Series: Thru the Bible
Dreams, Visions & God’s audacious favor
As I’ve told you, after we completed 1Samuel through 2Chronicles, we did not cover the prophets whose ministries coincided with the events we were reading since it would have been very cumbersome. So we circled back around and covered the other prophets spanning the time covered between Samuel and 2Chronicles as chronologically as possible with the notable exception of Jeremiah who we covered immediately after the end of those books BECAUSE the exile of Judah to Babylon was fresh in our minds.
About the time we reached Jeremiah chapter 49 we covered the book of Obadiah since his ministry was directly connected to the events in that chapter.
Then went on to Habakkuk, Jonah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Micah and Isaiah.
Isaiah’s ministry taking place during the time covered from 2Kings 15 – 21 and 2 Chronicles 26-33.
By the time Isaiah came around it had been nearly 700 years since the second generation of Isralites had crossed the Jordan and taken their first land in the promised land.
So this is where we are at this point.
What we have NOT covered in order is Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & Song of Solomon all of which were during the lives of David and his son Solomon whose lives corresponded to 1 Samuel 16- 2Chronicles 9.
Then we have the pre-exile prophets & book we have not yet covered namely – Daniel, Ezekiel and Lamentation which was most likely penned by Jeremiah himself. These books cover the time periods between 605-592 BC – all corresponding to things recorded in the book of 2Chronicles.
So tonight we will begin the book of Daniel. We do not know for certain who actually wrote this record of Daniel’s life in exile or the prophetic insights he was given, but it hardly matters. One thing is for certain, whoever recorded it either had Daniel himself as a reference OR was drawing extensively from writings he made.
Daniel was a righteous man of princely lineage who lived about 620–538 B.C.
He was one of those carried off into Babylonian exile in 605 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian, but was still living when Assyria was overthrown by the Medes and Persians.
“(1) In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem and laid it under siege.”
The third year of the reign of Jehoiakim would be 605 B.C. Daniel would have been quite young at this point – mostly likely in his teens.
Now, I know we only just read the first verse of this book but we have already run into what some see as a problem… a dating problem. It never ceases to amaze me how eager people are to discredit the scriptures, even slightly, by calling into question things which are easily explained through well established and legitimate means.
In other places like 2Kings 24:1; 2Chron. 36:5-8 & Jeremiah 25:1 these events are linked to King Jehoiakim’s fourth year.
So there are only two valid ways of approaching this issue.
- Assume Daniel is wrong
- Assume that Daniel is recording the event of Jehoiakim’s first year as an accession year – which I will explain in a moment.
As has become the en vogue approach to nearly any difficulty in reconciling surface differences within the Bible, the one most often assumed is that Daniel was simply in error.
Now, this would be fine if the Bible were just any book, but it is called and considered inspired by God – to which we believe and attest.
You know, a good many years ago I read that a British scholar once said, “We should treat the Bible like any other book in order to show it’s not like any other book.”
Ironically this problem would probably NOT exist IF this WERE just any other book – an uninspired work, since then the logical conclusion would be to assume the second possibility and that is that Daniel was following was is referred to as an accession year chronology, whereby the first partial year of a king’s reign was reckoned as the accession year rather than as the official first year of his reign.
In the case of the other references, they followed a non-accession year chronology, whereby the accession year is reckoned as the first year of the king’s reign.
If Daniel was in fact taking the accession year approach to his chronology then this conflict isn’t even superficial.
“(2) Now the Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, along with some of the vessels of the temple of God.
He brought them to the land of Babylonia to the temple of his god and put the vessels in the treasury of his god.
(3) The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent – (4) young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service – and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians.
(5) So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service.
(6) As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (7) But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego.
(8) But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself.
(9) Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. (10) But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!”
(11) Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
(12) “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. (13) Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.”
(14) So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days. (15) At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. (16) So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead.
(17) Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom – and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
(18) When the time appointed by the king arrived, the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence.
(19) When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service.
(20) In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.
(21) Now Daniel lived on until the first year of Cyrus the king.”
“(1) In the second year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar had many dreams. His mind was disturbed and he suffered from insomnia.
(2) The king issued an order to summon the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and wise men in order to explain his dreams to him. So they came and awaited the king’s instructions.
(3) The king told them, “I have had a dream, and I am anxious to understand the dream.”
(4) The wise men replied to the king: [What follows is in Aramaic]
“O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will disclose its interpretation.”
(5) The king replied to the wise men, “My decision is firm. If you do not inform me of both the dream and its interpretation, you will be dismembered and your homes reduced to rubble! (6) But if you can disclose the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts, a reward, and considerable honor.
So disclose to me the dream and its interpretation!”
(7) They again replied, “Let the king inform us of the dream; then we will disclose its interpretation.”
(8) The king replied, “I know for sure that you are attempting to gain time, because you see that my decision is firm. (9) If you don’t inform me of the dream, there is only one thing that is going to happen to you. For you have agreed among yourselves to report to me something false and deceitful until such time as things might change. So tell me the dream, and I will have confidence that you can disclose its interpretation.”
(10) The wise men replied to the king, “There is no man on earth who is able to disclose the king’s secret, for no king, regardless of his position and power, has ever requested such a thing from any magician, astrologer, or wise man.
(11) What the king is asking is too difficult, and no one exists who can disclose it to the king, except for the gods – but they don’t live among mortals!”
(12) Because of this the king got furiously angry and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
(13) So a decree went out, and the wise men were about to be executed. They also sought Daniel and his friends so that they could be executed.
(14) Then Daniel spoke with prudent counsel to Arioch, who was in charge of the king’s executioners and who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon. (15) He inquired of Arioch the king’s deputy, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?”
Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter.
(16) So Daniel went in and requested the king to grant him time, that he might disclose the interpretation to the king.
(17) Then Daniel went to his home and informed his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the matter. (18) He asked them to pray for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery so that he and his friends would not be destroyed along with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
(19) Then in a night vision the mystery was revealed to Daniel. So Daniel praised the God of heaven, (20) saying,
“Let the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. (21) He changes times and seasons, deposing some kings and establishing others. He gives wisdom to the wise; He imparts knowledge to those with understanding; (22) He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness, and light resides with Him.
(23) O God of my fathers, I acknowledge and glorify You, for you have bestowed wisdom and power on me. Now You have enabled me to understand what I requested from You. For You have enabled me to understand the king’s dilemma.”
(24) Then Daniel went in to see Arioch (whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon). He came and said to him, “Don’t destroy the wise men of Babylon! Escort me to the king, and I will disclose the interpretation to him!”
(25) So Arioch quickly ushered Daniel into the king’s presence, saying to him,
“I have found a man from the captives of Judah who can make known the interpretation to the king.”
(26) The king then asked Daniel (whose name was also Belteshazzar), “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I saw, as well as its interpretation?”
(27) Daniel replied to the king, “The mystery that the king is asking about is such that no wise men, astrologers, magicians, or diviners can possibly disclose it to the king. (28) However, there is a God in heaven Who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the times to come. The dream and the visions you had while lying on your bed are as follows.
(29) “As for you, O king, while you were in your bed your thoughts turned to future things. The revealer of mysteries has made known to you what will take place.
(30) As for me, this mystery was revealed to me not because I possess more wisdom than any other living person, but so that the king may understand the interpretation and comprehend the thoughts of your mind.
(31) “You, O king, were watching as a great statue – one of impressive size and extraordinary brightness – was standing before you.
Its appearance caused alarm.
(32) As for that statue, its head was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze. (33) Its legs were of iron; its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay.
(34) You were watching as a stone was cut out, but not by human hands.
It struck the statue on its iron and clay feet, breaking them in pieces.
(35) Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were broken in pieces without distinction and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors that the wind carries away. Not a trace of them could be found.
But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain that filled the entire earth.
(36) This was the dream.
Now we will set forth before the king its interpretation.
(37) “You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has granted you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor.
(38) Wherever human beings, wild animals, and birds of the sky live – He has given them into your power. He has given you authority over them all.
You are the head of gold.”
This first kingdom is of course the Babylonian kingdom over which King Nebuchadnezzar was immediately ruling. This was the time period of Jeremiah, Ezekiel & of course Daniel.
“(39) Now after you another kingdom will arise, one inferior to yours.”
As we learned while we were covering Isaiah 45-50, the Babylonian empire was conquered by Cyrus the Great – ruler of the Medo-Persian Empire which took Babylon’s place as a world power in 538BC and lasted until 331BC. This was the time period of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi.
As Isaiah foretold, Cyrus was given power by God to conquer any and every place he desired. His was the world’s first superpower and he was used by God to destroy the Empire of the Babylonians. So it is most likely that this is the kingdom God was referring to as the second kingdom in the dream He gave to King Nebuchadnezzar.
“Then a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule in all the earth.”
This third kingdom is not as certain, but most probably refers to Greece under the rule of Alexander the Great who conquered the Medo-Persian Empire by 331BC. This was the near beginning of the Hellenistic Greek period between 323-146BC when Rome succeeded them as the world’s superpower. This was the time period in which the Hebrew bible was translated into Greek – a translation known as the Septuagint – from which Jesus Himself taught. This was also during the 400 years of silence where God forsook Israel. During the later portion of this time was the Maccabean Period during which the Hasmonean dynasty arose and lasted from 167-37BC – not long before the birth of Jesus.
“(40) Then there will be a fourth kingdom, one strong like iron. Just like iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything, and as iron breaks in pieces all of these metals, so it will break in pieces and crush the others.
(41) In that you were seeing feet and toes partly of wet clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay.
(42) In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile.
(43) And in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed with one another without adhering to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.”
This is without a doubt the Roman Empire into which our Lord and Savior was born. The Roman conquest of Greece began in approximately 146BC. From there it continued in a fractured type of growth until at its height, the Roman Empire stretched from the Euphrates River to the Atlantic Ocean. With so cast an area to manage it had, as Daniel clearly states – MANY kings – though they were known by other names and carried various levels of authority.
The empire was stretched very thin over a very large terrain which led to innovations which benefited the world then and now. For example, the construction of reliable roads were necessary just to patrol such a huge area. It truly was an administrative and logistical nightmare. It was an ongoing and ultimately failing struggle to maintain law enforcement and resources – not to mention protecting itself from outside attacks.
The complete fall of Rome occurred in 476AD, however, for all practical purposes Rome was dead by the beginning of the second century.
Of course it was during this period that Jesus became Lord of ALL through His conquering not Rome, but sin & death through His Own death and resurrection. This was the beginning of His eternal kingdom which began to take the world by storm! That kingdom has NOT even reached its height yet, but it will during His millennial reign which will be the LAST reign of an earthly king EVER. Then the kingdom will be handed over to the Father and ALL of those in the Kingdom, including Jesus Himself, will be subject to the Father Who will reign FOREVER – even as Daniel predicted in his inspired interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
“(44) In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever.
(45) You saw that a stone was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands; it smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold into pieces.
The great God has made known to the king what will occur in the future.
The dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable.”
(46) Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed down with his face to the ground and paid homage to Daniel. He gave orders to offer sacrifice and incense to him.
(47) The king replied to Daniel, “Certainly your God is a God of gods and Lord of kings and revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery!”
(48) Then the king elevated Daniel to high position and bestowed on him many marvelous gifts. He granted him authority over the entire province of Babylon and made him the main prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. (49) And at Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the administration of the province of Babylon.
Daniel himself served in the king’s court.”
Nebuchadnezzar focuses on how important God had made him, but forgets God
“(1) King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue made. It was 90 feet tall and nine feet wide. He erected it on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
(2) Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent out a summons to assemble the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other authorities of the province to attend the dedication of the statue that he had erected.
