When Will We Have Justice and Peace?

Text: Daniel 2:1-49

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed… it shall stand forever.” —Daniel 2:44

Have you ever had a troubling dream? One that left you unsettled or perplexed in your spirit? I sometimes get in trouble for things I did in my wife’s dreams. Something about that just doesn’t seem fair!

In the ancient world, dreams were thought to be shadows of future events, not just aftereffects of bad pizza! For a king, his dreams might have significance for the nation as a whole, and the interpretation would be critical for steps to be taken in order to prepare for the events the dream anticipated, or even to counteract them.

As we continue in our devotional series in the book of Daniel, we find King Nebuchadnezzar deeply troubled by some dreams he was having. He knew that one in particular was unusually significant. So Nebuchadnezzar called upon his staff of specialists over the DODI—Department of Dream Interpretations. These were the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans. The name “Chaldeans” initially referred to a part of the Babylonian Empire, but it developed into a descriptive term for a special group, known for their expertise in magic lore and interpreting dreams. He told them if they weren’t able to make known the interpretation, they would be “torn limb from limb,” and their “houses would be laid in ruins.” Perhaps he sent it out in a Tweet!

The Chaldeans found the interpretation too difficult, saying that no one could reveal the meaning “except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Despite all their wisdom—real or imagined—these wise men had no answer for the king, because it could only come from God. The king was enraged, and commanded that all these “wise men of Babylon” be executed, which would have also included Daniel and his friends. But Daniel intervened, responding with “prudence and discretion,” and petitioned the king to give him time to make the interpretation known.

Daniel and his three amigos (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) prayed and sought the God of heaven concerning this mystery. Then it was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Probably quite relieved that he would be spared from execution, Daniel takes time to praise God with a hymn of worship—a beautiful declaration of God’s sovereignty and control over the troubling situation (Daniel 2:20-23). He then advocated for the other wise men’s lives to be pardoned and announced that he would come before the king and show the interpretation of the dream.

It turns out that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream didn’t just concern himself and his kingdom, but it also spoke of future kingdoms and “the latter days.” Daniel prophesied that four powerful human kingdoms would have their dominance then ultimately be shattered by “a stone cut by no human hand” (v.45), referring to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ (Psalm 118:22, Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 28:16, Zechariah 3:9): “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…” (Daniel 2:44).

At that time, God will establish a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. It will never be toppled. It will never be overthrown. It will start small but grow to fill all the earth and, unlike the earthly kingdoms, it will endure forever. From humble beginnings—think of a lowly king riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and a small band of misfits turning the Roman empire upside down with their Gospel message—to ultimate, united glory as a single kingdom that fills the whole earth forever.

The kingdoms of this world do not have the degree of power they surmise. Rest assured, beloved, that every human society—whether dictatorships, democracies, or anarchists—will ultimately yield to the reign of Christ (Revelation 19:11-16). True justice and sustained peace will one day be realized when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). The Bible describes it as an age when “the lion and the lamb will lay down together” (Isaiah 11:6). No more war. No more hostilities. No more division. No more suffering. No more pain, and can you imagine… no more political bickering? Our hearts don’t need to be unsettled by troubling times when we know what the Almighty has already revealed about the future. The Bible proved to be accurate in its ancient prophecies, and will hold true for this generation as well. God’s historical track record should give us great confidence over the affairs happening in our world today.

Christ is that “stone” that will break in pieces all these other little earthly kingdoms (Luke 20:18). He is the mystery of the ages, the one in whom God plans to unite all things in his glorious kingdom (Ephesians 1:9–10), and His is a kingdom from everlasting to everlasting. Rest in this promise as you seek to abide in Him this week.

PRAYER

God, you are sovereign over all the affairs and kingdoms of this world. You haven’t left us to ourselves in all this madness. You are actively advancing Your kingdom, and we understand there is a human rebellion against that kingdom that cannot succeed. Remind us that the culture wars all around us are not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Keep us vigilant, and may our lives continue to be active agents of Gospel fluency for the lost you are seeking to save in this hour. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection, Small Group or Family Discussion:

  1. What has been your happiest dream or your strangest nightmare? If you knew that our nation would come under the control of another world power within a week, what would you do?
  2. What did Nebuchadnezzar do about his troubling dreams and what did the king expect from his wise men (Daniel 2:1-9)?
  3. What contrast do we see in how the astrologers approached the situation and how Daniel responded (Daniel 2:10-18)? What did the king do in response to Daniel’s interpretation (Daniel 2:46-49)?
  4. What can we learn from Daniel about how to deal with unreasonable or demanding people? Why do you think the Bible says it is better to get wisdom than gold (Proverbs 16:16)?
  5. How can you trust God with an unreasonable or difficult person in your life? What can you do this week to seek God’s kingdom above the kingdoms of this world?

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This VBS curriculum is based on the Old Testament book of Daniel. The theme teaches children how to live with courage in uncertain times. It was designed as a camp curriculum for children 8-12 years of age. Can also serve as a 5-week Sunday morning children’s ministry teaching series.

Embracing the Brevity and Transiency of Life

Text: Psalm 103:15-19

“Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14 (NLT)

On the bookshelf in my office are several wooden carved ducks and sculptured birds that had been handcrafted from my great uncle, Henry Bird. “Uncle Dick,” as he was called, used to make these from his farm at the corner of Henry Bird RD and Gateway RD in Whittier, North Carolina, and then send them to family members spread out across the states. I used to love getting these when I was a young boy growing up in Maryland.

Uncle Dick passed away in 1990. His old farm was recently leveled and replaced by a newly built Pepsi distribution center. As I look at the before and after pictures of this location, I am reminded that everything in this world is transient.

One hundred years from now, the house you live in may no longer exist. The company you work for may no longer be in business. The church building you worship in and the school your child attends may have been replaced by something altogether different. Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But the Psalmist reminds us of at least two other certainties—change, and the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 103:15-19 says:

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

As seasons change and nature’s beauty flourishes and fades, so is the existence of our lives; we come and go, and the place we once held “knows it no more.” This verse has also been translated “its place remembers it no more” (NIV), “its place acknowledges it no longer” (NASB), and “one can no longer even spot the place where it once grew” (NET).

This may sound depressing to some, especially for those who are struggling feverishly to build their own empires and earthly legacies, but it doesn’t have to be a saddening reality. It is healthy to remember that our lives are a vapor (James 4:14), that our days are like a passing shadow (Psalm 144:4), and the things that we now see are transient (2 Corinthians 4:18).

God wants us to contrast this humbling reality with more joy-filled eternal certainties: The LORD has established his immovable throne in the heavens, from where his everlasting kingdom rules over all the earth. He promises his steadfast love from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. For those who keep his covenant, God ensures a righteous covering over their children’s children. For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, He has promised a future and perpetual habitation in heaven, far removed from all evil, pain, and injustice (Revelation 21:1-8). These things will never change!

Accepting the reality of our transient lives, along with God’s eternal truths, can help us to apply our hearts to wisdom in the daily grind of our fleeting days (Psalm 90:12). Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week!

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, it is a healthy notion to recognize our lives as transient. Your perfectly redemptive plan involves a glorious transition from this broken and fleeting world to a perpetual and incorruptible one. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross—that we would be redeemed and adopted into this everlasting kingdom. In His name we pray, amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. What kinds of feelings are evoked in you when you revisit places from your childhood or take a stroll down Memory Lane?
  2. What do you look forward to most about being in Heaven?
  3. What thoughts or impressions come to mind when you are reminded that your life is like a fleeting shadow, a temporary flower, or a momentary vapor?
  4. In what ways can coming to grips with our transient lives be healthy to how we live from day to day?
  5. How should the brevity of life affect how we invest our time, talents, and money for the kingdom of God?

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