Summary: Where do we go for guidance in making daily decisions? Nebuchadnezzer illustrates for us the four places one may look for guidance.
1. Illus. of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?"
• Several hundred thousand dollars at stake.
• Called a friend, and asked what to answer on a particular question.
• Answer was wrong! Lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because he listened to the wrong person and made a bad decision.
2. Every day, each of us makes a thousand decisions. Some are of no real consequence; what will I wear today? What will I have for lunch? Other decisions are quite important: How will I treat that neighbor who’s behaving badly towards me? What’s God’s plan for my marriage? How will I raise my children? What should I do with my finances?
3. Each of us has a source of authority that tells us how to answer these questions. This authority source tells us, "This is how you should act. This is what you should believe." Most of the time we don’t even realize that we’re operating from an authority source, but we are.
4. The authority source we choose will determine the direction of our life. Will we happy? Will our life make any difference in the world? Will we have meaningful relationships with our friends and family? Believe it or not, Daniel can help us make sure we make a good decision in this area.
5. Background: Nebuchadnezzar has a dream one night. He can’t remember the details after he wakes up, but whatever they were they made him very afraid! So he calls for his Cabinet. When they can’t give him a satisfactory set of answers, he issues a decree that all the wise men of the Kingdom are to be rounded up and executed. Enter Daniel! After getting a stay of execution in order to pray, Daniel comes in and gives Nebuchadnezzar an answer from God. The center of this chapter is vss 26-28, where Daniel reminds Nebuchadnezzar where he could and could not find guidance.
6. Today: While we will never have a dream like Nebuchadnezzar, we will have situations where we need guidance. We have to be sure to seek guidance from the right source.
7. What are our options? Daniel mentions four.
I. We can seek guidance from rationalism
1. In verse 27 these men are called, "wise men." These men were trained in history, mathematics, languages, and logic. They were valued as advisors because of these learning and ability to think and reason. One of the reasons Nebuchadnezzar sought their guidance for this reason.
2. "And what will I believe, and how will I behave?" Some people answer that question by turning to rationalism. "Based on my knowledge and learning, this makes sense to me, this is logical and reasonable."
3. Principle: some people will choose rationalism as their authority source.
4. Illustration of Thomas Jefferson
• One of our founding fathers. Great politician, writer, and inventor.
• He was also a deist. He believed that God created the universe and then went away and left it to run on its own, much like we might wind up a clock in and put it down and let it alone.
• It is said that Thomas Jefferson once printed a version of what he called the deist Bible. There are no miracles in it, and nothing supernatural. The last words in the gospel were, "and they laid him in the grave."
4. Some today are just like Jefferson. "I don’t believe in God or the supernatural. I believe in what I can measure and in what makes sense to me." So, to them there is nothing past the grave, and its foolish to live and act as if there were!
5. What will I believe and how will I act? Some answer with rationalism.
II. We can seek guidance from false religions
1. The NKJV calls these men, "magicians." Some newer translations call these men, "Diviner-priests." That is because this Aramaic word was often used to refer to men who were priests in various false religions of the day. It was believed that they could use things like animal entrails and blood poured from a cup to "divine" the mind of their god. When Neb sought their council, he was saying, "Maybe one of these diviner-priests can give me the guidance I seek!"
2. Principle: There are still many today to guide their lives according to the compass of false religion.
3. Illustration of Richard Gere (Taken from USA Today)
• Has played in Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman, Runaway Bride.
• Has been a practicing Buddhist since the 70’s, and often goes to Tibet to visit the Dalai Lama. In an interview, he had this to say:
• "Buddhism is a system that I find totally reliable. It’s an ancient tradition; it wasn’t invented 10 years ago." In his meditations, the goal is to "break down the barriers of ego. Ultimately, you want to exchange self for ’other’...By studying the nature of existence itself, you begin to see what your program is on this planet."