Thus Says YAHUWAH
Yahuwah's Judgment, The Investigative Phase
OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF DANI'EL & THE PURPOSES OF PROPHECY
Dani'El, the Man and Prophet
The Prophet, Dani'El, was a Yahuwdi prince in the palace in Yerushalayim, who lived about 600 years before the birth of YAHUWSHUAH haMashiach. When he was about fifteen years of age, everything in his life changed abruptly. The city, Yerushalayim, was besieged and fell to the enemy. He was taken prisoner by the Babylonians. (606 B.C.) The king of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar, an absolute monarch so that by his word men lived or died. However, he revealed his administrative wisdom by selecting some of the princes in the palace of Yerushalayim, leaving them alive, and took them back to Babylon. There, he treated them very well, educated them in Babylonian schools, and gained their loyalty. It was then his plan to send them back to their home country to rule over their own countrymen to exact the tributes required. He intended these young princes should have no other loyalty to any other living person than himself. To accomplish this, these young princes, including Dani'El, were castrated so they could have no family, no wife, nor children; but were to serve only their king, Nebuchadnezzar, all of their lives. So young Dani'El became a eunuch in the courts of Babylon.
Dani'El, a Jew, had been taught from his youth, to worship only the true Elohim, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and to observe all the laws of Elohim that had been given through Mosheh. Although he faithfully served Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, his first allegiance and worship was to the Elohim of heaven. Many of the stories in the book of Dani'El reveal his fidelity to Elohim. In turn, Elohim delivered and rewarded him, and his faithful friends, time after time. This is the great spiritual lesson for us in the book of Dani'El. Dani'El was but a youth when brought to Babylon, but he lived all through the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and even through the reign of his grandson, Belshazzar, at which time Babylon was conquered by the Medo-Persians. Not only did Dani'El hold a high position in the courts of Babylonian kings, but also stood next to the kings of Medo-Persia because he was known as a prophet, respected for his great wisdom, and held high offices of state by the providence of Elohim.
Dani'El wrote the book of Dani'El to record his remarkable life experiences of deliverance and the excellent rewards for his fidelity to Elohim and to the kings. For two thousand five hundred years these stories have delighted children and all other age groups.
Dani'El reveals in his book that he was undeviating in his allegiance to live according to all the laws and statutes of the Elohim of heaven. He ordered his life-style, even in the face of mortal danger, to adhere to all the counsels of Elohim in regard to diet, to the rituals of worship, in prioritizing all aspects of life, always putting Elohim and His requirements first. Dani'El is an example to us and especially the youth today.
The Nature of the Book of Dani'El
What is the "nature" of the book of Dani'El? The book of Dani'El is classified as ''prophecy." There are many who use the word "prophecy" to refer to fortune telling, the work of psychics, channellers, and occult predictions. The word, "prophecy" may be used to describe the practice in some churches of speaking in tongues. None of these is the kind of "Bible prophecy" that is found in the book of Dani'El. The word, "prophecy" needs to be defined as it is used in the book of Dani'El.
Definition of "Bible Prophecy"
"Prophecy" is simply history written before it happens.
"History" is a written record of that which occurred in the past. "Prophecy" not only covers past events, but points to current events, and also covers or describes future events. No man can see into the future, but the Creator-Elohim who inhabits the heavens can see the end from the beginning, and it is He who inspired Dani'El, the prophet, to write the prophecies that are contained in the book of Dani'El.
The "Major line" of Prophecy in the Book of Dani'El
Dani'El begins in Chapter 1 to describe historical events of his own day. (606 B.C.). But each additional chapter moves forward in time, in a methodical manner, outlining events which would occur until, in the last chapter, he describes events which will happen at the very end of this earth's history. Therefore, it is understood that the book of Dani'El is constructed on a "major line" of prophecy which reaches from six hundred years before YAHUWSHUAH HaMashiach until the very end of time.
The Purposes of the book of Dani'El
The purpose of the four prophetic outlines in the book of Dani'El were intended to give the people of Elohim in every age a knowledge of where they are in the stream of time. None of the outlines tell the day and hour of the coming of YAHUWSHUAH, but they throw a flood of light on events which transpire so that Elohim's people may trace the past, pinpoint where they are in the present, and be warned in regard to that which will occur in the future.
There are other purposes which are met in the book of Dani'El:
- It reveals an omniscient Elohim who can predict the future.
- It reveals Elohim's love and care for all who love Him and are obedient to His will.
- It reveals seven great deliverances, some in the past, and others yet to come.
- It focuses on character development of virtues such as fidelity, and trust in Elohim.
- It warns against counterfeit religion.
- It explains the political rise and fall of great empires.
- It describes events occurring in the heavens.
- It entertains and helps children to know that Elohim is love.
- It prepares the Bible student to understand the book of Revelation.
- It brings historical events into focus so that we may see the Great Controversy between good and evil progressing toward a victorious end.
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, reveals the fact that there is a great struggle going on between Elohim and Satan to gain control of this Earth. Although Elohim is the Creator and the rightful owner, He gave the "dominion" or rulership of this Earth to Adam.
And Elohim said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . .over all the earth.
When Satan (embodied as a serpent) caused Adam to disobey Elohim, Adam chose Satan as his new master, and gave over to him the dominion of the Earth. However, Elohim had given Adam and all his descendants intelligence and the power of choice. YAHUWSHUAH HaMashiach, by His death on Calvary, purchased back from Satan the right for men to use that power of choice, and to choose which master they will serve.
It has been Satan's plan from the beginning to bring the entire world under his own control so that all mankind will worship him instead of the true Elohim. He has tried many devices to establish a one world government and by choice or by force to bring all mankind under his power and authority. His most effective device has been that of establishing a counterfeit form of worship.
Sun worship, was a counterfeit of the worship of the true Creator - Elohim, and by the time of Dani'El, it had encircled the world. Its extension into all cultures is evident by the pyramids of Egypt and Central America, by the remnants of Druid worship in England and the many temples all over the Earth. All the countries around Yisra'El were sun worshippers and enemies of Yisra'El who worshipped the true Elohim of heaven. Dani'El was carried captive right into the midst of a sun worshipping culture. Elohim placed him and his faithful friends in the midst of Babylon to be representatives of the true Creator Elohim. Through Dani'El and his friends the knowledge of the true Creator Elohim was to be spread to all the then known world, and preserved in the Bible even to our own day.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon intended that his empire and forms of sun worship should exist as long as time would last. But Elohim wanted His people to know the truth, as to how the scepter of power and authority or sovereignty or dominion would be transferred from one great empire to another, until at last, the kingdoms of this world would be restored to Elohim's people.
THE RAM, HE-GOAT AND THE LITTLE HORN
Culled from Uriah Smith's 'Dani'El and Revelation'
(Lighthouse Publishing Inc. 1998)
VISION OF THE RAM, HE GOAT AND LITTLE HORN
The Investigative Judgment Revealed
We now come once more," says Dr. Clarke, "to the Hebrew, the Chaldee (Aramaic) part of the book being finished. As the Chaldeans had a particular interest both in the history and the prophecies from chapter 2:4 to the end of chapter 7, the whole is written in Chaldee; but as the prophecies which remain concern times posterior to the Chaldean monarchy, and principally relate to the church and people of Elohim generally, they are written in the Hebrew language, this being the tongue in which Elohim chose to reveal all his counsels given under the Old Testament relative to the New."
"In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Dani'El, after that which appeared unto me at the first." VERSE 1 (KJV)
One prominent characteristic of the sacred writings, and one which should forever shield them from the charge of being works of fiction, is the frankness and freedom with which the writers state all the circumstances connected with that which they record. This verse states the time when the vision recorded in this chapter was given to Dani'El. The first year of Belshazzar was 540B.C. His third year, in which this vision was given, would consequently be 538 B.C. If Dani'El, as is supposed, was about twenty years of age when he was carried to Babylon in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, 606 B.C., he was at this time about eighty-eight years of age. The vision he speaks of as the one "which appeared unto him at the first," is doubtless the vision of the seventh chapter, which he had in the first year of Belshazzar.
And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai."
As verse 1 states the time 'when', this verse gives the place 'where', the vision was given. Shushan, as we learn from Prideaux, was the metropolis of the province of Elam. This was then in the hands of the Babylonians, and there the king of Babylon had a royal palace. Dani'El, as minister of state, and employed about the king's business, was accordingly in that place.
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns; and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.
In verse 20 an interpretation of this symbol is given us in plain language:
The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
We have only, therefore, to consider how well the symbol answers to the power in question. The two horns represented the two nationalities of which the empire consisted. The higher came up last. This represented the Persian element, which, from being at first simply an ally of the Medes, came to be the leading division of the empire. The different directions in which the ram was seen pushing, denote the directions in which the Medes and Persians carried their conquests. No earthly powers could stand before them while they were marching up to the exalted position to which the providence of Elohim had summoned them. And so successfully were their conquests prosecuted that in the days of Ahasuerus (Esther.1:1), the Medo-Persian kingdom extended from India to Ethiopia, the extremities of the then known world, over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. The prophecy almost seems to fall short of the facts as stated in history, when it simply says that this power "did according to his will, and became great."
And as I was considering, behold, an he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him and smote the ram, and brake his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
"As I was considering," says the prophet; and in this he sets an example for every lover of the truth, and all who have any regard for things higher than the objects of time and sense. When Mosheh saw the burning bush, he said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight." But how few are willing at the present time to turn aside from their pursuit of business or pleasure to consider the important themes to which both the mercy and the providence of Elohim are striving to call their attention.
The symbol here introduced is also explained by the Angel to Dani'El. Verse 21: "And the rough goat is the king [or kingdom] of Grecia." Concerning the fitness of this symbol to the Grecian or Madedonian people, Bishop Newton observes that the Macedonians, "about two hundred years before the time of Dani'El, were called AEgeadae, the goats' people:" the origin of which name he explains, according to heathen authors, as follows:
Caranus, their first king, going with a great multitude of Greeks to seek new habitations in Macedonia, was advised by an oracle to take the goats for his guides to empire: and afterward, seeing a herd of goats flying from a violent storm, he followed them to Edessa, and there fixed the seat of his empire, and made the goats his ensigns, or standards, and called the city AEgae, or the goats' town, and the people AEgeadae, or the goats' people." "The city of Aegeae, or Aegae, was the usual burying-place of the Macedonian kings. It is also very remarkable that Alexander's son by Roxana was named Alexander Aegus, or the son of the goat; and some of Alexander's successors are represented in their coins with goats' horns.
The goat came from the west. Grecia lay west of Persia. "On the face of the whole earth." He covered all the ground as he passed; that is, swept everything before him; he left nothing behind. He "touched not the ground." Such was the marvelous celerity of his movements that he did not seem to touch the ground, but to fly from point to point with the swiftness of the wind; the same feature is brought to view by the four wings of the leopard in the vision of chapter 7.
