In the first year of Darius the Mede - This is a continuation of the preceding discourse. Bp. Newton, who is ever judicious and instructing, remarks: It is the usual method of the Holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the former; and thus revelation "is a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." The four great empires shown to Nebuchadnezzar, under the symbol of a great image, were again more particularly represented to Daniel under the forms of four great wild beasts. In like manner, the memorable events that were revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and he-goat, are here more clearly revealed in this last vision by an angel; so that this latter prophecy may not improperly be said to be a comment on the former. It comprehends many signal events. The types, figures, and symbols of the things are not exhibited in this, as in most other visions, and then expounded by the angel; but the angel relates the whole: and, not by way of vision, but by narration, informs Daniel of that which is noted in the Scripture of truth, Daniel 10:21.
Also I - I the angel. He alludes here to what he had done on a former occasion to promote the interests of the Hebrew people, and to secure those arrangements which were necessary for their welfare - particularly in the favorable disposition of Darius the Mede toward them.
In the first year of Darius the Mede - See the notes at Daniel 5:31. He does not here state the things contemplated or done by Darius in which he had confirmed or strengthened him, but there can be no reasonable doubt that it was the purpose which he had conceived to restore the Jews to their own land, and to give them permission to rebuild their city and temple. Compare Daniel 9:1. It was in that year that Daniel offered his solemn prayer, as recorded in Daniel 9:2), the captivity would terminate; and in that year that an influence from above led the mind of the Persian king to contemplate the restoration of the captive people. Cyrus was, indeed, the one through whom the edict for their return was promulgated; but as he reigned under his uncle Cyaxares or Darius, and as Cyaxares was the source of authority, it is evident that his mind must have been influenced to grant this favor, and it is to this that the angel here refers.
I stood to confirm and to strengthen him - Compare the notes at Daniel 10:13. It would seem that the mind of Darius was not wholly decided; that there were adverse influences bearing on it: that there were probably counselors of his realm who advised against the proposed measures, and the angel here says that he stood by him, and confirmed him in his purpose, and secured the execution of his benevolent plan. Who can prove that an angel may not exert an influence on the heart of kings? And what class of men is there who, when they intend to do good and right, are more likely to have their purposes changed by evil counselors than kings; and who are there that more need a heavenly influence to confirm their design to do right?
We now enter upon a prophecy of future events, clothed not in figures and symbols, as in the visions of chapters 2, 7, and 8, but given mostly in plain language. Many of the signal events of the world’s history, from the days of Daniel to the end of the world, are here brought to view. This prophecy, says Bishop Newton, may not improperly be said to be a comment and explanation of the vision of chapter 8; a statement showing how clearly he perceived the connection between that vision and the remainder of the book.DAR 222.2
The angel, after stating that he stood, in the first year of Darius, to confirm and strengthen him, turns his attention to the future. Three kings shall yet stand up in Persia. To stand up means to reign; three kings were to reign in Persia, referring, doubtless, to the immediate successors of Cyrus. These were, (1) Cambyses, son of Cyrus; (2) Smerdis, an impostor; (3) Darius Hystaspes.DAR 222.3
The fourth shall be far richer than they all. The fourth king from Cyrus was Xerxes, more famous for his riches than his generalship, and conspicuous in history for the magnificent campaign he organized against Grecia, and his utter failure in that enterprise. He was to stir up all against the realm of Grecia. Never before had there been such a levy of men for warlike purposes; never has there been since. His army, according to Herodotus, who lived in that age, consisted of five million two hundred and eighty-three thousand two hundred and twenty men (5,283,220). And not content with stirring up the East alone, he enlisted the Carthaginians of the West in his service, who took the field with an additional army of three hundred thousand men, raising his entire force to the almost fabulous number of over five million and a half. As Xerxes looked over that vast concourse, he is said to have wept at the thought that in a hundred years from that time not one of all those men would be left alive.DAR 222.4
“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 righteousness, but for Thy great mercies. PK 556.1
“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.” Verses 4-9, 16-19. PK 556.2
Heaven was bending low to hear the earnest supplication of the prophet. Even before he had finished his plea for pardon and restoration, the mighty Gabriel again appeared to him, and called his attention to the vision he had seen prior to the fall of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar. And then the angel outlined before him in detail the period of the seventy weeks, which was to begin at the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Verse 25. PK 556.3Read in context »
Honored by men with the responsibilities of state and with the secrets of kingdoms bearing universal sway, Daniel was honored by God as His ambassador, and was given many revelations of the mysteries of ages to come. His wonderful prophecies, as recorded by him in chapters 7 to 12 of the book bearing his name, were not fully understood even by the prophet himself; but before his life labors closed, he was given the blessed assurance that “at the end of the days”—in the closing period of this world's history—he would again be permitted to stand in his lot and place. It was not given him to understand all that God had revealed of the divine purpose. “Shut up the words, and seal the book,” he was directed concerning his prophetic writings; these were to be sealed “even to the time of the end.” “Go thy way, Daniel,” the angel once more directed the faithful messenger of Jehovah; “for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.... Go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:4, 9, 13. PK 547.1
As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel demand our special attention, as they relate to the very time in which we are living. With them should be linked the teachings of the last book of the New Testament Scriptures. Satan has led many to believe that the prophetic portions of the writings of Daniel and of John the revelator cannot be understood. But the promise is plain that special blessing will accompany the study of these prophecies. “The wise shall understand” (verse 10), was spoken of the visions of Daniel that were to be unsealed in the latter days; and of the revelation that Christ gave to His servant John for the guidance of God's people all through the centuries, the promise is, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” Revelation 1:3. PK 547.2
From the rise and fall of nations as made plain in the books of Daniel and the Revelation, we need to learn how worthless is mere outward and worldly glory. Babylon, with all its power and magnificence, the like of which our world has never since beheld,—power and magnificence which to the people of that day seemed so stable and enduring,—how completely has it passed away! As “the flower of the grass,” it has perished. James 1:10. So perished the Medo-Persian kingdom, and the kingdoms of Grecia and Rome. And so perishes all that has not God for its foundation. Only that which is bound up with His purpose, and expresses His character, can endure. His principles are the only steadfast things our world knows. PK 548.1Read in context »
But who reads the warnings given by the fast-fulfilling signs of the times? What impression is made upon worldlings? What change is seen in their attitude? No more than was seen in the attitude of the inhabitants of the Noachian world. Absorbed in worldly business and pleasure, the antediluvians “knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away.” Matthew 24:39. They had heaven-sent warnings, but they refused to listen. And today the world, utterly regardless of the warning voice of God, is hurrying on to eternal ruin. 9T 14.1
The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecy of the eleventh chapter of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfillment. Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take place. 9T 14.2
“Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.... Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate.... The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.” Isaiah 24:1-8. 9T 14.3Read in context »