God at Work - Daniel 2:1-49
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Daniel 2:1–49
Christopher Rich – June 12, 2016
GOD in the Secular World - The Book of Daniel Pt. 1
Wk2: God at Work | 2:1-49
Good Morning! This week we are continuing our series book of Daniel. GOD in the Secular World. Because this book is about God we will not settle on seeing the human characters as merely moral examples without looking past them to the God who is in charge of world affairs and personally engages with His people. When have you been up at night not able to sleep? How do you react and respond? What do these times reveal about your character and your hope is? Where do you go for rest or clarity when you’re unsettled?
Verse 1-13 | Insecure and Inadequate
Daniel 2:1-13 | In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. 2 Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.3 And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins.6 But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” 8 The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— 9 if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king's demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” 12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.
Early in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he has a “troubling” dream which leaves him restless. Despite being the greatest known earthly authority, he is deeply insecure and unsettled when confronted with the reality of his own mortal limits to even know the depths of his own dreams. He goes to his familiar advisors, “I am troubled, make it better!” He has surrounded himself with people who have helped him in the past and who are quick to affirm him “O king, live forever!” even if they cannot help. I think Nebuchadnezzar is ready to call shenanigans on his various political and spiritual advisors. He’s said simply: Tell me the interpretation AND the dream. Show me you actually have some supernatural power beyond human abilities to use personal details, physiological maneuvers, to be vaguely creative. I don’t want something “maybe” I want something certain and sure! John Edward “Crossing Over” was a guy that claimed to know what dead spirits were saying to people. It’s a lot easier to try to do a wild guess when you have a few pieces to work with or what the topics might even include. “You tell us the dream and we’ll tell you what it means.” The king responds to his insecurity by seeking clarity where it can’t be found and he quickly turns to hostility. He is explicit, you will be killed, along with your families, and your home will be destroyed. After another appeal the king is undeterred and repeats his threat. The king can see a bit of his own instability because he can tell they’re stalling hoping he’ll get distracted and will move on from this issue when “the times change”. The wizards rightly see they are absolutely inadequate to answer the king. They realized before the judgement of the king they have absolutely no ability or power to save themselves. No one can meet these demands. Even their god’s, who they have placed great faith in, seem distant as their “dwelling is not with flesh.” They are utterly hopeless. They confess to their king “we can’t meet your standards in fact no one can, you’re asking something impossible.” Appealing to the king, and pointing to their gods they find themselves condemned. The death sentence is decreed from the king all that is left is the execution of it. There is no more negotiation; things are both urgent and intense.
Verse 14-24 | Powerful Possessing Providence
Dan 2:14-24 | 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch, the king's captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. 17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 23 To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.” 24 Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”
If you’re Daniel and his friends you say, “We’ve been exiled, we’ve been taken from our families, and we’ve abstained from the king’s table while successfully navigating the 3 year Babylonian training program and are placed in this elite class of advisor. We’ve been very religious and done all the we know God’s called us to AND we’ve been more than sensitive to the culture around us, now we’re just at the whim of an insecure and hostile king who seems to hold our lives in his hands, and because of his bad dream we’re under a death sentence?” This is PANIC time!! Yet Daniel (God is my Judge) is settled, stable, and responds to a legitimate crisis with wisdom and prudence, setting a different tone. Character is revealed in our reactions to adversity. Daniel is able to negotiate a pause of the sentence based on the promise he will meet the Kings demands even as unrealistic as they are. He turns to his ROAD group for prayer. Let’s seek God’s mercy from wrath not only for us, but for who? The other “wise men” They’re literally praying for their lives AND the lives of their religious and political enemies.
GOD intervenes in a miraculous way and the response is worship! God is Great! He is THE possessor of all wisdom and power; He knows it all and can do it all! He is eternal and is at work in history. This means changing times are not determined by Nebu’s whims, but God’s decrees. He is active in who appears to rule in our time and place. The great possessor, is also the great provider giving wisdom, discernment, creating clarity for his people to navigate dark and confusing times by and to Him as the source of all light.
Verse 25-45 | Promise Revealed
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be.30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.
