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Daniel 2:1-16 Where God Disturbs He Calms

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God reveals the future through a distrubing dream in order to show that He alone controls the future. He humbles a proud king and his staff, through a godly teen and his friends.

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Today we are looking into this dream of Nebuchadnezzar that so disturbed him, he was willing to execute all his wisemen if they could not give him the dream and its interpretation.
Dreams are something we all deal with. I am not talking about dreams for the future, Like MLK’s “I have a dream” or your own dream for your future. Which really amounts to a wish or hope for something you deem as good for you. Rather, I am talking about dreams we have while asleep. We all dream. I dream every night. You may have a dream that startles you awake, or maybe you have nightmares. What are we to make of the dreams we have? Should we plan our life around them? Sometimes, people have ominous dreams.
Abraham Lincoln share a dream he had with his wife of what he thought was his impending death. I remember once after watching the movie Jurassic Park I dreamed that I was being chased by prehistoric dinosaurs. What am I to make of that dream? I won’t go to a park that boasts of prehistoric animals that’s for sure. I am jesting, but the truth is many people put great stock into dreams.
Dreams have always been a part of life in history. entire systems of belief and religions have been built around dreams. We even have Moslems who are saying that they had a dream and through the message of that dream they came to believe in Jesus Christ.
We have records of dreams in the Bible: Joseph dreamed in ; We also note that Joseph was called on to interpret the dream of Pharoah in . Gideon was moved to action through an enemy soldier’s dream
Joseph Mary's husband was told in a dream to take Mary as his wife, , then later was warned in a dream to go to Egypt with Mary and Jesus,
So it should not surprise us that God gives a dream to Nebuchadnezzar. Especially, when we realize that Babylonian culture was full of dreams as the direction of their empire.
I am not promoting dreams or that we should put a lot of stock and importance in dreams you have. Not at all. We have the infallible Word of God, to guide and direct our lives. We the scripture to direct our financial decisions, they will direct us in decisions regarding who we should marry, what church we should attend, how we should spend our time. Every decision we can possibly make the Scripture will most certainly have some input for us to consider when making choices. , makes that clear. We do not need dreams to enable us to direct our future. There is One who knows our future, who has a plan and purpose for us and we have only to know Him and seek His Word in order to find out what He wants us to do with our daily lives.
it is no wonder then that we have in His word, a record of a dream that He gives to a pagan King, to be interpreted by One of God’s own choosing, to show what God has planned for the future of mankind.
Since Babylonians put such stock in dreams, because of the absence of their belief in the true God, it is not surprising that King Nebuchadnezzar was so disturbed by his own dream.
So let’s unpack this passage.

I. Divine Disturbance, v.1

It is clear from our text that God has disturbed the emotions, conscience, mind of the king through this dream. The way this is laid out in Hebrew is that this dream was a recurring dream. Lit. he dreamed dreams. This dream so disturbed him that sleep left him. He couldn’t sleep. “His spirit was troubled and his sleep brake from him.” In other words, he was really anxious about this dream. It captivated his mind, he couldn’t think about anything else.
Now this was no wonder when you consider the dream. vss. 32-35 He sees this colossal image of head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay. Then a stone cut of the ground without the use of hands that suddenly smashes against the image and breaks it into pieces like chaff on a threshingfloor and carries it away. Wow!
Put yourself in Nebuchadnezzar’s place where dreams carried a lot of weight as to omens of the future. In the culture of kings, the political intrigue that was prevalent in that day and still is. Two kings after him were assassinated. Who are your friends and enemies, they seem to blend in. Just a short reading of the books of the kings shows you that kings were regularly assassinated by those who wanted to take over. That kind of intrigue happens today doesn’t it. Well with that in mind, you can understand why he might be so disturbed. Is this dream about him? Is someone going to kill him. Can you not see why he might be disturbed? Even understand his fury at the inability of his advisors to give him a satisfactory answer?
What are we to make of this? Does God still guide by using dreams? He could if He wants to. But He uses the word of God through the Spirit of God today. Even still, the very passage we are studying is the Word of God. As we meditate on and study the Word of God, that is how He guides us today. The problem is our heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all, Jeremiah said. The imaginations of our hearts is only evil continually, . The fact is our subconscious is influenced by all sorts of things and capable of producing all kinds of dreams. In he warns the people and us that demonic forces can cause dreams that are not the truth of God, but might look like it. The only sure thing we have is the Word of God so don’t put too much stock in your dreams. But, do not ignore the divine disturbances that God puts on your heart. Look for what God is communicating to you through the distress in your life. If there is a dissonance in you then don’t ignore it. Explore what it is about.
As with Nebuchadnezzar he must have realized that he was in trouble, the fall of the image by a rock that comes out of the earth, must have created a fear in him. That fear can only be resolved by faith in Christ.
quote from CS Lews in Mere Chrisitanity,, P. 106 "if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
Joy that was other worldly I will say, was something that he said was a “pointer to something other and outer.” (ibid, p699). While lewis was speaking of joy, I thought of this in terms of disturbances like that of Nebuchadnezzar that forced him to look to someone or something else for an explanation in the same way that Lewis look at desire as explained in this quote. He calls it ‘Ontological proof of God.’ (Piper, 21 servants of Sovereign Joy, p. 697)
Joy that was other worldly I will say, was something that he said was a “pointer to something other and outer.” (ibid, p699).
I thought of this in terms of disturbances like that of Nebuchadnezzar that forced him to look to someone or something else for an explanation in the same way that Lewis look at desire as explained in this quote. He calls it ‘Ontological proof of God.’ (Piper, 21 servants of Sovereign Joy, p. 697)
The unanswered questions in our lives that let us know that there is something else in life beyond what we know or experience create within us a thirst for more. That is the work of the Holy Spirit drives us to the revelation of God and then shows us the person we need is Christ.
As with Nebuchadnezzar he must have realized that he was in trouble, the fall of the image by a rock that comes out of the earth, must have created a fear in him. That fear can only be resolved by faith in Christ.
However, his search for meaning led him to his most natural and normal source, His advisors,

