Bizarre dreams are commonplace, everyone has them. We wake up wondering where in the heck it came from. Sometimes dreams have something to do with what we watched, talked-thought about, or ate before we went to sleep. Having a full bladder can even have an effect. We know that dreams come from our subconscious, the deep recesses of the mind. All that stuff we absorb gets stored up like files in a huge supercomputer. It gets all piled, mashed, and mixed up in our brains. It’s no wonder that the output, while we sleep, gets a little strange.
If you’ve read the Bible enough you are aware that God used dreams and visions to communicate, and not just with those who were believers. Joseph, Jacob, Laban (Jacob’s father-in-law), the Midianite, Samuel, Solomon, Daniel, Pharoah, and Nebuchadnezzar in the Old Testament; and Zacharias, Joseph (Jesus’ Dad), Pilate’s wife, Ananias, Cornelius, Peter, Paul, and John in the New Testament. In fact, the whole book of Revelation seems to be dictated by God to John through dreams and visions.
I can’t say for sure that God still speaks to us in dreams, but there have been a few times that I have dreamed something and then years later had an experience in real life that caused me to feel a sense of déjà vu. Has that ever happened to you? There have been a few times when dreams have been very helpful when I was writing a sermon, Bible study, or song. When I woke up, I immediately wrote it down before I forgot.
Dreams and visions are one of the central themes and modes of communication that God uses throughout the book of Daniel. In chapter 5 it gets really weird when a mysterious hand appears and writes on a wall. Who says reading the Bible isn’t fun?
Today, we’re just going to focus on king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Chapter 2. If you remember last week, this dream stirred up a hornet’s nest, and almost led to a massacre. Ole king Neb, had a whopper of a dream and wanted it deciphered pronto, but his “wise men of Babylon” were too scared to interpret the dream, and with good reason. If they didn’t interpret it correctly, they would all be “cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble”. NO PRESSURE! The “wise men of Babylon” weren’t the only ones on the literal chopping block. Daniel and his band of merry men were included in the king’s mass slaughter scheme.
Well, we know that Daniel steps up and takes the matter in hand hoping and praying that God will reveal the interpretation, which God does after an all-night prayer vigil. The next morning Daniel goes before the king.
26The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” 27Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these: 29“As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind. Daniel 2:26-30 NIV
One thing that I almost forgot to point out about this whole dream thing is that the king doesn’t actually tell anyone what he dreamed, so not only does Daniel have to interpret the dream, but he also has to know what was in the dream, what the king actually saw. So basically, Daniel had to read the kings mind too. Uh, let that sink in a little bit.
As Daniel stands before the king, it is interesting that he doesn’t just say, “Yes” to the king’s question about revealing the meaning of the dream. Daniel uses this unique opportunity, probably the first time in front of the king, to share his faith. “Hey Daniel, do you think that is wise? You might want to wait until the king gets to know you a little better before you start praising God.”
Remember Daniel’s God is not Nebuchadnezzar’s god. Nebuchadnezzar is God, in his own mind, so telling him that there is another God who is greater than he is a risky strategy. However, Daniel is careful how he words it. He says, “there is a God”, not “the” God. Nevertheless, it’s pretty bold for a slave to tell a God-king that he has competition. I don’t think that is Daniel’s intent. I think he just wants to make sure that his God gets the credit and glory for not only revealing the dreams contents, but it’s meaning. Also, that God isn’t just the revealer of mysteries, but the dream giver. God IS the one speaking directly to Nebuchadnezzar through this dream. Daniel also wants to make it clear that he didn’t have anything to do with revealing this mystery either. He humbly admits that he doesn’t have “greater wisdom than anyone alive”. God gets all the credit and glory. Okay, back to the dream.
31“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Daniel 2:31-35 NIV
This dream is powerful, symbolic, and prophetic. God is revealing the future to the king. This huge statue and its destruction are a prophecy of coming events and a succession of kingdoms that will rise and fall. Here is what each piece represents: The golden head-Babylon, the silver chest and arms-Assyria, the belly and thighs of bronze-Greece, and the feet of iron and clay-Rome. Each of these kingdoms will rise and fall without leaving a trace, but the rock that struck the statue becoming a huge mountain filling the whole earth is and will be God’s kingdom, a kingdom that will never end.
As we know, God’s true kingdom on earth has not yet been established. Jesus’ second coming hasn’t happened yet, so this prophecy of the end times is somewhat incomplete. There are some things missing in the timeline. Eschatology or end times prophecy is tricky and mysterious. There are other passages in Daniel and the main book of prophecy in Revelation that must be studied together to get a better picture, but even then, it’s almost impossible to completely decipher. Only God knows for sure, and Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36 that “no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. The point, be faithful and be ready.
After Daniel reveals God’s interpretation and message to Nebuchadnezzar, the king is totally blown away and throws himself down, prostrate, completely laid out face to the floor, in front of Daniel. A king is bowing down before a slave and his God. It’s pretty amazing what God does and can do when we are faithful and obedient. If we read the rest of the chapter, Daniel and his buddies get huge promotions, and they live happily ever after, THE END. Uh, no. The party doesn’t last very long as we’ll see in chapter 3.
Love y’all! Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC