As the King of Babylon was in his bed one night, his thoughts turned to what would take place in the future. He beheld a great statue, a Colossus, huge and of extraordinary splendor, an awesome sight. The head of Colossus was of fine gleaming gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
While the king continued looking, a Stone was cut out without human hands from the mountain, and it rolled down and struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were crushed all at the same time, becoming like dust. The wind carried them away so that not a trace could be found. But the Stone became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. Daniel 2:31-35)
What does it mean that the metals become obviously more inferior in value as they go down the statue? Simply that each king had lesser authority than the one before, having greater checks and balances on his authority. The King of Babylon, the head of gold, held absolute power over his empire, and answered to no man. But Persian kings were bound by their own laws and could not do as they pleased. Greek government increasingly answered to military authority, and the Caesars of Rome found themselves often at odds with the elected Senate. However, each successive government was tougher and more enduring.
Still each metal degrades in quality, becoming more easily corrupted. Gold does not react to the air, but silver tarnishes, bronze corrodes, and iron rusts until it is no more. Yet iron is the metal of war, of force. Rome, the fourth kingdom, remains the world empire all others are compared to. Its iron nature cut through all other metals to become the model of world dominance, rigid and unyielding. After 1500 years no empire has succeeded in taking its place. The reason is as Daniel told the king, “The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
All around us we see traces of Rome in the very fabric of Western civilization, from our system of law (full of Latin terms), government, religion, history, architecture, traditions, and language. Something in the soul of Western man desires the glory of Rome to live again; it is a soul obsessed with a united world. Western civilization still remembers the tremendous economic and military success of the Roman Empire in its heyday — “Pax Romana,” it was called, The Roman Peace.
Yet it was peace at a price. Never before had people experienced such a high degree of government control in every aspect of human life, from economics to religion. Taxation was brilliantly organized and unavoidable. Although Roman citizens once had a measure of freedom to elect their government, under the Emperors they were required by law to attend even sports events. Everyone was compelled to go to the Temple and offer a pinch of incense to the Emperor as a god, acknowledging his supremacy. Then they were free to worship any god they chose, after displaying their supreme devotion to the state. Because of the great prosperity, there was also great opportunity for pleasure, so most people found little problem with such control. Those who objected loudly enough were met with brutal force. No one was allowed to challenge the iron of Rome.
As we learn more about Daniel’s prophecy it becomes all too clear that such days are returning. The iron is coming back, and Colossus will stand on feet of iron mixed with clay. And as he does, the God of heaven is preparing a surprise.
Daniel predicted that a kingdom that God raises up in the last days will crush Colossus. This final kingdom of stone is something God cuts out of the mountain, setting it free to roll. So what is this kingdom that Daniel described as the “Stone?”
First let’s describe what it is not. The Stone is not in any way a part of Colossus. It is not a physical nation with natural boundaries, or with a military to defend it. It is not polished and desirable, nor valuable as men regard earthly treasure. Unlike other kingdoms, it has no desire to conquer others for the sake of wealth or power. Its very essence is of no value to Colossus. He regards it as a meaningless material, too base for his use. Colossus is prime stuff, not mere rock or rubble. He has been painstakingly forged by man into a magnificent civilization. He has been forged with human hands, the culmination of the human dream of the perfect life, a polished treasure in man’s eyes. He is the ultimate world order.
If Colossus is the civilization and society created by human effort, by human hands, what is this Stone carved out by God, made without human hands? What kind of society would God create if He had His way?
It would be a society of people whose priorities and values were the same as His. Instead of placing a high premium on wealth, they would share with those who had need. They would not fear for their own lives, or raise their fist in anger, but would trust Him to protect them. They would respond to evil with humility and kindness. And power? Their only desire for power would be the power over their own sin, whatever hurts others and displeases their Maker.
Just like God, their most obvious characteristic would be love from a pure heart, taking no thought for themselves. There would be no place in their lives for the self-oriented pursuit of careers, for the restless search for pleasure or fulfillment. God Himself would be their career goal, their pleasure, and their fulfillment. In short, they would be just like the Son of God if he were here on earth. Their love and unity, their oneness of heart and soul would astound the world.
If the Stone Kingdom were any other way, it would be more like Colossus than it would be like God. But Daniel says it will be hewn out of the mountain at the same time as the Roman Empire is revived on the earth; however, this revived civilization will be in a more brittle and less glorious form — the feet of iron and clay.
Colossus portrays ancient history and the nature of the kingdoms that dominated the earth. Even his legs of iron reflect how the Roman Empire split into an eastern and western division in its latter years. But where have his legs been for the past 1500 years? History tells us that as its unity and civil power grew fainter, Rome turned to Christianity to find renewed vigor. In 312 AD, under Emperor Constantine, the Roman Empire turned from persecuting her to desiring her. It was a fatal embrace.
