The Coming Prince
CHAPTER IV: 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
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 (Daniel 12:1).
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
of the 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
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 be realized.
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
- "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.