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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Book Unsealed



I SUPPOSE that the name of Daniel is familiar to you all. He is styled in Scripture "a man greatly beloved" of the God of heaven and earth. He was of the seed royal of Israel. He lived at the time of the overthrow of the Commonwealth of Judah, by Nebuchadnezzar; on the occurrence of which event, he, together with many other Jews - princes of the nation - was carried captive, a prisoner of war, to Babylon. Arrived in Babylon, he was lost in the undistinguished crowd of prisoners; but God soon manifested a purpose to distinguish him, and to make him the medium of some very important communications for the instruction of that generation, and all subsequent generations, with reference to the purposes of the Deity, and the train of events by which, through human agency, He should develop those purposes.

What raised Daniel from the position of a humble captive to that of the second man in the greatest empire on earth, was the possession of the wisdom and knowledge of the Deity. Contemporary with Daniel was a man named Nebuchadnezzar, who was the Napoleon I. of his day. He was the greatest conqueror of his time. He was the founder of a dominion which comprehended within its jurisdiction the whole civilised population of the world. The civilised population of the world at that time was confined to the east. The western and northern parts of the earth were left out of account, as inhabited by wild men, among whom were the ancestors of the present population of the British Isles.

The Jewish Commonwealth being overthrown, the temple destroyed, the city of Jerusalem laid in ruins, its monarch deposed, its government broken up, its priesthood scattered, Israel was without a country, without a state, without a religion. All its ecclesiastical relations were scattered to the winds. The harp of Israel hung upon the willows by the rivers of Babylon.

In this state of things, God, in His wisdom, chose to make use of Daniel, together with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, his fellow captives, to manifest His wisdom and His power to the Pagan world. In order to do this in His own way, Nebuchadnezzar was acted upon while upon his bed, contemplating the magnitude of his conquests, and reflecting upon what would be the possible fate of his dominion in later times (Dan. 2:29). God takes the man in the pre-disposed current of his thoughts, and when he falls asleep, impresses a dream upon his sensorium. That dream made a great impression on the king's mind; but while the impression remained, he entirely forgot what the dream consisted of. On awaking, he was anxious to know the dream, and the interpretation of it, and called together his wise men -- the astrologers, soothsayers, Chaldeans, and magicians -- the lights, so to speak, of Chaldean society in Babylon. He told them he had had a dream, but that he had forgotten what the dream was, and required of them that they should tell him the dream and the interpretation.

The wise men answered that it was the most unreasonable request that had ever been made by a king or anyone else on earth. They said, "If the king will only tell us what the dream was that he saw, we will then tell him the interpretation of it." "Oh, yes; I understand," said he, in effect, "you want to gain the time: you think that the times will change, and that in the change of time, the dream will come to my recollection, and then you will fabricate any sort of interpretation you please! There is but one decree for you: if you don't tell me that which I have forgotten, and give the interpretation of it, you shall all of you be cut in pieces, with your families, and your houses made a dunghill." That was a terrible strait to be in. Well, they could not do it; they had to give it up. They remonstrated with the king, but it was no use. He was firm to his purpose, and the decree went forth that they should all be slain.

Now, this decree affected Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the four Jewish captives, because they had all, by a process peculiar to the Chaldeans, during three years, been prepared to stand before the king among the wise men of his estate. When Daniel heard it, he said to the captain of the king's guard, "Why is the decree so hasty? If the king will only give time, I will inform him about this matter; for," said he, "there is a God in heaven -- the God of Israel -- that revealeth secrets, and we will enquire of Him, and I doubt not, that for the sake of those affected, He will communicate the king's matter."

This caused a delay in the execution of the decree, and Daniel and his companions proceeded to offer up a prayer to the Revealer of secrets, that He would grant them a knowledge of the king's matter. "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night-vision." Armed with this revelation from God Himself, concerning what He had impressed upon the mind of Nebuchadnezzar, he went before the king, and told him that what he had seen was a representation from God of what should come to pass hereafter. "There is a God in heaven," said Daniel to the king, "that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days."

Now it is necessary to bear this in mind -- that the whole representation that had been impressed in dream upon the mind of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel - was to illustrate a great purpose to be developed in what is termed "the latter days." I may here remark that there are two periods - one called "the last days" and the other called "the latter days." The last days passed away 1800 years ago. They are thus referred to in Heb. 1:1: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in THESE LAST DAYS, spoken unto us by a Son." They are again referred to thus in the same epistle - (Heb. 9:26) - "Once in THE END OF THE WORLD hath he (Jesus) appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." So that you perceive there was a certain world in existence at the time when Jesus was crucified. He was crucified in the end of that world, and not in the end of the world we are now living in. The end of the world in which Jesus was crucified, is what Paul terms "the last days," in the first verse quoted. These were the last days of the world constituted by the law of Moses - a world that began when God brought Israel out of Egypt, and constituted them a kingdom.

That kingdom continued in existence until it was subverted by the Chaldeans. In Chart 3 it is represented by the pink margin at the left end of the chart. It is represented as belonging to the past, that is, the times antecedent to, or before Nebuchadnezzar's reign - before the Chaldean overthrow of the city and country. It is described on the chart as "the kingdom of God as established under the Mosaic law, constituting the old Mosaic heavens and earth." The kingdom continued in a modified form, till the days of the apostles; and at the time Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews, he described it as "waxed old and ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). Peter, in his second epistle, chapter 3, gives a description of the passing away of the Mosaic heavens and earth. The whole system disappeared with a tumult and great noise, before the fervency of God's wrath and indignation against the rebels of Israel. This was the catastrophe of the last days.

But Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that what he saw in his dream was the representation of a great catastrophe to be manifested, not in the last days, but in "the latter days." Now, we are particularly interested in that catastrophe, for it has reference to our own time. "The latter days" is a phrase used in Scripture to indicate the time of the end. They are the last few years of the times of the Gentiles, or period in which we are now living, of which a few years yet remain, during which the existing governments of the world will continue in the hands of the kings and rulers that now possess them.

What Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream was an image in human form - a man - with head, breast, arms, body, legs, feet and toes, made of different kinds of metal, in order to represent the different dynasties that were to obtain in connection with human government as a whole. The head was of gold; the breast and arms of silver; its body and thighs of brass; its legs from the knee downwards, were iron, and its feet part iron and part clay. This was what Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel both saw - an immense metallic human figure, of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay.