Daniel: Being a stand up person in a bow down world (week 3)

Daniel: not on earth but in heaven.  

Daniel 2:1-30

As we hit Daniel chapter 2, Daniel’s belief in God’s sovereignty and power is put to the test. In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar has a bad dream and the nature of the dream strikes fear into him. He wants to know what it is all about and so he summons the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers for help. But Nebuchadnezzar is either in a particularly foul mood (perhaps because of the dream) or is wanting to test the credibility of his advisors as he refuses to even give them the content of his dream. Worse still, the King threatens to have them all dismembered if they cannot tell him both the content and the interpretation of his dream.

We saw last week that a significant part of the Babylonian education was dedicated to the study of the interpretation of dreams.  These advisors therefore would rely upon their study and reasoning skills to offer an interpretation, but what the king proposes is impossible for human reasoning.  They have no data to exercise their reasoning upon.  Human reasoning has it’s limitations. And indeed the astrologers understand this themselves when they declare, “There is no one on earth who can do what the King asks!”(v10)

Fortunately for them there is Daniel and his God. Daniel recognizes that this is not a moment for human reasoning but for divine revelation. The two do not even compare. Daniel knows his limitations, that reasoning has its place but only takes you so far.  It cannot take you into the realm of the unknown nor the future.  As Arioch the commander of the King’s guard explains to Daniel the dyer circumstances, Daniel without as yet having any answer for the King nor a guarantee that he will get one goes to the king to ask for time so that he may interpret the dream for him. What conviction Daniel had and hope in his God to intervene.

Daniel calls the first ever student prayer meeting with his mates, and they ask God to be merciful in helping them.  When God answers by giving Daniel both the content and the interpretation of the dream, Daniel stops to praise God.  It is no coincidence that the writer of Daniel takes a moment within the highly tense story to record Daniel’s praise.  So often we get an answer from God and forget to stop and praise Him.  The writer of the book of Daniel is reminding us to not rush on to the next item on our prayer list but rather to stop, pause, give thanks and worship the one who reveals mysteries, and makes himself available to and known to humanity.

As Daniel offer’s the interpretation to the King he is quick to acknowledge that he has not arrived at this special knowledge through his own skills or wisdom but rather Daniel testifies that it is Yahweh who has indeed revealed this ministry.  Daniel is simply being honest and open in his testimony. And by being God’s bold and willing instrument he saves the lives of many.

Listen to the sermon here

For discussion in communities:

Question to open discussion:

What do you think are the limitations of human reasoning?  How does our human reasoning and divine revelation work together in terms of our relationship with God and maturing in the faith?

Read together Daniel 2:1-30.

Q1.  In verse 1 it tells us that Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, what role do you think dreams play in our lives?  What level of importance do you think we should give to our dreams?
Q2. What do you notice about the different emotions that the people in this narrative are experiencing, why do you think they are experiencing those emotions?
Q3.  Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar placed such an unrealistic demand accompanied with the threat of death upon the astrologers? (verse 5-6) What do you think might have been going on with Nebuchadnezzar?
Q4.  Compare and contrast the reaction between the astrologers and Daniel to the King’s unrealistic demand.  Think about the non-believer compared to the believer – how should our response to challenging and impossible situations differ?
Q5. Again  throughout this narrative we see Daniel as someone who seems to earn respect from those in authority over him, in this case with Arioch?  What do you think it was about Daniel that earned their respect?
Q6.  When Daniel and his friends pray to God, they plead for His mercy in this situation…what do you think it means for us that God is a merciful God?  And how might that shape our prayer life?
Q6. What strikes you about how Daniel praises God and the content of his praise?  (v20-23)
Q7. In verses 27-3o what do you notice about Daniel’s interaction with the King?  Is there anything that we can learn from that?

For accountability + prayer:

You can use these discussion questions either in smaller prayer and accountability groups or as a part of your own individual devotional life.

Q1. Share with each other when you had to be bold and trust in God when you were uncertain about what the outcome might be.
Q2. Where in your life do you depend upon your own ability to reason and problem solve rather than on God’s guidance and provision?
Q3. How might you learn to depend upon God’s revelation instead of your own reasoning more?

Prayer together for the wisdom to know how to stand up for Christ within your unique context this week.

For personal devotion + study:

Monday:  Set Apart for your Glory

This last Wednesday as we gathered together for corporate prayer and communion we were encouraged to listen to the worship song “Set Apart” – it reminds us so much of what we are focussing on as we journey through the book of Daniel.  Take a moment to listen and use this song as a prayer today. We will meditate on the words this week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs5TNUoYmpI

Tuesday: back to our first love.
Back to our first love, nothing between us
Back to Your heart, to the start of it all
Where we found You

Have a think about when you first understood the extent of what Jesus had done for you.  Where were you? What were you doing? Ask the Lord to reignite the passion and gratefulness of when His grace first appeared to you.

Wednesday: out of the ashes.
“Out of the ashes, into the fire
You are refining our hearts in the flames
Of Your presence”
DO you believe that the Lord disciplines those He loves and is refining your character and freeing you from things that hinder  through trials in your life.  Take a moment to give thanks for the trials and uncertainties you are facing and ask the Lord to help you face them with the reassurance and grace of His presence.  

Thursday: set apart for the One we love.
Set apart for our God above
Set apart for the One we love
Set apart for Your glory
We are Yours, Yours
How much do you love God at the moment?  What do you think it means for you to love Him in practise and in everyday life? What do you think it means for you to be set apart for Him?

Friday: Sacred and holy, your name is worthy. 
Sacred and holy, Your name is worthy
Jesus, awaken our hearts now to be
Your revival
Take a moment to reflect upon God’s holiness.  Meditate upon all His attributes.

Saturday: Everything for you alone.
Everything for You alone
Everything to make You known
Spend some time praying that God might help you to surrender everything you have and hope for to Him.  Ask that He might make you passionate about making Him known in the world.