The On-Line Commentary
on the Book of Daniel

By Brother Given Blakely.

The Prophecy of Daniel

Lesson Number 26
TRANSLATION LEGEND: ASV=American Standard Version (1901), BBE=Bible in Basic English (1949), DRA=Douay-Rheims (1899), ESV=English Stand Version (2001), KJV=King James Version (1611), NKJV=New King James Version (1982), NAB=New American Bible, NASB=New American Standard Bible (1977), NAU=New American Standard Bible (1995), NIB=New International Bible, NIV=New International Version (1984), NJB=New Jerusalem Bible, NLT=New Living Translation, NRSV=New Revised Standard Version (1989), RSV=Revised Standard Version (1952), TNK=JPS Tanakj (1985), YLT-Young’s Literal Translation (1862).
8:16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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. 20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23 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. 24 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 25 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. 26 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. 27 And I Daniel 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.” KJV (Dan 8:16-27)
Daniel has been shown a vision. It has been remarkably detailed, revealing an assault upon the people of God. The holy land would be attacked, the daily sacrifice violently taken away, the altar of sacrifice defiled with abomination, and the sanctuary plundered and cast down. The devastating desecration was appointed for 2,300 days. All of this was owing to the transgression of the people of God. The prophecy was weighty as well as intriguing, registering a strong impact upon the spirit of Daniel.
There is a spirit in this text that reveals a principle of revelation. It is that relevant futures always pertain to the people of God. The evil crusader of this vision came from the Grecian empire, and launched an initiative against the Lord’s land, people, sacrifice, altar, and sanctuary. That is why special note is made of him. As a political entity, Antiochus Epiphanes was historically significant. He conquered the great nation of Egypt, occupying it in 169 B.C. He also launched an impressive effort to hellenize his kingdom “by founding and fostering Greek cities.” The Britannica Encyclopedia 2002 says of him, “he had contributed to the building of the temple of Zeus in Athens and to the adornment of the theatre. He enlarged Antioch on the Orontes by adding a section to the city (named Epiphania after him). There he built an aqueduct, a council hall, a marketplace, and a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. Babylon, which revered him as Soter (Liberator, or Savior) of Asia, was given a Greek colony that was granted freedom of the city. Another Epiphania was founded in Armenia. Ecbatana (in Persia) was also named Epiphania and became a Greek city. Many of these cities were granted the right to coin their own municipal currency. The mint of Antioch on the Persian Gulf served the trade along the sea route between India and the district at the mouth of the great Mesopotamian rivers.” From the worldly point of view, his dealings with the Jews was a side issue, even though he suffered defeat at their hands. Yet, from heaven’s point of view, all of his other endeavors and exploits were incidental, and unworthy of mention.
This is a consistent approach to the affairs of men in Scripture. The Divine spotlight is not placed upon earthly dignitaries unless they in some way impact upon the people of God. The Bible is never a mere history book, or commentary on social affairs. It is ever a record of the works of God, and His interventions in the affairs of men. Some examples of this principle are provided below.
The lives of Abraham (1955 B.C. - 1780 B.C.) and Job (1950 B.C. ??) are given considerable emphasis in Scripture. During their lifetime the Sumerian Civilization (3500 B.C. - 1800 B.C.),
the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2000 B.C. - 1780 B.C.), the Babylonian Empire of Mesopotamia (2000 B.C. - 1531 B.C.), and the Hittites ofAsia Minor (2000 B.C. - 1200 B.C.) were in existence. Though consistently given prominence in worldly history, they were not the object of Divine commentary.
Hammurabi (1792 B.C. - 1750 B.C.) was a contemporary of Jacob (1795 B.C. - 1647 B.C.). Although significant in worldly history, Jacob is the prominent one in God’s revelation.
From 1730 B.C. to 1580 B.C. the Hyksos people ruled Egypt. They were a significant people in worldly history introducing the horse and the chariot, the compound bow, improved battle axes, and advanced fortification techniques. Yet during their outwardly impressive dominance, God chose to emphasize Joseph (1704 B.C. - 1594 B.C.).
The Egyptian Empire extended from 1550 B.C. to 1085 B.C., during which such historical notables as Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thuitmose II, and Hatshepsut, and others ruled. Yet, during this time, Moses (1529 B.C. - 1409 B.C.) is the man of whom God spoke. The events during this time of which God spoke were the exodus, Israel’s entrance into Canaan, and the time of the Judges.
The Assyrian Empire extended from 1200 B.C. to 612 B.C. Yet, during their impressive dominion God gave the record of the Judges and Kings of Jews.
The Babylonian Empire extended from 626 B.C. to 538 B.C., yet its only significance in Scripture related to the Babylonian captivity in which Israel was chastened. During the time of their dominion God spoke about Jeremiah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Joel, and Ezekiel.
During the dominance of the Roman Empire (63 B.C. - 180 A.D.) the content of Divine commentary is found in the books of the Bible commonly called “the New Testament.” The entrance of the Savior into the world, His vicarious death, triumphant resurrection, and enthronement in glory are the focus of Divine commentary. Such notables as the Apostles, Stephen, Philip, Timothy, Luke, James, and others, are the people of whom we hear. And, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has the spotlight of heaven upon it.
There is a remarkable consistency throughout Scripture of this approach. Men and kingdoms of this world only obtain any significance when they impact upon the people of God. Apart from that they are, at best, only incidental, and hardly worthy of mention.
The Implications of This Observation
It is one thing to make these observations, it is another thing to see their implications. The book of Daniel has been the object of much theological abuse. All manner of doctrines have been founded upon some of the very prophecies with which we are dealing. Not a few of these doctrines relate to the last times, and events that will come upon the world. Some take the position that many of these events – object of Divine commentary – will take place following the removal of the people of God from the earth.
While I do not wish to be contentious about the matter, there is something about this view that troubles me. God has never commented on the kingdoms, individuals, or affairs of this world unless they bore directly upon His people.
The Pharaohs, for example, were of no significance until it came to Joseph, the offspring of Abraham, Moses, and the deliverance of the Jews.
Nebuchadnezzar obtained significance only when God used him to chasten His people.
Cyrus gained importance when God used him to initiate a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of His house.
Herod the Great came into Scriptural significance only when the Son of God was born.
Herod Antipas is only mentioned because of his deed against John the Baptist, and his role in the death of Jesus.
We are given information about Pilate only because he was involved in the atoning death of Christ.
Suffice it to say, it is completely out of order to weigh down the people of God with proclamations of a ruthless ruler of the future who is viewed strictly from a political and worldly point of view. God has never spoken in such a manner. God has had a special people in the earth since the days of Abraham. Yet, He has never sent a prophet to them, or addressed one inspired word to them, about mere political events, or men of the world. His word has always related to His affairs among His people.
Some choose to believe that this trend, however, changes with the advent of Christ. Now, through the books of Daniel and Revelation, they imagine, God tells us of worldly rulers without regard to their association with His people. Such a supposition suggests a dramatic departure from every syllable of revelation. Additionally, it represents God as becoming more general in His words since the enthronement of Jesus.
It will take a great deal more than human affirmation to establish such a conjecture. Those who point the saints of God to a time in the future when political rule becomes the most prominent thing, have not contributed one weightless mote of good to them. Whatever defense may be presented for such presentations, they do not blend with the spirit of revelation.
From beginning to end, the Substance of revelation is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said of the Scriptures, “they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). An angel from heaven revealed to John that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10). Of the thrust of the Prophet’s message, Peter said the Spirit in them “testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet 1:11). We must not allow our approach to Daniel to rob us of this perspective, leaving us marveling at an earthly ruler. Whatever view one chooses to take of this passage, it must not be allowed to upstage the Messiah, or shine more light on His opponents than on Himself.
Daniel has sought to understand the vision that has been shown to him. Now his desire will be granted from heaven. It is critical that we note the manner in which it is unfolded. There is some specificity, but it is not after a carnal order. Everything relates to the purpose of God and the coming of the Messiah. Those pillars of reason are at the heart of all Scripture. The text before us is preparatory for the consideration of the Messiah in chapter nine. Were it not for Him, this revelation would not have been given. All Scripture finds its meaning and value in Jesus.
