Daniel 2:1-30 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. 2 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. 3 And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” 5 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. 6 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.” 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” 8 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— 9 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. 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.
Daniel and his three friends were excelling through the direct hand of God on their lives. In a pagan culture God had enabled them to be good at things that were valuable to the people who had conquered them.
Daniel 1:17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.
King Nebuchadnezzar was being troubled by a dream he could not remember. At the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he would send out expeditionary forces to collect taxes from the far reaches of the empire. This time, they were met with some stiff resistance causing him to mount a substantial force to bring them into order. This show of force could well have also provided an equal amount of anxiety, causing him to have some restless nights. It seems the king was particularly disturbed by a dream he cannot recall.
He summons his diviners and enchanters and poses them with the unobtainable task of not only interpreting the dream but telling him what the dream was. The king enacts a deadly punishment for failure and an equally lavish reward. Dream interpretation was so common in this culture that they had thick manuals on how to interpret dreams. The books were so dense that only experts would have known how to source the information to interpret a dream. The problem with this scenario was they didn’t know the dream to look up the imagery. It was virtually impossible. Daniel catches wind of the decree and the inevitability of death and learns the details behind the hasty order. He then requests a time with the king so he could reveal the dream to the king. Daniel consults with his friends and asks them to pray with him that God would reveal the dream to him, and God did one night in a vision.
1. Be great at what God has given you to do.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
If God has called you to it, then He is willing to resource you for it. The only thing standing in your way could be your attitude.
God has equipped Daniel and his friends to excel at things that were important to their captors.
If you want a platform, you’re going to have to build it (Joseph, Paul, etc.)
God gives us the opportunity and the power to excel.
20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.
2. If we are going to help people, we have to engage.
Not every situation is worth being a martyr. Is the circumstance requiring you to denounce your faith or use it?
Daniel revealing the king’s dream did not mean he bought into the same type of pagan arts as everyone else who had failed, but it could give skeptics the opportunity to criticize. It wasn’t pagan worship that empowered Daniel, it was God himself.
Matthew 12:22-28 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
In order to heal, you have to engage even at the risk of criticism. If the church refuses to engage in this culture, more people will be hurt. Engage in the conversation. Engage in the problem. Engage in the solution.
3. Prayer produces calm confidence in our culture.
Screaming over an injustice never produced justice.
“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.
Righteous indignation only produced anger for the house of God, not the culture. If we are going to be indignant, we should start with ourselves. More anger is always a result of less prayer.
Daniel and his friends did not start praying because of this situation; it was because they had been praying that they could have confidence in the situation. A relationship with God will give you confidence in what He is capable of.
4. Resist pridefulness before and after.
Daniel is very intentional in his remarks to the king.
“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. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”
Never let accumulated success change who gets the credit. We start out begging God for success and later come to expect it without asking.
5. Never change the objective.
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
There is no indication that the king stopped all pagan worship or started to worship the one true God exclusively. We should not make the mistake of changing the objective after the miracle.
God gave Daniel the ability to reveal the dream, and lives were spared. The culture might not have changed, but that was never the objective. It was always about saving lives. If we change the objective, it will always look like a loss.