THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES
KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD
First Dominion--Its Forfeiture--Its Redemption and Restoration--
The Typical Kingdom of God--The Usurper--Two Phases of the Present
Dominion--The Powers that be, Ordained of God--Nebuchadnezzar's
View of Them--Daniel's View and Interpretation--The Kingdoms of
this World viewed from another Standpoint--The Proper Relationship
of the Church to Present Governments--The Divine Right of Kings
Briefly Examined--Claims of Christendom False--A Better Hope in
the Fifth Universal Empire.
THE first chapter of the Divine Revelation, God declares his purpose
concerning his earthly creation and its government: "And
God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and
let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the
fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So
God created man in his own image; in the image of God created
he him: male and female created he them. And God blessed them.
And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,
and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth
upon the earth."
Thus the dominion
of earth was placed in the hands of the human race as represented
in the first man Adam, who was perfect, and therefore fully qualified
to be the lord, ruler or king of earth. This commission to multiply,
and fill, and subdue, and have dominion over the earth was not
to Adam alone, but to all mankind: "Let them have
dominion," <PAGE 246>
etc. Had the human race remained perfect and sinless,
this dominion would never have passed out of its hands.
It will be
noticed that in this commission no man is given dominion or authority
over fellowmen, but the whole race is given dominion over the
earth, to cultivate and to make use of its products for the common
good. Not only its vegetable and mineral wealth is thus placed
at man's command, but also all its varieties of animal life are
at his disposal and for his service. Had the race remained perfect
and carried out this original design of the Creator, as it grew
in numbers it would have been necessary for men to consult together,
and to systematize their efforts, and to devise ways and means
for the just and wise distribution of the common blessings. And
as, in the course of time, it would have been impossible, because
of their vast numbers, to meet and consult together, it would
have been necessary for various classes of men to elect certain
of their number to represent them, to voice their common sentiments,
and to act for them. And if all men were perfect, mentally, physically
and morally; if every man loved God and his regulations supremely,
and his neighbor as himself, there would have been no friction
in such an arrangement.
the original design of the Creator for earth's government was
a Republic in form, a government in which each individual would
share; in which every man would be a sovereign, amply qualified
in every particular to exercise the duties of his office for both
his own and the general good.
dominion of earth conferred upon man had but one contingency upon
which its everlasting continuance depended; and that was that
this divinely-conferred rulership be always exercised in harmony
with the Supreme Ruler of the universe, whose one law, briefly
stated, is Love. "Love is the fulfilling of the law."
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all <PAGE
247> thy mind;...and thou shalt love thy neighbor
as thyself." `Rom. 13:10`;
this great favor conferred upon man, David, praising God, says:
"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst
him with glory and honor; thou madest him to have dominion over
the works of thy hands." (`Psa.
8:5,6`) This dominion given to mankind in the person of Adam was
the first establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Man
thus exercised dominion as God's representative. But man's disobedience
to the Supreme Ruler forfeited not only his life, but also all
his rights and privileges as God's representative ruler of earth.
He was thenceforth a rebel, dethroned and condemned to death.
Then speedily the kingdom of God on earth ceased, and has not
since been established, except for a short time, in a typical
manner, in Israel. Although in Eden man lost his right to life
and dominion, neither was taken from him suddenly; and while the
condemned life lasts man is permitted to exercise the dominion
of earth according to his own ideas and ability, until God's due
time for him whose right it is to take the dominion which he purchased.
Lord's death redeemed or purchased not only man, but also all
his original inheritance, including the dominion of earth. Having
purchased it, the title is now in him: he is now the rightful
heir, and in due time, and shortly, he will take possession of
his purchase. (`Eph. 1:14`) But as
he bought man not for the sake of holding him as his slave, but
that he might restore him to his former estate, so with the dominion
of earth: he purchased it and all of man's original blessings
for the purpose of restoring them when man is again made capable
of exercising them in harmony with the will of God. Hence the
reign of Messiah on earth will not be everlasting. It will continue
only until, by his strong iron rule, he will have put down all
rebellion and insubordination, and restored the fallen race to
the original <PAGE 248>
perfection, when they will be fully capable of rightly
exercising the dominion of earth as originally designed. When
thus restored, it will again be the Kingdom of God on earth, under
man, God's appointed representative.
age God organized the people of Israel as his kingdom, under Moses
and the Judges--a sort of Republic --but it was typical only.
And the more despotic rule afterward established, especially under
David and Solomon, was in some respects typical of the kingdom
promised, when Messiah should reign. Unlike the surrounding nations,
Israel had Jehovah for their King, and their rulers nominally
served under him, as we learn from `Psa.
78:70,71`. This is quite definitely stated in
`2 Chron. 13:8` and `1 Chron.
29:23`, where Israel is called "the Kingdom of the Lord,"
and where it is said that Solomon "sat on the THRONE OF THE
LORD, instead of David his father," who sat upon or exercised
the rule of the same throne for the forty years previous, following
Saul, the first king.
