Daniel – Session III – Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream, part 1
Welcome to Fuel, our midweek Bible Study where we come together to get our spiritual tanks filled up with the Word and the Spirit of God. Together we are endeavoring to get the Word of God deep down on the inside so that we can bear that good, godly fruit in our lives that we all so earnestly desire. Colossians 3:16 instructs us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.
Another scripture that I believe applies to what we are doing here is found in first Peter chapter 2, verses 2 and 3, which says:
As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
When we hear the good news about how Jesus came to the earth, lived a perfect sinless spotless life, and then gave himself as a sacrifice to take the sins of the world, (which includes ours). When we hear the good news, or gospel, and then respond by receiving what he purchased, the Bible reveals that at that moment we become born-again. The theological term is regenerated. So we become born-again. We are babes in Christ. But it’s not God’s desire that we stay babies. God desires us to grow up!
A lot of the problems that occur in the Body of Christ stem from immaturity. Peter lays it out for us right here. He says, you’ve had a taste of God. You’ve tasted and seen that He is gracious, so desire – crave – that pure milk, which comes from direct contact and interaction with the Word of God.
And that word “desire” is a great word. It is the Greek word epipotheo. It means literally to intensely crave possession of something. So Peter says “As newborn babes, intensely crave the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” And he gives us this marvelous picture of a newborn baby. If a newborn cannot get it’s milk, it craves it so bad, it will begin crying incessantly until the desire is fulfilled. If you’ve ever fed an infant, you know how upset they are when they are hungry. You also notice how happy they get when they see you bringing the bottle to them. They start doing that baby happy dance. And then, while they are eating, they have a contentment and a satisfaction… and it seems they can’t get enough.
And this is repeated multiple times a day. The last couple of messages we talked about the negative cycle of turning away from God. But this is the positive cycle. The baby gets hungry and desires the milk. The baby then gets satisfied by the milk. But not too much later, the baby is hungry again.
What a great picture and model for us. We need to crave, we need to intensely desire the Word, amen?
And so that’s what this study is all about, and we’ve already had a pretty good time doing just that.
That’s because we’ve been digging into one of the most thrilling books in the Word of God. We’ve been studying the book of Daniel and we’ve discovered that, even though it was written around 650 BC (over 2500 years ago) it is still incredibly relevant to us today. Last week we completed chapter 1 and we saw firsthand, a blueprint on how to remain faithful to God in a hostile environment. Daniel resolved not to defile himself by eating and drinking things that were unlawful, for him, as a follower of the one true God to eat. Both he and his three friends resolved not to defile themselves and God showed up in a powerful way. He showed up, by 1, giving Daniel favor with the chief Eunuch. He just likes Daniel and wants to help him. We saw Psalm 5:12 in action here, which says “For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” And 2, God shows up by giving Daniel wisdom on how to handle the challenging situation he finds himself in.
So Daniel shows resolve, God gives him favor, God makes a way for him not to defile himself. And then we saw that God pours out his blessing on Daniel and his three friends. Nebuchadnezzar is blown away by them and it says they are found to be 10 x’s better than their colleagues
We also saw a spiritual principle that states that the enemy will always try to get you to believe the worst about yourself. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and he will always accuse us and want us to agree with him that we are less then. But as long as we renew our mind with who God says we are. If we agree with what God says about us and not the devil. Then, the enemy’s words will have no power over us.
Now, that was last week, but tonight we are entering into one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Of course every word in the Word of God is important, but there are certain passages that are key passages and are essential for our understanding of both the big picture and specific details.
Daniel, Chapter 2 is one such passage.
Like I said, this is one of the key passages in the Word of God, especially as it pertains to prophecy. In this chapter we are going to see that God is going to lay out, in great detail, the future of the world. Specifically, He is going to give us in depth information about all the great world empires, starting with the Babylonian empire.
And the way it unfolds is amazing. In God’s economy, He always accomplishes many different things at the same time. In this case it appears he has two objectives. First, he wants to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar and subsequently, the rest of mankind, the future. But he also wants to promote Daniel. He wants Daniel and his 3 friends in a higher place of authority in the kingdom than they had been previously.
