In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one that had appeared to me previously.
I. GOD'S GOOD GIFTS ARE DESPISED BY THE CARNAL AMBITION OF MEN. Lands, cities, palaces, extensive provinces, all fail to satisfy the man in whose breast vulgar ambition dwells. The possessor of the great kingdom of Persia did not conduct himself as a man, but as a silly ram. He was supreme master of these things; but since he did not extract advantage or enjoyment from them, he could not be said to possess them. His one thought was how to acquire more. Instead of cherishing a grateful disposition that God had given him so much, and afforded him such fine opportunities for useful service, his dominant passion was to dispossess others of their dominion. Nor did the fact afflict his soul, that in the career of violence, much innocent blood would be shed, men would be diverted from occupations of husbandry, and misery would be widely sown. The palace in which vain Ambition hatches her plots is no better than a pest-house. And the monarch who is prodigal with human blood is no other than a murderer. Like Satan, the destroyer, "he also goeth about seeking whom he may devour."
II. MILITARY CONQUESTS SOW DEEPLY THE SEEDS OF DEADLY REVENGE. The arbiter of war settles nothing. The victor to-day is the vanquished to-morrow. The memories of the conquered people hold, with a deathless tenacity, purposes of revenge; and if the conqueror himself does not live to see his military fortune reversed, his successors feel the blow with accumulated fury. The ram, with his two unequal horns, pushed westward, northward, and southward, and for a moment was accounted great. But ere tong the goat with one strong horn assailed him with uncontrollable rage, smote him to the ground, and trod him underfoot. The arm of muscular strength soon decays. If a monarch has nothing better to depend upon than an arm of flesh, his glory will soon fade. It is surprising how that, generation after generation, monarchs still rely upon human battalions rather than on the living God. So ingrained in their imperial nature is ambitions pride, that they need to be bruised and pulverized in a mortar before the pride can be extracted.
III. THE MILITARY POWER OF A KINGDOM IS EASILY BROKEN. Very significantly is it said respecting this he-goat, that "when he was strong, the great horn was broken." Alexander, surnamed by flatterers "the Great," was to the kingdom of Macedon merely a horn - a weapon of offence. Can there be a more humiliating statement? If God has given to the inferior animals natural horns, they are intended to serve as defensive weapons. If the animal has any native sagacity, it will reserve its horns for fitting occasions of danger; for if it should rush into needless hostilities, its horns may be broken, and in the hour of peril the animal will become a helpless prey. How often does God snap the horn of human power in the hour of boastful triumph! Herod was drinking the sweet potion of profane flattery, when an angel smote him, and he was eaten up of worms. Nebuchadnezzar was feasting on the pride of his great success, when his reason forsook him, and he was degraded to a place among the cattle. Alexander sat down to weep, because there seemed no further scope for his ambition; but God's shaft of disease pierced him, and left him a corpse.
IV. TRANSIENT SUCCESS MAKES MONARCHS INSOLENT AND PROFANE. If God takes away, he also gives. Where the one strong horn had been broken off, four other horns came up instead. The vital energy which could produce this is the direct gift of God. Whoever is meant by this "little horn," he ought to have learnt, as the very first lesson of his life, that he had been raised up by God to replace one who had been removed by death, But instead of learning lessons of humility and pious trust from the patent scenes of human mortality, men, for the most part, become more presumptuous and profane. No outward events permanently impress the soul. Nothing but the mysterious grace of God can soften and purify man's heart. This "little horn" ventures to assail the very stars of heaven. As high as the stars are above the earth - as bright and as useful - so are God's saints compared with earthly and sensual men. Against these this proud ruler arrays his hostile forces - yea against the Prince of heaven. He corrupts the priesthood, defiles God's sanctuary, interrupts the daily sacrifice. This is a sin of sins - a crime of blackest dye. Herein we see what is the natural effect of military conquest upon the victor himself. It hardens the feelings, stupefies the conscience, makes the man a demon, and hurries him along to the brink of self-destruction.
V. PRESENT TRIUMPHS OVER THE RIGHTEOUS ARE DIVINELY PERMITTED, IN' ORDER TO SECURE HIGHER GOOD. Although the leaders among the Jews were vastly superior to the invading hordes of Antiochus - superior in virtue and morality - nevertheless they were far from perfect. A strange intermingling of good and evil - of light and darkness - appeared in their nature. So great was God's regard for his chosen peep]e, that he made adversity to serve as moral medicine. Military disaster may serve as moral triumph. The armies of proud monarchs God used as his instruments of chastisement. The wicked are his hand - his sword. The victorious army usually boasts that, by their own might, they have conquered. They can see no other result or end than their own fame. But God sees other and remoter results. In this case it was not simply because Syria's army was mightier than the Jewish force, that the former triumphed, and made the daily sacrifice to cease. The real cause was that transgression was found in Israel; and if God's remedy was severe, it was not more severe than needful. Israel was smitten before the Canaanites, because a spirit el mercenary selfishness was found in Achan. The cause of righteousness may be arrested, impeded, dishonoured, if some flagrant sin be found in its leaders. The kingdom of righteousness can only be advanced by righteous methods. It is true that God bad promised to shield his people Israel from their foes, but there was a condition, tacit or expressed, viz. that they should honour his commands. An army is defeated; the temple desecrated; access to God interrupted; because transgression was found in Israel. - D.
