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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 12". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ daniel-12.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 12". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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THE LAST THINGS.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standsth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. The rendering of the Septuagint is "And unto that place shall come Michael the archangel, who standeth over (ἐπὶ) the children of thy people; that day shall be a day of affliction, such as was not from the day when they were [presumably the Jews as a nation] till that day, and in that day every people shall be exalted whose name is found written in the book," reading עם כֹל instead of עמּךָ כֹל־. Theodotion's rendering is, "In that time shall stand up Michael, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people, and it shall be a time of affliction such as there has not been since there was a nation upon the earth till that time: in that time shall thy people be saved, every one who is written in the book." The Peshitta rendering is, "At that time shall stand up Michael, the great angel who is overseer over the children of thy people, and it shall be a time of affliction such as has not been from the days of eternity; there shall be delivered of the children of thy people every one who is found written in the book." The rendering of the Vulgate is in close agreement with the Massoretic text. The difference in the first clause between the text of the Septuagint and that represented by the Massoretic text and that of the versions which follow it is of importance. It is hardly possible to suggest any Hebrew word for the place which can have been suggested by עֵת, the word used here for "time." Both versions of the clause look like attempts to supply a link of connection which was awanting in the text before them. This supports our idea that the eleventh chapter is mainly an interpolation. It would seem that the Septuagint translator had before him a text having some derivative possibly of סלל, perhaps in the passive of the pilpel, which has no extant example. And at that time. The connection would naturally imply the time of the destruction of the oppressor—the king of the south. When he was cut off "without a helper" would be a time one would expect of joy, not of affliction. It may refer to the coming of the oppressor from Egypt with "great rage." If that produced the great affliction, what is the result of Michael's standing up? It seems as if the connection here were hopelessly broken; some dislocation has occurred. Michael the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people (see Daniel 10:21). "Thy people," this pronominal suffix only occurs once in the previous chapter, in the fourteenth verse, in a clause that does not harmonize with the context—a clause that we think is a portion of the missing vision of Daniel. Shall stand up. This, taken in connection with his function, means he shall come for the help of Israel. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation. This is certainly not what might be expected to result from Michael arising for the deliverance of the people of God. It certainly may be intended to explain the fact that Michael does "stand up." But in the succeeding verses we have no account of special deliverance being given to Israel. The natural meaning of this would be that from the time that Israel began to be a nation there had not been such affliction. It might mean that never since there were nations had there been such a persecution. Father of these interpretations would be true. Never in the history of Israel had there been such a persecution, because the attempt to force the people to worship Jupiter was met by a far fiercer resistance than that which met Jezebel's attempt to make Israel worshippers of Baal. The people were not then so permeated with love and honour to Jehovah as they were now. Further, there was more kindred between Baal-worship and that of Jehovah originally than between the latter and the worship of Jupiter. Baal means simply" Lord," and Jehovah seems to have been worshipped under that title (Hosea 2:16). A collateral proof of this is the fact that Saul named one of his sons after "Baal"—Eshbaal (equivalent to Ishbosheth), 1 Chronicles 8:3.1 Chronicles 8:3; and Jonathan also named his son from Baal—Meribaal (equivalent to Mephibesheth), 1 Chronicles 8:34. The plea might thus be advanced that Baal-worship was a revival of an ancient cult. Hence the persecution, severe as it was, would not be so severe as tinder Antiochus. Yet, again, the Greek intellect, keen and polished as it was, could persecute in a way more thorough and complete. If fiercer persecution for religious views could not have been at any earlier time in Jewish history, in no other country would there have been any persecution at all, because there would have been no resist-ante to the will of the monarch. Our Lord, in Matthew 24:21, has this passage in mind, and uses terms borrowed from it to describe the sufferings to be endured by the Jews at the hands of the Romans. when Jerusalem shall be besieged and taken. It is to be observed that while in Daniel the comparison is only with the past, in Matthew there is added a reference to the future, "No, nor ever shall be." Nothing, then, shall equal the appalling horrors of the siege and sack of Jerusalem. And at that time thy people shall be delivered. The mere fact of deliverance is mentioned, but the nature of the deliverance is not indicated there; cessation of persecution would not be deliverance, for only Israel was persecuted. The application of the phrases of our Lord have a totally different reference—the Jews perished, the Christians were delivered. There is here another evidence of dislocation. Every one that shall be found written in the book. There seems to be a faint reminiscence of this in Philippians 4:3, and a clearer in Revelation 13:8. Although "books" is here referred to, and referred to also in Daniel 10:21, yet the "books" are different. The "book" in the tenth chapter contains presumably an account beforehand of all that is to happen. This book is, so to speak, a register of the names of those who should stand through the fiery trial that was to try them and maintain their faithfulness. It is to be noted that the Septuagint makes this refer not to individuals, but to nations whose names shall be found written in the book. There seems nothing to justify such a reading.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. The Septuagint rendering is, "And many that sleep in the breadth (πλάτει) of the earth shall arise, some to life eternal, and some to reproach, some to dispersion (διασπορὰν) and eternal shame." These terms, "reproach" and "dispersion," are different attempts to render חֲרָפוֹת (haraphoth), "reproaches." The differences between the above and Theodotion are merely verbal; "dispersion" is omitted, χώματι, "dust," is instead of πλάτει, The rendering of the Peshitta is, "And many of those that sleep in the dust shall awake, some to life everlasting, and some to destruction and contempt of their friends for ever." The Vulgate has a somewhat singular version of the last clause, "And many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to life eternal, and some to contempt, in order that they may always see it (ut videant semper)." Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth. Sleep, as a symbol of death, is frequent, both in the Old Testament and the New: Psalms 13:3; Job 3:13; for the New Testament, Acts 7:20; 1 Corinthians 15:6. "Dust" is a common phrase for the grave: Job 7:21; Psalms 22:30; Psalms 30:10; Genesis 3:19. The reference here is to those who are not only dead, but buried. The phrase translated, "dust of the earth," literally means "earth of dust." The phrase is so singular that Professor Robertson Smith has suggested that instead of reading 'admath ‛aphar, we should read 'armath ‛aphar—aram in Arabic meaning a "cairn" or "mound." There is, however, as Professor Bevan remarks, no instance in Hebrew or Aramaic of such a word being in use. It is assumed that the reference here (Behrmann, etc.) is to the Jews alone; but for this assumption there is no justification. While, on the one hand, one cannot prove from this that others besides Israel shall partake in the resurrection; on the other, as little can we assert that "the Jews," at the period when this verse was written, excluded all but Jews. We cannot deduce that" many" here excludes "all." The idea suggested is rather multitudinousness. Shall awake, sores to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. This is a distinct reference to the resurrection of the body; it is those that "sleep in the dust" that shall thus "awake." It is to be noted that at the resurrection the condition of each is fixed frailly—it is to "everlasting life" and "over-lasting contempt" This resurrection is individual, not national, as shown by the contrasted fates. The doctrine of the resurrection is thus clearly stated. There is no need to examine how much the Jews of the time of the Maccabees understood of this doctrine. Isaiah 26:14-19, as clearly as does this passage, proclaims the same belief. Ezekiel 37:1-14 shows that resurrection was to the Israelites not such an incongruous or impossible idea as it was to the Greeks. But when is this? We might be led by the juxtaposition of this to the account of the sufferings of the Jews under Antiochus, to think that the writer believed the end of the world would take place immediately on the fall of Antiochus. But in the first place we must remember that we have not the vision given to Daniel; it has been replaced by the eleventh chapter. Further, the method of prophecy must be borne in mind. The future was made known in vision. If, as seems probable, distance in space from the apparent standpoint of the prophet represented distance in time from his actual or assumed chronological position, then, if the description of the vision proceeded from one side of the picture to the other, those things would be in close juxtaposition which were to be far removed from each other chronologically. Thus an astronomer may place in the same constellation stars inconceivably distant from each other—nay, may even unite as one binary star two suns, the one nearer the earth than the other by thousands of millions of miles. So our Lord correlates the destruction of Jerusalem with the end of the world. Moreover, the misery endured by the Jewish saints under Antiochus was a type of the sufferings of the people of God of every age.