The prophecies of the Bible are like rare diamonds lying hidden in the solitude of the mine. The practiced eye of the prospector discovers the gems, and intuitively reads their value; and the skillful hand of the lapidary brings out their many-faced beauties in all their sparkling glory. Every facet shines like the sun. One can not exhaust a diamond; neither can one exhaust the prophecies. New facets remain to be polished, to add their brilliant reflection to the whole. In the prophecies as many features appear as there are different temperaments that men bring to their study.
The prophecy of Daniel is no exception. This book has lessons for all classes. Because the magnitude of the field of his vision is unlimited in extent, it may be studied from points of view which no man can number. The historian feasts upon his records. The chronologist delights in calculating his periods. The lover of the Messiah rejoices in the contemplation of the times and events that led to his first advent, and demonstrated his Messiahship. And the friend of God traces with pleasure the providential movements by which the course of events has been controlled, and men have been put up, and cast down, just according as they have been instruments in God's hands to carry out his beneficent designs and purposes.
There are lessons in these respects for those who take an interest in such themes; but above all, and greater than all, are the lessons to be drawn from Daniel's character,-his integrity, his devotion to duty, and his steadfastness in adhering to true principles, in the face of the greatest apparent danger,
and in opposition to the dictates of worldly policy. These principles glow with undimmed luster through all his career, and have encouraged, comforted, and strengthened the servants of God in all ages.
Much has been written on the book of Daniel, and much more might be written, as long as principles of divine truth, and noble examples of adherence to them, form interesting and profitable themes of study. In the present work, lessons from this latter source have been especially drawn out. These will be found wonderful subjects for study, and many remarkable thoughts are presented on these points in the following pages. These are lessons which can be laid to heart with the most satisfactory and lasting profit. One who desires to master the philosophy of an acceptable Christian life, and the means and methods by which a close connection with God may be maintained, can find no more competent text-book than is furnished in the record of the experiences of the prophet Daniel. Do you wish to acquire a vivid sense of God's care for his people, and his constant remembrance of them, and the easy means he makes use of to accomplish his ends, you will find the subject fully exploited in the prophecy of Daniel.
Example is a powerful factor in the promotion of the Christian life. "Be ye followers of me," says Paul, "even as I also am of Christ." 1 Cor. 11 : 1. He exhorts Timothy to be an "example of the believers." 1 Tim. 4 : 12. What higher standard can be raised to attain unto, than is shown in Daniel's relation to God? for it is said of him that he was a "man greatly beloved." Such was the emphatic testimony borne from God by the angel Gabriel to Daniel, coming as he did immediately from the court of heaven and the presence of God.
The occasion on which these words were first spoken, shows what relation the man thus addressed maintained to God, and God to him. It was when the prophet, burdened with anxiety in regard to a previous vision which he had not understood, appealed to God for help. He had been seeking the Lord, by earnest prayer, to learn the meaning of it. An angel had been strictly enjoined to make Daniel understand all the matter. And now when the angel came to complete his mission, and make the prophet understand the vision, which he had been prevented by Daniel's illness from doing in its completeness in his previous interview (Dan. 8:27), he says: "O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplication the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore understand the matter and consider the vision." Dan. 9: 22, 23. The angel asserts that one reason, perhaps the leading reason, why he had now come to give him skill and understanding, was that he was a man "greatly beloved."
Think of the circumstances of this case. God was imparting truth to make known to the world what was to come thereafter. He was making use of one of his servants for this purpose. The process was temporarily interrupted. But Daniel had fixed his heart on understanding all that God had to reveal; and he lifted up his petition to the only source from which help could come. Now mark the answer borne from the throne of the universe, by the hand of a mighty angel: "At the beginning of thy supplication, the commandment came forth." The commandment referred to, was the commandment, or instruction, to Gabriel, to go down to the earth, to this servant of the Lord, and clear up all doubts and
uncertainty in his mind in regard to the truth on which he was perplexed.
