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You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34–35, NKJV)


The vision shows the stone cut out of the mountain without hands striking the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream on its feet, causing the entire image to collapse, turn to dust, and be blown away to where no trace of these kingdoms could be found.

Differences of opinion exist among commentators regarding this stone cut out of the mountain striking the image on its feet. Some see the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and clay as the divisions of the Roman Empire. To them, the legs represent the Western and Eastern divisions of the Empire and the ten toes are the barbarian kingdoms that arise after the fall of Rome in 476 A. D. In their thinking, the kingdom of God has not yet come and at some future date the Roman Empire will be resurrected in the form of the ten kingdoms, possibly the European Union, at which time the kingdom of God will come to earth and crash into this reconstituted Roman Empire. This is a matter of looking at the pieces and not seeing the picture; it gives a wrong impression of what is depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

The Romans conquered the Greeks in 146 B. C. At this time the Roman Empire was not divided; it was still in its united state under the emperors. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the Roman Empire appears as two legs, not because of the west-east division that had not yet occurred, but for the simple reason that the image in the dream is that of a man. It has a head, chest with arms, belly, thighs, legs, and feet. It is only natural that when the legs appear there are two of them.

The chest is seen with two arms, which is the natural thing to see on a statue of a man. The chest is the Medo-Persian kingdom, which appears to be identified with the two arms. However, the reals state of that kingdom was that it was a Persian kingdom rather than a Medo-Persian kingdom. It is true that when Babylon was conquered, the Medes and Persians were in concert with the nephew and the uncle leading separate invading armies. The real overthrow of Babylon was accomplished by Cyrus the Persian, while the city of Babylon was overthrown by Darius the Mede after the Babylonian army conceded defeat two days earlier. The fact of the two arms on the image and the cooperation of the Medes and Persians in the overthrown of Babylon is merely coincidental.

The bronze kingdom, the Greek Empire, follows the silver kingdom of the Medes and Persians. Here we see another inconsistency between the image and the facts of history if the appearance of the image is to represent the Greek Empire in a literal sense. Verse thirty-two in Daniel chapter two says that the belly and thighs were of bronze; this is cannot be a literal representation of the Greek Empire. Consider the image Nebuchadnezzar saw; it looks like a man; it has a head, it has a chest with two arms, it is only natural looking down the length of the image you would next encounter the belly and below that two thighs. Imposing the facts of history on this part of the image brings about some confusion, or at least and inconsistency. We see the belly divides into two thighs and we know the Greek Empire was divided, but it was not divided into two parts. Its first emperor was Alexander the Great, who might be represented by the belly. However, the Greek Empire was divided between four of Alexander’s generals, which would suggest the need of four thighs to conform the image to historical facts. This is an inconsistency in interpretation that cannot be allowed. If it cannot be allowed at this point in the explanation of the image it cannot be allowed for the rest of the image.

The legs are the next logical part of the image as our view moves downward. The Romans conquered the Greeks in 146 B. C. The Roman Empire appears in the dream as two legs with two feet, each having five toes for a total of ten toes. As mentioned above, some commentators see this as the divided Roman Empire. This cannot be because the Empire did not divide in 146 B. C., it divided into the Western Empire and Eastern Empire in 457 A. D., some 603 years later. To make the image consistent with the historical facts of the Empire, the Roman Empire should appear in the dream as a single leg that divides into two legs further down the image. Since the Western Empire lasted until 4576 A. D. and the Eastern Empire lasted until 602 A. D., one of the legs should be 126 years longer than the other. Furthermore, there are two feet each with ten toes; but, since it was the Western Empire that was divided into the ten barbarian kingdoms, both feet should be on the shorter leg. We also know that three of the barbarian kingdoms were either destroyed or assimilated by other tribes, there really should be only seven toes, not ten. This may sound silly, but this is what should be in the dream if we literalize it with history. Yes, the legs and feet with the toes represent the Roman Empire; they appear as two legs and two feet with ten toes because that is the logical appearance given the image Nebuchadnezzar saw was that of a man.

