Journey with Daniel
Journey with Daniel
In our reading of Daniel chapter 2, we cannot help but be impressed with the young protagonist. The chapter begins with King Nebuchadnezzar being troubled by dreams, losing sleep over a vision that he could not understand. He summoned his enchanters and sorcerers and presented them with what seems to be an impossible task: tell the king his dream. Interpreting a dream was one thing, but telling the king what dream he had was an entirely different challenge – one that the enchanters said “not a man on earth” could accomplish. Enraged, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that all the wise men of Babylon were to be killed.
Enter Daniel. Upon receiving the news of the king’s decree, he asked the king to choose a date and time and Daniel would be there to answer the king’s request. Daniel’s next course of action is exemplary. He and his companions prayed, asking God to be merciful. God revealed the dream and interpretation to Daniel in a vision and Daniel rightly praised God for his wisdom and might.
What follows might be my favorite line of the entire book. King Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel “Are you able to tell me both the dream and the interpretation?” And Daniel’s response was “No.” However, he did not leave it there. He went on to repeat what the other wise men said, “not a man on earth” could do what the king requested. “But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries,” said Daniel, “and this mystery has been revealed to me in order that you may know the thoughts of your mind.” This young man who had been transported far from his home and his heritage had the chance to impress the king. But that was not his priority, instead he wanted to bring glory to God. Directing the king to where the power really lay, Daniel revealed to him both dream and interpretation.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is one that many are familiar with even today. It contained a striking image and conveyed a powerful Messianic prophecy. The dream was of a statue (or image) made of multiple materials, which would indeed be a strange sight to behold. The statue’s head was made of gold, its chest and arms were made of silver, its stomach and thighs were made of bronze, its legs were made of iron, and its feet were made of an iron and clay mixture. If that image was not strange enough, a rock was carved and struck the statue on its feet and the whole giant image disintegrated, leaving just the rock, which began to grow and continued to do so until it filled the entire world.
Daniel explained that each material in the statue stood for a different kingdom, beginning with Babylon as the gold head. Things got really interesting when Daniel explained the rock. This rock was going to be the kingdom set up by the God of heaven, never to be destroyed or taken over. Instead, it would stand forever, spreading over the entire creation. Reading this now with the entirety of God’s Word at our fingertips, it is not difficult to see that this kingdom Daniel spoke of is the kingdom Jesus came to establish through his death, burial, and resurrection. This eternal and indomitable kingdom of heaven is the kingdom we get to be a part of today. Let us praise God for his providence in this!
Daniel Purposed In His Heart
When Nebuchadnezzar offered Daniel and his friends his meat and drink, he was not trying to be mean to them. Everything from the King’s table was a delicacy. Daniel and his friends just could not and would not eat what the king offered. Daniel would have no part in that which was from the table of the king. However, there were consequences to that decision. He could not sit at the king’s table and say, “I am not going to eat that nor drink that” without severe repercussions. No one did that. No one toyed with the king’s offerings.
How could Daniel say, “I am not going to eat nor drink what the king is offering? He had purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. What courage! He is not being obstinate, nor rude. He does not intend to insult Nebuchadnezzar. The bottom line for Daniel is, I have already determined what my choices will be. He was not going to be defiled. So really this is about Daniel’s respect for God and God’s rule. He had already determined in his heart that he would not violate God rule. Daniel did not say, “When in Rome do what the Roman’s do.”
We live in this world and we begin to advocate we will not draw any lines. We say, “We have to be in this world and fit in.” We are people who claim to be Christians. To whom But do we bear more resemblance, to the pagan world or being “of Christ?” People fail because they fail to determine in their heart what they will do when this world came calling.
Daniel made up his mind before the plan was put in operation. Before the pressure mounted. We must do that too!
Bringing it home: If we do not determine beforehand what we value we will decide, but it will be a decision that grows out of emotions, not reason. I must determine beforehand I will not defile myself. If we do that, we will not be ashamed to look in the mirror.