“ 8:16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.”
A vision has been shown to Daniel. It was given to him in the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar. In the vision, he was transported to the center of Persian power, in the palace at Shushan, in the province of Elam. In his vision, he was by the river of Ulai. By way of review, the following is a brief summation of that vision (8:1-14).
He saw a ram on the bank of the river.
The ram had two high horns.
One of the ram’s horns grew higher than the other, coming up last.
The ram forced its way toward the West, North, and South.
None could deliver out of its hand.
The ram did whatever it wanted.
A he goat came from the West.
He covered the earth swiftly, not touching the ground.
The he goat had a notable horn between its eyes.
The he goat approached the ram, running to him in the fury of its power.
He was moved with bitterness against the ram.
He struck the ram, breaking its two horns.
The ram lost all power and was trampled into the ground.
No one could deliver the ram from the fury of the he goat.
When the he goat was at the zenith of its power, its notable horn was broken.
Four notable horns came in the place of the broken horn.
Out of one of the four horns grew a little horn.
The little horn grew great, moving toward the South and the East.
In its power, the horn came against God’s “pleasant land.”
It grew great, even to the host of heaven.
It cast down some of the host and stars, trampling them.
It magnified itself against the Prince of the host.
It took away the daily sacrifice.
It cast down the place of God’s sanctuary.
A host was given to him, as well as the daily sacrifice.
It was given such power because of transgression.
It cast the truth to the ground.
It did its own will and prospered.
Daniel heard one saint speaking.
Daniel heard another saint ask the speaking saint how long the daily sacrifice would cease, the transgression of desolation continue, and the sanctuary and host be trodden under foot.
Daniel is told these circumstances would continue for 2,300 days.
Following those 2,300 days, the sanctuary would be cleansed.
There are no less than thirty-one details! It is no wonder that Daniel “sought for the meaning” of the vision! We are not told how long Daniel “sought for the meaning.” However,
while he was in the process of considering the vision and seeking for its meaning, there stood in front of him “one who looked like a man.” NIV
This was a heavenly personality who appeared in the form of a man, thereby making his appearance less disruptive to Daniel. The word this messenger came to give must not be overshadowed by his glorious appearance, for angels have a supernal glory of their own (Matt 16:27). This being is not intended to be studied, viewed with awe, of become the subject of speculation. He comes with a message.
“And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai . . . ” Once again, there is an accommodation to frailty of the human constitution. It was a “man’s voice” Daniel heard, but it did not come from a man. The things that will be made known to Daniel are beyond the discovery of men. They must be brought to men, or else they will never comprehend them. The “voice of a man,” therefore, is a description of the manner in which God made this known to Daniel. It was an instance of heaven accommodating itself to human frailty.
Daniel has seen a ram on one side of the river Ulai, and a he goat on the other side. But this voice comes from neither side. It is “between the banks of Ulai.” It is not a voice that sides with the ram or the he goat, but speaks for the One who rules them both. This voice is similar to the one seen by Joshua when they came against Jericho. One with the appearance of a man stood before Joshua with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua asked, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” The one standing before Joshua deferred to be identified with either one of them. He simply answered, “Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come” (Josh 5:14). He had not come to be an arbiter between men, but to take control. He was an expression of the heavens that do rule.
Thus the one Daniel sees, as well as the voice he hears, is coming from the heavenly headquarters from which all of the affairs of men are governed. The words that follow are not spoken to Daniel, but to the figure standing before him.
“ . . . which called, and said, Gabriel.” Now, for the first time, we find that this person who appeared as a man was actually the angel Gabriel. Further, this is the first mentioning of Gabriel in Scripture. This confirms to us the magnitude of the revelation that is being made known to Daniel. It has brought the involvement of angelic personages.
The angel Gabriel is mentioned four times in Scripture. Two of them are in the book of Daniel.
“And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” (Dan 8:16)
“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.” (Dan 9:21)
“And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” (Luke 1:19)
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27)
We learn several things from these four references.
That Gabriel is, in fact, an angel: “the angel Gabriel.”
That he has understanding concerning the affairs of men: “I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation” (Dan 8:19).
He has power to quicken men: “he touched me, and set me upright” (Dan 8:18).
That he is dispatched quickly, coming swiftly from heaven to earth: “being caused to fly swiftly”(Dan 9:21).
That he can give “skill and understanding” (Dan 9:22).
That he stands in the presence of God: “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19).
That he has been sent by God to specific individuals who are favored by God: “I am come to show thee; for thou (Daniel) art greatly beloved” (Dan 9:23); “Gabriel was sent from God . . . to a virgin . . . Mary . . . and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored” (Lk 1:26-27).
Extensive messages have been delivered by Gabriel: Daniel 8:17-26; 9:22-27; Luke 1:13-17,19-20; 1:28, 30-33,35-37.
The fact that Gabriel is dispatched to deliver the meaning of the vision to Daniel suggests the importance of that message. It also indicates that it is related to the Lord’s Christ in some way, as the other three messages Gabriel delivered particularly had to do with the Messiah.
“ . . . make this man to understand the vision.” Other versions read, “give this man understanding,” NASB “tell this man the meaning,” NIV “help this man understand,” NRSV “make the vision clear,” BBE and “cause this one to understand.” YLT
Immediately we see that heavenly personalities are more informed than those upon earth – particularly regarding the working of the Lord in the earth. It is true, the angels desire to probe the Gospel, for it pertains exclusively to men, unveiling aspects of God’s character no angel has ever experienced (1 Pet 1:12). What is apparent to them are mysteries unto men until they are
explained. It is no wonder the Scriptures speak of profound understanding as something likened to “the wisdom of an angel” (2 Sam 14:20).
This wisdom, however, is not merely a capacity resident in the angels, although that capacity is there. Rather, their wisdom is the result of being “in the presence of the Lord,” a position Gabriel acknowledged he occupied (Lk 1:19).
True wisdom is directly proportionate to ones proximity to the Lord, and availing oneself of that proximity. Satan was once close to the throne, no less than “the anointed cherub,” who was “upon the holy mountain of God” (Ezek 28:14). However, he chose to be “lifted up” because of his beauty, corrupting his wisdom “by reason” of his “brightness.” Therefore he was cast from his ancient habitation. Therefore, although Satan has an illustrious past, he is never employed to open the things of God to the people of God. Both his knowledge and his wisdom have been corrupted.
But it is not so with Gabriel. He is a chief among the “holy angels,” and is not among those who “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation”(Jude 1:6). He is capable of making Daniel understand the vision – of bringing the understanding of it within Daniel’s reach.
David knew that it is within both God’s power and will to make mortals understand. That is why he prayed, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works” (Psa 119:27). Isaiah asked, “Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa 28:9). That is, God causes those who are mature in spirit – those who have understanding – to “understand doctrine.” While this contradicts carnal reasoning, it perfectly coincides with a revelation previously given to Daniel: “He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding” (Dan 2:21).
Notice that Gabriel does not move upon a word from Daniel. Angels are not subject to men, notwithstanding some of the contemporary nonsense about saints commanding angels. The “man’s voice” Daniel heard speaking to Gabriel did not come from a man, but from heaven. It was like a “man’s voice” for Daniel’s sake, not that of Gabriel. Daniel had sought for understanding. It was sent to him from heaven, and brought by the angel Gabriel. However, Gabriel will deliver the message upon a word from heaven. He now has the word, and the explanation is forthcoming, for he will obey immediately.
God has frequently employed angels to deliver key messages to men, and to open Divine determinations that were hidden to men. Some of them involved extensive directions and explanations.
Unveiled Abraham’s future when he was set to offer up Isaac as he was commanded (Gen 22:11-18).
Spoke to Hagar, telling her she was with child, to call him “Ishmael” when he was born, that he would be a “wild man,” would be “against every man” (Gen 16:7-12).
Revealed the destruction of Sodom to Lot, told him he must leave the city, and negotiated him going to a nearby city for safety (Gen 19:1-22).
Instructed Gideon on his role in delivering Israel from the Midianites in an extended revelation (Judges 6:11-23).
Revealed the birth of Samson to Manoah and his wife, telling them what to name him, how to raise him, and that he would do (Judges 13:6–20).
Instructed Zechariah concerning the future in most remarkable ways. No less than ten times Zechariah refers to “the angel that talked with me” (Zech 1:9-19; 2:3-13; 3:1-6; 4:1-7; 5:5-10; 6:4-8).
Revealed to Joseph that he should take Mary to be his wife, that she would have the Son of God, and that he should call His name Jesus, for He would save His people from their sins (Matt 1:20-21).
Provided Mary, the mother of our Lord, with extensive information concerning His birth and glorious reign (Luke1:26-38).
Made known the birth and ministry of John the Baptist to Zecharias (Luke 1:11-20).
Revealed the birth of Jesus to certain shepherd, explaining who He was, the extent of the news concerning Him, and how to recognize Him (Luke 2:8-14). Made known to the women who came to the tomb that Jesus was not there, that He had risen, and to tell His disciples, and that Jesus would meet them in Galilee (Matt 28:5-7).
At Christ’s ascension told the disciples Jesus would come again, just as they had seen Him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11).
Appeared to Cornelius, telling him his prayers had been heard in heaven, and giving detailed instructions on what he should do to hear words whereby he and his house could be saved (Acts 10:3-6).
Made known to John the message contained in the book of Revelation (Rev 1:1).
These are only representative of a great number of angelic messages recorded in Scripture. They confirm to us that heavenly involvements are intelligent ones, with purpose and intent. They also reveal the desire of the Lord to communicate His will to men, making them privy to His will.
Heavenly Words Are Clear
There are those who imagine that a cloud of mystery, strange feelings, and unintelligible utterances are evidences of heavenly activity. However, such postulates are exceedingly difficult
to support. In Scripture, every time heaven interfaces with men for the purpose of blessing, there is always some degree of understanding. It is true that Paul was once caught up into the third heaven, hearing “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor 12:4). These were words that could not be expressed in human language. The message Paul heard was for him personally, and apparently brought sustaining grace to him for the trials that awaited him. The words were clear to him, therefore, but he could not communicate them to others. Those who would make such an experience common among the saints, or a standard for those in the body of Christ, do greatly err. This occurred to Paul one time, and he humbly recalls it fourteen years afterward.
For those with a penchant for speaking in “unknown tongues,” there is nothing in God’s word that suggests such a language is unintelligible. “Unknown” is not a synonym for unintelligent, nor does it speak of something that cannot be known. It is unknown to the hearer, not the speaker. That is why those speaking in tongues are told to pray they can interpret their word to others (1 Cor 14:13-17). A word from them to others that cannot be understood is of no profit. Why should it be thought such a word could be profitable to them?
A message from God that cannot be understood is no message at all. Such a message is like the one Jesus gave to Saul on the road to Damascus, which message those with him could not understand, even though they heard sounds (Acts 9:7; 22:9). God forbid that anyone in the body of Christ should be like those who accompanied Saul.
As a matter of passing interest, Paul spoke of “the tongues of men and angels” (1 Cor 13:1). However, in every single instance where angels communicated with men, they spoke in the language of men. This confirms the desire of the Lord for men to acquire an understanding of His purposes.
“ 17 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.”
Daniel has seen Gabriel; standing before him, but there was a distance between him and this mighty angel. That distance was necessitated by man’s fallen condition, and it can only be bridged by a Divine initiative. When fallen man is brought close to heavenly influences, an acute awareness of the enmity that accompanies that fallen condition is realized.
“So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face . . . ” One can only imagine the fear that must have gripped Daniel’s heart as the mighty angel Gabriel drew close to him. When David saw an angel with a drawn sword, he was “afraid” (2 Chron 21:30). When Gideon saw an angel, he thought he was going to die (Judges 6:22-23). When
Manoah and his wife (the parents of Samson) saw an angel of the Lord, Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die” (Judges 13:22). Upon the sight of an angel, even the animal carrying Balaam refused to approach to him, turning side, going into a wall, and finally falling down (Gen 22;23,25,27). When Balaam saw the angel, he “fell flat on his face” (Num 22:31). When David and the elders of Israel “saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and heaven,” they all “fell on their faces” (1 Chron 21:16). Upon beholding an angel, Zecharias “was troubled, and fear fell upon him” (Lk 1:11). When the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, they were “sore afraid” (Lk 2:9). When a angel descended upon the tomb from which Jesus had risen, “for fear of him, the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” (Matt 28:2). When Cornelius saw an angel “he was afraid” (Acts 10:4).
This fear was induced by the glory of the angels of reference, which so contrasted with the flesh of men. In the many instances where men are not said to have feared at the sight of an angel, that glory was subdued by the angel appearing as a man, or by allaying the fears of the people by saying “fear not.” Also, following the inauguration of the New Covenant, when men were reconciled to God, such fears were not as common, for men had been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus.
I . . . Fell Upon My Face
We are living in a time and place when pride is so dominant that such expressions sound strange. That strangeness also indicates how far this generation is from the Lord. When Ezekiel saw “the glory of the Lord,” he also said, “I fell on my face” (Ezek 3:23). When God “talked” with Abram, he “fell on his face” (Gen 17:3). When an angel who was “captain of the Lord’s host” appeared to Joshua, he also “fell on his face”(Josh 5:14). When a fire from heaven came down and consumed the sacrifice on the altar of burnt offerings, the people saw it and “fell on their faces” (Lev 9:24). The same thing happened when fire fell from heaven consuming Elijah’s sacrifice (1 Kgs 18:39). Manoah and his wife also did the same at the sight of an angel (Judges 13:20).
Here was a man “greatly beloved” of the Lord, and yet when Gabriel came from the presence of the Lord and approached him, he was afraid and fell upon his face. It certainly was not because Daniel was in a state of rebellion, or had not been faithful, or had forgotten the Lord. Rather, such a vast gulf between God and man has been created by sin that heavenly confrontations tend to induce fear.
“ . . . but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man . . . ” The angel quickly points out the frailty of humanity: “O son of man.” Here, that phrase literally means “son of Adam,” for the word used for “man” is the Hebrew word “Adam” (aw-dawm). It is also translated “man” in Genesis 1:26,27; 2:5,7,8,15,16,18,22,25; 3:12,22,24; 5:1; 6:3,5,6,7; 7:21,23;9:5,6; 16:12, etc. In fact, “man” is translated from the Hebrew word “aw-dawm” no less than 579 times from Genesis through Malachi. Humanity is thus addressed as “Adam” because “from one man” God “made every nation of men” NIV (Acts 17:26). By saying “son of man,” therefore, Gabriel was referring to Daniel’s humanness, or descent from Adam.
How fragile men must appear to the holy angels! The glory in which they regularly bask causes flesh to fear and quake. However, the angel is gentle with Daniel, for he has been sent and commissioned to bring understanding to him. Therefore, he immediately highlights his mission – to give understanding, and not to induce fear.
“The Time of the End”
“ . . . for at the time of the end shall be the vision.” Other versions read, “the vision refers to the time of the end,” NKJV “the vision belongeth to the time of the end,” ASV “the vision pertains to the time of the end,” NASB “the vision concerns the time of the end,” NIV “the vision is for the time of the end,” NRSV “the vision has to do with the time of the end,” BBE and “the vision is for an appointed time.” Septuagint
There are at least two things emphasized in the expression “time of the end.”
First, the vision refers to the time of the conclusion of the desolation that would be inflicted by Antiochus Epiphanes – the time when the temple would be “cleansed.” “The end” is not the end of time, but the end of the judgment that came “because of transgression.” This would prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, who would not enter the world while the vile desolation was still in place.
