AGCC Sun. a.m. 7/14/96
(see also: 5/17/87)
TEXT: Dan. 2:1-49
INTRO: Our society is desperately
reaching out to believe in something again. While this is good in some ways, it
is also bad in another way, for many people Astrology and the New Age teachings
have become deep interests. We have president's wives consulting with mediums,
psychic hot lines, New Age books are some of the best selling on the market, and
more and more people are turning to mystics! We need to be weary of these
"strange" voices that offer nothing but fiction!
ILLUS: When Barbara Bush was the wife of then vice president
George Bush she was told that because both she and her husband were Geminis they
should never have gotten married! She said she didn't know what to do about it
now after 43 years of married life! Good for her to poke fun at the stupid
Unfortunately, as we get closer to the next millennium we will see an even
greater interest in the occult and the mystics. People's live are empty and they
are seeking fiction instead of faith!
ILLUS: In a recent 11 year period, the proportion of adults who
say they have been in touch with the dead has risen from 27% to 42%. Close to 20
million Americans now report profoundly mystical experiences, including healing.
(Psychology Today: January 1989 Issue. T.
It is amazing that intelligent people who will scoff at the ideas of Jesus
as the Son of God who died for their sins will believe in some stranger who
offers to get them in touch with a dead relative!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
that we are to have faith in God alone! We have the real thing to offer the
I. TROUBLED SPIRITS! 2:1-16
A. Confused! 2:1
1. It was only Nebuchadnezzar's second year to rule...what was he so uptight about that his mind was troubled?
a. It was the custom of a new king to send out his troops to the outskirts of his kingdom and intimidate those under his control and exact the taxes due him from these subjugated subjects to insure his power base.
b. In this year he had sent an expeditionary force to Ashkelon, a Philistine city close to Jerusalem to make his power known...the city had put up a very stiff resistance and Nebuchadnezzar had to have his troops fight for months just to win! If he had lost, his whole rule could have come down early in his reign because the other cities and provinces would surely have started to rebel too. This may have been why he couldn't sleep, this took months to settle and wait for victory, and his whole future reign was resting on his troops winning this first show of strength!
c. Therefore, he was no doubt thinking about his future...and the future of Babylon as a world empire...this sets the stage for Daniel's help!
d. As is often the case, when we are very concerned and afraid, we can't sleep, and nightmares and dreams can come!
2. He could not sleep because his whole rule came from man's power...it was his troops and their success that could determine his place in history. How different is the life of Daniel whose hope is in God and not man!
a. Man without God has no hope of a future!
b. Without God we are just animals waiting to die, with no place to go!
c. It is no wonder that people who have no faith in God find their lives racked with worry and fear over and over again!
3. With more and more pressures these days, people are turning to all
kinds of weird things to find hope and peace. They are troubled
souls turning to troubled spirits!
B. Counselors!? 2:2-11
1. The king calls in his "comforters" - the mystics!
a. These so called experts in the supernatural had a very developed system for doing their craft!
b. From Archaeological digs we have found copies of some of these "books"' used by the court soothsayers. They had huge books that recorded historic stuff and with it all the things that happened from that event, then when the king had some kind of dream they would take the dream and look up something that fit in the past that closely paralleled the dream and by using the information on what all happened after that historic event, they could make some pretty good educated guesses of what will happen based on the new dream!
c. Therefore, it was hardly "mystical" at all, it was good guesswork based on probabilities and patterns of the past .. or on "general" stuff that can be applied to nearly anybody and any event, must like Astrologers do today! Psychic hotlines have a large data bases no doubt with this kind of information to make "predictions" that can pretty amazing sometimes!
d. There was one catch of course to doing a good job, you had to know the dream in order to pour through the books to find a similar event and predict the outcome! ... something that on this occasion Nebuchadnezzar chose not to give them!
2. The king is really troubled, and no doubt, down in his heart he knew these guys were only good guessers at best. He wanted something more than just a good guess, he really wanted to know from a supernatural realm what was in his future.
a. The astrologers are ready to do their thing, they flatter the king and then request to know his dream so they can properly interpret it for him.
b. The king throws in something new this time, he "firmly decides" that he will not tell them the dream! He wants them to tell the dream and the interpretation, he wants and needs to hear something real and sure, not fiction!
c. In his frustration and fear he wants something more than just fiction, he wants something to believe in that is real and of faith!
3. Up to now these mystics had been able to get away with a pretty good
life, all the fiction and lies they told had served them well, but now the king
asked for something that made it impossible for them to produce a hoax and get
away with it. Sooner or later, fiction and lies fall flat!
ILLUS: Four High school boys were late to their morning classes
one day. They entered the classroom and solemnly told their teacher they were
detained due to a flat tire. The sympathetic teacher smiled and told them it was
too bad they were late because they had missed an important test that morning.
But she was willing to let them make it up. She gave them each a piece of paper
and a pencil and sent them to four corners of the room. Then, she told them they
would pass if they could answer just one question correctly ... the question
was: "Which tire was flat?" They were doomed!!!
