Daniel: The Amazing Stone

 

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Daniel 2:31—45

Daniel was a man of God.  But he was not born a man of God; he became a man of God because he had a living relationship with God.  He became a man of visions and the interpreter of the Divine mind because he walked in obedience with God.

He was also a politician in the court of Babylon.  Imagine that; a God-fearing Hebrew living and working in the court of Babylon!  Truly God has His people everywhere!  God accomplishes His will in the most astounding ways.

Daniel’s boss, King Nebuchadnezzar, had a disturbing dream one night but he forgot its details when he woke up.  Still, he remembered enough to be disturbed.  So he called for his “wise men” to tell him his dream and tell him what it meant.

The astrologers replied to the king, “There isn’t a man alive who can tell others what they have dreamed! And there isn’t a king in all the world who would ask such a thing! This is an impossible thing the king requires. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they are not here to help.”  (Daniel 2:10, 11  TLB)

The king, angered by what his supposed wise men said, ordered their deaths.  Daniel got swept up in that decree even though he wasn’t involved.  But God gave Daniel wisdom and grace, and Daniel intervened.

So Daniel went in to see the king. “Give me a little time,” he said, “and I will tell you the dream and what it means.”  (Daniel 2:16  TLB)

And he did just that!

“O king, you saw a huge and powerful statue of a man, shining brilliantly, frightening and terrible.  The head of the statue was made of purest gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part iron and part clay. But as you watched, a Rock was cut from the mountain side a by supernatural means. It came hurtling toward the statue and crushed the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits.”  (Daniel 2:31—34  TLB)

The “statue” Nebuchadnezzar saw in  his dream revealed God’s plan for the successive kingdoms of this planet, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s, represented by the head of the statue.  The different parts of the statue represent successive kingdoms and nations that would follow Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar must have been thrilled to hear this interpretation:

“Your Majesty, you are a king over many kings, for the God of heaven has given you your kingdom, power, strength, and glory.  You rule the farthest provinces, and even animals and birds are under your control, as God decreed. You are that head of gold.”  (Daniel 2:37, 38  TLB)

It was only a handful of years before this that the Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying this:

So now I have given all your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my deputy. And I have handed over to him all your cattle for his use.  All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until his time is up, and then many nations and great kings shall conquer Babylon and make him their slave.  Submit to him and serve him—put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation refusing to be his slave; I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until he has conquered it.  (Jeremiah 27:6—8  TLB)

In effect, Nebuchadnezzar was divinely irresistible.  He was God’s chosen instrument and God gave Nebuchadnezzar incredible success and Babylon became the “head of gold.”  But, it became obvious that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would not last forever; other kingdoms would follow it, rising and eventually falling to other kingdoms.  Daniel 4 seems to indicate that it was Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance and pride that prevented him from literally conquering the whole world.  But the essence of the dream was God’s revelation to Nebuchadnezzar of His (God’s) plan for the Earth.

The Rock, or Stone in some translations, is the symbol of Christ, who will at some point in the future destroy the nations like they were nothing more than clay pots.  Christ is referred as a Stone or Rock seven times in Scripture, as a symbol of strength and durability.

Let’s consider Jesus as “the Stone.”

1.  Israel tripped over the Stone

Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone rejected by the builders has been made the honored cornerstone; how remarkable! What an amazing thing the Lord has done’?”  (Matthew 21:42  TLB)

Jesus’ enemies had just passed judgment on their own conduct and Jesus, in a stroke of genius, drove home the point by quoting Psalm 118:22, 23.  To you and me, Jesus’ talk of stones and cornerstones seems a bit odd.  But to the religious elite of Jesus’ day, there was no doubt what Jesus was talking about.  The kingdom of God would be taken away from the Jewish leaders and given to another nation.  In other words, Jesus was saying that He was getting ready to include the Gentiles in His kingdom.

How this must have shocked, galled, and offended them!  But the action of opening up the kingdom to all people came about because of their own hypocritical conduct.

“What I mean is that the Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and given to a nation that will give God his share of the crop.  All who stumble on this rock of truth shall be broken, but those it falls on will be scattered as dust.”  (Matthew 21:43, 44  TLB)

The Jews stumbled and fell on the Stone that is Jesus—they rejected Him as Messiah—and Israel was broken up.  This literally happened in 70 AD when persecution drove a lot of Jews (and some Christians) from Jerusalem.  In essence, they rejected Him, and so He scattered them like dust.

