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Interestingly there is a magical rock that moves all by itself and attacks the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream. What is this little rock that is so marvelous and when did (or when will it) attack the Roman Empire?

Note: I am assuming a traditional Roman view of Daniel's fourth Empire in contrast to many critical expositors who promote the Grecian view.

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The Dream

In Daniel 2:31-36 Daniel recounts Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue to him. After the statue is described, Daniel says the following:

You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

The Interpretation

Later, we read the interpretation, which God explained to Daniel, Daniel relayed to Nebuchadnezzar, and [someone] recorded in Scripture for us. Here is the interpretation of the stone, from Daniel 2:44-45:

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

It is worth remembering that the purpose of the latter passage is to interpret the significance of the dream. The dream is not open to personal interpretation; it meant something, and the latter passage explains what the meaning was.

Observations

Several things are immediately clear from the dream and its interpretation:

  • The entire statue was crushed all at once. This is not a picture of a gradual conquest.

  • When the kingdoms of the statue were crushed, "not a trace of them was found"; this is not a picture of a gradual infiltration, or a parallel reign of some kind, and there is no allowance for any of the statue kingdoms to continue in their existence. They were crushed, became like chaff, and were carried away by the wind.

  • It is the kingdom set up by God that crushes and puts an end to the other kingdoms. So, to answer your question, the "stone cut out without hands" is the kingdom set up by God.*

  • The kingdom set up by God "filled the whole earth," "will never be destroyed" or replaced, and will "endure forever." The picture is clear: God's kingdom will rule the entire earth -- forever -- in place of the prior kingdoms of the statue.

* It is worth noting that the king and the kingdom are indistinguishable in this dream (or most anywhere in Scripture, for that matter); cf. 38, 44.

Conclusion

The stone cut without hands is the kingdom of God, which would suddenly and completely obliterate all of the kingdoms of the statue and rule in their place over the entire earth, forever.

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  • +1 for the gist. Your answer would be much better with references.
    – Mike
    Jul 2 '13 at 23:54
  • @Mike Do you mean references to something other than the text? Or was it unclear what text I was referring to at each step?
    – Jas 3.1
    Jul 3 '13 at 0:01
  • I mean citing a commentary that influences your opinion. I do not plan on accepting any answers to my Daniel questions without a citation. I feel a citation is important because if somebody likes someone's post they can read more of the same by looking in the cited reference. I am probably more insistent about Daniel as i am still a little frustrated that I had to explore around a dozen commentaries before I found one that i did not think was a load of horse manure. With all the opinions out there a reference makes it clear which one is being argued, helping the reader understand.
    – Mike
    Jul 3 '13 at 0:25
  • 2
    @Mike I'm not working from a commentary on this one... just making simple observations from the text. Daniel 2:44 interprets the unhewn stone that crushes the statue as a kingdom set up by God that puts an end to the other kingdoms. The basic exegesis is pretty cut and dry in this case. The theological conclusions differ widely, but I was trying to avoid that here.
    – Jas 3.1
    Jul 3 '13 at 0:27
  • 1
    @Mike Whenever I'm interpreting a passage, I try to separate "what I know" from "what I suspect." In this case, I tried to stick to the former in the answer and commented on the latter in the comments. I could be persuaded on the latter, but I think any explanation would need to jive with the former.
    – Jas 3.1
    Jul 3 '13 at 1:22
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The following is from a mild, Partial-Preterist perspective, seeing an at-face-value fulfillment of Daniel and and most of Revelation in approximately the period of 50 AD - 350 AD.

The Simple Answer

The Rock is the Kingdom of God.

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.

Daniel 2:44-45a

So, that the Rock is the Kingdom is, of course, the most obvious answer. So, in answer to your question, What is this little rock that is so marvelous[?], that would be it. But, the greater question, which it is assumed you are asking, is, then, What is the Kingdom of God?

What is the Kingdom of God?

Fortunately, someone else asked that exact question.

Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?
Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?

Luke 13:18, 20

His answer was as follows.

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.

It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.

Luke 13:19, 21

So, considering Jesus' answer to this very question, I would claim that it would be faith in the heart of a believer and the internal dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Physical or Spiritual?