When the people
of Israel transgressed against the Lord, he chastised them repeatedly,
until finally he took away their kingdom entirely. In the days
of Zedekiah, the last who reigned of the line of David, the scepter
of royal power was removed. There the typical kingdom of God was
decision relative to the matter is expressed in the words, "Thou
profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity
shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God: Remove the diadem,
and take off the crown: this shall not be the same....I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be
NO MORE, until he come, whose right it is; and I will give
it him." (`Ezek. 21:25-27`)
In fulfilment of this prophecy the king of Babylon came against
Israel, took the people captive and removed their king. Though
afterward restored to national existence by Cyrus the Persian,
they <PAGE 249> were
subjects and tribute payers to the successive empires of Medo-Persia,
Greece, and Rome, down to the final destruction of their nationality,
A.D. 70, since which time they have been scattered among all nations.
kingdom of Israel is the only one, since the fall, which God ever
recognized as in any way representing his government, laws, etc.
There had been many nations before theirs, but no other could
rightfully claim God as its founder, or that its rulers were God's
representatives. When the diadem was taken from Zedekiah and the
kingdom of Israel was overturned, it was decreed that it should
remain overturned until Christ, the rightful heir of the world,
should come to claim it. Thus, inferentially, all other kingdoms
in power until the re-establishment of God's kingdom are branded
"kingdoms of this world," under the "prince of
this world" and hence any claims put forth by any of them
to being kingdoms of God are spurious. Nor was this Kingdom of
God "SET UP" at the first advent of Christ. (`Luke
19:12`) Then and since then God has been selecting from the world
those who shall be accounted worthy to reign with Christ as joint-heirs
of that throne. Not until his second advent will Christ take the
kingdom, the power and the glory, and reign Lord of all.
other kingdoms than that of Israel are Scripturally called heathen
or Gentile kingdoms--"the kingdoms of this world," under
the "prince of this world"--Satan. The removal of God's
kingdom in the days of Zedekiah left the world without any government
of which God could approve, or whose laws or affairs he specially
supervised. The Gentile governments God recognized indirectly,
in that he publicly declares his decree (`Luke
21:24`) that during the interregnum the control of Jerusalem and
the world should be exercised by Gentile governments.
or intervening period of time between <PAGE
250> the removal of God's scepter and government
and the restoration of the same in greater power and glory in
Christ, is Scripturally termed "The Times of the Gentiles."
And these "times" or years, during which the "kingdoms
of this world" are permitted to rule, are fixed and limited,
and the time for the re-establishment of God's Kingdom under Messiah
is equally fixed and marked in Scripture.
as these Gentile governments have been, they were permitted or
"ordained of God" for a wise purpose. (`Rom.
13:1`) Their imperfection and misrule form a part of the general
lesson on the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and prove the inability
of fallen man to govern himself, even to his own satisfaction.
God permits them, in the main, to carry out their own purposes
as they may be able, overruling them only when they would interfere
with his plans. He designs that eventually all shall work for good, and that
finally even the "wrath of man shall praise him." The
remainder, that would work no good, serve no purpose or teach
no lesson, he restrains. `Psa. 76:10`
inability to establish a perfect government is attributable to
his own weaknesses in his fallen, depraved condition. These weaknesses,
which of themselves would thwart human efforts to produce a perfect
government, have also been taken advantage of by Satan, who first
tempted man to disloyalty to the Supreme Ruler. Satan has continually
taken advantage of man's weaknesses, made good to appear evil,
and evil to appear good; and he has misrepresented God's character
and plans and blinded men to the truth. Thus working in the hearts
of the children of disobedience (`Eph.
2:2`), he has led them captive at his will and made himself what
our Lord and the apostles call him--the prince or ruler of this
world. (`John 14:30; 12:31`) He is
not the prince of this world by right, but by usurpation; through
fraud and deception and control of fallen <PAGE
251> men. It is because he is a usurper that he
will be summarily deposed. Had he a real title as prince of this
world, he would not thus be dealt with.
it will be seen that the dominion of earth, as at present exercised,
has both an invisible and a visible phase. The former is the spiritual,
the latter the human phase--the visible earthly kingdoms measurably
under the control of a spiritual prince, Satan. It was because
Satan possessed such control that he could offer to make our Lord
the supreme visible sovereign of the earth under his direction.
(`Matt. 4:9`) When the Times of the
Gentiles expire, both phases of the present dominion will terminate:
Satan will be bound and the kingdoms of this world will be overthrown.
fallen, blinded, groaning creation has for centuries plodded along
its weary way, defeated at every step, even its best endeavors
proving fruitless, yet ever hoping that the golden age dreamed
of by its philosophers was at hand. It knows not that a still
greater deliverance than that for which it hopes and groans is
to come through the despised Nazarene and his followers, who as
the Sons of God will shortly be manifested in kingdom power for
its deliverance. `Rom. 8:22,19`
In order that
his children should not be in darkness relative to his permission
of present evil governments and concerning his ultimate design
to bring in a better government when these kingdoms, under his
overruling providence, shall have served the purpose for which
they were permitted, God has given us, through his prophets, several
grand panoramic views of the "kingdoms of this world,"
each time showing, for our encouragement, their overthrow by the
establishment of his own righteous and everlasting kingdom under
the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.
man's present effort to exercise dominion is not in successful
defiance of Jehovah's will and power, but by his <PAGE
252> permission, is shown by God's message to
Nebuchadnezzar, wherein God gives permission to rule, until
the time for the setting up of Christ's kingdom, to
the four great empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.
