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RDean/Daniel Lesson 6

Irrational Human Viewpoint – Daniel 1:1-13

 

We continue in our study of Daniel, Daniel 2:1.  Towards the end of Pontius Pilate's interview with Jesus in the sixth trial, when Pilate is interviewing Jesus, Jesus answers his question by saying, in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.  [37] Pilate therefore said to Him, So you are a king?  Jesus answered, You say correctly that I am a king.  For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Every one who is of the truth hears My voice."  Then Pilate gave his famous reply, he looked at Jesus and he said, "What is truth?"  Demonstrating that he did not believe there was truth and in his lack of concern for finding truth he turned his back on Jesus Christ and walked out to the Jews. 

 

That little interchange illustrates for us the core issue in the battle between the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God as we've been studying it in Daniel.  That's one of the major themes in this Daniel is this struggle, this battle between the kingdom of man and all that man wants to be and all that man tries to be, and antagonism to God and in rebellion against God, versus God's claim to be the final authority in the universe, the sovereign God of the universe and the determiner of absolute truth.  So the battlefield between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man often centers on the question of truth.  The truth claims of all human viewpoint systems, the truth claims of paganism are always antithetical to God's truth claims and there's always this antagonism, there's always a battle: what is truth?  And for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ nothing is more important than discovering truth, and truth comes from the Word.  Jesus prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them in truth, Thy Word is truth."  So we know that the Word of God is absolute truth. 

 

When we come to Daniel 2 we're going to see this battlefield explode in the life of Nebuchad­nezzar.  Here we find a man that is brilliant in the world's terms; he is probably one of the most brilliant people who ever existed, one of the most successful military men, one of the most powerful politicians and leaders of all time.  He's an unbeliever, yet he has everything.  By the age of 20 he has achieved the pinnacle of success for his era.  He has everything; he has so much more of everything than any of us ever dream of having that he is going to discover that the possession of everything people put their hopes and dreams on never brings happiness.  He lacks for no detail of life and possesses all of them to an incredible degree.  The level of success that he met before he was 30 was almost unsurpassed; Alexander the Great perhaps, a few others in history, but you can probably count them on one hand.  And yet what we find in this chapter is that he's going to discover that success, fame, fortune, all that he has including the fact that he's married to one of the most beautiful women in the ancient world, all that he has cannot solve his problem because at the age of 30 he is at the top and he realizes that perhaps the only way he can go is down. 

 

He's defeated two other major empires and in defeating of those empires he recognize that all empires are vulnerable, and so when is he going to lose his.  And so he finds that one night he goes to sleep and he has a disturbing dream, and that dream is a revelation from God, he doesn't know what it means but he senses that it says something about his own temporary position on the planet and that everything he has, everything he does, is ultimately just going to turn to sand.  And in the midst of that he begins to search his life as to what is he really basing his life on; is he basing his life on something that is true.  Is everything that he was taught, everything he learned growing up being prepared to be the leader of this empire, is that absolute truth; is that something that is going to endure beyond his time or is it somehow invalid?  So he faces a personal crisis, so much so that he has insomnia, he can't sleep, he tosses and turns, his soul is in anguish. 

 

So this is the first conflict that we read about in Daniel 2.  Daniel 2 also gives us the contrast between the misery, the unhappiness, the turmoil in the unbeliever's soul in the midst of a crisis and how a believer, a believer who is living in his soul fortress, a believer who understands the promises of God and who applies them regularly, a believer who is consistent using the faith rest drill, a believer is completely dominated in his soul by divine viewpoint thinking, and we're going to see that even when the executioners come and pound on his door to arrest him and haul him off to the execution block, he has stability, he has strength, he has poise under pressure and he responds to the crisis with a very cool head and applies doctrine. And so there's a contrast between the most powerful man and one of his servants; the most powerful man who has no doctrine and is in turmoil and his servant Daniel, one of the administrators of the kingdom, who is about to lose his life but has tremendous cool and calm under pressure.

