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STUDY 13: THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

GOD declared His purpose concerning His earthly creation and its government in the first

chapter of His Divine Revelation: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our

likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and

over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female

created he them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and

replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl

of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1: 26-28).

 

The dominion of earth was given to mankind, represented in the perfect Adam, its qualified ruler.

Yet it was not given to Adam alone, but to all mankind. Had the human race remained perfect,

this dominion would not have been lost.

 

The original dominion was not intended to give any man dominion over fellowmen. The entire

race was given dominion over the earth – the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms – to

cultivate and make use of its products for the common good. Had the race remained perfect, its

increasing numbers would have necessitated its meeting together, to discuss ways for the just

and wise distribution of the common blessings. As the numbers grew larger, various classes of

men would have had to elect representatives, to voice their common sentiments, and to act for

them. And if all men were perfect, physically, mentally and morally, loved God and His

arrangements supremely, and his neighbor as himself, no friction would have resulted.

 

God’s Original Design for Man

 

The Creator’s design for earth’s government was probably that of a Republic, in which each

individual would share. Every man would be a sovereign, qualified to exercise his office for his

own, and for the general good of all, with one contingency – that man exercise his rulership in

harmony with the Supreme Ruler of the universe, whose law is Love (Romans 13: 10)

(Matthew 22: 37-40).

 

David said concerning man: “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast

crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy

hands” (Psalm 8: 5, 6). This dominion given to mankind, in Adam, was the first establishment of

God’s Kingdom on earth, and man exercised it as God’s representative. But man’s disobedience

forfeited his life, his rights and his privileges as God’s representative. God’s earthly Kingdom

ceased immediately, though man was permitted to exercise his dominion according to his own

ideas and ability.

 

Our Lord’s death purchased man and his original dominion of earth. He owns the title, and will

take possession of His purchase in due time (Ephesians 1: 14). But the purpose of His purchase

is to restore man to his former estate, and to restore his rulership when he is again made capable

of exercising it in harmony with God’s will. When man is restored, it will again be the Kingdom

of God on earth, under man, God’s appointed representative.

 

God’s Typical Kingdom

 

During the Jewish Age God organized the people of Israel as His typical kingdom, under Moses

and the Judges – a Republic. The more despotic rule of the kings, especially David and

Solomon, was somewhat typical of Messiah’s reign. God was their King, and their rulers served

under Him (Psalm 78: 70, 71).

 

God chastised His people when they transgressed, eventually taking away their kingdom

completely in the days of King Zedekiah (Ezekiel 21: 25-27); the king of Babylon took the

people captive and removed their king. Afterward they were restored to national existence by

Cyrus, king of Persia, but were subject to the successive empires of Medo-Persia, Greece and

Rome until the destruction of their nationality in 70 A.D.

 

Since Adam’s fall, the kingdom of Israel has been the only one that God has recognized as

representing His government, laws, etc. No other kingdom has had any legitimate claim to being

called kingdoms of God, but instead are “kingdoms of this world” under the “prince of this

world.” Not until Christ’s Second Advent will God’s Kingdom be re-established in the world

(Luke 19: 12).

 

The Times of the Gentiles

 

Since the removal of God’s kingdom in the days of Zedekiah, God has indirectly recognized the

Gentile governments (Luke 21: 24). This intervening time between the removal of God’s

government and the restoration of the same in Christ is Scripturally termed “The Times of the

Gentiles,” a fixed period of time.

 

Their permission to rule, though more or less evil, has served a wise purpose (Romans 13: 1), for

it has proven the inability of fallen man to govern himself. God has overruled them only when

they would have interfered with His plans (Psalm 76: 10).

 

Satan has also taken advantage of these weaknesses, making good to appear evil and evil to

appear good, and has misrepresented God’s character and plans and blinded men to the Truth

(Ephesians 2: 2). His position has been gained, not by right, but by usurpation.

 

The dominion of earth at present has both an invisible and a visible phase; the former is spiritual

and under Satan’s control. The latter is human – the earthly kingdoms. After the Times of the

Gentiles expire, both phases will terminate; Satan will be bound and the kingdoms of this world

will be overthrown.

 

The groaning creation has hoped for a golden age, not knowing that a still greater deliverance is

coming through Christ and His Church (Romans 8: 22, 19).

 

God has given, through His prophets, several views of the “kingdoms of this world,” each time

showing their overthrow by the establishment of His own Kingdom under Messiah.

 

Let consider these prophetic views, beginning with Babylon at the time of the overthrow of the

kingdom of Israel.

