Part 12—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
In this Chapter 4 of “Your Will Be Done on Earth” there have flashed before us “Foregleams of God’s Kingdom” as reflected by the kingdoms of King-Priest Melchizedek of the ancient city of Salem and of Kings David and Solomon on “Jehovah’s throne” at the same city, but enlarged and called Jerusalem. This holy city and its temple to Jehovah were destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 607 B.C. How long was Jehovah’s kingdom over earth to continue inoperative, as represented by his overturned typical kingdom at Jerusalem? By the dream concerning a great tree sent to King Nebuchadnezzar and later interpreted by Jehovah’s prophet Daniel, as recorded in the book of Daniel, chapter 4, Jehovah’s kingdom was to continue inactive toward the earth for a period of “seven times” of Gentile supremacy and dominance over the earth. These “seven times,” of 2,520 years’ duration, began at the desolation of Jerusalem and its territory of Judah in 607 B.C. and ended in the historically marked year of 1914 (A.D.). According to the dream of the big tree, as interpreted to Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel, something of universal importance was then due to occur. What?
42. Why would all this mean that in 1914 (A.D.) the domination had to pass into the control of God’s kingdom restored, and what would this show about God?
42 What did all this mean regarding world domination at the end of the “seven times” in the fall of the year 1914 (A.D.)? Nothing less grand and wonderful than this, that the domination should pass into the control of the restored kingdom of God, because then had come the “times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time.” (Acts 3:21) The beginning of the “appointed times of the nations” was marked by the ruling of the typical kingdom of God in Judah and by trampling down its capital, Jerusalem, under the Gentile nations. The ending of those “seven times” of 2,520 years had to mark an end to such kingdom ruin and to trampling down its symbolical capital. How? By the re-establishment of God’s kingdom according to the kingdom covenant with David, beyond the power of the worldly nations to trample it down. Then, to show that he rules the kingdom of men, Jehovah the Most High God must give it to whom He wills. He must set over it the lowliest of men.—Dan. 4:17, RS.
43. How was the one to whom Jehovah gave the kingdom the “lowliest of men”?
43 That means He must give it to the anointed Son of David, Jesus Christ, who was considered the basest of men, so base, in fact, that he was wrongly called sacrilegious, a blasphemer, a seditionist, a winebibber and a glutton, and was impaled upon a torture stake like a criminal slave. He lowered himself from heaven to earth by emptying himself of heavenly power and glory and taking a slave’s form and coming to be in the likeness of men. On earth he took God’s yoke upon himself and invited others to take his yoke upon themselves, because, said he: “I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” Then “he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Phil. 2:5-8.
44. Because of such manifest lowliness, what did Jehovah have to do to Jesus according to the Kingdom covenant, and now what event approaches?
44 Because of such lowliness God must highly exalt Jesus, higher than King David, who reigned on earthly Mount Zion. The Most High God must exalt him to become David’s “Lord” by seating this anointed Son of David at His own right hand, next to himself in the universe. The restored kingdom of God over humankind must therefore be established in heaven, as it were, on a heavenly Mount Zion, not on the earthly Mount Zion in the Middle East. Then Jehovah God must send the rod of his anointed King’s strength out of this heavenly Zion and command him: “Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” (Ps. 110:1, 2; Rev. 14:1) Then at Jehovah’s orders Jesus Christ must proceed to the bruising of that “original serpent,” Satan, in the head. That event approaches. This kingdom of David’s Son must bless the Most High God, just as restored Nebuchadnezzar did. It must bless all men of good will.
THE MARCH OF WORLD POWERS
1. What march began in 607 B.C., and how do we know that Jehovah God foresaw the march and marchers?
DURING the passing of the 2,520 years of the “appointed times of the nations” men and angels have witnessed the march of world powers in grand parade on earth. The march began in 607 B.C., when the 2,520 years began to count. But long before then the all-wise King of heaven, Jehovah God, foresaw the march and the successive world powers in the line of procession. In impressive proof of his unerring foresight he foretold the march and marchers, even names and characteristics of the marchers, that we might identify them. Marvelously he has had their history written down long ahead of time. Hence his sacred Word, the Holy Bible, contains much history written in advance, history which the later histories written by men concerning past events now astoundingly confirm.
2. From what standpoint only can we understand what has taken place since A.D. 1914, and hence what is just before us?
2 It is only from the standpoint of Jehovah’s prophetic Word that we can understand and appreciate what has been taking place on earth since the close of the “appointed times of the nations” in the fall of 1914 (A.D.). The long march of the world powers is nearing its end. World-shattering events are just before us. Jehovah’s history written in advance makes certain of this to us.
