Nebuchadnezzar's Dream (Daniel Sermon 3 of 17)
December 17, 2000 | Andrew Davis
Courage, The Kingdom of Christ
I. The Future is Bright?
Please open your bibles to Daniel chapter 2. we're going to continue our study this morning, in the Book of Daniel, and we come to one of the great chapters in the Bible, especially for the display of the majesty of God, and his incredible power and his supernatural knowledge. And we are not going to get through all of it this time, or even the next time, there's just too much here. We're going to be looking at the first 23 verses, at the issue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Now, we use an expression when we say, "The future is bright," don't we? We think about that, and it shows that we want to be optimistic about the future. We want to look ahead to the future with brightness. We want to see hope, we want to think that good things are coming, and so we use this expression, the future is bright. But it also shows that we think about the future at all. We are a future-looking people, especially we Americans. We're always looking ahead to what's coming down the road.
Very soon, for example, the year is going to change. You know what year it's going to be? It's going to be 2001. And I remember when I was a child, I watched a movie by that title, and the world seemed so futuristic at that point. It's amazing how little of that has come to pass. There aren't, for example, any mining expeditions on the surface of the moon. They have not found any shiny black obelisks, and there's no expedition going to the outer reaches of the solar system. So it's amazing how we look ahead to the future, and don't really know what's coming, but we make our guess. I was reading a book that I got at a yard sale, it's called the People's Almanac 2, and it's got all kinds of interesting things in it. It was published in 1978, but the very first chapter is entitled, Around the corner: Predicting the future. And it makes predictions for the 20 years that are going to come, which will close out the millennium, from 1979 to 2000. I'm looking back over those predictions and finding a lot of humor in them. For example, there's a prediction that there would be a Palestinian nation established north of Israel. We're still waiting for that one, hasn't happened.
President Carter would be re-elected in 1980. That didn't happen either. Electric cars would replace gasoline-powered automobiles in 1982. That hasn't happened. There would be a man landing on Mars some time between 1983 and 1985, and clear evidence would be found that life once existed there. We're waiting both for the expedition and for the evidence that life once existed on Mars. That the Roman Catholic papacy would cease to exist in those 20 years. They were getting very bold in some of these predictions, but it made good reading. The United States would be torn by a massive civil war in the 1980s. That didn't happen either. Texas, would secede from the Union in 1982. I don't think that happened. I'm not sure, but I think it's still part of the nation. By 1986, ocean farming would produce a third of the world's consumable edible goods, and by the year 2000, guns, which used bullets, would cease to exist, and would be replaced by stun guns, which use electrical discharge. None of those things have happened, but it shows that we're interested in the future.
We're always looking ahead. Even Bill Gates wrote a bestselling book called The Road Ahead. Looking ahead. Right around this time, people are interested in the markets, or wondering is it going to be a bear or is it going to be a bull in the year 2001? And so Forbes and other money magazines are making predictions about how the economy is going to be. In popular entertainment, other than the movie 2001, there's an ongoing interest in science fiction, and in the future. I remember when I was a child, watching The Jetsons. How many of you watched The Jetsons? Remember? All these little putt putt kind of spaceships, you're never touching ground, you're always kind of elevated up off the earth. I don't know what was wrong with the ground at the time, but there was something wrong with it, and so they were always flying around. Interesting thing about The Jetsons, really, just 1950s America put forward into the future, so it actually is a look back more than anything else.
We're very interested in the future, and we want to know more than anything, all of these things are interesting to us, but we want to know what's my future? What's going to happen to me and to people I love? And we do that, don't we? Concerned about the future, we want to know what's going to happen, and we're yearning for a bright future. But, in one sense, the future is anything but bright. By that I mean it's dark to us, we don't know what's going to come, and the scripture testifies to that darkness. I'm not speaking pessimistically, just speaking that we don't know what's coming. Look at James chapter 4, for example, it says, "Now, listen, you who say 'today or tomorrow, we'll go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money.' You don't even know what will happen tomorrow, never mind a year from now. What is your life? You're a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live, and do this and that.'" So the scripture testifies that the future is dark to us. And in our text today, in verse 22, it says, of God, that "he reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him." What does this mean? He knows what lies in darkness. It's referring to the future, the fact that we cannot know what is coming.
