The Mystic Stone
March 10th, 1968 @ 8:15 AM
THE MYSTIC STONE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-10-68 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Mystic Stone. It is a continuation; it is the last half of the sermon that was preached last Sunday morning. And as I begin I would like to say a word of greeting to pastor David Weaver and the Del Amo Baptist Church in Del Amo, California. These sermons that are delivered on Daniel are recorded here in this sanctuary by Tapes for Christ. Those tapes are sent all over the world, and the sermon is delivered again and again from one continent to the other, and among those who listen to the tapes is the Training Union of the Del Amo Baptist Church every Sunday evening. And God bless you dear people in California as you listen.
Now for a few weeks this will be the last sermon that I will preach on Daniel. We are entering the time of our intensive preparation for revival. And the sermons for these coming and immediate weeks will be turned toward that evangelistic end. Then after a while, we will come back to the Book of Daniel and continue its delivery, the exposition of these passages.
Now, my little grandson said to me, “What is a mystic stone? What does that word ‘mystic’ mean?” Well, I never had thought but that I was using a very plain and a simple word. I said, “Son, that means a mysterious stone, an incredible stone, an invincible stone.” The mystic stone: a heavenly stone and as we shall see, a triumphant and victorious stone. And it stands, as we shall see, for the personal appearing and the personal triumph of the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus, God’s Son, and our reigning, living King [Daniel 2:45].
Now in the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, God has given to His prophet statesman the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation thereof [Daniel 2:17-19]. And Daniel says to the monarch of Babylon:
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible, awesomely terrible. This head of the image was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we shall tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Then he follows the image downward from the head to the feet and says that each one of those parts of the image represented by the differing metallic substances are pictures of great empires that shall consume and rule over the civilized world [Daniel 2:37-42]. Then he continues the interpretation:
And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And 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. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Last Sunday morning we followed the course of that image and the message was entitled The Sweep of Human History. God gave to this prophet statesman a vision, and in that vision God outlined the course of human history unto the consummation of the age, unto the end. Now, he says, “In the latter days, at the end times, there shall come a stone cut without hands” [Daniel 2:45]. Without hands; so, there are other powers in this world than human. There are some things that come down from above.
In our day, we have come to listen in awe—and almost in reverence—to the voice of a pseudoscientist. And he speaks in haughty and superior tones. Science, with a capital “s,” is our untouchable and sacred cow, beyond reproof and beyond criticism. And what the pseudoscientist says is law and gospel to this believing and credulous generation. But I don’t know of anybody, and I do not know of anything that looks so bewildered, or bedraggled as this pseudoscientist when he is deluged with invisible rain and he is asked to explain the commonest experiences of life.
There is no undertaker at a pauper’s funeral drowned in rain who cuts a less imposing appearance than the pseudoscientist when we ask of him the reasons for the commonest sequences in life. Without hands, the sun rises every morning, without hands. “Ha! The sun rises? No! The earth turns eastward!” Then we shall say, “This great globe of ours turns eastward without hands.” And we still see the mystery of the rising of the sun without hands. “Ha! This is the great law of gravity that swings this earth in orbit around the sun.” But what is gravity? that mysterious, indefinable source that no man can explain! The whole universe by laws and governments unseen follows its course without hands. And when the fiery orb rises in the morning, every little flower will lift up its head to warm itself by the great sun. And out of that orb, God will dip His brush into the rainbow colors of the sun and paint the faces of little pansies without hands. Without hands. And in the story of human souls and in our own experiences, there are convictions, and urgings, and promptings, and inspirations, and movings that come from above without hands. And in the story of the wicked, there are judgments written on the walls without human hands. And in God’s blessed remembrances of the righteous and the saints of God, there is a house made without hands, eternal in the heavens [2 Corinthians 5:1]. Just reminding us that there are forces, and there are inspirations, and movings, and developments in this world beyond human hands, or human power, or human explanation: the mystic stone cut out of the mountain without hands [Daniel 2:45].
Again, the consummation, the climax of this marvelous revelation is that stone. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet” [Daniel 2:34]. What is that stone? That stone is Christ, the Messiah Lord God of Israel and the King of all God’s creation. The stone is Christ, Christ Himself, the Lord God Christ our Savior.
