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You May Be in Babylon, but God is on the Throne (chapter 2:1-30)
You may be in Babylon,
but God is on the Throne
Daniel 2:1-30
 
On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln met with his cabinet in Washington. They were waiting for a report from the campaign of General Sherman who was pressing the cause of the Union forces in South. As they were waiting for the report he shared with his cabinet that he had been having a recurring dream. It seemed that this dream would always come before some major event in the war.
 
He said that his dream was a dream about an indescribable vessel that was moving rapidly toward an indefinite destination. He wondered what the meaning of that dream was. We know that evening he was mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth and before the day was over, Abraham Lincoln had moved his life's vessel to the shores of eternity. Abraham Lincoln had a recurring dream which had tremendous impact upon him personally and upon the nation and also upon eternity.
 
Tonight we are moving into chapter 2 of the book of Daniel.  Nebuchadnezzar is the king of the mightiest empire on the earth at this particular time.
 
Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, and the meaning of this dream is a meaning which impacts world history.  God is revealing to King Nebuchadnezzar, in a dream, a major prophecy about the future. It is a prophecy we will study beginning in verse 31 and going to the end of chapter 2. The verses leading up to that interpretation of the dream are the substance of what we want to talk about this evening.
 
Keep in mind that Daniel and his three friends have completed a three-year crash course and they are now advisors to the king. They are now in the role of giving expert advice to the king. They are part of his official advisors.
 
In that atmosphere I want us to study the situation and the circumstances that lead up to the meaning of this dream.
 
1. Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
 
verse 1
 
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams. There is a plural here. It means that he is having a recurring dream.
 
We are told exactly what the setting of these dreams is.
 
Look at verse 29
 
Evidently Nebuchadnezzar was concerned about the future, as we all are. He was wondering what was ahead. He was a leader. He had the weight of that entire nation upon him. So very often he was not able to sleep and would dream.
 
Probably some of you are wondering about your future. You are wondering about the future of your family and your children. You are wondering about your own health and welfare. When we look at world conditions and the condition of our nation and all of the moral issues that are before us, it can be a time of great concern.
 
 
Nebuchadnezzar was having a recurring dream, wondering what the future was going to bring. We are told that his spirit was so troubled that he developed insomnia. 
 
In that atmosphere, he calls for his official advisors. You will notice that it breaks them down into categories. He calls for the magicians. Literally that means to write with a stylus. These were evidently the writing scholars.  The astrologers were those who studied the movements of the heavens, thinking that destiny would be determined in the stars. The sorcerers were those who had contact with the occult. The Chaldeans were evidently the ethnic philosophers of the time. In other words, these were his "think tank." These are people who turned advice into a profession.
 
The call is made to these advisors and they are to come and show the king his dreams. The end of verse 2 says, "So they came and stood before the king."
 
Do you see them as they come marching in that morning? These are the experts of the day. These are the know-it-alls. These are the ones who have all of the answers. The king is doing what we do. When the king had a problem he consulted the experts. That's what we do. We find out those who are supposed to be the ones who have all of the answers.
 
I can imagine they come marching in so filled with their knowledge. They have their Ph.D. degrees. They have all their expertise. They come walking in to the palace where the king is. The king tells them what has happened.
He says, "I have dreamed a dream and my spirit was troubled."
 
First of all we have the king's dream. Let's move to the second movement in verse 4. There we see
 
2. Daniel's Dilemma
 
verse 4
 
Something happens here in the book of Daniel which is not apparent in the English versions. It says that they began to speak to him in Aramaic. From this point in the book of Daniel, it is written not in the Hebrew language, but in the Aramaic.
 
From Daniel 2, verse 4, all the way to the end of chapter 7, verse 28, is written in Aramaic. It is a very unusual change. It a very unusual development.
 
God is getting ready to reveal the future of the Gentile nations. So in the language of the Gentile nations, God is going to give this revelation. So they spoke to the king in Aramaic. They said in verse 4, "Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation."
 
They are saying you show and we tell. Do you remember in kindergarten how you played show and tell? This is an advancement on the game. Instead of show and tell, it is tell and show. They are saying to the king, "You tell us what the dream was. You show us the dream, then we'll tell you the interpretation of the dream."
 
 
 
These experts don't have that answer. That's what is going on here. They don't have a clue what the king has dreamed. Sometimes the experts think they have all of the answers and they are reluctant to admit that they don't know what's going on.
 
I heard about a young doctor on his first day in practice. His first patient came in and he examined the patient and didn't have a clue what was wrong. He didn't want to admit he didn't know what was wrong and so he said, "Have you ever had this before?" The patient said, "Well, yes I have." The doctor said, "Well you have it again."
 
He says in verse 5, "The thing is gone from me." He is saying that he doesn't remember the details of the dream. Now, he begins to set up a system of penalties and rewards. He gives the negative in verse 5 and the positive in verse 6. 
 
He says in verse 5 this: "If you can't tell me, the penalty is you will be cut in pieces." He is saying that he is going to kill them. Their houses will be turned into a dunghill, a garbage dump. That's the penalty. That's the negative.
 
The positive is in verse 6. But if you show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor..."
 
On and on he sets up the system of penalties and rewards. The king is getting a little hot now. Nebuchadnezzar, as we are going to find later on, had mental problems. He becomes a crazy man before the book of Daniel is over. It's a remarkable story and it will be fascinating when we get to it. But he's pretty edgy right here.
Verse 8
 
He is saying, you are stalling for time, and then, in verse 9, he charges them with being a bunch of frauds. He is saying that they evidently don't have the answers.
 
