STUDY 6 DANIEL 2: 24-49 Inspiration

Today we finish Chapter 2 of Daniel. Our young man, carried off to Babylon, was chosen and trained in his new culture to be a “wise man.” Perhaps he was in the king’s office of cultural affairs but we know he was not in the church, just an ordinary person doing his job. BUT, culture and faith always live in tension and we see that in Daniel. First he feels the rub with dietary expectations. He negotiates for a trial period to live within his religious restrictions, and passes. So far, so good. Then the king has a terrifying dream and demands that his wise men tell him the dream and interpret it for him. There is no indication Daniel is in that meeting. The men cannot and in-fact believe no one can but the gods can and “they do not live with men.” Death is ordered for all the “wise men.” Hmmmm.

The executioner, Arioch, arrived at Daniel’s door last week. Daniel had the situation explained to him and went to the king to ask for time. He and his friends pray. Today we pick up our story as Daniel has indeed received “wisdom” from the gods! “ v. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”

Let’s continue:

            24 Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will give the king the interpretation.”

25 Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king and said to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who can tell the king the interpretation.” 26 The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to tell me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or diviners can show to the king the mystery that the king is asking, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has disclosed to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen at the end of days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed were these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed, came thoughts of what would be hereafter, and the revealer of mysteries disclosed to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me because of any wisdom that I have more than any other living being, but in order that the interpretation may be known to the king and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.

  1. Today we reflect on this. I believe we would call this “inspiration,” “revelation,” or what? For my master’s I had to read a professor from Stanford University. His sociological explanation of life had perhaps three categories: social, psychological, and environmental but then he posited a fourth category he call “fortuitous events.” He had to agree, while not giving credit to God, that things happen that change the course of events, change understanding of how 1+1=2, and impact our life direction. I put down the phone, having accepted to go to a conference that the synod would pay half way if I could find the cost of the other half. I walked to the mailbox and there was a check from our home church for the exact cost of the conference donated by an anonymous person. Never before and never since has that happened. I credit God. It was a “fortuitous event.” Have you ever had a dream that illumined a problem you were grappling with? Been inspired right when you needed to perform? Reflect and think of a time where you received inspiration, an answer, an insight that just popped into your head and impacted your life. _____________________________
  2. Perhaps it is significant that Daniel confesses that he was given insight, not for his own advancement, but for the king’s insight. The word we might use here is “humility.” One of the characteristics of Daniel, a man esteemed by God, an employee of the king was humility. What does humility look like to you?________ Synonym____________ antonym_______________ Describe an experience with a humble person________________.

 31 “You were looking, O king, and lo! there was a great statue. This statue was huge, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked on, a stone was cut out, not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

  1. The king’s dream is of a giant statue. We shall learn next that it is a picture of the kingdoms of the world. A rock hits the statue and shatters it. Today we might think of the kingdoms of the world as a globe being struck by a meteor. Can you think of an image that would share a sense of how you understand the kingdom’s of your world? ______________
  2. What kingdom would you put at the center of your image?_________________________          And what might threaten or shatter it?__________________

36 “This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings—to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory, 38 into whose hand he has given human beings, wherever they live, the wild animals of the field, and the birds of the air, and whom he has established as ruler over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these. 41 As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. 42 As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever; 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from the mountain not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has informed the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation trustworthy.”

  1. Daniel gives the interpretation. The statue represents four kingdoms. For historical interpreters who understand the symbols to be historical facts equate the gold head with the Babylonians, the silver chest and arms as the Media-Persian kingdom, the bronze belly and thighs to be the Greeks, and the iron legs to be the Roman empire. The rock that rises up is the kingdom of God that shall eventually emerge with eternal dominion. The advantage of these 20th century interpretations is hindsight. The test of a prophet is that the prophecy takes place but at this point in the story, the future…is future. Many scholars would do a more general summary. Kingdoms rise and fall but God’s kingdom “shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people.” I wonder what about this message impacted the king and what impacts us. So what can we draw from this?
  2. Agree,Disagree                                                                                                                                         God works outside the box. God cares about non-Christian kings and kingdoms. God is aware of world events. So what might that imply as we ponder the impact of Covid-19 on Christian “kingdoms” today?_____________________________________  
  3. How might the symbol of the rock smashing the statue shed light on the role of the kingdom of God in our world?____________________________________
  4. How might the assurance of the coming of the kingdom of God impact the king or us? _________________________

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshiped Daniel, and commanded that a grain offering and incense be offered to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery!” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.

  1. The king seems to acknowledge Daniel and Daniel’s god. What seems to be missing? Has he become a “believer” or what is missing? _________
  2. Daniel is promoted but Daniel does not forget his friends and speaks up for their benefit also. Daniel was humble but also recognized his support team. Who is your support team? _________________________________________          How might you show appreciation this week? __________

 

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