Finally, we get out of the first chapter of Daniel. “Robby, what took you so long?” I just wanted to establish a firm foundation of the basic themes of the book. Whether it’s overkill or not, it will help us throughout the rest of the book. “Whatever you say buddy”.
Now that Daniel and his buddies have been fully trained and indoctrinated their service of the king of Babylon begins, and it doesn’t take long for Daniel and friends to find themselves on the hot seat.
1In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled, and he could not sleep. 2So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means. 4Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 5The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.” Daniel 2:1-6 NIV
Uh, this might have been a good day to call in sick. I’ve had some bad bosses in my time, but nothing like this. I’ve had bad days at work and been under pressure, but I don’t think I’ve ever faced possible dismemberment if I failed. Bosses might have wanted to kill me, but they never did.
“7Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 8Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided:” Daniel 2:7-8 NIV
I would have been trying to buy some time too. Interpret his dreams? Really? There is no telling what he had for dinner the night before. I don’t know about you, but my dreams are usually bizarre, and involve lots of running away from things. This is a pretty tall task to say the least, and the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers don’t want any part of it.
10The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” Daniel 2:10-11 NIV
Despite the efforts of the “wise men of Babylon” to “opt out” of this situation and take a mulligan, king Nebuchadnezzar isn’t letting them off the hook. They either do it or die. Finally, Nebuchadnezzar has had enough of their excuses, has a fit, and orders the executions. “Off with their heads! Let the dismemberment begin!” However, there is one big problem. The king wasn’t just going to kill the “wise men of Babylon”. The king sent the guards to get Daniel and his friends too. “Hey! Hold the phone here! We’re just the interns your kingship. We just make coffee and bring the donuts. Why do we need to die?”
Obviously, it was a bad time to be a new employee. This wholesale slaughter takes company downsizing to a whole new level. The king is basically taking this opportunity to clean house in the “wise men” department of Babylon Incorporated.
“14When 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. 15He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16At this, Daniel went into the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. 17Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18He 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.” Daniel 2:14-18. NIV
I’m sure everyone was freaking out, but they have a hero in their midst. Daniel steps up to the plate. It says that Daniel spoke to the king with “wisdom and tact”. In other words, Daniel was cool and collected. He was smooth, like butter. Ok, I’m embellishing. It’s my devotional, but however Daniel says it, it works. He’s able to calm the king down and buy some time. We know that Daniel trusts the Lord, but that doesn’t mean he’s not afraid of what’s going to happen.
Daniel makes his way back to the servant living quarters and informs Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah of what is about to happen. He “urges” them to “plead” for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery. Whenever a situation descends into “urging and pleading”, it’s not good. Basically, Daniel calls for an all-night prayer meeting. This isn’t just any “Wednesday night prayer meeting”. It’s a serious “come to Yahweh”meeting. I would have said “come to Jesus”, but that will come later. I’m sure it was a long night, and it goes without saying that no one probably slept at wink, but everything works out.
“19During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.” Daniel 2:19. NIV
The Lord comes through and really saved their bacon. He reveals the mystery or meaning of the dream, and the night ends with some praise and worship. Crisis averted! Then the next morning Daniel goes to Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard and says something interesting.
“Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.” Daniel 2:24 NIV
Why does Daniel care about the “wise men of Babylon”? They are his enemy, captors, and slave masters. But despite his circumstances, he does care and stands up for his enemy. He doesn’t even include himself or his friends in the “not executing part”. The first thing on his list-mind is making sure these wise men of Babylon, his enemy, will be okay. Pretty cool, huh? This is Jesus “love your enemy” stuff.
And finally, Daniel doesn’t take credit for interpreting the dream. He gives all the Glory to God when he says “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”, then he gives God’s interpretation of the dream. Sorry I skipped the bits in the middle. The interpretation of the dream is actually pretty cool, so go back and read it. It’s eschatology or end times prophecy stuff, so we’ll look at that a little bit next week.