Against all odds: The Everlasting Kingdom

Daniel 2:1-49

31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”


How many of you love history? I am a history nerd. In high school, I took both ancient and modern history. I love to learn about the ancient kingdoms and modern empires and all its greatness. But here is what I realized about those great kingdoms and empires. It does not matter how great they are, none of it lasts. They are here today and gone tomorrow. And that’s the gist of our passage today. Daniel 2 will tell us that there is no kingdom on this world that will last except for one. There is only one kingdom that will never be destroyed and that is the Kingdom of God, the everlasting Kingdom. But let’s recap what we learned last week first.

Last week I introduced you to a new term, spiritually bi-cultural. Here is what I mean. Today we live in a culture that is hostile to Christianity. The stream of this culture is opposite to the stream of the Bible. Last week we looked at how the values of the culture are different from the values of the Bible. Let’s bring a step closer to home this week. Is it possible to stay sexually pure in this day and age where the average age of losing virginity is 17 and everyone is treating sex as a hobby? Is it possible to be diligent and do our best as students when a lot of our friends use google translate to plagiarise other people’s paper? Is it possible to stay sober when all our workmates spend their Friday night getting wasted at a bar? Is it possible to stay faithful to our spouse when the culture tells us, “you only live once, have an affair!”? It all comes down to this question: How can I remain faithful to God and be a blessing to my city at the same time? Because that is what it means to be spiritually bi-cultural.

There are two common ways to deal with the situation. First is to withdraw from the culture. This train of thought tells us that the culture is bad and we have to avoid it. So they withdraw from the culture and created their own huddle, the Christian community. They said that involvement with the culture will make you unfaithful to God. This is the religious view. The second way to deal with it is to do the exact opposite, to become one with the culture. They adopt all the value of the culture and neglect faithfulness to God. This is the secular view. This is what happened with many of the Israelites during their exile. They either withdraw from the culture or they become one with Babylon. They either separate or assimilate. But that is not the only two options. According to the prophet Jeremiah, there is the third way, the gospel way, and that is to live spiritually bi-cultural. Or, to use the word of Peter, to live as sojourners and exiles.

Let me explain the meaning of this word. How many of you have an Australian Permanent Resident visa? Those of you who lift your hand, you are sojourners. Right now you are living in Australia legally. You are not an illegal immigrant. Australia is not your country. Your citizenship is elsewhere. But you lived in Australia. You work here. You speak English. You have a job here. You get paid in Australian Dollar. You have friends and neighbours in Sydney. You paid tax to the Australian government. You contributed to the welfare of the city where you lived. You are not a tourist here. You don’t spend your day sightseeing. So here is what’s true about you. You lived in Australia and you are part of Australia but you are not fully Australian. You share many values that Australian have but you do not share all their values. You do not get to vote on the law and the direction of this country. If there is a war between these two countries, you go back to your original country. Your allegiance is not to Australia but your home country. You live in Australia but you are a citizen of elsewhere. You are sojourners.

The same can be applied to our Christian life. We need to be spiritually bi-cultural. We remain faithful to God and love the city at the same time. This is the rhythm that we can see in the life of Daniel and his friends. They engaged with the culture of Babylon while remaining faithful to the God of the Bible at the same time. And it is not easy at all as we are about to discover in the following weeks. And today we are in Daniel chapter 2. If you missed the sermon last week, I want to encourage you to listen to it at ROCK Sydney YouTube channel as it set the context for the whole book of Daniel. Last week we learned the main theme of the book of Daniel. God is the Sovereign King. He is not limited by any king or kingdom. God is in control of who is in control. Even though it seems like Nebuchadnezzar is in control, the truth is that God is in control of who is in control. He is the Sovereign King over history, circumstances, and individuals. God is our King. Today, we will look at our home country, the Kingdom of God.


There are four parts to the story of Daniel 2. Problem; Solution; Dream; Interpretation. We’ll take a quick look at these four parts and I am going to give you applications at the end of it.




