Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar:
“In your vision, O king, you saw a statue,
very large and exceedingly bright,
terrifying in appearance as it stood before you.
The head of the statue was pure gold,
its chest and arms were silver,
its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron,
its feet partly iron and partly tile.
While you looked at the statue,
a stone which was hewn from a mountain
without a hand being put to it,
struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces.
The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once,
fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer,
and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace.
But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain
and filled the whole earth.
“This was the dream;
the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence.
You, O king, are the king of kings;
to you the God of heaven
has given dominion and strength, power and glory;
men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell,
he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all;
you are the head of gold.
Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours,
then a third kingdom, of bronze,
which shall rule over the whole earth.
There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron;
it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others,
just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else.
The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron,
mean that it shall be a divided kingdom,
but yet have some of the hardness of iron.
As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile,
and the toes partly iron and partly tile,
the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
The iron mixed with clay tile
means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage,
but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
In the lifetime of those kings
the God of heaven will set up a kingdom
that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people;
rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms
and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever.
That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain
without a hand being put to it,
which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold.
The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future;
this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here?
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
“I am he,” and “The time has come.”
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
I. THEME: The Lord dominates all worldly powers.
Worldly people put all of their efforts to become the best in the world, such as: to be the emperor, the most powerful nation, the most famous person, Miss. Universe… Even people can reach these peaks, they still have to accept a reality of human fate: “Remember you are dirt and into dirt you will return.” What remains after this temporal life is the ultimate goal which people should desire. Today readings show people painful realities and orientate them to the eternal reality of the next life.
1/ Reading I: The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.
1.1/ The statue is the image of all passing empires in the world: The Babylon king, Nabuchadnezzar, dreamed a dream; but he didn’t remember a single thing about that dream. The next morning, the king gathered all the wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers in his kingdom to interpret his dream; but none could do it because the king didn’t remember any detail of that dream. Finally, the king sent people to call Daniel, a Jewish young men who was working for his royal courts. First, Daniel recounted the king’s dream: “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote 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, 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.”
Daniel interpreted the king’s dream as followed: The Babylon king is the head of gold.
After the Babylon is the Persian empire, represented by the breast and two arms which were made by silver. After the Persian is the Hellenistic empire, represented by the alb and two thighs which were made by copper. After the Hellenistic is the Roman empire, represented by two iron feet. The stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, shattered the statute in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, represented God’s power. He let these empires to form, and He can destroy all these empires.
1.2/ God will establish an eternal kingdom: After these empires, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever.” This is the eternal kingdom of Christ the king since God has put all power, glory, and kingship into his hands (Dan 7:14). All nations, people and languages will worship him, and his kingdom will be without end (Dan 7:15). The stone which shattered the statute and became a big mountain represents Christ’s power. No power in this world can oppose Christ’s power.
2/ Gospel: The day of Messiah
The Jews think they are living between of the two ages: the present age which is very bad, incurable, and deserved to be destroyed; and the glorious future of God which they will dominate the world. Between these two ages will be the Messiah’s day, the day in which all nightmare events will happen in the world. In this day, the earth and all sinners will be destroyed
(Isa 13:9, Joel 2:1-2, Amo 5:18-20, Zep 1:14-18). This day will suddenly happen as a theft entered in a house at night (I Thes 5:2, II Pet 3:10). The stars, the sun and the moon will no longer give light, the earth will rumble, and God’s anger will rain down on human beings (Isa 13:10-13, Joel 2:30-31).
2.1/ All glory of the world is temporal, even the glory of the Jerusalem Temple. If one stands in the Olive Mt. and looks down Jerusalem city, the Temple and its glory can’t be missed. Today, even the Temple is no longer existed, but its glory can still be seen by giant rocks and the Weeping Wall. At Jesus’ time, the Temple was the Jewish pride. It is no surprise when some spoke of the Temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings. But Jesus warned them, “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
The Temple was completely destroyed by the Roman force on 70 AD, about 30 years after Jesus’ prophesy. The Romans encircled the Jerusalem city; people ran out of food so they must feed on other’s flesh to live; many even chewed shoes to lessen their hungry. The Romans completely destroyed Jerusalem city, as Jesus’ warning: “there shall not be left here one stone upon another.” The historian Josephus estimated about 1.1 millions people died, and 97,000 others were on exile. The Jewish state was completely erased on the map until the present age.
2.2/ Jesus’ prediction about the Last Day: They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” Jesus didn’t tell them the time but he gave two warning signs.
(1) There will be false prophets and wrong guessing people: From Jesus’ time until now, there existed many people who falsely claimed as the prophets sent from heaven, such as: Mohamed, Smith of Mormon. There also existed the wrong guessing people about the Last Day, notably Nostradamus. Many thought the beginning of the year of 2,000 will be it, and they prepared for this day; we almost come to the New Year of 2012, and that Day is still not happened yet. Jesus issued a warning: “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and, `The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.”
(2) The signs of the cosmos: Jesus gave us some hints.
– There will be war and unrest: Wars happened in all places and ages, even in our age. This is only showed that we are in between the two ages as the Jews believe. We can’t depend on wars to predict the Last Day is coming.
– There will be great earthquakes, famines, and plagues: The great earthquakes happened in all places and ages. The one who closed to our age is the Sichuan earthquake, China, happened in 2008; there are about 70,000 deaths resulted of this earthquake. Other plagues, such as: tsunamis, flood, hurricanes, epidemics, famines often happened.
– There will be nightmare events and great signs to appear in heaven: These are probably the more exact signs because from Jesus’ time till now, people never witness great signs from heaven as the prophets announced such as: the sun, the moon and the stars will no longer shine.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should not hang on to anything which the devil and the world offer, because they will be blow away by wind as chaffs. We should look for God’s love and His true teachings.
– We should not be terrified when we will see great signs happening, but worry how the kingdom of God comes to ourselves. Once we possess God, we shall not be afraid of anything.