It is here that we find the fullest description of the Man of Sin. First, he is looked at under the figure of |the little horn.| As there has been some dispute whether this expression really applies to him, we propose to examine the more carefully what is here said of |the little horn.| Personally, we have long been convinced that this expression refers to none other than the Antichrist. There are a number of plain marks which make it comparatively easy to recognize his person, whenever Scripture brings him before us. For example: his insolent and blasphemous pride; his exalting himself against and above God; his impious and cruel warfare against the people of God; his sudden, terrible, and supernatural end. Let us compare these features with what is said of |the little horn| in Dan.7 and 8.
We turn first to Dan.7. In vv.7 and 8 we read, |After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts which were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.| This refers to the rise of |the little horn| within the bounds of the Roman Empire, for that is what is represented by the |fourth beast.| The first thing said of the little horn is that he has eyes like the eyes of man, which speak of intelligence, and a mouth speaking great things -- the Heb. word signifies |very great,| and the reference is, no doubt, to his lofty pretensions and his daring blasphemies.
In 7:21 it is further said of him that he |made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.| This contemplates his persecution of the godly Jews, and agrees perfectly with Rev.13:7; |And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.| In v.25 we are told, |He shall speak great words against the Most High.| Surely this serves to identify this |little horn| as the first beast of Rev.13: |And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies| (v.5). If further proof be needed, it is supplied by the remainder of verse 25: |And shall wear out the saints of the Most High[hellip]and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.| A |time| equals a year (see Dan.4:23 and Rev.12:14, and cf.12:6), so that a |time and times and the dividing of time| would be three and one-half years during which the saints are given into his hand. This corresponds exactly with Rev.13:5, where of the first Beast, the Antichrist, it is said, |And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months| -- in a later chapter we shall give a number of proofs to show that the first Beast of Rev.13 is the Antichrist.
In Dan.8 the Little Horn is before us again, and that it is the same dread personage as in chapter 7 appears from what is predicted of him. First, he is referred to as |a king of fierce countance| (8:23), which agrees with |whose look was more stout than his fellows| (7:20). Second, it is said of him that he |waxed exceeding great (first) towards the south, and (second) towards the east, and (third) toward the pleasant land| (8:9), which agrees with |there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up| (7:8). Third, it is said that he |shall destroy the mighty and the holy people| (8:24), which agrees with |and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them| (7:21). There should, then, be no doubt whatever that the |little horn| of Dan.7 and the |little horn| of Dan.8 refer to one and the same person. Their moral features coincide: both, from an insignificant beginning, become great in the end: both persecute the people of God: both are stricken down by direct interposition of God. We may add that Messrs. B. W. Newton, James Inglis, G. H. Pember, Sir Robert Anderson, Drs. Tregilles, J. H. Brookes, Haldeman, and a host of other devout scholars and students, take the same view, namely, that the |little horn| of Dan.7 and 8 and the Man of Sin is one and the same person.
Let us now consider briefly what is revealed concerning the Antichrist under this title of his, the |little horn.| We confine ourself to Dan.8:23-25.
First, he is |a king of fierce countenance.| This we believe is a literal description of his facial expression, though we are satisfied that it also has a moral significance. In Deut.28:50 we read of |a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old nor show favor to the young.| In the light of this scripture it seems clear that when the Antichrist is denominated the |King of fierce countenance| the reference is not only to his actual features, but that it also intimates he will be empowered to face the most perplexing and frightful dangers and the most appalling scenes of horror without flinching or blanching. It is significant that the reference in Deut.28:50 is to the Romans, while what is said of the Antichrist in Dan.8:23 relates, specially, to his connections with Greece. The two dominant characteristics of these Powers will be combined in the Man of Sin. There will be concentrated in him the irresistible will of the Romans and the brilliant intellect of the Greeks.
Second, we are told that he shall be able to |understand dark sentences.| The Heb. noun for |dark sentences| is used of Samson's riddle (Judges 14:12, of the Queen of Sheba's hard questions (1 Kings 10:1), and of the dark sayings of the wise (Prov.1:6), which are too profound to be understood by the simple. This characteristic of the King of fierce countance, that he shall be able to |understand dark sentences,| suggests an attempted rivalry of Christ as the Revealer of secret things. This is one of the fascinations by which the Antichrist will dazzle humanity. He will present himself as one in whom are hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He will bewitch the world by his solutions of the enigmas of life, and most probably by his revelation of occult powers implanted in men hitherto unsuspected by most, and of forces and secrets of nature previously undiscovered.
Third, it is said |And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power| (8:24). This is explained in Rev.13:2, where we are told, |And the Dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority.| Just as we read of the Lord Jesus, |The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works| (John 14:10), so shall the Son of Perdition perform his prodigies by power from his father, the Devil. This is exactly what 2 Thess.2:9 declares, |Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.| Thus will men be deceived by the miracles he performs.