But the future is bright with God. You understand that? And I mean that in both senses. First of all, it lays open, like an open book, to him. There is nothing dark or hidden about the future to God. He knows all things before any of them come to pass. And we mean it in the second sense, the one we're used to using, that the future is bright, in that glorious things are coming, incredible things are coming, an establishment of a kingdom that will never end, the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And Daniel chapter 2 is one of the clearest prophecies in the Old Testament of that coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. It is a bright future and a glorious one, but it's only bright to us as we're close to God, the one who reveals secrets and the one who establishes for us all of our hopes and our dreams.
Listen as I read, I'm going to read just the first 23 verses of this chapter and try to understand how the future was made bright to an ancient king Nebuchadnezzar.
"In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, his mind was troubled and he could not sleep, so the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, 'I have had a dream that troubles me, and I want to know what it means.' Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, 'Oh king, live forever. Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.' The king replied to the astrologers, 'This is what I have firmly decided, if you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble, but if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.' Once more, they replied, 'Let the king tell his servants the dream and we will interpret it.' Then the king answered, 'I am certain that you are trying to gain time because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided. If you do not tell me the dream there is but one penalty for you, you have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then tell me the dream and I will know that you can interpret it for me.' The astrologers answered the king, 'There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks. No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods and they do not live among men.' This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends, to put them to death. When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king's officer, 'Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?' Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, that he might interpret the dream for him. Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of Heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night, the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of Heaven and said, 'Praise be to the name of God forever and ever, wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons, he sets up kings and deposes them, he gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, oh God of my fathers. You have given me wisdom and power. You have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.'"
II. Nebuchadnezzar’s Terrifying Dream and Terrible Decree (vs. 1-12)
Now, in verses 1-12, we see Nebuchadnezzar's terrifying dream and his terrible decree. In verse 1, we get the circumstances of the dream, it says that he dreamed dreams, it was not just one dream, but perhaps a series of dreams. Perhaps it was the same dream given many times, but he fixates on this one dream and it caused him incredible terror. Now, the circumstances of the dream have caused trouble for the defenders of Biblical inerrancy, shouldn't, but it does. Critics have said, "Now, there's a discrepancy here between Daniel chapter 1, in which it says that he's trained for three years, and then the circumstances of chapter 2, in which it says, in the second year of King Nebuchadnezzar, these dreams came." But there's no trouble here at all because, in the Babylonian system of reckoning, the first year of a king was his first full year. So if Nebuchadnezzar had come to power in the middle of a year, let's say, the middle of the year 604 BC, say, June or April. He would serve the rest of that year, but it would still be considered the kingship of his father, Nabopolassar. And so he would begin, for us, in our calendar, on January, the following year.
Meanwhile, all that time, Daniel and his friends were getting their first full year of training. There's no difficulty here whatsoever. And so it was that he had these dreams, and it was some time between April 603 and March 602 BC. Now, what were the reasons for the dream? Well, the circumstances, we find out in verses 28 and 29, which I did not read, but when Daniel comes to reveal the matter to the king, he says, "You, oh king, were laying on your bed. And as you were laying there, your mind turned to things to come. You began to think about the future." You can understand how this would be for a king, king's thinking about his own life. He's a young man, his kingdom is being built up nicely, but what of the future? What will come after he dies? What will happen to Babylon after he is finished? And so, as he's laying there and thinking about this, he drifts into sleep, and then the dream comes. And it's an incredible dream. We'll talk about it next time.
