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Please turn in your Bibles to Daniel chapter 2, as we continue our study through the Word of God. And in tonights study we are going to be looking at a dream that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon was having. Now we dont need to go back to school to study psychology or psychiatry so that we may interpret this dream. In fact, man has not advanced in this area since the time of the Babylonians, as you will see tonight, and they didnt do too well back then.
And God does speak to us through dreams at times. There are times when it truly is inspiration and not indigestion. If you remember back in Genesis when Joseph was in prison in Egypt he came across two men, a butler and a baker who were placed in prison for a conspiracy against Pharaoh. He wasnt sure which one was going to do it, but one of them were, and he wasnt going to take any chances and he placed them both in prison, and in this prison was Joseph. And each of these men had a dream that troubled them so much on the inside that it was manifested in their outward appearance.
And the reason they were sad was they had no idea what the dream meant. It could have been good news about their release from prison. But, it could also be bad news, they could be put to death for treason against Pharaoh.
And Joseph asked these two men, "Why do you look so sad today?" And their response to Joseph was this. "We each have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it." And Joseph did not respond by saying, "Well boys, Im sorry to hear that, but I cant help you either!" Joseph responded by saying, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please." Genesis 40:7, 8.
And God did reveal the interpretation of each mans dream to Joseph. You see, only God can interpret dreams, not man. And that is exactly what we will see here in Daniel chapter 2. We will once again see that God is the interpreter and man is the instrument from which God will speak through.
And dont come to the conclusion that we are so special and that is why God speaks through us. Not at all! Remember He spoke through a donkey to Balaam in Numbers chapter 22. And I think He did that just to keep us humble and to remember that we are the instrument and God is the master who lays out His masterpiece through us.
Now as we dig into chapter 2, keep in mind that this chapter is the key or the backbone of Bible prophecy which will unlock for us the rest of the book of Daniel, and that will unlock the book of Revelation for us. With that in mind, lets get into this chapter, beginning in verse 1, and lets see what the Lord has for us this evening.
1. Did you ever have a dream that troubled you so much that you couldnt get back to sleep? And sometimes that dream would occur night after night and you may have reached the point where you did not want to go back to sleep because you were afraid of having that same dream again!
That was the kind of dream that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon was having. Over and over this dream played out in his mind. Obviously he knew it was important, but what did it all mean? He was having the same trouble that the butler and the baker had, only this king had the resources to find out what the dream meant, or did he?
2. To help you understand the time frame here, it was in the second year of the kings reign. And thinking this through logically, that would mean that Daniel and his friends had one more year of training to go. But Daniel chapter 1 tells us that they had finished the 3 years of training, and they were brought before the king and were found far more advanced in "wisdom and understanding" than all the kings wise men. So how can this be?
Keep in mind that Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon after hearing that his father, Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon had died. And as he returned home with the captives from Jerusalem, he did not begin his first official year as king until the following spring. So Daniel and his friends had completed their 3 years of training during the end of the second year of Nebuchadnezzars reign.
1. I guess if you are the king and you cant sleep, you might as well wake everyone else up, and he did! And the king does what we do many times, he looks to the world for the answers to his problems instead of the Lord. May we heed the words of Paul when he said "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Colossians 2:8-10. You see, we are complete in Christ, may we not forget that truth!
2. And so this king, troubled in his spirit over this recurring dream, calls his top men in to help him to understand this dream. This was something these men were use to doing. Who are these men? Lets look at them a little closer and you will see where Daniel was at, what was surrounding him as a young man.
A. MAGICIANS: These were the fortune tellers and scholars. You see, in the ancient world this role was many times combined.
B. ASTROLOGERS: These men charted the position of the stars and tried to determine peoples destines, much like the horoscopes of today, among other things.
C. SORCERERS: These spiritualists and enchanters were nothing more than mediums who attempted to talk with the dead and cast spells. And this continues on today, as people claim to have the ability to talk with the dead.
D. CHALDEANS: These were supposedly the wisest and most knowledgeable men in the arts and sciences of Chaldea or Babylon. They were originally from southern Babylon and they rose to a place of prominence in the courts of Babylon after Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzars father, himself a Chaldean, became king.
3. These were the men that the king brought his problems to, and now this dream, in the early morning hours, trying to get some answers. Trying to find out what the future held for him and his kingdom. What was going to happen to it?
1. That phrase "O king, live forever!" was a typical oriental courtesy. And when you are speaking to a tyrant dictator, you better use all the flattery you can! Now these learned men hear the kings request and they respond by asking the king to tell them the dream and they would be more than happy to give him their interpretation. That sounds fair!
