|Event 1 - Lessons
|The Most Comprehensive History
The Bible is the most ancient and the most comprehensive history that men
possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and throughout
the ages a divine hand has preserved its purity. It lights up the far-distant
past, where human research in vain seeks to penetrate. In God's word only
do we behold the power that laid the foundations of the earth and that stretched
out the heavens. Here only do we find an authentic account of the origin
of nations. Here only is given a history of our race unsullied by human
pride or prejudice.
the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am
God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning,
and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My
counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: " Isaiah
In the annals of human history the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires,
appear as dependent on the will and prowess of man. The shaping of events seems,
to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in
the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and
through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions,
the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels
of His own will.
The Bible reveals the true philosophy of history. In those words of matchless
beauty and tenderness spoken by the apostle Paul to the sages of Athens is set
forth God's purpose in the creation and distribution of races and nations: He "hath
made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,
and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find
Him." Acts 17:26, 27. God declares that whosoever will may come "into
the bond of the covenant." Ezekiel 20:37. In the creation it was His purpose
that the earth be inhabited by beings whose existence should be a blessing to
themselves and to one another, and an honor to their Creator. All who will may
identify themselves with this purpose. Of them it is spoken, "This people
have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise." Isaiah 43:21.
God has revealed in His law the principles that underlie all true prosperity
both of nations and of individuals. "This is your wisdom and your understanding," Moses
declared to the Israelites of the law of God. "It is not a vain thing for
you; because it is your life." Deuteronomy 4:6; 32:47. The blessings thus
assured to Israel are, on the same conditions and in the same degree, assured
to every nation and every individual under the broad heavens.
exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. " Proverbs
"It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established
by righteousness." Proverbs 16:12
The power exercised by every ruler on the earth is Heaven-imparted; and upon
his use of the power thus bestowed, his success depends. To each the word of
the divine Watcher is, "I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me." Isaiah
45:5. And to each the words spoken to Nebuchadnezzar of old are the lesson of
life: "Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy
to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility." Daniel 4:27.
To understand these things,--to understand that "righteousness exalteth a nation;" that "the
throne is established by righteousness" and "upholden by mercy" (Proverbs 14:34;
16:12; 20:28); to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation
of His power who "removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (Daniel 2: 21),--this
is to understand the philosophy of history.
In the word of God only is this clearly set forth. Here it is
shown that the strength of nations, as of individuals, is not
found in the opportunities or facilities that appear to make them invincible;
it is not found in their boasted greatness. It is measured by the fidelity
with which they fulfill God's purpose.
An illustration of this truth is found in the history of ancient Babylon. To
Nebuchadnezzar the king the true object of national government was represented
under the figure of a great tree, whose height "reached unto heaven, and
the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair,
and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all;" under its shadow
the beasts of the field dwelt, and among its branches the birds of the air had
their habitation. Daniel 4:11, 12. This representation shows the character of
a government that fulfills God's purpose--a government that protects and upbuilds
"The tree grew, and was strong, and the height
thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to
the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair,
and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for
all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and
the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof,
and all flesh was fed of it." Daniel
God exalted Babylon that it might fulfill this purpose. Prosperity attended the
nation until it reached a height of wealth and power that has never since been
equaled-- fitly represented in the Scriptures by the inspired symbol, a "head
of gold." Daniel 2:38.
But the king failed of recognizing the power that had exalted him. Nebuchadnezzar
in the pride of his heart said: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have
built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor
of my majesty?" Daniel 4:30.
Instead of being a protector of men, Babylon became a proud and cruel oppressor.
The words of Inspiration picturing the cruelty and greed of rulers in Israel
reveal the secret of Babylon's fall and of the fall of many another kingdom since
the world began: "Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill
them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened,
neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which
was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither
have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled
them." Ezekiel 34:3, 4.
To the ruler of Babylon came the sentence of the divine Watcher:
O king, "to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed
from thee." Daniel 4:31.
"Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of
Sit on the ground: there is no throne. . . .
Sit thou silent,
And get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans;
For thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms."
"O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in
treasures, Thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness,"
"Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
The beauty of the Chaldees' excellency,
Shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah."
"I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and
I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts." Jeremiah
51:13; Isaiah 13:19; 14:23.
Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy
its place on the earth, that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose
of "the Watcher and the Holy One." Prophecy has traced the rise and
fall of the world's great empires--Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With
each of these, as with nations of less power, history repeated itself. Each had
its period of test, each failed, its glory faded, its power departed, and its
place was occupied by another.
"MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. "Daniel 5:26-28
While the nations rejected God's principles, and in this rejection
wrought their own ruin, it was still manifest that the divine,
overruling purpose was working through all their movements.
This lesson is taught in a wonderful symbolic representation given to the prophet
Ezekiel during his exile in the land of the Chaldeans. The vision was given at
a time when Ezekiel was weighed down with sorrowful memories and troubled forebodings.
The land of his fathers was desolate. Jerusalem was depopulated. The prophet
himself was a stranger in a land where ambition and cruelty reigned supreme.
As on every hand he beheld tyranny and wrong, his soul was distressed, and he
mourned day and night. But the symbols presented to him revealed a power above
that of earthly rulers.
Upon the banks of the river Chebar, Ezekiel beheld a whirlwind seeming to come
from the north, "a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness
was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber." A number
of wheels, intersecting one another, were moved by four living beings. High above
all these "was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire
stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance
of a man above upon it." "And there appeared in the cherubims the form
of a man's hand under their wings." Ezekiel 1:4, 26, 10:8. The wheels were
so complicated in arrangement that at first sight they appeared to be in confusion;
but they moved in perfect harmony. Heavenly beings, sustained and guided by the
hand beneath the wings of the cherubim, were impelling these wheels; above them,
upon the sapphire throne, was the Eternal One; and round about the throne a rainbow,
the emblem of divine mercy.
As the wheellike complications were under the guidance of the
hand beneath the wings of the cherubim, so the complicated
play of human events is under divine control. Amidst the strife and
tumult of nations, He that sitteth above the cherubim still
guides the affairs of the earth.
The history of nations that one after another have occupied their allotted time
and place, unconsciously witnessing to the truth of which they themselves knew
not the meaning, speaks to us. To every nation and to every individual of today
God has assigned a place in His great plan. Today men and nations are being measured
by the plummet in the hand of Him who makes no mistake. All are by their own
choice deciding their destiny, and God is overruling all for the accomplishment
of His purposes.
The history which the great I AM has marked out in His word, uniting link after
link in the prophetic chain, from eternity in the past to eternity in the future,
tells us where we are today in the procession of the ages, and what may be expected
in the time to come. All that prophecy has foretold as coming to pass, until
the present time, has been traced on the pages of history, and we may be assured
that all which is yet to come will be fulfilled in its order.