4. There was no ruse for this kind of request, while they could muster good guesses on interpretation and give general enough answers to fit any situation, nobody could tell the king what only he had seen in his own dream!
a. They respond that no king had ever asked such a thing before...the king made it impossible for them to do their deceiving!
b. They said that what was being asked of them was impossible!!! 2:11
c. Only gods could do what the king asked, and their gods weren't available! 2:11b
5. The king is tired of fiction, he is frightened and worried, he needs to
believe in something real, a real God with real power!
C. Condemned! 2:12-16
1. The king is irate! He is sick of empty hope, of only fiction instead of faith! In a real crisis his mystics could offer no real hope!
a. He orders all the "wise men" killed!
b. Unfortunately, this included Daniel and his 3 buddies!
2. It was time for God to come forward and demonstrate real faith in the midst of hopelessness and fiction, and so Daniel steps forward!
3. Faith is a powerful item! Notice how calm Daniel is, how careful he is with his approach, unlike the king that is worked up, Daniel is confident and careful, his faith is solid!
a. Even in the midst of a death sentence Daniel's faith keeps him calm!
b. Every one else is running around in panic, but faith rules the
ILLUS: Sholem Asch in his book "Kiddush Ha-Shem" tells of an
incident that happened during the terrible massacre of Jews in Russian Poland in
the 17th century. Men, Women, and children were slain; families were divided and
destroyed. Only death seemed active. One of the survivors was walking down the
streets in the deserted and destroyed town, trying to understand the meaning of
it all. As he passed the market place, he saw merchants with their booths
already set up, selling articles of clothing and food. In one booth an old Jew
sat in rags. The strange thing about it was that his booth was completely empty
of food or clothing, absolutely nothing to sell. And he sat there! In amazement
the survivor went up to the old man and asked, "But your booth is empty, what do
you sell?" The old Jew turned and looked at him with a sad smile and said
slowly, "I sell faith, I sell faith!" When everything else is gone, faith can
still be found! Anyone can have some!
4. Daniel does not ask the king for the dream, instead all he asks for is time!
a. This was a reasonable request, one that the king would no doubt give.
b. The king was interested in knowing if there was something real to believe in, for this he would be willing to wait a little bit, he wasn't willing to give time to men who were stalling for time in order to offer him fiction however!
5. All the wise men's salvation hinged on Daniel's faith!
a. This is true with the world today too, it is not the wisdom of man that keeps the planet going, it is the faith of God's people and God's activity supernaturally that keeps the world going!
b. If it wasn't for the Church, this world would delve into all kinds of
fiction and mysticism, we have the key to salvation, it is faith in
II. TRUSTING SERVANTS! 2:17-30
A. Challenge! 2:17-18
1. Notice the first thing Daniel does, he gets his godly friends together to share the burden and asks them to pray!
a. They don't go to some books on mysticism, they go to God!
b. Daniel had promised the king an answer before he had one! ... This took faith!
c. What was impossible for man is possible with God!
2. At some level the world will test us and our faith too. They are trying to see if it is real. Can we believe God to help us do the impossible when it becomes necessary?
a. Sometimes it is necessary to go out on a limb for God and faith!
b. Are we really confident that our faith is better than all the fiction
of this world?
B. Confidence! 2:19-24
1. During the night, God gives Daniel both the dream and the interpretation!
a. Daniel's confidence in God was not misplaced!
b. God is faithful to His servants that trust Him and put themselves on the firing line!
c. Daniel's walk with God PRIOR to this was solid, God could trust him, this too is part of faith, our being able to be used by God!
2. Daniel wakes and does the only proper thing one should do when God does the supernatural ... he breaks out in praise to God!
a. In fact, verses 20-23 are a hymn written by Daniel, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
b. Daniel doesn't even second guess whether what he received from God was the real thing or not, he accepts with confidence that God gave him what he needed.
c. When God sent an answer, he accepted it at face value!
3. Some of us would have been up all night wondering: "Was that really the right dream or is it just my imagination?"
4. Daniel's relationship with God was so good that he could tell the difference right away from his own dreams and those from God.
5. He doesn't waste the evening second guessing what God had given him, he
spends the time in praise to God.
C. Communication! 2:25-30
1. Notice who tries to steal the limelight here: Arioch brings Daniel in and takes credit for "finding him" to help the king out!
a. He doesn't even mention Daniel by name!
b. He was no doubt hoping that if this worked out, the king would credit him for finding a solution to the king's duress.
c. No wonder he was willing to help Daniel, it was a chance to get the king's favor! He must have had faith in Daniel however to take this chance!
2. Daniel is prepared to answer for his faith in God.
a. Notice that Daniel takes no credit for being superior (see 2:27)
b. Truly spiritual people don't draw attention to their own spiritual prowess, they will always turn the attention to God, not themselves!
c. Daniel's interest is in showing God to be the only revealer of mysteries, no idols can do this!
3. God is trying to reach Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon with the truth, God is always seeking to find the lost!
4. Daniel explains both the reason for Nebuchadnezzar's sleeplessness that night, and the dream he had! 2:29
a. God is well aware of a sinner's hearts and struggles!
b. God is more than willing to send men and women of faith to them with a message. The only question is are we willing to go and offer this faith?
c. If Daniel had not been prepared to announce God, all these people would have perished!