(3) So the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other provincial authorities assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. They were standing in front of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected. (4) Then the herald made a loud proclamation:
“To you, O peoples, nations, and language groups, the following command is given: (5) When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must bow down and pay homage to the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has erected.
(6) Whoever does not bow down and pay homage will immediately be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire!”
(7) Therefore when they all heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations, and language groups began bowing down and paying homage to the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected.
(8) Now at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought malicious accusations against the Jews.
(9) They said to King Nebuchadnezzar,
“O king, live forever! (10) You have issued an edict, O king, that everyone must bow down and pay homage to the golden statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music. (11) And whoever does not bow down and pay homage must be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. (12) But there are Jewish men whom you appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – and these men have not shown proper respect to you, O king. They don’t serve your gods and they don’t pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”
(13) Then Nebuchadnezzar in a fit of rage demanded that they bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him. So they brought them before the king.
(14) Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my gods and that you don’t pay homage to the golden statue that I erected?
(15) Now if you are ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, you must bow down and pay homage to the statue that I had made. If you don’t pay homage to it, you will immediately be thrown into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. Now, who is that god who can rescue you from my power?”
“(16) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar,
“We do not need to give you a reply concerning this. (17) If our God Whom we are serving exists, He is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will rescue us, O king, from your power as well. (18) But if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected.”
(19) Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and his disposition changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was normally heated.
(20) He ordered strong soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. (21) So those men were tied up while still wearing their cloaks, trousers, turbans, and other clothes, and were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire.
(22) But since the king’s command was so urgent, and the furnace was so excessively hot, the men who escorted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were killed by the leaping flames. (23) But those three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell into the furnace of blazing fire while still securely bound.
(24) Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and quickly got up. He said to his ministers,
“Wasn’t it three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied to the king, “For sure, O king.”
(25) He answered, “But I see four men, untied and walking around in the midst of the fire! No harm has come to them! And the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god!”
(26) Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire. He called out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out! Come here!”
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged from the fire.
(27) Once the satraps, prefects, governors, and ministers of the king had gathered around, they saw that those men were physically unharmed by the fire. The hair of their heads was not singed, nor were their trousers damaged. Not even the smell of fire was to be found on them!
(28) Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praised be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Who has sent forth His angel and has rescued His servants who trusted in Him, ignoring the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than serve or pay homage to any god other than their God!
(29) I hereby decree that any people, nation, or language group that blasphemes the God of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego will be dismembered and his home reduced to rubble! For there exists no other god who can deliver in this way.” (30) Then Nebuchadnezzar promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”
Countless are the stories, lessons and teachings which have been derived from this chapter and few of them are without significance I am sure. It is a powerful display of God’s power and faithfulness to those who are faithful to Him. What is sometimes taken from this which is wrong is that it was only their faith that saved them OR that when God allows some to be martyred He is somehow showing favoratism. Neither of these two things are correct.
Yes, faith DID play a part in the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego but whether God delivered them or allowed them to be martyred is more about God and advancing His plans and purposes in the earth than it is about His servants.
God loves all, and especialy His own who with love and devotion serve Him, but God’s purposes for salvation and establishing His rule in the earth stands paramount over all other concerns. That is the part of being a servant in the kingdom that many… MANY seem to miss.
When we submit to the king and kingdom – either in the Old Covenant or through bowing the knee and confessing submission to the LORD of the Kingdom under the New Covenant Jesus Christ – we are saying, “We bow the knee to our king and we pledge our lives to the advancement of this kingdom with our love, the faithfulness of how we live our lives and even – if necessary – with our lives themselves!”
God is able to deliver and it is not His desire that His Own should be harmed, but in a kingdom at war, these decisions have to be made and if we truly are devoted to the Lord of the Kingdom we will willingly and with pleasure count it a privilege to give our all for its advancement!
To be offended at this says more about us than it does about God, for God so loved the world that He gave all as well through the life and death of Jesus our LORD!