Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon Series: Promiseland
Week 2: Daniel, Dreams & Death Sentences
Icebreaker: Tell your group about something that you have recently googled to learn how to do it.
1. Continue to memorize 2 Peter 1:4: “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2. What does this verse communicate about how a Christian should live life in this fallen world?
3. Read Daniel 2:1-30 and 46-49: “In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”
4 Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”
10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”
25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”
27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind….
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.”
4. What questions or comments come to your mind as you read this passage?
5. The word “reveal” is repeated 8 times in this passage. Go back and glance at each occurrence of that word. The promise we are focusing on in this message is: God reveals things to those who seek Him. What are some things that God reveals to people, and why does He reveal things to people?
6. Daniel and his friends sought God through prayer and asked Him to reveal the meaning of the King’s prayer. If you seek God, he will also reveal things to you. Read Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” What does it mean to “seek God”? What would that look like? How does a person do it?
7. What door is Jesus referring to in Matthew 7?
God reveals mysteries
8. Daniel acknowledges throughout this passage that God reveals mysteries. What does he mean here by the word “mystery”?
9. Read Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Notice that God refers here to “unsearchable” things – things you’re not going to find on Google. Discuss as a group some of the unsearchable things that people don’t know.
10. Read James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” What is wisdom, and how does it differ from knowledge?
11. What may keep people from seeking God’s wisdom?
12. These passages could be understood to mean that every time we ask God for wisdom or clarity, the answer will be a clear revelation from Him. What encouragement would you give to someone who tried this and didn’t experience anything?
13. In 2 Chronicles 20:12 King Jehoshaphat was facing an attacking nation and didn’t know what to do. So he asked God for help. He prayed, “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Share about a time when you didn’t know what to do, so you prayed for wisdom and guidance. What did you experience?
14. Sometimes it is difficult to discern God’s voice from the voice of people or the world around or even our own thoughts. How can a person discern whether an idea is from God? What are some characteristics of wisdom from God?
God reveals Himself to those who seek Him
15. One way that God reveals Himself is through what theologians call “general revelation” – which is when God reveals Himself through His creation. Read about that in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Tell your group about a time when you sensed God was real because of what you experienced in nature.
16. God’s best and most clear revelation of Himself came through His Son, Jesus. Read about that in Hebrews 1:1-3: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
The writer of Hebrew says that if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Name some qualities you see in Jesus.
17. How does this account from Daniel’s life relate to your own life? How can you apply this to your life right now?