Last Updated on : Saturday, October 11, 2014
The Book Unsealed
These metals are represented by these different squares of colour in the body of CHART No. 3, extending from the pink border on the extreme left. The colours you will perceive, approximate as nearly as possible to the colours of the metals themselves.
The image, however, was not all that the king Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream; for while he contemplated this image, which no doubt was of immense height - (for he afterwards set up a similar image on the plains of Dura, 90 feet high) - he saw a stone poised in the air (not held by human hands), by the side of the image. While he looked, the stone acquired motion, and descending, struck the image - not upon the head, nor upon the breast, nor upon the body, nor upon the thighs, nor upon the legs, but on the feet and toes. It is important to remember this, when we come to consider the meaning of the vision. We all know what would be the effect if a stone were to strike a marble statue on the pedestal, with sufficient force to break it: the support of the statue would be fractured, and the statue itself would fall to the ground, and be shattered into fragments. This was what Nebuchadnezzar witnessed. The stone smashed the feet, and the whole fabric came tumbling down, and lay scattered in ruins on the ground. But he saw more than this, for while he was looking at the shattered image, he perceived the stone increase in size, until it attained the magnitude of a mountain, filling the whole earth.
Such was the dream which all the king's wise men could not bring up before his mind, but which Daniel, by the revelation of the God of heaven, was enabled to revive before him. But what was the interpretation of it? Daniel was able to make this known also. He told Nebuchadnezzar that the head of gold represented his own government - his own dynasty - his own power and majesty, whereby he had been able to bring into subjection all the civilised people of the earth. Hence, therefore, the head of gold is identical with this yellow square to the left of the chart (No. 3), marked with the inscription - "the Babylonian Empire," which dates from B.C. 612, when Nebuchadnezzar overthrew God's kingdom - destroyed God's people, and took the survivors captive to Babylon. This event commences that long-prevailing order of things called "the kingdom of men," as distinguished from the kingdom of God, which existed in the land of Israel prior to the conquest by Nebuchadnezzar. That order of things will continue till the appearing of Jesus to establish the kingdom of God, in the restoring of the kingdom to Israel, as represented by the perpendicular belt of pink colour to the right of the chart, which you will see is inscribed with the words: "The kingdom of God or the kingdom of Israel re-established as the new or millennial heavens and earth."
The long interval between the kingdom of God, as it was under the Mosaic constitution of things, and the kingdom of God as it will be under Christ, is filled up by the kingdoms of men. These are all founded by the sword: they are all in the hands of sinners; they are all of them governed upon the principles of diabolism. Nevertheless, they are under divine supervision. The fact that order continues in the world - that anarchy does not prevail - that the world is in such a state that decent men can live in it, goes to show the truth of the lesson taught to Nebuchadnezzar - that the Most High rules in the kingdoms of men - setting up kings and casting them down, and setting up over them the basest of men, when they answer His purpose better than the noblest of mankind.
A certain nobleman had a son who was going to travel among the courts of Europe, and before he started, he told him that he would be surprised to find by how little wisdom the world was ruled: and this is the truth. If the government of the world were left to what they call "wisdom," anarchy would soon set in, and the whole world become a tumultuous pandemonium - a "hell upon earth." The fact that there is so little wisdom among mankind, and so much order in the world, goes to prove that God rules among the kingdoms of men, has a certain purpose to accomplish, and men know not what that purpose is. Those who have the government of the world in their hands seek to establish their own policy. If they were to establish their policy uncontrolled by God, God's purpose would be subverted and perverted. But He over-rules them; for we see things tending to the development of a certain declared purpose, and as mankind are the agents employed in the development of the events that are to lead to that crisis, and are profoundly ignorant of what that crisis is, it follows that God is making use of them, and shaping their rebellious policy to the accomplishment of what He has determined.
You will understand then, that the kingdom of God as it was under the Mosaic constitution of things, and the kingdom of God as it is to be hereafter under the millennial constitution of things, when the law shall go forth from Zion - is divided, one period from the other, by this long dreary period in which the destinies of mankind have been visibly or apparently, but not really, under the direction and supervision of mere mortal sinners.
Nebuchadnezzar was told that after his dynasty (represented by the head of gold), should pass away, it would be succeeded by another inferior to his, as silver is inferior to gold. This second dynasty of the kingdom of men, was represented by the breast and arms of silver, and answers to the light blue square in the chart to the right of the Babylonian yellow. The name of the dominion or dynasty represented by it, you will see inserted above it: "THE MEDO-PERSIAN EMPIRE." In the year B.C. 542, the Babylonian Empire was transferred from the family of Nebuchadnezzar to the family of Cyrus: thus the breast and arms of silver were historically illustrated.
The belly and thighs of brass, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, represented the (third) kingdom that was to arise after the silver dominion had passed away. Brass was selected to represent the third kingdom, because the people who constituted that kingdom selected brass as their representative metal. Hence you read in history of the brazen-coated Greeks. The brazen part of the image represents the Macedonian or Grecian dynasty which was caused to supersede the Medo-Persian empire by the conquests of Alexander the Great, in B.C. 334. The silver empire came to an end with the overthrow of the last Persian monarch, Darius, after having continued 200 years. The brazen element of the image has its counterpart in the chart before you in the brass-coloured square to the right of the silver-blue of the Medo-Persian Empire.
Daniel told the king that after the brazen would come the iron phase of the kingdom of men. The iron was to represent a power stronger than any that had preceded it. Hence, Daniel says that as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all these (the preceding metals), so would the fourth kingdom break in pieces and subdue all others. The iron portion of the image consisted of legs of iron, and feet that were part iron and part clay. Now, as you know, iron or clay are not in their nature cohesive. They will not mix together so as to form a solid substance. Hence, their mixture in the feet of the image represents a fragile combination of political powers at the time signified by the feet. The iron as a whole is the fourth section of the image, and represents the great empire that succeeded the Grecian dynasty, viz., the Roman Empire, which you have in the chart (No. 3), in two sections of colour to represent the two aspects symbolised by the pure iron and the iron mixed with clay. I refer to the lead-coloured patch after the Grecian square, and the lighter and longer square immediately to the right of that. The Roman power swallowed up the provinces of the Greek Empire, and some of the provinces of the Babylonish, so that the fourth empire was representative of all the dominions which had preceded it.
This same kingdom of men, in its various dynasties, is represented in another of Daniel's visions by a tree, which, with its outspread branches, sheltered all the beasts of the earth, and gave roost to all the fowls of heaven. At a certain time, the tree was cut down, its stump was allowed to remain in the earth, and the stump was banded with two bands, one brass and the other iron. The brass band of the tree stump corresponds with the brazen portion of Nebuchadnezzar's image - answering to the Grecian element, while the iron band of the stump corresponds with the iron of the image, representing the Roman banding of the kingdom of men.
The feet were part iron and part clay. On each foot are five toes. This signified that the fourth kingdom, in its last form, should be sub-divided into ten parts. This is very clear from the 7th chap. of Daniel, where we find the record of a vision seen by Daniel himself, in which the four kingdoms are represented by four beasts instead of four metals. On the head of the fourth beast, were ten horns. We also find ten horns upon the great red dragon of Rev. 12, and upon the head of the beast that comes out of the sea, in chap. 13. Wherever you find these ten horns treated of, whether in Daniel's book or the Apocalypse, they represent the same powers, which powers, or kingdoms, have existence in our day, and have existed in the world - that is, in Europe - for the last 1,330 day-years, and are now verging, all of them, to their fall; and when they do fall, they will disappear for ever.
The toes of the image bring us down to the latter days - the last period - the last crisis of human government. The feet and toes were partly iron and partly clay, to represent that the metallic image dominion, in its last form, would be partly strong as the iron, and partly weak as the clay - a brittle mixture, easily fractured. The little stone, striking the image on these brittle feet, brought it down to the ground, but something more had to be done before the little stone could become a mountain to fill the whole earth. It was necessary not only that the image should be shattered to pieces, but that these pieces should be ground to powder - comminuted into dust, as light as the chaff of the threshing-floor, and capable of being blown entirely away. This is what Daniel says the king saw. The stone having acquired motion, not only felled the image to the earth, but ground the fragments to powder, and a whirlwind carried the powder away.
Thus, all that was represented by the metallic image was completely swept away. Not a vestige remained. Nothing was left by the whirlwind, but the little stone which became a mountain or dominion, filling the whole earth. When the whole earth is filled by the mountain dominion, it follows that there is no room for a second dominion. There is no room for any rival power. Now, the question is, what is represented by this little stone becoming a great mountain, in the fulness of its manifestation or development? The prophet Daniel told the king what the mountain-stone represented, in these words: "In the days of these kings (that is, the kings or kingdoms represented by the ten toes), the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, and it shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and subdue all these kingdoms (represented by the ten toes), and it shall stand for ever."
