Daniel 2:24-49 - How to Live for the Coming King

Steve Viars February 27, 1999 Daniel 2:24-49

- This morning I’d like to begin our time by asking you a very simple question --- Who is your king?.....or, Who is in charge of your life?.....to whom have you pledged allegiance?
- And I’m not so much asking you to give me your confessional answer to that question, as I am looking for your functional answer to that question.
- in other words, its not just, as I look at my personal doctrinal statement, my king is supposed to be....
- instead, it’s --- as I look at the way I lived this week, my king obviously is.....

- so I repeat the questions.....Who is your king?.....or Who is in charge of your life?.....to whom have you pledged allegiance?
- now, let me suggest several possibilities, and ask you to think about which category with which you’d most easily identify.

- Category #1 would be the person who would say....I have no king.
- my king is me.
- I am in charge of my life.....I am in charge of my destiny....
- I am the one who decides right from wrong.....
- I would never submit my life to someone else.....no or in the foreseeable future.
- Obviously, many people live in this category --- and you may be one of them.

- Category #2 - I have no king, but that approach is not serving me very well.
- I have tried to be in charge of my life.....but things haven’t been going so well.
- because I’m having trouble figuring everything out on my own....
- relationships are a mystery to me....
- happiness is elusive....
- and even though I’ve been thinking I’m king, the truth is I’m enslaved to certain habits and patterns that are destructive to me and others.
- so I’m starting to think that maybe I wasn’t designed to be king....
- maybe I need a king......
- I’m like the person who decided to ignore the manufacturers suggestion that I should change the oil in the car every 3,000 miles.
- the noises in the engine are telling me that maybe operating the car in a way that was inconsistent with its design wasn’t such a good idea after all.
- so I have no king, but I’m thinking about putting that job out for bid.....I’m starting to think, maybe I need one.

- Category #3 - let’s call this person the absent-minded follower of king Jesus.
- this person, unlike the first two, has come to a definite point in his life where he recognized his own sinfulness.
- he recognized that he had been designed to have a personal relationship with God, and that sin and rebellion had separated him from God.
- he tried to live his life for himself, according to his rules and in his own strength.....
- but he came to the point of believing that that approach did not work....
- so he looked to the cross of Calvary, and placed his faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ......
- he repented of his sin, and he accepted the free gift of forgiveness of sin, and he submitted himself to the rule and reign of Christ in his life......BUT....
- he’s an absent minded follower......
- days go by, or weeks go by....where the kingship of Christ is not factored into daily life.
- in fact, believe it or not, some people around him don't even know that Jesus is His king.
- he’s an absent minded follower of King Jesus.

- Category Four - Let’s call this one the reluctant follower of King Jesus.....
- or the resistant follower.....or the one who follows grudgingly.....
- like the person of the previous category...this person is a Christian.....
- but the submission issue grinds on him.....
- on fact, if you looked carefully, there would be clear areas where this person is in abject rebellion to the rule and reign of Christ.....
- and so there’s a fair amount of guilt about that.....
- there’s considerable distance between him and his confessed king.....
- he follows, sort of, but it’s reluctant.....its grudging......its incomplete......and its from a distance.

- Category Five - The joyful and submissive follower of King Jesus.
- this person decided that he was not equipped to run the show....
- he was not designed to be the king of his life....
- so he set out to find someone worthy of his allegiance.....
- and perhaps he looked at quite a few kings that looked good but didn’t pan out.
- he tried money for a while....but following that didn’t satisfy.....
- he tried pleasure, or busyness, or the approval of people....
- he tried booze, or sex, or lurid entertainment.....
- perhaps he looked at other religions and what they had to offer.

- but then he met the God of the Bible.....who on the one hand was holy, and righteous, and just......
- all good characteristics of a king, by the way.....
- but characteristics that put him in an immediate bind....because as a human being he knew he was sinful....and that his sin would prohibit him having a meaningful personal relationship with this holy king.
- and then he found out, that this king was not only holy, and righteous, and just....
- but that He was also loving, and merciful, and kind.....
- not in a mushy, insincere way that would overlook the man’s sin.....
- but in a concrete, definite way that caused him to send His own son to pay for the sins of this man....and everyone else who would repent and believe...
- and this man came to the place of believing in this God, and receiving the gift of salvation through Christ, and joyfully placing himself under this king’s rulership in his life.