But it fills him with terror, the immensity and the magnitude of this dream fills him with terror, and he wakes up and sleep runs from him, he can't sleep, he's filled with terror. And so, he summons the counselors, in verses 2-9, and he tests them. Now, the first order of business for Nebuchadnezzar is simple, he wants to know what the dream means, he wants to know what the dream means, and so he calls in the experts. Now, there are many such lists in Daniel. This is the complete group of all of his counselors, and this is what they're called, magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and Chaldeans or astrologers. This is that whole bunch of people, the experts of his kingdom that he calls in for help here. Now, the magicians, the word is related in Hebrew to stylus or pen. They probably were just scholars or clerics of some sort. Enchanters, however, had power, supposedly, of communication with the dead. Sorcerers practiced sorcery, they were perhaps early chemists, mixing potions and doing various things, but the Chaldeans were the highest and most important of them all.
Now, Chaldea was a place, a region in the former Syrian empire, that's where Abraham came. Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees. Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar, was a Chaldean. This is the pure race of Babylonians that eventually conquered the whole Assyrian Empire. And so, the Chaldeans were the highest of all of the counselors, and they spoke for the whole group, and they specialized in the planets and the stars, looking at the positions and gaining information about the future by looking at the position of the stars. They also had a specialty in dreams. That's a fascinating thing. I didn't know anything about this before. I did some research. It turns out that the Babylonians very much believed in predicting the future by dreams, especially the dreams of kings. The dreams of kings were incredibly important, but the dreams of all important people and even all common people were so vital to their system of predicting the future and thinking about their lives that they kept careful records of all dreams.
You would come in and report your dream, they'd take it down, then they find out what happened to you afterwards, what was the outcome of the matter? And similar to if you were to go into a lawyer's office today and see rows and rows of legal volumes, of previous cases, court cases. So there were also, with these dreams, they were precedents. And so, if there was a dream with a river in it, and a mountain and a forest, and then something happened, they might have five or six dreams that fit that criteria, and they'd look and see what had come, and they would give an interpretation based on this.
And so, they were very confident that they could interpret any dream the king gave, but he was about to throw in a monkey wrench that would throw their world upside down. They had confidence, the Chaldeans, that they could interpret any dream and say what it meant based on precedent, on previous dreams. And so the Chaldeans come in and all the others, and they give a standard greeting in verse 4, "Oh king, live forever." Now, this is kind of a throw away, you might just read it and go right over it because it's the way you address the king back then, when you walked into his presence, to say, "O king, live forever." And then you get on with your business. Even Daniel does it in chapter 6, with Darius the Mede, "O king, live forever."
But I believe this is the nub of the matter here, because he's not going to live forever, he is mortal, he is going to die some day, and when he dies, his kingdom will pass on to some other person. And what is going to happen then? And not only that, but the person that takes it, he's going to die too, and so on and so on, because all men are like... All their flesh is like grass and their glory is like the flower of the field that withers and fades and perishes, and so it is with human kingdoms. So they say, "O king, live forever." Now, from this point on, to chapter 7, the text is in Aramaic. Now, that might not mean much to you, but it's caused some difficulty to those that study Daniel. I just believe that Aramaic was the court language of the king, and this is the language that they worked in, and so, the account in Daniel is written in Aramaic. Doesn't cause you any trouble, I'm sure, as you go from verse 3 to verse 4, it reads, in English, to you. Praise God for scholars who've learned both Hebrew and Aramaic, and seamlessly make the translation for you. But so it is in Aramaic.
There's also a theory that this is the times of the Gentiles, as Jesus called it. And so we're in the Gentile times, and so we're going to use this Gentile language. Now, Nebuchadnezzar has, I believe, skepticism about his wise men. He doesn't believe in their powers, they claim to have a connection to supernatural insider information, and he's saying, "Prove it. I want it now. I want to be sure you can give me the interpretation." He's skeptical, he's a little bit of an agnostic when it comes to their religious system. And so, he puts the stakes immeasurably high. In verse 5 and 6, the king replied to the astrologers, the Chaldeans. "This is what I have firmly decided, if you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble, but if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."
