Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday, March 3rd

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Number 5-6, Psalm 44, Mark 16
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 2:1-30

Daniel 2:1-30

English Standard Version (ESV)

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, andhis sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king's demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 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.”
12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch, the king's captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.

God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions,18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 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.”
24 Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?”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. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

Accompanying sermon John MacArthur sermon: The Forgotten Dream and the Unforgettable Daniel
Accompanying sermon by Richard DeMass: The Revealer of Mysteries
Accompanying sermon by Ray Pritchard: The World According to God

There are limits to humanity's power and abilities.  King Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man on earth, but he couldn't sleep.  His advisors were the wisest men in the kingdom, but they couldn't read the King's mind or tell him his dream - that was humanly impossible.

Why would God reveal prophesy to a pagan King?  Obviously, we don't know the mind of God, but there are some options that make sense.  First of all, Israel had become apostate, and rejection with full knowledge is even worse than pagan unbelief.  Secondly, this would reveal to both nations the power of God.  Thirdly, God can and will use anyone He wishes, in order to fulfil His divine purposes.

The King obviously knew, at least to a certain extent, that the abilities of the wise men to interpret dreams was a bunch of hocus pocus.  The Babylonians historically put huge stock in dreams and there was a method to their interpretations based on prior dreams and their "results", but it really was similar to the psychics of today, who find out a few details and then weave together plausible scenarios so broad they cannot be wrong.

And so the King issues them a challenge - not to just interpret his dream, but to tell him what he dreamt!  God had given him this vision, but then He caused Nebuchadnezzar to forget it, in order to display His power and dominion over all the earth and its future. Obviously, they cannot do what he asks, and in a fit of rage he orders all the wise men to be executed.  Anger causes us to make stupid and rash decisions, and the King was no exception.  This order would include Daniel and his friends, though they were likely still apprentices, which is likely why they were not in the room when the King made his demands.

Notice Daniel's incredibly mature response - remember, at this point he is still a teenager, between 17 and 19 yrs of age.  When the executioners found Daniel and his friends, he didn't panic.  He calmly and tactfully asked about the situation.  When he found out about the King's dream dilemma, he likely knew immediately that this was why God had given him the gift of understanding dreams and visions (Daniel 1:17).  Acting on faith, he sought an audience with the king - a king with absolute authority and who was currently acting in rage and not sound thinking.  But Daniel is certain that God is with him and he goes to the king.

After the king grants him time to interpret his dream (something the king had denied the other wise men - once again, evidence of God's hand at work), Daniel finds his friends and fellow believers and asks them to pray with him.  God answers Daniel's prayer and Daniel's immediate response is one of thankfulness and praise, giving glory to God.

What unwavering faith!  How do we react to pressure? To unexpected crises?  Do we remain calm, secure in the sovereignty of God, assess the situation, and gather fellow believers to pray to God for wisdom on how to handle the crisis? Do we respond in thankfulness and praise, giving glory to the One to whom it belongs?

And when Daniel returns to the King, he makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that what the King asked for was impossible with man, and only possible through the power of God.

Isn't this also true of the way of salvation?  Salvation is impossible through the mind and power of man.  We are dead in our sins.  We cannot save ourselves or discover the way of salvation on our own.  But God, in His infinite wisdom and power, shows us the way, and stirs our spirits to receive the glorious mystery of salvation.  Thanks be to God our Saviour!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Daniel 2:31-49
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 7-8, Psalm 45, Luke 1

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