- with the hymn writer, he said
- King of my Life, I crown thee now....thine shall the glory be
- Lest I forget thy thorn crowned brow, lead me to Calvary.....
- Lest I forget Gethsemanea, lest I forget thine agony.....
- Lest I forget thy love for me, lead me to Calvary....
- and this man, or this woman....is now in joyful submission to the King Jesus Christ....and if called upon to do so....could give specific examples this week, and the week before that....of how submission to the rule and reign of Christ resulted in concrete and conscious choices in both the inner and outer man.
- Christ is not simply his confessional king, but his functional king.

- Once again, let me repeat our questions..... Who is your king?.....or Who is in charge of your life?.....to whom have you pledged allegiance?
- and of these five categories, which one best describes you?....and what has happened this week that would support your answer?

- now, before you answer --- what would you say if I told you that a dream that some guy had 2500 years ago could help motivate you to get into category five as quickly and comprehensively as possible if you’re not already?
- would you want to learn about that dream?
- would you want to study that dream?
- and would you want to think carefully about how the interpretation of that dream should impact the way you live today, and in the future?
- assuming that the answer to those questions is “yes”, let me invite you to open your Bible to the book of Daniel chapter 2.
- for those who are new with us this morning, we have been studying the book of Daniel verse by verse and chapter by chapter.

- you can find the location of the book of Daniel by looking in the Table of contents in the front of your Bible or by finding the big books of Psalms and Proverbs and then continuing to turn to the right through the book of Ecclesiates, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel...
- the short version of what’s happened so far is that Daniel is a young Jewish teenager....
- he and his family were living in Jerusalem, when King Nebuchanezzar from Babylon comes to Jerusalem, and besieges it.....
- he takes some of the choice young people, and the choice articles from the Jewish temple, and deports them back to Babylon.
- in chapter one, Daniel and his three friends had to stand up to Nebuchanezzar because he was asking them to do something that was a violation of the Bible.
- Daniel and his friends were willing to take a stand....and God blessed them for it.

- but when you open the page to chapter 2, we learn that Daniel and his friends are faced with a new trial.
- it seems that Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream....and he called his wise men in and asked them to interpret the dream.
- the wise men said, fine, tell us the dream and we’ll interpret it.....
- he said --- no, I want you to tell me my dream, and then interpret it.....
- that way, I’ll know that your interpretation has some sort of supernatural quality to it.

- the wise men said --- that’s impossible.....so Nebuchanezzar said ---- fine --- then all the wise men are to be put to death.....including the new Jewish youths who had been being trained to be part of that group.
- Daniel asked for time, so he could ask his God, the God of heaven and earth, to reveal to him the dream and its interpretation.....we learned last week that God answered his prayer, revealing to him both the content of the dream and the interpretation.
- let’s pick up the story at verse 31.  [if time, could start at verse 24].
- read 31-49.
- we’re talking this morning about -- How to Live for the Coming King.
- and we’re looking for three principles from the interpretation of Nebuchanezzar’s dream to help us live more faithfully and effectively for the rock of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.


I. Rejoice in the Fact that our God Knows the Future.


- there’s a clear contrast in this passage between the gods of the Babylonian wise men in the first half of this chapter, and the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego.
- look back, please at verses 10-11 of chapter 2---READ.
- these men had to admit that their gods were unable, or unwilling to do what Nebuchanezzar was demanding....which made all their other “wise men” activities extremely suspect.
- but what comes screaming out of the second half of this chapter are the words Daniel used to set this up for Nebuchanezzar in verse 28 --- There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days.
- and we’re going to see before we’re done this morning, that what God revealed to Daniel around 600 B.C. about what would happen in world history has come to pass exactly the way God said it would.
- that’s one of the many reasons we can have great confidence in God, and in our Bibles, is because of fulfilled prophecy.
-  We Should rejoice in the fact that our God Knows the Future.

- now, please think with me, for a minute, how precious a commodity that is.....the ability to know the future.
- I always like to listen to the financial prognosticators at the beginning of a new year telling us what the coming year is going to be like.
- sometimes I’ll keep one of those financial magazines around for a whole year, and then compare what they predicted to what actually happened.....
- and its amazing how far off they can be.....but then at the beginning of the year, guess who‘s  being featured again....those same folks.....who we forgot were wrong last year, with a new set of authoritative predictions.
- can you imagine the value of someone who actually knew....who actually knew the future?
- and I’m not even talking about hundreds and hundreds of years....even a couple of years
- for example, if you follow the stock market, wouldn’t it be nice if someone would have known two years ago that amazon stock would be a good buy?
- that’s the on-line book company.
- you could have bought it for $2 a share in 1997.
- had you invested $10,000 in 1997, do you know what it would be worth today? 
- 3.6 million [we should have done that with our building fund]

