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Into the Fire #2: Unshaken | Daniel 2

Mary Ellen Ermis May 5, 2024 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Daniel, houston, Into the Fire, Roger Patterson,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, May 5, 2024 at our Crosspoint Church-Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

Sleepless nights are tough!

Have you ever had them? They are so hard. So draining!

You long for sleep, but your mind tosses and turns.

What kept you awake? What burdent dominated your heart and mind that you can’t rest?

Tossing and turning through the night is tough.

Do you know what else is tough? When you have a dream that wakes you up and is so scary that you can’t go back to sleep! Have you ever had a dream like that?

It’s a scary thing to have a dream that wakes you up and you can’t go back to sleep. It’s happened it me before and I’ll never forget it.

Imagine if every time you went to bed, you had the same dream, then you were woken up by that same dream and couldn’t go back to sleep.

If that happened more than twice, you would think, “Something is wrong with me. Why is this dream tormenting me?”

And what if you are the most powerful man in the world…and what if everyone had to bow at your presence…and what if you had scored of ‘wise men’ to help you with such matters, but they were powerless?

That would drive you mad, wouldn’t it?

Sleepless, tormented, struggling to make sense of life…have you ever been there?

If you haven’t, you probably will be there someday.

As we turn to Daniel 2, this is where we find the king…King Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 2:1

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him.

Recap- last week- “Unmoved” we saw the example of Daniel and other young friends who were becoming young adults in the Babylonian exile… against the tide of cultural indoctrination, they stood firm in their faith.

Today, we will examine the second chapter in the story and our theme today is “Unshaken.”

Text today is Daniel 2.

Context:  Ch. 1:17-21

Daniel 1:17-21

17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Brief synopsis Story of chapter 2…

  • Neb is in his second year of his reign.
  • He has a troubling dream he can’t make sense of. (sounds very similar to joseph’s story)
  • He threatens all the wise men in the kingdom if they cannot BOTH tell him his dream and interpret his dream for him.
  • Daniel and his friends are caught up in this and they are nearly executed.
  • Daniel turns to God who reveals the dream and the meaning of the dream to him.

Daniel gets his chance to speak to the king and gives the interpretation.

  • Then Daniel and his friends are praised and promoted.
  • That’s the short version… but don’t miss the fact that Daniel was face to face with a death threat, yet he was not shaken?! How does that work?

When something happens in life that tries to shake you to your core, how do you remain unshaken? That’s what we are going to examine today.

The Unshaken life is a radically God-centered life.

There is a vast difference between God-centered life and man-centered life!

  • The man-centered life sees God as someone who is there to make his plans successful.
  • The God-centered life sees himself as someone who is there to submit to God’s will and glorify Him.
  • The man-centered life views the temporary things of the world (fame, fortune, sex, etc..) as the source of satisfaction.
  • The God-centered life views the eternal things of God as the ultimate source of lasting joy.
  • The man-centered life is self-reliant and driven by pride.
  • The God-centered life is dependent on the Lord and characterized by humility.

We see these two worldviews clearly in contrast in today’s story:

The Contrast of Worldviews

Nebuchadnezzar = The man-centered life

Daniel = The God-centered life

And here is what I hope this contrast shows us:

The Contrast of Worldviews

The man-centered life is easily upended.  (Nebuchadnezzar)

The God-centered life is unshakable. (Daniel)

Let’s contrast these two in the story:

The Man-Centered life…

1a) The man-centered life looks to man for wisdom. (vs.  1-3)

Slide: Daniel 2:1-3

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.”

When Neb is confronted with this disturbing dream, he looks to man!

  • He calls for the magicians (occult scribes), enchanted (necromancer), sorcerers (witchcraft), and Chaldeans (wise men and astrologers).

His natural instinct is to find someone, a man, who has the ability to solve his problem. That’s probably your instinct too. How do we fix this?

  • He looked anywhere but to God for help.
  • Neb doesn’t look UP for guidance, he looks OUT.

Let me ask you, does this sound like you? …. Are you looking out to all sorts of sources…self-help books, anyone who will listen, or even going to the palm readers, the horoscope pages, and the psychic hotlines? These are dangerous and if you turn to them, you are opening your life up to demonic oppression.

When life feels like it is being upended, how do you respond?

