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RDean/Daniel Lesson 7
Calm in the Midst of Adversity – Daniel 2:14-30
Open your Bibles to Daniel 2. We are studying a chapter where there is a contrast between two great men. The first is Nebuchadnezzar; Nebuchadnezzar was probably one of the fifteen most powerful men in all of the ancient world. And yet, despite all of his power, all of his wealth, all of the nations that he had conquered over the years, he was a man who was plagued by anxieties and these anxieties were triggered by an event that is recorded in Daniel 2:1. There we're told that "Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams," this was not a dream that was generated by the fact that he had perhaps eaten some food that caused some gastrointestinal disorder that affected his night's sleep. Neither was it affected by some Freudian subconscious eruption into his nocturnal dream life. It was caused by an invasion, an interference of Almighty God into his dream life because God is going to start working on Nebuchadnezzar.
I believe that Nebuchadnezzar is going to become a believer by the 4th chapter of Daniel, but first he has to be humbled and he is going to learn that just because he is risen to the pinnacle of human power, just because he is wealthier than all men, just because he has more talent and innate ability than any other human being on the planet, that that does not give him any greater position before God. We are told that God that God has put sort of a hidden agent in every single human being, according to Ecclesiastes 3:11. There we're told that God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. That means every single human being is born and as they develop they gain a knowledge of God's existence; according to Romans 1:18, sooner or later they know God exists and at that point they can either go positive or negative to God and it's at that point that we call God-consciousness. Every single human being reaches God-consciousness at some point in time, whether they're in the darkest region of Africa, whether in they're in the United States, whether they're in Asia, in Southeast Asia or Central Asia, wherever they might be, every single human being reaches that point where they recognize that the heavens declare the glory of God. And at that time they can either reject it or accept it; they can either say I want to know more or they can turn to worshiping stones, idols and trees and spirits and the stars in the heavens or whatever it might be, but if they're negative to God, sooner or later they start worshiping some part of the created order.
That had happened in Babylon for the most part; they worshiped the astral deities. Marduk was one of their primary gods and they worshiped the stars; they thought that all of human history was governed by the stars. They had a form of fatalism that everything is locked in place by the natural order and synchronicity of the astral bodies. And Nebuchadnezzar now is going to learn that none of that is true and because of these dreams that he has, he begins to realize that this has something to do with his own life and his own kingdom and that it might just all be for naught and it all might be temporary, and so he's going to call all of his advisors in. These are the leading intelligentsia of the empire; they are the most educated men, they are part of his cabinet, as it were, his counsel, they are the men who instruct him in all matters from military to politics, state department, foreign affairs, finance, whatever it might be. And he is going to challenge them to tell him the interpretation of the dream and not just the interpretation but also the dream itself. And they react and they say no one has ever done this in all of human history, how can you expect anybody to tell you the dream, that's impossible, that can only happen if God in heaven can tell us.
So that's the foreshadowing and preparation for the coming of Daniel. But Nebuchadnezzar is angry at this time. We this last time, that he is putting them to the test; if you believe that everything you stand for is true, all of your systems of theology, all of your systems of science, if you really believe that's true, then I'm going to put it to the test; you're going to be able to tell me exactly what I dreamed. And if you don't then I'm going to execute every one of you and I'm going to turn your homes into a public latrine. And that is going to demonstrate how much I think of you and your families and every time anybody in Babylon has to go by your house they're going to be commanded to go in and demonstrate exactly what I think of you. So that was to be their punishment, and that brought us up to Daniel 2:13, and there we learned that the execution squad is on their way to arrest Daniel and his companions in order to execute them.
Now Daniel is also facing a crisis. Nebuchadnezzar faced his crisis, he learned that things might not be what he thought they were, that everything he had devoted his life to might be temporary, might end up being blown away like sand in a dust storm. And so he panics, he calls in everybody, he throws a temper tantrum, he tries to impose his authority on everybody, manipulate the situation. In contrast we see how a believer is to handle a crisis because Daniel's crisis is more extreme than Nebuchadnezzar's. Daniel's crisis is his very own life being on the chopping block, as it were; he is within minutes of a public execution and yet Daniel does not panic, Daniel remains cool and calm and he copes with the crisis.
