THE JUDGMENT SCENE
The first half of the book of Daniel deals with questions pertaining particularly to the kingdom of Babylon as it existed in the days of the prophet. The last six chapters are devoted entirely to the history of the world as a whole, and in visions given at various times, the prophet is shown the great events till the end of time. Looking into the future, he sees, as it were, the mountain peaks lighted with the glory of God, and these striking features are noted with unerring accuracy to serve as guide-posts, not to the Jews only, but to all people, that they may understand the times in which they live, and know what is about to come on the earth.
To the student of prophecy, the seventh chapter of Daniel is a most important record. By a continuous chain of events, the prophet gives the history from the days of Babylon to the great investigative judgment, which is the central theme of the chapter.
The fact that God could open the future to a heathen king was remarkable. To Nebuchadnezzar the future of earthly governments only was shown, because he himself was earthly, and was incapable of grasping higher things; but to Daniel God opened scenes in heaven. Although the prophet was shown the history of
nations, the angel of revelation touched briefly on those subjects, but lingered on the soul-thrilling description of the investigative judgment.
The seventh chapter of Daniel reveals the future of God's people; not only the Hebrew nation, but the true, the spiritual Israel. This vision was given to Daniel in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, about 540 b. c. The mere giving of this view bears the strongest testimony to the results of Daniel's education when a youth, to his steadfastness of purpose, and his growth in spiritual things. At the age of eighty-five, after sixty-seven years of court life, with all its allurements, and the natural tendency of human nature to sink to a purely physical existence, his eye of faith was so undimmed that at the bidding of Michael, Gabriel could carry Daniel into heaven itself, there to behold the Father and Son in the final work of the sanctuary above. Moses once saw these things from the top of Mount Horeb when the tabernacle was to be built, and so great was the glory that he veiled his face before the common people could behold him. Daniel's heart was with God, hence things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, could be revealed unto him by the Spirit.
God said by the prophet Hosea, "I have spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets." The kingdoms which have ruled the world were represented before Daniel as beasts of prey, which arose when the "four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea." Winds are, in prophecy, a symbol of war and strife. The after-scenes of war and revolution, by which kingdoms come into power, are represented in
Daniel seven by the four winds of heaven which strove upon the great sea. Sea or waters denote "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." The beasts referred to represent kings or kingdoms.
Four great beasts came up from the sea; that is, they arose into prominence from the midst of the multitudes of earth. Babylon, the first of these kingdoms, was represented to Nebuchadnezzar as the golden head of the great image. To Daniel the same power appeared as a lion, having eagle's wings. The strength of the monarch of the forest, to which is added the swiftness of the king of birds, is taken to represent the kingdom of which the city of Babylon was the capital. Before Babylon was known as an independent kingdom, while it was still a subject province of Assyria, Habakkuk, a prophet of Israel, had been given a view of its work which shows the force of the symbol of a lion with eagle's wings. Speaking to Israel, he tells them of a work so wonderful that they will not believe it when told. "Lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful. . . . Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves. . . . They shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. They shall come all for violence; . . . they shall gather the captivity as the sand. And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them; they shall deride every stronghold."
This is Babylon as Habakkuk saw it. While Daniel watched the same kingdom in his vision,
the noble lion with its wings, denoting power and rapidity of conquest, had been l the noble lion with its wings, denoting power and rapidity of conquest, had been lifted up from the earth into an unnatural position and made to stand upon its feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. Man's heart without Christ is simply sin. The wings were shorn, and then Babylon was represented as it existed at the time of the vision, bereft of its strength, abandoned by God, with Belshazzar standing at the head of the government.
The prophet Habakkuk gives the reason for this sudden weakening of the mighty power of Babylon. He says, "Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god." The history of the kingdom as given in previous chapters shows how and when this was done. Babylon committed the unpardonable sin, imputing the power and Spirit of God to the gods of the heathen, and by this act the lion was shorn of its strength, the wings were plucked, and a man's heart was given to it. Two years after the vision, in the year 538 b. c., Daniel was a witness to the complete overthrow of the kingdom.
The Medo-Persian kingdom was bloodthirsty and cruel in its nature, and is represented by a bear. Darius was a Mede; and Cyrus, the leading general, a Persian. Darius the Mede took the Babylonian kingdom, and ruled for a short time. Cyrus the Persian was the leading spirit in the government after Darius had passed away. The bear, as well as the other beasts which followed the lion, represented kingdoms yet in the future at the time Daniel saw the vision. The bear of Daniel seven symbolizes the same power as the ram of chapter eight, which the angel there 79Margin
tells the prophet represents the Medo-Persian empire. The history of this empire given in the eleventh chapter of the book of Daniel, and the study of that chapter together with the thirteenth and twenty-first chapters of Isaiah, will reveal the bear-like character of the nation which arose and devoured much flesh. The history of the second great kingdom covers the years from 538 to 331 b. c.
After the Medo-Persian kingdom arose and fell, there came forth another entirely different from that represented by the nature of a bear. The Grecian kingdom, which followed the MedoPersian, is compared to the sprightliness of a leopard in its natural state. This not being sufficient to represent the rapidity of the conquest of Alexander, the first king, the leopard had on its back four wings of a fowl. It also had four heads, which symbolized the division of Alexander's empire after his death, when his four generals took his kingdom and dominion was given to them. This power is represented by the goat with the notable horn, which stamped all beneath its feet, as described in the eighth chapter of Daniel.
The history of the first three kingdoms is but lightly touched upon in this chapter, but when the fourth beast, "dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly," appeared, Daniel "would know the truth," and the angel explained that power minutely.
The three preceding powers were symbolized by three of the mightiest beasts of the earth, but when the fourth beast was considered, there was no animal with a character to represent its terrible nature; so a beast without name, having
iron teeth, brass nails, and ten horns, was presented to the prophet.
The angel had said to Daniel, "As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged." Each one, before being destroyed, was merged into the succeeding one. The same truth was represented in chapter four when the tree representing Babylon was cut down, but the roots remained in the ground. The roots represented the foundation principles upon which Babylon was built, and they have remained in the earth ever since. When Medo-Persia fell, she left her principles of government, education, and religion still alive, transmitting them to her posterity, the nations of earth. Greece did likewise, and with each succeeding empire, those foundation principles which were so clearly portrayed in Babylon, which were placed there by the prince of the power of the air, instead of appearing in a weakened state, sprung into life with renewed vigor. So it was that when the fourth kingdom appeared, those principles of government which were the counterfeit of heaven's underlying principles were so strong that no natural beast could symbolize even pagan Rome.
Rome in religion renewed all the religious errors of Babylon, and in education she followed in the footsteps of her great mother. But as the prophet watched, things still more wonderful appeared. The fourth beast, Rome, which succeeded Greece in 161 b. c., had ten horns, which, said the angel, "are ten kings that shall arise." This fourth beast is identical with the legs of iron in the image shown to Nebuchadnezzar, and the ten horns correspond to the mixture of iron
and clay in the feet of that image. Each of the preceding kingdoms had fallen into the hands of some strong general who took the rule, but with Rome the case was different. The details of this history are given in the eighth chapter of Revelation under the symbol of the seven trumpets. Barbarian hordes from the north of Europe and Asia swept over the Roman empire between the years 351 and 483 a. d., crushing the government into ten parts.
There was a time when the Roman empire had a most wonderful opportunity to accept the true God. Rome was the universal kingdom during the life of Christ. To Babylon God sent his people, the Jews, to scatter the truths of his kingdom and lead men to repentance. The Medes and the Persians received the gospel from this same people, and representatives from Greece came to Jerusalem, into the very temple, in touch with the priests, in order that there might be no excuse for their refusing Christ. But to the Roman kingdom, heaven itself was poured out in the person of the Saviour, and it was Rome that nailed him to the cross. It was a Roman seal on his tomb, and a Roman guard at his grave. The early church suffered persecution at the hands of this same power. Judgment came to Rome when these barbarians overran the empire with fire and sword, and the kingdom was divided into ten parts.
But Roman history did not end with the division. Daniel watched, "And, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before which there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots." A new power, a power outside the empire is here represented by the little horn. The
three divisions which were plucked up were the Heruli in 493, the Vandals in 534, and the Ostrogoths in 538 a. d. Justinian, the emperor, whose seat was at Constantinople, working through the general Belisarius, was the power which overthrew the three kingdoms represented by the three horns, and the reason for their overthrow was their adherence to Arianism in opposition to the orthodox Catholic faith. The details of the overthrow, and the religious controversy which was the root of the trouble, are fully given by Gibbon in the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," by Mosheim in his church history, and by others.
The little horn which was in power on the plucking up of the three, was diverse from all the others. It had eyes "like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things;" his look also was more stout than his fellows.
Rome was dropping into ruin; her cities had been sacked, her government broken. As from the decaying log of the marsh the mushroom springs up in a night, gaining its life from the decay, so there arose in the Roman Empire a power which was nourished by this national decay. This power was the little horn known as the papacy.
It is written that Babylon, the mother of harlots, fell because of imputing her power unto the gods of the heathen. Pagan Rome fell because she presumed to hold authority over the person of Christ and his followers. Then arose the little horn, and it "made war with the saints and prevailed against them." "He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws."
Rome in the days of Christ was the center of the world. Paul and others preached the gospel in that city. A church was organized, and for years this church of Rome ranked with the churches of Jerusalem, Constantinople, and others. Gradually but surely, worldliness took the place of the spirit of Christ, and Roman bishops became exalted. The mystery of iniquity of which Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians, was at work in Rome. At the time of the division of the empire the bishops were greedy for civil power, and in the time of national distress the church grasped the reins of government; the little horn had received power. This was a. d. 538, when the last of the three horns was plucked up and the decree Justinian made in 533 went into effect. (See Gibbon, chapter 41.) Paganism on the throne had been cruel enough, but when those pagan principles which had lived since the days of Babylon took the name and outward form of Christianity, the power which bore sway was still more cruel . Not only would the little horn speak stout words against the Most High, but it would "presume to change the appointed times and the law." (Spurrell's trans.)
Unholy hands had been laid in years past upon the temple of God and the consecrated vessels in the temple, and upon God's people, but the little horn laid hands upon the very law of God, attempting to change the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. The little horn had all the power of Babylon. In government it was an absolute monarchy, holding authority over all the thrones of Europe. Kings rose and fell at the dictates of Rome. From a religious standpoint, it was the ruling power dictating to the consciences of
men, bringing them before her tribunal and peering into their very thoughts. The rack and the inquisition were her instruments, and no man escaped the scrutiny of the man's eye in the little horn. The means by which this power was maintained was its system of education, which kept Europe in darkness for over one thousand years.
This was a long-lived kingdom. "They [the saints, the times, and the laws] would be given into his hands for a time and times and the dividing of times." The reader is referred to chapter 11:13, margin; to the seventh verse of chapter 12, and to Rev. 12:6; 13:5, and Num. 14:34 for different expressions giving the same time and referring to the same power. This time, three and one half years, or forty-two months, or twelve hundred and sixty years, as it is variously designated, began in 538, when three horns were plucked up to make way for the establishment of this one power, the little horn. It continued until 1798, when his dominion was taken away. His power, however, is not yet destroyed.
Daniel in his vision was shown not only earthly kingdoms and powers, but after listening to the voice of the little horn, which spake great words against the Most High, his attention was called to scenes in the heavenly court which would transpire simultaneously with the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the nations of the earth.
It was during the time when the fourth beast had dominion and power that the Saviour was crucified. He was the Lamb slain in the outer court, and on his ascension he entered the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. There he was seen by John as described in the fourth and fifth
chapters of Revelation. But this work in the holy place was only a part of the Saviour's ministry for mankind. The time came when he must perform in heaven that service of which the day of atonement in the earthly sanctuary was the type. Spurrell renders the ninth verse: "I beheld till the thrones were pitched [Revised Version, placed], when the Ancient of Days was enthroned [or did sit] in judgment. His raiment was white as snow, the hair of his head like pure wool, his throne was flames of fire, his rolling wheels the ardent flame."
Here within the holy of holies is the abiding place of the King of kings, God the Father, where thousands and tens of thousands of angels minister before him. This, the throne of God, is the center of all creation; about it revolve the solar systems throughout the whole extent of space. Worlds circle about their suns, and suns with their attendant planets in turn circle about the throne of God. It is the wheel within a wheel which Ezekiel describes. Daniel said, "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him," for there all is life, a living, constantly moving throne.
God's power pervades space in every direction. Like beams of light, there radiates from him a force which holds worlds in their orbits. The power man calls gravity is but a portion of the drawing power of God. It holds the orbs of heaven in their places, it balances the clouds, weighs the mountain, and measures the waters of the sea. The same power notes the fall of every leaf on earth, the death of the tiniest sparrow, and the pulse beats of every man. From him comes all life: "In him we live and move and have our being."
We are a part of that great center of light that is our God of love, and it is that power which the prophet vainly tried to express in human language that converts the soul. The Son was one with the Father, and it was from this glory that he stepped when he offered himself at the foundation of the world. He was the Lamb slain, and the heart of God was broken in that offering. Every time the knife was plunged into a victim at the altar of the earthly sanctuary, the flowing blood touched afresh the heart of the eternal Father. Every time a broken-hearted man or woman approaches the throne in penitence, the wound in our Father's heart bursts open and bleeds again. "The broken and the contrite heart thou wilt not despise, O God." Never, never, through all eternity, will that Son resume his former condition. What he assumed for fallen man he will retain forever. He is a man still in the heavenly court, touched by every human woe. The universe beheld the gift, and bowed in adoration. The temple is filled with the glory.
There seraphim and cherubim with their shining glory, as guardians, stretch their wings above his throne, veil their faces in adoration, and bow before him.
"Oh, instruct us what we shall say of Him; we can not do justice because of our ignorance. . . . If a man venture to speak, surely he shall be overwhelmed.
"We can not even now gaze upon the light of the sun when it shineth forth in the heavens; and the wind passing along hath cleared the sky. But what splendor from the holy of holies shall appear! With God is insufferable majesty! The Almighty! we can not comprehend him!"-Spurrell's Translation.
The door into the holy of holies was opened in 1844, and "Behold one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him."
No words could be framed which give a more vivid view of the opening of the judgment which occurred at the time of the announcement, "The hour of his judgment is come." In Daniel seven is the only description found in the Bible of the judgment scene announced by the first angel of Revelation fourteen. The message itself is the only announcement in the Bible that the time had arrived; and the fourteenth verse of the eighth chapter of Daniel is the only prophetic period given in the Bible which marks the time of the beginning of God's judgment. That period is the twenty-three hundred days or literal years which began in the year 457 b. c., with the decree to build and restore Jerusalem, and expired in 1844, a. d. It was at this latter date that the first angel of Revelation fourteen proclaimed the hour of God's judgment. The message went to all lands, and the islands of the sea heard it.
When God had taken his position over his law in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, then Christ came in to plead before him for his people. This coming could not be when he ascended up on high; for then he ascended to the Father, and the judgment was in the future. It can not refer to his second coming to this earth; for then he comes from the Father: It was his coming before the Father when he took his position in the judgment at the end of the twenty-three hundred days. He came before the Father surrounded by the clouds of heaven; that is, with 101 thousands of angels who, as ministering spirits, have watched the lives of men, recording their every word and deed and thought. Characters have been formed, and whether they are good or ill, they have been mirrored in the books of heaven. When Christ came before the Father, the books were opened and the cases of the dead were investigated. The deeds may have been committed in the light of day, or in the darkness of night, yet they are all open and manifest before him with whom we have to do. Heavenly
thousands of angels who, as ministering spirits, have watched the lives of men, recording their every word and deed and thought. Characters have been formed, and whether they are good or ill, they have been mirrored in the books of heaven. When Christ came before the Father, the books were opened and the cases of the dead were investigated. The deeds may have been committed in the light of day, or in the darkness of night, yet they are all open and manifest before him with whom we have to do. Heavenly intelligences have witnessed each sin, and have faithfully recorded the same. Sin may be concealed from friends, relatives, and our most intimate associates. None but the guilty actors may have the least knowledge of wrong deeds, but these things are all laid bare before the angels and the inhabitants of other worlds. The darkest of all dark nights, the deepest-laid plot of individuals or nations, can not hide even one thought from the knowledge of the heavenly intelligences. God has a faithful record of every crooked dealing, of every sin and unjust practice. If the inward heart is full of hypocrisy, an outward appearance of uprightness can not deceive him.
As one by one these names are read, the Saviour holds up his hands, still bearing the imprints of the nails of Calvary, and he cries, "My blood, Father, my blood, my blood." Above his throne is the rainbow; mercy and justice mingle there. God's heart is touched by the pleadings of his Son, and pardon is written opposite the name. Then through the arches of heaven, a shout of triumph resounds. The angels cast their crowns before the throne, crying, "Holy, holy, holy."
For nearly sixty years the work of the investigative judgment has been in progress. It is fast drawing to a close. Before it closes, it will settle the case of every living man and woman. Day by day we are making the record which will determine our future for weal or woe. How solemn the thought that words once uttered, actions once performed, can never be changed. The atoning blood of Christ is offered to-day. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
The life of the fourth beast, especially of the little horn, is prolonged beyond the time of the investigative judgment. Even after the thrones were set and the work in the holy of holies was begun, the great words of the little horn attracted the attention of the prophet. The greatest word ever spoken against God was the decree of infallibility issued by the ecumenical council in 1870. This was an attempt to seat a man on a throne beside the Son of God. While Christ stood as a slain Lamb before the Father, pleading for the salvation of the world, poor, frail man was exalting his throne above the stars of God.
Babylon fell because she imputed her power unto the gods. Of the fourth beast Daniel says, "I beheld till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." Thus at the end, instead of being conquered by some other power arising on earth, this one goes into the lake of fire. The other beasts which represent kingdoms, had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a time and a season; that is, they were merged into the succeeding kingdom. But not so with the fourth kingdom; its destruction is complete.
The fifth kingdom, which is the heavenly, the kingdom of God, is not in human hands. God himself establishes it under the whole heaven, and it will exist forever and ever. "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." Those who are accounted worthy in the investigative judgment will come forth in the first resurrection, or will be translated without seeing death, and will reign with Christ forever and ever. Sin, with all who have clung to it, will be forever destroyed. The pride and arrogance of Babylon of old, her iniquity of every form, which has been repeated by all the nations of earth, together with the instigator of all evil, will at last be blotted out. The end of the controversy is reached. The triumph of truth is witnessed by all created beings. The scar which sin has made is gone forever. The discord which for six thousand years has marred the universe will be forgotten. The music of the spheres will be taken up anew, and man will reign with his Creator. "Hitherto is the end of the matter." What wonder that the vision troubled Daniel, and that his countenance changed! The matchless love of Christ, who can understand?
Page 88: Isa. 13:19; Amos 3:7; Dan. 10:21; Prov. 8:14-16; Matt. 24:15; Dan. 2:28; Dan. 2:31-35; Dan. 7:9-14.
Page 89: Eccl. 3:17; Deut. 29:29; Dan. 7:1; Prov. 13:6; Ex. 25:40, margin; Ex. 34:29-33; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10; Hos. 12:10; Dan. 7:2; Zech. 7:14.
Page 90: Jer. 25:32, 33; Isa. 8:7; Rev. 17:15; Dan. 7:17, 23; Dan. 7:3; Dan. 2:38; Dan. 2:32, 38; Dan. 7:4; Isa. 23:13; Hab. 1:6-10; Isa. 47:6; Job 39:18; Isa. 47:10.
Page 91: Jer. 49:16; Job 39:27; Rom. 14:23; Heb. 12:2; Jer. 51:30; Isa. 47:9; Hab. 1:11; Dan. 5:1-4; Jer. 50:38; Dan. 2:29-31; Isa. 13:17, 18; Dan. 7:5; Dan. 8:20.
Page 92: Isa. 21:5; Dan. 7:6; Dan. 11:2-4; Dan. 8:21, 22; Luke 11:10; Dan. 7:7, 8.
Page 93: Dan. 4:23; Rom. 11:18; Dan. 7:9; Gal. 5:8; Job 14:7-9; Dan. 7:10-13.
Page 94: Dan. 2:40-42; Rev. 8:7-13; Luke 2:1-4; Dan. 7:14-16; John 12:20, 21; Acts 4:26, 27; Matt. 27:62-66; Matt. 27:24-26; Acts 12:1-3; Dan. 7:17-19.
Page 95: Job 12:23; Job 12:19; Dan 7:20-24; Ex. 20:3; Dan. 7:25, 26.
Page 96: Acts 28:16, 30; Rom. 16:19; Rom. 1:8; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 17:3; Rev. 17:6; 2 Chron. 36:17-19.
Page 97: Prov. 28:15; Dan. 7:21, 22; Rev. 11:2, 3; Eze. 4:6; Matt. 24:21, 22; Dan. 7:9, 10; Heb. 9:24.
Page 98: Heb. 9:23; Job 16:21; Ps. 99:1; Ps. 103:19-21; Eze. 1:16; Hab. 3:4 [margin]; Col. 1:17, R. V. [margin]; Job 37:16; Job 28:24-27; Isa. 40:12-17; Matt. 10:29; Acts 17:28.
Page 99: Matt. 5:14; John 8:12; John 17:5; Rev. 13:8; John 3:16; Ps. 57:17; Isa. 49:16; Zech. 13:6; Eph. 3:9, 10; Dan. 7:14; Eze. 28:14; Job 37:19-23; Isa. 24:23.
Page 100: Rev. 3:8; Dan. 7:13; Rev. 14:6, 7; Dan. 8:14; Eccl. 3:17; Ps. 97:2 [margin]; Acts 24:24; Rev. 3:5; Ps. 104:4.
Page 101: Heb. 1:14; Ps. 34:7; Rev. 20:12; 1 Cor. 4:5; Jer. 2:22; Heb. 4:13; Ps. 139:7-12; Matt. 23:28; Eccl. 7:27; Luke 21:36; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 4:3; 1 John 1:9.
Page 102: Rev. 22:11; Job 16:19; Matt. 12:36, 37; Heb. 3:7, 8; Dan. 7:11; 2 Thess. 2:4; Heb. 7:25; Hab. 1:11; Dan. 7:11; Rev. 19:20; Dan. 2:34 [margin].
Page 103: Dan. 7:27; Phil. 3:11. Young's trans.; Rev. 20:4, 6; 1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14; Rev. 22:3; Dan. 7:28.