with its type it was to be consecrated by anointing. That Anointing Oil was the Holy Ghost, the antitype of the holy anointing oil of the Old Testament. We have seen how Jesus Himself, the chief corner-stone, and who is one with His Church, was anointed with the Holy Ghost at His baptism. In like manner was the Church, His members, anointed on the day of Pentecost and onwards, in fulfilment of the great promise made by their Head, “Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” It was this anointing that was to fit them for their great work in the world till He should come again. “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:5; Acts 1:8). The effects of the anointing in the now consecrated spiritual Temple were immediately apparent. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:4; Acts 2:41-47). This anointing with the Holy Ghost to be characteristic of the New Testament Church. “He who hath anointed us is God.” “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. The anointing which ye have received abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). The privilege as well as duty of the New Testament Church is expressed in the apostolic exhortation, “Be ye filled with the Spirit.” Its members were to be distinguished by the fruits and graces of that Spirit with which, in common with their Head, they were to be anointed. “God hath not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law: and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:22-24). The name given to the New Testament Church descriptive of this anointing. “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” But “Christians” are simply “Christ’s men,” or the members of the Anointed One, and so anointed themselves. Even the very name of “Christ,” the Anointed, appears to be given them in the word (1 Corinthians 12:12; Revelation 11:15). This quite natural, the Head and members forming one body. The same holy Anointing Oil which was poured on the head of Aaron ran down to his beard, even to the skirts of his garment (Psalms 133:1-2).

[275] “To anoint the most holy,” קֹדֶשׁ קֳדָשִׁים (Kodhesh Kadhashim), literally, “a holy of holies;” a new holy of holies which, as Keil observes, should be in the place of the tabernacle and the temple of Solomon. Those who refer the fulfilment of the prophecy to the time nearest the close of the exile, or to the time of the Maccabees, apply this clause either, with Wieseler, to the consecration of the altar of burnt-offering, restored by Zernbbabel and Joshua (Ezra 3:2, &c.); or, with J. D. Michaelis, to the consecration of the temple of Zernbbabel; or, with Hitzig, Kranichfeld, and others, to the consecration of the altar of burnt-offering which was desecrated by Autiochus Epiphanes (1Ma. 4:54). But only the Mosaic sanctuary of the tabernacle, with its altars and vessels, were consecrated by anointing (Exodus 30:22, &c.); nor is the expression used of a single article or holy vessel, but to the whole. The Church fathers understood Christ Himself to be meant. The old Syriac translation has introduced into the text the words, “Till the Messiah, the Most Holy.” Willet says: “This is Christ, prefigured and shadowed forth by the most holy place in the temple.” Calvin thinks it refers to “the entire restoration of the Church of God, on which He was to pour forth the fulness of all His pity at the advent of Christ; the privileges of the New Church being far better, more excellent and desirable, than those of the ancient one.” He, however, adds: “But Christ Himself is properly and deservedly called the Holy One of holy ones, or the Tabernacle of God, His body being the temple of Deity, and being anointed when the Spirit of God rested on Him with all His gifts.” Dr. Cox understands by the expression the Messiah, dedicated to His work, and made the priest of His people. Dr. Rule thinks of the consecration to some high office of a person worthy to be called The Most Holy—the Anointed. Hofmann applies it to the sanctification of the Church by the Holy Ghost; not, however, to take place in its predicted conspicuousness till the time of the end. Keil, from the want of the article, and the constant application of the term to things, not persons, thinks the reference is to the anointing of a new sanctuary or most holy place; and, with Kliefoth, understands it of the establishment, in the time of the end, of the new holy of holies which was shown to John in Patmos, as the tabernacle of God with men, a new place of the gracious presence of God, or a new way of His dwelling among men, opened up by Christ’s work of redemption. Dr. Pusey thinks the clause must be spiritual, as all else is spiritual. “Holy of holies,” literally, “holiness of holinesses;” i.e., all-holiness, be observes, is “a ritual term, used to express the exceeding holiness which things acquire by being consecrated to God. It is never used to describe a place, but is always an attribute of the thing, and, in one place, of the person who is spoken of (1 Chronicles 23:13). The destruction of the temple, as having been previously profaned, is the close of this prophecy.” Mr. Bosanquet, applying it to Christ, thinks that the anointing has reference only to the birth of the “Prince” of the house of David, and to His anointing to the kingdom, and not to either His priesthood or His ministry; the holy of holies being literally the most holy portion of the sanctuary of the Jewish temple, but here applied figuratively to the “Holy of Holies” of the spiritual Church of Christ; i.e., to the most holy portion of that spiritual temple of which Jesus Christ is the chief corner-stone, to the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Hengstenberg, following Hävernick, would make the expression applicable to the Messiah, as it is applied to Aaron and his sons in 1 Chronicles 23:13, under the idea of a most holy thing (Luke 1:35). Kliefoth, with whom Keil agrees, says that the most holy is not the place of the congregation where it comes to God and is with God, but where God is present for the congregation and manifests Himself to it. This, he says, apart from the connection, might refer to the work of redemption perfected by the coming of Christ, which has indeed created in Him a new place of the gracious presence of God; but in the connection of the clause it looks forward to the time when the work of salvation shall be fully carried through, in the return of the Lord from heaven for the final judgment.

