Some people scoff at the intense interest given to end-time prophecies. When the year 2000 rolled around, many people were on edge. And maybe they’ve got a point. The times we live in could make a person fearful. Think about the social, moral, and economic problems that face people today. Over 65 million people have contracted the AIDS virus (about 25 million having died from it), and about 5 million are being added yearly to the total. That’s one issue that makes the world a little tense. Terrorism is another. And people feel insecure when they hear about tampering with the genetic makeup of plants and animals, or violating the structure of atoms. And since roughly half of all marriages end in divorce and growing numbers of couples don’t even bother making a commitment to stay together, people tend to worry about the future of society.
The reality is, there never has been a time like this. Even when a nation or empire was in decline, or verging on moral collapse, there was always another society standing by, ready to take over when it fell. This is the only time in over 4000 years that a global civilization and a global culture have been within man’s reach. Within a generation, the whole earth could very likely be united in a federation of governments, much like the European Union is today. And many people fear that when this coming civilization falls, it’s going to take everything down with it.
So there are good reasons why men are looking to Bible prophecies for direction. People want to have something secure and unchanging to put their confidence in. The world is mutating much too fast for them to keep up, and they have no assurance that most of the changes are for the better. They want to know how it’s all going to turn out, and they’ve heard that the prophets in the Bible have been right. Haven’t many of their predictions already come true?
The prophet Daniel is a good example of a man whose words are trustworthy. 2,600 years ago, he interpreted a dream for a Babylonian king. The focus of the dream was a huge statue with a gold head, a chest and arms of silver, a bronze belly, iron legs, and feet and toes of iron mixed with clay. From this dream he predicted a succession of empires which would dominate the earth. And history has proven him right. The Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires followed one another, corresponding exactly to the statue, especially the legs of iron, which depicted the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire.1
As for the feet and toes of iron mixed with clay, many scholars have imagined that this would be a revival of the Roman Empire in a modified form. Their speculations carry weight, because Roman law and culture under-gird all of Western civilization. The essence of Rome is like a seed waiting to sprout. The West is obsessed with a united world because they still remember the peace and prosperity that the Roman Empire enjoyed in its heyday — the "Roman Peace."
It is easy to see how the current movement toward world unity will bring about the feet of iron mixed with clay, ending with ten iron-and-clay toes.2 Even now, forces are at work to unify all the organized religions for the purpose of making them a dominant political force in the world. When the Ecumenical Movement succeeds, the governments of all nations will see a need to incorporate the influence of religion as a stabilizing force in society. This mixture of the iron of government and the clay of religion will resolve itself into a federation of ten world leaders. Many people, even within Christianity, see this much about Daniel’s predictions. What they do not understand, however, is the end of this vision.
In the dream, a stone was mysteriously being hewn out of a huge mountain. Without human hands it was chipped away, little by little, until it broke free and plummeted toward the statue, striking it on the feet. The iron and clay mixture shattered, and the entire statue fell and disintegrated. Then a mighty wind came up, blowing away the dust, until no trace was left of the once-mighty statue. Only the stone remained. Then, amazingly, that stone grew into a huge mountain that filled the earth.
The fifth-century theologian Augustine claimed that this stone was the Roman Catholic Church, and that it had already become the mountain that filled the whole earth.3 What Augustine failed to consider, however, was that the Catholic Church had not removed every trace of the Roman Empire, but was instead preserving it. In fact, the Roman Church was the beginning of the clay mixing with the iron, which will become the one-world empire of the last days.
Daniel made it clear that the stone is not merely a religion, but a kingdom.4 And it is not just any kingdom, but the Kingdom which the God of heaven will set up in the days of "those kings" — the ten kings of the world federation represented by the toes of the statue. This can only happen at one time in history — the last days of this age. Obviously so, because when the Stone Kingdom falls on the toes, it brings this age to an end.
The relentless progress toward religious and political unity that is now driving the Western world shows that we are clearly in the beginning stages of that federation of kings. Once again, Daniel’s interpretation of the dream is proving trustworthy. So we must also be living at the time when God is beginning to cut the stone out of the mountain of the world.
Daniel said that this Stone Kingdom will not be left for another people. It will endure forever because it is completely separate from the society of the end times. This is the meaning of the stone being cut out of the mountain. Those who make up this kingdom are hewn out of the world, not by human effort, but by a divine act.