Second, and of particular emphasis, this refers to the Divine appointment of “the end” of the desolation. The Septuagint version shows this in its translation of the verse: “the vision is for an appointed time.” We are not, however, left to conjecture on this matter, nor are we dependent upon the various translations of the verse. The text itself will deliver the meaning to us, without the aid of the linguist.
In his elaboration of the vision, Gabriel will make this precise point in verse nineteen. “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.” The end refers to the indignation.
“ 18 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.” The sight of Gabriel, together with his words, was too much for the flesh. The natural part of Daniel’s person lost its mobility in the presence of the heavenly messenger. Here is another confirmation that “flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 15:50). The more prominent the Spirit becomes to the individual, the more insignificant and unprofitable the flesh becomes. Daniel now testifies how his natural weakness was resolved by Gabriel. This was done in order that he might take hold of the message brought to him. The flesh was, indeed, “weak,” but it would not rob Daniel of the meaning that he sought. Gabriel will come to his aid, a true minister of an heir of salvation
“Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground . . . ” Other versions read, “I fell into a deep sleep,” ASV “went into a deep sleep,” BBE “I fell into a trance, face toward the ground,” NRSV “I went into a deep stupor,” DARBY and “I fainted.” NJB
This is an elaboration of the statement, “I was afraid, and fell upon my face.” The idea is that his strength was utterly taken away from him. His consciousness of the presence of Gabriel and his words were in his spirit, not his flesh, which was stupefied by the confrontation. It appears as though he was oblivious to everything about him, his flesh being overcome with the events at hand. Thus some versions read that he was in “a trance,” or “fainted.”
Daniel had this same reaction, during the third year of Cyrus king of Persia. Then, when he heard the voice of words coming from an angelic being, he again “was in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground” (10:9). It is sufficient to say at this point that the magnitude of the vision coupled with the presence of Gabriel the angel was more than the human constitution of Daniel could bear. Other Scriptural incidents that are similar include the following, confirming this is not an unusual response.
ABRAM. “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him” (Gen 15:12).
JOB. “Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up” (Job 4:12-15).
GIDEON. “And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O LORD God! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die” (Judges 6:22-23).
ZECHARIAS. “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him” (Luke 1:11-12).
“ . . . but he touched me, and set me upright.” Other versions reach, “he touched me, and stood me upright,” NKJV “he touched me and made me stand upright,” NASB “he touched me and raised me to my feet,” NIV “he touched me and set me on my feet,” NRSV “he touched me, he put me on my feet where I had been,” BBE and “he touched me, and set me up where I had stood.” DARBY
For some people, being caused to faint, fall into a deep sleep, or brought to lie flat on their face, would be sufficient to be classified a blessing. But for men to be left in such a posture is preferred neither by holy men nor angels.
When a “deep sleep” fell upon Abram, the Lord spoke to him, detailing the future of the nation that would come from him (Gen 15:10-16).
When Balaam fell into a trance, he received insight into the favored status of Israel (Num 24:4-6).
When Daniel twice fell into a deep sleep, messages were given to him (Dan 8:17-27; 10:9-21).
When Peter fell into a trance, he was tutored by the Lord concerning the acceptance of the Gentiles (Acts 10:10-16). Immediately following that, the Spirit directed him to go to the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:5-12).
When Saul of Tarsus was struck down, Jesus delivered a message to him (Acts 9:4-6).
When Paul fell into a trance while he was praying, the Lord instructed him to leave Jerusalem and go to the Gentiles (Acts 22:17-21).
When John fell as a dead man before the glorified Christ, Jesus identified Himself and delivered a commission to John (Rev 1:17-20).
Whatever may be said of such experiences, they are certainly not an end of themselves. The blessing, revelation, and direction of the Almighty are to be attended by alertness and attentiveness on the part of the one being addressed.
Thus Gabriel simply touches Daniel, causing him to raise a listening posture. He has been commissioned to cause Daniel to understand the vision he has seen, and he must have Daniel’s attention to do so.
We have some indication here of the superiority of angels, and of their ability to do miraculous things. The Scriptures inform us that they “excel in strength” (Psa 103:20). Their power is most significant. What marvelous things they have done in their ministration to the heirs of salvation!
An angel led Israel out of Egypt (Num 20:16; Judges 2:1).
Two angels destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:1,13,15-22).
An angel caused fire to come out of a rock consuming some flesh and unleavened cakes (Judges 6:20-21).
An angel prepared a miraculous meal for Elijah, a meal that strengthened him for forty days (1 Kgs 19:7-8). To prepare him for the meal, the angel simply “touched” Elijah, instantly raising him from a deep sleep (1Kgs 19:5).
One angel killed an Assyrian army of 185,000 (2 Kgs 19:35).
It is obvious that angels have been Divinely equipped for their ministry. They are fully adequate for every mission on which they are sent. Of course, it is God’s manner to do such things
– even among the sons of men. Now Gabriel prepares Daniel for the explanation of his troubling vision. He will tenderly assure him of the sure outcome of his appearance, frightening though it may be.
“ 19 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.”
Gabriel has been told to cause Daniel to understand the vision, and he immediately sets out to do precisely that. This is the nature of angels, who are described in these words. “Who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire” (Psa 104:4) – that is, they come quickly, and fulfill their missions effectively. They are also said to “fly swiftly” (Dan 9:21), doing the will of the Lord instantly. It is the Lord’s desire that such responses be found among the sons of men. That is one of the reasons Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Mat 6:10).
“And he said, Behold, I will make thee know . . . ” Other versions read, “I am making known to you,” NKJV “I am going to let you know,” NASB “I am going to tell you,” NIV and “I am causing thee to know.” YLT
Note the confidence with which the angel Gabriel speaks. He has a willing and seeking spirit in Daniel, and a commission from the God who does whatever He pleases in heaven and upon earth (Psa 135:6). The meeting of those two circumstances is what guarantees Daniel will understand.
We should be able to infer from this some valuable lessons for ourselves. Namely, that when we are sure of our standing with the Lord, and are persuaded of His commission, we will obtain much confidence to execute that mission. These are matters that cannot be learned by rote or routine. They are experienced in the process of the fellowship of Christ, into which we have been “called” (1 Cor 1;9).
“ . . . what shall be in the last end of the indignation . . . ” Other versions read, “the latter time of the indignation,” NKJV “at the final period of the indignation,” NASB “what will happen later in the time of wrath,” NIV “what will take place later in the period of wrath,” NRSV and “what will happen when wrath is at an end.” TNK
The idea here is that Gabriel will unveil what is going to happen later, when the wrath of God is poured out because of Israel’s transgression. He will tell Daniel the outcome of the indignation, or wrath, as well as some of the details of the wrath itself.
I want to again emphasize that this wrath was owing to the lethargy and disinterest that had developed in Israel. The book of Malachi, as previous pointed out, details the reprehensible state of the people. As Haggai pointed out, the people had turned their interests to their own houses, and
allowed the house of God to be neglected. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” (Hag 1:4). Haggai prophesied a little less than one hundred years after Daniel, and around three hundred and fifty years before the coming wrath executed through Antiochus Ephiphanes. Thus, Daniel is being told of specific events that will take place well over four hundred year after his ministry would close.
As Daniel will be told in the ninth chapter, these events were leading up to the coming of the Messiah into the world, and His death for the sins of humanity. It was necessary to deliver a harsh wake-up call to the Jews to arouse within them a longing and expectation for the coming Savior. This would be accomplished through a most severe chastening.
“ . . . for at the time appointed the end shall be.” Other versions read, “for it pertains to the appointed time of the end,” NASB “the vision concerns the appointed time of the end,” NIV “it refers to the appointed time of the end,” NRSV “for it has to do with the fixed time of the end,” BBE “for at the set time the end shall be,” DARBY and “or the vision is yet for an appointed time.” Septuagint
Following the Babylonian captivity, and when the people began to return to their land, they were spiritually obtuse, neglecting God’s Word and actually becoming spiritually stupid. In the time of Ezra, intermarriage with the heathen was common, which God had strictly forbade (Ezra 10). In the time of Nehemiah, the people had lost their acquaintance with the Word, which was awakened by once again reading it to the people (Neh 8). Also, many of them could no longer speak “the language of the Jews” (Neh 13:21-24).
