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Daniel 2 – the rock cut out of the mountain; the stone that the builders rejected

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Oct 25, 2015


Daniel 2:29-45
As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”

So, what do we see in this dream? We see a statue – representing first the kingdom of Babylon, and then three more kingdoms to follow, after which the God of heaven would do an unexpected thing, establishing the beginning of an eternal Kingdom – a rock which would grow into a huge mountain filling the whole earth.

Bible scholars say that it’s clear from history what three kingdoms followed Babylon. After Babylon the head of gold, came Persia – the chest of silver, and then Greece – the belly and thighs of bronze, and finally Rome – the legs and feet of iron and clay.

And the rock cut out without the help of human hands, which in the end takes the place of all these previous kingdoms – What does this represent?

Well, we know one very significant thing which happened while Rome was in power. That’s when Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah was born. He came and accomplished probably the very most significant thing ever, which had been on God’s agenda since the dawn of time. He made a way for us all to be delivered from the power of darkness and the power of sin. He was crucified by Roman soldiers, died, and was laid in a tomb, but for an important purpose – so that He could defeat death once and for all, not only for Himself but for all who would believe in Him, and rise again victorious.

Notice that Yeshua is referred to in many places as a rock, or stone – in Matt 21:42-43, Mark 12:9-11, Luke 20:17-18, Acts 4:10-11, and in the original reference that these all refer to, Psalm 118:22-24, which says The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” A very special day – this day which the Lord had ordained from the foundation of the world – the day of His victory over sin and death.

So it makes sense that this stone, or rock, could represent the Messiah’s coming. His first coming, or His second coming, or maybe both. But what about the rock’s being cut out without the help of human hands? What does this mean?

Isaiah 51:1-2 provides a helpful insight into what it means to be cut out of a rock: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth.” It’s talking about human birth in terms of being “cut out of a rock” – with a human father or ancestor being the “rock” from which we were cut.

Now, to also think of God the Father as a “Rock” is quite familiar from Scripture, occurring numerous times, in Gen 49:24, Deu 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31, 1 Sam 2:2, 2 Sam 22:2, 3, 32, 47, 23:3, Psa 18:2, 31, 46, 19:14, 28:1, 31:2-3, 42:9, 61:2, 62:2, 6, 7, 71:3, 78:35, 89:26, 92:15, 94:22, 95:1, 144:1, Isa 17:18, 26:4, 30:29, 44:8. (Also one reference in Deu 32:37 uses “rock” in a more generic sense, referring to any “god” that men try to take refuge in.)

So we can readily see the Messiah as having been cut from a Rock – with this Rock being God the Father. And the fact that this happened without the help of human hands – This fits quite well with what we already know about His birth. His origin was entirely supernatural. He existed long before His earthly birth – and when He was born, He was born of a virgin, with no human father. This Rock was cut from a Rock – from a very large rock – from a mountain (Dan 2:45). And this Rock after having been cut out was to become a mountain itself – a huge mountain that would fill the whole earth (Dan 2:35)

The new Kingdom starting out small, but then growing into a mountain which filled the whole earth – This is paralleled by Yeshua’s parable of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matt 13:31-33, Mark 4:30-32, and Luke 13:18-21, in which He says that it would start out like the smallest of seeds, but grow to become a large tree which lets the birds perch on its branches. This picture of a large tree providing nesting places for birds is another normal symbol for a kingdom, as seen in Ezekiel 17:22-24 and Daniel 4:9-12 & 20-22.

And after Yeshua was raised again to life, spent 40 more days with His disciples, and then ascended to heaven, notice what happened next. We’re told in many places – in Mark 16:19, Acts 2:32-33, Heb 1:3, Heb 8:1, Heb 10:12, and Heb 12:1-2, that after He had completed the atonement for sin, he ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This tells us that the eternal Kingdom had begun. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first believers at Pentecost, at this point the Kingdom had already begun. Still small, but growing like that mustard seed, and like that supernaturally-formed stone which had struck the feet of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

So this message to Nebuchadnezzar, and to all of us through the details that Daniel recorded, really is an important message. It’s a very significant message, telling us of the coming work that would be accomplished by the Lord of heaven and earth, to begin a restoration and healing process for this world which had gone so sadly astray.

Maybe it’s most important of all to us who are now able to look back on it, and to recognize the significant work of atonement accomplished for us by the Messiah, so that if we simply put our faith and trust in what He’s already done for us, we will stand among the redeemed, delivered from sin, and restored to relationship with the Father, with our names now written forever in the Lamb’s book of life.

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So – soon after the Messiah’s resurrection the eternal kingdom had begun.

But how long would it take for this Kingdom to grow, and to fill the whole earth as seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? In the Scriptures we find many references to the words ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’ We find these words in Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34-35, Heb 1:13, and Heb 10:13. They refer to the same event we just talked about – Yeshua’s sitting down at the right hand of the Father after His atoning work had been completed. These words originally come from Psalm 110:1.

But for how long? “Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”. The Kingdom had begun, with the Father and Son reigning side by side from Heaven. It had started out very small – and from the perspective of most men on earth didn’t seem to be anything at all. But the Messiah’s role was now to wait patiently for the Father’s remaining work on earth to be completed. Not until then would the Messiah begin His visible earthly reign.

So when would this happen – the beginning of His visible earthly reign?

We can clearly say that it hasn’t happened yet. For almost 2000 years the Father has been working to complete what He promised, setting everything in place for the Messiah’s reign to begin in earnest. But we can get a bit more information if we go back to where the words originally came from in Psalm 110:1-4 —

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”

2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

3 Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”

Beginning not long before His crucifixion, Yeshua became our High Priest, in order to offer the final sacrifice to atone for our sin once and for all. He is our High Priest, not from the Levitical line of Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek; our priest forever. Then after His resurrection, between His ascension and the day of Pentecost, Yeshua sat at the right hand of the Father’s throne. These two pieces, from verses 1 and 4, have already been set in place.

Verses 2 and 3 are the part that is yet in our future, to happen when the Father has completed His task of putting the Messiah’s enemies under His feet. The Father will extend the Messiah’s scepter from Zion – from the city of Jerusalem – beginning His time of earthly rule.

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Some followup thoughts, more fully outlining the references to Yeshua as our cornerstone. Speaking to the Pharisees who oppose Him, in Matt 21:42-43 and Luke 20:17-18 Yeshua is warning them what will happen to them – that if they continue in their opposition Him, they will fall and be broken. Then some years later looking back on these things, the apostle Paul confirms in Romans 9:30-33 that this is exactly what has happened.

The Original Prophecies

Isaiah 28:16
See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

Psalm 118:22-24
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Isaiah 8:14-15
and he (Yahweh Almighty) will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fallAnd for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be brokenthey will be snared and captured.”

New Testament Reflections and Fulfillments of these Prophecies

Matt 21:42-43
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.

Mark 12:9-11
“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this scripture: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

Luke 20:17-18
Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ ? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Acts 4:10-11
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

Rom 9:30-33
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

1 Peter 2:4-10
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,”


“A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.


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