In the darkness of the night, in his huge, elaborately decorated bed chamber, the mighty king tossed restlessly to and fro in his lavish bed. He was dreaming a terrifying dream. In his mind’s eye, King Nebuchadnezzar stood gazing at a great and tall statue of extraordinary splendor which was standing before him. He was filled with awe, for never had he seen such a sight. Somehow he realized that this statue had monumental significance. The head was made of gold, the chest of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet and toes were partly of iron and partly of clay.
The king stared in wonder at this statue. A great stone, cut out of a mountain and hewn without human hands, suddenly plummeted with great momentum toward the statue. The stone struck the statue on the feet of iron and clay, crushing them, and causing the entire statue to come crashing to the earth. It fell with such force that all the precious metals were smashed to powder at once, leaving this awesome statue like chaff on the threshing floor. A strong wind came and blew away the last remains of its dust so that not a trace of the statue was left.
But then, before his eyes, the king saw this stone, which had just destroyed the statue, grow to be a gigantic mountain that filled the whole earth. In terror, the great king awoke from his dream. Sitting up in the darkness, he was greatly perplexed. He knew he had dreamed a troubling and awesome dream. Yet, though he thought and thought, he could not remember it. The rest of the night he could not sleep, trying in vain to think of it. But alas! He couldn’t.
In the morning the king sought for someone in his vast empire to help him remember what his dream was, and to tell him what it meant. But all the great sorcerers and wise men gave him the same reply: “If you cannot tell us the dream, we cannot interpret it for you ... and only the gods could tell you your dream!”
Their response enraged powerful Nebuchadnezzar. In his wrath he ordered the execution of all the wise men in his entire empire, for their wisdom had proven to be worthless in his time of greatest need.
Now, among the great wise men of his empire there was a very special young man, whose name was Daniel. He had lived in Babylon only a short time, for he had been brought there as a captive from his home, Jerusalem, a city in the land of Israel. The Babylonians had invaded his land and taken captive all strong, intelligent, handsome young men to serve their great king. Daniel was one of them. Born of the tribe of Judah, Daniel was part of the royal family in Israel. Though Israel had been the land where the God of heaven and earth had chosen a people for Himself, the people of Israel had long ago become unfaithful to their God.
The Babylonian invasion brought a just discipline upon Israel for their unfaithfulness. And Daniel, just a young man, was now receiving the discipline which the sins of his father and grandfather had brought upon them all.
Actually Daniel had a different heart than his rebellious forefathers. For Daniel loved the God of Israel with all of his heart. He did not want to do anything wrong. Even in this land of wickedness, he remained pure and undefiled. And though he had only been in Babylon for a short time, his good behavior had already earned him the reputation of being a wise and respected young man.
So when the order came to execute all the wise men, Daniel himself was included in that order. The king’s guard came to imprison Daniel with all the others. He told Daniel what had happened and how the other wise men were unable to help the king.
Daniel knew that only his God, the God of visions and dreams, could reveal this mystery. Daniel went to the king and requested that he give him time so that he might declare the interpretation to the king. Then he and his loyal friends from Israel began to pray. They prayed to the only One who could deliver them.
In the night Daniel received a vision from his God. He awoke from his sleep and knew beyond all doubt what the dream of the king of Babylon had been. Full of thanksgiving, he made his way quickly to the palace of the great king. When he was brought before him, Daniel wasted no time in letting King Nebuchadnezzar know that he deserved none of the credit for discovering the answer to the king’s problem. It was the God of heaven, Daniel’s God, who deserved all the praise. Then Daniel went on to accurately describe the awesome statue which the king had dreamed about: a head of gold, a chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet and toes of iron mixed with clay. He also described the Stone that had brought down the statue and then became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.
