Notes taken from Chuck Obremski’s sermon on Daniel 2:1-13.
Mankind has always had a fascination with the future. There has and continues to be great curiosity about what lies ahead. There are even those that make a handsome living trying to predict future events as far as political changes, governmental changes around the world and what type of economic impact will be a result of these changes. The certainty of future events always has a tremendous application for present actions. If you were sure of what the future held…absolutely certain then you would take actions today that would be based on the certainty on the events of tomorrow.
Each one of us at one point or the other each one of us wonders about the future. Folks everywhere tend to ask the same old question “What’s this world coming to?”
As we continue in our study of the book of Daniel…that question is answered in no uncertain terms. In fact it is the focal point of our passage. The answer will either escalate your sense of fear and dread about what the future holds or it will affirm your comfort and assurance as to what to expect.
1Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” 4Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.”
5The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6″But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.”
7They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 8The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.”
10The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11″Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” 12Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
Four points to call to your attention that relates to this question, what is this world coming to.
First point is the reaction of Nebuchadnezzar. In Vs. 1…his reaction to what’s going on is quite troubling. He was very concerned about what was going on. His reaction to these dreams was one of concerns or agitation. He was greatly concerned about what was taking place. This was no ordinary dream. This message was a direct dream from the thrown of God Himself. The purpose of the message was to get Nebuchadnezzar’s attention. God delivered a wake up call.
So we don’t have any confusion on how God communicates to people today…listen carefully. Everything that God wants believers to know today is found in the Bible. The complete canon of scripture. It’s important to recognize and understand how God speaks to us today.
Often time we hear in the news…and recently saw in the news…how the news can distort things. Example…God spoke to Reggie White about his football career. The news automatically wanted to make an issue of that. That God was speaking to Reggie White. What we need to recognize and understand is that God does speak to his people today. But he speaks to us differently than he did to those in the past. It’s important to recognize that.
1God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
God would communicate with those, prior to our time or after the time of Jesus Christ or the completion of the canon of scripture, would speak to people in various portions and in various ways. He would give bits and pieces of information. He didn’t give an entire revelation. He often pieces of it and he would later reveal what was coming after that. He spoke a variety of means. God spoke directly to people.
We saw that at the baptism of Jesus Christ when a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” God spoke directly to people. He directly to Moses. Numbers 12:
“I’ll speak directly to my servant Moses.” As for you…those of you being critical of him…I will speak through visions and dreams and through the prophets. But as for my relationship with Moses, it’s going to be a relationship where I speak directly to him. So God spoke through his word at that particular time.
Daniel 9:2…tell us that there was God’s written word that the Jews used and looked at. That’s how Daniel knew the dietary laws. So God spoke through the spoken word, he spoke through dreams, visions, even through angels. Remember the story of Gabriel as he came to Mary…he told her she would bear a child.
The Bible clearly tells us in these last days…he has spoken to us in Son. The final message of God is the person and the work of Jesus Christ and the completed canon of scripture. It tells us everything that we need to know about the person and the work of God. Everything that he wants us to know about the past, present and the future he speaks to us through the Bible. That’s why it critical for us to understand that the Bible is the inspired God breathed Word of God. So in it, we may grow in respect to our salvation and understand the things of God.
In the case of Daniel…divine revelation came to Nebuchadnezzar through a dream. In fact what seems to be confusing at first it says Nebuchadnezzar had many dreams. Although he dreamed many dreams, he had only one reoccurring theme to the dream. When he asked for the interpretation…he didn’t say interpret all the dreams he had. He said, interpret the one dream that I’ve been having, even though I’ve been dreaming it on a regular basis.
Can you imagine how disturbed Nebuchadnezzar must have been? The Bible says his sleep left him…he became an insomniac. While he was protected on the outside by the guards and the fortresses in this new kingdom that he had, yet there was no peace in his heart. No peace in his life. He was basically marching back and forth in the bedrooms and the confinement of his bedroom…with no peace of heart at all. He was anxious…he was troubled.
The same word that Jesus used when he told his disciples that he would be leaving. “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God…believe also in me.”
The answer to anxiety today…in the lives of many people is a relationship with the God who created him. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know that God. He was troubled by what was going on. There was great fear in his heart. There was great anxiety.
What’s amazing…is this man was king of the world. With all apologies to Leonardo DiCaprio…Nebuchadnezzar was king of the world. He didn’t just feel like he was, he was the king of the world. He had everything that this world had to offer. He had political power, fame, armies, protection, guards standing outside of his door, all the money that the world had to offer, all the material things you could ever want. But he did not have one thing…he didn’t have peace of mind. He didn’t have peace with God. He was anxious and he was troubled…and well he should be.
Jesus went on to say, “What would a man exchange for his soul?” “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but looses his soul?”
