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of Daniel Two
When the angel was about to unfold to Daniel the intensely interesting prophecies to be recorded for us who are to witness their fulfillment, the angel said,
"Be strong, yea, be strong" (Dan. 10:19).
We are to receive the very same glory that was revealed to Daniel,
because it is for God's people in these last days,
that they may give the trumpet a certain sound.
Manuscript 18, 1888. (E.G. White 3SM 390-391)
The angels advice is also for us. Courage strength of character - is required if we are to receive and employ the prophecies of Daniel aright. Today it is for us that Daniel describes and explains the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, king of ancient/ Babylon.
In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw an impressive statue standing before him, and he looked at the statue until he saw a stone "cut out without [the use of any visible] hands". Then that stone came and hit the feet of the great statue, and the entire thing, from its feet to its head, was smashed to smithereens. Then the wind carried the whole lot away, just as though it were "the chaff of the summer threshing-floors" (2:35).
And then finally, the stone, without incurring any damage in the collision, grew and filled the whole world.
Today, many people equate that decisive stone with Christ Himself.
But let us be careful to consider the stones place in the prophetic dream. Let us briefly consider the context into which the stone appears.
Note: Both Christ and His people are referred to as rocks or stones in the Bible. Christ is the Rock upon which the church is built (Matthew 16:18). His people are also called "lively [or living] stones" (1 Peter 2:5). Let us carefully consider what is being referred to here in Daniel chapter 2.
In Daniel 2:36 the interpretation of the kings dream begins. And there, through Daniel, the Holy Spirit begins to show us that each section of the statue represents a successive kingdom or world empire. (Each descending in quality.)
The golden head represents the Babylonian power.
The silver chest and arms represent the allied empire of the Medes and the Persians.
The belly and thighs of brass represent the Grecian Empire. (From the time of Alexander the great.)
Then the two [lower] legs of iron representing the Roman power (in its two phases).
And finally the feet and the toes made of two substances: iron, and brittle, hard-baked clay. And these two components would not stick together, because the nature of each substance was incompatible with the other.
The last section of the statue signals a marked change in the governmental systems of the world.
After the disintegration and fall of the Roman Empire, the governments of the world entered into the most feeble phase of their existence. It would no longer be possible for any one particular king or government to effectively rule the world.
Now it is into this last section of world history that the stone appears. So let us consider the nature of that section.
Iron and Clay.
What is the iron and clay that forms the feet and toes of the statue? What are these [incompatible] elements a picture of? According to the Spirit of Prophecy they represent "churchcraft and statecraft".
Note: "The mingling of churchcraft and statecraft is represented by the iron and the clay." (E.G. White 4BC 1168-9) Therefore the inability of the iron and clay to stick together doesnt necessarily point to the impossibility of European unification, as theological tradition assumes it does.
However, our conventional Adventist view does not seem to accommodate this fact, because our conventional view places the Papacy (a church-state power) within the time of the iron and clay. (Our traditional view goes on to say that the Papacy, while not actually represented in this prophecy, must grow out from one of the toes.)
Note: Seeing that the Papacy (the little horn) grew out of one of the ten horns as described in Daniel 7:7-8. (And of course the 10 horns and 10 toes are equated with each another.)
Yet dont we as Adventists face a problem if the Papacy is somehow included in that section of world history represented by the feet and toes? Seeing that the Papacy did indeed mix church and state, and prospered in that endeavour for many years. The two elements (the iron and the clay) did indeed cleave together under her auspices.
Do we realize that our traditional view causes the prophecy of Daniel 2 to fail?!
(If Europe were to unite as one, then of course the traditional interpretation/view would fail, because our traditional view effectively says that the iron and the clay represent the European nations: some strong and some weak. However, according to the Spirit of Prophecy, if church and state were to successfully unite, it is then that the prophecy regarding the feet of the statue would fail.)
The Roman Papacy must necessarily precede the time of iron and clay.