The notable horn between his eyes. This was explained in verse 21 to be the first king of the Macedonian empire. This king was Alexander the Great. Verses 6 and 7 give a concise account of the overthrow of the Persian empire by Alexander. The contests between the Greeks and Persians are said to have been exceedingly furious; and some of the scenes as recorded in history are vividly brought to mind by the figure used in the prophecy, a ram standing before the river, and the goat running unto him in the fury of his power. Alexander first vanquished the generals of Darius at the River Granicus in Phrygia; he next attacked and totally routed Darius at the passes of Issus in Cilicia, and afterward on the plains of Arbela in Syria. This last battle occurred in 331 B.C., and marked the conclusion of the Persian empire, for by this event Alexander became complete master of the whole country.
The language of verse 7 sets forth the completeness of the subjection of Medo-Persia to Alexander. The two horns were broken, and the ram was cast to the ground and stamped upon. Persia was subdued, the country ravaged, its armies cut to pieces and scattered, its cities plundered, and the royal city of Persepolis, the capital of the Persian empire, and even in its ruins one of the wonders of the world to the present day, was sacked and burned. Thus the ram had no power to stand before the goat, and there was none that could deliver him out of his hand.
Therefore the he-goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
The conqueror is greater than the conquered. The ram, Medo- Persia, became great; the goat, Grecia, became very great. And when he was strong, the great horn was broken. Human foresight and speculation would have said, When he becomes weak, his kingdom racked by rebellion, or paralyzed by luxury, then the horn will be broken, and the kingdom shattered. But Dani'El saw it broken in the very prime of its strength and the height of its power, when every beholder would have exclaimed, Surely, the kingdom is established, and nothing can overthrow it. Thus it is often with the wicked. The horn of their strength is broken when they think they stand most firm.
Alexander fell in the prime of life. After his death there arose much confusion among his followers respecting the succession. It was finally agreed, after a seven days' contest, that his natural brother, Philip Aridaeus, should be declared king. By him, and Alexander's infant sons, Alexander AEgus and Hercules, the name and show of the Macedonian empire were for a time sustained; but all these persons were soon murdered; and the family of Alexander being then extinct, the chief commanders of the army, who had gone into different parts of the empire as governors of the provinces, assumed the title of kings. They thereupon fell to leaguing and warring with one another to such a degree that within the space of twenty-two years from Alexander's death, the number was reduced to how many? Five? No. Three? No. Two? No. But four just the number specified in the prophecy; for four notable horns were to come up toward the four winds of heaven in place of the great horn that was broken.
(1) Cassander, who had Greece and the neighboring countries;
(2) Lysimachus, who had Asia Minor;
(3) Seleucus, who had Syria and Babylon, and from whom came the line of kings known as the "Seleucidae," so famous in history; and
(4) Ptolemy, son of Lagus, who had Egypt, and from whom sprang the "Lagidae." These held dominion toward the four winds of heaven.
Cassander had the western parts; Lysimachus had the northern regions; Seleucus possessed the eastern countries; and Ptolemy had the southern portion of the empire. These four horns may therefore be named Macedonia, Thrace (which then included Asia Minor, and those parts lying on the Hellespont and Bosphorus), Syria, and Egypt.
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of this sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered.
A third power is here introduced into the prophecy. In the explanation which the Angel gave to Dani'El of these symbols, this one is not described in language so definite as that concerning Medo-Persia and Grecia. Hence a flood of wild conjecture is at once let loose. Had not the Angel, in language which cannot be misunderstood, stated that Medo-Persia and Grecia were denoted by the ram and the he-goat, it is impossible to tell what applications men would have given us of those symbols. Probably they would have applied them to anything and everything but the right objects. Leave men a moment to their own judgment in the interpretation of prophecy, and we immediately have the most sublime exhibitions of human fancy.
There are two leading applications of the symbol now under consideration, which are all that need be noticed in these brief thoughts. The first is that the "little horn" here introduced denotes the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes; the second, that it denotes the Roman power. It is an easy matter to test the claims of these two positions.
(I). Does it mean Antiochus? If so, this king must fulfil the specifications ofthe prophecy? If he does not fulfil them, the application cannot be made to him. The little horn came out of one of the four horns of the goat. It was then a separate power, existing independently of, and distinct from, any of the horns of the goat. Was Antiochus such a power?
Who was Antiochus? From the time that Seleucus made himself king over the Syrian portion of Alexander's empire, thus constituting the Syrian horn of the goat, until that country was conquered by the Romans, twenty-six kings ruled in succession over that territory. The eighth of these, in order, was Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus, then, was simply one of the twenty-six kings who constituted the Syrian horn of the goat. He was, for the time being, that horn. Hence he could not be at the same time a separate and independent power, or another and remarkable horn, as the little horn was.
If it were proper to apply the little horn to any one of these twenty-six Syrian kings, it should certainly be applied to the most powerful and illustrious of them all; but Antiochus Epiphanes did not by any means sustain this character. Although he took the name Epiphanes, that is, The Illustrious, he was illustrious only in name; for nothing, could be more alien to his true character; for, on account of his vile and extravagant folly, some thinking him a fool and others a madman, they changed his name of Epiphanes, "The Illustrious," into Epimanes, "The Madman."
Antiochus the Great, the father of Epiphanes, being terribly defeated in a war with the Romans, was enabled to procure peace only by the payment of a prodigious sum of money, and the surrender of a portion of his territory; and, as a pledge that he would faithfully adhere to the terms of the treaty, he was obliged go give hostages, among whom was this very Epiphanes, his son, who was carried to Rome. The Romans ever after maintained this ascendency.
The little horn waxed exceeding great; but this Antiochus did not wax exceeding great; on the contrary, he did not enlarge his dominion, except by some temporary conquests in Egypt, which he immediately relinquished when the Romans took the part of Ptolemy, and commanded him to desist from his designs in that quarter. The rage of his disappointed ambition he vented upon the unoffending Yahudim. The little horn, in comparison with the powers that preceded it, was exceeding great. Persia is simply called great, though it reigned over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. Esther 1:1. Grecia, being more extensive still, is called very great. Now the little horn, which waxed exceeding great, must surpass them both. How absurd, then, to apply this to Antiochus, who was obliged to abandon Egypt at the dictation of the Romans, to whom he paid enormous sums of money as tribute. The Religious Encyclopedia gives us this item of his history: "Finding his resources exhausted, he resolved to go into Persia to levy tribute, and collect large sums which he had agreed to pay the Romans." It cannot take long for anyone to decide the question which was the greater power, the one which evacuated Egypt, or the one which commanded that evacuation; the one which exacted tribute, or the one which was compelled to pay it.
The little horn was to stand up against the Prince of princes. The Prince of princes here means, beyond controversy, YAHUWSHUAH the Messiah. Dan.9:25; Acts.3:15; Rev.1:5. But Antiochus died one hundred and sixty-four years before our Savior was born. The prophecy cannot, therefore, apply to him; for he does not fulfil the specifications in one single particular. The question may then be asked how any one has ever come to apply it to him. We answer, Romanists take that view to avoid the application of the prophecy to themselves; and many Protestants follow them, in order to oppose the doctrine that the second advent of Messiah is now at hand.
(II). It has been an easy matter to show that the little horn does not denote Antiochus. It will be just as easy to show that it does denote Rome. The field of vision here is substantially the same as that covered by Nebuchadnezzar's image of chapter 2, and Dani'El's vision of chapter 7. And in both these prophetic delineations we have found that the power which succeeded Grecia as the fourth great power, was Rome. The only natural inference would be that the little horn, the power which in this vision succeeds Grecia as an "exceeding great" power, is also Rome.
The little horn comes forth from one of the horns of the goat. How, it may be asked, can this be true of Rome? It is unnecessary to remind the reader that earthly governments are not introduced into prophecy till they become in some way connected with the people of Elohim. Rome became connected with the Yahudim, the people of Elohim at that time, by the famous Jewish League, 161 B.C. 1Maccabees 8; Josephus's Antiquities, book 12, chap.10, sec.6; Prideaux, Vol.II, p.166. But seven years before this, that is, in B.C.168, Rome had conquered Macedonia, and made that country a part of its empire. Rome is therefore introduced into prophecy just as, from the conquered Macedonian horn of the goat, it is going forth to new conquests in other directions. It therefore appeared to the prophet, or may be properly spoken of in this prophecy, as coming forth from one of the horns of the goat.
The little horn waxed great toward the south. This was true of Rome. Egypt was made a province of the Roman empire 30B.C., and continued such for some centuries. The little horn waxed great toward the east. This also was true of Rome. Rome conquered Syria 65B.C., and made it a province. The little horn waxed great toward the pleasant land. So did Rome. Judea is called the pleasant land in many scriptures. The Romans made it a province of their empire, 63B.C., and eventually destroyed the city and the temple, and scattered the Yahudim over the face of the whole earth. The little horn waxed great even to the host of heaven. Rome did this also. The host of heaven, when used in a symbolic sense in reference to events transpiring upon the earth, must denote persons of illustrious character or exalted position. The great red dragon (Rev.12:4) is said to have cast down a third part of the stars of heaven to the ground. The dragon is there interpreted to symbolize pagan Rome, and the stars it cast to the ground were Yahudi rulers. Evidently it is the same power and the same work that is here brought to view, which again makes it necessary to apply this growing horn to Rome.
The little horn magnified himself even to the Prince of the host. Rome alone did this. In the interpretation (verse 25) this is called 'standing up against the Prince of princes'. How clear an allusion to the crucifixion of our Lord (Master) under the jurisdiction of the Romans.
By the little horn the daily sacrifice was taken away. This little horn must be understood to symbolize Rome in its entire history including its two phases, pagan and papal. Pagan Rome was remodeled into papal Rome. And the place of his sanctuary, or worship, the city of Rome, was cast down. The seat of government was removed by Constantine in 330A.D. to Constantinople. This same transaction is brought to view in Rev.13:2, where it is said that the dragon, pagan Rome, gave to the beast, papal Rome, his seat, the city of Rome.
A host was given him (the little horn) against the daily. The barbarians that subverted the Roman empire in the changes, attritions, and transformations of those times, became converts to the Catholic faith, and the instruments of the dethronement of their former religion. Though conquering Rome politically, they were themselves vanquished religiously by the theology of Rome, and became the perpetrators of the same empire in another phase. And this was brought about by reason of "transgression;" that is, by the working of the mystery of iniquity. The Papacy is the most cunningly contrived, false ecclesiastical system ever devised; and it may be called a system of iniquity because it has committed its abominations and practiced its orgies of superstition in the garb, and under the pretense, of pure and undefiled religion.
The little horn cast the truth to the ground, and practiced and prospered. This describes, in few words, the work and career of the Papacy. The truth is by it hideously caricatured; it is loaded with traditions; it is turned into mummery and superstition; it is cast down and obscured.