5. Daniel explains that God revealed the vision to him not because he was better than anybody else but so that the king would come to know the true God!
a. This is still true for us today, God's blessings on us and our knowledge of Him is not given so that we can boast or brag over others, it is to bring to the lost the knowledge of God!
b. Our job is to communicate what God is trying to tell the lost, that
there is a God in heaven who knows all things, and He wants to have a
relationship with us through Christ.
III. TOMORROW'S SALVATION! 2:31-49
A. Countries! 2:31-43
1. Unlike the astrologers that often gave vague and general messages, Daniel is quite specific about what God's plans are for the future of mankind!
a. The head of gold was Nebuchadnezzar and the empire of Babylon.
b. The chest of silver and arms of silver were the Medo-Persian empire, this would come after Nebuchadnezzar was long gone, which was the message that he found hope in, this meant he would live and reign during his lifetime successfully. This was the issue that had led to his fear in the first place, God here assures him of his place in history.
c. The bronze belly and thighs (possible copper) would be the Greek empire.
d. The iron legs would be the western and eastern Roman empire, symbolized by iron even in its own day hundreds of years early here!
e. The iron/clay feet and toes represented a future time when the elements of the fallen Roman empire would still be around, but the individual states or nations would only be loosely connected - the clay symbol. No longer united as under the Roman empire, but have elements of it still (the state of the nations today!).
f. At this last stage of history, a huge rock not cut out by human hands would strike this image and all these empires would disappear and the rock will fill the whole earth. God's kingdom will come in its fullness and eliminate all the others for good! (This is yet to come, but we are in the time of the last part of the toes of iron and clay, so this could come any day now!)
2. Shortly before Daniel's death he saw the second of these empires come into existence, the Medo-Persian empire, but he accurately predicted the Greek and Roman empires and the time we are living in now!
a. You will note that the iron and clay toes is the last stage of human history before God sets up his millennial kingdom!
b. This means there will be no other kingdoms past what we are now experiencing in the world. Satan will make an attempt, but it will be the last hurrah for him and this world. Christ will conquer and rule and reign for 1,000 years!
c. This rock cut out without hands struck the image suddenly and without warning, Christ could come any day now...are you ready?
3. Not everybody that says, "Lord Lord!" will be a part of His kingdom Jesus stated!
a. It is imperative that we live a holy life before the Lord.
b. He is coming back for a spotless bride, not a soiled one!
c. If He should come today, would you be ready?
4. If Daniel's vision and interpretation has been 100% accurate so far, why not the rest!? IT WILL BE!
5. Each kingdom would be less dazzling but more powerful, indicated by the change of metals, and each would last longer too!
a. Absolute monarchs like Nebuchadnezzar can build glorious rich empires, but they don't last long...which was the case with Babylon.
b. As each empire came after them, each one was less depended on an individual and came to share the power with more and more people, thus less glorious like gold becoming mere iron, and then iron to clay.
c. The last of iron and clay indicate the democracies, not much glory for anyone individual, and only a loose connection between individual states or nations.
d. Democracies have a tendency to last longer than dictatorships, and this was the case with the history of nations. Babylon was short lived as an empire, the Greek empire lasted longer, the Roman empire even longer...and we have had quite a long history now with the revived Roman empire of iron and clay nations.
e. But these will all come to an end...and suddenly! Christ will come (the "Rock of ages") and put an end to human government and He will rule and reign, and all His saints with Him!
f. This could happen any time now!
B. Conclusion! 2:44-49
1. History is moving to God's ordained end, not what the mystics tell us or the astrologers!
2. In the end, it won't be those who believed in fiction that will be proven right, it will be those who put their trust and faith in God.
3. Daniel says the dream is TRUE, and TRUSTWORTHY!
a. You can bank on it!
b. God is in control, not the flakes or the universe!
4. Nebuchadnezzar misses the main point!
a. Notice that he praises Daniel and only states that Daniel's God is better than the other gods, he is just happy to know that his present life is assured so he is not prepared to abandon his other gods, only adds Daniel's God to his list!
b. In other words, he is willing to acknowledge God's existence and power, but not make a commitment to Him alone!
c. How true this is today with many people who are willing to believe in God, but not submit or commit their lives to Him!
5. The king was satisfied with the knowledge of his present continuation in power, not the future of the world, and so he lavishes gifts upon Daniel and gives little attention to God Himself!
a. Daniel does not forget his friends who prayed for him, so he brings them up to the king and they too are elevated to important places of leadership.
b. Ironically, it was Daniel's faith that saves all the mystics who practiced nothing except fiction! They owed their lives to faith in God, but like the king, most of them no doubt did nothing about making a commitment to God!
6. How about you, now that you know the truth about God's plans, that most of this prophecy has already come true literally, are you prepared to make a commitment to God or only be amazed at prophecy!?
7. It is the choice between FAITH or FICTION, which one will you go
CONCLUSION: Faith will always triumph over fiction! In a world that loves the superstitious, we instead love the Savior! God has revealed the future, and we are living in those last days! Christ will come soon, this is not FICTION, it is FACT! Are you ready?