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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    Daniel’s Business Faithfulness—The Rights of Conscience—Cyrus Acknowledges God—Opposition of the Samaritans—Death of Cyrus

    AND Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old;” 1[Page 50] Daniel 5:31. and reigned two years, 538-536 B. C.GEP 50.1

    2. Belshazzar having been associated with his father, Nabonadius, in the rulership of the kingdom, this is why it was that when he would offer the highest possible position and reward to whosoever would read for him the terrible writing on the wall, he could bestow only the position of “the third ruler in the kingdom.” This was next to the king himself. If there had been but one king, Daniel, in the position to which he was raised, would have been the second ruler in the kingdom; but as there were two kings, the highest possible position for any other was “third ruler.” Having thus been by the king exalted to the highest position, next to the throne, he was accordingly clothed “with scarlet,” and they “put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the Kingdom.”GEP 50.2

    3. And now, these two kings being out of the way, when Darius the Median, and Cyrus the Persian, his general, came to inquire into the affairs of Babylon with respect to establishing order and reorganizing the realm, they found Daniel in his royal robe and the insignia of the highest office. And when they asked him about the affairs of the kingdom, its revenues, etc., they found him to be so thoroughly informed, and so able, that they took him into their council, and gave him the chief place in the reorganization of the kingdom. “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” 2[Page 51] Daniel 6:1-3. This arrangement of three chief officers, of whom one of the three was chief, corresponded to the governmental system established by David,—as any one can see by reading 1 Chronicles 11:6, 11, 12, 21,—and plainly could have been adopted only at the suggestion of Daniel himself.GEP 50.3

    4. A new people had now come upon the scene of action. Another kingdom and other rulers were now called by the Most High, and given a charge concerning the world. These must be taught the knowledge of the true God and the principles of His truth. God would now further use His captive people to extend to all peoples, nations, and languages, the knowledge of God and the principles of His truth. And He would make the wrath of man to praise Him.GEP 51.1

    5. When the other presidents and princes saw that Daniel was preferred before themselves, they were dissatisfied. And when they saw that he was likely to be yet further promoted, they determined to break him down utterly. Accordingly, the whole company of them formed a conspiracy, and diligently “sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom.” But with all their diligence, and with all their suspicious and prejudiced care, “they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” 3[Page 51] What a commendation is that for a man of business in public affairs! Think what a test it was that was put upon Daniel. Everything that occurred in his daily business was watched and spied upon with the closest possible scrutiny, and with the definite purpose to find every fault that could be found. Every document that passed his hand every item of business that arose in connection with his office, every direction that he gave, even every word that he spoke, was watched with the most jealous and suspicious prejudice. Yet these envious men exhausted every device and every means of information, only in vain; and were compelled to confess their complete failure. No fault, and not even an error, could be found in Daniel’s conduct of the business of the empire. There was, however, one last resource which, by a trick, they might employ. They knew that he feared God. They knew that his service of the Lord was actuated by such firm principle that, in rendering that service, he would not dodge, nor compromise, nor swerve one have’s breadth, upon any issue that might be raised. “Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”GEP 51.2

    6. But even in this, there was nothing upon which they might base an “occasion.” In order to find it, they would have to create it; and create it they did. Pretending to be great lovers of their country, and to have much and sincere concern for the honor of the king and the preservation of the State, they “assembled together to the king,” and proposed “to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree” that whosoever should ask any petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of King Darius, should be cast into the den of lions. They presented the matter in such a plausible way, and with such evident “care for the public good,” that Darius was completely deceived, and “signed the writing and the decree.”GEP 52.1

    7. Daniel knew that the writing was signed. He knew that it was now the law,—and the law of the Medes and Persians, too, which altered not. Yet, knowing all this, “he went into his house,” and “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” He knew perfectly that no law of the Medes and Persians, nor of any other earthly power, could ever of right have anything to say or do with any man’s service to God. He went on just as he did aforetime, because, practically and in principle, all things were just as aforetime: so far as concerned the conduct of the man who feared God, any law on that subject was no more than no law at all on that subject.GEP 52.2

    8. “Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.” They expected to find him praying. That was precisely what they “assembled” for. And Daniel was not afraid that they would find him doing so. He did not go out and advertise that he would do so; neither did he dodge it when his regular time came to pray. He simply proceeded “as he did aforetime.” They immediately hurried away to the king, and asked him: “Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.”GEP 52.3