The chapter opens up with a problem. King Nebuchadnezzar had a restless night. I am going to refer to Nebuchadnezzar as Nebu from this moment forward because it takes too long to pronounce his full name. The author tells us that King Nebu had a disturbing dream and he could not sleep because of it. He is restless. And this is the irony. He has everything. He has all the power, riches and influence that one can imagine and yet he is restless. So he gathers all the magicians and sorcerers, the wise men of Babylon, to interpret his dreams. This is very important. In that culture, a dream is seen as an important omen for the future. They believe that the gods would reveal the direction for the future through dreams. That is why all the wise men are trained to interpret a dream. They have dream interpretation manuals. And it is crucial for the king to know and understand his dream so that he will be ready for the future. So when the wise men gathered before the king, the king makes a great promise. He says, “I have a weird dream. And if you can interpret my dream, I am going to reward you with many riches and honour. You will be someone special in my kingdom. But if you cannot interpret my dream, I will punish you greatly. I will tear your body to pieces.” Nebu is very serious about understanding his dream. And the wise men answer, “Yes king, tell us your dream and we will consult the dream manual and tell you its interpretation.” But Nebu replies, “I am not going to do that. I am not going to tell you about my dream. You tell me my dream and its interpretation. If I have to tell you my dream, how would I know that you are telling me the truth? What evidence do I have that you are not just making things up and lie to me to make me happy? So, tell me my dream and its interpretation or I will kill all of you.”

Here is the problem. No one can do that. The wise men reply to the king, “King, your command is unreasonable. We can interpret dreams. We have a manual for it. But we need you to tell us your dream. No king in our kingdom has ever asked for a dream interpretation without telling us the dream. It is absurd and no one can do that for you.” But pay attention to verse 11. It is crucial. Daniel 2:11 – “The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Do you hear what they are saying? The narrator puts this sentence in here for a reason. Because the wise men understand something. What the king asked for is an impossibility. No human can do it. Except for the gods. They get this part right. But they get the next part wrong. For them, their gods are distant. Their gods do not dwell among them. Their gods do not care about them. But they are about to find out that the true living God is not distant. And the true living God dwells among his people. Nebuchadnezzar and the wise men are about to find out that there is a living God in Babylon.

So, Nebu is not happy with their inability and he commands his guards to kill all the wise men of Babylon. And at this time, Daniel and his friends already graduated from Babylon University. They are part of the wise men of Babylon. And the king’s guards seek to kill them. This is extremely bad news. But this extremely bad news is simply a set up for what God is about to do through Daniel.




When Daniel finds out what happened, Daniel asks the king for a time and he will tell him his dream and its interpretation. Miraculously, Nebu agrees. And do you know what Daniel do? Daniel did not go home and consult his dream manuals. Even though he is 10 times smarter than all the wise men in Babylon, he does not rely on his wisdom to solve this problem. Nothing he learned at Babylon University can solve this problem. So, Daniel and his friends get to their knee. They pray to the God of heaven to reveal to them this mystery so that they can stay alive. And God reveals to Daniel the dream and its interpretation. When Daniel wakes up in the morning, Daniel praises God. Listen to what he says.

Daniel 2:20-23 – 20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 23 To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

These are very important verses. Most commentators agreed that this is the heartbeat of the book of Daniel. Instead of rushing off to save himself, Daniel takes time to praise God. Two things that Daniel praise. First, he praises God’s power. God is the all-powerful king of the universe. God is the one who is ultimately in control. God changes times and seasons as he wishes. God is the one who appoints every king and removes them as he wills. The gods of Babylon are nothing compared to the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is the Sovereign King over all kings and kingdoms on the earth. Second, he praises God’s wisdom. God is able to reveal the deep and hidden things. He knows everything that is in the darkness and nothing is hidden from him. When all the wise men said that it is impossible, the God of heaven replies, “Who says so?” With another word, there is only one true God and however impressive other gods may look like, they are nothing but a lie.

So Daniel comes to the king’s chamber to tell him his dream and its interpretation. Nebu asks, “Are you able to tell me my dream and it’s interpretation? Are you able to do what none of my wise men can do?” I love Daniel’s answer. He does not take credit for himself at all. He does not say, “Well, king, there is a reason why I graduated with Suma Cum Laude from Babylon university. I am ten times smarter than all your wise men.” Daniel does not brag at all but he gives all the credit to God. Daniel 2:27-28 – 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Do you see what the narrator is doing? The narrator is making a sharp contrast between the gods of Babylon and the God of Israel. Earlier the wise men told king Nebu that it is impossible for anyone to do what the king has asked except for the gods but they do not dwell among people. But they are wrong. There is a God in heaven who reveal mysteries and he is the God of Israel. This is not only a contest between Daniel and the wise men of Babylon. This is a contest between the one true God and the false gods that Babylon worships. And the God of Israel wins.




