Be Brave: When Nations Collide

Jay Brooks - 9/22/2019

This morning we continue in our “Be Brave” sermon series through the book of Daniel.

Last week Jon spoke about what it means to be brave when you are facing the impossible. Daniel faced an impossible task and his life was on the line. Nebuchadnezzar ordered his wisemen to tell him what he had dreamed and then to interpret. How in the world was Daniel going to get into the mind of the king and replay his dream? On top of that the King ordered that all his wisemen who failed this test be cut up into pieces.

Daniel responded by asking Nebuchadnezzar for some time for he and his friends to pray. He urged his friends to plead for mercy that God would reveal the dream and save them from execution.

So, from all this, questions arise. Why did God give Nebuchadnezzar this dream? It was a dream so vivid and personal that it wrecked the king’s sleep, filled him with anxiety, and left him grasping for answers. It was beyond his understanding. He grew restless and irrational, and began making unreasonable demands, even willing to slaughter all his wise men. What is it like to be a leader of a nation when God sends a dream that shows you have feet of clay?

And what about us? Does God speak to us through anxiety, revealing our misplaced trust or perhaps our unconfessed sin. In Nebuchadnezzar’s case, God got the full attention of a most powerful ruler.

This morning we pick up the account just where Daniel, with God’s help, does the impossible, and reveals the king’s dream. We’ll be reading Daniel 2:31-49. 

We start with Daniel revealing King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

“Your Majesty, as you were watching, suddenly a colossal statue appeared. That statue, tall and dazzling, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was terrifying. The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its stomach and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were partly iron and partly fired clay.

As you were watching, a stone broke off without a hand touching it, struck the statue on its feet of iron and fired clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the fired clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were shattered and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Can you imagine the king’s reaction to hearing his dream described in vivid detail? He had to know something supernatural was taking place.

“This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. Your Majesty, you are king of kings. The God of the heavens has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory. Wherever people live—or wild animals, or birds of the sky—he has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.

At this point, Nebuchadnezzar probably felt pretty good about this dream interpretation.

“After you, there will arise another kingdom, inferior to yours, and then another, a third kingdom, of bronze, which will rule the whole earth. A fourth kingdom will be as strong as iron; for iron crushes and shatters everything, and like iron that smashes, it will crush and smash all the others.

You saw the feet and toes, partly of a potter’s fired clay and partly of iron—it will be a divided kingdom, though some of the strength of iron will be in it. You saw the iron mixed with clay, and that the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly fired clay—part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle. You saw the iron mixed with clay—the peoples will mix with one another but will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with fired clay.

The king hears that kingdoms will come and go. They will seem strong in their day, but each one is less impressive than the one before.

“In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever. You saw a stone break off from the mountain without a hand touching it, and it crushed the iron, bronze, fired clay, silver, and gold. The great God has told the king what will happen in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation reliable.”

Daniel continues to give credit to God. He is helping the king understand what kind of God, the one true God, is.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell facedown, worshiped Daniel, and gave orders to present an offering and incense to him. The king said to Daniel, “Your God is indeed God of gods, Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, since you were able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many generous gifts.

Our question this morning is what does this 2,600 year-old-dream of a colossal statue have to do with us? We need to dig in a little deeper. This statue is made with various materials. It starts with a head of gold representing King Nebuchadnezzar’s nation of Babylon and then the materials decline in value working down. Scholars have various ideas, but generally the chest and arms are believed to stand for the Medo-Persian empire, the belly and thighs for the Greek empire, and the legs and feet for the Roman empire. The Rock that smashes the statue stands for Christ the Rock and God’s eternal kingdom.

What is God’s sovereign view of the nations? When we say that God is sovereign, we are saying that he possesses supreme or ultimate power.

Psalm 66:7 tells us, [God] rules forever by his might; he keeps his eye on the nations. 2 Chronicles 20:6 says, Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven, and do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand, and no one can stand against you. We see from scripture that God is sovereign over the nations. He is in ultimate control, even while the nations rebel and act poorly. He is working his plan to bless his people with a different kind of Kingdom.

