A Dream of Empires – Daniel 2

by Dr. Bob Ostenson
transcribed by Roger McCay
20 January 1980
Sermon Passaage: Daniel 2
Link to Audio Version

… Chicago Tribune, after visiting Europe, wrote, “The people in Europe are really living it up, because they feel like the days are like the days of 1939. Many are no longer making plans for old age, because they don’t believe there’s going to be any old age.” The New York Times reported a Hollywood psychiatrist, who said, “All my patients need a mourner’s bench.” These statements plus many others that could be cited this morning point up the mood of the world in which we live—a mood of despair, of doom, of fatalism. Even those who were once so optimistic are asserting this morning that we stand on the threshold of danger, of disaster, and destruction.

Now, it might be added, if our only hope was to be found in man, if our only hope was to be found in this present world order, then also this morning we too could be a part of this atmosphere of despair and hopelessness. If we belong to that school that has advocated all these years that we’re the masters of our own fate, the captains of our own soul and salvation, then we this morning also could become submerged with these feelings of futility and hopelessness and helplessness.

But the Christian has absolutely no cause; he has absolutely no reason for being taken in with this frustration and futility, which grips the world. For, if he is a true believer, he believes that there is an all-wise, sovereign God, who has not abdicated, who is in control, who controls the affairs of men, of nations, of empires, and of history; and that this sovereign God is moving everything to its ultimate consummation. And what we see taking place in this world about us is simply the part of a plan, which God has decreed from all eternity and will certainly bring to its ultimate purpose and fulfillment. Almighty God has accomplished everything according to the counsels of his perfect will. And there is absolutely nothing that is going on in the world this morning of which Almighty God is not aware.

Now, that all of this is true is certainly emphasized and made clear by what we find here in the second chapter of the book of Daniel. This remarkable book contains many prophecies of events that were to take place in subsequent history. Not only is this book that which illumines our minds and our hearts, as to future events, the fact of things that are going to fall out and take down through the ages and the centuries, but it also reveals the truth to us this morning that Almighty God controls the destiny of nations, and empires, and of men.

Now, in our study of the first chapter last week, we saw the remarkable character of this man, Daniel, and his three friends. Young Jewish exiles, who had been carried from Jerusalem back to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, in order to be trained for service in the royal court of the Babylonians. We discovered that these were young men of courage, of deep conviction and faith, who were willing to wager even their very lives upon the faithfulness of Almighty God. They were young men who had such conviction and such courage, concerning their God, that they were willing to put it all on the line even in the face of the threats of the world’s dictator.

Now, it is particularly with one young man, Daniel, that God was pleased to reveal Divine truth concerning the future. Daniel had been given the gift or the ability for interpreting dreams and visions. Daniel had been blessed by God to be God’s instrument for bringing before us some of God’s plan for the ages. Now, Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams is brought out here in this second chapter, in the dream that was given to King Nebuchadnezzar. Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar was inflicted with insomnia, which had been brought on by fear, as a result of this dream, and Nebuchadnezzar was desperate for tranquility. He was one of the pioneers in seeking peace of mind, though there had been many others through the ages. And so, he turns to his Chaldean soothsayers, and astrologers, and wise-men, for them to interpret the dream. But, apparently, to test them, Nebuchadnezzar says that he has forgotten the dream, and that not only must they interpret it, but they must reconstruct the dream and tell him what he had dreamed. And the Chaldeans insisted the king is asking that which was humanly impossible. But, Nebuchadnezzar is adamant, and he says that all the wise-men of the kingdom will be slain (and that included Daniel and his three friends), unless they not only bring up what the dream actually was, but also give its correct interpretation.