During the days prior to the “indignation” wrought by Antiochus Epiphanes, God chastened the lethargic Jews. Through Haggai the Lord reminded the people, “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labors of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD” (Hag 2:17). Zechariah also spoke of the condition of the people. “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech 7:11-13).
However, all of the chastening up to Antiochus Epiphanes was but a prelude to the wrath that would be poured out upon the people. There was a time Divinely appointed that would bring unprecedented wrath upon the people. Notwithstanding, that “indignation” would have an appointed conclusion, or end. Already Daniel has overheard the appointed duration to be 2,300 days (8:14). Now Gabriel will elaborate on the matters related to this time. He will be very specific in his explanation.
“ 20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.”
I want to reiterate that the significance of this vision is underscored by how the Lord speaks about it. Gabriel is going to reveal the kingdoms involved are precisely the same as were revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the great image, and Daniel’s vision of the four beasts rising out of the sea. In this vision, the focus is placed upon the second and third kingdoms – the Medes and the Persians, and the Grecians. Again, these were revealed to Nebuchadnezzar as a chest and arms of silver, and a belly and thighs of brass (2:32). In that vision, the Medes and the Persians were described as a kingdom “inferior” to Babylon, yet which would replace it (2:39). Nebuchadnezzar’s vision viewed the kingdoms from the standpoint of their glory, or their appearance.
A specific message was given to Belshazzar that said his kingdom would be divided and “given to the Medes and the Persians” (5:28). Nothing concerning the Grecian kingdom was made known to Belshazzar.
The kingdom of the Medes and Persians was depicted as a “bear” in Daniel’s first vision. It raised itself up on one side, signifying the prominence of the Persians (7:5). The Grecian kingdom was pictured as a leopard with four wings of a fowl upon its back, and four heads. In this vision the kingdoms were viewed from the standpoint of the power and ruthlessness.
Now Daniel has seen a vision that shows the Medes and the Persians as a ram, and the Grecians as a he goat. This vision emphasizes the beastly nature of the kingdoms.
In all of the visions, the kingdoms are totally unlike the kingdom of God. They gloried in appearance, strength, and the ability to subdue others. That is the nature of worldly kingdoms.
“The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia . . .”
The very kingdom described in terms of valuable silver, and later as ruthless bear, is now likened to a butting ram, forcefully pushing its way into the territory of others, and taking it unto himself.
What God Is Doing
I have in my mind what I believe the Lord is doing here. Over a period of several years, and with the involvement of the children of Israel, the Lord is actually drawing attention to His people – preparing the world for the coming of the Messiah. It is true, Israel did not appear to be favored of God in this period of time. In fact, they were heavily oppressed, and were the tail and not the head (Deut 28:13). Still, for the beauty of their land and its rich resources, great worldly empires fastened their eyes upon it, and thought to bring it under their dominion. Moses said of the land, “A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass” (Deu 8:9).
The circumstances that found Babylonia, the Medes and the Persians, the Grecians, and even the Romans, desiring the “pleasant land,” were actually God getting their attention for the observation of still greater things.
Keep in mind that the Babylonian kingdom and that of the Medes and Persians were both responsible for proclaiming the name of God throughout the entire world (Dan 4:1-3; 6:25-27; 2 Chron 36:23).
Greece will also play a valuable role in the Divine economy – and that by purpose and appointment. What Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes thought was hellenizing the world, was actually the development of a single language through which the Gospel would be promulgated throughout the whole world.
“And the rough goat is the king of Grecia . . . ” Other versions read, “the kingdom of Greece.” NKJV/NASB
In saying “the king of Grecia,” Gabriel does not mean there was only one king over Greece. He is using the word “king” in the sense of a dynasty, or succession of rulers. This seems to be clear by the reference to the “first king” in the following verse.
“ . . . and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king . . . ” The first king to consolidate the kingdom of Greece was Alexander the Great. He is the “great horn between his eyes.”
Technically, Alexander was not first king. His father Philip was king before him. However Alexander was the first king of the Grecian monarchy. The vision given to Daniel concerns the mature Grecian empire, and not the time of its early development.
“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 already established in lesson twenty-four, these “four kingdoms” were Egypt (ruled by Ptolemy), Asia (ruled by Lysimachus), Macedonia (ruled by Cassander), and Syria (ruled by Seleucus), into which the Grecian monarchy was divided after the death of Alexander. However, none of these kings wielded the power and influence of Alexander the Great: i.e., “not in his power.”
It is once again worthy of note that the great horn was simply “broken,” thereby falling from power. Divine judgment brought him down. From an historical point of view, Alexander died in a bed after eating some form of defiled food. However, what actually happened was that the Mighty God “removed” Him, which is His prerogative alone (Dan 2:21).
“ 23 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.”
Earlier, Daniel had witnessed a “little horn” grow out of one of four horns that replaced the single notable horn of the he goat. Now Gabriel gives a further description of this horn.
Although Alexander had more significance politically and from a worldly point of view, this king is more prominent in the working of God. He is going to administer God’s wrath upon His people for their transgressions which they willingly committed against Him. He also is going to come against “the pleasant land” and defile the sanctuary of God.
Rather than saying this ruler sprang from one of the four kings that replaced Alexander, Gabriel says he would stand up “in the latter time” of their kingdom, or toward the close of the Grecian dynasty. He did actually come from the Selucian portion of the kingdom. However, a different perspective is presented here. The complete demise of the Grecian empire will follow the work of this despot. Too, this provides a sort of time line that will enable those who trust God to identify what is really taking place.
“And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full . . . ” Other versions read, “when the transgressors have reached their fulness,” NKJV “when the transgressors have run their course,” NASB “when rebels have become completely wicked,” NIV “when the transgressions have reached their full measure,” NRSV “when their evil doings have become complete,” BBE and “when the transgressors have reached their full limit.” ESV
“The transgressions” of reference are those of the Jews, which waxed worse and worse. The concept of transgression or transgressions coming to their fulness is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. It is a condition that, on the one hand, emphasizes God’s longsuffering. On the other, it reveals the dreadful tendency of sin to increase in both magnitude and frequency.
THE AMORITES. In making covenant with Abraham, the Lord told him his offspring would come out of Egypt “with great substance.” After four generations, they would come again to the promised land, where Abraham was when receiving this promise. “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen 15:16). Four generations must pass before the land could be occupied, because the “iniquity of the Amorites” had not yet reached its fulness. That is, God would not expel them from the land until their sin was of sufficient greatness to forbid them to live there any longer. In this case, a generation would be around one hundred years. Caleb, for example, was the fourth generation from Judah. Moses and Aaron were the fourth generation from Levi. At the
conclusion of those four generations, the iniquity of the Amorites would justify them being expelled from the land. It would then be given to Israel.
JERUSALEM. In Jesus’ day, the Jews, and particularly Jerusalem, were dominated by sin. That sin would reach its apex in the rejection of the Lord Jesus Himself. In addressing the matter of their sin, our Lord spoke in most arresting words. “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers” (Mat 23:31-32). The nation was holding, as it was, a cup in which iniquity was being poured. When sin reached its brim, the nation would be judged, as Jesus foretold (Lk 19:43-44).
THE JEWS. Paul also spoke of the sins of the Jews, how in his day they were forbidding the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles “that they might be saved.” By so doing, they were filling up their sins. “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thess 2:16).
In this expression we receive some insight into the Divine nature. While “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy,” that characteristic can be so tested as to come to an end. It abruptly terminated in the days of Noah, when God finally cease to strive with men (Gen 6:3). It was then that another aspect of His nature was revealed: “and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” (Num 14:18). It is no wonder we are solemnly told, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matt 4:7). This was Israel’s sin in the wilderness, when, the Lord said they tempted Him “these ten times, and have not hearkened unto My voice” (Num 14:22). Their persistence in rebellion brought judgment down upon them.
Thus Daniel is told of another time, some few centuries after him, when they would once again fill iniquity’s cup and incur the fierce judgment of the Almighty God.