Fourth, he will |destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people| (8:24). This has received enlargement in the previous chapter, where we have given several illustrations from the Psalms of the Antichrist persecuting Israel.
Fifth, |And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand| (8:25). The Heb. word for |policy| denotes wisdom and understanding. It was the word used by David to Solomon, when he said, |Only the Lord give thee wisdom| (1 Chron.22:12), as it is also employed by Huram when writing to Solomon: |Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence| (2 Chron.2:12). The Heb. word for |craft| -- |He shall cause craft to prosper| -- is the one employed by Isaac when speaking to Esau concerning Jacob: |Thy brother came with subtilty| (Gen.27:35). It has in view the chicanery and treacherous methods the Antichrist will employ. |By peace shall destroy many| (v.25) refers to the fact that he will pose as the Prince of peace, and after gaining men's confidence -- particularly that of the Jews -- will take advantage of this to spring his bloody schemes upon them.
Sixth, it is said |He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes| (8:25). This unmistakably identifies him with the Beast of Rev.19:19, where we are told, |And I saw the Beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army.|
Seventh, |But he shall be broken without hand| (8:25). This expression means that he shall come to his doom without human intervention or instrumentality -- see Dan.2:45; 2 Cor.5:1, etc. That the King of fierce countenance shall be broken without hand refers to his destruction by the Lord Himself -- |And He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the Wicked| (Is.11:4).
We turn now to Dan.9:26, 27. This forms a part of the celebrated prophecy of the seventy |weeks| or hebdomads. We cannot now attempt an exposition of the whole prophecy: sufficient to point out its principal divisions and examine that part of it which bears on our present theme.
The prophecy begins with v.24 and concerns the seventy hebdomads, a word signifying |sevens.| Each |hebdomad| equals seven years, so that a period of 490 years in all is here comprehended. These seventy |sevens| are divided into three portions: First, seven |sevens| which concerned the re-building of Jerusalem, following the Babylonian captivity. Second, sixty-two |sevens| unto |Messiah the Prince,| that is, unto the time when He formally presented Himself to Israel as their King: this receiving its fulfillment in the so-called |Triumphal Entrance into Jerusalem.| Third, the last |seven| which is severed from the others. It should be carefully noted that we are expressly told that |after threescore and two weeks (which added to the preceding seven would make sixty-nine in all up to this point) shall Messiah be cut off.| The reference is to the Cross when Christ was cut off from Israel and from the land of the living. This occurred after the sixty-ninth week before the seventieth began.
The sixty-ninth terminated with the formal presentation of Christ to Israel as their |Prince.| This is described by Matthew (the distinctively Jewish Gospel) in chapter 21. The rejection of their Prince caused the break between Christ and Israel. It is very striking to note that (following the rejection) Matthew records three distinct proofs or evidences of this break. The first is found in Matt.21:19 in the cursing of the |fig tree,| which signified the rejection of the Nation. The second was His sorrowful announcement from the brow of Olivet that the time of Israel's visitation was past and her overthrow now certain (Matt.23:37 and cf. Luke 19:41-44). This was the abandonment of the City. The third was His solemn pronouncement concerning the Temple: |Behold your House is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord| (Matt.23:38, 39). This was the giving up of the Sanctuary.
The entire Christian dispensation (which began with the crucifixion of Christ) is passed by unnoticed in this prophecy of the |seventy weeks.| It comes in, parenthetically, between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth. What follows in Dan.9:26, 27 concerns what will happen after the Christian dispensation is ended when God again takes up Israel and accomplishes His purpose concerning them. This purpose will be accomplished by means of sore judgment which will be God's answer to Israel's rejection of His Son. But let us examine more closely the form this judgment will take.
The judgment of God upon the people who were primarily responsible for the cutting off of their Messiah was to issue in the destruction of their city and sanctuary (9:26). This destruction was to be brought about by the people of a Prince who should subsequently appear, and be himself destroyed. The Prince here is the Antichrist, but the Antichrist connected with and at the head of the Roman Empire in its final form. Now we know that it in A. D.70, but that |the Prince| here does not refer to the one who then headed the Roman armies is clear from the fact that Dan.9:27 informs us this Prince is to play his part in the yet future seventieth week -- further proof is furnished in that v.26 carries us to the end (i.e. of Israel's desolations) which is to be marked by a |flood,| and Isa.28:14, 15 intimates that this is to be after Israel's covenant with Antichrist: |Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which was in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with Death, and with Hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through it, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.| To this God replies, |Your covenant with Death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with Hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it| (v.18). The |overflowing scourge| is, literally, |the scourge coming in like a flood.|
A few words remain to be said on 9:27: |And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.| The subject of this verse is the Antichrist, |the Prince that shall come| of the previous verse. By the time he appears on the scene large numbers of Jews will have been carried back to their land (cf. Isa.18). With them the Prince makes a covenant, as of old Jehovah made one with Abraham, and as Christ will yet do with Israel, see Jer.31. This will be regarded by God with indignation, as a covenant with Death, and an agreement with Sheol. But while this covenant is accepted by the majority of the Jews, God will again reserve to Himself a remnant who will refuse to bow the knee to Baal: hence the qualification, |He shall confirm the covenant with many,| not all.