Why? Simply because the last phase (or section) of world history cannot accommodate the Papacy (that is, the principles that characterized the Roman Papacy). The feet and the toes point to a time when it is impossible to merge church and state in a successful, world-dominating capacity.
And of course since the end of the Roman Catholic supremacy, the world has not been, and will never again be, successfully ruled by a church-state power. (A last great attempt will be made of course, but this will not prosper, nor succeed; it will actually be self-destructive.)
Note: Thus the urgent and compassionate call to come out of Babylon.
Now concerning the stone that strikes the feet of the statue, we are told certain things.
In Nebuchadnezzars dream the stone destroys the entire statue.
So then what corresponds, in the interpretation of the dream, to that decisive stone? It is a kingdom a kingdom that God sets up - which effectively destroys all the systems of this world. It is a kingdom which shall "break in pieces and consume all these [other] kingdoms." (Not only those kingdoms contemporary with it, but also every mode of government that came before those kingdoms.)
In the prophetic dream, the stone was cut out of a mountain, but human hands did not achieve this. It is the work of God to cut out or separate a kingdom — a people - to Himself. (See Acts 13:2 etc.) Also, in regard to this consider Colossians 2:11,
True Christians, we are told here, "are circumcised with the [spiritual] circumcision made without hands". Effectively, His people are cut out, separated from this world without hands.
Is Christ Himself the kingdom (the stone) of God? No, Christ is the king, not the kingdom. So then what constitutes that kingdom? His people constitute that kingdom.
When Jesus returns the second time, will He set up any kingdom of God on the earth?
No. He effectively removes His kingdom from off the earth. Jesus appears in the clouds, receives His people to Himself, and takes them to fill the places previously prepared in Heaven. (Places in His Fathers house.) And it is not until more than a thousand years later that the kingdom of God is actually established here, and that will be upon the new earth.
When is (or was) Gods kingdom (described in Daniel 2:44) set up? According to the prophetic dream it is set up sometime after the legs of iron have reached their limit; that is, sometime after the Roman domination ceased.
Now Roman domination existed in two distinct phases: Imperial Pagan Rome, and professedly Christian Papal Rome. The first phase ended in 476AD.
Note: When Odoacer, chief of the Heruli deposed Romulus Augustus, the last of the Western Roman emperors. (See Gibbons, "Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire" chapter 36 pp571, 590-1.)
The second and final phase (Roman style government controlled by the Popes) ended in 1798, when Napoleon effectively killed the secular power of the papacy. It was then (in February of 1798) that the world entered into the time of iron and clay. So it is after that time that we are to look for the setting up of the kingdom under discussion.
Again, when is this kingdom of God set up? It is set up "in the days [that is, during the days] of these kings". Which kings? Governments subsequent to 1798.
Note: Are these necessarily European governments? I think not. Isnt it during the time of American ascendancy, rather than European ascendancy, that the end will come?
But the actual setting up of Gods kingdom does not necessarily equate with the destruction, or termination, of all the worldly kingdoms. The two things the kingdom of God (the stone), and the kingdoms of this world (the statue) - co-exist for a time. They must both have time to develop.
A stone cut out of a mountain.
In the interpretation, what corresponds to the cutting out of the stone? It is the setting up (the raising up, or rearing up ) of Gods kingdom (See Dan 2:44).
Note: See Strongs Hebrew Dictionary #6966
In Bible times God had a kingdom which existed on the earth. He possessed a people whom He had "translated (or brought) into the kingdom of His dear Son".
Note: Colossians 1:13, See also Revelation 1:9. Here John, exiled to Patmos, says he was brother and companion to all those other people currently "in tribulation, and in the kingdom" of Jesus Christ.
Now their being translated refers, according to the context, to those people being spiritually (not physically) shifted, moved, or brought, into heavenly places: the kingdom of Gods Son.
