One of the first things we learn about God in the Bible and in nature is that He is very creative. Nature bursts with an unbelievable variety of color, form and function. We see God work in unique ways as we read through all of the stories in scripture. Battles are won with strategies that warriors never would have been taught in military school. God’s plan moves forward with miracles and timing that defy human imagination. We may forget that God has unlimited wisdom, power, resources and insight. He knows what will work in any given situation. We will see that creativity at work in chapter two of Daniel.
In the Old Testament God often used dreams and visions to send certain messages to people. Ancient pagan people came to believe that their gods worked in the same way and that their dreams were very important. A whole culture grew up of “wise men” who tried to interpret dreams by assigning certain symbols and meaning to different objects in dreams. Even in more modern times, Sigmund Freud has written a book on the interpretation of dreams. Dreams seem to fascinate us and often frighten us as well.
The dreams of pagan kings were considered especially important because they understood them to be a means by which their gods gave information and guidance regarding state affairs. If a king could not remember his dream it could mean that his god was angry with him.
Imagine Nebuchadnezzar’s distress when he had an unusual dream of a man made of five kinds of metal. What could it mean to this young king who had just taken over a great empire? It seemed so crucial for him to understand this dream that he became quite demanding and asked the impossible of his wise men. Of course, the impossible is God’s specialty. Daniel had been well prepared for this moment. God used a creative dream to depict the future succession of Gentile empires and provided a faithful Jewish boy to interpret the dream. How great is our creative God!
DAY ONE: NEBUCHADNEZZAR PRESENTED A CHALLENGE TO WISE MEN.
Read: Daniel 2:1-13
A. NEBUCHADNEZZAR PRESENTED AN IMPOSSIBLE REQUEST.
After Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he couldn’t sleep, so he called for his wise men to come to him. It is not clear whether he himself couldn’t remember the details of the dream or whether he didn’t trust the officials to interpret it accurately unless they possessed the supernatural ability to discover the dream for themselves. Or perhaps he didn’t want them to know he couldn’t remember it. At any rate, he demanded that they tell him the dream and the interpretation or their lives and houses would be destroyed.
B. THE DOOR WAS OPENED FOR GOD’S CREATIVE SOLUTION.
The wise men attempted to get him to change his mind by stating that no man on earth could do what he demanded. They were absolutely right. This set the stage for a dramatic and creative rescue that God had designed to carry out through his faithful servant Daniel.
- How does God most often speak to us today? (Hebrews 1:1-2)
- Daniel and his friends were included in the death edict. What should be our first response when we are treated unfairly or are tempted to panic? (Philippians 4:6)
- What has God revealed that should remove the fear of the world from our lives? (1 John 4:4)
- Memorize Philippians 4:6 as a verse to live by.
- Think of a time when you have been unfairly accused or presented with a humanly impossible challenge. Share what you did and what God did for you.
DAY TWO: DANIEL PRESENTED THE PROBLEM TO GOD.
Read: Daniel 2:14-23
A. DANIEL APPROACHED THE KING’S GUARD.
We are told that Daniel spoke with “wisdom and tact” to the commander of the king’s guard who was charged with carrying out the executions. Daniel’s first thought was not to panic but to ask for time from the king. Treating people with grace and dignity often opens doors that might otherwise be closed.
Daniel had been faithful to serve God in this pagan palace, but he had also been faithful to serve to the best of his ability the things he had been asked to do by his pagan captors. The King’s guard responded to Daniel’s gracious request by granting the time that Daniel needed to seek God’s solution.
B. DANIEL APPROACHED HIS GOD.
God had supernaturally enabled Daniel to excel in all ways. God had even given him the ability to understand visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17). Daniel was confident that he could seek God’s solution to this problem.
He then enlisted his friends to earnestly seek God to reveal this mystery. God answered his prayers. Daniel saw a vision of the king’s dream and received the divine interpretation.
It gives a believer great peace to know that God is guiding his life and will have a divine solution to all problems of life. God plans ahead to prepare his children for the roles He will ask them to play. It also gives a believer great peace to know that he can always go to God in prayer at any time and in any place, even in enemy territory.
C. DANIEL WAS OVERWHELMED WITH PRAISE.
Daniel acknowledged what he knew about his God. It is God who has wisdom and power to rule the world and control the course of history. It is God who controls the times and seasons and who sets up kings as He chooses. It is God who reveals deep and hidden things – like a troubled king’s dream and the interpretation of it. Daniel took no credit for what he was about to do in the king’s presence. It is not the “wise men” or the experts and scholars who know the future. It is God who knows and reveals what He has planned for the course of time.
