THE SANCTUARY CYCLE.
A SECOND long period of time, "2,300 days," or years, is, in the third vision of Daniel (#Dan 8.), announced by the "wonderful numberer" who makes the revelation. It was given in reply to a question with regard to the duration of that taking away of the restored daily sacrifice, and that casting down of the restored sanctuary which had just been foretold as destined to take place, and to continue until "the time of the end," or "the last end of the indignation"; that is, until the period of Divine wrath against the Jewish people should terminate, until the close of the present Gentile age. The question and answer are recorded as follows;
"How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? "And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. . . . Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. . . . And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be" (#Dan 8:13-19).
In order to the clearer comprehension of the nature of this predicted period, its position in the book of Daniel must be borne in mind. It is one of the later and not one of the earlier group of visions; one belonging to the days of the Persians, not to those of the Babylonians; to the restoration era, not to the captivity era.
It is a remarkable fact that the book of Daniel is written in two different languages.
It opens in Hebrew; but from #Dan 2:4 to the end of chapter vii. is Aramaic in the original, the remainder of the book reverting to the Hebrew. Thus the prophecies of the "times of the Gentiles" are given in Gentile Chaldee, and the employment of Hebrew in the remaining predictions seems to indicate that the events foretold in them are viewed from a more Jewish standpoint, and that the revelation has a mere direct reference to the Jewish people and the Holy Land. On examination such is found to be the case. The "times of the Gentiles" have of course a certain relation to the Jews, as they measure the twenty-five centuries of their subjection to Gentile power; but their details are given from a distinctly Gentile point of view. They start with the literal, and end with the spiritual Babylon, and have to do mainly with the four great Gentile monarchies, and in the fourth, with the western and not the eastern empire of Rome. The kingdom of God in which they terminate embraces of course both Jews and Gentiles, each in their separate sphere, as we learn from other Scriptures.
But with the three last prophecies of Daniel the case is somewhat different. The first-the celebrated prophecy of the seventy weeks in chapter ix.-foretells the events of history from a decidedly Jewish point of view. The Redeemer of mankind at large was recognised and anticipated by the Jews principally as their Messiah. He was to be the Consolation of Israel, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Prince of the house of David; and in this prophecy He is mentioned harmoniously as "Messiah the Prince." The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and the long desolation of Judea, are predicted at the close of the prophecy; the establishment of the new covenant, or new testament, with many is also foretold; but there is no intimation of the fact that it was to be established with Gentiles as well as with Jews, for the calling of the Gentiles was to be a mystery until the days of Paul (#Eph 3.).
The two later visions of Daniel, in the first of which occurs the period we are now considering, are similarly sketched from Jewish, and not Gentile, standpoints. The western empire of Rome is scarcely alluded to. Eastern history and the eastern apostasy are the subject matter of the predictions. Gentile action is of course abundantly described: the conquests of Medo-Persia, the wars of Xerxes and Alexander the Great, the cruelties of Antiochus, the struggles of the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemies. Eastern rather than western events are foretold in detail, but all in their relation to the Jewish people and their sanctuary, the Holy Land and city and temple of Jerusalem. The people of God contemplated are mainly the Jews, in their dispersion and in their restoration; and the eastern empire of Rome and the Moslem power replace in these visions the Papal power, which figures so largely in the "times of the Gentiles."
We may not pause here to justify these statements, though it were an easy task to do so, as we are not writing an exposition of the book of Daniel, but have limited ourselves in these pages to an elucidation of the chronological rather than of the historical portion of the prophecy, the portion which it is especially stated "the wise shall understand" in these last days. But it is needful to premise thus much, as regards the scope of these later visions, in order to introduce in its place this most important period, connected with the still future restoration of Israel, when the sanctuary shall be cleansed.
