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    September 17, 1885

    “The Four Kingdoms” The Signs of the Times, 11, 36.

    E. J. Waggoner



    No Authorcode


    Last week’s lesson gave us a view of Babylon in the height of its power and glory, an empire spreading over the inhabited portion of the earth, having a capital that was “the glory of kingdoms,” the wonder of the world. We have also a prophetic view of its after condition, and learn from history how completely those prophecies have been fulfilled. We have now to learn how its royal power was broken.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.1

    “And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee.” Daniel 2:39. That is all the space devoted to the overthrow of that mighty empire. With all of its greatness, it would pass away in a night, like the last snow of winter with the spring shower. A striking lesson of the fleeting nature of all earthly possessions, is taught in that brief statement concerning the proud kingdom of Babylon. Elsewhere in the Bible we find the history which enables us to trace the succession of kingdoms; we shall first note that, and afterwards know the exact harmony with it, of the records of profane history.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.2

    In the fifth chapter of Daniel we learned that “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” Verse 1. From the second verse (margin), we learn that this Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. It was formerly supposed that he was a sole king, and that he was also called Nabonadius; but later researches have shown that Nabonadius was the king. He married the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar was his son, and was associated with him in the empire. On this occasion Belshazzar had charge of the city, because his father, having gone out to fight the Persians, had been defeated, and had retreated to Borsippa, a few miles below. Although an army was encamped under the walls of the city, Belshazzar gave himself up to the enjoyment of an idolatrous and licentious drunken debauch. The vessels of the house of God were brought out, in contempt of Him to whom they had been dedicated, and were used in the service of the abominable deities whom they adored as supreme. But in the midst of the wild revel a hand appeared on the wall, tracing unknown characters and letters of fire. Terror struck the hearts of all, and especially Belshazzar. Great rewards were promised to the one who should read the writing, and after some delay Daniel was brought in. Read the fifth chapter entire.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.3

    “And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:25-28. Short, but terribly plain. Notwithstanding Daniel had said, “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians,” Belshazzar gave the promised gifts to Daniel, and went through the form of making him the third ruler in the kingdom, that is, next after himself, Nabonadius being first. The sentence thus announced by the prophet, was executed without delay. The record says, “In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom.” Verses 30, 31. From the sacred record, then, we learn that the breast and arms of silver (Daniel 2:32), represented the empire of Media.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.4

    The date in the margin of Daniel 5 (B.C. 538) is that which is uniformly assigned to the fall Babylon. We have space for only a brief sketch of its capture, but before giving that, we shall note two or three prophetic utterances concerning it, that the student may see how accurately prophecy is fulfilled. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings [compare Daniel 5:6], to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” Isaiah 45:1, 2. “And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men; and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.” Jeremiah 51:57.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.5

    Now we will quote a few paragraphs from Rawlinson (Fourth Mon., chaps. 8, par. 51-53), says he gives the description in the most condensed form. As you read, compare with the above texts, and with Daniel 5. Bear in mind, also, the description of Babylon, as given last week:-SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.6

    “Withdrawing the greater part of his army from the vicinity of the city, and leaving behind him only certain corps of observation, Cyrus marched away up the course of the Euphrates for a certain distance, and there proceeded to make a vigorous use of the spade. His soldiers.... dug a channel or channels from the Euphrates, by means of which a great portion of its water would be drawn off, and hoped in this way to render the natural course of the river fordable. When all was prepared, Cyrus determined to wait for the arrival of a certain festival, during which the whole population were wont to engage in drinking and reveling, and then silently in the dead of night to turn the water of the river, and make his attack. All fell out as he hoped and wished. The festival was held with even greater pomp and splendor than usual; for Belshazzar with the natural insolence of youth, to mark his contempt of the besieging army, abandoned himself wholly to the delights of the season, and himself entertained a thousand lords in his palace. Elsewhere the rest of the population was occupied in feasting and dancing. Drunken riot and mad excitement held possession of the town; the siege was forgotten; ordinary precautions were neglected. Following the example of their king, the Babylonians gave themselves up for the night to orgies in which religious frenzy and drunken access formed a strange and revolting medley.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.7

