The Kingdom of Christ
Dreams are a part of life. Nearly every night we fall asleep, we dream. We rarely remember our dreams, but our minds are very active during sleep. Some dreams are pleasant; others are scary. For the most part, our dreams are very similar to each other’s. We dream that we are falling off a cliff, or that we forgot to study for a math test, or that we got the exact gift we wanted for our birthday. None of us, however, has had a prophetic dream like the one Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had more than 2,500 years ago.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream came from God and had to do with the most important thing on Earth—the Lord’s Church. According to Daniel, the king dreamed of a great image that had a head of fine gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. In the dream, a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands and struck the image. The clay, iron, bronze, silver, and gold were crushed and became like dust, which was carried away by the wind. But, “the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
The prophet Daniel revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that the image he saw represented various earthly kingdoms. Babylon was the head of gold, while the other elements of the image stood for future empires that would rise after Babylon. History has shown that the chest and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire. The belly and thighs of bronze were for the Grecian Empire. And the legs of iron and feet of both iron and clay stood for the Roman Empire.
Daniel informed Nebuchadnezzar that it would be during the days of the fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire) that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed;…it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). Its beginning would be small, like the stone that was cut out of the mountain “without hands.” But it would consume all other kingdoms and become a great mountain filling the whole Earth.
What is this kingdom of which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed and Daniel spoke? What is this great kingdom that would start out small and eventually fill the whole Earth? It is the spiritual Kingdom of Christ—the Church. More than 500 years before the Church was established, God revealed to king Nebuchadnezzar through a dream, which the prophet Daniel interpreted, that a kingdom made “without hands”—a spiritual Kingdom of divine origin—would be established during the days of the Roman Empire. Today, we can know that this spiritual empire is the Kingdom of Christ. In this Kingdom, Jesus is the King, and His followers, called Christians, are His servants.
According to this prophecy, the Babylonians would be followed by three kingdoms (the Medo-Persians, the Grecians, and the Romans), each of which eventually would come to an end. But the spiritual Kingdom that would be established by the God of heaven in the days of the Roman Empire would be everlasting. Unlike all worldly empires, which are at risk of being destroyed, nothing would ever have the power to overthrow God’s spiritual Kingdom. Army tanks, guided missiles, and nuclear bombs would not (and will not) bring down the Kingdom of Christ. Simply put, it “shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).
Years after Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream (and only about 30 years before the establishment of God’s Kingdom), the angel Gabriel visited Mary, the mother of Jesus, and said: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).
The kingdom of which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, and of which Daniel and many other prophets spoke, and the one that Gabriel foretold to Mary, was soon to become a reality. It is this Kingdom, the Church, that was established in Acts 2.
Acts 2—The Kingdom Established
Jesus had gone back to heaven only a few days previously. He left instructions for His apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from heaven. On the Day of Pentecost (a Jewish feast), the 12 apostles were gathered together. Suddenly, a loud noise came from heaven that sounded like a mighty wind and filled the whole house where they had gathered. Then, small tongues of fire appeared over each of the apostles’ heads. It was the power from heaven that Jesus had promised. The apostles were given the miraculous ability to speak in languages that they had never studied.
Using this amazing power of speaking in tongues, the apostles stood in the middle of the city of Jerusalem and began to preach about Jesus. Men from many different countries who spoke different languages all heard the apostles speak in their native languages. The people were amazed and wondered what was happening.
Acts chapter 2 records that Peter stood up with the others and began to explain to the people of Jerusalem that this amazing event was the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. Peter went on to preach to the people about Jesus. He told those in Jerusalem that Jesus was the Son of God. He also told them that the citizens of Jerusalem had falsely accused Jesus and murdered Him unjustly. Some of the people realized what they had done and wanted to make things right with God.
Those people who realized their sin came to Peter and the other apostles and said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter then explained to them exactly what they needed to do to make things right with God. Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). After hearing the story of Jesus, believing that He is the Son of God, and confessing that belief, Peter’s listeners followed the commandment to repent of their sins and be immersed (baptized) in water. In fact, the Bible says that about 3,000 people that day were saved from their sins by God when they obeyed the commandments as given by Peter.
It is here in the book of Acts that the Church of Christ was established. Since Acts 2, God has been adding millions of people to His Church. Anyone who learns and understands the saving story of Jesus and obeys the Gospel of Christ (Acts 2:38) can be added by God to His Church. We should be thankful to God for establishing His Son’s wonderful Church. And we should be thankful that He has shown us through the New Testament how to become followers of Christ, servants of the King in the Kingdom of Christ.
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