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The Kingdom of God

September 17, 2007

As I have continued to read through the Old Testament prophets, I have now been reading the book of Daniel.  I saw something in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2:

2:31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, [3] but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Now, unless you take Daniel as a book entirely dealing with the end times, these four kingdoms are interpreted as Babylon (that’s pretty easy – Daniel comes out and says it), Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Indeed, I have a hard time seeing it otherwise – it even describes a divided empire, much like Rome became.  However, one of the interesting things I hadn’t seen was how the rock came in.  The rock is clearly the kingdom of God: Daniel spells that much out for us.  However, I had always wondered about the timing of the rock – was it totally separate from the time line of the statue?  After all, we still live in a world in which human empires still reign.

However, when I read it this time around, God opened my eyes to see that the rock refers to the first coming of Christ, not the second.  Note that the text says that “in the days of those kings, God will set up a kingdom without end”.  Which kings is Daniel referring to?  It seems that he’s referring to the kings from the fourth kingdom, which has continuity between the fourth and fifth layers of the statue.  Remember, Caesar Augustus was the emperor at the time of Christ’s birth – the office of the Roman Caesar was established then, and continued until the end of both halves of the Empire.

Thus, God’s Kingdom was established by Jesus Christ.  It started small – as a rock that seems to be smaller than the statue.  However, it is stronger than the kingdoms of man, and it spreads throughout the entire world.  Isn’t this an amazing picture of how Christ entered human history, and how Christianity started out small, but is now throughout the world, and will someday conquer all the kingdoms of men?  What an amazing God we serve!

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