The prophet that follows Jeremiah chronologically is Zephaniah, whose prophecy immediately precedes the Captivity. Something of the state of mind that characterized the people at the time of their end can be gathered, not only from the violence and deceit and prevalence of idolatry, but from such a passage as Zephaniah 1:12, where the Lord threatens to punish those who say ‘The LORD will not do good, neither will He do evil’.
At the end, a promise is given that glances at the root cause of the confusion that has spread over the earth, namely, Babel’s curse, for we read:
- ‘For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent’ (Zeph. 3:9).
Zephaniah, like most of the prophets, ends on the note of restoration, ‘He will save’, ‘He will rest in His love’, ‘I will gather’, ‘When I turn back your captivity before your eyes’ (3:17-20). God promises Israël that He will get them praise and fame ‘in every land where they have been put to shame’, and because at long last ‘the king of Israël, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee’ the promise stands ‘thou shall not see evil any more’ (3:15). With these comforting thoughts we turn our attention to the next prophecy on our list, the prophecy of Daniel.
Zephaniah uttered his prophecy immediately before the fall of Nineveh, Daniel dates his opening words ‘In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah’, the year which Nebuchadnezzar set out to besiege Jerusalem and take it. Other nations and kings figure in this prophecy, some being named, some being left unnamed, but all are seen as successors and continuers of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem, which city will be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24). The prophetic forecast of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2) covers the whole period of time from the deposition of the kings of Judah, until the setting up of the kingdom under the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and king of Israël.
The book of Daniel falls into two great corresponding sections:
- 1 to 6. The Historic Foreshadowing. Now past.
- 7 to 12. The Time of the End. Yet to come.
The following structure will reveal the parallelism sufficiently to justify the thought that what took place in the experience of Daniel himself, was at the same time an anticipation and a guarantee of what is to come at the time of the end.
1. Historic Foreshadowing
A 1,2. Dream. Gentile Dominion. ‘The Lord gave’.
B 3. Fiery furnace. Like Son of God. People, nations and languages.
C 4. Seven Times. Madness.
D 5. Writing (kethab) explained. The hand. Belshazzar’s doom. Darius the Mede.
E 6. Den of lions. Sealed (chatham). HE DELIVERETH.
2. Prophetic Fulfillment
A 7. Dream. The Lord’s dominion. There was ‘given Him’.
B 7,8. Fiery stream. Like the Son of Man. People, nations, languages.
C 9. Seventy times seven. Restoration.
D 10 to 11:1. Writing (kethab) explained. The hand. Beltseshazzar’s strength. Darius the Mede.
E 11:2 to 12:13. Like a den of lions. Book sealed (chatham). HIS PEOPLE DELIVERED.
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The two key passages of the book are chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and chapter 9, the Seventy Weeks.
Nebuchadnezzar, after being raised to such eminence, quite naturally found this thoughts turning to the future, as Daniel reminded him:
- ‘As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter‘ (Dan. 2:29).
The God of heaven revealed to Daniel the secret, and trough him made known to Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the later days (2:28). While the successive monarchies of Medo-Persia and of Greece were necessarily a part of the things that should ‘come to pass hereafter’, Daniel makes it clear that by this expression he refers principally to the time of the end:
- ‘Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it break 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‘ (Dan. 2:45).
Here the whole image, not its most remote successor nor its last phase, is seen together, and no interpretation that ignores this FACT is worth the paper employed in its publication. ‘The latter days’ and ‘hereafter’ refer particularly to ‘the days of these kings’ (2:44). The same rapid passing over of intermediate events, and the same concentration of the mind upon the ‘end’ is indicated in the opening chapter of the second section, chapter 7, ‘I would know’, said Daniel, ‘the truth of the FOURTH BEAST’ (7:19).
We subdivide our examination of Daniel 9 into three sections:
- The prophecy of Jeremiah (1,2).
- The prayer of Daniel (3-19).
- The principle of computing prophetic times (20-23) and the prophecy of the seventy weeks (24-27).
The prophecy of Jeremiah (1,2)
From Zechariah 1:12 we have proof that the period of Judah’s captivity was seventy years and we learn from Daniel 9:2 that Daniel discovered, by reading the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. One passage which Daniel would have pondered is found in Jeremiah 29:1-10:
- ‘After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place’ (Jer. 29:10).
Daniel could not but be greatly moved, moreover, to read such a forecast as that of Jeremiah 27:7:
- ‘And all nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezzar), and his son, and his son’s son (Belshazzar), until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him’.
Daniel’s prayer (3-19)
Daniel’s prayer concerning the restoration of Jerusalem is dated in the first year of the king under whose edict that restoration was commenced:
- ‘In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans’ (Dan. 9:1).
It would take us too far afield to attempt to prove that ‘Darius’ of Daniel 9:1 and ‘Cyrus’ of Daniel 10:1 are the same person, or that Ahasuerus, like Pharaoh, is not used exclusively of any one monarch, but is an appellative, meaning ‘venerable king’.
Daniel’s prayer acknowledges that the terrible desolations that befell Jerusalem were the consequence of Israël’s rebellion against the Word of God, sent by Him through His prophets. The faithfulness of God to the word of His judgment is made an argument by Daniel, that He will as surely be faithful to His word of promise. While Daniel was thus praying, the angel Gabriel came and revealed to him the great prophetic period of the ‘seventy sevens’. This prophecy of the seventy weeks is divided into three parts:
The Principle of Computing Prophetic Times (20-23)
- 9:24. THE SEVENTY SEVENS.
- 25,26. THE SEVEN SEVENS AND THE SIXTY AND TWO SEVENS.
- 26,27. THE ONE SEVEN AND THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN.
A ‘week’ to the English reader is a period of seven days, and the Hebrew word so translated is shabua. Where a week of days is intended, this word is used as a masculine plural (Exod. 34:22 and nine other passages), but were it means a period of years it is used in the feminine plural (Dan. 9:24,25,26), except those passages which add the explanatory words ‘days’ (see A.V. margin of Dan. 10:2,3). The ‘one seven’ of Daniel 9:26,27 is divided into two parts, and this corresponds with the three years and a half, the forty and two months, the 1,260 days, the time, times and a half, of the references to this same prophetic period found in the book of Revelation.
Daniel had been praying concerning the seventy years. The angel came to direct his mind to a further period, that 0f 70 x 7 years.
That the Hebrew can use the work ‘week’ or ‘sabbath’, where we today would use ‘seven’, a passage in Leviticus will show, for in the eighth verse of chapter 25, ‘seven sabbaths of years’ is defined as a period of ‘seven times seven years’.
The Seven Sevens and the Sixty and Two Sevens
The angel interpreter divides this great period of 490 years into three parts:
- 7 x 7 of 49 years which starts from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
- 62 x 7, or 434 years, which starts with the completion of the wall and runs on until the crucifixion of Christ.
- The one 7, the final ‘week’ (Dan. 9:27), which is the great period covered by the book of the Revelation.
If these numbers be added together we have 490 years. But, during the first 49 of 7 x 7 of these years, Israël were still outside of Divine favour. Nehemiah said of the times:
- ‘The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire’ (1:3).
This ‘lo-ammi‘ condition did not change until the wall of the city had been rebuilt. This brings us to the second set of weeks, the 62 x 7, or 434 years, which leads us from the finishing of the wall to the crucifixion of Christ A.D. 29/30.
- 455 B.C. = Nehemiah 1:1 to 2:8. ‘The going forth of the commandment’.
- 454 B.C. = The twentieth year of Artaxerxes.
- 407 B.C. = Nehemiah obtains leave of absence (Neh. 13:6).
- 405 B.C. = The dedication of the temple.
- 405 B.C. = ends the 49 years of Daniel 9, and commences the 62 x 7 of the same prediction.
This means that we have the period of the Acts of the Apostles covered by the angel’s prophecy, and so we do no violence to truth by not cutting Israël off until Acts 28 is reached. There remain, therefore, three sevens of years to be fulfilled, the last of which is the subject of so much intense teaching in the book of Revelation. It is suggestive that there are three outstanding sevens in the Apocalypse, the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven vials, which bring the prophecy to its close!
THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES, AND THE TREADING DOWN OF JERUSALEM
Let us first of all examine the term, ‘the treading down of Jerusalem’. The prophecy of the Second Coming is given in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Luke’s account adds a reference to the times of the Gentiles, a feature that the study of Luke’s gospel leads us to expect. One peculiar and outstanding character is given, the relationship that exists between the length of time allotted to Gentile dominion, and the treading down of Jerusalem by the selfsame Gentiles.
- ‘And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ (Luke 21:24).
Immediately following these words, we are projected into the day of the Lord:
- ‘And there shall be signs in the sun, and the moon, and in the stars; and upon earth distress of nations, with perplexity … the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And THEN shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:25-27).
If the words ‘treading down’ accurately translate Luke’s intention, then there is proof that the times of the Gentiles coincide with the subjugation of Jerusalem, that both run together into the Coming of the Lord and the setting up of the Millennium kingdom, with no possible room for a period of blessing upon or through Israël until Israël is delivered. Jerusalem cannot be at the same time ‘trodden down’ and a centre of light and peace. We claim no ability to convince any who can believe two contradictory statements. We must and do leave them in the hands of God.
Where Luke 21 emphasizes the relationship of subjected Jerusalem to the times of the Gentiles, Matthew gives another yet parallel evidence:
- ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STAND IN THE HOLY PLACE … flee’ (Matt. 24:15,16).
Matthew concentrates on the desecration of the holy place, Luke concentrates on the desecration of the city. Matthew takes us to the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy, and the end of Gentile dominion, Luke points to the parallel subjugation of the city of Jerusalem. There is no discrepancy, both accounts meet at the same point.
We now turn our attention to the term, ‘trodden down’, for if this should turn out to be an expression that means blessing, then we must accept to consequences. The Greek word so translated is pateo, and if we bow to the choice of words ‘which the Holy Ghost speaketh’, the matter will be at an end.
- Luke 10:19 ‘Power to TREAD on serpents and scorpions‘.
- Luke 21:24 ‘Jerusalem shall be TRODDEN DOWN‘.
- Rev. 11:2 ‘The holy city shall they TREAD UNDER foot‘.
- Rev. 14:20 ‘The winepress was TRODDEN‘.
- Rev. 19:15 ‘He TREADETH the winepress … wrath‘.
This testimony of usage admits of no debate. It has been argued, that inasmuch as Rome did not cover the same territory as that ruled over by Nebuchadnezzar, it cannot be considered as a legitimate successor, but this argument is self-destructive and invalid. First: Nebuchadnezzar was told that the kingdom that succeeded after him would be ‘inferior’ but this inferiority in no wise invalidated succession. Secondly: There is all the difference in the world between the dominion that God GAVE to Nebuchadnezzar, and what he actually ruled over, for if that be the criterion, Nebuchadnezzar himself would be ruled out, which is not only absurd, but contrary to truth (Dan. 2:38). Thirdly: The dominion given to Nebuchadnezzar is specified in Daniel 2;38, and reads:
- ‘And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beast of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all’.
Neither Nebuchadnezzar nor any of his successors exercised this authority. Rome exercised dominion over tracts of earth that in all probability Nebuchadnezzar never heard so, so that if extent of territory be the standard, we could as well say that Rome has more right to a place than Babylon, which is absurd. Fourthly: At the time of the end GLOBAL war and dominion may well characterize Nebuchadnezzar’s last successor. The hint that Nebuchadnezzar came in the line of Adam and Noah opens up a vista of prophetic truth that we cannot pursue here, except that when Israël succeeds to the throne and Jerusalem is a praise in the earth, Paradise will, then and not till then, be restored. When the treading down of Jerusalem ends, then, and only then, will the words of Isaiah 60 become possible:
- ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee … the Gentiles shall come to thy light … the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls … thy gates shall be open continually … the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish … they shall call thee, The city of the LORD … and the DAYS OF THY MOURNING SHALL BE ENDED’ (Isa. 60:1,3,10-12,14,20).
The treading down of Jerusalem continues right up to the Second coming of Christ. The moment the Stone strikes the feet of the Gentile colossus, ‘the kingdoms of this world’ will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, when, ‘He shall reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).
Jerusalem is the key to much prophetic truth!!
IMAGE OF DANIEL 2
Just as Genesis 3:15 contains all prophecy in embryo, so the Image of Daniel 2 covers all Gentile dominion, from the appointment of Nebuchadnezzar until the ten toes symbolizing the the kings in the final stage of Gentile dominion is reached, when without a moment’s interval, the Stone cut out without hands strikes the feet of the image with utter destruction, fills the whole earth, and is set up by the God of heaven as a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. We believe that all prophecy, which is future to Daniel 2 must fit into the overall pattern foreshadowed by the Image therein depicted and interpreted.
If there be periods of blessing to this earth either with or without Israël as a factor before the Millennial kingdom (which immediately follows the striking of the feet of the image), we must find a place for it indicated by the sure word of prophecy. To substantiate this idea, we would draw attention to Luke 21:24 where the ‘times of the Gentiles’ coincide with the ‘treading down’ of Jerusalem by the Gentiles. This passage as it stands is fatal to any idea of a pre-Millennial kingdom in which an enlightened Israël has a central place, for a people cannot be trodden down and at the same time function as a kingdom of priests, there is no place for a regathering of Israël and a time of blessing and illumination that will last for years, followed by a fresh dispersal and another gathering at the time of the end. The image is seen as a whole when the stone strikes the feet.
The translation ‘treading down’ has been questioned, and a much more modified idea substituted. We have discussed this, and provided a concordance of the Greek word so translated in Millennial studies … ‘TREADING DOWN OF JERUSALEM’.
Coming to Daniel 2, we observe that at verse 4, the language in which the prophecy is written changes from Hebrew to Syriac (Aramaic), the language of the Gentiles. The words ‘in Syriac’ mark the place where the language changes and Hebrew is not resumed until the opening of chapter 8. This of itself shows that during these visions, the Gentile is prominent. Before going into detail it may be well to consider one or two interpretations that have been put forward, so that the way may be cleared, and our study pursued unhindered.
- Four kingdoms. — One school of interpretation speaks of the image as representing four kingdoms only — Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The legs represent the two divisions of the Roman Empire, the eastern and western, and the ten toes, the kingdom into which it will finally be divided, thus making Rome’s dominion, either in its full power or in its divided form, cover the whole period from before Christ to the present time, and necessitating a revival of the ancient Rome at the time of the end. Some who endorse this view believe Rome to be the Babylon of the Apocalypse, whilst others still believe that literal Babylon will be rebuilt.
- The fourth kingdom regarded as Satanic. — Another view of the purport of the vision does not include Rome at all. This view is that Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece followed one another, but that by the time the Lord was here upon earth, the devil could claim that the kingdoms of the world had been delivered unto him (Luke 4:6). Moreover, another objection to Rome having a place in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision is said to be the fact that she never really had possession of Babylon itself. We would add, however, that this is not strictly true.
These two points of view are maintained with some recognition of the principles of prophetic interpretation. There are other views, but they are too far removed from the way of truth to justify space for consideration here.
We do not propose analysing the two methods of interpretation mentioned above, but shall proceed at once to definite exposition, and where such exposition causes us to depart from the views expressed in these interpretations, we shall make any necessary criticism. All that we would say here is that we believe neither to be correct.
The latter days
To quote the verses that record both the vision and the interpretation would occupy more space than we can afford, but we trust that the reader will not be satisfied to read these notes without personal reference to the Scriptures themselves. Keep the Book open.
From the urgency with which he demanded the interpretation, and the extreme measures he adopted to punish inability to comply with that demand, it is clear that Nebuchadnezzar considered the vision to be of supreme importance. It is blessed to see Daniel and his friends confidently laying the matter before ‘the God of heaven’, and to read the gracious answers given.
After a passing reference to the utter failure of the wise men of Babylon to help the king, Daniel said:
- ‘But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days‘ (Dan. 2:28).
Evidently the king himself had been seriously thinking about the future of the dominion committed to him, for Daniel continues:
- ‘As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter‘ (Dan. 2:29).
Now while, in one sense, the succession of Medo-Persia to the dominion was something that should come to pass ‘hereafter’, as also was that of Greece, these successive monarchies are, nevertheless, not in mind, except as steps leading to the goal. In 2:45 Daniel becomes more explicit:
- ‘Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut 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‘.
‘The latter days’ and ‘hereafter’ have particular reference to ‘the days of these kings’ of verse 44, when the stone shatters the image and the kingdom of the Lord is set up.
When we come to study chapter 7, we shall find the same concentration on the ‘end’ and a rapid passing over of the steps leading to that end, as witness the words: ‘I would know the truth of the fourth beast’ (7:19).
The student should be informed as to occurrences of these expressions, ‘latter days’ and ‘hereafter’ in the book of Daniel, and we therefore give them and the other renderings were the same words occur in the original.
- ‘What should come to pass hereafter (2:29).
- ‘What shall come to pass hereafter‘ (2:45).
- ‘Another shall arise after them’ (7:24).
- ‘What shall be in the latter days’ (2:28).
- ‘What shall be in the last end of the indignation’ (8:19).
- ‘In the latter time of their kingdom’ (8:23).
- ‘What shall befall the people in the latter days‘ (10:14).
- ‘What shall be the end of these things? (12:8).
Daniel stood at the end of a long line of prophets, and the expression ‘latter days’ and ‘last days’ had by then a very clear meaning. Their use can be studied in Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30; 8:16; 31:29; 32:20,29; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1; and other passages.
The succeeding kingdoms symbolized in the great image of Daniel 2 show a marked depreciation. Gold gives place to silver, silver to brass (or copper), brass to iron, iron to clay. Because we are fare more likely to have handled a solid piece of lead than a bar of gold, many of us would place lead as the heaviest of metals. This however, would be inaccurate, the specific gravity of lead being 11.4, whereas that of gold is as high as 19.3. Gold is the heaviest metal mentioned in Daniel 2 and it is of this metal that the head is constructed, so that the image of Gentile dominion is top-heavy from the commencement. This can be seen by observing the relative specific gravity of each material:
- Gold … … 19.3
- Silver … … 10.51
- Brass … … 8.5 (Copper 8.78)
- Iron … … 7.6
- Clay … … 1.9
The arrangement of these metals in the structure of the image indicates depreciation not only in weight, but also in the characteristics of the kingdom. The kingdom of which Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold was an absolute monarchy. Of him it could be said, ‘whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive’. The Medo-Persian kingdom, represented by silver, was not absolute, as was Nebuchadnezzar’s. Darius was limited by the president and princes, and by his own laws ‘that could not be broken’. The Grecian kingdom of brass was a military kingdom, and consequently lower still in the scale. We will not here speak of Rome, as we have not yet dealt with the question of the fourth kingdom. We see enough, however, to realize that this prophetic image prevents us from ever believing that the kingdom of heaven will come upon earth as a result of Gentile rule; rather we are clearly told that Gentile rule must be ground to powder before the Kingdom of the Lord can be set up.
Principles of Interpretation
Let us now seek the key to the understanding of the unexplained portions of the image. For this we will first examine what is clearly revealed. Babylon was succeeded by Medo-Persia, Medo-Persia by Greece, and Greece by some kingdom unnamed, Babylon passed off the scene, but the kingdom of Persia has remained to this day, and so has Greece. This leads us to our first point. It is not a necessity that the dispossessed kingdom should be either destroyed or absorbed by its successor, and therefore the idea that Rome is still existing in a weakened condition, and that the ten kings at the end must be found in the Roman earth, is on this ground, without foundation. Some other principle is at work and must be discovered.
We have discussed in the -Millennial Studies- the question of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ and we there show that these were characterized by one essential feature, indicated by the Lord in Luke 21:24: ‘And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’. Here is the essential prophetic character of the times of the Gentiles. Babylon dominated Jerusalem, and every power that has succeeded to the control of Jerusalem has taken its place in the image of Daniel 2. Does Rome take its place according to this canon of interpretation? Let us see. Who was it that sent out a decree that all the inhabited earth should be taxed, and so unwittingly compelled the birth of the Lord Jesus to take place at Bethlehem? It was Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1). Who was exercising dominion over Jerusalem when John the Baptist pointed out the Messiah of Israel? The answer is Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1). Who was Governor of Jerusalem, with the power of life and death, when the Lord Jesus was crucified? Again, it was a Roman, Pontius Pilate (Luke 23). To whom did the Jewish nation pay tribute at this time? To none but Caesar (Luke 23:2). It is, then very evident that the Roman Empire is in line of Gentile succession, and if historians are true and Rome’s sovereignty over the earth lasted for the space of 666 years, we may, in its typical character, find food for further thought.
This brings us to another important point. Believers in the Word of God are as certain that God knew the rise and fall of Rome as that He knew the rise and fall of Babylon or Persia. Why did He not then, definitely name Rome as he had Persia and Greece? For the selfsame reason that in Old Testament prophecy, He veiled the rejection of Christ by Israël, the ensuing long interval between the ‘sufferings’ and the ‘glory’ and the ‘times and the seasons’ of Israel’s restoration (Act 1:6).
The principle is brought out in Matthew 11:14: ‘If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come’. Now John the Baptist declared most emphatically that he was not Elias (John 1:21). The Lord declared that Elias must first comes and restore all things, as Malachi had already prophesied (Matt. 17:11; Mal. 4:5,6), and that this should herald the great and dreadful day of the Lord. At the birth of John the Baptist is was said of him that he should go before the Lord ‘in spirit and power of Elias’ (Luke 1:17). If Israël had received the King and the kingdom, then Rome would have rapidly developed into the Beast, and Herod was already at hand, a potential antichrist (see Acts 12:20-23). We are not, however, called upon to discuss what might have been, for that leaves God out of the question. What actually took place was foreknown and provided for: Israël rejected their King and postponed their own restoration. In consequence of their folly a dispensation of hitherto unrevealed grace to an election from among the Gentiles was instituted and no dominating power in the line of Gentile dominion could be revealed which would cover this period. Indeed, such would conflict with the fact that, while Israel are not reckoned as God’s people, the prophetic calendar is in abeyance, and the prophetic voice is silent.
Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, however, spans the whole period from his own accession until the Coming of the Lord, and Rome, by its manifest sovereignty over Jerusalem, falls into line with the other powers. Rome’s dominion over Jerusalem, however, has not lasted throughout this long period. We therefore ask what power succeeded Rome in its hold upon Jerusalem? We know that at the time of the Crusades, in which one of our own kings, Richard the First took part, the city of Jerusalem was held by the Mohammedan power, and so, though unnamed, that power succeeded Rome in the line of Gentile dominion.
It has been objected that the Mohammedan power was never a ‘kingdom’ in the same sense as were Babylon, Persia or Greece. This is so, but instead of that fact being against its inclusion, it is rather in favour of it, because from the time of Israël’s rejection, and the revelation of the dispensation of the Mystery, the image of Daniel enters a protracted period of indefinite length and character, and not until the time of the end does the image emerge with any precision. The same feature characterizes Gentile dominion at the present moment. The next development will be tragic in its reality.
Does the Mohammedan power still dominate Jerusalem? No, another change has taken place from the 20th century, in our own days. When General Allenby received the keys of Jerusalem on 9th December, 1917 (Haggai 2:19-20), the dominion passed from the Mohammedan power to the present divided condition of Jerusalem, but indivisible capital of Israël. Let us now see what these events mean, and how far they coincide with the prophetic interpretation of the course of Gentile dominion given by Daniel:
- Head of gold. BABYLON (Dan. 2).
- Breast of silver. MEDO-PERSIA (Dan. 5:31).
- Belly and thighs of brass. GREECE (Dan. 8:21).
- Legs of iron. ROME (Luke 2:2).
- Feet of iron and clay. TURKEY (A.D. 636 – 1917). — ‘Five are fallen‘ (Rev. 17:10).
- Toes of clay. [The decision of UNO in 1949 to place Jerusalem under international control and its inherent ‘indecision’ which has become more and more evident will lead to the final phase, the Ten Kings! … but in 1967, June 7th, Jerusalem restored – 49 Prophetic years of 7x7x360 days till now, on the day of Yom Kippur of 23th September 2015 (Dan. 9:24-27).
