Spencer W. Kimball (Church President: December 30, 1973 - November 5, 1985)
General Conference Talk: "The Stone Cut without Hands," April 3, 1976
... You will remember the incident when history was young, when it was in the making. This important area of history was enacted only 600 or 700 years before Christ, and the Lord saw fit to reveal, in a rather unusual way, what was to come to pass thereafter.
King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had besieged Jerusalem and had taken prisoner the people of Jerusalem. Among the captives were Daniel and his brethren. They kept their standards high and refused to drink with the king and his people.
“And in all matters of wisdom,” the scripture says, “and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” (Dan. 1:20.)
King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he required his magicians and astrologers and sorcerers to reproduce and then to interpret. The penalty for any failure on their part was to be visited upon them, and it was a death sentence if they could not show the dream and the interpretation thereof. They pled for time to convince the king that there was no man living who could bring back the dream and its interpretation.
King Nebuchadnezzar was furious and commanded the destruction of these wise men of Babylon.
The inspired Daniel desired of the king that they would give him time, and he, Daniel, would interpret the dream. And then he says:
“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” (Dan. 2:19.)
And Daniel, the inspired one, praised the Lord and said:
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
“And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
“He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
“I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee.” (Dan. 2:20–23.)
And now with a knowledge of the future as revealed, Daniel begged for the lives of the soothsayers and the wise.
Taken before the king, he was asked,
“Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” (Dan. 2:26.)
And Daniel said the king’s secret could not be interpreted and revealed by the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers of the king:
“But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” (Dan. 2:28.)
Daniel said to the king that his dream was a portrayal of the history of the world. Then came the picture of the great image with head of fine gold, and breast and arms of silver, and belly and thighs of brass, and legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. Then the revelation continued:
“Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.” (Dan. 2:34.)
And the various elements of which the image was made were broken into pieces and “became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away.” The wind had carried away the destroyed elements, “and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:35.)
Then came the interpretation.
Nebuchadnezzar represented the king of kings, a world power, representing the head of gold.
Another kingdom would arise and take over world dominion.
The interpretation included the domination of other kingdoms. Cyrus the great, with his Medes and Persians, would be replaced by the Greek or Macedonian kingdom under Philip and Alexander; and that world power would be replaced by the Roman Empire; and Rome would be replaced by a group of nations of Europe represented by the toes of the image.
With the history of the world delineated in brief, now came the real revelation. Daniel said:
“And in the days of these kings [that is, the group of European nations] 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 these 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.” (Dan. 2:44–45.)
This is a revelation concerning the history of the world, when one world power would supersede another until there would be numerous smaller kingdoms to share the control of the earth.
And it was in the days of these kings that power would not be given to men, but the God of heaven would set up a kingdom—the kingdom of God upon the earth, which should never be destroyed nor left to other people.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830 after numerous revelations from the divine source; and this is the kingdom, set up by the God of heaven, that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth.
History unfolded and the world powers came and went after ruling the world for a little season, but in the early nineteenth century the day had come. The new world of America had been discovered and colonized and was being settled. Independence had been gained and a constitution approved and freedom given to men, and people were now enlightened to permit truth to be established and to reign.
No king or set of rulers could divine this history; but a young, pure, and worthy prophet could receive a revelation from God.
There was purpose for this unveiling of the history of the world so that the honest in heart might be looking forward to its establishment, and numerous good men and women, knowing of the revelations of God and the prospects for the future, have looked forward to this day.
It came about in a regular, normal process. An inspired, fourteen-year-old boy had difficulty learning from the scriptures alone what the future was. In a dense grove of trees he sought the Lord and prayed for wisdom.
The time had come, and though the adversary, Satan, recognizing all the powers of eternity which would be revealed with the gospel, did everything in his power to destroy the lad and destroy the prospects of the Restoration—in spite of him there came the splendid and magnificent vision to this pure, inquiring lad. Exerting all his powers, and with the strength of the Lord, the darkness was dispelled. Satan yielded and the vision proceeded, with a pillar of light coming exactly over the boy’s head—a light above the brightness of the sun, which gradually descended until it fell upon him. The young Joseph continues:
“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17.)
This formal introduction by the Father to the Son was most important, for this would be the world of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Questions were asked and answered, and eternal truths were given. It was made clear to the young, unspoiled Joseph that if he retained his worthiness and kept clean before the Lord, he would he responsible for the restoration of the Church and the gospel and the power and authority of God.
As maturity came to the young, unsullied man, there came also a flood, a deluge of ministrations from heaven. Commissions were given; authority was bestowed; information was given; and the revelations from on high continued almost without interruption, for the time had come. Conditions were ripe; many people were ready to receive the truth in its fulness.
In quick succession there came other visitors. Peter, James, and John—men who last held the keys of the kingdom, the power of the priesthood, and the blessings of eternity—appeared to the young man and restored the power and authority which they had held on earth.
John the Baptist, beheaded by Herod but now a resurrected being, returned to the earth and laid hands on the Prophet Joseph to give him the Aaronic Priesthood.
The great Moses of antiquity returned to the earth, a celestial being, and restored the keys of the gathering of Israel.
Elijah, the prophet of the eternal work for the dead, returned to make way and prepare for the great temple work and for the restoration of the gospel to those who had died without an opportunity to hear it.
The organizers of the Church were told by the Lord:
“No one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.” (D&C 28:2.)
And the prophet Moroni appeared unto Joseph and spent long hours explaining the peopling of the American continents by the Lehites and also the Book of Mormon, which would be unearthed and translated. This book would be a further testimony of the coming of Christ to America and would give testimony that Jesus was the Christ, the Eternal God, for both Jew and gentile. This record, the Book of Mormon, would help to establish the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These were the beginnings of accomplishment; and the gospel was revealed, line upon line and precept upon precept, and truths were restored, and power was given and authority was revealed, and gradually enough light and enough people were there for the organization of this kingdom of God which Daniel saw two and a half millennia ago.
The Church was organized. Small it was, with only six members, compared to the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which would break in pieces other nations and which would roll forth and fill the whole earth.
Rough days were ahead for the little kingdom. Prophets were assassinated. Persecutions and drivings have taken place and have vexed the fast-growing little church. A great exodus to the mountains of the West was directed by revelation. The colonization of the West occurred. Great tribulations were suffered. Blood was spilled. Hunger has taken its lives, but today the stone rolls forth to fill the earth.
Twenty-three thousand young missionaries proclaim these truths to thousands of people in their home areas. The gospel spreads to the nations of the earth in its approach toward the promise made by God through Daniel to fill the whole earth, and numerous people of all nationalities and tongues are accepting the gospel in many nations, and the Church and kingdom grow and develop, and we say to you and testify to you that it shall, in Daniel’s words, “never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people … but it shall stand forever.” (Dan. 2:44.)
Numerous revelations have made clear to the members that eternal life, which is their goal, is available by having the ordinances performed and then by living the commandments of God.
We give these truths to you, not in arrogance or worldly pride, but with a deep sincerity and a kindly offer—the gospel without price, the gospel of truth, the gospel of salvation and exaltation.
I know it is true. I know it is divine. I know it is the little stone that was cut out of a mountain without hands. I know it will fill the earth as prophesied and commanded by the Savior Jesus Christ when, in his last moments on earth, he said to his eleven apostles, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”—to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. (See Mark 16:15.) I know it is true from the birth of Adam to the days of Daniel to the days of Joseph Smith and to this day. I know it is true and divine. We offer it to you without price. We promise to you life eternal if you will follow its precepts strictly.