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXV.—A REJECTED SAVIOUR (Chap. Daniel 9:26)

The view of Israel’s future, afforded to Daniel by the angel, like the pillar in the wilderness, presented both a bright side and a dark one. It assured Daniel of the coming of the long promised Messiah at a definite though still distant period, together with the blessed and glorious results that should follow His appearing It revealed, however, at the same time the awful fact that the Messiah when He came should not only be rejected by the mass of His countrymen, but should be put to a violent death. It declared, further, that, as the consequence of their wicked rejection of their King and Saviour, the city and sanctuary that had been rebuilt should be overthrown by a foreign power, and that war and desolation should be visited upon the land and the people until the appointed end. [276]

[276] Keil, analyses of the whole passage, gives, as who enters fully into the grammatical his conclusion, that in the seventieth week Messiah is cut off, and that in consequence of it destruction falls upon the city and the sanctuary.

The prophecy brings us to the great central truth of the Bible, and that which constitutes the foundation of a sinner’s hope. The same fact that formed the greatest wickedness of the Jews, and brought the heaviest judgments upon the land and nation, is that which brings life and salvation to a guilty world. It is the violent but vicarious death of the provided Saviour. “MESSIAH SHALL BE CUT OFF.” To the astonishment of angels who had studied the predictions regarding Him with deepest interest (1 Peter 1:12), instead of hailing and embracing their own and the world’s Deliverer when He came, after having for more than a thousand years been promised to their nation by a succession of prophets, and foreshadowed by numerous divinely appointed types, they, and especially their priests and elders, reject Him with scorn, anathematise Him as a blasphemer, and in bitter hatred demand that He shall be put to an ignominious and cruel death. They took Him, and by wicked hands crucified and slew Him (Acts 2:23). The prophecy brings before us—

I. The time of the solemn event. “After threescore and two weeks.” [277] As noticed in a former section, these prophetic weeks are doubtless the same as those mentioned in the preceding verse, as succeeding the first seven from “the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem;” thus making sixty-nine such weeks, or 483 years from the issuing of that edict. Although some uncertainty may exist as to which of the three or four possible edicts may be expressly referred to, yet it is a fact calling for deepest thankfulness, that exactly that period, according to accepted chronology, after the most probable of these edicts, brings us to the time when John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); or perhaps to the time when, three years and a half later, the Jews cried out concerning Him, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

[277] “After threescore and two weeks.” That is, says Keil, in the seventieth week, viewing these sixty-two as following the previously mentioned seven, and added to thenm, so as to make one entire period of sixty-nine weeks. These most interpreters understand as weeks of years, and consequently as making 483 years. After that period, without saying how long after, “Messiah was to be cut off.” Keil thinks that the “after” does not certainly imply that the cutting off should wholly fall in the beginning of the seventieth week, but only that it should constitute the first great event of it. This, Mr. Bosanquet thinks, would make up the third of those equal cycles of seventy weeks of years in which the people of Israel may be said to have fulfilled their previous destinies, viz., seventy such weeks (or 490 years) under the Tabernacle; seventy, including the seventy neglected Sabbaths kept at Babylon, under the first Temple; and seventy under the second Temple, even until the laying of the foundation-stone of the third Temple, not made with hands, in the time of Jesus Christ.

II. The event itself. “Messiah shall be cut off, [278] but not for Himself;” or rather, according to the marginal reading, “and He shall have nothing.” “Shall be cut off.” So Isaiah says, though using a different word, “He was cut off out of the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8). It is the word used for being cut off from among the people, or from the presence of the Lord (Leviticus 20:18; Leviticus 23:3). The angel says not by whom. Other prophets supply the information. “He is despised and rejected of men;” and more particularly, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner” (Isaiah 53:3; Psalms 118:22). The historian agrees with the prophet in showing not only that Messiah was cut off at the time indicated, but that He was rejected by His own people, and more especially by the “builders,” the priests and elders, who were the appointed and professed builders of the Church of God. “He came to His own, but His own received Him not.” “All the chief priests and elders took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.” “The chief priests and elders persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy, Jesus.” “Then answered all the people His blood be upon us and upon our children.” To the Jewish people Peter declared, “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life.” “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers” (John 1:11; Matthew 20:20; Matthew 20:25; Acts 3:14-15; Acts 3:17). In this rejection and cutting off of the Messiah, indeed, Gentiles were associated with Jews, “Of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27-28). The cutting off was indeed of God, whose love provided such a Lamb for a burnt-offering, when no other could take away sin; Jews and Gentiles, His betrayers and murderers, were the no less guilty and responsible instruments.

