The Mystic Stone
March 10th, 1968 @ 10:50 AM
THE MYSTIC STONE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-10-68 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Mystic Stone, the mysterious, invincible stone. This is the second part of the sermon that was delivered last Sunday morning entitled The Sweep of Human History. The message, delivered last Sunday morning and climaxing in the message this Sunday morning is on the gigantic and awesomely terrible image that God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and its interpretation to the prophet statesman, Daniel, as God revealed the outline of all human history and the ultimate and final consummation of the age [Daniel 2:1-46]. Now, this is the dream that Daniel recalled to the mind of the king, and then the interpretation thereof.
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.
This image’s head 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 out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and 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, the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Then he interprets those segments, those metallic differences, in that gigantic and awesome image. And that was the sermon last Sunday. Now the climax of the vision:
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 those 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 those 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 brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and 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.
The climax of the vision is that stone cut without hands that smites the image on its feet, and then grows to be a mountain that fills the whole earth [Daniel 2:35], a kingdom that shall stand forever. The mystic stone, the mysterious stone; it would be called some word like that however you read or understood this passage. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands” [Daniel 2:34], without hands. Then there are forces in this universe, in our world, and in our lives that come down from above, that are not human—“a stone cut without hands.” There are other facts; there are other truths; there are other realities in this world than those that our five senses can describe—“a stone cut out without hands” [Daniel 2:34].
In our day, and in our time, and in our generation, our students and we ourselves are led to look upon Science—with a capital “S”—Science as some kind of an untouchable and sacred cow, beyond reproof or criticism, having answers for all things. And this capital “S” Science speaks in such haughty and disdainful tones of the great facts of spiritual life as though they never existed, nor are they to be reckoned with in this universe and in human life. Yet with all of its haughtiness, and with all of its tones of superiority, you will never see a bedraggled figure so unimposing as when this pseudoscience is asked to explain the simplest sequences of life. It falls into a tone of know-nothingness when it is drenched with such invisible rain. There never was an undertaker at a pauper’s funeral, overwhelmed with a deluge, who cuts a more less imposing figure than this pseudoscience, as it stands with all of its answers in the presence of the commonest mysteries of life.
A stone cut without hands [Daniel 2:34]. The sun rises in the morning without hands. The least and littlest flower lifts up its head and warms itself by the great fire without hands. And the little pansies are painted by the colors and brush of God without hands. I see them every time I go out to our car. There lining the fence are those little pansies, looking up at me with their faces, painted by God without hands. Nor could we overlook those mysterious and spiritual urgings, and inspirations, and movings that trouble our souls and move us God-ward and heavenward without hands. No explanation, no reason, no understanding, just the presence of God in our souls. Nor are we able to escape the judgments of God in history, written on the wall without human hands. Nor could the poet in all of his literary language, nor could the hymn writer in all of his melodies, nor could the preacher in his finest perorations adequately describe the “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” [2 Corinthians 5:1] that God hath prepared for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
A stone cut out without hands—and who is that stone, and what is that stone? “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands” [Daniel 2:34]. In the Scriptures that stone is meticulously and repeatedly described.
- 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].
- And I turn to 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” [Psalms 118:22-23].
- This is the passage that the Lord refers to when He speaks of Himself in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Luke [Luke 20:17].
- It is this passage from the one hundred eighteenth Psalm that Simon Peter refers to in the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts [Acts 4:11].
- And in the second chapter of the first letter of Simon Peter, this is the stone which is become “the head of the corner” [1 Peter 2:7], of the whole universe.
- And again in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Isaiah: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion a foundation, for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious stone, a sure foundation: that he that believeth may not be ashamed” [Isaiah 28:16]. And that passage is referring to Christ, the stone.
- In the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans, in the last verse, the thirty-third verse [Romans 9:33]—and it is referred again in the Holy Scriptures in the second chapter of 1 Peter—this stone is Christ [1 Peter 2:7-8].
- Upon this rock, upon the deity of the Son of God, confessed by Simon Peter, the church is built [Matthew 16:15-18].
- And in the tenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter: “They all drank of that Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ” [1 Corinthians 10:4].
- The stone that appears out of the mountain, cut without hands, is Christ, the Lord God Christ, cut without hands [Daniel 2:34-35].
- No human hand fashioned His substance—virgin born of the Spirit of God [Luke 1:26-35].
- Nor did any human hand raise Him from the dead. He was declared, published, heralded, pointed out as the Son of God by the Spirit of holiness that raised Him from the dead [Romans 1:4]. That stone that smites the image is Christ, the Rock, the Son of God [Daniel 2:34].
Now God has revealed to us when that Lord God Messiah Christ shall appear, when in history He will suddenly come and strike that image and shatter it to pieces. He will come! The appearance of the great God and our Savior will be seen by our eyes when all empires have passed away [Revelation 1:7].
In the sermon last Sunday morning, we learned, according to the interpretation of God, that the head of gold represented the kingdom of Babylonia [Daniel 2:32, 38], and the two arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire [Daniel 2:32, 39], and the thighs of brass represented the Greek empire [Daniel 32, 39], and the two iron legs represented the Roman Empire [Daniel 2:33, 40]. And then the feet were part of clay and part of iron [Daniel 2:33, 41], and the toes represented the tenfold division into which all the nations of the earth have fallen [Revelation 17:12]. There will never be another world empire. And this stone shall strike after all of the empires of the world have gone away [Daniel 2:35, 44-45].
In history there was seemingly a likelihood of the establishment of a world sovereignty—a political, sovereign empire that embraced the civilized world. It was in the day of Napoleon Bonaparte. All Europe lay prostrate at his feet, and it seemed as if the cup of universal dominion was raised to his lips. He was surrounded by an army of heroes, of gallant and devoted men. It looked as if Napoleon would conquer the civilized world. But the waters of the Borodino engulfed his invincible battalions. And the silent, soft, falling snow was as a winding sheet around half of his army that perished on the steppes of Russia—and the other half of his noble and gallant men, lay with their bones bleaching or their bodies buried on the plains of Waterloo. And the emperor, who lay down at night surrounded by six hundred thousand bristling bayonets to protect him, awoke at the rising of the sun a refugee and an exile, to die alone on the rocky island of Helena; because God had said six hundred years before Christ, and two thousand years before Napoleon was born, that after the Roman empire there would never be a universal dominion [Daniel 2:35, 44].
The stone shall strike, God says, not in the days of the Babylonian kingdom. The stone does not strike the head. Nor does the stone strike in the days of the Medo-Persian Empire. It did not strike the breast. Nor will the stone strike in the days of the Greek Empire. It did not strike in the belly or the thighs. Nor is that stone to strike in the days of the Roman Empire. It did not smite the legs. It is not a converting power introduced in the days of the Roman Empire, when Christianity was born with the Lord. But according to the revelation of God, that stone shall strike the feet of the image [Daniel 2:34] when the world sweep of empire has passed away, and when the nations of the world are divided—Asiatic, African, American, East and West. In those days the stone shall strike.
Now not only does God reveal when the stone shall strike, when the Lord shall come, when God shall appear [Daniel 2:34], but the interpretation of God and the revelation of this dream is also of the manner, the character, the way of His coming and God’s appearing. First, it is a destroying stone. It shatters, and it breaks, and it grinds to pieces, so much so that its fragments are blown away “like the chaff of the summer threshing floor” [Daniel 2:35]. The stone that strikes, the coming of the Messiah God, will be first of all to destroy [Daniel 2:34]. This is the universal, unfailing presentation in the Word of God. Our Lord in His apocalyptic discourse in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew said: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heaven shall be shaken” [Matthew 24:29]. “The sun shall be darkened”; imperial power blotted out. “And the moon shall not give her light”; satellite power dimmed and done with. “And the stars shall fall from the heavens”; ecclesiastical and civil rulers shall perish. “And the powers of the heaven shall be shaken”; the whole earth shall move at the presence of the coming and appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. He is coming to destroy [Matthew 24:29].
The government that Nebuchadnezzar knew and all of the lines of authority that have flown out from capitals, and emperors, and kings, and rulers ever since—all of it shall be taken away, all of it. Nothing of it shall abide or remain or be left. Like the chaff of the summer threshing floor [Daniel 2:35], the whole world order of politics, and sovereignty, and might, and power as we know it shall be forever destroyed and done away. It is a destroying stone! It is a shattering stone! It is a smiting stone! [Daniel 2:34-35].
It is also a restorative stone [Daniel 2:44-45]. There is an infinite purpose in God’s sovereign will, when the nations of the earth and their political leaders and rulers are all shattered away. God is preparing a renovation! God is destroying the old that He might bring in the new, and this also is according to the Word of God. The twenty-first chapter, the climatic beginning of the end of the Revelation is this: “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 . . . coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” [Revelation 21:1-2]. God shall purge this old planet. God shall renovate this old world. God shall recreate the very stars and the heavens above us, that we might dwell in a new and a perfected and a glorious creation! [Revelation2 1:1-3].
A thousand times a thousand times am I asked, “Where we will live in heaven? And where is heaven?” Heaven will be in this earth. And our eternal home will be on this globe. “I saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorns herself for her husband.” We shall live here. Our home shall be here. Heaven shall be here in a new and a renovated, recreated world—and heaven to arch above us [Revelation2 1:1-3]. This smiting stone [Daniel 2:35, 44] comes in order that the old might be destroyed and the new might be realized, brought to perfection for God’s saints to dwell in. Robert Browning had Pippa saying in her little morning song, “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world.” A beautiful sentiment, but to be theologically correct it ought to read: “God is in His heaven, and will right the world!” Someday, sometime, in the days in which we live, in the days of the feet and the toes of that image [Daniel 2:41-42], at the final consummation of human history, it is an intervention cut without hands. It is an intervention from God, who comes down out of heaven.
In the image he saw a stone smite the image and become a great mountain that filled the whole earth [Daniel 2:35]. Let us go back and see what that meant to the ears of Nebuchadnezzar and the magi surrounding him, as Daniel stood there and spoke of that great mountain that shall fill the whole earth. There was a name that you will find in those cuneiforms, those wedge-shaped inscriptions, digging up in the ruins of Babylon. There is a name that you will find for Nebuchadnezzar’s chief god, Bel-Merodach. That name is Shadu-rabu, the great mountain—Shadu-rabu, the great mountain; the name for his god, Bel-Merodach.
You see, the most ancient of all the temples of ancient Babylonia was at Nippur. And the god of Nippur worshiped in that temple was Enlil. And when Nebuchadnezzar came with his armies, he overwhelmed Nippur. And to him that meant that his god, Bel-Merodach, was greater and mightier than the god of Nippur. So Nebuchadnezzar took that name of Enlil Shadu-rabu, the great mountain, and he applied it to his god, Bel-Merodach, for his god was mightier than Enlil. Had he not overwhelmed Nippur? And that most ancient of all the temples of Babylonia was called the house of the great mountain of the lands, referring to Enlil. And now Bel-Merodach is the great mountain of the lands of all the earth.
And when the statesman prophet Daniel stands before the king and says, “There is a stone that shall grow into a great mountain” [Daniel 2:35, 45] Daniel was saying that the sovereignty and the political leadership and the power of this world that was vested first in Babylon, then Medo-Persia, then in Greece, then in Rome, then scattered among the multiplying nations of the earth—that there shall come a time when all of the sovereignty and rulership and power of the earth shall be vested in the great Shadu-rabu—the great mountain, the stone, the Lord God, the Christ of glory, who shall come in those latter and consummating days to destroy the evil and iniquity of this earth, to purge it of its unrighteousness that He might set up an eternal and everlasting and undying kingdom for God’s saints to live in. This is the interpretation, said Daniel, and the meaning thereof is sure and certain [Daniel 2:44-45].
What an amazing thing are the revelations of God! The Lord God of this universe is a man, the Man Christ Jesus, a stone cut without hands. The Lord God of this universe is an incarnate God in man [Matthew 1:23]. The only God you will ever see is Jesus [John 1:18]. And the only God there is is the great Jehovah Lord God in heaven and in earth [Deuteronomy 4:35, 39]. The great Lord God someday shall come, the glorious and exalted and immortalized Lord Jesus [Matthew 24:30]. The God of this universe is a man, the Man Christ Jesus, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel [Genesis 49:24]. What an amazing revelation!
A second amazing revelation: that these bodies, these bodies, shall be raised from the dust of the ground, from the heart of the earth and the depths of the sea [John 5:25], and we shall live in these bodies, glorified, immortalized, resurrected and raised from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17]. There were no ancients—Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Egyptian, Roman—there were no ancients but who believed in the immortality of the soul. The new and strange and amazing doctrine of the Christian faith was that these bodies shall be resurrected from the dead. And we shall live in God’s sight forever, body and soul [1 Thessalonians 5:23].
And the third incomparable revelation from the Lord God: that there shall come a time when the Lord God shall personally appear out of heaven, and shall set up in this new and glorified earth a kingdom that shall stand forever [Daniel 2:44]. This accounts for some of the most earnest and deeply moving appeals and prayers to be found in the Word of God. For example, the prophet Isaiah will say: “O God, oh, that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy feet, as when the melting fire burneth… that the nations may tremble in Thy presence!” [Isaiah 64:1-2]. “O God, that Thou wouldest come down, that Thou wouldest cleave the heavens as wouldest roll back like a scroll” [Isaiah 34:4]—and God shall appear. And that same fervent prayer closes the Bible. Outside of the benedictory sentence, the Bible closes with that same Isaian appeal when the Lord says, “He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” The answering prayer of the aged prophet and seer and apostle John is this: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].
Great God, come down, come down, come down. In a world of death, and judgment, and unrighteousness, and sorrow, and tears, great God, come down, come down! When the apostasy of Babylon shall be taken from the earth forever and the smoke of her fire ascends world without end [Revelation 18:18], when the Jews are regathered in their homeland [Ezekiel 36:24-29], when the dead are raised at the trumpet of the Lord [1 Corinthians 15:52], and we who are alive and remain are gathered with them to meet our Lord as He comes down on the clouds in the air [Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. The text of the Revelation, Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and the families and tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
The stone that is cut without hands smites the image, destroys it, and grows into a great mountain [Daniel 2:35, 44-45]. And that same incomparable sentiment is expressed in our finest hymn. Charles Wesley, born in 1707—Charles Wesley took that marvelous Isaian prayer: “O God, that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down,” [Isaiah 64:1] and the text of the Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and the families of the earth shall wail because of Him.” “Even so, Amen. Come down, O Lord God!” [Revelation 22:20]. And he wrote this hymn that we sing, and often I ask Lee Roy to lead us in it:
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 splendor’s majesty;
Those who set at naught 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 in solemn pomp appear;
All who have not Him rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air.
See the day of God appear!
Yea, amen. Let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and the glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O, come quickly! O, come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down.
[“Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending,” Charles Wesley]
Whom are we expecting? God—the personal, living, reigning, resurrected God, the Man, Lord Jesus [Acts 1:11], the Stone that smote the image and that grew to be a mountain that filled the earth [Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45].
Now seated, I want us to sing the last stanza of that hymn. One hundred twenty-three, 123, 123, sing the last stanza of that hymn, and look at the words as we sing it. All right, Lee Roy, let’s sing it.
Now for our invitation hymn, sing all of it. Sing all of it. As it is written here in the Bible, the Word of God, so did Charles Wesley write that in this song—looking for Jesus, looking for God. Yea, amen, everlasting God, come down!
And while we sing the stanzas of that hymn, you to give your heart to Jesus; you to put your life in the fellowship, and the circumference, the arms, the prayers, the love of this dear church, you come. A family you, a couple you, one somebody you in the balcony round, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Pastor, here I am. I come now.” Make the decision now, and in a moment when we stand to sing, stand up coming. The first step will be your greatest and finest, and angels will attend you in the way. Come now. Do it now. Answer now, “Here I am, preacher, here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.