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15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvelous things.
16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might.
Then the "hour"- the thirty years - of the kings of the earth giving their power to the Beast to make war with the Lamb (Rev. 17:12-14), preceded by the necessity of a reasonable and practical period for the proclamation of the Everlasting Gospel to all nations of earth (Rev. 14:6).
Then the fact that so often in Scripture forty marks a period of trial, transition, testing and judgment.
The necessity of a long time to accomplish the transition
And then the actual fitness and necessity of things. God truly could set up the Kingdom overnight if He chose: consider the vastness of Creation in six days. But He is dealing with men, and adjusts Himself to their limitations, and He has revealed a sequence of events, and purposes to be accomplished, that will require time as far as man is concerned.
The purpose basically is to offer salvation to all, to call for individual submission, to present opportunity, to gradually thresh out the wicked and rebellious while extracting the potential wheat as the human nucleus of the subjects of the Kingdom. This, in dealing on apparently natural principles with the earth's enslaved and drugged and benighted billions, will take time.
The more we consider the magnitude of the undertaking , the more we are impressed that forty years - a generation - is a suitable and fitting time to accomplish these things, and God's ways are always suitable and fitting. We come, in fact, to wonder if forty years is enough, and we conclude that only the almighty power of God could accomplish this purpose in forty years, considering the present state of mankind. If it were just destruction, that would take no time, but it is not: it is transition, education, orderly reorganization, complete renovation.
The present corrupt, debauched, benighted population of the earth cannot be just ushered into the Millennium just because they happen to be alive when Christ comes. We know that character and development must be formed in childhood. We know, as prophesied of the last days and as we see before our eyes, that the present population of the earth is increasingly violent, self-willed, rebellious, animalistic and pleasure-seeking.
The present population is mentally, morally and physically unfit for the blessings and peace of the Millennium - too immoral, too high in their own esteem, in the pride and glory of man. Surely forty years is not too long to prepare a population fit for God's Kingdom.
The complete destruction of all man's rubbishy, ungodly works
Think of what is involved in pulling down all man's ugly buildings, demolishing to the ground all his crowded and vice-ridden cities, cleaning off the face of God's earth all man's rubbishy edifices and constructions, and building an entirely new, permanent, sound social fabric in harmony with nature and with the mind of God.
Even ignorant man himself is suddenly realizing that he is approaching the dead end of environmental disaster in all the destructively blind "progress" and "civilization" that he has been so obsessed in and so proud of. Think of the pollution problem - can this be taken into the Millennium?
All the works of ignorant and foolish man must be swept away - demolished - scraped to the foundation. The Kingdom in its transitional, millennial form is to be built for cleanliness and health and one thousand years' duration. How could any of man's flimsy, rickety, tinker-toy productions have a place in that?- for even now man's proudest works are so quickly obsolete and superseded.
And the earth is full of idols - human memorials, churches, temples, mosques, synagogues -how could all these polluted things stand in God's glorious Kingdom of purity and wisdom and holiness? There must be a thorough and drastic cleansing and purging of the earth itself and of the whole human race.
16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of Yahweh our Elohim, and shall fear because of thee.
O Israel. There can be no mistake here. History proves that since the prophet wrote this it has never come to pass. It is, therefore, in the future. Israel were forty years passing from Egypt to Canaan; they will consequently be forty years in passing from their enemies' lands of the Babylonian dominion into the Holy Land, from Egypt to Canaan; they will consequently be forty years in passing to dwell there as an independent nation.
In this their transit through "the wilderness of the people" (Ezek. 20:35) they will have to fight their way; and in so doing make the Babylonian nations "lick the dust like a serpent"; a phrase very appropriate to the prostration of the Serpent power.
Exposition of Daniel.