An Application
In our day, this Divine trait has nearly been removed from the mind of the people. God is simply not seen to be this way, which greatly compounds the dilemma in which men find themselves. Sin is being compounded in our own nation, and even within the church itself. The cup of iniquity is gradually filling up. Even now it seems to be splashing over the brim of Divine tolerance.
There is a sore need in our day for powerful preachers who can set the true God before the people, calling them to awake before it is too late. There simply is too much going on that God has said he hates, and which will, if not abandoned, call forth His judgment.
“ . . . a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” Other versions read, “Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes,” NKJV “Insolent and skilled in intrigue,” NASB “a master of intrigue, will arise,” NIV “skilled in intrigue,” NRSV and “ingenious minded man.” NJB
This is Gabriel’s explanation of what Daniel saw – “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” (Dan 8:9-10).
A “king of fierce countenance,” is one who is stern and severe. He would be insolent and furious with no fear of God nor regard for man. He would be openly daring and blasphemous, cruel, barbarous, and heartless. When the Lord forewarned Israel of the result of being wayward and disobedient, He spoke of the kind of nation that would deal with them. His words parallel those of our text. “A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young: and he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee” (Deu 28:50-52).
The words “understanding dark sentences” refers to his area of intellectual expertise. His keen mind would be devoted to fulfilling sinister and atrocious plans. He would be a master of deceit, calling upon dark powers to fulfill his heartless policies. He would be able to delude men and constrain them to do wickedly – even to do things they never thought themselves capable of doing.
There is an additional perspective to be seen here. This wicked ruler would not easily be deceived by those against whom he came. No cunning negotiations would turn him from his intentions. He would be able to see through subtle compromises put forth by vacillating Jews. Nothing would turn him from his purpose, but Divine power.
The idea is that God was going to turn His people over to such a despot. They would so provoke Him as to leave Him no other recourse, for God “cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim 2:13). Thus it is written, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies” (Nahum 1:2).
Those who set themselves against God make Him their enemy, and He has declared what He will do to His enemies. He cannot deny Himself in that matter. Tenderly and fervently He called upon Israel to turn form their wicked ways. Hear Him plead with His people. “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezek 18:31-32).
God Is Still Speaking
The nature of the Lord has not changed. He still pleads with men to forsake their evil ways lest judgment come upon them. Hear Him as He reasons with the church. “And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed” (Heb 12:13). The phrase “lest that which is lame be turned out of the way” is an intriguing one. It is not referring to going off a pathway, but to being thrown out of joint. Other translations read, “so that
what is lame may not be dislocated,” NKJV “put out of joint,” NASB “may not be disabled,” NIV and “will not be maimed.” NJB The idea is that the out-of-joint condition no longer allows the person to walk on the high way, thus being wholly cut off from God.
The condition of the church at large, with its many backsliders and departed ones, is filling up the cup of its iniquity. There is too much of this kind of thing, and it is wholly inexcusable in this day of salvation. Men need to learn from the passage we are considering that they ought to desist from tempting God. Such is not a wise course to pursue.
“ 24 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.”
Although this passage is often used to speak of things yet in the future, I want to emphasize that Gabriel associated this despot with the kingdom of Greece, which kingdom was overthrown by Rome. This passage concerns things to occur in the interim between Malachi and Matthew – the final period before the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Although we are speaking of heart-wrenching judgments, they were necessary to prepare the way for the coming Savior. The sins of the Jews had so desensitized them that the notion of a Savior no longer entered into their minds. They were so bent on doing their own pleasure they cared nothing for the Lord’s will and purpose. The situation called for radical heavenly surgery.
Surely you can see the parallel with our own time. If ever there was a passage with contemporary relevance, it is this one.
“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power . . . ” Other versions read, “He will become very strong, but not by his own power,” NIV “And his power shall be strengthened, but not by his own force,” DOUAY and “His power will grow greater and greater, though not through any power of his own.” NJB
However great Antiochus Epiphanes may have appeared, his power was given to him, for “there is no authority except from God” NKJV (Rom 13:1). He would, like the Assyrian, be the rod of God’s anger, and a staff in the hand of His indignation (Isa 10:5). He would have power against the Jews, like Pilate had power against Jesus, because it was given to him from above (John 19:11). Even as the beast of the Revelation, it was “given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” (Rev 13:7). In the case of the Jews, this is what their own iniquity brought upon them.
Seen properly, Antiochus Epiphanes was a mere pawn in the hands of the Lord to execute His will. As soon as that will was wrought, and the cup of iniquity had been emptied, he would be removed from the stage of Divine purpose.
From yet another point of view, Satan was given an opportunity to wreak havoc upon the people, the sacrifice, and the sanctuary. In this, the devil would no doubt find great delight. But it is not his purpose that would ultimately be served, but that of God Himself. The people would have a mind for being clean when this chastening was over. In this case, the very thing that Paul said of an individual is being done in a nation. Of a fornicator in Corinth Paul wrote, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:4-5). Following the deeds of Antiochus Epiphanes the people would be more open to the promises of a Savior, a Deliverer, and a king who would reign in righteousness!
“ . . . and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice . . . ” Other translations use the following instead of “destroy wonderfully:” “destroy fearfully,” NKJV and “cause fearful destruction,” NIV
The word “wonderfully” means surpassing, extraordinary, and beyond ones power. It is not the destruction itself that is the point, but the ones and the city against which it is wrought. The ones to whom God said, “And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite” (Ex 33:2), will now drive His people from His sanctuary! The hand of Him who said, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,” (Isa 54:17), will now turn them over to their enemies with their weaponry. The angel of the Lord would no longer camp round about them to deliver them from fear of evil (Psa 34:7).
Antiochus Epiphanes would be successful in his opposition to the people. He would “prosper” in his diabolical designs, and practice without any seeming restraint. I cannot help but again observe, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).
“ . . . and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” Other versions read, “He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people,” NKJV “He will destroy mighty men and the holy people,” NASB and “He shall destroy the powerful and the people of the holy ones.” NIV
Here we have a two-fold triumph. First, mighty nations around Israel would fall to Epiphanes. Their might would not be sufficient to withstand his assaults. This triumph would not be because of Epiphanes’ shrewdness of strength, but because God gave these nations to him.
Of particular significance, however, is the reference to the “holy people.” These are the Jews, and they are not “holy” by character, but because they were chosen by God. In fact, they will be subjected to Antiochus Epiphanes because they willingly filled up the cup of their iniquity. Yet, from the standpoint of Divine choice, they were a “holy people,” and in potential as well.
This kind of reasoning is found in frequent references to Israel, and the church as well.
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Ex 19:5-6).
“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people” (Deut 7:7). “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut 14:2).
“Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk” (Deut 14:21).
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).
Sound Reasoning
Some cannot conceive of such a people being subjected to the will of their enemies. They imagine that Divine commitment cannot be reversed nor His protection withdrawn. Yet God has extended Himself to show the fallacy of such thinking. He delivered the people of His own choice from Egypt, then “afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 1:5). Angels who once has an estate in the glory, because they “left their own habitation,” kept not that estate but are presently “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6).
If those toward whom God’s wrath was focused can come into His favor, what form of reasoning leads one to believe those within His favor can never depart from that state? If God can be provoked to forgive a sinner because of repentance, what leads anyone to believe He cannot be provoked to anger by those who depart from the faith? God’s nature cannot change. He cannot turn away from the penitent, nor can he be inclined toward the impenitent. There is no excuse for anyone failing to see this. There are too many accounts in the Word of God that confirm these things to be true. Let us receive them eagerly.
This has been Gabriel’s explanation of the following. “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” (Dan 8:10). The casting down of some of the host and of the stars was the destruction of the “holy people.”
“ 25 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.”
Gabriel continues to open up the vision of the little horn who waxed great against the people God had chosen. He does so because the message is difficult to receive. It runs counter to patterns of human thought, and is nearly beyond imagination. But this is the wrath poured out because the cup of the Jews iniquity was full.