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. The rendering of the LXX. differs from this considerably, "Those who understand shall appear as the lights of heaven, and those that confirm my word as the stars of heaven for ever and ever." There seems to be a difference of reading in the first clause. Instead of yazheeroo kezohar, there seems to have been yayraro kim'ooroth. The verb used in the Massoretic text means really "admonish." The noun occurs only in Ezekiel 13:2. In the last clause, instead of הָרַבִּים (harabbeem), "many," the Septuagint has read דְּבָרֵי (deboray), "my words." It is difficult to account for the omission of the final םunless from the likeness of מto and )see Corpus Insc. Semit. characters) (see Corpus Insc. Semit.). Theodotion renders, "And they that understand shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and certain from amongst the righteous as the stars for ever and ever." The Peshitta rendering is somewhat paraphrastic, "Those that do good and are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and those who conquer many shall be lights, and arise as the stars of heaven for ever and ever." The Vulgate is in close harmony with the Massoretic text. The versions are superior to our Authorized, in having "those that understand" instead of "those that be wise." Bevan regards the wise here as the "teachers." There seems, however, no reason for such a restriction. The reading of the Septuagint in the opening clause of the second member of the sentence is inferior, as confirming or justifying the words of Daniel or of God is a simpler idea than that of turning many to righteousness. Further, there is a difficulty of fixing who is referred to by the prenominal suffix "my." Professor Fuller refers to Isaiah 51:11 for a parallel use of the hiphil of צָדַק; but there, as elsewhere, it means, not "turn to righteousness," but "justify," that is, "declare righteous." Yet the connection between the two ideas is close, and the forensic idea can have no place here. Matthew 13:43 represents a similar reward to the righteous.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. The Septuagint rendering in the last portion of the verse is totally different from the Masserotic recension, which is correctly rendered in our English version, "And thou, Daniel, hide the commands and seal the book till the time of the end, till many shall rave violently (ἀπομανῶσιν) and the earth be filled with unrighteousness." It is possible that יְשֻׁגּעוּ (yeshoogg‛oo), "were mad," was read instead of יִּשׂטְטוּ (yishoṭetoo), "ran to and fro." In the older script .מ was not unlike .ע Professor Bevan has suggested that instead of הַדָּעַת (hadda‛th), "the knowledge," the Septuagint translator has read הָרָעֹת (hara‛oth), "the evils," and thinks that this gives the Septuagint Greek. Were one, however, to render the Greek back into Hebrew, that would not be the form the words would take. It may, however, be regarded as a paraphrase. Theodotion's version is closer to the Massoretic, "And thou, Daniel, shalt guard (ἕμφραζον, ('make a fence round') the words, and seal the book till the time of the end, till many shall be taught, and knowledge shall be fulfilled." Theodotion here takes שיט as meaning, not "run to and fro," but "peruse carefully." The last clause somewhat justifies Professor Bevan's suggestion: רָבָה used to mean "fulfil" or "fill out." The Peshitta renders, "And thou, then, Daniel, seal these commands, render silent, and seal this book till the time of the end, and many shall inquire, and knowledge shall be increased." The Vulgate agrees on the whole with the Massoretic text. Shut up the words. The exact rendering of the words is "close up;" hence Theodotion's rendering "put a rampart round," the סָתַם (satham), means generally "to stop up a well;" e.g. 2 Kings 3:19; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Genesis 26:15. In Nehemiah 4:1 (7) it is used of stopping the breaches in the wall; only in Ezekiel 28:3 and Psalms 8:1-9 (6) is the word rendered, even in the English versions, "hidden;" but even in these cases that is not the necessary or even the natural meaning of the woful. These remarks apply also to Daniel 8:26. Seal the book. There is a question as to the force of this phrase. Does it mean, as Hitzig, Bevan, and the critical school generally maintain it means, that the book was to be hidden and concealed? This view, if correct, would certainly give a plausibility to the contention that the book of Daniel is the work of a falsarisu. We have seen, however, that the real meaning of the verb translated "shut up" is not "conceal," but "to shut up" with the view certainly of hindering access to them, but not at all with the intention of concealment. So the "sealing" here does not necessarily indicate concealment, but rather the conclusion of the matter with further idea of confirmation. The oracles of God are regarded as a spring of water; if we follow the figure implied in the first word used, the flow is stopped now; so far as this message is concerned, nothing more is to be drawn from the fountain. But a fountain may also be sealed (see So Daniel 4:12, "A garden enclosed, a fountain sealed"). In that case there is no idea of concealment. The book, then, of the prophecy is to be sealed against any change or addition. Even take the view of the critics, there is here no elaborate directions as to the concealment of the vision as we find in the case of the 'Assumption of Moses.' But further, we have no account of the finding of the book. Daniel was not like the 'Assumption of Moses,' the esoteric possession of a single sect, it was on the critical hypothesis soon known all over Palestine and Egypt. We know that the finding of the book of the Law in the reign of Josiah is narrated in 2 Kings 22:1-20. and 2 Chronicles 34:1-33.; but neither 1 Maccabees nor 2 Maccabees says a word about the finding of the Book of Daniel. Josephus also has no word of the discovery of Daniel, although he relates the finding of the book of the Law in the days of Josiah. There must have been no tradition of such a thing taking place, yet two centuries was not so long as to obliterate tradition. The sealing had metaphorical meaning—a book sealed, though it was visible to the eye, and was not hidden away—could not be read. If the key by which to interpret it is not granted, a book in cipher cannot be read (comp. Isaiah 29:11, Isaiah 29:12, "And the vision of all is become unto you as a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned." If the book were sealed that it could not be opened, the delivering of the book and the request to read it would be meaningless). Prophecy was delivered frequently in enigmatic language, and the meaning of it could only be grasped when circumstance supplied the key. To the time of the end. The end is not the end of the persecution of the days of Antiochus—that is already past; we have now reached the consummation of all things. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. This is to be looked upon as a description of the last time, when circumstance shall remove the seal from the book. The translator of the Septuagint has been led away by the idea of the time as one of sorrow. The verb, however, translated "going to and fro" may be rendered, as it is by Ewald, as "to peruse." The veil then shall be removed, the seals broken when men peruse the prophecy carefully, and knowledge is increased.
Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. The versions do not require remark, save that the Septuagint and the Peshitta do not repeat "river." The abrupt introduction of "two other' is another proof that the long eleventh chapter, as we have it now, is an interpolation. We must go back to Daniel 10:18 to get the person from whom these two mentioned are distinguished. The two new dramatis personae are, as Professor Bevan remarks, in all likelihood angels, and the river in question is the Tigris. In Daniel 10:1-21. Hiddekel is nahar; here the word used is yeor, a word very often used of the Nile, but not exclusively (see Isaiah 33:21). Hitzig asserts that יאֹר (y'or) is an Egyptian appellative, made by the Hebrews into the proper name of the Nile. The example just given disproves this statement, and from this false premise he deduces that the Book of Daniel was written in Egypt. They may be angels of countries. There seems nothing to justify the idea that Michael and Gabriel are the two here intended—the word "other" excludes this. The reason of this introduction of two angels is, Professor Bevan thinks, as witnesses to the oath of the angel. But an oath, to be binding, did not need witnesses; e.g. when David sware to Jonathan, there were no witnesses. Another idea may be hazarded—the Tigris may be looked upon as the boundary of the East and the West; and the two other angels may be the angelic guardians of these two regions.
