Lesson 2

Daniel 2 and 7: The ABC's of Apocalyptic Prophecies

(Daniel 2 & 7)
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Introduction: Two of the most impressive prophecies in the Bible are the linked prophecies found in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. Since Daniel's life was jeopardized by the one prophecy, he might have preferred to avoid it. However, the prophecy that Daniel revealed through inspiration is one of the most prominent proofs that God is in charge of the powerful nations on earth. Let's jump in and see what we can learn!

  1. Losing Your Head

    1. Read Daniel 2:1-3. Our lesson tells us that the book of Daniel, chapter 2 contains one of "the most incredible faith-building prophecies." Why would God give a prophecy like that to a guy like Nebuchadnezzar? Why give it to a fellow who would immediately turn (v.2) to "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers" for help?(Three reasons. First, by giving the prophecy to the most powerful ruler on earth, you raise the profile of the message. Second, this is the "opening shot" in the lesson that God is in control of the world. Third, you raise the profile of the followers of God over the followers (sorcerers, etc.) of Satan.)

    2. Read Daniel 2:4-6. How much do you think Nebuchadnezzar trusted his top magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to give him honest answers? (He apparently had some doubts. He decided that if they really knew their stuff, they should be able to tell him what he dreamed. In that way the King could "test" their ability.)

    3. It turned out (naturally) that the wise men did not know "their stuff." The King decided that he had been feeding them long enough. Read Daniel 2:11-13. How would you like to be Daniel and his friends at this moment?

      1. Would you feel like a new partner in Arthur Anderson or a new executive in Enron? Your life is coming apart for reasons that had nothing to do with you?

    4. Read Daniel 2:14-16. What kind of relationship do you think Daniel had with Arioch? What kind of relationship did Daniel have with the King?

      1. Why didn't Daniel and his friends try to run away?

    5. Read Daniel 2:17-18. To whom did Daniel turn in times of emergency? (Our God!)

      1. Notice the timing of this. Daniel went to the King and asked for time before he summoned his "prayer group" to ask God for help. What lessons do we learn from this? (Daniel did not run away from the problem. He went to the king with confidence that God was with him. Either God was going to help Daniel in this emergency, or God was going to let them die. In any event, Daniel placed his trust in God. Daniel also showed by his example the power of group prayer.)

      2. When we are studying the Bible, and we do not understand God's message, what does Daniel's example teach us?

    6. Read Daniel 2:19-22. How about God's timing? What do we learn about who controls the rulers of our country? Does this mean that Bill Clinton was God's choice for president? Was George Bush God's choice for president?

      1. What about Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot: are they too, God's choices? (This is sort of like saying, "Was Satan God's choice?" God did choose to allow Satan to live and do evil? (See Job 2:3-6.) God allows evil "breathing room" so that the relative justice of God's way and Satan's way is clearly apparent.)

      2. What lesson do we learn about political activism from this text in Daniel? If you disliked Bill Clinton and thought his pro-abortion (particularly partial-birth abortion) policy was evil, what would be best to do:

        1. Contribute money, time and your vote to the Republican party?

        2. Pray? ( Daniel 2:21 tells us that God will give us wisdom to know how best to promote the gospel and combat evil, but the "bottom line" is that God, and God alone, holds the power to promote and depose rulers.)

    7. Read Daniel 2:26-28. Would you have answered the King in this way? (I think I would have said "Yes" first, and then explained later instead of saying "No" first.)

  2. The First Vision

    1. Read Daniel 2:31-35. What do you think about each of these different metals making up one (v.31) "awesome" statute?

      1. Why do the metals get worse as you work your way down? Wouldn't you put the best metal in the bottom - the foundation?

      2. Was the King's dream designed by God to benefit Daniel?

    2. Read Daniel 2:36-39. Remember that I asked you about God modifying the dream for Daniel's benefit? What if the head of the statue was made of clay? What if it were made of iron or rock? (God was looking out for Daniel because the interpretation stroked the ego of Nebuchadnezzar ("head of gold"), while at the same time making clear that God was above Nebuchadnezzar.)

      1. What about the symbolism makes the other kingdoms "inferior" to Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon? (Each of the other kingdoms is represented by less valuable metal and a lower part of the body. The fact that they are one co-ordinated body shows God's order and organization.)

