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THE WAYMARKS OF DANIEL TO THE HOLY CITY.
Suppose you were traveling a road with which you were unacquainted. You inquire of a stranger who tells you that the road leads to a glorious city, filled with every good thing, governed by the most benevolent and lovely prince that the world ever saw, and that in that city there is neither sickness, sorrow, pain, nor death. He then proceeds to tell you what you may expect to pass on the road, by which you may know that he has told you the truth, and which will mark the progress you have made. First, then, he tells you that, after leaving him and traveling awhile, you will come to a monument that can be seen a great distance, on the top of which you will see a lion, having eagles' wings. At a distance beyond that, you will come to another monument, having on it a bear, with three ribs in its mouth. Passing on still, you will at length arrive at a monument, on the top of which you will behold a leopard, having four wings of a fowl, and four heads. After that, you will come to a fourth, on which is a beast, dreadful and terrible, with great iron teeth and ten horns. And, lastly, you will come to another place, where you will see the same beast, with this difference: Three of its first horns have been plucked up, and in the place of them has come up a peculiar horn, having eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth. The next thing you will look for after passing the last-mentioned sign, is the city.
With these directions, you commence your journey. What do you look for first? The lion. At length you see it. That inspires in you faith in the person's knowledge and truthfulness who had directed you. Having passed that sign, the next thing you expect to see, as marked in the directions, is the bear. At length you come in sight of that. There, say you, is the second sign he gave me. He must have been acquainted with this road, and has told me the truth. Your faith increases as you travel on. What next do you look for? Not the city, certainly. No; you look for the leopard. Well, by-and-by you behold that in the distance. There it is! you cry; now I know he has told me the truth, and it will come out just as he said. Is the next thing you look for the city? No; you look for that terrible beast with ten horns. You pass that, and say, as you travel on, How exactly the man who directed me described everything! Now your faith is so confirmed that you almost see the city. But, say you, there is one more sign to pass. It is the horn with eyes, then the city comes next. Now hope is high, and your anxious eyes gaze with intense interest for the last sign. That comes in view, and you exclaim in raptures, There it is! All doubt is now removed. You look for no more signs. Your longing eyes are fixed to gaze on the glorious city next, and probably no man now, however wise he might profess to be, could make you discredit what your director has told you. The city is fixed in your eye, and onward you go, hasting to your rest.
Now, if we find on examination that all the events, or signs, that God has given us, which were to precede the Judgment day and the setting up of his everlasting kingdom, have actually transpired, what are we to look for next? Answer: The Judgment of the great day!
The glorious reward of the just! The city of the great King! Let us, then, examine the seventh chapter of Daniel where these waymarks to the Judgement, and the everlasting kingdom of the redeemed, are all given.
Verses 1-3. "In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed; then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another."
The four beasts seen by the prophet are symbols of four kingdoms which should arise, as shown by verse 17, which reads, "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." And to show that these are not kings simply, but kingdoms, the angel continues, "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom." And still further, in the explanation in verse 23, the angel says, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth." Winds denote strife, political commotion, and war. Sea, or waters, denote people and nations. See Rev. 17: 15.
VERSE 4. "The first was like a lion, and had eagles' wings; I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."
Babylon, as described in this vision, is here fitly represented by a lion, the king of beasts, denoting the glory of that kingdom, and corresponds with the head of gold in chapter 2.
The eagles' wings represent the rapidity of its conquests and the soaring pride of its monarchs. See Hab. 1:6-8. The plucking of his wings may refer to the humiliation of the proud monarch of Babylon, chapter 4: 31-37, or the cowardice of Belshazzar, who, instead of driving away his foe like a lion, shut himself up in the city, feasting and drinking with his lords, till he was killed, and the kingdom given to the Medes and Persians.
VERSE 5. "And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh."
The bear corresponds with the silver
breast and arms of the image, and represents the Medo-Persian
kingdom which succeeded Babylon. It was noted for cruelty and
thirst for blood. The three ribs in the mouth of this bear
evidently symbolize the three great powers conquered by the
Medo-Persian kingdom; viz., Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. See
"Rollin's ancient/ History."