- In the forty-ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis the mighty God of Jacob, “From thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel” [Genesis 49:24].
- I turn the pages of this blessed Book again in the one hundred eighteenth Psalm, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes” [Psalm 118:22-23].
- And in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Luke, our Lord used that passage to refer to Himself, “The stone of Israel, the Shepherd from Jacob” [Luke 20:17].
- And in the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts, [Acts 4:11], and in the second chapter of the Book of 1 Peter, Simon Peter uses that same passage to refer to Christ the Lord [1 Peter 2:7-8].
- I turn again in this sacred Book, in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, “Therefore thus sayeth the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: and he that believeth shall not be ashamed” [Isaiah 28:16].
- And this passage is referred to Christ in the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans, the last verse, the thirty-third verse [Romans 9:33].
- And again in the second chapter of 1 Peter, the sixth verse [1 Peter 2:6].
All through the Bible there is a prophecy of a stone—a great foundation stone:
- And the Lord Christ saith, “Upon this rock I will build My church” [Matthew 16:18], the deity of the Son of God confessed by our representative apostle and disciple, Simon Peter. “Upon this rock.”
- And in the tenth chapter of the Book of 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “They all drank of that Rock that followed them in the wilderness, and that Rock is Christ” [1 Corinthians 10:4].
So when I read in this vision that there is a stone cut without hands which smote the image upon his feet, I am to know that that stone is Christ [Daniel 2:34, 45]. That Rock is Christ [1 Corinthians 10:4], cut out without hands [Daniel 2:34]. In His incarnation—in His virgin birth—there were not human instrumentatilities. It was a virgin birth, a miraculous birth by the Holy Spirit God [Matthew 1:20-25; Luke 1:26-35]. And in His resurrection, He was raised from the dead without human hands [Romans 1:4]. This stone, this Rock, is Christ [1 Corinthians 10:4].
Now, in the vision I am taught when it is, when it is that this stone strikes the image of history. When is it? “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” [Daniel 2:34]. When is it that this stone shall strike that image? It strikes the image after the course of world empire; after Babylonian the head [Daniel 2:32, 38], after Medo-Persian the two arms of silver [Daniel 2:32, 39], after the Greco kingdom of brass [Daniel 2:32, 39], after the great Roman kingdom of iron [Daniel 2:23, 40], after the passing away of the great empires of the world. And according to the prophecy of God, there will never be another great world empire beyond the Roman Empire, represented by those legs of iron [Daniel 2:33, 44-45].
There was one time when it seemed as though there would come to pass in this earth another great, universal, world empire. In the days of Napoleon Bonaparte, it seemed as though as the world laid prostrate at his feet. He was an invincible general. And it seemed as though the cup of world dominion was raised to his lips. But his invincible legions were engulfed in the waters of the Borodino, and the soft, silent, white snowflakes became a winding sheet for half of his army. And the rest of his soldiers laid buried or their bones bleaching on the plains of Waterloo. And the great monarch, who laid down at night in the midst of six hundred thousand bristling bayonets to defend him, awoke at the rising of tomorrow’s sun, an exile, a refugee facing death on a lonely and rocky isle. For God had said six hundred years before Christ, for God had said two thousand four hundred years before Napoleon was born, that there will never be another world empire [Daniel 2:44-45].
“And the flower fades, and the grass withers, but the word of God shall stand forever” [Isaiah 40:8]. This image, therefore, depicting the sweep of human history and the course of the great empires of this globe, the stone smites it after the course of those empires [Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45]. And that stone smites that image [Daniel 2:34-35]. That stone appears in human history in the days of the breaking up of the kingdoms of the earth into iron and clay, into strong and weak, down on the feet. “And the stone cut without hands smote the image upon his feet” [Daniel 2:34, 45]. The stone did not strike the image in the days of the Babylonian Empire in the head. The stone did not smite the image in the days of the Medo-Persian Empire in the two arms of silver. Nor did the stone strike that image in the days of the Greek Empire in the thighs of brass. Nor did that stone strike that image in the days of the Roman Empire, the legs of iron. It was not the introduction of Christianity into the earth. It did not strike that image on the iron legs, but that stone struck that image on the feet in the days when the world is divided up into multiplied kingdoms: East and West, Asia, Africa, America. In those days, after the passing of the world empires, the stone struck those images, struck that image and brake it in pieces [Daniel 2:34, 44-45].
Now, let us look at the character of the striking of that stone. How is it? First: it is a destroying stone, not a converting one. When the stone strikes that image, it breaks it in pieces [Daniel 2:34, 44]. The whole revelation of God is to that same end, that when Christ shall come, He will do it in a day and in a time of tremendous judgment. For example, in the apocalyptic discourse of our Lord, in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the Lord says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened” [Matthew 24:29]. That refers possibly to the great imperial powers that are cast down. “The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” [Matthew 24:29]. That refers possibly to the satellite powers, the smaller powers that shall be destroyed. “And the stars shall fall from heaven” [Matthew 24:29]. That refers to civil and ecclesiastical rulers. “And the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” [Matthew 24:29] The whole creation shall move at the coming of the Lord. “The stone shall strike the image upon its feet” [Daniel 2:34]. It is a shattering stone; it is a grinding stone, and the pieces of that image shall be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.
What is God saying to us? The Lord is saying to us, as He said to Nebuchadnezzar, “Nebuchadnezzar, the kingdom that you know, and the political power with which you are acquainted, and the system of government in this world, all of it shall be destroyed. All of it. It shall be taken away. It shall be no more.” The whole system of governments and sovereignty that you’ve been introduced to all your life, and all our lives, shall be utterly swept away. That stone is first of all, a destroying stone. It is a shattering stone; it is a grinding stone. Without exception in the Holy Scriptures, Christ comes just like that. In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation and the eleventh and the following verses, Christ intervenes in human history in the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 19:11-21], and it is a tremendous day when the stone strikes that image on its feet [Daniel 2:34].
But, it is not only a shattering, grinding, destroying stone. There is a purpose in its grinding, and in its shattering, and in its smiting. It is a restorational stone; God says, “I am sweeping up the iniquity and the unrighteousness of nations and governments in order that I might establish a new order and a new world wherein dwelleth righteousness” [2 Peter 3:13]. The stone that smote the image and shattered it became a great mountain and filled the whole earth [Daniel 2:35], sweeping away the iniquities of men in order that God might establish His kingdom in righteousness and holiness and justice [2 Peter 3:13]. And the Bible constantly looks forward to that holy and triumphant day.
Does not the first verse of the twenty-first chapter of the Book of the Revelation begin like that? “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the old first heaven and the old first earth were passed away. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven to this earth, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” [Revelation 21:1-2] This old earth swept and purged, that God’s kingdom might come and God’s saints might live in it. A thousand times a thousand times am I asked, “Where will heaven be? And where are we going to live?” Right here in this earth. God says so, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, come down from God out of heaven” [Revelation 21:2], right here in this earth. And God sweeps it, and cleanses it, and purges it, and purifies it, that His redeemed saints might walk in it. Is that not what Simon Peter said in the third chapter of 2 Peter and the thirteenth verse? Is that not the verse where he says, “But we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” [2 Peter 3:13].
It is again, an eternal kingdom. “And thou sawest until that stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. And it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” [Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45]. For a moment, I want to show you if I can what that meant to Nebuchadnezzar and the magi who stood around him, when Daniel stood before him and spoke of that great mountain that was to fill the whole earth. I have said that that stone is Christ. That great Rock is Christ [1 Corinthians 10:4]. And it refers to the personal coming of Christ who shall rule and be King over the whole earth and forever. Now, as Nebuchadnezzar heard that, “And the [stone] smote the image, and the stone became a great mountain” [Daniel 2:35]; looking at those cuneiforms—Babylonian wedge-shaped inscriptions—we learn that another name for the great god of Nebuchadnezzar and of Babylon, Baal-Merodach, was Shadu Rabu—Shadu Rabu, the great mountain, the great mountain. And that came about like this: Enlil was the god of Nippur, one of the districts and cities of Babylonia. And Nebuchadnezzar overwhelmed Nippur which meant that the god of Nebuchadnezzar, Baal-Merodach, was greater than Enlil, the god of Nippur. The most ancient temple in Babylonia was at Nippur, Enlil’s god, and it was called “the house of the great mountain of the lands.” That was the way those kings thought in those days. “I have overwhelmed you because my god is greater than your god.” And when Daniel interpreted before the king the passing of the sovereigns of the earth from one reign and one kingdom to the other, until finally it comes down to the last, and that great god is called Shadu Rabu. He, not Baal-Merodach or Enlil or any other god, He is the great Lord God of the earth. And His kingdom shall live forever [Daniel 2:44-45].
Cut out without hands [Daniel 2:34, 45]; that is, out of deity, out of deity. Without hands, without human instrumentality, God comes in human flesh [John 1:14].
I must close. This is the prayer of God’s saints through the ages. Do you ever look at a verse like this—when Isaiah will cry, “Oh but Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence.” Isaiah, the great prophet! Isaiah 64:1, lifting up his heart and his prayers, and his intercessions, and the hopes and desires of his soul, “O Thou God! But Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence.” The stone, the stone. And through the ages since, as in the New Testament, as in the holy and heavenly aspirations of the children of God, “O God! That the Lord would come down; rend the heaven.” The last verse in the Bible—outside of that benedictory sentence—is that prayer. “Even so, come down, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].
I am afraid we sing these hymns and pay very little attention to the lyrics, to the words, but I want to show you—and I have taken this one as typical—I want to show you how Charles Wesley—born in 1707—how Charles Wesley took those two passages of Scripture: Isaiah 64:1, “Oh but Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down,” and Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and the families and tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” I want to show you how Charles Wesley put those two passages together in a song which I ask Lee Roy to sing often:
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain!
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train:
God appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in splendors majesty;
Those who set at nought and sold Him,
Pierced, and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.
Now the Savior, long expected,
See! Him in solemn pomp appear
All who have not Him rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air!
See the day of God appear!
Let all adore Thee,
High on Thy eternal throne!
Savior, take the power and glory:
Claim the kingdom for Thine own!
Oh, come quickly,
Oh, come quickly,
Everlasting God come down!
[“Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” Charles Wesley, 1752]
This is the Bible! This is the Word of God! And this has been the hope and the assurance and conviction of the saints through the ages.
Now, I want you where you are to turn and sing that last stanza, just seated where you are, 123, hymn 123. I want all of you to turn to that hymn, 123, hymn 123. And I want us to sing it, everybody. If you can’t sing, just read the words. But everybody sings that stanza, the last stanza of hymn number 123. All right, Lee Roy, let’s sing it. Everybody:
Let all adore Thee,
High on Thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly!
O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!
[adapted from “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending”; John Cenneck, Charles Wesley]
Do you see it? It is God we’re looking for! It is God who will appear. That stone is God, the Lord Christ [Daniel 2:34, 45]. All the doctrines of the Christian faith are overwhelming, mysterious, and amazing. The God of this universe is a man, the Man Christ Jesus [Acts 2:36], the only God there is, the only God you’ll ever see; It is a man, God is a man! And we shall live in these bodies, resurrected and glorified [1 John 3:2]. All of the ancients believed in immortality; it was the Christian theme that delivered the revelation of the resurrection, the immortalizing, the glorifying of the body [Romans 6:5]. And this revelation is as glorious, “And we shall live and reign in a kingdom upon this earth” [2 Timothy 2:11-12, Revelation 22:5].
Well, we must stop. I want us to sing the first of those stanzas for our invitation hymn 123, the first of those stanzas. And while we sing it, to give your heart to Jesus, or to put your life in the fellowship of this dear and precious church, you come and stand by me. “Pastor, here I am, I take the Lord as my Savior.” Or, “Here I am, I want to put my life in the church.” Come now; decide now. And when we stand in a moment, when you stand up, stand up coming. And God bless you in the way, while we stand and sing our song.
THE MYSTIC STONE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Without hands
II. Stone, the climax of the vision
III. The time of His appearing
A. After the course of empires have passed away
B. Smite the feet
IV. The character of His appearing
A. Destroying power
B. Restorational power
C. Eternal power
V. Our longing and waiting