    “Meanwhile, outside the city, in silence and darkness, the Persians watched at the two points where the Euphrates entered and left the walls. Anxiously they noted the gradual sinking of the water in the river bed; still more anxiously they watched to see if those within the walls would observe the suspicious circumstance, and sound an alarm to the town. Should such an alarm be given, all their labors would be lost. If, when they entered the river-bed, they found the river-walls manned and the river-gates fast-locked, they would indeed be ‘caught in a trap.’ Enfiladed on both sides by an enemy whom they could neither see nor reach, they would be overwhelmed and destroyed by his missiles before they could succeed in making their escape. But, as they watched, no sounds of alarm reached them-only a confused noise of revel and riot, which showed that the unhappy townsmen were quite unconscious of the approach of danger.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.8

    “At last shadowy forms began to emerge from the obscurity of the river-bed, and on the landing places opposite the river-gates scattered clusters of men grew into solid columns,-the undefended gateways were seized-a war-shout was raised-the alarm was taken and spread-and swift runners started off to ‘show the king of Babylon that his city was taken at one end.’ In the darkness and confusion of the night, a terrible massacre ensued. The drunken revelers could make no resistance. The king, paralyzed with fear at the awful writing on the wall, which too late had warned him of his peril, could do nothing even to check the progress of the assailants, who carried all before them everywhere. Bursting into the palace, a band of persons made their way to the presence of the monarch, and slew him on the scene of his impious revelry. Other bands carried fire and sword through the town. When morning came Cyrus found himself undisputed master of the city, which, if it had not despised his efforts, might with the greatest ease have baffled them.”SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.9

    The historian says that if the city had not despised the efforts of Cyrus, it might with the greatest ease have baffled them. Very true; but it had been prophesied that they should be drunken, and the word of God, which foretold the destruction of Babylon, cannot fail. For further description of this affair, see Rawlinson, at length; and “Rawlinson Ancient History,” Book 4, chap.1, article 2, sections 1-4.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.10

    “And Darius the Median took the kingdom.” Says Rawlinson: “The genius of Cyrus was essentially that of a conjurer, not of an administrator.... In Babylon he gave the entire direction of affairs in the hands of a Mede, to whom he allowed the title and style of king.”-Fifth Mon., chap. 7, par. 35. Rollin says (Book 4, chap. 1, art. 3, sec. 1): “When Cyrus judged he had sufficiently regulated his affairs in Babylon, he thought properly to take a journey into Persia. In this way thither, he went through Media, to visit his uncle Cyaxares, to whom he carried very magnificent presents, telling him at the same time that he would find a noble palace at Babylon, all ready prepared for him; and that he was to look upon that city as his own. Indeed, Cyrus, as long as his own uncle lived, held the empire only in co-partnership with him, though he had conquered and acquired it by his own valor. Nay, so far did he carry complaisance, that he let his uncle enjoy the first rank. It is Cyaxares who is called in Scripture Darius the Mede, and we shall find that under his reign, which lasted but two years, Daniel had several revelations.” At the death of Darius, Cyrus very naturally assumed sole control of the empire. See Daniel 6:28.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.11

    “And another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.” Daniel 2:39. We have found two universal empires, Babylon and Medo-Persia, corresponding respectively to the head of gold, and the breast and arms of silver, of the image. We have seen (Daniel 2:38) that Babylon was a universal empire. Ezra 1:2 shows the same of the Persian monarchy: “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.” In harmony with this, Rawlinson says (Fifth Mon., chap. 7, par. 26): “Babylon became ‘an astonishment and a hissing’-all her prestige vanished-and Persia stepped manifestly into the place, which Assyria had occupied for so many centuries, of absolute and unrivaled mistress of Western Asia.” In those days, whoever ruled Asia, ruled the world.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.12