That is exactly the truth when it comes to a lot of the so-called authorities in our day. Some of the so-called experts are supposed to have all of the answers in our day.
 
Verse 10-11
 
Do you see the arrogance of these so-called experts? They are saying, if we don't know the answer, nobody does. That's the way a lot of so-called experts today are.
 
But there is a group of people on this earth who know where the answers are. There are some people on this earth who understand that there are some truths that can only be revealed from God in heaven and that God hides these things from the wise and prudent and as Jesus said, reveals them unto babes.
 
That janitor sweeping the steps that lead into the university classroom building may have more answers about the real meaning of life than the so-called learned scholars who climb those steps into their classrooms.
 
Here are the basic questions of life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior have the answers to those questions.
 
Who are you? You are a creation of God Himself.
Where did you come from? God made you. Where are you going? You are going for eternity.
 
But these are arrogant men. They say there is not a man that has the answer to all of this. But you and I know something they didn't know. There was a man. There was young man who knew the answers and his name was Daniel.
 
Verse 12-13
 
Evidently Daniel and his friends did not know what was going on at this particular time. But a crisis has arisen. Word has gone out from the king that all of these experts, all of these advisors, are to be slain because the king has had a dream and no one seems to be able to give the interpretation of the dream.
 
That brings me to verse 14 and the third movement in this section. See,
 
3. Daniel's Desire
 
Verses 14-16
 
Evidently Daniel was well thought of by King Nebuchadnezzar. Back in chapter 1, after that three year course of training, Daniel and his friends went in for their oral exams before King Nebuchadnezzar. Look back at chapter 1, verse 17. "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams."
 
 
 
God gave Daniel the ability to understand and to interpret dreams. It was not unusual for God to speak in those days through dreams.
 
God may speak in dreams today. We certainly don't restrict God. God can do anything God wants to do. But according to Hebrews 1, God's primary way of speaking His will and plan and purpose to us is through His Son the Lord Jesus, the Living Word, who is revealed to us in the Written Word.
 
So God may speak to you in a dream. But if you have a dream and think that's from God, check it out with the Bible. If it contradicts the Bible, you can know it's not from God but from indigestion.
 
But God was speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan ruler, by means of a dream. Daniel says, I need a little time. Give me time and I'll interpret the meaning of the dream for you.
 
Look back at verse 16 of Daniel chapter 2.
 
That's Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He went back and told them the situation.
 
verse 18
 
He is saying, let's ask God. What is Daniel's desire? The mercies of heaven! They are going to ask God the meaning of this dream. He is saying we are going to pray about it."
 
God has made a wonderful promise to you and to me. It's in James 1, verse 5. This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible. You ought to mark this and maybe memorize this promise of God.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."
 
Do you need wisdom? You have a decision and you don't know which way to go? You need help with a problem you are dealing with? God says if you need wisdom, ask ME, and I will give you that wisdom. What a wonderful promise!
 
Daniel is going to God in prayer. He says we are going to desire the mercies of heaven. Prayer is based on the mercy of God. We pray on the basis of God's mercy, not our merit, not because we deserve the answer from heaven, but on the basis of the mercy of God. Daniel says we'll desire the mercies of God. He gathers his friends together.
 
Now you have corporate prayer. When you have a decision to be made, it is a good thing to get other people to pray with you. That's one of the great blessings of coming together on Wednesday nights..
 
There is value in corporate prayer. There is value in asking your friends and your leaders in church to pray for you. We have decisions that need to be made. We have plans that need to be mapped out. We need the wisdom of God.
 
Daniel gets his friends together and they begin to pray.
 
Look at verse 19. We don't know exactly how it came about but it says, "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven."
 
That means that God revealed it. God just shows him what the dream was all about. God showed him the meaning of that dream. You would think that when God gave him that answer, knowing that his life and the life of his friends were at stake, he would rush back into the presence of King Nebuchadnezzar. But he doesn't.
 
Do you see what he does in verse 20?
 
Look at what he's doing! He's praising! You talk about thriving in Babylon!  He has prayed, God has answered his prayer and now he is praising God for answered prayer.
 
Do you praise God for answered prayer? Praise without prayer is presumption. But prayer without praise is ingratitude. When God answers prayer, we need to thank Him for it.
 
Daniel is praising God for the answer of prayer.
 
Verse 24 says,
 
Now, he's ready to go into the presence of the king.
 
Look at verse 25-27
 
He is saying that none of that crowd has the answer.
 
But this is so good in verse 28.
 
Daniel doesn't take a bit of credit. Daniel points the king toward the God of heaven.
 
There is a God in heaven! He is really there! He really exists! There is a God in heaven!
If you have a problem, there is a God in heaven who has the answer to that problem. Do you have a need? There is a God in heaven who can meet that need. We need to turn to God and lift our hearts toward God and God can reveal His will and His plan.
 
Verse 28 says in this dream God has revealed what is going to be in the latter days. We'll look at that next week and see that here is a panorama of world history. God gave to a pagan king in the Old Testament time, a dream that laid out the whole scope of human history coming right down to your day and mine. That's the kind of God we serve.
 
I don't know what the future may hold for you. I don't know what God has ahead for your life, but I know this. There is a God in heaven that has all the answers. There is a God in heaven that will lead you and direct you and guide you if you will turn to Him and yield your life totally to Him.
 
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
 
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