The history of the Babylonian nation reveals to the one who searches for hidden principles, all that is necessary in order to understand the relation of earthly governments to God; the dealings of God with all the nations of the earth, and the attitude which men should assume toward God and toward earthly governments. These four principles can be gained from the study of the history of Babylon as recorded in the book of Daniel and by the prophets who wrote concerning this kingdom. This is true, because in Babylon is seen in some respects the highest development of the plans of Satan. Here were counterfeited the principles of the heavenly kingdom, and so much of the true metal was mingled with the alloy that an unusual strength was developed. In other words, the kingdom of Babylon was built and developed in accordance with laws which were in themselves divine, but since the greatest evil lies near to and is a perversion of the greatest good, so the perversion of the principles of the government of heaven made the strongest of earthly kingdoms. Built so that it was difficult for beings who were watching the progress of events to detect error, God, who never deals arbitrarily with men or angels, not even with Satan himself, allowed the Babylonian kingdom to run its natural course, that the world might have an object lesson and know forever
after that truth brings life, but that the least perversion of truth, no matter how slight, brings death.
In order to vindicate himself before the universe, God bestowed all manner of blessings upon this earthly kingdom which Satan boastingly claimed as his own. Wisdom was given to the people of Babylon, the holy Watcher protected the king on his throne, and God gave power to the ruler in battle, making him a conqueror. It was God who caused the tree to reach unto heaven, and gave strength and beauty to its branches. Everything by way of warning and entreaty was used by Infinite Wisdom to cause the Babylonians to see the difference between the true and the false, and lead them to choose the true. It is one of the most forcible commentaries in earth's history on the care of God for all, even the veriest sinner.
Had Babylon taken the proffered help, she would, in spite of all the power of Satan as prince of this world, have linked her throne with the throne of God, and would have been an everlasting kingdom. How easily might the history of the world have been changed!
People living in these last days, whether they be Christian or not, need not remain ignorant concerning their duty toward the civil government. Nations can not plead ignorance concerning their duty toward Christians, toward other nations, nor toward God, for the prophecies of Daniel explain it all. It is a book for rulers as well as for the common people. Babylon is an object lesson to the nations which are in existence to-day. Her growth was according to the laws of the growth of nations; her failures describe
the failures which are made to-day, and her destruction is a description of the end of all earthly kingdoms. Nations have a time of probation, as do individuals. A record is kept of national events, and when the cup of iniquity is full, destruction comes, and another power more vigorous, because less corrupt, takes its place. "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men," whether he is recognized or not, and things which, to human eyes, appear to have happened by chance, are directly under the control of the holy Watcher.
The study of the book of Daniel demands, therefore, that we take time to trace the history of Babylon as a nation.
A period of about twenty-five years intervenes between the close of the fourth and the opening of the fifth chapter. The reign of Nebuchadnezzar closed shortly after the restoration of his reason as related in the fourth chapter of Daniel. From a worldly point of view, his had been a long and prosperous reign, and at its close there were no signs of weakening in the empire. Nebuchadnezzar had a son of age to fill the place of his father. No one questioned his right to the throne, and while they mourned the death of Nebuchadnezzar, apparently the subjects had much reason to rejoice over the succession of the son. In the eyes of heaven this history was a checkered one. There had been periods when a desire to know the right and rule justly were written opposite the name of the king. But these were followed by still longer periods when the voice of the Divine One was altogether unheeded. There was a record of wonderful providences, rich blessings, and bitter trials, all having one
object,-to turn the minds of the world to the only source of life and power. If Heaven ever grows weary in watching the struggles of nations, what must have been the burden as they saw this kingdom repeatedly choose the course which was leading to inevitable ruin. Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, is mentioned but twice in the Scriptures, and in each case reference is made to one act of his life. It seems strange that such a father should be followed by a son of whom so little is recorded, but it is gratifying to notice that when the silence is broken, it is to relate a deed of kindness. In the first year of his reign he took from prison Jehoiachin, the former king of Jerusalem, a man now fifty years of age, who had languished in bonds since a boy of eighteen. The Jewish ex-ruler was given clothing and a king's provisions, and exalted above other kings in Babylon all the remainder of his days. Evil-merodach had been raised in the Babylonian court, and had known of the Jews and their history from his youth up. It would not be an impossible thing that Daniel, made chief of the Chaldean wise men by Nebuchadnezzar, had been the instructor of the prince. While details are omitted, true it is that for some reason the destruction of Babylon was delayed beyond the reign of Evilmerodach. His brief reign of two years was followed by an unsettled period, a most dangerous experience in a monarchy.