Careful students of Scripture, who have reflected at all on these topics, must have observed that in the book of Revelation there is comparatively little about the Jews and their restoration, that subject having been fully treated in the Old Testament. The Saracenic invasion and the Turkish overthrow are indeed predicted in Revelation, for the fifth and sixth, trumpets are universally recognised as prefiguring the sore "woes" which were inflicted on the apostate Christian Church of the East by these desolating powers. But the Mohammedan conquests are there viewed in connexion with the Christian Churches of the East, and not in connexion with Syria and the Jews. Yet they stand in a most important relation to Israel also, and in this connexion they are presented in Daniel viii. It is as the desolater of Jerusalem, and the ruler of Judæa for twelve centuries, that this Moslem power principally affects Israel; it occupies the Holy Land and treads down Jerusalem, and has done so ever since AD. 637, when the Caliph Omar first brought the country under subjection to Mohammedan despotism.
Now just as the Papacy could not be developed while the emperors were ruling at Rome, so the Jews cannot be restored while the Turks are masters in Jerusalem; the one power must needs fall before the other can rise. The promised land must be freed from Moslem occupation before it can revert to its lawful heirs, the seed of Abraham. Hence the Mohammedan power has a double relation: it has been, and is, the cruel foe of Christians; it has been, and is, the obstacle in the way of Israels restoration. Its removal, under Divine judgment, must therefore figure prominently in prophecies of Jewish restoration in the last times; just as largely as the removal of the Papal apostasy, under similar judgments, in the predictions of the deliverance of the Gentile Church, prior to the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.
The Moslem power has merited judgment as much as the Roman apostasy. Its cruelties, its corruptions, its massacres and its oppressions, its opposition to the truth, its persecutions, its wide dominion and long duration make it a marvellously suitable companion to the Papacy. But its sphere is the East, and not the West; its city is Constantinople, and not Rome; and its destruction bears a closer relation to Jewish questions than to Christian ones.
It should be noted further that both in Daniel and in Revelation this foe is represented as destroyed, not by the brightness of Christs coming, not suddenly in an hour like "Babylon the Great," but as perishing by inherent decay- "he shall be broken without hand"; "he shall come to his end, and none shall help him"; and under the symbol of the Euphrates, "the waters thereof were dried up." This, as is well known, is, and has been, the characteristic fate of the Ottoman empire. Europe would fain arrest its decay if she could; she will not suffer any enemy wantonly to attack Turkey; she will not permit it to be roughly overthrown in selfish aggression. From motives of policy she would fain uphold it in its present position, but finds it impossible. Corruption and death are working in the body politic; vitality is failing at the centre; and Ottoman dominion must, in spite of every effort, soon cease to exist. It is like a patient already drawing his last breath; it has still a name to live politically, but it is virtually dead. One by one its own provinces are dropping off, and it is becoming evident to all politicians that nothing can arrest its ultimate extinction. The historian Lamartine long since perceived this, and wrote:
"I wish that Turkey may not perish, that an extensive empire may not be trampled down to nothing, or driven into the deserts of Asia. But what is the state of the case? Plains without ploughs, seas without vessels, rivers without bridges, lands without possessors, villages built with mud and clay, a capital of wood, ruins of desolation on all sides, are what constitute the Ottoman empire. In the midst of this ruin and desolation which they have made, and make daily, some thousands of the Turks in each province-all concentrated in the towns, drowsy, discouraged, never working, living miserably upon the spoils of Christian and laborious races- constitute the inhabitants and masters of the empire; and that empire is alone worth the whole of Europe. Its sky is finer, its earth more fertile, its ports more extensive and more safe, its productions mere precious and mere varied, than these of any other country; it contains 60,000 square leagues. You see by this rapid sketch that the Ottoman empire is no empire at all; that it is a misshapen agglomeration of different races, without cohesion between them, without mutual interests, without a language, without laws, without religion, and without unity or stability of power. You see that the breath of life which animated it-religious fanaticism-is extinct; you see that its fatal and blind administration has devoured the very race of conquerors, and that TURKEY IS PERISHING FOR WANT OF TURKS!"
