Welcome to the first Fuel Bible Study of 2015! This is going to be an amazing year of growth for us – growing in the Word of God.
We are in the book of Daniel and let me just say, we are starting out the year right, because tonight we are going to go in-depth into one of the most important passages in the Bible as it pertains to prophecy.
Daniel is called the Blueprint of prophecy, because it lays the foundation for the future of the world in great detail. We cannot really understand the book of Revelation without understanding this book.
So, we’ll do a quick review, just to refresh our memories after the break and then we’ll get right into it.
The story takes place during the time of Israel’s history known as the Babylonian captivity. Also known as the diaspora – which means dispersion. The Jewish people have lived most of their history since this time in diaspora. Even today, only 43% of the Jewish people live in Israel.
Daniel and his three friends – Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael get taken captive and brought to Bablyon. And we see quickly, that they are among the best of the best of the Israelites, so Nebuchadnezzar sets them aside to immerse them in Babylonian culture so they will no longer think like Jews, but think like, and consequently become Babylonians.
In chapter one, we see these guys, and Daniel especially resolve not to defile themselves by eating and drinking the king’s food and wine. They decided that they were going to live for God regardless of the consequences. And based on this great decision, God shows up on their behalf, and gives them favor. When all is said and done, they are considered 10 x’s better than their peers. They have favor with King Nebuchadnezzar big time and they are set aside to work in his court.
That was chapter 1. Then, in the beginning of chapter 2, we saw King Nebuchadnezzar, tossing and turning on his bed. He has this dream and he is so troubled by it that he calls all his occult advisers, – the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans. He calls them and demands something crazy of them. He wants them to not only tell him what his dream means. He actually wants them to tell him what the dream was.
Of course, these guys are freaked out and try and talk their way out of this impossible request, but Nebuchadnezzar is having none of it. He demands they either tell him his dream, or else they will be executed that night. They cannot fulfill this request, and so he orders the execution of every adviser – all the wisemen are marked for destruction. Daniel and his companions all fall under this title and so are set apart for death.
We ended last time on a cliff hanger, because we saw that as these guys were about to be executed, Daniel acts with wisdom to get a bit more time and then God gives him the interpretation of the dream.
That’s where we will pick up this time. We are going to see what Nebuchadnezzar dreamed that night, 2600 years ago, and we are going to see the interpretation as well.
Scripture Reference – Daniel 2:19 – 23
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
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;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
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.”
With A Little Help From His Friends
So, the command was given to kill the wise men. Daniel tells the king, don’t do that just yet. Give me a little bit of time and I will tell you your dream and your interpretation.
Then he does something amazing. He seeks out his friends. As we saw last time, no man is an island. God has set up his church to be inter-dependent. In other words, I need you and you need me. I have something to offer the Body of Christ and you have something to offer.
And so Daniel tells them to start praying, and they do and God reveals the dream to Daniel in a vision of the night.
Before we go any further, we’re going to stop for a second. Because this is so significant, but we could easily cruise right past it.
The Necessity Of Prayer
They prayed – God answered.
Now let me ask you a question. What if they didn’t pray? What is the significance of prayer? I mean, any Christian you meet will tell you prayer is important.
We all know that prayer is extremely important, but is it essential? If we don’t pray, won’t God just do what he’s going to do anyway?
Ask yourself these questions
- Do my prayers really matter that much?
- Can my prayers actually change things?
- Does God just want me to pray or is it essential that I pray?
The truth of the matter is that, since the beginning of time God has chosen to work through humans, not independent of them. ~ Dutch Sheets
I believe if we as the Body of Christ understood this a little better, there would be a lot more praying going on and a lot more change happening in the world around us, so let’s take some time tonight and deepen our understanding on this mystery.
Turn if you would to the book of Genesis. Chapter 1. Genesis has been called the seed plot of the Bible. If we want to understand God’s intent on something, or want to see the origin of something, we can usually find it in the book of Genesis.
Genesis is a book of beginnings – a book of firsts – and of course we see the first man and the first woman here. Now when God creates them, he also defines their purpose. He defines their mission statement.
Genesis 1:26-28 reads
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
It’s so important that we see what’s happening here.
Notice the words used here. They were created in God’s image. And God’s intent is for them to have dominion. He says it twice. He says, let them dominate this earth. Mankind is the legitimate ruler of God’s creation.
Have you ever heard the term “delegated authority?”
When I was in the Army, I was a Sergeant. I had delegated authority over my soldiers. The Commander in Chief – the President – is the source of Military authority. That authority was delegated to me. I had the power to issue legal orders to my subordinates to carry out the mission we were assigned.
