on Daniel 2 :44
A kingdom which shall never be destroyed - The extensive and extending empire of Christ.
Shall not be left to other people - All the preceding empires have swallowed up each other successively; but this shall remain to the end of the world.
on Daniel 2 :44
And in the days of these kings - Margin, "their." The reading in the text "these kings" - is the more correct. The Vulgate renders this, "in the days of these kingdoms." The natural and obvious sense of the passage is, that during the continuance of the kingdoms above-mentioned, or before they should finally pass away, that is, before the last one should become extinct, another kingdom would be established on the earth which would be perpetual. Before the succession of universal monarchies should have passed away, the new kingdom would be set up that would never be destroyed. Such language is not uncommon. "Thus, if we were to speak of anything taking place in the days of British kings, we should not of course understand it as running through all their reigns, but merely as occurring in some one of them." - Prof. Bush. So it is said in Ruth 1:1 : "It came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land;" that is, the famine occurred sometime under that general administration, or before it had passed away, evidently not meaning that there was a famine in the reign of each one. So it is said of Jephthah, that he was buried "in the cities of Gilead;" that is, some one of them. Josiah was buried in, "the sepulchres of his fathers;" that is, in some one of them.
Shall the God of heaven - The God, who rules in heaven; the true God. This is designed to show the Divine origin of this kingdom, and to distinguish it from all others. Though the others here referred to were under the Divine control, and were designed to act an important part in preparing the world for this, yet they are not represented as deriving their origin directly from heaven. They were founded in the usual manner of earthly monarchies, but this was to have a heavenly origin. In accordance with this, the kingdom which the Messiah came to establish is often called, in the New Testament, "the kingdom of heaven," "the kingdom of God," etc. Compare Micah 4:7; Luke 1:32-33.
Set up a kingdom - "Shall cause to arise or stand up" - יקים yeqı̂ym. It shall not owe its origin to the usual causes by which empires are constituted on the earth by conquests; by human policy; by powerful alliances; by transmitted hereditary possession - but shall exist because God shall "appoint" and "constitute" it. There can be no reasonable doubt as to what kingdom is here intended, and nearly all expositors have supposed that it refers to the kingdom of the Messiah. Grotius, indeed, who made the fourth kingdom refer to the Seleucidse and Lagidse, was constrained by consistency to make this refer to the Roman power; but in this interpretation he stands almost, if not entirely, alone. Yet even he supposes it to refer not to "pagan" Rome only, but to Rome as the perpetual seat of power - the permanent kingdom - the seat of the church: "Imperium Romanum perpetuo mansurum, quod sedes erit ecclesice." And although he maintains that he refers to Rome primarily, yet he is constrained to acknowledge that what is here said is true in a higher sense of the kingdom of Christ: Sensus sublimior, Christum finem impositurum omnibus. imperiis terrestribus. But there can be no real doubt as to what kingdom is intended. Its distinctly declared Divine origin; the declaration that it shall never be destroyed; the assurance that it would absorb all other kingdoms, and that it would stand forever; and the entire accordance of these declarations with the account of the kingdom of the Messiah in the New Testament, show beyond a doubt that the kingdom of the Redeemer is intended.
Which shall never be destroyed - The others would pass away. The Babylonian would be succeeded by the Medo-Persian, that by the Macedonian, that by the Roman, and that in its turn by the one which the God of heaven would set up. This would be perpetual. Nothing would have power to overthrow it. It would live in the revolutions of all other kingdoms, and would survive them all. Compare the notes at Daniel 7:14; and the summary of the doctrines taught here at the close of the notes at Daniel 2:45.
And the kingdom shall not be left to other people - Margin, "thereof. Literally, "Its kingdom shall not be left to other people;" that is, the ruling power appropriate to this kingdom or dominion shall never pass away from its rightful possessor, and be transferred to other hands. In respect to other kingdoms, it often happens that their sovereigns are deposed, and that their power passes into the hands of usurpers. But this can never occur in this kingdom. The government will never change hands. The administration will be perpetual. No foreign power shall sway the scepter of this kingdom. There "may be" an allusion here to the fact that, in respect to each of the other kingdoms mentioned, the power over the same territory "did" pass into the hands of other people. Thus, on the same territory, the dominion passed from the hands of the Babylonian princes to the hands of Cyrus the Persian, and then to the hands of Alexander the Macedonian, and then to the hands of the Romans. But this would never occur in regard to the kingdom which the God of heaven would set up. In the region of empire appropriate to it, it would never change hands; and this promise of perpetuity made this kingdom wholly unlike all its predecessors.
