“And in the days of these kings 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.” – Daniel ii. 44.
Brother John R. Martin, of Virginia, having requested our views on the above text, we feel a pleasure in offering for his, and for the consideration of our readers generally, such views as we have upon the subject. Limited, as indeed our views are, we cannot in truth say that we have none, for we have often thought of the text, with the most pleasing admiration and delight. There are many things sealed up in the prophecy of Daniel, which have seemed to our mind more dark and hidden than other portions of the sacred Scriptures. Among other things, the images of beasts, rams, and he-goats, &c., by which it pleased God to indicate the various periods of time, revolutions in the governments, and affairs of the world, from the time of the captivity of Israel in Babylon, to the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. But however dark and obscure, to our feeble understanding, many portions are, this text is presented in connection with so many, and so brilliant evidences of its application, both as to the identity of the kingdom, and the particular period of time in which it should be set up, that we cannot doubt that the kingdom intended is the church of the living God, the ground and pillar of the truth. In the dream of the king of Babylon, according to its interpretation by the prophet of our God, a succession of kingdoms, kings, revolutions and important events, were provided and ordained of God, to fill up the years intervening from the dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar, over the Caldeans, to that of the Caesars, over the Roman Empire, &c. Whatever obscurity may invest the great image which the king saw, with its head of gold, and his feet of iron and clay, with all its various composition, in portraying the things which they represented, the fact that our Savior was born in Bethlehem, in the days of Caesar Augustus, and that he suffered on the cross, arose from the dead, ascended up into heaven, sent down the Holy Spirit, organized his kingdom, and fulfilled all that was embraced in the prophecy of our subject, in and during the days of the dynasty of the house of the Caesars, is to us sufficient testimony that it was in their days, according to the prediction, that this kingdom which was destined to endure forever, was to be set up. We will pass to notice some very important declarations in regard to the kingdom, its origin, growth, perpetuity, subjects, conquests, and glory.
This kingdom is presented under the similitude of a stone cut out of the mountain, without hands. If by the mountain, we understand the mountain of Jehovah’s holiness; and by the stone, Christ, who is the tried and elect precious cornerstone, which God has laid in Zion, it was said by the psalmist. His foundation is in the holy mountain, and from that holy mountain he was never brought forth in manifestation by the hands, wisdom or power of men, for no man knoweth the Son but the Father, and he to whom the Father will reveal him. Or, if by his being cut out of the mountain, &c, is intended his descent from Abraham, according to the flesh, though for ages the prayers of the patriarchs and ancient men of God were constantly raised, “O, that the salvation of God were come out of Zion!” None of them ever presumed that they were able to bring him out; and when the fullnes of the time for his advent had come, no ordinary generation could give him birth. A virgin conceived, and the Savior was born. In him was recognized the embodiment of this kingdom. The crown is on his head, the laws of it are in his hearts; and all the subjects of it were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, and he has carried and borne them all the days of old. But more especially we look to the time when he was begotten from the dead, as the first-fruits of them that slept; and here appears the exceeding greatness of the mighty power of God, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. In his resurrection he returned not from the war without the spoils of victory. But in all this there was no show of hands. All was accomplished by the God of heaven, without the aid of men. But, once more, if by the kingdom, we understand its subjects, as the term is sometimes used, then may we look to the rock whence we are hewn, and unto the whole of the pit whence we are digged, and in this application, we shall find that the members of Christ are brought into manifestation, as the Stone was cut out of the mountain without hands. “Look,” says Isaiah, “unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you.” Abraham was stricken with age, and Sarah’s system of means had failed to bring forth anything but a mocking Ishmael; the child of promise could not be born until God’s appointed time had come, and the power of God without the help of men was displayed, then Sarah had a son, according to the promise of God. John saw this kingdom, this heavenly Jerusalem, come down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. The whole system of religion means, for the production or for the upbuilding of the kingdom of Christ, at the present day, embracing the whole machinery of modern or ancient missionism, together with all the work-mongrel plans, schemes and financial stock-jobbing operations, is based upon the false supposition that the stone must come out of the mountains by hands, and that the building must go up by power and by might, and not by God’s Spirit, as he has said.
