Only God’s kingdom will prevail and endure. All other political powers are fleeting, already they are passing away.
Despite human pretensions, history demonstrates the impermanence of political power and governments. Rome endured for a thousand years, but its empire fell all the same. Like life itself, political power is fleeting, and it often collapses quickly and unexpectedly when its allotted time expires. Only the reign and realm of God will last forever.
At the height of his power, the absolute monarch of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, boasted before heaven and earth, “Is not this Babylon the great and exceptional kingdom that I built by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” His boast was not an idle one. Babylon was one of the great powers of the ancient world.
After destroying the remnants of the Assyrian Empire, and having subjugated Syria and the kingdom of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar expanded Babylonian dominion up the border of Egypt. But his presumptuous words and imperial ambitions received an immediate response from an angelic figure:
- “O King Nebuchadnezzar the dominion has departed from you…until you come to know that it is the Most-High who has dominion over the kingdom of men, and to whomever, he pleases, he gives it” – (Daniel 4:28-33).
Consequently, the king lost his rational mind and was driven by society to live like an animal outside the city. After “seven seasons,” his mind restored, he lifted his eyes to heaven to declare:
- “And at the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, my eyes to the heavens did uplift, and my understanding returned to me, and the Most-High I blessed, and to him that lives everlastingly I rendered praise and honor, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and according to his own pleasure deals he with the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth, and none there is who can smite upon his hand or say to him, What hast thou done?” – (Daniel 4:34-35).
From time immemorial, kings, emperors, dictators, and presidents have engaged in the imperial conceit of this magnitude – the Babylonian monarch’s boast was nothing new. His kingdom was the greatest and most exceptional power the world had yet seen.
EMPIRES RISE AND FALL
Nevertheless, within two generations his empire was overthrown and replaced by an even greater power, the “kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.” And it has been thus throughout human history.
Nebuchadnezzar should have known better. Previously, he learned the same lesson when he received a troubling dream that only Daniel could interpret.
The king saw a “great image” with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron with feet comprised of iron and clay. But a “stone cut out without hands” struck that great image, pulverizing it, and that small “stone” became a “mountain that filled the whole earth” – (Daniel 2:31-45).
The “great image” represents four successive World Empire wannabes, beginning with Babylon. But the final kingdom of God will fill the whole earth after the demise of these four imperial powers. Thus, from the start, the end of the Babylonian empire is inevitable.
Political power will pass from one regime to the next until the day God “sets up a kingdom for the ages that shall not be destroyed.” The “stone” that destroyed the “great image” symbolizes the everlasting kingdom appointed by Yahweh destined to replace all existing political powers.
In the book of Daniel, the prophet declares that God alone “changes times and seasons, He removes kings and sets up kings.” According to His own purposes, He gives dominion to even the “basest of men.” Nebuchadnezzar himself declares to Daniel that “Your God is God of gods and Lord of kings.” Hence, the pagan ruler acknowledges that his sovereignty is derived from a higher power.
Political authority comes from God and no regime can reign without His say-so – there is no exception to the rule. And this is the key theme of the book of Daniel – God gives rulership to whomever He pleases.
It begins in the first paragraph of the book. The capture of Jerusalem, the captivity of Judah, and the destruction of its Temple all occur in accord with God’s purposes:
- “The Lord gave the king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand with the vessels of the House of God” – (Daniel 1:1-2).
Despite the national disaster of Jerusalem’s capture, Yahweh uses Daniel to direct the policies of the Babylonian empire that overthrows the kingdom of Judah. He enables His prophet to do what none of the astrologers, priests, “wise men,” economists, bankers, or soothsayers of Mesopotamia can do – Recount and interpret the king’s dream.
The result of his insight into the king’s dream is the elevation of Daniel to a high position where he influences the course of the World Empire – (Daniel 2:1-49).
Thus, God uses His sovereign power to accomplish His purposes regardless of human intentions, machinations, successes, and failures. He is never surprised by the plans of men. Kingdoms endure until He decides otherwise. Rulers who presume too much and arrogate to themselves prerogatives that belong to God alone risk their removal from power.
History confirms that all kingdoms, empires, and regimes without exception fall. Greece, Rome, and Byzantium all rose to great heights only to collapse, and very often under their own weight.
No nation today is an exception to the rule. Not one is indispensable to God and His purposes. His redemptive plan is to fill the whole earth with His righteous reign under the authority of His Messiah.
All other governing powers are impermanent realities – fleeting powers and “perishing meat.” In the grand scheme of things, investing time and resources in the political institutions of this age is a fool’s errand.
HIS KING AND KINGDOM
Yahweh promised a coming day when the Messiah will sit at His right hand and rule until He makes all his enemies his footstool. He will give His Son the “uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” Though the nations rage and oppose “His Messiah,” he is destined by the Creator of all things to rule them all – (Psalm 2:6-9, 110:1-4).
The New Testament is explicit and uncompromising. Not only is Jesus this very “Son” and “anointed” ruler, his messianic reign on the “throne of David” commenced following his death and resurrection. As the risen Jesus declared to his disciples – “ALL authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to me.”
Before his exaltation to reign at the “right hand of God,” Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Spirit, then they would become his witnesses “to the uttermost part of the earth,” an echo of the second Psalm – (“the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession”).
And so, as the good news of God’s kingdom is proclaimed among the nations, so the reign of His anointed king advances across the earth.
Having received the Spirit, the Apostle Peter declares that the very man rejected by the Jewish nation has been raised from the dead and installed to reign from the “right hand of God.” It is not King David who ascends into heaven, but Jesus; and therefore, God has made him “both Lord and Christ” just as He promised – (Acts 2:34-36).
When Yahweh raised His son from the dead, He placed him “far above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named, and he put all things in subjection under his feet.” Because of his obedience, He gave him the “name which is above every name” – (Ephesians 1:20-22, Philippians 2:6-11).
By his death, he “despoiled the powers and principalities,” triumphing over them. By his resurrection, he became the “firstborn of the dead” and in “all things preeminent.” Already he reigns, and all angels, powers, and authorities have been subjected to him.
His anointed Son now reigns over all things. He is the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” and no nation, government, or political party is beyond his reach or indispensable to his purposes. All existing powers constitute the “meat that perishes.”
Thus, Yahweh’s “anointed” reigns over all things, and there are no exceptions to this present reality. By the time of his return in glory, the “stone cut without hands” will fill the whole earth, and all other regimes and kingdoms will vanish forever.