Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1952
NUMBER 18, PAGE 6,12a

The Smiting Of The Image - No. 2

James D. Bales, Searcy, Arkansas

We continue our discussion as to whether or not Daniel's prophecy is unfulfilled just because the church did not violently smite and physically crush Rome.

Boll has no right to reject the prophecy of Daniel, as applying to the present kingdom of God, on the ground that it did not inflict destruction on Rome in a literal violent impact. (Kingdom of God, 2nd Edition, p. 21) For Boll himself does not believe that the kingdom of God will engage in violent carnal warfare with Rome at the second coming of Christ. He cannot say that Christ does it without using the kingdom, for the prophecy said that the kingdom was to hit the image. (2:34-35,44,45) If, however, he maintains that it will not take a carnal warfare between God's kingdom and earth's kingdom in order to fulfill Daniel's prophecy at the second advent, how can he maintain that it was not fulfilled in the first century just because God's kingdom then did not violently smite and destroy Rome?

If Boll maintains that the kingdom of heaven itself will not have to smite the image, then he has dropped his literal interpreting of some of the things connected with the prophecy, so why should he object when we say that some of it is not literal in the sense of being a violent exercise of physical power on Rome.

Since the kingdom of heaven was cut out of the mountain without hands, since it obviously differs in its nature and establishment from kingdoms of this world, it would hardly be expected that this kingdom would smite the Rome kingdom in a carnal way as one kingdom smites another.

In the dream we saw the stone smite the image on his feet. (Dan. 2:34) This represented the establishment of the kingdom, for in the interpretation of the image Daniel said that "the God of heaven" shall "set up a kingdom." (Dan. 2:44) And instead of it being destroyed by the fourth empire, it would "break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Since God did establish the kingdom in the first century, the image was smitten, and the smiting must be interpreted in the light of New Testament teaching.

Daniel did not say that there would not be any more worldly governments after the kingdom of heaven was established. He simply showed that it would undermine the image (those kingdoms) and spread throughout the world. In the light of New Testament teaching we know that this does not mean that everyone will be converted.

Since the kingdom was cut out of the mountains without hands, it is difficult to see how the smiting can be regarded as literal. Since the kingdom was not established by hands as are kingdoms of this world, how can the kingdom lay violent hands on the Roman Empire?

The smiting was done by the little stone, and not by the mountain. So if the little stone stage started in the first century the smiting started then. And Boll admits that he has "no objection to offer" to the idea that the stone already exists and that it has reference to "the first preparation of the stone, in the establishment of the church on Pentecost." (The Kingdom of God, p. 34) And scripture does show that the little stone did smite the image in the first century, i.e., that the church was then established.