    9. Then the king awoke to the fact that he had been trapped, and he “was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” But the conspirators were persistent to defeat every effort which the king could make. And they had a ready and unanswerable argument against everything that might be proposed. That argument was, The law, the law: “Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.” There was no remedy; the law must be enforced. Accordingly, though most reluctantly, “the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.” The king gave him the parting word of faith, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee,” and went to his palace, and passed the night in fasting and sleeplessness.GEP 53.1

    10. Thus, according to this scheme of the conspirators, and so far as all human power was concerned, Daniel was finally disposed of, and was out of the way. Just here, however, there entered an element that the conspirators had not taken account of in their calculations. In Media and Persia a new power had been brought to the dominion of all the nations. This was done by the leading of the Lord as really as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar; for, said the angel, “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood to confirm and to strengthen him.” 4[Page 53] Daniel 11:1. It was done also for the same purpose as was that—that the knowledge of God might be proclaimed to all the nations in such a way that they must at least listen to it, because of its being a royal decree. In addition to this, “the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains” of Media and Persia, needed, as well as had Nebuchadnezzar, to be taught that though they had been given, by the Lord, dominion over the nations, yet this dominion was not absolute—it did not extend to men’s relationship to God. These rulers, as well as Nebuchadnezzar, must be taught that there was drawn a line which they must recognize, or else set themselves positively against God himself.GEP 53.2

    11. “The king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions,” and “cried with a lamentable voice,” “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” And to the delight of the king, Daniel answered: “O king, live forever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” That is divine testimony that innocence before God is found in the man who disregards any law touching his service to God. It is also divine testimony that the man who disregards such laws, in so doing does “no hurt” to the king, to the State, nor to the government.GEP 54.1

    12. “Then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” 5[Page 54] Daniel 6:21-27.GEP 54.2

    13. “Cyrus the Persian” succeeded to the throne of the Medo-Persian Empire in the year 536 B. C. The angel of the Lord stood by Darius the Mede “to confirm and to strengthen him;” and had held Cyrus by the right hand in executing the Lord’s purpose and device against Babylon to destroy it. Darius had been brought to the knowledge of the true God; and now the Lord would do the same thing for Cyrus. For “there is no respect of persons with God.” As we have seen, the Lord had called Cyrus by name about one hundred and seventy-four years before that king was born. And when Cyrus became sole ruler of the empire, if not before, the scriptures relating to himself were shown to him by Daniel.GEP 54.3

    14. The Persians in their religious system recognized two great principles,Good and Evil. This conception of good and evil, however, did not rise to the height of moral and spiritual good and evil, or righteousness and sin, as is inculcated by the Lord; but rather, what would be counted by men as good and evil in prosperity and adversity, tranquillity and disturbance. Accordingly, when the Lord revealed himself to Cyrus as the only true God, He said to him: “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.... I make peace, and create evil.” I make tranquillity and create disturbance; I give prosperity and send adversity.GEP 54.4

    15. Again: the good principle was represented in the light, and the evil principle in the darkness. Accordingly, when the Lord revealed himself to Cyrus as the only true God, He said to him, “I am the Lord, and there is none else.... I form the light, and create darkness.” 6[Page 55] Isaiah 45:5-7. This good principle was personified under the name of “Ormazd,” and the evil principle under the name of “Ahriman.” Later, the sun was adopted into the worship as the embodiment of the good principle, or light; and when the sun had set, and the darkness of night came on fire was used as representing the good principle. Thus the people came at last to be sun-worshipers and fire-worshipers.GEP 55.1

    16. In these scriptures Cyrus found the Lord God of heaven speaking personally to him: “Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus,” “I will go before thee;” “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, Jehovah, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am Jehovah, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” 7[Page 55] Isaiah 45:1-12. This revelation of the Lord to Cyrus was so personal, so plain, and so direct, that Cyrus accepted it, acknowledged Him as “the Lord God of heaven,” and declared, “He is the God.” 8[Page 55] Ezra 1:3.GEP 55.2

    17. Then when Cyrus read the further word of God to himself,—“that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid;” “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of Hosts,” 9[Page 56] Isaiah 44:26; 45:13.—he accepted that word, and did at once, in his very first year, what the word said.GEP 55.3

    18. Accordingly: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is the God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the free-will offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” 10[Page 56] Ezra 1:1-14.GEP 56.1

    19. This decree of Cyrus was proclaimed “throughout his kingdom,” and was put also in writing and was deposited among the archives of the kingdom in the palace at Ecbatana, the capital of Media. And under the proclamation, about fifty thousand people assembled to return from their captivity unto Jerusalem. When they were ready to depart, “Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath, the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.” “All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.” 11[Page 56] Ezra 1:7, 8, 11.GEP 56.2