It subdued many and populous kingdoms. Ahasuerus, or Artaxerxes, reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. See Esther 1:1.
VERSE 6. "After this I beheld, and lo, another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it."
The leopard corresponds with the brazen sides of the image of chapter 2, and illustrates Grecia. The four wings denote the rapidity of its conquests under Alexander. The Grecian Empire maintained its unity only during the life of Alexander. When his brilliant career ended in a drunken debauch, the empire was shortly divided between his four leading generals, represented by the four heads of the leopard. Cassander had Macedon and Greece in the west; Lysimachus had Thrace and the parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosphorus in the north; Ptolemy received Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria, in the south; and Seleucus had Syria and all the rest of Alexander's dominions in the east.
Verse 7. "After this I saw in the night visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns."
The fourth beast corresponds with the iron legs of the image of chapter 2, and represents the Roman kingdom. The ten horns of the beast correspond with the ten toes of the image, and represent the ten kingdoms into which the Western Empire of Rome was divided. The addition of heads, wings, or horns, to any beast found in nature, would not answer as a symbol to represent this power. It was diverse from all others, and the symbol wholly nondescript.
Verse 8. "I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things."
The prophet considered the ten horns. These represent: 1. The Huns. 2. The Ostrogoths. 3. The Visigoths. 4. The Franks. 5. The Vandals. 6. The Suevi. 7. The Burgundians. 8. The Heruli. 9. The Anglo-Saxons. 10. The Lombards. He saw a little horn forcing its way up among the ten, which plucked up three of them. This horn, little at first, but afterward more stout than his fellows, represents the papacy. The three kingdoms plucked up before it were those of the Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals. But of this power we shall speak more fully when we come to the angel's explanation in verses 23-25.
Verses 9,10. "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the ancient/ of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the Judgment was set, and the books were opened."
If the last Judgment is not described here, then, certainly, it is not to be found in the book of God. The ancient/ of Days, God the Father, takes the throne of Judgment.
Those who stand in his presence, either to minister or to wait, are not men, but angels. Compare Dan. 7:10, with Rev. 5:11. Daniel describes the opening of the judgment of the righteous, which occurs in Heaven prior to the return of the Lord to this world to raise them from the dead. The Father presides as judge. The angels of God are present as ministers and witnesses. At this tribunal the Son of man presents himself to receive the dominion of the world. But men are not present to witness this part of the judgment. It is the Father, and the Son, and the holy angels, who compose this grand assembly.
The thrones named in the text are not those of earthly governments, but thrones of judgment. The best authorities give the words "cast down" the opposite meaning. They render them "set up," or "established." Thus Adam Clarke says: "The thrones were cast down, might be translated erected; so the Vulgate, positi sunt, and so all the versions." Dr. Hales, in his "Sacred Chronology," vol. ii, p. 105, renders Dan. 7:9, thus: "I beheld till the thrones were erected, and the ancient/ of Days sat." &c. The Douay version reads, "were placed;" and so Bernard, and Boothroyd, and Wintle, in the Cottage Bible. Matthew Henry, in his exposition, renders it "set up." Of the original Hebrew word, Gesenius in his Lexicon says, "R'mah, (1) To cast, to throw, Dan. 3:20, 21, 24; 6:17. (2) To set, to place, e.g., thrones. Dan. 7:9; compare Rev. 4:2." The term used by the Septuagint, literally rendered, according to Liddell and Scott, would be, "The thrones were set." Other authorities might be given.
The Judgment scene embraces the establishment of thrones and the sitting in judgment of the great God, amid the brightness of that glory, feebly represented by fire and flame, surrounded by angelic hosts, and the opening of the life-records of' men, from which they are to be judged.
Verses 11, 12. "I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time."