When the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar was shattered to pieces, and the fragments were all lying on the ground, they are said by the prophet to be shattered to pieces together or ground together. That is a very important item in the understanding of the vision. The stone did not demolish the image piecemeal. It did not break first the head; then the breast and arms; then the body, and then the legs and feet. It struck the image on the feet, and thus shattered the whole image into fragments, and afterwards, the fragments were ground to pieces together. "Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold broken to pieces together and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor." Now, the feet could not be struck till they were in existence, and they were not in existence in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Hence, the breaking of the "iron and the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold together," is an event which we have to look for in our own future. The things represented by the different metallic parts of the image have never been "broken to pieces together." Daniel continues, "Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter, and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." In this verse, we have an exposition of the statement in an earlier verse, that God made known to Nebuchadnezzar what should come to pass in the latter days. These latter days are now upon us: we are contemporary with them.
Daniel had a vision of these things which he records in the 7th chapter. He saw a storm in the Mediterranean Sea, representing the conflicts in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, out of which the various dynasties would arise, for the beasts are said to "rise up out of the sea," and "out of the earth." It also goes to show that the storm on the sea which developed the results of the storm, was to be taken as a storm affecting the countries bounding the Great Sea or Mediterranean. While he was contemplating the strife of the elements, he saw four extraordinary looking beasts arise out of the waters. These may be called the first beast, the second beast, the third beast, and the fourth beast.
The first beast is described as a lion with eagles' wings in the first manifestation of it. Afterwards, its wings were plucked, and it stood upon its feet, and a man's heart was given to it. The second beast was a bear with three ribs in the mouth of it, and one shoulder higher than the other, representing two distinct dynasties. The higher shoulder corresponds with the higher horn of the ram in the vision of the 8th chapter, representing the Persian dynasty of the Medo-Persian dominion. The three ribs in the mouth of the beast represented the three presidential divisions into which the Medo-Persian empire was divided, and their being in the bear's mouth signifies that the presidential divisions were subject to the sovereign power of the Persian dominion. It was said to the second beast, "Arise, devour much flesh." The third beast was like a leopard, and it had four heads and four wings like a fowl on the back of it. This beast as a whole, answers to the brass of Nebuchadnezzar's image, representing the third kingdom that should arise: the four heads represent the four dominions into which the third, or Grecian, empire was divided on the death of Alexander, and the four wings, the four quarters of the heavens in which the four dominions were to be found. This is represented in the 8th chapter by the four horns on the head of the Grecian goat, the four horns of the one vision answering to the four heads of the other, and pointing east, west, north, and south according to the division of the third empire. In the 11th chapter of Daniel, two of the horns or heads are dropped, and the prophecy discourses on only the northern and southern heads of the leopard. The leopard with its heads and the goat with its horns, represent, as a whole, the Macedonian empire founded by Alexander the Great upon the ruins of the Persian-bear dominion.
Afterwards, Daniel saw a fourth beast arise up out of the sea. He describes it as dreadful and terrible, and diverse from all the three beasts that preceded it. It had on its head ten horns, answering to the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image; but what struck him as most remarkable in connection with the head of the fourth beast was this, that while he was looking at the ten horns, another little horn arose among them. His attention was directed to that little horn particularly, because, unlike all the other horns, there were in it eyes like the eyes of man and a mouth speaking great things. He observed that when this little horn rose, three of the original ten fell. His attention was particularly arrested by this little (eleventh) horn, and when he wanted to know the interpretation of the vision as a whole, you find him enquiring particularly as to the meaning of the little horn that had eyes and mouth, in which I may say, we of the latter days are particularly interested, for we read that the little horn prevailed until the Ancient of Days came, and that event has not yet occurred.
Daniel says, "I beheld and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them." No wonder he was interested in a horn with eyes and mouth, that made war against his own class, for Daniel was one of the saints. The symbolism pointed to a war on the part of the little-horn community waged against the saint-community - a war that was to be successful for a while on the part of the little horn. This has been the order of things during all the long dreary period of the kingdom of men. Human governments have all been opposed to God's truth, and they have made war upon all that class of people in their several countries who are entitled scripturally to the designation of the saints. You cannot make peace between them. That is the reason why we who advocate the doctrine of God's saints are in hostility to the world. Those on our side who would make peace with the enemy are not fit to be on our side. It is war to the knife between the powers that be and all Christadelphians. We accept no truce; we will consent to no compromise. Either they must conquer us or we will conquer them, - by argument now, but when the time for argument is passed away, and the Lord has come with power and great glory, His saints will take the sword and conquer the world, whether the world likes it or not.