 

Now we must Daniel must be interpreted in its context.  This is a principle rule of all Biblical interpretation.  Never forget the Bible must be interpreted in the time in which it was written.  Daniel contains prophecy but it was primarily written as a wisdom book.  It was written to teach us how to handle crises, as believers how to live successfully in the midst of a pagan empire, in the midst of all the pressure to compromise, to disobey God, to make doctrine a lower priority in life, Daniel is ready to show us that we can be a success, even when surrounded by the most extreme pressures of paganism.  Daniel is written as prophecy because the prophecy answers the question, who wins when life seems to be complete chaos.  When Nebuchadnezzar is faced with the fact that everything that he has done is going to blow away in a few years, he can't sleep at night, he's in soul torment.  But Daniel, even though he might lose his life is completely calm because he understands that Jesus Christ controls history and that nothing, even when it seems chaotic is out of the control of God. 

 

As we look at the overview of the book, the outline, the first chapter covers Daniel's personal history.  Chapter 1 focuses on how Daniel enters into Gentile politics and how he was a success, so much so that he was the valedictorian of his class, a group of hostages that were brought from Jerusalem to Babylon and then went through a three year (remember that figure), went through a three year training process where they were going to be completely brainwashed and indoctrinated in all of the practices, all the beliefs, all of the skills and training of the Babylonians.  They were going to learn Babylonian mythology, Babylonian religion, all of their rituals, they were going to learn astrology, astronomy, mathematics, they were going to learn all about the protocol within the Babylonian Empire, everything they needed to know in order to function at a high level of government bureaucracy.  And at the end Daniel is number one in his class; his three friends follow him in successive order at the top of the class because of their application of doctrine.  Doctrine gave them wisdom so that they had objectivity and they could understand the real issues in life and make good decision.  It's not that the decisions they had to make were theological decisions or Biblical decisions or ritual decisions, it's the decisions that they had to make in their classes, in their course work, the decisions they had to make in the working out of government policy called for the application of doctrine, and because they had doctrine in the soul they soared above all of their other classmates.  Do Daniel is promoted at the end of the first chapter to a high position in the Babylonian Empire.

 

Then we come to the second section of the book, from Daniel 2:1-7:28 which is a history of the Gentile nations, and in there we're going to see Daniel rise in success in Gentile politics and then we'll come to the last chapters, from 8:1-12:13 and we'll see the relationship of Israel to Gentile politics.  Now when we come to Daniel 2 we come to one of the most fascinating chapters in all of the Old Testament, and that is the episode of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.  Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a tremendous statute and that statue is going to reveal the outline of history for Gentile empires down to the end of time.  How that is interpreted gets into the whole realm of prophecy or what is called eschatology.  In order to understand that we are going to have to look at basic interpretive frameworks for eschatology and we'll probably get into that next time.  But tonight we need to focus on what takes place when Nebuchadnezzar first has this dream.

 

We see in the first verse that he is going to be terrorized because he has this dream and what it portends.  In Daniel 2:1 we read: "Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar" literally, "dreamed dreams; and his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him."  One of the first things I want to comment on in this verse is that it starts off with a problem, "Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar," here we have the fourth situation I've mentioned so far where the non-Biblical anti-supernaturalist wants to attack the credibility of Daniel.  Daniel is a book that is often assaulted by the unbelieving scholarly community because they're committed to a position called naturalism.  Naturalism is basically the position that there is no God, there's nothing supernatural, everything that there is in the universe is observable by man or through his instruments and that there's no external deity, there's no external causation, the universe itself is indeed a closed system, and it is, as it were, a box.  And we are inside the box and there's nothing outside the box, and even if there were we could not know anything about it.  We are in a closed system. 

 

So the naturalist wants to assault Daniel and wants to show that Daniel isn't what it claims to be because if Daniel is what it claims to be, then Daniel is prophecy, Daniel is the foretelling of human history centuries in advance, and that can only be done with this level of accuracy if God has indeed revealed it to man.  So this is the fourth problem, the fourth area of attack.  And they assault this statement, this occurred in "the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar."  The reason is that because of Daniel's promotion to the second or third highest position in the empire at the end of this chapter, because he interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and their contention is that in the first chapter, in Daniel 1:5 we're told that the education of these captives was to last for three years; they were to have a three year education program.  So if they were taken captive in 605 BC when Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and Nebuchadnezzar had to break off the attack, or after he basically subjugated the town and made it a vassal, he had to leave as fast as he could to get back to Babylon because his father, Nabopolassar, has passed away and he had to go back to secure his inheritance and secure his path to the throne.

