And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed…
This image, then, represents to us the kingdoms of the earth, such as they are without the fear of God, in all their pride and stateliness. You see them, in it, condensed and combined into one vast body, glittering, as we behold them with our eyes, with silver and gold, and lifting up their heads to Heaven itself, with the insolence of a giant strength and the godlessness of an unrebuked security. The eye of flesh and blood, obedient to its instincts, and, ignoble, like them, is dazzled at their looks; and the heart of man, like that of the Babylonish king, is not only moved with a momentary awe, but crouches down with a real servile terror at their outward grandeur. But all this has nothing substantial in it, notwithstanding — no more than the show of solidity which you see in the summer clouds — how suddenly, like them, do they dissolve, nay, consume, perish, and come to a fearful end! The reason is that, being unbased on that reality of power which belongs to God alone, they have no essential and true strength; they stand on feet of iron and clay, unharmonizing materials, ill mixed, and uncompacted. And they break away into a thousand fragments the moment they come into collision with the Almighty's purposes, and the smiting of His avenging rod. "But," you say, "it is difficult to draw a practical lesson from so mystic a warning"; true, but the whole Bible is full of such warnings, as well as its great interpreter, the history of the world. When, therefore, learned and worldly men talk of this great kingdom and of that, as being ruined by a mistake in policy, or a mismanagement in war, and so on, and puzzle themselves and others in the vain attempt to unfold, by external and secondary events, what they are pleased to call the real causes of this great ruin; the humblest Christian man, with the Bible in his hand, may say, "I cannot deny what you tell me, nor can I, indeed, understand the difficult operation of those fine-sounding things on which you make the adversity or prosperity of kingdoms to depend; but I know this, which is far better than all your science and philosophy put together, that nations, like individual men, only prosper while they love and obey God; and that when they refuse or cease to do so, He punishes and destroys them for their sins. And if you ask me why I dare contradict one so much more learned than myself, and am so sure of this conclusion, touching, as it does, the very mysteries of politics, I have but one reason to give, though that is the best of all — God says so — I find it plainly written in the Bible." Well, then, all the kingdoms of the world are represented by the prophet Daniel as finally crushed beneath the weight of that everlasting kingdom which God shall set up among the nations, and which they shall resist — not recognising as Divine a power so unlike their own, nor discerning that penal ruin, which, by ways beyond the scan and compass of the carnal politician, its rejection necessarily involves, even during this earthly dispensation. But is not God love, and the Gospel merciful, and Christ,. the Saviour, meek and gentle beyond the meekness of man, not so much as quenching the smoking flax, or breaking the bruised reed? it is not to be denied, so He is; yet He shall tread out, notwithstanding, in His wrath, the wine-press of Almighty God. And, if you will think for a moment of God's goodness and of man's wickedness, and the exceeding guilt of rejecting such great salvation, you will no longer marvel that the Gospel, with its revelations of unspeakable love, and the blood of the cross, whoso sprinkling cleanseth from all sin, should be presented to us under an aspect so tremendous, or should exercise in the world at large, in its final development, a condemnation so awful, and a ruin so sweeping! And I say a ruin so sweeping, because the words of the prophet seem to indicate that all nations, from the empire of the Chaldees downwards, shall, in their turn, share the same fate; and that our native land, therefore, with all its privileges, may ultimately be added to the catalogue of nations blotted out or tormented in fire for incorrigible wickedness. Our Lord himself, perhaps in intended allusion to these very words of the prophet, describes thus the result of resistance to His eternal kingdom: "Whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder." "A stone cut out without hands"; that is, without human and visible agency, any power mensurable by carnal calculation, but by the power of Almighty God himself, operating when and where He wills, with or without the instrumentality of subordinate agents; a stone so guarded and so blessed by all Heavenly graces, as to lay a meet foundation for an everlasting church. Such, then, is the Christian kingdom, coming out from God, and of God; it goes forth, from age to age, in spite of evil spirits and evil men, conquering and to conquer. What though the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? Nay, but I put it to yourselves; have not the prophet's words been gloriously fulfilled? Has not the stone become a mountain, and filled the whole earth? it is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. Who would have ventured to pronounce that the crucified Jesus, hanging between two thieves, on the accursed tree, the despised and rejected of men, would, after a few years had passed, have been worshipped as a God and a Saviour from one end of Heaven to another? "O the depth of the riches both of the power and the wisdom of God; how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" Now, all that I have been laying before you of God's eternal purpose to raise the Kingdom of His Son on the ruins of an unbelieving world, is the clear word of God; so clear that they who run may road, confirmed, too, in the history of the world, by many infallible and terrible proofs; and, therefore, it is as certain to be fulfilled in what is to come, as it has been in all that is past. Moreover, there is not an attribute of Almighty God which is not pledged, and actively engaged in the issue of it. There are His unchangeableness and truth — for, from all eternity He has planned this spiritual kingdom to be carried on in the midst of the kingdom of the prince of this world; and, by no less an oath than His immutable self, hath He sworn to preserve it unto the end. There is His justice, for by the same solemn engagement, He has announced in the oars of Heaven and earth, that He will punish all the guilty, and cast out from that presence, in which alone is light and life, the enemies of Him who reigneth on His hill of Zion. There is His love, and with it, Hid abhorrence of sin; for with such incredible earnestness, and love for man, has He wrought for the establishment of this kingdom that He has given His blessed Son to die for us, and by His death, to open the gates of life.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.