A kingdom which shall never be destroyed - The extensive and extending empire of Christ.
Shall not be left to other people - All the preceding empires have swallowed up each other successively; but this shall remain to the end of the world.
And in the days of these kings - Margin, “their.” The reading in the text “these kings” - is the more correct. The Vulgate renders this, “in the days of these kingdoms.” The natural and obvious sense of the passage is, that during the continuance of the kingdoms above-mentioned, or before they should finally pass away, that is, before the last one should become extinct, another kingdom would be established on the earth which would be perpetual. Before the succession of universal monarchies should have passed away, the new kingdom would be set up that would never be destroyed. Such language is not uncommon. “Thus, if we were to speak of anything taking place in the days of British kings, we should not of course understand it as running through all their reigns, but merely as occurring in some one of them.” - Prof. Bush. So it is said in Rth 1:1 : “It came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land;” that is, the famine occurred sometime under that general administration, or before it had passed away, evidently not meaning that there was a famine in the reign of each one. So it is said of Jephthah, that he was buried “in the cities of Gilead;” that is, some one of them. Josiah was buried in, “the sepulchres of his fathers;” that is, in some one of them.
Shall the God of heaven - The God, who rules in heaven; the true God. This is designed to show the Divine origin of this kingdom, and to distinguish it from all others. Though the others here referred to were under the Divine control, and were designed to act an important part in preparing the world for this, yet they are not represented as deriving their origin directly from heaven. They were founded in the usual manner of earthly monarchies, but this was to have a heavenly origin. In accordance with this, the kingdom which the Messiah came to establish is often called, in the New Testament, “the kingdom of heaven,” “the kingdom of God,” etc. Compare Micah 4:7; Luke 1:32-33.
Set up a kingdom - “Shall cause to arise or stand up” - יקים yeqı̂ym It shall not owe its origin to the usual causes by which empires are constituted on the earth by conquests; by human policy; by powerful alliances; by transmitted hereditary possession - but shall exist because God shall “appoint” and “constitute” it. There can be no reasonable doubt as to what kingdom is here intended, and nearly all expositors have supposed that it refers to the kingdom of the Messiah. Grotius, indeed, who made the fourth kingdom refer to the Seleucidse and Lagidse, was constrained by consistency to make this refer to the Roman power; but in this interpretation he stands almost, if not entirely, alone. Yet even he supposes it to refer not to “pagan” Rome only, but to Rome as the perpetual seat of power - the permanent kingdom - the seat of the church: “Imperium Romanum perpetuo mansurum, quod sedes erit ecclesice.” And although he maintains that he refers to Rome primarily, yet he is constrained to acknowledge that what is here said is true in a higher sense of the kingdom of Christ: Sensus sublimior, Christum finem impositurum omnibus. imperiis terrestribus. But there can be no real doubt as to what kingdom is intended. Its distinctly declared Divine origin; the declaration that it shall never be destroyed; the assurance that it would absorb all other kingdoms, and that it would stand forever; and the entire accordance of these declarations with the account of the kingdom of the Messiah in the New Testament, show beyond a doubt that the kingdom of the Redeemer is intended.
Which shall never be destroyed - The others would pass away. The Babylonian would be succeeded by the Medo-Persian, that by the Macedonian, that by the Roman, and that in its turn by the one which the God of heaven would set up. This would be perpetual. Nothing would have power to overthrow it. It would live in the revolutions of all other kingdoms, and would survive them all. Compare the notes at Daniel 7:14; and the summary of the doctrines taught here at the close of the notes at Daniel 2:45.
And the kingdom shall not be left to other people - Margin, “thereof. Literally, “Its kingdom shall not be left to other people;” that is, the ruling power appropriate to this kingdom or dominion shall never pass away from its rightful possessor, and be transferred to other hands. In respect to other kingdoms, it often happens that their sovereigns are deposed, and that their power passes into the hands of usurpers. But this can never occur in this kingdom. The government will never change hands. The administration will be perpetual. No foreign power shall sway the scepter of this kingdom. There “may be” an allusion here to the fact that, in respect to each of the other kingdoms mentioned, the power over the same territory “did” pass into the hands of other people. Thus, on the same territory, the dominion passed from the hands of the Babylonian princes to the hands of Cyrus the Persian, and then to the hands of Alexander the Macedonian, and then to the hands of the Romans. But this would never occur in regard to the kingdom which the God of heaven would set up. In the region of empire appropriate to it, it would never change hands; and this promise of perpetuity made this kingdom wholly unlike all its predecessors.
But it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms - As represented by the stone cut out of the mountains without hands, impinging on the image. See the notes at Daniel 2:34-35.