Many groups are forming today, taking their cues from such prophecies as Daniel and the book of Revelation. They are taking steps to isolate themselves from the corruption they see in society, and even to arm themselves for a conflict with the emerging one-world order. The FBI estimates that there are hundreds of such private armies in the United States alone. These survivalist groups think that by stockpiling weapons and supplies, they can make it through the collapse of the present society and take over. But what they do not see is that, contrary to prophecy, they are trying to cut themselves out of the mountain with human hands.
Such alternative societies are based on reactions to the current culture, hatred of other races or religions, and even insane plans to force a confrontation with the "antichrist government." But their efforts will prove to be futile. Those who are subversive will be surrounded and disarmed, or perhaps even destroyed. And others will be assimilated back into society — as many have been already. A movement based on mere reactions to moral decline will not stand. Subversive or reactionary groups cannot overthrow the current order because they are still connected to its source. They are still controlled by the same spirits that control the society that they are reacting to. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.5 So the only society that will be able to endure is one that comes out from under the control of the evil spiritual forces that work in the unseen realm.
This is how the Stone Kingdom will bring an end to the kingdoms of this world — not through subversive activity against those kingdoms, but through overcoming the evil spiritual forces that control them. Those in the Stone Kingdom have been given power over the unclean spirits that stir up fear and hatred and greed and pride and every kind of selfish desire and self-centered thought.
The Stone Kingdom does something truly radical. It lays the axe to the root that has caused the downfall of every civilization since the beginning. That root is self-life. Self-life is the true meaning of the often-misunderstood word sin. Those who choose to follow the King of this kingdom choose to put self to death. This is called repenting. When they repent, their King lavishes on them a costly gift called forgiveness. Forgiveness causes something supernatural to spring up in their souls — love. This love is not just a good feeling, it is a good motive. This supernatural love causes them to do good things — kind things — that shine brightly to those around them. And those who see what they are doing start to appreciate the God who made them. They start to believe that the Creator is good and kind and wants to help them out of the predicament they are in.
The prophet Isaiah predicted that this kingdom would take the form of the restored tribes of Jacob. He said it would be a light to the nations, and would carry God’s salvation to the end of the earth.6 This is what Messiah was referring to when He predicted that the good news of the kingdom would be proclaimed to set the evidence before all the nations, and then the end would be able to come.7 He also said that when this nation produced the fruit of the coming age, then the government of that age would be turned over to them. Then He added, "...on whomever this stone falls it will scatter him like dust."8 This is a clear reference to the Stone Kingdom in Daniel’s prophecy.
These tribes of Jacob will be standing on an unshakable foundation. The God of heaven will give them a way of life that does not pass away, a way of life that can be passed on from generation to generation. This is what eternal life is. It is not just a religious belief about going to heaven after you die. Eternal life is the life that will fill the earth like a mountain in the next age. It will be raised up in this age like a stone cut out of the world.
As the restored tribes of Jacob live in obedience to the commands of the Messiah, they will demonstrate the life that Israel was always meant to live. They will exhibit a culture that does not come from the world around them and is not a reaction to it. Their way of doing business, their art and music, and the festivals that celebrate their dependence on their Creator will be given to them from above and will have a radically different quality from the culture that surrounds them.9 Every part of their life will be focused toward the goal of being worthy to be that Stone Kingdom.
Even their obedience to the divine command that Israel should let their land rest one year out of every seven10 — a command which Israel of old never obeyed11 — will prepare them to live a life that does not depend on buying, selling, planting, or harvesting.12 And they will be able thus to endure in the wilderness for the 1260 days13 until the Jubilee, when Messiah returns and the whole earth is delivered back to its rightful Owner.14
This then is the message of the prophets for the end times. Daniel, Isaiah, and our Master Yahshua all point to the one life, the one culture, the one kingdom that will survive. If men derive any other message from the prophets and use it as an excuse for pursuing a course of their own invention, their plans will perish. It does not matter if they react militantly against the governments of this world or try to influence and dominate those governments, their agenda will perish. Only those whose life is based on love, who live the demonstration of the coming age, will endure. Whoever is truly looking to the prophets for direction — for a way out of the destruction and corruption of today — will only find it in this unshakable kingdom.15