Now earlier, in chapter 1 we saw three ways in which Daniel and his three friends, Michael, Azariah and Hananiah, resolved the conflict that they had. They were brought as hostages from Jerusalem to Babylon, and there they were put into a three year training program which was to impose upon them a Babylonian religion, a Babylonian mythology and they were to learn all the Babylonian arts and sciences to prepare them for a role in leading the nation. How did they handle the conflict? This is the thing that faces every single one of us as believers living in a pagan society, and a pagan society is not a primitive society. Some of the most advanced societies of their day throughout human history were some of the most pagan. "Pagan" means any society that is built on a system of thinking that is non-Biblical. That's what pagan means, non-Biblical type of thinking. It can be primitive or it can be sophisticated but the issue is how well does it match Biblical thought.
So they are in of the most powerful pagan societies of human history and the way they handle it is not by fighting every inch of the way. We can't, because when the kingdom of man and human viewpoint come in conflict with the kingdom of God and divine viewpoint, there is going to be conflict at almost every single step. But if you try to battle every step you're going to frustrate yourself and you're going to waste away all of your efforts and expend all of your energy and fritter it away very quickly. You have to learn the first principle which is to concentrate on a few issues and not every single issue. You can only learn the discernment as to how to pick your battle from doctrine; it teaches you something about perspective. And they understood that the battle wasn't over their name, even though the new names they were given said something about them in their relationship to one of the pagan gods in the Babylonian pantheon. They didn't go to battle over that. They didn't go to battle over the curriculum that was imposed on them in the school, a curriculum that taught them the Babylonian creation epic of Enuma Elish which was just an unsophisticated form of Darwinian Evolution. You have the same principle, chaos to order, at work in Babylonian mythology as you do in Darwinian mythology, that is passed off as science but it's just pseudo science. See, they didn't go to battle over that; they didn't go to battle over the fact that they had to be taught dream interpretation, oneirology; they were taught various forms of necromancy, and various forms of divination but they didn't go to battle over those things.
What did they choose? They choose something, one thing that was a clear stated violation of Scripture. They had been commanded under the Mosaic Law to follow a certain set of dietary laws. They were supposed to eat a certain diet that was imposed upon them by Nebuchadnezzar and they picked that as the battle ground. So they concentrated on crucial, central issues, not on peripheral issues.
The second thing that we must learn from their example is you must be diplomatic, tactful and respectful of authorities, even those that are hostile human viewpoint authorities. Even when you don't agree with them, even when they're out in left field, way out in left field, and you don't agree with their position at all you still have to be respectful because they hold an office of leadership in a nation that's been established by God. Understand that the divine institution of government was established by God and even though you may not respect the person, always respect the office. So we must be diplomatic, tactful, show good manners and that's exactly what they did. They didn't challenge them, they didn't make it an ego trip, they didn't make it a personal one on one challenge but they tried to diffuse the situation and make the issue something that would appeal to the other individual scale of values.
And that's point three, when you're faced with a situation where you get a "no" and that was the first answer they got, was no you can't follow your diet, you'll shrivel up, you won't be healthy, and I'll get in trouble. And they said no-no, wait a minute, let's have a little test, let's try it out; if we eat the way we want to eat we'll be stronger, healthier and have more energy than these other guys in ten days or we'll go back and eat whatever you want us to eat. You see, they proposed a test that was based on the scale of values of the Babylonian officer. You may be at work in your career and you realize that there perhaps unethical practices. You can't go to your boss because he doesn't care, he doesn't have an absolute scale of values so you can't go to your boss and say well let's be honest, because he doesn't care about being honest. What do you do? You appeal to him on the fact that maybe honesty and a consistent ethic will improve business and customers will come back and in the long run we'll make more money. That's appealing to his scale of values. Your scale of values doesn't matter to him. So you have to learn to think strategically and to appeal to their scale of values in order to accomplish the task and that's exactly what Daniel and his friends did.