Verses 1 – 3
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.”
So, to get the visual, if this were a movie we would have just finished the scene where Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah have their final exam, which is an interview with King Nebuchadnezzar. They have their interview and it goes extremely well. They are found to be 10 x’s better than all the magicians and enchanters in the kingdom.
So if this were a movie, that scene would fade to black, and then this new scene would come up. And it would be King Nebuchadnezzar, sleeping in the palace. We would see the king tossing and turning throughout the night. And finally, he is so disturbed by these dreams that he can no longer sleep.
We don’t know what time it is, but you can imagine it’s early. If I were to speculate, I’d say it’s probably around 3 or 4 in the morning. He can’t sleep. He is deeply troubled. And so, he is the king. He has all the resources of the kingdom available to him and so he summons his main advisers.
Now this is something we don’t want to just pass over. Because all of his advisers are deep into the occult.
The word occult means “of or relating to magic, astrology, or any system claiming knowledge of secret or supernatural powers or agencies.” Occultists claim supernatural secret power. In the Bible we see the Pharaohs of Egypt, the king of Assyria, and now the king of Babylon all relying heavily on supernatural power and advice that doesn’t come from God.
This shows very clearly how leaders, apart from God are heavily influenced by Satan. It explains how somebody like Hitler can unleash such evil. The back side of world leaders throughout history is a story of demonic influence. We can also see that the societies that elevate Jesus and his rule doing the opposite.
So let’s take a moment and take a look at these guys that Nebuchadnezzar calls upon.
His advisers are actually broken down into 4 categories. Each specializing in a different aspect of the occult.
First on his list of go to guys are the Magicians
Magicians – Name means “engraver” writer associated with the occult
- Specialized in divination and astrology as well as demonstration of occultist manifestations
- Commonly associated with Egypt
- Pharaoh couldn’t find any to interpret his dream so he called for Joseph
- Tried to stand toe to toe with Moses during the Exodus story, but as God’s miracles became more powerful and intense, the magicians couldn’t match Yahweh’s power.
- They couldn’t reproduce or reverse the plagues
Next on his list – The Enchanters
Enchanters – a conjurer, an astrologer
- Enchanters use spells to enchant
- Conjure means to call upon or command a demon by invocation or spell
- Necromancers – communication with the dead
Next, we see the Sorcerers
Sorcerers – Witchcraft
- Strictly forbidden for the children of Israel
- King Manasseh was heavily involved in this and this was one of the nails in the coffin, so to speak, for judgment
- Associated with drug use
- Will be prevalent in the last days. Failure to repent of it brings stronger judgments
- Rev 9:21 “nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immoralities or their thefts”
Last on his list, but possibly the leaders of this demonically inspired group are the Chaldeans.
Chaldeans – Babylonians
- Occultism was so widespread in Babylon that their name became synonymous with it
- Chaldeans were the advisers, consulted for wisdom
- Used astrology to give advice
So, he calls for these guys and when they are all assembled, he tells them the reason. “I have had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.
Let’s continue in verses 4 – 11
Verses 4 – 11
4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic,[a] “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.”
So the Chaldeans, who appear to be the spokespersons for this group essentially say, no worries, king. We got this. Just let us know what your dream is and we’ll use our methods and tell you what the interpretation is.
But unfortunately for them, the king is having none of this. Most Bible teachers say that King Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t remember the exact details of the dream so he wanted them to tell him the details. Another possibility is that he remembered his dream perfectly, but he didn’t want to be played by his advisers. He figured that if they can tell him the dream, then he could trust them when they tell him the interpretation. Now whether he remembered the dream or not, this is the reason he gives them as to why he wants them to tell the dream.
Now, remember how we talked about him being very unstable? Here we get a front row seat to this.
He tells them if you tell me the dream and its interpretation, it’s going to be very good for you. You will receive gifts, rewards, and great honor.
However…if not, you’re done. You will be torn limb from limb, and I will destroy your houses as well. You will die a horrible and disgraceful death….
Verses 12 – 16
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. 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.