Let’s consider an example of God working through the nations. Today you can visit Rome. You can stand on a hill overlooking the ruins of that ancient city and remember that Rome ruled much of the known world for more than five centuries. It was often a brutal rule and the nation exulted in sinful living. Looking down you can see the very streets on which emperors have walked. Victorious armies marched in and out of the city. From Rome laws were legislated and sent out to the world. All this took place under the sovereign God who was working out His purposes in history. It was around 4 BC when one of those emperors issued a decree that is probably familiar to you:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. And we read that while Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Caesar Augustus sitting on his throne in his palace in Rome and all his armies enforcing that decree had no idea that there was a sovereign God in heaven using them to fulfil his plan. But the Bible tells us that “when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman (Galatians 4:4-5) While Rome was a brutal and ungodly nation, God was far above Caesar preparing a Rock that would demolish the nations. Although God had allowed much evil to continue in the world without yet bringing it into judgment, he was still ruling over the rulers and the destinies of nations. He sent His Son as an infant into this evil world to rescue it. That rescue is still underway. This is what Daniel foresaw in that dream back in Babylon 600 years earlier. A new kingdom was being ushered in.

We live in a dangerous world, much like Daniel’s. The Bible tells us that life in this world won’t be easy and we’ll see injustice and suffering. We question when will there be justice? Where is the sovereign God? In the midst of this, we study the scriptures and learn who God is and what he has done. We see his faithfulness and his care for his people through the ages. We hear of Jesus second coming, when he will come as a King to put all in order. We come to trust that God is sovereign over the direction of world history. We believe what He says about His rule over the nations. When the time is right, Jesus will come in Victory. We can have a settled confidence and peace in our hearts that this is true.

What is God’s sovereign God’s plan for the nations? What is God doing now in the nations? We hear of North Korea and Iran and their nuclear ambitions. We see a rising power in China. Where is God’s Kingdom? Well, God’s kingdom isn’t like the others. His kingdom is about love and sacrifice and servanthood. Jesus modeled the lifestyle. He trained up his followers. As he was ascending to heaven he said,

“It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8) The Spirit came up on them and the church started. Believers continue to be added as the church multiplies. Today the nations continue to be blessed with the Good News of Jesus.

• It is reported that in China while there were three million believers in the 1980s, there are now an estimated 100 million Christians. These are people meeting in underground churches in a hostile communist nation.

• Nations in Africa and Asia are the seeing the greatest growth in Christianity with Africa featuring 7 of the top ten nations.

• The fastest growing evangelical church is located in Iran and the second fastest is located in Afganistan.

So how is Lakeside helping reach the nations?

• Lakeside supports several local and global missions with about 10 percent of our offerings. In (Me-Ann-Mar) Myanmar we support (Me-Ann-Mar) Myanmar Hope Christian Mission. The ministry reaches to some of the poorest of the poor through a food aid, aid to local pastors, emergency medical care, clean water projects, a boarding school, Christian leadership training, the building of churches and agricultural development.

• In Austria we support a ministry called Taking Christ to the Millions. It works as a school for training Christian leaders in more than 45 nations of Europe and Asia. These leaders who already know their culture and language and have a passion for reaching their people for Christ… can be trained at fraction of what it would cost to train and send a U.S. missionary to that same country. Over the summer Melani and I and four other Lakesiders went to TCMI and were able to take care of the needs of the students while they were on campus. We were able to hear their stories of how God was working building his kingdom in Moldova, Russia, Georgia, Germany, and other nations.

• Another mission we support is Pioneer Bible Translators. Jeff Wilhoit grew up at Lakeside and now serves as Executive Vice President of the mission. They are busy working with people of 18 countries representing 43 million people, translating the Bible into the heart languages of the people. Lakeside provides a large portion of the Wilhoit’s support as they expand God’s Kingdom to the nations.  

• In addition to these missions, Lakeside supports Lincoln Christian University which is training up Christian leaders who have impact around the world. We also have former Lakesider, Marci Stevenson, who has received her official appointment as a future member of Overseas Mission Fellowship with the team in Japan. Please be praying for these who are being raised up to go to the nations.  

Each of these ministries are working energetically to enlarge God’s Kingdom But they depend on supporters to fund their ministries.

Matthew 28:18-20 tells us God’s heart for the people in the nations. Jesus…said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Each time you give your offering you can know that a portion of that offering is at work enlarging God’s Kingdom to the nations.

What is God’s sovereign view of you amid colliding nations? Teen-aged Daniel must have felt like a small pawn as he was uprooted and cut off from all that had been familiar to him. But with God’s help he was brave enough to talk to kings about his God.

If you feel like a small and insignificant pawn in the midst of towering nations, you might learn from Daniel.

• Daniel was resolute in his faith even when his world was shaken.

• Daniel was a person of regular prayer and a person who prayed with friends when his life was in danger.

• Daniel had a circle of believers around him for support. They stood together as brothers.

• Daniel, though he was a captive forced to serve enemy kings, always found a way to honor his God and lift him up.

• Daniel was a man who used his gifts for God’s purposes.

• Daniel was full of gratitude for God’s gifts and his rescue

Now, Daniel didn’t live long enough to see all the nations fall. But he knew that God was at work, working out his plan even through hostile and rebellious kingdoms. He knew that one day a new kingdom would come like a Rock smashing the statue in the dream.

We live 2,600 years after Daniel and we haven’t lived long enough to see all the nations fall either, but we know that God is at work. We know that Jesus is coming back as King and that the nations will fall. Jesus is the Rock of Daniel’s dream, the King of an eternal kingdom that will grow as a huge mountain filling the earth drawing people from every nation, tribe and language.

Conclusion

In a world of uncertainty, we know our sovereign God’s plan. Jesus came once to rescue us and usher in a new kingdom. He’s coming again like a rock to smash the nations and to reign over his everlasting kingdom. Let’s each do our part in the kingdom work set before us. Like Daniel let’s carefully plant our feet on who God is, what God has done, and on what we know God will do.

We each have “Daniel moments” prepared for us. For some reason God desires to work through us. In Ephesians we read that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” God chooses to work out his plan for his eternal kingdom through people who know him and are faithful to him.

• Let’s be full of gratitude that we live in a nation where we can freely and openly worship our God and share his good news.

• Let’s work to advance the good news to every nation, tribe, people, and language.

• Let’s pray for people of every nation to hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus.

• Let’s encourage one another and pray for God to be made famous through our lives and actions.

• Let’s build on Christ the solid rock.

Let’s close with the words the apostle Paul spoke to the Christians in Corinth.

But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Father, You are sovereign over the nations. You have ultimate control. You want people from every nation to be rescued through Jesus. You have chosen to use people like Daniel, and like all of us followers gathered here this morning to reach the nations. Help us to build your kingdom on the foundation of Jesus. May your kingdom ever increase.  


Scripture Verses

Daniel 2:31-49, 2 Chronicles 20:6, Luke 2:1-7, Acts 1:7-8, Matthew 28:18-20, I Corinthians 3:10-15

Worship Set

Worship Playlist

Your Grace Is Enough
by Matt Maher
as recorded by Chris Tomlin

Give Me Faith
by Mack Brock, Chris Brown, London Gatch, and Wade Joye
as recorded by Elevation

Build My Life
by Brett Younker, Karl Martin, Kirby Kable, Matt Redman, and Pat Barrett
as recorded by Passion

Be Still
by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan
as recorded by Hillsong

Study Questions

Read Daniel 2:31-49

 1. Every nation is known symbolically for her strength. What national strengths do we typically put the greatest confidence in? What comes of these strengths in time? Where should our confidence lay?

 2. Images are powerful, but their power depends on their beholder. What is the significance of each element of the image the King saw (i.e. gold, silver, bronze, iron, clay)? What is the significance of the order of the elements mentioned? What eventually happens to all of the elements? Why is this perspective important?

 3. Notice Daniel 2:34-35. As the statue crumbles and fades, what simultaneously rises and grows?

 4. Compare Daniel 2:36-38 to Matthew 13:31-32. What seemed promising about the kingdom of Babylon? How does the beginning and end of Babylon contrast with the beginning and end of God's Kingdom? What lesson and warning can we take from this?

 5. Notice how Daniel 2:41-43 calls our attention to the feet of the statue. A kingdom is only as strong as its foundation. What are the various kingdoms standing upon? How can a kingdom's foundation be an asset or vulnerability? Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

 6. Read Psalm 46. What perspective should we have on the kingdoms of men? How is the Kingdom of God different than the kingdoms of men?

 7. Read Matthew 7:24-27. Read 1 Peter 2:4-10. What is the "rock" that we can trust to never fail us? What happens when we reject this foundation?

 8. How can you relate to Daniel's delimma? What does it look like to have our feet firmly planted on Christ as our Rock while dwelling in kingdoms that are fading away?

KIDS:

 1. Who do you trust? Will they ever let you down?

 2. Read Daniel 2:31-35. What happened to the statue in the dream?

 3. Daniel told the king that the crumbling statue was like the King's kingdom. One day it will fall apart. Read Daniel 2:44. Who will make a kingdom that will last forever?

 4. Read Matthew 7:24-25. What do we need to do to build our house on the "Rock?"

CHALLENGE: Get a friend or sibling and 2 paper plates. Put the two paper plates about 2 feet apart. One person stands on each plate. See who can stand on their plate (ROCK) the longest. You can poke, tickle, whatever. The last one to have their feet on the plate wins.


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