3. When did the march of world powers begin with Babylon, and by what line of action on Babylon’s part?
3 The march during the “appointed times of the nations” began with Babylon. Long before this, Babylon had been established in the valley of Mesopotamia by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, about 2,239 years before the Christian era. But before becoming a world power that had to do with the witnesses of Jehovah God it was preceded by two other world powers; first, Egypt, and second, Assyria. Only by subduing these rivals to world domination, and then by desolating the kingdom of Jehovah’s people with capital at ancient Jerusalem, did Babylon become a world power, the third world power listed in Biblical history. Assyria conquered Egypt and even tried to prevent the rise of Babylon to dominance by destroying the city. But Babylon was rebuilt and strove for the ascendancy. It destroyed the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, about 633 B.C. It reached the zenith of its power in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed Jerusalem and its sanctuary to Jehovah God.
4, 5. (a) By whom particularly did Jehovah foretell the line of march? (b) With what year of the reign of King Jehoiakim does the book of Daniel begin?
4 It was particularly by his prophet Daniel that Jehovah God foretold the line of march of the world powers. The record is to be found in the prophetic book of Daniel. Thirteen years before Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem and compelled King Jehoiakim of Judah to take an oath of allegiance to him as overlord. That was after Jehoiakim had reigned for eight years on the “throne of Jehovah” at Jerusalem. But Jehoiakim continued reigning as Nebuchadnezzar’s servant for only three years. (2 Ki. 24:1) In this third and last year of his reign as subject to Babylon, King Jehoiakim broke his oath and rebelled.
5 In this last year of Jehoiakim’s rebellion the book of Daniel begins its historical account in these words: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord [Jehovah]a gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God.” (Dan. 1:1, 2, RS) Rebellious Jehoiakim did not go out in self-surrender to the king of Babylon. He died inside Jerusalem, just as Jehovah had foretold.—Jer. 22:18, 19.
6. (a) How was the legal line of King David according to the kingdom covenant continued through King Jehoiachin? (b) When and how were Daniel and three close companions taken to Babylon?
6 His son Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah) succeeded him to the “throne of Jehovah” in Jerusalem, up to which King Nebuchadnezzar had come. Jehoiakim’s body was dragged and cast dead outside the gates of Jerusalem and buried, unlamented; but it was his son Jehoiachin that went out alive to the besieger, Nebuchadnezzar, after reigning merely three months. According to Jehovah’s purpose, Nebuchadnezzar spared eighteen-year-old Jehoiachin’s life and took him along with his household and officials to Babylon. There Jehoiachin had offspring and kept up the legal line according to Jehovah’s covenant with King David for the everlasting kingdom. (2 Ki. 25:27-30; Matt. 1:11-17) As for the vessels of Jehovah’s sanctuary at Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar “brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.” Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, king in place of him, but took other members of the royal family and of the nobility to Babylon. This included the youth Daniel and three close companions, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. This was eleven years before Jerusalem and its sanctuary were destroyed, or in 618 B.C.—Dan. 1:2-7, RS.
7. (a) What did Daniel become in Babylon? (b) How did King Zedekiah come to have none of his children sit upon the throne of Jerusalem?
7 In Babylon Daniel and his three companions were given special education and proved to be wiser than the professional wise men of Babylon. Daniel became Jehovah’s prophet in Babylon and continued as such until the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia. (Dan. 1:8-21; 10:1) Meanwhile King Zedekiah broke the oath of allegiance that he had given in Jehovah’s name and began to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. (Ezek. 17:13-21) So in the ninth year of this rebel, the king of Babylon came for the third time against Jerusalem. About eighteen months the city withstood the siege. Then the Babylonian armies broke through the walls of the famine-stricken city. King Zedekiah escaped from the doomed city but was overtaken by an enemy military force. Blinded after King Nebuchadnezzar had slaughtered his sons before his eyes, Zedekiah was taken in chains to Babylon to die there. This was in the eleventh year of his reign, in the year 607 B.C. Neither he nor his nephew, the former king Jehoiachin (Coniah or Jeconiah), ever had any children of theirs to sit upon the throne of David and rule in Judah.—Jer. 22:24-30.
8. How did the land of Judah and Jerusalem become desolate without man or domestic animal, and when did the “seven times” begin to count?
8 The following month, or fifth month (Ab), the Babylonian armies burned the sanctuary of Jehovah and razed the city of Jerusalem to the dust. The sacred ark of Jehovah’s covenant escaped seizure by them, but they took the rest of the sacred utensils of the temple, either whole or broken in pieces, back to Babylon. Two months later, in the seventh month (Ethanim), the poor people who were left behind in the land fled south to Egypt, and the land of Judah and Jerusalem lay desolate without man or domestic animal. There the seventy years of the desolation of the land began. Also, the “seven times” or the “appointed times of the nations” for trampling on desolated Jerusalem began.—2 Ki. 25:22-26.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM OF THE IMAGE
9. (a) When did Nebuchadnezzar begin to reign as visible dominator of the world? (b) When did he have his first prophetic dream, and who proved unable to interpret it for him?
