Monday, January 19, 2009
DANIEL CHAPTER 2:1-49
A King Dreams... A King Is Confused
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac, 0 king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it.The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof.The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
Perhaps at some time in your life you’ve had a dream that was so unnerving and perplexing that it kept you from sleeping through the rest of the night. You tried to figure out what it might mean and may have even asked others to help you with an interpretation that made sense. If this has happened to you and me, we know it’s happened to people throughout history.
In the year 603 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream so bizarre that he marshaled his wisest men to his chambers to give him a reasonable interpretation. Not only did the crafty king want an interpretation of the dream he could understand, but he went one step further: He demanded a recital of the dream itself. Unreasonable? Of course. But Nebuchadnezzar was the king, and just as the gorilla sleeps anywhere it likes in the jungle, so the king could make up his own rules-which he did with an impish look in his eye, I’m sure.
Nervous Coughs and Furtive Looks
Did the king really forget the content of his dream? I doubt it. I think this was Nebuchadnezzar’s way to test the wisdom and alleged supernatural powers of his magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers. Heavy has been the head that has worn the crown throughout history, and Nebuchadnezzar’s crown must have weighed a ton. Kings come and go; their enemies are forever nipping at their heels. What if Nebuchadnezzar’s dream were to portend evil for his realm? Superstitious as he was, he demanded an interpretation.
But there was a risk that one of the palace sorcerers might give the king information he didn’t want to hear. So what does a wizard do? Equivocate? Beat around the bush? Try to buy some time? After all, the wrong information would produce disastrous results for the wizards-like being cut to pieces and having their houses made into a dunghill. But if they could state the dream and give Nebuchadnezzar an interpretation he could live with, then all manner of blessings would fall on the necromancers. So the stage was set.
I can almost hear the nervous coughs and see the furtive looks as one magician after the other would say something like, 0 King, that’s a marvelous idea, our telling you your dream- not that it will be easy. Say, would you mind running that dream by your servants just one more time, and then I’m sure we’ll be able to come up with just the right interpretation.
The king didn’t bite. He knew he had his magicians and wise men trapped, and he accused them of stalling. Finally, probably with perspiration pouring from their brows, the wizards and astrologers came flat out with the truth, saying that such an assignment was impossible-certainly too great a job for the wisest person in the realm, and one that could only be accomplished in cooperation with the gods-whose dwelling is not with flesh. An interesting comment from savants who were supposed to be able to predict the future and come up with detailed-and accurate-answers to life’s most perplexing problems. Yet, when push came to shove, they figured hearkening to the gods might not be such a bad idea after all.
But the king didn’t buy their delay and became furious. In a fit of rage he demanded that all the wise men of Babylon be rounded up and destroyed-something we’ve seen again and again throughout secular and religious history. When frustration mounts in the palace, scapegoats are found, and these innocents are often summarily done away with. It happened when a paranoid King Herod, intent on finding an alleged usurper to his throne, put out a decree to kill all Jewish baby boys in the land.
We saw it with Hitler who, in his cruel attempt to create his Third Reich, killed six million Jews, burned all books that threatened his reign, and more than decimated all non-Aryans under his control. We saw it again just a few years ago, in the mid-to late 1960s, when an equally paranoid Chairman Mao threw all of China into convulsions with his demented Cultural Revolution-a nationwide witch hunt that was only an official excuse to kill and maim millions of dissidents, destroy any semblance of ancient tradition that flew in the face of his hybrid communism, and put China on a crash course with history. Will tyrants ever learn?
Now, the net was thrown wide throughout the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar to bring all the men of wisdom to their knees and ultimately to their collective death. Although it appears that Daniel and his friends were not in this shouting session with the king, they were, in fact, to be included in the king’s order. The great irony of the king’s manifesto as it related to Daniel was that once again God was setting the stage for a display of His sovereignty over the affairs of men. Meanwhile, the hunt was on.
Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation.Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.I thank thee, and praise thee, 0 thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will show unto the king the interpretation.
We’ve now begun to see the sterling character of Daniel. Though still young, he was wise beyond his years; though relatively inexperienced in the affairs of life, he demonstrated how God can use a servant who gives his absolute loyalty to the Father. Now, it was again Daniel’s turn to settle uncontrollable waters. Here’s where we as believers need to take careful note of Daniel’s spiritual strategy.
First, he asked for time-always a good idea when we are trying to come up with a solution to one of life’s challenges.
Second, he was bold enough to say that he would fulfill the king’s demand-that is, he promised to do what the other wise men could not. Daniel knew that with God on his side he was not stepping out on a partially sawed-off limb. He knew his heavenly Father would give him the insight required at the time he would need it.
Third-and how often we fail to do this-Daniel went back to his quarters and held an impromptu prayer meeting/counseling session with his companions Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us, Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. Daniel knew the importance of feedback from his companions-an awareness that runs throughout the entire book.
Daniel’s Model Prayer.
Now I want you to pay special attention to Daniel’s prayer- just one of the many prayers of this great man of God we will discover in the pages of this amazing prophecy. Remember, Daniel already believed that God would give him the answer he’d need when he would soon stand before the king. He’d already conferred with his friends and received their counsel. But Daniel knew that unless he prayed earnestly to his God for divine insight and wisdom, he would never be prepared for his daunting assignment with a paranoid king.
For years, I’ve felt this prayer of Daniel should be a model for our own time with God-a prayer that moves me anew as I read it again, perhaps for the thousandth time. Daniel blesses God for His wisdom. He acknowledges that earthly kings are just that-as common as dirt-and that God alone sets up rulers and brings them crashing down from their man-made thrones. He recognizes that only His God-not Marduk, or any other Babylonian idol-gives wisdom to the wise and has the necessary resources to bring light to that which is shrouded in darkness.
Then, in a final burst of praise, Daniel thanks God for the wisdom and might He’s given to His servant. Daniel thanks God - giving no credit to himself - for the answers he now has to King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Can’t you just hear Daniel’s prayer build with confidence as he moves toward his final crescendo-his glorious amen to his God?
Ready to Meet the King
Daniel has done his homework. He’s been patient. He’s prayed. Now he’s ready with an exuberance and confidence that can only come to a believer in the one true God. Only after this serious, pre-audience preparation does Daniel finally say to Arioch, All right, now’s the time. I’m ready to enter the presence of the king . . . and by the way, make sure that the king spares the lives of the wise men of Babylon. There’s now no reason for them to die. Daniel, a young man with limited life experience, is now used by God to shape the destiny of an entire kingdom.
The apostle Paul, hundreds of years later, would say to another young man, Timothy, Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). In God’s eyes, age has little significance when it comes to being a wise servant. Just as He did then, all God demands from His people is obedience. This spirit would be the hallmark of the man Daniel to the end of his days.
Daniel 2:25 - 30
Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the sooth sayers, show unto the king;But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the King Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;As for thee, 0 king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what Should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Glory to God Alone
Daniel now had the king’s attention. He also continued to remind the king that the wisdom he was sharing was from the one true God and not from his own knowledge. What integrity! Daniel could have made this a public relations spectacular for himself by taking all the credit, comparing himself to the other wise men (who failed to speak the dream or interpret it), saying, Hey, King, look at me. I’m the man. You can always count on me for the answers to your tough questions.
But that is not the Daniel of this book. He took no glory for himself, but instead insisted that only God in heaven could do what the king had requested. I can almost see King Nebuchadnezzar’s mouth begin to drop as Daniel set him up.
