Daniel speaks to a people living in exile, overwhelmed, confused… I have a book with a title that makes a good summary of the message to the people in Daniel’s day/our day: “Your God is Too Small.” Daniel, through visions and dreams, enlarges the truth of God…. If your God is too small, you will get discouraged, compromise, give up…. enlarge your vision of God. What happens to Daniel has parallels to us. Daniel and the Jewish people are in exile in a foreign land, taken as prisoners to Babylon. Today in the U.S, it is as if people of faith are captives. You could title Daniel, how to find freedom while in prison! Daniel was taken to a new home. In our case, we are no longer a nation seeking to uphold the values of Jewish and Christian teachings! We are exiles in our homeland.
Daniel 2:29 God is called “the revealer of mysteries.” A tremendous title for people feeling lost and afraid of how it’s going to end. If truth be known, with our current cultural shifts, I am nervous… My mind goes to so many subjects: I am afraid of transforming school curriculum in what values we will soon be teaching our children. Shifting politics. Impact of a flood of immigrants with no real plan for the economics of it, the politics, the practical implications. I am not afraid for myself… I am afraid for my future grandchildren… God-is-the-revealer-of-mysteries. What I need to hear is the message of HOPE of Daniel: the Best is Yet to Come. That’s what this dream in Dan. 2 is about: God wins. All Disney cartoon movies follow a formula, a hero, something bad happens, tension, and in the end all is well. It is the same with God, he is the Revealer of Mysteries, and in the end you know Jesus Christ wins. This is how you can have faith/confidence while in the foreign nation of Babylon.
This world is mysterious to me. I don’t get politics. I don’t get our educational system. / the way we spend our money in our national budgets. / our priorities… It’s a mystery. God is the revealer of mysteries. That is a title that I need to hear. And the mystery revealed is that the best is yet to come.
Another rare title of God Dan. 2:47: “Surely your God is the God of Gods and the Lord of Kings” The Lord of Kings. When you read through Daniel you know the King of Babylon does not become a committed follower of God. As a good Babylonian he surely believed in many gods. The name Babylon means Gateway to the Gods. The King of Babylon, at least for the moment, is giving the God of Israel a prominent place of power in his hierarchy of gods. But he also calls God “the Lord of Kings.” How relevant that title is for today! When we look at Iran, Iraq, China, Cuba, N. Korea, Egypt, Israel, the United States… name every country in the world and all the crazy leaders…. God is THE LORD OF KINGS! The Kings of this world/leaders/dictators/ don’t have to believe in God, it makes no difference…. God is their Lord. I take great comfort in that. I still fear for Israel and a nuclear middle east. I still wonder about our uneasy relationship even with some of our allies in Europe… yet to know God is the Lord of Kings and the revealer of mysteries….that is all we need to know…
Daniel is written not to tell us when the world will end, but to give us confidence and hope in a world that looks so dark and pessimistic. Esther and Wesley had a major hiccup in their immediate life’s plans that were quite discouraging this last week. I hope that by calling Sally and me, and Wesley’s parents, because of our life’s experiences, we were able to give them a measure of hope that it would all be well, even better…. This is Daniel…. It may look hard, but God is the revealer of mysteries and the Lord of Kings.
In the first part of Dan. 2, the King can’t sleep. He has a disturbing dream. He threatens his wise advisors with death if they do not tell him not only what the dream means, but also the humanly impossible task of the dream itself. Daniels head is on the chopping block as one of the advisors. Daniel asks for time, he prays to God, and the dream and what it means is revealed to him by God. The world, no matter how dark it gets, needs people of faith.
Today we look at the dream and it’s interpretation. Daniel gives all credit to God. No credit for himself. READ Dan. 2:27. He doesn’t talk about himself, isn’t trying to save his own skin, but simply gives credit to God. Take that as a clue for our own attitudes as a way to navigate our world. Look for God in everything, pray to him, give him credit.... God has to orchestrate our way forward. As a church we are trying to navigate our way as people of faith, greatly desiring to be relevant to a hurting world. I met with my brother Jim this week as we think about an associate pastor. He tells me even in the past few years it is clear the world has changed in the church, attitudes towards alcohol, social drinking…questions/situations we need to think through. Same God, same priorities. My mother often thinks not so much what would her father do as a pastor back in the 20’s through 60’s, and even my father who died almost 20 years ago. She is more likely to say they would not even recognize this world and so much of what we face. Every age has it’s stuff… As long as God gives me even the smallest measure of leadership in this world, the tiniest niche of influence, there is only one way I can make it through with sanity: look to God! I will botch all questions trying to sort through the best way forward, “but there is a God in heaven….” I appreciate the insight of Dan. 2:30. READ. Humility. Give God credit. This is how you find peace in the middle of the chaos of life.
