Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream — Challenge #1

Read: Daniel 2

One of the key themes in Daniel is God’s deliverance in times of great trials–during times of difficulty, not from times of pain. Daniel’s reaction each time involves praying to God for help when troubles greet Daniel and his friends and I think it’s a model for us to learn from as our daily struggles seem insurmountable at times.

The first recorded challenge is here in chapter 2. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that keeps him up at night, so he asks his advisors to do two things: 1) tell him the dream and 2) interpret the same. The demand is repeated, so there is no misunderstanding that he wants someone to tell him what he dreamed first, but even the wisest of his inner circle admits this is impossible. His reaction? Kill all the advisors!

This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. Daniel 2:12-13

Other times when reading this passage, I’ve skipped over verses 12 & 13, but take a look: he ordered the execution and issued a decree. This is no laughing matter, he wasn’t drunk at a party and made some off-hand remark–this is an official injunction and his people were in the process of gathering up all the wise men when they come across Daniel, they guy they just indoctrinated in the previous chapter. Daniel asks for some clarification and Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, explains the impossible truth. Daniel goes in and talks to Nebuchadnezzar.

Before we jump to the next thought, consider how the guards are methodically gathering up the “wise men” for execution–they’re in no hurry, just doing their job collecting people to murder because of the king’s command. Daniel doesn’t run and hide and he doesn’t grovel at the king’s feet begging for mercy or try to convince him that he’s insane for his demand, he simply asks for a bit of time to ponder the situation.

Nebuchadnezzar wants the answer, so he gives them some time and Daniel urges his friends to pray for God to reveal the dream and the interpretation. There is a sense of urgency. They only get one swing of the bat at this. That night the mystery was revealed to Daniel and his immediate reaction is to praise God.

I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Daniel 2:23

Me and We. Thanks for answering my prayer for us. It’s ok to ask.

Daniel tells Arioch he has the answer and gets an audience before Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s first words to the king is one of my favorite parts of the story, I love how he winds up the king before delivering the answer:

The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, Daniel 2:26-27

I like to think Daniel paused at the comma for a moment or two…then completes the sentence:

but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.
Daniel 2:28

No rush as Daniel deliberately sets up the explanation for the king and all who are on the edge of their seats as they listen attentively.

As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind. Daniel 2:30

Daniel continues to show honor to the king. I would most likely to dwell on the ridiculous nature of the request and the outlandish plan to execute men (though I’d probably be a fan of axing the sorcerers…just sayin’). My reaction would have been all over the place, but Daniel enters the conversation with faith and knowledge that the Lord has spoken to him and takes time to make sure people know of whom he speaks.

Daniel delivers precisely. He explains the dream that outlines the future — Daniel 2:31-45. The reaction is significant:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” Daniel 2:46-47

Nebuchadnezzar is still in charge, he hasn’t abdicated his throne, but in this moment he honors Daniel while confessing there is a God of gods, though he still doesn’t completely get it. For now, Daniel and his friends are given positions of honor and influence, obviously avoiding the death squad ordered earlier.

There is much to learn about this interaction. I’m much less interested in the dream and interpretation of future events than I am about how Daniel handled the situation. Lord help me to learn from his example by increasing my faith in your desire for the good of your kingdom and your people. Help me not to criticize or complain about unjust edicts of those you have placed in power above me; rather, give me confidence to approach all with grace and a desire to show that you are the Creator of all, the Lord of lord, the God Almighty that desires to be with his people–an open invitation for us all.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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