Summary: Daniel was given the gift of interpretation of visions and dreams. God opens the future before Daniel and offers great encouraging lessons for us today.
When was the last time you had a scary or troubling dream? Do you remember what was scary about it? When we study Daniel we find that it has several dreams and their interpretations. First we have the dream of Nebuchadnezzar with the huge image with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, torso of brass, legs of iron and feet and toes of iron and clay. Then we see a stone being cut out of the side of a mountain. But this stone is cut out without hands. The next thing you know this stone that was cut out without hands is hurtling through the air or rolling down a mountain or something, because it smashes into the huge image right at its feet. The image crumbles down, down, down and breaks in pieces until all the pieces are like chaff or dust that the wind blows away! Then the stone becomes a mountain that grows and grows until it fills the entire earth!
I am not making this up. It is right there in Daniel chapter 2.
Now doesn’t that sound just like a dream? Daniel goes on to tell the dream and give the interpretation of the dream to king Nebuchadnezzar. He tells him that God has given him a kingdom so that he rules over the earth as king of kings, and he, Nebuchadnezzar, is the head of gold. Then he tells the king that after him will come another kingdom, the silver one, and another, the brass, and another, the iron that breaks in pieces and bruises. Then finally, as the feet and toes were mixed with iron and clay, another kingdom will arise that is divided.
Ok. Now for you history buffs out there, these represent the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and finally Rome. These all rose and fell just as Daniel said. Now listen to what Daniel says about what happens next. Verse 44 is perhaps one of the most significant verses in this book. Listen to what it says about what will happen in the final days of the dream:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to another people, but it shall break in pieces and shall consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
When Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar what he had dreamed and its interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with the wisdom and knowledge of God.
The book of Daniel continues through two of the most enduring stories in the Bible. We read in chapter 3 of Sadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s courageous refusal to worship the image Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Because they refused, they were cast into a fiery furnace as punishment, but God delivered them unharmed. Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with the power of God. In chapter 4 Nebuchadnezzar has another dream and this time Daniel tells him how God will humble him and break his pride. He will become like an animal in his mind and actions until he humbles himself and recognizes that God sets up rulers as he chooses. Nebuchadnezzar ends up praising the God of Israel as the one eternal most high God over all.
In fact, the first four chapters of Daniel have as part of a central theme, bringing Nebuchadnezzar to faith in God. It is all because of God’s witness to him through the faithfulness of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the dreams God gave him.
Daniel was written while Israel was in exile. Interestingly, Daniel reveals that God was with his people even when they were not able to perform the temple worship and sacrifices required of them. As long as they walked humbly and faithfully before him, God continued to work among them and bless them. As far as we know Daniel never returned to his homeland.
Through the events, visions and dreams in the book of Daniel we see how God encouraged Israel and revealed to them that no matter how bad it gets in this world, God is not finished. He will eventually bring about the glorious rule of his heavenly kingdom and it will ultimately overcome all earthly kingdoms and rulers of this world. This message is for us too.
Let us turn our attention to chapter 7. This begins a series of dreams and visions of Daniel that are rarely studied in some churches, and wildly misinterpreted in others. God put this message in the Bible for us to learn from, not to ignore. So first, let’s just listen to it prayerfully. Let’s ask God to show us what he wants us to see as we look at his word here.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, holy and majestic is your name. Father you are the all wise and all knowing God who rules the universe and who reveals your will through your word by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit. Open the eyes of our hearts and minds as we seek to humbly receive your words planted in us that can save us. O Lord, give us knowledge and understanding of your mysteries as you see fit to reveal them to us. Show us how high and wide and long and deep is the love of Christ and help us to walk in all your ways with the courage of faith like Daniel, and his three friends. Forgive us for our sins and may we be a forgiving people. For truly yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. In Jesus name, amen.