Two inquiries at once meet us here, of somewhat difficult solution. The first is, How, if this is designed to apply to the kingdom of the Messiah, can the description be true? The language here would seem to imply some violent action; some positive crushing force; something like what occurs in conquests when nations are subdued. Would it not appear from this that the kingdom here represented was to make its way by conquests in the same manner as the other kingdoms, rather than by a silent and peaceful influence? Is this language, in fact, applicable to the method in which the kingdom of Christ is to supplant all others? In reply to these questions, it may be remarked,
(1) That the leading idea, as apparent in the prophecy, is not so much that of “violence” as that the kingdoms referred to would be “uttterly brought to an end;” that there would be, under this new kingdom, ultimately an entire cessation of the others; or that they would be removed or supplanted by this. This is represented Daniel 2:35 by the fact that the materials composing the other kingdoms are represented before this as becoming like “the chaff of the summer threshing-floors;” and as “being carried away, so that no place was found for them.” The stone cut out of the mountain, small at first, was mysteriously enlarged, so that it occupied the place which they did, and ultimately filled the earth. A process of gradual demolition, acting on them by constant attrition, removing portions of them, and occupying their place until they should disappear, and until there should be a complete substitution of the new kingdom in their place, would seem to correspond with all that is essential in the prophetic description, See the notes at Daniel 2:34, on the expression, “which smote the image upon his feet.” But
(2) This language is in accordance with what is commonly used in the predictions respecting the kingdom of the Messiah - language which is descriptive of the existence of “power” in subduing the nations, and bringing the opposing kingdoms of the world to an end. Thus in Psalm 2:9, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron: thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter‘s vessel.” Isaiah 9:12, “for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.” So 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, “When he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet.” These expressions denote that there will be an entire subjection of other kingdoms to that of the Messiah, called in the New Testament “the kingdom of God.” They undoubtedly imply that there will be some kind of “force” employed - for this great work cannot be accomplished without the existence of “power;” but it may be remarked
(a) That it does not necessarily mean that there will be “physical” force, or power like that by which kingdoms have been usually overturned. The kingdom of the Redeemer is a kingdom of “principles,” and those principles will subdue the nations, and bring them into subjection.
(b) It does not necessarily mean that the effect here described will be accomplished “at once.” It may be by a gradual process, like a continual beating on the image, reducing it ultimately to powder.
The other question which arises here is, How can it be said that the new kingdom which was to be set up would “break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms?” How could the destruction of the image in the Roman period be in fact the destruction of the “three” previous kingdoms, represented by gold, and silver, and brass? Would they not in fact have passed away before the Roman power came into existence? And yet, is not the representation in Daniel 2:35, that the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold were broken in pieces together, and were all scattered like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor? Is it supposed that these kingdoms would be all in existence at the same time, and that the action of the symbolic “stone” was to be alike on all of them? To these questions, we may answer,
(1) That the meaning is, undoubtedly, that three of these kingdoms would have passed away at the time of the action of the “stone” referred to. They were to be a “succession” of kingdoms, occupying, to a great extent, the same territory, and not contemporary monarchies occupying distinct territories.
(2) The action of the “stone” was in fact, in a most important sense, to be on them all; that is, it was to be on what “constituted” these successive kingdoms of gold, silver, brass, and iron. Each was in its turn an universal monarchy. The same territory was substantially occupied by them all. The Medo-Persian scepter extended over the region under the Babylonian; the Macedonian over that; the Roman over that. There were indeed “accessions” in each successive monarchy, but still anything which affected the Roman empire affected what had “in fact” been the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, and the Macedonian. A demolition of the image in the time of the Roman empire would be, therefore, in fact, a demolition of the whole.
(3) This interpretation is necessary from the nature of the symbolic representation. The eye of the monarch in the dream was directed to the image as “a splendid whole.” It was necessary to the object in view that he should see it “all at a time,” that he might have a distinct conception of it. This purpose made it impossible to exhibit the kingdoms “in succession,” but they all stood up before him at once. No one can doubt that there “might” have been a different representation, and that the kingdoms might have been made to pass before him in their order, but the representation would have been less grand and imposing. But this design made it necessary that the image should be kept “entire” before the mind until its demolition. It would have been unseemly to have represented the head as removed, and then the shoulders and breast, and then the belly and thighs, until nothing remained but the feet and toes. It was necessary to keep up the representation of “the image of colossal majesty and strength,” until a new power should arise which “would demolish it all.” Nebuchadnezzar is not represented as seeing the parts of the image successively appear or disappear. He does not at first see the golden head rising above the earth, and then the other parts in succession; nor the golden head disappearing, and then the other parts, until nothing was left but the feet and the toes. Such a representation would have destroyed the decorum and beauty of the whole figure; and as it cannot be argued that because Nebuchadnezzar saw the whole image at the outset standing in its complete form, that therefore, all these kingdoms must have been simultaneously in existence, so it cannot be argued because he saw the whole image standing when the stone smote upon it, that therefore, all these kingdoms must have had an existence then.