 

So the liberal comes along and says well this states "second year" and we're already told that in the first chapter that they were to be in school for three years and it was after the three years that they were promoted, and according to this chapter it's in the second year that he's promoted and that's an obvious contradiction so you see, you can't rely on the Bible, the Bible has mistakes in it.  The mistake is that the people don't interpret the Bible in the time in which it was written and they don't do their homework in looking at the way in which the Babylonians counted time.  I put together a little chart to show how they counted time.  For us, normally, the first year if a man becomes President, let's go back to LBJ, in February of the year 1963, and so his first year would be from November to November, that's how we would count a whole year.  But in their counting system they would count that first year, it's a partial year, that's the accession year, it doesn't count, it's not till you get to the next January and go January to January, that would be the first year.  So if we look at Nebuchadnezzar's reign, he invaded Judah and took the captives in the summer of 605 BC.  He returned to Babylon and ascended to the throne on 605 BC.  And so from roughly September 605, remember on roughly April 1st on our calendar, was when their new year began on the Babylonian calendar.  So his accession to the throne was in September o 605 and from September 605 to April 604, that's his accession year. 

 

Now Daniel started training in 605 and his first year of training would have been from September 605 to September 604.  That corresponds to Nebuchadnezzar's accession year.  Then Daniel's second year of training would have been from September 604 to September 603.  Nebuchad­nezzar's first year of his reign, the first official year of his reign would have been from April 604, so his first year doesn't start until six months into Daniel's first year of training.  So from April 604 to April 603 Nebuchadnezzar has his first year.  His second year began in April of 603 and ends in April, the end of March, 602.  Daniels third year of training would have started in September of 603 and ended the next year, September 602, and April 1 of 602 would have been five months before he graduated, that is if he went a full third year. 

 

Now in the ancient world many times a part of the year was considered the whole year and that would count as part of the year.  So it's very easy to explain the apparent discrepancy between the claim in Daniel 1 that Daniel went through training for three yeas and that this event occurred in Nebuchadnezzar's second year.  If it occurred in January or February of 602, then it would have occurred in Nebuchadnezzar's second year and it would have occurred five or six months before the conclusion of Daniel's third year.  So he's in his senior year and he's within months, maybe just two or three months, of graduation and so it's very easy to correlate the events of chapter 2 with chapter 1.  It occurred just before graduation; these men had not graduated yet.

 

Furthermore, if we look at what goes on in Daniel 2, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and Daniel are not included with the counselors, the sorcerers, the magicians and all the counselors that are brought before the king.  They don't know about what happens in Daniel 2:2 until the executioners come to take them off to kill them.  So that indicates that they're still apprentices, they're still in training, they still haven't graduated yet.  So it's just prior to graduation and this episode occurs.  So it explains again why they got such a high promotion at the end of chapter 1.

 

We read here in Daniel 2:1, "Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams."  Now the Hebrew word here, the verb is chalam which is a qal perfect, third masculine singular for the word to dream, it's a normal word for dreaming.  He went to bed one night, he was probably very relaxed, he had a good night, and he's going to have a good nights sleep, he's the emperor of the world almost, he has the largest empire that has existed up to that time and he has conquered two other empires; he's conquered the Assyrians and the Egyptians and everything is under his control.  Everything is going his way, everything is absolutely fantastic and he goes to sleep and he has this incredible dream.  Well, the next morning he woke up, kind of shook it off, and thought well, I'd better not eat jalapeños for dinner any more.  But then he went to bed that night and he had the same dream again, because when it says he "dreamed dreams" there the noun there is the masculine plural of the noun chalam for dream, and it's a plural of intensity and it indicates that he had this same dream night after night after night. 

 

Now he didn't know what this dream meant, and as we look at the details next week we're going to see that it is a history of the empires of the world and how at the end, "a stone made without hands" is going to be cut loose and is going to smash the kingdoms of man.  So he sense that it has something to do with his own destiny and how it is short, it's temporary and just like the kingdoms he's defeated, just like the kingdoms that he's defeated have blown away like dust, so his kingdom will also blow away like sand in the air.  And the result is that as he thinks about it, he doesn't know what it means, but he's trouble, because he begins to think that everything he's built his life to secure, everything he has accomplished, he's built this tremendous empire, not only that, he's got this wife that's the most beautiful woman in the world at the time, absolutely gorgeous and she's the daughter of Cyaxares, the king of the Medes, and Media was a mountainous area so he's going to build something for her to give her a little elevation because Babylon is flat, she wanted a mountain, so he built one of the most remarkable wonders of the ancient world, called the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and it was an absolute phenomenal architectural feat.  He had thousands and thousands of tons of dirt moved to Babylon and he built these gardens and he put the trees and the vegetation on the gardens that were from her home town.

