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Sunday, June 9, 2019

posted Jun 9, 2019, 3:24 PM by Site Administrator




Daniel 2:1-48

Key Verse 2:44


In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.


First, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever” (1-23). Look at verse 1. In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So, early in the morning, the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed and interpret it. At this, they asked the king to tell them the dream so that they could interpret it. But the king was firmly determined that he would not tell them the dream. Because, if he told them the dream, then, they would come up with somewhat good sounding or logical sounding interpretation, but that’s not what he wanted. He wanted the real thing – the true message his dream had. His point was: If anyone could tell him the dream, he could see clearly that his interpretation was true. He was wise. At this, they said, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” At this, the king was so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. 


Daniel was a promising and bright young man in the empire. But in one day, he was going to be executed, without knowing the reason. Surely, life in the world, life among many beast-like people in the world was like walking on the thin layer of ice that was already cracking. The people in the world are not reliable; one day, they are very friendly, but the next day, they are savage. We cannot and must not rely on their goodness or favor; one day, your boss seems loving you, but the next day, you are fired. In this very dangerous and savage world, only our God is reliable; when we rely on God, even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can be confident and we are not afraid of any evil or harm; when we put our trust in God, we will not be put to shame. 


Daniel on the way to execution, asked Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, who was in charge of this execution of all the wise men in Babylon, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. Look at verse 16. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. In the eyes of all others, it was an impossible matter. Yet, how come Daniel asked the king for time so that he might interpret it? It was because in his eyes, it seemed possible. How come? It was because he had been in the relationship with God. His idea was so simple: If God shows me the dream and gives me its interpretation, then I will know. While things were going on well, there was no difference between worldly wise people and servants of God. It seemed that those brilliant and intellectual people had more knowledge and wisdom; maybe, they bragged about their knowledge, certificate and achievements; maybe, even they despised Daniel and his friends for being so exclusive. But when things went beyond their ability, when a real challenge came up, there was nothing these worldly wisemen could do; they were completely hopeless and helpless. At that time, Daniel who knew his God, who had been in the relationship with God rose. Surely, those who love God, those who are in the fellowship with God, are the hope for the whole world. Real solutions come from them. In that impossible situation, Daniel boldly asked the king for time so that he would pray for it and get the interpretation for him. 


Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. He was a servant of God, having faith in God's power. But he was not overly confident about himself. Instead, he humbly asked his friends for their prayer support; he asked them to fight together with him for this challenge through prayer. One person's prayer is good. Two person's joint prayer is better; and multitude of people praying in one mind is best. Now, it was their desperate struggle of prayer, for their own life was at stake. Then, during that night, the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. God showed him the dream Nebuchadnezzar had had, and gave him its interpretation. How happy Daniel was. His prayer was answered and the mystery was revealed to him. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. Let's read Daniel's praise to God together, verses 20 through 23:


20and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” 


Through this experience with God, Daniel came to know God as the Sovereign God who changes times and seasons at his will, who sets up kings and deposes them according to his purpose. The dream God had given the king Nebuchadnezzar, which God had revealed to Daniel showed God's sovereignty over the human history – God is the real deciding factor in human history; he is the one who controls and guides it. When Daniel realized this, he also could see God's great wisdom and power. He shouted, “Wisdom and power are his. Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever.” 


Second, “The kingdom that will never be destroyed” (24-49). Then, Daniel went to Arioch and said to him not to execute the wise men of Babylon. Then, Arioch took Daniel to the king at once. The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” Daniel replied, “No wise man, 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. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:” The dream Nebuchadnezzar had was about a statue. In his dream, he saw a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While he was watching, wondering about it, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. 


Now Daniel gave the king its interpretation. As Daniel testified, it was the dream God gave Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon to show him what's going to happen in the future, how human history would go. From the time of the Babylonian Empire, especially, during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, there will be five kingdoms in history. The head of pure gold was the Babylonian Empire under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel said to the king, “You are that head of gold.” But Daniel just did not make the king proud; instead, he declared the sovereign rule of the God of Israel, saying, “The God of heaven 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. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all.” Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was the sovereign ruler; or he might think that with his military strength and power, he had built that vast empire. But that's not the case. God, for his own will and purpose, granted him such power and glory. It was dangerous for anyone to proclaim God to the king. But Daniel, so inspired by the dream and its interpretation, was determined to reveal God to the king. 


