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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Daniel 2

John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Daniel 2


John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Daniel 2
John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Daniel 2
TOPICS: Great Chapters of the Bible, Book of Daniel, Bible Prophecy, Second Coming

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. The prophecies of the Bible have left a lot of people confused. Turn to the book of Revelation and you see a beast coming up out of the sea, another beast coming up out of the earth, seven trumpets, seven plagues, seven seals, seven thunders, seven churches, and a whole array of images that could leave you scratching your head. But when you learn how to approach Bible prophecy, a lot of that mystery falls away, and you discover how straightforward many of the prophecies of the Bible can really be. I want to look with you today at one of the great prophecies of the Bible in another program in our ongoing series, "Great Chapters of the Bible".

Today we're going to look at a prophecy that provides a foundation for most of the prophecies that speak to earth's last days. The Apostle Peter talks about the importance of Bible prophecy to the Christian's journey through life in 2 Peter chapter 1. He tells his readers that they "have not followed cunningly devised fables," saying that he and others like him were eyewitnesses of the majesty of Jesus. He recalls how they heard a voice from heaven testifying that Jesus is the Son of God. And if that wasn't enough, he says, "We [also have] a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts".

Second Peter 1:16-19. We saw Jesus glorified. We heard the voice of God with our own ears. But as miraculous as those things were, we have something even more reliable: We have the "more sure word of prophecy". Peter was making the point that what we see and hear can't always be trusted. Jesus spoke in Matthew chapter 24 of how "false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders [so as] to deceive, if possible, even the elect". Matthew 24:24. The Apostle Paul writes of how the antichrist in the last days will work "with all power, signs, and lying wonders". Second Thessalonians 2, verse 9. And in the book of Revelation, we read of how the forces arrayed against God will include the "spirits of devils, working miracles".

Revelation 16:14. Even in the church you find there are people claiming to talk for God. Someone claims to have a prophecy. Someone claims to have had a vision. Someone writes a book claiming they went to heaven or hell. How do you know? How can you be sure something or even someone is legit? Peter was saying that something you can absolutely trust is the sure word of prophecy. And he urges us to follow it as "a light that shineth in a dark place". And this world is a dark place. So we're going to take a look at that sure word of prophecy as we look at another great chapter of the Bible, Daniel chapter 2, where we see one of the greatest prophetic visions found in the entire Bible.

The vision of the future that we find in the second chapter of the book of Daniel was given at one of the darkest moments in the history of God's ancient people. The historical setting of Daniel 2 is given in Daniel chapter 1. "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god". Daniel chapter 1, verses 1 and 2. Chapter 1 goes on to tell us the story of the faithful young man named Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who chose to be faithful to God's Word, even at the risk of their lives. Because of the blessing of God, the Bible says they were found to be 10 times wiser than their fellow students in the royal academy of Babylon. But in chapter 2, these four young men face an absolute crisis. We'll start in verse 1:

"Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, 'I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.' Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, 'O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.' But the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, 'My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell [me] the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.'"

That's Daniel 2, verses 1 through 6. These men were in an impossible situation. If the king had simply told them what he had dreamed, they would've come up with all kinds of clever interpretations. But in this case, the king had forgotten the dream, and he wanted these, these so-called wise men to tell him what he had dreamed and then explain what it meant. You can't blame them for responding as they did, as they tried desperately to change the king's mind. "The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, 'There is not a man on earth who can tell the king's matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king [requires], and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.'"

Verses 10 and 11. Well, the king wasn't persuaded, and he commanded that all of the wise men of Babylon be put to death. Unfortunately, that included Daniel and his three friends, even though it's clear from the chapter that they weren't present with the other wise men when they were called to see the king. So Daniel appealed for time to be able to interpret the king's dream. Daniel was staring death right in the face. What would happen next? We'll find out in just a moment.

Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. We're continuing our ongoing series, "Great Chapters of the Bible," and we're looking today at Daniel chapter 2. It provides the basis for the major last-day prophecies of the Bible. The book of Revelation is built upon the book of Daniel. Interesting, there are 404 verses in the book of Revelation. About 3/4 of them quote from or allude to the Old Testament. So if you ignore the Old Testament scriptures Revelation draws from, you can't begin to understand the book of Revelation. And Revelation leans a lot on Daniel chapter 2. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a dream that was so profound it woke him from his sleep. When he woke up, he knew he'd had a dream but couldn't remember what it was or what it meant, but he believed that the gods communicated with him through dreams.

