“A Kingdom Made Without Hands”
A Kingdom Made Without Hands
by Jeff Curtis
After Daniel had described the four kingdoms made with hands – that is, with physical military might – he then describes a fifth kingdom made “without hands” (Daniel 2:44-45). It would become a reality in the “latter” or “last days” (Daniel 2:28). While Rome, the icon kingdom, was very much in control, Jesus built on Daniel’s teaching, announcing, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).
The establishment of the kingdom that Daniel had prophesied about was, in fact, so close “at hand” that Jesus said some bystanders would live to see the kingdom of God “come with power” (Mark 9:1). That power came on the day of Pentecost, about 30 A.D., in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4).
On that day, for the first time, came the announcement that Jesus had gone to heaven to be seated on David’s throne (Acts 2:30). That throne had become spiritual, a kingdom made “without hands,” is not of this world (John 18:36).
Distinct even from David’s kingdom, Jesus’ kingdom is invisible, “within” its citizens (Luke 17:21). Essentially, it is in no way external, but wholly inward, a kingdom of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
At the very moment penitent believers in Jesus are “buried with Him in baptism” (Colossians 2:12), they are “transferred” into “the kingdom of God’s beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). Their “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), but they are recognized in this world as “God’s family” (1Timothy 3:15), called “the church of the living God” (1Timothy 3:15).
The church is the fruition of the “eternal purpose” of “the only wise God, through Jesus Christ,” the realization of “things into which angels long to look” (Ephesians 3:10; Romans 16:27; 1Peter 1:12). It is glory to Him and joy to the angels when they look down from heaven and see lost sinners born again and saved, being added to the Lord’s people, the church (Ephesians 3:21; Luke 15:10; Acts 2:47).
A British historian understood Daniel’s iron age to refer to Rome:
The arms of the republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the Ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome.
Isaiah and Micah had preceded Daniel in writing that “the mountain of the house of the Lord” would become a reality in the “last days” (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1). Their prediction coincided with Daniel’s announcement that a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” would become “a great mountain” and would fill “the whole earth,” and that this would occur in the “latter days” (Daniel 2:28, 35, 45).
The phrase “latter” or “last” days has become a description of the time span of Christianity. Peter quoted Joel as saying that what happened on the day of Pentecost (when the kingdom, the church, was established) was in “the last days (Acts 2:17). Later, Peter wrote that what Jesus did on this earth was “in the last times” (1Peter 1:20).
Also, the inspired author of the book of Hebrews wrote that “in these last days” God speaks to us by “His Son” (Hebrews 1:2). If he meant the days of Judaism, up to AD 70, after the “last days.” Obviously, he was referring to the Christian dispensation.
The fifth kingdom spoken of by Daniel is unique. (1) It was made without hands; (2) it was established and maintained without military force; and (3) it is invisible. Also, (4) it is indestructible. Even “the gates of Hades” cannot prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). So, really, Christians have received a kingdom that “cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). It is established “with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:7). God has determined that “it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 244).