Mankind originally operated in God’s delegated authority.
That’s why Satan couldn’t use force and take out Adam and Eve. They had to give away their delegated authority to him. Satan could have no power unless that delegated authority was handed over to him and that’s what the fall is all about. It is a transfer of power from mankind to Satan.
Now we just celebrated Christmas. Christmas marks the event of God entering into his creation as a human. Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever wondered why God became a man? There are several reasons revealed in Scripture, but one of them should be the most obvious. It’s because since humanity had delegated authority, only a human could recover what Satan captured from Adam and Eve.
God and man were to partner together in the dominion of God’s creation. Unfortunately, this partnership was dwelt a crushing blow when the serpent got our ancestors to commit that first sin by rebelling against God’s commandment and eating the forbidden fruit.
So, the chain of authority started with God. He delegated it to man. Man transferred it to the enemy at the fall (Genesis 3). And Jesus, the Lamb of God, took away the sins of the world…and took authority back. Remember Jesus said, “all power in heaven and earth has been given to me.”
But then he did a stunning thing. He gave that authority back to mankind! In the book of Acts, chapter 2 the Holy Spirit descends on the 120 believers praying in the Upper Room. The Church is born and the chain of authority is re-established and now rests in the bosom of the Church. It now rests with you and it rests with me, if we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Absolutely Stunning!
So, is prayer important?
No, prayer is not important – Prayer is essential! Because prayer is the method that God has given us to partner with him to advance his Kingdom. He has shown that he is not doing it without you and I, amen? Who’s ready to have a more full prayer life?
Understanding that your prayers are essential, even when it seems like nothing is happening is a HUGE key that could transform this country if the Church got a hold of it.
Authority – God gave it. Adam and Eve transferred it. Jesus took it back. We have it. Let’s use it! Let’s pray!
One other quick but important observation to note before we look at verses 24-28
When Daniel gets the interpretation what does he do? We know what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t get proud and run out and head straight to Nebuchadnezzar to show him how wise he is.
He stops for a bit and gives God the glory he deserves. And you can tell from the details of his praise that it wasn’t just an afterthought. He takes some time to worship God in a way that’s deeply theological. He thanks Him for his Omnipotence (He’s all powerful), His Omniscience (He’s all knowing), and his sovereignty (He is in control) Regardless of what we are going through we can trust God because of these things and we can and should always thank him.
And Daniel gives us a model on how to praise and Thank God.
His praise is:
- Prompt – He puts God’s glory first – not as an afterthought
- Heartfelt – Just like that thankful leper who fell down on his face to give thanks to Jesus for his healing, Daniel thanks him with all his heart
- And last – His praise is comprehensive. Take some time to study this little nugget of thanksgiving. Daniel is anxious to leave nothing out as he’s thanking God for this revelation.
Now, let’s see what happens after God gives Daniel this revelation. Let’s look at verses 24-28
Scripture Reference: Daniel 2:24 – 28
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.”
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.” 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?” 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, 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:
They Can’t But God Can!
So, Daniel gets with Arioch and tells him to bring him to the king. And you can tell that Arioch is excited and also, probably relieved that he wasn’t going to have to conduct the slaughter of all these people that night. He brings Daniel before the king and the king asks Daniel, “Can you tell me the dream and the interpretation?”
Daniel answers by saying “No wise men, enchanters, magicians or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked.” And as you read this, you can almost feel Nebuchadnezzar getting mad. But Daniel is not finished. He says but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. Your occultic advisors whose power is demonic cannot tell you what’s going on. But the one true God can.
As a matter a fact, he is the one who gave you the dream because he wants you to know the future. He wants you to know what’s going to happen in the latter days.
So here it goes. Here’s the dream and its interpretation. Let’s keep reading. Verses 29-35
Scripture Reference: Daniel 2:29 – 35
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. 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.
“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 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. 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.
The Dream Revealed
So Daniel begins by telling the king that he (talking about God) who reveals mysteries has made known to him what will be. God has revealed the future to Nebuchadnezzar.
Then he is quick to let him know that even though God has revealed the dream and the interpretation to Daniel, there is no reason for him to boast or be proud about it. Daniel displays great humility here. Rather than exalting himself, he puts the focus right back to God and again gives those who God uses a model on what the posture of their heart should be.
Then he goes into the dream. What did King Nebuchadnezzar dream?
His dream was of an image.
Daniel breaks down the image from top to bottom but first he describes the overall appearance of this image.