In what manner was Christ's kingdom to smite the worldly kingdom of Rome? This is described in the action of the stone, as that of bruising the image, so as to render its component elements, the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, which the wind carries away. A sublime image truly of their evanescent nature, as compared with that which destroyed them, and of their utter disappearance from the face of the world! But if we ask, in what respect, or by what kind of operation was this work of demolition to be wrought, nothing definite is indicated; nor, indeed, could it be from the nature of the representation; for it is only (as we have repeatedly stated) the external aspect of the matter that is here presented to the view — the appearances and effects of things alone are described. So far as these are concerned, we are distinctly informed that the whole of the magnificent image which engrossed the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, or, in plain terms, that a world-embracing monarchy such as he contemplated, presided over by one human will, and directed for the glory of its earthly head, in every shape and form which it might assume, was doomed to perpetual destruction. And that, not as a thing of itself dying out, but as a thing put out, and forever abolished by the establishment and the progress of that divine kingdom, to which alone the real universality and the absolute right of governing upon earth was to belong. This, it is well to be noted, though it is too commonly overlooked, is the only kind of abolition spoken of in the vision. It is not the subversion of constitutional governments, and the dissolution of earthly states and kingdoms, (a subject not brought into consideration here) but simply the extinction of those ambitious monarchies which grasped at the dominion of the world, and the causing them to disappear forever by the establishment of a higher kingdom, in which the idea they sought to embody was to be and alone could be realized. Has, then, the introduction of Christ's kingdom wrought such an effect? We answer, unhesitatingly, that it has. And if we are asked how? we reply, in the only way in which such gigantic and self-defying schemes could be effectually abolished, by rendering men familiar with divine realities, with elevating principles, with heavenly aims and prospects. It has spread through humanity a regenerating leaven, the sense of God's redeeming love to man; and by the wondrous acts of mercy and gifts of grace therewith connected, has diffused far and wide the feeling of the brotherhood of man, yea, and breathed the spirit of a new life into the history and aspirations of the world. It has thus, even with the manifold imperfects that have attended its working and progress on earth, forever antiquated the idea of a universal monarchy in its old and grosser sense; and shown this to be alone possible in the hands of Him, who, as at once God and man, Lord of heaven and earth, combines in his person the qualities, and holds at his command the gifts necessary to the establishment of such an empire. Since the diffusion of Christianity, the only thing in a wrong direction that has properly aimed at, or has ever seemed in any measure to possess the character of a world-embracing dominion, is the parodying by corrupt doctrine and a false usurpation of this divine kingdom itself. But that is an essential different matter from the old-world monarchies, and falling as it does within the domain of spiritual things, is brought out, as we shall see, in another connection." (Patrick Fairbairn, Prophecy, pp. 296-298)

It is true that Communism endeavors to establish a world rule. Yet, it claims to do it in the name of justice and brotherhood. It maintains that its goal is not a dictatorship — which they say is only temporary — but a paradise on earth in which there will be no dictatorship, and that all government will wither away as unnecessary.

But regardless of Communism, the four dictatorships of which Daniel spoke have passed away long ago.

Then, too, those peoples who have been influenced very much by Christ do not wish to be world dictators.

Of these matters Fairbairn also writes:

"It is, throughout, an ideal representation, formed so as to exhibit, in the most effective manner, the real tendencies and final issues of things; and, as a natural consequence, matters are compressed into a single act which might be the product of ages, and events appear in close juxtaposition which, in actual history, might stand ever so far apart. So was it, for example, in Isaiah's vision of the doom of Babylon, (chap. xiii,) and Ezekiel's vision of the destruction of Tyre, (chap xxvi, 7, seq., xxviii;) the work which it was to take centuries to accomplish is presented as a thing devised and executed at once. We are not, therefore, to suppose here that because the doom of the worldly power is represented in a similar manner, that it is to fall by a single stroke . . ." (Patrick Fairbairn, Prophecy, p. 304)

In the 7th chapter of Daniel there is no indication as to just how the kingdom of God was to smite the fourth beast, the Roman Empire. The beast was slain and given to the burning flame. (7:11) He shows also that one like the Son of man received dominion (7:13-14), and that the kingdom and dominion was given to the people of the saints of God. (7:27) Rome was doomed, but there is no statement in Daniel 7 to indicate just how the doom was accomplished.

In the light of the things which prove that the kingdom of Daniel 2:44 we must interpret the nature of the smiting as not being a direct, carnal, violent impact of the kingdom of God on the kingdom of Rome. One of the rules of biblical study, and especially of prophecy, is "to begin with that which is plain and explicit and in the light of the plain to interpret what is less clear." (Edward J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, p. 275)

Christianity smote Rome in that it dealt a blow at the idolatry and paganism on which it was based. The Caesars were sometimes viewed as gods, and they were considered as a high priest also.

The four kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar's dream were built on the principle of human dictatorship. Christianity undermines that principle in showing the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ .

Rome has vanished, it has gone as R. H. Boll admits (The Kingdom of God, p. 27. "Rome also has vanished." "Rome is gone"). This is in harmony with the prophecy for Rome was to vanish after the kingdom was established. It has vanished. The kingdom, however, was to remain. It has remained. Since the fourth empire was not to vanish until after it was smitten, it must have already been smitten because it has vanished.