Nebuchadnezzar was probably saying something like, Come on, Daniel, enough of this My God stuff. What’s my dream? More importantly, what does it mean? And why are you making me wait? But Daniel was not to be rushed. He was in control of this particular discussion and, once again, the king was compelled to wait for the time when this young Jew would come forth with his secrets, which he finally shared when he said:
Daniel 2: 31 - 35
Thou, 0 king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
I imagine the king was startled, and dumbfounded, probably exclaiming something like, I can’t believe this, Daniel. You’re a genius! You’ve done what my most seasoned astrologers and magicians could not do. You’re amazing. . . and you’re still so young!
Daniel just stood there and listened politely, continuing to assert that God gave him the dream. He probably reminded the king of what he’d already told him, But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets(2:28). Wouldn’t you like to have seen Nebuchadnezzar’s face as Daniel spoke the dream one scene at a time? The king’s heart rate must have increased as Daniel talked about an image so large and brilliant that it was virtually impossible to look at for any length of time. His blood pressure must have climbed as Daniel described the statue from head to foot-the head of gold; breast and arms of silver; belly and thighs of brass; legs of iron; and feet and toes of an unstable mixture of iron and clay.
The Dream Interpreted
Then, thundering from a distance came a stone cut out without hands-that is, not of human origin-crashing into the statue with such meteoric force that it dissolved the image into chaff, blowing away any semblance of the statue. Where the image had stood-this is what had to give King Nebuchadnezzar pause-the stone, now a large mountain, filled the whole earth (2:35).
If you were a superstitious Babylonian king constantly looking over your shoulder at the slightest movement of your enemies-or wondering if inside-the-palace intrigue might one day do you in-what would you think if you had a dream like this? Without waiting for the king’s response-or perhaps because Nebuchadnezzar was too dumbfounded to respond-Daniel proceeded with the interpretation of his dream.
Daniel 2: 36 - 45
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.Thou, 0 king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in Pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength o the iron, foras much as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle Themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God bath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Not So Fast, O King
Daniel was anything but timid, for God had removed any spirit of fear from his heart as he stood eye-to-eye with Nebuchadnezzar, giving him the message from God. Nebuchadnezzar undoubtedly saw himself as a self-made king-powerful, in control, able to make heads roll at a snap of his finger. Yet Daniel says, Wait a minute, King. Not so fast. You are only where you are because my God has given you dominion, power, and glory. Yes, you’re a mighty and powerful king, but your reign simply cannot last. Daniel consistently gives God the credit in the preface of all his prayers and speeches.
The king would probably rather not have to sit there and listen to these extended preambles, but this was young Daniel’s moment. And Nebuchadnezzar would have to be patient.
Daniel’s description of Babylon’s place in world history is fully in sync with other historical references. Babylon was the greatest power of the day. It had always been a superlative empire, with its great beauty, economic position as a center of commerce, and fabled hanging gardens-one of the exquisite wonders of the ancient world. But even all these accomplishments, Daniel would argue, were not Nebuchadnezzar’s doing-but God’s.
Although Nebuchadnezzar was the gold head in his dream, the inference was that he would not be in charge of his kingdom in perpetuity: Daniel’s message was that God was in control, and that his heavenly Father would have the final say as to who would and who would not occupy all earthly thrones-including Nebuchadnezzar’s.
Kingdoms Come... Kingdoms Go
Marduk, Babylon’s chief god, was also called the god of gold-something that surely did not escape the king’s notice. In fact, the precious metal gold was almost synonymous with the nation of Babylon. There was gold everywhere-in the ornate palaces, the worship places, and the ubiquitous shrines. Even the walls were overlaid with what was then the most precious substance in existence. Now King Nebuchadnezzar was told that all this gold would one day be swept away by a second kingdom, the kingdom of Medo-Persia.
