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The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain (chapter 2:31-49)
Thriving in Babylon
The Stone Cut out of the Mountain
Daniel 2:31-49
 
I want to read verses 28 and 29 and then drop down to verse 31. We are then looking at the remaining verses of this chapter. This is Daniel talking to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had a recurring dream, and he could not remember the details of the dream. He had called in all of his official advisors, the so-called know-it-alls and the authorities of that day. They couldn't recall the dream or give the substance of the dream. But God had revealed this dream to Daniel. Daniel is getting ready to rehearse the dream to the memory of Nebuchadnezzar.
 
Here's what Daniel says to the king.
 
Verses 28-29
 
Then drop down now to verse 31.
 
I want to call your attention to two phrases which Daniel uses back in verses 28 and 29. In verse 28 he says that this dream has to do with what shall be "in the latter days." So it is going to be in the realm of the future, in the realm of prediction of the future.
 
Two times, in verses 29, he basically says the same thing, "what should come to pass hereafter." Daniel is saying to King Nebuchadnezzar that God has given to him a dream and this dream is going to let him in on what the future is going to be. He is going to reveal to him something that will take place in the future.
 
This is one of the reasons that the book of Daniel has been subjected to such severe criticism on the part of liberal scholars. We are now moving into the realm of what is known as prophecy or the prediction of the future. The prophecy which God gives through Daniel in this chapter is so accurate according to what actually took place in history thus far that the liberal critics have to attack it.
 
They do not believe there is any such thing as predictive prophecy in the Bible. So they have to assume that the book of Daniel is a forgery. And that though it purports to be written ahead of the fact, it was actually written after the fact and it wasn't Daniel at all who put these things down.
 
One of the greatest proofs of the inspiration of the Bible is prophecy. Now the prophecy, which is going to be given and what we are going to unfold this evening, is foundational to all other prophecy in the Bible. This prophecy will give you a prophetic framework which will help you understand all the other predictions made in the Bible about the end times.
 
Daniel says you are going to hear about the latter days, what is going to happen hereafter. Daniel is the ABC of Bible prophecy. Revelation is the XYZ of Bible prophecy. If you want to understand Revelation you need to understand Daniel. If you want to understand Daniel you need to understand Revelation.
 
I want us to move down through these verses and get the overall picture. There is far more here than we would be able to consider this evening.
 
But I will just give you the broad outlines and the basic ingredients of this prophecy, and hopefully it will be very helpful to you in understanding the Bible and what it says about the future and the end times and the coming of the Lord Jesus.
 
In verse 31 right on down to verse 45, we have this section which I'm going to call,
 
1. Prophetic Truth.
 
It is truth that has to do with the end times. Get the picture. Daniel is standing before king Nebuchadnezzar who was the ruler of the mightiest empire in the world at that particular time. He has had a dream and cannot remember the substance of the dream. So Daniel begins to describe this dream for him and fills in the details.
 
I can almost imagine, as Daniel is talking and giving these details, that king Nebuchadnezzar begins to nod his head. He remembers now. Daniel describes for Nebuchadnezzar in verse 31 the fact that he has had a dream about what he calls a great image. Two times in that verse he calls it a great image, that is a colossal statue of a man.
 
He describes this great image. "Whose splendor was excellent." Kind of a multi-metallic image. The word "excellent" means that it was surpassing. It was very terrible. That means it was overwhelming. Here is a colossal image, and it is an awesome and overwhelming revelation that God gave to this pagan king.
 
 
 
Daniel says in verses 32 and 33, "This image's head was of fine gold, his breast, and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay." Then he talks about a stone that was cut out of a mountain without hands.
 
Let's look at this great image and see the downward nature of this image. See that this image represents a downward movement. The image goes down in weight. It starts with gold and moves on down until finally it gets down to mud. This is a top-heavy image.
 
It also moves downward in value. It starts with gold which is so valuable. It moves to silver, then brass, then iron, then mud. It goes down in value.
 
When we study human history and the world in which we live, we find that there is downwardness in value. There is a de-composition, so to speak. You can take livestock and if you leave them to themselves they go down in their value and in their quality. 
 
When I was in high school, we had an agriculture teacher named Paul Morris.  He would tell the students, if they would take care of that old hog or steer, that it would "do something", talking about the shows and sales.  But then he'd say, if you don't feed or water or walk that old hog, that old hog ain't gonna do nothing.
 
Why?  It is because there is a downwardness in nature.  Is a downwardness in weight. It is a downwardness in value. It is a downwardness in beauty and glory.
That is the tendency of all earthly things and all things touched by human nature.
 
Take the arts, apart from the touch of God they will always move downward. Take music apart from the touch of God and it will all move downward. That's what we are witnessing in our culture.
 
Music has degraded and gone downward and downward in quality until what we have today, by normal definitions of music, can hardly even be described as music. There is a downwardness in beauty and glory.
 
He sees this colossal image and sees that there is a downwardness to it.
 