The subject comes to one issue, is the Kingdom that was promised to be physical or spiritual. While some contend either or, and some attempt "both", I would say "spiritual". Consider the evidence.

In Mark 1:15, Jesus said the time was fulfilled, and the Kingdom was at hand. Since this was a time statement, it seems hard to extract any additional substantial length of time from this, and put the Kingdom as "yet to come".

In Matthew 6:10, we see Jesus' modeled prayer saying, "Your Kingdom come ... on earth as it is in heaven." Here, we see that the request is that the already existing Kingdom ("your kingdom", speaking to the Father), would come to Earth. That is, the Kingdom is in heaven, and we want something to happen. This positively identifies the Kingdom as in existence, we are praying for what already is there to be here.

In John 18:36, Jesus said His kingdom was not of this realm, or world. Some point to the last phrase which reads, "But now my kingdom is not of this world", and suggest that the "now" indicates that while it is not currently of this world, it will be someday. It is interesting to note that the NASB renders this as "but as it is, my kingdom ...". Regardless of this technicality, however, Jesus said that then, at least, the Kingdom was spiritual, regardless of the possibility of any future form.

Scriptures such as Matthew 12:28 are indicative of the then presence of the Kingdom, speaking of His deliverances.

The Origin of the Kingdom

If the Kingdom, then, was spiritual in Jesus' day (Matthew 6:10; John 18:36, and many others), and the prayer in Matthew 6:10 was to bring what was spiritual into the Earth, what then is the nature and origin of this Kingdom?

In Matthew 25:34, we read, `inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' From this, we understand that the Kingdom has been in existence from the foundation of the world, and hence, therefore it (a) exists and (b) is spiritual (since the foundation of the world is the foundation of all things physical).

Then, in Psalm 145:13, we see "Your Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom". So, we see that the Kingdom will last forever, everlasting (no end), not eternal (no end or beginning).

Now, if one holds that the literal Heaven and Earth will be physically destroyed, and that the "New Heaven and New Earth" are to be completely "New", then you have a problem. For this to hold, and to have a physical Kingdom of God in the future, the Kingdom begins as spiritual, becomes natural, and must becomes spiritual again to last through the renovations. Moreover, that which was spiritual is made earthly, and then spiritual again, so regardless of which you think is better, it will have to be "degraded" in one of those moves.

Further, it was this Kingdom that Israel had possessed at some time in the past. In Acts 1:6, the disciples asked if Jesus would at that time "restore" the Kingdom to Israel (not to them personally, as they seem to have had it already in Luke 22:29--they asked about the whole nation).

When Jesus, therefore, said the Kingdom was "at hand", he was not speaking of its "inauguration", but its "proximity". Likewise, when Jesus spoke of Himself coming in that Kingdom at the end of the age (world), the focus is again not on the "Kingdom", but on its "coming". From the perspective of man and this soon-to-pass-away Earth, we may see this as a "consummation", but from the perspective of the Everlasting Kingdom, as Jesus put it, it is just a matter of gathering up the tares for burning, and getting the wheat into the barn. Not much changes from that perspective, because the Kingdom was complete long ago.

Is There a Clear Promise of a Physical Kingdom?

In my opinion, the answer is no. The promise is to David's throne. But, the interesting thing about this prophecy is it involves David's heir, Solomon. God begins promising David that his throne and house would endure, and then switches to Solomon's son, then finishes with David. Thus, the promise to Solomon secures the promise to David.

However, if Jesus were to sit merely on the throne of a man, then David would be superior to Jesus. But, Jesus is the root and offspring of David. Thus, when David sat on his throne, he was really sitting on the throne of Jesus, the throne of God. So, we see that this promise to David is securing the promise to Jesus from the Father, in the same way that the promise to Solomon secured Davids. Thus making Jesus the greater, because David sat on His (Jesus') throne.

This is borne out in four verses in Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 28:5; 1 Chronicles 29:23; 2 Chronicles 9:8; 2 Chronicles 13:8. In these four places, the throne or kingdom of David is called the throne or Kingdom of the Lord. Hence, when David sat on his throne, he was biblicaly sitting on the throne of God.

Of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons), He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel

1 Chronicles 28:5

All the promises that seem to be of a physical kingdom, then, can be otherwise interpreted to mean something else. All the promises that many would attribute to a future physical kingdom of God in Israel, as well, could be otherwise interpreted to accommodate.

