This lesson is a distillation and video vignette of parts of the 6th audio-only Daniel lesson. Click here for the full audio of Daniel lessons (“listen”) and access to class handouts:


You’ll remember that Nebuchadnezzar has his dream. He won’t tell the dream to anyone. He calls his wise man and says, “You have to tell me the dream, plus the interpretation.” They can’t do it. Daniel, of course, finds out that the wise men are about to be wiped out. He speaks to Arioch, who is the head executioner, and he says, “Why is the king so hasty? He hasn’t consulted us yet.” Apparently, Daniel and his friends had not finished their training. Of the three years that they were going through, they were not yet put in positions of leadership. So, they had not been consulted. Daniel says, “Give me time and I’ll give you the answer.” And it’s interesting because whereas the wise men ask for time and Nebuchadnezzar said, “No, you’re stalling,” when Daniel asked for time, he gave him time. And that again shows the hand of God working in support of Daniel. Daniel and his three friends have a prayer meeting. At the end of the prayer meeting, you’ll remember that God reveals to Daniel the dream and its interpretation. And then Daniel, in verse 20 begins to praise God. And I just want to read this section again. A principle will come up from this later.

Daniel 2:17–23

Daniel answered and said, ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever.’” And that’s very true. “He changes the times and the seasons.” Remember that “times and seasons” refers to history as it plays out. The word “times” is Chronos, which speaks of – what would you expect? – Chronology. So, here’s a season, here’s a season, here’s a season, and so forth. Kairos is a word that refers to a specific age. So, “times and seasons,” you’ll remember, that when the disciples met Jesus after the resurrection in Acts chapter one, I think it’s around verse eight or nine. They said, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” What was His answer to them? “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.” In other words, the flow of history and specific information regarding what we would call each “age,” is not for you to know. Later, however, Paul writes to the Thessalonians in 1st Thessalonians 5:1, and he says, “Concerning the times and the seasons, you have no need that I write to you because you know full well.” What had happened between Acts Chapter one and 1st Thessalonians five? The answer is found in Ephesians three. God revealed to the Apostle Paul what is called “the mystery” of the church age. In Ephesians 1:10 it’s called “the dispensation of the fullness of times.” Later in chapter three, he calls it “the dispensation of the grace of God.”

So, if we were to look at it this way, this diagram might help:

We’ve seen this many times Eternity Past à history à Eternity Future. Many people divide history into seven dispensations, some into five. I think it’s easiest to show it in four. We put the cross right in the center. If you believe that things are different before and after the cross, whether you realize it or not, you believe in dispensations. The teaching of dispensations is under fire today. A lot of people reject the teaching. Once you reject the teaching of dispensations, you’re hopelessly lost in trying to figure out where scriptures apply. So here we have the time from creation to Abraham; we’ll call it the “Age of the Gentiles,” because there were no Jews. Then we have the “Age of the Jews (or Israel).” After the Cross Christ, or since the Holy Spirit comes down and inaugurates a new age called the “Church Age,” or if you prefer, the dispensation of the “Fullness of Times” or the “Dispensation of the Grace of God.” We call it the “Church Age.” The church age ends with the rapture of the church. There’s a brief period, seven years called “The Tribulation, which is followed by the kingdom, basically four main dispensations, because the tribulation is the conclusion of the Age of Israel. God’s dealing in the tribulation was it is with the nation of Israel.

So here Daniel is talking about how God has revealed to them understanding about “times and seasons,” and then he makes an interesting statement, “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Why would God give wisdom to people who are already wise? Why would he give understanding to people who always already have understanding? Have you ever heard the old saying it takes money to make money? “[Audience remark] Much is given, much is required.” “[Gene] To whom much is given, much is required.” And I’ll flip that coin over and tell you the other side of it. “Those who receive will receive more.” We’re going to see all this in just a moment, but I just bring your attention to it.  Daniel 2:22, “He reveals deep and secret things. He knows what is in the darkness. Light goes with Him.” Daniel says in verse 23, “I thank you and praise your God and my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might and have made known to me what we ask of You. For you have made known to us the king’s demand.” All right. We’re going to stop right there for a minute.

There are eight great truths about God that come out here. And I don’t want to spend a lot of time on these, but I think it’s important to at least touch on them. Let’s remember, and you might want to jot down out to the side there in your margin with those eight great truths of God, God’s plans and purposes are always redemptive.

God’s plans and purposes are always redemptive.

In other words, they have in view what Jesus said He came for in Luke 19 and verse ten. What was it? “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In another passage. He says, “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Or as we read in John 3:16, “God so loved the world He gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.” And too many people stop there and don’t read on in verse 17, “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Over and over and over, the Bible reminds us that God’s purposes are redemptive.

Now, try to think about this. When the Jews were under Pharaoh in Egypt and God sent Moses to deliver them, Pharaoh had a great opportunity. He had an opportunity to humble himself before the God of heaven. And he refused. And he hardened his heart. And a lot of people struggle with that passage that talks about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. But you need to be reminded. Pharaoh hardened his own heart six times before God finally confirmed him in that hardness. If we turn away from God — and this is part of the answer to the principle that I brought up earlier, “why would God give wisdom to the wise?” — If we turn away from the truth of the gospel, we harden our heart. If the truth comes to us again and we harden, are heart again, every time we hear it, and every time we say no, we are putting our heart under a hardening condition that makes it less and less likely that we will ever respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But this is true of believers, too. Once we’ve trusted Jesus Christ, we now have wisdom. Why is that? There’s a passage in Proverbs 1:7 that says, “the beginning of wisdom is the knowledge of God or the fear of God.” Repeated in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” So, we’ll see how all that works out. But I just want to stress God is now at work, as He did with Pharaoh, but with a different subject, with a different response.

He’s now dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, a guy whose kingdom stretches from India to Ethiopia. It’s hard to believe and understand how vast his kingdom was. He gives him a dream. He’s going to give him a second dream. He’s going to give him a third dream. And with each one of these dreams, Nebuchadnezzar is brought closer and closer and closer to an understanding of who the true God is until finally, in Daniel chapter four, he writes a track that he sends throughout his entire kingdom, praising and honoring and glorifying the God of Heaven who is the one and only God. And we know that we will meet Nebuchadnezzar when we enter God’s presence. As a matter of fact, so great was the impact of Daniel and his friends, not only did Nebuchadnezzar become a believer, but we have very strong reason to believe Darius (we’re going to run into him in Daniel six), we have strong reason to believe that he became a believer. Darius was appointed by Cyrus, and we have every reason to believe that Cyrus the Great was also a believer. through the impact of these young men that were so faithful. So don’t ever discount what you can do living in our time. And wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if somewhere in the upper reaches of the leadership of this country, there were believers that were so devoted and dedicated that some of the folks at the top in this country would be delivered from the darkness they’re under and come to us having knowledge of Jesus Christ. It would change the whole course of this country.

