In today’s chapter we have two different kingdoms, two worlds presented to us. The kingdom of this world represented by Nebuchadnezzar, his parade of wise guys, and the magnificent statue at the end of the chapter, and the kingdom of God represented by Daniel and ultimately by the rock, Jesus Christ, which smashes the statue and grows to fill the whole earth.
The citizens of the kingdom of this world rely solely on their own power, riches, and glory to build their world. The citizens of the kingdom of God rely solely on God for wisdom and power and give him all the glory. You and I belong to one of these two worlds. One of these two kingdoms. The rock or the statue.
God’s kingdom breaks into man’s kingdom through the rock, Jesus Christ.
- Self-reliant arrogance
- Prayerful humility
- God breaks in
King Nebuchadnezzar had everything, at least by worldly standards. He was the most powerful man on earth, with wealth beyond comparison and could get whatever he wanted. That is why it comes as such a surprise when we read in 2:1 “In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.” Here was a man who had power, wealth, prestige, honor, and a legacy that would live down through the ages, lying awake night after night – afraid, like a little child. His soul was restless. He was faced with the unknown and it terrified him. When God breaks into his reality he is left helpless.
Although this man is totally secure, politically – he has everything - in his heart of hearts there is a deep seated insecurity. He cannot sleep.
What does Nebuchadnezzar do – well what any good citizen of the world would do –v.2 He summons the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamt and they came and stood before the king.” In the previous chapter the citizens of God’s kingdom stood before the king and the result was that in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. But now the best that the world has to offer stands before the king.
They were ready to curry favour with the king and more than willing to give a few answers. V. 4 “O king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” But it seems like Nebuchadnezzar does not remember the dream – Like a bad nightmare you wake up from every night but can’t quite remember what happens. So, he demands they tell him the dream and its interpretation, throwing money, honor and gifts at anyone that can interpret it. And if they can’t he threatens them with a loss of everything. It is interesting that his dream is actually about him losing everything.
But the wisest of the wise are left speechless, and the mightiest of the mighty is left helpless. Check out what the Astrologers answer the king v.10-11 “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks!... no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” Mmmm… they do not live among men? No, not yet, but his dream was about one who would come to dwell among us. In Jesus God lived among us. But these citizens of this world do not believe in the God that deeply cares and is involved in our everyday affairs, who has entered into history, rather, they believe in the distant gods of their imaginations who do not dwell with man and have no answers.
Basically the astrologers say: “If we can’t, nobody can.” A supreme example of haughty arrogance! And so, the mightiest man in the world loses it and the worlds wisest are faced with death. All the worlds’ money, and all his threatening power could not bring him one answer. The most powerful man on earth was totally helpless. The wisest of the wise men did not have a clue. O how the power of this world is turned to weakness and the wisdom of the world to foolishness, all in a moment. The self-reliant arrogance of man got them nowhere.
Our hearts can be a whirlpool of self-advancement... But in the end God must be everything or nothing. If he is everything then he is my peace, and it is exactly at those points where he is not lord that I do not have peace. And I get worried, stressed, leaving me sleepless, making for tension, frustration, and bitterness in life and relationship.
I know people who are at perfect peace and content having lost everything… and I have seen people go into a flat spin over losing retirement money when they were 40. For everyone who trusts in Jesus there is a security that no earthly power will give you
Just as it seems everyone is going to die, in steps a citizen of Gods kingdom, Daniel. In verse 14 we read, “When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke with wisdom and tact.” Although all the worlds’ powers were at a loss, here was a man that spoke from a position of confidence and security. This world might be turning upside-down, but the Christian is simply called to carry on. Respectfully. Gently. Peaceable. Truthfully. Not in our own might or ingenuity, but through prayer and faith – winsomely, projecting our confidence in an almighty God on an insecure and fearful world.
The big question is how do we respond when the worlds fear and insecurities lash out? When persecution comes, do we hole up in our Christian fortress, or get defensive? Or do we respond with wisdom and tact? You see, Daniel is able to respond calmly with confidence and security found in the fear of the LORD. He goes to that furious king who has lost it, while he, Daniel, is in control and asks for more time.