As Daniel spoke, the king’s memory testified to the truth of what he was saying. Very respectfully, Daniel gave the king the interpretation of his dream. Then this mighty king, the most powerful man on the earth, did a very shocking thing. He fell face down on the ground in front of Daniel and declared, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
What was the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s mysterious dream? What did Daniel say that caused the mighty king to recognize him as a true prophet — one who spoke the very words of God? And what do his words mean to us today?
The head of gold stood for the Babylonian empire. (“You, O king,” said Daniel, “are the head of gold.”) It would be followed by three successive kingdoms, each inferior to the ones before it — one of silver, one of bronze, and one of iron which would finally mix with clay.1 History bears out Daniel’s interpretation. Three empires followed Babylon in world domination: Media-Persia, Greece, and then Rome. Each one was inferior to the one before it in terms of the authority of its ruler. Each ruler had greater checks and balances on his power. Each successive government, however, was tougher and more enduring.
But what about the Stone? What is it and when will it come? All of human history is waiting for the answer. One thing is sure about the Stone. It is not part of the statue, but is the fifth and final kingdom that fills the whole earth. This kingdom was a Stone hewn from a mountain without human hands. That meant this Stone Kingdom would be one which Daniel’s God would Himself raise up, which would never be destroyed. After putting an end to all other kingdoms, it would endure forever. Even though Daniel knew that all this would be in the far distant future, he must have been overjoyed to know that in the end the Stone Kingdom of his God would have dominion. Daniel’s conclusion was, “The great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy!”2 Today is the future and the question remains: Who is the Stone?
The first four kingdoms represented in the statue were natural kingdoms, established by force of arms, controlling the world in this age. But the fifth kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, hewn from a mountain without human hands. Hewing is a deliberate cutting out with the preconceived intent to create. The final kingdom is deliberately hewn from the world by God with the preconceived intent of creating a people of His own who will express His very nature and character. This Stone, this fifth kingdom, is a kingdom of love, overpowering all the forces of evil that have ripped the world apart for centuries. It shatters the world empires that ruled before it and brings an end to world history. This kingdom is a holy nation, a twelve-tribed spiritual Israel, according to the words of the prophet Isaiah:
It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
This gathered people will be a light, burning intensely, deep into the heart and soul of every person who lives. The demonstration of love and unity which will shine forth from this Stone Kingdom will expose the wickedness and perversion of the last generation of human history. It is this holy3 people who will be God’s light to the nations, to the governments of the world. This is what the Son of God meant when he said:
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the earth as a witness to all nations; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
A witness is a testimony to the existence of something real. In this case it is the demonstration of the kingdom of God. King-dom means the dom-inion of the King, and God’s kingdom is the place where God rules. When the nations see the lives of this people being ruled by God — being holy or set apart — instead of by the self-interest4 that dominates the rest of the world, they will be able to see evidence of how human beings should live.
Such evidence of a holy life began to be presented 2000 years ago as the first disciples of our Master were gathered together in communities. They demonstrated their love for the Master by obeying His commands and loving one another just as He had loved them:
And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. (Acts 2:44-45)
Instead of being the solid rock that would crush and bring to an end all the kingdoms of the world, the early communities lost their cohesiveness — their oneness of heart and soul5 — and became as ineffective as a lump of common clay. Grace ceased to be upon them all as self-interest crept back into their lives. They did not fulfill the prophecy of the Stone Kingdom. They stopped being holy and obeying God’s commands in their relations with each other.
We know that the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and that such kingdom will be formed in the days of those kings because that is what Daniel 2:44-45 records. So we know that the Stone cannot possibly appear before those kings.
To understand who those kings are we must look at what Daniel says about the fourth kingdom in Daniel 2:33-35; 40-43. Briefly, it is this: the fourth kingdom is like two legs of iron with feet and toes made of iron mixed with clay. As iron breaks everything into pieces, so it will crush all other kingdoms. As the feet and toes are a mixture of iron and clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. As clay does not adhere to iron when mixed, so this fourth kingdom will lack integrity. Although it has the strength of iron, it will be in essence divided, and so will not be able to stand. When struck by the Stone Kingdom which is not divided, but truly in unity, the fourth kingdom will break into pieces, crumbling like powder.
