John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18 (Daniel 7:18)

Verse 18

Thus this prophecy was fulfilled, namely, The four beasts took upon themselves the empire which properly belonged to the sacred lofty ones; that is, to God’s elect sons, who, though dwellers on earth, are dependent on heaven. In this interpretation I see nothing forced, and whoever prudently weighs the matter will, as I hope, recognize what I have said as the meaning of the Prophet. The latter clause now follows. They shall obtain the kingdom, says he,for ever, and even for ever and ever A difficult question arises here, because by these words Daniel, or the angel addressing him, seems to express a perpetual condition under these four monarchies;. Belshazzar was the last king of the Babylonian dynasty, and at the perform of this vision the overthrow of that monarchy was at hand. With regard to the Persian kings, there were only eight of them besides Cyrus. And concerning Alexander we know a sudden change happened; the terror of him spread abroad like a storm, but it vanished away after it had affected all the people of the East. The Macedonian kingdom also suffered a concussion, when those leaders began to disagree among themselves who had obtained from Alexander authority and rank; and at length the kingdom became fourfold, as we have already stated, and shall mention again. Now if we count the years, the length of those monarchies was not so great as to justify the epithet “perpetual.” I reply, this must be referred to the sensations of the pious, to whom that delay seemed specially tedious, so that they would have pined away in their miseries, had not this prophecy in some way relieved them. We see at the present moment how great is the for your of desire when reference is made to the help of God; and when our minds have been heated with desire, they immediately decline to impatience. It thus happens that the promises of God do not suffice to sustain us, because nothing is more difficult than to bear long delay. For if the Church in our time had been oppressed for a hundred years, what constancy would have been discerned ht us? If a whirlwind arises, we are astonished, and cry out, “What next? what next?” Three or four months will not have elapsed before all men enter upon a strife with God and expostulate with him, because he does not hasten at once to bring assistance to his Church. We are not surprised, then, at the angel here assigning one age, or even an “age of ages,” to tyrants under whom the Church should be oppressed. Although I do not doubt the reference to the fullness of times, as we: know Christ to have been the end of the Law, and as his advent drew nearer, so God admonished the faithful to carry forward their own expectations to the advent of their Redeemer. When, therefore, the angel uses the phrase one age and an age of ages, I have no doubt that he defined the time for the elect, to strengthen them in patiently bearing trouble of all kinds, as this had been divinely decreed; for the four beasts were to reign not only for a few years, but for continual ages; that is, until the time of renovation had arrived for the world, when God completely restored his Church. Let us proceed: —

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible