Daniel and The King’s Dream – A Sermon For When You Don’t Know What To Do

by Bobby Gilles

in Liturgy & Sermons

What do you do in a tough situation that doesn’t provide easy answers? What if there’s no Bible verse for your problem, and God seems silent?

Read below, in this sermon from Daniel 2. Or, watch it in the video. My scripture reader is Lindsey Blair.

July 14, 2019 – Stand 2 – Bobby Gilles from Sojourn Collective on Vimeo.

Reading: One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. 2 He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, 3 he said, “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.”

4 Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, “Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

5 But the king said to the astrologers, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! – Daniel 2:1-5

“If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb …” Yikes.

This text is harrowing. Most of us have never faced that consequence, but have you ever had a boss, or maybe your teacher, a spouse, a coach or trainer of some kind who demands the impossible?

Before becoming a pastor here, I worked several jobs in the field of communications – everything from social media to AM Radio. Years ago, I had a boss who made it difficult to bring innovative ideas to him – not in the sense that he would kill them but like, “I love your idea for a new show! But instead of launching it in three months on your $5000 budget, I want it next week! And we’ll figure out how to pay for it later! And I want a launch day celebration with pony rides, hot air balloons and an air show!”

And I’d think, “Why don’t I learn to keep my mouth shut?”

You might have similar experiences, or maybe far more painful ones. You don’t know what to do.

That’s where these astrologers are. They can’t believe what they’ve heard, so they try to reason with the king.

Daniel 2:7-8 They said again, “Please, Your Majesty. Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”
8 The king replied, “I know what you are doing! You’re stalling for time because you know I am serious when I say, 9 ‘If you don’t tell me the dream, you are doomed.’

Someone’s yelling at you for no reason. A boss is going to fire you for a situation outside your control. A creditor, all of a sudden, demands repayment in full. So, then you blow your top. And how does that usually work for you?

Daniel 2:10-13 The astrologers replied to the king, “No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! 11 The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.”
12 The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. 13 And because of the king’s decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.

Now the king is so out of control he wants to kill all the wise men – not just this small group of astrologers, but even advisors who haven’t been included in the conversation. This includes Daniel and his three friends whom we met last week in Pastor Sam’s sermon – Jewish teenagers who had been abducted when Babylon conquered their nation.

Fortunately for Daniel and his friends, they were noble, good looking kids, wise beyond their years, so instead of being killed or left to rot in a jail, they were in the royal training program for king’s advisors. Unfortunately, he now wants to kill all his advisors.

Looking for Clues To The Resolution:

How will Daniel handle this situation?

Daniel 2:14-15 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. 15 He asked Arioch, “Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?” So Arioch told him all that had happened.16 Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.

As we saw last week and we’ll continue to see in this series, Daniel is a wholehearted follower of God. He wants to be faithful to God even when he doesn’t understand what is happening or why. In whatever his situation – including serving the king in his current job – Daniel somehow lives as if he trusts God, in spite of what’s happened to him.

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
– Elizabeth Elliot

The king grants Daniel some time, so Daniel immediately does two things:

1. He gathers his godly friends.
2. They pray.

Daniel 2:17-18 Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. 18 He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon.

There’s no guarantee that God will answer this prayer in the way they hope. God’s been saying, “No” for two years.

Imagine Pennsylvania attacks Indiana. They’ve already conquered Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan. Now it’s our turn. Pennsylvanians sweep into this room and kill almost everyone but they take you – because you’re the best and the brightest — and they bring you to Harrisburg to serve the governor.

It’s been two years. Everything you knew and loved your entire life is gone. Many of your loved ones, killed. You’re separated from most of the rest. How often have you cried out to God in these two years?

Every hour of every day. And for these four teenagers, every time – for two years – God has answered, “No.” But here they are, praying to God for help.

Daniel 2:9 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.

Daniel isn’t just praising him for answering this one prayer – after all, they’re still in Harrisburg. But the answer to this prayer – the actual interpretation of the king’s dream – gives Daniel a reason to live with confidence and depend on God as our loving father, savior and sustainer even when he tells us “No.” We get a hint of this in the way Daniel praises God when his prayer is answered:

Daniel 2:20-21 “Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.”

The dream revealed something that let Daniel know God is in control. And this interpretation made him so happy that he burst out into praise. What was it?

Aha! Gospel Turn:

Daniel goes to the king:

Daniel 2:27-28 “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream

Note Daniel’s humility. He doesn’t take credit, he gives it to God. He reveals that the dream was about a statue, made up of different metals:

Head – Gold
Chest & Arms – Silver
Belly & Thighs – Bronze
Legs – Iron
Feet – Combo of Iron & Clay

Each descending metal is less valuable than the last. Iron is strong but would be weak and unstable when mixed with clay.

The statue and metals reflect ideas known elsewhere in the ancient near east (a montage of metals characterizing different time periods was common), so it would have been normal for the king to have a dream like this – except for the end:

Daniel 2:34-35 As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits.

35 The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

(Display Chart from Wendy Widder commentary on Daniel, with both the Greek and Roman views. Have fun with it – can’t preach Daniel without having a prophecy chart, can we?)

Regardless which view you take, the main message is that human kingdoms, no matter how impressive, will ultimately be destroyed by this rock. And the identity of the rock is:

Daniel 2:44 “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever.