[278] “Be cut off.” יִכָּרֵת (yiccareth), in Keil’s opinion, does not necessarily point to the death of the Messiah, or the crucifixion of Christ; the root denoting to “fell or hew down,” to “cut to pieces,” and the passive form, here used, to be rooted up, destroyed, annihilated; and generally, though not always, indicating a violent kind of death, being the usual expression for the death of the ungodly (e.g., Psalms 37:9; Proverbs 2:22), without particularly designating the manner in which this is done. He thinks the right interpretation of the word depends on the meaning of the expression that follows, וְאֵין־לוֹ (ve-en lo), and that it denotes not the cutting off of existence, but the annihilation of His place as Messiah among His people. Dr. Pusey thinks the word, in the passive form, “shall be cut off,” never means anything but excision, death inflicted directly by God, or violent death at the bands of man; is never used of mere death, nor of a sudden but natural death; and is, after the Pentateuch, used absolutely and of national inflictions of destruction of which man is the instrument. He thinks it equivalent to the word used by Isaiah in chap. Isaiah 53:8. Œcolampadius thought the word did not refer to the death of Christ, as it indicates such a cutting off as to extinguish and cause to perish, which with Christ was not the case.

Let us turn aside and consider this great sight, Messiah cut off. The provided and promised Saviour, the mighty God in man’s nature, is rejected and made to suffer the death of a felon, a blasphemer, and a slave. Wonder, O heavens, at man’s depravity! But “the thing is of God.” While the act is that of their own free will, it is what His hand and His counsel “have determined before to be done.” Joseph’s brethren sold him; but it was God that sent him into Egypt, to save much people alive. Messiah must be cut off, or man must remain in his sins. He who is to save must suffer—suffer in the room of those whom he saves. Sin must be atoned for, if it is to be forgiven. Justice must be satisfied, if mercy is to bless. The woman’s seed must have his heel bruised, if he is to bruise the serpent’s head. The Son of God in man’s nature must die, if man is to live. The Blessed One must be cut off, if the accursed are to be restored. It is done. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. To save the sinner, it pleased the Lord to bruise His Son. Wonder, O heavens, at God’s love to man!
Messiah was cut off both by man and for man. By man. But how could such wickedness exist? The answer is not far to seek. The root of that wickedness is in the heart both of writer and reader. He who knows that heart has declared it to be “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” A sinful blindness occasioned by the Fall, unbelief regarding the testimony of God, pride, self-righteousness, love of the world and sin, hatred of a holy God and what is holy—these are the natural products of man’s wretchedly depraved heart, and these, yielded to, were sufficient to reject the Son of God and to murder the Saviour that God sent. And they still do so. The Saviour whom the Jews crucified, the Gentiles reject, and in rejecting Him trample on His blood. He is still despised and rejected of men. We still turn away our faces from Him. Though in Himself the chief among ten thousand, and for sinful ruined man everything that is to be desired, yet we esteem Him not.

And for man, “not for Himself.” [279] The marginal reading is better, “He shall have nothing;” literally, “There shall be nothing for Him.” In His being cut off, life and everything should be taken from Him. The world would have nothing whatever to do with Him. Perhaps these two short words pointed to the cry, “Away with Him, away with Him!” Or to the fact that, in His last hours, His very garments were taken from Him and divided among the soldiers that crucified Him. Or to that other fact, that after His death charity provided Him a winding-sheet and a grave. Or did they indicate that so absolute was the cutting off, that while the chief priests and scribes and elders mocked Him, and they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and the thieves who were crucified with Him cast reproaches in His teeth, His very disciples forsook Him and fled, and only one of them returned to take His stand at the cross? Or did they point to that still more awful abandonment, involving the soul and centre of the cutting off, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” This one thing the words may well suggest: “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” It was for man He was cut off, stripped of everything, and abandoned by all. There was to be nothing for Him, but everything for man. For Him the cross, and shame, and anguish, and death; for man, pardon, peace, holiness, heaven, and God. “For your sakes.” The ram was taken from the thicket and laid on the altar in Isaac’s place. This the essence of the Gospel. This the only foundation of our hope, and the true source of a sinner’s peace. We have a substitute provided by God in the person of His incarnate Son. This our joy on earth; this the song of the redeemed in heaven. “Thou west slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

[279] “But not for himself.” וְאֶין־לוֹ (ve-en lo) is rendered by Bullinger, Willet, Vitringa, Rosenmüller, Hävernick, and others, as in our English version, “not for himself,” identifying אַיִן (ain) with לֹא (lo) which Keil and Hengstenberg maintain cannot be done, notwithstanding the passages adduced by Gesenius as examples of the interchange. Keil, viewing the expression in its undefined universality, renders the clause, “and it is not to Him,” namely, the place which He as Messiah has had, or should have, among His people and in the sanctuary, but which, by His being “cut off,” is lost. Calvin renders the words, “He shall have nothing,” i.e., He shall die a contemptible death. Junius: “It shall be nothing to Him,”—death shall have no power over Him to stay His judgments. Roman Catholic expositors follow Jerome and the Vulgate: “He shall have no people or disciples,” as they were to reject Him. So Grotius and Auberlen. Œcolampadius refers the clause to Jerusalem: “It shall have nothing,” neither king nor priest. Vatablus has: “There shall be none to help Him.” Dr. Rule observes that the clause is most obscure, and apparently an imperfect reading, and thinks it safer, in the uncertainty regarding, it to let our Authorised Version remain unaltered. Dr. Pusey reads “there shall not be to Him,” i.e., as he thinks the context implies, the city and the sanctuary,—they shall be His no more; or, as he says in another place, “What hitherto was His,” viz., His people, whose Prince He heretofore was; the Jews as a nation having cut themselves off when they crucified Him.

