1.—The Origin and Extent of the Kingdom of Babylon
In taking a general survey of the contents of the Book of Daniel, it may be seen that two great powers are the principal subjects of its predictions. The one is styled “The Kingdom of Men” (Dan. 4:17); and the other, “The Kingdom of God” (Dan. 2:44; 4:3; 7:27).
It is true, that there are many symbols, such as the Image, the Fiery Furnace, the Tree-Stump, banded with brass and iron, the Four Beasts, the Ram, and the He-Goat; but these are signs in the prophetic heraldry, not of kingdoms distinct and independent of those which have preceded them, but of one and the same Kingdom of Men in the several phases of its existence.
The Kingdom of Men was founded by Nimrod, son of Cush, who was son of Ham, son of Noah. “The beginning of it was Babylon, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh, and the city of Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city” (Gen. 10:8–12). This Nimroudia was the Kingdom of Men in the extent of it during the lifetime of its founder, comprehending, as we see, Babylon and Assyria. These were its roots and trunk, which in after ages came to be famous for their strength and altitude, the beauty of their leaves, the abundance of their fruits, and their wide-spreading top; so that all the nations had shadow under it, and their rulers and great men dwelt in the boughs, and all flesh were fed of it (Dan. 4:10–12).
As a magnificent “tree in the midst of the earth, whose height reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth”, the Kingdom of Men had become under the proud-hearted Nebuchadnezzar, the destroying lion of his age (Jer. 4:7; 50:17). He had grown and become strong; “for his greatness had grown, and reached unto heaven, and his dominions to the end of the earth” (Dan. 4:22). In this testimony “the end of the earth” is defined by the extent of the dominion of the Kingdom of Men. It does not extend to the entire globe, for an immense proportion of it has ever been beyond the limits of this kingdom. All Europe, America, and China were beyond “the end of the earth” when Nebuchadnezzar sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of Men. But, when the brazen-coated Greeks under Alexander the Macedonian established themselves in Babylon, the limits of “the earth” were enlarged; for in speaking of the “third kingdom of brass”, Daniel revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that it should “bear rule over all the earth”. When this was accomplished, “the end of the earth” advanced into Europe, and was defined by the western limit of Alexander’s Macedonian Kingdom. But “the end of the earth” was not yet fixed even then; for when the Iron Kingdom annexed the brazen dominions to a considerable extent, it removed “the end of the earth” to the Atlantic Ocean. The present constitution of the Iron Kingdom has enlarged “the earth” far beyond the shadow of the Assyrian tree when it represented the greatness of the Kingdom of Men under the Chaldean dynasty. It now comprehends “the Holy Roman Empire”, or Little Horn of the West, which includes papal Germany, of which Austria is the chief dominion. From the Indus, then (the eastern limit of the Kingdom of Men under the Macedonian Dynasty), to the German and Atlantic Oceans, comprehending Affghanistan, Persia, Media, Nimroudia, the Holy Land, Egypt, Arabia, Asia Minor, the rest of the pagan Roman dominion, the Austrian Empire, and the papal states of Germany—is the territory, styled in prophetic language “the earth”, upon which, since the days of Nimrod, has existed, still exists, and will continue to exist, the Kingdom of Men until it is destroyed by the Kingdom of God.
From these remarks upon “the end of the earth”, it will be seen that the Kingdom of Men has been diversified in its constitution, extent, and throne, since its foundation by Nimrod to the present time. It has nevertheless been the same Nimroudian kingdom, with Babylon and Assyria for its characteristics. Cyrus the Persian is styled King of Babylon, and Artaxerxes, King of Assyria. Though of the Persian stock, having no consanguinity with Nebuchadnezzar, they were as much kings of Assyria and Babylon as he. Alexander the Great, though a Greek, and the Selucidæ who succeeded him in that region, were also kings of Assyria and Babylon. When the Romans got the ascendancy in the Kingdom of Men, they banded the stump of its tree with iron and brass (Dan. 4:15), and converted their own city into the “Great Babylon” of the dominion, which by the edict of Caracalla became co-extensive with the dominion itself; so that Babylon, as the name of the Empire, came again to stand by the great river Euphrates, where Nimrod had originally planted the tree.