- now please think about this from the perspective of the people to whom this book is being written....
- Israel was living under the Babylonian captivity....
- they had been disobedient to God and he was judging them for their unwillingness to repent.
- He had sent His prophets to urge the nation to change....to come back to Him....to follow His Word....---  but they wouldn’t.....
- in fact the king of Israel that Daniel introduced us to in the first verse of the book actually took a prophet’s scroll and cut it up and threw it in the fireplace.
- but now Daniel’s message to them is.....
- the situation under which you are currently living is not out of control.
- God knows exactly what is going to happen, and He knows exactly why it is going to happen, and He knows when it is going to happen......
- and he is worthy of our trust.

- See, I don’t need to know the future, as long as I know that the one who knows it, and controls it, is good.
- I believe this explains in part why Daniel was able to be so confident, and so self-controlled all the way through this event.
- you don't see him fretting, stewing, worrying, torn up with anxiety......

- He is confident, relaxed, self-controlled, not because he knows the future, but because he knows the One who does....and he came to the conclusion long ago that this God uniquely merits our trust.
- now I’d like to ask you a question this morning.....Do you have a personal relationship with this same God, and do you live in way that is confident and self-controlled because you too believe that, while you may not know the future, you know the One who does....and you believe that He is good, and worthy of your trust?

- now, there’s a second principle that flows out of this text....


II. Human Government is Temporary and Fleeting.


- we haven’t yet talked about the details of this dream.
- frankly, its pretty easy to understand, living on this side of world history.

- this image that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about had how many parts? --- Four.
- head of gold, breast and arms of silver,  belly and thighs of bronze, and legs and feet of iron, but with the feet having a mixture of iron and clay.

- now, if we remember our Jr. High world history class, it falls into place pretty nicely.
- Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar who the head of gold was.
- which was whom?.....himself, Nebuchadnezzar....the Babylonian empire.
- by the way, if you’re taking notes and would like to do a little more study on this, you could jot down Jeremiah chapter 27, verses 6-7 and 14, and Jeremiah chapter 37, verse 10.
- those verses tell us how powerful God has allowed Nebuchanezzar to become....which begs the question, what would cause a guy like Nebuchanezzar ever to fall ----- we’ll study that critical question for the next two weeks.
- those verses also explain exactly how many generations will rule before Babylon is defeated...and we’ll study that when we get to the famous “handwriting on the wall” passage in Daniel chapter 5 --- this all fits together in a marvelous way.

- so we know the head of gold is Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire.....
- by the way, one other example of the accuracy of the Word of God...when the historian Heroditus visited Babylon, he said that he had never seen so much gold, or even imagined that there could be so much.

- next comes the breast and arms of silver....what kingdom does that represent?
- well, who defeated Babylon?.....just in case its been a while since you studied world history...it was Persia.....the Medo-Persain empire......we all know the phrase, the law of the “Medes and Persians”
- who came next?....the belly and thighs of bronze?.....Greece.....Alexander the Great.....
- who conquered the known world of his day.
- interestingly enough, history tells us that his soldiers were outfitted in helmets breastplates, and shields that were made of bronze.  [may not be the point here, but it is an interesting sidenote].

- what about the fourth kingdom?.....the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay.
- who defeated the Grecian empire?
- the ones that we all learned in junior High were known as “the iron legions of Rome”.

- now, remember, this was written 2500 years ago....in 600 B.C.
- I realize that we look at this from the perspective of world history and say.....of course, that’s exactly what happened.....but as David Jeremiah rightly points out in his book on Daniel....”When Nebuchadnezzar dreamed this dream, Persia was a Babylonian vassal state, the Greeks were a group of warring tribes, and Rome was a village on the Tiber river.”

- the point is --- no one would have predicted these things....what an amazing God we serve.
- now, what does the progression in this image tell us about human government, and human history?
- why gold, to silver, to bronze, to iron and clay?
- the answer is --- human government, and human history is deteriorating.

- now, we have to be careful.....according to Romans 13, governments are ordained of God....
- we ought to be thankful for all the good things government does for us...and there are many good things we could list.
- we also are called upon to honor our leaders, and to pray for them.

- I believe Christians make a mistake when they fail to give honor to whom honor is due, or when they only view life through a negative grid.
- however, the overall point is.....Bible believers are not placing their faith and trust in the ability of human beings to deliver us.....
- we are not expecting the world to get better and better and better.....