Eight Truths About God

  1. God will be blessed or praised forever. And you can compare verse 20 with Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 5:9-14 and Ephesians 2:10. I hope you’ll look these verses up.
  2. He is the source of all wisdom and power. Verse 20b. Compare that with 1st Corinthians 1:18-25 and Ephesians 3:10-12.
  3. God alone has the power to change times and seasons. And here you have those references in Acts 1:6-8 of the times and the seasons. And then of course the Apostle Paul writing to the Thessalonians and 1st Thessalonians 5:1-2 talking about how the times and seasons have now been made known.
  4. God raises up kings and removes kings to fulfill His purpose. This is a point that I think is one of the dominant points in the book of Daniel. You know, as I went over this and as I thought about it, as much as I’m distressed for the condition of our country, as much as I’m angry because of our leadership betraying us, God puts in power of the people He wants in power for His purpose. And it may be to discipline a nation. It may be to correct a nation. How wonderful it would be if our nation would receive corrections. But always it’s to fulfill His ultimate plan. So, we need to always bear that in mind. Pharaoh, of course, is an example, and you can compare verse 21 with Joshua 2:9-11 and Joshua 6:22-23. I make here the point again God’s plan is redemptive. That’s always his purpose. Believe it or not (this may be hard to believe), our country is in the condition that it’s in today to bring people to the saving knowledge of Christ. And why? Well, when everything was going great, we don’t need God, do we? His plan is always redemptive, and we need to keep that in mind because those of us who know Him could explain world conditions to people, to bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ.
  5. He gives wisdom and knowledge to those who are wise and understanding. And this, I got an email this week and it’s very interesting. As I was working on this, someone wrote in, said, I have a friend that I led to Christ, but they read the verse that says, God gives wisdom to the wise and understanding to those who understand. And they’re going crazy because they don’t understand why. Why would he give wisdom to people who already have it? Why wouldn’t they give it to people who don’t have it? Well, here you have the explanation. I want you to join me here, hold your place and turn with me to Matthew 13. These will be worth looking at. Verse 10, “The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’” You know, there was a point that Jesus’ ministry where He had been teaching very, very clearly. And then there was a point where He started teaching in parables, and it says that He didn’t teach without a parable. Why the shift? Why the change? This is what the disciples wanted to know. Verse 11, “He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given.’” Well, that doesn’t sound fair, does it? God gave some people the ability to understand, but not others. Why would He do that? Well, we’ll explain. Verse 12, “For whoever has, to him more will be given and he will have abundance. But to whoever does not have even what he has will be taken away from him.” Seems a little perplexing, doesn’t it? Little bit confusing. Well, let’s clear up the confusion.
  • Go with me to Matthew 25:14. I’m not going to read this whole thing, but He begins a parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his servants and delivered his goods to them.” You will remember this as the story of the talents, right? One guy was given ten, one guy was given five, one guy was given one. The guy who had ten. What did he do? He multiplied it by ten more. He made a good investment with the treasure he had been given. The master returns and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you’re going to be in charge over ten cities.” It’s a picture of eternal reward. The reward will be equivalent to the faith for the guy that had five. He multiplied it with another five. “Well done. Good and faithful servant. Be in charge of five cities.” All right? And then you remember the guy that had one. And the guy that had one, verse 24, “He who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man.’” Do you think God is a hard man? This guy thought he was. Have you ever heard the passage that says, “to the humble, to the meek, I will show myself, meek. To the humble, I will show myself humble. To the perverse, I will show myself perverse.” In other words, if you want to resist God, if you want to fight God, He’ll show himself to be too much for you. This guy thought he was a harsh taskmaster, “… reaping where you have not shown. I hid it in the ground.’ The Lord answered and said, ‘You wicked and lazy servant. You knew that I have not shown gather where have not scattered. You ought to have deposited my money with the bankers. At my coming, I would have received it back with interest. Therefore, take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents. For toeveryone who has more will be given and he will have an abundance. But from him, who does not have even what he has will be taken away.’” Does this clear it up for you? It really doesn’t. We’re still a bit perplexed, right? Well, go with me to Mark Chapter four.
  • I think this is where it begins to make sense. Mark Chapter four, Jesus has been teaching. He’s been teaching about The Light. He’s been teaching about seeds sown on good ground. He comes down to Mark 4:23, and he says, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Question: Who has ears? Everybody. Everybody. Why would you have to tell somebody who has ears to hear? Because we all choose whether we’re going to accept what we hear or not. Right? Then he says in verse 24, “Take heed what you hear.” Some translations have this “take heed how you hear.” Why? “With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you and to you who hear more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Let me put this in simple terms. It all begins with the gospel. It all begins with the truth of Jesus Christ, the very first divine truth that we must accept. You know, it’s like trying to argue theology with unbelievers. It’s a waste of time. They’re totally incapable of understanding the deeper truths of scripture. You must begin at the beginning. And the beginning is, “what do you think of Jesus Christ?” And if you reject Him, you’re incapable of understanding anything else. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Why? Because he’s a natural man. The spiritual man, however, can receive all things. So, the whole point is if you respond to the gospel, you’re considered wise. And why is that? Because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” You have received a small gem, a small pearl of wisdom, and that unlocks the door for you to be able to receive everything that comes later. And I know it’s frustrating to us and there are so many things in the Bible you don’t understand, but if you just keep receiving little by little, letting wisdom be added to the wisdom of trusting Christ as your Savior, you begin to build a foundation. You build a library in your soul that God can keep adding to and expanding as you learn. And I’ve been studying this book for over 50 years, and you know what? I learn new things all the time. I never study a book without seeing new things, but I’ve never found a book that I could read and reread and reread and always learn something new, except this book right here. And it never, ever fails. It is constantly a surprise in the depths and the volume and the breadth of the wisdom that’s available to us. So, what is our purpose here tonight? Our purpose here tonight is to prepare for more to come. We’re receiving wisdom now so that when greater wisdom comes, we’ll be prepared to be able to receive that. So that’s the fifth point. He gives wisdom and knowledge to those who are wise, and wisdom begins with faith in Christ.
  1. He who is The Light brings to light the things that are hidden in the darkness. This is not only true in the story of Daniel. It’s true in our lives. The more we allow the truth of Jesus Christ to permeate our soul, guess what happens? He brings to light things in the darkness, not only are we discovering new things about the Word of God, but I hope this is true of you. I hope you’re discovering new things about yourself. I hope that has the word of God penetrates your consciousness and your soul and the depths of your being. You are seeing things brought to light, sometimes good things. A lot of times bad things. Sometimes growth spiritually is uncomfortable because God reveals to us things that are deep down inside. We may have, you know, pushed them down under the sludge or we may have locked them up in the back room, but they’re going to come out and God brings those things out to us. It may be thoughts, it may be words, it may be actions. You know, sometimes the Spirit will bring flashing across my mind an incident in my life that I haven’t thought about since I was a kid. And I think, wow, what evidence of a sin nature. What evidence of a person in need of redemption. And it’s not so that God can shame us is so that he can constantly enlighten us to the grace that he’s shown us in Christ dying for us and providing for us eternal life. And also we can deal with those things, and cleanse those things, and move on stronger and wiser and purer in our lives. So He brings to light things in the darkness. Compare Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children.” This is a part, of course, of the whole idea of “the mystery.” In Ephesians 2:7, we’re told “that in the ages to come,” that is all of eternity future, “He will continue to show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Can you imagine, that for all eternity, day after day, week after week, month after month, God is going to be enlightening us more and more to how majestic, how marvelous, how wonderful is the grace that he has shown to us? And it’s going to go on forever. According to Ephesians 2:7. Once again, “that in all the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
  • And this thought was going through my mind today. I think probably the biggest truth of scripture is the least emphasized and needs to be known. It needs to be proclaimed, it needs to be studied more and more and more all the time is the infinite love of Christ. We just don’t grasp it. We just really don’t understand it. And, you know, we tend sometimes to get down on ourselves and we see our failures in the past or failures in the present. And we say, you know, “I’m just such a poor example of a believer. I’m just not growing like I should. I wish I was better. I should be more mature by this time in my life.” You need to back off that and quit making yourself the issue. And you need to get your eyes on the person of Christ and His infinite love, and it’ll cure you of being down in the dumps about yourself. Because ultimately it’s not about us. It’s all about Him. And here’s the interesting thing. The more we make it all about Him, the less there will be an issue about us. Why? Because we’ll be more like Him. Being “conformed to the image of Christ” is what it’s all about.
  1. He is the God of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in verse 23. And Paul talks in Romans 11:18 about “the God of our fathers.” As Daniel is speaking here, “the God of our fathers,” he reminds us that Israel is the root that supports us. We have been grafted into that natural olive tree, that tame olive tree called Israel. And that tree has three roots. And those three roots are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We need to always remember that.
  2. God will often use one to reach a few and reach a few to reach millions. This is in verse 23. And why do I say that? Because he reached Daniel. Daniel drew in his friends and Daniel and his friends, as I pointed out, are ultimately going to reach many, many people. I must believe that there were probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the Kingdom of Babylon who became believers as a result of the impact of these four young men. And by the way, at this point in the story, we begin to ask ourselves a question, “are those three just being propped up by Daniel?” I mean, is he really the support that’s kind of helping them to stand? Are they leaning on Daniel? Well, that’s why God throws in chapter three, because Daniel’s not found in chapter three. And we’re going to find out those three can stand very well on their own.