There is a difference in the chronological, as well as in the linguistic and historic features of the two portions of Daniel. The characteristic measure of the "times of the Gentiles," "seven times," does not appear in this prediction of the cleansing of the sanctuary in the eighth chapter; we find instead this other period of 2,300 years,-a period 220 years shorter than the duration of the "times of the Gentiles," but one which nevertheless expires at or very near the same point as the earlier, the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. How is this? These twenty-three centuries begin later. They measure the history of events in the three last empires only. They start, not from the beginning of the kingdom of Babylon, but from the earlier years of Medo-Persia; they commence, not with the era of Nabonassar, nor with the captivity era, but with the
RESTORATION ERA OF EZRA AND NEHEMIAH..
In this vision of the ram and the he-goat (#Dan 8:3), the first action described- the starting-point of the prophecy- is the pushing of the ram against the goat; in other words, the celebrated invasion of Greece by Xerxes. Not the lion-like Babylon, but the massive, heavy, ram-like Medo-Persia, is the first empire here; and it was at the point where this latter empire succeeded the Babylonian that Jewish restoration commenced.
The predicted 2,300 years must consequently date from some point in the restored national existence and ritual worship of the Jews, and they include, not only the whole of that period-the whole of the "seventy weeks," or 490 years to Messiah-but also the whole duration of the present second dispersion, accompanied by a second desolation and defilement of the sanctuary. This second dispersion commenced with the fall of Jerusalem under Titus, and was completed by Hadrian, at the close of the Jewish war, AD. 135. The whole period has lasted therefore, not only through nearly five centuries before Christ, but through all the eighteen centuries since; and as eighteen and five are twenty-three, must be very near its close.
The intended terminus a quo is not very distinctly assigned, but as both the 2,300 years of chapter viii. and the seventy weeks of chapter ix. start from the Persian period of Jewish history, in other words, as they both date from the RESTORATION ERA which followed the Babylonian captivity, their starting- points must he either identical or closely related, chronologically. Now there is, and can be, no question that the two years, B.C. 457 and B.C. 444, the dates of the two restoration decrees of Artaxerxes, are the starting-points of the 490 years to Messiah the Prince, because the fulfilment of that prophecy has demonstrated the fact. We may therefore safely take them as two of the starting-points of the longer period also. But one earlier and two later dates are also indicated by the vision. Its opening events are, not the restoration decrees of Artaxerxes, but the wars and victories of Xerxes, the pushing westward and northward and southward of the Persian ram. What point in this monarchs career of conquest is the most marked and critical? Unquestionably his celebrated invasion of Greece, with an army, according to Herodotus, of five millions of men-the greatest of his military exploits, and at first a victorious one. It is true that in its results it brought about the ultimate ruin of his empire, but its beginning must nevertheless be regarded as the climax of his career; when he captured Athens he reached the farthest point of his advance into Europe, and the height of his glory. Napoleons Russian campaign similarly brought about his ruin; but historians agree that the climax of his greatness was just before he started on that ill-fated expedition. "Earthly state had never reached a prouder pinnacle," says Dr. Arnold, "than when Napoleon, in 1812, gathered his army at Dresden, that mighty host unequalled in all time, and there received the homage of subject kings." ["Lectures on Modern History," p. 177.]
Xerxes invasion of Greece took place in the year B.C. 480, and this date may be taken, consequently, as the first commencement of the sanctuary cycle, or period of 2,300 years, to intervene before the full and final cleansing of the sanctuary. The first stage of Jewish restoration under Cyrus had already taken place at this time.
On the other hand, the edict given in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes did not conclude the restoration era, for it was not until the thirty-second year of that kings reign that Nehemiah accomplished the work of reformation described in chapter xiii.6 of his book; while the first "seven weeks," which are distinguished by the angel from the rest of the "seventy," [#Dan 9:25.] as the restoration era-as the time of the reconstruction of the Jewish city and polity-did not terminate in their earliest form till the reign of Darius Nothus, called "Darius the Persian" (#Neh 12:20). Forty-nine years, or "seven weeks," from B.C. 457, the decree of the seventh of Artaxerxes, expired B.C. 408; and the same period, reckoned from B.C. 444-the Nehemiah edict of the twentieth of Artaxerxes- expired thirteen years later, in the time of Artaxerxes Mnemon, in B.C. 395. These two dates may consequently be taken as marking the two latest termini of the Persian restoration era of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The restoration era, from which these twenty-three centuries date, is consequently that lying between Xerxes invasion of Greece, B.C. 480, and the completion of Nehemiahs cleansing of the sanctuary, B.C. 395. It includes the following dates:
480. Grecian expedition of Xerxes. Starting-point of vision (#Dan 8.).
457. The Ezra decree in the 7th of Artaxerxes.
444. The Nehemiah commission in the 20th of Artaxerxes.
432. Nehemiahs second commission, in the 32nd of Artaxerxes.
408. End of the " seven weeks" from the Ezra decree.
395. End of "seven weeks" from Nehemiahs commission.
This last date may be considered to mark the end of Old Testament history, and the closing incidents recorded are all, it will be observed, of the nature of a cleansing of the sanctuary (#Neh 13.).
At a distance of twenty-three centuries from the earlier of these six dates of the restoration era we may expect to meet incipient and then fuller stages of the final and everlasting "cleansing of the sanctuary," and at the same distance from the latest of these dates we may look to see the full accomplishment of the process. The restoration of Israel, and the cleansing of the sanctuary, accomplished during this era under the patronage of the Persian monarchs, were imperfect and temporary. Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucidæ, and the Romans, one after another defiled the sanctuary again, even during the course of the "seventy weeks" to Messiah the Prince; and forty-one years after His cutting off, the Roman armies under Titus overthrew Jerusalem, burned the temple, and took away both the place and nation of the Jews, inaugurating thus the present long dispersion of the people and desolation of their sanctuary. The subsequent Jewish war, under Hadrian, completed the exile of the remnant of the Jews in AD. 135, after which it was made illegal for any Jew even to set foot on the soil of Palestine.
That imperfect and temporary cleansing of the sanctuary in the days of Darius was however typical of the true and everlasting restoration yet to come, and now close at hand; and this chronological prophecy of twenty-three centuries was given to measure the interval to this latter-the great antitypical reality.
Now, first, let it be noticed that this period of 2,300 years is a most exact and beautiful cycle, as was discovered by a Swiss astronomer, M. de Cheseaux, last century; a very wonderful cycle, and of a kind that had long been unsuccessfully sought for by astronomers; a cycle thirty times longer than the celebrated cycle of Calippus, and having an error which is only the seventeenth part of the error of that ancient cycle. It is a period as distinctly marked off as a unit of time, as is a month or a year. Yet in the days of Daniel this fact cannot of course by any possibility have been known, as there were no instruments in existence capable of measuring solar revolutions with sufficient accuracy to reveal its cyclical character.
The selection and employment of this period consequently in this place is an unanswerable proof of the inspiration of the book of Daniel, and was felt to be such by M. de Cheseaux when he discovered the astronomic nature of this period. It would be a million chances to one that such a cycle could have been employed by accident. If selected intentionally as a cycle, it must have been by Him who timed the movements of the sun and moon in their orbits. [See the account of the remarkable discoveries of this astronomer in the "Approaching End of the Age," pp. 400-406.]
The question now arises, Where does this long period run out? and to what events does its termination lead? We may reply, first, generally.
It runs out like the "seven times," both on the lunar and solar scales, and its various termini fall within "the time of the end"; that is, in the period that has already elapsed since the middle of last century. It leads to several of the dates we have already considered as stages in the downfall of the Mohammedan power, as well as to others which have not yet come before us. One of the measurements is exactly bisected, just as one of the measurements of the seven times was, by the Saracenic capture of Jerusalem. In fact, this period may, in a certain sense, be considered as simply a briefer form of "the times of the Gentiles"; it covers the same period chronologically, omitting the first of the four empires. Starting as it does, not from the Babylonian captivity era, but from the Persian restoration era, it includes the last twenty-three only of the twenty-five centuries of the great Gentile dispensation.
Its lunar measurements run out in the years AD. 1753, 1776, 1789, 1808, 1825, and 1838; while its solar termini extend to the years 1821, 1844, 1857, 1876, and the two still future years 1893 and 1906. The annexed diagram will show the relation of these dates, all included in "the time of the end" to their respective termini a quo, in the Persian restoration era.