Daniel tells King Nebu his dream. In his dream, King Nebu sees a large statue that is made of different materials. Look at this picture. The head of the statue is made of gold. The chest and arm are made of silver. The stomach and the thigh are made of bronze. The legs are made of iron. And the feet are made of mixture between iron and clay. It is an impressive statue. Then something strange happened. Look at another picture. A stone appears. And this stone is not like an ordinary stone. It is a stone that is cut by no human hand and it strikes the feet of the statue and breaks the whole statue to pieces. And then the wind carries all the pieces away. It disappears. No traces at all. Gone with the wind. But the stone that struck the statue becomes a great mountain and fill the whole earth. What a weird dream. No wonder King Nebu is troubled because of it.




Daniel 2:37-38 – You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory,  and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.

I love it. Daniel immediately drops the bomb. Remember that King Nebu is the most powerful man of his time. The kingdom of Babylon has no rival in its power and glory. And now Daniel says, “King Nebu, the reason why you are powerful, the reason you are mighty, is not because of you. It is because God has given you the kingdom, the power and the might.” The only reason Nebuchadnezzar is great is because God put him there. God is the one who has all the power, not Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel continues, “You are the gold, the head of the statue.” Nebu is probably smiling right now. “I always know that I am the best. Thank you for seeing my worth.” But Daniel is not finish. “You are the gold, but your kingdom will not last. Another kingdom inferior to yours shall arise after you and replace Babylon. Then another inferior kingdom will arise and replace that kingdom.” As the material getting less and less valuable, the kingdom will become more and more inferior. There is a progressive decrease in the value and power of each kingdom. With another word, as history progress, the kingdoms of this world will become less and less.

Many scholars have studied history and found out which kingdoms does each material represents. Look at this image. The gold is Babylon. The silver is Media-Persia. The bronze is Greece. And the iron is Rome. However, there is a new modern interpretation that says that this is wrong. The new interpretation separates Media and Persia into two different kingdoms. So the bronze is Persia, the iron is Greece and the mixture between iron and clay is Rome. Which one is correct? I am glad you asked. We are going to spend the rest of the sermon trying to figure it out. Okay, that’s a joke. Hear me now. I am not saying that it is not important for us to know which kingdom is which. It is certainly helpful for us to know which kingdom is which and see how God accurately predicted the future. There is a benefit in that. But that is not the purpose of this dream. The purpose of this dream is not for Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar to find out which kingdom will arise after Babylon, and which kingdom will arise after that kingdom. No. That is the wrong focus. They do not have the mean or the knowledge to know which kingdom will come after Babylon. That is not the main purpose of the dream.

The main purpose of the dream is simple. Daniel 2:44-45 – 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Babylon is great. But Babylon will not last forever. Another kingdom will arise to replace Babylon. Another king will replace Nebuchadnezzar. And history will degenerate with each kingdom. However, there is another kingdom coming. And that kingdom will destroy all other kingdoms. That kingdom will turn every other kingdom to dust. No one will remember all other kingdoms before it. But this kingdom is everlasting. This kingdom is forever. This is the kingdom of God.