- The Stone cut out without hands (Dan. 2:45).
Here we have the whole Gentile dominion represent as being sixfold, stamped with the number of man and of the beast. We stand today at the junction of the feet and the ten toes, which are ten kings, and which, presumably, will arise out of the national turmoil that is growing in the Middle-East. When John wrote the book of the Revelation he was ‘in spirit’ writing from the, then future, Day of the Lord; consequently he could say, ‘five are fallen’, namely, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and Turkey, and ‘one is’, viz., the dominion of the ten kings. The true seventh is the kingdom of the Lord, but Antichrist, active, true to character, will present himself as the seventh — ‘ the other is not yet come’; he is of the seven, and goeth into perdition’.
Much that is mysterious in these verses is to be understood only in the light of the fact that at the time of the end the human merges into superhuman and the Satanic. Although we have already occupied considerable space in this article, the solemnity of the subject and need for clearness forbids undue brevity, and we shall therefore continue for a little to consider more closely:
The ten toes of the image
The word ‘broken’ in Daniel 2:42 should be ‘brittle’ (‘to shive, shatter’, Young’s Analytical Concordance), and shows that the ‘clay’ is pottery. Pottery of sufficient thickness would stand the weight of the image, but would shiver to pieces at a blow. It is impossible to fuse iron and pottery together in the same way that two metals may be fused, yet when we reach the feet of the Gentile image, metal gives place to pottery. Some radical change is here indicated. The feet are composed of both iron and clay:
- ‘But they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay’ (Dan. 2:43).
This does not mean that the communist will not mingle with the monarchist or the democrat with the autocrat, as some schools of interpretation suggest, for this same verse in Daniel 2 contains a deeper explanation:
- ‘They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another’.
‘The seed of men’. Are not communists and kings the seed of men? Are democrats only the seed of men and the ruling classes not? To ask the question is to answer it. Gold is a metal superior to silver, but of like nature. So also silver is superior to brass, brass to iron, yet all are metals. But at the feet of the image the altogether different material used indicates that the ‘they’ of 2:43 and the ‘seed of men’ are beings of two different orders.
Now the Lord revealed that at the time of the end it should be as it was in the days of Noah. Genesis 6 contains enough to enable us to see in the clay feet of the image the revival of the seed of the wicked one. There are two seeds in view, and the book of Revelation makes it clear that at the end demon-possessed rulers under the Satanic Beast and Antichrist will have full, though brief, sway.
In Daniel 2:44 the prophet says: ‘In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom’. In the days of what kings? Any one of the three is historically impossible. What kings reign when the kingdom of the Lord is set up? We find from Daniel 7:24 that the ten kings shall arise at the time of the end. We read in Revelation 17:12:
- ‘The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast’.
The ten horns of the beast and the ten toes of the image speak of the same ten kings:
- ‘And as the toes of the feet … in the days of these kings’ (Dan. 2:42-44).
We have said nothing of the seventh feature, the stone cut out without hands. This foreshadows the kingdom of the Lord. As members of the Body of Christ with a calling, hope and inheritance, ‘far above all’, we can, with full heart, pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven“.
FEET OF CLAY – From gold to clay, a process of deterioration
The English word ‘clay’ is cognate with ‘clog’ and ‘cleave’, and is used of any earth which possesses sufficient ductility when kneaded with water to be fashioned by hand or lathe. The proverbial statement which speaks of an idol having ‘feet of clay’ is evidently borrowed from Daniel 2 and suggests deterioration and disappointment. Clay can be heated a little without becoming permanently hardened, but when burnt, clay acquires a siliceous hardness, and can never be rendered plastic again. The chief use of clay is for the making of pottery, and a potter is a frequent figure in the Scriptures.
We are particularly concerned in this study with the feet of clay of the image of Daniel 2, but it will be of great help if before dealing with that particular use of the figure we become acquainted with the figures of clay and potter in other parts of the Scriptures, for Daniel’s prophecy comes near to the close of the Old Testament. Seven words are employed in the Old Testament which are translated clay.
- Chomer. This word means primarily ‘to boil’ or ‘ferment’, ‘to be red’ from the idea of boiling, being inflamed; then ‘to swell up’, and so it comes to mean ‘wine’, ‘clay’, ‘cement’ or ‘mortar’, ‘a heap ‘ or ‘a mound’, hence ‘a measure’. It would be beside the point to occupy pages in the pursuit of these ramifications, so we proceed:
- Chasaph. This is a Chaldee word, and occurs in Daniel 2. It is probably derived from a root word that means ‘to peel’, or ‘to scale’, and so applied to earthenware, sherds, potter’s ware, with special reference to its liability to break.
Tit. This is clay in the form of mud or mire (Psa.. 40:2).
Tin. Chaldee potter’s clay (Dan. 2:41), ‘miry clay’.
Melet. Derived from a word meaning ‘smooth’. Only occurrence is in Jeremiah 43:9.
Ab and Maabeh. From abah, ‘thick’, ‘gross’ (1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chron. 4:17).
Abtit. A combination of two words meaning ‘thick mire’ (Hab. 2:6).
But one word is translated ‘clay’ in the New Testament, namely the Greek pelos. For our present study chomer, chasaph and pelos, that is one word each from Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek, is all that we need consider. The first occurrence of chomer is in Genesis 11:3:
- ‘They had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar’.
This is said of the building of the tower of Babel. The word ‘mortar’ is in some other passages translated ‘clay’. If the book of Job was written before Moses penned the book of Genesis then, while the references to clay in Job were not written before the actual building of Babel, they will represent to us the earliest references in writing to this word. Chomer occurs seven times in Job (4:19; 10:9; 13:12; 27:16; 30:19; 33:6; 38:14). Of these, four references speak of the frailty of human nature, ‘them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth’. The three references that speak of clay in other connections are Job 27:16; 30:19 and 38:14.
- ‘Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay’ (Job 27:16).
There is something incongruous about ‘raiment’ being likened to ‘clay’. The metrical version found in The Companion Bible reads:
- ‘Though silver, like the dust, he heapeth up, And garments, made in number like the sand’.
We have already drawn the reader’s attention to the fact that chomer is sometimes translated homer, ‘a measure’ (Isa. 5:10), and so in this passage of Job clay as clay is not in view, but, as Carey comments:
- ‘As chomer signifies also a mound, the idea may be intended here, and will correspond well, with the heaping up in the previous clause. Our Lord evidently alludes to the Eastern practice of hoarding up enormous stores of raiment (Matt. 6:19). It was amongst other things, the sight of a goodly Babylonish garment that ensnared Achan (Josh. 7:21)’.
‘He hath cast me into the mire’. The truer translation would be ‘He hath cast me down to the mire’, i.e. He has reduced me to the level of the mire of the streets.
‘It is turned (haphak) as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment’. There are but three other passages where this verb ‘to turn’ occurs in this particular form, namely in Genesis 3:24, Job 37:12 and Judges 7:13, and its consistent meaning is ‘to go on turning itself’, to go round and round’. The British Museum contains a splendid collection of cylindrical seals, which when rolled over wax or clay causes the figures engraved on it to stand out in relief, and this, said God, is what happens as the earth rolls into sunlight, mountain and valley stand out in bold relief. These preliminary notes have but cleared the way for the more specific references to Israël and to the final phase of Gentile dominion. The first passage to which we would draw attention is in the book of Lamentations:
- ‘The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!’ (Lam. 4:2)’
The book of Lamentations is perhaps one of the most neglected portions of the Old Testament and at first sight contains little to attract the reader. Yet upon the construction of this book there has been lavished sufficient care to ensure that each chapter shall be written in the form of an acrostic. Chapter 1 has twenty-two verses, and each line begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in correct order. This is true also of chapters 2 and 4. Chapter 5, while containing the same number of verses, namely twenty-two, and commencing with the same acrostic features, breaks down apparently before the flow of the prophet’s grief. Chapter 3 contains sixty-six verses, and the acrostic is in a series of triads, verses 1, 2 and 3 commencing with aleph, 4,5 and 6 with beth, and so on. The book consists of five elegies on the destruction of Jerusalem, which in their turn have prophetic foreshadowings.