 

So this man can do whatever he wants to do, and yet in the midst of this he is deeply troubled.  The passage says that "his spirit was troubled."  Now I just want to make a little side comment here.  I've often taught that the Bible teaches us that man is composed of three components, body, soul and spirit; the human soul and human spirit and at spiritual death the human spirit was lost by Adam and at regeneration when we trust Christ as Savor God the Holy Spirit creates and imparts to us a human spirit, and that's based on a key word that's used in 1 Corinthians 2:12 and also in Jude 13 or 14, there it's translated "worldly" which it doesn't mean, and it's the Greek word psuchikos, which means soulish and in the Jude passage it's translated in your Bibles, a horrible translation in the English, it say, "worldly minded, devoid of Spirit," and it's a capital "S".  But in the Greek what it says is psuchikos, which means soulish from the Greek work psuche, not having a spirit… not having a spirit.  And there pneuma is used, it's Greek in the New Testament, pneuma is used with a technical meaning of the human spirit.  But just as pneuma has about 8 different meanings in the Greek, so ruach, the Hebrew has about 8 different meanings in Hebrew.  Some are general and some are specific. 

 

For example, ruach can mean wind, breath, spirit, power, it can even refer to the mind, to the thinking part of the soul, it can refer generally to the immaterial part of man or it can be a technical reference to the human spirit, that which was lost when Adam sinned and what is acquired at regeneration.  However, you're always going to find somebody who is going to say well, you just believe in that trichotomy stuff and that's really not in the Bible, look at all these people like the Egyptian Pharaoh and many others in the Old Testament, like Nebuchadnezzar who weren't saved, and they had a spirit.  So you can't use that word to prove it.

Well, you've got to be able to discern the difference between specific technical uses of a word and non-technical uses of a word, and just because you have a word like ruach doesn't mean it always has the same connotation in every passage.  So you have to understand the distinctions and use clear statements of Scripture, like 1 Corinthians 2:12 and Jude 13 to interpret the other passages, the less clear passages of the Scripture. 

 

So here I think it's a reference to his mind; it could be just talking about his immaterial person but I think it is just talking about his mind, his thinking, he's thinking more and more, what does this dream mean, what does is have to do with me, does this really mean that everything I'm devoting my life to is just going to dry up and blow away, it's just transitory, it's meaningless, that I've invested my life and I have built my life on everything I was taught as a young man, everything that my father's advisors taught me, everything that his counselors taught me, the conjurers, the astrologers, the magicians, I did everything they said, I believe completely in Marduk and in the religious system of Babylon and yet maybe it's all false, maybe I've built my whole life on something that's just going to dry up and blow away, just like the gods of the Assyrians blew away and the gods of the Egyptians have blown away, and maybe everything I believe is just as worthless and just as meaningless and just as transitory as what they believed in.

 

And Nebuchadnezzar's in a quandary, because Nebuchadnezzar like every other man has eternity placed in his heart according to Ecclesiastes 3:11 and I think Nebuchadnezzar is having the stirrings of God consciousness and positive volition at this point.  That's just my personal opinion because I do believe by Daniel 4 he becomes a believer.  But at this point he is completely concerned with what's going on in his life and trying to find out the answer to the question that Pontius Pilate turned his back on.  He wants to know if what he believes is actually true and if he can count on it.  This is a man who has had tremendous victory; here's a map, here's Carchemish, now it's out in the middle of the desert, yet it was at the confluence of three major trade routes and in 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the Assyrian, the joint Assyrian and Egyptian army at Carchemish.  And that captured the trade routes, and like every great nation in history and every great empire, they're built on good economy, and they're built on trade, they're built on income flow. 

 

So he captured the trade routes and then in 605 he went down into the Middle East and he was pursuing the Egyptians back to Egypt when on the way he saw Jerusalem and sent his main troops to continue the pursuit of Pharaoh Neco and he laid siege to Jerusalem.  That was in 605, his accession year.  Then he went back to Babylon, took the throne and the next year, his first year, in 604 he came back, regained control of Judah, according to a passage in 1 Kings he made Judah his official vassal, and he started to attack the Philistines along the coast.  Then in 603-602 he came back and he finished the conquest of the Philistines.  So by 602, by the time he has this dream in his second year, he has completely conquered the Middle East.  He has subjugated Judah and he has made all of these various countries, the Jews, the Philistines, the Syrians, the people in Tyre and Sidon, all his vassals.  But yet, the question remains, is all of this for naught, is it temporary?  Have I devoted my life to something that only has temporary value? 

 

So he begins to question this validity and he calls in his counselors to see if they can solve his problem.  Daniel 2:2, "Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams.  So they came in and stood before the king."  There's a couple of words here that we need to focus on.  First of all the magicians; these aren't magicians like David Copperfield or Houdini, these men who are involved in occult arts.  But it's more than that; it comes from the Hebrew word chartom, and it's the same word that originally meant a stylist; a stylist was used, it had a triangular shaped head and it was used to imprint the clay tablets in writing cuneiform.  Cuneiform is an alphabet that the Assyrians developed that is based on wedge shaped letters.  And they were, therefore, the men who were in charge of learning.  Back in those days learning in reading was considered something almost magical and they kept control of the education, not just anybody could get an education and not just anybody could learn all the things about science that they knew.  So the word originally desig­nated those who were the writers, those who were the scribes, those who were the intellectuals of the culture and it came to apply to a broader group, which we translate it as magicians, and these were men who were trained in mathematics of the day, they were trained in astronomy and astrology which were not separated, which shows that they had a heavy mythological orientation to all of their science.  And they used various occult arts for telling the future. They are the intellectual power brokers of the day.

 

Then you have the conjurers, the conjurers and the sorcerers, these make up one group.  The sorcerers is an interesting term, it comes from an old Akkadian loan word, kashaphim, and these men were involved in various forms of necromancy, that's when you're trying to consult the dead about the future, heptomancy which is when you're trying to read the liver, you'll take an animal sacrifice and cut out the liver, and then the priest will utter some kind of mumbo-jumbo over the liver and then read the future from it.  They were involved oneiromancy which is predicting the future on the basis of dreams, and all sorts of other occult arts.  So they were practicing sorcery and witchcraft and of course the Bible forbids that in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.  Today the counterpart from all this is astrology, even reading those mindless little astrological columns that appear in the newspaper, tarot cards, and Madam Cleo that appears over and over again; I know who suffers insomnia in the group because when you're up at 2:00 o'clock in the morning and you can't sleep and you flip on the television and you see her infomercials in about every other channel to call in and have your future told.  Séances, all of these things are occultic and while it doesn't necessarily mean that demons are involved, it's all part of the doctrine of demons and all part of demon influence and it's a distraction and it's forbidden to believers.

 

Now the term "Chaldeans" refers to a particular elite, this was an ethnic term but it came to mean more than simply an ethnic term.  These were the highest aristocrats among the Chaldeans and it was a term for their priest class.  So taken together we must look at this as a group; all these terms describe this whole group, " the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans," this refers to the intelligentsia, this is in effect Nebuchadnezzar's cabinet; this is the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the secretary of the economy, all these people are here, these are the intellectual elite, these are the intellectual power brokers, these are the academicians, these are the leaders of education in Babylon, this is everybody who has any influence whatsoever.  And they are called together to give advice; together they represent man's kingdom at his best.  They represent all the best of human viewpoint thinking in philosophy, in science, in mathematics, they are the politically influential leaders, the military power brokers and his intellectual advisors.  These are also the men who tutored and trained Nebuchadnezzar when he was a young man.  He knows them well, they are the ones who took him out, took him through his classes, made him learn, go through all the mathematic drills, all the astronomical drills, they are the ones who taught him Babylonian cosmogony and how the universe started off from pure chaos and eventually the gods from this chaos in the body of Tiamat and the wild sea carved out and created man.  They taught him about the gods of Babylon and that was the ultimate reality in their thinking and the basis for truth as the Babylonians understood it.  But now that certainty that he had in their system is cast adrift, there is now doubt because he wants to know what this dream means.  He has built his whole life on his Babylonian worldview and now he feels like it is shaky.  So he is going to put them to the test. 

 

Daniel 3:1, "And the king said to them, 'I had a dream, and my spirit," that is my inner, my immaterial man, my thinking, my mind, my soul, "my thinking is anxious to understand the dream, [troubled to know the dream.]'."  The Hebrew word that is used here is pa'am which is a picture of a storm tossed sea.  If you think, imagine what it looks like if you saw the movie The Perfect Storm, what it's like in a class five hurricane out in the middle of the ocean, that's how he is describing the turmoil of his soul.  And he wants an answer but he's going to set up certain conditions on the answer.  But first they're going to respond.  You can hear their anxiousness in their response. 

 

Daniel 2:4, "Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic," now the term "in Aramaic" is a clue here because starting with verse 4 through chapter 7 this book shifts from Hebrew to Aramaic, it's one of only two books in the Old Testament with sections not written in Hebrew.  Daniel 2-7 are written in Aramaic and portions of Ezra are also written in Aramaic and the sections that are written in Aramaic pertain to the history of the Gentiles.  So it's appropriate that it's written in Aramaic and not Hebrew.  "Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, 'O king, live for ever!"  They wanted to make sure they ingratiated themselves to the king and they say, "Tell your servants the dream, and we will declare the interpretation.'"  They had their books on oneirology  and they would go back and they would consult all the symbols and systems that they had for interpreting dreams and then they would come back and tell him what it meant.  And of course it didn't have to have any kind of rooting in reality. 

 

That's one of the basic problems, ultimately, in every system of pagan thought; when it comes to reality it will sooner or later break upon the shoals of reality.  It will fall apart at some point, at some point the unbeliever, operating on human viewpoint cannot live consistently with his human viewpoint assumptions, no matter how reasonable he is, no matter how rational he's constructed the meaning of the universe, ultimately he's going to run into a problem and he's going to have to leap into irrationality because he can no longer live consistently with his rational presuppositions.  And that is always the trend of human viewpoint thinking.  It will always swing from a rational approach to irrationalism and we have seen that in our own generation, starting with the Enlighten­ment back in the beginning of the 1600s with the philosophical writings of Renee Descartes who was a Jesuit geometrician, who started rationalism with his precept, "I think, therefore I am."  He started off with his own experience but it was thinking; based on thinking he could explain the universe. 

 

And I'm using rationalism tonight mostly not as a technical term for like Cartesian rationalism but to explain any kind of rational explanation of the universe, a combination of rationalism and empiricism.  For about 200 years this sort of rational hope existed and then finally when it came to a man by the name of David Hume and David Hume just expressed pure skepticism, he's the father of modern skepticism, and he demonstrated the emptiness and bankruptcy and the failures of rationalism.  And what happened after Hume was that man had to leap into irrationalism and that started with a man by the name of Immanuel Kant who laid the groundwork for subjective thinking in the 19th century and it's finally borne all of its fruit today in the irrationalism of mysticism.  All of this is based on a concept of life that we call naturalism, that life can be explained completely apart from God or the revelation of God in human history. 

 

Last time I introduced that concept that naturalism excludes God from the universe, it rejects and denies the existence of a Supreme Being or a Creator of the universe and this was expressed in a quote by John Updike in Pigeon Feathers, and there he said: "Without warning," this is a great quote for demonstrating the bleakness of naturalism, this is where it leads, and who could live in an environment where this was all the meaning that you had in life.  He writes: "Without warning David was visited by an exact vision of death, a long hole in the ground no wider than your body, down which you were drawn while the white faces recede.  You try to reach them but your arms are pinned, shovels pour dirt in your face.  There you will be forever, in an upright position, blind and silent, and in time no one will remember you, and you will never be called.  As strata of rocks shift your fingers elongate, your teeth are distended sideways in a great underground grimace indistinguishable from a strip of chalk.  And the earth tumbles on and the sun expires; an unfaltering darkness reigns where once there were stars."

 

See, there's no after life, there's no meaning in life, everything just turns to dust, man is no more significant than any other molecule in the universe.  It's a depressing view of life, life ultimately is meaningless and futile, and we wonder why it is that our young people who are made to read literature like this in the high school classroom despairing and despondent and go on violent rampages to claim their fifteen minutes of fame, because that's the only way they're going to secure any sense of meaning or value in what is presented to them as a meaningless universe.  For the person committed to naturalism they ultimately are trying to use the universe to explain itself.  Ultimately that brings them to that endless series of circular arguments; the universe created itself for its own purpose.  How?  Well, just because the universe created itself.  Out of impersonal mass and matter plus an inordinate amount of time and an incredible view of Chance, somehow personality came from impersonal rock; somehow meaning came from that which is meaningless and random; somehow purpose came from that which has no purpose, no mind, no intelligence.  But that's where they have to lead because the naturalist can't live as though life has no meaning.  They have to live, they have to do something and that was what Sartre referred to, that in order to validate their existence they just have to do something.  But in naturalism there's no ultimate value outside the universe, so value can only come from inside the universe and so you pick whatever you think, man thinks, is best for value.  So ultimate values are based on relativism and man ultimately does what is right in his own eyes.  The result is that he can't live consistent with his views so he has to jump from his rational explanation to living irrationally. 

 

Let me give you one example of the kind of rational explanation that leads to irrationalism in a critique from David Hume.  Hume had two tests to validate any kind of religious or metaphysical system.  Remember it's on the basis of David Hume that most modern liberals reject any statement of validity to the Scriptures.  They all try to argue from this position of Hume's.  Hume said: If we take in our hand any volume of divinity," that would be the Bible, "or school of metaphysics," that's any philosophy, "for instance, let us ask first, does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number."  In other words, to validate it you have to be able to quantify it or represent it in a mathematical formula, and validate it through mathematical formula.  "No," he says.  "Does it contain any experimental reasoning," that is, a scientific method of hypothesis, theory, testing, validation, law and developing a scientific law, he says, "Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?  No.  Well then commit it to the flames for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."  That's his test, two-fold test; it's either got to be mathematically quantifiable or scientifically verifiable.

 

Now let's ask a question.  This is Hume's two-fold critique to determine truth.  First of all, can it be represented and validated mathematically?  No it can't.  Can it be demonstrated and verified scientifically?  No it can't.  So we'll throw away David Hume because his own system of validation cannot be supported on its own basis.  That's the irrationality where pure rationalism, autonomous rationalism, ultimately leads mankind.  Today the naturalist is forced to try to explain the universe, which is purely impersonal, on the basis of a science that excludes God.  You can't prove God because they have presuppositionly excluded God and so they have to explain how the personal came from the impersonal, how meaning came from the meaningless, and how, on the basis of pure random…[tape turns] Chance the cells came together in such a way as to protect against disease, to survive and then to produce something called procreation and sex and how all of that came about on the basis of raw Chance. 

 

A Professor of applied mathematics at the university at the University of Cardiff in Wales, by the name of Chandra Gregromasing [?*] states that: "The statistical probability of forming one single enzyme," just one single enzyme and remember it takes several enzymes to come together to produce one gene, an enzyme is the building block of a gene.  "The statistical probability of forming one single enzyme is one in ten to the forty thousandth power."  For those of you who are mathematically challenged, that means a ten followed by forty thousand zeros. There aren't that many molecules in the stars in the known universe.  What she is saying, statistically, is there had to be more chances, more shots at trying to develop that one enzyme than there are atoms in the known universe.  And that's just to form one enzyme, what about the others that had to come together to form that first gene.  It is a statistical impossibility that evolution could take place.  See, modern man, autonomous man, always rejects the divine solution; he's left with only two options—he develops a rational solution but ultimately it can't hold together, he can't live on its basis, it's going to fall apart, it has internal fallacies and so he must hold to it despite these fallacies and so he is committed to irrationalism.  And he always swings back and forth, and the history of man is the history of autonomous man swinging between rationalism and irrationalism.

 

Nebuchadnezzar is feeling this tension right now; the tension of modern man that somehow what I'm taught, somehow everything that I've learned, somehow everything that I've thought provided meaning, purpose and value in life is just going to dry up and blow away and life is going to be meaningless.  So he wants to put these leaders of the state to the test.  In other words, you taught me, is it valid—prove up, now's the time.  So he proposes a test.

 

Daniel 2:5, "The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "The command from me is firm," in other words, what this means is this is stated in law, I'm not going to back up, I'm not going to change my mind, "if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation," here's the test, you're not just going to me what it means, you have to tell me what I dreamed.  Now he knows what he dreamed but they're going to have to tell him the dream, they're going to have to prove, they're going to have to validate their position by being able to tell him the dream.  "…if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb," public execution, very painful, drawn and quartered almost, and then "you houses will be made a rubbish heap."  Now this is how they heaped scorn on you in the ancient world.  What they would do is they would go down there, tear down your house, dig it out and then they would hang up a sign outside called… for you Navy guys, "the head," for everyone else, "public restroom."  And they would turn your home into a public latrine, so that everybody could express and was required to express exactly what they thought of you.  Isn't the Bible full of wonderful earthy humor?  Most people are so self-righteous and uptight they just can't even laugh over this, it's just too rugged for them.  But remember, this is all inspired by God the Holy Spirit, so He has a great sense of humor.  So "their houses will be made into a dung heap," or latrine to put it politely.