There are those who believe in a thousand years, triumph of the gospel and reign of righteousness over all the world before the Lord comes; and there are others who believe in probation after the Lord comes, and a mixed millennium, the immortal righteous still proclaiming the gospel to mortal sinners, and turning them into the way of salvation. But both of these systems of error are completely demolished by the verses before us.
1. The fourth terrible beast continues without change of character, and the little horn continues to utter its blasphemies, and hold its millions of votaries in the bonds of a blind superstition, till the beast is given to the burning flame; and this is not its conversion, but its destruction. See 2 Thess. 2:8.
2. The life of the fourth beast is not prolonged after its dominion is gone, as were the lives of the preceding beasts. Their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season. The territory and subjects of the Babylonish kingdom still existed, though subjected to the Persians. So of the Persian kingdom in respect to Grecia, and of Grecia in respect to Rome. But what succeeds the fourth kingdom? No government or state in which mortals have any part. Its career ends in the lake of fire, and it has no existence beyond. The lion was merged into the bear; the bear into the leopard; the leopard into the fourth beast; and the fourth beast into what ? Not into another beast, but into the lake of fire, which is its final destruction till the second death. Then let no one talk of probation or a mixed millennium after the Lord comes.
The adverb then, in the sentence, "I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake," seems to refer to some particular time. The work of investigative Judgment is introduced in the verses before. And this verse would seem to imply that while this work is going forward, and just before this power is destroyed and given to the burning flame, the little horn utters its great words against the Most High. Have we not heard them, and that, too, within a few years? Look at the Vatican Council of 1870. What can be more blasphemous than to attribute infallibility to a mortal man? And here we have an Ecumenical Council assembled for the purpose of deliberately decreeing that the occupant of the papal throne, the man of sin, possesses this prerogative of God, and cannot err. Can anything be more presumptuous and blasphemous ? Is not this the voice of the great words which the horn spake ? and is not this power near to the burning flame?
Verses 13, 14. "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient/ of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
The scene here described is not the second advent of Christ to this earth. It is a coming to the ancient/ of Days, who is not on the earth, but in Heaven. There, in the presence of the ancient/ of Days, a kingdom, dominion, and glory, are given him. The Son of man receives his kingdom before his return to this earth. See Luke 19:10-12, and onward. This is a scene, therefore, which transpires in the heavenly temple, and is closely connected with that brought to view in verses 9 and 10. He receives the kingdom at the close of his priestly work in the sanctuary. The peoples, nations, and languages, that shall serve him are the nations of the saved, Rev. 21:24, not the wicked nations of the earth: for these are dashed in pieces at the second advent.
Some out of all the nations, tribes, and kindreds, of the earth will find themselves at last in the kingdom of God, to serve him there with joy and gladness forever and ever.
Verses 15-18. "I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever."
No less anxious should we be than was Daniel, to understand the truth of all this. And whenever we inquire with equal sincerity of heart, we shall find the Lord no less ready now, than in the days of the prophet, to lead to a correct knowledge of these important truths. The beasts, and the kingdoms which they represent, have already been explained. We have followed the prophet down through the course of events even to the complete destruction of the fourth and last beast, the final subversion of all earthly governments. What next? The saints take the kingdom. The saints, those of all others held in low esteem in this world, despised, reproached, persecuted, cast out, who were considered the least likely of all men ever to realize their hopes, take the kingdom, and possess it forever.
Verses 19, 20. "Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows."
Of the first three beasts of this series, Daniel had so clear an understanding that he had no trouble in reference to them. But he was astonished at this fourth beast, so unnatural and dreadful. Wonderful was all this to the prophet, but something still more wonderful appears.
It is the little horn that thrusts up three of the ten horns as it comes up. This horn has eyes, not the uncalculating eyes of a brute, but the keen, intelligent eyes of a man. It also has a mouth which utters proud sayings, and puts forth preposterous and arrogant claims.
Verses 21, 22. "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the ancient/ of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom."