What does it profit you or me…if we gain everything that we set out to accomplish in life but have no peace of heart, no peace of mind, or peace with God? There are many of us who are in the same situation.
In Chuck’s work with professional athletes it didn’t take long to understand the insecurities that go along with such a profession. Men who sit around and wonder how long is my career going to last? What’s my world coming to? Not only is what is this world coming to…the big picture. But so often…we boil it down to the simplest denomination…and that’s “what my world coming to?”.
I’m not so concerned about what the rest of the world is coming to…unless it effects my world. We had guys who would sit around and wonder what’s going to happen to my career? Who’s my team going to draft? Who are they going to pick up? They are bringing in somebody who is trying out, who is in my position. Can you imagine working in such a place? Where your boss would bring in people to interview right in front of you while you still work there? And you would ask the question what is he here for? Actually they are here to see if we can hire them to take your job.
There is a certain amount of insecurity that goes along with that. Or we would have guys sitting around praying about who the team was going to draft or they were going to pick up. Then they would say…we just picked up this guy in the first round. They are going to pay him and eight million dollar signing bonus. He plays my position…who do you think is going to play?
Insecurity, fear, anxiety. Or they sit around and wonder is this ankle going to heal? Is my foot going to heal? Is my leg going to heal? Is it a three week, six weeks, six months, or two years? What’s the rehab going to be? How long is my world going to last as I know it?
Nebuchadnezzar wrestled with the same things that we do. The timeless truth of the word of God. He just conquered the world and he could get a good night sleep. A lot of irony to that.
Some of you are in the same position as that. How long is my business going to last? How long is the construction boom going to last? How long is the stock market going to keep going up? Is it going to go up long enough so we can cash out and then retire? How long is all this going to last? We become anxious and worrisome…and pace back and forth. Or we watch CNN so we can continually track what’s going on in the world around us. How long is all this going to last?
Nebuchadnezzar was no different than us…because there is nothing new under the sun. King Solomon had the same trouble. Everything he wanted in life, he had. His final conclusion was this, who can find enjoyment in life without knowing the God who created him? Who can have enjoyment without him? Nebuchadnezzar had a wake up call. God was trying to get his attention…and it was easy to do. He was looking at Nebuchadnezzar and saying you’ve accomplished everything that you set out to accomplish…and you don’t have any peace in your life. You can’t even get a good night’s sleep. What’s your world coming to, brother?
God was trying to get his attention…and he was doing it quite well actually. There is a principal of this verse that is important that we understand. Neither position of greatness, nor personal ability can provide mental peace and security.
True peace of mind is the monopoly of God’s people. As we know the word of God and believe what is says…and apply it in our life, God give us peace of mind.
Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. The Bible says be anxious for nothing. But in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Why? The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
It’s no coincidence that when you look at the world around you and you see people who seemingly have everything going for them, except one thing. They have no peace of mind. They are anxious of heart. And the world that has everything looks at people who have seemingly nothing, and are seemingly in the midst of adverse circumstances in life and yet they see God’s people with a peace that passes all understanding. And our hearts and minds are guarded by Christ Jesus. They look at us and ask why aren’t you worried? Why aren’t you troubled, why aren’t you anxious about what’s going on? The simple answer…because God has it all under control.
Isn’t that a fascinating truth as we look at the life of Daniel? Nebuchadnezzar was a man riddled with anxiety and worrisome activities in his heart. So much so that he couldn’t even sleep anymore. We will see a tremendous contracts between Nebuchadnezzar who can’t get a good night’s sleep, when everything in his life is going well and contrast it to a man who is about to be sentenced to death and he has no fear and trepidation at all.
Nebuchadnezzar is concerned and rightfully so. This dream, this wake-up call that God sent him got his attention. Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to call in the magicians, conjurers, the sorcerers, the Chaldeans to tell the kind his dreams. They came in and stood before the king.
What does he do? He issues a command. What’s the command? Let’s form a committee. When troubled in life…man typically wants to form a committee. We can understand what’s going on…lets form a committee.
Some committees actually accomplish things…but most have a habit of endlessly speculating as to what the cause of the problem is while never offering any solutions. This committee is pretty much that typical committee.
We need to form a committee. I need to know what’s going on. I’m going to call all these people in…and we’re going to form a committee and we’re going to try and figure out what’s going on. There is safety in a multitude of counselors. But the safety that is found in a multitude of counselors is only found when men and women think from God’s divine perspective. They have a clear understanding of the word of God and they are not hesitant to share what the word of God has to say. In order that they people who are struggling with the problem can see what the source is and also see what God’s solution is. There is safety in a multitude of counselors…but the counselors better be people that understand the things of God and not just giving words from their own perspective or own philosophy or opinion. So as you see out council…seek out council from those who understand God’s perspective of life and can share with you what God has to say. Because in the word we find truth. And the word always sets us free from the problems that we are struggling with.
