Guest Preacher Wikus Smit
God with us
In Prophetic Word
It’s a very interesting book, 12 chapters; it has some of the most studied and best-known passages in the whole Bible, like Daniel in the Lion’s den, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in the fiery furnace. And even the story about Daniel’s fast, where he challenged the other trainee servants by only eating vegetables and drinking water while they ate fancy food and wine, and then he came out healthier. But Daniel also has some of the most obscure passages, and stuff that most people have probably never read. More than half the book is made of prophecies, visions that Daniel had, and which were then explained to him, and also visions of the rulers of Babylon, which he interpreted. These are a bit confusing to read, but amazing when you sit down with them. For example, in chapter 11, 135 major historical events, covering a period of over 350 years, are accurately predicted.
Nebuchadnezzar exiles Israelites to Babylon. Daniel and his three friends are taken into the Kings services and trained. Daniel challenged them by living according to the laws of God, and he (or God) won. Verse 1:17 says “God gave them understanding and knowledge, and to Daniel he gave understanding of dreams and visions”. Then chapter 2. Daniel is a wise man in the service of the king, who has a dream. The king summons his wise men, magicians and astrologers to interpret it. He tests them first though – they must tell him what the dream was. They can’t do it read verse 10-13. Daniel hears about this, and asks for some time to interpret the dream. He then goes home to his 3 friends, and urges them to pray for mercy from the God of Heaven concerning this mystery. VERSE 18. In the night, he receives a vision and the mystery is revealed to him. He then praises God in verses 20-23, for revealing it to him, and then goes to the king. Verse 27-30. Then he tells Neb the dream – the king saw a huge statue- a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and baked clay. While he was watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands, and it struck the feet of the statue, causing the whole thing to crumble and break, and the pieces were swept away in the wind like chaff. But the rock grew and became a huge mountain that filled the earth. Then Daniel interprets the dream – Neb is the head, a great ruler over a great kingdom. After him will come more great empires, but less strong than him, until the last one is destroyed by the living rock – the kingdom that God sets up, which will not be destroyed. Verse 47-48
The first thing Daniel does, is he goes and prays. He even asks his friends to pray as well. His immediate reaction is to turn to God, before he does anything else. And then, when God answers, when God helps him, his first reaction is to thank God. Before he goes running to the king, before he saves himself, he first thanks God.
2) There is no one on earth v10-11; v 27-28
So the astrologers and magic men tell the king that no one could answer him. They try to tell him that he’s being unreasonable, that only the gods could know, and they don’t live among humans. And they’re right. But they’re also very wrong. Daniel agrees with them, he says no one could know this, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. But like they said, He does not live among humans. Except they don’t know Immanuel. Daniel knows God with us. And that’s why Daniel can give an answer: because the answer doesn’t originate with him. So first point if you’re taking notes, God with us. If not for God with us, if not for God with Daniel, Daniel would have been killed with the rest of the wise men. God is with us, and therefore, he can communicate with us.
3) Understanding v30
This mystery has been revealed to me. It has not come from his own head; it’s not come from his own understanding. God has shown it to him, God has revealed it to him. Also very important – Prophecy comes from God. Even more than that, understanding comes from God. All of the prophets, all of the interpreters: Isaiah, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Elijah – they weren’t giving opinions, or analyses, the words they spoke were the words of God. God revealed their prophecies and understanding to them. God communicated to and through them.
4) Credit v30
Daniel doesn’t seek to take any praise, or any credit. He says, “not because I have greater wisdom”. Daniel is the only one able to interpret the dream, but he stays humble. He doesn’t demand reward or anything else. Even the guard who Daniel approached to take him to the King tried to take credit for finding Daniel, but Daniel took no credit for himself. He says, “so that your majesty may know the interpretation and understand”. Daniel is saying that he is just a tool, that the gifts of prophecy and interpretation do not make him greater. His entire approach to the king, the way that he speaks, the things that he says, it’s all aimed at giving God the glory, and taking none for himself. Point 3- Prophecy and understanding and all gifts from God, are not self-serving. The easiest sign that a gift is not from God, is if it raises the person up above others. God’s gifts are to bring Him glory and to build up His people, not for personal gain. Later, in verse 47, Nebuchadnezzar says “surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings”. The vision and prophecy and interpretation served to glorify God, and to reveal Him to Nebuchadnezzar
What does it mean for us?
Basically the prophecy foretold kingdoms that would come after Babylon, each less spectacular than the last – the Medes and Persians were silver – similar to Gold but less valuable, the Greeks were bronze – they used mainly bronze, the Romans were iron – Daniel says the iron will break and smash everything – as they did. These all came true, and then the living, growing rock, not cut by the hand of man, would overtake them all, they would be as nothing before it. The Kingdom of God. This had a lot of significance for Nebuchadnezzar, but it’s not exactly a newsflash to us. Most, if not all of us here, know about the Kingdom of God, and know that it is greater than any kingdom of the earth. So what value is this prophecy to us?
I believe that the value Daniel 2 lies in what it tells us about God. There are 3 main things it tells us, 3 takeaways- Point 4, sub point 1- it shows that God knows what is to come. It’s a confirmation of the fact that God is beyond time, He is far beyond us, and He knows everything. He is more powerful than we can imagine. He raised those kingdoms up and he destroyed them.
Sub point 2- God cares for us; He wants to share His knowledge with us. God spoke so many times through prophets, telling the people of what was to come, warning them, trying to guide them, and revealing Himself to them. He constantly wants to lift people higher than we are, to empower us.
Sub point 3- it tells us that God communicates with us. God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar and to Daniel; He spoke to countless people in the Bible through prophecy, through dreams and visions, through Jesus. And now He speaks to us, through the Bible, through the Holy Spirit. God is with us, and He is communicating with us.
So how should we respond? What is the practical application of what we learn from Daniel? I can go into great detail about prophecy and why it’s still relevant, and how modern prophecy differs from OT prophecy, and how to recognise it, and what should be done with it, but I think there’s a much simpler and more valuable application. This God, who can reveal all these things, who knows things before they happen, who can raise or destroy even the mightiest kingdoms on a whim, wants to be with us, to communicate with us. From the very beginning of the Bible, He is pursuing us, bringing us to relationship with Him. He is God with us, and the best response I can think of, is to be us with God. It is unbelievable blessing for us that He is with us, but by being with Him, by communicating with Him, by walking with Him, by returning in the tiniest fraction the love that he has showed us, we can live much closer to the way he intended. The way we were designed to live. Daniel communicated with God – he prayed to Him and He thanked Him before he did anything else, and his life was incredibly blessed. He walked with God, and we can too. There’s no new trick to try, no new prayer to pray. Just a reminder, and an encouragement, to try to walk with God as much as we can.