And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? The Septuagint renderingis, "And I said"—reading אמר instead of יאמר—"to one clothed in fair linen (βύσσινα), which is above the water of the river"—the last five words being omitted from the Syriac of Paulus Tellensis—"When, then, shall the end be of these marvels which thou hast told me, and their purification?" The last clause, which does not represent anything in the Massoretic, is due to a confusion between אֶשְׁמַע, with which the next verse begins, and אַשָׁמַם. Theodotion's rendering is, as usual, closer to the Massoretic, "and he said to the man clothed in baddin, who was upon the waters of the river, When shall be the end of those marvels of which thou speakest?" Both the Greek versions insert "of which thou speakest." The rendering of the Peshitta differs slightly, "And they said"—a reading that one would be wishful to adopt if it had any probability in its favour—"to the man clothed in beautiful apparel, who was standing above the waters of the river, Until when shall the end of these things be?" The omission of "wonders" is to be observed. The Vulgate follows the Septuagint in making Daniel the speaker, "And I said to the man clothed in linen, who was standing over the waters of the river, When shall be the end of these marvels?" And one said. Aben Ezra makes this one of the two who spoke. This suggestion is the most natural, only the sentence is singularly abrupt, and favours the idea that there is an omission here. The LXX. and Vulgate, as we have seen, read, "I said." While the reading is an easy one, it is, as Professor Bevan remarks, against the analogy of Daniel 8:13. To the man clothed in linen. This man is mentioned in Daniel 10:5, presumably Gabriel. Which was upon the waters of the river. The reference may be to Daniel 8:16, where a voice comes to him from between the banks of the river Ulai. Here, not upon the waters of the river Tigris, but over them, was the appearance of the angel Gabriel. How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? One difficulty that strikes one is that there are no wonders foretold. That the rulers of Syria should war against the possessors of Egypt was not a marvellous thing. Professor Bevan, who holds that the marvels referred to are the events foretold, quotes Isaiah 29:14 as a parallel instance, but, though marvels are there mentioned, such marvels that all the wisdom of the wise should fail, etc; yet here nothing is told of the nature of these marvels. Had there been visions of symbolic animals, as in the seventh and eighth chapters, we could have understood these things being spoken of as marvels. The probability, then, is heightened that there have been omissions as well as insertions here. The time contemplated is the end, when judgment and resurrection are passed. It is, in fact, the question of the apostles (Matthew 24:3), "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. The Septuagint essentially agrees with this. It omits "man" in the first clause; has "water" instead of "waters;" adds "God" as explanatory of "him that liveth for ever;" it renders "scatter the power" by "loose the hands." Theodotion, while agreeing with the Massoretic text as to the first portion of the verse, differs very much in the end. He renders, "when the scattering is finished, they shall know these things." There is, as will be seen, no reference to the "holy people." His manuscript must have omitted "holy," for the rest may be explained by a false division into words, יד־עם being read ידעו The Massoretic reading is to be preferred. The Peshitta and Vulgate do not call for remark. When he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven. The lifting up the hand, in sign of making a solemn asseveration, is used of God himself (Deuteronomy 32:40), of Abraham (Genesis 14:22), of the angel in the passage in Revelation founded on this (Revelation 10:5). Here the fact that both right hand and left hand are lifted up to heaven gives greater solemnity to the act. And sware by him that liveth for ever. This title is ascribed to God in Daniel 4:34 (31); also in Deuteronomy 32:40; the idea is involved in the name Jehovah (Yahweh). The relationship between the oath and the ascription to God, on whose faithfulness its fulfilment depended, is obvious, The fact that the "man clothed in linen" thus "swears" implies that in some way he is the source of the determination of the period. This notion is involved in the whole spiritual scenery of the Book of Daniel; the angels of the nations are the agents under God for carrying out the decrees of providence. That it shall be for a time, times, and an half. This is a space of time repeatedly used in the Biblical apocalypses (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:14). In Revelation 11:3, the same period seems to be represented by twelve hundred and sixty days. In the present case twelve hundred and ninety days seem to be regarded as equivalent to the "time, times, and an half (Revelation 11:11). The divergency of interpretation comes to its height here. A great number of interpreters—not merely those of the critical school—maintain that "time" here is a literal year, and the days of the succeeding verses literal days, and that the period in question is that between the desecration of the temple by Antiochus's orders, and the setting up "the abomination of desolation" (1 Macc. 1:54), till the Jews were able to sacrifice once more in the re-consecrated temple (1 Macc. 4:52). This period, however, is only ten days over the three years from the 15th Casleu, 145 of the era of the Seleucids, to the 25th Casleu, 148. Or, if we take the date from the time that sacrifices to Jupiter began, till the re-establishment of the worship of Jehovah, it is then exactly three years from the 25th Casleu to the 25th Casleu. This period is not sufficient. Professor Moses Stuart gets over the difficulty by reckoning back from the cleansing of the temple to what he consider, the probable date of Antiochus's entrance into Jerusalem on his retreat from Egypt. This, however, is arbitrary, as the eleventh verse makes the terminus a quo the setting up of the "abomination of desolation," which occurred in 145, Seleucid era. Professor Bevan would reckon to the death of Antiochus. Of this event we only know it happened in 149, Seleucid era (1 Macc. 6:16). If the year began, as the Maceabaean reckoning seems to have been, with the month Nisan, it might be that approximately three years and a half was the time from the desecration of the temple to the death of Anti-ochua But the death of Antiochus produced but little change on the condition of the Jews. In the following year Lysias inflicted a defeat on Judas and besieged Jerusalem, and captured a portion of the city. To some extent we have anticipated our remarks on this text when considering Daniel 7:25. There are, however, peculiarities due to the fact that Aramaic, not Hebrew, is the language used in that passage. מוֹעֵד (mo‛ed), here rendered "time." is translated "congregation" most generally in the Peutatcuch. Sometimes it is "feast," and sometimes it is "season;" but if the word here means a definite period of time, it is the only case in which it does so, and it is a word that appears several hundreds of times in the Scriptures. We admit that the enumeration of days which follows renders the assertion that mo‛ed means here a "year," to some extent plausible, yet only plausible. But the next question arises—Even though we should grant that it means a year, are we to understand a literal year? We saw that the "weeks" of Daniel 9:1-27. are not to be taken literally, but as weeks of years, in which each day stands for a year; the contention of the traditional interpreters has then a justification from analogy in taking a mo‛ed, if a "year," to be one of three hundred and sixty or three hundred and sixty-five years. Not only is the extent of time indicated here extremely doubtful, but the terminus a qao is also. Although the writer of 1 Maccabees fixes the setting up the abomination of desolation, that is only his interpretation. Our Lord, on the other hand, refers it to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, which was a vastly more thorough destruction than that inflicted by Antiochus. The meaning of this period is not fixed yet. When he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people. Professor Bevan would change the reading here, as from the order of the Greek words in the Septuagint he deduces that the order in the text before the translator was different from that in the Massoretic text. He would render, "When the power of the shatterer of the holy people shall come to an end." Behrmann sees grammatical difficulties, but these are not cogent; but the argument for this change is weak. Yet we prefer, though with difficulty, Professor Bevan's reading. It makes the connection much simpler to take this solution, as the end of all things is not the scattering of the holy people, but their building up. If we had any authority from the versions we should be inclined to read מִכַּלוֹת instead of וּכְכַלּוֹת, and insert עַד before תִּכְלֶינָה, and thus would wish to render, "From the breaking of the power of the scatterer of the holy people till all these things are ended." This gives beth termini, but none of the versions gives any hint of such a reading. All these things shall be finished. As the resurrection is mentioned in the second verse, we might at once assume that this refers to the end of time; but Matthew 24:34, compared with 30, renders this conclusion doubtful.
