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Mar 26, 2021

Greetings and welcome to this bonus edition of the Reader: Take Note series, which I am releasing at day number 85. This is an occasional series aimed at providing extra commentary and encouragement for those following the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan. No matter where you are in the reading calendar, I hope that the things I share in this episode will support the idea that God’s Word has many treasures for us, and it always pays to dig deeper.

My mistake from the last podcast was that I gave an incorrect author name for the book I recommended. The book is entitled How People Grow. One author is Dr. Henry Cloud. The second is Dr. John Townsend, not Towns.

Glenn Lewis gets the prize so far this year for a mistake found in day number 70. I said while summarizing Numbers 3 that The 12,000 Levites were the substitute for Israel’s 12,273 first-born sons. Now the podcast has been corrected to say this: The 22,000 Levites became substitutes for Israel's 22,273 first-born sons. So the difference was between 12,000 and 22,000. Hey, I was only off by 10,000!

If you have questions, comments, or find a mistake for me to correct, my favorite way for you to send messages to me is via the contact button at I’m always interested to hear your thoughts.

For this episode I am not going to be talking about any of the passages we have read recently. If we were going by episode numbers, I should label this bonus episode as for Day 314 or 315, because the topic today is Daniel chapter 2. After my introduction of the topic, I will play the audio from my pastor’s sermon on that chapter from March the 7th, 2021. I think it is timely to share Dr. Tad Thompson’s sermon with you, as I consider this message so important for the time we are living in. Now, I am thankful for the timelessness of the Bible, so that things that I commented on as early as 2014 in the NLT series podcasts are still relevant. But back then, I had no idea of the huge changes that would take place in our culture, that we have come to see so clearly in the last few months. Tad’s sermon will give some contemporary perspective that I think will be helpful to all of you who listen to my podcasts. His sermon notes are included in the episode notes. The site where you can see recent sermon videos or listen to the audio is linked here in the episode notes:

Let me read all of Daniel 2 to you now from the God’s Word translation.

Dan 2:1-6:
1 During the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’os reign, he had some dreams. He was troubled, but he stayed asleep.
2 The king sent for the magicians, psychics, sorcerers, and astrologers so that they could tell him what he had dreamed. So they came to the king.

3 The king said to them, “I had a dream, and I’m troubled by it. I want to know what the dream was.”

4 The astrologers spoke to the king in Aramaic, “Your Majesty, may you live forever! Tell us the dream, and we’ll interpret it for you.”

5 The king answered the astrologers, “I meant what I said! If you don’t tell me the dream and its meaning, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into piles of rubble.
6 But if you tell me the dream and its meaning, I will give you gifts, awards, and high honors. Now tell me the dream and its meaning.”

Dan 2:7-18:
7 Once more they said, “Your Majesty, tell us the dream, and we’ll tell you its meaning.”

8 The king replied, “I’m sure you’re trying to buy some time because you know that I meant what I said.
9 If you don’t tell me the dream, you’ll all receive the same punishment. You have agreed among yourselves to make up a phony explanation to give me, hoping that things will change. So tell me the dream. Then I’ll know that you can explain its meaning to me.”

10 The astrologers answered the king, “No one on earth can tell the king what he asks. No other king, no matter how great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, psychic, or astrologer.
11 What you ask is difficult, Your Majesty. No one can tell what you dreamed except the gods, and they don’t live with humans.”

12 This made the king so angry and furious that he gave an order to destroy all the wise advisers in Babylon.
13 So a decree was issued that the wise advisers were to be killed, and some men were sent to find Daniel and his friends and kill them.

14 While Arioch, the captain of the royal guard, was leaving to kill the wise advisers in Babylon, Daniel spoke to him using shrewd judgment.
15 He asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the king’s decree so harsh?” So Arioch explained everything to Daniel.

16 Daniel went and asked the king to give him some time so that he could explain the dream’s meaning.
17 Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah about this matter.
18 He told them to ask the God of heaven to be merciful and to explain this secret to them so that they would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise advisers in Babylon.

Dan 2:19-30:
19 The secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision during the night. So Daniel praised the God of heaven.
20 He said, “Praise God’s name from everlasting to everlasting
because he is wise and powerful.
21 He changes times and periods of history.
He removes kings and establishes them.
He gives wisdom to those who are wise and knowledge to those who have insight.
22 He reveals deeply hidden things.
He knows what is in the dark,
and light lives with him.
23 God of my ancestors, I thank and praise you.
You gave me wisdom and power.
You told me the answer to our question.
You told us what the king wants to know.”

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy Babylon’s wise advisers. Daniel told him, “Don’t destroy Babylon’s wise advisers. Take me to the king, and I’ll explain the dream’s meaning to him.”

25 Arioch immediately took Daniel to the king. He told the king, “I’ve found one of the captives from Judah who can explain the dream’s meaning to you, Your Majesty.”