III. The consequences of this rejection of Messiah. These are partly mentioned in the latter part of the verse: “The people of the Prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood; [280] and unto the end war and desolations are determined.” [281] So Jesus Himself foretold while He wept over the infatuated and doomed city. “If (Oh that) thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:41-44). History tells how sadly the prediction was fulfilled. Within forty years after the Jews had crucified their King and Saviour, the Romans under Titus—“the people of the prince that shall come”—invaded Judea, compelled by the infatuated Jews who took up arms against them in the belief that their promised Messiah would come to their help and deliver them from their heathen masters. After a protracted siege, both Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, notwithstanding the orders of the general to spare the beautiful and magnificent fabric. War swept over the land like a desolating flood. In the siege alone above a million perished by the sword, while nearly a hundred thousand were sold into slavery. Even after that protracted and destructive war was terminated, a desolating curse seemed to be poured upon the land. War followed war, as one Gentile nation after another invaded it. Jerusalem, according to the word of its rejected King, has been literally “trodden under foot of the Gentiles.” The Jewish inhabitants of the country were all but rooted out of it, and scattered over all the earth, “tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast.” Such in a large degree is what at this day still meets our view in that once favoured and glorious land, now and for centuries under the blighting rule, or rather misrule, of the Turks. Desolation and wretchedness meet you everywhere, with a few thousands of squalid Jews, still in unbelief and hardness of heart, located in four of the cities, or rather villages, and subsisting on the alms they receive from their brethren in other lands. The blood of their crucified King and Saviour has indeed, according to their own imprecation, been upon them and their children. Hitherto it has been on them as a people only for a curse; may the promised period soon arrive when it shall be on them for a blessing!

[280] “The end there of shall be with a flood.” Keil, with Kranichfeld, Hofmann, and Kliefoth, considers the end to be that of the hostile “prince,” here emphatically placed over against his “coming,” but regards that prince as not Titus, but the Antichrist who is yet to appear. Geier, Hävernick, Auberlen, and others refer it to the city and sanctuary, more especially to the latter, as the pronoun is masculine. Vitringa, C. B. Michaelis, and Hengstenberg regard the suffix in קִצּוֹ (kittso) as neuter, and refer it to the previous verb “destroy,” or the idea of destroying comprehended in it, “the end of it (or it shall end) in the flood;” a warlike expedition overflowing the land בַּשֶּׁטֶף (bashsheteph) “in or with a flood,” or rather, on account of the article: “in or with the flood.” Rosenmüller and others: “in an overflowing.” Steudel and Maurer: “with a certain irresistible force.” Others: “like an overflowing.” Keil remarks, however, that the article shows that a definite and well-known overflowing is meant, and, with Wieseler, Hofmann, and others, understands it of the desolating judgment of God, the article conveying an allusion to the flood which overwhelmed Pharaoh and his host. Dr. Pusey renders the clause: “The end thereof shall be with that flood,” the flood of war just spoken of. The Septuagint has: “They shall be cut off with a deluge;” and the Vulgate: “The end of it shall be ruin.” Junius understands the meaning to be: “The calamity shall be sudden, inevitable, and general.” Bullinger interprets it of “perfect desolation on the city.”

[281] “And to the end of the war, desolations are determined.” As no war has as yet been mentioned, and the noun מִלְחָמָה (milkhamah) is without the article, Keil, with Hengstenberg and many other interpreters, regards that noun as the subject of the clause, “to the end is war;” understanding the end to be, not as Hävernick and Auberlen think, the end of the city, nor, as Wieseler, the end of the prince, but as the end generally, the end of the period in progress, the seventy weeks; that is, war shall continue during the whole of the last week. The Septuagint and Vulgate, however, read the clause, “the end of the war.” So Rosenmüller, Ewald, Hofmann, and others. Dr. Pusey makes “war” along with “desolations” the subject of the verb “are determined,”—“unto the end, war and desolatenesses (are) decreed.” For the last clause the Septuagint has, “determined with desolations;” while the Vulgate reads as the English. Hengstenberg regards the clause as in apposition to war, “a decree of ruins,” the meaning being that the war and the decree of ruins will terminate only with the end of the object. So Auberlen, “decreed desolations.” Keil renders the passage, “Till the end war will be, for desolations are irrevocably determined by God,” the desolations including those which the fall of the prince, who destroys the city and the sanctuary, shall bring along with it.

Such, to the Jews, were some of the consequences of a rejected Saviour; and these are but a shadow of those which the eye cannot now perceive. Israel are now, and for eighteen centuries have been, suffering what they themselves call their “great captivity,” because they are reaping the consequence of their great sin, the rejection and crucifixion of their King and Saviour. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39). May the day speedily come when, with the veil taken away from their heart, this shall be the language of penitent Israel!

The section suggests two obvious topics for reflection.

1. The remarkable fulfilment of prophecy at an evidence of the inspiration of the Scriptures and the truth of Christianity. The verse before us contains three distinct predictions, each of which has received an obvious fulfilment.