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? The Septuagint rendering differs in a somewhat singular way from the above, "And I heard and understood not, especially about this time; and I said, Lord, what is the solution of this word, and what are those parables?" These variations seem due to glosses and paraphrase. Theodotion is in complete agreement with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta differs only by inserting "Daniel." The Vulgate renders the last clause, Quid erit post haec? "What will be after these things?" Daniel understood the words, but by hypothesis he did not understand the meaning of them. This exhibits the relation of the prophet always to the revelations given—his faculty of understanding was totally independent of the receptive faculty by which he received the revelation. If we assume this as representing a fact, then all arguments which are grounded on the meanings which the prophet himself might see in his words are beside the question. Since he does not understand, he appeals to the angelic messenger, who had declared so much.
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. The Septuagint omits the last clause, and completes this verse from that which succeeds, "And he said, Depart, Daniel; for the commands are veiled and sealed until many shall be tried and shall be sanctified." Theodotion renders, "Come, Daniel, because the words are fenced and sealed till the time of the end." The Peshitta and the Vulgate agree with the Massoretic. Go thy way, Daniel. This is a refusal to grant Daniel's prayer, but in the refusal no condemnation of Daniel is implied. The oracles were sealed until circumstance broke the seal. The purpose of prophecy was not to enable men to write history beforehand. It is to be a sign that, recognized in its fulfilment, may afford evidence of the Divinity of the message or person to whom it referred. Closed up and sealed. This verse gives us the real meaning of these words. Daniel's oracles were not concealed and sealed from being read, but because they were not interpreted they were not understood. For even to Daniel they are "closed up and sealed." Till the time of the end. This is omitted, as may be seen above, from the Septuagint. Although this has a satisfactory meaning, yet it seems better to connect this verse more directly with that which follows.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. As before observed, the Septuagint takes the first words of this verse and joins them to the verse preceding, omitting, however, one of the three stages of the process. The rest of the verse is, "And the sinners shall sin, and none of the sinners shall understand, and the wise shall attend." The version of Theodotion is longer than the Massoretic, "Many shall be chosen and made white, and tested, and sanctified; and none of the transgressors shall understand, and the wise shall understand." The additional stage is probably due to a "doublet." The Peshitta rendering is, "Many shall be chosen, and made white, and tried; and the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the sinners shall understand; but those that then do good shall understand." The Vulgate rendering is, "And many shall be chosen, and made white, and tried as by fire; and the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the learned shall understand." It is to be observed that all the versions take the hithpael of בָרַר and לָבַן as if they were the passives of the kal—a view that shows the grammatical influence of the Aramaic dialects. This verse as a whole is paraphrased in Revelation 22:11, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Many shall be purified, and made white. If we keep strictly to the meaning of the hithpael, we ought to render, "Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white," as the Revised renders. When men make a sincere effort after purity, then the Lord is ready to help them. John 7:17, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." Then, when men were thus striving after purity, would the meaning of Daniel's prophecy be made known. An age in which there is great religious fervour is never one in which men are conscious of prevailing goodness; on the contrary, it is one when men are conscious of prevailing evil in themselves and others. Hence the Book of Daniel could not have been written in the age of the Maccabees; by their very earnestness they would be conscious of moral and spiritual defects in themselves and others, and would not reckon their age one in which special revelations could be expected. Tried. The reference implied in the word used is trying by fire—after these saints have purified themselves they are tested by fire. But the wicked shall do wickedly. No amount of affliction will of itself produce purity. The northern tribes were oppressed by Hazael, but that did not work any change in them. The most striking example of this in all history is the siege of Jerusalem, The sufferings of the siege made the besieged more utterly lawless than before. Our Lord interprets a portion of this passage as referring to this siege. None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. This again repeats the doctrine that effort after holiness is necessary to understanding God's ways. The historical instance above cited proves the truth of the statement here. The Christians, who were the wise in the sense of those that considered and sought after God, understood the signs of the times, and left Jerusalem; but none of the wicked understood, and so perished in the fall of the city.
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. The Septuagint is, "From the time the sacrifice is taken away for ever, and the abomination of desolation is prepared to be set up, are a thousand two hundred and ninety days." The translator must have had עֹלַת (‛olath) before him, and read it עלָה (‛olah), else he could not have translated hsilgnE:egaugnaLתָּמֻיד} "for ever," and written "sacrifice" also. The Hebrew copyist, following the usage of Palestine, which makes "sacrifice" understood after "continual," had omitted it in the text followed by the Massoretes. Theodotion's rendering is, "From the time of the change of the daily sacrifice (ἐν δελεχισμός) and the abomination of desolation set up ("given," δοθήσεται) is a thousand two hundred and ninety days." The Peshitta and Vulgate do not call for remarks. This verse is a veritable cruz interpretum. From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away. This event is referred to in Daniel 11:31. Whether the eleventh chapter is earlier or later is in our opinion scarcely doubtful. Also in Daniel 8:11 we have the taking away of the daily sacrifice mentioned as one of the deeds of Antiochus. While the reference in Daniel 11:1-45. and Daniel 8:1-27. is to the action of Antiochus, it is not necessary to maintain that this refers to him; other oppressors might take away the daily sacrifice. This clause certainly seems to give the terminus a quo, but it is difficult to fix the date m question. Certainly from the fact that the words used here are used by the writer of the eleventh chapter to describe the actions of Antiochus, and that in 1 Macc. 1:54 there is also a similar identification, we might be inclined to take the event here mentioned as the starting-point of the twelve hundred and ninety days. But the acknowledged impossibility of fitting the days to the chronology militates against this view. And the abomination that maketh desolate set up. At first sight the reader is inclined to follow Wieseler, and regard this as a statement of the terminus ad quem. The grammatical difficulties against this view are forcible. Although לְ … מִן, "from" and "to," are sometimes used for עד … מִן, "from … until," it is rare, and the intrusion of וְ, "and," is strong against this interpretation. Yet it seems strange that two termini a quo should be assigned and no terminus ad quota. A thousand two hundred and ninety days. While this seems to be the same period as that reckoned in the seventh verse, "a time, times, and half a time," yet it is not absolutely coincident. It is thirty days more than three and a half times the prophetic year of three hundred and sixty, and eleven days more than three and a half mean solar years. As we have already said, if we take the profanation of the temple, 25th Casleu, 145 Seleucid era, as our starting-point, it is impossible to fix any great deliverance or any event of importance which happened some three years and seven months after. Antiochus may have died seven months after the news arrived of the reconsecration of the temple; but we have no data. As above stated, the death of Antiochus wrought but little alteration in the condition of the Jews. If we regard the days as literal days, there is one period that nearly coincides with the twelve hundred and ninety days—our Lord's ministry upon the earth. It is difficult to understand how our Lord's commencing his ministry was the removing of the daily sacrifice. Yet in the "heavenlies" it might be so. Further, we sometimes reckon "from" a period to come, as we can say, "We are yet—weeks from harvest, midsummer, or Christmas." So the Crucifixion as the fulfilment of all the sacrifices of the Law may be regarded as their removal. Certainly in his crucifixion was the real abomination which maketh desolate set up. It suits the next verse. From our Lord's crucifixion to his ascension there would be exactly forty-five days if, as is commonly believed, his ascension, as his resurrection, took place on a Sunday. This, however, is merely a thought thrown out. If we take the date indicated by our Lord, the war against the Jews, dating from Vespasian's march to Ptolemais in the beginning of a.d. 67 to the capture of the temple and the cessation of the daily sacrifice (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 6.2. 1), is not far off twelve hundred and ninety days. From this to the final capture of the city is close upon forty-five days. If we, however, take a day for a year, then another series of possible solutions are before us, all more or less faulty. One has the merit of postponing the solution to a date still future. The capture of Jerusalem by the Arabs in a.d. 637 is made the starting-point; if we add to that twelve hundred and ninety years, we have a.d. 1927. The Mohammedan power may have fallen by that time; anything may have happened then. All these various solutions, all more or less unsatisfactory, prove that no solution is possible. If the fulfilment is yet in the future, circumstances may convey to us the interpretation. We must remember the vision was sealed to "the time of the end." Professor Fuller suggests that Babylonian discovery may at some future date throw light on Daniel's use of numbers.
