Daniel 2 - Nebuchadnezzar Demands an Answer

Turn in your Bibles to Daniel 2:1;

 

Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.”

 

4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic,[a] “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.”

 

5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. 6 However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”

 

7 They answered again and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.”

 

8 The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: 9 if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”

 

10 The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. 11 It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

 

12 For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.

 

14 Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; 15 he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel.

 

16 So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. 17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

 

20 Daniel answered and said:

 

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,

For wisdom and might are His.

21 And He changes the times and the seasons;

He removes kings and raises up kings;

He gives wisdom to the wise

And knowledge to those who have understanding.

22 He reveals deep and secret things;

He knows what is in the darkness,

And light dwells with Him.

23 “I thank You and praise You,

O God of my fathers;

You have given me wisdom and might,

And have now made known to me what we asked of You,

For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

 

24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”

 

May God bless the reading of His word.

 

Let us pray.

 

Remembering that most Middle Eastern countries did not refer to the first year of a kings reign as “the first year” helps us to understand that when Daniel writes about the “second year of Nebuchadnezzar” that he is talking about the third year since Nebuchadnezzar's rise to the throne. This lines up precisely with what we are told in chapter 1 about Daniel and the others.

 

Remember it said that they would be trained for three years and we see their class finals as it were at the end of chapter 1.

 

Nebuchadnezzar is having a dream and it is making him anxious, which is kind of a big deal if you understand who Nebuchadnezzar was and the vast empire that he built.

 

What isn't evident is that in the middle of verse 4, after the translators write; “Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic,” that the next 6 chapters, from that point until chapter 7 verse 28, the book is actually written in Aramaic.

 

So what is Aramaic, anyway.

 

We know that it is the language that was spoken by the Jews in the time of Jesus, but why is that?

 

Well, it's due in large part to the fact that the Jews went into exile under King Nebuchadnezzar, because Aramaic is also referred to as Syriac or as Chaldee and was the language of Babylon.

 

I asked the most level headed person that I know, Marilyn, why she thought Daniel wrote these chapters in Aramaic, and her answer mirrored the answer of a bunch of really smart Bible scholars. She said, “maybe because he wanted to speak to them in their own language,” and that is exactly what we think is going on.

 

You see from 2:4b until 7:28 Daniel speaks of things which pertain to Gentiles, both the Babylonians ans the Medo-Persians who conquered them as well as history of the one who would conquer the Medes and Persians, Alexander the Great. These things Daniel writes about in the common language that he has learned, the language of the world.

 

However, the things that Daniel writes about in verses 8-12 are things which concern his people, Israel. It is thought that Daniel wrote of these things in the Hebrew because that was still the holy language of Scripture, and the language of Israel. Any Babylonian could have read the Aramaic portions of Daniel's writings, but only someone who read Hebrew could read the things which pertained to the prophecies which God gave him about the end times, and Israel.

 

This is definitely something that you might never know if you just read through the English translation of the Bible and don't stop to figure out why Daniel says; “Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic.”

 

So what is the first thing they say, in Aramaic?

 

Basically they say, “Gee, tell us your dream and we'll be glad to tell you what it means.”

 

To which Nebuchadnezzar answers;

 

“My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. 6 However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”

 

Now if we back up and look at what Nebuchadnezzar first says. Daniel tells us that Nebuchadnezzar told them; “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.” The word translated as “know” here in the New King James is yādaʿ. Yādaʿ has a variety of meanings. Some people rely on this rudimentary meaning translated as “know” to suggest that Nebuchadnezzar has forgotten his dream and that is why he insists that the sorcerers not only interpret his dream, but that they tell him his dream as well. That, however, is not an accurate depiction of Nebuchadnezzar's words. Nebuchadnezzar is telling the sorcerers that he is anxious to “understand” the dream, which is what both the NASB and the NET Bible translate this passage to mean.

 

So, if he knows what his dream is, why is he hesitant to tell them the dream so that they can explain it to him?

 

The short answer is that he doesn't trust these guys, and the dream is so important that he doesn't want to entrust it to anyone who cannot go the extra mile and first tell him what his dream is, before explaining it to him.

 

The spiritual answer is, because God put in Nebuchadnezzar's that thought into Nebuchadnezzar's mind.

 

The not so wise men reply to Nebuchadnezzar;

 

“There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. 11 It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

 

So Nebuchadnezzar proceeds to start killing all the “wise men.” They eventually come to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azaraiah who know nothing about what is going on. So Daniel tells us;

 

14 Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; 15 he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel.