The Roman Empire began as a civil government, but became a religious empire when the Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity in 312 AD and made it the state religion. History clearly records the split of this “Holy Roman Empire” into two parts: the eastern part whose capital was Constantinople, and the western part whose capital remained at Rome. This split caused by religious division is graphically represented by the two legs of iron. As a result, the empire lost its national life as a world power. Yet it has never lost its religious significance as reflected today in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The influence also of Roman law and culture is the foundation of Europe, despite the national identities of the diverse countries. The seed of western civilization grounded in Rome is a basis for unification across national boundaries, as has now become a reality in the emergence of the European Union.
Today we live in the days of the feet and toes — different from the legs in substance, but containing much of their essence. There have been no world empires since Rome fell. In the ensuing 1,500 years, monarchs and armies have made repeated attempts to revive the Roman Empire by uniting Europe. All attempts have failed. History does not record anything corresponding to the ten toes, to which Daniel calls much attention, but the prophecy is clear that they are part of the fourth kingdom.
However, a parallel passage in Daniel 7 gives greater clarity. In another night vision the prophet sees a number of beasts, the fourth of which is terrible and dreadful, having great iron teeth and tremendous strength, and crushing and devouring its victims and trampling everything underfoot. This beast has ten horns.
... the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the kingdoms, and it will devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom, ten kings will arise ... (Daniel 7:23-24)
These ten kings rising out of the fourth kingdom are a clear parallel to the ten toes in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel, in his interpretation, makes repeated reference to the toes of the statue,6 drawing attention to them, and then says, “In the days of those kings ...”7 meaning the kings of the iron mixed with clay. There will be ten rulers who arise from the domain of that fourth kingdom and constitute a revived and modified expression of that fourth world empire on the very soil where Roman influence and culture is most extensive — Europe.
The European Union will eventually be molded to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy about the ten kings. And it is in the lifetime of those kings that the Stone will be hewn.
Any kingdom that had its origin before the days of those kings is completely disqualified. Scripture dictates that the Stone and the toes are both formed at the same time. Therefore no spiritual movement that had its origin earlier than the mid-twentieth century could possibly be the Stone. This eliminates Christian denominations.
The Stone is central and supreme in God’s purpose on earth: It brings an end to the kingdoms of the world, replacing them with an eternal kingdom, the kingdom of God. This is a dramatic contrast to the Christian religion, which is thoroughly involved in the kingdoms of the world, supporting, strengthening, and even seeking to direct them. Such compromise is exactly what our Master faced when He dealt with Judaism. The Jews of His time had forgotten their purpose of being a light to the nations and had settled instead for their own personal comfort and security. Their religion was only an empty form. That’s why He told the religious leaders of His day:
The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust. (Matthew 21:43-44)
The similarity of our Master’s words to Daniel’s description of the Stone shattering the world empires is not coincidental. He knew of that fifth and final kingdom. He was speaking of a set-apart, twelve-tribed nation hewn from the mountain of the world in the last days of this age. The privilege of being that Stone, that kingdom, would be given to a people who would produce the fruit of that kingdom.
The ultimate fruit that God is looking for is the final destruction of the kingdoms of this world,8 so that no other nation would dominate Israel again. This is what He is focused on today: abolishing all rule and all authority and power other than His own.9 This will not be done through might or craft. It is not a military coup or a subversive plot to undermine government. The nation that produces the fruit of the kingdom will, by their lives of obedience to their Creator, raise up a standard of righteousness by which He can judge the whole world. It will be a holy nation, a royal priesthood. When this demonstration of the kingdom has confronted the world with the choice of obeying God or rejecting Him, then the end will come. He will send His Son to judge the earth, removing every trace of the kingdoms of the world, establishing the kingdom of God, and bringing everlasting peace.10
This choice of obeying God or rejecting Him is what our Master was speaking of when He said, “He who falls on this stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”11 Those who come to the end of their independent selfish lives and fall upon the King of this Stone Kingdom will see the hardened exterior of their hearts crack open so that the true spirit of love can come and dwell in them. Their broken pieces will be perfectly put back together by the Master Potter. For those who refuse to fall on the Stone and be broken in the last days will find themselves as part of the world kingdom that will be scattered like dust, never to be retrieved or recreated.