“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand . . . ” Other versions read, “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule,” NKJV “And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence,” NASB “And his designs will be turned against the holy people, causing deceit to do well in his hand” BBE
Here, the word “craft” means deception, fraud, deceit, guile, subtlety, and treachery. It is “craft” because it is crafted by wicked genius. Such, it is said, will “prosper” through the cunning wit of this ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes.
On the surface, it appeared as though this man was invincible. His shrewdness moved him to do whatever he wanted. He did not use wise methods, but deceitful ones. This substantiates that while he was given his power from God, Satan was the messenger that brought it. We should not stumble at such an arrangement, for God gave Paul a thorn that was delivered by Satan (2 Cor12:7).
“ . . . and he shall magnify himself in his heart . . . ” Other versions read, “he shall exalt himself in his heart,” NKJV “in his own mind he shall be great,” NIV “and his heart shall be puffed up,” DOUAY and “he will grow arrogant of heart.” NJB
Pride always “goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). One of the distinctions between the wicked and the righteous is the impact success has upon them. The righteous give glory to God for their prosperity, whatever measure it may be. The wicked, however, take the honor for their success unto themselves, refusing to give it to the Lord. Such responses always get God’s attention, whether they are in an untaught heathen or a covenanted people. Nebuchadnezzar was not in covenant with the God of heaven. Yet when he became proud, viewing great Babylon as his own work, God brought him down (Dan 4:30-31). Belshazzar was not in covenant with God. Yet, when he did not learn from the experience of Nebuchadnezzar, and became proud in his heart, God also brought him down (Dan 5:18-24).
There are foolish theologians who say God’s law had no applicability to the heathen. It is true, that as a covenant it was only made with Israel. But as a law, it applied to Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Antiochus Epiphanes as well. Pride is a breach of God’s law, which demands that God be loved with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Now Antiochus Epiphanes has crossed the line, just as surely as Nebuchadnezzar did. As Habakkuk said of Nebuchadnezzar, “Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god” (Hab 1:11). He did this in his heart, thinking of himself “more highly than he ought to think” (Rom 12:3).
“ . . . and by peace shall destroy many . . . ” Other versions read, “He shall destroy many in their prosperity,” NKJV “he will destroy many while they are at ease,” NASB “Without warning he shall destroy many,” NIV and “in their security he shall destroy many.” ASV
Two thoughts are delivered in this expression. First, coming as a peacemaker he snares them with cunning words and purposes. Second, while they are imagining him to be their friend and ally, he comes on them suddenly and unawares, destroying them. The emphasis seems to be that his conquests were easy for him, with little or no resistance. First he brought about an environment of peace, then he swept in for the kill.
However, he is being moved along by the pride of his own heart, and gives no thought to the fact his foes had been given to him. As it is said of the wicked, “God is not in all his thoughts” (Psa 10:4).
“ . . . he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes . . . ” Other versions read, “he shall even rise against the Prince of princes,” NKJV “he will even oppose the Prince of princes,” NASB and “he shall take his stand against the Prince of princes.” NIV
This is the explanation of, “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (Dan 8:11). Antiochus Epiphanes did not come against Jehovah by name, but against the things belonging to Him – His people, His sacrifice, His altar, and His sanctuary. Those who stand up against what God has ordained stand up against God Himself.
The book of Maccabees speaks extensively concerning the action of Antiochus Epiphanes against God (1 Macc 1:20-24,29-32,44-50). Having already commented on this, I here provide an observation made by an earlier commentator, who quotes from that section of the maccabees. “In the execution of the purposes of Antiochus, he ‘entered the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick, and all the vessels thereof; and the table of showbread, the pouring vessels, etc., and stripped the temple of all the ornaments of gold.’ After two years he again visited the city, and ‘smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel, and when he had taken the spoils of the city he set it on fire, and pulled down the walls thereof on every side.’ Everything in Jerusalem was made desolate. Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, her honor into contempt.’ Subsequently, by a solemn edict, and by more decisive acts, he put a period to the worship of God in the temple, and polluted and defiled every part of it.” ALBERT BARNES
Of those events the angel Gabriel said, “he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes.” We should expect a word concerning the demise of this wicked king to follow immediately – and it does.
“ . . . but he shall be broken without hand.” Other versions read, “broken without human means,” NKJV “broken without human agency,” NASB “not by human power,” NIV “not by human hands,” NRSV and “though not by men’s hands.” BBE
Babylon fell to Darius, or the Medes and Persians. The Medes and Persians fell to Greece, or to Alexander the Great. No one conquered Alexander, for he died of a brief disease while in bed. Now we are told the little horn who waxed great is also broken “without hand,”or without being overthrown by one of his peers or a competitive government. God removed Alexander, and now God removes Antiochus Epiphanes.
According to the book of Maccabees, this wicked king died “of grief and remorse in Babylon. He was on an expedition to Persia, and there laid siege to Elymais, and was defeated, and fled to Babylon, when, learning that his forces in Palestine had been repulsed, penetrated with grief and remorse, he sickened and died. According to the account in the second book of Maccabees (2 Macc. 9), his death was most distressing and horrible . . . All the statements given of his death, by the authors of the books of Maccabees, by Josephus, by Polybius, by Q. Curtius, and by Arrian (see the quotations in Prideaux), agree in representing it as attended with every circumstance of horror that can be well supposed to accompany a departure from this world, and as having every mark of the just judgment of God. The Divine prediction in Daniel was fully accomplished, that his death would be “without hand,” in the sense that it would not be by human instrumentality; but that it would be by a direct Divine infliction. When Antiochus died, the opposition to the Jews ceased, and their land again had peace and rest.” ALBERT BARNES
Of the death of this despot, Matthew Henry says the following. “He, hearing that the Jews had cast the image of Jupiter Olympius out of the temple, where he had placed it, was so enraged at the Jews that he vowed he would make Jerusalem a common burial-place, and determined to march thither immediately; but no sooner had he spoken these proud words than he was struck with an incurable plague in his bowels; worms bred so fast in his body that whole flakes of flesh sometimes dropped from him; his torments were violent, and the stench of his disease such that none could endure to come near him. He continued in this misery very long. At first he persisted in his menaces against the Jews; but at length, despairing of his recovery, he called his friends together, and acknowledged all those miseries to have fallen upon him for the injuries he had done to the Jews and his profaning the temple at Jerusalem. Then he wrote courteous letters to the Jews, and vowed that if he recovered he would let them have the free exercise of their religion. But, finding his disease grow upon him, when he could no longer endure his own smell, he said, It is meet to submit to God, and for man who is mortal not to set himself in competition with God, and so died miserably in a strange land, on the mountains of Pacata nea Babylon: so Ussher's Annals, A.M. 3840, about 160 years before the birth of Christ.”
Once again, the Lord has confirmed to Daniel that He is in control, setting up and removing kings as He wills. The world is not in a chaotic tailspin! The people of God have good reason to hope, and ought not to despair or become filled with melancholy.
In Israel we see that both commendation and chastening are under the strict government of God. This is designed to encourage wayward souls to repent, and turn their steps toward the God who has loved them, and sent His Son to be the Propitiation for their sins. For those who are trusting in the Lord, they are not to allow the prospects of the future to disorient them. If, indeed, perilous times are ahead for us, the days will be numbered as surely as they were for the opponents of Israel. Things may get terrible, but they will not get hopeless.
Also, this record should encourage us to amend any of our ways that are not acceptable to God, and thus avoid His chastening hand. It is written, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor 11:31). It is quite possible that many of our difficulties can be avoided by simply living to please God.
“ 26 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.”
Daniel is careful to protect the honor and glory of God. He will not leave us thinking this whole matter is merely being interpreted by him, for “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20). No prophet recorded his own view of what he saw. Like a true man of God, Daniel “sought” for the meaning of the vision, and did not engage in an effort to figure it out himself.