The opening verse sets the key to the book: ‘How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!’ (Lam. 1:1). Here we have deterioration set forth in a series of figures. Solitary instead of full, widow that was once happily married, a princess that now pays tribute. The opening of chapter 2 follows much the same pattern, ‘thy breach is great like the sea; who can heal thee?’ (2:13). Chapter 3 focusses attention on the prophet himself, who represents the nation, and there we have the words ‘the wormwood and the gall’ (3:9). Chapter 4 returns to the theme opened in chapters 1 and 2, ‘How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! … the precious sons of Zion, comparable with fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!’ (4:12).
Let us examine the record of deterioration a little more closely.
Dim. The two other occurrences of this verb amam are Ezekiel 28:3 and 31:8, where it is translated ‘hide’. The transition from the idea of ‘hidden’ to being ‘dim’ is seen in the bridge word ‘obscured’. The glory of Israël had departed, it was ‘obscured’. The Hebrew reader, fully cognizant with his own tongue, would be conscious of the fact that the word amam was but a duplicated form of am, a word that means ‘people’, and would enable the reader to see that the obscuring of Israël’s distinctive glory was largely associated with their failure to remain a separate people.
In the days of Samuel, they had expressed their desire to become like the surrounding nations, and had demanded a king, and at that demand, their gold had commenced to become dim, until in the days of Jeremiah the ‘princess’ now paid ‘tribute’. Am had become amam.
Changed. This word occurs in its Chaldee form twenty-one times, of which number, nineteen occur in the book of Daniel. It is used in Daniel 7:7,23,24 of the final phase of Gentile rule which will be ‘diverse’ from all that has gone before it. So Israël ‘changed’. From a peculiar people they became like the nations; they are even charged by Ezekiel of such outrageous conduct that they made their ‘beauty’ to be ‘abhorred’.
- ‘As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters … neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins’ (Ezek. 16:48-51).
No wonder Jeremiah exclaimed ‘How is the most fine gold change!’ The sons of Zion who had undergone this change are called ‘precious’, a word used in many passages of ‘precious’ or of ‘costly’ stones. These precious sons of Zion were comparable to fine gold, but they had so far fallen as to be esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of a potter. An ‘earthen vessel’ is a symbol of lowliness, wether by reason of true humility (2 Cor. 4:7) or of inferiority (2 Tim. 2:20). This word ‘earthen’, Hebrew cheres, is not only translated ‘earthen’ but ‘potsherd’ (Job 2:8), and ‘sherd’ (Isa. 30:14), and so indicates something of very little value. We must devote an article to the lessons that are taught by the ‘potter’ and will here just sum up as far as we have arrived in this study of the typical meaning of ‘clay’ when used of either Israël or the Gentiles.
We place together the two instruments of world government employed by God during the ages, namely Israël, and the Gentiles commencing with Nebuchadnezzar. Israël, at the beginning (and looked at from the standpoint of the Divine purpose) was comparable to fine gold. Upon the failure of the chosen people, universal sovereignty was transferred to Nebuchadnezzar. He too was set forth in the image, as the head of gold (Dan. 2:38). The kingdom that was to succeed Babylon was that of the Medes and Persians, which, says Daniel 2:39, shall be ‘inferior’. Now the Chaldee word ara translated ‘inferior’ occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament and in every other occurrence it is translated ‘earth’, even in Daniel 2:39:
- ‘And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior (ara) to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth (ara)’.
In the form arith the word occurs once again as ‘the bottom’ in Daniel 6:24. In Ephesians 4:9, where the Authorized Version reads ‘He descended first into the lower parts of the earth’, we should translate ‘the lower parts, that is to say, the earth’, the genitive being that of apposition. The tendency of Gentile rule over the earth would be earthward, it would never become ‘the kingdom of heaven’; it would deteriorate even as Israël had. It would commence with gold, but it would end with clay. Before we turn to Daniel 2 to examine the dream and its interpretation, we have one or two matters to occupy our attention. The one immediately before us being the references in the Old Testament to the potter.
The vessel ‘marred’ in the potter’s hand
We left our examination of Lamentations 4:2 with the reference to the potter. There is no such word for ‘pot’ in the formation of the Hebrew word yatsar, the word translated ‘potter’ seventeen times in the Old Testament. The word means ‘to form’ or ‘to fashion’, ‘to purpose’ or ‘to make’, and that both in the material and in the mental realm:
- ‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground’ (Gen. 2:7).
- ‘His hands formed the dry land’ (Psa. 95:5).
The word can mean ‘to fashion’ as with hammers (Isa. 44:12); ‘to purpose’ (Isa. 46:11) or ‘to make’ summer and winter (Psa. 74:17), or to form ‘the spirit’ of man (Zech. 12:1). The word first appears with specific reference to a potter in 2 Sam. 17:28, where it is translated ‘earthen’ (lit. vessels of the potter).
The writer of Lamentations, who spoke so feelingly about the deterioration of Israël , who were originally comparable to fine gold, but had become as potter’s vessels, had already recorded two parabolic references to the work of a potter in his prophecy. In Jeremiah chapter 18, he brings before us the potter with his wheel, and in chapter 19 he is bidden to take a potter’s bottle or pitcher with which to give a further demonstration of the purpose of the Lord. Jeremiah is commanded to go down to the potter’s house, and there he would hear, and understand, the word of the Lord. He went and saw the potter working at his wheel, and, as he watched, the vessel was marred in the hand of the potter. He further observed that the potter made it again another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it.
There is a great danger when dealing with types and symbols, that we shall fail to think of the spiritual equivalent or the intended lesson and be preoccupied with the details of the type or parable. It is most blessedly true, that in place of the old covenant there will be brought in the new, in place of the old creation there will be the new, but to say that the Lord never mends what man has marred, would lead, if taken to its logical conclusion to a denial of redemption itself. Over and over again the Lord employs the figure of healing of the state of Israël; in Matthew 9:16 the Lord actually uses the figure of mending a piece of torn cloth, employing the most glorious word pleroma to illustrate His meaning. Then what are we to understand by such words as restore, reconcile and the like? and if actions are to be interpreted as signs of doctrinal truth, it is surely significant that after the Lord had called unto Him two fishers who were at the moment of their call ‘casting’ a net into the sea, He called two other fishers, who were ‘mending’ their nets (Matt. 4:18-21). Had the potter discarded the clay that was ‘marred’ and taken another lump, there would have been some warrant for saying God never mends what man has marred, but the potter does not discard the clay, he makes another vessel of the same lump.
The vessel was ‘marred’ in the hand of the potter. Taking this statement entirely by itself it would be extremely difficult to avoid putting the blame upon the ‘Potter’ and so ultimately upon the Lord, yet it is evident from the sequel, that no mistake or bad workmanship can be ascribed to the God of Israël. Our failure to appreciate the point of this symbol is largely because we have not before our mind the book of Jeremiah as a whole, and so we have not the mental preparation that would be ours if the symbol of the marred vessel was immediately related to the previous symbol of the marred linen girdle.
Upon reading Jeremiah 13 to 19 there emerges the following interrelated set of symbols and explanations:
A 13:1-11. The symbol of the MARRED girdle.
B 13:12-14. The symbol of the BOTTLE.
C 13:14. Dashed one against another.
A 18:1-4. The symbol of the MARRED vessel.
B 19:1-10. The symbol of the BOTTLE.
C 19:11. I will break this people.
The comment in Jeremiah 13 is that the girdle was ‘profitable for nothing’ and that the people, by their refusal to hear the word of the Lord, and by their idolatry, were ‘good for nothing’. By their own faithlessness they were ‘marred’. After this manner, said the Lord, ‘will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem’ (Jer. 13:9). It will be remembered that Jeremiah had been told to do a very strange thing, namely, to hide the linen girdle in the hole of a rock by the Euphrates. This reference to the Euphrates would immediately connect this symbol with Babylon — Israël would be ‘marred’ by their captivity in Babylon. The last reference to the Euphrates is another symbolic action:
- ‘When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words; Then shalt thou say, O LORD, Thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. And it shall be, when thou hast made and end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: and thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary’ (Jer. 51:61-64).