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. None of the versions occasion any remark. Blessed is he that waiteth. It might be rendered, Oh the blessednesses of him that waiteth! This implies that forty-five days or years after the unknown event that terminates the twelve hundred and ninety days, another event of yet more surpassing interest, and fraught with yet greater benefit, shall occur. It seems most natural to regard this period as including in it that which precedes, though there is no grammatical reason why this period should not commence at the expiry of the twelve hundred and ninety days. In the latter case we are fully more at sea than before.
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. The Septuagint Version here differs considerably from the Massoretic, "Go thy way and rest, for there are days and hours till the fulfilment of the end; and thou shalt rest and arise to thy glory at the end of days." Theodotion closely resembles the LXX. in his rendering of this verse, "But go thou and rest, for there are yet days and hours to the fulfilment of the end, and thou shalt arise in thy lot at the end of days." The Pesbitta renders, "Go, Daniel, to the end, rest and arise at thy time at the end of days." The Vulgate agrees with the Massoretic text. As to the additional clause which appears in the version of the LXX. and in Theodotion, Origen has appended the mark which indicates that these words were only found in the LXX; or, at all events, had nothing corresponding to them in the Hebrew text of his day. Go thou thy way. Daniel is dismissed in peace, without having his question answered. Before Daniel was a course, and on that course he was to go, without occupying his thoughts with this secret thing. There is no word for "way" in the Hebrew or in any of the older versions. Till the end. The versions transpose this clause with that which follows. "The end" is not naturally the end of Daniel's life, for that ought to be "thy end;" still, the next clause seems to necessitate this. Hitzig would interpret the word qaytz as "goal" (ziel); but it is not the usual meaning of the word, and is not so used elsewhere in this passage. Professor Robertson Smith's suggestion, that the word קֵץ (qaytz) is due to a mistake of a copyist, who has inserted it wrongly, is worthy of consideration. For thou shalt rest. This is rendered by Hitzig, "und magst ruhig sein"—"and you may be at rest." The fulfilment of the prophecy was fur a time long future, and Daniel need not disturb himself. Against this interpretation is the fact that the verb נוַּה (nuah), here translated "rest," never has the subjective meaning which Hitzig here attaches to it. The natural view is that of Ewald and most interpreters—"rest" in the grave. And strand in thy lot at the end of the days. In Jeremiah 13:25 "lot" is used for what is assigned by the judgment of God. "Standing in the lot" primarily suggests one taking possession of what has been assigned by Divine judgment. It is objected by Hitzig that the verb "to stand" does not mean to rise from the dead, which is true; but the connection necessitates this meaning, and as the idea of resurrection had not received theological definition, no technical word would have the exclusive claim to be used. Even now we do not always use "resurrection," and in poetry rarely do. "The end of days" must mean the end of time after the resurrection.
I. THERE WILL BE A RESURRECTION. For us the Jewish notion of a resurrection is equivalent to the idea of a future life.
1. The yearning for a future life is involuntary and apparently instinctive; the belief in a future life is almost universal amongst people in all degrees of civilization, and with all varieties of religion; the need of a future life for the execution of justice and the development of the hopes and promises of this life is such that we might expect a righteous God to secure it. Providence would be a mockery if it permitted the holiest aspirations of the most spiritual men of all ages and creeds to grow to noble fruits by feeding on one huge delusion (1 Corinthians 15:19).
2. In addition to these presumptions in favour of a future life, we have the following direct evidences:
(1) Scripture, backed up by the three of all that goes to prove its inspiration and truth, plainly teaches that there will be a resurrection, and this with a development of clearness and positiveness which is parallel to that of self-evidencing spiritual ideas.
(2) Jesus Christ taught the same. To reject this teaching, we must believe that our Lord was in complete error on one of the most fundamental doctrines of his religion (Matthew 22:23-33; John 11:25, John 11:26; John 14:2).
(3) The fact of the resurrection of Christ—amply established on historical evidence which is irresistible when once the supposed presumption against it founded on the testimony of experience in regard to miracles, is balanced by the presumption in favour of it founded on grounds of moral and religious truth—is one instance sufficient in itself to prove that there is a life beyond the grave.
II. THE RESURRECTION WILL RESULT IN A JUDGMENT AND DIVISION OF DESTINIES.
1. It will be an occasion of revelation. Men's past history will be rehearsed, their secret thoughts exposed, their true character made known (Romans 2:16).
2. It will result in justice to all. Now we see justice hindered and delayed, so that the wicked often prosper and the righteous seem to fail (Psalms 73:3). Then men will receive according to their deserts (Psalms 83:17). To those, however, who have repented and sought forgiveness and newness of life in Christ, the justification will consist, not in their meritorious works, but in their faith in the grace of God (Romans 4:5).
3. The conditions of life thus brought about will be seen to be the natural fruits of the life on earth. The judgment will really only bring to light inevitable natural processes. Its results will be the development of natural law—the fruit-bearing of character (Galatians 6:7, Galatians 6:8).
III. THE RESURRECTION WILL ISSUE IN TWO MAIN COURSES.
1. Eternal life. Life is the issue of godliness—not indolent rest, nor selfish pleasure, but glad, restful living. This implies not only continued existence, but
(1) the exercise of faculties and energies;
(2) growth and development—larger being, increased knowledge, nobler activities (1 John 3:2);
(3) nearer communion with God, who is true Life and the Source of all life (John 17:3).
2. Eternal shame and contempt. This implies suffering—spiritual, but most bitter. It is the. degradation of life as opposed to the fuller development of life in God's people. This is more terrible than physical torture (Isaiah 66:24). Note:
1. It implies continued existence—not annihilation—and also the preservation of conscience. The lowest degradation is where conscience is extinguished, and shame becomes impossible.
2. The eternity of the suffering implies, at least, its duration beyond any known bounds. Such a prospect is unspeakably awful, whatever the consideration of other aspects of truth may suggest in regard to the final issues of all punishment.
Stars of the Church.
Though all godly men will be called to eternal life at the resurrection, a special honour is reserved for those who evince practical wisdom in spiritual fruitfulness.
I. TRUE WISDOM IS SEEN IN SUCCESS IN "TURNING MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS?" The wise and those who are thus successful are plainly identified in the text.
1. True wisdom will choose this as the noblest work. Men have various aims, as pleasure, pecuniary gain, power, fame, rank, self-culture, etc. The noblest aim is to seek to do good to others, and the highest good we can do is moral good. Hence the mission of the spiritual physician takes the first place among all vocations. It is the most Christlike. The neglect of this work for the propagation of barren dogmas, the promotion of sectarian tenets, the extension of ecclesiastical influence, or the mere intellectual culture of theological notions, is a proof of folly. The wise man will see that the work of the Christian teacher is practical and spiritual rather than intellectual and theoretical. It is to persuade men to turn from sin to God and goodness (2 Corinthians 5:20).
2. True wisdom is requisite for the successful execution of this work. God has left this to be dependent on the zeal, energy, and wisdom of his Church (2 Corinthians 4:7). Wisdom is needed
(1) to detect the red needs of men, for spiritual diagnosis;
(2) to understand the spiritual truths of the gospel, in which are to be found the means of conversion to righteousness; and
(3) to choose the right way of approaching, teaching, and persuading men, that wise words may be spoken seasonably (Proverbs 15:23). This wisdom is a spiritual gift, which is to be sought in prayer (James 1:5).