“And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true . . . ” Other versions read “evenings and mornings.” NKJB/NASB/NIV The reference is to the period of 2,300 evenings and mornings (8:14). What Gabriel means is, “This period of oppression WILL come, and it WILL last 2,300 days.” He has not told this to Daniel so he can pray and somehow avert the judgment, as Nineveh did. This is something that is cast in stone, and can in no wise be averted. It “IS TRUE.” The vision was no illusion. Not the smallest portion of it will fail of fulfillment.
Years later, when the vision comes to pass, the people will be able to calculate the 2,300 days and give glory to God for its accuracy, as well as the breaking of the little horn and the termination of the indignation.
God is going to suffer His people to be severely oppressed. He will allow His sacrifices to be taken away by a ruthless Gentile. He will allow His altar to be profaned. He will allow His sanctuary to be defiled and cast down. Men may argue that such things cannot be, but they are
true. And it will all come to pass because iniquity’s cup became full, and God could no longer forbear it.
“ . . . wherefore shut thou up the vision . . . ” Other versions read, “seal up the vision,” NKJV “keep the vision secret,” NASB “close thou up the vision,” DARBY and “hide thou the vision.” YLT
This vision was not to be made known, particularly to the Babylonians. This was now the third year of Belshazzar’s reign, and he would soon be deposed. It would not go well with the Jews if the Persians became aware of this prophecy. The vision included the words concerning the prospering of the Medes and Persians, their overthrow, the dominance of Greece, the demise of the first king, the division of Greece, and the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes who would come against “the pleasant land.” All of that was to be kept secret.
“ . . . for it shall be for many days.” Other versions read, “it refers to many days in the future,” NKJV “it pertains to many days in the future,” NASB “it concerns the distant future,” NIV “it refers to many days from now,” NRSV “there are still many days to go,” NJB and “none of these things will happen for a long time.” NLT
One of the primary reasons for the secrecy was the length of time until it would come to pass. The rise of Alexander was yet three hundred years in the future, and the breaking off of Antiochus Epiphanes nearly four hundred and fifty years in the future.
Daniel could be entrusted with this vision, but few others would be able to handle it. In some, it would cause great despair. In others, a sense of futility would dominate them. Some enemies would hear it and rejoice at the sorrows that would befall the Jews. It is best, therefore, that vision be kept secret.
However, “secret” cannot mean a total lack of disclosure, for the vision is written in this book. I understand, therefore, that it was sealed among the Jews themselves, and not made public among the heathen, as was Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and Belshazzar’s vision. A similar word was said to Isaiah which will serve to clarify this word. “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples” (Isa 8:16). Verse twenty seven will suggest the vision was, in fact, made known to others. I can only surmise that this was done discreetly. Those with whom he shared the vision were no doubt kindred spirits.
“ 27 And I Daniel 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.”
We should not be surprised if a vision of this magnitude has a profound impact upon the prophet Daniel. A man who is “greatly beloved” of God will be greatly impacted by what God says.
“And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days . . . ” Other versions read, “exhausted and sick many days,” NASB “exhausted and lay ill for several days,” NIV “was overcome and lay sick for some days,” NRSV “languished and was sick,” DOUAY “lost consciousness; I was ill for several days,” NJB “I became sick for days.” YLT
Daniel saw the vision and heard the explanation of it from mighty Gabriel the angel. It appears as though when he pondered it, considering what was coming upon the people of God, it greatly affected him. He could not hear of the removal of the daily sacrifice, the defilement of the altar, and the casting down of the sanctuary without it touching him deeply. It drained him of his strength, and he became sick.
This is the same kind of impact the news of a corrupted church had upon John the beloved. “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Rev 17:6). To hear of the people of God so provoking Him with their sin that Gentile hordes are released against them is no small thing. To hear of the desecration of anything sanctified to God is deeply disturbing to those who know Him.
When the Apostles spoke of a falling away, they did so with a sense of alarm (Acts 20:30-31; 1 Tim 4:1-6; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Thess 2:3-12; 2 Pet 2:1-3; Jude 1:18-19; 1 John 4:1-3). When you read their words, you sense they were not easy to say.
Those who can easily speak of a falling away, or of the severe chastening of God’s people, have calloused hearts. When men can speak of great and severe judgments of God as though they were just something that was going to happen, they are seriously lacking in their hearts.
Daniel was so involved in this experience that his flesh became exhausted and sick. Often, the bodies of people have an effect upon their souls. In Daniel’s case, his soul impacted his body. Far better, in my judgment, to have that kind of association with these earthen vessels.
“ . . . afterward I rose up, and did the king's business . . . ” We do not know how long it took Daniel to fully recover, but it was several days. Afterward, he got up and “went about the king’s business.” NKJV After being tutored by Gabriel, I can only imagine what a contrast that business must have been to Daniel. The affairs of State surely appeared trivial after that. However, Daniel faithfully executed them anyway, thereby setting a noble example for us all. Remember, he had been shown the demise of the kingdom in which he was an officer. Nevertheless, he did rise up and go about the king’s business, doing it in his usual expert way.
“ . . . and I was astonished at the vision . . . ” Other versions read, “I was astounded at the vision,” NASB “I was appalled by the vision,” NIV “I wondered at the vision,” ASV and “I was greatly troubled by the vision.” NLT
Here, the word “astonished” means appalled, stunned, made desolate, and devastated. STRONGS This was the impact of the vision on Daniel’s human constitution. Things that are regular considerations in heaven are highly disruptive upon the earth. That is because they deal with principalities and powers in heavenly places, as well as earthly dignities.
Daniel had been made privy to the Persian and Grecian empires, key individuals within them, and the devastation of the people of God. His mind had been stretched, his emotions drained, and his spirit burdened. Yet, in all of this, he was able to return to the king’s business. Spiritual astonishment, therefore, does not rob the soul of fulfilling practical duties related to this life. Faith can be amazed at revelation, yet fulful mundane duties to the glory of God. It makes its possessor versatile.
“ . . . but none understood it.” Other versions read, “there was none to explain it,” NASB “it was beyond understanding,” NIV “I was dismayed by the vision and did not understand it,” NRSV “no one was able to give the sense of it,” BBE and “keeping the vision a secret and still not understanding what it meant.” NJB Thus the various versions present two different ideas to us. First, that Daniel himself did not understand the vision. Second, no one to whom he told the vision comprehended its meaning.
I am going to assume Daniel shut up the vision the same way Isaiah did – among the Lord’s disciples, or those who had an interest in these things. I also understand that none comprehending the vision refers to its details, and not the general outline that was revealed to Daniel by Gabriel.
A Lesson To Be Learned
Unless specifically revealed, details of a prophecy are best spoken of after the fulfillment of that prophecy. When speaking of the future, we should not be too eager to spell out all of its details. What is revealed is sufficient to carry us through life with uplifting confidence, even though everything may not be clear to us. There are some matters that God has simply not told us, and we ought to be willing to let the matter rest there, not trying to force some preconceived dogma into the text of Scripture.
There is so much to be learned from this section of Scripture. The manner in which the Lord governs His kingdom is unveiled significantly in this vision. Allow me to share a few of these perceptions.
God is aware of the governments of this world.
He is not indifferent to the things they do.
Worldly governments are answerable to God for what they do.
The Lord notes the pride in political entities.
The Lord is incensed by continued sin in His people.
Iniquity can arrive at a point where Divine wrath can no longer be subdued.
God will use people who are worse than His own people to punish them.
Like Daniel, men are to inquire into what God has revealed.
The chastening of the Lord is strictly controlled.
Those who are eager and aggressive to touch things belonging to God will suffer the consequences.
Great revelations can be received in places not devoted to God.
The future is planned.
Divine appointments drive the affairs of men.
When men cease to serve God’s purpose, He can remove them.
Great rulers can be brought down without any human agency.
Governments are important only to the degree that they interface with the purpose of God.
When God’s people do not use what He has given to them, He will take it from them.
Your body can be affected by what your soul has apprehended.
There are matters that are not to be spoken of to the uninformed.
This will suffice to make the point. Such texts as this are to be seen as food for the soul, instruction for the mind, and encouragement for the heart. An understanding of them is to be pursued.

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