    20. By the seventh month of 536 B. C., the people that returned to Jerusalem had become settled in the land, and had begun the restoration of the worship of the Lord at Jerusalem by setting up the altar and offering burnt offerings; and “from the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid.” However, in the second month of 535, “the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord.” “And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” 12[Page 57] Ezra 3:10-13.GEP 56.3

    21. During the time of the desolation of Judea and the captivity in Babylon, the mixed races that had been planted in the region of Samaria, had spread into the desolate land of Judea. These were, at heart, opposed to the restoration of Israel and the establishment of a government by the Jews in that land. But they decided to turn this enterprise to their own advantage in the establishment of their own power there. Accordingly, “they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as King. Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.” 13[Page 57] Ezra 4:2, 3.GEP 57.1

    22. When the Samaritans found their purpose thus frustrated, they set on foot a systematic and determined opposition to every thing that the Jews designed to do. They weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building.” And in the very face of the decree of Cyrus, they “hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia.” Daniel was still prime minister at the court of Cyrus; and, finding the work in Jerusalem hindered, and his own efforts hampered in the court of Cyrus by these hired counselors, he became greatly concerned for the work of God in the earth. However, instead of attempting to carry on a counter-intrigue against these men, he appealed to God. Accordingly, he says: “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia,” “I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” 14[Page 58] Daniel 10:1-3.GEP 57.2

    23. This period began on the third day of the first month of the third year of Cyrus, B. C. 534; for “in the four and twentieth day of the first month,” as he was by the side of the river Tigris, the angel of God came in response to his plea and appeal, and said to him, “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” 15[Page 58] Daniel 10:12, 13.GEP 58.1

    24. Thus the very first day that Daniel placed before God his appeal in behalf of the cause of God in the earth against the hired counselors at the court of Persia, his appeal was heard, and this angel was sent to the court of Cyrus, and was later joined by Michael, the first of the heavenly princes. However, the Lord did not stop with the sending of these heavenly messengers to the court of Cyrus to support His cause and work in the earth. That which was being done under the decree of Cyrus and by the people in Jerusalem, was far more than a local issue. Its deep meaning concerned all the earth, and extended to the end of the world.GEP 58.2

    25. Accordingly, at the end of the three weeks of Daniel’s earnest seeking of God, the angel left his place at the court of Cyrus, and met Daniel by the river Tigris, told him what had been done in his behalf there, and then added: “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” “Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth, and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” 16[Page 59] Daniel 10:14, 20, 21.GEP 58.3

    26. Then he proceeded to give a circumstantial account of the principal events in the history of the nations from that day to the end of the world. The portion relating to Media and Persia runs thus: “Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I show thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.” 17[Page 59] Daniel 11:1, 2.GEP 59.1

    27. Shortly after this, Cyrus determined to achieve the conquest of the country of the Massagetae, which lay east of the sea of Aral, “beyond the river Araxes.” “At this time the Massagetae were ruled by a queen named Tomyris, who at the death of her husband, the late king, had mounted the throne.”—Herodotus. 18[Page 59] Book i. chap. 205. Cyrus, with his army, crossed the Araxes, marched a day’s journey into the country of the Massagetae, and by a surprise destroyed or captured nearly “one third of their entire army.” Then Tomyris “collected all the forces of her kingdom, and gave him battle.” “Of all the combats in which the barbarians have engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the fiercest. The following, as I understand, was the manner of it: First, the two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at each other; then, when their quivers were empty, they closed and fought hand to hand, with lances and daggers; and thus they continued fighting for a length of time, neither choosing to give ground. At length the Massagetae prevailed. The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed, and Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years.” [B. C. 529.]—Herodotus. 19[Page 59] Book i, chap. 214.GEP 59.2

    28. His body was conveyed by his retreating troops to Pasargadae, and was there deposited in a great tomb built especially for the purpose, which is still standing in an area marked by pillars upon which “occurs repeatedly the inscription (written both in Persian and in the so-called Median), ‘I am Cyrus the king, the Achaemenian.’” His name, titles, and descent, as recorded by himself, are as follows:—“I (am) Cyrus the king of multitudes, the great king, the powerful king, the king of Babylon, the king of Sumer and Accad, the king of the four zones, the son of Kambyses, the great king, the king of the city of Ansan; the grandson of Cyrus the great king, the king of the city of Ansan; the great-grandson of Teispes, the great king, the king of the city of Ansan; of the ancient seed-royal, whose rule Bel and Nebo love, whose sovereignty they desire according to the goodness of their hearts.”GEP 59.3

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