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Every athlete knows that the strongest muscles can be found in the legs. The world record for the leg press is some two times that of the arms. The largest bone in the human body can also be found in the legs. Whatever the task, the legs are a fundamental resource in ensuring that the body can move between two points. It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that the leg portion of Daniel’s image as described through Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is made of iron, one of the most durable and strongest metals known to mankind. As most Bible students understand, the leg portion of this image represents the powerful Roman Empire and its divided later phases. With the recent death of Pope John Paul II, this month’s article will examine the events surrounding the death and note that only divine intervention through a “stone cut without hands” will be able to topple this political/secular/religious colossus.

The Vatican

The Vatican is the smallest country in the world. This landlocked nation is smaller than the Washington Mall with a population of less than 1,000 people. In order to become the head of the government, only Cardinals being less than 80 years of age are entitled to elect a leader. Yet upon the death of their leader, an estimated three million people filed past his open casket.

Although the country is small, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the funeral was attended by so many. The pope not only presides over the Vatican, he also presides over one-billion Catholics around the globe.

The New York Times put it succinctly: “He reached out like no other pope to Jews and Muslims, and political and religious leaders came to the funeral from Israel and Saudi Arabia alike, even as the church continued to view Jesus Christ as the only true mediator of salvation.”

Powerful legs, strong feet

The powerful legs in Daniel’s image continue today in the feet portion. As has been witnessed by the recent passing of the pope and the outpouring of compassion, the iron is still very much with us today. Not everyone agrees with the pope’s teachings and beliefs, even within the Catholic Church. However, for some strange reason, the iron seems to meld nicely with the clay. By taking a stance against the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq, he became friends with the Muslims; by reaching out to the Jews through a childhood friend, he embraced the Jews; and by helping convert Poland from an atheist State, he won over millions.

During his reign, John Paul reached out to Muslims like no other pope. He was the first on record to step inside a mosque in Damascus in 2001, and he apologized for past misdeeds of the church that may be read to include the Crusades. As the Catholics move forward and seek a new Pope the most paramount issue facing the new leader will be to continue embracing the rising Muslim immigrant population in Europe.

The New York Times reported: “I would hope that in the future, the way of dialogue would in fact increase and make inroads in the other parts of Islam,” Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the archbishop of Westminster, told reporters here last Wednesday. “That needs to be done as a matter of urgency for the sake of peace in our world.”

It is impossible for any organization to argue against “world peace” – therefore if it becomes the mandate of the new papal leader to embrace Islam in the name of peace, then the iron will indeed meld perfectly with the clay. It will only then be possible to destroy the image through the divine guidance of a stone made without hands.

Let us pray that this day may come quickly.

George Rayner

Suggested Readings
Concepts are often personified in Scripture to help us understand them. For example, in Romans 6, sin is personified as a king ruling over us. Viewing sin in this way helps us relate to sin’s power and the way we come under its control.
The Philippines represent a moving and encouraging story for us to consider.
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