It is a picture to Daniel and to Nebuchadnezzar of the future of world government.
 
Over in Luke 21 there is a statement of the Lord Jesus Christ which really explains to us what this image is all about. There is a phrase in verse 24 that connects to this image God reveals to Daniel. Jesus said, "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
 
See that phrase, "the times of the Gentiles"? If you lift that phrase and take it back to that image with the gold, silver, brass and iron and clay, you will have what Jesus means by the times of the Gentiles.
 
Starting with Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon in 605 BC and coming all the way down to the very day in which you and I live, we have been living in what is known as the times of the Gentiles.
 
There is another phrase in Romans 11, verse 25. It says that blindness in part has happened to Israel, "until the fullness of the Gentiles come in."
 
Always remember "the fullness of the Gentiles" is not to be confused with "the times of the Gentiles".
 
The times of the Gentiles has to do with Gentile world power which we are going to consider this evening. The fullness of the Gentiles has to do with the church age in which you and I are living right now where God is giving Gentiles an opportunity to be saved.
 
Keep in mind that God's chosen people are the Jews. It was God's intention that Israel exercise dominion in the world and be the dominate world power. But when you read the Old Testament you will discover that Israel miserably failed. When you get into the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself as the Messiah of His people and they rejected Him as their Messiah. Since that time we have been living in the time of the fullness of the Gentiles. We are in the age of the church.
 
God has given you and me an opportunity to be saved. One of these days the fullness of the Gentiles will be over and the last Gentile convert will come to Christ. When he does, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is going to be caught up out of this world and then the age of the Jews will continue again. That's the fullness of the Gentiles.
 
But the times of the Gentiles has to do with successive Gentile world power described by this great colossus image.
 
Notice here that we have four successive kingdoms and then at the end of that fourth kingdom we are told in verse 35 of Daniel 2 that there will be a stone that will come out of the mountain and smite the image and that stone will fill the whole earth.
 
What in the world does that mean? I'm glad you asked. Daniel tells us beginning in verse 36. He gives a discussion on this image. It is so astonishingly accurate.
 
Verse 36
 
He is saying, I'm going to explain to you what this dream means. Then he begins to describe it.
 
Verse 37-38
 
He tells the king of Babylon that he is the head of gold. The head of gold represents him. The Babylon Empire, at this particular time, was 605 BC. It was the first Gentile world power. Babylon was the first and the prototype of all Gentile world powers. It goes all the way back in the book of Genesis to the tower of Babel and the kingdom of Nimrod that great hunter who was a rebel against the Lord. Babylon was the first empire and it was an empire of gold.
 
Isaiah 14, verse 4, refers to Babylon as the golden city. Heroditas, the historian, came to Babylon 90 years after the days of Nebuchadnezzar. When he got there he wrote that he was astonished at the abundance of gold in the city. The chapels were made of gold. The temples were made of gold. The government buildings were made of gold. The vessels were inlaid with gold. Everywhere he turned it was a kingdom of gold.
It was a mighty world power. That's the first Gentile power.
 
Look at the second Gentile power in verse 39
 
We know what that kingdom is. Later on in other chapters in the book of Daniel you will find specifically mention this. But the second, inferior kingdom is a kingdom of silver.
 
Historically it was the kingdom of the Meads and the Persians which succeeded the kingdom of Babylon, in particular Darius the king of the Meads and the Persians. It was characterized as a government or power of silver. They used silver in their monetary transactions. They collected their taxes in silver. There was an abundance of silver in the Medo-Persian empire.
 
But Daniel says this kingdom will be inferior to Babylon. It had to do with the form of government. There was no centralized authority. It was a rather weak kingdom in terms of its leadership. In fact, it is said in history that the Persians were the most ill-equipped of all of the kingdoms that ever reigned. The Medo-Persian empire is the kingdom of silver.
 
Verse 39b
 
The third Gentile kingdom was the kingdom of Greece. After the Medes and Persians came the Grecian Empire.
 
If you know anything about Greek history and civilization, you know that brass is an apt description of the Grecian Empire. They had brazen uniforms. They had brazen helmets.
They had brazen breastplates. They had brazen swords. They had brazen shields. It was an empire of brass.
 
The great leader among the Grecians was Alexander the Great. Under Alexander the Great the Grecian Empire spread all the way from Egypt to Europe to India. The third empire of Gentile power was the Grecian Empire.
 
In verse 40-41 he gives us the fourth metal in this image.
 
What is this fourth empire, the empire of iron? We know exactly what that fourth empire was. The fourth Gentile world power was none other than the Roman Empire.
 
When we think about the Roman Empire, the description that comes to mind is iron. We think about the iron Roman legions. As you see the repetition of the word iron in these verses, you can hear the tramp, tramp of the ironclad Roman legions. What a powerful empire was the Roman Empire.
 
When Jesus was born, His mother Mary and Joseph went down to Bethlehem to be registered for taxation because of the edict of the Roman emperor. What a mighty empire the Roman Empire became!
 
