The Spiritual Features of This History
Firstly, we are impressed by this book with the fact that the government of the world on the human side is seen to be for this long period in the hands of Gentile rulers. That carries with it a very great deal more than is apparent on the surface, and we shall see something of what that includes as we go along.
Then in the second place, in a special and distinctive way the kingdom of God of the heavens is seen to be operating. Now put those two things together and you have something of tremendous significance. On the one hand, the fact that for some 2,500 years of this world's history, on the human side, its government is in the hands of Gentile rulers, and on the other hand, the fact that with the introduction of that regime there is so much said about the rule, the government of the God of the heavens. I do not know whether you have been impressed with that phrase, and similar phrases in the Book of Daniel. If you care to make a note and look it up I will just give you some of the places in which that phrase and like phrases are used. Five times in Chapter 2:18, 19, 28, 37, 44. Five times in Chapter 4:13, 26, 31, 35, 37; and then in 5:23; 6:27; 7:13, 27.
Now that has a two-fold force. It has that general force which we have mentioned, that while Gentile powers, on the human side, have the government of this world in their hands, "The Heavens Do Rule." There is a specific emphasis laid upon the government of the heavens, and the God of the heavens. We shall come back to that later on, but there is another thing which goes along with that, which carries its own significance. Daniel was a Jew, probably of the seed royal, and if not of the seed royal one of dignity in the Hebrew race. If you read in Chapter 1 you will see that those that Nebuchadnezzar required to come into his court were to be taken from the seed royal or those outstanding in dignity, and Daniel and his friends were chosen on that ground. Now Daniel evidently held an important place in the Hebrew race and the Book makes it quite clear that Daniel had a special concern for Jerusalem, and the Lord's interest in Jerusalem, and the Lord's people the Jews. His windows were up toward Jerusalem three times a day, and he carried his own people as a great burden upon his heart, and yet withal he never speaks of the Lord as the God of the Jews, or of Israel, but always "the God of the Heavens" (Daniel 6). That is a Gentile age feature, and it brings in God's specific purpose in the age, which is not the Jews as such, though included in the purpose. It brings in a heavenly calling, not an earthly one. "Partakes of a heavenly calling" (Hebrews 3:1). It brings the heavens in with something which specifically relates to the heavens as differing from the Jewish kingdom on the earth, and shows that in this age the heavens are interested in that; that is the thing in which the heavens are concerned, this heavenly object. The God of the heavens is always seen here; it is the heavens ruling, and we shall see in what connection more specifically as we go on.
(continued with # 36 - (A Person, A Testimony, An Instrument)