2.  The Church is built on the Stone

The moment Peter uttered this great truth, Jesus proclaimed a great truth that would change everything.

Then he asked them, “Who do you think I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  “God has blessed you, Simon, son of Jonah,” Jesus said, “for my Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you—this is not from any human source. You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.”  (Matthew 16:15—18  TLB)

Not long after that exchange, after the Day of Pentecost, that same Peter declared that a lame man had been healed because he had faith in the Name of Jesus:

“…let me clearly state to you and to all the people of Israel that it was done in the name and power of Jesus from Nazareth, the Messiah, the man you crucified—but God raised back to life again. It is by his authority that this man stands here healed!  For Jesus the Messiah is (the one referred to in the Scriptures when they speak of ) a ‘stone discarded by the builders which became the capstone of the arch.’”  (Acts 4:10, 11  TLB)

Jesus IS the foundation upon which the Church is built.  It is not built upon a man-made doctrine or theology and a church is not built upon a man or a family or a confession written by a committee.  The true Church of Jesus Christ is built upon Jesus Christ, the Stone.

Come to Christ, who is the living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds; though men have spurned him, he is very precious to God who has chosen him above all others.  (1 Peter 2:4  TLB)

3.  The Stone will break the Gentiles

Yes, Israel was broken up by the Stone.  Yes, the kingdom of God was opened up to all people—the Gentiles.  But eventually the nations of this world—the reign of the Gentiles—will be smashed by the exact same Stone!

But as you watched, a Rock was cut from the mountain side by supernatural means. It came hurtling toward the statue and crushed the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits.  (Daniel 2:34  TLB)

We’re back looking at Nebchadnezzar’s dream.  All of a sudden, a great stone came hurtling toward the statue in the dream and smashed it’s feet, bringing the whole statue crashing down.  In the dream, it was a supernatural stone whose identity isn’t given.  However, the identity of the Stone is revealed in Daniel 7.  Here, Daniel had a vision that was related to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, except where Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue that represented the kingdoms of the world, Daniel saw those kingdoms as animals.

Next I saw the arrival of a Man—or so he seemed to be—brought there on clouds from heaven; he approached the Ancient of Days and was presented to him.   He was given the ruling power and glory over all the nations of the world, so that all people of every language must obey him. His power is eternal—it will never end; his government shall never fall.  (Daniel 7:13, 14  TLB)

We learn that this eternal government, this divine kingdom, is the one Jesus taught His disciples to pray for, “…your kingdom come…”  (Matthew 6:10), and is shown to have a thousand year initial phase—the Millennium—which follows immediately after the glorious Second Coming of Christ, and which will ultimately merge into the eternal state of the New Heavens and Earth, as seen in Revelation 19—22.

Both the Stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the Man in Daniel’s vision clearly portray Jesus Christ at his Second Advent.

For as the lightning flashes across the sky from east to west, so shall my coming be, when I, the Messiah, return.  (Matthew 24:27  TLB)

When He returns, the reign of man on the Earth will draw to its inevitable close.  The kingdoms of this world will finally and forever pass away as the Messiah establishes His eternal Kingdom.

4.  The glory of the Stone will fill the world

Then the whole statue collapsed into a heap of iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold; its pieces were crushed as small as chaff, and the wind blew them all away. But the Rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.  (Daniel 2:35  TLB)

When Christ returns, the world will not end.  In fact, this world will never end.  Indeed, Christ’s return will mark the beginning of a whole new world!  It will be a world dominated, not by man, but by the Kingdom of God.  What will Christ’s Kingdom on earth look like?  Psalm 72 is a good place to start looking for clues!   Paul himself had an idea:

After that the end will come when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having put down all enemies of every kind.  For Christ will be King until he has defeated all his enemies, including the last enemy—death. This too must be defeated and ended.  For the rule and authority over all things has been given to Christ by his Father; except, of course, Christ does not rule over the Father himself, who gave him this power to rule. When Christ has finally won the battle against all his enemies, then he, the Son of God, will put himself also under his Father’s orders, so that God who has given him the victory over everything else will be utterly supreme.  (1 Corinthians 14:24—28  TLB)

No more enemies.  No more death!  All  nations will give Christ His due.

But that day isn’t  here yet.  It’s yet to come.  Until Christ returns to establish His eternal kingdom, we should do what He told His followers to do:

We ask that your kingdom will come now. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:10 TLB)

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