So Nebuchadnezzar forms a committee. A committee of court officials, similar to the state department meeting. There is nothing new under the sun…the names are strange or new to us…but their role, task or function is similar to what happens in our world today.
The magicians…people who wrote things down and interpreted hieroglyphics. Kind of like the legal department. They were called in to see if there was any precedent that had already been set for the dream he was struggling with. Had anyone else had a similar dream?
The conjurers or astrologers which means to whisper or breath or blow. Mumbo jumbo people…kind of like the state department. The CIA of this administration. Their job…to figure out what was going on in the counties that surrounded them. What uprisings, what political powers were about to arise so they could feed the info to the king to act upon.
Sorcerers…like the PR people. Entertain the dignitaries of other nations invited to the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. The “spin doctors”. Make sure that the information got out to the public in a certain way so that was no unrest in the kingdom. Tell people what they wanted to hear.
The Chaldeans…their job was to manipulate others through religion. Held the masses in fear. Practiced witchcraft and idolatry.
The soothsayers…their job…to communicate with the gods. Once the gods spoke they would take action on which way to go in the future.
Nebuchadnezzar’s command: 3The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” 4Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.”
This is an important transition in the language that was user. Aramaic…used by the common man.
The Chaldeans respond “Oh king, live forever.” Have you got anyone like that…who wants you to talk to him that way? A boss? This is kissing up in it’s truest form.
5The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap.
If you don’t tell me…kind of like a boss that’s gone nuts! This guy is loosing it. God has this man so afraid about what’s going to happen here that he’s about ready to slip over the edge. He’s saying…if you don’t tell me the dream and it’s interpretation…I’m going to have you torn apart…limb from limb. Then I’m going to have your house torn down. Then I’m going to throw your pieces upon where your house use to be and then…we’re going to turn your house site into a porta potty.
The king is driven by emotion…6″But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.”
Gifts has to do with money, rewards has to do with material possessions (new chariots, new palaces, whatever you want), great honor having a better parking place for their chariot in front of the palace.
Now we have the confusion of the wise men. They don’t know what to do, how to act or what to say…because they guy is nuts.
7They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.”
This was how they had done business up to this point. He would share the dream…and they would tell him whatever they thought he wanted to hear. Nebuchadnezzar is the sharpest tack in the box. He recognizes where these guys are coming from. They blew smoke at a lot of people…he had seen them and knew how they did business.
But Nebuchadnezzar was so frightened by this dream that he had to make sure that there was no question in his mind that the interpretation was the correct one…because it had to do with the future of his world. What was going to happen and where was this all going to end?
Kind of like the gun slingers in the old west…always keeping an eye out for who might be coming after them. Nebuchadnezzar had take the world by force, now he laid awake at night and wondered how long his kingdom was going last until the next powerful leader came into town.
The wise men get together and talk it over and again go back to the king, ask him to tell them the dream so they can interpret the dream. 8The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm,
If you don’t tell me the dream and it’s interpretation…you are dead men. The wise men get together and they are concerned now as to what their world is coming to. We start out with one frightened man…and now the whole cabinet is scared.
They go back and huddle together and say…what are we going to do? This guy has flipped his lid…what are we going to say? Nebuchadnezzar knows this…he knows what makes these guys tick. He says…9that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.”
He knew them…the character or lack of it. He knew they got together and came up with a game plan. They game plan was lets just keep buying time until this emotional outburst that he’s had goes away…he’s nuts.
They come back to the king and say…10The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11″Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”
They are going back and forth…and Nebuchadnezzar has about had it. Up until this point the wise men were amazed at their own brilliance. They understood chemistry, math, and the laws of science. For the most part they were very impressive…and thought that of themselves. But now they have a major problem on the hands…and they don’t know what to do about it.
Nebuchadnezzar says “That’s enough…I don’t want to hear it again. You are just trying to buy time. You tell me my dream and you tell me the interpretation…or I’m going to kill you.”
They didn’t know what to do. The Chaldeans have an out…there isn’t any human being on earth that can do what you are asking me to do. It is absolutely impossible. There is no precedent. You are asking us to do something that no one has ever been asked to do. Sounds like a legal department…and some churches too. “We’ve never done that before.”
Just because it can’t be done…doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Just because you can’t do it…doesn’t mean someone else can’t do it.
“No great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this.” What were they saying, “Hey if you are a great king then you wouldn’t ask this. Hey…you’re a great king. No great king would ever ask anything like this.” Implied was…but a whacko nut would. But they didn’t say that…not a wise thing to say.
“Only the gods could answer this.” This is just setting up the stage for the capability of God. God is setting the stage for what he is about to do.
Nebuchadnezzar’s slow burn finally explodes. 12Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
Don’t miss this. It’s kind of like being at a new job…and a month after starting a job…there is a raid. The marshal comes in and arrests everyone because of some type of illegal operation. And you get hauled off to the slammer with everyone else.