(`Dan. 2:37-43`) This shows where
this lease of the dominion will end.
As we now
glance at these prophetic views, let us remember that they begin
with Babylon at the time of the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel,
the typical kingdom of the Lord.
Vision of Earth's Governments
those things "written aforetime for our edification,"
that we, who are commanded to be subject to the powers that be,
might through patience and comfort of the Scriptures have hope
(`Rom. 15:4; 13:1`), is the dream
of Nebuchadnezzar and its divine interpretation
through the Prophet. `Dan. 2:31-45`
the dream, saying: "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great
image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood
before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head
was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly
and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron
and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without
hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and
clay, and brake them to pieces.
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-floors;
and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them;
and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and
filled the whole earth.
is the dream, and we will tell the interpretation thereof before
the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: <PAGE
253> for the God of heaven hath given thee
a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. [There the Gentile
kingdoms, or powers that be, were ordained of God.] And wheresoever
the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls
of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee
ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee [silver],
and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over
all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron:
forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things;
and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces
and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of
potter's clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be mixed; but
there shall be in it of the strength of the iron: forasmuch as
thou sawest the iron mixed with the miry clay. And as the toes
of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom
shall be partly strong and partly brittle."
student of history can readily trace, among the many smaller empires
of earth which have arisen, the four above described by Daniel.
These are termed UNIVERSAL EMPIRES--Babylon, first, the head of
gold (`Dan 2: 38`); Medo-Persia,
conqueror of Babylon, second, the breast of silver; Greece, conqueror
of Medo-Persia, third, the belly of brass; and Rome, fourth, the
strong kingdom, the iron legs and clay-mixed feet. Three of these
empires had passed away, and the fourth, the Roman, held universal
sway, at the time of our Lord's birth, as we read, "There
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world
should be taxed." `Luke 2:1`
The iron empire,
Rome, was by far the strongest, and endured longer than its predecessors.
In fact, the Roman Empire still continues, as represented in the
nations of Europe. This division is represented in the ten toes
of the image. The <PAGE
254> clay element blended with the iron in the
feet represents the mixture of church and state. This mixture
is in the Scriptures termed "Babylon"--confusion. As
we shall presently see, stone is the symbol of the true
Kingdom of God, and Babylon substituted an imitation of stone--clay--
which it has united with the fragmentary remains of the [iron]
Roman Empire. And this mixed system--church and state--the Church
nominal wedded to the kingdoms of this world, which the Lord calls
Babylon, confusion, presumes to call itself Christendom--Christ's
Kingdom. Daniel explains: "Whereas thou sawest iron mixed
with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of
men [church and world blend--Babylon], but they shall not cleave
one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay." They
cannot thoroughly amalgamate. "And
in the days of these kings [the kingdoms represented by the toes,
the so-called "Christian kingdoms" or "Christendom"]
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." `Dan.
not here state the time for the end of these Gentile governments:
that we find elsewhere; but every foretold circumstance indicates
that today the end is nigh, even at the doors. The Papal system
has long claimed that it is the kingdom which the God of heaven
here promised to set up, and that, in fulfilment of this prophecy,
it did break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms. The truth,
however, is that the nominal Church merely united with earthly
empires as the clay with the iron, and that Papacy never was the
true Kingdom of God, but merely a counterfeit of it. One of the
best evidences that Papacy did not destroy and consume these earthly
kingdoms is that they still exist. And now that the miry clay
has become dry and <PAGE
255> "brittle," it is losing its adhesive
power, and the iron and clay show signs of dissolution, and will
quickly crumble when smitten by the "stone," the true
his interpretation, Daniel states: "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." `Dan. 2: 45`
stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which smites and
scatters the Gentile powers, represents the true Church, the Kingdom
of God. During the Gospel age this "stone" kingdom is
being formed, "cut out," carved and shaped for its future
position and greatness--not by human hands, but by the power or
spirit of the truth, the invisible power of Jehovah. When complete,
when entirely cut out, it will smite and destroy the kingdoms
of this world. Not the people, but the governments, are symbolized
by the image, and these are to be destroyed that the people may
be delivered. Our Lord Jesus came not to destroy men's lives,
but to save them. `John 3:17`
during its preparation, while being cut out, might be called an
embryo mountain, in view of its future destiny; so, too, the Church
could be, and sometimes is, called the Kingdom of God. In fact,
however, the stone does not become the mountain until it has smitten
the image; and so the Church, in the full sense, will become the
Kingdom to fill the whole earth when "the day of the Lord,"
the "day of wrath upon the nations" or "time of
trouble," will be over, and when it will be established and
all other dominions have become subservient to it.
to mind now the promise made by our Lord to the overcomers of
the Christian Church: "To him that overcometh <PAGE
256> will I grant to sit with me in my throne"--"and
he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will
I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod
of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken
to shivers, even as I received of my Father." (`Rev.
3:21; 2:26,27`; `Psa. 2:8-12`) When the
iron rod has
accomplished the work of destruction, then will the hand that
smote be turned to heal, and the people will return to
the Lord, and he shall heal them (`Isa.
19:22`; `Jer. 3:22,23`;
`Hos. 6:1; 14:4`; `Isa. 2:3`), giving them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the
spirit of heaviness.
Vision of Earthly Governments
vision we see the empires of earth, as viewed from the world's
standpoint, to be an exhibition of human glory, grandeur, and
power; though in it we also see an intimation of their decay and
final destruction, as expressed in the deterioration from gold
to iron and clay.
class, the true Church, during its selection or taking out of
the mountain, has been esteemed by the world as of no value. It
has been despised and rejected of men. They see no beauty in it
that they should desire it. The world loves, admires, praises
and defends the rulers and governments represented in this great
image, though it has been continually disappointed, deceived,
wounded and oppressed by them. The world extols, in prose and
verse, the great and successful agents of this image, its Alexanders,
Caesars, Bonapartes and others, whose greatness showed itself
in the slaughter of their fellowmen, and who, in their lust for
power, made millions of widows and orphans. And such is still
the spirit which exists in the "ten toes" of the image,
as we see it exhibited today in their marshaled hosts of more
than twelve millions of men armed with every <PAGE
257> fiendish device of modern ingenuity, to slaughter
one another at the command of "the powers that be."
proud are now called happy; yea, they that work wickedness are
set up in power. (`Mal. 3:15`) Can
we not see, then, that the destruction of this great image by
the smiting of the stone, and the establishment of God's kingdom,
mean the liberating of the oppressed and the blessing of all?
Though for a time the change will cause disaster and trouble,
it will finally yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
But now, calling
to mind the difference of standpoint, let us look at the same
four universal empires of earth from the standpoint of God and
those in harmony with him, as portrayed in vision to the beloved
prophet Daniel. As to us these kingdoms appear inglorious and
beastly, so to him these four universal empires were shown as
four great and ravenous wild beasts. And to his view the coming
Kingdom of God (the stone) was proportionally grander than as
seen by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel says: "I saw in my vision
by night, and behold the four winds of heaven strove upon the
great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse
one from another. The first was like a lion and had eagle's wings;...and
behold another beast, a second, like a bear;...and lo another,
like a leopard....After this I saw in the night visions, and behold
a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly;
and it had great iron teeth. It devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with
the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were
before it, and it had ten horns." `Dan.
relative to the first three beasts (Babylon the lion, Medo-Persia
the bear, and Greece the leopard), with their heads, feet, wings,
etc., all of which are symbolic, we pass by, as of less importance
in our present examination than the details of the fourth beast,
the fourth beast, Rome, Daniel says: "After this I saw in
the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible,
and strong exceedingly;...and it had ten horns. I considered the
horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn,
before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by
the roots; and, behold, in this horn were eyes, like the eyes
of man, and a mouth speaking great things."
Here the Roman
Empire is shown; and the divisions of its power are shown in the
ten horns, a horn being a symbol of power. The little horn which
arose among these, and which appropriated the power of three of
them to itself, and ruled among the others, represents the small
beginning and gradual rise to power of the Church of Rome, the
Papal power or horn. As it rose in influence, three of the divisions,
horns or powers of the Roman Empire (the Heruli, the Eastern Exarchate
and the Ostrogoths) were plucked out of the way to make room for
its establishment as a civil power or horn. This last specially
notable horn, Papacy, is remarkable for its eyes, representing
intelligence, and for its mouth--its utterances, its claims, etc.
this fourth beast, representing Rome, Daniel gives no descriptive
name. While the others are described as lion-like, bear-like and
leopard-like, the fourth was so ferocious and hideous that none
of the beasts of earth could be compared with it. John the Revelator,
seeing in vision the same symbolic beast (government), was also
at a loss for a name by which to describe it, and finally gives
it several. Among others, he called it "the Devil."
(`Rev. 12:9`) He certainly chose
an appropriate name; for Rome, when viewed in the light of its
bloody persecutions, certainly has been the most devilish of all
earthly governments. Even in its change from Rome Pagan to Rome
Papal it illustrated one of Satan's chief characteristics; for
he also transforms himself to appear <PAGE
259> as an angel of light (`2
Cor. 11:14`), as Rome transformed itself from heathenism and claimed
to be Christian --the Kingdom of Christ.8
some details regarding this last or Roman beast, and especially
of its peculiar or Papal horn, the Prophet states that judgment
against this horn would be rendered, and it would begin to lose
its dominion, which would be consumed by gradual process
until the beast should be destroyed.
or Roman Empire in its horns or divisions still exists, and will
be slain by the rising of the masses of the people, and the overthrow
of governments, in the "Day of the Lord," preparatory
to the recognition of the heavenly rulership. This is clearly
shown from other scriptures yet to be examined. However, the consuming
of the Papal horn comes first. Its power and influence began to
consume when Napoleon took the Pope prisoner to France. Then,
when neither the curses of the Popes nor their prayers delivered
them from Bonaparte's power, it became evident to the nations
that the divine authority and power claimed by the Papacy were
without foundation. After that, the temporal power of the Papacy
waned rapidly until, in September, 1870, it lost the last vestige
of its temporal power at the hands of Victor Emmanuel.
during all that time in which it was being "consumed,"
it kept uttering its great swelling words of blasphemy, its last
great utterance being in 1870, when, but a few months before its
overthrow, it made the declaration of the infallibility
of the Popes. All this is noted in the <PAGE
260> prophecy: "I beheld then [i.e.,
after the decree against this 'horn,' after its consumption
had begun] because of the voice of the GREAT WORDS which the horn
spake." `Dan. 7:11`
we are brought down in history to our own day, and made to see
that the thing to be expected, so far as the empires of the earth
are concerned, is their utter destruction. The next thing in order
is described by the words, "I beheld even till the beast
was slain and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame."
The slaying and burning are symbols, as well as the beast itself,
and signify the utter and hopeless destruction of present organized
government. In Dan. 7:12 the prophet notes a difference between
the end of this fourth beast and its predecessors. They three
successively (Babylon, Persia and Greece) had their dominion
taken from them; they ceased to hold the ruling power of earth;
but their lives as nations did not cease immediately. Greece and
Persia still have some life, though it is long centuries since
universal dominion passed from their grasp. Not so, however, with
the Roman Empire, the fourth and last of these beasts. It
will lose dominion and life at once, and go into utter destruction;
and with it the others will pass away also.
what may be the means or instrumentality used, the cause
of this fall will be the establishment of the Fifth Universal
Empire of earth, the Kingdom of God, under Christ, whose right
it is to take the dominion. The transfer of the kingdom from the
fourth beast, which for its appointed time was "ordained
of God," to the fifth kingdom, under the Messiah, when its
appointed season has come, is described by the Prophet in these
words: "And behold, one like the Son of man came with the
clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought
him near before him. And there was given unto him [the Christ--head
and body complete] dominion, and glory, <PAGE
261> and a kingdom, that all people, nations and
languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion
which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not
be destroyed." This the angel interpreted to mean that "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." `Dan.
seen, the dominion of earth is to be placed in the hands of Christ
by Jehovah ("the Ancient of days"), who shall "put
all things under his feet." (`1
Cor. 15:27`) Thus enthroned over God's kingdom, he must reign
until he shall have put down all authority and power in conflict
with the will and law of Jehovah. To the accomplishment of this
great mission, the overthrow of these Gentile governments is first
necessary; for the "kingdoms of this world," like the
"prince of this world," will not surrender peaceably,
but must be bound and restrained by force. And thus it is written, "To bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the
judgment written; this honor have all his saints."
As we thus
view present governments from the standpoint of our Lord and of
the Prophet Daniel, and realize their ferocious, destructive,
beastly and selfish character, our hearts long for the end of
Gentile governments and joyfully look forward to that blessed
time when the overcomers of the present age will be enthroned
with their Head, to rule, bless and restore the groaning creation.
Surely all of God's children can heartily pray with their Lord--"THY
KINGDOM COME, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Each of these
governments represented in the image and by the beasts existed
before it came into power as the universal empire. So, too, with
the true Kingdom of God: it has <PAGE
> 262 long existed separate from the world, not
attempting rulership, but awaiting its time--the time appointed
by the Ancient of days. And, like the others, it must receive
its appointment and must come into authority or be "set up"
before it can exercise its power in the smiting and slaying
of the beast or kingdom preceding it. Hence the appropriateness
of the statement, "In the days of these kings [while they
still have power] shall the God of heaven set up [establish in
power and authority] a kingdom." And
after it is set up, "it shall break in pieces and consume
all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." (`Dan.
2:44`) Hence, however we may look for it, we must expect God's
Kingdom to be inaugurated before the fall of the kingdoms
of this world, and that its power and smiting will bring their
Governments from Another Standpoint
and authority to rule the world are and ever will be vested in
the Creator, Jehovah, no matter whom he may permit or authorize
to have subordinate control. Under the imperfections and weaknesses
resulting from his disloyalty to the King of kings, Adam soon
grew weak and helpless. As a monarch he began to lose the power
by which, at first, he commanded and held the obedience of the
lower animals by the strength of his will. He lost control of
himself also, so that when he would do good his weaknesses interfered
and evil was present with him; and the good he even would do he
did not do, and the evil which he would not, he did.
while making no attempt to excuse our rebel race, we can sympathize
with its vain efforts to govern itself and to arrange for its
own well-being. And something can be said of the success of the
world in this direction; for, while recognizing the real character
of these beastly governments, corrupt though they have been, they
have been vastly superior <PAGE
263> to none--much better than lawlessness and
anarchy. Though anarchy would probably have been quite acceptable
to the "prince of this world," it was not so to his
subjects, and his power is not absolute: it is limited to the
extent of his ability to operate through mankind; and his policy
must conform in great measure to the ideas, passions, and prejudices
of men. Man's idea was self-government independent of God; and
when God permitted him to try the experiment, Satan embraced the
opportunity to extend his influence and dominion. Thus it was
by wishing to forget God (`Rom. 1:28`)
that man exposed himself to the influence of this wily and powerful
though unseen foe; and therefore he has ever since been obliged
to work against Satan's machinations, as well as his own personal
the case, let us again glance at the kingdoms of this world, viewing
them now as the effort of fallen humanity to govern itself independent
of God. Though individual corruption and selfishness have turned
aside the course of justice, so that full justice has seldom been
meted out to any under the kingdoms of this world, yet the ostensible
object of all governments ever organized among men has been to
promote justice and the well-being of all the people.
To what extent
that object has been attained is another question; but such has
been the claim of all governments, and such the object of the
people governed in submitting to and supporting them. And where
the ends of justice have been greatly ignored, either the masses
have been blinded and deceived with reference to them, or wars,
commotions and revolutions have been the result.
The dark deeds
of base tyrants, who gained positions of power in the governments
of the world, did not represent the laws and institutions of those
governments, but in usurping authority and turning it to base
ends they gave to <PAGE
264> those governments their beastly character.
Every government has had a majority of wise, just and good laws--laws
for the protection of life and property, for the protection of
domestic and commercial interests, for the punishment of crime,
etc. They have also had courts of appeal in matters of dispute,
where justice is meted out to some extent, at least; and however
imperfect those in office may be, the advantage and necessity
for such institutions is apparent. Poor as these governments have
been, without them the baser element of society would, by force
of numbers, have overcome the juster, better element.
we recognize the beastly character of these governments, as rendered
so by the exaltation to power of a majority of unrighteous rulers,
through the intrigues and deceptions of Satan, operating through
man's weaknesses and depraved tastes and ideas, yet we recognize
them as the best efforts of poor, fallen humanity at governing
itself. Century after century God has allowed them to make the
effort, and to see the results. But after centuries of experiment,
the results are as far from satisfactory today as at any period
of the world's history. In fact, the dissatisfaction is more general
and widespread than ever before; not because there is more oppression
and injustice than ever, but because, under God's arrangement,
men's eyes are being opened by the increase of knowledge.
governments which have been established from time to time have
exhibited the average ability of the people represented
by them to govern themselves. Even where despotic governments
have existed, the fact that they have been tolerated by the masses
proved that as a people they were not capable of establishing
and supporting a better government, though many individuals were
always, doubtless, far in advance of the average standing.
we compare the condition of the world today with its condition
at any former period, we find a marked difference in the sentiments
of the masses. The spirit of independence is now abroad, and men
are not so easily blindfolded, deceived and led by rulers and
politicians, and therefore they will not submit to the yokes of
former days. This change of public sentiment has not been a gradual
one from the very beginning of man's effort to govern himself,
but clearly marked only as far back as the sixteenth century;
and its progress has been most rapid within the last fifty years.
This change, therefore, is not the result of the experience of
past ages, but is the natural result of the recent increase and
general diffusion of knowledge among the masses of mankind. The
preparation for this general diffusion of knowledge began with
the invention of printing, about 1440 A.D., and the consequent
multiplication of books and news periodicals. The influence of
this invention in the general public enlightenment began to be
felt about the sixteenth century; and the progressive steps since
that time all are acquainted with. The general education of the
masses has become popular, and inventions and discoveries are
becoming everyday occurrences. This increase of knowledge among
men, which is of God's appointment, and comes to pass in his own
due time, is one of the mighty influences which are now at work
binding Satan--curtailing his influence and circumscribing his
power in this "Day of Preparation" for the setting
up of God's kingdom in the earth.
of knowledge in every direction awakens a feeling of self-respect
among men, and a realization of their natural and inalienable
rights, which they will not long permit to be ignored or despised;
rather, they will go to an opposite extreme. Glance back along
the centuries and see <PAGE
266> how the nations have written the history
of their discontent in blood. And the prophets declare that because
of the increase of knowledge a still more general and widespread
dissatisfaction will finally express itself in a world-wide revolution,
in the overthrow of all law and order; that anarchy and distress
upon all classes will be the result; but that in the midst of
this confusion the God of heaven will SET UP his Kingdom, which
will satisfy the desires of all nations. Wearied and disheartened
with their own failures, and finding their last and greatest efforts
resulting in anarchy, men will gladly welcome and bow before the
heavenly authority, and recognize its strong and just government.
Thus man's extremity will become God's opportunity, and "the
desire of all nations shall come"--the Kingdom of God, in
power and great glory. `Hag. 2:7`
this to be the purpose of God, neither Jesus nor the apostles
interfered with earthly rulers in any way. On the contrary, they
taught the Church to submit to these powers, even though they
often suffered under their abuse of power. They taught the Church
to obey the laws, and to respect those in authority because of
their office, even if they were not personally worthy of esteem;
to pay their appointed taxes, and, except where they conflicted
with God's laws (`Acts 4:19; 5:29`),
to offer no resistance to any established law. (`Rom.
13:1-7`; `Matt. 22:21`) The Lord
Jesus and the apostles and the early Church were all law-abiding,
though they were separate from, and took no share in, the governments
of this world.
the powers that be, the governments of this world, were ordained
or arranged for by God, that mankind might gain a needed experience
under them, yet the Church, the consecrated ones who aspire to
office in the coming Kingdom of God, should neither covet the
honors and the emoluments of office in the kingdoms of this world,
<PAGE 267> nor
should they oppose these powers. They are fellow citizens and
heirs of the heavenly kingdom (`Eph.
2:19`), and as such should claim only such rights and privileges
under the kingdoms of this world as are accorded to aliens.
Their mission is not to help the world to improve its present
condition, nor to have anything to do with its affairs at present.
To attempt to do so would be but a waste of effort; for the world's
course and its termination are both clearly defined in the Scriptures
and are fully under the control of him who in his own time will
give us the kingdom. The influence of the true Church
is now and always has been small--so small as to count practically
nothing politically; but however great it might appear, we should
follow the example and teaching of our Lord and the apostles.
Knowing that the purpose of God is to let the world fully test
its own ability to govern itself, the true Church should not,
while in it, be of the world. The saints may influence
the world only by their separateness from it, by letting their
light shine; and thus through their lives the spirit of truth
REPROVES the world. Thus--as peaceable, orderly obeyers and commenders
of every righteous law, reprovers of lawlessness and sin, and
pointers forward to the promised Kingdom of God and the blessings
to be expected under it, and not by the method commonly adopted
of mingling in politics and scheming with the world for power,
and thus being drawn into wars and sins and the general degradation
--in glorious chastity should the prospective Bride of the Prince
of Peace be a power for good, as her Lord's representative in
of God should give its entire attention and effort to preaching
the Kingdom of God, and to the advancement of the interests of
that Kingdom according to the plan laid down in the Scriptures.
If this is faithfully done, there will be no time nor disposition
to dabble in the <PAGE
268> politics of present governments. The Lord
had no time for it; the apostles had no time for it; nor have
any of the saints who are following their example.
early Church, shortly after the death of the apostles, fell a
prey to this very temptation. The preaching of the coming Kingdom
of God, which would displace all earthly kingdoms, and of the
crucified Christ as the heir of that Kingdom, was unpopular, and
brought with it persecution, scorn and contempt. But some thought
to improve on God's plan, and, instead of suffering, to get the
Church into a position of favor with the world. By a combination
with earthly powers they succeeded. As a result Papacy was developed,
and in time became the mistress and queen of nations.
`Rev. 17:3-5; 18:7`
this policy everything was changed: instead of suffering, came
honor; instead of humility, came pride; instead of truth, came
error; and instead of being persecuted, she became the persecutor
of all who condemned her new and illegal honors. Soon she began
to invent new theories and sophistries to justify her course,
first deceiving herself, and then the nations, into the belief
that the promised millennial reign of Christ HAD COME, and that
Christ the King was represented by her popes, who reigned over
the kings of the earth as his vicegerents. Her claims were successful
in deceiving the whole world. "She made all nations drunk"
with her erroneous doctrines (`Rev.
17:2`), intimidating them by teaching that eternal torment awaited
all who resisted her claims. Soon the kings of Europe were crowned
or deposed by her edict, and under her supposed authority.
it comes that the kingdoms of Europe today claim to be Christian
kingdoms, and announce that sovereigns reign "by the grace
of God," i.e., through appointment of either Papacy or some
of the Protestant sects. For though the Reformers abandoned many
of Papacy's claims to ecclesiastical <PAGE
269> jurisdiction, etc., they held to this honor
which the kings of earth had come to attach to Christianity. And
thus the Reformers fell into the same error, and exercised the
authority of monarchs in appointing and sanctioning governments
and kings, and denominating such "Christian kingdoms,"
or kingdoms of Christ. So we hear much today of that strange enigma,
"The Christian World"--an enigma indeed, when
viewed in the light of the true principles of the Gospel. Our
Lord said of his disciples, "They are not of the world, even
as I am not of the world." And Paul exhorts us, saying, "Be
not conformed to this world." `John
17:16`; `Rom. 12:2`
approved of calling these kingdoms by the name of Christ. Deceived
by the Church nominal, these nations are sailing under false colors,
claiming to be what they are not. Their only title, aside from
the vote of the people, is in God's limited grant, spoken
to Nebuchadnezzar--until he come whose right the dominion is.