Israël suffers degradation for a period, but will ultimately be restored and blessed, but Babylon, and all that its stands for, wil sink, never to rise again. The strange idea of hiding a linen girdle in the hole of a rock, finds an echo in another symbolic act which is recorded in Jeremiah 43. Israël had, contrary to the witness of Jeremiah, made alliance with Egypt, and at Tahpanhes, a fortress in Egypt, Jeremiah once again set forth prophetic truth in symbol. The word translated ‘brick kiln’ in Jeremiah 43:9 is rendered in the Revised Version ‘brickwork’, and ‘brickyard’ by Rotherham. Appendix 87 of The Companion Bible contains a drawing of the fort of Defenneh (Gk. Daphnae, and so Tahpanhes) which shows the large platform before the entry of Pharaoh’s palace. It was in this brickwork platform that Jeremiah hid the great stones:
- ‘Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brick pavement, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; and say unto them, Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israël; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid, and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them’ (43:8-10).
Returning to Jeremiah 13 to 19, we observe that in the second symbol borrowed from the potter’s craft, the vessel is now called an earthen bottle, or pitcher, it is no longer ductile clay but burnt earthenware. This bottle is broken by Jeremiah in the valley of the son of Hinnom, called in the New Testament Gehenna, the symbol of ‘Hell’ and called Tophet in chapter 19:6. This reference to Tophet is repeated from chapter 7, were there is appended a doom (verse 34) that will ultimately be pronounced over Babylon (Rev. 18:23), ‘The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee’.
The use of the figure ‘the hole of a rock by the Euphrates’ can be translated into less figurative language if we will read Jeremiah 16:15,16:
- ‘But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israël from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send … hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the HOLES OF THE ROCKS’.
When we turn to the New Testament we shall find that Judas Iscariot is associated with ‘the Potter’s Field (Matt, 27:6,7) which is linked with Gehenna, Tophet and Aceldama. We have enough before us, however, without complicating the issue by further additions. Some readers may have found the matter already so complex that a brief summary may be acceptable. We will attempt to weave the many strands that have come before us into some sort of consistent pattern. Israël, originally, were comparable to fine gold, but had degenerated, and were likened to earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of a potter (Lam. 4:1,2). Nebuchadnezzar, to whom sovereignty was transferred on the failure of Israël’s kings, he too is likened to gold, but, the prophet looking down the stream of time, sees the same degeneration, the feet are feet of clay (Dan. 2). The prophet Jeremiah goes over certain aspects of the prophetic history of these two dynasties, using several strange figures, a linen girdle, a potter at work with wheel and clay, the smashing of a potter’s vessel in Tophet or Gehenna, the hiding of the girdle in the hole of a rock by the Euphrates, and the hiding of stones in clay under the brick pavement of Pharaoh’s house, over which Nebuchadnezzar was to spread his royal pavilion. Finally into the Euphrates a stone is cast to rise no more, a symbol of the the fate of Babylon, the dirge concerning the voice of the bridegroom and of the bridge being uttered over both Israël and Babylon.
The difference between the two is that Israël were an elect people, and will come into their inheritance at last by virtue of redemption, whereas Babylon represents the seed of the wicked one, for whom no Kinsman-Redeemer can be found. Israël was for a period taken away captive to Babylon and there the pride of Judah was ‘marred’. This ‘marring’, however, is not forever, for the Lord will have mercy on Israël and remember His covenant. This same word shachath, ‘mar’, is used against Babylon (Jer. 51:1,11 and 25) where it is translated ‘destroy’. For a time Israël are marred and broken, dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel, but ultimately, though for a long period ‘hidden’, they shall be restored, gathered and blessed. In the employment of such symbols as marred linen, marred pottery, broken pitchers, hidden stones under brickwork, and in clay, we see the temporary triumph of Babel, which at the beginning had ‘brick for stone’, true index of the deceit and the travesty of truth that is so characteristic of Satanic methods. We should acquaint ourselves with the references to the potter and the clay in the New Testament, and then, reinforced with what we shall have learned, return to the consideration of that Image, whose head was gold, but whose feet were of clay, and endeavour, as God shall bless us, to make that ancient prophecy speak in terms that cannot be misunderstood.
We first turn to the second chapter of Daniel, with some idea of the symbolic intention of the use of clay, especially when placed in extreme opposition to gold — a degeneration. We are concerned with the feet of clay in the image of Daniel 2, but obviously we cannot start at the lower extremities, and hope thereby to interpret the meaning of the feet of an image, we must be in some measure sure of the meaning of the image as a whole, and of the meaning of its several parts.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar besieged and took the city of Jerusalem, ‘and the Lord gave’ Jehoiakim, together with part of the vessels of the temple into his hand, and so commenced ‘the times of the Gentiles’. In the second year of his kingdom Nebuchadnezzar, after pondering his position and wondering what should be ‘hereafter’, had a most wonderful dream. He saw in the night vision a great image, having a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet partly of iron and partly of clay, and while this is the order in which the several parts of the image were constructed, this order is not observed when the impact of the stone is described. We read:
- ‘Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces’ (Dan. 2:35).
- ‘The iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold’ (Dan. 2:45).
This disregard for precise order and sequence is either to be attributed to negligence or to design. Negligence is unthinkable in the circumstances (Dan. 2:28-30), so by intention the order is slightly varied. Whatever shall ultimately prove to be the full reason for this alteration, one thing is certain, the figure in all its parts is represented whole and complete.
If any of the kingdoms represented by the different metals did not succeed its predecessor, it would make the sequence of Daniel 2:45 impossible. The reader will already be aware that there is a system of interpretation which rules out Rome as the iron kingdom, and this is sometimes coupled with an argument derived from chapter 7, which speaks of ‘the fourth kingdom upon the earth’. We hope to give Scriptural proofs that Rome Is the iron kingdom of the image of Daniel 2, and that it is NOT the fourth kingdom of Daniel 7.
No lengthy argument is necessary to prove that the head of the gold is Nebuchadnezzar, that the silver kingdom is that of the Medes and the Persians, or that the kingdom of brass represents Greece. We will make the truth of this assertion plain before we proceed.
- ‘Thou art this head of gold’ (Dan. 2:38).
- ‘In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom’ (Dan. 5:30,31).
- ‘The Medes and Persians’ are spoken of in Daniel 5:28 and 6:12, while the close of the chapter speaks about ‘Cyrus the Persian’ (Dan. 6:28).
We discover that just as the Babylonian sovereignty passed to the Medo-Persians, so in their turn they yielded it up to the Greek. For this we turn to Daniel 8 where Daniel describes a vision in which he saw a ram in conflict with a goat:
- ‘The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king’ (Dan. 8:20,21).
This king is Alexander the Great, and upon his death, his kingdom was divided between his four generals, the fourfold division being Syria, Egypt, Macedonia and Asia Minor (Dan. 8:21,22). Looking down the age to the ‘latter times’ when transgressors are come to the full, the prophet sees the rise of ‘a little horn’ which waxed exceeding great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land, and will finally challenge ‘the Prince of princes’ (Dan. 8:9,23-25). This is the antichristian Beast at the time of the end who shall break the covenant in the midst of the final seven years of Daniel 9. It will be seen that the prophet leaps from the Greek kingdom of brass to the period subsequently to be revealed as indicated by the ten toes, which set forth the ten kings, hinted at in Daniel 2:44, ‘these kings’, and set forth specifically in Daniel 7:24 as ‘ten kings that shall arise’.
Let us return for a moment to see what kind of sovereignty was given by God to Nebuchadnezzar.
- ‘Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 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’ (Dan. 2:37,38).
Among the objections to Rome is the fact, that all must acknowledge, that Rome never ruled over the lands which were under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar. This objection is invalid, for it would rule out the Medo-Persians and the Greeks. This is not all, it would if pressed rule out Nebuchadnezzar himself, which is absurd. God may give universal dominion, it may be that this is the only dominion God can give, even as He gave some such dominion to Adam and Noah. But will anyone have the temerity to assert that Nebuchadnezzar actually ruled ‘wheresoever the children of men dwell?’ Were there no men dwelling in Europe, or in China at that time? What becomes then of the objection that Rome never conquered the whole world? Again, will it be seriously maintained that Nebuchadnezzar ever exercised the dominion given him over the beast of the field or the fowl of the air? The selfsame argument that sets aside Rome, equally sets aside the three preceding kingdoms and so is manifestly absurd. Moreover, the prophet actually declared that there would be a deterioration in these successive kingdoms, saying, ‘After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee’.