 

Daniel goes into the King, and asks for time to get the answer. Notice that Daniel doesn't say, “nobody can do that,” because Daniel knows that he can do anything if he trusts in God for the results. We see that attitude displayed in verses 17-19 when he tells us;

 

17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

 

In the verses following, we see Daniel praising the Uncreated God, he records his praise, telling us;

 

20 Daniel answered and said:

 

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,

For wisdom and might are His.

21 And He changes the times and the seasons;

He removes kings and raises up kings;

He gives wisdom to the wise

And knowledge to those who have understanding.

22 He reveals deep and secret things;

He knows what is in the darkness,

And light dwells with Him.

23 “I thank You and praise You,

O God of my fathers;

You have given me wisdom and might,

And have now made known to me what we asked of You,

For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

 

After praising God for giving him both the dream and the interpretation, Daniel tell us;

 

24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”

 

Which is a perfect place to leave this story, until next week.

 

If you confess Jesus as Lord, I hope that you can see God's hand all over this passage. When we think of things like being taken captive or being taken from our home country, we tend to lose sight of the big picture. We start to lament the fate of those who are exiled and forget that God is in control even when we find ourselves in circumstances that we didn't plan to be in.

 

You may never be taken into exile and forced to learn another language and culture while having your obedience to God's dietary law tested.

 

As a matter of fact, I'd say that's probably not going to happen.

 

But I can guarantee that you will most certainly find yourself in circumstances where you not only feel out of control and powerless, but you may even find yourself in a position where you feel that your life is literally or figuratively threatened.

 

Remember the lesson that we learned last week, about being obedient to God in faith, regardless of the circumstances?

 

Well here it is being born out again.

 

Daniel didn't know what the king's dream was, but he had every confidence that God would reveal it to him if he asked.

 

So he asked...in faith.

 

And when God gave him the answer, Daniel didn't just go on his way. He made sure to worship and thank God before he did anything else.

 

This is the attitude that we need to have as followers of Jesus Christ.

 

Our God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, is the Uncreated God, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Not only is He unconstrained, He is totally in control.

 

He gave Nebuchadnezzar the dream.

 

He hardened Nebuchadnezzar's heart against the not so wise men that worshiped other gods.

 

He allowed Daniel to reason with the Captain of the guard to allow an audience with the king.

 

He softened Nebuchadnezzar's heart to allow Daniel time to discover the dream and its interpretation.

 

Finally, He gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation.

 

Who is in control of that whole series of events?

 

Nebuchadnezzar?

 

No.

 

Daniel?

 

No.

 

Only God is in control, and this is just one of the ways that He is going to use His faithful servant Daniel to testify to Nebuchadnezzar the power of the Hebrew God.

 

Pray that He would do the same through you.

 

Hopefully He won't do it by putting your neck on the line, but if he does, remember, you serve the same God Daniel serves.

 

Be faithful to Him.

 

And when He is faithful to you, which is always, make sure that you give Him the worship that He alone is worthy of. Whether it is letting you keep your job, helping you through tough times, or sharing the Gospel with someone, if you trust God for the results, and give Him the glory when He acts, you will never be disappointed.

 

And if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord, I hope that you can see the power of the God Who Daniel, Hananiah, Mishrael and Azaraiah worship.

 

He has not only spared them from the fate of many of the other wise men, but if you haven't figured it out yet, He is making vacancies in Nebuchadnezzar's closest advisors. Vacancies which thes four young men will fill.

 

And while the story is interesting so far, the dream which Nebuchadnezzar wants to understand is one of the most important and far reaching prophecies of the fate of mankind that has ever been recorded. It is a prophetic dream which concerned not only Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom but the fate of all kingdoms from then on.

 

Indeed it is a prophecy that is still being fulfilled today.

 

You need to honestly ask yourself what your relationship with the God of the Bible is?

 

You see, unlike the gods of other religions, the God that Old and New Testament testifies to is all powerful, uncreated and in complete control.

 

He literally created you for His purposes.

 

He knows the number of your days.

 

And He knows your eternal fate.

 

You see, our rightful destiny is death, because we have all sinned and the wages of sin is death.

 

If that word seems harsh or judgmental, then you really don't understand what sin is.

 

You see sin, is simply doing that which God forbids, or not doing that which God commands.

 

If you mess up once, you have sinned.

 

Some people act like that isn't a big deal. After all, death is just ceasing to exist, right?

 

Well, no, not according to Jesus. Jesus describes death as “the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the fire is not quenched and the worm, that's us, never dies”

 

If the reality of God, your sin, and His impending punishment against you for it is becoming real to you then take heart, because God is changing you into a new creation, one that not only knows that He exists but one that has the faith to confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.

 

You see, this is all that is required in order to be saved, because as Romans 10:10 tells us; with the heart one believes resulting in righteousness and with the mouth confession is made resulting in salvation.

 

Won't you be saved today?

 

 

Let us pray.

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