2. Also, keep in mind that here is where the language changes from Hebrew to Aramaic, from Daniel 2:4b through Daniel 7:28.
1. Here we see the king lay out this little incentive program for these wise men. That program went like this. If they can tell the king the dream he had and then give to him the interpretation, they will receive "gifts, rewards, and great honor." Now the down side to that is that if they could not tell the king what his dream was and its interpretation, it would cost them their lives.
2. Understand that this kind of punishment, of being cut in pieces and their houses made into a ash heap, was not uncommon in the ancient middle eastern cultures. If someone had severely dishonored himself or defamed an exalted person, they were executed and their house was torn down and replaced by a public out house.
3. Also, keep in mind that the king has been in office for some 2 years now and he has inherited all these men from his father, after his death. And it seems to me that he didnt really trust these guys. This was a test to see if they were real, or if they just made this stuff up. And I dont believe he forgot the dream, but he wanted to make sure these guys knew what they were talking about. He was testing these guys and he felt that if they could tell him the dream, then they could surly interpret it. And I think verse 9 tells us how much he trusted them. It says "...For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed..." Daniel 2:9.
4. Now what would normally happen in situations like this, is the person would tell these men the dream they had and then these men would go to their large manual of dreams and look it up, and then they would give the interpretation. This has been substantiated by the elaborate Akkadian manuals that have been found for interpreting various types of dreams. You see, they believed that dreams followed an empirical law which when given sufficient data can be established. That is why they needed to know the dream so they could look it up and then interpret the dream for the king. But the king wanted nothing to do with their ways and said to them "Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation." Daniel 2:9.
1. The Chaldeans told the king that this was totally unfair and that no one asks such a thing. In fact no man is able to discern this, only the gods who dont dwell with us. They were partially correct, only God whose dwelling is in heaven will be able to reveal the kings dream and give its interpretation.
2. Understand that Satans knowledge is limited. Yes, sometimes he is right, but when you look at what the so-called fortune-tellers of today predict, who are given this knowledge not by God but by Satan, they are only right 2% of the time. You have better odds going to Las Vegas! And these tarot cards, palm readers, psychics, horoscopes, and the other evil things, are just a foot in the door to the demonic world. Dont open the door! It frustrates me to no end seeing supposedly Christians getting into this garbage. Go to God instead of the world, He is never wrong!
1. Nebuchadnezzar had absolute rule over this empire. He had an autocratic rule of the Babylonian empire. And if you didnt like it, you would be the one to lose and not the king. And when you mix this kind of leadership with someone that has a bad temper, then you will see these type of things transpire. At this point, the king was furious at their failure, and all the wise men were being gathered up to be put to death because they could not help the king with his problem. Daniel and his three friends, being part of this group of court advisers, were also being rounded up to be put to death.
1. I love the boldness of Daniel. Arioch tells him why he has come, to kill the wise men of Babylon, and the next thing you see is Daniel going before this tyrant king and asking for some time so that the kings dream and its interpretation can be made known. No anxiety, no fear, but faith in God that He would supply all of their needs, He would answer their hearts cry!
1. Daniel returns home and calls his friends together for a prayer meeting, they were going to be praying for their lives and for the lives of the wise men in Babylon! And as they humbly come before God, asking God for mercy in this situation, God answers their prayers! And in turn they praise "the name of God." W. H. Griffth Thomas said this about the phrase "the name of God." He said "The name stands in Holy Scripture for the nature or revealed character of God, and not a mere label or title. It is found very frequently in the Old Testament as synonymous with God Himself in relation to man...in the New Testament the same usage is perfectly clear."
2. Also, notice how Daniel portrays God in the right perspective. He is God and He is in control. And we as men are unable to understand the things of God but He does give to us wisdom, knowledge as He reveals to us the deep things of God as He shines His light upon us. Thus, Daniel was in no rush to go to the king because he knew God was in control, and that caused Him to praise the Lord before he went out to save lives. What an example for us to follow, before we go out to save souls, share the Gospel, take the time to praise the Lord and thank Him for what He is going to do.
3. One other point, the king took his problems to bed with him and it caused him to be restless, anxious, he couldnt sleep. Daniel took his problems to the Lord and was at rest. It is as Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
1. Notice the compassion that Daniel had. As soon as God revealed to him the answer he went to Arioch to put a halt on the execution of the wise men. He could have just said that they were pagans, they were lost, so let them just die! But he didnt. He had a love for these lost souls and he tried to show them the love of God. He was letting the light of God shine in a dark place. And as we get to Daniel chapter 4, we will see how that love paid off, we will see some of the fruit of his ministry.
