of Earthly Governments
Universal Empires Are a "Great
Viewed from the
In Nebuchadnezzar's vision we see the empires of earth, as viewed from
the world's standpoint, to be an exhibition of human glory, grandeur, and power; though in
it we also see an intimation of their decay and final
destruction, as expressed in the deterioration from gold to iron and clay. The world extols, in prose and verse,
the great and successful agents of this image, its Alexanders, Caesars, Bonapartes and
others, whose greatness showed itself in the slaughter of
their fellowmen, and who, in their lust for power, made millions of widows and orphans.
And such is still the spirit which exists in the "ten toes" of the image, as we
see it exhibited today in their marshaled hosts of more than twelve millions of
men armed with every fiendish device of modern ingenuity, to
slaughter one another at the command of "the powers that be."
The stone class, the true
Church, during its selection or taking out of the mountain, has been esteemed by the world
as of no value. It has been despised and rejected of men. They see no
beauty in it that they should desire it. The world loves,
admires, praises and defends the rulers and governments represented in this great image,
though it has been continually disappointed, deceived, wounded and oppressed by them.
The proud are now called happy; yea,
they that work wickedness are set up in power. (Malachi 3:15) Can we not see, then,
that the destruction of this great image by the smiting of the stone, and the
establishment of God's kingdom, mean the liberating of the oppressed and the blessing of
all? Though for a time the change will cause disaster and trouble, it will finally yield
the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
Empires Are "Beastly"
But now, calling to mind the difference of
standpoint, let us look at the same four universal empires
of earth from the standpoint of God and those
in harmony with him, as portrayed in vision to the beloved prophet Daniel. As to us these
kingdoms appear inglorious
and beastly, so to him these four universal empires were shown as
four great and ravenous wild beasts. And to his view the
coming Kingdom of God (the stone) was proportionally grander than as seen by
Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel says:
"I saw in my vision
by night, and behold the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea.
came up from the
sea, diverse one from another.
"The first was like a
"...and behold another beast, a second, like a
"...and lo another, like a
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a
fourth beast, dreadful and
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 that were before it,
and it had ten horns." Daniel 7:2-7
The details relative to the first
three beasts (Babylon the lion, Medo-Persia the bear, and Greece the leopard), with their
heads, feet, wings, etc., all of which are symbolic, we pass by, as of less importance in
our present examination than the details of the fourth beast, Rome.
Of the fourth beast, Rome,
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a
dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly;
...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."
Here the Roman Empire is shown; and
the divisions of its power are shown in the ten horns, a horn being a symbol of power. The
little horn which arose among these, and which appropriated
the power of three of them to itself, and ruled among the others, represents the small
beginning and gradual rise to power of the Church of Rome, the Papal power or horn.
As it rose in influence, three of the divisions, horns or
powers of the Roman Empire (the Heruli, the Eastern
Exarchate and the Ostrogoths) were plucked out of the way to make room for
its establishment as a civil power or horn. This last specially notable horn,
Papacy, is remarkable for its eyes, representing intelligence, and for its
mouth—its utterances, its claims, etc.
To this fourth beast, representing Rome, Daniel gives
no descriptive name. While
the others are described as lion-like, bear-like and leopard-like, the
fourth was so ferocious and hideous that none of the beasts of
earth could be compared with it.
John the Revelator, seeing in vision the same symbolic beast
(government), was also at a loss for a name by which to describe it, and finally gives it
several. Among others, he called it "the Devil." (Revelation 12:9)
He certainly chose an appropriate name; for Rome, when viewed
in the light of its bloody persecutions, certainly has been the most
devilish of all earthly governments. Even in its change from Rome Pagan to
Rome Papal it illustrated one of Satan's chief characteristics; for he also transforms
himself to appear
as an angel of light (2
Corinthians 11:14), as Rome transformed itself from heathenism and claimed to be Christian—the Kingdom of Christ.*
[*The fact that Rome is called "the Devil" by no
means disproves a personal devil: rather the reverse. It is because there are such
beasts as lions, bears and leopards, with known characteristics, that governments were
likened to them. And so, it is because there is a Devil, with known characteristics,
that the fourth empire is likened to him.]
After giving some details regarding
this last or Roman beast, and especially of its peculiar or Papal horn, the Prophet states
that judgment against this horn would be rendered, and
would begin to lose its dominion, which would be consumed by gradual process until
the beast should be destroyed.