claim that these imperfect kingdoms, with their imperfect laws
and often selfish and vicious rulers, are the "kingdoms of
our Lord and his Anointed" is a gross libel upon the true
Kingdom of Christ, before which they must shortly fall, and upon
its "Prince of Peace" and righteous rulers.
serious injury resulting from that error is that the attention
of the children of God has thereby been attracted away from the
promised heavenly kingdom; and they have been led to an improper
recognition of and intimacy with earthly kingdoms, and to almost
fruitless attempts to engraft upon these wild, worldly stocks
the graces and morals of Christianity, to the neglect of the gospel
concerning the true Kingdom and the hopes centering in it. Under
this deception, some are at present very solicitous that the name
of God should be incorporated into the Constitution <PAGE
270> of the United States, that thereby
this may become a Christian nation. The Reformed Presbyterians
have for years refused to vote or hold office under this government,
because it is not Christ's Kingdom. Thus they recognize
the impropriety of Christians sharing in any other. We have great
sympathy with this sentiment, but not with the conclusion, that
if God's name were mentioned in the Constitution, that
fact would transform this government from a kingdom of this world
to a kingdom of Christ, and give them liberty to vote and to hold
office under it. O, how foolish! How great the deception by which
the "Mother of harlots" has made all nations drunk (`Rev.
17:2`); for in a similar manner it is claimed that the kingdoms
of Europe were transferred from Satan to Christ, and became "Christian
it be seen that the best and the worst
of earth's nations are but "kingdoms of this world,"
whose lease of power from God is now about expired, that they
may give place to their ordained successor, the Kingdom of Messiah,
the Fifth Universal Empire of earth (`Dan.
2:44; 7:14,17,27`) --this view will do much to establish truth
and to overthrow error.
as it is, the actions of Papacy in this regard, sanctioned by
the Protestant Reformers, go unquestioned among Christian people.
And since they should uphold the Kingdom of Christ, they feel
themselves bound to champion the present falling kingdoms of so-called
Christendom, whose time is fast expiring; and thus their sympathies
are often forced to the side of oppression, rather than to the
side of right and freedom--to the side of the kingdoms of this
world, and the prince of this world, rather than to the side of
the coming true Kingdom of Christ. `Rev.
is fast coming to realize that the "kingdoms <PAGE
271> of this world" are not Christlike, and
that their claim to be of Christ's appointment is not unquestionable.
Men are beginning to use their reasoning powers on this and similar
questions; and they will act out their convictions so much more
violently, as they come to realize that a deception has been practiced
upon them in the name of the God of Justice and the Prince of
Peace. In fact, the tendency with many is to conclude that Christianity
itself is an imposition without foundation, and that, leagued
with civil rulers, its aim is merely to hold in check the liberties
of the masses.
O that men
were wise, that they would apply their hearts to understand the
work and plan of the Lord! Then would the present kingdoms melt
down gradually--reform would swiftly follow reform, and liberty
follow liberty, and justice and truth would prevail until righteousness
would be established in the earth. But they will not do this,
nor can they in their present fallen state; and so, armed with
selfishness, each will strive for mastery, and the kingdoms of
this world will pass away with a great time of trouble, such as
was not since there was a nation. Of those who will be vainly
trying to hold to a dominion which has passed away, when the dominion
is given to him whose right it is, the Lord speaks, urging that
they are fighting against him--a conflict in which they are sure
to fail. He says:
do the nations tumultuously assemble, and the people meditate
a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers
take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed,
saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their
cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the
Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them
in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure [saying], I
have anointed my king upon my holy hill of Zion....Be
wise now, therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the
earth. Serve the <PAGE
272> Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss [make friends with] the Son [God's Anointed] lest he be angry,
and ye perish in the way; for his wrath may soon be kindled. Blessed
are all they that take refuge in him."
tell us of the night--
What its signs of promise are.
Traveler, o'er yon mountain's height,
See that glory-beaming star!
Watchman, does its beauteous ray
Aught of hope or joy foretell?
Traveler, yes, it brings the day--
Promised day of Israel.
tell us of the night--
Higher yet that star ascends.
Traveler, blessedness and light,
Peace and truth its course portends.
Watchman, will its beams alone
Gild the spot that gave them birth?
Traveler, ages are its own;
See, its glory fills the earth.
tell us, does the morning
Of fair Zion's glory dawn?
Have the signs that mark its coming
Yet upon thy pathway shone?
Traveler, yes: arise! look round thee!
Light is breaking in the skies!
Gird thy bridal robes around thee!
Morning dawns! arise! arise!"
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES