Wednesday 17 April 2013

Bible Book:

Daniel 4:19-27 Wednesday 17 April 2013


We've already read about King Nebuchadnezzar recounting hisdream of a felled tree and the remaining stump. Now, we hear thedream all over again, as retold and interpreted by Nebuchadnezzar'strusted Jewish adviser, Daniel. As with those pairs of seeminglyidentical pictures that sit side by side in puzzle books, the trickis to spot the differences.

Tension is in the air. Daniel is dumbfounded and dismayed bywhat he has heard. He knows that the dream represents imminentdisaster for a man who holds the fate of the world's nations in hishand - and Daniel is the fearful messenger. For all Daniel'sprominent position at court, and Nebuchadnezzar's undoubted faithin him, Daniel is still a slave, powerless and vulnerable.

Perhaps with a very human instinct of self-preservation, Danielsoftens the words and meaning of the dream, ignoring the fact that,in the king's own telling, the lesson of the dream was being playedout publically and humiliatingly in order that "all who live mayknow that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of mortals"(Daniel 4:17). The message now becomes a morepersonal one between the Most High and Nebuchadnezzar (verse26).

More significantly, Daniel assures the king that his power willbe returned to him when he learns his lesson. This is not a messageof utter destruction (it will last only seven years) so long as thefallen king acts charitably and generously to the poor andvulnerable (like Daniel and the exiled Israelites?).

Daniel adds divine grace to the meaning of the dream and revealsa quality within Yahweh's nature that perhaps is not apparent inother gods with whom Nebuchadnezzar normally deals. Yahweh isportrayed as the God of the second chance. Maybe this is whyNebuchadnezzar trusts Daniel - because he has that ability of thewise to look through the facts of a situation to the possibilitiesthat lie beyond them.

To Ponder

  • How far do you think you sometimes water down the Christianmessage in order to avoid being too unpopular with our friends andcommunities?
  • What do you say, do or support that is 'prophetic' about theway God wishes the world and its people to be?

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