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"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!



Chapter 10

Waiting in Exile for Babylon's Fall

THE exile of God's chosen people and the desolating of the land where he had put his holy name were seemingly good reason for Gentile nations to reproach him. God himself said concerning his deported people of Israel: "They will come in to the nations where they will have to come in, and people will profane my holy name in saying with reference to them, 'These are the people of Jehovah, and from his land they have gone out.' " (Ezekiel 36:20) Nonetheless, the Most High God gave the Gentile nations good proof that he still had the universal sovereignty over all heaven and earth, even while Jerusalem lay desolate seventy years.

Babylonia was filled with idols and temples of false gods. So the exiled Jews observed and came to appreciate the low depths to which the worship of false gods brings a people, even a mighty nation like Babylon, the Third World Power. How pure the worship of their God was in comparison! They felt great homesickness for their God-given land and its holy city where they had unitedly worshiped Jehovah at his temple. They felt in no mood to entertain their captors, the Babylonians. Their heartbroken feelings were summed up in the words of the psalmist:

"By the rivers of Babylon — there we sat down. We also wept when we remembered Zion. Upon the poplar trees in the midst of her we hung our harps. For there those holding us captive asked us for the words of a

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song, and those mocking us — for rejoicing: 'Sing for us one of the songs of Zion.' How can we sing the song of Jehovah upon foreign ground? If I should forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgetful. Let my tongue stick to my palate, if I were not to remember you, if I were not to make Jerusalem ascend above my chief cause for rejoicing. . . . O daughter of Babylon, who are to be despoiled, happy will he be that rewards you with your own treatment with which you treated us. Happy will he be that grabs ahold and does dash to pieces your children against the crag." — Psalm 137:1-9.

Those mournful exiles had reason to expect Babylon to be "despoiled" and be destroyed, mighty though she was. Even before they became exiles Jehovah's prophets, who had foretold Jerusalem's destruction, had also foretold Babylon's destruction. They had now experienced Jerusalem's destruction. O how they now longed for Jehovah's retribution upon Babylon! However, even during their hard exile in the conqueror's land they were given fresh assurances of a fall for Babylon. Divine notice of her impending fall was even served directly upon Babylon herself. The prophet particularly used to serve such notice upon Babylon was Daniel, a Jewish exile.

Daniel was one of those young men taken into exile with King Jehoiachin in 617 B.C. Daniel and three dose Hebrew companions, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, were chosen to receive three years of special teaching in "the writing and the tongue of the Chaldeans." This was meant to make them suitable as counselors for King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the three years, which would be in 614 B.C., or the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, the king of Babylon had all the young Jewish exiles who had received special schooling ushered in before him for examination.

"Out of them all no one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; and they continued to stand before the king. And as regards every matter of

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wisdom and understanding that the king inquired about from them, he even got to find them ten times better than all the magic-practicing priests and the conjurers that were in all his royal realm. And Daniel continued on until the first year of Cyrus the [Persian] king."  — Daniel 1:1-21.

It could not have been before the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar's kingship that he held such examination and found Daniel to be exceptionally bright. How, then, shall we understand the statement in Daniel 2:1? It reads: "And in the second year of the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams; and his spirit began to feel agitated, and his very sleep was made to be something beyond him." Since the king forgot the dream and Daniel finally volunteered both to recall the dream and to interpret it, Hebrew scholars propose that the Hebrew text of Daniel 2:1 should be "twelfth year" instead of "second year."* However, the most reasonable and fitting suggestion is that this refers to the "second year" from a marked event, namely, from Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C. That is when the king of Babylon came to be the first one to hold world domination by God's permission.

In view of that fact, Daniel, when interpreting to Nebuchadnezzar his dream of the immense image with a golden head, could say to him: "You, O king, the king of kings, you to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the might, and the strength and the dignity, and into whose hand he has given, wherever the sons of mankind are dwelling, the beasts of the field and the winged creatures of the heavens, and whom he has made ruler over all of them, you yourself are the head of gold." — Daniel 2:37, 38.

