Recently, the Wednesday night prayer service has adopted a more informal Bible study format, rather than a traditional sermon. Since the give-and-take of a Bible study doesn’t sound particularly good in a recording, we’ve decided to produce weekly blogposts instead. These are short summaries of some of the ideas mentioned in each meeting, not necessarily an exhaustive list or a verse-by-verse exposition, but some of the ideas and themes which stood out to the participants as we read through the passages.
Currently, we’re working through the book of Daniel. For anyone following at home, we hope these summaries might help you to gain some insight or perhaps direct your attention to something you may previously have overlooked. You should be able to follow our study over the weeks as we publish new entries – but of course, we’d prefer you come visit us in person, every Wednesday evening at 7:30 in the prayer room at Dumbarton Free High Church on Latta Street in Dumbarton.
3 April, 2019 (Week Four)
Passage - Daniel 2:17-30
Tonight we looked mostly at the middle part of Daniel chapter 2, although as usual we jumped back and forth. Several big ideas emerged from a lively discussion.
Big Idea #1 - Daniel’s faithfulness and humility. Having been given the answer to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he proceeds in verses 20-23 to give all the glory and praise to God, blessing His name and attributing all power and authority to Him. We noted that in some ways, these four verses might be viewed as some of the key verses in the entire book: God demonstrating through Daniel that only He can change times and seasons (see an interesting parallel in 2:9), only God can remove and set up kings (Daniel will live through one Israelite and at least four foreign kings), and only God gives wisdom. Here is the book in microcosm, perhaps.
Big Idea #2 – Only God gives wisdom. Perhaps a good title for chapter 2 might be, “Who can make it known?” That’s the question King Nebuchadnezzar is obsessed with – who can show his dream? And that’s the question Daniel and his friends know the answer to, and the question that God answers through Daniel. ONLY GOD can reveal secrets. ONLY GOD can give the right answers to dreams. Ultimately, true wisdom can only come from God, because only God has the authority to give the answers.
Character Thoughts – These are weekly tidbits we’re gleaning about the different characters who appear in the book. Some of these are more speculative, but all are rooted in the text.
Daniel – Silver-tongued, or at least a great demonstration of “a soft answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) Arioch, the King’s Captain, shows up at his door literally hunting for blood; perhaps he had already killed other wise men, and Daniel’s simply next on his list. Faced with that immediate threat, Daniel is somehow able to persuade Arioch to do two incredible things: first, to NOT kill him, and then second, to get Daniel an audience with the king (verses 13-16). Note that Daniel answers Arioch with “prudence and discretion.”
Arioch – Not too much information is given, but this is the second person who Daniel is able to persuade to go against the king’s wishes (the first was Ashpenaz, in chapter one). God certainly gave Daniel favour in these men’s sight, but it may also speak to the fact that Nebuchadnezzar seems to have surrounded himself with intelligent, capable men, who knew when to follow out orders explicitly and when to act in their king’s best interest; the spirit of the law, if not the letter.
Nebuchadnezzar – See the above note on Arioch; Nebuchadnezzar certainly had capable men around him. The king himself seems to have been wise; see some of the earlier entries in this series for good examples. And when Nebuchadnezzar heard Daniel, he did grant him more time, although perhaps he didn’t expect much (he seems surprised, in verse 25-26, when Daniel comes back). Verse 29 is especially interesting. How many of us have wondered these same things at night – what will happen after we’re gone, or even later in our lives? We probably have all wondered such things. Nebuchadnezzar is nothing special in that regard – but God decided to reveal something to Nebuchadnezzar that He rarely reveals to men. He gives Nebuchadnezzar a glimpse of what is to come.
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – They supported Daniel in his efforts and prayers (v.18); they may have been living together (v.17). This might explain why Daniel and his friends didn’t know about the massacre that was happening, or even that the King had a dream. Perhaps, given the success that the Jewish captives had so early in chapter one, the other wise men had somehow conspired to exile them, or sent them to a lowly position somewhere far from Nebuchadnezzar’s attention. This would certainly fit with Daniel’s later experience (chapter 6).
“Dream” – occurs about a dozen times in the first 30 verses. Often coupled with “the interpretation,” showing that having a vision isn’t as important as knowing what it means. And the interpretation is what Nebuchadnezzar is really concerned with – only God can give that answer.
“Make known” and “show” – variations of these phrases occur 17 times in the first 30 verses. Who can make something known? That’s the important question of chapter 2.
2:28a – “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.”