9 With the typical kingdom of Jehovah God ruined and with two of its anointed kings imprisoned at Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar indeed began to reign as visible dominator of the world, as head of the third world power of Bible history without interference of Jehovah the God of Israel. There, in the fall of the year 607 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar started off the “seven times,” which were to run for 2,520 years till the rightful government over mankind should be set up by the Most High God. Of this impressive fact Jehovah God notified the king of Babylon in the second year of his reign as world ruler, or in 606-605 B.C. This he did by sending a dream that the king of Babylon could not recall on awakening, but the terror of the forgotten dream stuck with him. He called for the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the professional Chaldeans, all of them servants of Satan the Devil, the “god of this world,” to interpret the dream. They requested first to know what the dream was. Unable to tell them, the infuriated king issued a decree for all the wise men of Babylon to be destroyed. This included Daniel and his three companions.—Dan. 2:1-13, RS.
10. How did Daniel learn the dream and its interpretation, and with what words did he bless Jehovah God?
10 Face to face with the executioner, Daniel asked to see the king and then asked for a delay of the execution that he might learn the dream and give the king its interpretation. Then Daniel and his three companions joined in prayer to Jehovah God. The answer to prayer came, and the world-important secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Gratefully Daniel blessed Jehovah, saying: “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and mysterious things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” (Dan. 2:12-22, RS) Now to the great secret!
11. How did Daniel give credit to Jehovah before the king, and why is what he now said of highest importance to us?
11 To the salvation of all the wise men of Babylon, Daniel was taken in before the king. What he said is of the highest importance to us today, for, said he, “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. . . . To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be hereafter, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be.” (Dan. 2:27-29, RS) We are living in the urgent times involved in the fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream!
12. What was the dream that Daniel recalled to the king’s mind?
12 Daniel disclaimed any wisdom of his own as he now recalled this forgotten dream to the king’s mind: “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces; then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:31-35, RS) Amazed, the king of Babylon recognized the description, but what did it all mean?
13. Whom did Daniel interpret the head of gold to be, and why?
13 “This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation,” said Daniel as he spoke for himself and his three companions who had joined him in prayer. “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the sons of men, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.”—Dan. 2:36-38, RS.
14. If Nebuchadnezzar as the symbolic gold head represented an unseen ruler, what would the metal parts of the body represent, and to what extent would this be a prophetic image?
14 Did this mean that Nebuchadnezzar was personally the head? Or was the interpreter Daniel really speaking past Nebuchadnezzar to someone else, the real head of gold, an unseen ruler represented by the king of Babylon? And did the metallic body underneath the golden head represent the organization of several levels beneath that mysterious behind-the-scenes head, or even such a several-level organization beneath Nebuchadnezzar himself? If so, was that image already all in existence except for, say, part of the iron legs and the feet of iron and clay? If so, then this dream image was mainly a static picture of something already in existence and was not prophetic except in part of the iron legs and in the feet. Furthermore, if Nebuchadnezzar as golden head represented an invisible personality behind the scenes, then the silver breast and arms must have pictured the topmost level of the organization under that invisible head; the belly and thighs of bronze must have pictured the next-lower level of the organization; and the legs of iron and feet partly of iron and partly of clay must have represented the bottom-most level or levels of that organization, this lowest or iron level being already partly developed at least. What, then?
15. Since from that standpoint the golden head would picture Nebuchadnezzar, what would the other metal parts of the image picture?
15 From that standpoint, Nebuchadnezzar as visible king of kings being symbolized by the golden head, the metallic body under that golden head would symbolize the visible organization under Nebuchadnezzar, an organization already in existence and operating for the most part at least. Hence the silver breast and arms beneath the golden head would symbolize the level of governmental organization immediately beneath Nebuchadnezzar himself; the bronze belly and thighs would symbolize the level of governmental organization subordinate to the silvery level above and not in direct contact with the head of government, Nebuchadnezzar; and the legs of iron and the feet partly of iron and partly of clay would symbolize the lowest level or levels of governmental organization and farthest removed from the governmental head. What, though, would this mean?
16. How, though, would this involve Daniel and his three companions with the image, and thus what part of an invisible organization would they visibly stand for?
16 This would mean that Daniel and his three companions, possibly along with some few other Babylonian officials, were symbolized by the silver breast and arms. Why so? Because immediately after Daniel interpreted the dream correctly, “the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel remained at the king’s court.” (Dan. 2:48, 49, RS) As a result, Daniel and his three Jewish companions were symbolized by the silver breast and arms of the image that was to be destroyed. In fact, they also visibly represented the topmost silvery level in the mighty organization underneath the invisible ruling power pictured by Nebuchadnezzar, the golden head. This could not be the right understanding or interpretation of the meaning of the metallic image, because Daniel and his three companions are not part of an organization that is doomed to suffer the destruction of the dream image.
(To be continued)
a This is one of 134 places where the Jewish copyists or Sopherim say they changed the primitive Hebrew text to read Adonay (“the Lord”) instead of Yehowah or Yahweh (“Jehovah”).