Thursday, September 22, 2016

Daniel 2: 1-30--"I Had a Dream"

Thankfully, it's not every day we have a dream that wakes us up with our spirit "troubled." (2:1) But, when we do, as we talked about on Monday, it is disturbing, uncomfortable, sleep-robbing and, sometimes, even day-devastating--unless we do what we need to regain perspective.

For King Nebuchadnezzar, ruling over a kingdom full of "wise men," sorcerers, magicians and the like, waking up with that kind of anxiety meant calling in the answer guys. "I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream," he said. (2:3) At this time in Babylon's history, with Babylon's culture, it was not unusual for the gods of their day to give messages through dreams. What the king didn't understand was that this was no ordinary dream, and the God who planted this in his mind gave him a vision for things that still have not all completely come to pass. Imagine! ("immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...," right? Eph. 3:20)

How interesting, reading Matthew Henry's commentary on this chapter, that he suggests Nebuchadnezzar was so distraught over the dream that he actually forgot what it was when he woke up! That's why the king asks for both content and interpretation. (In our group, we pondered that he hadn't taken his medication that day and flew off the handle!) He was clearly beyond reach as he not only asked for answers but issued a decree to kill those who could not deliver on that command, meaning all the wise men.

Daniel was not called to join the other wise men in the king's room--despite the king's pleasure with him and his friends as mentioned in Chapter 1--and first wind of the air of anxiety is hearing the announcement of his pending death! We witness his response beginning in verse 14. Continuing with his attitude of wisdom, grace and resolve, Daniel speaks to the captain of the king's bodyguard (or, executioners, it says in my column notes). Note, he speaks "with discretion and discernment," and then "requested of the king" that he might have time to interpret the dream. Daniel continues to be truly wise in his dealings with the authorities in his life, and knows that the One true authority is with whom he needs to consult.

But, also, his friends! This should come as a relief to us, but I wonder if it does? We are reminded that we do not have to walk through difficult situations by ourselves. It's not that we need to ask our friends for anything tangible; sometimes we do, but not always. But, do we ask our friends for the important things, like prayer? Daniel and his friends "request compassion" from God. We see other translations using "plead," "ask," or "seek mercy" from God. Humility in unity.

"Praying friends are valuable friends; it is good to have an intimacy with and an interest in those that have fellowship with God and an interest at the throne of grace; and it well becomes the greatest and best of men to desire the assistance of the prayers of others for them."
                                                                                        --Matthew Henry

Daniel receives "a night vision" (2:19) with the dream and its interpretation. Though his three friends do not receive the same vision, their prayers have most certainly been answered through Daniel's vision. Again, how wonderful our gift of friendship with those in Christ can be when we are able to trust and share our deep concerns with them. (It puts into perspective that time when Jesus asked His three friends to pray for Him in the Garden of Gethsemane that night--Hmm....)

In response, as we should be expecting from him at this point, Daniel praises God for this revelation through a song or psalm, acknowledging fully that this is the work of God alone and of no one else. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding." (2:21) There are so many verses in this psalm to love, but for the times we are facing right now, I love the truth that Daniel shares here.
God is in charge of who is in charge, and if we pray to Him (ask, seek, plead, with humility in unity) will He not also grant us understanding?

"...There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries...." (2:28)

"I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!" announces Arioch, the captain, in bringing Daniel forward to Nebuchadnezzar. (Nevermind that he was just sent to execute Daniel not that long ago!) With God's wisdom and revelation upon him, Daniel not only tells the king his dream and the interpretation, but he witnesses to the glory of God at the same time.

  • "He who reveals  mysteries has made known to you what will take place." (2:29)
  • "...This mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man...." (2:30)

Next post, more on the interpretation....