One more thing to understand to make this dream and interpretation make sense. We in the western world have been saturated with secular humanist thinking. We tend to think this flesh and blood world is all there is. The truth! there is a spiritual world far greater. In the days of the Bible it is assumed there is a sacred canopy, a spiritual world. Today we face a skeptical world there is anything beyond what our eyes can see and our hands touch. Many want to elevate science as the highest authority, what we can “prove.” Some of science doesn’t even make sense for an old simple thinker like me. Evolution is a crazy theory in my way of thinking. The whole idea of organisms getting more complex doesn’t even make sense. To a simple guy like me, nature left to itself gets simpler, not more complex. A random godless creation makes no sense. Clearly there must be some sort of intelligence behind creation given how delicate the balance is of the planet to sustain life.
There is a spiritual world that is greater than this world. If you don’t believe that then your God will always be too small! Trying to live as a person of faith in a secular scientific world is like trying to be a square peg in a round hole. Put too much faith in this world and what you see and you will never fully understand the Bible. God orders the universe. Jesus Christ reigns. In the dream of the King, the truth of something greater strikes at the heart (or rather the feet) of the statue representing the Kingdoms of the Earth so that a greater Kingdom is being established and will reign without end (READ Dan. 2:44). The best is yet to come. The Kingdom of God in its fullness is being established. There is nothing to fear…
Daniel tells the dream to the King in Dan. 2:31-35. A statue (not an idol), rigid statue made up of a variety of materials. One of the regrets of my life is that the Crouse family donated a giant prophetic wall chart handed down from past generations to the Adventist library in Aurora, Ill. I remember my father putting it up one Sunday evening taking up the entire east wall of this room…included was this statue….at least I still have the old stereopticon projector and a few slides of Daniel… next month sometime we’ll have a short slide show from yesteryear….
After the dream, Daniel launches into the interpretation of the dream. READ Dan. 2:36. The following verses explain the world empires starting at the head of gold. A key for the King of Babylon is Dan. 2:38. READ. From the Kings perspective that is good! As the interpretation continues Daniel news is not all good for the king for he tells him any visions of absolute power, any ideas of reigning forever, any visions of the King being divine, simply is not true. Other Kingdoms will come and go. From Daniel 8:20-21 the next two kingdoms are the Persians and Greeks. The Persians conquer the Babylonians after 70 years of reign. Later Greece becomes the dominant world leader. A fourth Kingdom in the statute is never identified in Daniel. Most people take it to be the Roman Empire, the dominant culture when Jesus was born. As a republic Rome was a player on the world stage 700-800 years before Christ, but it became a world empire with the first Emperor, Augustus in about 27 A.D. (what month is this anyway? Hmm…)
As Augustus took control of Rome and began to expand, guess who is born in a little village in a remote unimportant country? ~ Jesus. Luke 2:1 “In those days, Ceasar Augustus decreed that a census should be taken of the Roman World.” Why a census? It’s part of a desire to conquer the world: Organizing. Control.
The history of Rome is fascinating as emperor after emperor claims more territory, the rise of the emperor’s status as gods themselves, the transition out of power, crushed by the weight of it’s own vast control, transitioning to Christianity (at least superficially) under Constantine in 325 A.D. and then waning in power as territory after territory won independence, Britain about 410 A.D. north Africa in 430. Most people date the final collapse of the Roman Empire to the year 476 when a foreign ruler took control of Italy. No world empire has arisen to such dominance since the break up of the Roman Empire. Many have tried even in the last century, Hitler, multiple dictators, USSR, and depending on your perspective, the U.S. which is still seen as the last great superpower, although waning in influence, which is good or bad depending on your ideology… part of our tension is that we are in the middle of it…
Many people see Dan.2:42-43 as a description of today’s world ~ a mixture of power, constant tension… READ. The Muslims today, starting back with Mohammad back in the 6th-7th century, are unquestionably attempting to control the world. One of the criticisms of George Bush invading Iraq was that he was an imperialist trying to impose democracy, capitalism, western values… One of the criticisms of Obama is that he is naïve to what the Muslims really want and he thinks diplomacy is enough for us to all get along… I say this not for the sake of criticizing our leaders, but rather, simply to show that the statue of the King of Babylon still has relevance. I am convinced we are living in the time of the feet and toes. God is the revealer of Mysteries. God is the Lord of Kings. The best is yet to Come.
The unending Kingdom is waiting the proper time to become fully established. There is a spiritual world far greater than this world and its kingdoms. READ Dan. 2:34. The Rock is explained in Dan. 2:44-45. READ. The Kingdom of God is coming. The Best is yet to come. The purpose of writing this down is when we are feeling small to magnify God. God is the revealer of mysteries. We know the end of the story. God is the Lord of Kings. The Kingdom of God is Coming in fullness.
Even the pagan King of Babylon recognizes truth. The news is not so good that the Kingdom of Babylon is temporary and weak, but somehow he knows truth. Daniel and his friends are rewarded with a higher position by the King (Dan. 2:49). As we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom, there is a place for us to serve Him. When your world is rocked, never forget that a greater ROCK is coming, that will strike the statue and become a huge mountain that will fill the whole earth. The mystery is revealed. You have nothing to fear. God is the Lord of Kings. Amen.