In the God-given dream of Nebuchadnezzar, emperor of Babylon, which was interpreted by the prophet Daniel, God revealed to man an overview of world history touching the four major empires of the Middle East, portrayed in a giant statue. The last empire mentioned is the statue’s legs of iron terminating in ten kingdoms that were part iron and part clay. This is evidently the Roman Empire, for it fits the description and chronology of the succession of empires in the dream—from the Babylonian to the Medo-Persian to the Grecian to the Roman (Daniel 2:1, 31-45).
In Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream, there came a point in the prophecy when the “stone cut without hands” smote and destroyed the ten toes, bringing to an end that whole succession of empires. “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (v.44). And it is said of this kingdom, that “the stone that smote the image [upon his feet] became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (v.34-35).
The King of the world
We know who the King of this stone-kingdom is: he is the King of kings, the mighty Lord Jesus Christ himself (Revelation 19:15-16). For only he could ever be the King for whom the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. As it is written elsewhere, “all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16-17).
It is also written of the Messiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Messiah (Christ) now sits upon the throne of David. The apostle James understood well what Christ is accomplishing on that throne: “James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 13b-18).
The Saviour of the world
As Jesus himself (whose very name means “God saves”—see Matthew 1:21) affirmed: “I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). This is the solemn vow of our almighty sovereign Lord himself.
Though we do not see him while he is seated on the throne at the right hand of God in heaven (Mark 12:35-37; Hebrews 12:2), yet our Lord Jesus is even now reigning on earth—and this is why his government is still increasing in the earth—or in other words, this is why the “great mountain” is still being built.
The Lord Jesus is not called the “Saviour of the world” and the “Saviour of all men” for nothing (John 4:42; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 4:14). These titles of Christ are prophetic—of this we can be certain!
Death shall be swallowed by the victorious Christ’s victory, which God has given to the Lord’s people (1 Corinthians 15:54,57). Jesus SAVES his people from their sins, giving them back all that they had lost in Adam—and so much more—indeed every spiritual blessing (see Ephesians 1:3).
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).
The apostle Paul teaches that the “fullness of the Gentiles” shall be brought into the kingdom of God, and that “all Israel shall be saved”1 (Romans 11:26-27). When this has all been accomplished, as it surely will be, then the great promise made to Abraham shall have been fulfilled—by adoption of all nations into his covenant family (Genesis 18:17-18; Galatians 3:8-9). This completed Church will be a great multitude that no mere man can number, gathered in from every tongue, tribe and nation. (Revelation 5:9; 7:9-10).
While this increase of the kingdom of heaven progresses on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ is also expecting that all his enemies shall become the footstool for his feet (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-35), in order that “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). The Lord Jesus Christ truly is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15b-16).
The end of the world
Though we do not see him now, we shall. When the number of the Church is complete, then our Saviour shall return. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7a). And among those eyes there shall be Christian eyes. This was promised to us by angels who were present at his ascension and (physical) departure from this world. “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:6-11).
Whether or not we are in that last generation of Christians—we shall see our Lord’s glorious return to earth.
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
Our Saviour shall return. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
He shall come again “without sin”, for when he came the first time, he came to bear all our sins, and when he returns, he does not come to bring our sins back again, or to hold them against us. No, for he comes “unto salvation”, to complete that salvation of his people, to deliver them from all evil and to raise them to the promised glorified state, body and soul.
The entire Church, meaning all the people of God from every generation since the beginning, are saved by the one and only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are not two (or more) peoples of God but one—one Bride of the Lamb, one new Jerusalem, adorned for her Saviour Priest-King (see Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 11:17; Hebrews 7: Revelation 21:1-2, 9-14.).
- We should all worship and praise God for this great salvation, rather than dispute about its meaning.↩