The Story of the Roman Empire: Or, The Kingdom of Iron - 1

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 14
WE have endeavored in the pages of our Magazine to give brief outline sketches of the great empires that exercised power and authority upon the earth during the ages before Christ came.
These different kingdoms were the Assyrian, or Babylonian, the Persian, and the Macedonian, or Grecian. Exactly as it was foretold by Daniel, these empires arose, exerted tremendous influence for a period, and then passed away.
We recall the words of the great prophet as he stood before the king: “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold [Babylonia], his breast and his arms of silver [Persia], his belly and his thighs of brass [Greece], his legs of iron [Rome], his feet part of iron and put of clay” (Dan. 2:31-3231Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, (Daniel 2:31‑32)).
Now, it is no fanciful attempt to read history into the Word of God, but it is the assured signification of such wonderful Scriptures that certain great Powers were to arise and play an all-important part in the progress of the world’s history, and unquestionably these four vast world-empires did arise, and in succession exercise paramount influence upon the earth, and were the dominating authority during the distinct periods when they held sway over the other subordinate nations of the earth.
We have very briefly touched upon the principal features in the rule of the kingdoms of “gold” and “silver” and “brass,” and it is our purpose now to unravel a little the story of the kingdom of “iron.” It is, for several reasons, perhaps the most thrillingly interesting of all. In the first place the tide of civilization and power seemed to set towards the West. Military success had been followed by national indolence and apathy, and so while the one nation declined the other gradually arose, as if upon the ruin of its predecessor, and became the conquering and all powerful kingdom; and in the second place the time was coming nearer for the culmination of the great prophetic period in the coming into this world of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and we say reverently that it was necessary, in God’s great plan, that the ascendency of Rome should be assured in order that this event, by far the most wonderful in all the world’s history, should be brought about in the way and at the very time that God had ordained it should occur, and which in the Scripture is called “the fulness of times.”
In these preliminary words we would also just observe that it is remarkable to discover how these different empires historically overlap one another. While Assyria, Persia, and Greece, each in turn assumed supremacy, the beginnings of the following great Power can be traced far away back through the ages; and thus it was with Rome. For hundreds and hundreds of years the people who formed the nucleus of that eventually immense empire existed in a semi-barbaric state, and were almost unknown and unnoticed by the nations that had reached the zenith of their might; but all the time they were growing in power; and combining their interests in such a way, that when the conflict came with the older and really declining· empire they were prepared to make a bold struggle for the military supremacy of the world. Thus, as we shall see, it was with Rome, as Daniel called it, “the fourth kingdom,” which was to be as “strong as iron.”
We shall trace in a very simple manner, so that the ordinary reader can follow the story, the gradual rise of this great power, until its decline and fall, many years after the Christian era began.