But there were elements of corruption and weakness in that Roman Empire. He describes this Roman Empire as part of iron and part of potters' clay. There was inherent weakness in the empire.
 
 
If you have ever read any of the writings of the Roman historian, Edward Gibbon, you are aware of the fact that Rome was not conquered by forces on the outside.
 
It was conquered by the miry clay of corruption on the inside. In fact, most historians identify five major characteristics of the decline of the Roman Empire that lead to its collapse: 
 
First, a rapid increase of divorce, with the undermining of the sanctity of the home, which is the basis of society.
 
Second: Higher and higher taxes; the spending of money for bread and celebrations for the benefit of the populous.
 
Third: The mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.
 
Fourth: The building of gigantic armaments, when the real enemy was within; the decadence of the people.
 
Fifth: The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, and becoming impotent to guide it.
 
Isn't it interesting to study history alongside currect events and discover this startling, frightening correlation between the Roman Empire and what's taking place in American culture, and in fact, aroudn the world today.
 
So here is the Roman Empire with the toes of the feet part clay and part iron.
Now, from our perspective, all of what I've just said is history.  But when Daniel revealed it to king Nebuchadnezzar, it was all future prophecy. The Roman Empire fell and yet the elements of that Roman Empire are still present in our government and in some other influences and that's what we see in
 
verses 42-43
 
That's the influence of the Roman Empire even down to our cultures. Then in the end times the Bible predicts there is going to be an attempt to revive this Roman Empire. It is going to be put together in an alliance of kingdoms or nations.
 
And we are led to believe it will be a coalition of ten countries, one for each toe.  There are many Bible scholars and teachers, and I believe that are right who see the formation of the European Union in 1958 as the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Daniel.
 
Right now there are 28 member countries in the Eu that represent about 500 million people and have a GDP of over 20 trillion dollars.  They have their own currency called the Euro. They have commonality in their political structure and I think it highly likely that what Daniel sees in Nebuchadnezzar's dream is what this union will ultimately become as these 10 nations come together.   And it will be from this revival of the Roman empire that the antichrist is going to emerge.   
 
Now notice what Daniel says regarding this period of time in
 
verse 45
 
What did he see? In the days of the toes of that image the Bible says there is going to be a stone cut out of the mountain. It's going to be a supernatural stone. That stone will come rolling down and crush against that great image and when it does it will destroy all of that image.
 
In other words, the Bible says there is going to come a time when the Gentile world power is going to be crushed and it is going to be scattered like chaff to the wind and this stone shall become a great kingdom.
 
The question is what is the meaning of this stone in verses 44-45?
 
One of the clearest figures of speech in all of the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ is the figure of the rock or the stone.
 
In the Old Testament the Bible talks about God our Rock. In the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as the Rock. "Upon this rock (Himself) I will build my church." Jesus Christ is the Stone. 
 
This was not fulfilled in the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is going to be fulfilled in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is that supernatural Stone. He was made without hands. The virgin birth proved that Jesus Christ was supernatural in His origin.
 
Not only is He that supernatural Stone He is that smitten Stone. We sing the old hymn, Rock of ages, cleft for me.
He is also our salvation stone.
 
Acts 4:10, talking about the Jesus who was crucified and raised Him from the dead on day three as "the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
 
He was saying to the Jewish people, you rejected Jesus Christ, the stone and He has become the head. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."
 
If you want to be saved you have to come to the Stone, Jesus Christ.
 
Go back to Daniel 2. Verse 35
 
Then notice verse 45
 
That is saying that one of these days Jesus Christ is going to come again. When He comes again, all other world powers will be ended and Jesus will set up His kingdom. Jesus will rule and reign on this earth for a thousand years and there will be no end to it.
 
2.      Personal Triumph.
 
Now, as you can imagine, when Daniel gave that great revelation to King Nebuchadnezzar, it was overwhelming.  In fact, in verse 46, King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel. He recognized that Daniel was not God, but he is paying homage to the God about whom Daniel has talked.
 
And we know that because of what we read in
 
verse 47
 
What an admission for a pagan king. He gives Daniel great respect.
 
Then he gives Daniel great responsibility.
 
Look at verse 48.
 
Remember when Daniel had a decision to make about whether or not he would eat the king's food and drink the king's wine?  It didn't seem like such a big deal then, but it sure does now, doesn't it? 
 
Some people probably suggested to him that if you don't go along with the crowd, you won't amount to anything. But notice what happens. The king makes him a ruler over the whole providence of Babylon. Chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
 
Verse 49
 
Not only was Daniel blessed, but those close to Daniel are blessed as well.  And now, the little Jewish captive is serving as the Supreme Court Justice in the kingdom of Babylon. He is "thriving in Babylon!"
 
That simply says to you and to me that God is alive and in control. You can confidently put your life in the hands of God. He knows the future. He knows what is going to take place and you can never go wrong by going with God.
 
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
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