In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will shatter all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself stand forever.
these," i.e. Roman, "kings." God had chosen to defer the visible manifestation of his kingdom until men had learnt the folly and the crime of attempting to do without him. We of this age are permitted to see the exact fulfilment of these words. Verily our God is a God of truth.
I. OBSERVE THE FOUNDER OF THIS NEW' KINGDOM. When it was said, in a previous part of this chapter, that the God of heaven had given to Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, it is not meant that God was the only Person taking part in the elevation of that monarch. Human interests and ambitions exercised their power. Possibly Satan instigated the evil passions of some of the statesmen of that day. But all the events were under the controlling will of God. He allows human and Satanic activity, but only within a limit imposed by his own will. On the other hand, the founding of this new kingdom is exclusively his work. From first conception to final completion; the work is God's. The heavenly principles on which it is founded are of his origination. The God of heaven hath done it: who can withstand? "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed. But he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision."
II. ITS MYSTERIOUS MANIFESTATION. It was a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. The process of founding this empire is new and unprecedented. Into its constitution no form of human policy enters. It was a part of a mountain - a small part - mysteriously detached from the solid whole. By virtue of its own innate energy it grew and spread until it became a mountain also. Herein is symbolized the fact that Christ's kingdom on the earth is a part of heaven itself; it shall gradually grow into the likeness of heaven itself. There shall be a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness.
III. ITS IMMUTABILITY. "It shall not be left to other people." In other words, no change of dynasty shall occur. Our King Emmanuel shall reign for ever. As he possesses an unchanging priesthood, so he holds an unchanging royalty. No change in its principles, or in its laws, or in its modes of aggression, shall be permitted. They are perfect in design from the very commencement. Nor, in the best sense, shall the true subjects in this kingdom be changed. Christ hates divorcements. "Having loved is own, he will love them to the end." Once Christ's, we are Christ's for ever. In moving us from the visible kingdom on earth, death, as our King's officer, does but convey to the higher province - the metropolis of the kingdom, viz. the invisible.
IV. ITS ALL-CONQUERING POWER. It shall be ravaged by no other kingdom; it shall vanquish all. its victories may be slow, but they are sure. No weapon that is formed against this empire shall prosper. The nation that will not serve King Jesus shall perish. The powers that assail the Church of Christ shall be broken in pieces as a potter's vessel. During the past eighteen centuries this has been the tale of history. The two-edged weapon of Divine truth has triumphed. The testimony of infidel and adversary is this: "The Nazarene has conquered." It is a bloodless warfare, and ends in abiding victory.
V. MARK ITS PERPETUAL DURATION. The elements of which this kingdom is composed are indissoluble and imperishable. They are righteousness, truth, love, peace. The King himself is eternal and immortal, "without beginning of days, and without end of life." To all his subjects he gives immortal youth. "They shall never perish? Hence there is nothing in this empire that is pervious to decay. Once more will God shake heaven and earth, to the end that what is frail may perish, and that the "things which cannot be shaken may remain." This is a kingdom which cannot be moved. "For he must reign, until he hath put all things under his feet." It is a decree growing out of the roots of absolute and eternal necessity. - D.
And that it break in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold.
I. ITS UNITY. Four successive empires were not represented by four colossal images, but by one. The figure stood entire to the end, the brightness excellent, the form terrible. The image was the symbol of human power in its highest manifestation, an imperial despotism all but commensurate with the inhabited world. The dynasties, differing in form, were, nevertheless, one and the same in spirit and genius — particularly in alienation from the life of God — and, therefore, in hostiliy to His Kingdom. This need not have been the case. Civil government may be a reflection of the Divine government. It may be rooted in Divine principles. It may be administered in the fear of God.
II. ITS MAJESTY. Just as there may be a certain majesty in mere intellect, apart from its consecration, so may there be in an empire over men, notwithstanding its prostitution to sinful ends. Man was made in the image of God. The dominion of man over nature, over other men, is a shadow of Divine dominion. Of this dominion the image of a human form was a fit symbol; but the image was not of a mere man, but man in colossal majesty. No particular form of government can claim to exist as exclusively of Divine right; but government of some kind, government in the abstract, magistracy of some order, is undoubtedly Divine.
III. ITS WEAKNESS. There is grandeur in this image of worldly power; but the colossus of metal stands on weak feet of clay. It may have been God's intention that we should note this — how all things human deteriorate unless redeemed from corruption by the saving power of religion. This is as true of government in general, and of particular dynasties and races of kings, as of anything else whatever. Then we may expect Divine intervention to save society by the quickening and regeneration of its members. The process of deterioration is not inevitable.
(H. T. Robjohns, B. A.)
(T. Aitken, M.D.)
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