Passage: Daniel 2:31–45
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
When living in exile, we, like everyone else, are faced with the “mystery” of what life is all about. Though we will never find the answer to this mystery by looking inside of ourselves, we have a God who graciously provides an interpretation of this mystery for us, and we build our lives on what he reveals.
In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar was faced with the problem of this mystery through a troubling dream. Nebuchadnezzar had seen a great statue, which, though made of strong and impressive metals, had feet partly made of clay—a weakness that eventually led to its downfall, as a small and unassuming “stone…cut by no human hand” broke it into pieces (2:34-35). Regardless of the details of what this image represents, it was clear that its foundation was vulnerable and unstable. Therefore, we should learn today—as Nebuchadnezzar learned in his day—that every foundation we build our lives upon other than God will eventually crumble. Similarly, just as the Babylonians couldn’t find answers to the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream within their circle of experts, so too the luminaries and answers of our day are unable to interpret the meaning of life for us.
However, God graciously interprets this mystery for us by entering the story himself and giving us a foundation to build our lives on. In Daniel, this happens through God giving Daniel a “sure” and “certain” interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s own unstable kingdom, the “God of heaven” would himself “set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed” (2:44). He would set up this kingdom through Jesus, the unimpressive looking “stone that the builders rejected.” Through his self-giving death, Jesus would set up an unshakeable kingdom of grace—a kingdom he invites all of us today to build our lives upon.
- The Problem of the Mystery (2:10-11; 31-35)
- The Provision of the Interpretation (2:36-45)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Daniel 2:31-45)
The Problem of the Mystery (2:10-11; 31-35)
Q) INTRO QUESTION: Have you ever had a troubling experience that forced you to think more deeply about your life? What was it, and what did it lead you to reflect on?
Q) Re-read Daniel 2:10-11. What does the Chaldeans’ response to Nebuchadnezzar suggest they believed about God? About life?
Q) Re-read Daniel 2:31-35. What strikes you about the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw? What do you think he would have liked in what he saw? What do you think would have made him afraid?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that the image’s “feet of clay” in verse 34 represented building our lives on an unstable foundation. We may look outwardly impressive, but if we build our lives on an unstable foundation, it will eventually lead to our downfall. Was there ever a time when you realized you were building your life on an unstable foundation? When? AND, how do we discern what we’re “building our lives” upon?
The Provision of the Interpretation (2:36-45)
Q) Re-read Daniel 2:36-38. What did Daniel’s interpretation teach Nebuchadnezzar about himself? How was this likely different than how Nebuchadnezzar previously viewed himself?
Q) Re-read Daniel 2:39-43. These verses are notoriously hard to interpret, but at minimum they refer to a succession of kingdoms that will come after Nebuchadnezzar. What can we draw from these verses about how God relates to the affairs of world history? How might that change our perspective on all that is happening in our nation and world today?
Q) Re-read Daniel 2:44-45. What is the “sure and certain” interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? How can these verses practically give us hope today?
Q) Pastor Bobby compared God to an author who writes himself into his own story. Though we cannot know the “mystery” of life by ourselves, we have a God who has chosen to reveal it to us, by entering our world in Christ. How might this truth—that God is a God who reveals mysteries—give us greater certainty in our faith? How might it give us greater boldness in our witness to our friends and neighbors?
Q) CASE STUDY: You’re talking to an extended family member who is not a Christian. They tell you that they think some Christians are prideful for feeling like “they have everything figured out.” The only honest way to live life, they say, is to admit that “we have no way of knowing what life is all about.” In light of this week’s passage and sermon, how might you respond to them?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and
outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.