1. I love Daniels response to the kings question. Daniel makes sure that the king understands that none of the wise men in all the land were able to make known the kings dream or its interpretation. That is boldness but Daniel is not doing it for his own glory or reputation. He is comparing the kings wise men to the true and living God who is able to reveal dreams. God gets all the credit. And Daniel will continue to give God the credit for revealing this secret.
2. Only God can gives us what we are looking for, and as He does, dont boast in what you have done, but what He has done. I think that is why Daniel was so successful, he was humble before the Lord, he didnt take the glory away from God. If you want your ministry to fall like a rock, exalt yourself and He will bring you down. If you want your ministry to soar, humble yourself and He will lift you up!
3. That phrase "latter days" is speaking of a final portion of time. It is a period of time that begins with the "times of the gentiles", which began in 586 BC when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, and it will continue to the close of the times of the gentiles, after the battle of Armageddon, and then on into the millennial kingdom. (Luke 21:24 for information on the times of the gentiles). That is what the kings dream is all about, the future kingdoms leading up to the return of Jesus Christ, the Messiah to establish His kingdom on this earth.
1. As the king was lying in his bed he was wondering what would happen to his kingdom. What would transpire in the future. And God showed him a prophetic panorama of gentile history in this dream, although he did not understand the dream up to this point.
1. This is the dream that the king had. He saw a huge multi-metallic image standing before him. Its head was made of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs or sides of bronze, legs of iron and its feet were made of iron and clay. Then, all of a sudden a stone, that was not cut with human hands, struck the image in the feet and the whole structure came tumbling down and as it was crushed in pieces the wind blew it away like the chaff from the summer threshing floor. And this stone then became a mighty mountain and it filled the whole earth. That is the dream and we dont see the king challenging it, so it must have been right. And now will come the interpretation of this dream.
1. This is an illustration of the gentile kingdoms which ruled the world and the land of Israel. Lets look at these kingdoms a little closer.
A. THE HEAD OF GOLD - THE BABYLONIAN KINGDOM
This head of gold speaks of the Babylonian empire which lasted some 87 years, from 626 BC to 539 BC. The kingdom was run as an absolute monarchy from Egypt to the Persian Gulf. Leon Wood stated that "Nebuchadnezzar was uniquely responsible for [Babylons] attaining and maintaining empire status. After him its power diminished rapidly, it was far more his kingdom than he was its king. The same was not true of any ruler of the succeeding empires."
B. THE CHEST AND ARMS OF SILVER - THE MEDO-PERSIAN KINGDOM
The Medo-Persian empire lasted some 239 years, from 539 BC till 300 BC, conquering the Babylonians. The arms of silver most likely represent the two nations that ruled this empire-the Medes and the Persians. This was not an absolute monarchy as we will see as we go through the book of Daniel.
C. THE BELLY AND THIGHS OR SIDES OF BRONZE - THE GRECIAN EMPIRE
This is the Grecian empire that rose up under the leadership of Alexander the Great, who conquered the Medo-Persian empire between 334 BC to 330 BC. The Grecian empire was in control in the area of Egypt and part of Europe and eastward to India.
D. THE LEGS OF IRON - THE ROMAN EMPIRE
This is speaking of the Roman empire which became a power in 63 BC. Rome swallowed up the lands and its peoples that had been part of three previous empires and assimilated them into itself. The kingdom was divided, and thus the two legs. The Western kingdom, with its capitol in Rome, lasted some 500 years and the Eastern kingdom, with its capitol in Constantinople, lasted till around 1453 AD. In speaking of this kingdom Leupold said: "The Roman legions were noted for their ability to crush all resistance with an iron heel. There is apparently little that is constructive in the program of this empire in spite of Roman law and Roman roads and civilization because the destruction work out weighed all else, for we have the double verb crush and demolish [break in pieces and bruise]."
2. We can look back and see that historically speaking these things have come to pass. But there is now a break in the action before the last kingdom or 10 kingdoms, represented by the 10 toes of the image, comes on the scene. And we are going to finish up chapter 2 next time as we look at this last world kingdom that comes on the scene.
3. Let me leave you this evening with this thought. "William J. Wolfe has called Abraham Lincoln One of the greatest theologians of America. He added that Lincolns theology was profound, not in the technical meaning of producing a system of doctrine, certainly not as the defender of some one denomination, but in the sense of seeing the hand of God intimately in the affairs of nations." As you read the book of Daniel you will notice that God is in control of the nations. You can read in Jeremiah chapters 24 and 25 and see that, without question, who is in control of Babylons power. It is the same God who is in control of our nation! Dont be afraid of what you are seeing, rest in Him and allow Him to work through you and use you for His glory to touch those around you!