II. THE WISDOM WHICH IS SHOWN IN SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION TO RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL BE REWARDED WITH PECULIAR HONOUR.
1. Though all true Christians will be saved from ruin, and blessed with the heavenly inheritance, all will not be equally honoured. There will be differences of rank and honour in heaven (Luke 9:17-19).
2. Though we shall not be received into heaven on account of our own desert, but through the free grace of God (Ephesians 2:8), our relative place and honour in heaven will be determined according to our merits (Matthew 5:19). Indolent and selfish Christians must take a lower place than that of self-denying, diligent servants of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 3:15).
3. The chief honour of heaven is reserved for those who have been wise in effecting the conversion of souls to righteousness. It is true that we are ultimately responsible for fidelity, not for success (Revelation 2:10). But failure often arises from unfaithfulness. We have no excuse for not having the wisdom which is the free gift of God, and may be possessed by those who are humanly accounted foolish (1 Corinthians 1:21-24). Successful missionary work receives especial honour, because it requires the greatest self-sacrifice, faith, zeal, and love; because it secures the most important good for mankind; and because it glorifies God supremely.
4. This honour consists in shining brightness, as
(1) a public recognition of worthy service;
(2) the possession of true beauty and gladness of soul;
(3) the means of still directing and attracting others in the way of right (Matthew 5:16).
Progressive knowledge of Scripture.
The treatment of one of Daniel's prophecies which is here referred to may be applied to all the prophecies of the Bible, and to the higher truths of Scripture generally.
I. THERE ARE MYSTERIES IN ALL REVELATION, "The words are shut up" and "the book is sealed." Revelation, while it clears up some mysteries, presents new ones. It is full of dark places, unfathomable depths, suggestions of endless truths.
1. All is not clear, because we cannot yet understand all; if it were made more clear, we might only misunderstand it and so fall into the error. Revelation is open to us only so far as we have capacity to receive it (Psalms 109:18).
2. There is a Divine reserve, because we are not morally fit to use all truth (Matthew 7:6). There are truths which we should degrade if we had not the spiritual capacity for the right use of them. This may apply to some questions concerning the ultimate destiny of man.
3. Some truths may be concealed for the present, because the special use of them is for some future time. Now they might only amuse our idle curiosity, and distract our attention from more practical concerns. At "the time of the end" they will do valuable service. This may be the case with revelations of the millennium.
II. REVELATION MUST BE SEARCHED IN ORDER TO BE UNDERSTOOD. "Many shall run to and fro," traversing the book, and comparing its several sayings in order to see their full meaning. So must we do with Scripture (John 5:39; Acts 17:11). There are truths so clear that the most foolish can understand them (Isaiah 35:8); and all men can practise them without hesitation (Habakkuk 2:2). But there are large and deep truths which must be sought to be found.
1. When truths are thus obtained, they are better understood and more valued than when they are learnt without effort.
2. The very act of searching is a useful exercise of patience, zeal, and spiritual thoughtfulness.
3. Experience proves the success of this method of learning truth. The difficulties of Scripture attract thought. Scripture is a mine of inexhaustible treasure. Men run to and fro through it now more than they ever did, and its truths are fresher and brighter than ever (Matthew 13:52).
III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF SCRIPTURE IS PROGRESSIVE. The knowledge is increased. Scripture repays the searching it calls for.
1. Experience increases the knowledge. History illustrates revelation. Providence explains Scripture. Thus gospel history explains the deeper spiritual truths of Messianic prophecy.
2. Our own spiritual growth leads to the increase of knowledge. Scripture contains more to the advanced Christian than it does to the young disciple of Christ (John 7:17).
3. The progressive life of the Church leads to enlarged knowledge of Scripture
(1) by accumulation of experience, thought, and study of the Bible;
(2) by the correction and mutual criticism of various minds in different ages;
(3) by improved methods of inquiry superseding the errors of patristic exposition and scholastic theology.
I. ALL EARTHLY THINGS HAVE AN END. This world is marked by change, All things are temporary and transient. But the order of change itself will change. The whole present system of life will pass away. Life is a process, a preparation, a series of changing events which is to end and give place to an entirely different order.
1. Pleasure will end; therefore live for higher interests.
2. Sorrow will end; therefore be patient and hopeful.
3. Temptation will end; therefore be brave.
4. The opportunity for work will end; therefore be diligent now (John 9:4).
5. This life will end; therefore be prepared for the life beyond.
6. This world will end; therefore take account of the other world in judging of the mysteries of present Providence.
II. WE ARE ALL CONCERNED WITH THE END.
1. Though the world passes away, we remain. The soul's life outlasts all earthly things. It is therefore of great moment to us to be right for the end.
2. The end is the most important thing to be considered. We all work for ends. Passing things are used as means to obtain some end. We have not yet rest and satisfaction. We look for such blessings at the end of life (Micah 2:10).
3. The character of the end will determine our estimate of present things. We value the process according to our estimate of the result. If it is right, at the end the hard and dark questions concerning things as they are may be waved. "All is well that ends well" (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
III. THE END IS PARTLY HIDDEN, PARTLY REVEALED.
1. The principles of government which determine the end are revealed; the moral conditions of the end are made known. We cannot plead ignorance as an excuse for negligence. Enough is revealed to guide and urge us in the right way (Matthew 7:13, Matthew 7:14), and to cheer the Christian with boundless hope (1 Corinthians 15:24, 1 Corinthians 15:25).
2. The external condition, the detail of events, the destiny of individual souls, and the final issues of eternity, are not revealed. Therefore we walk by faith.
IV. THE END IS ALL KNOWN TO GOD. God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). It cannot surprise him. It cannot frustrate, but can only fulfil, his purposes.
1. It is foolish as well as wicked to expect to reach a happy end by opposing God's ways, since the end is with him.
2. If we are fallowing in his ways, we need have no fear for the end. He will provide the best that infinite love can give (John 14:2).
In view of the end.
Daniel is the apocalyptic prophet of the Old Testament. To him, more than to any other man, were given visions of the vast future and the destined end of the present world. Such revelations must have made a deep impression on the man himself. The right use of that impression is here indicated.
I. IN VIEW OF THE END WE SHOULD LIVE OUR PRESENT LIFE QUIETLY, FAITHFULLY, AND PATIENTLY. The vision of the end is not to distract our attention from present duties, but rather to inspire us for them. The neglect of practical Christianity for millennarian speculations is contrary to the purpose of revelation. The idea that we must omit any earthly duty in order to be ready for heaven is a delusion. He is most fit to die who is most fit to live. He who does his work best here is most ready for his rest hereafter. And he who feels most truly the power of the world to come will serve most faithfully in the present world.
1. We should be simple and calm. The true view of the end is not disturbing and exciting, it brings before our mind visions of rest and peace, the anticipation of which should impart a quiet simplicity to our spiritual life.
2. "We should be faithful to our mission." "Go thy way"—do not go out of thy vocation. Serve God there. Prepare fur the end in thy natural condition. If the end is thought of, it should inspire the more earnestness in present work, because
(1) this is a preparation for the end;
(2) we are cheered in this by the prospect of the end. We can walk with more energy and gladness if we know that in going our way we are nearing light and home and rest.
3. We should be patient. Daniel is admonished to go on his way till the end. This implies patience. He that thus "waiteth" is blessed (verse 12). We do not know when the end will be. We cannot expedite it. It is best that it should delay till God's time. Since his time is best, impatience is foolish.
II. A SUFFICIENT REVELATION OF THE END IS GIVEN TO US FOR GUIDING OUR COURSE HERE ARIGHT. We need have no feverish anxiety about the future if we are truly Christian. Though there is much mystery, there is light for guidance and encouragement. This reveals important facts, viz.:
1. There will be rest—the rest of the grave (Job 3:17), and the sleep in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
2. There will be a resurrection. Daniel will awake from the sleep of the grave to "stand in his lot" (verse 2). This is confirmed by the teaching (John 5:28, John 5:29) and example of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:12). Whatever may be the external conditions of the resurrection, the essential fact is life after death, with the possession of all our powers and faculties.
3. There will be a discriminating allotment of destinies in the future life. Daniel will stand in his tot. Every man will go to "his own place" (Acts 1:25). The place is first determined
(1) by merit;
(2) by fitness;
(3) by the natural development of the future out of the present (Galatians 6:7);
but finally assigned according to the righteous judgment and forgiving grace of God (Acts 17:31),
HOMILIES BY H.T. ROBJOHNS
The shining of the clear and the converting.
"And they that be wise shall shine" etc. (Daniel 12:3). Here are two types of humanity and two destinies. There is a likeness both in the types and in the destinies, such as we might expect from the parallelism of the text; at the same time, there are differences. The one type is in advance of the other; so is the Divine recognition in the one case as against the preceding. In the one case we have an attribute of soul, in the other an activity. The first is followed by a radiance like that of the open sky; the second, by a brilliance like to that of the stars.
I. THE CLEAR. Turn to the Hebrew, and it will soon be seen that the essential idea in the word translated "wise" is that of a clear eye with a clear outlook. Cleave to this idea, and let it determine our description of the character here set before us. In such a character:
1. The soul is clear. Not absolutely here on earth, but relatively in contrast with the former state. Transparent. Pure (Matthew 5:8). No moral taint of such a kind as to destroy the vision of spiritual and eternal things (John 8:12).
2. The eye is clear.
3. The atmosphere is clear. (Ephesians 5:8.)
4. The objects of choice are clear. In time; in eternity.
5. The choice of means is clear. All the present is subjected to the future. Herein lies ever true wisdom.
II. THEIR SHINING. Perhaps the text refers mainly to the shining of immortality. We may bear in mind that the shining of the clear-seeing saint—of the saint who is indeed a seer—is not a question of time or place, of aeons or worlds, but one of character. The shining will then be here as well as there. How, then, does the saint shine? Of what sort is the radiance of the open day-sky? The light of the sky is:
1. Brilliant. No light in all the landscape can exceed the brilliance of the sky. No light in all the world of intelligence and morals can exceed that of saintliness.
2. Soft. No element of pain in it.
4. Victorious. Clouds may dim the face of the sky. So calumnies, misunderstandings, imperfections, failings, may obscure character. But the light shines through the cloud, and continues after the cloud has passed away.
5. Ministering. The sky is like an angel of God in the sweetness and beauty of its service. What relief to the sick and to the nursing, who out of their lattices watch for the morning! What cheer to the strong! What health! Sunlight is health. The sun arises with "healing in his wings." So the "Sun of Righteousness." So they that are like him. What power to work! The sky holds, as it were, the candle to every worker on earth. How we value dying daylight! So wistfully watch we the expiring radiance of the saints we love.
6. Borrowed. Not its own, but the sun's. So the light of the saints is not theirs, but God's.
III. THE CONVERTING. In order to preach truly and intelligently from this passage, the following points should be observed: "They that turn to righteousness" is the translation of a single word in Hebrew—a verb, of the hiphil conjugation, participial form, plural number, construct case. The verb means "to be right or righteous;" in the hiphil conjugation, "to make one right or righteous." Here, then, we have the activity of the saint, going forth in this form of instrumentally making men righteous, implying a turning away from wickedness, and doing this in the case of "many." Turning the sinner to God, so as to be "justified by his grace," would not exhaust the meaning; it goes beyond that, to the securing at least the elements of personal righteousness in him. How can we instrumentally convert?
1. By luminosity of life.
2. By word from the lip. Not necessarily a pulpit-word or a class-word, but a friendly word, and that of the simplest kind.
3. By unconscious co-operation with others. Henry Martyn never knew that he was the means of converting a single soul; but he translated the Bible into Persian, and prepared the way for others. "They that sow, and they that reap, shall rejoice together."
4. By prayer.
5. By gifts of money sustaining the labours of others.
IV. THEIR BRILLIANCE. "As the stars for ever and ever." Here we have some of the ideas we had before, but with variations, additions, and enlargements. Without becoming pedantic, we make use legitimately of the richer knowledge astronomical of our time. In the destiny of the active aggressive worker we have:
1. An intense brilliance. Strictly, daylight is more brilliant than the light of stars; for it obscures it by day, or rather outshines it. But this would not be the popular impression, and on that this Bible-text is based.
2. A diversity of splendour. "One star differeth," etc. Not only the most eminent workers are to shine, but others in their proportion and degree.
3. A distinguishing separateness. Think of the distinctive glory of each worker. Here it is not difference of degree, but of type and kind; e.g. Martin Luther, George Fox, Madame Guyon, Elizabeth Fry, etc.
4. Yet oft a clustered glory. In appearance the stars congregate in clusters; in actuality are marshalled into systems. The fellowships of earth, of heaven. A unity of power.
5. A growing radiance with nearness of view. "'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view" has no application here. The stars are suns whose magnificence dawns with our approach. So with the glorified and consecrated in the Church.
6. A ministration of light and heat and life.
7. A subservient splendour.
"For ever singing as they shine,
The hand that made us is Divine."
8. A brilliance unlike that of the stars. Their light does now oft go out. The light of all may fade and die. But these saintly workers shine on "for ever and ever."
Many motives to Christian service may be urged; but here behold its supreme attractiveness! Contrast with this that other destiny (Daniel 12:2), "Shame and everlasting contempt."—R.
Precept and promise.
"But go thou thy way," etc. (Daniel 12:13). From Daniel 12:4 to the end we have the epilogue to the last vision of the book. In the epilogue are many interesting matters, which will no doubt be developed in the Exposition. We here lay hold of the closing words of all, suggest them for homiletical treatment, and indicate their meaning. No more than this.
I. A PRECEPT. "Go thou thy way till the end be." Here the old man of near ninety years is bidden to continue in the path of well-doing until death; for that is "the end" referred to.
II. PROMISE. Threefold. Of:
1. Rest. In the grave. After that long, toilsome, noble life.
2. Resurrection. תָּקוּם־תַּעֲטוֹד: To rise up from the rest of the grave.
3. Inheritance; i.e. with the saints in light. "Lot" has primary reference to the inheritance of Israel in Canaan; and so secondarily to the antitype, Heaven.—R.
HOMILIES BY J.D. DAVIES
Prophetic events in perspective.
Nature is full of types. The leaf is type of the tree. The dawn is a type of the resurrection. The same law that moulds the dew-drop moulded the earth. History likewise is full of types. The banishment from Eden is a type of exclusion from heaven. The redemption of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage is a type of the redemption of the race by Jesus Christ. Both prosperous and adverse events in human history serve as types. This is the key to the present paragraph in Daniel.
I. RIGOROUS TRIALS FOR ISRAEL APPEAR IN THE VISTA OF THE FUTURE. Not only are great deliverances pre-announced, but great disasters also. It is thought by some persons that it is of no advantage to discern the approach of trial. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Every earthly battle is a symbol of the decisive battle between good and evil—between Christ and Satan. The time of trouble which the angel predicted was a fitting type of the time of trouble which Jesus Christ predicted, viz. the overthrow of Jerusalem. Of each it might truly be said, as each arose to view, "it was a time of trouble," such as had not hitherto been known.