And what were the events of these different terminal years? From the nature of the period we are considering we should expect them to be critical, especially in connexion with the modern Jewish emancipation movement, and the fall of Mohammedan power. But as the French Revolution was also a principal factor in the liberation of the Jews, we need not be surprised to find it also indicated. THE FIRST CLOSE, the middle of last century, is recognised as a marked turning- point in Jewish history by its own distinguished historian, Prof. Griitz.
"So clearly and indubitably does the middle of the last century mark a turning point in this respect in the history of the Jews, that the eminent Jewish historian, Prof. Gratz, in his great work on The History of the Jews, dates the beginning of the fourth and last of the. periods into which he divides Jewish history from A.D. 1750, and introduces that part of his work with the following words-words which, in the light of the present argument, are very suggestive: "Can a nation be born in a day? or can a nation he born again? Yet in one nation a new birth appears, a resurrection out of a state of death and apparent corruption; and that in a race which is long past the vigour of youth, whose history numbers thousands of years. Such a miracle deserves the closest attention of every man who does not overlook all wonderful phenomena. Mendelssohn had said at the beginning of this period, "My nation is kept at such a distance from all culture, that one might well doubt the possibility of any improvement." And yet she arose with such marvellous quickness out of her abasement, as if she had heard a prophet calling unto her, Arise! arise! Shake off the dust. Loose the bonds of thy chains, O captive daughter of Zion." [Dr. Kellogg: "The Jews," p. 144.]
The year 1753 witnessed the first Jewish emancipation act in England, an act which, although it was repealed the following year, yet indicates the beginning of a movement which has never since been arrested. This was the period of the rise of the distinguished Jewish writer Moses Mendelssohn, who prepared the way for the great change that was so soon to pass over his people. Of the influence of Mendelssohn Dr. Kellogg writes;
"Mendelssohn prepared the way for the great change that was so soon to pass on Israel, both by his influence on his own people, and by the effect of his life and work upon the sentiments and prejudices of the Gentile peoples of Europe. Till his day the Jews, in a proud isolation, had held themselves in a great measure aloof from the thought, and even from the language, of their merciless oppressors. . . . It was Mendelssohn, first of any among the German Jews, who ventured to enter the profane precincts of Gentile literature. While none the less familiar with his native Hebrew, he became a master of the classic German; and so by his writings brought the German Jews for the first time into contact with the Gentile life and thought of which the German language was the channel. . . . Thus, after an isolation of centuries, they began to feel the full force of the influence of German thought and culture, and so were gradually brought into a position to exert in turn a mighty influence on the Gentiles. Besides this, Mendelssohn, by his notes upon and translation of the Pentateuch, and also by his constant protest against the authority of the synagogue to interfere with the right of individual opinion in religious matters, initiated a great movement against the old rabbinical Judaism, which had for so long a time stood as an impassable barrier between Jews and Gentiles. Thus, quite without intention of his own, he became the immediate author of all that deadly rationalistic tendency which has now so great prevalence and power among the Jews. As Mendelssohn did so much to bring his people in various ways nearer in sympathy to the Gentiles, so, on the other hand, he did scarcely less to enlist Gentile sympathy for the Jews. His rare intellectual endowments, together with the singular attractiveness of his personal character, did very much among the influential circles of Europe to diminish that indiscriminating prejudice of ages, which could believe no good thing of a Jew. How much he influenced Gentile thought and action we can appreciate, when we recall his intimate relations with such men as Lessing, Goethe, Chancellor Dohm, and Mirabeau; and the active influence of Mendelssohn dates from the same decade which sew the initial act of Jewish emancipation in England."
This, it will also be remembered, was the decade of the commencement of Voltaires anti-Christian influence in Europe, which provoked the French Revolution..
THE SECOND LUNAR CLOSE is the year A.D. 1776, the date of the American declaration of independence, which was indirectly one of the causes of the French Revolution; and the other two lunar closes are, as will be recognised at a glance, leading crises of that great Revolution itself.