Now they're faced with another crisis and this is an urgent crisis. Their life is in danger, it's about to be snuffed out through the execution and in this we're going to see how they handle the crisis and how we should handle extreme crisis. Sooner or later everyone in this room is going to go through some sort of extreme adversity. Maybe it's losing a loved one suddenly; maybe it's a son or daughter, loss of their life, maybe someone, perhaps a son or daughter will rebel against everything you've taught. Maybe it's the loss of a job, economic disaster, where you lose everything. Maybe it's something that's not so personal, maybe the nation goes through some sort of great depression again and you lose everything, but sooner or later every one of us is going to go through some sort of extreme adversity that is going to challenge everything that we believe and everything that we think we believe about God to the very core of our being.
And this is the example that we need to hold up; how did Daniel handle this crisis. Notice, he kept his head, he's cool, he's collected, not because he learned skills on how to be calm in a crisis but because he had doctrine so deeply entrenched in his soul that he knew that God was in control. His temporal life didn't matter because he knew the instant that he died he would be face to face with the Lord and so him temporal death was not a threat. Temporal suffering did not challenge him. And that brings up a point, and that is I'm amazed at how few Christians have ever seriously faced the reality of their own death. I'm amazed how many Christians have never faced the reality of the death of their children, and until you are so occupied with the reality of an eternal relationship with God and its implications, and that physical death is simply walking through a door from time into eternity, until you come to grips with that you will never be able to live for God because if you're not willing to die for the eternal truths of Scripture, then you will not be able to live for the eternal truths of Scripture because you'll bee too consumed and constricted by your fears about a loss of life.
So Daniel and his friends are not afraid. Let's look at Daniel 1:14, "Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king's bodyguard," who came to arrest him, and we are told he "had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon;" and the indication from the tense in the Aramaic is that they were already in the process of executing the wise men. The news is already going through the city that these men are being killed. Now that must have shook the culture to its foundations. Can you imagine if we had a President with this kind of power who said okay, everybody who is a bureaucrat, who works for the government, is going to die today, as far as sending out the execution squad. This is a phenomenal thing that Nebuchadnezzar is doing. Can you imagine the level of upheaval that it would cause inside of this empire, to kill everyone of the bureaucrats, but that's how angry he is because he's realized that everything based on their worldview is nothing but a bill of goods, it's false, it's shallow, it doesn't work, it's wrong and he doesn't believe it any more and he's angry with him.
So the men come for Daniel and we are told that he replied with discretion and discernment. Now that's an interesting way to translate these words. In the Hebrew the first word is 'eta' which means counsel or wisdom, and the implication in this context is he remained poised and relaxed. Why? You can only have this if doctrine is controlling your thinking at the point, and you can't suddenly, when you're faced with a crisis say okay, wait a minute, what did Pastor Dean teach me about how to handle a crisis. You've got to be practicing doctrine over and over and over again, practicing the faith rest drill, claiming promises consistently. You have to know promises and this has to be embedded in your soul so that this is a reaction that's second nature to you. You instantly know God's in control of the situation, even if I die it's for His glory, but wait a minute, let's relax and find out what's really going on here. So he's poised, he's relaxed, he's cool, he doesn't panic, he doesn't get emotional, he stays in complete control.
The second word that's used here is the Aramaic word which means appropriateness or tact, in other words he's going to respond with wisdom and tact, he is going to be diplomatic in the situation, he's not going to react in anger, like: "who do you think you are, who does the king think he is trying to kill us." He doesn't get upset, he doesn't challenge Arioch's authority, he responds in a tactful way, showing respect to the authorities that are coming after him to take his life. This man, we're told is the "captain of the king's guard." Literally the word for guard is the word which means the captain of the executioners, the execution squad sent out to execute the wise men.
In Daniel 2:15 we read: "He answered," this is Daniel's answer, it shows how calm he is, he just wants to get information, that's a very cool way to handle the situation. He wants to find out what the issues are so he knows which one to concentrate on. "He answered and said to Arioch, the king's commander, 'For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?'" Now urgent is not a bad translation, the Aramaic word here is chatsaph, and the basic meaning is to show insolence, but in this context it has the idea of something that is harsh, stiff, rigid. Why is the king so harsh, why is this such an extreme command. The punishment certainly doesn't seem to fit the crime here and the king seems to be over-concerned with this whole situation so why is he so upset. So "Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter." Daniel wants to get information and Arioch is going to tell him exactly what is going on.