So either they're torn to pieces or you're given a promotion. There's no middle ground with this guy. I was talking to somebody the other day, we were having a little Bible study and discussing, he said it'd be better to be a peasant, working out in the field, than be in Nebuchadnezzar's court. I don't want all of your honors, alright, because, three months later, I'm going to do something wrong and you're going to cut my head off. But so it was, he was intent that he get an accurate interpretation to this dream. Now, in the King James version, it gives an implication that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten the dream. He says, "The thing is gone from me." And some commentators have said it's possible that Nebuchadnezzar could not remember his dream. And that's not all that strange, is it?
We, apparently, scientists tell us, dream every night, but we only remember a very small percentage of our dreams. But I actually don't think that's what's going on here, because if he had truly completely forgotten the dream, then the Chaldeans could simply make a dream up, it's not beyond them, and say, "This is what you dreamed, and this is the interpretation. It's a standard king dream, and this is what it means." Alright? So if he really had declared to the whole court, "I've forgotten my dream," how could he contradict them? I don't think that's actually what he said in the Aramaic. I think what he said is, "It's gone out from me. The command is gone from me, and it's firmly decided that if you don't tell me my dream, I'm going to cut you into pieces and turn your houses into piles of rubble." So I think he's actually testing them. We get that also... If you look down at verse 9, he gives his motive for it. He says, "So then, tell me the dream and I will know that you can interpret it for me."
So he's setting before them two orders of business, two tests. Number one, you must tell me my dream. And number two, then you will have the right and the privilege to give me the interpretation of the dream. Now, of the two, what does he care about? He already knows, I believe, his dream, he wants to know what it means, and he wants to be absolutely certain that these wise men are not conspiring to tell him wicked things, but are actually giving him a supernatural interpretation of the dream. So the promise is wealth, riches, honor, power, or destruction, all or nothing.
So, they try again, it's worth a second try, in verse 7. They say, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it." No, no, no. You didn't hear me. You have to do two things, not just one. You need to tell me my dream, and then you need to give me the interpretation. He says, "I am certain that you're trying to gain time because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided. If you do not tell me the dream, there is but one penalty for you, you have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change." So then, number one, tell me the dream, and number two, I will know that you can interpret it for me. Two things.
Well, now we get the counselor's pathetic failure, verses 10 and 11. How would you feel if you were one of these? Please do a miracle or else I'll kill you. And they're standing there and they're saying, "How in the world are we going to get out of this one?" This is a dire circumstance. The astrologers answer the king. There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks, "No king," and here comes the flattery. See, when you're stuck in court, resort to flattery. "No king, however great and mighty, oh king, has ever asked such a thing of his counselors." What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it..." And I love this statement. Out of their mouths, they set the stage for God, don't they? No one can do this except the gods, and they do not live down here among men. In the Babylonian way of thinking, there's this big separation between the gods in heaven up there and the affairs on earth. Later, Nebuchadnezzar will say to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he's going to say to them "Then what god will be able to deliver you from my hands?"
You see, there's a separation. God does his heavenly thing. I run the show down here. God says, "No, you don't." That's the whole lesson of chapter 2, 3, and 4 of Daniel. I run it down here too. Yes, I run heaven, I also run Earth, and you have your kingship through my permission and my power. I grant it to you. But there's separation. No one can reveal this to the king except the gods, and they're up there, we're down here, big separation. And so, there's no way we can do the thing you've asked.
Well, like any good ancient near eastern tyrant, he goes berserk at this point, absolutely enraged, and we'll see it again in chapter 3 when he orders the fire to be stoked up seven times hotter for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In verse 12, it says, "This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon." Anger makes you lose your mind, it makes you lose your reason. Anger is an enemy of reason, and we're going to see it in chapter 3 also, but he just lost his temper, he's going to kill them all, kill them all. And, by the way, this also sets up the fact that he truly is that head of goals, as we're going to see in that statute. I don't think there's ever been a man with the kind of autocratic, tyrannical power that this one individual had. I don't think any Roman Caesar could have ever said, "Kill all the senate and all the counselors and all the tribunes." He would have been assassinated. There's no way he could have pulled it off. But Nebuchadnezzar had this kind of power, and he says, "Kill them all." Well, it's in this context that we see Daniel's astounding courage, both its fruits and its roots.