The different forms which the Kingdom of Men had assumed since the overthrow of Nineveh, are represented in the before-named symbols of the Book of Daniel. The metallic image is that kingdom as it will exist when Gog comes to fall upon the mountains of Israel. If the observer take up a position contemporary with that crisis, and view the Kingdom of Men as it will then have existed from the beginning of its ascendancy over the House of Judah or of David, he will perceive that it has assumed five distinct forms; such as, the Chaldean, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian or Grecian, the Roman, and the Russian; represented in the order of their enumeration by the gold, the silver, the brass, the iron, and the clay. But all the important characteristics of the Kingdom of Men in relation to the House of David and the saints (the Heirs of the divine government styled the Kingdom of God) and Judah, could not be exhibited in a compound metallic image of a man: it was, therefore, necessary to introduce other symbols for its elucidation. In the third chapter of Daniel, we are presented with an interesting illustration of the impiety and blasphemy of the Kingdom of Men; of its hostility to the people of the House of David, or the Jews, whether such by nature, or by walking in the steps of the faith of Abraham, or by adoption; of the furnace of affliction through which they would have to pass in rejecting the superstitions of the Kingdom of Men, and in adhering to the truth of God; of their meeting with the Deliverer in their extremity; of the destruction of their tormenters; of their final deliverance; and of the ascription at last of blessing, and honour, and glory, and power to the God of Israel by the assembled nations, when God’s people shall be promoted to the direction of human affairs, and the Kingdom of Men shall be no more. Nebuchadnezzar, in referring to his dream, and to the wonderful deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to the Tree-Stump banded with Brass and Iron, styles them “signs and wonders that the High God hath wrought towards me”. He might well exclaim,“ How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and his dominion from generation to generation”.
By the Image-Sign, Nebuchadnezzar learned for the first time, that the God of Israel was above all gods and kings; and that He intended, notwithstanding the Chaldæo-Babylonish conquest of Judah, and reduction of their city and temple to ruin, to have a kingdom among the generations of men, which in turn should destroy their kingdom, originally founded by Nimrod.
By the fiery-furnace “wonder” he was taught, that God would deliver His servants that trust in Him with a salvation which would make them invulnerable to human power, and fit to possess the kingdom “which shall not be left to other people”. And, by the sign of the Tree, and the wonder, of which he was the subject in his own person, he learned, that the rulers in the Kingdom of Men could not do as they pleased; that those who attained to high places in it (as in his own case) were such as He sets up as the most fitting instruments to work out His own purposes; and that the only kingdom that will be everlasting on earth is His Own, which is to grind to powder and bring to an end all the kingdoms of the Babylonish Confederacy of the Latter Days. These signs and wonders greatly enlightened the mind and subdued the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. He came to know that “the Heavens do rule”; or, as Paul expresses it, “The existing powers are subjected to the Deity”; an elliptical expression for under the Angels of the Deity who do His commandments. (Psa. 103:20). (Paul says, that “God has not put in subjection the future habitable to the angels”; which is tantamount to saying, that the present habitable, or territory of the Kingdom of Men, is put under the angels. The same territory in the future will be subjected to the Christ and his brethren. Heb. 2:5, 8–10).
The fifth chapter informs us how the Chaldean Royalty was finished, and the Kingdom of Men transferred to the Medes and Persians; whose dynasty is represented in the seventh and eighth chapters by a Bear with three Ribs between its teeth, and by a Ram with horns of unequal height. The Medo-Persian Royalty of the Kingdom of Men is represented in the Image by the Breast and the Arms of Silver; and as the Image is to exist complete in the Latter Days, Persia must be a constituent of the dominion represented by it. Persia will, therefore, be certainly confederate with Russia at the overthrow of Gog.
But, an interesting announcement was made to Belshazzar, styled by Isaiah “Lucifer, son of the morning”, before he fell from heaven to go down to the sides of the pit (Isa. 14:4, 12, 15). It was, that his kingdom was numbered, and, as far as his family was concerned, “finished”. It was relatively finished, not absolutely so; because this finished kingdom was to “be divided, and given to the Medes and Persians”. The kingdom was numbered, and his tenure of it likewise. His occupation of me throne as a member of the golden dynasty had been limited to the seventieth year from the first of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (Jer. 27:7; 25:12). These seventy years were filled up by Nebuchadnezzar’s reign of forty-four years; Evil-Merodach’s, of two years; usurpers’, of four years and nine months; and Belshazzar’s, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, of nineteen years and three months. The Scripture takes no notice of the usurpers; I have therefore divided the twenty-six years remaining after the death of Nebuchadnezzar in the thirty-seventh of Jehoiachin’s captivity, between Evil-Merodach and Belshazzar in my chronology at the end of Eureka II. But the Kingdom of Men, which passed from the golden into the silver constitution of the empire, had been numbered, as well as the duration of its Chaldean dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar was not only informed that the Kingdom of Men should fight its last battle with the Kingdom of God “in the latter days”, but a sign and a wonder were given him by which he might know how far remote from his times those appointed days should be. The decree of the Watchers concerning the duration of the kingdom, or Banded Stump, is, “Let seven times pass over him”. When these seven times should approach their termination the latter days of the Kingdom of Men would have arrived; and with them the time for the final overthrow of it by “The Stone cut out of the mountain which was not in hands”. But of these seven times I shall write more particularly hereafter.