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13-3-2 Peter And The Stone Of Daniel 2

Simon Peter, Simon-the-rock, emphasized in his first epistle that Jesus was the real rock / stone. But he clearly saw himself as manifesting Jesus in his work of founding the church of Jesus- as we are all manifestations of Jesus in our witness. It could be that Simon-rock was the man through whom the church was founded- for the mass conversions on Pentecost and straight afterwards were not repeated it seems. From those conversions the world-wide church came into being. Those converts, who were from “every nation under heaven”, took the message back home with them. And later, through his preaching to Cornelius, it was Peter who “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles”. Before Peter and the apostles, the gates of the grave would open (Mt. 16:18); and yet as Jesus makes clear, it is He personally who has the keys of the grave and of death. The Pharisees had shut the door to the Kingdom (Mt. 23:13), but Peter and the apostles had the keys to open it again. It was perhaps Peter’s putting together of these two sayings of Jesus that gave him the courage to stand up and preach as he did to the Jews- the door had been shut, but the Lord had given him the keys to open it. For all his sense of personal inadequacy, he couldn’t just sit and toy with the keys in his hand. Thus the work of Jesus was manifested through that of His zealous apostles and Peter. Through the Pentecost conversions, the reign of Jesus in the lives of men and women, the power of the Kingdom life, spread world-wide due to the witness of that man who was so, so aware of his failure, and who likely considered that he ought to be left on the back-burner for a while after his shameful denials. This all leads to the inevitable connection with the vision of Daniel 2. A stone hits the kingdoms of men and spreads to form a world-wide Kingdom. Lk. 20:17 describes Jesus as the stone who became the headstone, in His impact upon men and women here and now. It could be that the feet part of iron and part of clay refers to the Roman empire rather than a system of affairs that arose after the Roman empire ended. The 10 toes of the image correspond to the 10 horns of the beast in Revelation- and the horns were part of the beast / fourth empire, just as the toes had the iron element in them. Note that the legs are described as representing “the fourth empire” (Dan. 2:40), but the feat are not called “the fifth empire”. Indeed the toes are spoken of as representing how “the Kingdom shall be divided…” (Dan. 2:41), implying they are part of the fourth kingdom (Rome) spoken of in the preceding verse. The heralding of Christ’s ministry with the words “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and His talk of it ‘coming upon’ people, being entered, received, unexpectedly found, and ‘coming’ (Mk. 1:15; Lk. 11:20; Mk. 10:23-25; Mk. 10:15; Mt. 13:44-46; Lk. 11:2) would likely all have been understood as a reference to Dan. 2:44 and maybe 7:27. Likewise Mt. 12:28: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom has already come to you”. In the person of Jesus, the Kingdom of God was amongst the people of Palestine. The Kaddish, an old Jewish prayer, was much recited by Jesus’ contemporaries: “May God establish his Kingdom in your lifetime and in your days, speedily and at a near time”. Jesus was surely alluding to this in delcaring that in a sense, the Kingdom had now come nigh. He described those who responded to the Kingdom Gospel as entering into a marriage supper (Mk. 2:18,19; Lk. 14:12-24), which was a well known figure for the future Messianic Kingdom (Is. 25:6-9). By eating / fellowshipping with Him in faith, His followers were in prospect enjoying the Kingdom life.  

John Baptist had described the Lord’s work as a fan that would sweep the chaff away- replete with reference to Daniel’s words about the sweeping away of the Kingdoms of men. The future political Kingdom of God will of course only be established at the Lord’s return. The vision can only have its total fulfilment then. But the essence of that Kingdom, the reigning of God in the lives of Christ’s people, those who lived out the spirit of all the parables which described what “the Kingdom of God” was to be like in the lives of mortal men and women…this began with the founding of the church of Christ. And this momentous act began in the conversions at Pentecost, made by Simon-rock. In the work of the disciples it would be true for Israel that “the Kingdom of Heaven has come near” (Mt. 11:4; 10:7). Peter as the leading and representative disciple likewise brought the Kingdom near and real to men and women in his preaching. Dan. 2:35 RVmg. speaks of how “the stone became a great rock”. Unstable, nervous,  mixed up Peter became the great rock of Christ, insofar as Simon manifested Him to the world in his preaching. Peter was the epitome of what would happen in the lives of countless others who would become “in Christ”.  

Whether or not one fully accepts the interpretation of Daniel 2 offered above, the essence of the lesson and the encouragement remains. That a man whose tremendous sense of unworthiness, awkwardness and embarrassment would have held back many a man in Christ, rose up to the challenge of witness. And he did it through gripping on firmly, even desperately, to his Lord’s promise to him- that he was really Simon-rock, the one with the keys that could open the Kingdom’s gates to people. And so he rose up and witnessed, and in doing so he manifested Jesus…and his Lord blessed mightily the witness he made. And each of us are in Christ, the true and mighty rock / stone. We each can manifest him as Peter did. For it is on each of us that He builds His church.