"I beheld, and the same horn made war against the saints, and prevailed against them until the Ancient of Days came." That little word "until" indicates that the saints are not always to be prevailed against. They were to be prevailed against "until" the time comes for that event to be developed which we have already called attention to in connection with the metallic image - viz., the breaking of the image to pieces by the catastrophe of the little stone's descent, and the establishment of the stone dominion by conquest in all the earth. The saints will then no longer be prevailed against, but sit on the throne of universal dominion. This climax is described in the image-vision thus: "The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; it shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and destroy all other kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."
In this vision of the four beasts, the matter is put somewhat differently. It is said the little horn prevailed against the saints, "until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High." Now, who is the Ancient of Days? The Deity; but how is He to "come"? In Jesus of Nazareth, who is Deity manifested in our human nature - justified by spirit. Jesus himself preached this coming in power and great glory. He said, "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory." That is the time when the Ancient of Days comes; judgment shall then be given - to whom? "Judgment was given to the saints of the Host High." The little horn made war against the saints until judgment was given to the saints who had been made war upon. When judgment is given to them, they will no longer be trampled under foot. When the time arrives for the Ancient of Days to manifest himself, the fortunes of the two parties will be reversed. The saints will have power put into their hands, and they will execute judgment on the powers of the world:
"I beheld, and the same horn - the little horn with eyes - the episcopal horn, the overseeing horn, with mouth that spoke great things and blasphemy against the Most High - made war with the saints, and prevailed against them until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom."
The interpretation given to Daniel of the fourth beast is very plain. "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth. It shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." They had no existence in Daniel's day, nor any existence in the days of John the apostle; they came into existence in the middle ages. "And another shall rise after them" - the little horn with eyes and mouth - "that shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings" - three of the primitive horns - "and he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change the times and laws; and they (the saints) shall be given into his hand (or power), until a time, and times and the dividing of time (or for a period extending over 1,260 years); but the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his (the Little Horn's) dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end. And 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. Hitherto is the end of the matter;" that is, the end of the times of the Gentiles, and the commencement of the next constitution of the world, which will continue undisturbed in peace and righteousness for a thousand years.
The four beasts are represented on the chart by the sections of colour that answer to the metals of the image, and you will find them mentioned in the line below the names of the metals. Above both are the names of the empires represented, and on the extreme right is a pink perpendicular margin representative of the millennium, when the kingdom will again be restored to Israel, and given into the hands of the saints.
In the 8th chap. Daniel records a certain catastrophe that was seen by him in vision, viz., the taking away of the daily sacrifice, the treading under foot of the Holy Land, and the dispersion of the Jewish people, leaving nothing but desolation and that which makes desolate for a long period. As the Jewish commonwealth was at the time of the vision in ruins, it showed to Daniel that there must be a previous restoration of it before the time of the fulfilment of the vision; and he was particularly interested in how long, after the restoration from the Babylonish captivity, this desolating abomination should prevail against the fortunes of Israel. He was answered, according to the Greek version of the Scriptures, translated in the days of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, that it was a long period, called the evening-morning period of 2,400 years; and when that period had passed away, a new series of events should be developed, the result of which would be to avenge, justify, or cleanse "the Holy." It matters not which form of speech you employ, for the consummation of its avengement, justification or cleansing results in the building again of the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down, and setting up the ruins thereof, and the establishment of the Messiah on the throne of Israel, under the Millennial constitution.
From the best evidence we can get, the beginning of the 2,400 years is when the second horn of the ram became higher than the first horn. Now the ram of the 8th chap. represents the same power as the silver of Nebuchadnezzar's image, and the second beast of Daniel; that is the empire of the Medes and Persians. Consequently the rising of the higher horn of the two-horned empire of the Medes and Persians signifies the commencement of the Persian dynasty, which was the higher or longer-lived of the two. When Persia overthrew the kingdom of Babylon, Darius, the Mede, took the reins of government. He was sixty-two and had no sons. His nephew Cyrus, a young man, was conjoined with him in the government. In two years, Darius died, and Cyrus then became sole ruler of the empire. This was the rising of the higher horn. The third year of the reign of Cyrus conjointly with Darius, was the first year of his sole reign. Hence it is that, while the book of Daniel informs us that Daniel continued to the first year of Cyrus, it also tells us of his having a vision in the third year of Cyrus, showing that the third year of Cyrus (jointly with Darius) was also the first of his sole reign. It was on that occasion that the higher horn (or the Persian element of the government) acquired ascendancy over the other or Median horn.