- What does God say about guidance in Proverbs 2:6-8?
- Why do you think Daniel needed other people to pray with him?
- How can we know that God will answer our prayers? (1 John 5:14-15)
- Make a list of several faithful friends who would be willing to pray with you in times of crisis.
- Discuss with a friend how we can be more confident that we are praying in God’s will.
DAY THREE: DANIEL REVISITED THE TROUBLED KING.
Read: Daniel 2:24-35
A. DANIEL REMEMBERED HIS FELLOW MAN.
Daniel was about to do an amazing thing before the king. He could have become puffed up at his importance. There is always a temptation to take personal credit when God gifts us and enables us to serve him in some way. He could also have pulled rank on the wise men or exposed them as imposters. But instead he pleaded for their lives before the king’s commander.
This kind of compassion will be well remembered as he rises in rank to serve in a high position in the court. Compassion is an attribute of God that we can share that will endear us to those who need to know God and experience His love in practical ways.
B. DANIEL REMEMBERED TO ACKNOWLEDGE GOD.
Before revealing the dream, Daniel remembered to tell Nebuchadnezzar where he got his information. We frequently have “little opportunities” to glorify God as we interact with people during our day. We can share answered prayer or nuggets of knowledge from God’s Word.
Daniel not only gave credit where credit was due, he gave confidence to the king that this knowledge was divinely revealed. Daniel did not claim to be more enlightened than the other men in the king’s court, but to have a God who knows all things. Humility is always an endearing trait as we interact with fellow human beings.
C. DANIEL RECALLED THE KING’S DREAM.
The king had seen an enormous statue and a stone. The statue was dazzling in appearance. It was a human form made of metals of declining value but increasing strength as the eye moved from head to toes. Daniel revealed to the king that God had revealed what would happen in the future. The head was of gold, the breast and arms were of silver, the belly and thighs were bronze, the two legs were of iron, and the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. The stone of the dream had been cut out of a mountain without hands (indicating that it was divinely produced). The stone struck the feet of the statue with such an impact that the feet were crushed. This caused the entire statue to disintegrate into chaff. The wind blew the remnants of the statue away. Then the stone became a large mountain that filled the entire earth.
- Do you think God might have caused the king to forget the dream? If so, why?
- Why was the interpretation given to Daniel? (Daniel 2: 30)
- Daniel said “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” What are some other things in Scripture that God has revealed to us that we could not have otherwise known? (Genesis 1-2, Genesis 3, Genesis 6, Revelation 21, etc.)
- What in Daniel’s behavior is most admirable to you?
- God enables us to “witness” for him by giving us opportunities to share our life experiences wherein God worked in extraordinary ways. Name one event of God’s special enablement in your life.
- Pray for an opportunity this week to glorify God by sharing something of His provision or enablement for you in a time of need.
DAY FOUR: DANIEL INTERPRETED THE KING’S DREAM.
Read: Daniel 2:36-48
A. DANIEL ACKNOWLEDGED GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY.
The dream was amazing in its scope. It gave a breathtaking overview of Gentile empires from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar to the Second Coming of the Messiah. Daniel revealed that it is God who gave authority to Nebuchadnezzar and it will be God who crushes the Gentile empires and sets up His own Kingdom that will endure forever.
B. THE STATUE REPRESENTS GENTILE EMPIRES.
Daniel began at the top and described the empires that will come and go as world history moves forward down through the course of time.
- Head of Gold – Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire 606 – 539 B.C.
- Chest of Silver – Medo-Persian Empire 539 – 330 B.C.
- Thighs of Bronze – The Grecian Empire 330 – 146 B.C.
- Legs of Iron – The Roman Empire 146 B.C. – 476 A.D.
- Feet of Iron & Clay – The last Gentile empire of history
- The Supernatural Stone – Destroyer of Gentile domination
C. THE GENTILE EMPIRES WERE DESCRIBED.
- The Babylonian Empire was pictured as a gold head. There could have been two reasons for this depiction. First, Marduk, the chief god of Babylon was called the god of gold. Babylon used gold extensively in its buildings, images and shrines. There was an astonishing amount of gold found in this area. The second reason is that the Babylonian Empire was outstanding in its unity and leadership; even though the king chose not to expand very far in the known world.