The point of the dream is this. There is a God who is sovereign and he is in control over all kingdoms. And a time is coming where this God will establish his everlasting kingdom on earth and nothing can stop him. Therefore, when the Israelites who were sent into exile hear of the dream, hope arises in their hearts. The God of Israel is the one true God and his kingdom has no end. Do not be impressed with Babylon. Do not be impressed with Persia, Greece, Rome nor any kingdoms after it. Every kingdom has its expiry date. There is a popular documentary on Netflix right now called The Last Dance. It is about the last season of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. It is a superb documentary. But here is what I learned from the documentary. It does not matter how great you are, the last dance is coming for you. Everything in creation will wear out. Your favourite clothes, does not matter how well you take care of them, one day it will wear out. Your car, your job, your husband, your favourite food, your favourite view, whatever it is in creation has its expiry date. Ladies, it does not matter how often you Botox that face, your beauty has its expiry date. It won’t be long before you look like a wrinkled shirt. Guys, it does not matter how often you go to the gym, your strength has its expiry date. If you are above 30, then you know there are days that you wake up in the morning and you have injured yourself while you are sleeping. Every kingdom and empire have its expiry date. Every government will come to an end. Every king, every president, every athlete will come to an end. The last dance is coming for all of us. Even the planet earth that we live on has its expiry date according to the scientist. Everything will come to an end. God has ordained it. But there is one kingdom that has no expiry date. There is one kingdom that will remain forever. It is the kingdom of God. Live for that kingdom!


After Nebu heard the interpretation of his dream, he falls upon his face and gives tribute to Daniel and the God of Daniel. Daniel 2:47 – The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Do you see what happened? Daniel is honoured not because of what he has done but because of what God has done. The story begins with a great crisis and it ends with Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging the God of Israel as God. We know that he has yet to accept the God of Israel as the only true God but Nebuchadnezzar is ready to accept that the God of Israel is above other gods. This is crucial. It means that now for the first time in his life, Nebuchadnezzar begins to compare the gods of Babylon with the God of the Bible. And this happened simply because one Godly man prayed to God and spoke the truth to Nebuchadnezzar. And Nebu keeps his words. He promised great rewards for the person who can interpret his dream. And he gives Daniel many great gifts and makes Daniel a ruler over the whole province of Babylon and the leader over all the wise men in Babylon. And Daniel put his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego over the affairs of Babylon. And with new responsibilities, comes new challenges as we will see next week. For now, it is sufficient to say that these four men do not isolate themselves as they wait for God to establish his kingdom. These four people pour out themselves for the prosperity of Babylon while they wait for the kingdom of God to come. This is how we are to live as sojourners and exiles.




Few things we can learn from this story. First, look to the stone. The stone is the least valuable of all the materials that we see in the statue. Why did God use a stone to depict his kingdom? Why not a diamond? This tells us something about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom. God uses what is least valuable in the eyes of man to show his greatness. But this stone does not only point to the kingdom of God, but it also points to the king of the kingdom of God. In the parable of the wicked tenants, Jesus used the same imagery to describe himself. Luke 20:17-18 – 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Jesus is saying that he is the stone that destroys all kingdoms. He is that supernatural stone that was not cut by man. And this is the message of the gospel. The kingdom of God has come in the first coming of Jesus. But the world rejected Jesus. But for those who put their trust in him, he has become the cornerstone. Jesus is the stone that God will exalt and use to build his kingdom. In the first coming of Jesus, the kingdom of God has entered the world. However, it comes as a stone, a small thing. But when the time comes, that stone will turn into a mountain that filled the earth. So the stone does not become a mountain immediately. It is growing. When Jesus first comes to the world, he comes in weakness. He comes small. But Jesus’ entrance to the world signifies the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth. But it is still a stone. However, when Jesus comes again the second time, the stone would have turned into a mountain. Jesus will come in power and glory. A time will come where Jesus will destroy all his enemies. And until that time come, we are called to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. That there is salvation in Jesus’ name. That the king is merciful and willing to forgive people of their sins if they put their trust in him. So if you have yet to put your faith in Jesus, there is an invitation from the King of the everlasting Kingdom to put your trust in him. He has paid the price of your rebellion and he wants you to be part of his kingdom.


Second, learn the true wisdom. What is true wisdom? Do you know why Nebuchadnezzar is restless? Because he is dreaming of his own kingdom. He is dreaming of making himself the most powerful person in the world. And even when he has accomplished that, he is still restless. Because it won’t last. A stone will destroy his greatness. All of us desire greatness. We work for greatness. You do not come and live in the city of Sydney to become small. You come to Sydney to become somebody. To become great. You have your dream of a kingdom. And God is saying that unless you lived for the kingdom of God, you will always be anxious. You will always be restless. Because you know it won’t last. If you are building your own kingdom, God says that he will bring it down. There is only one kingdom that will last and that is the kingdom of God. So if we want to be spiritually bi-cultural, we have to ask ourselves, “Whose kingdom am I building? Why am I doing what am I doing? What is the foundation of everything I do?” Because if it is not the kingdom of God, you will be eaten by the culture around you. True wisdom is found in living your life for the kingdom of God. And it begins on your knee. Daniel finds true wisdom not on his diploma but in prayer to God. That’s the key to wisdom. True wisdom is found in a relationship with Christ. Paul says in Colossians 2:3 – In whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Do you want wisdom to be spiritually bi-cultural? Build a personal relationship with Christ.


