Meditating on Nebuchadnezzar’s dream recounted in Daniel 2, significant details emerge for us. That’s what we do in theancum, looking for new edges in the jewels of the scriptures. Nebuchadnezzar is impressed by a dream, but he «forgot the matter» looks for the answer in the wise men of Babylon, but they don’t know what to say to the king. The dream of the stone cut not by hand and its interpretation is revealed to Daniel one night.
A great and terrible looking image was before him. » This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 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… and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them» (2)
On this occasion, the stone cut not by hand, places us in our time, the restoration of the gospel.
The stone cut not by hand
Most of the work on this dream lies in the interpretation of the different parts of the statue. In the graph, dear reader, you can see the correspondence with the different empires throughout history. But let’s not focus on this, but on the movements described. In this case, only the one of the stone cut not by hand is described.
«…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.» (34)
Between these two elements, it is the stone that moves, the statue does not acquire movement in relation to the observer. There is a reason, the observer of the dream, you or I, are in the same reference system as the statue. Its time and ours flows from head to toe, that is, from the Babylonian Empire to many kingdoms after Rome, that is why we see it at rest. It is like the train traveller who interprets that the landscape is the one that moves, since he is at rest in relation to his carriage and the image that accompanies it as well.
If we could observe the scene mounted on the stone, which is our case, we would notice the dizzying movement of the statue or the world. This is what we perceive as members from the church, we are observers of the movement of the world, but not so much of our own. Today we will make an effort in teancum to analyze our movement, difficult to see as we are part of the stone cut not by hand.
The Lord’s intention in the dream is to highlight His judgment on the world, His impact on the nations of the earth. Nations whose design remains that of kingdoms and empires of man, made in the likeness of the statue, cut by hand.
«…the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands,» (45)
The origin of the stone is high in relation to the statue. It comes from a distant place, a mountain that does not belong to the world, just as Sinai was not accessible to the people. The laws in stone that Moses brought, cut and written not by hand, come down and «strike» the golden calf and destroy it.
The energy of the stone that Nebuchadnezzar saw, comes from the place where it originates, from a positive difference in level in relation to the statue. At Sinai the tablets of stone come from the mountain of the Lord to spread in Israel. The cut stone becomes a mountain and spreads out into the world.
«…the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.» (35)
The rock reproduces its origin, grows according to the model from which it started and fills the present scene. For the purposes of an observer, the mountain has moved, an incredible result for someone who belongs to the statue.
Before analyzing the movements, it is revealing that the stone is out of context, incongruent with the story the image tells. If we cover the rock with our hand in the graph, we have the history of the world. If we raise our hand, it is a scene outside the logic of history.
The world focuses on its own objects, whether these kingdoms or large, spacious buildings. It does not notice trees with white fruits, the movements of the Lord, do not serve to measure its interests. That’s why for anyone who doesn’t know his ways, it’s hard to understand that «his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.» (D&C 3:2) A complex movement, like this scene. That is why the final encounter will be a shock.
Nature of the mass
The church of Jesus Christ, which has been entrusted to us the saints of the last days, has never been a mass at rest. By mass (m) we mean the number of members and resources that make up the church body. Missionary work has been the main movement of its members. However, and I want to be careful in this, our way of understanding or counting our progress has been more in the increase of the mass of the kingdom than in its amount of movement. We have always looked in the annual report for the data: number of members.
When weighing only that figure (m), we focus on an observation similar to the one who looks at the statue, with the world’s frame of reference, that is, to consider only the annual growth of the membership. This is the focus of the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw. It is the way to understand the annual growth of any of the kingdoms represented in the dream image. But the kingdom of God is the movement of the cut stone.
In our history as a people we have grown between 4% and 5% per year.
Today if we continue at 2% we will be 31 million in 2050. Even if we are above the world’s population growth of 1.18, our current growth rate is between 2 and 1.7 per cent per year, so we may be less than 30 million members in 2050.
I wrote about one aspect of this issue in the article The Magnitudes of the Gospel and the Saints (Sp). There I suggest that we cannot treat the church data with the set of natural numbers, because it is a complex work, it has a non-visible component. Just as we cannot count the distribution of the loaves and fishes with the fingers of our hands, we must use √-1, (i)
At first, we may be disappointed by this growth figure. However, when the Lord tells us about his works:
«and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.» (Moisés 1:35)
This does not mean that we do not know how to count the things that happen, but that we do not know how to count yours. Our fingers are not enough to represent things that have «therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.» (D&C 3:2). That is why the growth of his kingdom on earth «is countless to man» because it is a complex movement that belongs to heavenly mathematics. The annual report of the general conference shows us an indicative mass.