And this antiNatsarim (antiChristian) power has "practiced," its deceptions upon the people, practiced its schemes of cunning to carry out its own ends and aggrandize its own power. And it has "prospered." It has made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. It has run its allotted career, and is soon to be broken without hand, to be given to the burning flame, and to perish in the consuming glories of the second appearing of our Lord (Master). Rome meets all the specifications of the prophecy. No other power does meet them. Hence Rome, and no other, is the power in question. And while the descriptions given in the word of Elohim of the character of this monstrous system are fully met, the prophecies of its baleful history have been most strikingly and accurately fulfilled.
Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? 14. And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
These two verses close the vision of chapter 8; and they introduce the one remaining point which of all others would naturally be of the most absorbing interest to the prophet and to all the church; namely, the time the desolating powers previously brought to view were to continue. How long shall they continue their course of oppression against Elohim's people, and of blasphemy against high Heaven? Dani'El, if time had been given, might perhaps have asked this question himself, but Elohim is ever ready to anticipate our wants and sometimes to answer even before we ask. Hence two celestial beings appear upon the scene, holding a conversation, in the hearing of the prophet, upon this question which it is so important that the church should understand. Dani'El heard one saint speaking. What this saint spoke at this time we are not informed; but there must have been something either in the matter or the manner of this speaking which made a deep impression upon the mind of Dani'El, inasmuch as he uses it in the very next sentence as a designating title, calling the Angel "that certain saint which spake." He may have spoken something of the same nature as that which the seven thunders of the Apocalypse uttered (Rev.10:3), and which, for some good reason, John was restrained from writing. But another saint asked this one that spake an important question: How long the vision? and both the question and the answer are placed upon record, which is primafacie evidence that this is a matter which it was designed that the church should understand. And this view is further confirmed by the fact that the Angel did not ask this question for his own information, inasmuch as the answer was addressed to Dani'El, as the one whom it chiefly concerned, and for whose information it was given.
And he said unto me," said Dani'El, recording the answer to the Angel's question, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
We have proof in verse 13 that sacrifice is the wrong word to be supplied in connection with the word 'daily'. If the 'daily sacrifice' of the Jewish service is here meant, or, in other words, the taking away of that sacrifice, as some suppose, which sacrifice was at a certain point of time taken away, there would be no propriety in the question, 'How long' the vision concerning it? This question evidently implies that those agents or events to which the vision relates, occupy a long series of years. Continuance of time is the central idea. And the whole time of the vision is filled by what is here called the daily and the transgression of desolation. Hence the daily can not be the daily sacrifice of the Yahudim, the taking away of which, when the time came for it, occupied comparatively but an instant of time. It must denote something which occupies a series of years.
The word here rendered 'daily' occurs in the Old Testament, according to the Hebrew Concordance, one hundred and two times, and is, in the great majority of instances, rendered continual or continually. The idea of sacrifice does not attach to the word at all. Nor is there any word in the text which signifies sacrifice; that is wholly a supplied word, the translators putting in that word which their understanding of the text seemed to demand. But they evidently entertained an erroneous view, the sacrifices of the Yahudim not being referred to at all.
The word 'daily' is translated from the hebrew 'tawmyd'. According most concordances, especially, Strong's, it means 'something of indefinite extension', eternal, 'without bounds', 'a continuum', 'continual'. This therefore must mean something related with Elohim. For nothing else can be of indefinite extension' except such thing as originated with HIM. Comparing, Dani'El Chapter 8:13, and Revelation 13, we find that the 'little horn', 'the Beast' was established by the 'handing over' of the 'Scepter of power'.
And the beast I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority."
The 'scepter of power', originated with Yahuwah Elohim. It has no beginning and has no end, 'of indefinite extension'. The taking away of the sceptre from one nation to another, is the theme of the book of Dani'El. The 'Daily', is the 'Sceptre of power, dominon and authority' - the right to rule. It was with Yahuwah in the beginning, handed to Adam in Eden,...
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth".
Adam handed it the Satan who in turn handed it to Nimrod's Babel (Babylon), and next to Persia and so on.
Respecting the 2300 days, introduced for the first time in verse 14, there are no data in this chapter from which to determine their commencement and close, or tell what portion of the world's history they cover. It is necessary, therefore, for the present, to pass them by. Let the reader be assured, however, that we are not left in any uncertainty concerning those days. The declaration respecting them is a part of a revelation which is given for the instruction of the people of Elohim, and is consequently to be understood. They are spoken of in the midst of a prophecy which the Angel Gabriel was commanded to make Dani'El understand; and it may be safely assumed that Gabriel somewhere carried out this instruction. It will accordingly be found that the mystery which hangs over these days in this chapter, is dispelled in the next.
Connected with the 2300 days is another subject of equal importance, which now presents itself for consideration; namely, the sanctuary; and with this is also connected the subject of its cleansing. An examination of these subjects will reveal the importance of having an understanding of the commencement and termination of the 2300 days, that we may know when the great event called "the cleansing of the sanctuary" is to transpire; for all the inhabitants of the earth, as will in due time appear, have a personal interest in that solemn work.
Several objects have been claimed by different ones as the sanctuary here mentioned: (1) The Earth; (2) The land of Canaan; (3) The Church; (4) The Sanctuary, the "true tabernacle, which YAHUWAH pitched, and not man," which is "in the heavens," and of which the Jewish tabernacle was a type, pattern, or figure. Heb.8:1,2; 9:23,24.
The fourth is the only logical and biblical option.
Heb.9:1: "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary."
"For there was a tabernacle made; the first [or first apartment], wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary [margin, the holy]. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aharon's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
This is the very point which at present we are concerned to determine: What was the sanctuary of the first covenant? Paul proceeds to tell us. Hear him. Verses 2-5
And this building answers in every respect to the definition of the term, and the use for which the sanctuary was designed. It was the earthly dwelling-place of Elohim. "Let them make me a sanctuary," said he to Mosheh, "that I may dwell among them." Ex.25:8. In this tabernacle, which they erected according to his instructions, he manifested his presence. It was a holy, or sacred place, "the holy sanctuary." Lev.16:33. 3. In the word of Elohim it is over and over again called the sanctuary. Of the one hundred and forty instances in which the word is used in the Old Testament, it refers in almost every case to this building.
The tabernacle was at first constructed in such a manner as to be adapted to the condition of the children of Yisra'El at that time. They were just entering upon their forty years' wandering in the wilderness, when this building was set up in their midst as the habitation of Elohim and the center of their religious worship. Journeying was a necessity, and removals were frequent. It would be necessary that the tabernacle should often be moved from place to place. It was therefore so fashioned of movable parts, the sides being composed of upright boards, and the covering consisting of curtains of linen and dyed skins, that it could be readily taken down, conveniently transported, and easily erected at each successive stage of their journey. After entering the promised land, this temporary structure in time gave place to the magnificent temple of Solomon. In this more permanent form it existed, saving only the time it lay in ruins in Dani'El's day, till its final destruction by the Romans in A.D.70.
This is the only sanctuary connected with the earth concerning which the Bible gives us any instruction or history. But is there nowhere any other? This was the sanctuary of the first covenant; with that covenant it came to an end; is there no sanctuary which pertains to the second, or new covenant? There must be; otherwise the analogy is lacking between these covenants; and in this case the first covenant had a system of worship, which, though minutely described, is unintelligible, and the second covenant has a system of worship which is indefinite and obscure. And Paul virtually asserts that the new covenant, in force since the death of Messiah, the testator, has a sanctuary; for when, in contrasting the two covenants, as he does in the book of Hebrews, he says in chapter 9:1 that the first covenant "had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary," it is the same as saying that the new covenant has likewise its services and its sanctuary.
Where, then, shall we look for the sanctuary of the new covenant? Paul, by the use of the word also in Heb.9:1, intimates that he had before spoken of this sanctuary. We turn back to the beginning of the previous chapter, and find him summing up his foregoing arguments as follows: "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which YAHUWAH pitched, and not man." Can there by any doubt that we have in this text the sanctuary of the new covenant? A plain allusion is here made to the sanctuary of the first covenant. That was pitched by man, erected by Mosheh; this was pitched by YAHUWAH, not by man.
That was the place where the earthly priests performed their ministry; this is the place where Messiah, the High Priest of the new covenant, performs his ministry. That was on earth; this is in heaven. That was therefore very properly called by Paul a "worldly sanctuary;" this is a "heavenly one."
This view is further sustained by the fact that the sanctuary built by Mosheh was not an original structure, but was built after a pattern. The great original existed somewhere else; what Mosheh constructed was but a type, or model. Listen to the directions YAHUWAH gave him on this point:
According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it." Ex.25:9. "And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.
Now of what was the earthly sanctuary a type, or figure? Answer: Of the sanctuary of the new covenant, the "true tabernacle, which YAHUWAH pitched and not man." The relation which the first covenant sustains to the second throughout, is that of type to antitype. Its sacrifices were types of the greater sacrifice of this dispensation; its priests were types of our Lord (Master), in his more perfect priesthood; their ministry was performed unto the shadow and example of the ministry of our High Priest above; and the sanctuary where they ministered, was a type, or figure, of the true sanctuary in heaven, where our Lord (Master) performs his ministry.
All these facts are plainly stated by Paul in a few verses to the Hebrews. Chapter 8: 4, 5:
For if he [Messiah] were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Mosheh was admonished of Elohim when he was about to make the tabernacle; for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
We have said that Dani'El would at once understand by the word sanctuary the sanctuary of his people at Yerushalayim; so would any one under that dispensation. But does the declaration of Dan.8:14 have reference to that sanctuary? That depends upon the time to which it applies. All the declarations respecting the sanctuary which apply under the old dispensation, have respect, of course, to the sanctuary of that dispensation; and all those declarations which apply in this dispensation, must have reference to the sanctuary in this dispensation. If the 2300 days, at the termination of which the sanctuary is to be cleansed, ended in the former dispensation, the sanctuary to be cleansed was the sanctuary of that time. If they reach over into this dispensation, the sanctuary to which reference is made is the sanctuary of this dispensation, the new-covenant sanctuary in heaven. This is a point which can be determined only by a further argument on the 2300 days; and this will be found in remarks on Dan.9:24, where the subject of time is resumed and explained.
What we have thus far said respecting the sanctuary has been only incidental to the main question in the prophecy. That question has respect to its cleansing. "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." But it was necessary first to determine what constituted the sanctuary, before we could understandingly examine the question of its cleansing. For this we are now prepared.
Having learned what constitutes the sanctuary, the question of its cleansing and how it is accomplished, is soon decided. It has been noticed that whatever constitutes the sanctuary of the Bible, must have some service connected with it which is called its cleansing. There is no account in the Bible of any work so named as pertaining to this earth, the land of Canaan, or the church; which is good evidence that none of these objects constitutes the sanctuary; there is such a service connected with the object which we have shown to be the sanctuary, and which, in reference to both the earthly building and the heavenly temple, is called its cleansing.
Do you object to the idea of there being anything in heaven which is to be cleansed? Is this a barrier in the way of your receiving the view here presented? Then your controversy is not with this work, but with Elohim's Word, which positively affirms this fact. But before you decide against this view, we ask you to examine carefully the nature of this cleansing.
