Summary: Every earthly kingdom has passed or is passing away. Only one thing “will endure forever” – as Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar: the Kingdom of God.
Seasons and Kingdoms: Stories of God’s People
Daniel 2 July 2, 2006
(I’m indebted to Kent Berghuis and “theologywebsite.com” for some of the ideas for this sermon). This past week, I’ve been thinking about seasons. We finally finished the hockey season, we had our church annual meeting (which, by the way, was quite exciting as we unanimously approved our 3 year missions partnership with the Bolivian Baptist Union, heard a positive finance report, and learned a little about the search committee’s work in looking for a new pastor to join us on staff), we ended a season of school, I’m headed into a season of vacation and rejuvenation with some holiday time, for which I am very much feeling the need, and summer hit us full and strong with a week of heat that saw us scurrying to the basement. For those of you who have found the heat somewhat uncomfortable, and at Alex Wien’s request, let me share this:
As I reflect on seasons, I wonder if God doesn’t look down at human history, and our own lives, a little bit like we look at the snowman. It is transient, temporary, impermanent; the Psalmist recognized this when he wrote Psalm 102:11 – “My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass”, and Psalm 103:15 – “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more”, and also Psalm 144:4 – “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” This is not to say that our days are not important, but that they are fleeting.
This morning’s story of one of God’s people is from Daniel 2, and we see these fleeting kingdoms. Now, since it is a long story I’m not going to give you a lot of background except this: it is about 600 years before Jesus, and the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had invaded Judah and carried God’s people into exile. Among those in exile were Daniel and his three friends. Here is the story:
1 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means. "
4 Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it."
5 The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."
7 Once more they replied, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it."
8 Then the king answered, "I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me."
10 The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men."
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, "Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?" Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.