Daniel saw this horn making war upon the saints. Has this been true of the papacy ? Let fifty millions of martyrs answer. Witness the cruel persecutions of the popes of Rome against the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and Protestants in general. It is stated on good authority that the persecutions, massacres, and religious wars, excited by the Roman church, have occasioned the shedding of far more blood of the saints of the Most High than all the enmity, hostility, and persecutions, of all the heathen from the foundation of the world.
Verses 23-25. "Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and brake it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."
We briefly notice the specifications of the fourth beast, its ten horns, and the little horn, as follows:-
1. The fourth beast. This beast represents the fourth universal empire, which is Rome, the same as symbolized by the fourth, or iron, division of the great metallic image of chapter 2. Rome answers to the prophecy in diversity from other kingdoms, and in the universality and tyranny of her iron rule.
"The empire of the Romans," says Gibbon, "filled the world. And when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. To resist was fatal; and it was impossible to fly."
2. The ten horns. Between the years A. D. 356 and 483, the Roman Empire was divided into ten kingdoms, as noticed in remarks on verse 8. Thus, the ten horns are ten kings, or kingdoms, that arise out of the Roman Empire.
3. The little horn. It will be admitted that a power has arisen answering with great exactness to the specifications of this horn, and that it is the papacy. It speaks great words against the Most High, and wears out the saints. The same character is given in Rev. 13:6,7. "And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints." Paul calls this same power "the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God." 2 Thess. 2:3, 4. The titles which the popes have assumed, of "Most Holy Lord," and their pretensions to pardon sin, even before its commission, if we had nothing else, sufficiently establish the blasphemous character of that power.
Pope Innocent III. writes: "He [Christ] hath set one man over the world, him whom he hath appointed his vicar on earth; and as to Christ is bent every knee in Heaven, in earth, and under the earth, so shall obedience and service be paid to his vicar by all, that there may be one fold and one shepherd."
Again, Pope Gregory VII. says, "The Roman pontiff alone is by right universal. In him alone is the right of making laws. Let all kings kiss the feet of the pope. His name alone shall be heard in the churches. It is the only name in the world. It is his right to depose kings. His word is not to be repealed by any one. It is to be repealed by himself alone. He is to be judged by none. The church of Rome has never erred, and the Scriptures testify it never shall err."
Here, most certainly, is a power diverse from all others, and proud and blasphemous enough to answer the character of the little horn. It is said of this horn that he shall think to change times and laws. What laws? and whose ? Not the laws of other earthly governments; for it was nothing marvelous nor strange for one power to change the laws of another, whenever it could bring such power under its dominion. Not human laws of any kind; for the little horn had power to change these so far as its jurisdiction extended; but the times and laws in question were such as this power should only think to change, but not be able to change. They are the laws of the same Being to whom the saints belong, whom it wears out with persecution; namely, the laws of the Most High. And has the papacy attempted this? Yes, even this. It has expunged the second commandment, to make way for its adoration of images. It has divided the tenth, to make up the number. And, more audacious than all! it has taken hold of the fourth commandment, torn from its place the Sabbath of Jehovah, the only memorial of the great God ever given to man, and erected in its place a rival institution to serve another purpose. See Catholic catechisms, and the work entitled, "Who Changed the Sabbath?"
4. The period expressed by the prophetic phrase, "and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." The pronoun they embraces the saints, the times, and the laws, just mentioned. How long a time were they to be given into the hands of this power? A time, see chapter 4:23, is one year; two times, the least that could be denoted by the plural, two years, and the dividing of time, or half a time, half a year. We thus have three years and a half for the continuance of this power. We must now consider that we are in the midst of symbolic prophecy; hence this measurement is not literal but prophetic. The inquiry then arises, How long a period is denoted by the three years and a half prophetic time? The only rule given us in the Bible is that, when a day is used as a symbol, it stands for a year. Eze. 4:6; Num. 14:34. The ordinary Jewish year, which must be used as the basis of reckoning, contained three hundred and sixty days. Three years and a half contained twelve hundred and sixty days. Each day standing for a year, we have twelve hundred and sixty years for the continuation of this horn. Did the papacy possess dominion that length of time? The answer again is, Yes.