The following are the plain terms in which Paul affirms the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary:
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
In the light of foregoing arguments, this may be paraphrased thus: "It was therefore necessary that the tabernacle as erected by Mosheh, with its sacred vessels, which were patterns of the true sanctuary in heaven, should be purified, or cleansed, with the blood of calves and goats; but the heavenly things themselves, the sanctuary of this dispensation, the true tabernacle, which YAHUWAH pitched, and not man, must be cleansed with better sacrifices, even with the blood of Messiah."
We now inquire, What is the nature of this cleansing, and how is it to be accomplished? According to the language of Paul, just quoted, it is performed by means of blood. The cleansing is not, therefore a cleansing from physical uncleanness or impurity; for blood is not the agent used in such a work. And this consideration should satisfy the objector's mind in regard to the cleansing of the heavenly things. The fact that Paul speaks of heavenly things to be cleansed, does not prove that there is any physical impurity in heaven; for that is not the kind of cleansing to which he refers.
The reason Paul assigns why this cleansing is performed with blood, is because without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Remission, then; that is, the putting away of sin, is the work to be done. The cleansing, therefore, is not physical cleansing, but a cleansing from sin. But how came sins connected with the sanctuary, either the earthly or the heavenly, that it should need to be cleansed from them? This question is answered by the ministration connected with the type, to which we now turn.
The closing chapters of Exodus give us an account of the construction of the earthly sanctuary, and the arrangement of the service connected therewith. Leviticus opens with an account of the ministration which was there to be performed. All that it is our purpose to notice here, is one particular branch of the service, which was performed as follows: The person who had committed sin brought his victim to the door of the tabernacle. Upon the head of this victim he placed his hand for a moment, and, as we may reasonably infer, confessed over him his sin. By this expressive act he signified that he had sinned, and was worthy of death, but that in his stead he consecrated his victim, and transferred his guilt to it. With his own hand (and what must have been his emotions!) he then took the life of his victim on account of that guilt. The law demanded the life of the transgressor for his disobedience; the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11,14); hence without the shedding of blood, there is no remission; with the shedding of blood, remission is possible; for the demand of life by the law is thus satisfied. The blood of the victim, representative of a forfeited life, and the vehicle of its guilt, was then taken by the priest and ministered before Yahuwah.
The sin of the individual was thus, by his confession, by the slaying of the victim, and by the ministry of the priest, transferred from himself to the sanctuary. Victim after victim was thus offered by the people. Day by day the work went forward; and thus the sanctuary continually became the receptacle of the sins of the congregation. But this was not the final disposition of these sins. The accumulated guilt was removed by a special service, which was called 'the cleansing of the sanctuary'. This service, in the type, occupied one day in the year; and the tenth day of the seventh month, on which it was performed, was called the day of atonement.
On this day, while all Yisra'El refrained from work and afflicted their souls, the priest brought two goats, and presented them before YAHUWAH at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. On these goats he cast lots; one lot for YAHUWAH, and the other lot for the scape-goat. The one upon which YAHUWAH's lot fell, was then slain, and his blood was carried by the priest into the most holy place of the sanctuary, and sprinkled upon the mercy-seat. And this was the only day on which he was permitted to enter into that apartment. Coming forth, he was then to lay both his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, and, thus putting them upon his head (Lev.16:21), he was to send him away by the hand of a fit man into a land not inhabited, a land of separation, or forgetfulness, the goat never again to appear in the camp of Israel, and the sins of the people to be remembered against them no more. This service was for the purpose of cleansing the people from their sins, and cleansing the sanctuary and its sacred vessels. Lev.16:30,33. By this process, sin was removed, but only in figure; for all that work was typical.
The reader to whom these views are new will be ready here to inquire, perhaps with some astonishment, what this strange work could possibly be designed to typify; what there is in this dispensation which it was designed to prefigure. We answer, A similar work in the ministration of Messiah, as Paul clearly teaches. After stating, in Hebrews 8, that Messiah is the minister of the true tabernacle, the sanctuary in heaven, he states that the priests on earth served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. In other words, the work of the earthly priests was a shadow, an example, a correct representation, so far as it could be carried out by mortals, of the ministration of Messiah above. These priests ministered in both apartments of the earthly tabernacle, Messiah therefore ministers in both apartments of the heavenly temple; for that temple has two apartments, or it was not correctly represented by the earthly; and our Savior officiates in both, or the service of the priest on earth was not a correct shadow of his work. But Paul directly states that he ministers in both apartments; for he says that he has entered into the holy place (Greek, the holy places) by his own blood. Heb.9:12.
There is therefore a work performed by Messiah in his ministry in the heavenly temple corresponding to that performed by the priests in both apartments of the earthly building. But the work in the second apartment, or most holy place, was a special work to close the yearly round of service and cleanse the sanctuary. Hence Messiah's ministration in the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary must be a work of like nature, and constitute the close of his work as our great High Priest, and the cleansing of that sanctuary. As through the sacrifices of a former dispensation the sins of the people were transferred in figure by the priests to the earthly sanctuary, where those priests ministered, so ever since Messiah ascended to be our intercessor in the presence of his Father, the sins of all those who sincerely seek pardon through him are transferred in fact to the heavenly sanctuary where he ministers.
Whether Messiah ministers for us in the heavenly holy places with his own blood literally, or only by virtue of its merits, we need not stop to inquire. Suffice it to say, that his blood has been shed, and through that blood remission of sins is secured in fact, which was obtained only in figure through the blood of the calves and goats of the former dispensation. But those sacrifices had real virtue in this respect: they signified faith in a real sacrifice to come; and thus those who employed them have an equal interest in the work of Messiah with those who in this dispensation come to him by faith, through the ordinances of the gospel.
The continual transfer of sins to the heavenly sanctuary (and if they are not thus transferred, will any one, in the light of the types, and in view of the language of Paul, explain the nature of the work of Messiah in our behalf?) this continual transfer, we say, of sins to the heavenly sanctuary, makes its cleansing necessary on the same ground that a like work was required in the earthly sanctuary.
An important distinction between the two ministrations must here be noticed. In the earthly tabernacle, a complete round of service was accomplished every year. For three hundred and fifty-nine days, in their ordinary year, the ministration went forward in the first apartment. One day's work in the most holy completed the yearly round. The work then commenced again in the holy place, and went forward till another day of atonement completed the year's work. And so on, year by year. This continual repetition of the work was necessary on account of the short lives of mortal priests. But no such necessity exists in the case of our divine Master, who ever liveth to make intercession for us. (See Heb.7:23-25.) Hence the work of the heavenly sanctuary, instead of being a yearly work, is performed once for all. Instead of being repeated year by year, one grand cycle is allotted to it, in which it is carried forward and finished, never to be repeated.
One year's round of service in the earthly sanctuary represented the entire work of the sanctuary above. In the type, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the brief closing work of the year's service. In the antitype, the cleansing of the sanctuary must be the closing work of Messiah, our great High Priest, in the tabernacle on high. In the type, to cleanse the sanctuary, the high priest entered into the most holy place to minister in the presence of Elohim before the ark of his testament. In the antitype, when the time comes for the cleansing of the sanctuary, our High Priest, in like manner, enters into the most holy place to make a final end of his intercessory work in behalf of mankind. We confidently affirm that no other conclusion can be arrived at on this subject without doing despite to the unequivocal testimony of Elohim's word.
Reader, do you now see the importance of this subject? Do you begin to perceive what an object of interest for all the world is the sanctuary of Elohim? Do you see that the whole work of salvation centers there, and that when the work is done, probation is ended, and the cases of the saved and lost are eternally decided? Do you see that the cleansing of the sanctuary is a brief and special work, by which the great scheme is forever finished? Do you see that if it can be made known when this work of cleansing commences, it is a solemn announcement to the world that salvation's last hour is reached, and is fast hastening to its close? And this is what the prophecy is designed to show. It is to make known the commencement of this momentous work. "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
In advance of any argument on the nature and application of these days, the position may be safely taken that they reach to the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, for the earthly was to be cleansed each year; and we make the prophet utter nonsense, if we understand him as saying that at the end of 2300 days, a period of time over six years in length, even if we take the days literally, an event should take place which was to occur regularly every year. The heavenly sanctuary is the one in which the decision of all cases is to be rendered. The progress of the work there is what it especially concerns mankind to know. If people understood the bearing of these subjects on their eternal interest, with what earnestness and anxiety would they give them their most careful and prayerful study. See on chapter 9:20 and onward, an argument on the 2300 days, showing at what point they terminated, and when the solemn work of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary began.
And it came to pass, when I, even I Dani'El, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.
We now enter upon an interpretation of the vision. And first of all we have mention of Dani'El's solicitude, and his efforts to understand these things. He sought for the meaning. Those who have given to prophetic studies their careful and earnest attention, are not the ones who are unconcerned in such matters. They only can tread with indifference over a mine of gold, who do not know that a bed of precious metal lies beneath their feet. Immediately there stood before the prophet as the appearance of a man. And he heard a man's voice; that is, the voice of an Angel, as of a man speaking. The commandment given was to make this man, Dani'El, understand the vision. It was addressed to Gabriel, a name that signifies "the strength of Elohim, or the mighty one." He continues his instruction to Dani'El in chapter 9.
Under the new dispensation he was commissioned to announce the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias (Luke 1:11); and that of the Messiah to the virgin Mary, verse 26. To Zacharias, he introduced himself with these words: "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of Elohim." From this it appears that he was an Angel of high order and superior dignity; but the one who here addressed him was evidently higher in rank, and had power to command and control his actions. This was probably no other than the archAngel, Michael, or Messiah, between whom and Gabriel alone, a knowledge of the matters communicated to Dani'El existed. (See chapter 10:21.)
So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation; for at the time appointed the end shall be.
Under similar circumstances to those here narrated, John fell down before the feet of an Angel, but it was for the purpose of worship. Rev.19:10; 22:8. Dani'El seems to have been completely overcome by the majesty of the heavenly messenger. He prostrated himself with his face to the ground, probably as though in a deep sleep, but not really so. Sorrow, it is true, caused the disciples to sleep; but fear, as in this case, would hardly have that effect. The Angel gently laid his hand upon him to give him assurance (how many times have mortals been told by heavenly beings to "fear not"!), and from this helpless and prostrate condition set him upright. With a general statement that at the time appointed the end shall be, and that he will make him to know what shall be in the last end of the indignation, he enters upon an interpretation of the vision. The indignation must be understood to cover a period of time. What time? Elohim told his people Yisra'El that he would pour upon them his indignation for their wickedness; and thus he gave directions concerning the "profane wicked prince of Yisra'El:" "Remove the diadem, and take off the crown. . . . I will overturn, overturn,overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." Yehezki'El 21:25- 27,31.