    Now we have the third kingdom in succession. That it is also a universal monarchy, is stated in the verse just quoted. A very brief reference to another prophesy to identify this third kingdom, must suffice for this lesson. In the 8th of Daniel, verses 3-8, we find part of a vision which Daniel saw. He saw a ram standing by a river; the ram was so very powerful and fierce that no beast could stand before him, “but he did according to his own will.” While the prophet was still looking, he saw a goat come from the west, running with incredible swiftness. This goat came to the ram, with fury, and smote him, and cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him; and there was no power that could save the ram from the wrath of the goat. Verses 20 and 21 explain this: “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media Persia. And the rough is the king of Grecia.” Then since the goat overpowered the ram, the prophecy teaches that Grecia succeeded Medo-Persia as mistress of the world.SITI September 17, 1885, page 566.13

    “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.” Daniel 2:42. In passing, we must ascertain the name of this fourth universal empire, for universal it must be, since it is more powerful than all the preceding. This is the last of a series of four kingdoms reaching from the time of the prophet to the close of earthly things. Three-Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Grecia-have already been identified. Now, although this one is nowhere named in prophecy, if we anywhere find mention of a universal empire, other than the three just named, we shall know that it is the fourth, the one represented by the legs of iron.SITI September 17, 1885, page 567.1

    Such a kingdom we find mentioned in Luke 2:1: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” None but a universal monarch could issue such a decree, and his name is sufficient to identify him as a Roman. So, then, Rome was the fourth kingdom.SITI September 17, 1885, page 567.2

    “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 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.” Daniel 2:41-43.SITI September 17, 1885, page 567.3

    This partially explains itself; the full interpretation must be left for another lesson. We simply note the closing act. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Verse 44. Here we have the fifth universal empire-the kingdom of the God of Heaven-represented by the stone, which dashed the image in pieces. That this kingdom is yet future, is clearly evident from the fact that the earthly governments are yet on this earth; when that is set up, no room will be found for them. Its subjects, moreover, will never die, for it is not to be “left to other people.” Its king will be the one of whom David prophesied that his throne should endure “as the days of Heaven” (Psalm 89:29); and its subjects will be all who, at the coming of the Lord, are found “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” E. J. W.SITI September 17, 1885, page 567.4

    “Another ‘Check’ Wanted” The Signs of the Times, 11, 36.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A little more than two years ago, one of our brethren went into Humboldt County, to hold meetings and do general missionary work. The weather was unfavorable with four meetings, but by faithful labor several persons were brought to see the light of truth, and began to keep the Sabbath. As some of these have been members of the M. E. Church, the minister in charge, one Mr. Woodward, preached a sermon, in which he attempted to overthrow the work already done, and attacked every doctrine which he thought was believed by Seventh-day Adventists. This sermon, when duly endorsed by the President of the University of the Pacific as “cogent and timely,” was labeled a “Check on Adventism,” and sent out to the world, that it might stop the progress of Seventh-day Adventism, just as it had in Humboldt County.SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.1

    Well, two years have passed, and we are now inclined to agree with the learned Doctor who pronounced the book “cogent and timely.” At the time the “check” was given, there were six or eight Seventh-day Adventists in that county. Now there are more than one hundred who are firm in the truth, and zealous in its propagation; there are two good houses of worship completed and in use; one more is in process of construction; and the ground has been purchased for a fourth, which will be erected within two months. There is no other county in the State, where the cause is in so flourishing a condition. We have often wondered, of late, if it would not pay to get Mr. Woodward to visit some other county, and give Adventism another “check.”SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.2

    We do not wish to give him so much praise as to turn his head. Perhaps the same results would have been seen if he had not put on his little brake. The truth has power in itself, and must produce convictions in the hearts of the honest. “What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:28, 29. Yet we believe it is the providence of God that unreasonable men should open up the store-house of error, in attempts to overwhelm the truth of God, so that all may see the difference between the chaff and the wheat. So we do not get excited when some one threatens to “expose the whole thing,” knowing that God can cause even the wrath of man to praise him, and that none can do anything against the truth, but for the truth. E.J. W.SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.3

    “Death and the Coming of the Lord” The Signs of the Times, 11, 36.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In a sermon recently preached in New York by Dr. R. S. Storrs, from Revelation 22:20: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Then he proceeded to answer the question as follows:-SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.4

    “It was only natural and proper, we may think, that he should utter this prayer to Christ. But we may not so freely repeat it after him. There is a certain tremor of hesitation, natural to the heart, in echoing the words. We would rather, for ourselves, know beforehand, if it might be, the moment when the summons is to come; we would rather see the Master after all, and in a gradual approach; we would rather make special and protracted preparation for the voice which is to call us from all the circles of life on earth, to go and be henceforth with him. At any rate, we do not feel at liberty to offer a prayer for sudden death, and in this we are right. We have no right to offer such a prayer. Even John did not offer it until the Master had manifested to him his purpose of coming quickly.”SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.5

    If Dr. Storrs had studied the Bible as thoroughly as he studied history, he could not have spoken such words, and then have deliberately written them for publication. There is just one correct statement in the paragraph, and that is, that it is not right to pray for death. That is true; it is not right to pray for sudden death, nor for any other kind of death; but it is right to pray for the coming of the Lord, and to long for it, as the following texts clearly prove:-SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.6

    “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in the earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10. This is what Christ himself commanded us to pray. Now when we read these words: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:1, 2), we know that the kingdom comes only when Christ comes; therefore Christ taught his disciples that they should daily pray for his coming.SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.7

    Again, Paul says: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7, 8. The crown of life, then, is to be given only to those who love the coming of the Lord. Paul and Dr. Storrs do not seem to agree on this subject.SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.8

    We have no disposition to carp at Dr. Storrs. He is an able man, and we admire his talent. He is no more out of the way than are thousands. The trouble with him is, that while in history he searches for himself, and draws his own conclusions, in matters of Bible doctrine he accepts unquestioningly what the multitude believe. From his standpoint, it was very natural to say that we ought not to pray for the coming of the Lord. But what a terrible doctrine it is which obliges its adherents to deliberately throw aside the only hope which Christ left his church. What doctrine does this? The doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul-the theory that men go to heaven at death. The doctrine of the second coming of Christ is the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), the hope with which Christ comforted his sorrowing disciples; but the dogma of inherent immortality ignores all this.SITI September 17, 1885, page 568.9

    People sometimes say that it makes no difference what we believe concerning the immortality of the soul; that it is not of any practical importance whether we believe that it is inherently immortal, or dependent on Christ for immortality. Does it make any difference whether or not we believe the words of Christ? Is it a matter of no importance that we lay hold on the only hope that Christ has left us? If there were nothing else against the doctrine of natural immortality, this alone would condemn it. Of course it will not do for people to say that the Lord is not coming at all, for the Bible is full of assertions that he is; and since the people have settled it for themselves that men receive their reward at death, they combine the two. Since the idea is getting so prevalent that death is the coming of the Lord, it is proper for us to devote space to examine it in the light of Scripture.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.1

    First, Christ said to his disciples, “If I go away, I will come again.” He did not promise to come again and again, but simply “another time; once more.” Paul’s words in Hebrews 9:28 agree with this: “And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Now since he comes only once more, it is certain that death cannot be that coming, for death is constantly occurring.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.2

    He promised to come “again.” The word “again” indicates another of the same kind. Christ was on the earth in the flesh; he was seen by thousands. Now if he comes “again,” a “second time,” he must come in person. The departure of the soul for Heaven cannot be another advent of Christ. If any think this is a far-fetched argument, let them read the account of Christ’s ascension: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11. No amount of philosophical theorizing can ever wrest that scripture so as to make it teach a coming of the Lord at death. Those who hold to that theory, must deny the statement of the angels.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.3

