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Trusting in the Revealer of Mysteries

Trusting in the Revealer of Mysteries

Daniel 2 – Faithful: God’s Character, Our Calling – October 10, 2021

Introduction

Read Daniel 2:1–18.

Wigi boards, tarrot cards, palm readers, fortune cookies, astrological predictions.

Science-fiction enormous industry: Movies, books, tv, all predicting the future.

. . . Maybe you’re not so wired. More down to earth.

Entire industries dedicated to it: ANALYSTS. Statisticians. Pollsters.

Politics, economics, sports: Businesses pay millions of dollars to get some insight into the future.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?

Maybe to us it’s more personal:

  • Will I ever be married—or be able to marry again?
  • Will my child be healthy?
  • What will my health be like in 10 years?
  • Where is our country going? How bad is it going to get?

And the harder our situation the more we care about the future. When times are good we want the present to last forever. But when times are terrible we want the future to come—as long as it’s a good future.

In our passage it’s a king who’s obsessed with the future. Not unusual. Kings always obsessed with their kingdoms.

  • Daniel 2
  • Two key figures are Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel
  • Faithful: God’s Character, Our Calling

Prayer

I. The God of Heaven Reveals What Men on Earth Can’t (2:1–30)

A ruthless and restless king has a dream (2:1–9).

  • Restless=v. 1. Ruthless=vv. 5–6. “Unhinged” would be the modern word.

The academy sought: “the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans” (v. 2). “Wise men” (vv. 12–14, 18, 48). “Astrologers” (v. 27).

  • Significant for the religious & political life in Babylon
  • King’s cabinet, priesthood, fortune-tellers all rolled into one

The academy speaks: “Not a man on earth,” “except the gods,” “dwelling is not with flesh” (2:10–11).

  • Ironic for Jewish reader: Tabernacle is God’s “dwelling.”
  • Ironic for Christian: Jesus is our Immanuel!

Daniel into action, replies “with prudence and discretion” to Arioch the Executioner—“captain of the king’s guard,” commissioned to “kill the wise men of Babylon” (v. 14).

  • Daniel asks for a little time.
  • Daniel prays, tells his friends: “Seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery” (v. 18). “God in heaven” (v. 19, 27, 37, 44). Remember, “not a man on earth” can do this but only “the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh” (vv. 10–11).

Why pray? Read Daniel 2:27–28

  • In answer to their prayers, Daniel given a vision (v. 19).

Then he “blessed the God of heaven” (v. 19).

  • No simplistic “Thank You.”
  • Shows deep and GROWING knowledge of God
  • Read 2:20–23.

The THEOLOGICAL CENTER of the chapter

  • THEOLOGY that becomes DOXOLOGY—or “EULOGY” (“Word of blessing”).
  • Truth about God that becomes the worship of God.

Two things emphasized: “wisdom and might” (v. 20).

  • MIGHT: “Changes times . . . seasons . . . removes . . . sets up kings” (v. 21).
  • Knew this from his past, but he also knew this from the vision.
  • WISDOM: “He gives wisdom” (v. 21)
  • Whatever wisdom and knowledge we have is a gift.
  • He gives because he possesses it: All wisdom and knowledge are his.
  • “He reveals deep and hidden. . . what is in the darkness. . . light dwells with him” (v. 22).
  • More specifically: “what we asked of you. . . the king’s matter” (v. 23).

IMPORTANT: WHO GOD IS, WHO WE ARE—He’s the Infinite Revealer. We’re the Finite Receiver.

Daniel here building on the history of Israel.

  • Idolatry threatened Israel in the 700s and 600s BC.
  • Prophets like Isaiah would rebuke Israel.
  • Rebuke often had to do with this idea in Daniel 2
  • The true God is the one who speaks, worthless idols can’t.

E.g., Jeremiah 25:11–12 (Jeremiah important in understanding Daniel):

11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. (Jer 25:11–12)

Jeremiah prophesying something decades after his death.

And even more in Jeremiah 51:

. . . The LORD has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for his temple. (Jer 51:11)

Jeremiah’s lesson: Jeremiah 51:17–19:

17 Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.

18 They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.

19 Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name. (Jer 51:17–19)

The idols: “No breath in them” vs. True God, “The one who formed all things”

APPLICATION:

  • All people are in the position as Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar.
  • We need REVELATION but we don’t have it.
  • We need “the God of heaven” to “reveal mysteries”!
  • Some things WE CAN’T KNOW—The gospel of Jesus Christ. Can’t know it apart from having access to the message about Jesus Christ. We need someone to tell us!
  • Some things WE REFUSE TO KNOW—Sin problem, a heart problem.
  • Rejecting God affects how we think.
  • Romans 1:21—rejecting God = “foolish in their thinking and their hearts were darkened.” What we think, what we love, what we want, ALL TERRIBLE.
  • That means even if someone tells us the message about Jesus Christ, we will refuse it unless the Holy Spirit changes our hearts to receive it.
  • That’s why we pray to “the God of heaven to reveal mysteries.”
  • That’s why being a Christian should make us humble and not proud.
  • We didn’t do this.
  • God’s Spirit opened our hearts to believe what God himself revealed to us.
  • That’s why we pray for others.

