Bible Studies for Life — October 25, 2015
Scripture: Daniel 2:13-23, 26-28a
Have you ever been asked to explain some issue brought to you by a friend or acquaintance when the questioner will not explain to you what the issue really is? If so, it was obvious to you that you could not explain when you did not know the circumstances involved.
King Nebuchadnezzar lived in a time when much attention was placed on seeking the meaning of dreams so he had a coterie of magicians, enchanters and astrologers to interpret his dreams or find some meaning for him from the position of the stars. When he called them together, he expected them first of all to tell him what his dream was and then to interpret it for him.
When they persisted in telling the king that they could not describe the dream, he became angry and ordered the execution of all of them. David and his three friends were to be included in this punishment even though they were not among the wise men against whom the king became angry (2:1-12).
When problems arise, seek to understand what the issue actually is (2:13-16). Word had come to Daniel that the king had issued the decree that these wise men were to be executed because they could not describe and interpret his dream. Daniel spoke with “wisdom and tact” to Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, to discover why this was ordered. Arioch explained the problem that the king had with the wise men who could not explain and interpret his dream.
Since David and his three friends had “entered the king’s service” (1:19), David went directly to the king and asked for time to consider the king’s request so that “he might interpret the dream for him.” Often when trouble comes to us, a major contributing factor may either be misinformation or lack of information. Therefore it is essential to be sure of the problem before taking action to correct it.
A biblical example of conflict resolution is revealed in the judgment of the Sanhedrin against Peter and the other apostles for their testimony about Jesus. When the Sanhedrin heard their defense, “they were furious and wanted to put them to death.” But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, insisted that they should desist from their action and give time to see if God was with the disciples. “His speech persuaded them” and they punished the disciples but did not kill or imprison them (Acts 5:27-40).
Pray persistently that God’s will might he made known (2:17-23). Daniel met with his friends to explain what the king had ordered. He “urged them to plead for mercy from the God of haven concerning this mystery…. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.”
In my early ministry I came across a book written by Albert Edward Day, An Autography of Prayer, which spoke eloquently to me. He described some marvelous answers to prayer. In his chapter “Authentic Experience,” he declared, “It is God, the real God, the loving God, the God of action, the God who Himself sweat drops of blood in a midnight garden and shed drops of blood on a cross — it is that God who must make Himself known to you and exert Himself for you, or you are lost and everything is lost. God did come and let me know He had come” (p.30).
This was Daniel’s experience as well. When the shared prayer meeting with his friends ended, he knew both the story of the king’s dream and what it meant. He went to Arioch 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.”
Acknowledge God as the source of the answer (2:26-28a). When Arioch took Daniel to the king, Daniel was questioned about his ability to describe what the king saw in his dream and what it meant. Daniel quite properly declared that no human interpreters can fulfill Nebuchadnezzar’s request, “but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries: He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the days to come.” The actual telling of the story and meaning of the dream follows in Daniel 2:29-47.
The king had previously acknowledged that Daniel and his friends were endowed with “wisdom and understanding” to a much greater degree than the coterie of wise men (1:18-20). The victory of God’s answer to the prayers of the four young men as well as his response to Day’s need for help is powerful testimony to what God can do. However, in Day’s next chapter he points out that “along with these answers and assurances and realizations came many rejections and denials and puzzles and problems” (p.32).
The centrality of Day’s prayer life was “to set God at the center of your attention; to open yourself to the illumination of His knowledge about yourself and your situation; to create within you such sympathy for the divine interests that you will fall in love with Him and live for Him and live in Him!” (p.45). Day calls this the “God consciousness” that keeps one persistently in prayer for right relationship with God. This is our challenge for developing our prayer life and finding enrichment in life just as Daniel did in his prayer.
John Howell is academic dean emeritus at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
Bible Studies for Life is a curriculum series from LifeWay Christian Resources.
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