The God-Centered life…

1b) The God-centered life looks to the Lord for wisdom.  (Vs. 17-23)

  • Note what Daniel’s immediate reaction to the dilemma before him is.
  • He receives the death threat in vs. 13.

Daniel 2:17-19

17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

  • Daniel doesn’t look IN or OUT for wisdom, but he looks UP!

It’s his first move. He calls a prayer meeting. He gathers his buddies…

“Guys, we need God to move this mountain! We are dead if He doesn’t move. Pray with me and for me!”

What could easily be missed or skipped over in Daniel 2 is the emphasis on prayer and its connection to the kingdom of God. When Daniel, and every other magician’s, life was on the line, Daniel’s first move is to pray.

Actually, in faith he goes to the king and tells him he will have an answer for him. But in order to receive that answer he prays! Even more so, not only does Daniel pray but his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah pray.

Perhaps you are different, but I can think of several first steps I would take before prayer.

  • Anxiety and fear.
  • Pleading with the king.
  • Researching the dream books.
  • Scheming with my companions.

But Daniel does none of these things. He is resolved. He knows who to turn to and how to do it. I imagine him walking into the room of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah confidently, saying, “Men, it’s time to pray!” 

Why is prayer the appropriate response in this situation?

Christopher Wright says…Prayer is to say, “There is a higher throne.” Prayer appeals to a higher authority. Prayer is, in short, a political act. It affirms that all human political power is subordinate not ultimate, relative not absolute.

Daniel understood that his best response was to pray because he was praying to the sovereign God over all creation.

Perhaps we don’t pray first or at all because we don’t truly believe God is sovereign over all? When we come up against anything our first response should be to pray. God is sovereign over everything. Even when his kingdom is not “visible,” it is there, and he is ruling and reigning.

  • And then when God reveals the mystery, Daniel immediate acknowledges the source of his wisdom!

Daniel 2:20-23

20 Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

  • You hear the God-centered nature of Daniel so clearly here!

When faced with a challenge, let me ask you, is your instinct to:

  • google it,
  • gossip about it,
  • go to bed with it…
  • or to pray about it?!

As a believer, when faced with a storm that shakes us, our first instinct should be to hit our knees.

What else can we learn about these two approaches to life?

The Man-Centered life…

1a) Looks to man for wisdom.

2a) Is driven by fear.

2a) The man-centered life is driven by fear. (vs. 4-6)

  • Neb is terribly frightened and disturbed by what he sees in this dream.

Troubled — The Hebrew word for “troubled” in vs 1 = impelled.

Look at verses 4-6.

Daniel 2:4-6

Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.”

So, he seeks to manipulate and motivate them through fear. He also tries fortune just in case fear doesn’t work.

  • These are both really bad motivations.

You know that you are living a man-centered life when you see those around you as tools to be used in the quest of self-preservation.

Nebuchadnezzar was…

  • a manipulator
  • insecure
  • easily shaken

These are characteristics of a man-centered life.

  • Are you the kind of person that is always hurting those around you because you are afraid of getting hurt?

In contrast to that…

The God-Centered life…

1b) Looks to the Lord for wisdom.

2b) Is driven by faith.

2b) The God-centered life is driven by faith.  (vs. 12-16)

Daniel 2:12-16

12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.

Notice Daniel’s faith here. Here the king’s executioner has arrived to kill Daniel and his buddies. Daniel makes a bold statement that he WILL be given the dream and the interpretation of the dream for the king. But notice, he does this BEFORE God actually reveals the dream or the meaning to him.

  • The revelation doesn’t come until vs. 19.
  • How did Daniel make such a presumptuous assertion? By FAITH!
  • Daniel places his bets on God and he wins.

Hebrews 11:1 says…

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is being able to declare with confidence an outcome because your hope and confidence is so firmly rooted in God that you are at peace.

When life is hard…when it feels turned upside down…when you pressed on multiple fronts…are you confident that God is going to deliver you?

Do you bet on God? Do you heed the word He brings to you? And are you strengthened by it? Stand firm then, and let nothing move you because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The Man-Centered life…

1a) Looks to man for wisdom.

2a) Is driven by fear.

3a) Seeks self-glory.