It is easy for us to rely on the visible, the size, the number, the weight. However, valuing movement creates difficulties for us, we have to consider times. Something abstract, which is neither seen nor weighed and is only measured in appearance.
The church is not just the rock
I’ll give you an example of what we’re talking about.
The temples have represented a constructive ideal, the incarnation of a way of seeing the kingdom. During my youth, the temples were our cathedrals, their size, their majesty represented the power of the church. Added to this, the 5% growth in membership was accumulating evidence that awakened the idea of becoming «a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.» (35) Temples represented numbers of members in their midst, they were a measure of the mass (m) of the membership.
However, President Hincley brought a change, smaller temples. They began to represent not so much the number of members in their environment as an accelerated movement (v) in recollection. Ordinances were streamlined for the benefit of speed as more temples were built. Familysearch changed personal and closed genealogy by working in a global network. We now have 168 dedicated, 15 under construction and 42 announced. As of December 2017, priests can perform vicarage baptisms and young women can register for baptismal and confirmation ordinances. All these changes do not exclude the increase of converts, but they put more emphasis on the movement (v) than on the mass (m)
We have exchanged greatness for agility, we have moved from the slow and imposing movement of an army to the effectiveness of the commandos. The nature of our movement is changing.
Properties of the rock
It is curious to see the impact of a church of 16 million members, in a world of 7.7 billion people. It’s not about their numbers, it’s about their movement.
In physics, the mass of an object (amount of matter) is a measure of its inertia. The inertia or mass, is therefore, the resistance that a body puts up to vary its state of rest or movement.
When a body moves in space for a time it acquires a quantity of movement (p→) whose expression is the following: p→=m-v→ where m is the mass expressed in Kg and v is the velocity in m/s.
I present you an example of how with less mass you get more p→
Faced with the threat of the Midianites as recounted in Judges 7, their leader Gideon receives an extremely strange instruction.
«The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.» (Judges 7: 2)
In short, he is telling Gideon to reduce the mass and gain speed; this is intelligent movement from each of the 300 warriors. The Lord shows that his rock will destroy the Midianites not because of their size but because of their movement.
Gideon goes to the Midianite camp and hears the dream of an enemy soldier.
«I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it,» (13)
Gideon understands that the power of Israel (p→) is in the confidence of the Lord’s movements, in that «such way» of moving» (v) not only in the multitude of his soldiers (m). A striking parallel with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
An impulse changes the amount of movement, for example on a rock, a rolling barley loaf or a wooden log. It is expressed in the formula where I is the necessary impulse, F is the force to be applied, Δt the time needed (Δ is interval, the arrow → represents a force vector)
The Lord tells us
«Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.» (DyC 88:73)
What it means to drive (I), including time (Δt). Therefore the Lord’s strategy, in these last days, contemplates more an increase of the movement in His kingdom than an increase of the mass. Calculating the progress of the gospel plan by an increase in membership alone, without perceiving the variation in the amount of movement Δp→, is wrong. Plan that carries in its strength (F) module, direction and sense (→)
The movements of the church have been of many kinds. The famous word «program» so familiar to all required the admission of a strategy for many. But now, the strategy is to add small movements of many into a whole.
This is clearly seen in the new plans for youth and children, in the words of Pte. Nelson
«Instead of giving you many specific tasks, we invite you to consult with the Lord about how you can grow in a balanced way… You will need to seek personal revelation. You will have to choose for yourself how to act on it…I think you are up for the challenge. They can do difficult things.»
They decide their goals and the leaders help them. There is also greater autonomy and a greater role for home schooling. The previous ecclesial movement, which was global, fragmented into a multitude of personal movements that were much more efficient, why? Because the inertia of one person is not equal to that of 16 million.
The divine vector
Being the amount of movement of the rock or the Church (p→) the sum of the amounts of individual movements of each youth, child or adult (p→n) would be expressed as follows
There’s a subtle but decisive difference. The sum (p→) of many individual efforts of youth, children, or adults who obey personal goals, within the gospel, is greater than the effort of many in a single plan proposed by the church. Because the use of the force F→, of each person, is now more properly a vector of force (→) that includes the qualities of agency: direction, intensity, and meaning.
