Human Governments Crushed by God’s Kingdom
UNDER mighty King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon reached the position of Third World Power of Bible history. All opposing governments in the ancient Middle East fell before its crushing military might. Even Jehovah’s own typical theocracy at that time was allowed by God to be destroyed because of the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. But in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind, the overthrow of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple for true worship made him and his god Marduk greater than Jehovah the God of the Hebrews and their kings in the line of David.
In coming up to bring the capital city of Jerusalem to ruin, Nebuchadnezzar revealed the attitude that was attributed prophetically to the king of Babylon. We read: “To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne, and I shall sit down upon the mountain of meeting [where the Israelites worshiped at the temple on Mount Zion] . . . I shall go up above the high places of the clouds; I shall make myself resemble the Most High.”—Isa. 14:13, 14.
The prophecy continued, foretelling that the Babylonian royal dynasty would be ‘brought down to Sheol, to the remotest parts of the pit.’ (Isa. 14:15) Decades before the overthrow of Nebuchadnezzar’s dynasty Jehovah humbled this haughty ruler by letting a mental sickness come on him. For seven years Nebuchadnezzar imagined that he was a bull, going about eating grass.
It was this Nebuchadnezzar who had an earlier prophetic dream of an immense and “dreadful” image. The various metals in this image represented a series of world governments that would develop on the earthly scene down through the centuries, to be followed by the reestablishment of God’s sovereignty in the earth by the Kingdom rule of his Son, Christ Jesus.
Forgetting the details of the dream on awakening, Nebuchadnezzar summoned his magic-practicing priests and astrologers to tell him, not only what he had dreamed, but also the interpretation. They failed utterly. However, Daniel said to him: “There exists a God in the heavens who is a Revealer of secrets, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what is to occur in the final part of the days.”—Dan. 2:28.
Before giving the interpretation, Daniel recalled the dream to Nebuchadnezzar’s mind: “Its head was of good gold, its breasts and its arms were of silver, its belly and its thighs were of copper, its legs were of iron, its feet were partly of iron and partly of molded clay.” (Dan. 2:32, 33) What was the meaning of the dream? Daniel explained that Nebuchadnezzar and his dynasty would start off the series of world powers, saying, “You yourself are the head of gold.” Then he added: “After you there will rise another kingdom inferior to you; and another kingdom, a third one, of copper, that will rule over the whole earth. And as for the fourth kingdom, it will prove to be strong like iron. Forasmuch as iron is crushing and grinding everything else, so, like iron that shatters, it will crush and shatter even all these.”—Dan. 2:38-40.
But what of the feet made up of iron and clay? “Whereas you beheld the feet and the toes to be partly of molded clay of a potter and partly of iron, the kingdom itself will prove to be divided . . . the kingdom will partly prove to be strong and will partly prove to be fragile.” What will bring about this partial fragility within the ironlike “kingdom” or world government represented in the feet and toes? “Whereas you beheld iron mixed with moist clay, they [those making up the “fourth kingdom”] will come to be mixed with the offspring of mankind; but they [those represented by the iron and the clay] will not prove to be sticking together, this one to that one, just as iron is not mixing with molded clay.”—Dan. 2:41-43.
Tracing the development of the world powers through the image, from head to foot in the stream of time, we see that it begins with Babylon, and progressively goes through Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The “fourth kingdom,” represented in the legs and feet, began with the Roman Empire. As time progressed, the power of this empire waned and the British Empire ascended, it being really an outgrowth from the old Roman Empire. This was so even though there was a vying with certain remnants of the Roman Empire for the position of world power. (Dan. 7:19, 20) There does not appear to be any prophetic significance to the image’s having ten toes. This is a natural human feature, just as the image has two arms, two legs, and so forth.
The British Empire developed as a monarchy and continued to manifest many of the ironlike traits of the old Roman Empire. And while the 13 American colonies rebelled against the British Empire, the government of the United States of America has really come to be an extension of the conservative or iron-type rule, and this power has been closely allied with the British government in world affairs. Hence, as we trace the development of world power through the image and down into the feet and toes, we can see how the Anglo-American World Power must be included in the “iron.” Well along into the time of the end, it is still the world power, even though strong competitors have emerged.
In connection with the dream image, there is no mention of a ‘fifth kingdom’ developing, although a later vision of Daniel contained a fearsome “fourth beast,” representing the Roman Empire, out from which a ‘little horn’ grew very large to represent the British Empire. (Dan. 7:7, 8, 19-26; 8:9-11, 23-25) To reach the ascendancy, the Roman and Anglo-American World Powers have indeed been like iron in ‘crushing and shattering’ other kingdoms and peoples.
Of course, during the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of developments have taken place on the world scene to weaken the ironlike rule of the Anglo-American World Power. Revolutionary socialistic groups have developed to weaken the structure, influence and force of this Seventh World Power. It is said that “the kingdom itself will prove to be divided . . . forasmuch as you beheld the iron mixed with moist clay.” It would come “to be mixed with the offspring of mankind.” So the “clay” of the image would represent the proletarian elements that develop as a result of the people’s rising up against established authority. Through labor unions, demonstrations, strikes and other protest activity, the common people have sought to undermine the traditional, capitalistic style of government manifested in the Anglo-American World Power, along with its sphere of influence.
While outside Communistic governments in other nations often provide the means and incentive for developing this “clay” within the Anglo-American World Power’s realm and sphere of influence, they are not represented in the image. It must be remembered that the image is a general representation of the development of world power on the earth, particularly as this relates to Jehovah’s people, and down until the time that the image is destroyed and God’s kingdom by Christ replaces all earthly governments. There have been many powerful governments and kingdoms that have developed on the earth since the time of Babylon, such as ancient empires in the Orient, parts of Europe and Africa and even in the Americas. But these are not represented in the image, since they were never predominating world powers down to the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 in relation to Jehovah’s people. In contrast, in Revelation 13:1 all political governments are included in the ‘wild beast with ten horns and seven heads.’ It, not only has the seven heads representing the seven world powers stretching from Egypt down to the Anglo-American World Power, but also has a body that includes all the other political entities, the beast as a whole representing the world system of political rule all the way back to its start in Nimrod’s day.
Thus the “clay” does not represent the Communistic governments outside the realm of the Anglo-American sphere of influence any more so than other parts of the image represented other nonworld governments and empires down through the ages. But the fact that this image has reached its time of the end with no place therein for the development of another world power, and the fact that the “wild beast” has only seven heads, not eight, shows that there will be no new world power that will clearly dominate before the entire political system is removed. The “clay” does not represent a world power developing, only a weakening factor.
Revelation chapter 17 does describe the “scarlet-colored wild beast” as being, as a whole, “itself an eighth king,” but it is said that it “springs from the seven” world powers. It does not have any real dominating power, except as the “seven” give it control in the earth. Actually, the Seventh World Power took the lead in bringing this “image” of the wild beast into existence. (Compare Revelation 13:11-18.) This “scarlet-colored wild beast,” as an “image” of the wild beast “with ten horns and seven heads” that comes up out of the “sea” of mankind, clearly pictures first the League of Nations and then the United Nations. It is an “eighth king” in that it is a worldwide organization but does not replace or displace the Seventh World Power. It is not the Communistic bloc of nations, just as the clay of the image does not represent a new world power developing within the image that represents the successive world powers.
Of course, when the “stone” cut out of the mountain hits the image on its feet and topples it to destruction, that stone will pulverize, not only the Anglo-American World Power and the relics of the former world powers still in the earth today, but also such rulerships that are allied with those world governments represented in the image and those who are the backers and supporters of the “clay” in the feet and toes of the image. All these man-made governments and radical groups must be cleared from the earth to make way for the Kingdom government administered by God’s appointed king, Jesus Christ.
The Bible shows this will not be done without a fight, inasmuch as all the nations want to hold on to their sovereignty. The parallel prophecy at Revelation 17:12-14 shows that the prominent world rulers in the time of the end (pictured by the “ten horns” on the wild beast) would “receive authority as kings one hour [or a short time] with the wild beast. These have one thought, and so they give their power and authority to the wild beast [the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations]. These will battle with the Lamb [Christ Jesus], but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them.”
What an inglorious end to the march of world powers! Their cruel and oppressive rule will be removed, never to be felt again by humans on earth. God’s kingdom will bring in a worldwide government that will rule in righteousness and peace. It will bring health and everlasting life to obedient mankind, the subjects of that kingdom. This is vividly portrayed in the conclusion of the dream-image prophecy given to Nebuchadnezzar: “At that time the iron, the molded clay, the copper, the silver and the gold were, all together, crushed and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away so that no trace at all was found of them. And as for the stone [representing God’s kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus] that struck the image, it became a large mountain and filled the whole earth.”—Dan. 2:35.
Bible prophecy shows that this happy time is near at hand. Today people of all nations are being invited to put themselves on the side of Jehovah’s sovereignty rather than trust in the governments of men. (Ps. 146:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to help you to learn more about this Kingdom government.