After the Babylonian Empire, another kingdom would rise, inferior to the Babylonian Empire – the Medes and Persian Empire was the breast and arms of silver of the statue. Next, a third kingdom – the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great was the belly and thighs of bronze of the statue. Finally, there would be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it would crush and break all the others. This most powerful kingdom of iron was the Roman Empire. It was the Roman law that once the Roman army laid a siege against any city, they had to destroy the city and all its people completely; literally, like iron, they crushed any opponent. After the Roman Empire, another kingdom would come – the feet and toes that were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this would be a divided kingdom. As there are ten toes for the foot, this kingdom will be made of many countries, and some of them will have the strength of iron – powerful and rich countries, but some of them will be poor and weak like baked clay. This fifth kingdom's main struggle will be the unification of its kingdom so that they can be one nation like the USA, but they will not be able to be united. Daniel says in verse 43, “And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” Most Bible scholars agree that this last kingdom is the European Union. In the hope of restoring the power and glory of the Roman Empire, the European countries started the European Union. So far, 28 countries are members of this union. At first, it seemed that things were going okay – politically and economically. Then, after 11 years' experiment with monetary union (January 1st 1999 was the beginning of using Euro), in 2010 suddenly an economic challenge rose as Greece had a serious debt problem and considered default; then, Spain had the same problem, then, Portugal, then, Hungary. Since then, the European Union has been shaken greatly with many problems – political conflict, rise of nationalism in many countries, Brexit, refugee problem,… They struggle hard to somehow maintain unity in the European Union, but, if the EU is the last kingdom Daniel talks about, it will remain divided this way.  


Since the Babylonian Empire, 2600 years have passed, and so many things have happened – many inventions, Renaissance, civilization, industrial revolution, and now technological revolution. Many people have laughed and wept for many reasons. But God's view of human history is very simple – five kingdoms. All people's struggles have been for these kingdoms; the whole human history is about these five kingdoms – but sadly, four of them are gone already, and the fifth will be gone too. This is human history – all people struggle hard to establish kingdoms they want; some of them are successful while others fail, then, all these kingdoms will be gone leaving no trace, making all people's struggle in vain. When we check out the statue, we see that, as time passes by, its strength increases – from gold, soft material to iron. As history proceeds, mankind has developed more technology and built more strength and power to destroy. But at the same time, we see that its quality deteriorates from gold to iron, and even to baked clay. This is allegorical. As people struggle to build their kingdoms, as new technology and new ideas are invented, or as more civilization occurs, humanity deteriorates continually. Even a British scientist suggested the survival of the fittest like in the jungle, and amazingly the whole world welcomed his idea, considering his theory as truth, not as theory. Especially, nowadays, life is hard in this dog-eat-dog world. It seems that people cannot help but crush others to the wall so that they can survive and succeed. It is really brutal like iron that crushes everything to pieces. Now children as they grow up in this era of technological revolution, have no chance to develop their character; just they sit in front of computer monitors or TVs, playing video games or watching youtube videos. As a result, more people become mentally unstable and come to have psychological problems only to make psychiatrists and psychologists richer and richer. And many weird and bizarre crimes occur. It seems that mankind becomes worse and worse, and the society more brittle than before. Isn't there any hope? Yes, there is. Look at verse 44. Let's read this verse together:


In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 

While mankind struggles to build their own kingdoms, God also builds one kingdom. While human history continues, God starts the history of His kingdom. This kingdom God establishes is unique and different from all other kingdoms. This kingdom is described as a rock, cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands. All other kingdoms are built by human hands, by killing and destroying others with military power; it's very bloody, violent, sad and horrifying. But the kingdom God established was not by human hands. This kingdom refers to God's kingdom Jesus Christ established through his death and resurrection. During his time on earth, his disciples and all other followers wanted him to establish a messianic kingdom by human hands, by proclaiming the beginning of the Messianic kingdom in Jerusalem, gathering and mobilizing people and destroying the Roman Empire. His disciples kept insisting this idea. But Jesus refused to use the sword. Instead, he obeyed God's will by dying on the cross for the sin of the world. Thus, he made a way for sinners to be forgiven and become children of God. The gathering of these forgiven people was the kingdom of God, in which they acknowledged God as their king and obeyed His laws and regulations. Near the end of his life, the exiled Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821, France) wrote: “I know men, and I tell you Jesus Christ was not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him. In every other existence but that of Christ how many imperfections!” Now we are brought into this kingdom and God's kingdom advances through us, but not by human hands, but by our absolute obedience and trust in God. 