This later became a historic fact when the two disparate cultures-the Medes and the Persians-united in 550 B.C. under one king to form a great world power. This was the silver part of the statue and a proper representation of the Medo-Persian empire since the Medes and Persians based their partnership on the power of money collected through an elaborate system of taxation. Nebuchadnezzar must have been relieved to hear Daniel prophesy that this silver kingdom would be inferior to his own, probably because as a partnership nation,
Medo-Persia did not have the political and military unity of Babylon. But despite this weakness, Medo-Persia would one day break the head of gold. Because God’s Word speaks only the truth, we should not be surprised to note that Daniel’s prophecy became reality when Medo-Persia brought Babylon to its knees in military defeat in 539 B.C.
But what about the third kingdom, the belly and thighs of brass? The element bronze later became a characterization of the Greek empire, primarily because the Greeks used it extensively as the material for their weapons of war. Daniel foresaw that Greece would one day bear rule over all the earth (2:3 9). History shows that Greece did dominate the world of its day. The kingdom of Alexander the Great encompassed much more of the known world than Babylon or Medo-Persia ever did. Again, a prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled in world history.
The Renewal of the Roman Empire
Imagine how Nebuchadnezzar must have reacted to the news from this young prophet. His was probably a mixture of fear and disbelief. But we must also note that Daniel wasn’t finished yet, and the king did not interrupt Daniel’s interpretation.
After the world-dominating empire of bronze another empire would arise-a fourth kingdom composed of two legs of iron. This kingdom would be Rome with its two legs representing the expansive empires of the Western Roman Empire, headquartered in Rome, and the Eastern Roman Empire, with the cosmopolitan city of Constantinople as its capital. This empire also would fall. The great historian Edward Gibbon powerfully describes it in his work entitled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. However, just before Christ returns, this empire will revive as the iron mixed with clay begins to wiggle in the form of ten toes.
Only God could have given Daniel the wisdom to know what is now becoming reality for us who live in the beginning days of the twenty-first century. According to Daniel, the final revival of the Roman Empire would be comprised of a confederation of ten nations, which would finally lead to a new world order encompassing the globe. Why would they come together? For monetary and military security and strength-something we’re already seeing as the European Union moves ahead with such plans at break-neck speed. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar’s image with ten toes pictured the revival and conclusion of the Roman Empire.
Note the gradual deterioration of the metals in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: from gold to silver to bronze to iron to clay, a clear demonstration that as history marches on, men and their cultures become increasingly corrupt. Tregelles is a scholar who has called attention to the decreasing specific gravity of each of these metals: For example, the specific gravity of gold is 19; silver, 11; brass, 8.5; cast iron, 7.8; mixture of iron and clay, 1.93.
The world in which you and I live-the world of the fourth and revived fifth kingdom as prophesied by Daniel-is going to get worse up to the moment that the great stone breaks the feet of the image. That stone is Jesus Christ, who becomes a mountain and fills the entire earth.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (2:44).
The Ten Toes Begin to Wiggle
The entire end-time message is predicted here in the Book of Daniel thousands of years, in some instances, before the actual historical events occurred-just as Rabbi Shvili in 1935 suggested in his book, Reckonings of Redemption. How could Daniel know this? Because God, historically, has chosen to reveal His secrets through spirit-anointed prophets.
Let’s bring Daniel’s prophecy even closer to home. There was a long interval between the time when Rome’s power began to wane and fall-around 476 A.D.-and the year 1947 when the ten toes of the statue began to wiggle. First of all, Benelux met in that year-Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg- creating the first three members of the confederation. In 1957, three additional nations met with the countries of Benelux- Italy, France, and Germany-for a total of six, ratified by the Treaty of Rome.
Little by little, in our daily newspapers, we see a revival of the Roman Empire just as Daniel predicted. In 1973, England, Ireland, and Denmark joined the confederation, making it a total of nine members. Then, on New Year’s Day, 1981, Greece became number ten. The time that Daniel prophesied is here. We are living in the latter days, and Jesus is coming soon.
Jesus Is Our Rock
One of the most profound messages of these verses is that you and I don’t have to worry about straightening out our world. We have almighty God, Adonai, who is in charge of the affairs of earth. Jesus is the rock, that stone, on which the true church is built. You’ll remember in Matthew that Jesus asked the apostle Peter, Whom do men say that I am? Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of God. And Jesus said, On this rock I will build my church (see 16:13-18). Christ was that rock (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Yes, the rock in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that eventually engulfs the entire world, a rock that will hit the feet, not the head-Babylon; not the chest and arms of silver- the Medes and the Persians; not the stomach and thighs of brass-Greece; not the legs of iron-Rome. They went out of existence. Instead, the rock strikes that group that revives at the time of the end-the ten toes, the restored Roman Empire. Thus, on January 1, 1981, when Greece became number ten, pictured by the ten toes on the image, we were given the clearest signal yet that we were headed toward the end times and would soon be ushered into an environment that would be ready for the return of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We can therefore reasonably conclude that the dream of Daniel chapter two reveals that the Kingdom of God will soon be established in connection with the second coming of our Savior. Daniel 2:44 states, and I repeat this for the sake of emphasis,
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
It’s all starting to happen. Just as the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream contained metals that degraded as they descended from gold to iron and clay, so will the world in which you and I live become increasingly apostate and the more our society at large will be governed by outright militarism as its only vehicle to control the violence that is present and that is yet to come.
What was the actual purpose of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? To show God’s sovereign rule over the affairs of men, leading to the future Gentile world domination and its ultimate destruction, to be replaced by a Kingdom and a King who would reign forever on earth (Matthew 6:10).
One of the reasons the Book of Daniel is so important is that it provides us with a complete scenario for the end times. And it all begins to wind down with the current revival of the Roman Empire, which I believe is the present-day European Union. After this episode is completed, there is no more. This will be the last empire, and it will continue into the latter days, with the Antichrist as the primary figure taking over the resurrected Roman Empire (Revelation 17:10). He will be a dictator of world proportions and will rule the world of his day just as King Nebuchadnezzar ruled his world as leader of Babylon.
But for those of us who know the whole story, we need not fear the perilous times yet to come because the stone [which] was cut out of the mountain without hands (2:45) is none other than the person of Jesus Christ, God’s anointed, our Savior, the Rock of our salvation. When He returns to gather His own, God will establish His Kingdom which will prevail in our world, and for a thousand years all beings on earth will be tremendously blessed under the personal reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Daniel 2: 46 - 49
Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
Daniel’s God Is Greatest!
Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects often fell on their faces before their leader, but for the king to subject himself to such a humble posture meant that Daniel had indeed gotten through to him. It also appeared that Nebuchadnezzar may have been making some spiritual progress, revealed by his act of contrition, admitting that Daniel’s God was the greatest god of all. The king made good on his promise that he would reward the wise one who met the demands of speaking and interpreting his dream, and Daniel was subsequently exalted throughout the realm.
But Daniel, always a man of integrity, did not forget his friends, and requested that the king give them key positions as well. His wish was granted. Daniel continued to be a person of great influence in the king’s court by being allowed to sit in the gate of the king-a position of judge, the equivalent of a Supreme Court justice and confidant of the king. Yet Daniel never compromised his standards in that foreign land.
Through it all, Daniel remained faithful to his God, continuing to speak the truth fearlessly, always serving notice to Nebuchadnezzar that God alone, not earthly kings, has the real power. God does not tremble at the sight of monarchs. If anything, He laughs at their rebellion, and in Psalm 2:1-4-a passage that pictures the battle of Armageddon-we read:
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
But kings will be kings. Seemingly a victim of short-term memory, Nebuchadnezzar goes on yet another rampage. During his recurring paranoia he commands that his servants turn up the heat in the palace furnace seven times hotter. It’s a futile attempt to destroy three Hebrew teenagers-surely one of the most fascinating and familiar stories in all the Bible, and a dramatic preview of the real wrath that is yet to come during the Tribulation hour-another mystery which we will see unsealed.