(1) The Messiah when He came was to be rejected and cut off by a violent death;
(2) this was to take place at a certain definite period, nearly four hundred and ninety years after a decree from the ruling power to restore and build Jerusalem; and
(3) as the consequence of that rejection and cutting off of their Messiah, the Jews were to see the destruction of their city and sanctuary, and the desolation of their land for a lengthened and indefinite period. The fulfilment of each of these is obvious. The Jews as a nation rejected Him whom we know, and many among themselves have acknowledged, to be the Messiah. History leaves no room to doubt that this took place at the time predicted, the time at which the Jews themselves expected their Messiah to appear. And every one knows what happened to Jerusalem and the temple soon after, and what has been the condition of the country and the people these eighteen centuries, and still is to this day. Humanly speaking, such a state of things was in the highest degree unlikely. Such a treatment of the Deliverer promised to their fathers for nearly two thousand years, and eagerly expected by all the godly among them, was only to be accounted for on the ground of the desperate depravity of the human heart, and the secret purpose and plan of the Almighty thus to effect the redemption of the human race. More, surely, is not needed to convince any reasonable mind that such a prediction was from God, and that Jesus who was crucified is indeed the Saviour of the world, whose coming had been promised and foretold from the beginning. The words of Alfred Cave, in a recent number of the “British and Foreign Evangelical Review,” may be suitably quoted here. “How is that notable phenomenon of the Hebrew religion called Prophecy to be regarded as a datum on which to found the Spencerian theory of evolution? The reply afforded by the advocates of a theory of natural development is—by banishing from prophecy any idea of prediction. The question arises whether the idea of prediction can be dissociated from the Biblical idea of prophecy? This is firm ground. If there is a single instance of prediction in the Old Testament which cannot be adequately described as conjecture, then any such theory as the Spencerian is declared insufficient in its explanation.… Such facts as the adoration of the Magi, and the fulfilment to the letter of Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks, which might be augmented a hundredfold, provide incontestable proofs of the reality of prediction; and these facts receive a most impressive recognition from the laboured attempts of rationalistic interpreters to explain them away.”
2. The guilt involved in the rejection of the provided Saviour. What was it that consigned to the flames that magnificent temple which the Roman general did his utmost to spare; that overthrew that strongly fortified city which so long defied the power of the Roman army, and which Titus declare he could never have taken had not God Himself wrought with him in the siege; and that caused the Jews to be banished from their own land, and to be scattered over the whole earth, while that land lies desolate, even to this day? We have only to point to Calvary, and the cry that preceded it, “Away with Him! away with Him! Crucify Him! crucify Him!” Nor need we wonder. Had Jesus of Nazareth been a mere man, as the Jews wished to believe, and as some who are not Jews even still maintain, it would be, to say the least, unwarranted to connect these unparalleled and long continued calamities of the Jewish people with Calvary and the crucifixion of the Nazarene. He suffered death as a blasphemer. But if Jesus was what He declared Himself to be, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who shall one day come with the clouds of heaven, then the whole is clear. What tongue can describe the guilt of rejecting and crucifying the Son of God when, in His love, assuming man’s nature, He came to save a dying world? This was the crying guilt of the Jews. But what of the Gentiles? Have they not rejected Jesus? Are thousands and tens of thousands not rejecting Him now? The charge is too true. Even where a nominal and outward profession of acceptance of the Crucified is made, the life declares in too many instances that He is still in heart rejected. “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” Where the Gospel is preached and the offer of the Saviour is made, men must either believe and accept that offer and so be saved—saved from sin and all its consequences, and have peace with God, and be made new creatures—or, like the Jews, they must reject Him. The streets of Britain, the Sabbaths of Protestant England, the land of Bibles and of Gospel light and liberty, proclaim too loudly that the secret language of the heart is that which the lips of the Jews dared openly to utter, “We will not have this man to reign over us: not this man, but Barabbas. We have no king but Cæsar. Away with Him!” When, for the rejection of their King, the kingdom of God was taken from the Jews, the Gentiles were to have their time, and they have it now. Their rejection of the Son of God and Saviour of men is not winked at, although not now signally punished as in the case of the Jews. Individuals experience the blessedness of accepting and the misery of rejecting that Saviour. A day also has been foretold, and cannot now be far distant, when that same Jesus, who had been preached to the nations, “shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ.” Happy those who, having through grace cordially accepted Jesus as their Saviour and King, are in a condition to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXVI.—THE LAST WEEK AND ITS EMPLOYMENT. (Chap. Daniel 9:27.)

We have seen what was to take place at the end of the first seven of the seventy weeks, and did take place; also what was to happen after the second period, or other sixty-two weeks, and actually did so. The street and wall of Jerusalem were restored, and Messiah was cut off. The prophet seems to be further informed what was to take place during the remaining one week of the seventy determined upon his people and the holy city. This is related in the last verse of the chapter, and is given in three particulars.

