Many prophets of God spoke about the last days and what to expect during them. The earliest recorded reference to the last days is found in Genesis where Jacob, also known as Israel, called his sons together and spoke to them just previous to his death. (See Jacob 49:1.)
Prophets through the ages revealed signs of the last days. Isaiah prophesied that “the mountain of the Lord’s house” would be built in the last days (Isaiah 2.2). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that this reference could mean the Salt Lake Temple.
In Daniel we read that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had a dream that troubled him. The dream was about a great image of a man. The head was made of gold, other parts were made of brass, iron, and clay (see Daniel 2:36-43). The dream showed a great stone that was cut from the mountain without hands and rolled down the mountain. It destroyed the image and continued to grow until it filled the entire earth. One can only imagine the concern felt by the King and why he was desperate to know what the dream meant.
Nebuchadnezzar was so bothered by the dream that he gave an order for the death of all the wise men in Babylon unless they could tell him the dream and its meaning. Daniel was one of the wise men, and he went to God for help. Heavenly Father revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel. Daniel went to the king and told him the dream. Then he gave the following interpretation.
And in the days of these kings 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 (Daniel 2:44-45).
Latter-day prophets and apostles have given further understanding about the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. In his General Conference talk of April 1930, President Rudger Clawson of the First Presidency gives the following information.
History certifies to the fact that King Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold. The Medes and Persians, an inferior kingdom to Babylon, were the arms and breast of silver. The Macedonian kingdom, under Alexander the Great, was the belly and thighs of brass; and the Roman kingdom under the Caesars was the legs of iron. For mark you, later on the kingdom, or empire of Rome, was divided. The head of the government in one division was at Rome and the head of the government in the other division was at Constantinople. So these two great divisions represented the legs of iron. Finally, the Roman empire was broken up into smaller kingdoms, represented by the feet and toes of iron and clay (in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 32, as quoted in the Seminary teacher’s manual for the Old Testament).
I now have greater understanding of this statement because of my current studies of ancient civilizations. The Roman civilization was over-extended in several ways and was found on three different continents. It was too large to be governed from one capital. Therefore, the empire was divided just as President Clawson describes. From there, the empire continued to be broken into smaller pieces until it disappeared.
In his General Conference talk of October 2007, President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasizes that we are seeing the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.
The Lord is fulfilling His promise that His gospel shall be as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which would roll forth and fill the whole earth, as Daniel saw in vision (see Daniel 2:31-45; Doctrine and Covenants 65:2). A great miracle is taking place right before our eyes” (“The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain,” Ensign, Nov. 2007, 83).
President Hinkley continues his talk by looking back over the years since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830 with only six members.
Today, we have become the fourth or fifth largest church in North America, with congregations in every city of any consequence. Stakes of Zion today flourish in every state of the United States, in every province of Canada, in every state of Mexico, in every nation of Central America and throughout South America.
Congregations are found throughout the British Isles and Europe, where thousands have joined the Church through the years. This work has reached out to the Baltic nations and on down through Bulgaria and Albania and other areas of that part of the world. It reaches across the vast area of Russia. It reaches up into Mongolia and all down through the nations of Asia into the islands of the Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand, and into India and Indonesia. It is flourishing in many of the nations of Africa.
Our general conferences are carried by satellite and other means in 92 different languages.
And this is only the beginning. This work will continue to grow and prosper and move across the earth…
This work is unique and wonderful. It is fundamentally different from every other body of religious doctrine of which I know.
President Hinckley gave this talk ten years ago. There are now more than 15 million members of the Church worldwide. The October 2017 General Conference proceedings were carried in 93 different languages. This marks a vast increase from 1961 when General Conference was first interpreted into four languages: Dutch, German, Samoan, and Spanish.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to grow and to spread throughout the world. We are eyewitnesses to the fulfilment of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image and of Daniel’s interpretation of the stone rolling forth until it fills the earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached in the entire world, even though members of the His Church will remain relatively few in comparison to all the people on the earth. The stone of His gospel is rolling forth to fill the earth!