Hundreds of years later, in the most surprising way, God entered into our story as a baby in a manger. He grew, he taught us the way life works best, and then he did something much bigger – something no king could ever do. He didn’t just conquer Babylon, or Greece, or Rome – empires that crumbled ages ago.

Hebrews 2:14-15 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had[g] the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

His church began with some frightened men and a few women whom everyone thought were crazy when they said, “He is risen.” This ragtag group of a despised minority grew into the largest force for social transformation the world has ever seen.

They found new life and lived as new people – not trapped in the same self-destructive, other-destructive patterns that had plagued their earlier lives. They found hope, they found love, they found grace, and they carried it to the world. And the world was changed.

This means that wherever we are, whatever our daily tasks involve, the rock that tears down the kingdoms of this world is steadying our feet. We can pray with confidence that he has, is, and will deliver us.

Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the American Confederacy, the drug dealer on the corner, predatory lenders, corporations that exploit their workers or harm consumers … ashes, ashes, they all fall down when the rock that was cut out of God’s mountain comes for them. Perhaps one day history students will talk about America as a once-great empire, but regardless, God’s truth marches on.

This is why the answer to Daniel’s prayer is as good for us as it was for Daniel. He and his friends prayed a prayer for their time, but God gave an answer for all time.


You might say, “If I got a miracle like Daniel, if I could receive dreams and visions and understand them like Daniel, then I could accept this.”

Daniel received all that, but he still had more questions than answers. Remember God had been telling him “no” for two years before he revealed the king’s dream. But let’s skip to the end of this book for a spoiler. Daniel is now elderly. He’s outlasted several kings and empires. Maybe he wonders, “When is that rock going to come?”

An angel of the Lord gives him more clues but even after a lifetime of dreams, visions and miracles, Daniel writes

Daniel 12:8 I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?” – Daniel 12:8

Now Daniel will finally get his answers. Now the angel will say, “Okay, one more time. I’ll dumb it down for you. No more figurative language. You’ll know exactly what’s going to happen, and when, and just what to do in every situation:

But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end … “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” Daniel 12:9,13

The reason Daniel could stand firm was not that God always gave him miracles and answers. Daniel stood firm because he trusted God regardless of how things looked or whether God answered.

Daniel trusted that a mighty stone was coming, and it would tear down every stronghold, every false kingdom. The angel explicitly told Daniel he wouldn’t live to see it. One day, a final miracle would be needed in Daniel’s life, and he wouldn’t get it. Death would win.

But it would be a hollow victory because it would only bring Daniel rest, and the assurance of resurrection. So, Daniel could stay strong in a world of chaos, not because he had all the answers but because he trusted the One who does. He could trust because God had given him foresight – the miraculous interpretation of a dream. We can trust because of hindsight, the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus and the unprecedented growth of his church in the face of persecution and terror.

If you follow Jesus, if His Spirit lives in you, if you know God as your Father, then you can forget everything else I said today, but mark this down and never forget it:

In this crazy, confusing, sometimes dangerous world, You won’t always know what to do. But you can always trust Who you know.

2 Chronicles 2:12 … we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

• You won’t find a Bible verse that tells you exactly what to do in every situation you face.
• You won’t see a solution written in the clouds for every problem you encounter.
• You won’t always know what to do.
• But you can always trust who you know. And he loves to hear from you.

Monday/Sunday Challenge:
Take the notecard in your bulletin and write “I don’t know what to do about ______” Drop it off in the box as you leave.

If you didn’t grab a bulletin because you follow along in the bulletin on your app, then you’ll notice a big button that says, “Prayer Request Here.” Tap that, and you’ll be able to type it in and hit “submit.”

Tomorrow, pray about it with your friends. This Tuesday at noon all the men and women on staff will pray over these notecards. Then later that evening all our pastors – staff and non-staff – will pray over them. Finally, we’ll pray over all of them again in our Night Of Prayer, Wednesday, August 14.

We’ll pray that you receive direction and guidance, but most of all that you’ll be able to trust that God is carrying you even when the way seems unclear – because you know him as Father and he knows you as daughter or son.

We won’t always know what to do, but we can always trust who we know.

A mighty rock was cut out of the great mountain of heaven. It’s rolling toward the dark kingdoms below, gaining force and velocity. It bounds into halls of power where wrong passes for right. It rolls down streets where Greed is law and life is cheap. It smashes into systems of injustice, big and small.

And when we look into the darkness in our own hearts, we would be terrified, if we didn’t know that this mighty stone that was cleft from heaven’s mountain …


(pick up the bread) is the Rock of Ages cleft for us. We hide ourselves in him as he places His Spirit in us, saving us from wrath and making us pure.

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he took a piece of bread, like this one. And after giving thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, broken for you.” The rock that tears down the kingdoms of this world is first willingly broken for you and me.

Then he took a cup of wine like this one, and he said, “This is my blood, shed for you. Drink this in remembrance of me until I come again.”

If you’re not a Christian, don’t come forward and partake of communion because it symbolizes something you haven’t accepted yet. Instead, accept Christ as the one who covers our sin, changes our hearts, and brings us into the only true kingdom. Then we can prepare you in the weeks to come to be baptized and begin taking communion with us.

In this world, you’ll continue to face situations where you don’t know what to do. But you can trust who you know, if you have come to know Jesus.

Let’s pray.

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