Monday, 21 September 2015

Bible Reading: Daniel 2v14-30 'Approaching the all powerful King.'

"14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, ‘Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?’ Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
‘Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 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.’
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, ‘Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.’
25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, ‘I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.’
26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), ‘Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?’
27 Daniel replied, ‘No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
29 ‘As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 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."

There area  number of contrasts made in this section and in the chapter as a whole.  There is a contrast drawn between Daniel and wise men.  There is another stark contrast between God and Nebuchadnezzar. And in verses16-18 there is another contrast as Daniel goes to THE THRONE having been to the throne. He and friends ask God to do what only God can do.  The astrologers claim no one can know except the gods, Daniel and his friends approach God almighty on his throne who may make it known to them.

But there is no presumption on the part of Daniel and his friends, they don't barge into God's presence demanding answers.   Verse 18 is important in showing us Daniel's demeanour as he approached God.   “he urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery”.  Daniel knows that God can reveal, but he does not presume that God will or that he has a right to expect an answer.  There is a humility that marks Daniel's approach to God, a fear of God that stands in awe of God though is not in terror of him.  The result is an answer as God makes the dream and the interpretation known to Daniel (19).

What is fascinating is what does not happen next.  Daniel doesn't run straight to Nebuchadnezzar with the answer.   Instead he turns instead to praise God for his wisdom and power, his governance of history, and the revelation and gifting he has given.  This is a great prayer for us to use in our own prayer when we want to praise God, it's a great model of being swift to praise God who graciously and mercifully answers prayer.

Yet still as Daniel approaches an agitated and angry Nebuchadnezzar it is as a condemned man on death row, bringing a message from the living God to a pagan ruler, a message that may well not be to his liking.  This is a tension text, one of the reasons for taking time over this chapter is so that we feel something of the tension rather than rushing to the resolution.  There is uncertainty and danger even as Daniel has the answer as verse 26 makes clear.

In his answer we see again Daniel's humility as well as his courage as he owns his God before the king.  He tells Nebuchadnezzar where the real power is (28) “…there is a God in heaven…He has made known” (29) “He who reveals mysteries”.  And Daniel emphasises, again, that he doesn't know this because he is wise but because God has graciously revealed it(30), because God is dealing with Nebuchadnezzar.

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