But what has the French Revolution to do with Jewish emancipation, or the cleansing of the sanctuary?
Much every way. Louis XVI. sent his French troops under Lafayette to assist the United States in their struggle for freedom and independence. When that struggle was crowned with success, these French officers and troops returned to France, carrying with them seed-germs of republican ideas, which, while they developed beneficently and gloriously in the virgin soil of a new and unpeopled continent, produced, on the contrary, in the exhausted soil and amid the old world institutions of Catholic Christendom a poisonous and destructive harvest. The force engendered a few years later on by these revolutionary notions induced the destructive volcanic action which shook into ruins the governments and institutions of Europe, and desolated all its countries with sanguinary and long- continued wars. In the midst of the great upheaving and dislocation of society which resulted, Israel obtained her emancipation. The fetters fell everywhere from the limbs of the long oppressed and long suffering Jew, and before the revolutionary earthquake subsided he was no longer the slave of the Gentile, but a free man among his fellows. The new-born United States were the first nation to embody the principle of Jewish equality before the law in the fundamental statutes of their new constitution of 1776.
Nor was this all. The fearful judgments which in these years crushed all the Catholic nations of Christendom, had two other unlooked-for and most important results. They established the military and maritime supremacy and the vast colonial empire of Great Britain, which went into the revolutionary wars a dwarf and emerged from them a giant; and they established also a new power in Europe, the mighty military empire of Russia, which now rules a non-Catholic empire extending from the walls of China to the Baltic Sea, and from the Arctic Ocean to the Himalayan Mountains. This is the power to which has been allotted the task of overthrowing Mohammedan rule in Europe and Asia; its greatness has ever since grown exceedingly, year by year, and it has yet a most momentous part to play in the near future. Russia is the great foe of Islam, and Britain is the great friend of the Jews, because the great protector of the oppressed; both are strongly anti- Catholic, and Russia is in addition strongly anti-Mohammedan. The French Revolution movement, which unintentionally placed these two nations in the forefront of the family of European peoples, must needs be regarded, therefore, as an all-important one in connexion with the fall of the Papal and Mohammedan apostasies, and in the contemporaneous liberation of the Jews and cleansing of their sanctuary. Though called the French Revolution, because it happened to originate in France, that great movement really ran on into a European one, the duration of which was not limited between the convocation of the states-general and the entry of the allies into Paris, but reaches back to the middle of the eighteenth century for its commencement, and continues as to its consequences to this day.
THE THIRD LUNAR CLOSE AD. 1789, which terminated twenty-three centuries from the Nehemiah starting-point, was in the West the year of the destruction of the Bastile in Paris, marking the actual outbreak of the French Revolution; and in the East, that of a most disastrous war between Turkey and the Empress Catherine of Russia in alliance with Joseph of Austria,-a war which resulted in a decided advance in the downfall of the Porte.
THE FOURTH LUNAR CLOSE, A.D. 1808, witnessed the foundation of the first society for the evangelization of the Jews. And the FIFTH, 1825, fell in the midst of the Greek War of Independence, and coincides with the point at which the Porte, "tired and terrified with a struggle in which its armies had been swallowed up during three successive years without any result." [ "Turkey, Old and New," p.
362. Menzies] was driven to call in the aid of. Egypt, a step which afterwards led to its loss of that country also.
THE SIXTH AND LAST LUNAR CLOSE, 1838, was marked by the outbreak of the Egyptian insurrection of Mehemet Ali, which led to the independence of Egypt.
THE SIX SOLAR CLOSES of the period of twenty-three centuries from the six starting-points of the restoration era are the years A.D. 1821, 1844, 1857, and 1876 in the past, and 1893 and 1906 in the future. All the four first, as we have previously shown, brought most marked crises in the fall of Turkey, and ought consequently to be regarded as so many stages in the cleansing of the sanctuary. A.D. 1821 was the year of that insurrection in Greece which ended in its total liberation a little later on. Greece had always been regarded by the Porte as one of its most important and valuable provinces, and vehemently did it strive to avert Greek independence.