(4) It may be added, that the destruction of the last was in fact the destruction of all the three predecessors. The whole power had become embodied in that, and the demolition affected the whole series.
We here reach the climax of this stupendous prophecy; and when Time in his onward flight shall bring us to the sublime scene here predicted, we shall have reached the end of human history. The kingdom of God! Grand provision for a new and glorious dispensation, in which his people shall find a happy terminus of this world's sad, degenerate, and changing career. Transporting change for all the righteous, from gloom to glory, from strife to peace, from a sinful to a holy world, from death to life, from tyranny and oppression to the happy freedom and blessed privileges of a heavenly kingdom! Glorious transition, from weakness to strength, from the changing and decaying to the immutable and eternal!DAR 68.3
But when is this kingdom to be established? May we hope for an answer to an inquiry of such momentous concern to our race? These are the very questions on which the word of God does not leave us in ignorance; and herein is seen the surpassing value of this heavenly boon. We do not say that the exact time is revealed (we emphasize the fact that it is not) either in this or any other prophecy; but so near an approximation is given that the generation which is to see the establishment of this kingdom may mark its approach unerringly, and make that preparation which will entitle them to share in all its glories.DAR 69.1
As already explained, we are brought down by verses 41-43 this side of the division of the Roman empire into ten kingdoms; which division was accomplished, as already noticed, between 351 and 483. The kings, or kingdoms, in the days of which the God of heaven is to set up his kingdom, are evidently those kingdoms which arose out of the Roman empire. Then the kingdom of God here brought to view could not have been set up, as some claim it was, in connection with the first advent of Christ, four hundred and fifty years before. But whether we apply this division to the ten kingdoms or not, it is certain that some kind of division was to take place in the Roman empire before the kingdom of God should be set up; for the prophecy expressly declares, âThe kingdom shall be divided.â And this is equally fatal to the popular view; for after the unification of the first elements of the Roman power down to the days of Christ, there was no division of the kingdom; nor during his days, nor for many years after, did any such thing take place. The civil wars were not divisions of the empire; they were only the efforts of individuals worshiping at the shrine of ambition, to obtain supreme control of the empire. The occasional petty revolts of distant provinces, suppressed as with the power, and almost with the speed, of thunderbolt, did not constitute a division of the kingdom. And these are all that can be pointed to as interfering with the unity of the kingdom, for more than three hundred years this side the days of Christ. This one consideration is sufficient to disprove forever the view that the kingdom of God, which constitutes the fifth kingdom of this series, as brought to view in Daniel 2, was set up at the commencement of the Christian era. But a thought more may be in place.DAR 69.2
1. This fifth kingdom, then, could not have been set up at Christ's first advent, because it is not to exist contemporaneously with earthly governments, but to succeed them. As the second kingdom succeeded the first, the third the second, and the fourth the third, by violence and overthrow, so the fifth succeeds the fourth. It does not exist at the same time with it. The fourth kingdom is first destroyed, the fragments are removed, the territory is cleared, and then the fifth is established as a succeeding kingdom in the order of time. But the church has existed contemporaneously with earthly governments ever since earthly governments were formed. There was a church in Abel's day, in Enoch's, in Noah's, in Abraham's, and so on to the present. No; the church is not the stone that smote the image upon the feet. It existed too early in point of time, and the work in which it is engaged is not that of smiting and overthrowing earthly governments.DAR 70.1
2. The fifth kingdom is introduced by the stone smiting the image. What part of the image does the stone smite?DAR 70.2
The feet and toes. But these were not developed until four centuries and a half after the crucifixion of Christ. The image was, at the time of the crucifixion, only developed to the thighs, so to speak; and if the kingdom of God was there set up, if there the stone smote the image, it smote it upon the thighs, not upon the feet, where the prophecy places the smiting.DAR 70.3
3. The stone that smites the image is cut out of the mountain without hands. The margin reads, âWhich was not in hand.â This shows that the smiting is not done by an agent acting for another, not by the church, for instance, in the hands of Christ; but it is a work which the Lord does by his own divine power, without any human agency.DAR 70.4
4. Again, the kingdom of God is placed before the church as a matter of hope. The Lord did not teach his disciples a prayer which in two or three years was to become obsolete. The petition may as appropriately ascend from the lips of the patient, waiting flock in these last days, as from the lips of his first disciples, âThy kingdom come.âDAR 71.1
