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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : Lecture Fifty-Second.

Commentary On Daniel Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Lecture Fifty-Second.

In the last Lecture we explained how Christ confirmed the covenant with many during the last week; for he gathered together the sons of God from their state of dispersion when the devastation of the Church was so horrible and wretched. Although the Gospel was not instantly promulgated among foreign nations, yet Christ is correctly said to have confirmed the covenant with many, as the nations were directly called to the hope of salvation. (Matthew 10:5.) Although he forbade the disciples to preach the Gospel then to either the Gentiles or Samaritans, yet he taught them that many sheep were dispersed abroad, and that the time at which God would make one sheep-fold was at hand. (John 10:16.) This was fulfilled after his resurrection. During his lifetime he began to anticipate slightly the calling of the Gentiles, and thus I interpret these words of the Prophet, he will confirm the covenant with many For I take the word |many| here, rvym, rebim, comparatively, for the faithful Gentiles united with the Jews. It is very well known that God's covenant was deposited by a kind of hereditary right with the Israelites until the same favor was extended to the Gentiles also. Therefore Christ is said not only to have renewed God's covenant with a single nation, but generally with the world at large. I confess, indeed, the use of the word many for all, as in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in other places, (Romans 5:19,) but there seems to be a contrast between the ancient Church, included within very narrow boundaries, and the new Church, which is extended over the whole world. We know how many, formerly strangers, have been called from the distant regions of the earth by the gospel, and so joined in alliance to the Jews as to be all in the same communion and all reckoned equally sons of God.

The Prophet now subjoins, He will make to cease the sacrifice and offering for half a week. We ought to refer this to the time of the resurrection. For while Christ passed through the period of his life on earth, he did not put an end to the sacrifices; but after he had offered himself up as a victim, then all the rites of the law came to a close. By the words |sacrifice and offering| the Prophet implies all ceremonies, a part being put for the whole; as if he had said, after Christ had offered up one eternal sacrifice, all the customary ceremonies of the Law were abolished; for otherwise Christ's death would have been superfluous, had he not put an end to all the old shadows of the Law. Although the sacrifices were continued for many years after Christ's death, yet we can no longer call them |legitimate,| for no reason can be offered why the sacrifices of the Law should be pleasing to God, except their reference to that heavenly pattern which Moses saw on the mount. (Exodus 25:40.) Hence, after Christ had appeared and expiated all the sins of the world, it became necessary for all sacrifices to cease. (Hebrews 8:5.) This is the Prophet's intention when he says, Christ should cause the sacrifices to cease for half a week. He embraces two points at the same time; first, Christ really and effectually put an end to the sacrifices of the Law; and secondly, he proved it to the world in the preaching of the Gospel by his Apostles. We observe, then, the sense in which God testified by his Prophet the cessation of sacrifices after Christ's resurrection. The veil of the temple was then rent in twain; true liberty was proclaimed; the faithful might then feel themselves to be full grown men, and no longer subject to that government of childhood to which they had submitted under the Law.

The second clause of the verse now follows: we have read it before, but we now repeat it to refresh the memory. And over the extension, or expansion, of abominations he shall cause astonishment, or stupefaction; and even to consumption and determination he shall pour himself upon the desolator Some translate, It shall be poured or shall distill: we shall treat the words afterwards. The passage is obscure, and may be rendered in a variety of ways, and consequently interpreters differ much from each other. Some take knph, knaph, |a wing,| for a |cherub;| then they change the numbers from singular to plural, and think the Prophet alludes to winged cherubim. This gives those who adopt this rendering a two-fold method of explaining it. Some say the abomination shall be above the wings, that is, the ark of the covenant, because the temple was profaned, and the abomination was so ruinous that it destroyed even the very cherubim. Others take it causally -- the abominations shall be for the sake of the cherubim. But I leave these subtleties, as they do not seem to me to have any solidity. Others, again, follow the Greek version, as quoted by Christ in the 24th chapter of Matthew (Matthew 24) and elsewhere, although Christ seems rather to refer to the 12th chapter of our Prophet. But as these two passages refer to the same abomination, I will not insist on this point; I will only remark upon the translation of one word. Those who translate |the abominations of desolation| treat the words of Daniel too carelessly, for there is no grammatical dependence of one word on the other, or, technically speaking, no state of regimen The preferable opinion is that which considers the word |wing| to mean extremity or extension. Others, again, treat |extremity| as if it meant a state of despair; as if the angel had said, on account of the extremity of the abominations, as evils should accumulate upon evils without end till matters came to the last pitch of despair. Others, again, explain |the wing of abominations| more simply for the expansion itself, as if the angel had stated, the temple shall be openly profaned, and the pollution shall be apparent far and wide.