 

Daniel 2:6, "But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation."  You say you can do this, do it right now, he really puts the pressure on.  And they have to come up with… well, they're going to waffle a little bit.

 

Daniel 2:7, "They answered a second time, 'Let the king tell his servants the dream," go ahead, tell us, don't make us tell you, we can't do that, that's impossible.  See, there are limits to human viewpoint thinking and they're being pressed to those limits, tell us the dream "and we will show its interpretation.'" 

 

Daniel 2:8, "The king answered, 'I know for certain that you are bargaining for time," you're just stalling, but what I said is going to stand, "inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, [9] that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you.  For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words," now he accuses all… it would be like the person in the United States accusing all of his cabinet, all his advisors, all national security agents, everybody, saying you're all in collusion, you're all in a conspiracy, you're all lying against me.  And in fact, that's what they were doing, they were trying to promote a false system on him that they really could interpret dreams and they couldn't.  He says you've agreed to lie, you have conspired against me, now "therefore tell me the dream, and I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.'"

 

Daniel 2:10, "The Chaldeans answered the king and said, 'There is not a man on earth who could" do this, this is absolutely impossible, no one "could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean."  Every king or ruler, the Pharaoh's, the kings of Assyria, they've all just accepted the religious systems of the priests.  They've all just believed all the mythology, why don't you go along with it too, and quit trying to make us validate our reasoning; just accept it.

 

In Daniel 2:11 they say, "Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult," it's not difficult, it's impossible, "and there is no one else who could declare it to the king, except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh."  Now they're setting us up for Daniel because they make it clear, they can't do it, they have put themselves in a box, they have declared their position that it's impossible for any human being, apart from divine revelation, to be able to do what the king has asked them to do.  And they have just opened the door a crack and Daniel is going to drive everything he's got right through that crack to demonstrate the validity of Bible doctrine and the Word of God, and the fallacy of all human viewpoint thought system.

 

Well, Nebuchadnezzar, being who he was and being in the turmoil of soul that he was in did what any carnal unbeliever in a state of anxiety does.  He threw a temper tantrum and he decided he's going to start executing men right there and it says, Daniel 2:12, "Because of this the king became indignant and very furious," he became incredibly angry, put it in whatever vernacular you want to use, "and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon."  So that means the execution squads, he's called in his SS troops or whatever they had and he's sent them out to start executing the leaders.  They are in the process of going down the line of all the key figures, magicians, sorcerers, and Chaldeans, and they are starting to execute them.  He "gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.  [13] So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them." 

 

That's where we're going to see Daniel next week, because Daniel knows how to handle the crisis.  Daniel is going to come to the knock on the door, he wasn't at the meeting, he doesn't know anything about the dream, he doesn't know what the conditions are, and he's going to open the door and there the head of the execution squad is standing and he says okay guys, I hate to do this but we have to go off to the gallows down on Concord Place; that's where they chopped the heads off of all the aristocracy in the French Revolution in Paris.  So they're going to take them all down and they're going to execute them, but Daniel knows something.  See Daniel knows that he's got the gift of prophecy and that's clear because of the way God blessed him, and we were told about that at the end of Daniel 1, that was foreshadowing.  And we know that Daniel knows this, and so Daniel is confident in God.  That's what faith is.  You see for the naturalist, who's looking at us, he thinks faith is faith in fate, he thinks its meaningless subjectivism; you just believe something because it makes you feel good.  As Marx said, it's just the opiate of the masses.  But you see, for the Christian we know that faith is a system of knowledge; it is knowing something, it is knowing something with certainty.  It is not faith in faith; it is faith in verifiable facts of Scripture.  And Daniel knows because of what God has already done for him and because of what the Scripture says that God is going to give him the ability to interpret this dream and next time we're going to see Daniel's interpretation of the dream and why that is so crucial for understanding human history and prophecy.