by Sir Robert Anderson
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The Coming Prince
Sir Robert Anderson
THE VISION BY THE RIVER OF ULAI
"THE times of the Gentiles"; thus it was that Christ Himself described
the era of Gentile supremacy. Men have come to regard the earth as their own domain,
and to resent the thought of Divine interference in their affairs. But though monarchs
seem to owe their thrones to dynastic claims, the sword or the ballot-box, and
in their individual capacity their title may rest solely upon these, the power
they wield is divinely delegated, for "the Most High ruleth
in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." (Daniel 4:25)
In the exercise of this high prerogative He took back the scepter He had entrusted
to the house of David, and transferred it to Gentile hands; and the history of that
scepter during the entire period, from the epoch to the close of the times of the
Gentiles, is the subject of the prophet's earlier visions.
The vision of the eighth chapter of Daniel has a narrower range. It deals only with
the two kingdoms which were represented by the middle portion, or arms and body,
of the image of the second chapter. The Medo-Persian Empire, and the relative superiority
of the younger nation, are represented by a ram with two horns, one of which was
higher than the other, though the last to grow. And the rise of the Grecian Empire
under Alexander, followed by its division among his four successors, is typified
by a goat with a single horn between its eyes, which horn was broken and gave place
to four horns that came up instead of it. Out of one of these horns came forth a
little horn, representing a king who should become infamous as a blasphemer of God
and a persecutor of His people.
That the career of Antiochus Epiphanes was in a special way within the scope and
meaning of this prophecy is unquestioned. That its ultimate fulfillment belongs to
a future time, though not so generally admitted, is nevertheless sufficiently clear.
The proof of it is twofold. First, it cannot but be recognized that its most striking
details remain wholly unfulfilled. And secondly, the events described are expressly stated to be "in the
last end of the indignation," (Daniel 8:19) which is "the great tribulation"
of the last days, (Matthew 24:21) "the time of trouble" which is immediately
to precede the complete deliverance of Judah.
It is unnecessary, however, further to embarrass the special subject of these
pages by any such discussion. So far as the present inquiry is immediately concerned,
this vision of the ram and the he-goat is important mainly as explanatory of the
visions which precede it.
1. I allude to the 2, 300
days of verse 14, and to the statement of verse 25, "He shall also stand up
against the Prince of Princes, but he shall be broken without hand."
2. "And there shall
be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same
time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered," i. e., the Jews
One point of contrast with the prophecy of the fourth Gentile kingdom demands
a very emphatic notice. The vision of Alexander's reign, followed by the fourfold
division of his empire, suggests a rapid sequence of events, and the history of the
three-and-thirty years that intervened between the battles of Issus and of Ipsus
comprises the full realization
prophecy. But the rise of the ten horns upon the fourth beast in the vision of the
seventh chapter, appears to lie within as brief a period as was the rise of the four
horns upon the goat in the eighth chapter; whereas it is plain upon the pages of
history that this tenfold division of the Roman empire has never yet taken place.
A definite date may be assigned to the advent of the first three kingdoms of prophecy;
and if the date of the battle of Actium be taken as the epoch of the hybrid monster
which filled the closing scenes of the prophet's vision and no later date
will be assigned to it it follows that in interpreting the prophecy, we may eliminate
the history of the world from the time of Augustus to the present hour, without losing
the sequence of the vision. Or in other words, the prophet's glance into the future entirely overlooked
these nineteen centuries of our era. As when mountain peaks stand out together on
the horizon, seeming almost to touch, albeit a wide expanse of river and field and
hill may lie between, so there loomed upon the prophet's vision these events of times
now long gone by, and times still future.
3. The following is the
vision of the eighth chapter:
- "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. 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. 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. 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. 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 his 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. 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?