Daniel 2:16, "So Daniel went in and requested of the king, that he would give him time" so he goes, the talks to Arioch, he says I want an audience with the king because I think I can solve the problem; now we're not told that, the text skips over this but the only way that he could get from his house to the king's palace without being executed on the way was if he had already told Arioch that he could solve the problem, so Daniel said take me to the king, and I will inform him that I can solve the problem.
Now I want you to get an idea what's going on here; here is this 17 year old kid, he hadn't even graduated from his training yet, he's probably two or three months out, we studied the chronology problem last week, in Daniel 1 he has him going through the whole training period but when we compare the chronology of Daniel 2:1 with the situation at that time and Babylonian systems of counting years, this was probably just before the end of his third year in training, just before his graduation. Nobody knows Daniel from anybody and he's going to insist on an audience with the king, that he can solve the problem that all of these wise men, all of the educated men, the most educated, experienced men in the kingdom can't solve. This kid is going to walk into the king's presence with confidence. Think about that; 17 years old, what gives him the poise and the confidence to do this? The impact, think about the impact he's having on human history because of doctrine in his soul. He is going to change history at this point because of his reliance on God.
Now he's confident, he's not arrogant. Some time in life when you tell somebody that you think the Bible means something, that there's only one way to heaven and that's Jesus Christ, "For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." And salvation is not based on works but salvation is based on faith alone in Christ alone, that it's "not by works of righteousness which we have done," which means it's not by a ritual, it's not by participating in sacraments, it's not by giving to the church, it's not by any of those factors, it is simply by putting your faith alone in Christ alone that we have salvation. Some day you're going to tell somebody that and they're going to say what gives you the right to say that. I mean everybody thinks they know what truth is, that they have a way to heaven, what makes you think you have the market on truth. You're arrogant! Somebody is going to accuse you of being arrogant because you think you know exactly what the Word of God says. That's not arrogance, don't get sucked into that. That's called confidence. There's a big difference between confidence and arrogance, and always the believer whose confidence is on the specificity of the Word of God is going to be accused by the pagan human viewpoint systems of the world with being arrogant. And it's not arrogance, it's confidence. Be careful, don't do it in an arrogant manner. Sometimes people do that. When we know we're right sometimes we have a tendency to get arrogant. But you can be confident and sure of yourself and dogmatic without being arrogant.
So we're told here that "Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time," see Daniel has to have time, he knows that he needs to pray, God has not told him yet what the dream is or its interpretation, so he is going to petition the king, Nebuchadnezzar, to give him time "in order that he might [be able] declare the interpretation to the king." And then we'll see how Daniel handles the crisis, notice he handles it, he's relaxed, he's poised because of doctrine in his soul, and in Daniel 1:17, "Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter,  in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery," now let's stop there. You see what he's going to do is go back and have group prayer. He realizes that before he can solve the problem he needs to go "before the throne of grace to find mercy and help in time of need." That's a promise from Hebrews in the New Testament. But he understands the principle in the Old Testament. He has to go before prayer, and he is going to also recognize the principle of group prayer.
Now they don't even have what we have in the New Testament, which is the body of Christ. And in the body of Christ there is a mutual interdependence among members of the body of Christ, and that is the basis for public prayer and for group prayer. That's why we have prayer meeting on Wednesday night, because it is important for believers to gather together and pray together for certain things. And they are going to gather together here and they are going to pray. And I want you to notice how they approach prayer. Now prayer is not a problem solving device per se, prayer is the expression of a problem solving device. Prayer is the expression of several stress busters. They are going to express doctrinal orientation because they understand certain things about the nature of God; they understand some things about His grace and mercy.
They understand that He is the God of heaven and it's interesting to note that they use this phrase, "God of heaven," in the books of the Old Testament related to the Babylonian exile. Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel are the books where you find this appellation of God more than in any other book in the Old Testament. Do you want to know why? Because the Babylonians thought that the heavens governed their existence. They were into astrology and astronomy, they were mixed together, but they believed that by studying the paths of the stars and by studying the moon and the sun that they could tell everybody's future and they would know what future events would be.
But what Daniel is saying that astrology is garbage. Don't ever waste your time with horoscope, there's a certain element of truth there that everybody latches onto because Satan's no fool, he never develops systems that don't have a certain amount of truth to them and that might appear to work in some people's lives. But it's demonism and if you get involved in studying astrology and your horoscope, you're playing with fire, you're playing with demonism and the Word of God forbids it. And what Daniel emphasizes, and what Ezra and the other books that use this title, "the God of heaven" is they're saying God is the One who controls the stars, He's the One who created the stars; they don't dictate anybody's destiny and you can't use them to tell anything about people's personality or anything about their future because God is the One who is in control, not the heavens.
So they understand some things about the character of God and they understand another crucial factor and that is that prayer changes things. Prayer makes a difference. In the New Testament we have a verse in James 4:3 which states, "You have not because you ask not," and that indicates the fact that prayer actually changes things. Now one of the things that we'll discover as we go through Daniel is that in almost each chapter there's a crisis and in almost each chapter there is going to be a psalm of praise and thanksgiving, emphasizing the fact that God is the God of heavens and God is the one who controls the destiny of the planet. That God is the God who changes the times and the epics; that God is sovereign.
Those who are Calvinists or hyper Calvinists, and by that I men they emphasize their version of the doctrine of predestination and election, that every detail in human history is under the sovereign control of God, and that every detail in history is predetermined by God and in effect they nullify human responsibility, they nullify human volition by doing that, that they always go to a passage like this and they emphasize this, and this is the hyper Calvinist dream passage. They look at this and they emphasize the fact, look, it's God "who changes the times and the seasons," verse 21, He's the One who removes kings and raises up, see, God is sovereign. Yes, God is sovereign, but in His sovereignty God decreed that in human history His sovereignty would work through certain means, through certain secondary means and one of those was human volition and individual responsibility, so that there is true freedom in human history. And true freedom means true flexibility within the framework of God's plan. That's right, He holds the plan in His hand, He knows the times and the seasons, Jesus Christ controls history. We've studied that many times, but within the broad panorama of history there are gaps and in those gaps there is room for genuine flexibility.
Let's look at an analogy. At the time of creation God created all of the species, every animal, every land animal, every sea creature, every creature of the sky was to propagate after their kind. So there are rigid distinctions between the species. However, within those species there was flexibility and those species developed various subcategories so that from your original canine type species you'd develop many different breeds of dogs. That's not evolution; a dog is still a dog, a German shepherd or Yorkshire terrier, some of you may not think a Yorkie is a dog but it is, dachshunds, I don't think dachshunds should be dogs but they area, they're still dogs. When you look at your high school textbook and they use the example of the white pepper moths and black pepper moths in England from the 19th century and they say that they changed from white to black; that's not evolution, it's still a moth. That's change within a species, that's micro evolution; nobody challenges that. What we disagree with is macro evolution, species to species change.
But something happened, when Adam sinned all those creatures that God had created before the fall were herbivores, they ate grass, they weren't antagonistic to one another, they weren't meat eaters. But after the fall there was this incredible change; now all of a sudden we have violence in the animal kingdom. Animals became meat-eaters, it affected their dental structure, and it affected their gastrointestinal system. In other words, within this structure God created enough flexibility to handle the chaos from sin. And the same thing is true, the problem with Calvinism, and they always say that people who don't believe their way have a small view of God. The problem with the Calvinist is their view of God is too small. They don't have a view of God that is large enough to control flexibility and allow flexibility and freedom to man and still bring about His ultimate plan and His ultimate ends.
So Daniel and his friends recognize this and they pray. They realize if they don't pray they'll be executed; if they don't pray Daniel won't get the revelation. They realize that there's freedom here, they have a choice to make, if they pray, if they apply doctrine then they'll survive. If they don't apply doctrine they won't survive. There is real flexibility here. So they go to the Lord in prayer, that God would reveal to them the mystery. They appeal to God's grace here; His grace is his rachuwm, his compassion, which is grace in action. They understand the love of God and they're going to appeal to God to deal with them on the basis of grace and to reveal to them the mystery so that they will not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. ["…so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."] Now it almost sounds like they're saying well go ahead and destroy the rest of them but not us. But remember one of the first things that he did was that he stopped his action back in verse 17.