So of course, they cannot tell him the dream. The demonic power that they are in contact with is not all knowing, and so they try and tap dance their way out of this, but the king has made up his mind. And we read here, this unstable guy snaps instantly. He had a serious anger issue and could go into a rage in a second – And so it says, he became angry and very furious. – He’s going off. And he gives the command that everybody that falls under the category “Wise men” are to be wiped out. This guy named Arioch is the captain of the guard and he has got the word to do a great slaughter in the kingdom, and he is to do it immediately. As we are going to see later, you can tell he would prefer not to do this particular bit of dirty work… but what choice does he have?
So he shows up and is going to round up Daniel and his buddies. And I love Daniel’s response here. Daniel is so wise.
And it says he replies with prudence and discretion. Man, these are two attributes that we as followers of Christ really need!
Daniel answers with prudence and discretion. He is immediately thinking strategically. He has just been told that he is to be executed that night. Now first off, he doesn’t panic. Instead, he does a quick analysis of the situation, and once he understands the facts on the ground, he measures his words very carefully, both by what he says and what he doesn’t say. He says “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” He asks an open ended question, not saying “why do I have to die? What did I do? I’m innocent.” Nope – all these things might be true, but they are not going to help him with this situation. He asks Arioch this open ended question, going right to the root of the issue. Why is this so urgent? A lot of times we make decisions in haste, when if we would have taken a few moments to think it through we would have come to another course of action. So he gets Arioch talking. He’s gathering intel. He’s gathering more facts so he can make a decision. And remember, Daniel has God’s favor all over him, so Arioch tells him everything.
Daniel gets all the information and there is only one course of action. Give the king what he asks for! So obvious, and yet impossible.
So Daniel talks to King Nebuchadnezzar and doesn’t tell him he’s off his rocker. Instead he tells him basically, let’s set up a time where I can get with you and give you this information. Such a difference between him and the other adviser’s words. His are filled with faith and logic. He knows this is the best course, and he knows God can give him the info, because he understands that God is all knowing. Here’s another text book model of wisdom in action. We might never need to answer as if our lives depended on it, but this kind of thinking can help us in all relationships of our lives, amen?
Verses 17 – 19
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.
Now we see another amazing attribute of Daniel here. Remember in chapter one the Bible says that God gave Daniel understanding in all visions and dreams? Daniel had this amazing gift, but he wasn’t cocky about it. He realized, in God’s program of doing things that we are inter-dependent. We need each other. Even though Daniel had the gift of interpretation of dreams, he goes right to his buddies. He tells them “I need help” “I need some prayer back up here.” Daniel understood what we as Americans who are naturally, fiercely independent struggle with.
Let’s look at this
1st Corinthians 10:11, Paul is talking about the Children of Israel and their story in the Old Testament. He says
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
These things, written down in the Old Testament, were written as instruction to the Church. Last week we said that the New Testament is in the Old Concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New revealed. One way the New is concealed in the Old is through types and shadows. These are devices the Holy Spirit uses to communicate truth to us and as we look at Daniel and his three friends we see the Holy Spirit drawing a picture for us of this future beautiful thing called the Church. Daniel and his friends are a type of the Body of Christ. Each one with individual gifts and calling and yet all members of the same body.
Daniel needed his 3 friends to go to war with him in the spirit realm through prayer. And I submit to each and every one of us here, that we all need each other. As a matter of fact, there is no doubt that if we are going to become all God has called us to become and if we are to do all that God has called us to do, we are going to need some help. We have to be connected to each other and in fellowship with each other. This is an area where the church in the West struggles with, because we do have that independent spirit rooted deep within us.
So, look at the results! Answered prayer! The mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
And on that note, we are going to end Fuel for 2014 on a kind of a cliff hanger. We see that Daniel has the interpretation. But how is this all going to play out?
That will be the subject of our next meeting, which will be Thursday, January 8th. And let me just say now, it’s going to be amazing. We are going to get an in-depth look at history – past, present, and future – from God’s view. And it is going to be powerful… I literally cannot wait to begin working on the message.
So, until next time… God bless!