II. SEVERE TRIALS BRING TO LIGHT SUPERIOR SOURCES OF HELP. Had it not been for the captivity and oppression of Israel, Daniel would not have fasted and prayed, and if he had not made his tearful appeal to God, he would not have known of the distinguished beings who were enlisted in Israel's defence. When raised to the eternal home, we shall learn that trials had served on earth our highest good. They drove us near to God. They brought the revelation of his available help. Greater are our champions (if we are friends of truth) than all our foes. "The great Prince standeth for us." Here is type again. Even the Fail shall result in greater elevation. Recovered holiness is a richer acquisition than unmolested innocence.
III. EVERY ACT OF DIVINE DELIVERANCE POINTS ONWARD TO OUR RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION. There is no room for question that the awakening and reappearance of the dead, referred to by the angel, was a resurrection of social and national life under Judas Maccabaeus. A new wave of life was to pass over the people. Those who had been long repressed, trodden in the dust, who had hidden in holes and dens for very life, then reappeared. In very similar language Ezekiel predicted that God would "bring his people out of their graves, and would lead them to their own land." Yet this revival of life under the Maccabaean princes was type of a better resurrection. The language spoken to Daniel had both a near and a remote application. In its fullest signification it will be verified only in the great resurrection at the last day.
IV. RESURRECTION WILL SERVE TO MANIFEST CONTRASTS OF CHARACTER. A sudden accession of prosperity to a man is a good test of his worth or his worthlessness. With our present grossly material natures, it is comparatively easy to dissemble motives, feelings, and intentions before our fellow-men. But it is possible that the resurrection-body will be refined and transparent, so that angels and men may be able to see us through and through. What an incentive have we here to acquire sterling excellence of character! By-and-by no secrets will be permitted: will this be to us a joy or a grief? All varieties of character will be reduced to two. Minor distractions will be obliterated in view of the great distinction. Honour will be life; shame will be death.
V. DISTINCTIONS OF CHARACTER WILL MEET WITH DISTINCTIVE DESTINIES. For the present the coming destinies of men are, in part, concealed. But we may be quite sure that eventually every man will, like Judas, "go to his own place." In all God's arrangements there is admirable and exquisite fitness, and it shall be seen at last that character will gravitate to its proper destination. Those among the sons of men who are truly wise—who love and pursue wisdom—shall gradually gain a clearness and brightness of soul. The hidden excellence shall be at length fully manifested; "they shall shine" as the clear lustre of the eastern sky. Wisdom, that has matured and ripened into benevolence, shall shine as the "stars," and that perpetually.
VI. LARGER UNFOLDINGS OF THE TRUTH ARE RESERVED FOE THE FUTURE, In each succeeding age men have still to say, "We know in part." It is, without question, best for us here that revelation should be gradual, and that attainments of knowledge should be secured by successive steps. It would be lavish waste (such as we see nowhere in God's universe) if God should reveal at once to men all that he intends to make known on earth. The thing would be impossible. There must be an eye to perceive, as well as objects to be presented. We should be blinded with the excess of light. God reveals himself and his redemption through human as well as through angelic agencies. Though every prophet must be in advance of his contemporaries, in order to be a prophet; still he must not be greatly in advance. The stream of revelation must be stayed for a time; "the book must be closed and sealed." Time is allowed to reduce known truth to practical advantage. In later times, teachers shall be multiplied, and truth, unfettered, shall spread through wider and wider circles. "Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability" and the glory of future ages.—D.
Certainty among many uncertainties.
Among many shifting factors in the great problem of human life, one factor at least is fixed, viz. that the interests of the righteous are secure. Their fate is linked to God's. All events shall have but one effect on them. This is the granite rock that retains its stable glory amid the restless, seething sea.
I. IT IS A CONSOLATION TO KNOW THAT THE ANGELIC RACES ARE INTERESTED IN HUMAN WELFARE. As Daniel looked with a more intent gaze, he perceived other angelic forms in close proximity. So when God opened the eyes of Elisha's servant, he saw a host of heavenly cavalry encircling his master. Devout research is ever well rewarded. The angels have not attained one common level of knowledge. They inquire one of another; become each other's teachers and each other's helpers. The same topics that interest good men interest angels also. The same impatience to penetrate future events, which men feel, angels also in some measure cherish. They especially take an interest in the Church of God. They sympathize with us in trial, persecution, and suffering. They desire to see God, in the progressive revelations of himself.
II. FORMS OF SOLEMN ASSEVERATION ARE EMPLOYED BY THE ANGELS TO GIVE US STRONG ASSURANCE. This illustrious angel raised himself to a particular posture, employed special gesticulation, and uttered a special form of words, with this one view, viz. to persuade his auditors of the authority with which he spake, and of the certainty that his words should be performed. Thus God commands his highest servants to accommodate themselves to human infirmities. Nothing on his part shall be wanting to enlighten and ennoble men. The eternity of God is pledged for the fulfilment of prophecy. As the eternal God lives, it shall be done.
III. OBEDIENCE ENLARGES THE CAPACITY TO RECEIVE, To hear and to understand are not identical. Perhaps we really understand nothing. We see not things as they are, but only as they are related to us. Feeling, affection, inclination, assist greatly the understanding. It is possible that God might tell us fully and lucidly the future course of this world, and still we might be only bewildered. It is the voice of fatherly kindness that says to his child, "Go thy way." Perform all thy common duties. The future is "closed and sealed." "A good understanding have all they that keep his commandments." There is solid happiness for every man who can calmly wait the larger unfoldings of God's will. Food for real hunger there always shall be; but provision for imaginary wants will not be forthcoming.
IV. TRIALS HAVE THE MOST OPPOSITE EFFECTS ON THE RIGHTEOUS AND ON THE WICKED. No amount or severity of outward trial is, in itself, competent to improve or soften men. "Though a fool be bruised in a mortar, yet will not his folly depart;" "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" The hottest fire of suffering cannot. Hence God saith, "Why should ye he stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more." Notwithstanding exile, bondage, defeat in war, desolations of every kind," the wicked will still do wickedly." The voice Divine at last will speak. "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still." But the effect upon the righteous is the very reverse of this. The fire, that hardens clay, melts the wax. Not a few shall discover that the fire only removes the dross—separates vile elements from the sterling—and produces lustre and renown. Under this severe and searching discipline, true Israelites shall be purified and made whiter than snow. Purity of character shall bring with it greater clearness of vision; while, on the other hand, persistence in sin will tend to darken intellect more and more, until it shall be submerged "in the blackness of darkness for ever."
V. LOSS OF RELIGIOUS ORDINANCES IS THE GREATEST OF EXTERNAL CALAMITIES. This is, in reality, a greater calamity than the desolations of a war or the ravages of a plague. God's calculations of human epochs date from his withdrawal flora his temple. The suspension of the daily sacrifice—this marks the commencement of an era. Men are wont to reckon epochs from the rise or fall of human dynasties. Not so God. His interest in human affairs centres in the temple. The profanation of the temple by setting up idol-worship there—this marks the opening of a dark and tempestuous day. This chastisement is a fitting type for a yet greater woe. The number seven has long time been a signature and symbol for perfection and rest; therefore the broken period of three times and a half betokens the very opposite—disquietude, turmoil, woe.
VI. ASSURANCE TO THE RIGHTEOUS OF PERSONAL AND PERFECT SECURITY. Whatever disasters shall befall the wicked, or whatever tempests may roll over the heads of the righteous man, this is certain—"Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." This is a fixed and definite end, which the Divine Being has set before him, and every arrangement of Providence is adjusted with a view to this end. This is the inheritance which God himself has chosen for us, and secured by promise, oath, and blood. If Israel, in possession of the earthly Canaan, could sing, "We have a goodly heritage," much more can the redeemed in heaven chant that joyous strain. The lot is already apportioned unto us. The Divine attributes are pledged to us for its enjoyment. No event, nor force, nor personal being, in the broad universe, can prevent the grand consummation, "Thou shalt stand in thy lot." The kingdom has been prepared for us "before the foundation of the world." "If children then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ."—D.