And now in verse 19 we read, "Then the secret [mystery] was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven" Apparently the four of them stayed up into the wee hours of the morning praying, they didn't just shoot out a bullet prayer, they continued to pray to God and to argue their case. We studied that in the doctrine of prayer; we saw that the prayers in Scripture are thought out, and this is so important. When we get together in prayer, I'm always amazed listening to people in public prayer. If most of us talked to other people the way we talk to God in public prayer we would be ostracized from being able to get involved in human conversation. We're boring, we're redundant, we're repetitive. I remember listening to one guy years ago, every fourth word was lord; the lousy grammar that we have, we always pray for the same things, the same people, it bores God to death; we don't know how to pray, we don't know how to argue with God on the basis of Scripture. We're too lazy when it comes to prayer; we really are, it's amazing. And we ought to be challenged to think and to reason with God.
We're going to look at this prayer of Daniels in verse 20 and we're going to see in that verse that not once do they repeat a single word, not once. Sometimes when you're praying out loud, I don't want to make anyone self-conscious for prayer meeting next Wednesday night, but you ought to record yourself and listen to how many times you say the same phrase over and over again, week after week. Some people always pray for the same thing, the same people week after week. Some people look at the prayer list and the sick list and if they don't know who somebody is they don't pray for them, they always pray for the same people. There are ways to pray publicly and we ought to think about that.
There are different categories of prayer; there's confession which should be private, sins are only between us and the Lord, there's prayers of thanksgiving; there's prayers of intercession where we're paying for someone else; there's prayers of petition where we're praying for personal needs. When we're praying for intercession we praying for somebody we don't need to introduce God to that person, God's omniscient, He knows who people are so we don't have to introduce God to them or necessarily explain all the details of the situation because He knows the whole situation. But on the other hand, don't let that be an excuse for not praying. Christians fall into that trap too, God knows what I'll pray for even before I ask it so why go to the trouble of praying, He knows what I would pray for so I won't pray. "You have not because you ask not," the Scripture says. We are to pray, we are to pray intelligently, we are to think through doctrinally what we want to pray for and craft our prayer accordingly. One thing I like when you have a group of people, let's say you have four different people praying together, like we have in this passage, one person can pray a prayer of thanksgiving, another person can pray a prayer related to intercession related to the sick stops, the next person prays for the seminary, seminary students, other churches, missionaries, something like that; another person prays for the needs of the church and then you've covered everything and you don't have the same people… you know, sometimes what you have is four people in a prayer group, each person prays for everything on the prayer list. You don't need to do it that way, that's not a very efficient way of doing it and it sometimes takes a lot longer that way. So each person takes a different group and you pray as a group like one person would pray. Think about it; there are all kinds of ways to pray and involve yourself in what's going on in public prayer.
So in Daniel 2:20, "Daniel answered and said," here's how he starts his prayer, "'Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him." Now this is one of the greatest psalms and one of the most powerful prayers in all of the Scripture. The central principle of this prayer is thanksgiving. We studied the Psalms and saw there were different kinds of Psalms; some were laments expressing the problem, the adversity that the individual was going through. Some were prayers of prayers and thanksgiving which is this category of prayer, it's a time for public adoration, public testimony, a prayer. That's another thing that happens when you have a testimony sometimes. There's a great place for public testimony. The reason we don't do it around here is because I haven't a time to train anybody yet.
Most places where you do public testimony the people are so self-absorbed they don't know how to give a testimony to God, they end up glorifying the church, oh I'm so glad I came to this church, it's just so wonderful and here I finally learn doctrine and blah, blah, blah. That's not glorifying God, that's glorifying the church and that's carnality. Or you'll hear them talk about the pastor, the pastor teaches doctrine, he's so great, he's so wonderful; that's wrong, you're not there to glorify the pastor. You're there to glorify God for what you've learned and the focus should be God. Other people stand up and spend all their time talking about what a lousy rotten sinner they were and while they're talking about all the sins they used to commit half the congregation is out of fellowship because they're judging them, well I didn't know you were so rotten. And the other half is saying man, I wish I hadn't gotten saved when I was so young, I could have some fun. So now everybody is out of fellowship. No, I'm just…but that's what happens is people are so self-absorbed and they don't know how to keep it short, they get up and they ramble or they mumble and they can't stand up and articulate in a paragraph or two what God has done for them and they end up talking about their problems and their situations and their crisis and pretty much you know everything about the crisis and very little about God? What's glorified in the? The crisis, not God. So that's one reason I don't do a lot of that is because people don't seem to be able to do it very well without getting themselves into a lot of trouble. And if you can't keep the focus off yourself and onto God, then we're going to get into some problems in the realm of public testimony and that also applies in public prayer as well.