5. We have plain Scripture declarations to establish the following propositions: (1) The kingdom was still future at the time of our Lord's last Passover. Matthew 26:29. (2) Christ did not set it up before his ascension. Acts 1:6. (3) Flesh and blood cannot inherit it. 1 Corinthians 15:50. (4) It is a matter of promise to the apostles, and to all those that love God. James 2:5. (5) It is promised in the future to the little flock. Luke 12:32. (6) Through much tribulation the saints are to enter therein. Acts 14:22. (7) It is to be set up when Christ shall judge the living and the dead. 2 Timothy 4:1. (8) This is to be when he shall come in his glory with all his holy angels. Matthew 25:31-34.DAR 71.2
As militating against the foregoing view, it may be asked if the expression, âKingdom of heaven,â is not, in the New Testament, applied to the church. In some instances it may be; but in others as evidently it cannot be. In the decisive texts referred to above, which show that it was still a matter of promise even after the church was fully established, that mortality cannot inherit it, and that it is to be set up only in connection with the coming of our Lord to judgment, the reference cannot be to any state or organization here upon earth. The object we have before us is to ascertain what constitutes the kingdom of Daniel 2:44; and we have seen that the prophecy utterly forbids our applying it there to the church, inasmuch as by the terms of the prophecy itself we are prohibited from looking for that kingdom till over four hundred years after the crucifixion of Christ and the establishment of the gospel church. Therefore if in some expressions in the New Testament the word âkingdomâ can be found applying to the work of God's grace, or the spread of the gospel, it cannot in such instances be the kingdom brought to view in Daniel. That can only be the future literal kingdom of Christ's glory so often brought to view in both the Old Testament and the New.DAR 71.3
It may be objected again, that when the stone smites the image, the iron, the brass, the silver, and the gold are broken to pieces together; hence the stone must have smitten the image when all these parts were in existence. In reply we ask, What is meant by their being broken to pieces together? Does the expression mean that the same persons who constituted the kingdom of gold would be alive when the image was dashed to pieces? â No; else the image covers but the duration of a single generation. Does it mean that that would be a ruling kingdom? â No; for there is a succession of kingdoms down to the fourth. On the supposition, then, that the fifth kingdom was set up at the first advent, in what sense were the brass, silver, and gold in existence then any more than at the present day? Does it refer to the time of the second resurrection, when all these wicked nations will be raised to life? â No; for the destruction of earthly governments in this present state, which is here symbolized by the smiting of the image, certainly takes place at the end of this dispensation; and in the second resurrection national distinctions will be no more known.DAR 72.1
No objection really exists in the point under consideration; for all the kingdoms symbolized by the image, are, in a certain sense, still in existence. Chaldea and Assyria are still the first divisions of the image; Media and Persia, the second; Macedonia, Greece, Thrace, Asia Minor, and Egypt, the third. Political life and dominion, it is true, have passed from one to the other, till, so far as the image is concerned, it is all now concentrated in the divisions of the fourth kingdom; but the others, in location and substance, though without dominion, are still there; and together all will be dashed to pieces when the fifth kingdom is introduced.DAR 72.2
It may still further be asked, by way of objection, Have not the ten kingdoms, in the days of which the kingdom of God was to be set up, all passed away? and as the kingdom of God is not yet set up, has not the prophecy, according to the view here advocated, proved a failure? We answer, Those kingdoms have not yet passed away. We are yet in the days of those kings. The following illustration from Dr. Nelson's âCause and Cure of Infidelity,â pp. 374, 375, will set this matter in a clear light: âDAR 72.3
âSuppose some feeble people should be suffering from the almost constant invasions of numerous and ferocious enemies. Suppose some powerful and benevolent prince sends them word that he will, for a number of years, say thirty, maintain, for their safety along the frontier, ten garrisons, each to contain one hundred well-armed men. Suppose the forts are built and remain a few years, when two of them are burned to the ground and rebuilt without delay; has there been any violation of the sovereign's word? â No; there was no material interruption in the continuance of the walls of strength; and, furthermore, the most important part of the safeguard was still there. Again, suppose the monarch sends and has two posts of strength demolished, but, adjoining the spot where these stood, and immediately, he has other two buildings erected, more capacious and more desirable; does the promise still stand good? We answer in the affirmative, and we believe no one would differ with us. Finally, suppose, in addition to the ten garrisons, it could be shown that for several months during the thirty years, one more had been maintained there; that for one or two years out of the thirty, there had been there eleven instead of ten fortifications; shall we call it a defeat or a failure of the original undertaking? Or shall any seeming interruptions, such as have been stated, destroy the propriety of our calling these the ten garrisons of the frontier? The answer is, No, without dispute.DAR 73.1
âSo it is, and has been, respecting the ten kingdoms of Europe once under the Roman scepter. They have been there for twelve hundred and sixty years. If several have had their names changed, according to the caprice of him who conquered, this change of name did not destroy existence. If others have had their territorial limits changed, the nation was still there. If others have fallen while successors were forming in their room, the ten horns were still there. If, during a few years out of a thousand, there were more than ten, if some temporary power reared its head, seeming to claim a place with the rest, and soon disappeared, it has not caused the beast to have less than ten horns.âDAR 73.2
Scott remarks: âDAR 74.1
âIt is certain that the Roman empire was divided into ten kingdoms; and though they might be sometimes more and sometimes fewer, yet they were still known by the name of the ten kingdoms of the Western empire.âDAR 74.2
Thus the subject is cleared of all difficulty. Time has fully developed this great image in all its parts. Most strictly does it represent the important political events it was designed to symbolize. It stands complete upon its feet. Thus it has been standing for over fourteen hundred years. It waits to be smitten upon the feet by the stone cut out of the mountain without hand, that is, the kingdom of Christ. This is to be accomplished when the Lord shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (See Psalms 2:8, 9.) In the days of these kings the God of heaven is to set up a kingdom. We have been in the days of these kings for over fourteen centuries, and we are still in their days. So far as this prophecy is concerned, the very next event is the setting up of God's everlasting kingdom. Other prophecies and innumerable signs show unmistakably its immediate proximity.DAR 74.3
The coming kingdom! This ought to be the all-absorbing topic with the present generation. Reader, are you ready for the issue? He who enters this kingdom enters it not merely for such a lifetime as men live in this present state, not to see it degenerate, not to see it overthrown by a succeeding and more powerful kingdom; but he enters it to participate in all its privileges and blessings, and to share its glories forever; for this kingdom is not to âbe left to other people.â Again we ask you, Are you ready? The terms of heirship are most liberal: âIf ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.â Are yon on terms of friendship with Christ, the coming King? Do you love his character? Are you trying to walk humbly in his footsteps, and obey his teachings? If not, read your fate in the cases of those in the parable, of whom it was said, âBut those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.â There is to be no rival kingdom where you can find an asylum if you remain an enemy to this; for this is to occupy all the territory ever possessed by any and all of the kingdoms of this world, past or present. It is to fill the whole earth. Happy they to whom the rightful Sovereign, the all-conquering King, at last can say, âCome, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.âDAR 74.4
This chapter is based on Daniel 3.
The dream of the great image, opening before Nebuchadnezzar events reaching to the close of time, had been given that he might understand the part he was to act in the world's history, and the relation that his kingdom should sustain to the kingdom of heaven. In the interpretation of the dream, he had been plainly instructed regarding the establishment of God's everlasting kingdom. “In the days of these kings,” Daniel had declared, “shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.... The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Daniel 2:44, 45. PK 503.1Read in context »
Through nature, through types and symbols, through patriarchs and prophets, God had spoken to the world. Lessons must be given to humanity in the language of humanity. The Messenger of the covenant must speak. His voice must be heard in His own temple. Christ must come to utter words which should be clearly and definitely understood. He, the author of truth, must separate truth from the chaff of man's utterance, which had made it of no effect. The principles of God's government and the plan of redemption must be clearly defined. The lessons of the Old Testament must be fully set before men. DA 34.1
Among the Jews there were yet steadfast souls, descendants of that holy line through whom a knowledge of God had been preserved. These still looked for the hope of the promise made unto the fathers. They strengthened their faith by dwelling upon the assurance given through Moses, “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.” Acts 3:22. Again, they read how the Lord would anoint One “to preach good tidings unto the meek,” “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,” and to declare the “acceptable year of the Lord.” Isaiah 61:1, 2. They read how He would “set judgment in the earth,” how the isles should “wait for His law,” how the Gentiles should come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising. Isaiah 42:4; 60:3. DA 34.2
The dying words of Jacob filled them with hope: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” Genesis 49:10. The waning power of Israel testified that the Messiah's coming was at hand. The prophecy of Daniel pictured the glory of His reign over an empire which should succeed all earthly kingdoms; and, said the prophet, “It shall stand forever.” Daniel 2:44. While few understood the nature of Christ's mission, there was a widespread expectation of a mighty prince who should establish his kingdom in Israel, and who should come as a deliverer to the nations. DA 34.3Read in context »