STONE CUT WITHOUT HANDS
by Dale Heslin
Post-publication note: NSE unwittingly altered this article, making it contrary to Dale Heslin’s belief. See letter on p.22 of June 97 issue for corrections.
In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel we find the story of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar who has a troubling dream which none of the wise men of the kingdom can decipher for him. He calls in the prophet Daniel who is among a group of Hebrews taken captive by the Babylonians. The king demands an interpretation of the dream. Daniel relates that the king has had a vision of a statue. The head, chest, belly and legs of this statue, Daniel reveals, represent successive world-ruling kingdoms.
Most Christian theologians agree that these kingdoms are in order: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. We can be sure Babylon was the first kingdom because Daniel plainly tells Nebuchadnezzar: "you are this head of gold" (Dan 2:38). Historically, Babylon is the first of the great empires which following the destruction of the last of the Hebrew kingdoms: the southern Kingdom of Judah. God was able to work to some degree through these Israelite kingdoms. But since God had to send them into captivity because of their rebellion, we see how he began to work through other world-ruling kingdoms to accomplish His purpose. These four kingdoms will apparently dominate the world right up until the installation of God's rule on earth at the coming of Messiah (Dan 2:34).
The last of these kingdoms appears to be some kind of resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire. Dan.2:42 mentions ten toes, an indication of ten nations in some kind of union. Since the Roman empire was historically a European empire, we expect this would be ten modern European countries. We know that Rome was anciently divided into two parts just as indicated by the two legs of the image: the western and eastern parts of the Roman Empire which resulted from the dividing up of the empire by Diocletian in 285 A.D. for administrative purposes. The eastern empire became the historic Byzantine Empire of medieval history, while the western empire grew into the so-called Holy Roman Empire, so closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
That Daniel's fourth kingdom is Rome—a modern-day revival of the ancient Roman Empire—linked to the Roman church is supported by Rev.17:9 ("the seven hills of Rome"). This prophetic scenario corresponds with modern attempts to bring about European integration via today's European Union. If this view is correct, we can expect a final confederation of ten European nations, which will take on the character of the brutal, repressive, Roman Empire of old. The Kingdom of God will not come to this world until we have witnessed the rise of this great end-time power and its sudden destruction brought about by the returning Christ coming with his saints in the clouds of glory (Mat.24:27). That God's kingdom destroys and immediately replaces the Roman kingdom is indicated in Daniel 2:34: "As you looked a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it smote the image on its feet ...".
Now, when we look at a map of Italy, where the Roman Empire was located, what do we find? A leg and a foot! Does this correspond to one of the legs of Nebuchadnezzar's image—the western Roman Empire? At the foot of the Italian Peninsula we find the island of Sicily, pointed at the "toes" of this peninsula—ready to "smote the image on its feet." When Daniel asked for an explanation of what he wrote, he was told: "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Dan 12:9). Although maps of Italy have existed for many hundreds of years, highly accurate versions have not been available to the common people until this century. This writer cannot find any other geographical area on the planet that looks more like a stone striking a boot.
Obviously, though, we cannot be certain from geography alone that this is exactly what the Eternal meant. Daniel's prophecy does not say to look for a geographical area. Even though we can see the foot, we do not find geographical areas elsewhere to form the other leg or the head or the body. Also, Sicily does not look like "stone cut without human hand" not does it represent the Kingdom of God—it was historically part of the Roman empire.
However, the geographical shape of Italy may deserve some consideration as prophetic events continue to unfold. &