The dynasty of kings of the Semite race that Nebuchadnezzar established over Babylon was. the golden


* See footnote on Daniel 2: 1 in Biblia Hebraica, by Rudolf Kittel, ninth edition of 1934. Also see the footnote in The Cross-Reference Bible, Variorum Edition, by Harold E. Monser, B.A., edition of 1910.
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head. But the significant thing that Nebuchadnezzar should have noticed was that this dynasty would give way to another royal world power. Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar: "And after you there will rise another kingdom inferior to you." (Daniel 2:39) This meant the fall of Babylon and the rise of what would historically be the Fourth World Power. Nebuchadnezzar may have suspected who that inferior but next kingdom would be. He could recall how he participated with the Scythians and the Medes in destroying the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. He may even have foreseen then a struggle for world dominance between the Median Empire and Babylon. But, if Babylon itself would not last, it was a consolation to him to know that no other Gentile world power, from the golden head down to the clay-besmeared iron feet of the symbolic image, would be lasting. The gold, the silver, the copper and the iron of the dream image pictured the march of Gentile World Powers during the long period of the "times of the Gentiles," "the appointed times of the nations."  — Daniel 2:31-43; Luke 21:24. AV; NW.

The only lasting world power would be that one established by the God of heaven. In bringing the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream to a grand climax, Daniel said: "And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite; forasmuch as you beheld that out of the mountain a stone was cut not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the copper, the molded clay, the silver and the gold. The grand God himself has made known to the king what is to occur after this. And the dream is reliable, and the interpretation of it is trustworthy." — Daniel 2:44,45.

By this dream and its divine interpretation, King Nebuchadnezzar knew that Babylon, which he had built up to the height of its glory, would not be overturned

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and crushed by God's kingdom. He did not appreciate, however, that a future Babylon greater than the Babylonian Empire of his day would be crushed by the established kingdom of God. But when would the kingdom that would be cut without human hands out of the mountain of the sovereignty of the God of heaven be established? Information that God sent to King Nebuchadnezzar indicated when that event would occur.

LENGTH OF THE "APPOINTED TIMES OF THE NATIONS"

King Nebuchadnezzar promoted idol worship throughout his domain, but in this regard he received a severe rebuke. This came when Daniel's three Hebrew companions, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, as the king of Babylon called them, were delivered from the fiery furnace into which the king had commanded them to be pitched for not joining in the worship of the golden idol on the plain of Dura. So he put through an order that "any people, national group or language that says anything wrong against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should be dismembered, and its house should be turned into a public privy; forasmuch as there does not exist another god that is able to deliver like this one." (Daniel 3:29) However, Nebuchadnezzar built no temple to Jehovah. At Babylon he built fifty-four temples to all the false gods, which gods symbolized merely the attributes of Bel and his son Marduk, or Merodach.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a great builder of public works. His inscriptions concern themselves, not with his military exploits, but with his building projects, including temples, palaces, streets, embankments and walls. He made Babylon the wonder city of the ancient world. But in all of Babylonia no building compared with the famous Hanging Gardens that King Nebuchadnezzar built to satisfy the homesick longings of his Median queen. Those gardens were rated as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

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One night Nebuchadnezzar had another meaningful dream. It was sent to him more than eight years before his death and was really a prophecy. Again Jehovah's prophet Daniel had to interpret the dream. It was of an immense tree that an angel from heaven commanded to be chopped down. Its stump was then banded with iron and copper and had to stay that way among the grass of the field until "seven times" passed over it: "Let its heart be changed from that of mankind, and let the heart of a beast be given to it, and let seven times pass over it." To what intent? "To the intent that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind." — Daniel 4:1-18.

Whom did the tree symbolize? Nebuchadnezzar! So Daniel said: "It is you, O king, because you have grown great and become strong, and your grandeur has grown great and reached to the heavens, and your rulership to the extremity of the earth." He was to be driven from his throne into the field to eat grass like bulls. But, like that tree stump, his kingdom was to be held for him until he had spent "seven times" out in the grassy field like a bull. Then he would come to his senses again and be obliged to confess that the Most High God rules supreme and gives the kingdom of mankind to whom he wants to give it. What was predicted actually befell the king.

According to its calendar, Babylon observed the lunar year, not the solar year. One lunar year after King Nebuchadnezzar had the tree dream and got its interpretation, he was walking upon his royal palace and looking over the city that owed its magnificence mainly to him. At the sight he felt exalted and said: "Is not this Babylon the Great, that I myself have built for the royal house with the strength of my might and for the dignity of my majesty?"

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Then a voice from heaven announced that the tree dream would be fulfilled upon him now. He was seized with madness such as marks the disease of lycanthropy. He did not want to sit down on his glorious throne but wanted to go out into the field and eat grass like a bull. Out there is where he was driven. Out there he stayed for "seven times" or seven years. At the end of that period his understanding came back to him. He now praised the Most High God rather than himself as a king: "His rulership is a rulership to time indefinite and his kingdom is for generation after generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are being considered as merely nothing, and he is doing according to his own will among the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth. And there exists no one that can check his hand or that can say to him, 'What have you been doing?' "

On learning of Nebuchadnezzar's recovery his royal officers and grandees came for him and reinstated him on his throne. Says he: "I was re-established upon my own kingdom, and greatness extraordinary was added to me." He confessed that the Most High God is the "King of the heavens, because all his works are truth and his ways are justice, and because those who are walking in pride he is able to humiliate." — Daniel 4:19-37.