At the news of the outbreak in the Morea, the ferocity and fanaticism of the Ottomans were aroused, and the Greeks in Constantinople were mercilessly massacred, the churches pillaged, the patriarch hanged at the door of his own palace, while three archbishops, eighty bishops, and numbers of other members of the synod shared the same fate. In Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and all parts of the empire, peaceable and defenceless Greeks were pillaged and slain, and the cruelties and enormities perpetrated roused all their fellow-countrymen at home to desperation. One wealthy man alone contributed five millions towards the cost of the war. ["Turkey Old and New," p. 359. Menzies.] The insurrection made progress; the Turks were beaten; and in their fierce indignation they committed a suicidal act in commanding the massacre of the male population of the island of Scio. Ten thousand Asiatic Moslems landed on its shores, and in a brief time, out of one hundred thousand inhabitants, only nine hundred remained! This action raised a cry of horror throughout Europe, and the maddened Greeks took a startling vengeance. They set fire to the Turkish fleet, half of which was destroyed, beat enormous armies of Turkish soldiers, and continued to struggle till they gained their complete liberation from the Turkish yoke.
Of the year 1844 we have before spoken, as it is indicated by other periods than the one we are now considering. This year brought no military defeat, but one of a far more important character, both as marking the loss of the independence of the Porte, and the liberation of its Jewish and Christian subjects. It was the year in which the united powers of Europe obliged the Turkish Government to cease the practice of execution for apostasy; in other words, to cease persecuting on religious grounds. This, being contrary to the fundamental principles of Mohammedanism, would never have been conceded, until all power of resistance had failed. The grand vizier, in a correspondence with the English Government on this subject, says: "The laws of the Koran are inexorable as regards any Mussulman who is convicted of having renounced his faith. No consideration can produce a commutation of the capital punishment to which the law condemns him without mercy." The only reply was: "Her Majestys Government require the Porte to abandon once for all so revolting a principle. If the Porte has any regard for the friendship of England, it must renounce absolutely and without equivocation the barbarous practice which has called forth the remonstrance now addressed to it." Russia wrote with similar distinctness, "We positively expect no longer to witness executions which excite the indignation of all Christendom." Even after similar appeals from all the great powers the Porte would have put them off with the statement that "the law did not admit of any change," but the ambassadors would not receive it. At last a concession was obtained with the greatest difficulty, and only by the firmest resolution, and the following official declaration was published: "The Sublime Porte engages to take effectual measures to prevent henceforward the execution and putting to death of the Christian who is an apostate. Henceforward neither shall Christianity be insulted in my dominions, nor shall Christians be in any way persecuted for their religion."
This decree was published in the 1260th year of the Hegira. It is dated March 21st,
1844. This date is the first of Nisan in the Jewish year, and is exactly to a day twenty-three centuries from the first of Nisan, B.C. 457, the day on which Ezra states that he left Babylon in compliance with the decree given in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes.
Of the year 1856-7 we have spoken fully elsewhere; it marked the close of the Crimean war, and the adoption of the EUROPEAN CONCERT ON THE EASTERN QUESTION, by which the five great powers undertook conjointly to regulate the dissolution of the Ottoman empire-the date of the Treaty of Paris. And lastly, the year 1876 witnessed, as we know, the commencement of the recent Russo-Turkish war, the result of which would have been the total overthrow of the Ottoman empire but for the action of England. By the Conference of Berlin the larger part of the remaining portion of the Turkish dominions in Europe was rendered independent of the Porte, and England established a protectorate over the Asiatic dominions of the sultan. Of the last two solar closes, A.D. 1893 and 1906, both still future dates, we will speak later on.