The Stone Kingdom of Daniel’s prophecy includes both the King and all who are obedient to His commands. His command is this: that we love each other as He loved us. The Stone Kingdom is a kingdom of love. It is a people dwelling together in unity. The unity that the Stone Kingdom expresses will be the answer to our Master’s prayer,
...that they may be one just as We are One ... that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. (John 17:21-23)
This unity is a unity without diversity, a unity that cannot come about by mere toleration or compromise or seeking to ignore differences. It is only possible through love. It is the same unity that the Father has with the Son (and you know that they don’t have differences of opinion or doctrine). Such unity was evident in the first century communities. The Spirit of love had been poured out in their hearts and the result was that
...the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. (Acts 4:32)
But it wasn’t long before that love began to grow cold, as we mentioned earlier. And an event soon took place which demonstrated clearly that they had lost all hope of being the Stone Kingdom.
After the life of the Spirit died out in the early church, it irreversibly divided into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. This division meant that they were no longer one church: They were no longer united under one head. This division has never been healed; they have never regained the unity and pure devotion that was evidenced in the early church. In fact, it is impossible that the division actually can be healed.
While many sincere and zealous Christians labor toward unity in diversity in the Ecumenical Movement, true unity cannot happen among these fallen branches. For, just as a person’s life would depart from his body, never to return, if he were cut into pieces, so the life of God’s Spirit cannot return to the stale corpse of Christianity. That’s why they have not been able to produce the life of love and unity that will bring about His rule on earth. Instead, God’s name continues to be dishonored among the nations of the world, and our Master is continually being held up to public shame and ridicule because of the hypocrisy, divisions, factions, and denominations that are promoted by those who profess to know the Son of God.
Today there is a great debate and controversy over the proposed reunion of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Although they have been divided for centuries, each continues in the deception that they could still be united under the one true Spirit of God, in whom there is no division. The same is true for all denominations, even though their divisions are beginning to be masked by a so-called “spiritual unity” where everyone agrees to disagree. This is not the unity that the apostle Paul preached12 and our Master prayed for.13 It is nothing more than a big hoax, though it will eventually appear genuine to everyone but God’s chosen people.
Christianity, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Ecumenical — cannot be the Stone because it has been in existence for centuries. Daniel 2:44 makes it clear that the Stone Kingdom cannot begin to be cut out from the mountain until the ten toes, or ten kings, are alive on the earth. But if Christianity isn’t the Stone Kingdom, who is? And how does it relate to the prophecy concerning the ten kings?
In the guise of returning decency to society, there is a deceptive scheme at work in political and religious circles today — people who believe that God’s purposes on the earth will best be served if Christians will grab the reins of political power. History shows us what happens when religious leaders control politics. Since the time of Constantine until the conflict in Northern Ireland, religion and politics have not mixed without shedding blood. Catholics murdered their heretics and Protestants murdered theirs. Almost everyone persecuted the Jews. Such religious oppression has only recently been curtailed in governments like the United States, where a separation of church and state has been enshrined in a constitution and enforced by adherence to it.
Nonetheless, many Christians believe the kingdom of God is going to come to earth through mixing the clay of Christianity with the iron of Western civilization once again. It would be easy to mistake the feet and the toes of partly iron and partly clay for a fifth kingdom. But no matter how much clay one adds to the world, it will not become God’s kingdom. It can only be an extension of the fourth kingdom, the legs of iron. The book of Daniel makes it clear that the ten kings will arise out of the fourth kingdom.14 The two elements of iron and clay, which can never mix, are social democracy and ecumenism, because one is political and one is religious. Despite the appearance of world peace and unity, it will be a facade that deceives all but the elect. It will look appealing. It will look like the answer to the problems of world hunger, overpopulation, environmental disaster, etc. But it will be a lie.