II. Human impossibility to find the answer, v.2-13

Being so disturbed by his dream, he does the natural thing and calls for those who were the ‘experts’ in deciphering dreams. The magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and Chaldeans/Chesidim.
His goal, to find out the correct interpretation.
We all want to know the future, live the best life we can, don’t we? And we do the same thing he has done. We look either within ourselves our to those in our world. So we consult the so-called experts of our day- economists, business consultants and so on. There is a trainer for just about anything and if we follow their advice we will attain what we are looking for. Or at least that is the hopeful promise.
Just who are these the king consults and what is their role?
Soothsayers: hartom/magicians of 1:20. These were the ones who had occult knowledge, kept meticulous track of the stars and times. These are the guys who used divination to make decisions, who would use spells and interpret dreams. The root word as stated in v.20 has to do with engraving, as in writing with a stylus on tablets to record data for future reference. so they would use these writings to discern the future and to make decisions.
These were a class of priests whose aim was to bring demons under their power in order to carry out their own will In Babylon and Egypt this practice was deeply rooted in the daily life of the people and therefore government. All four of these groups were deeply influential in daily life, everything from funeral practices, to weddings, to economy, agriculture and so on.
Probably the most famous are the magi who came to see the infant Jesus in Matthew. Their presence in Jerusalem would have caused no small stir, given that they were representatives from a foreign government at a time when there was political instability in Israel.
you will remember their kind in Egypt also as Moses and Aaron revealed their mission to Pharoah and validated their message with various miracles, some of which the Magicians were able to duplicate.
The presence of demons and demonology in Babylon was most prevalent. Many archeological works have been written from tablets that describe in detail these ancient practices of magic. The point that I am making is that these groups of advisors is how the King would have made any decision for his kingdom. It was how things were done. Should he go to war, he would seek the advice of these groups. Should he build certain cities or advance certain practices, he would consult these men. on a smaller scale everyone in his realm would do the same thing much as people in business use consultants, so called experts to advance their businesses.
astrologers: enchanters (ESV) these are exorcists, necromancers, this is someone who would communicate with the dead in order to reveal the future or influence events. Interestingly, the LXX translates this word with magi who were of the group who came to visit Jesus at his birth
sorcerer- LXX pharmocous-the word we get pharmacy from. these were those who would used drugs, witchcraft to determine events and future. they practice black magic, obtaining powers from spirits
chaldeans- these were an educated class skilled in interpretations, wise men, this is a summary term for fortune tellers, dream interpretation and so on. I think this is a more general term that fits them all.
But astrology was part of the polytheistic world view of Babylon, as it is part of today. People read their horoscopes today that are based on this thinking. the movements of planets and stars to determine the future.
These men were expert in interpreting dreams. they had manuals that explained various symbols. These manuals have been discovered and written about.
Notice the use of the title ‘king’ repeatedly throughout this section as opposed to his name.
‘tell to the king’
‘stood before the king’
v.3 ‘the king said to them’
This is why when the king had this dream he consults with those whom he would normally consult with such a thing.
These men were expert in interpreting dreams. they had manuals that explained various symbols. These manuals have been discovered and written about.
They would have need only to have been told the dream then they could apply their rules for the symbols and come up with an interpretation that probably would have sounded legitimate.
When he said, in v.5,8 “the thing is gone from me.” he is not meaning that he doesn’t remember. The ESV puts it this way, “the word from me is firm” What he is referring to is his decree that if they don’t give the dream and interpretation they will be killed as he said. Well no amount of pressure, not even on threat of death can make you come up with something that you cannot do.
Notice their inability to do what the king asked. “tell us the dream we will give the interpretation” v.4, 7, 10 This is the third time the impossibility of the task is made known.
1. not a man on earth can answer the matter
2. no king, lord or ruler has ever asked such a thing from their magicians, astrologers or Chaldean
3. the word the king asks is precious/rare ie. difficult
4. conclusion-lastly, another thing, no one exists to declare it to the king except the gods who do not dwell with flesh
They have it mostly correct. Only God can declare this matter to the king.
The decree went out to kill the wise men. And they sought Daniel and his friends to kill them.
The king threw a tantrum because he could not get the right response from his advisors and commanded they all be killed.
So this is the climax in the story. It had to come to something like this because the request was an impossible one to answer. As the wise men said, no man alive could reveal it, no king no matter who they were would ever request such an impossible thing. The only thing to do was to ask the gods. Well, is that not what they were supposed to be doing all along? In the past didn’t they seek the gods, spirits for direction and guidance? The assumption of the king seems to me to be the right one if they were legitimate in the past. They claimed to have been communicating with the spirit world all along. If that were true surely, in the kings mind, they would be able to communicate with the spirit world now and find the answers he sought. But they revealed their long deceit by their own admission. Thus, it seems to me he was not commanding their death only for not being able to answer this particular request, but because they they have been deceiving him all along. The question would be, ‘what other guidance have they given me that was false, of their own making?’ to their own ends. I think he felt betrayed by them.
Throughout Bible history, you find occasions when God exposed the foolishness of the world and the deceptiveness of Satan. Moses and Aaron defeated the magicians of Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt (), and Elijah on Mount Carmel exposed the deception of Baal worship (). Jeremiah confronted the false prophet Hananiah and revealed his wickedness (), and Paul exposed the deception of Bar Jesus the sorcerer (). But it was Jesus who by His life, teaching, and sacrificial death declared the wisdom of this world “foolishness” with God, and that includes all its myths and false religions (). The statement of the advisers in wipes out astrology and other forms of human prophecy! Out of their own mouths they condemned their own practices! ( Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (pp. 26–27). Colorado Springs, CO: Victor.)
1 Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (pp. 26–27). Colorado Springs, CO: Victor.
What this is showing the king and us very clearly, is this: The world does not have the answers to the basic things of life. The Bible does. But the problem is that the natural man/the unbeliever cannot understand the revelation of God. Just like there was no way that Nebuchadnezzar or his advisors could understand the revelation of God in this dream so no unbeliever can understand God’s revelation in His word. This is where the Holy Spirit works in you and me to redeem/regenerate us so that we are born again. Then we can read the Word with renewed clarity. That is why when you read the Bible before you were saved it was just another book. But after you became a believer and you read, it came alive. You see things you never saw before. Then the Word penetrates us as Hebrews tells us. We can let the word dwell richly in us and live the joy that is spoken of in .
So what is he to do? What are we to do when we are so disturbed we can’t sleep at night?
that is where this third thought comes in

III. Confident Declaration, v.14-16

Daniel doesn’t hide or seek excuses. Instead he answers Arioch, the captain of the executioners with counsel and wisdom, or wisdom and tact. He was respectful. He addresses him with respect and asks the question in v.15 and when he realizes what is happening and why Daniel is given access to the king whereby he is able to get a postponement for a time, guaranteeing that he would come back with an interpretation.
The text shows us he was not being arrogant or trying to buy time as the advisors were. Rather, he needs time to pray to God for the answer.
Herein lies the point of the passage. You see, when you are greatly disturbed and don’t have the answers, this is where you go before the Lord in prayer, making request of Him to give you wisdom as James said. It is that you trust Him to know what is happening and why and yours is to search His word, which is His mind and heart, for answers.


I think this dream was so troublesome to Nebuchadnezzar so that he would realize that God alone is the one who controls the world. It was a humbling exercise for him to realize he could not really control anything or anyone. In terms of this dream it was God who gave it to Him and God who would reveal it to him not through his own staff of advisors who relied on the Babylonian gods, but through the most unlikely source, a teen who was one of his captives and a Jew to boot. It was the God of the people he just conquered who was the author of his dream and the interpreter of it. God was showing him what He/God was going to do, not what Nebuchadnezzar was going to do.
Where does your hope lie? In the world’s wisdom? Let the disturbances in your life drive you to the one who is the author of those disturbances. let them drive you to His word and to His counselors to find the answers. Then rest in Him.
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