Interpreters differ again about the words msmm, rmesmem and smm, sem-em usually translated |make desolate,| and |desolation.| Some take the former transitively, and others as neuter; the latter signifies to destroy and lay waste, and also to wonder and be astonished. I think these two words ought to be used in the same sense; as if the Prophet had said, all shall be astonished at the extent of the abominations; when they shall perceive the temple worship, swept away as by a deluge, then they shall be mightily astonished. He afterwards adds the calamity which commenced when God shewed the pollution of the temple shall distill or pour itself upon him who is astonished We will treat the occurrence itself to enable us to understand the sense of the words better. I have no hesitation in stating God's wish to cut off all hope of restoration from the Jews, whom we know to have been blinded by a foolish confidence, and to have supposed God's presence confined to a visible temple. As they were thus firmly persuaded of the impossibility of God's ever departing from them, they ought to be deprived of their false confidence, and no longer deceive themselves by such flattering hopes. Thus the temporary pollution of the temple was shewn by Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 10:18.) For when the prophets constantly proclaimed the approach of their enemies to destroy both the city and temple, the greater part of the people derided them. In their opinion this would overthrow all their confidence in God, as if he had been false to his word, in promising them perpetual rest on Mount Zion. (Psalm 132:14.) Here Ezekiel relates his vision of God sitting in the temple -- he then vanished, and the temple was deprived of all its glory. This was but temporary.

But we are now treating of a profanation of the temple, which should prove, if I may use the phrase, eternal and irreparable. Without the slightest doubt, this prophecy was fulfilled when the city was captured and overthrown, and the temple utterly destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. This satisfactorily explains the events here predicted. Some consider the word |abominations| to be used metaphorically, and to signify the overthrow of the city; but this seems to me forced. Others explain it of the statue of Caligula erected in the temple; and others again, of the standard of Tiberius, who ordered the eagles to be placed on the pinnacle of the temple. But I interpret it simply of that profanation which occurred after the gospel began to be promulgated, and of the punishment inflicted upon the Jews when they perceived their temple subject to the grossest forms of desecration, because they were unwilling to admit the only-begotten Son of God as its true glory. Others, again, understand the impious doctrines and superstitions, as well as the perverse errors with which the priests were imbued. But I think the passage marks generally the change which took place directly after Christ's resurrection, when the obstinate impiety of the people was fully detected. They were then summoned to repentance; although they had endeavored to extinguish all hope of salvation through Christ, yet God stretched forth his hand to them, and tried whether their wickedness was curable or not. After the grace of Christ had been obstinately rejected, then the extension of abominations followed; that is, God overwhelmed the temple in desecration, and caused its sanctity and glory to pass utterly away. Although this vengeance did not take place immediately after the close of the last week, yet God sufficiently avenged their impious contempt of his gospel, and besides this, he shews how he had no longer need of any visible temple, as he had now dedicated the whole world to himself from east to west.

I now return again to the explanation of the words separately. The angel says, Upon the extension of abominations, astonishment, or astonishing; for some think it an adjective, and others a substantive; but the meaning is, all should be stupefied, or astonished. I do not altogether object to the meaning already referred to -- namely, rendering the word |wing| as |extremity;| for the sense will then be -- when the abominations come to their height or extremity; and the sense is the same, if we use the word |expansion.| God intends to shew us the extensive range of the pollutions,. -- upwards, downwards, and all around, they should obscure and bury the temple's glory. Hence on account of the extremity or expansion of abominations there shall be astonishment, for all shall be amazed. The angel seems to oppose this stupor to pride; for the Jews were thoroughly persuaded of God's being strictly bound to themselves, and of the impossibility of his being torn away from his own temple where he had fixed his eternal dwelling-place. He predicts the approach of this amazement instead of their supine security.

He adds next, And unto consumption., klh keleh, signifies |end| and |perfection,| as well as |destruction.| I take it here for consumption or destruction. It shall flow even unto astonishment I have already remarked upon the words implying this astonishment; slaughter, or something like it, ought to be understood before the verb. There is no doubt at all about the Prophet's meaning. He says this slaughter should be like a continual shower, consuming the whole people. He speaks of the people as astonished by their calamities, and deprived of all hope of escape from them; for the slaughter shall flow forth upon the astonished people. Meanwhile he shews how foolishly the Jews indulged in pride and how fallaciously they flattered themselves in supposing the Almighty permanently attached and bound to themselves and their visible temple. The slaughter shall flow forth even to consumption, meaning, until the whole people should perish. He adds also another noun, even to a determined end We have already unfolded the meaning of this noun. Here the Prophet explains the cause of that eternal distinction which the Almighty had determined and decreed to be irrevocable.

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