Saturday, April 10

Reader: “God is the greatest of gods,” 

Response: “the Lord over kings.”

Scripture: Daniel 2:24-49   

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.”

Arioch quickly took Daniel to the king and said, “I have found one of the captives from Judah who will tell the king the meaning of his dream!”

The king said to Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar), “Is this true? Can you tell me what my dream was and what it means?”

Daniel replied, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

“While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.

“In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

“That was the dream. Now we will tell the king what it means. Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and birds under your control. You are the head of gold.

“But after your kingdom comes to an end, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world. Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth one, as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. But while some parts of it will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay. This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix.

“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him. The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.”

Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:     

Following up on yesterday, we carry the story forward. At this point God has revealed to Daniel the details and interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In fact, it happened the night after the four prayed. Daniel went to the king’s executioner with the news who then took him to the king. In great detail he told the king his dream and interpreted it for him. 

Daniel’s method of revealing this hidden information is interesting to me. He didn’t begin by going immediately to the specifics but rather helped the king to see things in proper context, in reality. You’ll recall the words of the enchanters about the fact that only the gods could reveal something like this and that they “do not live among people here on earth.” It was at this point that the Nebuchadnezzar blew up. Here, Daniel said the same thing, but then what follows is different. Rather than saying there are no gods living on earth who can tell the king his dream, Daniel begins the conversation with, “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets and this God has shown Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream” and what it means. Notice how Daniel pointed the king to the true and living God as the source of his knowledge. He changed the way Nebuchadnezzar thought about the dream and vision. He sought to shift the king’s attention toward the God in heaven. In other words, Daniel confronted the king with the truth and reality of the sovereign Ruler of the universe.

Can you imagine Nebuchadnezzar’s shock as he sat there hearing his dream and vision described in great detail? He had witnessed a miracle and bowed to worship Daniel affirming Daniel’s God, the greatest of the gods and Lord over kings. Daniel was promoted and asked the king that his three friends be assigned to be in charge of the affairs of the province of Babylon. Daniel was then able to remain with Nebuchadnezzar to influence his decisions. 

What can we learn from this passage? Daniel seemed to be especially good at diffusing difficult people with a calm manner through his trust in God. He was also direct in his conversations with God in solving difficult situations. He was able to understand the mind set of Nebuchadnezzar and respond accordingly rather than coming to the conversation with his own agenda. The result was that Nebuchadnezzar was able to admit that Daniel’s God was even over him, something he was unable to do when approached by the enchanters. 

The world in which we live is filled with Nebuchadnezzars with very different ideas and personalities. Daniel is an Old Testament version of Jesus in dealing with difficult situations. Like Jesus, he continually pointed people to the Father. We have the pattern!

Music: “O Breath of Life”     Emu Music

Prayer:Grant Almighty God, that as thou hast showed to us by evidence so remarkable that all things are under thy command, and that we who live in this world through thy favor are as nothing, for thou couldst reduce us to nothing in a moment,―O grant that being conscious of thy power we may reverently fear thy hand, and be wholly devoted to thy glory; and as thou kindly offerest thyself to us as a Father, may we be drawn by this kindness and surrender and never labor for anything throughout life but to glorify thy name as thou hast redeemed us through thine only-begotten Son, so that we may also enjoy through him that eternal inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven. Amen.                ―Devotions and Prayers of John Calvin, p.49