It is evident that the 2,300 years of the sanctuary cycle indicate, not so much a closing year as a closing era, not so much a point of time as a process. Of a garden it might be said, "Let it lie fallow for the winter months; then shall it be cleansed and cropped." In the early weeks of March there might be few signs that the prediction would be fulfilled, though labourers might be digging and levelling here and there. An observer might say, "Spring has come, but the garden is not cleansed and cropped." Gradually, however, appearances change; plot after plot is brought into order and duly sown. Presently the seeds begin to spring, and by the end of May the garden is clad in verdure, it is cleansed and stocked. Thus the expression, "unto 2,300 years, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," seems to mean, then shall the cleansing process begin, not then shall it come to an end. Jewish restoration is going on gradually and by stages, as Jewish decline and fall did 2,520 years ago, and as the former Persian restoration did 2,300 years ago. The process is naturally a slow one. The once mighty Ottoman empire could not be overthrown in a year, nor in a decade, nor in a century. Empires that spring up gourd-like in a night may perish in a night, as did the empire of Napoleon III.; but in the ease of mighty and extended ones, consolidated by powerful bonds and ages of duration, decay is as slow as growth. The oak, that is a century in attaining maturity, and lives for many centuries, takes centuries also to perish.
The terminal years of this great period, if we include its lunar measures, take us back to the middle of last century; and if we confine our attention to its principal solar closes, to the time that has elapsed since 1821, covering thus the events in Jewish, Mohammedan, and Syrian history which have occurred during the last sixty-five years. They have not brought the cleansing of the sanctuary. They have brought many stages leading to that great result; they have brought it perceptibly nearer; they have shown the means by which it is likely to be at last accomplished-the gradual rise of the Jews, and the gradual decadence of the Ottomans; they have led us to a point at which the climax of the liberation of Syria and the restoration of Israel may be said to have come within the range of practical politics: but they have not brought the end. We are still some few years distant from the close of the period when, according to prophecy, that end is to come.
We have seen reason at a previous stage of our examination of these prophetic periods, to anticipate that the very proximate year 1889 will see Jerusalem liberated from Moslem tyranny. This sanctuary cycle points us on to two other future dates, 1893 and 1906. What events are these years likely to bring? We do not venture even to suggest, but may remark that the overthrow of Ottoman rule in Syria, whenever it occurs, may, or may not, mark the close of "the times of the Gentiles."
It is quite possible, and perhaps we may say probable, that when the Turks first cease to exercise direct control in Palestine, the country will be placed under a protectorate, either a joint protectorate of the western nations, or possibly, as less difficult to work, under the protectorate of one or two of them, or even of England only, as it already has a sort of protectorate in these regions through the Anglo- Turkish convention about Cyprus. In that case Turkish rule would be succeeded by another Gentile power; Jerusalem would still be under Gentile rule, showing that the "times of the Gentiles" were still running their course. Such rule might be brief, and autonomy might, after a few years, be granted to the people of the land under a Jewish governor, and so it might continue to the end of the age. There seems to be no distinct revelation on this point in Scripture prophecy, though it is clear, from the twelfth of Zechariah, that there will be governors of Judæa in Jerusalem at the final crisis, and that Israels God will defend them and their city against the confederation of hostile allies who will apparently be besieging Jerusalem at the time of the glorious advent of Christ with His saints.
It is, however, useless to speculate as to the detail of future events, even when the occurrence of the events themselves is distinctly predicted, and is near at hand. We may know that certain things will happen, because the Scriptures distinctly predict them, and we may know when they will happen, because the time of their occurrence has been revealed; but we may yet be entirely ignorant as to how they will be brought about, because the mode has not been revealed. That the sanctuary will be cleansed, or Syria freed from Moslem domination, at the close of this cycle of twenty-three centuries, there seems little room to doubt; but how the deliverance will be effected, or with what immediate results, it is not for us or for any one to say: time will declare. The ultimate result is clear: the rapid restoration of a considerable number of the Jewish people to the land of their fathers, where they will repent and be converted, led to say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!" and be thus prepared to welcome their long-rejected King, Messiah..
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall he in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And . . I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people. . . . I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness. . . . The Lord shall save the tents of Judah first, . . . and shall defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east. . .
The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee. . . . And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one" (#Zech 12:2 - 14:9).
What the interval between the cleansing of the sanctuary and this final and glorious crisis is likely to be, we must learn from the chronology of the times of the Gentiles. This cycle of twenty-three centuries from the Persian restoration era leads no further than the deliverance of the Holy Land from Gentile rule.