Here is the period of Elohim's indignation against his covenant people; the period during which the sanctuary and host are to be trodden under foot. The diadem was removed, and the crown taken off, when Yisra'El was subjected to the kingdom of Babylon. It was overturned again by the Medes and Persians, again by the Grecians, again by the Romans, corresponding to the three times the word is repeated by the prophet. The Yahudim then, having rejected Messiah, were soon scattered abroad over the face of the earth; and spiritual Yisra'El has taken the place of the literal seed; but they are in subjection to earthly powers, and will be till the throne of David is again set up, till He who is its rightful heir, the Messiah, the Prince of peace, shall come, and then it will be given him. Then the indignation will have ceased. What shall take place in the last end of this period, the Angel is now to make known to Dani'El.
The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
As the disciples said to the Lord (Master), so may we here say of the Angel who spoke to Dani'El, "Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb." This is an explanation of the vision in language as plain as need be given. (See on verses 3-8.) The distinguishing feature of the Persian empire, the union of the two nationalities which composed it, is represented by the two horns of the ram. Grecia attained its greatest glory as a unit under the leadership of Alexander the Great, a general as famous as the world has ever seen. This part of her history is represented by the first phase of the goat, during which time the one notable horn symbolized Alexander the Great. Upon his death, the kingdom fell into fragments, but soon consolidated into four grand divisions, represented by the second phase of the goat, when it had four horns which came up in the place of the first, which was broken. These divisions did not stand in his power. None of them possessed the strength of the original kingdom. These great waymarks in history, on which the historian bestows volumes, the inspired penman here gives us in sharp outline, with a few strokes of the pencil and a few dashes of the pen.
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand: and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
This power succeeds to the four divisions of the goat kingdom in the latter time of their kingdom, that is, toward the termination of their career. It is, of course, the same as the 'little horn' of verse 9 and onward. Apply it to Rome, as set forth in remarks on verse 9, and all is harmonious and clear.
"A king of fierce countenance." Mosheh, in predicting punishment to come upon the Yahudim from this same power, calls it "a nation of fierce countenance." Deut.28:49,50. No people made a more formidable appearance in warlike array than the Romans. "Understanding dark sentences." Mosheh, in the scripture just referred to, says, "Whose tongue thou shalt not understand." This could not be said of the Babylonians, Persians, or Greeks, in reference to the Yahudim; for the Chaldean and Greek languages were used to a greater or less extent in Palestine. This was not the case, however, with the Latin.
"When the transgressors are come to the full." All along, the connection between Elohim's people and their oppressors is kept in view. It was on account of the transgressions of his people that they were sold into captivity. And their continuance in sin brought more severe punishment. At no time were the Yahudim more corrupt morally, as a nation, than at the time they came under the jurisdiction of the Romans.
"Mighty, but not by his own power." The success of the Romans was owing largely to the aid of their allies, and divisions among their enemies, of which they were ever ready to take advantage. Papal Rome also was mighty by means of the secular powers over which she exercised spiritual control.
"He shall destroy wonderfully." YAHUWAH told the Yahudim by the prophet Yehezki'El that he would deliver them to men who were "skilful to destroy;"and the slaughter of eleven hundred thousand Yahudim at the destruction of Yerushalayim by the Roman army, was a terrible confirmation of the prophet's words. And Rome in its second, or papal, phase was responsible for the death of fifty millions of martyrs.
"And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand." Rome has been distinguished above all other powers for a policy of craft, by means of which it brought the nations under its control. This is true of both pagan and papal Rome. And thus by peace it destroyed many. And Rome, finally, in the person of one of its governors, stood up against the Prince of princes, by giving sentence of death against YAHUWSHUAH the Messiah. "But he shall be broken without hand," an expression which identifies the destruction of this power with the smiting of the image of chapter 2.
And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true; wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. And I Dani'El fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business: and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
"The vision of the evening and the morning" is that of the 2300 days. In view of the long period of oppression, and the calamities which were to come upon his people, Dani'El fainted, and was sick certain days. He was astonished at the vision, but did not understand it. Why did not Gabriel at this time fully carry out his instructions, and cause Dani'El to understand the vision? Because Dani'El had received all that he could then bear. Further instruction is therefore deferred to a future time.
THE 2300 EVENINGS AND MORNINGS
IN Dani'El CHAPTER 9, GABRIEL OBEYS YAHUWSHUAH'S COMMAND
"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Dani'El understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of YAHUWAH came to YEREMIYAHUW the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Yerushalayim." VERSES 1-2.
The vision recorded in the preceding chapter was given in the third year of Belshazzar, 538 B.C. That same year, was also the first of year of Darius. There is therefore, less than one year interval between these two chapters. Although Dani'El, as prime minister of the foremost kingdom on the face of the earth, was cumbered with cares and burdens of state, he did not let this deprive him of the privilege of studying into things of higher moment, even the purposes of Elohim as revealed to his prophets. He understood by books, that is, the writings of Yeremiyahu, that Elohim would accomplish seventy years in the captivity of his people. This prediction is found in Jer.25:12; 29:10. The knowledge of it, and the use that was made of it, shows that Yeremiyahu was early regarded as a divinely inspired prophet; otherwise his writings would not have been so soon collected, and so extensively copied. Though Dani'El was for a time contemporary with him, he had a copy of his works which he carried with him in his captivity; and though he was so great a prophet himself, he was not above studying carefully what Elohim might reveal to others of his servants. Commencing the seventy years B.C.606, Dani'El understood that they were now drawing to their termination: and Elohim had even commenced the fulfilment by overthrowing the kingdom of Babylon.
And I set my face unto YAHUWAH Elohim, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.
Because Elohim has promised, we are not released from the responsibility of beseeching him for the fulfilment of his word. Dani'El might have reasoned in this manner: Elohim has promised to release his people at the end of the seventy years, and he will accomplish this promise; I need not therefore concern myself at all in the matter. Dani'El did not thus reason; but as the time drew near for the accomplishment of the word of YAHUWAH, he set himself to seek YAHUWAH with all his heart. And how earnestly he engaged in the work, even with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes! This was the year, probably, in which he was cast into the lions' den; and the prayer of which we here have an account, may have been the burden of that petition, which, regardless of the unrighteous human law which had been secured to the contrary, he offered before YAHUWAH three times a day.
"And I prayed unto YAHUWAH my Elohim, and made my confession, and said, O YAHUWAH, the great and dreadful Elohim, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments." VERSE 4.
We here have the opening of Dani'El's wonderful prayer, a prayer expressing such humiliation and contrition of heart that one must be without feeling who can read it unmoved. He commences by acknowledging the faithfulness of Elohim. Elohim never fails in any of his engagements with his followers. It was not from any lack on Elohim's part in defending and upholding them, that the Yahudim were then in the furnace of captivity, but only on account of their sins.
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O YAHUWAH, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O YAHUWAH, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers because we have sinned against thee. To YAHUWAH our Elohim belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of YAHUWAH our Elohim, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yes, all Yisra'El have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Mosheh the servant of Elohim, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Yerushalayim. As it is written in the law of Mosheh, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before YAHUWAH our Elohim, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath YAHUWAH watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for YAHUWAH our Elohim is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
To this point Dani'El's prayer is employed in making a full and heart-broken confession of sin. He vindicates fully the course of YAHUWAH, acknowledging their sins to be the cause of all their calamities, as Elohim had threatened them by the prophet Mosheh. And he does not discriminate in favor of himself. No self-righteousness appears in his petition. And although he had suffered long for others' sins, enduring seventy years of captivity for the wrongs of his people, himself meanwhile living a godly life, and receiving signal honors and blessings from YAHUWAH, he brings no accusations against any one to the exclusion of others, pleads no sympathy for himself as a victim of others' wrongs, but ranks himself in with the rest, and says, We have sinned, and unto us belongs confusion of face. And he acknowledges that they had not heeded the lessons Elohim designed to teach them by their afflictions, by turning again unto him.
An expression in the 14th verse is worthy of especial notice: "Therefore hath YAHUWAH watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us." Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil. But none may think that YAHUWAH does not see, or that he has forgotten. His retributions will surely overtake the transgressor, against whom they are threatened, without deviation and without fail. He will watch upon the evil, and in his own good time will bring it to pass.
And now, O YAHUWAH our Elohim, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O YAHUWAH, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Yerushalayim, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Yerushalayim and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our Elohim, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for YAHUWAH's sake. O my Elohim, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O YAHUWAH, hear; O YAHUWAH, forgive: O YAHUWAH, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my Elohim: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
The prophet now pleads the honor of YAHUWAH's name as a reason why he desires that his petition should be granted. He refers to the fact of their deliverance from Egypt, and the great renown that had accrued to YAHUWAH's name for all his wonderful works manifested among them. All this would be lost, should he now abandon them to perish. Mosheh used the same argument in pleading for Israel. Numbers 14. Not that Elohim is moved with motives of ambition and vainglory; but when his people are jealous for the honor of his name, when they evince their love for him by pleading with him to work, not for their own personal benefit, but for his own glory, that his name may not be reproached and blasphemed among the heathen, this is acceptable with him. Dani'El then intercedes for the city of Yerushalayim, called by Elohim's name, and his holy mountain, for which he has had such love, and beseeches him, for his mercies' sake, to let his anger be turned away. Finally, his mind centers upon the holy sanctuary, Elohim's own dwellingplace upon this earth, and he pleads that its desolations may be repaired.
Dani'El understood the seventy years of captivity to be near their termination. From his allusion to the sanctuary, it is evident that he so far misunderstood the important vision given him in chapter 8 as to suppose that the 2300 days, at the termination of which the sanctuary was to be cleansed, expired at the same time. This misapprehension was at once corrected when the Angel came to give him further instruction in answer to his prayer, the narration of which is next given.
And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Yisra'El, and presenting my supplication before YAHUWAH my Elohim for the holy mountain of my Elohim; 21. Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
We here have the result of Dani'El's supplication. He is suddenly interrupted by a heavenly messenger. The Angel Gabriel, appearing again as he had before, in the form of a man, whom Dani'El had seen in the vision at the beginning, touched him. A very important question is at this point to be determined. It is to be decided whether the vision of chapter 8 has ever been explained, and can ever be understood. The question is, To what vision does Dani'El refer by the expression "the vision at the beginning"? It will be conceded by all that it is a vision of which we have some previous record, and that in that vision we shall find some mention of Gabriel. We must go back beyond this ninth chapter; for all that we have in this chapter previous to this appearance of Gabriel, is simply a record of Dani'El's prayer.
Looking back, then, through previous chapters, we find mention of only three visions given to Dani'El.
- The interpretation of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar was given in a night vision. Chapter 2:19. But there is no record of any Angelic agency in the matter.
- The vision of chapter 7. This was explained to Dani'El by "one of them that stood by," probably an Angel; but we have no information as to what Angel, nor is there anything in that vision which needed further explanation.
- The vision of chapter 8. Here we find some particulars which show this to be the vision referred to.
- Gabriel is there first brought to view by name in the book, and the only time previous to this occasion.
- He was commanded to make Dani'El understand the vision.