Another characteristic of this kingdom God built through Jesus' death and resurrection is that it will never be destroyed. There is one thing that is true – all kingdoms that rise wane – that's what human history is about – kingdoms rose and waned. The Babylonian Empire was great, but it only lasted for about 70 years. The Roman Empire was strong like iron, but it also was gone. One time, England was known as the Empire whose sun did not set, but that story was of long ago, and the United Kingdom is not bright at all. When communism in Russia, the former USSR, officially ended with the election of Boris Yeltsin in 1996, Russians lost power in the world, and the USA became the only superpower nation in the world; yet, at that time, pastor Ron Ward prophesied that this could change in less than 10 years. Now America and China – G2 are in trade war. We don’t know what the eventual outcome will be. Nonetheless, one thing for sure as the history proves, is that eventually both countries will be gone too. That's what human history is about – kingdoms rise and wane. But the Kingdom of God Jesus established through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead will not be destroyed; there will be no end, and it will not be left to another people. How come? It’s because, as Napoleon Bonaparte said, this kingdom is perfect: Its foundation is perfect; its method is perfect; its power is perfect; its laws and regulations are perfect. 


This kingdom will never be destroyed. It does not mean that it just stays as it is; such a kingdom that remains the same cannot survive. The fact that this kingdom will never be destroyed shows that this kingdom increases in power and prosperity continually above all challenges and difficulties. 2000 years ago, it was in the hearts of small number of people in Calvary in Israel; it was a very tiny kingdom; but it did not stat as a small kingdom. Instead, since then, it grew in number and prosperity continually; first in the lives of 120 disciples in the upper room of Mark, then, in the lives of 3,000 disciples in the Jerusalem church, then throughout all Judea, Samaria, and then, throughout Asia Minor, then, Europe, and then, now even to the ends of the earth. The kingdom increases really powerfully. This kingdom increases continually becoming more and more prosperous until it gains all the glory and wealth of the whole world. This is the characteristic of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is in you does not remain as it is, but it grows and increases continually. The kingdom of God Jesus started here among us will increase continually until it covers the whole state California, establishing 50 churches; and it will increase continually until it covers the whole world. The apostle Paul says, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1Cor 15:58)


Then, what about all other kingdoms humans have built? In the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the rock, cut out of a mountain, struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. In interpretation, Daniel said, “The rock will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” The kingdom God established through Jesus' death and resurrection and the kingdoms humans have built are against each other. Wherever the kingdom of God reaches, there will be a conflict – it is like two different kingdoms collide. Jesus says in Matthew 10, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:34-37) This kind of conflict is inevitable, and God's kingdom advances powerfully in such conflicts through those who love Jesus more than their parents, their children and more than anyone and anything in the world. Through this, the value system and cultures of the human kingdoms are destroyed, and godly value system and godly cultures are established, and thus, God's kingdom advances. In this way, God kingdom will crush all man-made kingdoms and bring them to an end, and God's kingdom itself will cover the whole earth, thus completing God's redemption work. This is the whole direction of world history. 


As a conclusion, Daniel said to the king, “This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.” What a great mystery Daniel showed the king! What a bold statement it was – “The Great God has shown the king what will take place in the future.” Daniel had God's revelation; he had God's message in his heart, so he was super powerful and super bold; when he had the message of God in his heart, he was invincible and nothing could stop him from proclaiming the glory of God. 


At this, how did the king respond? Look at verses 46 and 47. Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” It was impossible to even imagine that the king Nebuchadnezzar would fall prostrate before Daniel, a young man, maybe, at the age of about 20. But when Daniel had God's message, he was not an ordinary human being, but a servant of God, even above the king Nebuchadnezzar. After paying Daniel honor, the king ordered that an offering and incense be presented to Daniel. Surely, it was not toward just a human being but a servant of God. Through his dream and Daniel's message, the king came to acknowledge the God of Israel as the true God and respected Him greatly. So, he respected God's servant Daniel greatly. Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.


Today, we studied the whole human history – it is just a statue that will eventually crumble down and be gone leaving no trace – there is no hope or value or future in this ever sinking ship. We also studied about the history of God's kingdom Jesus established through his death on the cross and resurrection. While the kingdoms of the world come and go, God's kingdom increases continually, and it will bring to an end to all human kingdoms. This is the kingdom we belong to, and this is the kingdom we live for and die for.  


One Word:The God OF Heaven Set Up A Kingdom That Will Never Be Destroyed.