The Smashing Stone
When I was in college in western New York, we couldn’t swim in Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. The stench of dead fish overwhelmed as you walked along the shore. As a chemistry major, we debated the effects of acid rain and the industrial stacks pumping chemicals into the atmosphere and the noxious combination of exhaust fumes with sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide belching from our tail pipes. Dire predictions about the end of life as we know it permeated the atmosphere.
When the stench got so bad, they cleaned up the Great Lakes. We’re still working on those fumes from our vehicles, but the apocalypse hasn’t come. Even with our big data computers I wouldn’t put too much stock in our ability to predict the future, but there is someone who doesn’t rely on data or the latest poll.
“Lying on your bed, O king, your thoughts turned to what will happen in the end, and the one who reveals secrets has made known to you the future. Now it’s not because I have greater wisdom than any other living person, but this secret has been revealed to me so that I can make it known to you.
O king, the secret revealed in your mind while you were sleeping, is this: ‘You looked, O king, and there stood before you one stupendous statue—unbelievably radiant, arising before you. It’s very appearance was terrifying. The head of the statue was fine gold. The chest and the arms were silver. The belly and thighs were bronze. The legs were iron and the feet were part iron and part-baked clay.
While you were watching, a block of stone was cut away from a mountain, not by human hands, and it struck the image in its feet, part iron and part-baked clay. It pulverized them into tiny pieces. Simultaneously, it pulverized the iron, baked clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold. From bottom to top the entire image became like chaff on the threshing floor in the summer, blown away by the wind, leaving not a trace. But the stone that struck the image—it became a great mountain and it filled all the earth.’” Daniel 2:29-35
What’s the climax of the story of history? How will it all end? If your worldview is Hindu or Buddhist, then this is a totally irrelevant question. There is no end. The cycle is eternal.
The Book of Ecclesiastes wrestles with the emptiness of this life under the sun worldview, but it leads us, like Daniel, to a reverential intimacy with the true personal God. He gave us breath to live, and he gives to us how the story of history on this planet will end, but our writer keeps us in suspense, and we need to be careful not to jump too far forward with our own speculations.
We have a picture of the statute Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, but there are big questions. What do the different parts of the dazzling image from the head of gold to the feet of iron and clay represent? More importantly, who or what is this stone that smashes the image and then becomes a mountain filling the earth? We’ll need to keep tracking with Daniel to get the answers.
LORD, help me recognize that you don’t just care about those who believe in you, like Daniel. You cared for the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar, cared enough to give him a dream that takes us all the way to the end of history. As I see the power, mystery and might of world powers, protect me from being seduced by this glittering image. Keep me centered on the Rock cut out without human hands.
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