Daniel 2:24–30

In verse 24 through 30, I’m just going to read this. I think it’s self-explanatory. “Therefore, Daniel went to Arioch,” the chief executioner, “whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him, ‘Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon.’” He’s not concerned only with his own life. He’s concerned for the lives of others. “Take me before the king and I will tell the king the interpretation.” Now, this is quite a bit of courage here because he doesn’t know the interpretation yet. “Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king.” and notice “he said, ‘I have found a man of the captives, a Jew that can make knowing the King’s interpretation.’” What’s he trying to do? He’s trying to steal the honor of Daniel. And what do we call that? We call it arrogance. Arrogance always promotes self. What’s the end of arrogance? It’s always self-destruction. Then notice verse 26, “The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, ‘Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?’” Now notice Daniel’s response. “Daniel answered in the presence of the King and said, ‘The secret which king has demanded the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. There is a God in heaven.” I am not able. It is not me, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets.” I want to stress again. Everything that’s happening here is designed by God to gradually bring Nebuchadnezzar into the family of God. He keeps on being confronted with the reality of the God of heaven.

Daniel says. “There’s a God in heaven that reveal secrets. He is made known to King Nebuchadnezzar. What will be in the latter days.” I want to point out again, “the latter days,” Jesus calls it in Luke 21 (the verses are in your notes,) “The times of the Gentiles.” Times of the Gentiles began about 603 B.C under Nebuchadnezzar, who is the King of Babylon. And these times run all the way to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Earth (see diagram above). That’s “the latter days.” That is what Jesus calls in Luke 21, “the times of the Gentiles.” Note what Jesus calls “times of the Gentiles,” in Luke 21:24, must not be confused with “the fullness of the Gentiles” in Romans 11:25. They are not talking about the same things. “The Times of the Gentiles” runs from Babylon to the second coming of Christ to Earth. “The fullness of the Gentiles” happens at the Rapture of the church (Romans 11:25.) Paul says, “the fullness of the Gentiles” will “come in.” Remember he was the apostle to the Gentiles. During the church age, while the Jews are still included in the invitation, and many of them believe, it is predominantly Gentiles who are coming to a saving knowledge of Christ. And when the rapture of the church takes place, Romans 11:25 says “the fullness of the Gentiles,” and uses harvest terminology. There’s a harvest of the Gentiles that is going to “come in.” So, we need to distinguish between those.

Then he says, verse 29, “As for you, O King, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed about what would come to pass after this. And he, who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living. But for our sakes.” Isn’t this amazing? Who is that? It’s for him and his friends. “But for our sakes, He made known the interpretation to the king. And that you may know the thoughts of your heart.” A very important principle of ministry – I want you to get this: David, in 1st Samuel 20:24, made this statement “As his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies they shall share alike.” What’s the principle? Those who guard the baggage and those who go to battle, everyone shares a alike. If you remember the story, David and his forces were pursuing the enemy and they pursued so hard that some of his men began to falter. They gave everything they had. They were staggering in their weariness. And finally, David said, “Leave the baggage here. Let’s lighten the load of those who can go on those who are too weary. Stay here and guard the baggage.” The people going with David said, “Well, if they’re staying with the baggage, they don’t get any of the spoils.” Typical attitude, right? They’re worthless. What good are they? David had a perception of the grace of God, and he said, “No, this is wrong for you to say this. Those who stay and guard the baggage have done everything they can. Those who can go and fight are going to go do what they can when the victory is won and the spoils are divided, everyone shares alike.”

I hope that’s an encouragement to you. I hope that maybe it challenges you to realize that, as I said, even people listening to these classes all over this country, there are people that are listening to this Friday night class. They’re being blessed. They’re growing in grace and truth. They’re increasing their understanding of God’s word. And why is all that happening? Well, it wouldn’t be happening if we weren’t meeting here, would it? And we may feel like, you know, we’re just a small group gathered here on a Friday evening. But guess what? Every bit of affect and impact in the souls of people out there, and believe me, there are a lot because I hear from all of you, share in it, so be encouraged and be challenged.

The reason, he says, “for our sakes,” is because God is about to promote Daniel and his friends. They’re still in training, remember, Nebuchadnezzar calls for all the wise men, all these big important hotshots at the top of his kingdom. Here’s Daniel and his three friends. They were probably taken at the age of 14 or 15, so by this time they may be 15-16 and not finished with their training yet. Guess what’s going to happen? God is going to catapult them to the top of the kingdom. They’re going to bypass everybody else and they’re going to go right to the top. Why is that? God honors those who honor His word. God promotes those who promote His word. Very important principle. Same thing we just studied, “To those that have wisdom, more wisdom is going to be given.” With what measure you measure.” That’s not only with you measuring out, that’s also with you measuring in. You take whatever measure you have. You can take a thimble, a teacup. You can take a gallon can. You can take a bucket. The more you measure of God’s word to yourself, you’re using a measure. Whatever you want the measure to be. You just use that measure and that’s what you’re going to get.

At this point, verse 31, Daniel begins to tell the king his dream. And next week we’re going to get the dream and its interpretation, and we’re going to see that it has phenomenal implications for the time that you and I are living in.