|In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.| The returned Jews will rebuild their temple and there offer sacrifices. But these, so far from being acceptable to God, will be an offense. There seems a clear reference to this in the opening verses of Isa.66, which describe conditions just before the Lord's appearing (see v.15). And here the Lord says, |He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck,| etc. (v.3). But three and a half years before the end, the Prince will issue a decree demanding that the sacrifices must cease, and the worship of Jehovah be transferred to himself, for it is at this point he shall |exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped| (2 Thess.2:4). The fact that we are here told that he causes the sacrifices and the oblation to cease, at once identifies this Prince of the Romans as the Antichrist -- cf.8:11. The remaining portion of 9:27 will be considered when we come to Matt.24:15.
We turn now to Dan.11, which is undoubtedly the most difficult chapter in the book. It contains a prophecy which is remarkable for its fulness of details. Much of it has already received a most striking fulfillment, but like other prophecies, we are fully satisfied that this one yet awaits its final accomplishment. That Dan.11 treats of the Antichrist all pre-millennial students are agreed, but as to how much of it refers to him there is considerable difference of opinion. A small minority, from whom we must dissent, confine the first thirty-five verses to the past. Others make the division in the middle of the chapter and regard all from v.21 onwards as a description of the Man of Sin, and with them the writer is in hearty accord. A few consider the entire chapter, after v.2, as containing a prediction of the Antichrist under the title of |The King of the North,| and while we are not prepared to unreservedly endorse this, yet it is fully allowed that there is not a little to be said in its favor.
We shall here confine ourself to the second half of Dan.11. Our present limits of space, however, will permit of nothing more than brief notes upon it. Commencing at v.31 we read, |And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.| The history of this |vile person| is here divided into three parts: first, the means by which he obtains the kingdom: vv.21, 22; second, the interval which elapses between the time when he makes a covenant with Israel, the taking away of the daily sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation: vv.23-31; third, the brief season when he comes out in his true colors and enters upon his career of open defiance of God, reaching on to his destruction: vv.32-45. Thus from v.21 to the end of the chapter we have a continuous history of the Antichrist.
|In his estate shall stand up a vile person[hellip]he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.| This epithet |the vile person| is a manifest antitheses from |the Holy One of God.| This twenty-first verse takes notice of the Man of Sin posing as the Prince of peace. He shall achieve what his antitype, Absalom, tried but failed to do -- |Obtain the kingdom by flatteries.|
|And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the Prince of the Covenant| (v.22). This Vile Person is denominated |the Prince of the Covenant,| which, at once, identifies him with the Prince of 9:26, 27. Then we are told in v.23 |And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.| This |league| or |covenant| is doubtless the seven-years-treaty confirmed with Israel, which is made at an early point in the Antichrist's career, and which corresponds with the fact that at the first he appears as a |little horn,| the |small people| being the Syrians -- cf. our remarks on Dan.8:8, 9 in chapter six.
Vv.25 and 26 describe his victory over the king of Egypt. Then, in v.28 we read, |Then shall he return into his land with great riches.| His land is Assyria. The mention of great riches corresponds with what we are told of the Antichrist in Psa.52:7; Ezek.28:4, etc.
|And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.| This is clear evidence that these verses are treating of that which takes place during the seventieth week. The mention of polluting the Sanctuary is an unmistakable reference to |the abomination of desolation,| i.e. the setting up of an idol to the Antichrist in the Temple. Note the repeated use of the plural pronoun in this verse; the |they| refer to the Antichrist and the False Prophet, cf. Rev.13. It is significant that in the next verse (v.32) there is an allusion made to the faithful remnant -- |The people that do know their God.|
|And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done| (v.36). That |the King| here is the |Vile Person| is not only indicated by the absence of any break in the prophecy, as also by the connecting |and| with which the verse opens, but is definitely established by the fact that in v.27 (note context) the Vile Person is expressly termed a |king!| The contents of this thirty-sixth verse clearly connects |the king| with the Man of Sin of 2 Thess.2:3, 4, and also as definitely identifies him with the |little horn| -- cf.7:23 and 8:25. The remaining verses of Dan.11 have been before us in previous chapters and need not detain us now.