Both the dream and its direct fulfillment upon Nebuchadnezzar were prophetic. That is why this experience of his is recorded in the Bible. In this greater fulfillment what does the immense tree picture? At the time of the dream King Nebuchadnezzar held world domination and also had served as Jehovah's instrument or "cup" of judgment. Hence the tree as represented in this king of the Third World Power pictured world sovereignty or domination. In support of this explanation, Daniel 4:26 says: "Because they said to leave the rootstock of the tree, your kingdom will be sure to you."

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What was really meant was the world sovereignty or domination exercised by the kingdom of God. For years the typical kingdom of Judah had stood as a block or hindrance to King Nebuchadnezzar's exercising world domination, as the leading governmental power on earth. Inasmuch as the king of Judah, from the days of King David, sat on "Jehovah's throne" in Zion or Jerusalem, Jehovah the Universal Sovereign was ruling through that typical kingdom of God on the earth. Jehovah was thus showing that he rules in the kingdom of mankind and gives it to the one to whom he wants to give it, to one in the line of King David. Thus the world domination depended upon the Most High God, Jehovah, "the King of the heavens." World domination as regards the earth Jehovah held in his hands.

In Ezekiel 21: 25-27, which is addressed to King Zedekiah of Jerusalem, Jehovah declared that He would ruin the typical kingdom of God and would overturn matters by bringing low the high one who occupied "Jehovah's throne" in Zion and putting on high what was low, namely, the Gentile world power. This is what Jehovah did in 607 B.C. by letting the king of Babylon take Zedekiah captive and destroy Jerusalem and its temple. So the world domination as symbolized by God's typical kingdom, the kingdom of Judah, was cut down like the immense tree of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Jehovah even used King Nebuchadnezzar as His instrument in chopping it down. In this way world domination as typically symbolized in the kingdom of Judah was transferred from the king on "Jehovah's throne" in Zion to the victorious Gentile world power. In this way Gentile Babylon, as ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar, took up the world domination and had no more interference from the kingdom of Judah. Thus Babylon's king became a symbol of world domination by God's arrangement.

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In the dream the tree stump was left in the ground. Why? To symbolize that the one who originally held the world domination had not forever let go of it. He would take it up again, but not before a certain time interval of self-restraint would expire. This restraining himself from wielding world domination by a kingdom of God for ruling the earth was pictured by the banding of the tree stump with iron and copper, the two strongest metals then known.

How long was this self-restraint from exercising world power over the earth by a kingdom of God decreed to last? How long would the tree stump symbolizing "kingdom" (Daniel 4:26) be banded? The length of time was indicated by the time from when Nebuchadnezzar became mad and was driven from Babylon's throne until God restored Nebuchadnezzar's sanity and he was reseated on Babylon's throne to exercise world domination. That period of his being humbled to the grass of the earth was seven times. In Nebuchadnezzar's case that period was a total of seven lunar years. At the end of that time the symbolic banding was taken off. Then the symbolic stump was allowed to grow a royal sprout, as pictured by Nebuchadnezzar's resuming the kingship with extraordinary greatness. — Compare Ezekiel 17:22-24; Job 14:7-9.

When Nebuchadnezzar's madness ended and he was reinstated on Babylon's throne, Jehovah God did not resume his own world domination and reestablish a typical kingdom of God on earth at Jerusalem with a king sitting on "Jehovah's throne." At that time, all that Jehovah God did was to get a confession from the restored Nebuchadnezzar that the Most High God was the "King of the heavens." Jehovah's taking up his power to rule by establishing a kingdom of God for this earth came long after Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Jehovah to be the "King of the heavens." It is clear, therefore, that the "seven times" or seven literal years in Nebuchadnezzar's personal experience were

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symbolic. They symbolized a greater period of time in the fulfillment of the larger meaning of the dream. Now, how much time does the Bible show that actually to be?