III. Daniel’s Astounding Courage: It’s Fruits and Roots (vs. 13-19)
Verse 13-19, Daniel has incredible serenity in the maelstrom, right in the middle of the storm, we see Daniel's calm and his peace. Versus 13-15, the decree is issued to put all the men to death, and Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel comes to him and speaks to him with wisdom and tact. Some have said, "When you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, you have not fully grasped the severity of the situation." I saw that in a bumper sticker. "You have not fully understood." But Daniel did grasp the severity of the situation, and yet, he kept his head. How did he have this kind of cool calm? How did he have this ability to see through to what the issues were, and to speak to Arioch with wisdom and tact, it was his faith in God, a supernatural serenity came in the midst of this kind of trial.
Daniel's life was on the line, and yet, he was unafraid, his roots were strong, and so, in the time of testing, he stood firm. And I think God sovereignly orchestrated the meeting with Arioch. Realize if all of the wise men of Babylon were going to be executed, and, by the way, I think that's just the city of Babylon itself, not the entire empire, but just that city, there's indication in the text that that's what it is, there's going to be many people going out to gather up all of these counselors, but Daniel happens to interact with the chief head executioner, the guy in charge of all of this.
That's not an accident because it enabled him to go right into the king and ask for time. So God sovereignly worked it out that it would be Arioch that would go get Daniel, who was really just a junior counselor at this point, that's why he wasn't there the first time when they brought this matter before the counselors. And, in verse 15, he says... With wisdom and tact, he says, "Why did the king issue such a harsh or a hasty decree? So we see Daniel's... He's at peace, he's confident, but he just needs some information. He said, "I don't understand this, this seems strange." "Why would the king issue such a harsh [or a hasty] decree?" And then, amazingly, instead of blowing Daniel off, and saying, "Just be quiet, fall in line with the others and let's go," he takes them in, and maybe sits down and explains the whole thing to Daniel, so that Daniel could know what's going on.
So God grants Daniel favor in the eyes of Arioch, and then he makes an amazing request. Daniel makes an audacious request, with courage, and it's incredibly granted. Look at verse 16, "At this, Daniel went in to the king." You don't just go in to the king, but he boldly goes in there and he asks for time that he may interpret the dream, and that was an amazing thing.
The counselors before asked one thing of the king. What did they ask? They asked for time. What's the one thing the king would not grant them? Time. What's the one thing that Daniel asks for here? Time. And what's the thing that the king does grant to Daniel? Time. It's God's sovereign hand. Now, perhaps the king can see, realizes in Daniel chapter 1 verse 20, that this is one of those Judean exiles who is 10 times better than his own counselors. Maybe he remembers him. Maybe he sees Daniel's peaceful demeanor. Maybe Daniel is already exuding a kind of a confidence that he's going to be able to interpret the dream, I don't know, but he grants him the time under God's sovereign leading.
I love Proverbs 21:1. I've quoted it before, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." That's the whole point here," and he says, "Okay, Daniel, you can have time." And so, Daniel goes back to his roots, his source of power, and that is prayer, and in this case, corporate prayer. He gathers Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah together. The four then go to God in prayer, verse 17 and 18, "Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven, concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."
Daniel's roots are his personal disciplines, scripture reading, and prayer. He did them every day, all the time. If you want an elaborate root system, just like we talked about in Psalm 1, you need to go to scripture and to prayer. It says in Daniel 6, "Three times a day, he got down on his knees and prayed, just as he had done before." This was what Daniel did all the time, private personal prayer every day, three times a day he prayed. Here, he calls together the others, and they have a time of corporate prayer. In a time of emergency, it's good for the church to get together and pray. It's good for the people of God to assemble together not just to each pray individually, but that there's power in corporate prayer, there's encouragement in corporate prayer.
