The Times of Daniel and the Christian Hope.

1868 34 We are all more or less ignorant, as well as liable to error; but an interpretation of prophecy, which may be quite mistaken, ought not to drift one into slighting our Lord's solemn warning (Matt. 24:48) and giving up a sweet and weighty christian duty, urged not only in Luke 12 but to the end of the New Testament — the duty of continually waiting for the Saviour from heaven, not knowing how soon He may come.

Those who applied the little horn of Daniel 7 to the papacy of course understood the "time, times, and half a time" (three and a half years) of 1260 days = years. Dating this, as many did and some still do, from the epoch of Justinian's Code and Decretal Epistle to the Pope (say, A.D. 533), they regarded the era of the French Revolution as the close. Feeling, however, that the blow then inflicted on the Pope, serious as it was, fell far short of the awful and remediless destruction predicted in scripture, they bethought themselves of the double commencement and ending of the 70 years' trouble on Jerusalem (Jer. 25:11-12; Zech. 1:12), and contended, along with the earlier date, for a second accomplishment from Phocas' Decree, A.D. 606 or 607, which would make the later line of 1260 years close last year or the year before, when certainly it is hard to say any judgment fell on the papacy answering to the prophecy.

Hence there has been an evident desire, on the part of the historical interpreters to cover their difficulty by bringing in the overlapping 75 days of Daniel 12:12.

Nor is this all. The study of Ezekiel 36 — 39 and Zechariah 12, 14 is recommended, whence it is inferred.

First. That our Lord's coming is not to be till after Israel's restoration to their own land; and this as unconverted men:

Secondly. That there will be time enough for them to grow highly prosperous in their land before the attack of Gog, who will be defeated by divine interposition — the personal advent of Christ, attended by the conversion of Israel.

This is assumed to be the incontrovertible meaning of the prophets, and to prove that the Lord's coming cannot be very nigh, since not even the first step of this chain has been passed. Further, it is argued that this long delay is not inconsistent with the accuracy of the chronology which has already closed with the 1260 years: first, because none can say how long the seventh vial is being poured out; and, secondly, because the 75 days more of Daniel may intimate some long continuance of woes before the final blessedness.

All this is humbling and grievous. If we knew not the blinding effect of tradition and a human system in leading people to call bitter sweet and sweet bitter, it would be inexplicable in believers. It is the ruinous effect on the constant looking for Christ which induces me to notice the statements.

Now what warrant is there for supposing the little horn to have power beyond the 1260 days of his permitted blasphemous pretension? Other beasts had their lives prolonged after their supremacy had ceased (as we know was the fact in Babylon, Persia, and Greece); but the fourth or Roman beast perishes in every sense by divine intervention (Dan. 7:11-12), when his measured time is complete. Does he pursue his career after the allotted 42 months expire? Where is the accurate chronology of such a supposition?

There is no real ground for Mr. Elliott's note (Horae Apoc. iii., p. 279, 4th edit.) that the ten horns give their kingdom to the beast, and would afterwards desolate it. For, on the contrary, it is the united fury of the beast and the horns that desolates the harlot, Babylon, while it is the beast, never the harlot, that is said to be cast alive into the lake of fire. The description of the final scene in Revelation 19 is quite adverse to the notion of a previous wasting of the strength of the beast. "Unto the end" in Daniel 7:26 cannot therefore mean a gradual but a total destruction. Elsewhere too Mr. E. applies the ten horns desolating the whore to the burning of imperial Rome by the Gothic powers. Where is the consistency or the accuracy here?

Again, it is an oversight to imagine that, after the Lord Jesus destroys the beast and the false prophet by the manifestation of His presence, the reign of peace ensues immediately. There will be a Davidical interval before the Solomonic type applies. And this is what explains Ezekiel 38, Ezekiel 39, Zechariah 12, Zechariah 14, and many other scriptures, such as Isaiah 29, Micah 5, etc. This cuts off all the argument derived from Israel's continuance in their land and the subsequent attack of Gog, which has no connection with the judgment of the western little horn. The 75 days after the 1260 of Daniel refer to some of the intervening events after the beast's destruction and before full blessedness. On the other hand, the outpouring of the seventh vial, whether transient or protracted, cannot interfere with the 1260 days, or 42 months of the blasphemous career of the beast. If the chronology of the latter be definite, it is unwarrantable to throw in a cloud of uncertainty, or to defer the end, by an appeal to John's seventh vial before it, or to Daniel's further date of 75 days after it.

I will only add that the presence (parousia) of the Lord to receive the saints, raising the dead and changing the living, is outside the events of prophecy, and never determined by a date in scripture. And this fact falls in with the practical importance of leaving the hope of Christ to be an immediate thing for the heart of the believer. Earthly judgments, dealings with Jews and Gentiles, etc., fall within the province of prophecy; and here we find times and seasons. This is confounded by such as misuse the predictions about Israel to hinder the Christian's habitual expectation of Christ. The Revelation shows that, after the heavenly saints are seen on high (which supposes the presence of Christ to take them there), the question of the earth and of Jews and Gentiles begins; and these must both pass through fearful future tribulation before deliverance comes for the righteous on earth by the manifestation of the Lord and His glorified saints from heaven. During this interval the Jewish remnant will be converted, in the midst of their unconverted countrymen in the land, though they will have their repentance deepened when the Lord appears for the discomfiture of their Gentile foes as we see in Zechariah 12. If the Lord comes with His saints before every eye, we must leave room for a prior step, considerably before, when He comes for them. What broad truth in the Revelation can be plainer than the presence of the completed company of the heads of the heavenly priesthood above, Revelation 4, 5 (symbolising under the twenty-four elders the glorified saints), before the great crisis of the seals, trumpets, and vials? Under these we see Jews and Gentiles on earth, some of them faithful and blessed; but no longer the Church or Churches here below after Revelation 3.