Will anyone now raise the query, Does the Lord hear prayer? Is he attentive to the wants of his people? In view of this narrative, how can we harbor the least vestige of doubt? No sooner does Daniel's prayer begin to ascend to the throne than instruction comes forth from God to Gabriel, to go down to the earth and complete his mission to the prophet. With alacrity he obeys. And the prophet says of him, "Being caused to fly swiftly." From the beginning of Daniel's prayer, as recorded in Daniel 9, to that point in the prayer when Gabriel appeared upon the scene (verse 20), could not have been over three minutes and a half, at the ordinary rate of speech. In this brief space of time the prophet's prayer ascended to heaven, it was heard, decision made, and the answer came. There is no loitering in heaven. The first faint whisper of want by the child of God, is instantly lodged upon the throne. The command to answer is given, and the return messenger is at once by the side of the prophet, with the response of comfort and joy. No earthly "rapid transit" can equal this. What a glimpse does this give us into the inner courts of the heavenly world! What a view of the divine telegraphy there employed, and waiting at the court's command! What assurance, encouragement, and comfort must these great facts impart to every true and trusting servant in the vineyard of the Lord!
In this story of Daniel, not only is one such incident given, but a whole series of them is woven together in this tapestry of truth. They begin with Daniel as prime minister in the court of the kingdom of Babylon-Babylon, the city of renown, clothed with such magnificence that inspiration has seen fit to
describe it as the head of gold on the world's great representative image. Daniel 2. The Lord by the prophet has called Babylon "the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency." Isa. 13 : 19. In that city there were beauty, glory, and excellency combined in most striking and prolific forms.
Imagine a space (we must imagine it; for no such spot existed before, and has not existed since);-imagine this space containing 225 square miles, situated in a fertile plain, wrought up by expert cultivation to the superb production of ornamental trees and shrubs, fragrant flowers, and substantial fruits, till the whole became a veritable paradise, as the garden of the Lord; imagine this space laid out in a perfect square, watered by the magnificent Euphrates, and surrounded by a wall eighty-seven feet thick and three hundred and fifty feet high, fifteen miles in length on each side, and the great square of the whole area of the city, subdivided into lesser squares by twenty-five streets running from each side of the city, parallel with the opposite walls, and at right angles with each other, and adorned with palaces, porticoes, columns, colonnades, towers, monuments, and hanging gardens, arrayed with everything that art could embellish or money and labor produce, to make a spot pleasant to the sight and touch and every bodily sense.
Such was Babylon, glowing in the light of the Syrian sun, and fanned by the blandest zephyrs that ever blew, when Daniel entered to serve the long period of seventy years in captivity. But he was a captive only to political power. He served the Lord, and was spiritually free. From this point through all the personal experience of the prophet, and on through the scenes opened to his mind by the spirit of prophecy, the divine narrative runs. These scenes and experiences are woven together in this book into one connected
whole, and the spiritual and practical lessons to be drawn from them are hung like banners of light all along the way.
No one can rise from the study of the prophecies without the conviction being deeply graven upon his heart that the end of the Christian course well repays all the toil and effort of the heavenly journey. The words of the hymn well voice this sentiment:-
"Then let us hope; 'tis not in vain;
Though moistened by our grief, the soil;
The harvest brings us joy for pain;
The rest repays the weary toil.
For they shall reap who sow in tears,
Rich gladness through eternal years."
After his long service and all his trying cares, the word to Daniel was, "Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." The outcome of the Christian service of the disciples in the latter days is expressed in a similar strain by the apostle John in the Revelation: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Rev. 14 : 13. To Daniel, "Go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." To John: "Surely I come quickly;" and "my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Rev. 22:20, 12. Rest follows the labor; and the end will come. Then follows the remainder of the promise: "Thou shalt stand in thy lot." The rest is undisturbed, and the lot is sure.
What is the lot in which Daniel and all of like character are at last to stand? Who can describe it? for who can conceive of it? It must embrace the condition and all the circumstances
of the people of God, when gloriously redeemed. And in reference to this, Paul utters the following living words: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Cor. 2 : 9. That is, the boldest flight of the imagination, the most intense conception of the unseen glories of the heavenly world, have never formed, and can not form, in the human mind any tangible idea of what God has prepared and has in store for his people. "But God," the apostle continues, "hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." Yes, the Spirit has revealed these things to those who are filled with that Spirit, and have received the Holy Ghost.
We are happy to give, by way of introduction, this word of commendation to this book, which has new phases for every earnest and spiritually minded reader; and which never grows old.
Battle Creek, Mich., April, 1901.