I. The confirmation of the covenant. “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” [282] This is generally understood as referring to the ministry of the Messiah on behalf of His own people, and fulfilled in the personal ministry of Jesus and that of His apostles after His ascension into heaven. The Lord’s own ministry was confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and His apostles were commanded, after His resurrection, to preach repentance and the remission of sins through His name to all nations, “beginning at Jerusalem.” Their mission was, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:7). In the Gospel which they were commissioned to preach, and which Jesus Himself had preached before them, a covenant—the covenant of grace and peace—is tendered, and is established with all who believe and accept it. Its terms are: “Hearken diligently and come unto Me; hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:3). It is the covenant which takes the place both of that which was made with our first parents in Paradise, and that afterwards made with Israel at Mount Sinai. In both these cases the tenor of the covenant was, Obey, and live; in this it is, Hear, or believe, and live. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12; John 3:36). As distinguished from the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai, it is called the New Covenant; the former, based upon their personal obedience, having been broken and thus set for ever aside. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them (or, and I regarded them not), saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws in their inward parts,” &c. (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:8-12). In respect to mankind in general, it is the New Covenant as distinguished from and taking the place of the covenant made originally with man in Eden, which, like that made with Israel at Sinai, was broken, and its promised blessings forfeited and lost. “By man (the first man) came death.” “In Adam all die.” “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” This New Covenant has also a man for its head and representative—the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, with whom it is made in the name and behalf of His spiritual children whom He represents in it. With His perfect obedience He purchased its blessings, and with His blood, shed for the forgiveness of the transgressions committed under the first covenant, called therefore the blood of the everlasting covenant, He sealed it (Hebrews 13:20; Matthew 26:20). By the blood of that covenant, thence called Messiah’s covenant, His prisoners, or those for whom He acted, and who accept of and trust in Him for life and deliverance, are discharged from all condemnation (Zechariah 9:11). It is in virtue of that blood, or the atoning sacrifice of His death, that God can and does receive sinners into His favour and family. Those accepting this covenant and its blessings at the hand of Christ, and trusting in Him as their Surety, are therefore spoken of by God as “My saints, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (Psalms 50:5). Jesus, as He procured the blessings of this covenant by His obedience and sealed it by His blood, is thus made the Mediator of it, and has the administration of it committed to Him by Jehovah, who declares, “I have given Him for a covenant to the people” (Hebrews 8:6; Isaiah 55:4; Isaiah 42:6). As the Mediator of the covenant and the Covenant itself, He tendered it to sinners personally when He stood and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.” “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (John 7:37; Matthew 11:28). He did the same by the ministry of His apostles and disciples after He was taken up to heaven; and now does it through the instrumentality of His servants and people. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come” (Revelation 22:17). The covenant was thus confirmed by Messiah with many among the Jews for one week. We have to rejoice and praise God that when that week was over, or while it still lasted, He confirmed it with many among the Gentiles, and is graciously doing so to this day. May multitudes more among the Gentiles know the day of their merciful visitation, before their time also comes to an end!

[282] “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” Theodotion renders the words, “One week shall confirm the covenant to many.” So Hofmann,—understanding it to mean, One week shall confirm many in their fidelity to the faith. Hävernick, Hengstenberg, and Auberlen understand the Messiah as confirming the new covenant by His death. Ewald and the Rationalists only think of the many covenants which Antiochus made with the apostate Jews. Hitzig thinks of the Old Testament covenant which the one week should make grievous, הִגְבִּיר (highbir), to the faithful Jews who should suffer for their adherence to it. Keil thinks the subject of the verb is not the Messiah, nor the one week, “but the prince that shall come” (the Antichrist), who shall impose on the many—the great mass of the Jews, in contrast with the few who remain faithful—a strong covenant that they should follow him and give themselves to him as their God. Calvin understands the covenant of grace, confirmed through the preaching of the Gospel by Christ and His apostles with the world at large, the faithful Gentiles united with the Jews. Willet thinks the confirmation of the covenant includes both the preaching of it by Messiah and the sealing of it with His blood. Dr. Pusey includes the preaching of the Baptist. Mr. Bosanquet thinks the covenant is the two-fold covenant made with Abraham: (1) that in his seed, that is, Messiah, all the nations of the earth should be blessed; (2) that to Abraham, and his seed after him, all the land of Canaan should be given as an everlasting possession (Genesis 22:18; Genesis 17:7-8);—the “covenant and mercy” for which David prayed (Luke 1:17-18). He thinks also that the “one week” has a figurative reference to the Sabbath-week, a.d. 27–34, or seven years of covenant from the preaching of the kingdom of the Messiah, by John the Baptist to the Jews, until the calling of the Gentiles; or, literally, to the Sabbath-week, a.d. 65–72, or seven years of covenant, during which the Jews partially regained possession of the promised land of Canaan, and resisted the power of the Romans.