And there was an incredible urgency at this moment, you can see, they all had a death sentence hanging over their head, literally, a death sentence. And so they had to pray just for their lives. There was incredible urgency, and so it says, "They pleaded with the God of heaven." They pleaded with the God of heaven. And I love what it says here, twice, it calls God the God of Heaven. Who do the Babylonians look to for information about the future? Where did they look? Did they not look up to the heavens? Didn't they look to the stars and the planets and their position and alignments? Yes, but there's a God who made all of those and who rules over them. It is the God who made heaven that we're going to, even above your false religious system, we're going to the God of Heaven and the God of Earth. And so they pray.
IV. God’s Astounding Power and Wisdom (vs. 19-23)
Now, verses 19-23, we see God's incredible power, his astounding power and wisdom, and first, with his merciful revelation. It says in verse 19, "During the night, the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision." God's grace for his people, protecting his people. His gracious revelation to Daniel, the middle of the night, he gives a vision, and realize... And Daniel knows it well, and when we get to the next part, and have an opportunity, God willing, to preach on it, you will see Daniel has incredible humility about this. It's not because I'm righteous or because I'm wise that I know the answer to this problem, but because of God's mercy, and his power, it's for this reason that I know these things. And so we see that God gives this vision for the same reason he does everything else, for the same reason he has saved those who trust in Christ, for his own glory, for his own name's sake he does this.
And so, he grants the request. Daniel's life would be spared, and so would that of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. And because of Daniel's compassion on the other wise men of Babylon, their lives will be spared too. Look at verse 24, "Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, 'Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king and I will interpret his dream for him.'" He didn't need to do that, but out of compassion for them, he stayed the execution, said, "I can resolve this matter."
And so their lives are going to be saved, but there's something far bigger than that going on here, and that is the glory of God as the sovereign ruler of the affairs of humanity. The glory of God in that he raises up kings and deposes them. He changes times and seasons. This is the God of history, that is far bigger than the lives of these four Jewish exiles. And so Daniel can do nothing else other than resort to a hymn of praise. Poetry, Hebrew poetry, just flows out here, it's in Aramaic but it just flows from his heart. In verse 20, it says, "Praise be to the name of God forever and ever, wisdom and power are his, he changes times and seasons, he sets up kings and deposes them, he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning, he reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, o God of my fathers, you have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to me, or to us, the dream of the king."
The first thing that he talks about is God's name. God's name is his self-revelation. It's what he's taught us about who he is, his character, his purposes, his power, his plans. Furthermore, God's name could also be his reputation. The spreading of God's name to every tribe, and language, and people, and nation, that all may know this mighty God who created heaven and earth, that is God's name. And so, he begins by praising God's name. And, by the way, it is for the sake of salvation that God makes much about his own name, so that we may see his glory, and we may do what with that name? Call on that name, and be saved.
Romans 10, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." This is salvation. When we proclaim a great and a majestic, a mighty and sovereign God, people get saved from their sins, they have eternal life. And so, he lifts up God's name and he praises the name of God forever and ever. And then he speaks of God's wisdom. God knows all things, nothing is hidden from him. There's no secrets too difficult for God, that includes the future, the future lays open bright, but it also includes the thoughts in your mind as you lay on your bed. Did you catch that?
We'll talk about that next time. But Daniel says to the king, "Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:" Ooh, that's scary. How would you like your thoughts that go through your mind as you lay on your bed to be proclaimed to the whole court?
God is capable of doing it, and there will come a time he will do it, it's called judgment day. The secrets of every thought will be exposed. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be revealed, and made known. God searches our hearts, and our minds, nothing's hidden from him, even the thoughts that go through our minds as we lay on our bed. And so God's wisdom is complete. And it's not just knowing facts, it's also knowing what is right and just and fair, that is God's wisdom. He knows what's right to do and he will do it, that is God's wisdom. And then he praises God for his power. God can do anything, there's nothing too difficult for him, and there is no mighty potentate on earth too powerful for God to topple, if he should choose. We'll learn all about that in chapter 4. God can do anything with the powers on Earth, and he rules over the affairs of men.