31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze,33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation.37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and thatit broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”
Arioch wants to claim credit “Look what I found….” Daniel redirects all glory. He is clear at the onset the wisdom and vison the King is looking for cannot be found in men. You need to look beyond the wisdom of this world to the God of Heaven who reveals, not what you desire to see, but what His plans and purposes are. Daniel only knows this because of God goodness to show how glorious He is; not because there is any special talent or gifting he possesses on his own. (not Steph Curry’s “My Game, His Glory” it’s all HIS!) Daniel tells the dream of a great (if not oddly constructed) statue who is eventually struck by a rock cut out not by man which destroys the statue, leaving no trace ,while an all-consuming mountain takes its place.
Head of Gold – Babylon: Great empire with rule and authority over all the known world, will be/are at this moment golden and glorious. He is like another Adam given authority (You can almost feel Nebu getting more excited.) but it will not last long! Other kingdoms will come. (Ok, but at least it was good for me!)
Chest and arms of Silver – Medes-Persians: Middle and thighs of Bronze – Greece: Each lesser in value, luster, glory than the previous kingdoms. Each significant in their own time; but each with a beginning and an end.
Legs and Feet of Iron- Iron/Clay – Rome: It is strong great military destroys an breaks apart things that already are crushing things under its weight and strength. However, while it starts strong it is quickly diluted with something even weaker and it becomes an unstable and divided kingdom, partly strong and fragile. Ultimately it cannot hold together. The structural instability is not its undoing (oh if man only built a better statue of itself it wouldn’t fall.) All of the kingdoms fall because of man’s sin and the overwhelming purpose/ power of the advancement of God’s kingdom through the world and through history cannot fail.
There is much we can learn from the vision of the statue. Kingdoms of this world look both intimidating and attractive; but they are temporary and fragile. Everything that looks valuable and long lasting will all be dust in the wind never to be seen felt or held again. We look at human history as this constant progression of better and better but that is not the trajectory we see laid out on how God wants us to see Him working in His story. However, if we get too focused on the details of the statue and try to marry up every part of it to world history we miss the entire point. It’s not about the statue it’s about the Rock and the Mountain!
A stone not cut by human hands – this is not the work of men has been and will be responsible for all present and future kingdoms coming to a total and complete end. The God of heaven, who is absolutely active in the rising and falling of our earthly kingdoms, shows His people and ALL people that any and all human kingdoms will be ultimately replaced with His everlasting kingdom!! See people can make statues, but only God can make a mountain! A statue might capture you attention but a mountain is a destination, an unstoppable force, a place to dwell, a place to gain perspective. So we don’t keep staring at the statue wondering if we’re on the head or knee cap or Achilles, or even how great or fragile we are. We don’t worry about the statue, we stand on the rock and hope in the every growing and glorious mountain. The rock has shattered all kingdoms in history and the mountain will consume eternity. Jesus is the ROCK! And the mountain is His kingdom! Daniel answers Nebu’s firm word that is certain and sure.
Verse 46-49 | Responding to the Rock
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king's court.
His reaction is telling. He falls down before Daniel. He likes Daniel’s God as one God of many, “Hey this seems like the best of the options at this point!” but we cannot confuse his statement as emotional and demonstrative as it may be, to be seen as a true conversion of worship of the God of the Bible. We’ll see next week even after having this divine dream he actually builds a statue of himself! He’s missed the point and his allegiance is to himself and his kingdom. Where is your allegiance? Are you impressed by God, do you have affection for and hope in Jesus alone or is your allegiance elsewhere or divided?
Luke 20:17-18 | 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
What an encouraging vision for Daniel and God’s people in exile who now have been given a clear vision of hope of a “rock” that will deliver them from these kingdoms. Instead we have a greater hope than visions, dreams, and prophetic words; we have a risen King Jesus who resurrection power has expanded across the globe and through the eons of history! In Jesus as the rock we see God as “Immanuel” God dwelling with us bringing to end our allegiance and hope in all earthly kingdoms.
Because of God’s sovereign promise, power, and provision Daniel goes from certain (in this case unjust) wrath, condemned to die, to the wrath stayed, freedom granted, and is then exalted and placed in the King’s court to do good works to bless the people around him.
In the Gospel because of your sin you are under God’s just wrath and sentence of certain death but God intervenes because of His love, and is mercifully Because of the cross we see God’s righteous wrath not postponed but absorbed by Jesus in our place. Because of the truth of the resurrection and promise of his return, if your allegiance is to Jesus, even when you feel as if you’re in exile you remember you are truly a citizen of the Kingdom made by the rock that will continue grow as a glorious mountain who will one day displace all other kingdoms we see. The call is certain and our hope is sure when we Trust Jesus.