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary
be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and
sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of
a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said,
Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 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. 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. 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. 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 with the New Testament in our hands, it would betray strange and willful ignorance
if we doubted the deliberate design which has left this long interval of our Christian
era a blank in Daniel's prophecies. The more explicit revelation of the ninth chapter,
measures out the years before the first advent of Messiah. But if these nineteen
centuries had been added to the chronology of the period to intervene before the
promised kingdom could be ushered in, how could the Lord have taken up the testimony
to the near fulfillment of these very prophecies, and have proclaimed that the kingdom
was at hand? He who knows all hearts,
knew well the issue; but the thought is impious that the proclamation was not genuine
and true in the strictest sense; and it would have been deceptive and untrue had
prophecy foretold a long interval of Israel's rejection before the promise could
4. It was the battle of
Issus in B. C. 333, not the victory of Granicus in the preceding year, which made
Alexander master of Palestine. The decisive battle which brought the Persian empire
to an end, was at Arbela in B. C. 331. Alexander died B. C. 323, and the definite
distribution of his territories among his four chief generals, followed the battle
of Ipsus B. C. 301. In this partition Seleucus's share included Syria ("the
king of the north"), and Ptolemy held the Holy Land with Egypt ("the king
of the south"); but Palestine afterwards was conquered and held by the Seleucidae.
Cassander had Macedon and Greece; and Lysimachus had Thrace, part of Bithynia, and
the territories intervening between these and the Meander.
5. The same remark applies
to the vision of the second chapter, the rise of the Roman empire, its future division,
and its final doom, being presented at a single view.
Therefore it is that the two advents of Christ are brought seemingly together in
Old Testament Scriptures. The surface currents of human responsibility and human
guilt are unaffected by the changeless and deep-lying tide of the fore-knowledge
and sovereignty of God. Their responsibility was real, and their guilt was without
excuse, who rejected their long-promised King and Savior. They were not the victims
of an inexorable fate which dragged them to their doom, but free agents who used
their freedom to crucify the Lord of Glory. "His blood be on us and on our children,"
was their terrible, impious cry before the judgment-seat of Pilate, and for eighteen
centuries their judgment has been meted out to them, to reach its appalling climax
on the advent of the "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation."
6. i. e., the kingdom
as Daniel had prophesied of it. On this see Pusey, Daniel, p. 84.
These visions were full of mystery to Daniel, and filled the old prophet's
mind with troubled thoughts. (Daniel 7:28; 8:27) A long vista of events seemed thus
to intervene before the realization of the promised blessings to his nation, and
yet these very revelations made those blessings still more sure. Ere long he witnessed
the crash of the Babylonian power, and saw a stranger enthroned within the broad-walled
city. But the change brought no hope to Judah. Daniel was restored, indeed, to the
place of power and dignity which he had held so long under Nebuchadnezzar, (Daniel
2:48; 6:2) but he was none the less an exile; his people were in captivity, their
city lay in ruins, and their land was a wilderness. And the mystery was only deepened
when he turned to Jeremiah's prophecy, which fixed at seventy years the destined
era of "the desolations of Jerusalem" (Daniel 9:2) So "by prayer and
supplications, with fastings, and sackcloth and ashes," he cast himself on God;
as a prince among his people, confessing their national apostasy, and pleading for
their restoration and forgiveness. And who can read that prayer unmoved?
7. Daniel 12:1; Matthew
24:21. To discuss what would have been the course of events had the Jews accepted
Christ is mere levity. But it is legitimate to inquire how the believing Jew, intelligent
in the prophecies, could have expected the kingdom, seeing that the tenfold division
of the Roman empire and the rise of the "little horn" had to take place
first. The difficulty will disappear if we notice how suddenly the Grecian empire
was dismembered on Alexander's death. In like manner, the death of Tiberius might
have led to the immediate disruption of the territories of Rome, and the rise of
the predicted persecutor. In a word, all that remained unfulfilled of Daniel's prophecy
might have been fulfilled in the years which had still to run of the seventy weeks.
"O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech
Thee, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy
mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem
and Thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now, therefore, O
our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and his supplications, and cause Thy face
to shine upon Thy Sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, 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 Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord,
hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God; for Thy city and Thy people
are called by Thy name" (Daniel 9:26-29.)
While Daniel was thus "speaking in prayer" Gabriel once more appeared to
him, (Daniel 9:21, See chap. 8:16.) that same angel messenger who heralded
in after times the Savior's birth in Bethlehem, and in answer to his supplication,
delivered to the prophet the great prediction of the seventy weeks.
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