- First off, the image was mighty. It was huge. To give you a visual, picture King Nebuchadnezzar standing in the middle of the desert, and there before him is a huge image. We don’t know how big it actually was, but to give us a feel, let’s visualize it’s the size of the Statue of Liberty – 93 meters, or 305 feet high
- Then we see it was extremely bright
- And the last thing to note about it, was that it was terrifying. So Nebuchadnezzar sees this huge, bright, and terrifying statue
Now Daniel breaks down the specifics of this image. He starts with the head
- The head was made of Gold
- Its chest and its arms were made of silver
- Its middle (its abdomen) and its thighs are made of bronze
- Its legs are made of iron
- And its feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay
So Nebuchadnezzar is looking at this image in his dream and all the sudden he notices a mountain and this great stone. Picture a huge rock, it gets cut from the mountain. And this rock goes to the image and it absolutely smashes the idol right on its feet, where the iron and the clay are. And it totally annihilates the image to the point that it becomes fine dust and the wind just blows it away. It literally disappears without a trace. And as Nebuchadnezzar continues to look on that stone begins to grow. And it becomes such a huge mountain that it literally fills the entire earth.
Now just imagine what’s going through Nebuchadnezzar’s mind as this young Hebrew boy is telling him this. He is beginning to be blown away because he knows that Daniel is nailing it. He is telling him exactly what he’s seen. Let’s continue reading verses 36-45
Scripture: Daniel 2:36 – 45
“This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 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, 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. Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 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. 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. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 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. 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, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it 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.”
The Dream Interpreted
So, Daniel has already told him the dream. Now he’s going to give him the interpretation.
And the overall interpretation is very clear to us. This Image is a compiled picture of 4 major World empires (all Gentile in nature) that have been throughout history and which started with King Nebuchadnezzar.
So, let’s look at it starting from the top
- The head of gold: Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon
- Arms and chest of gold
- History shows this to be the Medo-Persian Empire. We’ll see the transfer of power from Babylon to Medo-Persia through Darius the Mede in chapter 5
- Abdomen and thighs of bronze – Greek Empire, headed by Alexander the Great
- Legs made of iron – Roman Empire
- Feet made partly of iron and clay – Yet to be fully revealed. Because the feet are an extension of the legs as well as several other reasons many teachers believe this is the revived Roman Empire AKA the current European Union. We will have an in-depth discussion when we talk about the antichrist in chapter 7, where more details are given to us regarding these empires
Daniel then finishes the interpretation by explaining that the stone that is cut out of the mountain that destroys the image is none other than God himself. As we will see, it’s literally Jesus Christ, our Lord, destroying the antichrist and his final kingdom and setting up His kingdom on earth. This kingdom, Daniel says, will never be destroyed. It will never be succeeded by another kingdom. It will break in pieces all the other kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it will stand forever.
Daniel concludes by saying… and I love this…Just the dignity and the power in it. Daniel says “A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”
Now, can you imagine King Nebuchadnezzar? I guarantee, he’s never seen anything like this and after witnessing this display of pure prophetic power he is blown away. Let’s finish this tremendous chapter looking at his response. Verses 46-49
Scripture Reference: Daniel 2:46 – 49
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 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. ”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. 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.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Awe and Daniel’s Promotion
So the king hears this and so powerful is what Daniel just did. I mean, I believe that the power of God was tangibly present in that palace court. And the king responds by falling on his face to worship Daniel! And he commands that an offering and incense be offered… to Daniel!
He then acknowledges (it’s evident from his life that he doesn’t get converted here, but he is heading in that direction, evidently) but he acknowledges that Daniel’s God is THE GOD. He elevates him to a higher level than the others.
And then bam, just like that – Daniel is promoted. He basically becomes the governor of the province of Babylon. The main province in the entire Babylonian Empire. And at the same time he is made the leader over all the other wise men of Babylon. It’s rags to riches. It’s a suddenly moment for sure. And a main lesson here is that God can change your situation in a second. Don’t view your future or your destiny in light of where you are at now. God has the power to change things when the time is right. When he is ready and when we are ready to handle it.
And Daniel, ever wise and ever loyal immediately requests that his buddies, and he calls them by their Babylonian names here since they are in public and that’s what they are supposed to be called. He requests Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedenego to be promoted to help him run the province of Babylon. Crazy turn of events. Amazing stuff!
Well, I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it through this chapter tonight. What an amazing chapter- And there is still some more we have to cover. So before we go any further in the book of Daniel, next week we’re going to do a little detour and leave Daniel for a bit. We’ll spend some time next week leaving the book of Daniel and heading over to the book of Revelation. We are going to get a more in-depth look at the event described in the dream regarding the stone that becomes a mountain that fills the whole earth. What does that look like. We’ll take a look next week.
Good stuff. Hope to see you next Thursday at 6:30 @ Rockchurch!