Part 21—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
As described in the chapter just concluded entitled “The ‘Little Horn’ in Opposition,” Babylon rose to world power in the latter part of the seventh century before Christ. In 618 B.C. the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar besieged the Jewish capital Jerusalem and took the Jewish king captive to Babylon. Among the many other captives taken to Babylon was the young Jew Daniel, who became Jehovah’s prophet and the writer of the Bible book bearing his name Daniel. The new king whom Nebuchadnezzar put on the throne of Jerusalem rebelled, and Nebuchadnezzar again laid siege to the holy city. In the summer of 607 B.C. he captured and destroyed it and laid its temple to Jehovah in ruins. Many hundreds of Jewish survivors were taken into exile in Babylon, where Daniel was, and others fled in fear, and the land of Judah was left desolate. About sixty-nine years later, or in 539 B.C., Babylon itself was overthrown as a world power by the Medes and Persians, whose joint empire now became the dominant world power, the fourth one in Bible history. Daniel witnessed this.
RESTORING THE SANCTUARY TO ITS RIGHTFUL STATE
1. During Babylon’s world domination, what was the state of Jehovah’s earthly sanctuary, and what heightened Daniel’s concern about it?
DURING the sixty-nine years that Babylon dominated as the third world power of Bible history the sanctuary of Jehovah God at Jerusalem lay desolate. With heartfelt interest in the worship of the Most High God at the place that he had chosen in ancient times, the prophet Daniel in exile prayed: “For thy own sake, O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate.” (Dan. 9:17, RS) His concern for Jehovah’s sanctuary was heightened by the vision that the Lord God sent him during the reign of the last king of the Babylonian world power, that is, “in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar.”
2. What did Daniel first see in this vision during Belshazzar’s third year of rule?
2 It is not certain whether Daniel was still in the city of Babylon and merely saw himself in another location in the vision or was actually in the other location named. Changing from Aramaic back to Hebrew, Daniel writes: “And I saw in the vision; now it was so, that when I saw, I was in Shushan the castle, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision, and I was by the stream Ulai. And I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the stream a ram which had two horns; and the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; and no beasts could stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and magnified himself.”—Dan. 8:1-4, JP.
3. Who was instructed to make Daniel understand the vision, and why do we know it has to do with our own critical time?
3 We today, who are living in the last half of this twentieth century, can take up examination of this exciting prophecy with an assurance that it has to do with our own critical time, “the time of the end,” for no one else but a prominent angel of Jehovah God has said so. In his ancient day Daniel could not understand the vision, but he writes: “And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, who called, and said: ‘Gabriel make this man to understand the vision.’ So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was terrified, and fell upon my face; but he said to me: ‘Understand, O son of man; for the vision belongeth to the time of the end.’ Now as he was speaking with me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face toward the ground; but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said: ‘Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the latter time of the indignation; for it belongeth to the appointed time of the end.’” So we today ought to be interested.
4. What did the ram of the vision symbolize, and how did the horn coming up last become higher?
4 Beginning the interpretation, the angel Gabriel said: “The ram which thou sawest having the two horns, they are the kings of Media and Persia.” (Dan. 8:15-20, JP) This symbolic ram stands for the fourth world power, Medo-Persia. The two high horns picture kings. The Median horn was first to come up as direct successor to the Chaldean kings of Babylon, but it practically ended with Darius the Mede. His nephew Cyrus the Great had joined him in conquering Babylon. Cyrus the Persian succeeded his uncle Darius as king over all Babylonia. The Persian kings continued in the controlling position. During the later reign of the Persian King Darius I, there was a rebellion among the Medes, but the Persians put this down. So the Persian horn became the higher of the two. As a sign of this, Daniel 5:28; 6:8, 12, 15; 8:20 speak of the Medes ahead of the Persians, but the later book of Esther speaks of the Persians ahead of the Medes. (Esther 1:3, 14, 18, 19; 10:2) Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah spoke of stirring up the Medes rather than the Persians to overthrow Babylon.—Isa. 13:17; 21:2.
5. What world power proved unable to stand before this symbolic ram, and how is the ram pictured as pushing from the east?
5 In the previous vision to Daniel, Babylon had been pictured by the wild beast that arose out of the sea and that was like a lion having eagles’ wings. This symbolic beast proved to be unable to stand before the symbolic ram of this new vision. With Babylon’s capture in 539 B.C. it fell, and for almost fifty years afterward none of the other beasts of political government were able to stand up against the Medo-Persian world power. The prophecies speak of Jehovah as raising up a conqueror “from the sunrise” and calling him like a “bird of prey” from the sunrising. (Isa. 41:2; 46:11) “Kings from the rising of the sun” is the way Darius the Mede and his nephew Cyrus the Great are alluded to in Revelation 16:12. In harmony with this, Daniel saw the symbolic ram “pushing westward,” or from the east, as well as pushing northward and southward.
6. Until what expansion was there no standing up against the Persian Empire or delivering out of its hand, and for what is the king of its greatest dominion noteworthy?
6 Until the Medo-Persian Empire had expanded far beyond the size of the Babylonian Empire, there was no political power that could resist seizure by the hand of this fourth world power, particularly on the Asiatic continent. It did as it pleased and enlarged its realm. King Cambyses, who succeeded Cyrus the Great, conquered Egypt. His successor, the Persian King Darius I, moved westward across the Straits of Bosporus in 513 B.C. and invaded the European territory of Thrace, the capital of which was Byzantium (now Istanbul). By the year 508 he had subdued Thrace, and by 496 he had conquered Macedonia. Thus in the days of Darius I the empire became the greatest that the world had seen up to that time. Darius I is noted also for having redug the Suez Canal, and for permitting the restored Jews in Palestine to complete their rebuilding of Jehovah’s sanctuary in Jerusalem, despite wicked enemy opposition.—Ezra 4:1-5, 24; 5:1 to 6:15.
7. How is the successor of Darius I the Persian spoken of in the book of Esther?
7 Testifying to the greatness of the empire, Darius’ successor, Xerxes I, is spoken of in sacred Scripture as “Ahasuerus who was ruling as king from India to Ethiopia, over a hundred and twenty-seven jurisdictional districts.”—Esther 1:1.
8. In Daniel’s vision, what animal charged against the ram, and what happened to its conspicuous horn?
8 In vindication of Jehovah’s prophecies, a successful challenger of the domination of the earth by the Persian world power arose in due time. As a hint of this long in advance, even King Darius I met with defeat at the hand of the Greeks at Marathon, Greece, in 490 B.C. Foreseeing not a mere defeat but total overthrow, Daniel tells more of his vision: “And as I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west over the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had the two horns, which I saw standing before the stream, and ran at him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler [bitterness] against him, and smote the ram, and broke his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him; but he cast him down to the ground, and trampled upon him; and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. And the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and instead of it there came up the appearance of four horns toward the four winds of heaven.”—Dan. 8:5-8, JP.
9. How did the angel Gabriel explain the goat and its conspicuous horn?
9 For the inspired interpretation of this prophetic vision, we must again listen to what the angel Gabriel told Daniel: “And the rough he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. And as for that which was broken, in the place whereof four stood up, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with his power.”—Dan. 8:21, 22, JP.
10. When did Alexander invade Asia Minor, and with what forces, and where did he gain his first victory over King Darius III’s forces?
10 In 336 B.C. that last king of the Persian Empire, Darius III (Codomannus), was crowned. In that same year Alexander was crowned king in Macedonia, which had been delivered from the Persians away back in 479 B.C. by a defeat of the Persians at Plataea. Alexander determined to carry out the plans of his father, Philip II of Macedon. Philip II was the one who had organized the Macedonian phalanx, with which he coupled cavalry charges upon the enemy’s flank. His son Alexander, after subduing Greece, crossed the narrow strait of the Dardanelles (anciently Hellespont) into Asia Minor in the spring of 334 B.C. With him went 30,000 foot soldiers heavily armed to form his phalanxes, together with 5,000 cavalrymen, soldiers of many Greek dialects who developed the common (koiné) Greek in which the Christian Greek Scriptures were later written. With the speed of a leopard equipped with four birdlike wings, yes, with the speed of the goat that seemed not to touch the ground as he dashed toward the symbolic ram, Alexander moved with his forces through the domains of the Persian Empire, fifty times as large as his own kingdom. At the Granicus River he won his first battle over the forces of King Darius III. Onward Alexander moved, conquering and to conquer, capturing city after city in Asia Minor.
11. What other exploits did Alexander do until he reached the Punjab of India?
11 On his way south to Egypt he destroyed the island city of Tyre, after seven months of siege. Then he entered Jerusalem. Before him Egypt fell, and there in 332 B.C. he founded the city which bears his name, Alexandria, which became the largest ancient city in the Hellenic realm. At Gaugamela, not far from the ruins of ancient Nineveh on the Tigris River, Alexander totally defeated the Persian army and put Darius III to flight. The city of Babylon fell before him (331 B.C.). When he reached Balkh, in what is now Afghanistan, in 328 B.C., he had completely annexed the Persian Empire. Desirous of going on to the Pacific Ocean, he moved on into the Punjab of India, but did not get as far as the Sutlej River (327-326 B.C.). Because of his weary, homesick troops he chose now to turn back to the west.