The edict of the emperor Justinian, dated A. D. 533, made the bishop of Rome the head of all the churches. But this edict could not go into effect till the Arian Ostrogoths, the last of the three horns that were plucked up to make room for the papacy, were driven from Rome, and this was not accomplished till A. D. 538. The edict would have been of no effect had this latter event not been accomplished; hence from this latter year we are to date, as this was the earliest point where the saints were in reality in the hands of this power. From this point did the papacy hold supremacy for twelve hundred and sixty years ? Exactly.
Verse 26. "But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end."
At the close of the long period of its blasphemous and bloody rule, judgment finally sits upon the papacy. The time had come for the prophetic words of Rev. 13:10, to be fulfilled; "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity; he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword." From A. D. 538, the clearly defined date for the commencement of this prophetic period, measures 1260 years, and we are brought to A. D. 1798, when Berthier, a French general, entered Rome, proclaimed a republic, took the pope a prisoner, and for a time abolished the papacy. And it has never since enjoyed the privileges and immunities which it possessed before. Thus again this power fulfills, to the very letter, the specifications of the prophecy.
Some very startling events relative to the papacy, filling up the prophecies uttered in this chapter concerning that power, have taken place within a few years of the present time.
Commencing in 1798, where the great national judgment fell upon the papacy, what have been the chief characteristics of its history ? Answer: The rapid defection of its natural supporters, and greater assumptions on its own part. At the close of the 2300 days of chapter 8, in 1844, judgment of another kind began to sit; namely, the investigative Judgment, in the heavenly sanctuary, preparatory to the coming of Christ. Dec. 8, 1854, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was decreed by the pope. July 21, 1870, in the great Ecumenical Council assembled at Rome, it was deliberately decreed by a vote of 538 against 2 that the pope was infallible. In the same year, Napoleon, by whose bayonets the pope was kept upon his throne, was crushed by Prussia, and the last prop was knocked from under the papacy. Then Victor Emanuel, seizing his opportunity to carry out the long-cherished dream of a United Italy, seized Rome to make it the capital of his kingdom. To his troops, under General Cadorna, Rome surrendered, Sept. 20, 1870. Then the last vestige of the temporal power departed, nevermore, said Victor Emanuel, to be restored; and the pope has been virtually a prisoner in his own palace since that time. Because of the great words which the horn uttered, Daniel saw the beast destroyed and given to the burning flame. This destruction is to take place at the second coming of Christ and by means of that event; for the man of sin is to be consumed by the spirit of Christ's mouth, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming. 2 Thess. 2:8. What words could be greater, more presumptuous, more blasphemous, more insulting to high Heaven, than the deliberate adoption of the dogma of Infallibility, clothing a mortal man with the prerogative of the Deity, which was accomplished by papal intrigue and influence, July 21, 1870? Following in swift succession, the last vestige of temporal power was swept from his grasp. It was because of these words, and as if in almost immediate connection with them, that the prophet saw this power given to the burning flame.
His dominion was to be consumed unto the end; implying that when the last vestige of his power was consumed, as a civil ruler, the end is not far off.
Verses 27, 28. "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me; but I kept the matter in my heart."
After beholding the dark and desolate picture of papal oppression upon the church, the prophet once more turns his eyes with delight upon the glorious period of the saints' rest, when they shall have the kingdom free from all oppressive powers, in everlasting possession. What could the children of God do in this present evil world, sighing over the misrule and oppression of the governments of earth, and the abominations that are done in the land, if they could not look forward to the kingdom of God, and the return of their Lord, with full assurance that the promises concerning them both shall certainly be fulfilled, and that speedily ?
Now let us see whereabouts we are in the prophetic chain. We have passed the lion, Babylon. We have also passed the bear with three ribs in his mouth. The sign of the leopard with four wings of a fowl and four heads has been passed. The dreadful and terrible beast with ten horns has been seen. We have passed the little horn having eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. That is among the things numbered with the past. What comes next? The Judgment and God's everlasting kingdom.
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