      2. What are these other three world-ruling kingdoms? (The head of gold is Babylon, the silver chest and arms are Medo-Persia, and the bronze mid-section is Greece.)

    3. Read Daniel 2:40-43. What kingdom is represented by the legs of iron? (Roman Empire)

      1. What do we learn about God's control over the nations in this dream and its interpretation?

      2. What do we learn about God's understanding of the future?
      3. Why did God reveal this to Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar? Why reveal it to us? (Daniel saw the change in the kingdom from Babylon to Persia. He lived through those times of change. However, I think we are the primary people for whom this prophecy is intended. This prophecy gives us confidence in times of change.)

      4. What is this "toe" kingdom? Does it exist today? (The world is not united in a single kingdom today. Our world today is composed of various nations of various strengths.)

        1. Will any nation ever dominate the world according to this prophecy?

          1. If you said, "No," is that consistent with Revelation 13:11-12. Doesn't this "beast" have authority over the entire world? If so, isn't that inconsistent with the "toe picture" of Daniel 2? (The two pictures can be reconciled. Without having military authority, a nation might have "moral" authority. This could be applied to the world today. The United States does not have actual control over other nations as, for example, the Roman Empire had over other nations. However, the cultural influence (music, movies, etc.) of the United States extends even to such unlikely places as China.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:44-45. What is this "rock" that breaks up the statue? (Jesus' Second Coming.)

      1. When does Jesus come? (During the "toe time.")

      1. How does that make you feel? (The good news is that Jesus is coming during "our time!")

      2. How can we be sure about the rock coming? (Just as the nations arose as predicted, so Jesus will come again as predicted.)

    1. What significance do you see in the image being made mainly of metals and the symbol of Jesus being made out of rock?

      1. Why does verse 45 stress that the rock was not cut out of the mountain "by human hands?" (Gold, silver, bronze, iron are all natural materials that were ultimately "man made" in their final form in the statue. God's point is that humans create these nations within the "permission" of God. God's power, however, is not man-made in any way. The natural rock destroys what man has made.)

    2. Read Daniel 2:46-47. This is unusual behavior for a king. What should be our reaction to God's revelation of the future? (The same as Neb's reaction. Our God is the true God - Lord of Lords and King of Kings - because He can tell the future and control the events of man.)

    3. Read Daniel 2:48-49. Is there a lesson in this for us? What is it? (Out of the most terrible test of faith comes promotion.)

  1. The Second Vision

    1. Read Daniel 7:1-7. Who is given the vision this time? (Daniel)

      1. When was this vision given? (The date is clearly towards the end of the Babylonian empire because Belshazzar was king. According to F.F. Bruce, this makes it about 553 B.C.)

        1. Why is the date important? (This gets back to the old question of the God of the Bible being the true God because He can accurately predict the future.)

      2. Why did Daniel write down the vision? (Doesn't it make you feel good to know that even Daniel was concerned about being forgetful? Daniel wrote this down because he thought it was important and he wanted to be accurate.)

      3. How many beasts do we have in all? (Four.)

    2. Read Daniel 7:15-19. How does this vision parallel the dream given to Nebuchadnezzar? (It seems to portray the same four kingdoms. The identification of these four kingdoms as I have described them above, and our conclusion that the second vision is a repetition of those same kingdoms, has been "mainstream" Christian teaching and understanding for hundreds of years.)

      1. Why would God repeat the same dream message, but with different symbols? (Did you ever repeat your instructions to your children? You do that if you want them to "get it.")

      2. Why was Daniel troubled by this vision? (Daniel realized that this was a very important vision and he wanted to be sure he properly understood it.)

    3. Can you think of any reason why God gave these prophecies in the time of Daniel?

      1. Why did God give those prophecies then? Why not to Adam and Eve? Why not to Moses? (Daniel and the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. Their nation had been destroyed. At this discouraging time in their history, God wanted to reassure them, and His followers for generations to come, that He was in charge of kings and kingdoms.)

    4. Friend, if God is in charge of kings and kingdoms, are you willing to trust Him with your life? Are you willing to turn the problems in your life over to Him?

  2. Next Week: The Son of Man and the Final Judgment.

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Lessons on Great Apocalyptic Prophecies

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