In the current method, the amount of movement that is imprinted on the Lord’s work comes from within each person. In the second method, which we are leaving behind little by little, p→ (the action of the church) came largely from the leadership exercised towards people. It is not that we were wrong before, but that now is the time to hurry. (D&C 88:73)
The salt of the earth
A rock that was 17.7% of the world’s population could hardly be propelled in a direction other than its own inertia. I suppose that’s why the Lord uses small means to do great things. When the Lord told us
«Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.» (Mat. 5:13)
The obvious teaching is that without people living the gospel, the plan of salvation is meaningless (taste). But the light of his words has a shadow, an accompanying meaning. It shows us the proportion of salt when we use it. It will never be a majority at meals, it will be a very small proportion. Honestly, I don’t think we will ever be 17.7%.
For a strange reason that I do not even believe, unless I write it down, there is a limit to the solubility of the gospel in the world. Just as there is a limit of solubility of salt in water or water vapor in the atmosphere. I am not saying that we have reached it, but there is The Prophet Nephi did not go into percentages, but I am expressing it clearly:
«…the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small,..» (1 Nephi 14:12)
Yet in the Lord’s haste, Nephi saw
«the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.» (1 Nephi 14:14).
And in this prophecy I see the words of Elder Rusbund, in his simplified and personalized approach. Because that power, or personal p→, is not in the crowd, it is not in that figure that reassures us or worries us in the annual report. It is not there, because «they were scattered», it is in the individual movement (p→=p→1+p→2+…+p→n) being the gospel able to synchronize it on a rock. In the same way that familysearch integrates the scattered works of its participants into one big tree.
The inclined plane of the fallen state.
Like Lehi’s dream, Nephi sees it for the second time and details it, Daniel does the same with Nebuchadnezzar’s. The elements of the dream have meanings of their own. We can break down the forces involved in this scene, which have been the same throughout the centuries since Adam.
The angle θ
This angle is a constant as is the gravitation. It’s the angle of fall and its value decided in the fall of Adam. It marks the unevenness of our separation from God. It marks the depth of the probationary state groove in our soul. This angle is determined by the justice of the heavens. If it were 0° we would be on top of the mountain where the stone was cut. When we are cast out of His presence into a fallen world, this angle reminds us that we come down, but cannot climb up on our own feet. The world considers that this angle does not exist, that everything is flat, but when we raise a prayer to the heavens, we see in the angle θ, the hidden curvature of faith.
The height h
Height h is the difference in level between the divine laws, their righteousness and the world. The length of the inclined plane obeys the angle and time of the Lord. In this last dispensation that inclined plane is the right one to acquire the right movement.
The forces on the rock
Fg, it’s the weight of the rock. Just as the constant of gravity accelerates everything to 9.8m/s, its immutable justice imprints speed on the rock, in search of judgment on the nations.
Fn is the normal one. The force that a surface exerts on a body supported by it, its direction is perpendicular and outwards. It is what gives existence to its gospel on earth, and makes «the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world;» (D&C 78:14).
Fk is the force of friction. The world’s opposition and its eagerness to the Lord’s plan.
His plan is not developed in an ideal environment, his work does not act in a closed system but receives external influences. We can read President Woodruff’s manifesto and his subsequent comment «If you can understand it, that is the key to it». The amount of movement of the church changes throughout history by overcoming the friction of the world in an open system.
It is the gap between the kingdom of heaven and the world that gives p→ (action and power) to its plan. If we level and condescend to the world our p→= 0.
There are only two situations where his plan would have p→= 0. Before a church that renounces to build his kingdom and only serves to be thrown out and trodden on by men or at his second coming, when all the power of his work impacts the world and his image is «like the chaff of the summer ages».
The final impact
It will be only with the credit of the Savior at His coming that the nations will accept His reign. Now our credit is not secured by a power that moves the nations.
«and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them:» (Dan. 2:35)
It is not that the stone destroys the nations, but their way of building history. It will not be in the form of a man, as it has been since the beginning of history, as that statue represents. It will be in the strange shape of a mountain. A non-human work, corresponding to a kingdom outside our scene of men. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the mountain conceals its details, giving no explanation of how or where we will live. It turns its back on any side you look at it. It’s cloud-covered Sinai.
We understand the statue and recognize ourselves in it, but the mountain has only one message:
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)