We have already pointed out that the word translated ‘inferior’ is the Chaldee ara which is elsewhere aways translated ‘earth’ and is so translated in the selfsame verse that contains the word ‘inferior’ (Dan. 2:39). Inferiority therefore does not rule out succession. The adoption of this word ara suggests an earthward degeneration, and so we see gold followed by silver, silver by brass, brass by iron, iron by clay, but never any suggestion that succession was not maintained. The removal of Rome from the image destroys the prophecy of Daniel 9, for that prophecy speaks of an unbroken period of time which extended from the days of Nehemiah up to the dead of the Messiah, and consequently Alexander’s Empire must have had a successor, otherwise the times of the Gentiles would be running on without a head. A break does come in these prophetic times, as all know, but what was long after the accession of Rome to power. Let us open the New Testament and inquire from its pages whether there was at the time of Christ a world power, and if so what was its name.
Seven features of World Power gathered from the New Testament
- ‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed (or enrolled)’ (Luke 2:1).
This decree was law in Israël, for as we all know it compelled Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem because they were of the house and lineage of David. Surely, it must mean that the reader is already prejudiced, if he does not see in this verse several unquestionable claims to World power.
- Caesar Augustus. — The title Caesar is allied with Kaiser and Czar or Tzar, all of which, if not actually derived from, closely resemble the Hebrew word sar, translated ‘prince’ (Dan. 8:11,25). Its use in the New Testament leaves us without doubt that he who held this title ruled the world, at least so far as an inhabitant of Israël was concerned. There are eighteen references to Caesar in the Gospels, eleven in the Acts and one in the epistles. The first occurrence of this title is in the question: ‘Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?’ Before answering this question the Saviour requested that He be shown the tribute money. He was shown ‘a penny’ He then enquired: ‘Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar’s’; and then came the well-known reply, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s: and unto God the things that are God’s’ (Matt. 22:17-21).
- Tribute money. — The didrachmon or double drachm was originally paid by the Jews as a tribute to the temple, and Josephus tells us that after the destruction of Jerusalem, Vespasian diverted this temple tribute to the Capitol. This word didrachmon is used in Matthew 17:24. In verse 25 where the Lord asked the question ‘of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute?’ the word there translated ‘tribute’ is the Latin sensus. It is this word that is used of Caesar’s penny. A Latin tribute paid by Israël to a Roman Emperor! Further, in the Lord’s estimation, a man’s duty was twofold: (1) to God, (2) to Caesar. Could any words more clearly established the sovereignty of the Roman Emperor in worldly matter? When Luke records the question ‘Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar?’ he uses the Greek word phoros, a burden, a tax, which word is repeated by Paul i n Romans 13:6 when he speaks of ‘the powers that be’ that are ordained of God, as we see they were at the appointment of Nebuchadnezzar by God as the head of gold.
- All the world. — Here the Greek ‘world’ is oikoumene, ‘the habitable world’. About two hundred years before this, Polybius, a Greek historian born 203 B.C., wrote a universal history in forty books, in which he says Romaioi en oligo chrono pasan huph heatous epoiesan ten oikoumenen. ‘The Romans in a short time subdued the WHOLE INHABITED WORLD‘. Now this word oikoumene is employed in the LXX version in the chapter which speaks of the Babylonian empire (Isa. 13:11). When Satan would tempt the Lord, he showed Him ‘all the kingdoms of the world (oikoumene)’ (Luke 4:5), and this to be an effective bait, must have been universal sovereignty — yet it was co-extensive with the Romans Empire. When at last the Saviour ascends His throne ‘the kingdoms of the world’ will become the kingdom of the Lord. Here are several items of which speak of sovereign power, and taken together constitute the witness of the Scriptures to the fact that Rome was a world power. But this is not all. Luke dates the ministry of John the Baptist in the following terms: ‘Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontus Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee … (Luke 3:1).
- Pontius Pilate. — The memory of this Roman Governor has been rendered practically immortal by his inclusion in the creed. ‘Suffered under Pontius Pilate’ takes its place in that confession which opens with the words ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty’. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, Cyrus, Caesar Augustus, Pontius Pilate. Who shall say that Belshazzar is of account in this line of rulers, but Caesar and Pilate are not?
- Herod. — In the Gospel of Matthew, Herod is called ‘king’ (Matt. 2:1), for Matthew writes from the standpoint of the Jew. Luke however looks at Herod from the standpoint of the times, and calls him ‘tetrarch’. This word indicates a ruler or a king who has a subordinate position to a higher authority — and that higher authority was Rome. If Nebuchadnezzar was ‘king of kings’ so also was Caesar, for he appointed ‘kings’ too.
- Soldiers. — Whenever we meet with soldiers in the New Testament they are Romans. Roman soldiers not only led away the Saviour to be crucified, they guarded His tomb; and later Roman soldiers rescued Paul from the Jewish mob and it was a Roman soldier who occupied Paul’s lodging while he was under custody (Acts 28:16).
- Romans. — Caiaphas expressed his fear that ‘the Romans would come and take away’ the place and national position of Israël. Why the Romans particularly if they were not the dominant power in the earth? Roman citizenship was so prized, that to say ‘I am a Roman’ was preferred to the native patronymic, so that Phrygians were addressed by Paul as Galatians.
In addition to these seven items, Roman crucifixion, and the very attitude of the Roman soldiers to the seamless robe of Christ, form a subject of prophecy (Psa. 22:16-18). We believe that any unbiased reader, facing these seven features and estimating their combined testimony, would have no hesitation in believing that Rome is the Iron kingdom that succeeded the kingdom of Brass in the image of Daniel 2.
A mystery element now comes into play, consequent upon the rejection of Christ, and a principle of interpretation found in Scripture must be brought to bear. Moreover, the false comparison instituted by many between the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7 must be exposed and its harmful influence removed, and the intention in the symbolism of the clay that enters into the composition of the image at the end must be sought.
The two seeds. The ten kings. The iron and the clay
We are as aware, as are other expositors of prophecy, that the kingdom represented by the Stone cut without hands, was not set up during the sovereignty of Rome, that Rome is not the kingdom represented by the feet of the image, and that some explanation is demanded in order to make this apparent confusion understandable.
We have given seven features, any one of which would justify the owner being called a world power, and enduing the possessor of the whole seven with world sovereignty. Until this position can be controverted, we shall continue to reckon that the iron legs of the image of Daniel 2, coincide with the unbroken period of time indicated in Daniel 9, and that both the iron kingdom and the prophetic forecast of Daniel met together when ‘Messiah’ was ‘cut off’ as we know He was under Pontius Pilate. Had Israël repented when Christ came the first time, then John the Baptist would have been Elijah which was for to come. Israël, however, did not repent, and so John the Baptist was not Elijah, although he went before the Lord ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’.
With such passages as Matthew 11:14; 17:11,12 and John 1:21,25 we could easily imagine a division of opinion among the early believers, some maintaining that Elijah had already come, some maintaining that he is yet to come, some teaching that John the Baptist was Elijah, and that no other fulfillment is expected, others maintaining that John the Baptist was not Elijah and quoting his own words as proof. Yet such a division would be wrong. Just in the same way, the fact that 483 years after the command to restore Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince, that He should be cut off ‘and have nothing’ is as true as the other aspect of truth, namely that He awaits in heaven the foreknown day, when He shall ascend the throne so long denied Him. Why was it essential that the number twelve should be completed upon the defection of Judas? The answer is, that if Israël had repented as they were called upon to do, there must have been twelve apostles ready to sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israël. It would have been useless to have argued, that inasmuch as God foreknew that Israël would not repent that He could disregard the fact that there were only eleven apostles just before the day of Pentecost.
In the ordinary way, a man is himself, whether other folk are willing to accept him or not — but John the Baptist was no ordinary man, and so the Saviour said, ‘If ye are willing to receive (it, or him), this is Elijah, the one about to come’; but the people were not thus willing, and instead of ‘receiving’ they rejected the gospel of the kingdom. In the same way we can say, if Isaël had repented, then Rome would have been the last Gentile kingdom on the earth, Anti-christ would have arisen, the Beast would have received Satanic power, the whole of Joël 2:28-31 would have been fulfilled instead of only the prelude at Pentecost, the day of the Lord as depicted in the Revelation would have run straight on without a break, the Second Coming of Christ would have taken place, and the times of restitution all things would have come in.
Instead, a gap of about nineteen hundred years intervenes between Joël 2:28,29 and verses 30 and 31; in the same way a gap intervenes in prophetic details which corresponds with the discontinuance of the hope of Israël at Acts 28, until prophetic times are renewed at the time of the end. Up to Acts 28, Rome was still the world power in direct succession from Nebuchadnezzar, it was to Caesar that Paul was sent for trial and under Caesar he finally paid the extreme penalty for his faithfulness. A few years after Acts 28, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and Israël became Lo-ammi, ‘not my people’, their house left desolate, and their hope suspended. Upon the defection of Israël in the land, the kingdom of the heavens had assumed its ‘mystery’ form (Matt. 13); upon the defection of Israël at Rome, the long suffering of God which had waited for another thirty-five years (35), came to an end, ‘the Mystery’ of the present dispensation came in, the mystery of Israël’s blindness also ensued, and Gentile dominion, while still functioning, is covered by a cloud, and mystery intervenes, for the dispensation of the Mystery has no place in it for Gentile powers.
We know from secular history that from the battle of Actium, 31 B.C., to the Saracen conquest, A.D. 636, Rome trod down Jerusalem for a period of 666 years — no accidental number. The Mahometan power continued this affliction right up to our own times, when Jerusalem was delivered from its oppression in November 1917. Since then Israël has been accepted once again as a nation by the nations, and the image of Daniel 2 is emerging from the mist, the iron legs now being seen as feet in the Middle East, which will be eventually intermingled with clay. It is this final aspects of Gentile dominion with which we are chiefly concerned, and which is shaping before our very eyes.
In Daniel 7, the first year of the last king of Babylon, Daniel had a vision of the time of the end. As a consequence of the stirring of the four winds upon the great sea, four beasts were seen to emerge, they ‘came up from the sea’ (Dan. 7:2,3). ‘The great sea’ is a title given in the Old Testament to the Mediterranean Sea (Num. 34:6,7; Josh. 1:4); it is sometimes called ‘the uttermost sea’ (Deut. 11:24). In the interpretation of this vision, these four beasts are said to arise out of the earth. So the geographical origin of these powers may be the land surrounding the Mediterranean. These four beasts are said to be ‘four kings’, not four dynasties lasting centuries but ‘four kings’ and, moreover, they ‘shall arise’. Now Nebuchadnezzar had already risen. Darius the Mede was already in existence and threatening Babylon. These four kings consequently cannot represent the gold, silver, brass and iron of the image, and to import the words ‘the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth’ by mentally adding, ‘counting from Nebuchadnezzar’, is to go contrary to the fact that these were yet future in Daniel 7. The descriptions given of these symbolic beasts are for the guidance of those of the people of God who live in the day that they arise. There are some things that Daniel knew which were to be sealed unto the time of the end. The identity of these kings is among such subjects. No attempt at specific interpretation is made by the angel, who simply says of these four most peculiar beasts, that they are ‘four kings which shall arise out of the earth’, and he passes without further comment to the glorious conclusion. ‘But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and posses the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever’ (Dan. 7:17,18).
It is at the request of Daniel that further light is thrown upon the fourth beast. This, Daniel noted was ‘diverse from all others’, and although he had been helped by the symbolic use of lion, eagle’s wings, bear and leopard, no such description is given of this fourth beast. The kingdoms represented by gold, silver, brass and iron in the image of Daniel 2 succeeded one another, whereas the rest of the beast, that is the three first mentioned in Daniel 7, lose their dominion, ‘yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time’ (Dan. 7:12). They cannot therefore be successors. The ten horns which the fourth beast had, represent ‘ten kings that shall arise’, and in Revelation 17 this beast is seen supporting Babylon, and the ten horns are said to represent ‘ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast’ (Rev. 17:12). If this beast of Revelation 17 is the same as that seen by Daniel, then it is folly to attempt to discover these ten kings in past or present history, for until the time of the end they will not have reigned as kings. They are evidently puppet kings at the disposal of the great Dictator of the end. Much more must be considered if the visions of Daniel 7 are to be explained and their relation with the beasts of Revelation 13 and 17 made clear, but that would take us far beyond our present quest.
We must return to the image and its feet of iron and clay. While these ‘ten kings’ are not specifically mentioned, the ten toes of the image indicate them, for the toes being connected with that part of the image which was part of iron and part of clay (Dan. 2:42,43) are in mind when the prophet continued ‘And in the days of these kings‘, no kings being mentioned as such in the context.
This final phase of the image is said to be partly strong and partly broken, or ‘brittle’, as the margin indicates, the clay being potter’s clay which had been burned in the fire and had become so hardened that, while vulnerable to a blow, would stand the weight of the figure above it. The degeneration which was symbolic of Israël’s failure (Lam. 4:1,2) has set in once again. The Gentile is no better than the Jew, neither the one nor the other can bear rule over the earth. The total failure of all men cries aloud for the coming of Christ, and this is the burden of all prophecy, including the Millennium. The prophet Daniel drew Nebuchadnezzar’s attention to one peculiar feature of the feet of the image:
- ‘And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay’ (Dan. 2:43).
The pronoun ‘they’ refers back to the ‘toes’ which represent ‘kings’ and two things are said of them: ‘they shall mingle’, ‘they shall not cleave unto’. It was the complaint of Ezra after the return from captivity, that ‘the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands’, and that the princes and rulers had been chief in this trespass (Ezra 9:2). When Ezra heard this he said, among other things, ‘should we again break Thy commandment and join in affinity with the people of these abominations?’ (Ezra 9:14). Thus, had Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh, and married Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1). Out of thirty-three occurrences of the Hebrew word chathan, thirty-two deal with marriage relationship. These ten kings will seek to strengthen their position and the kingdom of the beast by marriage alliances, but there will be no ‘cleaving’ (Gen. 2:24; 2 Sam. 20:2). The strange statement ‘they shall mingle themselves with the SEED OF MEN‘ calls for attention. Even though one nation differs in many features from another, yet despite all differences of colour, creed, politics or religion, they are nevertheless ‘men’, this strange expression therefore makes us wonder whether the ten kings which form a part of the Satanic kingdom of the time of the end are ‘men’ in the full acceptation of the term.
We know from Genesis 6 that angelic beings had some affinity with the daughters of men, and so filled the earth with corruption and violence that the deluge came. The beast that bears the ten horns in Revelation 17 ascends out of the bottomless pit, or the abyss, and is destined for perdition. These ten kings make war with the Lamb Himself, and the intermixture of the clay in the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, seems to indicate the final irruption of fallen spirit powers among the sons of men. If this be so, it is no marvel that such terrible judgments fall during the closing years of Gentile dominion, for it will, in its closing phase, be the visible kingdom of Satan on earth.
The kingdoms of men, even though represented by gold and silver, proved frail and passed away, but this kingdom is brittle, it has within it no true cohesion, it reigns for a brief inglorious hour, and vanished into the air as the dust of a threshing floor. Jeremiah’s lamentations could be repeated of the Gentiles. Those who were comparable to fine gold, were now esteemed as earthen vessels, and potter’s clay. Adam, made of the dust, is reduced to dust again, his dominion forfeited through the wiles of Satan. Israël, who were chosen to be a kingdom of priests, became instead captives to the heathen, and Gentile power which had started with such majesty, is at last levelled to the dust through the same Satanic usurpation. The only hope for this poor world is in the sounding of the seventh trumpet, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Messiah, true King of kings and Lord of lords.
Out: An Alphabetical Analysis / Prophetic Truth / By Charles H. Welch
THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON:
Dagelijks nieuws uit het Midden-Oosten:
ISRAEL: / USA:
Gerard J.C. Plas