Or like a coach friend that Chuck had. Hired as an assistant coach out of 100’s of people that applied. Two weeks later…the head coach and all of his assistants get fired.
Here’s what we typically say in a situation like that. “God…what’s up with this? I don’t understand this.” We begin to question the timing of God. We question…God is your hand really in this? We say…we prayed about this, you lead us into this position.
This is a great example of the principal that sometimes the innocent suffer with the guilty. That’s why it’s so important that we take a good look at who we associate with. Because if they are doing things that are wrong…we are going to be guilty by association.
A great example of this is a book by Harold Morris called “Twice Pardoned”. Harold was sitting in the car when his friends when into a 7/11, robbed it and killed a person who was in the store. They got back into the car and drove away. He never knew anything about it until a year later when the FBI came knocking on his door. They took him to prison…and he was sentenced to life in prison.
It’s a wonderful story about the dangers of who we associate with on a regular basis. Fortunately God was able to do a great work in his life in prison. He now goes around talking to high school kids about the importance of making sure your friends are the kind of people you want to spend time with.
Now here is Daniel…guilty by association. What’s interesting…Daniel never questioned God’s timing. He didn’t say to God, “why is this happening to me?” In almost ever chapter of the book of Daniel…he faces a crisis. The dietary incident in chapter one…was just a dry run for what he’s going through right now. Daniel and his friends…their life is on the line now.
We will see that Daniel and his friends…have confidence in God. They have confidence in God…because they have a heart and mind that is filled with the word of God. They know God, they know is character, they have a relationship with God. They know this about God that so many of us forget…God is in control of all things. Sometimes we mistakenly believe “God where are you” or “God didn’t you see what’s going on” or “how can you allow this to happen”.
We begin to question God’s timing. But Daniel never did…because he knew God. He knew God and his heart was filled with the word of God. It’s fascinating that God raise up this man in a time of crisis. We can see the pressure that he went through equips him to be able to handle the crisis. God uses him to address the question…of “what is this world coming to”.
Five things that God impressed upon Chuck as he studied and put this together:
1) Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. When we get to the point in life where we realize there is nothing that I can do…this is so far out of my ability to handle it…so far out of my realm to control it. It is beyond all the human resources I could gather together. I can’t do this! That extreme condition is God’s opportunity to get through to you and me.
Nebuchadnezzar had everything the world had to offer…but he didn’t have peace of mind. And the troubling dream that God sent to him would be God’s way of revealing himself to this man. And revealing this man’s need to come into a right relationship with the God who created him. Man’s extremity is always God’s opportunity to reveal himself. The stage is set.
2) Hard to listen to…and not politically correct…but human wisdom is futile. Human wisdom is futile when it comes to a divine viewpoint. The cabinet members that he had brought together…they knew math, science, and the stars. They knew it all from an earthly perspective. But they knew nothing when it came to knowing who God is and what he can do. They knew nothing. God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Even in the great intellect in our education…we still don’t understand the depth and the comprehension of God. Human wisdom is futile. We need a divine viewpoint if we are going to be able to withstand the pressure in a crisis situation.
3) God always has a man for the crisis. The question to ask yourself…if would you be that person that God can use in a time of crisis? The reason he used Daniel…is because Daniel was prepared. Daniel was prepared because he ingested the word of God on a daily basis. He had constant fellowship with God. He knew where to turn for the answers. He continually had the word of God before him…in his heart so he wouldn’t sin against God. God always has a person ready in a time of crisis. The question is…who is that person going to be? If you are prepared knowing the word of God…God can use you. Daniel is not unique in history. God always uses people that are prepared. Daniel just happened to be one of those people at that time…that was prepared by knowing the word of God.
4) Great men are often the most frightened and miserable people that you will ever meet.
Biography of Richard Nixon. Nixon was talking with Chuck Colson and looking out over the rose garden at the masses of people coming to tour the White House. Nixon said, “Chuck the people want a President like Charles de Gaulle. Someone who is aloof from all the masses of people. They want someone they can separate and look up to. They don’t want to know everything about him. They don’t want to know their fears and insecurities. They need to keep him at a distance so they can feel comfortable and confident that this person is in control.”
But the interesting thing is…as you are exposed to people who seem to be great on the outside…those are the people in life with the greatest insecurities. Because they know they are not as great as people want them to be. They are also the people that panic and tend to push buttons when they don’t know what to do.
5) A crisis…any crisis…provides God people with maximum opportunities to be used to witness to a world that lives in fear. Any crisis will give you an opportunity to be used by God to testify of the greatness of God and that God is in control.
What is this world coming to? God wants you to know. Not only what your world is coming to…but also the world is coming to. And he clearly identifies the truth that will set us free.