John also, while addressing the seven churches in Asia, said, "I John am your brother and companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." All these true Christians were companions in the same spiritual kingdom, even though they were physically scattered in the world.
It is clear that a kingdom of God existed in the world at that time.
And today it is the same. God has a people in the world that has been quarried from the world. Make no mistake; these people constitute a kingdom. They live here as a colony of heaven.
Their citizenship belongs to it; their loyalty and patriotism belong to it; and all their security and honour is derived from it. Also, the principles that [should] govern those people are manifestly different from the principles that govern and control the thinking and actions of all worldly communities and states.
But is Gods kingdom which now exists in the world, that kingdom which "breaks in pieces and consumes" all the kingdoms of the world? No, it is apparent that God does not yet have the people He is seeking for.
Now the assertion of this paper is that it is not Christ Himself, but His people, His church, which demolishes and brings all the systems of this world to an end. But of course the church of itself can do absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, it is through the agency of His people that Christ will bring the nations of this world to naught. Faced with this thought, many may be quick to respond, how can you be so pretentious, so big headed as to think such a thing?
But it may be profitable now to consider that the cutting out of the stone, and its hitting the statues feet, are distinct events.
Between the cutting out of this stone (this kingdom of God) and its delivering the blow to the worlds systems, there is a delay, a time of travel. (It must come from the mountain to the statue. It evidently has not got there yet.)
In spiritual terms this flight is the time required for Gods people to grow up into a spiritual maturity. Just how much maturity do they require to perform the work? It is "to the whole measure of Christ" that they are to attain (Eph 4:13 NIV). Or put another way, "Reaching maturity, reaching the full measure of development which belongs to the fulness of Christ " (Moffatts translation).
Perhaps the kingdom of God [on the earth] is still little more than a grain of mustard seed.
Recall the parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is likened to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field [the world]. It is indeed the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree " (Matthew 13:31-32)
(Remember also the role of the Latter rain in the growth of His kingdom, because in a profound manner it brings the final stage of maturation to Gods people.)
Gods people will finally be one just as Christ and His Father are one. His church will be one coordinated body, one stone, working and moving in unity.
The stone's flight.
The stone is not cut out, (separated from worldliness) by its own power. Nor does it travel from the mountain to the great image by its own power, wisdom, or strength. So then what propels Gods kingdom toward the world? What motivates it? It is "the love of Christ [that] constrains" it. It is divine love that motivates it. Love presses it on. (2 Corinthians 5:14)
If the salt of the earth loses its saltiness, wherewith shall it be salted? And in like manner, if the church of God loses its love, wherewith shall it be motivated? (Unfortunately, the motivators that have tended to come in, as the true power and glory of the church has gone out, are pomp and ceremony, emotionalism and raised voices, but all these things are in vain.)
Will the kingdom (the stone) be seen in the hands of some controlling body some committee of elders, directing, motivating, and organizing it? No, since the true Leader, Motivator, Organizer is not seen. The kingdom is not only cut out without hands, it also moves without hands.
(See John 3:8 concerning the wind. We will not see the activating agency, but we will certainly see the effects of it.)
All the labour and influence of the church will never even so much as touch, let alone dent or threaten the principles that govern this world, if the church depends on its own ways. Gods people must seek and have the righteousness of God. What is that righteousness? It is God-likeness. It is to think, to operate, and to live like Jesus. (Consider how Jesus bruised, broke, wounded, the head of Satan. The king hit, so to speak, was inflicted on Satan as Christ showed His indisputable unselfishness, giving up His life for His enemies. The king hit will be inflicted upon the world by the church, through the same spirit that Christ manifested. See 4T 595).
How does the stone break, tear down, and demolish worldly ways? An answer to this is found in the following thought:
"Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they (the weapons ordained of God) have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God " (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV)
The stones demolishing blow is not achieved through any force of arms, argument, sanctions, deception, abuse, or strife of tongues, since all these are weapons of the world. Indeed, all these efforts constitute an ungodly, poor fight.
Note: Contrast this with the good fight of faith that works by love.
(And anyone who wields such weaponry will eventually find their weapons taken from their hands and turned against them.)
Consider also the fall of Jericho in Joshuas day. Not one human hand touched the wall of that city, but when the priests finally blew the trumpets, and Israel "shouted with a great shout", the wall fell down flat. Gods people in the last days also have a loud cry to give. Do we really understand the consequences of that cry?
Note: See Joshua 6:20 and Revelation 18:1. Like Jesus we can say, "Do not think that we have come to send peace on earth "
As they live the principles of the Bible, Gods people will be "thoroughly furnished", fully equipped, to demolish every stronghold, and ultimately break every system of compulsion and control which exists in this world. (See also Isaiah 58:6 "break every yoke.")
The experience of Jeremiah is perhaps noteworthy in this regard:
"And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
See, I have set you this day over nations and kingdoms,
To pluck up (root out KJV) and break down,
To destroy and to overthrow " (Jeremiah 1:9-10)
Does the strike-force of the stone necessarily mean that people are destroyed, killed by it? Not necessarily, because inasmuch as the blow destroys the feet, so too does it destroy historical nations empires that have passed. Now the only way they can be destroyed, never to rise again, is to destroy the principles that upheld them. The principles that governed each section are utterly and irrevocably destroyed. They are rendered ineffective and useless. Let us remember that the fight is not against "flesh and blood".
Consider too that insofar as the statue (the world) is concerned, the stone is an external element. The stone Gods people do not fight the system from inside, they work as a separate, external entity. And there is no indication at all that the stone becomes a political power, for all political power is bound up in the statue. The true church and the state remain separate. It is not given to us to fight any legal or political battles.
Gospel Workers 393
Those who stand as educators, as ministers, as laborers together with God in any line, have no battles to fight in the political world.
Gospel Workers 396
Again and again Christ had been asked to decide legal and political questions; but He refused to interfere in temporal matters.
The chaff of the summer threshing floor.
The entire statue becomes as chaff (virtually dust), and the wind carries it all away, and no place will be found for any of it. No place will be found for even the tiniest fragment of it to settle.
The ways of this worlds government will not, can not, settle anywhere again in the hearts and minds of Christian people. Not one jot or tittle of force or worldly principle will be incorporated into those principles that finally govern the people of God.
Some studious Adventists might raise protest against this work, seeing that Ellen White endorsed Uriah Smiths book, "Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation".
Making reference to Smiths book, she wrote,
"In Desire of Ages, Patriarchs and Prophets, Great Controversy, and Daniel and the Revelation, there is precious instruction. These books must be regarded as of special importance, and every effort should be made to get them before the people." --Letter 1903. (Evangelism 366)
And Uriah Smith, when commenting on the stone of Daniel chapter 2, presents the view (a commonly held view of the day), that the stone represents none other than Christ Himself.
Of course Ellen Whites endorsement must be taken seriously, yet it does not mean that everything written in his book is an accurate interpretation of prophecy. For example, Smith interprets the "king of the North" as Turkey, however the majority of serious Adventists no longer accept this view.
Mrs. White also comments,
"There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our [current] expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation." (CW 35)
Also, concerning A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner who, over a period of years brought "a most precious message" to the people of God (TM 91), Mrs. White writes,
"Do I say that they [Jones and Waggoner] will not make a statement or have an idea that cannot be questioned or that cannot be in error? Do I say so? No, I do not say any such thing. Nor do I say that of any man in the world. But I do say [that] God has sent light, and do be careful how you treat it." (E.G.W. 1888 Materials, p566)
Jones, Waggoner, and Uriah Smith brought "precious instruction" to Gods people, yet these men should not be treated as infallible. Perhaps we should also remember that even Paul was checked by the noble Bereans.
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