The years spoken of in the Bible were lunar years. In order for the lunar (moon) year to keep pace with the solar (sun) year, the lunar year has to change every so often from a twelve-month year of 355 days (with 50 or 51 sabbaths) to a thirteen-month year of 383, 384 or 385 days. But in a symbolic or prophetic year, the number of days is fixed at the unchanging number of 360, and each day thereof stands for a whole year. "A day for a year, a day for a year." — Numbers 14:34: Ezekiel 4:6.

In the prophetic book of Revelation a thousand two hundred and sixty days are spoken of as being equal to a "time and times and half a time," or three and a half times. (Revelation 12:6. 14) If we divide three and a half (3.5) into a thousand two hundred and sixty days, it gives us three hundred and sixty (360) days to a "time."

Accordingly, a symbolic or prophetic "time" would Scripturally equal three hundred and sixty (360) years. If, now, three and a half symbolic "times" amounted to 1,260 symbolic days, that is to say, 1,260 years, then twice three and a half (or seven) symbolic "times" would be twice 1,260 years, that is to say, 2,520 years. Thus the "seven times" that are mentioned in Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32 in connection with the tree dream would stand for two thousand five hundred and twenty literal years. In that period of time the lunar years, by means of their regular thirteen-month years, would balance off with the solar years and would equal 2,520 solar years.

When, though, would those "seven times," or 2,520 years begin to count? In the tree dream the "seven times" counted from when the tree was cut down and the tree stump was banded.

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In Nebuchadnezzar's case the "seven times" counted from when he turned mad and was driven from his throne. In the fulfillment of the greater prophetic meaning, the "seven times" of 2,520 years began to count when Jehovah God let go the world domination as represented by his typical kingdom on earth. That was when Jehovah used Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and its temple, chase King Zedekiah off "Jehovah's throne" and take him into exile, after which the fear of the Chaldeans caused the lowly people left behind to flee down into Egypt, leaving the territory of Judah desolate, with no governor there. Thus desolation was accomplished in the seventh lunar month of the year 607 B.C. First then, Jerusalem, as representative of God's kingdom, began to be trodden down and thus the Gentile Times, "the appointed times of the nations," began. Now Gentile domination, without interference of God's kingdom, swayed the earth. Moreover, the Gentile world powers acted beastly, like Nebuchadnezzar during his "seven times" of madness.

By count, then, those Gentile Times, those "appointed times of the nations," would end 2,520 years from near the middle of the seventh lunar month (Tishri) of 607 B.C. So they would end about the middle of the month Tishri (or near October 1), A.D. 1914. That is an unforgettable year, for in 1914 World War I broke out and the Gentile system of things has never been the same since then.

In autumn of A.D. 1914 was therefore the time for Jehovah to remove the bands from the symbolic tree of world domination by God's kingdom. It was the time for the symbolic tree stump to sprout again by Jehovah's taking up the universal domination and setting up a theocratic kingdom. — Revelation 11:15-18; Luke 21:24.

This government was no typical kingdom set up again among the natural Jews. It was the real kingdom in the hands of the Shiloh to whom it belongs. He is

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the royal descendant who has the legal right to the kingship according to Jehovah's covenant with King David for an everlasting kingdom. Jehovah invited this Shiloh to sit as David's Lord at his right hand in heaven till he made all Shiloh's enemies a stool for his feet. This Shiloh, like Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledged Jehovah God to be the "King of the heavens." However, on earth the Gentile powers continued on their beastly course, at a pace more destructive than ever. — Genesis 49:10; Ezekiel 21:27; Psalm 110:1.

Hence the seven "appointed times of the nations" extended far beyond the seventy years of desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. The treading down of Jerusalem during those seven Gentile Times did not mean that literal Jerusalem had to lie destroyed and in desolation for the full 2,520 years. No, rather, the city of Jerusalem was typically the "city of the great King" and was thus a symbol of God's kingdom in the hands of the royal family of David. So the treading down of Jerusalem would mean that God's kingdom (as functioning through the house of David) would be kept in a low, inoperative position under the foot of the Gentile world powers. The Jewish Levites testified to this effect inside rebuilt, rewalled Jerusalem 152 years after the Babylonians had destroyed it, or in 455 B.C. In public prayer to Jehovah God they said before the people who were gathered at His rebuilt temple:

"Finally you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. And in your abundant mercy you did not make an extermination of them or leave them; for you are a God gracious and merciful. . . . Look! We are today slaves; and as for the land that you gave to our forefathers to eat its fruitage and its good things, look! we are slaves upon it, and its produce is abounding for the kings that you have put over us because of our sins, and over our bodies they are ruling and over our domestic animals, according to their liking, and we are in great distress." — Nehemiah 9:4, 5, 30-37.



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