And what does he do? He doesn’t pack up and move to another country, he doesn’t say, “We need to go into hiding - The king is going to kill us all.” He goes home, talks to his small group Bible study, and urges them in vs 18 to pray for mercy from the God of heaven concerning the mystery so that he and his friends may not be executed.” They pray together and that night God answers their prayer. If there is anything that shows the dependency of the Christian it is his prayer life. Show me a Christian who doesn’t pray and I will show you one who has bought into the worlds self-reliant philosophy. Show me a man of prayer and I will show you one who knows he has nothing but death outside the mercy of God.
Prayer is at the heart of a real relationship with God. God answers prayers - plain and simple. It’s something me and you need to be reminded of again and again and again. In fact, off hand I can’t think of one unanswered prayer in scripture from a child of God, although many remained unanswered for a time. This book reminds us that God is a God who listens. Just like he does here.
Once he is given the answer, the very first thing he does is give thanks. He is grateful to the all wise, all powerful God who also gives wisdom, and reveals the deep and hidden things. Daniel knew God wasn’t obliged to answer him, it was mercy, it was grace. And, therefore, he sings and gives thanks that there is a God who cares about the affairs of humanity – that reveals himself to them. Nowhere more supremely than in Jesus Christ. Daniel couldn’t become conceited or self-reliant because he knew it was all God.
Are we proud and conceited, or do we stand utterly amazed that God would choose to reveal himself to us? Many put a question mark over the grave – we don’t – we have the answer in Christ. Many are still seeking the answer to the meaning and purpose in life. We have the answer. We have answers, basic answers – indisputable answers like 2+2=4 that we can take to the bank. Do you realize the answers you have are the answers that so many at your work and school and neighborhood are looking for?
This knowledge should humble us, for who makes you different from anyone else? What do we have that you did not receive? Let’s glorify God for the answers he has given us!
Satan will do his best to get the church to take some credit for what they know and what they do. Even Arioch tries to give Daniel some of the credit, v. 25, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.” But Daniel says, no, it was not me. In fact, he agrees with his unbelieving colleagues on the other side of the aisle and says, “No wise men, enchanter, magician, or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, BUT there is a god in Heaven who reveals mysteries.” It would have been so easy for him to take the credit. But this is not the way of God’s kingdom, the way of the rock. Which brings us to the dream.
The dream of the image of Man and the Rock
What the king sees is a massive statue, vs. 31 – an enormous dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head was of gold, the arms and chest of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of Iron, and the feet of iron and clay mix. While the king was watching a rock was cut out, not by human hands, it struck the statue at the feet of iron and clay. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces and became like chaff, the wind swept away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the earth.
Just a few things that I want us to notice. First, all that has come before this is a picture of how these two opposing images operate; the king, his advisors, Arioch all show us in time what it means to be the statue – self-reliant arrogance. And Daniel and his three friends show us a foreshadowing of what it means to be the rock - prayerful humility. The king wanted to turn his people’s houses to rubble, but this dream shows God will turn the kingdoms of the earth to dust.
Second, notice that Nebuchadnezzar is restricted to the sidelines, he is watching. The man that thought he could fix every problem has become merely a bystander, and has God show him who is the real doer, the real history writer.
Finally, this thing is massive, beautiful, and awesome. Let’s not minimize the world’s achievements. They look amazing. Which is why it’s so easy to buy into this image. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that we are immune to the temptation to join this magnificent project of humanism. We live in the most affluent and wealthiest time in human history. But the problem is that the foundation is a little shaky – iron and clay aren’t exactly known as foundational materials.
Let’s look at what these different minerals and body parts represent. Well, Daniel tells us that the king is the head of gold. The question is can we identify the other three?
By linking all these kingdoms, the dream says something profound about the whole human enterprise from beginning to end. In a real sense this statute is the picture of human history without God. Notice even how we have an allusion to the rule that God gave Adam in the beginning, by how Daniel describes Nebuchadnezzar, “You are the king of kings, God has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Man was made to rule over all creation.” This is the command and the privilege God gave to Adam, and now Nebuchadnezzar is described in those terms, but we know it was not to last. Because there was no room for God – we wanted to be God, man wanted to fill the earth, and leave no room for God.
