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Alex's Blog - March 27, 2010 - Daniel's Stone that Became a Mountain
By Alex Dodson
In Daniel, we find the amazing prophecy of a stone that was cut out of a mountain and then struck a statue completely destroying the statue and the stone, itself, growing so enormous that it becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. Today, many say this is something that will happen in the future. The stone, according to them, has not yet struck the statue. This will happen in the future when Jesus returns. Edward J. Young in his commentary on Daniel writes concerning this popular view, "Thus, it is argued, the time of the prophecy is fixed as being, not the first but the second Advent of Christ. According to this position, there must first be a revived Roman Empire, the signs of which, it is alleged, are already to be discerned….Christ will then come for His saints; the Church will be caught up to heaven, and the Stone will fall." (p. 77-78) This continues to be the most popular view of Daniel's prophecy of the stone. However, this may not be the proper interpretation. Are we now awaiting the stone to fall in the future or has it already fallen and begun its work?
Let's take a look at the passage in Daniel that we are considering. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a dream and Daniel was the only one in the kingdom who could tell the king what his dream was and interpret it. In his dream he saw a great statue. Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms of silver. its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Then in the dream the king saw a rock cut out but not by human hands. "It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:34-35) Notice here that the rock that was cut out without human hands hits the statue at its base and completely destroys it. The rock then becomes a huge mountain and fills the whole earth.
Daniel goes on to interpret the dream and tells King Nebuchadnezzar that the statue represents four kingdoms that will come upon the earth. The head of gold represents Babylon and after Babylon would arise three other kingdoms each taking the others place. The fourth kingdom would be the greatest. We know from history that the other three kingdoms were Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Now Daniel gives the interpretation of the rock in verses 44-45 - "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy." Notice here that Daniel says that God, Himself, will set up a kingdom in the time of those kingdoms represented by the statue. That kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms and itself will never be destroyed but will last forever.
Now, has this stone already fallen or is it yet to fall? Has the stone already struck the statue or is it to strike this statue in the future? Is the stone now growing into a big mountain that will fill the whole earth or is this something totally in the future? Has God set up His kingdom yet, the kingdom that will fill the whole earth, or is this something to be set up at the second coming of Christ? Most popular teachers of prophecy today would say that this kingdom will be set up at the second coming of Christ. Only then will the rock strike the statue and fill the whole earth. This is something totally for the future according to their interpretation. However, are there not any Bible teachers that say something different? Could that kingdom already be set up? Is it possible that the stone has already struck the foot of the statue and is now growing and will eventually fill the whole earth? Oswald T. Allis writes concerning the accepted view of this stone before the modern day teaching became popular. He says, "…it was the general accepted view that the kingdom foretold in this passage (Daniel 2:44) is the kingdom of Messiah, that this kingdom was set up 1900 years ago in the days of the Caesars by Jesus and His apostles, and has been growing and spreading ever since." (p. 123-124 Prophecy and the Church) Allis goes on to write, "The smiting stone will then represent the irresistible spiritual might of this kingdom. This found expression first in the resurrection and ascension of Christ. The terror of the Roman guard at the tomb (Matthew 28:4) showed in a striking manner the impotence of Imperial Rome. The Great Commission had back of it the 'all power' conferred on the risen Christ. At Pentecost that power was bestowed upon the Christian Church. The stone began to become the mountain. One of its signal triumphs was the overthrow of Pagan Rome three centuries later. This kingdom has not passed and will not pass to another people. Its task is to subdue and overthrow all other kingdoms and it shall itself endure for ever. Thus interpreted, we have here a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ with primary reference to its establishment and growth." (p. 124 Prophecy and the Church) According to this interpretation, the Kingdom of Christ began at His first coming and is still in progress. It is not something totally in the future.
Allis goes on to write, "…the words 'in the days of those kings' would refer most naturally to the four kingdoms or kings represented by the image. This interpretation is clearly involved in the symbolism of the image and is permissible because, while distinct, these four kingdoms were also in a sense one. Medo-Persia conquered and incorporated Babylon. Greece did the same to Medo-Persia. And while Rome never conquered all of Alexander's empire, she did conquer much of it and the extent of the Roman Empire was far greater and more world-wide than any of the others. It was while the image was still standing that the blow was struck. So we may say that it was in the period of those four empires as together representing Gentile world dominion but in the days of the last of the four that the kingdom of Messiah was set up." (p. 124-125 Prophecy and the Church) Jesus, then, set up His kingdom at the time of the Roman Empire. It would be that kingdom that would outlast all the others and would grow into a mountain and fill the whole earth.
Edward J. Young in commenting on Daniel 2:45 says, "Most Christian expositors find the reference in Christ and the progress of His kingdom, and this seems to me to be correct. The stone is represented as not being cut out of the mountain by hands in order to show that it is prepared, not by men, but by God….The kingdom of God will completely triumph, and the kingdom of men (as represented by the image) will be completely destroyed." ( p. 79 The Prophecy of Daniel) The kingdom of Christ was set up at His first coming and is progressing toward an end. It will fill the whole earth. The kingdom is in progress and will one day reach its ultimate goal to bring the whole earth under its dominion.
David Brown in his book, Christ's Second Coming, Will It Be Premillennial?, points out that the kingdom of God is first represented as a stone and then later grows into a large mountain. He writes, "…the stone was hewn out of the mountain before it smote the image upon the feet, and, consequently, before the image was dissipated; and, therefore, that the kingdom typified by the stone, while it remained a stone, must needs be within the times of these monarchies, that is, before the last of them (the Roman) should expire….There is but one kingdom of Christ in 'two states,' commencing during the existence of the last of the four monarchies; that is, on the Redeemer's exaltation to the right hand of power, stretching across the era of the latter day, and losing itself in the final state." (p. 336-337) According to this author, Christ's kingdom began at his first coming at the time of the Roman Empire and will continue until the end. It starts out as a small stone but then increases and will eventually be a large mountain that fills the whole earth. Brown sees a victory for the kingdom of Christ in this age. He writes, "It is the kingdom of Christ, it seems, with its present resources and agencies, that is to 'break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms,' whilst itself 'stands forever.' In other words, Christ's presently existing kingdom has within itself the whole resources by which it is destined to crush the anti-christianism that obstructs its universal triumphs, and to win its way to the throne of the world." (p. 339) Brown sees Christ's kingdom as a present reality that will progress to influence the whole world in this age leading on to the consummation when Christ returns.
The problem with the teaching of the preachers of doom and escapist theologians is that they see no victory for Christ's kingdom in this age but rather defeat with the devil winning the victory and bringing the whole world under his influence. The victory of Christ's kingdom does not come in this age but in a future age only after Christ returns. The difference in Brown's and others' interpretation of Daniel's prophecy of the stone that became a mountain is enormous.
Should we then expect any victory for Christ's kingdom in this age? Just as sure as the stone hit the statue in the time of those kingdoms namely at the time of the Roman Empire which was in this age, then this same stone will also become a mountain in this age. This, it seems to me, is the clear teaching of this passage. We don't have to give up and await a rescue from this age. Christ's kingdom will yet advance and there are victories ahead for the church in this age.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version unless indicated otherwise
Allis, Oswald T. Prophecy and the Church. The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1945
Brown, David. Christ's Second Coming, Will It Be Premillennial?. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1983 (originally published 1876).
Young, Edward J. The Prophecy of Daniel. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1949.