II. The termination of the legal sacrifices. “In the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” [283] This is generally understood of the abolition of the various sacrifices and oblations prescribed by the law of Moses, together with the whole of the Levitical worship. Jesus Christ, doubtless, pointed to this Himself when He said to the woman of Sychar, “The hour cometh when ye shall neither on this mountain (Gerizim), nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:21; John 4:23). Those sacrifices and offerings, with all that Mosaic system of ceremonial worship, were intended only for a temporary purpose, to serve as types and figures till Messiah, the true and only atoning sacrifice, should come, and introduce a spiritual worship. They were “a shadow of the good things to come,” and only “imposed until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 10:1). This cessation of sacrifices, therefore, as it could only take place when the one Great Sacrifice was offered, which alone could take away sin, so it must do so then. Accordingly, as a matter of fact, the sacrifices of the temple ceased entirely within forty years after the death of Jesus; and as if to put a sure and absolute end to them, the temple itself, where alone they could be offered, ceased to exist. As if to visibly and unmistakably connect the abolition of the ceremonial temple-worship with the death of Jesus the true Lamb of God, at the hour in which He expired on the cross, the veil of the temple which separated the most holy from the holy place, and through which none but the high priest could pass, and he but once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, was without hands rent “in twain from the top to the bottom;” the Holy Ghost thus signifying that the way into the holiest of all was now made manifest, and that free access to God was provided (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:19-20). This cessation of the sacrifices was to take place in the midst of the last week; and if, as appears likely, the sixty-two or rather sixty-nine previous weeks, or 483 years, expired with the baptism of Jesus, then this rending of the veil, which was the expression of it, must have taken place exactly in the middle of that week, or three days and a half (three years and a half) after its commencement, that being generally believed to have been the time that intervened between the Lord’s baptism and death. And it is remarkable that no attempts to offer sacrifices on Mount Moriah have been allowed in the providence of God to be made in all these eighteen centuries, or, if ever defiantly made, to be successful. [284] The only bloody sacrifice that Israel has since then attempted to offer is the cock, which, of course without the slightest authority, as the poor expiation for their sins, they kill at home on the Day of Atonement, which, in a way, they still observe. [285]

[283] “And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה (zebhakh uminkhah), the bloody and unbloody offerings, the two chief parts of sacrificial service, representing the Whole of worship by sacrifice. Keil understands the abolishing of such service for half a week by the ungodly prince or Antichrist, who is to come in the time of the end. Mr. Bosanquet thinks that the prophecy has reference, figuratively, to the death of Christ in a.d. 32; and literally, to the actual cessation of the morning and evening sacrifice and oblation on the 17th of the month Panemus or Tamuz, a.d. 70, as Josephus relates in his Jewish War, Daniel 6:2.

[284] Such an attempt was made by the Emperor Julian, the Apostate from Christianity. The workmen engaged in preparing the foundation of the intended temple were obliged to desist from their operations by extraordinary obstructions which they met with in their work, in the form, it is said, of balls of fire that issued from the place of excavation.
[285] It is said the reason why the Jews take a cock for sacrifice on the Day of Atonement is because the name of a cock in their language is also the name of a man, גבר (gebher); by a kind of fiction, therefore, it is viewed as taking the place of the offerer, who, as he kills it with various ceremonies, declares that he wishes it to be regarded as his substitute and sin-bearer, and as by its death making atonement for his sins, of which death is the legal penalty. The circumstance indicates the view that the Jews entertained of the meaning of sacrifice, the only true and natural one, the death of the victim being regarded as standing for that of the offerer who by sin has come under the penalty.

III. The continuance and increase of sin and unbelief with their baleful consequences among the Jews. “For the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate.” [286] The sentence is somewhat obscure, but the general meaning seems not difficult to apprehend. The great sin and abomination of the Jews was their rejection of their divine King and Saviour, and along with that their rejection of Him that sent Him. After the crucifixion of Jesus, that abomination, with others which it brought in its train, seemed not only to continue but to increase and intensify. There was “the overspreading of abominations.” Having crucified their King, they added to their sin by bitterly persecuting His followers; and not only blaspheming Him themselves, but compelling others to do the same. The Acts of the Apostles is a record of these abominations, which commenced immediately after the disciples began to carry out the commission of their ascended Master. “As they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead; and they laid hands on them and put them in hold unto the next day. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:1-3; Acts 4:18). On another occasion soon after; “The high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. And when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go” (Acts 5:17-18; Acts 5:40). Then followed in the same year the martyrdom of Stephen. “They gnashed on him with their teeth; then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city and stoned him.” One distinguished person among them, who kept the clothes of those who stoned him, “made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison.” Breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, and compelling them to blaspheme, Saul received, at his own desire, a commission from the high priest to go to Damascus and bring any he might find “of that way” as prisoners to Jerusalem. Him on his conversion they immediately laid wait to kill. The same spirit of bitter hatred and persecution spread through the provinces. At Antioch in Pisidia, the Jews “were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” (Acts 13:45). So the Jews at Thessalonica, from the same spirit, not only set the whole city in an uproar against the apostles, but followed them to Bersæa, and did the same thing there also. At Corinth they “made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment-seat” (Acts 18:12). Paul’s dark testimony of them in his letter to the Thessalonian Church was, that “they please not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved; to fill up their sins alway” (1 Thessalonians 2:15-16). What they became before their city was destroyed their own historian has recorded. Josephus, an eyewitness, declares that never city suffered such things, and never race of men, not even Sodom, were so wicked; and states it as his conviction that God brought all the evils on Jerusalem in consequence of their sins, giving them over to blindness of mind, so that they not only fought against the Romans but against God.

(6) The appalling and unparalleled calamities which he relates as overtaking his countrymen in the siege and in the war, we may regard as the beginning of that desolation which was to follow the overspreading of abominations, until the decreed consummation, even now still going on, should be poured upon the desolate. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings; but ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 24:37-39).

