Summary: This sermon (which could be divided in two) shows how by two foundational prophecies Daniel predicted a prophetic timeline for both the Jewish and Gentile peoples.
That They May Know I Am The Lord
Aim: To show how Daniel predicted a timeline of both Jewish and Gentile history.
Text: Daniel 4:17, 25 &32
Introduction: The book of Daniel is one of the most important books of the Old Testament. Of course we mention Daniel and immediately we think of the prophet in the lion’s den. That is about as much as most people know about this great prophet, but the book of Daniel is a link between the past and the future. The book is one half history and one half prophecy, it preserves the link to the past whilst providing a key to the future.
The events of the first six chapters are well known to us, Daniel being taken captive to Babylon is chosen to train and to serve in the court of king Nebuchadnezzar, alongside three other young men, whom we best know by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meschach & Abednego. There he faces various trials of faith, all of which he passes with flying colours and proving himself unwavering in his commitment to the truth and to the God of Israel.
Now our opening verses reiterate the purpose of this book. Last week, in Ezekiel, we saw the recurring phrase, “That they may know that I am the Lord’” now we find in Daniel (and understand Daniel and Ezekiel are contemporaries), that God purpose I this prophecy is, “to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” And this is a truth relevant not only to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, but for all time, which is where the prophetic element comes in.
In this book we find two foundational prophecies that must be understood if one is to, first of all, understand the book of Daniel, but secondly, to understand God’s prophetic purposes.
The first of these prophecies reveals the timeline of the Gentile peoples, but the second relates specifically to the Jewish people and to Jerusalem.
I. Nebuchadnezzar’s Image – Daniel 2:31-45
A. In chapter 2 of this book we read that King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dreams.
1. It was a nightmare really, because what the king saw disturbed him, and caused him sleeplessness.
2. So he sent for the court magicians, the astrologers & sorcerers to explain it - an impossible task, and so the king was set to destroy every so called wise man in his court, when Daniel heard about the king’s predicament.
3. The young Jew offered to implore the God of heaven so that the dream could be interpreted, and the passage we have just read is both a description and explanation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
B. King Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue - a “great image” - how big it was we are not told, but its size and accompanying glory were such that this king, who ruled a large part of the world at the time was filled with fear.
1. The image had a golden head
2. Breast and arms of silver
3. An abdomen and thighs of bronze and
4. Legs of Iron
5. And it stood upon feet that were composed of iron and baked clay - or pottery.
C. So real and vivid was the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar dearly wanted to know what it meant - imagine his surprise when he discovered that it was pictorial of four kingdoms, and among those kingdoms his was represented by the golden head - Dan 2:37-38
1. This dream wasn’t so bad after all - King Nebuchadnezzar was depicted as a king of kings, as having such authority that even the animal kingdom submitted to his rule - his was a reign of Divinely appointed power and strength.
2. With the hindsight of history we know what these three successive kingdoms were that followed on after the demise of the Babylonian Empire, so that we can fit in the missing pieces of Daniel’s prophetical jigsaw.
D. The Babylonian Empire was succeeded by the rule of Darius who headed the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians (represented by silver arms and torso, hence this kingdom is pictured as having arms.)
E. The third kingdom, which overtook the Medo-Persian Empire was the Greek Empire, championed by Alexander the Great.
1. In time Alexander having built an empire spanning 1.5 million square miles i.e., most of the known world; pronounced himself a god, provoked rebellion and died a broken man, at the age of 32.
2. His kingdom fragmented and out of it came a man who Daniel 8 calls a little horn - history calls him Antiochus Ephiphanes, and he proved himself to be one of the greatest persecutors of the Jew - a type of the antichrist.