4. The Gospel of the Kingdom (continued)
The third case of a lost kingdom is referred to in chapter 9, where we read of Daniel's prayerful grieving over the destruction of Jerusalem. This tragedy was the saddest of the three. The people of God had sinned in the face of such great privileges. After all, Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen, who could have had but little knowledge of the true God. Belshazzar, it is true, had the one example for good, but he had much influence for evil all around him. Israel, however, were in a different position altogether. They had enjoyed every privilege, had been carefully instructed from their beginnings, had been preserved from evil influences and blessed with inspiring examples. Yet in them, too, pride had found expression - the pride of rebellion. "We have sinned, and have dealt perversely, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled" (9:5); "for we have rebelled against Him" (9:9).
God's judgments did not come to Israel without many warnings. They had not one prophetic vision of warning, but very many such visions. In their case it was not just one hand which wrote their condemnation, but many, many messages which were written by the prophets; messages of tender love and grace as well as of solemn appeal. But it was all in vain. Pride is deaf as well as blind. The Lord Himself could take no other course with His people than to let them reap the bitter harvest of their rebellion against His will, and so the judgment fell. When Daniel was praying, the full seventy years of desolation were nearly completed.
The tide seems to have turned when Daniel prayed on behalf of all the people, humbling himself in such confession as left no room at all for pride. The answer from Heaven was immediate . It always is. Daniel did not bring excuses; he did not make promises of amendment for the future. Like the prodigal son, he poured out his confession and asked for mercy. The prodigal's father did not let him finish his confession. He smothered it with the kisses of pardon. Daniel did finish his prayer, but as a matter of fact the heavenly messenger did not wait for him to get to the end; "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment went forth, and I am come ..." (9:23). We have said that God watches, that He weighs and that He warns: He also recovers with an everlasting redemption.
The New Kingdom in Christ
Man has lost his kingdom through pride. There is no need to labor that point any more. Daniel tells of the frantic efforts of rulers and kings to reverse that decision, and even indicates the apparent success for a time of some who seek to possess the kingdom in opposition to God's chosen King. But all such attempts are doomed to failure. The new kingdom from heaven is reserved for Him who is "meek and lowly in heart", the only One in whom pride was never found at all. "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (7:14).
(continued with # 23)