    Something more in the same line. Read Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” Every eye does not see when a man dies. Thousands die in solitude, unseen by mortal eye. So here is another text that is either unknown to those who hold that the theory we are considering, or else is denied by them. Moreover, this shows that John knew what he was praying for when he uttered the words found in Revelation 22:20. He was not praying for death, but for the Lord to come in the clouds of heaven. Every follower of Christ may and should offer the same prayer.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.4

    Still further, we read in Matthew 24:27, that “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Who ever saw or heard of such a phenomena at the death of anyone? It is utterly impossible for a man to believe those words of the Lord, and still believe that death is the coming of Christ. Ought not the words of Christ to be believed rather than the theories of men?SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.5

    When Christ comes, it is to take his people to himself. He doesn’t take one before another, as Paul shows in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.6

    Here we see that both the righteous dead and the righteous living are taken to be with the Lord at the same time, at his coming. And this is just what the same apostle teaches in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, already quoted. He says that the Lord will give him a crown of righteousness “at that day.” At what day? Why, the day referred to in the first verse, when Christ comes in his kingdom to judge the living and dead. “At that day,” says Paul, the Lord will give me a crown, “and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.” Yes, at the coming of the Lord all who love him shall receive a crown, and all at the same time.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.7

    Look once more at 1 Thessalonians 4:15: “We which are alive and remain under the coming of the Lord.” Now if it be true that the “coming of the Lord” is equivalent to “death,” we can substitute the latter word in the verse, and we shall then have the sublimely ridiculous statement that “we which are alive and remain [alive] until death, shall not go before them which are asleep”! If there is one special class of persons who live until they die, what becomes of those who do not live until they die? We should like to have Dr. Storrs turn his logical mind to the solving of this conundrum.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.8

    We turn to the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians. Paul says: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind.... as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Verses 1-4. Paul assured them that the Lord would not come until after the great apostasy, and the full establishment of the papacy. The papacy was fully established in the sixth century; but would Dr. Storrs have us believe that between the first and sixth centuries no one died? He is too good a historian not to know all about the bloody persecutions during the reign of Nero, Domitian, and others, in which hundreds of Christians yielded up their lives for the faith. Yet Christ could not come until after the setting up of the papacy, and he has not come.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.9

    There is scarcely any limit to the texts that might be quoted to show the absurdity of the idea that death is the coming of the Lord. There is just one more passage that we wish to notice. It shows that none of Christ’s disciples entertained the idea that death was his coming. Christ had met his disciples at the Sea of Galilee. He had questioned Peter concerning his love, and had showed him by what kind of a death he would be called upon to show his love. Then Peter looked around, and seeing John, asked, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” Jesus answered, “If I will that he tarry till I come? What is that to thee.” John 21:21, 22. Suppose we substitute death for the coming of the Lord, and then we have the Master saying, “If I will that he tarry [remain alive] until he comes, what is that to thee?” What a horrible doctrine it is that makes such nonsense of our Lord’s simple language.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.10

    But notice: Just as soon as Jesus asked Peter what difference it was to him if John should live until the coming of the Lord, the disciples, assuming that Christ had declared that John should remain until his coming, began to spread abroad the statement that John would never die! They knew very well that death and the coming of the Lord have nothing in common.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.11

    If all our readers do not agree with us in saying that the idea that death is the coming of Christ is both absurd and unscriptural, we have underrated their sagacity. If any hold that idea after carefully reading the texts we have quoted, we should be glad to hear from them, that we may together consider the matter further. We do not care to hear from any who cannot give a reason for their belief. We do not expect to hear from any. May the Lord help all to study well all that relates to the coming of the Lord, and to speedily learn to pray, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” E. J. W.SITI September 17, 1885, page 569.12

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