26 The king asked Daniel (who had been renamed Belteshazzar), “Can you tell me the dream I had and its meaning?”

27 Daniel answered the king, “No wise adviser, psychic, magician, or fortuneteller can tell the king this secret.
28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets. He will tell King Nebuchadnezzar what is going to happen in the days to come. This is your dream, the vision you had while you were asleep:
29 Your Majesty, while you were lying in bed, thoughts about what would happen in the future came to you. The one who reveals secrets told you what is going to happen.
30 This secret wasn’t revealed to me because I’m wiser than anyone else. It was revealed so that you could be told the meaning and so that you would know your innermost thoughts.

Dan 2:31-49:
31 “Your Majesty, you had a vision. You saw a large statue. This statue was very bright. It stood in front of you, and it looked terrifying.
32 The head of this statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were made of silver. Its stomach and hips were made of bronze.
33 Its legs were made of iron. Its feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay.
34 While you were watching, a stone was cut out, but not by humans. It struck the statue’s iron-and-clay feet and smashed them.
35 Then all at once, the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were smashed. They became like husks on a threshing floor  in summer. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain which filled the whole world.
36 This is the dream. Now we’ll tell you its meaning.

37 “Your Majesty, you are the greatest king. The God of heaven has given you a kingdom. He has given you power, strength, and honor.
38 He has given you control over people, wild animals, and birds, wherever they live. He has made you ruler of them all. You are the head of gold.
39 Another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to power after you. Then there will be a third kingdom, a kingdom of bronze, that will rule the whole world.
40 There will also be a fourth kingdom. It will be as strong as iron. (Iron smashes and shatters everything.) As iron crushes things, this fourth kingdom will smash and crush all the other kingdoms.
41 You also saw the feet and toes. They were partly potters’ clay and partly iron. This means that there will be a divided kingdom which has some of the firmness of iron. As you saw, iron was mixed with clay.
42 The toes were partly iron and partly clay. Part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle.
43 As you saw, iron was mixed with clay. So the two parts of the kingdom will mix by intermarrying, but they will not hold together any more than iron can mix with clay.

44 “At the time of those kings, the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed. No other people will be permitted to rule it. It will smash all the other kingdoms and put an end to them. But it will be established forever.
45 This is the stone that you saw cut out from a mountain, but not by humans. It smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God has told you what will happen in the future, Your Majesty. The dream is true, and you can trust that this is its meaning.”

46 King Nebuchadnezzar immediately bowed down on the ground in front of Daniel. He ordered that gifts and offerings be given to Daniel.
47 The king said to Daniel, “Your God is truly the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings. He can reveal secrets because you were able to reveal this secret.”

48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many wonderful gifts. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel governor of the whole province of Babylon and head of all Babylon’s wise advisers.
49 With the king’s permission, Daniel appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to govern the province of Babylon. But Daniel stayed at the king’s court.

Tad’s sermon highlights what he calls a sandwich structure found in Daniel chapter 2. He wisely didn’t use the technical term, but if he did he would say that Daniel chapter 2 has a chiastic structure. This shows that Daniel carefully constructed this chapter. This sandwich structure of topics, as you will hear, can be represented by the letters A B C B A. (Bread on the top and bottom, and fixings on either side of the meat.) This chiastic structure is also the outline of Tad’s sermon, so I will list the 5 points, to help you follow them:
(A) The Absence of Divine Revelation Reveals the Futility of the Pagan Nations
(B) God’s People are Blessed with Divine Revelation
(C) The Supremacy of a God Who Speaks
(B) The Blessing of Divine Revelation is the Only Hope for Pagan Nations
(A) Divine Revelation Reveals the Supremacy of the Kingdom of God

Divine Revelation and the Supremacy of the Kingdom of God
Tad Thompson

Introduction: A Clash of Worldviews
• What we see in Daniel Chapter 2 is an epic contest between the gods of the Babylonians and Daniel’s God, who is of course the one true God.
• It is a clash of worldviews. Babylonian religion focused on nature. More then 2,500 different gods have been discovered in various texts and records and most of them has some correspondence to an aspect of nature, sun, moon, stars, the rain, wind, and weather.
• In the pagan worldview of the ancient world and the rising paganism today have this in common, even though there may have been many gods - these gods were merely personifications of various aspects of nature. So paganism believes only in nature and denies the supernatural. It can be called “oneism
• There is an impressive sunken garden in front of the Beinicke Rare Book Library on Yale University’s campus. It is meant to simulate the universe. A large marble pyramid stands in one corner, symbolizing time. Another corner sports a huge doughnut shaped structure standing on its side. It signifies energy. In a third corner is a huge die perched on one tip as if ready to topple any which way. It is the symbol of chance. This is the world view of modern man: ‘a self-existing universe consisting of energy, time and chance.’ And those in Babylon, ancient or modern, don’t know which way the die will fall. Chance is opaque. It is the world of whatever.
• Biblical Christians think the Yale garden is a lie. They hold that there is a transcendent God who knows and orders the course of history down through the rise and rubble of nations until the days when he sets up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed (44). We can call the Christian worldview - twoism. There is a transcendent God who is the cause and creator of the universe and everything in it. An not only is he the creator God, but he is a God who speaks, who reveals mysteries.
• Think about how unbearably sad Joe and Jane Pagan might be, for they go out their front door in the morning and have no idea where history is heading. This is the same dilemma faced by the wise men of Babylon, they have many gods, but none of them speak or reveal mysteries.
• Our story has a structure that develops the main theme. It is an ABCBA structure.

(A) The Absence of Divine Revelation Reveals the Futility of the Pagan Nations (2:1-13)
• King N wants his wise men to tell him his dream, he wants them to know his thoughts, he desires more than an interpretation, he desires revelation.
• vs. 10-11 is the key to understanding the dilemma of the enchanters - “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
• They can’t do it because their gods don’t reveal anything, they do not dwell with flesh, communicate with flesh and they can’t because they are inanimate objects.
• We see this is the world today where people choose to worship the created rather than the creator. People have abandoned the notion of twoism - they have no authority outside of self, so they seek to discover truth by looking within and they consistently come up empty handed - there is no absolute truth to be discovered that will satisfy your soul a part from divine revelation.

(B) God’s People are Blessed with Divine Revelation
• The next scene in the story contrasts the worldview of Daniel and his companions with the worldview of the wise men of Babylon.
• Daniel wisely asks Arioch for an appointment with the King, and promises that he will be able to tell Neb. his dream - and then what do they do? They pray, they seek mercy from the Lord and believe that he is a God that interacts with his people and has the capacity to reveal hidden mysteries.
• Notice that the purpose of asking for this divine revelation is so that they will not be destroyed.
• Is this not the heart of the Gospel? That God reveals the mysteries of his grace in the person and work of Jesus Christ that we might escape the wrath of God to come.
• You are a Christian because you have been blessed with divine revelation - I Pet 1:23-25 “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
• We are people who believe that God has spoken to us, revealed himself to us - this is why we stand upon the inerrancy, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture! It is God’s Word that marks us out as His people!

(C) The Supremacy of a God Who Speaks (2:20-23)
• vs. 20-23 is Daniel’s prayer of praise to God for answering his prayer.
• This forms the center of the story and ultimate message of chapter 2 - The God of the Bible is Supreme because he is a God who speaks.
• Notice some of the core elements of Daniel’s Worldview:
a. God is a God of wisdom and might
b. God is sovereign over nature and nations
c. God is a God who knows all things and reveals all things.
The contrast between the pagan notion of oneism is astounding - if your worldview is basically time, energy, and random chance then your life has no intrinsic value, worth or meaning. We are seeing this played out in the world today. We live in a world that is literally destroying every ounce of human dignity left by denying the fact of gender - this is the ultimate form of self worship - it is paganism 101.
Daniel praises his God who speaks while the wise men are going - the gods don’t dwell with flesh they got nothing - our God is such a speaking God that he came into the world to take on flesh - as the ultimate word, the ultimate truth - he took on flesh to reveal God to us! To reveal God’s love to us! To offer God’s forgiveness to us!

(B) The Blessing of Divine Revelation is the Only Hope for Pagan Nations (2:24)
• vs 24 is paired with 14-19 - God’s people are blessed with divine revelation, therefore divine revelation is the only hope for the pagan nations.
• The word of God given to Daniel spares the wise men of Babylon.
• This points to the Christian mission of declaring the mysteries of God to the nations.
• Paul writes in Col 1:24-29 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

(A) Divine Revelation Reveals the Supremacy of the Kingdom of God (2:25-49)
• This final section is paired with the first - it highlights once again, in graphic detail the futility of the pagan nations and the supremacy of the Kingdom of God.
• The purpose of the dream is not for us to figure out which literal nations are being referred to in the dream. The point of the dream is vs. 44-45 - the God of heaven, the God who has given N. his present Kingdom (vs. 37) will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed and will fill the entire earth.
• vs 46 - something amazing happens, the most powerful man in the world bows to honor an exiled slave and N. promotes Daniel and his friends.
• This is so important for us to remember as we live as exiles in the world - the supremacy of the kingdom of God.
• Revelation 5 - One Day Every knee will bow, the knee of every ruler will bow to Jesus - a crucified Jewish carpenter will receive the worship of Kings. Right now, in heaven, there is a multitude of those who have been redeemed from the nations who worship Jesus.
How will you live - will you live as one who worships the God who speaks or will you live your life by time, energy, and random chance?