3a) The man-centered life seeks self-glory. (Vs. 31,32,36-38)

  • Let’s talk about the dream itself. The first part of the dream involved this image of a golden head. Vs, 31-32

Daniel 2:31-35

31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Then Daniel gives the meaning.  Vs. 36-38.

Daniel 2:36-38

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.

“You are the head of gold!” – That’s all Nebuchadnezzar had to hear. From there, he seems to tune everything else out.

  • Now turn to chapter 3 for a sec…. Read 3:1

Daniel 3:1

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Now, we will cover more on this next week… but isn’t this interesting… he hones in on the self-glorification part of the dream!

  • This is how the man-centered life behaves!

Application: Do you find yourself having to be the center of attention? Do you find yourself always looking for a chance to remind people around you of your accolades? Is it so important to you how others sees you?

The God-Centered life…

1b) Looks to the Lord for wisdom.

2b) Is driven by faith.

3b) Gives all glory to God.

3b) The God-centered life gives all glory to God. (Vs. 25-30)

Daniel 2:25-30

25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

Daniel’s answer is plain and clear – “God is the hero of the story not me.”

  • Daniel acknowledges that it wasn’t his intellect or some metaphysical power, but God alone reveled to him the knowledge.
  • He is so immediately God-centered at every turn.
  • Psalm 115:1- aNot to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness”
  • Let me ask you, do you live this way and feel this way at a heart level, that when you win, your default reaction is, not me Lord but you.

The unshaken life is a radically God-centered life and that is a life which gives God all the glory.

Alright…last one for today…

The Man-Centered life…

1a) Looks to man for wisdom.

2a) Is driven by fear.

3a) Seeks self-glory.

4a) Is characterized by fragility.

4a)The man-centered life is characterized by fragility. (Vs. 35-45)

Now let’s look at the interpretation of the dream… it’s not as welcoming and inviting as the first…we have already read the verses a bit earlier and the takeaway message here is, bad news — Nebuchadnezzar, your kingdom is going to crumble.

Now we have the benefit of looking back on this dream through the eyes of world history, and can see what happened.

  • Head of gold = Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon)
  • Arms and chest of silver = Medo-Persian empire
  • Belly and thighs of bronze = Greek empire
  • Legs of iron = Roman empire
  • Feet of iron and clay mixture…many believe that these are the democracies of our day…like the Roman government, but different.

And what do we know about all of those empires?  They fell! And/or, they will fall.

Here’s a truth about human history –  kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall.  Leaders rise and leaders fall.  Nations rise and nations fall, and none of them last forever. They are all fragile!

  • But there is a little nod to Eschatology being introduced here. Look at verses 44-45.

Daniel 2:44

44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

All kingdoms will eventually be upended, expect for one!  That stone referred to in the dream, that is the Davidic Messiah, King Jesus. And what’s so amazing about the Scriptures is that you have a piece of it here that is forecasting the coming Messianic kingdom. And then you get to Revelation and you see it stated again…just a bit clearer.

Notice Revelation 11:15.

Revelation 11:15

15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Sidney Greidanus, in his commentary says…“The God of heaven, who himself deposes and sets up kings, reveals that in the end he will replace all human kingdoms with His everlasting Kingdom.”

There is a ton of application here:

  • First, don’t set your hope too much upon the nation in which you are a citizen.
  • Second, when it comes to your own little kingdom of your life, let me tell you, it is fragile….

The God-Centered life…

1b) Looks to the Lord for wisdom.

2b) Is driven by faith.

3b) Gives all glory to God.

4b) Is characterized by favor.

4b) The God-centered life is characterized by favor. (Vs. 46-49)

Daniel 2:46-49

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.

Look at how the story ends…

  • In the end two important things happened:
  • God is glorified.
  • Daniel is promoted.
  • This is way the God centered life works. Here’s the order.

All glory goes to God, then we enjoy the benefits of his favor.

Do you see a vision for an unshaken life here?

The God-Centered life…

1b) Looks to the Lord for wisdom.

2b) Is driven by faith.

3b) Gives all glory to God.

4b) Is characterized by favor.

Do you want this kind of life?  Seek to become radically God-centered, looking up to Him for wisdom, moving forward by faith in Him, giving all glory to Him, and counting on His favor alone for any and every success.