A Heavenly Kingdom

All this to indicate that, from a study of what the Scriptures say about the Kingdom of God, it indicates that it is a Spiritual, and not an earthly Kingdom.

As Jesus put it,

No one can see the Kingdom of Heaven unless He is born again.

John 3:3

The converse of this would also be true. If it can be seen by a non-believer, it is not the Kingdom of God.

There is no doubt that when Jesus was on the Earth, He said the time was then (Mark 1:15), and that the Kingdom He brought was Spiritual then (John 18:36). From the preaching of Paul, we read that he was still preaching the Kingdom in the last 2 verses of the book of Acts (Acts 28:30-31), as he was throughout his epistles. There is no valid argument that says the Kingdom was offered to Israel and then withdrawn.

When attempting to answer the question of what the Kingdom was, his response was, by interpretation, faith like a mustard seed and the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer (Luke 13:18-21, above).

When answering contentions, Paul indicated that the Kingdom of God was not a matter of talk, but of power (1 Corinthians 4:20), indicating that, at least to some degree, his understanding of the Kingdom of God had to do with the miraculous demonstrations through his life.

As to the answer of whether the Kingdom could be "both" physical and spiritual, we can simply say that there is neither evidence of it in Scripture, nor rationale for it to be so.

Thus, the end of the Long answer to the first part of the question is...

The Rock is the invisible, spiritual Kingdom of God which Jesus brought and announced at His First Advent.

And When...?

You asked... As if the answer isn't long enough. When does the rock crush the statue.

In my reading of Daniel, several possibilities stand out. Was it at the cross? Was it at Pentecost? Was it 70 AD?

I, personally, would actually place it either at the conversion of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, or at the final dissolution of the Roman Empire, perhaps as represented with its last emperor in 478 AD.

Notice that between the four materials of the statue, there was physical conflict (war), and while one empire appeared to "replace" the previous one, in the eyes of the vision (or, of God), all four kingdoms remained until the end. There is reason to suppose, then, that the final removal of all four by the rock is not outward warfare, but something else, entirely.

In the vision, first the rock appeared, cut out without hands, and then, presumably, it fell or traveled towards the statue, and struck the statue on the toes. If one looks at the change in governmental structure that occurred, the first Roman rule in the Empire was the Principate, but this was lost in the "Crisis of the Third Century", and was replaced by the Dominate. If this is the transition between the iron legs and the iron/clay toes, towards 285 AD, then the conversion of Constantine, certainly could have been the blow, if one considers the Biblical pattern of the King representing the entire empire to some degree or another. This could make the time frame of Constantine and the 313 AD legalization of Christianity a good match.

This allows for the cutting out of the stone, it falling (over a period of some time), and then crushing the statue at the time one would expect, when Rome disappeared. Rome declined after this, with the last emperor officially in 478 AD, and eventually, as the YLT of Daniel 2:35 read, they were "broken small together", and "carried them away hath the wind, and no place hath been found for them". Indicating, there were still governments, and fragments of these, but they could no longer dominate the world.

Final Answer

So, The Kingdom of God (that Jesus Brought in the First Century), crushing the statue probably in 313 AD, no later than 478 AD.

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There are of course many interpretations of this prophecy, but generally, "that Rock was Christ" (1Cor 10:4).

At Christ's return, he will destroy Earth's governments and replace them with the Kingdom of God during the Millennium.

One common interpretation is that the last kingdom of iron is the (Holy) Roman Empire, which is currently experiencing its final resurrection as the EU. Daniel's "ten toes" correspond to Revelation's "ten kings", representing ten European nations that will unite to form "the beast" and support the anti-christ.

Here is one description (excerpted from "The Four Empires of Daniel's Prophecies"):

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that his Babylonian Empire was represented by the head of gold (Daniel 2:37-38). The silver, bronze and iron components of the image, or statue, represented three powerful empires that were to follow mighty Babylon (Daniel 2:39-40).

This interpretation provided an astounding preview of history. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream occurred and was interpreted by Daniel about 600 B.C. The image represented, in symbolic form, the sequence of great empires that would dominate the region’s political scene for centuries.