 

Nebuchadnezzar’s Vision of Earth’s Governments

 

The dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its divine interpretation is recorded in Daniel 2: 31-45.

Students of history can trace the four UNIVERSAL EMPIRES described by the prophet Daniel:

first, Babylon, the head of gold (verse 38); second, Medo-Persia (conqueror of Babylon), the

breast of silver; third, Greece (conqueror of Medo-Persia), the belly of brass; and fourth, Rome,

the iron legs and clay-mixed feet.

 

Rome was by far the strongest and endured the longest. In fact, the Roman Empire still continues

(as represented in the nations of Europe) as the ten toes of the image. The mixture of the clay

and iron in the feet represents the mixture of church and state, which in the Scriptures is termed

“Babylon” – confusion. Stone is the symbol of the true kingdom of God, and Babylon

substituted an imitation of stone – clay – which it has united with the remains of the [iron]

Roman Empire. This mixed system calls itself Christendom – Christ’s Kingdom.

 

In verse 45, the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which smites and scatters the

Gentile powers, represents the Kingdom of God. During the Gospel Age this “stone” kingdom is

being formed, “cut out,” carved and shaped for its future position – not by human hands, but by

the spirit of the truth. When complete, it will smite and destroy the kingdoms of this world, not

the people, but the governments, which are symbolized by the image. The stone then becomes

the mountain that will fill the whole earth – the Church will become the Kingdom of God that

will fill the whole earth after the “time of trouble” is over.

 

Daniel’s Vision of Earthly Governments

 

In Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, the empires of earth are viewed from the world’s standpoint – as an

exhibition of glory, grandeur and power. But Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7: 2-8) is taken from God’s

standpoint – being shown as great and ravenous beasts.

 

The fourth beast, the Roman Empire, is shown in verses seven and eight. The divisions of its

power are symbolized by ten horns, a horn being a symbol of power. The little horn which arose

among these, and which appropriated the power of three of them to itself, and ruled among the

others, represents the gradual rise to power of the Papal horn. The three powers of the Roman

Empire that were plucked out of the way were the Heruli, the Eastern Exarchate and the

Ostrogoths; this made room for the Papacy to become a civil power. This notable horn, Papacy,

is remarkable for its eyes, representing intelligence, and for its mouth – its utterances, claims,

etc.

 

Daniel gives no descriptive name to this fourth beast, for it was so terrible that none of the beasts

of the earth could be compared to it. After giving some details regarding this Roman beast,

especially its Papal horn, Daniel states that judgment would be rendered against this horn, and it

would begin to lose its dominion, which would be consumed by gradual process until the beast

should be destroyed (Daniel 7: 11). But the consuming of the Papal horn comes first. Its power

and influence began to consume when Napoleon took the Pope prisoner to France. After that, the

temporal power of the Papacy waned rapidly until it lost all its temporal power in 1870.

Next we read, “I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the

burning flame.” The slaying and burning are symbols, as is the beast, which signify the complete

destruction of present organized government.

 

The cause of this fall will be the establishment of the Fifth Universal Empire of earth, the

Kingdom of God, under Christ. The transfer of the kingdom of the fourth beast to the fifth

kingdom is described in Daniel 7: 13, 27.

 

Christ must reign until He has put down all authority and power in opposition to the will and law

of God (1 Corinthians 15: 27), which necessitates the overthrow of these Gentile governments.

 

The governments represented in the image and by the beasts existed before coming into power

as universal empires, as is also true with the Kingdom of God. It has existed as an embryo

kingdom for a long time, separate from the world, not attempting rulership, but awaiting its time

– appointed by the Ancient of days (Daniel 2: 44). And it must receive its appointment before the

fall of the kingdoms of this world, and that its power and smiting will bring their overthrow.

 

Present Governments from another Standpoint

 

The Creator has, and will ever have, the supreme right and authority to rule the world, no matter

whom He may authorize to have subordinate control. Following Adam’s disloyalty, he soon

became weak and helpless, and began to lose the power by which he commanded and held the

obedience of the lower animals by the strength of his will. He even lost control of himself, so

that when he would do good, his weaknesses interfered, and evil was present.

 

We can sympathize, though not excuse, man’s vain efforts to govern himself and arrange for his

own well-being. Though these beastly governments have been corrupt, they have been vastly

superior to lawlessness and anarchy. Man’s idea was self-government independent of God, and

when God permitted him to try the experiment, Satan embraced the opportunity to extend his

influence and dominion. Therefore by wishing to forget God (Romans 1: 28), man has exposed

himself to the influence of this wily and powerful, though unseen foe.

 

Let us briefly view the kingdoms of this world from the standpoint of fallen man’s efforts to

govern itself, independent of God. Selfishness has usually prevented the full exercise of justice,

yet the object of most every government has been to promote justice and the well-being of all the

people. And where justice has been ignored, the masses have either been blinded and deceived,

or wars and revolutions have resulted.

 

Many laws in every government have been wise, just and good. The problem is that rulers have

usurped authority, and by not representing the laws and institutions of those governments, have

given them their beastly character. Century after century God has allowed men to make their best

efforts at self-government, but the results today are as far from satisfactory as any period in the

world’s history. In fact, dissatisfaction is more widespread than ever because men’s eyes are

being opened by the increase of knowledge (Daniel 12: 4).

 

“The Day of His Preparation”

 

The spirit of independence characterizes the sentiment of the masses today. Men are not so easily

deceived and led by rulers and politicians as in the past. This change had its start with the

invention of printing in 1440 A.D., and the consequent multiplication of books and news

periodicals. The general education of the masses has become popular, and inventions and

discoveries are becoming everyday occurrences. This increase of knowledge is of God’s

appointment, and is binding Satan in this “Day of Preparation” for the setting up of God’s

Kingdom in the earth.

 

The prophets declare that due to this increase of knowledge, the general dissatisfaction of the

masses will finally express itself in a world-wide revolution, overthrowing all law and order,

followed by world-wide anarchy; but in the midst of this confusion God will SET UP His

Kingdom, which will satisfy the desires of all nations. Man’s extremity will become God’s

opportunity, and “the desire of all nations shall come” – the Kingdom of God, in power and great

glory (Haggai 2: 7).

 

Neither Jesus nor the apostles interfered with earthly rulers in any way. Instead, they taught the

Church to submit to these powers, even though it caused them much suffering; to obey the laws,

and to respect those in authority, even if they were unworthy of esteem; to pay their taxes, and,

except where they conflicted with God’s laws (Acts 4: 19) (Acts 5: 29), to offer no resistance to

any established laws (Romans 13: 1-7) (Matthew 22: 21).

 

The Lord’s People as Good Examples

 

The Lord’s people, knowing that God’s purpose is to let the world fully test its own ability to

govern itself, should not be of the world, even though they are in it. They influence the world by

their separation from its spirit, by letting their light shine; thus through their lives the spirit of

truth REPROVES the world. As peaceable, orderly law abiders, commenders of every righteous

law, reprovers of lawlessness and sin and pointers forward to the promised Kingdom of God and

its blessings, the Lord’s people are a power for good as representatives of her Lord.

 

Shortly after the death of the Apostles, the early Church, recognizing that preaching Christ and

His coming Kingdom was unpopular and brought persecution, fell to the temptation that she

could improve upon God’s plan by combining the Church with the worldly powers. As a result,

the Papacy was developed, and eventually became the mistress and queen of nations

(Revelation 17: 3-5) (Revelation 18: 7).

 

This policy changed everything. In due time she began teaching that the promised Millennial

reign of Christ HAD COME, and that Christ was represented in her popes, who reigned over the

kings of the earth. “She made all nations drunk” with her erroneous doctrines (Revelation 17: 2),

intimidating them by teaching that eternal torment awaited all opposers. Soon all the kings of

Europe were crowned or deposed by her supposed authority.

 

The Protestant Reformers later abandoned many of Papacy’s claims, yet they also fell into the

same error, and began exercising the authority of monarchs by appointing and sanctioning

governments and kings, calling such “Christian kingdoms.” Today we still hear the designation,

“The Christian World.” These nations are making false claims. Their only title, aside from the

vote of the people, is in God’s limited grant, spoken to Nebuchadnezzar – until He come whose

right the dominion belongs to (Isaiah 32: 1).

 

The best and worst nations are merely “kingdoms of this world,” whose lease of power has

expired, and soon will give place to Messiah’s Kingdom (Daniel 2: 44) (Daniel 7: 14, 18, 27).

The world is coming to realize that “the kingdoms of this world” are not Christlike, and as they

realize that they have been victims of a deception in the name of the God of Justice and the

Prince of Peace, they will act out their convictions so much more violently. The kingdoms of this

world will pass away with the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known. Some will try

in vain to hold on to this present order, not recognizing the new King, whose right it is. The Lord

will urge such, that they are fighting against Him, a conflict in which they are sure to fail

(Psalm 2: 1-6, 10-12).

 

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