That seems to be the commencement of this long period of 2,400 years. It was the year that Daniel died, 540 years before the birth of Jesus, so that this long period of 2,400 years has all passed away. We have not to wait and look forward to it as Daniel had. We look back and see that it is over 2,400 years since Cyrus began to reign alone, and that therefore the long period of waiting has all passed away. Does this mean anything or does it not? I believe it means that the period for Israel's down-treading is at an end, and that we have entered upon a new series of events that will culminate in the cleansing of the Holy. We are not necessarily to look for some great event that will wind-up the purposes of God in a flash of lightning. One series of events having come to its close, another series has already begun and will continue to develop more and more largely until the Ancient of Days makes his appearance and takes things into his own hands. That this will be the order in which the events of these latter days will develop, we are justified in saying, because it is the order of all God's past relations with Israel. All His purposes and schemes with them have been gradual in development. God is never in a hurry. He has plenty of time at His disposal. He is not bound to do things according to your speculation or mine as to how long He ought to take. He has fixed the times and seasons. He has commenced the development of His events, and they will not be interrupted by the policy of men, but on the contrary, the activity of men to carry out their own purposes will only expedite His. He has the controlling power, and what He has decreed will most assuredly come to pass. None can hinder or stay His hand.
These events have begun. Egypt rises in commercial importance. You hear of the fortunes of the Jews being improved in parts of the world where they were formerly oppressed in shameful severity. You hear of a canal being cut through the Isthmus of Suez, to carry the commerce of the world by a new route along the Mediterranean, through the Canal, into the Red Sea, through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb to British India, all of which will have an important bearing on these countries. We in America know that when you cut a canal through a wilderness, the land becomes ten-fold more valuable than it was, because of easy access to the markets. So when a canal of such magnitude and such world-wide interest as that through the Isthmus of Suez, unites the Mediterranean and Red Seas, the results to the countries adjacent cannot fail to be very great and vital. Already have we seen an illustration of this. There is a town called Ismailia, with from 5,000 to 10,000 inhabitants, where all was desert before the formation of the canal; and there is Port Said at the Mediterranean entry of the canal, and Suez at the Red Sea entry, both important places, and rapidly growing in importance, showing that the cutting of the canal through the southern portion of Arabia is bringing those countries into the highest commercial importance.
These are only elements in the new series of events which will ultimate in the appearing of Christ to take the matter in hand, and restore the Jews to their own land, and set up the kingdom which the God of heaven is to establish, which kingdom, put into the hands of the saints, will destroy all the kingdoms of Europe and republics of America.
This long period of 2,400 years is represented by the parallel green line running along the chart under the squares answering to the four empires, and terminating contemporaneously with the fourth or iron empire. The gap between the end of the line to the right and the pink margin representing the kingdom, indicates the interval between the termination of this long period of 2,400 years, and the commencement of the millennium, during which interval will transpire the events by which the kingdoms of this world are to be subdued and transferred from those who have the government now, and placed in the hands of the saints of the Most High.
In the 9th chapter of Daniel, there is a prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, at the end of which, the Messiah was to be cut off, but not for his own sins. These Seventy Weeks represent a period of 490 years. They were to commence from an event specified in the prophecy itself - "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem." The period is divided into seven weeks, 62 weeks, and one week, and two halves of the week. In the first seven, the Jewish State was to be restored from the Babylonish captivity; at the end of the sixty-two, the covenant was to be introduced, and confirmed in the last sixty-two, the covenant was to be introduced, and confirmed in the last week (or seven years) during which John the Baptist and Jesus were occupied in their ministry. The last week was divided into two parts. The first half was the three-and-a-half years during which John the Baptist preached "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," in preparation of a people for the Lord when he should appear. The last half-part of the week as occupied by the ministry of Jesus, and terminated with the Messiah being cut off. So that exactly seventy weeks of years, or 490 years, elapsed from the "going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, to the crucifixion, when various things were done, upon the basis of which, the gospel was preached in the name of Jesus.
This period of seventy weeks is represented by the shorter line or belt of green below the line representing the 2,400 evening-morning period. At the end of the period, Messiah the Prince was cut off by the little horn of the goat - not the little horn with eyes and mouth, which is seen on the head of Daniel's fourth beast, but the little horn that arises out of one of the horns of the Grecian goat, and waxes great towards the south and towards the pleasant land, and by whom also the daily sacrifice was taken away.
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