Finally Nabonadius, the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, was seated on the throne, and about the year 541 he associated with him his son Belshazzar. The two reigned conjointly until the destruction of the kingdom in 538 b. c.
youth, the grandson of the great Nebuchadnezzar, soon proved himself to be headstrong, wayward, cruel, and dissolute.
Daniel was no longer retained in the court. The time of his dismissal is not stated, but in the third year of Belshazzar's reign, he was living at Shushan, the capital of Elam, some distance east of Babylon, and it was at that place that he saw the vision which the eighth chapter of the book of Daniel relates.
During the reign of Nabonadius and Belshazzar, events of the greatest importance occurred. To the Jews who accepted the words of the prophets whom God sent, rising up early and sending, the downfall of the kingdom in the near future was well known. In spite of their own oppression there was a world to be warned, and as the host of the redeemed gather about the throne of God, made up, as it will be, of representatives of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, there will be some souls from ancient Babylon, who, having heard the proclamation of the message, separated from her sins, and were saved.
As the knowledge of God was lost by the ruling monarchs, and God-fearing men were no longer among the counselors, the oppression of the Jews became almost unbearable.
On going into Babylon they had been instructed by the Lord to build houses and plant vineyards, to marry and increase in numbers, and to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon, for their captivity would last seventy years. The people of God had the observance of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment to preserve their peculiarity and keep them from mingling 52Margin
with the heathen. The time came when the Babylonians, who were sun-worshipers, mocked the Jews because of the Sabbath. They were forbidden to celebrate their feasts; priests and rulers were degraded and persecuted. The Babylonians often demanded songs from the Jews. "They that wasted us required of
with the heathen. The time came when the Babylonians, who were sun-worshipers, mocked the Jews because of the Sabbath. They were forbidden to celebrate their feasts; priests and rulers were degraded and persecuted. The Babylonians often demanded songs from the Jews. "They that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion;" but their hearts were mournful. "Israel is a scattered sheep," wrote Jeremiah; "the lions have driven him away; . . . Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones." The Babylonians boasted that it was no sin to oppress the Jews, reasoning that God had placed the Hebrews in bondage because of their sins.
It is little wonder that the yoke was hard to bear and that the king was unrelenting. It was a time of trouble, a foretaste of the great time of trouble through which the people of God will pass before the second coming of the Saviour. Both periods are called by the same name,-the time of Jacob's Trouble,-by the prophet Jeremiah. Under these trying circumstances the Jews were obliged to preach the gospel which they once had the opportunity to give with power from Jerusalem.
Groaning beneath oppression, they had taught of the coming Messiah, the deliverer; they taught righteousness by faith, and the everlasting gospel, the hour of God's judgment, the fall of Babylon, and the destruction of those upon whom was found the mark of Babylonian worship. The spirit of prophecy, as belonging to the Jews, was known to the Babylonians throughout the period of captivity. Daniel, in the presence of the king, had, more than once, received divine enlightenment.
Ezekiel was sending messages broadcast from the Lord, and Jeremiah had received word from God with the command to make it known to all the nations round about. There was no hiding the fact that the God of the Jews had prophets among his people. It was in this way that not only the Jews, but Moab, Edom, Tyre and Sidon, Ammon, Egypt, Arabia, and even Media and Persia knew that the fall of Babylon was decreed. Many of these nations, and the Persians among the number, knew just what kingdom would be used to destroy Babylon, and the name of the man whom God had chosen to accomplish the overthrow.