- Students of the Scriptures are realists.....
- In the last days, Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 3 ---- In the last days, wonderful times shall come.....
- no, perilous times shall come.....

- now, we ought to work to make our communities, and our nation a better place....we ought to pray to that end so that we can faithfully carry out our mission as a church....
- but we are unlike the secular humanists who believe that man can handle things without God and that humans are getting better all the time.....

- we see life through the grid of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.....
- there is a slow but steady deterioration of all attempts to make life work apart from the knowledge of God.
- Professor Alexander Tyler, writing back when the 13 colonies were still part of England, wrote this about the fall of the Athenian republic:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure.  From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.  The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years.  These nations have progressed through the following sequence:  from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bandage.

- now, we ought to be thankful for our country, but we ought to benefit from the truths revealed to Nebuchanezzar.....
- the words “In God we Trust” are still a good idea.....for individuals, for communities, and for nations.
- because human government alone, and human existence alone, is temporary and fleeting.

- now, if that was the end of the chapter, and the end of this discussion....it would be pretty discouraging.....the question begs to be answered----where does that leave us?
- and the answer is --- with the rock.
- because what happens in Nebuchanezzar’s dream......
- a stone, cut without hands, strikes the statue and crushes it.

- the principle that flows out of that detail is.....


III. Wise is the Person Who Chooses to Follow God’s King.


- Friends, who is the stone of Daniel chapter 2?
- Its the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- back in verse 11, the wise men had said --- “there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”
- the One who will someday prove that statement wrong is the Stone cut without Hands.

- these readers are going to get another glimpse at Jesus Christ in the next chapter, 600 years before he was born in Bethlehem
- because the next chapter is about the fiery furnace --- and Nebuchanezzar is going to throw how many men in the fire?....3
- and when they look back into the furnace, how many will be there?.....4
- the stone cut without hands.

- one of the great pictures of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is that He is the Stone.
- In I Corinthians 10:4, Paul is talking about Moses and the children of Israel, and he says - and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
- the rock that Moses struck in order to save the lives of the people, according to Paul was a picture of Jesus Christ, who would one day also be smitten on the cross for us.

- not only was Jesus a smitten stone, he was a stumbling stone.
- Paul said in Romans 9:33 that -- As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
- that verse is a quote of Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16.
- readers of the OT would have immediately understood the part of Nebuchanezzar’s dream that spoke of a stone.....that was their coming Messiah.

- Thirdly, Jesus is a precious stone.
- That’s what Peter said in I Peter 2:6-8 - For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message-- which is also what they were destined for.

- now, a great question to be asking at this point is -- Pastor Viars, how should all of this affect me, and the way I live today?
- Nebuchadnezzar’s dream ought to help us in two ways.....

1) It ought to motivate us to joyfully follow the Lordship of Christ today.
- obviously, Jesus is not the king of the earth at this point in history.
- we believe that he will establish his millennial reign on this earth at some point in the future.
- however, every person who trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior begins a process of joyfully Him as king in their hearts and lives now.

- that’s why John the Baptist could say --- repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand....
- why, because it will be possible to trust Jesus Christ as savior and Lord and begin living under His rule and reign.

- that’s why Paul told the Colossians (Col. 1:12-13) -- giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

- this brings us all the way around to where we started this morning.
- remember our five categories?
- Nebuchanezzar’s dream ought to motivate us to seek to be in what we called category five because the God who knows history has made it clear.....His Son’s kingdom will eventually triumph.
- if you choose to trust Christ as Lord and savior, and then joyfully and submissively follow His Lordship.....you are living now for the stone of Daniel chapter 2.
- you are on the right side......you have living for the right king.

- friend, which category are you in?
- do you remember them?
1. Those who say, I have no king but myself.
2. Those who say, I have no king, but that approach is not serving me well.
3. The absent minded follower of Christ - He says Christ is king, but it doesn’t show up in everyday life.
4. The reluctant follower -- He’s following, sort of.....but he’s not very happy about it, or aggressive about it.
5. The joyful and submissive follower.

-  Friend, the God who knows the future has declared which king will ultimately be victorious.
- what would have to happen for you to get to “category five”?
- develop.


- another implication of all of this.....Don’t fret about what is happening politically.
- again, believers shouldn’t be all negative, or cynical.
- we ought to work to make our communities better.....we ought to pray for government officials, and honor them, and be thankful for the good things.....

- but if you’re up in arms about something that’s happening politically.....what would you expect to be happening?
- we’re definitely down to the bottom of the beast.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video