So he was desperate to know what this one meant. He asked his wise men, his counselors, to explain it all to him, but they couldn't. So he... sentenced them all to death, which was a problem for Daniel and his three friends because they were among the wise men of Babylon. What would Daniel do now that his life was moments from ending? We pick up the story in verse 17: "Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven".

You know, what we see there is that prayer is powerful. Daniel was in a tough situation, and he knew where to turn. He was faced with a problem that he couldn't solve. But he knew who could solve his problems. I want to encourage you to pray. God loves to answer prayer. Listen to this, 1 John 5, verses 14 and 15. Listen: "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him". That's God telling you to pray with confidence. Make prayer a regular part of your life, and you'll see God do amazing things. And one other thing, Daniel's prayer was answered, and according to the Bible, he blessed the God of heaven. He thanked God, praised God.

When God answers your prayers, don't forget to recognize that and give thanks. Jesus told a story about 10 lepers who were healed, but only one gave thanks. It's not that Jesus was simply urging politeness. It's good for us, good for us spiritually, to recognize the blessings of God. So there's Daniel in a foreign land. He'd been forcibly taken from his home. He'd seen his city destroyed. No doubt he'd seen people he knew lose their lives, maybe even family members. And yet God is clearly with him, and he still trusts God. He had lost so much, but he wasn't bitter. He wasn't angry with God. In fact, he still trusted God, and he still loved God. It's easy to let the challenges of life turn your feet out of the way of faith and trust. But you don't need to. Even when things are tough, hang in there with God. Daniel's story shows us that God hangs in there with us.

So Daniel now has news to share with the king. In verse 24, we read this: "Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: 'Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.'" And he's clear to give honor to God. It wasn't Daniel's wisdom that figured this out; it was God's blessing. Verses 27 and 28: "Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, 'The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.'"

And then Daniel began to tell the king what it was the king had dreamed. "You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. [The] image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them [to] pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth".

Verses 31 to 35. Imagine what's going through the king's mind as the dream he'd forgotten flashes back into his thinking. "That's the dream," he thought, or maybe he said out loud, "Exactly what I saw". But as incredible as it was that Daniel had explained the king's dream, he'd only done half the job. The king wanted the dream interpreted. What could such an incredible dream mean? Now, this is where Daniel 2 takes on such significance for us today because Daniel chapter 2 is like the master key to Bible prophecy. Peter wrote about the "more sure word of prophecy," and the fact is, if you understand Daniel 2, you can understand Daniel 7, Daniel 8, Daniel 9, Daniel 11, Revelation 13, Revelation 17.

Daniel 2 is that important. So Daniel goes on and opens up to the king, and to us, this incredible prophecy, starting in verse 36: "This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all, you are this head of gold". A head of gold on a statue dreamed of by a pagan king. How is that important for us today? We'll find out next.

Of course, it could be said that every chapter in the Bible is one of the great chapters of the Bible. They're all inspired by God. They all contain information that reveals the heart of God to us. And they all point us in the direction of heaven. But Daniel chapter 2 is unique in that it provides a framework for us to understand the prophecies of the Bible concerning the last days of earth's history. A Babylonian king has a dream, and Daniel, now Daniel the prophet, explains the dream to him. He tells Nebuchadnezzar that the head of gold represents Nebuchadnezzar, or more specifically, the kingdom of Babylon. But he goes on, and as he does, he takes an enormous risk, because he tells the king that Babylon as a kingdom will be conquered, starting in verse 39: "But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters [all things]; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others".

After Babylon, there would be three more kingdoms, and the fourth kingdom would divide. "And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay". Verses 42 and 43. So what actually happened down through history? God puts Himself on the line here. He predicts the rise of four great powers, and then He says the fourth one would not be conquered, but it would divide, and that the fourth kingdom would never come back into existence. Imagine if what God said would happen didn't happen. Imagine if this were a false prediction.