- Dani'El, at the conclusion, says he did not understand it, showing that Gabriel, at the conclusion of chapter 8, had not fulfilled his mission. There is no place in all the Bible where this instruction is carried out, if it be not in chapter 9. If, therefore, the vision of chapter 8 is not the one referred to, we have no record that Gabriel ever complied with the instruction given him, or that that vision has ever been explained.
- The instruction which the Angel now gives to Dani'El, as we shall see from the following verses, does exactly complete what was lacking in chapter 8. These considerations prove beyond a doubt the connection between Dani'El 8 and 9; and this conclusion will be still further strengthened by a consideration of the Angel's instructions.
"And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Dani'El, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision." VERSE 22-23.
The manner in which Gabriel introduces himself on this occasion, shows that he has come to complete some unfulfilled mission. This can be nothing less than to carry out the instruction to make this man "understand the vision," as recorded in chapter 8. "I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding." As the charge still rested upon him to make Dani'El understand, and as he explained to Dani'El in chapter 8 all that he could then bear, and yet he did not understand the vision, he now comes to resume his work and complete his mission. As soon as Dani'El commenced his fervent supplication, the commandment came forth; that is, Gabriel received instruction to visit Dani'El, and impart to him the requisite information. From the time it takes to read Dani'El's prayer down to the point at which Gabriel made his appearance upon the scene, the reader can judge of the speed with which this messenger was dispatched from the court of heaven to this servant of Elohim. No wonder that Dani'El says he was caused to fly swiftly or that Ezekiel compares the movements of these celestial beings to a flash of lightning. Eze.1:14. "Understand the matter," he says to Dani'El.
What matter? That, evidently, which he did not before understand, as stated in the last verse of chapter 8. "Consider the vision." What vision? Not the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's image, nor the vision of chapter 7, for there was no difficulty with either of these; but the vision of chapter 8, in reference to which his mind was filled with doubt and astonishment. "I am come to show thee," also said the Angel. Show thee in reference to what? Certainly in reference to something wherein he was entertaining wrong ideas, and something, at the same time, pertaining to his prayer, as it was this which had called forth Gabriel on his mission at this time.
But Dani'El had no difficulty in understanding what the Angel told him about the ram, he-goat, and little horn, the kingdoms of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Nor was he mistaken in regard to the ending of the seventy years' captivity. But the burden of his petition was respecting the repairing of the desolations of the sanctuary, which lay in ruins; and he had undoubtedly drawn the conclusion that when the end of the seventy years' captivity came, the time would come for the fulfilment of what the Angel had said respecting the cleansing of the sanctuary at the end of the 2300 days. Now he must be set right. And this explains why at this particular time, so soon after the previous vision, instruction was sent to him. Now the seventy years of captivity were drawing to their close, and Dani'El was applying to a wrong issue the instruction he had before received from the Angel. He was falling into a misunderstanding, and was acting upon it; Hence he must not be suffered longer to remain ignorant of the true import of the former vision. "I am come to show thee;" "understand the matter;" "consider the vision." Such were the words used by the very person Dani'El had seen in the former vision, and to whom he had heard the command given, "Make this man to understand the vision," and who, he knew, had never carried out that instruction. But now he appears, and says, "I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding."
How could Dani'El's mind be more emphatically carried back to the vision of chapter 8, and how could the connection between that visit of the Angel and this be more distinctly shown, than by such words at such a time from such a person? The considerations already presented are sufficient to show conclusively the connection between chapters 8 and 9; but this will still further appear in subsequent verses. One expression seems worthy of notice before we leave verse 23. It is the declaration of the Angel to Dani'El, "For thou art greatly beloved." The Angel brought this declaration direct from the courts of heaven. It expressed the state of feeling that existed there in regard to Dani'El. Think of celestial beings, the highest in the universe, the Father, the Son, the holy Angels, having such regard and esteem for a mortal man here upon earth as to authorize an Angel to bear the message to him that he is greatly beloved! This is one of the highest pinnacles of glory to which mortals can attain. Abraham reached another, when it could be said of him that he was the "friend of Elohim;" and Enoch another, when it could be said of him that he "walked with Elohim."
Can we arrive at any such attainments? Elohim is no respecter of persons; but he is a respecter of character. If in virtue and godliness we could equal these eminent men, we could move the divine love to equal depths. We, too, could be greatly beloved, could be friends of Elohim, and could walk with him. And we must be in our generation what they were in theirs. There is a figure used in reference to the last church which denotes the closest union with Elohim: "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Rev.3:20. To sup with YAHUWAH denotes an intimacy equal to being greatly beloved by him, walking with him, or being his friend. How desirable a position! Alas for the evils of our nature, which cut us off from this communion! Oh for grace to overcome these! that we may enjoy this spiritual union here, and finally enter the glories of his presence at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Such are the first words the Angel utters to Dani'El, toward imparting to him that instruction which he came to give. Why does he thus abruptly introduce a period of time? We must again refer to the vision of chapter 8. We have seen that Dani'El, at the close of that chapter, says that he did not understand the vision. Some portions of that vision were at the time very clearly explained. It could not have been these portions which he did not understand. We therefore inquire what it was which Dani'El did not understand, or, in other words, what part of the vision was there left unexplained.
In that vision four prominent things are brought to view:
(1) The Ram;
(2) The He-goat;
(3) The Little Horn;
(4) The period of the 2300 days.
The symbols of the ram, the he-goat, and the little horn were explained. Nothing, however, was said respecting the time. This must therefore have been the point which he did not understand; and as without this the other portions of the vision were of no avail, he could well say, while the application of this period was left in obscurity, that he did not understand the vision.
If this view of the subject is correct, we should naturally expect, when the Angel completed his explanation of the vision, that he would commence with the very point which had been omitted: namely, the time. And this we find to be true in fact. After citing Dani'El's attention back to the former vision in the most direct and emphatic manner, and assuring him that he had now come forth to give him understanding in the matter, he commences upon the very point there omitted, and says, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city."
But how does this language show any connection with the 2300 days, or throw any light upon that period? We answer: The language cannot be intelligibly referred to anything else: for the word here rendered determined signifies "cut off;" and no period is given in the vision here referred to from which the seventy weeks could be cut off but the 2300 days of the previous vision. How direct and natural, then, is the connection. Dani'El's attention is fixed upon the 2300 days, which he did not understand, by the Angel's directing him to the former vision; and he says, "Seventy weeks are cut off." Cut off from what? The 2300 days, most assuredly.
Proof may be called for that the word rendered determined signifies to cut off. An abundance can be given. The Hebrew word thus translated is 'nehhtak'. This word Gesenius, in his Hebrew Lexicon, defines as follows: "Properly, to cut off; tropically, to divide; and so to determine, to decree." Thus Chaldaic and Rabbinical authority, and that of the earliest versions, the Septuagint and Vulgate, give the single meaning of cutting off, to this verb.
Why, then, it may be asked, did our translators render the word determined, when it so obviously means cut off? The answer is, They doubtless overlooked the connection between the eighth and ninth chapters, and considering it improper to render it cut off, when nothing was given from which the seventy weeks could be cut off, they gave the word its tropical instead of its literal meaning. But, as we have seen, the construction, the context, and the connection require the literal meaning, and render any other inadmissible.
Seventy weeks, then, or 490 days of the 2300, were cut off upon, or allotted to, Yerushalayim and the Yahudim; and the events which were to be consummated within that period are briefly stated.
The transgression was to be finished; that is, the Jewish people were to fill up the cup of their iniquity, which they did in the rejection and crucifixion of Messiah.
An end of sins, or of sinofferings, was to be made. This took place when the great offering was made on Calvary.
Reconciliation for iniquity was to be provided. This was made by the sacrificial death of the Son of Elohim.
Everlasting righteousness was to be brought in; the righteousness which our Lord (Master) manifested in his sinless life.
The vision and the prophecy were to be sealed up, or made sure. By the events given to transpire in the seventy weeks, the prophecy is tested. By this the application of the whole vision is determined. If the events of this period are accurately fulfilled, the prophecy is of Elohim, and will all be accomplished; and if these seventy weeks are fulfilled as weeks of years, then the 2300 days, of which these are a part, are so many years. Thus the events of the seventy weeks furnish a key to the whole vision.
And the "most holy" was to be anointed; the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. In the examination of the sanctuary, on chapter 8:14, we saw that a time came when the earthly sanctuary gave place to the heavenly, and the priestly ministration was transferred to that. Before the ministration in the sanctuary commenced, the sanctuary and all the holy vessels were to be anointed. Ex.40:9,10. The last event, therefore, of the seventy weeks, here brought to view, is the anointing of the heavenly tabernacle, or the opening of the ministration there. Thus this first division of the 2300 days bring us to the commencement of the service in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, as the whole period brings us to the commencement of the service in the second apartment, or most holy place, of that sanctuary.
The argument is now conclusive that the ninth chapter of Dani'El explains the eighth, and that the seventy weeks are a part of the 2300 days.
Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Yerushalayim unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The Angel now gives to Dani'El the event which is to mark the commencement of the seventy weeks. They were to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Yerushalayim. And not only is the event given which was to determine the time of the commencement of this period, but those events also which were to transpire at its close. Thus a double test is provided by which to try the application of this prophecy. But more than this, the period of seventy weeks is divided into three grand divisions, and one of these is again divided, and the intermediate events are given which were to mark the termination of each one of these divisions.
If, now, we can find a date which will harmonize with all these events, we have, beyond a doubt, the true application; for none but that which is correct could meet and fulfil so many conditions. Let the reader take in at one view the points of harmony to be made, that he may be the better prepared to guard against a false application.
First, we are to find, at the commencement of the period, a commandment going forth to restore and build Yerushalayim. To this work or restoration seven weeks are allotted. As we reach the end of this first division, seven weeks from the commencement, we are to find, secondly, Yerushalayim, in its material aspect restored, the work of building the street and the wall fully accomplished.
From this point sixty-two weeks are measured off; and as we reach the termination of this division, sixty-nine weeks from the beginning, we are to see, thirdly, the manifestation before the world of the Messiah the Prince.
One week more is given us, completing the seventy. Fourthly, in the midst of this week the Messiah is to be cut off, and to cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; and, fifthly, when the last week of that period which was allotted to the Yahudim as the time during which they were to be the special people of Elohim, expires, we naturally look for the going forth of the blessing and work of Elohim to other people.
We now inquire for the initial date which will harmonize with all these particulars. The command respecting Yerushalayim was to include more than mere building. There was to be restoration; and by this we must understand all the forms and regulations of civil, political, and judicial society. When did such a command go forth? At the time these words were spoken to Dani'El, Yerushalayim lay in complete and utter desolation, and had thus been lying for seventy years.
The restoration, pointed to in the future, must be its restoration from this desolation. We then inquire, When and how was Yerushalayim restored after the seventy years' captivity?
- The decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the house of Elohim, 536 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4);
- The decree of Darius for the prosecution of that work, which had been hindered, 519 B.C. (Ezra 6:1-12);
- The decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra, 457 B.C. (Ezra 7); and
- The commission to NechemYahuw from the same king in his twentieth year, 444 B.C. NechemYahuw 2.