No one can resist his will. It says in the Book of Isaiah, "His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?" This is our God. He is powerful. And so God... Daniel praises him for that. And then, finally, he speaks of his grace, the wisdom was given, he gives wisdom to Daniel, he thanks God for it, he gives power to Daniel, and he thanks God for it. His life is given back to him. He's not going to be executed, and also that of the other wise men of Babylon. But more than anything, he is making much of himself in order that we, who live many generations later, may be saved from our sins. God is gracious and he is merciful.
What applications can we take from this ancient story? When this happened 600 years before Jesus was born, how can this say anything to us today? Oh, it says everything to us today. First of all, it speaks of the limitations of human wisdom and power. Did you watch, in the 35 days after the election, how many times they trotted up some expert, expert on the Supreme Court, or expert on constitutional law, or expert on polling, or exit polls? All these experts, we have them too, we have our Chaldeans today, don't we?
Human wisdom leads nowhere. As a matter of fact, in many cases, it's diametrically opposed to God's wisdom. It says in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? The Chaldeans couldn't do it. They did not know the dream, and they didn't know the future. It also shows the limitations of human power, not just of wisdom, of power. What could Nebuchadnezzar do to make his counselor tell him his dream? What could he do? Didn't he turn all the knobs right up to maximum?
Absolute torture and death, terrible death, or the highest wealth and honor given, he gave everything he had, that he might get an interpretation of that dream, and they couldn't do it. There's a limitation to Nebuchadnezzar's power. And there's a specific limitation to his power when it comes to the God of heaven, he cannot resist God's will. Limitation of human wisdom and power. What's the application for us? Do not trust in man. Do not trust in human wisdom. Do not trust in human power. Don't trust in your own. Lean not on your own understanding. Trust on God and his word. There are some things in his words that makes no sense to us. It doesn't make it right or wrong, it doesn't make it wrong, it makes us, in our thinking, wrong, we need to be transformed by God's wisdom, and not hold on to our own human wisdom, and we need to stop looking to our own power to save us, but rather, only to the power of God through Jesus Christ. Brings me to the second point, and that's the infinitude of God's wisdom and power. Is there anything he doesn't know? Is there anything he cannot do? This is our God. Look to him and be established and know that God knows all things, and can do all things.
And then, finally, the godly character of Daniel. How would you have done in that trial? If that had been you standing there before Arioch, and the moment of truth arises, how would you be? Would you be swept away or do you have a root system strong enough to trust God for the amazing and for the miraculous? Do you have faith enough? Are you trusting God for something only God can do? Faith enough to trust God for a supernatural moving, and a demonstration of his glory. And do you have courage enough to stand firm even if your very life is threatened?
And where does that courage come from? It comes from God. How are you in a crisis? Think about the last time you were in a crisis, how did you do? Did you start to feel the roots swaying and getting swept out from under you or did you stand firm? That's a time of testing. And then, finally, Daniel's compassion, his wisdom, his winsomeness, his gentleness, his compassion, all of it comes out here.
This is Daniel's character. I want to conclude by going back to the greeting that the wise man gave to the king. You remember what it was? "O king, live forever." I believe that that's what God cares about here with Nebuchadnezzar, he wants Nebuchadnezzar truly to live forever. And where is eternal life found? Is it not in the kingdom of the rock cut out but not by human hands we're going to learn about next time? The kingdom of Jesus Christ, a kingdom which will never end, that there is eternal life in his name. Will you live forever? Death is coming for us all. We should all be fearing the one who, after death, can destroy both soul and body in hell. But through faith in Christ, we can live forever. That's the point of Daniel 2, and Daniel 3, and Daniel 4, that Nebuchadnezzar might have eternal life, and that we also, through these words, may have the same. Do you have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ? If not, today is a day of salvation, call on his name. Won't you close with me in prayer?