“To the household of faith, and to Israelites, this work should be found particularly interesting and important. It
will demonstrate to both classes that the day of their redemption is dawning. It will enable them to discern the signs of the times, which are so luminously indicative of his appearing, ‘whose right it is to reign’… There are startling and stirring events about to happen, that will not only astonish, but terrify the world. That the reader may be ready is the earnest desire of his friend and well-wisher, THE AUTHOR.” From the Preface to Exposition of Daniel by John Thomas.

In taking a general survey of the contents of the Book of Daniel, it may be seen that two great powers are the principal subjects of its predictions. The one is styled “The Kingdom of Men” (Dan 4:17); and the other, “The Kingdom of God” (Dan 2:44; 4:3; 7:27).

It is true, that there are many symbols, such as the Image, the Fiery Furnace, the Tree-Stump, banded with brass and iron, the Four Beasts, the Ram, and the He-Goat; but these are signs in the prophetic heraldry, not of kingdoms distinct and independent of those which have preceded them, but of one and the same Kingdom of Men in the several phases of its existence.

The Kingdom of Men was founded by Nimrod, son of Cush, who was son of Ham, son of Noah. “The beginning of it was Babylon, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh, and the city of Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city” (Gen 10:8–12). This Nimroudia was the Kingdom of Men in the extent of it during the lifetime of its founder, comprehending as we see, Babylon and Assyria. These were its roots and trunk, which in after ages came to be famous for their strength and altitude, the beauty of their leaves, the abundance of their fruits, and their widespreading top; so that all the nations had shadow under it, and their rulers and great men dwelt in the boughs, and all flesh were fed of it (Dan 4:10–12).

As a magnificent “tree in the midst of the earth, whose height reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth”, the Kingdom of Men had become under the proud-hearted Nebuchadnezzar, the destroying lion of his age (Jer 4:7; 50:17). He had grown and become strong; “for his greatness had grown, and reached unto heaven, and his dominions to the end of the earth” (Dan 4:22). In this testimony “the end of the earth” is defined by the extent of the dominion of the Kingdom of Men. It does not extend to the entire globe, for an immense proportion of it has ever been beyond the limits of this kingdom. All Europe, America, and China were beyond “the end of the earth” when Nebuchadnezzar sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of Men. But, when the brazen-coated Greeks under Alexander the Macedonian established themselves in Babylon, the limits of “the earth” were enlarged; for in speaking of the “third kingdom of brass”, Daniel revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that it should “bear rule over all the earth”. When this was accomplished, “the end of the earth” advanced into Europe, and was defined by the western limit of Alexander’s Macedonian Kingdom. But “the end of the earth” was not yet fixed even then; for when the Iron Kingdom annexed the brazen dominions to a considerable extent, it removed the “end of the earth” to the Atlantic Ocean. The present constitution of the Iron Kingdom has enlarged “the earth” far beyond the shadow of the Assyrian tree when it represented the greatness of the Kingdom of Men under the Chaldean dynasty…

From these remarks upon “the end of the earth”, it will be seen that the Kingdom of Men has been diversified in its constitution, extent, and throne, since its foundation by Nimrod to the present time. It has nevertheless been the same Nimroudian kingdom, with Babylon and Assyria for its characteristics. Cyrus the Persian is styled the King of Babylon, and Artaxerxes, King of Assyria. Though of the Persian stock, having no consanguinity with Nebuchadnezzar, they were as much kings of Assyria and Babylon as he. Alexander the Great, though a Greek, and the Selucidae who succeeded him in that region, were also kings of Assyria and Babylon. When the Romans got the ascendancy in the Kingdom of Men, they banded the stump of its tree with iron and brass (Dan 4:15), and converted their own city into the “Great Babylon” of the dominion, which by the edict of Caracalla became co-extensive with the dominion itself; so that Babylon, as the name of the Empire, came again to stand by the great river Euphrates, where Nimrod had originally planted the tree.

The different forms which the Kingdom of Men had assumed since the overthrow of Nineveh, are represented in the before-named symbols of the Book of Daniel. The metallic image is that kingdom as it will exist when Gog comes to fall upon the mountains of Israel. If the observer take up a position contemporary with that crisis, and view the Kingdom of Men as it will then have existed from the beginning of its ascendancy over the House of Judah or of David, he will perceive that it has assumed five distinct forms; such as, the Chaldean, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian or Grecian, the Roman, and the Russian; represented in the order of their enumeration by the gold, the silver, the brass, the iron, and the clay. But all the important characteristics of the Kingdom of Men in relation to the House of David and the saints (the Heirs of the divine government styled the Kingdom of God) and Judah, could not be exhibited in a compound metallic image of a man: it was, therefore, necessary to introduce other symbols for its elucidation. In the third chapter of Daniel, we are presented with an interesting illustration of the impiety and blasphemy of the Kingdom of Men; of its hostility to the people of the House of David, or the Jews, whether such by nature, or by walking in the steps of the faith of Abraham, or by adoption; of the furnace of affliction through which they would have to pass in rejecting the superstitions of the Kingdom of Men, and in adhering to the truth of God; of their meeting with the Deliverer in their extremity; of the destruction of their tormentors; of their final deliverance; and of the ascription at last of blessing, and honour, and glory, and power to the God of Israel by the assembled nations, when God’s people shall be promoted to the direction of human affairs, and the Kingdom of Men shall be no more. Nebuchadnezzar, in referring to his dream, and to the wonderful deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to the Tree-Stump banded with Brass and Iron, styles them “signs and wonders that the High God hath wrought towards me”. He might well exclaim, “How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and his dominion from generation to generation”.

By the Image-Sign, Nebuchadnezzar learned for the first time, that the God of Israel was above all gods and kings; and that He intended, notwithstanding the Chaldeo-Babylonish conquest of Judah, and reduction of their city and temple to ruin, to have a kingdom among the generations of men, which in turn should destroy their kingdom originally founded by Nimrod.

By the Fiery-Furnace “Wonder” he was taught, that God would deliver His servants that trust in Him with a salvation which would make them invulnerable to human power, and fit to possess the kingdom “which shall not be left to other people”. And, by the sign of the Tree, and the wonder, of which he was the subject in his own person, he learned, that the rulers in the Kingdom of Men could not do as they pleased; that those who attained to high places in it (as in his own case) were such as He sets up as the most fitting instruments to work out His own purposes; and that the only kingdom that will be everlasting on earth is His Own, which is to grind to powder and bring to an end all the kingdoms of the Babylonish Confederacy of the Latter Days.