There are but four events which can be taken as answering to the commandment to restore and build Yerushalayim. These are:
Dating from the first two of these decrees, the seventy weeks, being weeks of years, 490 years in all, would fall many years short of reaching even to the Natsarim (Christian) era; besides, these decrees had reference principally to the restoration of the temple and the temple-worship of the Yahudim, and not to the restoration of their civil state and polity, all of which must be included in the expression, "To restore and to build Yerushalayim."
These made a commencement of the work. They were preliminary to what was afterward accomplished. But of themselves they were altogether insufficient, both in their dates and in their nature, to meet the requirements of the prophecy; and thus failing in every respect, they cannot be brought into the controversy as marking the point from which the seventy weeks are to date. The only question now lies between the decrees which were granted to Ezra and to NechemYahuw respectively.
The facts between which we are to decide here are briefly these: In 457 B.C., a decree was granted to Ezra by the Persian emperor Artaxerxes Longimanus to go up to Yerushalayim with as many of his people as were minded to go with him. The commission granted him an unlimited amount of treasure, to beautify the house of Elohim, to procure offerings for its service, and to do whatever else might seem good unto him. It empowered him to ordain laws, set magistrates and judges, and execute punishment even unto death; in other words, to restore the Jewish state, civil and ecclesiastical, according to the law of Elohim and the ancient customs of that people. Inspiration has seen fit to preserve this decree; and a full and accurate copy of it is given in the seventh chapter of the book of Ezra.
In the original, this decree is given, not in Hebrew, like the rest of the book of Ezra, but in the Chaldaic (or Eastern Aramaic), the language then used at Babylon; and thus we are furnished with the original document by virtue of which Ezra was authorized to restore and build Yerushalayim. Thirteen years after this, in the twentieth year of the same king, B.C.444, NechemYahuw sought and obtained permission to go up to Yerushalayim. NechemYahuw chapter 2. Permission was granted him, but we have no evidence that it was anything more than verbal. It pertained to him individually, nothing being said about others going up with him. The king asked him how long a journey he wished to make, and when he would return. He received letters to the governors beyond the river to help him on his way to Judea, and an order to the keeper of the king's forest for timber for beams, etc. When he arrived at Yerushalayim, he found rulers and priests, nobles and people, already engaged in the work of building Yerushalayim. Neh.2:16. These were, of course, acting under the decree given to Ezra thirteen years before. And finally, NechemYahuw, having arrived at Yerushalayim, finished the work he came to accomplish, in fifty-two days. Neh.6:15.
Now which of these commissions, Ezra's or NechemYahuw's, constitutes the decree for the restoration of Yerushalayim, from which the seventy weeks are to be dated? It hardly seems that there can be any question on this point.
The grant to NechemYahuw cannot be called a decree. It was necessary that a Persian decree should be put in writing, and signed by the king. Dan.6:8. Such was the document given to Ezra; but NechemYahuw had nothing of the kind, his commission being only verbal. If it be said that the letters given him constitute the decree, then the decree was issued, not to NechemYahuw, but to the governors beyond the river; besides, these would constitute a series of decrees, and not one decree, as the prophecy contemplates.
The occasion of NechemYahuw's petition to the king for permission to go up to Yerushalayim was the report which certain ones, returning, had brought from thence, that those in the province were in great affliction and reproach, also that the wall of Yerushalayim was broken down, and the gates thereof burned with fire. NechemYahuw 1. Whose work were these walls and gates that were broken down and burned with fire? Evidently the work of Ezra and his associates; for it cannot for a moment be supposed that the utter destruction of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, one hundred and forty-four years previous to that time, would have been reported to NechemYahuw as a matter of news, nor that he would have considered it, as he evidently did, a fresh misfortune, calling for a fresh expression of grief. A decree, therefore, authorizing the building of these, had gone forth previous to the grant to NechemYahuw.
If any should contend that NechemYahuw's commission must be a decree, because the object of his request was that he might build the city, it is sufficient to reply, as shown above, that gates and walls had been built previous to his going up; besides, the work of building which he went to perform was accomplished in fifty-two days; whereas, the prophecy allows for the building of the city, seven weeks, or fifty-nine years.
There was nothing granted to NechemYahuw which was not embraced in the decree to Ezra; while the latter had all the forms and conditions of a decree, and was vastly more ample in its provisions. It is evident from the prayer of Ezra, as recorded in chapter 9:9 of his book, that he considered himself fully empowered to proceed with the building of the city and the wall; and it is evident that he understood, further, that the conditional prophecies concerning his people were then fulfilled, from the closing words of that prayer, in which he says,
"Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldst not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?"
Reckoning from the commission to NechemYahuw, 444 B.C., the dates throughout are entirely disarranged; for from that point the troublesome times which were to attend the building of the street and wall did not last seven weeks, or forty-nine years. Reckoning from that date, the sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince, bring us to A.D.40; but YAHUWHSUAH was baptized of Yahuwchanon in Jordan, and the voice of the Father was heard from heaven declaring him his Son, in 27 A.D., thirteen years before. According to this calculation, the midst of the last or seventieth week, which is marked by the crucifixion, is placed in 44 A.D., but the crucifixion took place in 31 A.D., thirteen years previous. And lastly, the seventy weeks, or 490 years, dating from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, extend to 47 A.D., with absolutely nothing to mark their termination. Hence if that be the year, and the grant to NechemYahuw the event, from which to reckon, the prophecy has proved a failure. As it is, it only proves that theory a failure which dates the seventy weeks from NechemYahuw's commission in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes.
Will these dates harmonize if we reckon from the decree to Ezra? Let us see. In this case, 457 B.C. is our starting-point. Forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the city and the wall. On this point,
Prideaux (Connexion, Vol. I, p.322) says: "In the fifteenth year of Darius Nothus ended the first seven weeks of Dani'El's prophecy. For then the restoration of the church and state of the Yahudim in Yerushalayim and Judea was fully finished, in that last act of reformation which is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of NechemYahuw, from the twenty-third verse to the end of the chapter, just forty-nine years after it had been commenced by Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus." This was 408B.C.
So far we find harmony. Let us apply the measuring-rod of the prophecy still further.
Sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, were to extend to Messiah the Prince. Dating from 457 B.C., they end in 27 A.D. And what event then occurred? Luke thus informs us: "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that YAHUWSHUAH also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost (Ruwach HaChodesh) descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Luke 3:21,22.
After this, YAHUWSHUAH came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of Elohim, and saying, The time is fulfilled." Mark 1:14,15. The time here mentioned must have been some specific, definite, and predicted period; but no prophetic period can be found then terminating, except the sixty-nine weeks of the prophecy of Dani'El, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince. The Messiah had now come; and with his own lips he announced the termination of that period which was to be marked by his manifestation.
There is abundance of authority for 27 A.D. as the date of Messiah's baptism. See "Sacred Chronology," by S. Bliss; "New International Encyclopedia." art. "YAHUWSHUAH Messiah;" "Chronological Synopsis of the Four Gospels," by Dr. Karl Wieseler, p.183. Luke declares that YAHUWSHUAH "began to be about thirty years of age" at the time of his baptism (Luke3:23); and almost immediately after this he entered upon his ministry. How, then, could his ministry commence in 27 A.D., and he still be of the age named by Luke?
The answer to this question is found in the fact that Messiah was born between three and four years before the beginning of the Natsarim (Christian) era, that is, before the year marked 1 A.D. The mistake of dating the Natsarim (Christian) era something over three years this side of the birth of Messiah, instead of dating it from the year of his birth, as it was designed to be, arose on this wise:
One of the most important of ancient eras was reckoned from the building of the city of Rome 'ab urbe condita', expressed by the abbreviation 'A.U.C.', or more briefly, 'U.C.' In the year which is now numbered 532 A.D., Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian by birth, and a Roman abbot, who flourished in the reign of Justinian, invented the Natsarim (Christian) era.
According to the best evidence at his command, he placed the birth of Messiah 753 U.C. But Messiah was born before the death of Herod; and it was afterward ascertained on the clearest evidence that the death of Herod occurred in April, 750 U.C. Allowing a few months for the events recorded in Messiah's life before the time of Herod's death, his birth is carried back to the latter part of 749 U.C., a little over three years before 1A.D. Messiah was therefore thirty years of age in 27A.D. "The vulgar [common] era began to prevail in the West about the time of Charles Martel and Pope Gregory II, 730 A.D.
But further, the Messiah was to confirm the convenant with many for one week. This would be the last week of the seventy, or the last seven years of the 490 years. In the midst of the week, the prophecy informs us, he should cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. These Jewish ordinances, pointing to the death of Messiah, could cease only at the cross; and there they did virtually come to an end, though the outward observance was kept up till the destruction of Yerushalayim, 70 A.D. After threescore and two weeks, according to the record, the Messiah was to be cut off. It is the same as if it had read: And after threescore and two weeks, in the midst of the seventieth week, shall Messiah be cut off, and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Now, as the word 'midst' here means 'middle', according to an abundance of authority which we might produce if necessary, the crucifixion is definitely located in the middle of the seventieth week.
It now becomes an important point to determine in what year the crucifixion took place. The following evidence is sufficient to be considered absolutely decisive on this question.
It is not to be questioned that our Saviour attended every Passover that occurred during his public ministry; and we have mention of only four such occasions previous to his crucifixion. These are found in the following passages: John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 13:1. At the last-mentioned Passover he was crucified.
As he began his ministry in the autumn of 27 A.D., his first Passover would occur the following spring, 28 A.D.; his second, 29 A.D.; his third, 30 A.D.; and his fourth and last, 31 A.D.. This gives us three years and a half for his public ministry, and corresponds exactly to the prophecy that he should be cut off in the midst, or middle, of the seventieth week. As that week of years commenced in the autumn of 27 A.D., the middle of the week would occur three and one half years later, in the spring of 31 A.D., where the crucifixion took place.
Dr. Hales quotes Eusebius, 300 A.D., as saying: "It is recorded in history that the whole time of our Saviour's teaching and working miracles was three years and a half, which is the half of a week [of years]. This, John the evangelist will represent to those who critically attend to his Gospel.
Of the unnatural darkness which occurred at the crucifixion, Hales, Vol.I, pp.69,70, thus speaks: "Hence it appears that the darkness which 'overspread the whole land of Judea' at the time of our Lord's (Master's) crucifixion was preternatural, 'from the sixth until the ninth hour,' or from noon till three in the afternoon, in its duration, and also in its time, about full moon, when the moon could not possibly eclipse the sun. The time it happened, and the fact itself, are recorded in a curious and valuable passage of a respectable Roman Consul, Aurelius Cassiodorius Senator, about 514 A.D.: 'In the consulate of Tiberius Caesar Aug. V and Aelius Sejanus (784 U.C., A.D.31), our Lord (Master) YAHUWSHUAH Messiah suffered, on the 8th of the calends of April (25th March), when there happened such an eclipse of the sun as was never before nor since.'