The prophet Isaiah has testified thus, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice, from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” From these, with many other Scriptures, we are taught in what sense the kingdom is to grow. Not in a manner that is to augment the number of God’s elect, or of those whose sins Christ has borne in his own body on the tree, but by their being all gathered together in one, till they all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God: unto a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and the church over which he is the Head, is that fullness. In his elect members his stature is complete; for God has given him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. As the leaven was hid in a definite quantity of meal, (three measures), until all was leavened. But let us not forget that the Stone when it shall have broken in pieces and consumed all other kingdoms, and when it shall fill the whole earth, is precisely the same stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands. The whole kingdom or stone, whether as seen in the grain of mustard seed, or when developed as a spreading tree in whose branches the fowls of the air seek for shelter, is the same which was originally in the mountain. All the increase has not, and will not, carry her beyond the measure of the stature of Christ. Just what this kingdom was, as chosen and existing in Christ before the world began, it shall be when time shall be no longer.
In our text it is said of its perpetuity, it shall never be destroyed, and, secondly, it shall stand forever. The same vision shows the decline and ultimate destruction of all earthly kingdoms. The kingdoms of gold, of silver, of brass, iron and clay, shall all be broken in pieces and consumed, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ is an everlasting kingdom, and this dominion hath no end. In this kingdom, God hath set his King upon his holy hill of Zion; and unto his Son he saith, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” If the elements of dissolution were in its composition, Zion’s sons might tremble; but they are not there. No ravenous beast shall be there, nothing to hurt or destroy shall ever be in this holy mountain. But God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved, God will help her, and that right early. As mountains were round about Jerusalem, so is God around about his people. He is a wall of fire round about, and a glory in the midst, and he has appointed salvation for walls and for bulwarks, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. From the days of Cain to the present hour, she has endured the wrath of earth and hell; but not one of her cords have yet been broken, nor has any one of her stakes been removed. Our God assures us in the text that this kingdom shall never be destroyed. He will not himself destroy it, and no other power can. He has sworn that he will not be wroth with her, nor rebuke her. It shall stand forever, a monument of the power, goodness and faithfulness of her covenant God. Wherefore, says Paul, we receive a kingdom which cannot be moved. How deep are her foundations, how invincible her battlement, and how strong are all her fortifications! No weapon formed against her shall prosper. The eternal God is her refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He rideth on the heavens in her help, and in his excellency on the sky. It shall stand forever; but not forever in her militant state, not always in the habiliments of war; the battles of the warrior will soon be over, and the garments rolled in blood, be laid aside; and when the last enemy, which is death, shall be destroyed, this standing kingdom shall be delivered up to God, as full, as pure and as complete as when it was given to the Son, before there were any foundations abounding with water, or ever the earth was. This kingdom was prepared for the saints of God in Christ to inherit, before the foundation of the world, and after earth’s old pillars shall have fallen, and her foundation shall be dissolved, still the kingdom of our God, and of his Christ, shall stand forever, and the saints in glory shall confess, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.”
They are forever and unchangeably the same. The kingdom shall not be given to other people. None but the sons of God are heirs of glory, and none but the heirs can inherit the kingdom. As the King shall say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world, others cannot inherit it; for it was prepared by the immutable Jehovah for them. Neither can they inherit a kingdom prepared since the foundation of the world, for the kingdom to which they are heirs, was prepared and given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. All the missionary zeal and strife of will-worshipers to bring in another set of heirs will avail nothing, as God has given the unalterable pledge that it shall not be given to another, but to the same people for whom it was prepared before the foundation of the world. Nor can the positions in the kingdom of the heirs be changed. To sit on my right hand, and on my left hand, are not, says Christ, mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it was prepared of my Father. Christ, in his mediatorial character, told his disciples that the Father had appointed him a kingdom and he also appointed them in like manner a kingdom; and farther he said to them, “Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This is the same kingdom that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands signified; these who are the subjects of it now, were, as they existed in Christ their head, always the subjects of it; and always shall be the subjects of it; for it shall not be given to other people. It is true that many of the subjects of this kingdom have finished their course, and have been called home from the battle-ground to their crowns, and others have been gathered in to fill up the ranks, but not one has been added to the original enrollment or registry; for in God’s book all the members were written, and in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them. Those who have gone home to glory have not left the kingdom; for the subjects shall come from the east and west, and from the south and north, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. He says to the North, Give up! And to the South, Keep not back; bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name; for I have created him for my glory.
The stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands, smote the image upon his feet, and broke in pieces the gold, silver, brass, iron and clay, so the kingdom which the God of heaven has set up was destined to break in pieces all the kingdoms and powers of this world which the image signified, and to triumph over them all. When the Redeemer slew the enmity, and nailed the hand-writing of ordinances to his cross, he abolished the middle wall of partition, which had stood between Jews and Gentiles, and took it out of the way. Then did this stone smite the image upon its feet of iron and clay, and break in pieces all the kingdoms of this world. Then did our Redeemer receive the heathen, or Gentiles, for his possession, and the utmost parts of the earth for his inheritance, to rule them with a rod of iron, and to break them in pieces, like a potter’s vessel. Under and throughout the whole gospel dispensation, as we understand the subject, this stone fills the whole earth; and the dominion of that King whom God has set upon his holy hill Zion is from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and he has power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. Before him now all nations are assembled, and he is, and for the last eighteen hundred years has been, separating them as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and calling all the blessed of his Father into his kingdom, to sit down with the patriarchs, and to go no more out forever. The kingdoms and kindreds of the earth are broken in pieces, and are being broken, when he takes one of a city, and two of a family; when he sets the father against the son, the mother against the daughter, and the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law. When a potter’s vessel is broken to “shivers,” it is beyond the ingenuity of man to unite the particles again. Even so when God calls his people out of darkness into light, and brings them to his holy hill, nothing can effectually resist his power, or annul his word. But the triumph of the kingdom of our God, as we have hinted, also contemplates the utter subjection of all things to Christ the King. Unto him it is said, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. All things must be subdued, and all the subjects of this spiritual kingdom shall be more than conquerors through him that has loved them: Therefore speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished. Christ has triumphed over hell and death. The kingdoms of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay, crumble and fall to pieces before him. His dominion is to the ends of the earth. He hath all power over all flesh, and the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdoms of our God, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever.
The last general proposition in regard to this kingdom which we were to notice is its superlative glory. The superior glory of the kingdom is expressed in the inspired record; it is called the kingdom of heaven, of God, of Christ, &c., and in a different sense from that in which the providential government of Jehovah is administered over all the kingdoms and events of the world, for in distinction from the general government of God in providence over all the powers of earth, this kingdom is called the kingdom of heaven, and in contrast with the kingdoms of men. This is of heaven; all others are of the earth. This is the kingdom of light; all others are of darkness. This is from everlasting to everlasting; all others of time, and destined to decay and pass away like a vapor. This is a spiritual and incorruptible, all others are carnal, earthly, corruptible, perishable. The kingdom of Christ is founded in the boundless wisdom and amazing grace of God; all others upon the wisdom and ambition of men. The kingdom of Christ is invincible, and shall stand forever; all others shall be broken to pieces, like a potter’s vessel. But the peculiar glory of this above all other kingdoms more fully appears from the consideration that our God and Savior Jesus Christ is the presiding King, Ruler, Head and Proprietor of it. While all the glory of the invincible God shines in his face, he is himself the light of it. No sun, no moon, no stars, no lights of nature or of art can possibly add to the radiant blaze of that refulgence which beams from his divine countenance upon all the subjects of this spiritual dominion. His kingdom requires no allied powers, no earthly marshalled troops, no human fortifications, for the safety of its King or subjects. God is himself, in all his might and omnipotence, its strength and its security, and therefore this kingdom cannot be moved, destroyed or given to another people. Except a man be born again he cannot see it. Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into it. May God grant unto us a comfortable and reliable evidence that this kingdom is prepared for us, and that it is our heavenly Father’s good pleasure that we shall inherit it. May we as loyal subjects obey our heavenly King, and speak of the glory of his kingdom and talk of his power.
Jan. 15, 1855.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 156 - 163