Grotius remarks that the ancient thrones and curule chairs had wheels. Those in the text being like burning fire." Dr. Cox observes: "Prognosticate"; "at once the majesty of the Judge, piercing, penetrating, awful, and the rapid progress of those providential visitations which would bespeak the indignation of a sin-avenging Deity." "The fire-scattering wheels," says Keil, "show the omnipotence of the Divine throne of judgment — the going of the judgment of God the whole earth." He further observes: "Fire, and the shining of fire, are the constant phenomena of the manifestation of God in the world. The fire which engirds His throne with flame pours itself forth as a stream from God into the world, consuming all that is sinful and hostile to Him, and rendering His people and kingdom glorious."
The ancient of days did sit.
1. He should be a King.
2. A Judge.These claims rested on the unity of nature — the "ancient of days " being "brought near " and taking "hold of, the Son of man; thus making both One and this One offering a propitiation — being "out off," but not from Himself. The first claim has been met; Christ is the King! He shall be the Judge Kingship becomes the guarantee of Judgeship. We proceed to proclaim a coming judgment.
I. IT IS THE UNIVERSAL EXPRESSION OF OUR RACE.
1. By personal conscience.
2. By relative necessity.
3. By ideal anticipation.
II. IT IS THE UNIFORM TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE. The Bible teaches throughout that "the judgment " will take place. In this testimony we find three grand facts.
1. All the dead are reserved to judgment.
2. All the living are going to judgment
3. All conditions of life will be known at the judgment.
(1) (2) (3) III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION. 1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character. 2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission. 3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration. 4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers. (Joseph Odell.)
(2) (3) III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION. 1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character. 2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission. 3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration. 4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers. (Joseph Odell.)
(3) III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION. 1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character. 2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission. 3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration. 4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers. (Joseph Odell.)
III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION.
1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character.
2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission.
3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration.
4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers.
I. THE GLORIOUS APPEARANCE OF OUR SAVIOUR.
1. That Christ will re-visit this earth is a fact stated in many passages of Scripture. What shall be the nature of the grandeur and glory of His final appearing, or how it will be displayed, none can tell.
II. ITS ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES. More particularly as to ourselves and mankind at large. Mark how diverse the characters of those around the throne! What an affecting contrast is presented to our minds!
(Edward Pizey, B. A.)
Thousand thousands ministered unto Him
(Serrmons by Authors "Tracts for the Times.")
I. THE PECULIAR NATURE OF THE HEAVENLY SERVICE.
1. It will be suited to a state of final reward. There will be nothing that will imply a state of probation or trial. When we reach Heaven, all service which had the nature of a means to attaining the end of moral perfection will pass away.
2. It will include all essential duties that are due from the creature to the Creator. Many of the duties of revealed religion will cease in Heaven, because they are designed to effect a temporary purpose only. Through eternity, angels and redeemed will be dependent upon God, and receive all good from Him. Love, and the manifestation of love, will be one portion of this exalted service. A holy fear of, and respect to, the majesty of God is due from the creature to the Creator, and the manifestation of this will be one part of the service of Heaven. A voluntary dependence on God; an absolute and unlimited subjection to His supreme authority; a continued aim at His glory — enter into the duty of the creature towards the Creator.
3. The Heavenly service will be the united service of angels and men. The assembly of Heaven is one, the worship or service is one, the temple is one, the song is one.
4. The Heavenly service will consist in immediate attendance upon God. Here ours is the service of trading for our great Master while He is in a far country. But in Heaven we shall serve in His presence; we shall be His personal attendants.
5. It will be a service of subordinate dominion. The Scriptures assure us that the saints are to be rulers and governors in the world to come. What an honour and satisfaction it will be to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords, as kings and rulers under Him, and this honour shall all the saints have.
6. The Heavenly service will be a sabbath service. The earthly sabbath is a type of Heaven, and it shadows forth the state and employments of the saints there. It is a rest from worldly toil and labour, but not a cessation of all activity and service.
7. The service of Heaven is temple service. The ancient temple was a type of Heaven.
8. The service of Heaven will be a service of praise. To think of God, to admire Him, to behold His glory and rejoice in it, to love and praise Him, will be the sweet employment of Heaven. The Heavenly service is the engagement of spirits freed from sin; pervaded with light, fired with love, enraptured with delight, and bound by sweet and immortal bonds to God and to each other for ever.
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS SERVICE WILL BE RENDERED,
1. Without the least reluctance. The service of God will be voluntarily rendered, deeply loved, and highly enjoyed.
2. Without weakness.
3. Without weariness.
4. Without distraction.
5. Without intermission.
6. Without defect.
7. Without end.If this service will be our happiness and honour in Heaven, let us take care that we deem it our happiness and honour on earth. None who refuse to serve God on earth shall serve Him in Heaven.
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