"In this year, and in this day, agree also the Council of Cesarea, 196 A.D. or 198, the Alexandrian Chronicle, Maximus Monachus, Nicephorus Constantinus, Cedrenus; and in this year, but on different days, concur Eusebius and Epiphanius, followed by Kepler, Bucher, Patinus, and Petavius, some reckoning it the 10th of the calends of April, others the 13th." (See on chapter 11:22.) Here, then, are thirteen credible authorities locating the crucifixion of Messiah in the spring of 31 A.D. We may therefore set this down as a fixed date, as the most cautious or the most skeptical could require nothing more conclusive. This being in the middle of the last week, we have simply to reckon backward three and a half years to find where sixty-nine of the weeks ended, and forward from that point three and a half years, we find ourselves in the autumn of 27 A.D., where, as we have seen, the sixty-nine weeks ended, and Messiah commenced his public ministry.
And going from the crucifixion forward three and a half years, we are brought to the autumn of 34A.D., as the grand terminating point of the whole period of the seventy weeks. This date is marked by the martyrdom of Stephen, the formal rejection of the gospel of Messiah by the Jewish Sanhedrin in the persecution of his disciples, and the turning of the apostles to the Gentiles. And these are just the events which one would expect to take place when that specified period which was cut off for the Yahudim, and allotted to them as a peculiar people, should fully expire.
A question may be asked concerning the date of the seventh year of Artaxerxes, when the decree for restoring Yerushalayim was given to Ezra. Was the seventh of Artaxerxes 457 B.C.? For all those who can appreciate the force of facts, the following testimony will be sufficient here:
The Bible gives the data for a complete system of chronology, extending from the creation to the birth of Cyrus a clearly ascertained date. From this period downward we have the undisputed canon of Ptolemy, and the undoubted era of Nabonassar, extending below our vulgar (Common) era. At the point where inspired chronology leaves us, this canon (Ptolemy's) of undoubted accuracy commences. ... It is by the canon of Ptolemy that the great prophetical period of seventy weeks is fixed. This canon is demonstrated by the concurrent agreement of more than twenty eclipses. This date we cannot change from 457 B.C., without first demonstrating the inaccuracy of Ptolemy's canon. To do this it would be necessary to show that the large number of eclipses by which its accuracy has been repeatedly demonstrated have not been correctly computed; and such a result would unsettle every chronological date, and leave the settlement of epochs and the adjustment of eras entirely at the mercy of every dreamer, so that chronology would be of no more value than mere guesswork. As the seventy weeks must terminate in 34 A.D., unless the seventh of Artaxerxes is wrongly fixed, and as that cannot be changed without some evidence to that effect, we inquire, What evidence marked that termination? The time when the apostles turned to the Gentiles harmonizes with that date better than any other which has been named. And the crucifixion in 31 A.D., in the midst of the last week, is sustained by a mass of testimony which cannot be easily invalidated.
From the facts above set forth, we see that, reckoning the seventy weeks from the decree given to Ezra in the seventh of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C., there is the most perfect harmony throughout. The important and definite events of the manifestation of the Messiah at the baptism, the commencement of his public ministry, the crucifixion, and the turning away from the Yahudim to the Gentiles, with the proclamation of the new covenant, all come in their exact place, and like a bright galaxy of blazing orbs of light, cluster round to set their seal to the prophecy, and make it sure.
It is thus evident that the decree of Ezra in the seventh of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C., is the point from which to date the seventy weeks. That was the going forth of the decree in the sense of the prophecy. The two previous decrees were preparatory and preliminary to this; and indeed they are regarded by Ezra as parts of it, the three being taken as one great whole.
For in Ezra 6:14, we read: "And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the Elohim of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia."
It will be noticed that the decrees of these three kings are spoken of as one, "the commandment [margin, "decree," singular number] of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes," showing that they are all reckoned as a unit, the different decrees being but the successive steps by which the work was accomplished. And this decree could not be said to have "gone forth," as intended by the prophecy, till the last permission which the prophecy required was embodied in the decree, and clothed with the authority of the empire. This point was reached in the grant given to Ezra, but not before. Here the decree assumed the proportions, and covered the ground, demanded by the prophecy, and from this point its "going forth" must be dated.
With the seventy weeks we are now done; but there remain a longer period and other important events to be considered. The seventy weeks are but the first 490 years of the 2300. Take 490 from 2300, and there remain 1810. The 490, as we have seen, ended in the autumn of 34 A.D. If to this date we now add the remaining 1810 years, we shall have the termination of the whole period. Thus, to 34 A.D., autumn, add 1810, and we have the autumn of 1844 A.D. Thus speedily and surely do we find the termination of the 2300 days, when once the seventy weeks have been located.
One other point should here be noticed. We have seen that the seventy weeks are the first 490 days of the 2300 days; that these days are prophetic, signifying literal years, according to the Bible rule, a day for a year (Num.14:34; Eze.4:6), as is proved by the fulfilment of the seventy weeks, and as all reliable expositors agree; that they commenced in 457 B.C. and ended in 1844 A.D., provided the number is right, and twenty-three hundred is the correct reading. With this point established, there would seem to be no room for further controversy. On this point Dr. Hales remarks:
"There is no number in the Bible whose genuineness is better ascertained than that of the 2300 days. It is found in all the printed Hebrew editions, in all the MSS. of Kenicott and De Rossi's collations, and in all the ancient versions, except the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, which reads 2400, followed by Symmachus; and some copies noticed by Jerome, 2200, both evidently literal errors in excess and defect, which compensate each other and confirm the mean, 2300." Chronology, Vol.II, P.512.
The query may here arise how the days can be extended to the autumn of 1844 if they commence 457 B.C., as it requires only 1843 years, in addition to the 457, to make the whole number of 2300. Attention to one fact will clear this point of all difficulty; and that is, that it takes 457 full years before Messiah, and 1843 full years after, to make 2300; so that if the period commenced with the very first day of 457, it would not terminate till the very last day of 1843.
Now it will be evident to all that if any portion of the year 457 had passed away before the 2300 days commenced, just so much of the year 1844 must pass away before they would end.
We therefore inquire, 'At what point in the year 457 are we to commence to reckon?' From the fact that the first forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the street and wall, we learn that the period is to be dated, not from the starting of Ezra from Babylon, but from the actual commencement of the work at Yerushalayim; which it is not probable could be earlier than the seventh month (autumn) of 457, as he did not arrive at Yerushalayim till the fifth month of that year. Ezra 7:9. The whole period would therefore extend to the seventh month, autumn, Biblical time, of 1844.
The momentous declaration made by the Angel to Dani'El, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," is now explained. In our search for the meaning of the sanctuary and its cleansing, and the application of the time, we have found not only that this subject can be easily understood; but lo! the event is even now in process of accomplishment, and is almost finished. And here we pause a brief moment to reflect upon the solemn position into which we are brought.
We have seen that the sanctuary of this dispensation is the tabernacle of Elohim in heaven, the house not made with hands, where our Master ministers in behalf of penitent sinners, the place where between the great Elohim and his Son YAHUWSHUAH Messiah the "counsel of peace" prevails in the work of salvation for perishing men. Zech.6:13; Ps.85:10. We have seen that the cleansing of the sanctuary consists in the removing of the sins from the same, and is the closing act of the ministration performed therein; that the work of salvation now centers in the heavenly sanctuary; and when the sanctuary is cleansed, the work is done, and the plan is finished. Then the great scheme devised at the fall for the salvation of as many of the lost race as would avail themselves of its provisions, and carried forward for six thousand years, is brought to its final termination. Mercy no longer pleads, and the great voice is heard from the throne in the temple in heaven, saying, "It is done." Rev.16:17. And what then? All the righteous are safe for everlasting life; all the wicked are doomed to everlasting death. No decision can be changed, no reward can be lost, and no destiny of despair can be averted, beyond that point.
And we have seen (and this is what brings the solemnities of the Judgment to our own door) that that long prophetic period which was to mark the commencement of this final work in the heavenly sanctuary, has met its termination in our own generation. In 1844 the days ended. And since that time the final work for man's salvation has been going forward. This work involves an examination of every man's character; for it consists in the remission of the sins of those who shall be found worthy to have them remitted, and determines who among the dead shall be raised, and who among the living shall be changed, at the coming of the Master, and who, of both dead and living, shall be left to have their part in the fearful scenes of the second death. And all can see that such a decision as this must be rendered before the Master appears. Every man's destiny is to be determined by the deeds done in the body, and each one is to be rewarded according to his works. 2Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12.
In the books of remembrance kept by the heavenly scribes above, every man's deeds will be found recorded (Rev.20:12); and in the closing sanctuary work these records are examined, and decision is rendered in accordance therewith. Dan.7:9,10. It would be most natural to suppose that the work would commence with the first members of the human race; that their cases would be first examined, and decision rendered, and so on with all the dead, generation by generation, in chronological succession along the stream of time, till we reach the last generation, the generation of the living, with whose cases the work would close.
How long it will take to examine the cases of all the dead, how soon the work will reach the cases of the living, no man can know. And as above remarked, since the year 1844 this solemn work has been going forward. The light of the types, and the very nature of the case, forbid that it should be of long continuance. John, in his sublime views of heavenly scenes, saw millions of attendants and assistants engaged with our Master in his priestly work. Revelation 5. And so the ministration goes forward. It ceases not, it delays not, and it must soon be forever finished.
And here we stand the last, the greatest, and the most solemn crisis in the history of our race immediately impending; the great plan of salvation about finished; the last precious years of probation almost ended; the Master about to come to save those who are ready and waiting, and to cut asunder the careless and unbelieving; and the world alas! what shall we say of them! deceived with error, crazed with cares and business, delirious with pleasure, and paralyzed with vice, they have not a moment to spare in listening to solemn truth, nor a thought to bestow upon their eternal interest. Let the people of Elohim, with eternity right in view, be careful to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, and prepare to pass the searching test, when their cases shall come up for examination at the great tribunal above.
To the careful attention of every student of prophecy we commend the subject of the sanctuary. In the sanctuary is seen the ark of Elohim's testament, containing his holy law; and this suggests a reform in our obedience to that great standard of morality. The opening of this heavenly temple, or the commencement of the service in its second apartment, marks the commencement of the sounding of the seventh Angel. Rev. 11:15,19. The work performed therein is the foundation of the third message of Revelation 14, the last message of mercy to a perishing world. This subject explains the great disappointment of the Adventists in 1844, by showing that they mistook the event to occur at the end of the 2300 days. It renders harmonious and clear past prophetic fulfilments, which are otherwise involved in impenetrable obscurity. It gives a definite idea of the position and work of our great High Priest, and brings out the plan of salvation in its distinctive and beautiful features. It reins us up, as no other subject does, to the realities of the Judgment, and shows the preparation we need to be able to stand in the coming day. It shows us that we are in the waiting time, and puts us upon our watch; for we know not how soon the work will be finished, and our Master appear. Watch, lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.Return to Top