In the previous chapter we learned that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands represents the kingdom of God. The stone also represents Messiah, Jesus Christ, as He is the king in the kingdom and it is often the case where the king and the kingdom are considered to be one and the same.

The fact that the stone strikes the image in the feet does not necessarily indicate the chronological point in time at which the stone enters the dream or where it enters history. If this was so, Messiah and the kingdom of God would have come some time around 476 A. D. rather than the time of Christ’s actual advent. The legs of the image were of iron, which is strong and virtually indestructible; the feet were of mixed iron and clay, which is a combination that is very unstable and weak, making the entire image vulnerable at this place. The dream pictures the kingdom of God coming with the first advent of Christ and striking the image at its weakest and most vulnerable place, the very place where the image would be sure to fall and be destroyed. Not only do Messiah and the kingdom of God destroy the Roman Empire, they destroy the very power embodied in the four world-wide empires and that has fueled following empires in their wake.

Christ’s first advent happened within 150 years of the Roman Empire taking dominance in what might be called the known or civilized world—at least from the perspective of Daniel at his time. Did the kingdom of God in fact come at Christ’s first advent or will it wait for some future time after the reconstruction of the Roman Empire or some facsimile thereof? There are many texts in the New Testament that deal with the kingdom of God; for the benefit of space, we will consider just four of them.


Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:14-15, NKJV)


Jesus’ statement that the time is fulfilled indicates He was ushering in a prophetic time, a time that had been foreseen by the Old Testament prophets. He is saying that it is now the time of the kingdom of God—it is here; it is at hand. He preaches repentance and faith in the gospel, which are conditions for New Testament salvation. Adam Clarke makes the following observations about what Jesus said here: (1) Christ is saying that everything He is doing is according to the Divine plan and what He is doing could not be done until He came to fulfill this plan; (2) the kingdom and reign of sin are to be destroyed and the kingdom of grace and heaven established in their place; (3) the kingdom of God and His reign by grace begins in the lives of people with repentance for past sins; and (4) this reign of grace is at hand and nothing but obstinate continuing in sin and impenitence can keep any soul out of it. Now is the accepted time to enter in.


Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35, NKJV)


The ministry of Jesus on earth was centered on preaching the gospel of the kingdom. If the kingdom was not present, if the kingdom would not come until a future millennium, why would Jesus preach the gospel of the kingdom? If there was no kingdom at this time, why would Jesus give people a false hope? That would be cruel and inhumane, totally unworthy of the Second Person of the Godhead.


But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20, NKJV)


To say the kingdom of God has not come is to deny that Jesus cast out demons with the finger of God. Jesus made this statement because some people were accusing Him of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Jesus did cast out devils; did He do it by the power of God or by the power of the very devil? If He did it by the power of God it indicates that the kingdom of God had come and was then a present reality. Therefore, to deny that the kingdom of God has come is to deny that Jesus cast out devils by the power of God and used the power of the devil to do so. There is a sense in which people that deny the coming and present reality of the kingdom of God take sides with people Jesus said were blaspheming the Holy Spirit. What child of God would want to do that?


Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3, 5, NKJV)


As evangelicals, we believe in the new birth, the necessity of being born again. The new birth is a spiritual experience brought about in the new convert by the Holy Spirit of God. We learn from what Jesus says here that the new birth is the entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus says it in the negative: unless you are born again you cannot enter the kingdom of God. Since Jesus said it it has to be true—not being born again keeps people out of the kingdom of God. In the positive sense, what Jesus said is understood to mean that if one is in fact born again, he enters the kingdom of God. It cannot be true one way and not true the other way. This begs the question, if there is no kingdom of God yet, what is there to enter if one is born again? If there is no kingdom of God then what is the use of being born again; it would be a futile experience, it really wouldn’t exist. Does this mean that we have to wait for a future millennium and the future kingdom of God to be born again? This just does not make sense.

We can be sure that the kingdom of God came with the first advent of Christ. Christ preached the gospel of the kingdom, our New Testament salvation, and as saved people we have been born into the kingdom of God. We do not have to wait for a future millennium. This is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. Now that we know the kingdom has come, we will learn next how it strikes the image and makes it topple and turn to dust.