Summary: The only things that last are the things that are of Christ.
Title: Built to Last
Text: Daniel 2.31 - 45
MP: The only things that last are the things that are of Christ.
This is a sermon about a rock.
Let me be clear on that – it’s not a sermon about a war in Iraq (E-raq). It’s not even about the country of Iraq– although it may be easy to confuse because these events took place in the land that is now that country. But if we lose sight of the fact that we need to be focused on the Rock in this text, I fear we will miss out on something beautiful our faithful God has promised us.
For the last three Sundays, we’ve seen how Daniel related to God in the need to understand a king’s dream. Well, we’ve finished with that series, but we never saw the dream itself. Today, I want to get there, but I want to warn you – I’m not a prophet. This text is one of the favorite passages of people who like to say they can read the tea leaves of scripture and tell you what is going to happen worldwide. If you go to your local Christian bookstore, you will find hundreds of books by scores of authors who understand this prophecy better than me. None of them really agree with each other, although some are better at selling books than others – but I will take it on faith that they know how to deal with prophecy better than I.
You’ll remember that Nebuchadnezzar had this dream, and he wanted his wise men to tell it to him. Not what it meant but what it was. Some discernment there – you can trust somebody better if you check their facts first. And, just to sweeten the deal, he offered the teller all the land and money he’d ever want. Oh, and if they didn’t, well, he’d kill ‘em. Well, you can imagine everybody’s relief when Daniel finally stood up and said, ‘Hey King – you don’t need to kill everybody.’ So, Daniel is brought to the king. The room gets silent, and the King bellows, ‘So, you can tell me my dream?’
And Daniel says, “No.”
But, God can and he’s revealed it to me. You can trust Him. Let me tell you the dream. And so this is what he says.
It’s a pretty cool dream. You can imagine this multi-metal statue towering over the plain. In some ways, I wonder if the statue that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are supposed to bow down to in the next chapter looked like this. In your mind, you can see this idol with a shimmering golden head, and slowly it turns into the baser, more common metals at its feet. It’s not a symbol of progress – but it is a road map to history.
Now, I’m going to remind you that this idol is a distraction. Its not really the point, but I do need to spend a few minutes with it, because like I said – it’s an historical road map. You heard Daniel explain that it represents the different empires that are going to set up shop in Nebuchadnezzar’s home.
It’s going to start off all grand and glorious with these Babylonians. And then, there’s the runner-ups – the Medeo-Persians under King Darius of Daniel and the Lion’s Den fame. They’re the silver metalists. After that, a distant third: Alexander and his Greeks. And finally, a fourth empire: and I think they’re talking about Rome.
Now, as Christians, we know that another Kingdom appeared while, as Luke says, Augustus was emperor of Rome and Quinirius was governor of Syria. Pontius Pilate and Herod tried to stop it, but to no avail. The Kingdom of God established – the church – was like no other. It was an instrument used by God to make all things new.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, even with the interpretation, there is big debate amongst Bible scholars about what this dream means. I’ve never told you when Daniel was written, because people argue that. But when it was written directly impacts whether this is prophecy or allegory. You see, some people think that Daniel was basically written by, well, Daniel – or at least a guy living roughly about this time. They have a lot of really good arguments to back that up which I will not get into here. There are also people who think that Daniel was written essentially right before the Romans came on the scene, and they have their arguments to back them up. But, I have to tell you their strongest argument is this: They think Daniel is too accurate to have been written back in Babylon. I got to tell you, I don’t buy it. I think its circular reasoning.