So we see what happens here is they pray together, "Blessed be the name of God," the focus is on who God is. We've studied again and again that a concept like "name" refers to the essence of God. To the Jewish mind a name wasn't just a tag, not just a label, it refers to who and what somebody is. So to get the gist of this we ought to say, "Blessed be the essence of God," thinking of the essence box, sovereignty, righteousness, justice, love, omniscience, omnipotence, omniscience, veracity, immutability, "Blessed be the essence of God forever and ever." God has existed from eternity past into eternity future and what we're dealing with here is the revelation of His plan in time, and that's what He's revealed to Daniel.
Then they go on, they say, "For wisdom and might are His." See, it's not their wisdom; Daniel didn't handle the crisis with his wisdom but with God's wisdom. He had learned doctrine so well that it shaped his thinking and it was God's wisdom, not his wisdom, and by God's omnipotence. So really what we're focusing on here is two characteristics of God; wisdom is a function of His knowledge, His omniscience, and might is a function of His omnipotence. So they're praising His omniscience and His omnipotence.
Daniel 2:21, he says, "And He changes the times and the seasons," the word for "change" means to literally transform, God is in charge of the details of human history. God is the One who authors, transforms all events; He is the One who is in control of them. The word for "seasons" indicates set times. So man doesn't set the times, God sets the times. God determines when kingdoms rise and they fall; people don't, God does. He removes kings and He raises up kings, He is in charge of nations, He is in charge of human history. Further, Daniel goes on to say, "He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding." See, that shows that God is responding; God doesn't just give you everything there is to know and help you understand the Bible in one lump sum. If you don't respond positively to what you've already learned and come to really understand that, then God's not going to give you more. You understand, it's the principle in Isaiah, "here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept." You respond positively to what you've learned and apply that in your life and then God takes you to the next step. "He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding." To those who are negative well, prove it all to me or give it all to me and then I'll decide. Well, God won't reveal anything to them because they're arrogant, they are neither wise nor are they men of understanding.
We see this again in this passage that He reveals mysteries, He reveals secrets and in Deuteronomy 29:29 it says "the secret things belong to the LORD our God," "the secret things" relate to the history of Israel. So when we look at the passage, "He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding." And Daniel 2:22 reads, "It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things." Those "profound and hidden things" according to Deuteronomy 29:29 have to do with the history of Israel and Israel's relationship we know from these passages to Gentile kingdoms. God is the One, "He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him." Now "darkness" and "light" here are not moral terms. "Darkness refers to ignorance, ignorance of truth, "and the light dwells with him," now here's an interesting thing. The old rabbinic interpretation of this passage was that the "light" here referred to the Messiah, and that the Messiah dwelt with God.
This reminds of what the Apostle John says in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John; in John 1:9 we're told that that one, Christ, "was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man," every man, not just believers but every single human being. That has to do with God consciousness and common grace to all men. And it also tells us that anything that we know about God, anything that we're going to learn about God, ultimately is going to have say about the Lord Jesus Christ. All knowledge ultimately goes back to the Lord Jesus Christ and every bit of knowledge is ultimately going to be Christ centered. Remember all things were created by Him, and through Him there is nothing in creation that He did not create.
Then we come to the thanksgiving part of the prayer in Daniel 2:23, where Daniel says, "To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for Thou hast given me wisdom and power," it is not from his own resources but God has revealed this to him. So, Even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee, for Thou hast made known to us the king's matter." So now they know he knows the dream and he can answer the king's request and in the process, notice, he's not going to glorify himself, he's going to glorify God.
