Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]


"The God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory." Dan. 2:37.



Part I

So important is it that we understand the events leading on to the end, that repeatedly the "sure word of prophecy" outlines the course of this world's history, and sets up waymarks along the highway to the everlasting kingdom.

In the light of prophecy we see the hand of God guiding and overruling through all history, shaping events for the carrying out of His purpose to end the reign of sin and to bring in the reign of eternal righteousness. His prophetic word foretells events of history, that we may know that He is the living God over all, and that we may understand that the divine purpose will surely be fulfilled. Above a wicked world there is a God in heaven, waiting only the appointed time for the accomplishment of His purposes.

"I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that

are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure. . . . I have spoken it, I also will bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. . . . My salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion." Isa. 46:9-13.

In the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, recorded in the second chapter of Daniel, the Lord revealed in brief but graphic outline the course of history from the days of Babylon to the end of the world. The four great universal monarchies Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome were represented by the various parts of the metallic image. That prophecy described particularly the division of the Roman Empire into the kingdoms of western Europe. "In the days of these kings," declared the word of the Lord, the God of heaven was to set up His kingdom, bringing an end to all earthly powers.

In the seventh chapter we are taken over the same course of history, in Daniel's vision of the four beasts. Here also chief attention is devoted to the fourth great kingdom; and especially to its divided state; for the events taking place at this time are of the deepest eternal interest to all men.

In this vision Daniel saw four universal empires represented by great beasts. One after another the symbolic beasts arose, did their work, and gave place to the next scenes in the history. The angel clearly explained to Daniel the meaning of the vision:

"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever."

Of necessity, then, it is a repetition of the story of the four universal monarchies dealt with in the second chapter, and ending with the setting up of the everlasting kingdom.

Let us place the view given the prophet in vision alongside the record of history.

First, however, a word as to the manner in which the great beasts appeared to the prophet:

"I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another." Again and again, in the figurative language of Scripture, winds are used as the symbol for wars; and the sea, or waters, for nations or peoples. (See Jer. 25:31-33; Rev. 17: 15.) The prophet saw the clashing of the nations in war, and out of these conflicts arose the kingdoms described in the prophecy.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]


Note the prophetic picture of the prophecy and the corresponding representation in history.

Prophecy. "The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."

History. As the lion is king of beasts, it was a fitting symbol of Babylon, "the glory of kingdoms." Isa. 13: 19.

The eagle's wings suggest rapidity of movement and farreaching conquest. The prophet Habakkuk said of it, "Their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle." This was the characteristic of Babylon under the earlier kings, but especially under Nebuchadnezzar. Berosus the ancient Chaldean historian, wrote of him:

"This Babylonian king conquered Egypt, and Syria, and Phenicia, and Arabia; and exceeded in his exploits all that had reigned before him in Babylon." (See Flavius Josephus "Against Apion," book 1, par. 19.)

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

But now, at the time of Daniel's vision, degeneracy had come; the empire was tottering. The lion heart was gone, the eagle's wings were plucked, and within three years from the time the vision was given, Babylon was overthrown.


As the dominion passed from Babylon to the next great power, the prophet says:

Prophecy.-"Behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the

« PreviousContinue »