The amazing thing is how the ten kings will come into power. The book of Revelation also prophesies concerning the ten kings. The prophet saw a vision of
...the great prostitute ... a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She had a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries ... I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints... (Revelation 17:1,3,4,6)
The explanation of this vision by an angel revealed that...
...the ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast...The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:12-13,18)
Clearly the ten kings come into power under the sway of this “prostitute.” Doesn’t this portray an accurate picture of Christianity’s role in human history? Hasn’t she continually adulterated the words of her supposed Master in order to have the very power and wealth that He preached against?15 Hasn’t she united herself with the rulers of the earth since the days of Constantine in order to secure worldly influence for herself? Hasn’t she consistently used her influence to spill the blood of those whose faith differed from her doctrine? And haven’t the rulers of the earth always made use of her influence to motivate the masses of people to obey decrees, go to war, vote, etc.?
Yes, Christian leaders, from the popes of the Middle Ages to the Billy Grahams of today, have maintained an unholy alliance with political leaders, each exploiting the other for their own ends. Consider the recent book His Holiness in which Carl Bernstein documents and concludes that Pope John Paul II is the most influential political figure of the twentieth century, being instrumental in the reconstruction of Europe, including such events as the toppling of the Berlin Wall. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the ten kings would rise to power through the influence of Christianity, and vice versa. But when?
The political and economic unification in Europe is the beginning of the formation of that confederation of ten kings (the feet and toes). Eventually ten nations will be formed. Witness the dramatic rejoining of East and West Germany into a single nation over the last decade. No one expected it could happen, and political prophets did not foresee it.
Having begun in the fourth century, the schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches foretold the fall of the fourth world empire. Similarly, the unification of Christian denominations through the Ecumenical movement will signal the coming together of the ten kings (ten toes) into a unity that will revive the fourth kingdom to the stature of a world empire. The European Union is a reality and its common currency has a due date. In the meantime, the aim of the Ecumenical movement is to achieve a worldwide Christian unity that will unite the nations of this earth and thus bring about peace on earth. So we can see that the purpose of Ecumenism is to be the Christian catalyst that will unite the ten kings of Europe.
Even as we see the Ecumenical movement becoming the catalyst for the revival of the fourth world empire, we are also beginning to see a people being hewn out of the mountain of the world. Those who have been hewn out are being drawn together into communities of love that will grow to be the Stone Kingdom. During the life of the ten rulers depicted by the toes, God will raise up this kingdom and His name will be great among the nations.
And your eyes will see this and you will say, “The Lord be magnified beyond the border of Israel! ... for from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations.” (Malachi 1:5,11)
They will be the restored, fully-developed Body of Christ, the twelve-tribed Israel which will roll down that mountain and crush the toes, destroying the kingdoms of the world forever. Of this fifth kingdom there will never be an end, nor will it ever be left to another people. This kingdom will continue into the coming new age, governing the whole world and expanding throughout the universe into eternity.16
The gospel of the Stone Kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole world as a demonstration to all nations, and then the end will come.17 This Stone Kingdom will be Yahshua’s kingdom which will be held together by love. It will be His Body, His Bride, perfected in love. It will bring about the end of the age. It is the Stone that will cause the giant, the great statue, the world government, to topple, so that the government of God will be able to reign on the earth. This will happen thoroughly and quickly.18 But in the end, the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our God who shall reign forever and ever.19 It will happen because the Son of God will split the sky and return, once there is a people of faith gathered to receive Him. They will be Daniel’s people.20 This is the fifth kingdom, the Stone Kingdom. This Stone brings an end to world history in this age. It will endure forever and never be destroyed.21