This beast or Roman Empire in
its horns or divisions still exists, and will be slain by the rising of the masses of the
people, and the overthrow of governments, in the "Day of the Lord,"
preparatory to the recognition of the heavenly rulership. This is clearly shown from other
scriptures yet to be examined.
However, the consuming of the Papal horn comes first. Its power and influence
began to consume when Napoleon took the Pope prisoner to France. Then,
when neither the curses of the Popes nor their prayers delivered them from Bonaparte's
power, it became evident to the nations that the divine authority and power claimed by the
Papacy were without foundation. After that, the temporal
power of the Papacy waned rapidly until, in September, 1870, it lost the last vestige of
its temporal power at the hands of Victor Emmanuel.
during all that time in which it was being "consumed," it kept uttering its
great swelling words of blasphemy, its last great utterance being in 1870, when, but a few
months before its overthrow, it made the declaration of the infallibility of the
Popes. All this is noted in the prophecy: "I beheld then [i.e., after
the decree against this 'horn,' after its consumption had begun] because of the voice of
the GREAT WORDS which the horn spake." Daniel 7:11
Thus we are brought down in history to our own day, and made
to see that the thing to be expected, so far as the empires of the earth are concerned, is
their utter destruction. The next thing in order is described by the words, "I beheld
even till the beast was slain and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame."
The slaying and burning are symbols, as well as the beast itself, and signify the utter
and hopeless destruction of present organized government.
In verse 12 the prophet notes a difference between the end of
this fourth beast and its predecessors. They three successively (Babylon, Persia and Greece) had their
taken from them; they ceased to hold the ruling power of earth; but their lives as nations
did not cease immediately. Greece and Persia still have some life, though it is long
centuries since universal dominion passed from their grasp.
however, with the Roman Empire, the fourth and last of these beasts. It will lose dominion
and life at once, and go into utter destruction; and with it the others will pass away
also. Daniel 2:35
No matter what may be the means or instrumentality used, the
of this fall will be the establishment of the Fifth Universal Empire of earth, the Kingdom
of God, under Christ, whose right it is to take the dominion. The transfer of the kingdom
from the fourth beast, which for its appointed time was "ordained of God," to
the fifth kingdom, under the Messiah, when its appointed season has come, is described by
the Prophet in these words:
"And behold, one like
the Son of man
came with the clouds of heaven, and came to
the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given unto him
[the Christ—head and body complete]
dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all
people, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion
which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
This the angel interpreted to mean that "the kingdom and
dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the
people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; and all
dominions shall serve and obey him." Daniel 7:13,27 To the accomplishment of this great
mission, the overthrow of these Gentile governments is first necessary; for the
"kingdoms of this world," like the "prince of this world," will not
surrender peaceably, but must be bound and restrained by force. And thus it is written,
Thus seen, the dominion of earth is to be placed in the hands
of Christ by Jehovah ("the Ancient of days"), who shall "put all things
under his feet."
(1 Corinthians 15:27) Thus enthroned over God's kingdom, he must reign until he shall have
put down all authority and power in conflict with the will and law of Jehovah.
"To bind their kings
with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment
written; this honor have all his saints." Psalm 149:8,9
Thy Kingdom Come
As we thus view present governments
from the standpoint of our Lord and of the Prophet Daniel, and realize their ferocious,
destructive, beastly and selfish character, our hearts long for the end of Gentile
governments and joyfully look forward to that blessed time when the overcomers of the
present age will be enthroned with their Head, to rule, bless and restore the groaning
creation. Surely all of God's children can heartily pray with their Lord—"THY
KINGDOM COME, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Each of these governments represented in the image and by the
beasts existed before it came into power as the universal empire. So, too, with the true
Kingdom of God: it has long existed separate from the world, not attempting rulership, but
awaiting its time—the time appointed by the Ancient of days. And, like the others, it
must receive its appointment and must come into authority or be "set up" before
it can exercise its power in the smiting and slaying of the beast or kingdom preceding it.
Hence the appropriateness of the statement,
"In the days of these
kings [while they still have
power] shall the God of heaven set up [establish in power and authority] a kingdom."
And after it is set up, "it shall break in pieces and
consume all these kingdoms, and
it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:44)
Hence, however we may look for it, we
must expect God's Kingdom to be inaugurated before the fall of the kingdoms of this
world, and that its power and smiting will bring their overthrow.
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