Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 12 2019 - Daniel 2:1-23 – Nebuchadnezzar's dream

Nebuchadnezzar was having troubling dreams. He wanted to understand what they meant, but it seems that when he had asked his "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers" on previous occasions to provide him with the meaning of his dreams they had responded with a lot of misleading nonsense (v.9). The king therefore hit on a plan to test whether they really had an understanding of mysteries or were just charlatans. He called them in and demanded that they tell him both his dream and its meaning. If they can do this he will know that they have supernatural knowledge and will trust their interpretation and reward them richly. If they cannot tell him his dream, he will have them cut into pieces and their houses reduced to rubble.

The "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers" protested that what the king asked of them was impossible:

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. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans. (verses 10-11)

So the king ordered that all the wise men of Babylon should be put to death.

It is interesting to note that Daniel and his companions were not among the king's "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers", but were counted among the wise men of Babylon. So when Daniel heard of the king's decree and understood why it was being enacted, he "went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him". He hoped not only to save his own life and those of his friends, but also the lives of the "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers" of Babylon.

The magicians etc. had told the king that no-one could tell him his dream. Only the gods could reveal such a thing, "and they do not live among humans." What an admission for them to make. For all their pretence to spiritual knowledge they have to admit that the gods are unknown to them. Daniel, on the other hand, knows the living God, the God who created heaven and earth and who sustains all things by his own mighty power. He knows that his God can reveal the king's dream and also reveal its meaning. So he asks the king for time to speak with God.

Daniel asks his friends to join him in seeking God's face in prayer. There is power in the united, corporate prayer of the people of God. God answers their prayer by making known to Daniel the dream that he, the living God, had given to the king. Not only that, he reveals its meaning. Daniel then praises God for his wisdom and power (vv.20-23).

Now we should not imagine that all dreams are intended as revelations from God which require only that we have the wisdom to understand them. I sometimes have very strange dreams which are clearly the product of my fevered brain in weaving together scenes and people from my life in the past with odd imaginations and fears concerning the future. This dream, however, was given by God to the king and, like those given to Pharaoh in the days of Joseph, was given for a reason.

We have even more cause for praising God than Daniel. We rejoice that God has not remained far off and unknowable but came to live amongst humans in the person of Jesus Christ. He has made God known and demonstrated that the living God loves us, cares for us, and wants us to know and love him. He calls us to give the lie to the opinion of this world that the gods do not live among humans; Christ calls us to share the good news that God has loved us and come to us in Jesus.

Father God, give us the wisdom to speak to those who do not know you. Give us the words to speak and the ability to speak with grace of you and of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Use our words to save many from fear and from death.

Peter Misselbrook