"The Stone cut out without Hands"

Daniel 2:34

We have received a copy of The Banner of Israel, a magazine devoted to the futile effort of proving that the Anglo-Saxons are the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel. The leading article deals with Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the great image (Daniel 2) and asserts that the stone cut out without hands which smashes this image to powder is none other than the British Empire, which becomes in consequence the fifth and last great world-empire, filling the whole earth and enduring for ever. We are asked to give some help as to this.

We wonder that the writer does not see the falseness and folly of his own assertions. He says, "We therefore learn that the fifth kingdom [the stone] would be cut out of the Roman Empire without human effort." As a matter of fact, we learn no such thing. The legs of iron and feet of iron and clay in the image represent the Roman Empire, and the stone is not cut out of them at all. It never had any place in them. An image is something upon which the hand of man had wrought, the stone is untouched by the hand of man. It is a kingdom altogether diverse from all that had gone before it.

He continues, "Whether we take this language [i.e. a stone cut out without hands] in a political or geographical sense this is true of Britain … For, geographically, it was separated from the continent of Europe by natural means, as geologists well know, and compared with Empire or Continent it was but a stone to a mountain." It will be noticed that in order to establish his theory on the geographical side the writer substitutes Europe for the Roman Empire, as though they were one and the same, which everyone knows they were not. Britain was separated from Europe geographically long before there was any Roman Empire for it to be cut out from. If Britain is the stone, and the vision is to be interpreted geographically, then it must smash the Continent of Europe to powder, not politically but geographically, and then it must grow until it becomes a great mountain, i.e. to use the writer's comparisons, it must cease to be an island and become a continent so vast as to fill the whole earth. To such an absurdity does this false interpretation of prophecy lead us.

Dealing with the matter politically, he says, "Our kingdom [England] was set up 'in the days of these kings' (v. 44); and nearly all its wars have been directed against the extremities of the image, i.e. the nations comprising its feet. That we 'broke' them and have grown into a great Empire which fills the earth is also true. We need not elaborate this, as the Germans are never tired of telling the world for its edification that it was England which destroyed the might of Spain, France, and Holland, extended the Empire at their expense, and now aspires to universal rule. The career of the Empire is not yet finished, nor is the fate of the image, but as far as events have matured they prove an absolute identity between the Fifth Monarchy and the Anglo-Saxon dynasty."

But "nearly all its wars" have not been directed against the nations mentioned. "That we broke them" is not true, they still exist as nations and powers to be reckoned with. Nor is it true that the British Empire fills the earth, for it covers not more than one-fourth of the earth. Great it undoubtedly is, but it does not fill the earth, as the prophecy says the stone will after having broken the image to pieces, nor has it any desire to do so.

The vision and its interpretation are plain enough to those who have not some strange theory to uphold. The stone is a kingdom which is not built up or formed by the wisdom of statesmen, or founded upon victories gained by military leaders; no mortal hand carves out its destiny or builds up its power, but it is set up by the God of heaven. It is the introduction of Christ, according to Psalm 2, where God says, "Behold I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion."

"I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Ps. 2:7-9).

It is not by a series of wars and conquests extending over the course of centuries, that the image is destroyed by this all-powerful "stone," but by one swift and decisive blow. This could only be by divine power, and this is the power that will operate when the moment comes. The image has not yet been destroyed, all the glory of its past will be gathered up in the last phase of it which has yet to appear, and all its power will be used to "make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shalt overcome them: for He is Lord of lords and King of kings" (Rev. 17:14).

"And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Rev. 19:15-16).

Christians pray with more or less intelligence and fervour, "Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come." When the stone moves against the image it will be the answer to this prayer. Christ is the stone, He was rejected at His first coming by the great builders of this world's social, political and religious structure, for the princes of the world crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8). But the rejected stone has been raised up. And "ON WHOMSOEVER IT SHALL FALL, IT WILL GRIND HIM TO POWDER" (Matt. 21:44). No other word than that is needed to show us who and what the stone is.

"Anglo-Israelism" is a pernicious system of teaching. In the first place, it diverts those who are caught by it from the heavenly hopes and out-of-the-world character of God's ecclesia — called out assembly. The calling out of this assembly from all nations is the special work of the Holy Spirit in this period, and to turn Christians after something else is the work of the devil, and means serious loss to those who are influenced by it, for such are not working with God, are not building according to the plans.

Then it denies the fact that a special intervention of God in judgment is necessary before righteousness and lasting peace can fill the earth, to which all Scripture bears witness. Then it connects with a Gentile nation — Gentile in spite of all efforts to prove the contrary — the glory and power which are Christ's alone, and which He will exercise in connection with His people Israel, who are yet to be redeemed by His power from amongst all nations where they are scattered. It turns the eye of hope and faith from Christ, who is the only hope of the church, or of Israel, or of the nations, and centres it on an Empire, which, though, in the mercy of God, may be somewhat more righteous and liberty-loving than others, will yet be weighed in the balances of God and found wanting, and will have to give place along with all others to that kingdom, "which shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44). "FOR HE MUST REIGN, TILL HE HATH PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER His FEET."