Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Living in an Alien Culture: Daniel 2

Living in an Alien Culture
Part Two

·     Daniel chapter two

·     2.2: magicians, etc.

o   “Indeed, these people were the political consultants, trend spotters, and religious gurus of the day.”[1]

·     2.10-11

o   “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king…” v. 10

o   “… no else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” v. 11

·     2.16: Daniel asks the king for time

·     2.17-18: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah get together

o   v. 18: “… so they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah
Request compassion
From who
The God of heaven
Mystery of king’s dream
So as not to be destroyed

·     2.19-25: Daniel’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving

o   Q: What is the difference between praise and thanksgiving?

§ Same attributes: wisdom and power

·     v. 20: “belong to him”
·     v. 23: “you have given me”

o   vv. 20-23: What do I learn about God?  Attributes/characteristics of God:

§ Worthy of eternal blessings

·     “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever…”

§ Wisdom

§ Power

§ Rules history: “changes the times and the epochs”

§ Rules the political realm: “he removes kings and establishes kings”

§ He gives wisdom and knowledge to men

·     God reveals information to humanity

§ He knows mysteries—there is no realm of unknowing to God; everything is clear

§ Covenant-keeping God: “O God of my fathers…”

§ God answers prayers

·     Specific requests: “you have made known to us the king’s matter”

§ Q: What if God had wisdom but no power?  Power but no wisdom?  Why is it important that God is both wise and powerful?

§ All of the above attributes can be seen to fall under the concept “the sovereignty of God”

§ Q: How exalted is your view of God?  How theologically informed is your prayer and worship life?

·     2.27-30

o   Daniel does not take the credit—esp. v. 30

o   Points to the glory of God

o   “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries”

§ Francis Schaeffer book titles:

·     The God Who Is There
·     He Is There and He Is Not Silent

§ “Heaven”—place of power, dominion, and control

·     Psalm 115.1-3
·     Matthew 6.9
·     Ephesians 3.14-15

Daniel 2 Statue
Daniel 7 Beasts
Head of gold
Lion with wings of an eagle
Chests & arms of silver
Middle & thighs of bronze
Leopard with wings of a bird
Legs of iron, feet of clay
Beast with iron teeth

o   Chart from: James M. Hamilton Jr., God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 330.

·     2.36-38

o   Description of Nebuchadnezzar

§ “king of kings”

§ “has the kingdom, power, strength, and glory

§ rules over:

·     sons of men
·     beasts of the field
·     birds of the sky

o   See Genesis 1 and Psalm 8

§ Dependent: “to whom the God of heaven has given…”

§ NOTE: See also Jeremiah 27.5-8 where Nebuchadnezzar is called:

·     “the one who is pleasing in my sight”
·     “my servant”

“Yahweh’s conferral of authority to Nebuchadnezzar was not grudging.  He gave the earth into the hand of ‘the one who is pleasing in My sight’… and this pleasing one was Nebuchadnezzar.  Yahweh reinforced his commendation of Nebuchadnezzar by calling him “My servant’, a title reserved for some of the great heroes of biblical history (Gen 26:24; Num 12:7-8; 14:24; Josh 1:2, 7; 2 Sam 3:18; 7:5) and never used elsewhere for anyone outside of Israel.  In 1-2 Kings, ‘My servant’ is used almost exclusively of David (cf. 1 Kgs 11:13, 32, 34, 36, 38).  Jeremiah used the title only for Nebuchadnezzar (25:9; 43:10) and two others—Jacob (30:10; 46:27, probably understood corporately) and David (33:21-23, 26).  By calling Nebuchadnezzar ‘My servant’ Yahweh assigned him a Davidic role. Like David, a new-Adamic king, Nebuchadnezzar ruled wild animals as well as nations.  It is no wonder that he was given the imperial title ‘king of kings’ (Ezek 26:7; Dan 2:37), a title that not even Yahweh receives in the Old Testament.”[2]

·     2.44—Description of the kingdom of God

o   In history—“In the days of those kings…”

o   God will set it up

o   Never be destroyed

o   Crush all other kingdoms

·     2.46-49

o   “Then king Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel…” v. 46

§ The one described as “the king of kings” (v. 37) falls down before Daniel—the representative of the God of heaven!

§ “The most powerful pagan in the world lies prostrate before an exiled Jew.”[3]

o   Nebuchadnezzar confesses the greatness of Daniel’s God (v. 47)

Daniel’s God
Jesus Christ
God of gods
Ephesians 1.19b-23
Lord of kings
Revelation 1.5
Revealer of mysteries
Colossians 2.3

·     Comparing Daniel chapters one and two

o   1.17-20: Daniel and friends characterized by lives of value

§ God is behind this (“God gave them…” v. 17): normal providence

§ Not every day was filled with the miraculous 

o   Chapter two: Episode of miraculous value

§ Some moments are crucial.  Some open doors are unique and allow for God’s glory to uniquely shine.

·     Think of Acts 19: Paul in Ephesus…

o   Acts 19.8-10: Teaching for two years (normal providence)

§ “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord” (v. 10)

o   Acts 19.11-17: Exorcism (miraculous—see also vv. 11-12)

§ “This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus…” (v. 17)

·     Applications: What do we learn from Daniel 2 for our cultural moment?

1.    The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is crucial.  God is active and ruling in the midst of seeming chaos and confusion.

2.    Prayer

a.    God is sovereign and Daniel prays!

b.    Praying to seek the favor and life of God’s people.

c.     Do we pray big, empire-shaking prayers?

3.    Empires and nations change and fall but God’s kingdom will endure!

a.    We need to learn to measure history by a large vision—not by four-year election cycles.

                                                        i.     Daniel was given a vision of the next 500 years

                                                       ii.     What if we were still 500 years out from the return of Christ Jesus and the culmination of the kingdom of God?

b.    History is moving toward an appointed goal.

                                                        i.     Being on the “right side” of history means being in relationship and in accord with God’s kingdom.

                                                       ii.     “Summing up of all things in Christ” Ephesians 1.10

c.     Not our job to figure out time-tables but, rather, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be Jesus’ witnesses—Acts 1.7-8

4.    The need for daily lives of faithfulness.  Otherwise, we will not stand in faithfulness when the unique open doors come to stand for Christ.

o   Q: In what ways are you demonstrating faithfulness in your life, vocation, and family that is apparent to the watching world?

     [1]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 77.
     [2]Peter J. Leithart, Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective(Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2012), 20.
     [3]Tremper Longman III, Daniel—NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 84.