“The silver empire was to be Medo-Persia, which began with Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon in 539 … This silver empire was supreme in the Near and Middle East for about two centuries” ( Expositor’s , p. 47).

“The bronze empire was the Greco-Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great … The bronze kingdom lasted for about 260 or 300 years before it was supplanted by the fourth kingdom” (ibid.).

“Iron connotes toughness and ruthlessness and describes the Roman Empire that reached its widest extent under the reign of Trajan” (ibid.). Trajan reigned as emperor A.D. 98-117, and the Roman Empire itself ruled for many centuries.

The fourth empire was depicted as having 10 toes. The feet and toes were composed partly of iron and partly of clay, as verse 41 explains. “Verse 41 deals with a later phase or outgrowth of this fourth empire, symbolized by the feet and ten toes—made up of iron and earthenware, a fragile base for the huge monument. The text clearly implies that this final phase will be marked by some sort of federation rather than by a powerful single realm” (ibid.).

...

Daniel 7:9-14 takes us right through to Christ’s establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth: “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” So this Roman system, through its periodic revivals down through history, continues right to the time of the end when Jesus Christ returns to rule the earth.

Revelation 17 also helps us in understanding this end-time power. In this chapter it is again depicted as a beast, but now we see that its final manifestation includes 10 “kings”—leaders of nations or groups of nations—who “receive authority for one hour” with the ruler of this end-time superpower, an individual the Bible refers to as “the beast” (Revelation 17:12-13). This final revival of the Roman Empire leads into Christ’s return as they “make war with the Lamb” (Revelation 17:14).

All of this concurs with Daniel 2:44, which obviously indicates that the second coming of Christ will occur in a time during which vestiges of the fourth beast or kingdom (the Roman Empire) still exist: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

The greater part of these prophetic events, as detailed by the two dreams, has already been fulfilled. Their detailed completion affirms the divine inspiration of the Bible. The odds of any person foreseeing this on his own defy credibility. “… There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28).

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Controversial of course (all miraculous prophecy is helplessly so), but I'm going to say the Catholic Church is the kingdom which takes over the Roman ("the feet") and covers the earth, based on overwhelming allusions and agreement between Daniel 2 and Matthew 16. And that the rock or stone which symbolizes it as a whole is Peter (more precisely Peter not the man, but Peter qua Expressor of the Messianic Faith).

I'm surprised and at the same time unsurprised this hasn't been connected before (that I'm aware of)...

Daniel 2:27-28 (DRB) And Daniel made answer before the king, and said: The secret that the king desireth to know, none of the wise men, or the philosophers, or the diviners, or the soothsayers can declare to the king. 28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth mysteries, who hath shewn to thee, O king Nabuchodonosor,

Matthew 16:15-17 (DRB) Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? 16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.


Daniel 2:44 (DRB) But in the days of those kingdoms the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people, and it shall break in pieces, and shall consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand for ever.

Matthew 16:18-19 (DRB) ... upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.


Daniel 2:48 (DRB) Then the king advanced Daniel to a high station, and gave him many and great gifts: and he made him governor over all the provinces of Babylon, and chief of the magistrates over all the wise men of Babylon.

Matthew 16:18-19 (DRB) And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

1 Peter 1:1; 5:13 (DRB) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, ... The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark.

People have often thought it weird or impossible that Peter was actually writing from Babylon, but he could have been using it in the same way we say, 'A Judas betrayed me today,' referring to a know thing: here, this prophecy or type from Daniel which foreshadowed himself.


Daniel 22:34 (DRB) Thus thou sawest, till a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands: ...

Matthew goes out of his way to mention that he moved from where he was (the sea of Galilee) to Cesarea Philippi—a journey ascending 1150ft, and traveling 40km away!

Matthew 16:13 (DRB) And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is?

enter image description here

I do not think it's a mistake He traveled so long (probably many days) to an area with a huge cliff/mountain there as a backdrop for his rock 'discourse' here. It agrees perfectly with that Peter was simply 'hewn' out of nowhere (that is, "without hands"), probably symbolized by the cliff behind him from which he is implicitly 'hewn.'

(And is it just me, or does this rock face actually look pregnant with 'stones for building,' complete with square shape, looking pre-chiseled, ready to be 'hewn' out without hands, I don't know, but it sure looks like the perfect place to be to say what Jesus said, when we consider the long journey thereto).