- The Medo-Persian Empire was pictured as a breast and two arms of silver Two distinct peoples, the Medes and the Persians, were united together in 550 B.C. under the same king to form one great power. Silver was often representative of money. This empire became noted for basing its power on money that was collected through an extensive tax system (Ezra 4:13; Daniel 11:2). However, the Empire never achieved a strong unity, so its leadership was weaker than Babylonian leadership.
- The Greek Empire was pictured as a belly and thighs of bronze. It was organized under Alexander the Great and his successors. The Greeks developed bronze for extensive use in their implements of war. The Greeks ruled over a large part of the known world. After Alexander died, his kingdom was divided among his four leading generals. However, the leadership was weak, as only two of the divisions played an important role in history. They were headquartered in Syria and Egypt.
- The Roman Empire was pictured as legs of iron (and feet and toes of iron and clay). Rome conquered Greece by 146 B.C. The ancient Roman Empire ruled large areas of both the western and eastern divisions of the world. In 364 A.D. the Roman Empire was divided politically into two divisions – the Western Roman Empire with Rome as its capital and the Eastern Roman Empire with Constantinople as its capital. Iron was an appropriate symbol because Rome was noted for its use of iron in its military weaponry. Rome crushed the ancient world through its great military strength. However, its government became weak. It started out as a republic, developed into a dictatorship and finally weakened from within until it self-destructed.
- The final phase of Gentile world dominion was pictured as the feet and toes. Since the feet and toes were part iron and part clay and a final stage of the fourth empire, some have suggested that the Roman Empire will have a final stage of existence as a loose confederation of ten nations. Yet it will have weaknesses (clay) that will hamper its strength.
- The last Gentile Empire was to be succeeded by a fifth kingdom represented by the stone. The God of Heaven would set up this kingdom that would never be destroyed and would end all the Gentile kingdoms.
- What was the future destiny of all Gentile empires?
- What remained at the end of the king’s dream?
- Who is often described as a rock? (Isaiah 26:4; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Peter 2:4, 6-8)
- This prophecy of Gentile empires will be reconfirmed to Daniel 48 years later in a dream in chapter 7. What symbolism is used in this second dream?
- What further information has God given to us about God’s future kingdom? (Isaiah 2:2-5) Which of these details are impressive to you?
- Share one or two details of the coming kingdom with someone in your family this week.
- How does God’s sovereignty stand out to you in the events of Chapter 2?
DAY FIVE: KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR HONORED DANIEL & DANIEL’S GOD.
Read: Daniel 2:46-49
A. NEBUCHADNEZZAR HONORED GOD.
Because Daniel gave credit to God for the dream revelation and interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the greatness of God. He called Daniel’s God the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries. This is amazing insight for this pagan king. Yet he didn’t acknowledge God as the only God or as his god. In the next chapter we will see that he is still a polytheist who thinks the Babylonian gods are supreme.
We have great opportunities to give credit to God for many things in our lives. When we do this, we continually advertise the greatness of God. When we faithfully live out this reality, we may open the eyes of those who have not seen Him as the only living and active God.
B. NEBUCHADNEZZAR HONORED DANIEL.
The king had promised gifts, rewards and great honor to the one who could tell him the dream and the interpretation. Now he fulfilled this promise. Daniel was given (1) rulership over the entire province of Babylon, (2) personal gifts, and (3) leadership over all of the wise men. In his hour of glory, Daniel remembered his friends. He requested that his three friends be placed in authority as his assistants. He surrounded himself with people who were faithful to God.
- What does Proverbs 21:1 say about God’s sovereignty over world rulers?
- What does Scripture say about God’s position as the only true God? (Isaiah 43:10-11)
- What did Jesus say about revealing God’s plan to believers? (Matthew 13:10-11)
- What did Jesus say about personally confessing him before men? (Matthew 10:32)
- How are you faithful to do this?
- How can you confess God’s greatness in some way this week to someone who needs to know Him better?
Part of the Christian’s peace comes from knowing that God knows and controls what the future holds. He plans, prepares and executes His plan in creative ways. Even when things look dark and even hopeless, He is at work. The amazing thing is that God has revealed so much of His plan in His inspired Word. He wants us to know where the events on earth are going so that we will be prepared and be at peace. The story of history is “His Story” and He reveals it to His faithful ones.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK: If we have eyes of faith, God will show us great truths in His Word.
CHALLENGE: Look for a time line of God’s story in your study Bible or a reference book to build faith in God’s sovereignty. See how these Gentile empires came to pass just as God revealed. It is helpful to keep a time line available for all Scripture study to see where books or passages fit into God’s mega story.
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