And now imagine if what God said would happen did happen. What would that mean? It would have to mean, surely, that the Bible is inspired. That there is a God. And that the God of heaven cares about people on this earth and has a plan for our eternal future. The history that followed the collapse of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom cannot be misunderstood. The kingdom of silver that followed the golden kingdom of Babylon was the empire of Medo-Persia, which in turn was followed by the empire of Greece, established through the conquests of Alexander the Great, which in the end was conquered by the Romans, who would dominate Western civilization for the better part of 700 years.

At that point, the Roman Empire would be destroyed by the barbarian tribes which broke across its northern frontier and would go on to divide the empire into 10 kingdoms. And many of those 10 kingdoms are recognized today as the nations of modern Europe. The Alemanni became the Germanic people. In fact, the Spanish word for Germany is Alemania. Alemanni. The Visigoths are Spain. The Franks became France. The Suevi are the Portuguese. The Burgundians, they're the Swiss. The Anglo-Saxons, that's easy; they became the English. The Lombards are recognized today as the Italian people, while three of those 10 nations were completely destroyed, incidentally, as predicted in the Bible, the Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals. But Daniel said that fourth kingdom would never come back together. That was the kingdom of Rome.

Over the years, many have tried to re-form the Roman Empire. Hitler tried and failed. Napoleon tried and failed. The Bible said those nations would not cleave one to another, "not adhere one to another". In fact, as we saw, Daniel said they would "mingle themselves with the seed of men". Not even that would work. Intermarriage among the royal families of Europe was so extensive that Britain's Queen Victoria was known as the "grandmother of Europe". One writer put it this way: "Among other things, Victoria established herself as the matriarch of royal Europe. Eventually her descendants or their close relatives were connected with almost every important ruling house on the continent". But intermarriage failed, just as military conquest failed. And today Europe has battles with the Euro and with Brexit and with one country or another talking about pulling out of the alliance.

There is a tremendous amount of cohesion in Europe, but anyone trying to bring Europe back together is fighting against God, who said they would "not adhere to one another". And four-and-a-half thousand years later, God's Word still has not failed. So what would happen next? Four kingdoms, the kingdoms divide, and then? Verse 34: "You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them [to] pieces". This stone, according to Daniel, represents God's eternal kingdom, which will be ushered in at the Second Coming of Jesus.

Look at how Daniel's interpretation finishes. "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 other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure". Daniel 2:44 and 45. Notice what Daniel said? "The dream is certain. Its interpretation is sure". Isaiah wrote that "the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever".

Isaiah 40, verse 8. So where's the room for doubt here? Four great kingdoms, the fourth divides. Look at history, that's exactly what happened. But what hasn't yet happened is the return of Jesus. But it's going to happen, according to the Bible, "in the days of these kings". In the, in the days of these kings, in the days in which we are living. And with that, God is going to set up a kingdom that will never pass away. So the question isn't whether or not the Bible can be trusted, or whether or not the kingdoms rose or fell, or whether or not the return of Jesus is going to take place. All of those questions have been answered. They're settled. The real question is, will you be ready on that day? And let's not look ahead to an undetermined day. The question is, are you ready now?

Daniel chapter 2 is in the Bible to show us that God is in control of history, that God's purposes will be worked out, that God answers prayer, that God can be trusted to help us understand and interpret Bible prophecy reliably. And it's there to show us that God wants you to be saved when Jesus returns. So how is it with you today? Have you made room in your heart for God? Are you willing to let Jesus be the Lord of your life? If there's one thing you can trust, it's the Word of God. There's one thing you can trust; it's the "more sure word of prophecy".

Daniel chapter 2 is an outstanding chapter, but if you look at it simply in an academic fashion, if you look at it measuring kingdoms with history books, if you measure it, uh, studying the, the certain elements that made up that statue Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about, you're missing the point. Daniel chapter 2 is a call; it's a call to you and me. A call to be ready. A call to surrender our hearts. Daniel chapter 2 talks about the time when Jesus is going to return. When He comes back, He's coming back for you. And if you'll open your heart up to Jesus now, you can live with confidence, knowing for sure that you'll be ready on that day.
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