Quite evidently, in any case, the Catholic Church did historically take over from the former Roman Empire, the Catholic Church claims to have started with a Petros, a rock, and that it is a kingdom that shall never ultimately be overcome or disappear like the former kingdoms...

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The Rock is another name for Jesus. When Jesus returns he will smash Satan's world government and bind Satan for 1000 years. Jesus is "The Rock."

  • Deut 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, all his ways are just.
  • Deut 32:15 "the Rock their savior"
  • Deut 32:18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you
  • 2 Samuel 22:47 who is the Rock except our God?
  • Psalm 18:31 who is the Rock except our God?

This Bible search link has many more similar verses.

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    – agarza
    Jun 24 at 20:34
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Revelation ch.12. Is this a child the rock cut out of a mountain without hands? Or, is it a man child? What is a man child? A full-grown man caught up to the third heaven... (2nd Corinthians Ch.12 vs 1-4) in reflection to (Revelation ch.12)....the kingdom of heaven within the midst of humanity (Luke ch.17 vs 20-21) since the earth's foundation with a heart that of a child. Hmm, Jeremiah ch.30 vs 5-24. Even Zechariah ch.3.esp.vs 2. All of these books, chapters, and vs' in the Old King James Version translation.

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    – agarza
    Nov 15 at 2:10
  • The rock that shatters the feet of the statute is the man child of revelation ch.12.
    – Sam Reich
    Nov 16 at 15:06
  • 1
    Thanks for adding your comment above, Sam. It just needs to go into your answer, so that your answer actually answers the Q. It would also be helpful if you could both quote the texts you mention and then explain how they apply to Daniel ch. 2. Answers are meant to take readers along with a hermeneutical explanation, rather than just stating one's own interpretation. If you could add a bit more, that would be good.
    – Anne
    Nov 16 at 15:37
  • The manchild of Revelation ch.12 Is severely mentally ill where there is war in heaven ( his mind)to cast out the devil and all his angels(thoughts) of darkness.
    – Sam Reich
    Nov 18 at 12:59
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The historic kingdoms were ruled as dictatorships; on the whim of one person, who made up his own laws. The law of God, however, originated with Moses. They were focused in the Ten Commandments, and summed up in two commandments by the Pharisees;

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

and in one commandment by Jesus:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

Paul endorsed Jesus' view that the commandments of God are concentrated into one final commandment:

the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:14)

The Ten Commandments were cut out, without human hands, from a mountain by God. It's influence have expanded throughout the world ever since. The obedience to the Ten Commandments will reach its zenit in the Millenium.

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An "unhewn" rock is an altar stone (Exodus 20:25). It is bloody, earthy and Adamic. It puts an end to the "natural" order. A hewn stone is Evian, that is, the bridal Temple (1 Kings 6:7). It is heavenly, super-natural. The image can be trace back to the creation of Adam from the ground and the "construction" of Eve from Adam. Together they are structure (foundation) and glory. We see it also in the placing of Jacob's head on a stone (as Covenant head) and his vision of a bridal Temple (the Covenant body).

This stone is the bloody foundation for a new house. What most miss is that the four kingdoms are not only a Jew-Gentile "Tabernacle" (Dan. 2) but also four cherubic beasts guarding the throne of God and the people of God (Dan 7). Each time a beast turned against God's people it was replaced with the next one. Rome actually kept the church from harm until the reign of Nero (Satan stands on the edge of the "Land" and calls a beast up from the "Sea.") At this point, the battle was between a fledgling Jew-Gentile church and the Herod-Nero Jew-Gentile "intermarriage" (the mixing of Roman iron with red Edomite clay, a Church-State alliance against the "Body" like that between Herod and Pilate against the "Head").

What this means is that the entire first century process: the death and resurrection of Christ is sacrificial head, and the death and resurrection of the witnessing firstfruits Church as sacrificial body, recapitulates the ascension offering of Leviticus 1: the firstfruits.

The vision only extends to AD70, because this was when the fourth empire was replaced with the empire of Christ. Rome still existed, but did not have this cherubic office before God. The mountain of God was now the throne of Christ in heaven, His words against the hypocrites vindicated after one generation of mercy (2 Peter 3:15).

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