Such are the messages which God sent, and thus it was that he made use of his people. Those whom he could not use when granted peace and prosperity and a city of their own, he used when slaves under the iron heel of Babylon. Babylon was like a city on the edge of a volcanic crater, but she believed it not. In the year 539 b. c., the general of the combined forces of the Medes and Persians started toward Babylon. The news reached the city that the enemy was on the march. Then it was that the message came to flee from the city and be as goats upon the mountainside. Jews who heeded the word of the Lord, then withdrew from Babylon. But the Persian army did not come. History says that Cyrus was stopped by the death of a sacred white horse, which was drowned in crossing a river. Cyrus set his men to digging channels for the river, spending one year in this way. Prophecy says, "The walls of Babylon shall fall. My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul....
And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumor that shall be heard in the land; a rumor shall both come one year, and after that in another year, shall come a rumor."
And so it was; one spring the rumor came, but the army failed to appear. The careless and unbelieving scoffed, but to the believing this was an opportune time. The next spring the rumor came again, but there was no time then to sell or prepare to leave, for the army came also, and the Babylonian and Medo-Persian forces met in open battle. The Babylonians were defeated, and returned within the fortifications of the city.
The gates were closed and the siege began. Those who were now in Babylon must live or die with the Babylonians, except God stay the hand of the destroyer.
The climax was reached by the greatest of earthly governments. All heaven was alive with anxiety. Only man was asleep to his impending destruction.
Page 60: Deut. 32:8; Ps. 75:4-7; Acts 17:26, 27; Matt. 22:18-22; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Sam. 2:9; 1 Sam. 14:6; Acts 10:34, 35; Rev. 17:5; Hab. 1:5-13; Isa. 10:1-16; Ps. 33:15-17; Eze. 18:4.
Page 61: Rom. 6:23; Dan. 4:17; Eze. 29:18-20; Job. 12:10; Isa. 5:4; Isa. 14:4-6; Jer. 51:9; Jer. 18:7, 8; Eze. 33:11, 14-16; Isa. 13:1-15; Amos 3:7; Ps. 25:14; 1 Cor. 10:11.
Page 62: Eccl. 1:9; Jer. 51:63, 64; Rev. 18:21; Gen. 18:20, 21; Gen. 19:14; Dan. 10:20; Jer. 51:20-23; Dan. 4:36, 37; Jer. 28:14; Jer. 27:5-8; Dan. 2:47; Dan. 3:28; Dan. 4:37; Jer. 39:11-14; Jer. 44:30; Ps. 119:67.
Page 63: Heb. 5:8; Ps. 119:71; Jer 50:38; Hosea 4:17; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34; Matt. 5:7; Dan. 2:48; Jer. 27:7.
Page 64: Dan. 5:2 [margin]; Dan. 5:1; Dan. 8:1; Jer. 51:60-64; Eze. 11:24, 25; Jer. 51:6; Rev. 7:9; Rev. 18:4; Ex. 1:8. Lam. 4:6, 18, 19; Jer. 29:4-7; Jer. 25:11, 12; Jer. 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21; Eze. 20:12, 16, 20.
Page 65: Lam. 1:7; Lam. 1:2-6; Ps. 137:1-6; Jer. 50:17; Jer. 50:7; Dan. 9:16; Jer. 2:3; Jer. 30:3-9; Jer. 50:33, 34; Jer. 23:5, 6; Isa. 13:6-22; Isa. 21:9; Jer. 51:8, 6, 35, 47; Dan. 2:36.
Page 66: Dan. 4:24; Dan. 7:1; Eze. 27:1, 2; Eze. 29:2, 3; Eze. 25:2, 3; Jer. 25:15-28; Isa. 44:28; Isa. 45:1, 2; Isa. 14:13; Isa. 21:2; Jer. 51:11, 28; Jer. 48:11, 12; 2 Kings 5:2-4; Dan. 2:49; Jer. 51:46; Jer. 50:8; Jer. 51:6; Matt. 24:15-20; Jer. 51:50; Jer. 51:44; Jer. 51:46.
Page 67: Jer. 51:24; 2 Peter 3:3; Jer. 50:43; Jer. 51:29; Ps. 90:5.