But it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms - As represented by the stone cut out of the mountains without hands, impinging on the image. See the notes at Daniel 2:34-35.
Two inquiries at once meet us here, of somewhat difficult solution. The first is, How, if this is designed to apply to the kingdom of the Messiah, can the description be true? The language here would seem to imply some violent action; some positive crushing force; something like what occurs in conquests when nations are subdued. Would it not appear from this that the kingdom here represented was to make its way by conquests in the same manner as the other kingdoms, rather than by a silent and peaceful influence? Is this language, in fact, applicable to the method in which the kingdom of Christ is to supplant all others? In reply to these questions, it may be remarked,
(1) That the leading idea, as apparent in the prophecy, is not so much that of "violence" as that the kingdoms referred to would be "uttterly brought to an end;" that there would be, under this new kingdom, ultimately an entire cessation of the others; or that they would be removed or supplanted by this. This is represented Daniel 2:35 by the fact that the materials composing the other kingdoms are represented before this as becoming like "the chaff of the summer threshing-floors;" and as "being carried away, so that no place was found for them." The stone cut out of the mountain, small at first, was mysteriously enlarged, so that it occupied the place which they did, and ultimately filled the earth. A process of gradual demolition, acting on them by constant attrition, removing portions of them, and occupying their place until they should disappear, and until there should be a complete substitution of the new kingdom in their place, would seem to correspond with all that is essential in the prophetic description, See the notes at Daniel 2:34, on the expression, "which smote the image upon his feet." But
(2) This language is in accordance with what is commonly used in the predictions respecting the kingdom of the Messiah - language which is descriptive of the existence of "power" in subduing the nations, and bringing the opposing kingdoms of the world to an end. Thus in Psalm 2:9, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron: thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Isaiah 9:12, "for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." So 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, "When he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet." These expressions denote that there will be an entire subjection of other kingdoms to that of the Messiah, called in the New Testament "the kingdom of God." They undoubtedly imply that there will be some kind of "force" employed - for this great work cannot be accomplished without the existence of "power;" but it may be remarked
(a) That it does not necessarily mean that there will be "physical" force, or power like that by which kingdoms have been usually overturned. The kingdom of the Redeemer is a kingdom of "principles," and those principles will subdue the nations, and bring them into subjection.
(b) It does not necessarily mean that the effect here described will be accomplished "at once." It may be by a gradual process, like a continual beating on the image, reducing it ultimately to powder.
The other question which arises here is, How can it be said that the new kingdom which was to be set up would "break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms?" How could the destruction of the image in the Roman period be in fact the destruction of the "three" previous kingdoms, represented by gold, and silver, and brass? Would they not in fact have passed away before the Roman power came into existence? And yet, is not the representation in Daniel 2:35, that the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold were broken in pieces together, and were all scattered like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor? Is it supposed that these kingdoms would be all in existence at the same time, and that the action of the symbolic "stone" was to be alike on all of them? To these questions, we may answer,
(1) That the meaning is, undoubtedly, that three of these kingdoms would have passed away at the time of the action of the "stone" referred to. They were to be a "succession" of kingdoms, occupying, to a great extent, the same territory, and not contemporary monarchies occupying distinct territories.
(2) The action of the "stone" was in fact, in a most important sense, to be on them all; that is, it was to be on what "constituted" these successive kingdoms of gold, silver, brass, and iron. Each was in its turn an universal monarchy. The same territory was substantially occupied by them all. The Medo-Persian scepter extended over the region under the Babylonian; the Macedonian over that; the Roman over that. There were indeed "accessions" in each successive monarchy, but still anything which affected the Roman empire affected what had "in fact" been the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, and the Macedonian. A demolition of the image in the time of the Roman empire would be, therefore, in fact, a demolition of the whole.
on Daniel 2 :44
2:44 In the days of these kings - While the iron kingdom stood, for Christ was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar. And this kingdom is not bounded by any limits, as worldly empires are, but is truly universal. And it shall be for ever, never destroyed or given to others, as the rest were.