This makes Rome unique from all other kingdoms: it crucified Messiah and then turned Christian under the devil. Where once the followers of the Messiah had hidden to escape beastly persecution from Rome, now Christian Rome hunted down and even killed those with different beliefs. From this time on, history sadly records a bloody pattern that occurs over and over: the “saints” persecute the “sinners,” and not the other way around. Those with the “good doctrine” kill those with the “bad doctrine.”
In time the decaying Roman Empire went underground, shrouded under the cloak of the Christian or Catholic Church. Through this religious system were preserved many of the treasures of Rome, ranging from art and language to the hope of a world united under one head.
Today forces such as globalization are at work to bring about a one-world government. Where else could the seat of this government find more fertile soil than on Rome’s old stomping grounds, the continent of Europe? And finding it she is, as Europe labors to come to unity. Soon she will set the pace for the whole world, as her citizens forsake their national priorities for the cause of “Pax Europa” — the peace and well-being of Europe. Yes, Rome is awakening like a sleeping giant: Colossus. Some would call it Frankenstein.
In the feet of iron and clay, it’s pretty clear how the iron of the old Roman Empire will be coming forth, with the increasing government control of every individual, the uniting of different nations as they lower trade barriers or donate their armies for international peace-keeping, as they place embargoes and other pressures on the nations that won’t fall in line. Iron is force. But what is the clay?
Western society is in chaos, and it is ever increasing. Respect for authority has generally held the fabric of society together, but it is fading fast. Now Western nations face a host of deep problems, from STDs, mental illness, AIDS, terrorism, illegitimate births, skyrocketing divorce rates, and on and on. Wanted posters used to show bank robbers; now they display photos of fathers who owe back child support. This decline in the character of people is causing a huge and vastly expensive crisis in Colossus. There are not enough funds, not enough laws, not enough police, not enough iron to make up for the problems caused by a lack of conscience. Society is shutting down unless people can be inspired to change their low and careless ways.
Remember the Emperor Constantine? He faced the same moral decline as his empire was dying from a lack of purpose. Colossus desperately needed renewed vigor to stand upon the earth and rule. Although it was against his iron nature, he resorted to the only strategy that would keep him on his feet: Colossus got religion.
Enter the clay.
The state today has put on the badge of moral policeman to maintain stability in the midst of decay, but it isn’t working. Making more laws against immoral or criminal behavior keeps the government busy, but with minimal results; the selfish pursuit of pleasure is too powerful. Colossus is awakening from a deep slumber, and is recognizing the problem. So now we hear of the state turning to the church for help, and Colossus foots the bill.
Voices of caution are drowned out under the crackling of fresh, crisp bills flowing from his deep pocket. The strings of control that are sure to follow are faint threads now and their restraint is lightly felt. Colossus knows to wait until the hook is set before reeling her in.
Daniel’s prophecy tells us that the kingdom of iron and clay will be both tough and brittle, a confusing blend of politics and religion. This newly rekindled empire dreams of world domination, but lacks the tools to motivate the hearts of men. The promise of commercial profit is the real fire behind globalization, but it still is not enough to rally the whole world into a form of unity. So Colossus needs a way to inspire people, and arrogant as he is, he’s still willing to mix with inferior ingredients to remain standing on the earth. The clay of religion with its mixed motives makes his iron brittle, but what else can he do? His cold iron can force and smash, but it can’t stir men up with his vision of one people, one world. Only God can do that. So he is turning to the church for help. And just as in days gone by, she is more than happy to embrace this new relationship, and make up for what is lacking in his feet. She dreams of world domination, too.
These two forces, the state and the church, the iron and the clay, are becoming strange bedfellows. He has his agenda, and she has hers. The state wants to be God, and the church wants to be the state. They both seek absolute allegiance from man. He is rough and crude sometimes, and she prefers to use tender words, but they both know how to get their way. He needs her appearance of moral integrity, and she needs his iron to end all argument about her unity and purity. It is a marriage of convenience, a strained relationship, with no love lost between them. For both, the hope of world dominion is worth the tension.
Not yet. Daniel said the feet of iron and clay will end in ten toes, which are ten kings ruling Rome’s home turf, Europe. They are just about ready to set up shop, and when they do, Daniel prophesies:
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left to another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. (Daniel 2:44)
O how the Church can’t wait for this to happen! She will rule forever unhindered as God’s Kingdom here on earth! This is her boast, and her hope. However, something is wrong. The Stone is God’s Kingdom, and it does not mix with the iron. It is not integrated into the world system, but remains a separate culture. The Stone is a people for God’s own possession, and when is it cut out of the mountain of the world? In the days of the ten kings, the ten toes of the feet of iron and clay.
In other words, now, or at least very soon.
Yet Christianity has been around for nearly two thousand years. Her clay is only a counterfeit of the Stone, and as time goes on, it is more and more difficult to distinguish the iron from the clay. Since she is mixed into the feet of Colossus, how could she be the one to roll down the mountain and crush him? For if he goes, she goes.
Here we sit in the shadow of these things. Once Colossus stands confidently erect again — he’s ready to roll. Once a people, the Stone Kingdom, are carved out from the world and its ways, the God of heaven will be ready to roll, too.
These are exciting times we live in.