[286] “For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate.” This is variously rendered. For the first clause the Greek translation has, “On the temple shall be the abomination of desolations;” reminding one of Matthew 26:15. The Vulgate follows it: “There shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation.” Similarly the Arabic: “Upon the sanctuary shall be the abomination of ruin.” Dr. A. Clarke remarks that a Hebrew MS. of the thirteenth century, instead of כָּנָף (canaph), rendered in our version “overspreading,” and in the margin “battlements,” and literally meaning a wing, has the word היֹכל (hecal), temple. Houbigant has also, “In the temple,” &c., like the Vulgate. Œcolampadius, Bullinger, Osiander, &c., understood the word of the wings or pinnacles of the temple. Brightman reads, “Desolation on the wing of abominations;” observing that the “wing” is a military word signifying a troop or band of soldiers, such as the wing of the Jewish rebels when they took up arms against the Romans; and understanding the passage to mean, “When rebellion shall be added to abomination, and the people shall be ranked into wings, bands or troops—the wing of abominations being the troops of thieves and robbers, the zealots in the temple, though all the people conspired along with them—they shall make desolate by bringing ruin on their own heads and on the whole country.” Calvin understands the extremity or extension of abomination; and interprets it of “the profanation which occurred after the Gospel began to be promulgated, and the punishment which was inflicted on the Jews when they saw their temple subjected to the grossest forms of desecration, because unwilling to submit to the only begotten Son of God as its true glory.” Gesenius renders the clause, “On the pinnacle are the abominations of the desolator.” Hengstenberg prefers the word “summit,” i.e., the highest part of the temple, here called “abomination,” being so desecrated by abomination, as no longer to deserve the name of the temple of the Lord, but that of the temple of idols; the expression indicating its utter ruin: “Over the summit of abomination comes the destroyer.” Auberlen adopts the word “summit,” but in a different sense: “On account of the desolating summit of abominations;” adding that it is the aeme or summit of the abominations committed by Israel which, according to Stier, “draws down the desolation, nay, which is the desolation itself;” and that the worship of a people who have murdered the Lord’s Anointed, and only go on more obdurately in their self-righteousness and hardness of heart, is full of abominations. So Ewald: “On account of the frightful height of abominations.” Hävernick combines the local idea with the moral, understanding “the extreme heights of abominations” of the highest place that can be reached where the abominations would be committed, namely, the temple, as the highest point in Jerusalem. Keil objects to the reference of the passage to the desecration of the temple before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and, with some others, takes the word כָּנָף (canaph) in its ordinary meaning of wing: “On the wings of abominations he comes desolating;” the abominations being heathen gods, idol-images, and other heathen abominations; idolatry being the power that lifts upwards the destroyer and desolator, carries him and moves with him over the earth, that destroyer being the future Antichrist. Dr. Pusey translates: “And upon the pinnacle of abominations, a desolator,” understanding the abominations to be the moral ground why in God’s providence he came.

Let us make one reflection.
The verse before us exhibits the terrible consequences of abused privileges. To the Jews belonged the giving of the law, with its types and shadows of good things to come; and the service of God, with its temple, priests, and sacrifices; and the promises, including that crowning one, the promise of a Saviour-King; and the covenants, the old one at Sinai, and the new one promised in connection with the Messiah, tendered to them first by Christ and then by His apostles, and securing to them, on their acceptance of it, all the blessings of a present and an eternal salvation. These privileges, however, were abused. The law given to them they made their boast of without yielding to it the obedience of a loving heart which it required; and rested in its outward and typical observances, instead of embracing the substance to which they pointed. The promised Saviour, when He came, they rejected; and the covenant which held out to them the full forgiveness of their sins and the renewal of their nature, they refused, preferring to merit their acceptance with God by their own wretched works of a mere external righteousness. The consequence was that while a remnant accepted the offered covenant and entered into the enjoyment of all its precious blessings, the rest were blinded, and went on in the hardness and frowardness of their unbelieving hearts, adding sin to sin, not only refusing to accept Christ themselves, but doing their utmost to hinder others from doing so, and persecuting even to the death those who accepted Him themselves and sought to make Him known to others; till the measure of their iniquity being full, the threatened judgments of God came upon them to the uttermost, and from being the most favoured nation in the world they became outcasts from their own country and wanderers over the face of the earth, as we see them at this day; a beacon and a warning to the Gentiles, to whom their privileges were graciously transferred, to beware of similar unbelief and misuse of Gospel-mercies, lest a like judgment happen to them also. “Be not highminded, but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches (of the good olive tree), take heed lest He also spare not thee (who hast been only grafted in among them). For unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith” (Romans 11:20-21). The language that comes to us from that long desolated land, once the glory of all lands, and that long desecrated templeless mount, where Jehovah once had His abode, and that wretched remnant of the scattered nation, once God’s favoured people, the kings and priests of Jehovah, now unable to find a settled home or resting-place for the sole of their foot, is, “Behold the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness; if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” “To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart. If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 3:7-8; Hebrews 10:26-27)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 9". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/daniel-9.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.