So now we come to Daniel 2:24-29 which are going to tell us how Daniel presents the case before Nebuchadnezzar. This would have been the next morning, "Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: 'Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation," so this must have been good news for Arioch because if he had any sense of integrity at all or any sense of professionalism as a soldier he would have dreaded having to execute all of those wise men. But Arioch is also a typical bureaucrat. He's out to get the credit for himself. See, that's how the unbeliever operates. Notice the contrast between Arioch and Daniel. Daniel is going to give all the credit to God but Arioch is going to try to get the credit for himself. We've all known people like that.
Daniel 2:25, "Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, 'I have found a man among the exiles from Judah," now did Arioch find him? No he didn't, he wasn't out looking for him, he was out trying to kill everybody which were following his orders, and Daniel came to him that morning. But no, he wants to get a little credit, it's been a while since he had a pay raise, he hasn't had any of his benefits increased for a while so he wants to get a little credit with the king that he did something. So he says, "I found a man of the captives of Judah who will make known to the king the interpretation.
Daniel 2:26, "The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar," Nebuchadnezzar did not know Daniel by his Hebrew name, Daniel, but by the name that had been given to him, Belteshazzar. Also, a second point on verse 25, there's a formal introduction there. Daniel was there just the day before but there had to be a formal introduction just to follow protocol in the courtroom. So Arioch is introducing Daniel and then the king looks to him and says, "Now are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?" The interesting thing is in the Aramaic the "you" is in the emphatic position at the beginning of the sentence, "you," oh, you're just a young guy, I don't even know who you are, "YOU are going to make known to me this matter?" Whatever had happened the day before when Daniel Nebuchadnezzar had given him time but he can't believe that this young, inexperienced novice, remember he's still an apprentice, he's still going to school, he hasn't graduated yet, he is going to answer the challenge and the implication here in the courtroom is that this is before all of the counsel. Daniel is coming in and on one side are all the astrologers and those in divination, and on the other side are all the magicians and all of the conjurers and the soothsayers and the whole counsel of the wise men, the Chaldeans, are all there before the king, and Daniel comes in confident, stands tall, head erect, walks in poised, relaxed, calm, confident in the Lord because he knows he has the answer. He knows the truth, so he answers in the presence of the king.
Daniel 2:27, "Daniel answered before the king and said, the secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king." Right in their faces, he says all the human viewpoint systems, all the professors at Harvard, all the professors at Yale, can't give you the answer to life's problems because as long as its based on human viewpoint and not on the Scripture, it's invalid, it's going to fall apart, it's never going to meet the challenge of the crises of life. Only the Word of God can do that, and Nebuchadnezzar, you were right to put that challenge before them to prove their system; they can't, it's impossible! Nobody is ever going to be able to prove all the human viewpoint systems of Darwinianism or all the other false religions, they can't. Only the Word of God can do this. We have the greatest, one of the greatest apologetics in the world. That's a defense for the truth of Christianity. No other religion has it; Buddhism doesn't have it. Hinduism doesn't have it. Islam doesn't have it. Only Christian has consistent detailed declared prophecy that comes to pass exactly as it was said to come to pass hundreds of years later. This is one of the greatest defenses of the truth of Scripture.
Daniel is going to use this here and now to prove that God is who He claimed to be. He said, "The secret which the king demanded of these wise men," they'll never answer it because they can't, human viewpoint can never solve the problems of life, they can't tell you anything about eternal life, they can't tell you anything about God, I don't care what the philosophy is, I don't care if it's Hegelianism, existentialism, whether it's an ancient philosophy, whether it's Platonism or Aristotelianism, it can't answer the ultimate questions of life. Only the Bible can give us truth and only the Bible is the guideline to handle the problems of life. So he makes a challenge and he states who the other is in verse 28.
Daniel 2:28, "But there is a God in heaven" this God controls the heavens, this God is over all the astral bodies that these guys are worshiping. And He is the One "who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This God has revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, to you, O king, the history of mankind. Your dream and the visions of your head upon your bed were these." And now he is going to explain exactly what the dream was, and then he is going to tell exactly what the interpretation is. So we will get into that and the outline of history and the precision of this incredible dream next time. But before we can understand this there are some things we are going to have to make sure we understand about the interpretation of prophecy. We've gone through a lot in covenants and dispensations and I'm taking a whole new approach on the interpretation of prophecy that will give you new information that we haven't covered before.