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Lesson 2: Nebuchadnezzar's Image *

Introduction: Have you ever wondered if someone was telling you the truth? If so, did you take any steps to determine the truth? Have you had times when you wondered whether God "is true?" Have you taken any steps to find out? Or, is this just another one of those things you can never be certain about? Daniel chapter 2 tells us the story of a king who wanted to be sure he was being told the truth and four men whose lives depended upon finding the truth. Let's dive into our study about the king's dream and being honest!

  1. The Dream

    1. Read Daniel 2:1-3. Have you ever had a dream that bothered you? Has a dream caused you to lose sleep?

      1. Have you ever thought your dream was (or could be) a message from God?

      2. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar was so troubled about his dream? (Kings know they are important. Therefore, their dreams must be important. The New Bible Commentary tells us that in the ancient Near East kings believed the gods gave them messages through dreams.)

        1. Would the true God give Nebuchadnezzar a message through a dream? (Read Daniel 2:37. God gave Nebuchadnezzar his power, why not give him a message, too?)

      3. Look at Daniel 2:1 again. How many dreams did Nebuchadnezzar have? (It was more than one. The text says that he had "dreams.")

        1. What important fact does this suggest to you? (That this was a recurring dream. No wonder Nebuchadnezzar thought it was important.)

      4. What kind of experts did Nebuchadnezzar bring in to fix his dream problem?

      5. Read Deuteronomy 18:9-12. What is God's opinion of these kinds of "experts?"

  2. The Problem

    1. Read Daniel 2:4-6. What kind of a boss was Nebuchadnezzar?

      1. Do you think this group of experts regretted what they said in verse 4?

    2. Read Daniel 2:7. Why did the resident experts say this to the king?

      1. Compare verse 5 with verse 7. Nebuchadnezzar says that he has "firmly decided" that he wants the experts to tell him the dream as well as the interpretation. In that context, why would the experts demand that the king tell them the dream? (I've learned that when a judge tells me that he had decided something, it does little good to pester the judge about it. These experts no doubt knew this, the problem was that they were desperate.)

        1. Why do you think they were desperate? (Because in the past they misrepresented their relationship with the gods. They may have been intelligent, but they could not tell the future.)

    3. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar insisted on his experts telling him the details of his dream? (Read Daniel 2:8-9. Nebuchadnezzar believed that they had been lying to him. If they could tell the future through a dream, it should be a small matter to describe the contents of his dream. This was a test of both their honesty and their ability to correctly interpret the dream. If they were not going to tell him the truth, what purpose was there in keeping them around? The problem with interpreting dreams was that they could tell him anything. Now Nebuchadnezzar had a solid way to test what he was being told.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:10-11. Analyze the arguments made by the experts to Nebuchadnezzar? (1. No person can do this. 2.No king should ask it of his subjects. 3. He should ask a god - and there is no god in the neighborhood.)

    5. Read Daniel 2:12. How does Nebuchadnezzar react to being told that he is unreasonable - that no proper king would ask such a thing?

      1. What lesson can you learn for the next time your boss asks you to do some difficult task? (Don't blame your inability to get it done on the boss!)

  3. The Trial

    1. Read Daniel 2:13-15. How would you react if you heard the decree of the King? Would "wisdom and tact" be the way to describe your response?

      1. The magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers probably got their "comeuppance." What do you think about this decree being applied to Daniel and his fellow Hebrew captives?

        1. Did Daniel and his friends ever boast they could interpret dreams?

    2. Read Daniel 2:16. How would you like to go before Nebuchadnezzar? What might happen to you? (The last report about the King was that he was "angry and furious" and that he had ordered Daniel (among the rest of the wise men)to be put to death. I would not want to show up. The King might not want to delay my execution if I said the wrong thing.)

    3. Read Daniel 2:17-18. Apparently Daniel was promised more time by the King. Why did Daniel need to have his friends pray about this trial? (Daniel must have believed that having a group pray is better.)

      1. Do you agree that group prayer is better?

      2. Read Matthew 18:19-20. Why do you think that God requires two or three for His presence? (The entire tenor of these verses is that discussing something with others gives better results. It discourages selfish requests to God.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:19. God comes through! What does Daniel do after God reveals the mystery? (He praises God!)

      1. Consider your prayers for a moment. Compare how intensely you pray for help with how intensely you pray praises thereafter?

    5. Read the praise Daniel gives to God in Daniel 2:20-23. Look especially at verses 21-22. If Daniel truly believed in the God of Heaven, did he need to fear Nebuchadnezzar? (No. Nebuchadnezzar might have had Daniel and his friends in his power, but the great God of Heaven had Nebuchadnezzar in His power.)

      1. How could Daniel know that revealing Nebuchadnezzar's dream was a possibility? (Because Daniel believed (v.22) that God knows even the deep, dark, hidden things.)

    6. Read Daniel 2:24. Why should Daniel be concerned about these other "wise men?" Don't they deserve their sentence? Wouldn't his life be better if they just had four (Daniel and his friends) wise men left in the Kingdom? (I suspect there were other "innocents" like Daniel who were about to be slaughtered.)

      1. What authority did Daniel have to countermand King Nebuchadnezzar? (My guess is that this command was unpopular and Arioch was not anxious to do his duty.)

  4. The Victory

    1. Read Daniel 2:25-26. How would you have answered the King?

      1. What do you think about what Arioch says? (He did nothing of the sort - Daniel went to him. Arioch is trying to take partial credit for the interpretation.)

    2. Read Daniel 2:27-28. Notice that Daniel does not mention his own name even once. He says nothing about his role in this revelation. Why?

      1. Compare this with your "victories" at work and in the church. How much do you mention your role in these things?

    3. Read Daniel 2:29-30. Finally, Daniel mentions his own role in things. Study Daniel's words in these verses. How does he explain his role, the King's role and God's role in this process?

      1. If you substitute King Nebuchadnezzar for your employer, you can learn a great deal from Daniel on how to handle problems at work which God solves for you.

      2. Look at verse 30 - Did God reveal the dream to Daniel to save his life (and that of his friends) or to satisfy Nebuchadnezzar's troubled mind? (I think what Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar is not "flattery," but the truth. While I may think that life is "about me," it is not. It's not about you and its not about me. It is about God and His will.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:31-45. I am not going to spend time on the dream and its interpretation, except to ask you: What is the "bottom line" on the history of the world? (The great God of Heaven will triumph in history and will set up a kingdom that will endure forever.)

    5. Read Daniel 2:46-47. Did Nebuchadnezzar get the message about who this was all about? (Not exactly. Not only does the King fall down before Daniel, but he says "you were able to reveal this mystery." However, Nebuchadnezzar does get the message that the great God of Heaven is the "God of gods and the Lord of kings.")

      1. Consider how matters have progressed. Last week(Daniel 1, the City of Satan conquered the City of God. The gold articles for the worship of God were taken to be used in the temple of Bel. God seemed defeated. Where is God now in the scheme of things?

        1. What did it take to get God "back on top" in the eyes of the world? (Four faithful guys praying and one giving God the glory!)

    6. Read Daniel 2:48-49. Remember that the original plan was that the captives from Judah would be trained and then go back to administer their old country? What do Daniel and his friends end up administering? (The City of Satan! Talk about a bloodless change in leadership!)

    7. Friend, consider what God can do through you if you determine to rely on Him, to pray, to be faithful and to give Him the glory!

  5. Next week: The Fiery Furnace.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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