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Lesson 3: From Mystery to Revelation *

Introduction: My neighbor was sitting on the curb at his front lawn. His head was in his hands. This was unusual, so I walked over and asked him what was the matter. He told me that he felt as if a black cloud was following him around because he faced a series of problems. Daniel and his three friends might have a similar complaint. They have been taken captive, their homeland and their traditional lives destroyed, and now they face execution! Those problems are worse than faced by my neighbor. Let's jump into our study of the lesson and find out how to deal with "black cloud" times of life!

  1. The Dream

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

      1. Have you considered the possibility that your dream was a message from God?

      2. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar was so troubled about his dream? (You need your sleep! Kings know they are important. Thus, 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? Why not give the dream to Daniel? (Read Daniel 2:37. God gave Nebuchadnezzar his power, why not give him a message, too? If this were Daniel's dream, the King would not have paid any attention to it.)

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

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

    2. Read Daniel 2:4. Does this seem to be a reasonable request?

    3. Read Daniel 2:5-6. What kind of boss is Nebuchadnezzar?

      1. Is he just a maniac? Or, is there a method behind his madness? Does his request make logical sense to you?

    4. Read Daniel 2:7-9. Nebuchadnezzar explains his logic. What do you think of it? (Nebuchadnezzar distrusts his advisors. He thinks they might have a practice of making things up. Since he should be able to confirm what he dreamed, he believes this is the only way to know that the interpretation is correct. That makes sense to me.)

    5. Read Daniel 2:10. Does the King's demand make sense to his advisors? (No! They argue that this request is unprecedented and impossible.)

      1. What are the advisors arguing when they say, "No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing?" (They are telling the King that he is not properly doing his job.)

    6. Read Daniel 2:11. Carefully consider this response. Is this truly beyond their capability? (It seems that is their job, to tell the King what the gods have to say.)

      1. Let's assume that Nebuchadnezzar remembered his dream and shared it with his advisors, as they requested. What would they be doing? (Presumably telling him what the gods said that it meant! My bet is that they had a long history of doing this. Thus, this is a telling admission.)

  2. The Challenge

    1. Read Daniel 2:12. Is the King properly furious? Is he right to be mad? (Consider what the advisors have just told him. They cannot communicate with the gods, despite past representations to the contrary. And they tell him that they are not the ones failing to do their jobs properly, it is the King who is incompetent in doing his job. These are not the kind of things you should say to keep your boss happy!)

    2. Read Daniel 2:13-14. How would you react if you heard the decree of the King? Would "wisdom and tact" be the way to describe your response? Or, would "freaking out" be a better description?

      1. We discussed whether this penalty was fair for the King's advisors, but had Daniel and his friends ever boasted that they could interpret dreams? Had they ever mislead the King?

      2. When you are unfairly treated at work, when you are punished for the failures of others, do you use emotional intelligence? Are you tactful?

    3. Read Daniel 2:15-16. How would you like to go before the King? What was that last report about his attitude? (He was "angry and furious" and he wanted to execute some wise men. I would not be eager to show up!)

      1. Notice that Daniel asked for more time. Re-read Daniel 2:8. Do you think that Daniel promised to interpret the dream? If he did not, he was doing the same thing the King accused the other wise men of doing!

    4. Read Daniel 2:17-18. If you think that Daniel promised to interpret the dream, is be being presumptuous? This shows that Daniel does not yet know if God will show him mercy!

      1. What does Daniel think about group prayer? Do you think that group prayer is better?

    5. Read Daniel 2:19. God comes through and Daniel praises Him. Compare how intensely you pray for help with how intensely you pray praises thereafter?

    6. Read Daniel 2:20-23. Notice the nature of Daniel's praise. How does this fit the interpretation of the King's dream? (This description of God's ability says much about God's control over the future.)

  3. The Interpretation

    1. Read Daniel 2:24-25. Why does Daniel go to Arioch first? Is he afraid he will start executing Daniel's friends? Is Daniel trying to save the other wise men?

      1. Why not let these other wise men die? After all, this is part of the reason why God took out the Canaanite people. See Deuteronomy 18:9-12.

      2. How do you like Arioch taking credit for this? Why didn't Daniel say, "That's not true, I came to you, you didn't find me?"

        1. What does this teach us about the times when our boss takes credit for our ideas?

    2. Read Daniel 2:26. Think carefully about how you would answer this question if you were Daniel.

    3. Read Daniel 2:27-28. Is this how you decided you would answer? (I would never answer it this way. My first word would be "Yes!" The last thing I would do is repeat the lines of the wise men that caused the king to decide to execute them!)

      1. Do you think that Daniel is smart enough to know this?

        1. If so, why does he start his answer out in the most idiotic way - according to human wisdom? (Daniel's point is to bring praise and credit to God rather than to Daniel. Compare this with Arioch's approach.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:29-30. Once again, is this how you would answer? (Daniel consistently gives the glory to God rather than to himself. If I were being humble I would answer, "I'm not smarter than the other wise guys, but I do know Who to ask.")

      1. Is Daniel telling the truth about why the mystery was revealed to him? Isn't it because Daniel asked God to save his life, and not because the King was curious? (The whole event is much bigger than Daniel and his friends. This is a difficult truth for Christians to accept - it is not about us!)

    5. Read Daniel 2:31-32 and Daniel 2:37-38. Why did God structure the dream in such a way to give the highest glory to Nebuchadnezzar? (Read Daniel 2:46 & 48. This is a second important truth, reflected in James 4:10 and Luke 12:8. If we give glory to God, as Daniel did, He will lift us up and give glory to us. The side affect of structuring the dream in this way was to put Daniel in the position of greatly honoring Nebuchadnezzar. Bringing honor to your boss is good for your job security!)

    6. I'm not going to have you formally read Daniel 2: 33-45, but you should do it if you do not know the story. Read Daniel 2:44-45. 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!)

    7. Friend, consider how Daniel's day turned around. He was faithful to God, he trusted God, he gave glory to God. The result was that God turned what could have been the worst day of his life into what might have been the best day of his life. Will you determine to be faithful to God?

  4. Next week: From Furnace to Palace.
* Copr. 2020, 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.

© 2020 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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