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.”
(Daniel 2:44-45 ESV)
In Daniel, we have been discussing the topic of faith and culture: i.e., the Christian’s place in this world. Daniel, along with his three friends, serve as a model for us on how to live in a post-Christian world. In chapter 1, Daniel helped us to know where we must draw the proverbial line between cultural accommodation, on the one hand, and cultural capitulation, on the other. In chapter 2, the topic is about confidence and stability: i.e., where should we place our confidence and assurance. The world is a volatile place; the reliable patterns of predictability, stability, and certainty can give way in an instant to unpredictability, instability, and uncertainty. A season of harmony can give way to a season of upheaval! When the ground is shifting beneath your feet, where do we find solid ground?
Daniel chapter 2, in part, addresses this. Chapter 2 opens up with the great king Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful king of the ancient world. His empire was the greatest of all human kingdoms. In fact, his kingdom was so great, God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream that depicted his kingdom as a kingdom of gold. The kingdoms that will follow Nebuchadnezzar will pale in comparison: the Persians will be great, but they will be but silver; the Greeks will be great, but mere bronze; the Romans will be great, but mere iron mixed with clay—none of these kingdoms compare to the greatness of the Babylonian kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar.
That part of the dream was not unsettling. What was unsettling was the rest of the dream. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he saw “a stone cut out from a mountain by no human hands.” This stone demolished the statue which represented all four successive kingdoms. This kingdom shall never be destroyed and shall stand forever! After Daniel retold and interpreted the king’s dream, then Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was at ease and then the king promoted Daniel to chief of all the Wise Men and provincial governor over Babylon.
What is Daniel predicting? The prophet Daniel is predicting the rise and fall of all the kingdoms of this world. Daniel predicts the rise and fall of four kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome! It was during the Roman Empire that the stone cut from the mountain began the destruction of the kingdoms of this world; that stone is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus! By virtue of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the kingdom of God was inaugurated. The inauguration of the kingdom of God, with Christ being the mediatorial king, was the beginning of the end of the kingdoms of this world. With the first coming of king Jesus, king Jesus began the upheaval process, a process that will culminate with Christ’ second coming to bring total and lasting judgement. Predictability and stability and certainty are an illusion because the kingdoms of this world are built on the shifting ground of unpredictability, instability, and uncertainty—all doomed to destruction!
Where are we to turn when the ground is shifting beneath our feet: shifting from COVID, shifting from inflation and economic upheaval, shifting from the fear of another World War, shifting from the moral madness and dithering haze of sexual and gender chaos? Daniel reminds us that we are citizens of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. As Christians, we are citizens of an eternal kingdom, a kingdom that can never be destroyed! The church is an outpost or an embassy of Christ’s heavenly kingdom where he rules and reigns on God the Father’s very throne. The church is the only institution that will stand when all else tumbles and falls. Beloved, this should give us comfort and confidence and stability in our lives. The reason why we shall stand for ever is because Christ’s kingdom shall stand forever!!