12. How was the “great horn” of the symbolic goat broken, and how did four horns come up in place of it to the four winds?
12 Truly in Alexander the Great the symbolic he-goat “magnified himself exceedingly.” From India’s threshold Alexander made his way back to Babylon, with the thought of making it the supreme capital of his empire. In this regard the Bible prophecy was at odds with him. In Babylon he was stricken with malaria, but continued feasting to drunkenness, and suddenly died, in his thirty-third year of life, in 323 B.C. Thus the symbolic “great horn” of the he-goat, which was the “first king,” was broken. In place of the broken horn (Alexander) there arose four symbolic horns, but not in Alexander’s natural successors. By the year 301 B.C. four of Alexander’s generals had established themselves in power, General Ptolemy Lagus in Egypt and Palestine; General Seleucus Nicator in Mesopotamia and Syria; General Cassander in Macedonia and Greece; and General Lysimachus in Thrace and Asia Minor. The four symbolic horns wielded power “toward the four winds of heaven,” south, north, west and east. The prophetic “king of the north” and “king of the south” now came on the international scene.
13. In the vision, what did Daniel next see that appalled him?
13 What Daniel next saw in the vision astonished or appalled him. He saw more than the arising of the four horns, for he adds: “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the beauteous land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host and of the stars [some of the host of the stars, RS] it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them. Yea, it magnified itself, even to the prince of the host; and from him the continual burnt-offering was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt-offering through transgression; and it cast down truth to the ground, and it wrought, and prospered.” (Dan. 8:9-12, JP) Who is this “little horn” that defied Jehovah God?
14. How did the angel Gabriel then explain the rise and the course of action of the “little horn”?
14 The angel Gabriel, after explaining the “four horns,” says: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have completed their transgression, there shall stand up a king of fierce countenance, and understanding stratagems. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and do; and he shall destroy them that are mighty and the people of the saints [holy ones]. And through his cunning he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and in time of security shall he destroy many; he shall also stand up against the prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.”—Dan. 8:23-25, JP.
15. Where does the prophecy locate the arising of the symbolic “little horn,” and what in the foretold time corresponds with it?
15 The arising of the symbolic “little horn” occurs in the latter time of the rulerships of Alexander’s successors, when the transgressors against Jehovah God are coming to their finish. This locates the arising of the “little horn” in modern centuries, before A.D. 1914. What symbolic horn has grown from a small beginning but has grown exceedingly great toward the south, the east and the “beauteous land” of sacred Scripture? What “king” or ruling power of a fierce or bold countenance has arisen and wielded tremendous power in recent centuries? It is the seventh world power foretold in Bible prophecy, the Anglo-American dual world power.
16. Tending toward the arising of the “little horn,” by what western power were the imperial seats of Alexander’s successors reduced to provinces, and in what order?
16 How did it grow out of one of the horns that symbolized the kingships set up by Alexander’s four generals? In 298 B.C. the male line of General Cassander in Macedonia and Greece ended. Thirteen years later General Lysimachus, who was holding adjacent Thrace and Asia Minor, took possession of the European part of the Macedonian Empire. So one of the empires of Alexander’s successors disappeared. In 168 B.C. Macedonia became dependent upon the rising political power of Rome, and in 146 B.C. it was made a province of Rome. In 64 B.C. Syria, the seat of empire of General Seleucus Nicator, was reduced to a Roman province; and in 30 B.C. Egypt, the imperial seat of General Ptolemy Lagus, became a Roman province.
17. When did the Romans subdue Britain, who made it an independent state for a while and fathered its navy, and when did the Romans quit Britain?
17 While it was absorbing those Hellenic empires of the Grecian fifth world power, the aggressive Roman power invaded Britain. When Julius Caesar was preparing to make the invasion, he had to destroy a great fleet that included a British contingent of ships. It was by the beginning of the third century A.D. that southern Britain was subdued and divided into Roman provinces. Roman Emperor Septimius Severus finished building his wall there and died at York in Britain A.D. 211. Toward the end of that century General Carausius, a lieutenant of Roman Emperor Maximianus, crossed over into Britain and usurped the throne of Britain, and declared himself Augustus (emperor). After Carausius had defeated the Roman fleet that was sent to chastise him, Rome had to acknowledge his imperial position. “He ruled the country well for seven years when he was murdered in 293 A.D. He made Britain an independent state and incidentally became the ‘father of the British Navy.’”a Three years later Emperor Constantius recovered Britain, and in 306 (A.D.) he too died in York in Britain. The figure of Britannia on money coins was first struck by the Romans. In the fifth century the Romans began gradually withdrawing from Britain, and by A.D. 436 they had quit Britannia.
(To be continued)
a The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 13, page 322b.