II. The Kingdom of God Endures When Kingdoms on Earth Won’t (2:31–49)

Now we get to the vision itself. Read Daniel 2:31–45.

THE STATUE[1]

  • Statue makes more sense as Daniel’s prophecy unfolds.
  • Especially Chapter 7 and Chapter 8—several kingdoms named
  • Helps us interpret this statue.
  • Head of gold (v. 32)—“you are the head of gold” (v. 38)
  • Chest and arms of silver (v. 32)—“another kingdom inferior to you shall arise AFTER YOU” (v. 39)—Medes and Persians (8:20)
  • Thighs of bronze (v. 32)—“third kingdom. . . shall ruler over all the earth” (v. 39)—Greece (8:20).
  • Legs of iron, feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (v. 33)—“a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things” (v. 40)—once we see that empires are in view and not individual kings, it seems that Rome is meant.
  • As kingdoms progress, they get less refined and more destructive.
  • GOLD to IRON.

The Point?

  • It’s from 2:21: “He removes kings and sets up kings.”
  • That’s why the importance of the verb “GAVE” in 2:37–38, “the God of heaven has GIVEN . . . into whose hand he has GIVEN . . .”

Not just a revelation to Nebuchadnezzar but to God’s people in Babylon.

  • Babylon won’t last forever.
  • God will bring you through this.

Application: Good to remember that in our day. Kingdoms don’t last one minute past where God wants them to. 2:21 is still true. 2:37–38 is still true.

STONE: As great as these empires, another empire entirely different.

These kingdoms on earth won’t endure. There’s ANOTHER KINGDOM.

It’s the Kingdom established with Christ as the King—The stone rejected who becomes the CORNERSTONE! (Ps 118:22; Mark 12:10).

Four Attributes that set it apart:

  • God-made: “Stone was cut out by no human hand” (2:34); “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom” (2:44)
  • Triumphant: “Broke them in pieces” (2:34); “Break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end” (2:44)
  • Universal: “Became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (2:35)
  • Eternal: “A kingdom that shall never be destroyed” (2:44); “Nor shall the kingdom be left to another people” (2:44); “It shall stand forever” (2:44)

 But one other thing:

  • Present AND Future
  • It’s here now, but the fullness is still future
  • We live out our days with ANTICIPATION.
  • But live out our days serving JESUS AS OUR KING.

III. The People of God Exalted Where Kings of Earth Aren’t (2:46–49)

Read Daniel 2:46–49.

Nebuchadnezzar fulfills his promise (2:6).

Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual growth by stages:

  • Chapter 1: Respects Daniel and 3 young men
  • Chapter 2: Respects Daniel’s God
  • Chapter 3: Commands all to respect their God
  • Chapter 4: Praises God himself

True that Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t go far enough here, true. We’ll see his brutality and idolatry next week.

But it’s also true that his perspective is changing.

Good reminder that spiritual growth is almost always a process.

Daniel made “ruler” and “chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon” (v. 48). Requests his three friends get a position.

They are a model for us:

  • Not Separatists—pulling out of the society.
  • Not Revolutionaries—trying to overthrow the government
  • They embody Romans 13 five centuries before it’s written
  • Instead: Strategically Engaged Within the Culture

Iain Duguid:

These men didn’t isolate themselves from the kingdom of this world as they waited for God to establish his kingdom; rather, they poured themselves into seeking the welfare of their temporary home in Babylon.
Iain Duguid, Daniel[2]

Conclusion

God reveals himself to us in this passage:

  • Merciful: To reveal what we could never figure out.
  • Powerful: To do with earthly kings exactly what pleases him.

Action:

  • Are you too indifferent to the earthly kingdom you’re living in now?
  • Are you too obsessed with the earthly kingdom you’re living in now?

Hear in this also an invitation to enter the kingdom of God:

  • Jesus preaching: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
  • Jesus’ kingdom: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17)
  • God-made . . . Triumphant
  • Universal
  • Eternal

Ralph Dale Davis:

Don’t forget what the God of heaven reveals to you through this dream, for this is a dream that will come true.
Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel[3]

Prayer

Closing Song

[1] Taking the view of the statue held by John Calvin, Iaian Duguid, Sinclair Ferguson.

[2] Iain Duguid, Daniel, REC (P&R, 2008), 42.

[3] Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, BST (IVP, 2013), 49.

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