The entire human endeavor, though gifted and blessed by God in the beginning with unparalleled glory and dominion, ends up in nothing but division, dissolution and brokenness. The pattern is evident in Genesis 1- 11, where Adam’s glory gives way to the flood’s judgement, and the chaos and division after Babel. The statute at its heart represents humanism… the mind of Babylon. The Humanist spirit with which every new generation must contend. They might be as shiny as gold, like liberal secularism, or powerful and strong like nationalistic socialism. Or communism. This image is the picture of the kingdoms of humanity without God – great and magnificent – built on an unstable foundation.
All these kingdoms stand in stark contrast to what replaces them. This is the story of man and God, two worlds, two kingdoms, and two kinds of people: The kind that leave room for God, and the kind that are forced to make room for God.
What happens is that a rock is cut out, again the emphasis is that it is not of human hands. That rock is our Lord Jesus Christ, and in him the kingdom of God broke into the human experience to establish the kingdom of God on earth. This rock crashes into the statue causing it to crash to the ground, only to become dust that the wind drives away. Take a good look at all the might and power of the world God tells his people – it’s all just dust in the wind before the power of the Rock Jesus Christ. This rock then grows until it fills the whole earth. You could say the God of heaven came to earth, to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. The rock crushes man’s power, and man’s wisdom and man’s glory. The final chapter of history, our chapter does not lie in God building a new and improved version of man’s statute, rather it lies in a radical dismantling and opposition of man’s kingdom.
Yes, we are living in the time of the rock. You see, Daniel was still looking forward to the establishing of this kingdom, while we live in the time of the kingdom, and look forward to and work toward its consummation. Its fulfillment. But this kingdom grows not through the world’s way of power, and self- reliance – but through the way of our Savior, the way of the Lamb.
You want to be part of a world changing movement. It will require you to give up your self-reliance, self-confidence, your life, so that you might find eternal security and unshakable confidence, and your immortal self in Christ. Beloved, hear the call of the kingdom – this rock is growing around this world, in Cape Town, Toronto, Denver, Dubai, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Beijing and Amsterdam. And our God calls us to lives of playful humility, willing to be used up for his kingdom.
And notice one last thing: even though Daniel knows who will win, he doesn’t stand back and remove himself from public life, no, in fact the opposite occurs, he is involved – the kingdom of God grows through his people. Those who are in the world but not of it. His Kingdom is going to grow – will you be a part of it? The rock, this person will fill the earth till every knee shall bow before him, just as Nebuchadnezzar would.
Please see the reality of this worldwide movement. Pray for it! At the beginning of the Lord’s prayer we pray, “your kingdom come.” Please Lord let your kingdom rule in my sphere of life. Ask yourself, “What am I pouring my life into… and for what motive? How am I advancing the kingdom of God? Have I adopted this world’s methods, money, power, prestige, advertisement? Or are we following a radically new way of life by entering relationally into others’ brokenness, into their lives, not caring about our own prestige; whether we will get noticed, whether honor and riches and power will be showered on our golden heads? Are we living the way of the rock, and considering others better than ourselves, saying along with John the Baptist, Jesus must become greater, while we become less?
Because that is the point. Whatever else this chapter says we must allow nothing to get in the way of this point: Gods kingdom will triumph. He must reign, and in Jesus the “Kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. We have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Are we following the way of the kingdom, which means, the way of losing our life? This world advances through power, conquest, manipulation, glory, and strength. The kingdom of God advances through suffering and death, through extravagant and unconditional love. The kingdom has been established. That’s why we pray, “Yours is the kingdom”! Do you hear the call of the kingdom?
“Hear the call of the Kingdom
To reach out to the lost
With the Father’s compassion
In the wonder of the cross
Bringing peace and forgiveness
And a hope yet to come
Let the nations put their trust in Him”
Lees: - Daniël 2
Sing: - Psalm 97: 1+7; Lied 239; Psalm 2: 5+6; Skrifberyming 1: 1,4,5,6; Psalm 89: 11+14