Three, live in the tension. Remember that the kingdom of God is already in our midst with the first coming of Jesus. But the consummation of the kingdom of God is yet to come. That is why today we lived in a tension of already and not yet. The kingdom of God is already here but the fullness of the kingdom of God is not yet here. That means as sojourners and exiles, we need to have both certainty and flexibility. To live in the tension means that we acknowledge that there is a certainty to what we know, but also a flexibility that we may not get it fully right. Let me give three examples. First, in the way we do church. There are two types of people. The first type is those that continue to move to a different church. Their attitude toward the church is consumerist. They have no problem attending different churches because all church is the same. There is no right and wrong church. This type of people lived with great flexibility. They forget that we can have certainty right now. That we can actually know the truth and that we are shaped by the word of God and community. The kingdom of God is already here. But the other type of people is those who think that their church is the best church. Other churches are bad and only their church or their denomination gets it right. This type lived with great certainty but no flexibility. They believed that their church has arrived in the perfect place. Newsflash, no church has arrived. No church will ever get it fully right, including us. There are things that we might get it wrong and other churches might get it right. We will continue to make mistakes as we continue to learn from the Bible on what it means to be a church.

Let’s apply the same principle with work. The first type does whatever it takes to be successful. As long as it advances their career, they go for it. They lived with great flexibility but no certainty. But the second type refused to work unless they work with Christians or do Christian works. They lived with great certainty but no flexibility. They think that Christians should rule the world and Christians should be the best of people. They tend to be very legalistic and forget that we are saved by grace. If we are saved simply by grace, then we should expect to see many unbelievers that are much better than Christians at what they do.

Let me give you one more example, the issue of justice. The first type does nothing about injustice. They believe that eventually God will right every wrong and there is nothing they can do in the meantime. They have great flexibility but no certainty. This is wrong. God is the God of justice and he cares about injustice and therefore we should do something about it. The other type is those who are overzealous about injustice. They believed that every injustice should be eradicated at our lifetime and they judge others who do not share their passions. They have great certainty but no flexibility. Yes, God will eradicate every injustice in his kingdom but that day has yet to come. Can you see what happened? For us to be spiritually bi-cultural, we have to live in the tension. We need to have both certainty and flexibility. Otherwise, we won’t be a blessing to our city.


Let me close with this. Living in the tension is very hard. It is uncomfortable. And it does not always work out well for us. In this case, Daniel is honoured. Praise God. But in other cases, it leads to troubles. Living in the tension does not guarantee success. It is not an acceptance of culture nor a rejection of culture. It is the third way, the gospel way. And the gospel gives us massive stability. When success comes our way, when our dreams come true, we do not become conceited. We know it is not us. It is God working in us for the sake of his kingdom. And when hardship comes our way, when our dreams are shattered, we do not despair. We know what we experience right now is not ultimate. What ultimate is the kingdom of God. As the cliché said, we may not know what tomorrow holds but we know who holds our tomorrow. God has the whole world in his hand and his kingdom is everlasting. Everything in this world has its expiry date. Live for the kingdom that will never end.



Discussion questions


  1. In your own words, explain the meaning of the term “sojournes and exiles.”
  2. What is the contrast between God of heaven and gods of Babylon? How is it applicable to the ‘gods’ of our culture?
  3. What is the main point of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? How can we apply it to our lives today?
  4. The stone that destroysed the image eventually become a mountain that filled the earth. What does it teach us about the kingdom of God and Jesus?
  5. Explain the difference between the true wisdom and the wisdoms of this world.
  6. What does it mean to live in the tension? Give specific examples from your daily life.
  7. The gospel gives us massive stability to live spiritually bi-cultural. Explain.
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