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In the records of human history, the growth of nations and the rise and fall of empires, as well as that of individuals, appears as if 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 whim. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will.
He is NOT fighting a near-losing battle with sin and sinners, as the members of the apostate church seem to declare, but, on the contrary, He is overcoming brilliantly, constantly, in those who stand for the right in His strength. They, though often not seen by their fellow humans as overcomers, are His witnesses. Although they have both the apostates and the outright enemies of God against them, they falter not, but continue to hold to the faith. It is these ones who will shine on that great day, the Day of Judgment.
"And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Hebrews 9:27-28.
In words of matchless beauty and tenderness, the apostle Paul set before the wise men of Athens the divine purpose in the creation and distribution of races and nations.
"God that made the world and all things therein," declared the apostle, "has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has 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 17:24-27.
God has made plain that whosoever will, may come "into the bond of the [everlasting] covenant." Ezekiel 20:37. In the creation it was His purpose that the earth should be inhabited by beings whose existence would 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.
In His law God has made known the principles that underlie all true prosperity, both of nations and of individuals.
To the Israelites Moses declared of this law: "This is your wisdom and your understanding." "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 to every individual under the broad heavens.
Hundreds of years before certain nations came upon the stage of action, the Omniscient One looked down the ages and predicted the rise and fall of the universal kingdoms.
God declared to Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdom of Babylon should fall, and a second kingdom would arise, which also would have its period of trial.
Failing to exalt the true God, its glory would fade, and a third kingdom would occupy its place.
This also would pass away; and a fourth, strong as iron, would subdue the nations of the world.
Had the rulers of Babylon - that richest of all earthly kingdoms - kept always before them the respect due to the LORD, they would always have been given wisdom and power which would have bound them to Him and kept them strong. But they made God their refuge only when harassed and perplexed. At such times, failing to find help in their great men, they sought it from men like Daniel - men who they knew honored the living God and were honored by Him. To these men they appealed to unravel the mysteries of Providence; for though the rulers of proud Babylon were men of the highest intellect, they had separated themselves so far from God by transgression that they could not understand the revelations and the warnings given them concerning the future.
In the history of nations the student of God's word may behold the literal fulfillment of divine prophecy.
Babylon, shattered and broken at last, passed away because in prosperity its rulers had regarded themselves as independent of God, and had ascribed the glory of their kingdom to human achievement.
The Medo-Persian realm was visited by the wrath of Heaven because in it God's law had been trampled underfoot. The fear of the Lord had found no place in the hearts of the vast majority of the people. Wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption prevailed.
The kingdoms that followed were even more base and corrupt; and these sank lower and still lower in the scale of moral worth.
The power exercised by every ruler on the earth is Heaven-imparted. Romans 13:1. Upon his use of the power thus bestowed, his success depends. To each the word of the divine Watcher is, "I girded you, though you have not known Me." Isaiah 45:5.
And to each the words spoken to Nebuchadnezzar of old are the lesson of life: "Break off your sins by [doing] righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor: if [so] it may be a lengthening of your tranquillity [or peace]." Daniel 4:27.
To understand these things,--
to understand that "righteousness [rightdoing] exalts a nation;"
that "the throne is established by righteousness,"
and "upheld by mercy;"
to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation of His power who "removes kings, and sets up kings,"--
this is to understand the philosophy of human history.
Proverbs 14:34; 16:12; 20:28; Daniel 2:21.
In the word of God only is this clearly set forth.
Here it is shown that the strength of nations,
as that 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.
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