When we last left Daniel, he and his three friends had just graduated at top of their class in Babylon’s three-year cultural immersion program. Fully and respectfully engaged with the culture of their new home and yet not blindly assimilated, together they have already made an impression as to the power and presence of the living God – their God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this point, their witness has only been limited to one man – the guard who oversaw their training and diet regiment. But now their audience is about to get a whole lot bigger.
Nebuchadnezzar, the conqueror of Daniel’s nation and the king of Babylon, commands the world’s greatest super power. History records the incredible and impressive wealth and accomplishments of his reign. Among them is believed to have been the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The walls Nebuchadnezzar constructed around the capital city of his great empire were 56 miles long, encompassing 200 square miles of land. These walls were so thick the Babylonians had chariot races on top of the walls.
From the outside, Nebuchadnezzar’s reign looks mighty and secure. However, the second chapter of Daniel offers a more intimate – an insider’s–perspective. All is not well in Babylon. The king is not sleeping well. Nebuchadnezzar is being haunted by a recurring dream – the details of which he may not be able to remember but it’s impact he definitely cannot forget. Underneath his royal robes and golden crown, the king’s temperament is one of fear and insecurity.
Like any effective ruler, Nebuchadnezzar calls upon his team of advisers to help. These “wise men” of the royal court fulfilled the role occupied today by counselors, therapists, economists and analysts. Despite their eagerness to assist, the king’s personal think-tank is soon put in a difficult bind as Nebuchadnezzar withholds the data they need to do their job. As they complain about the impossibility of their king’s demands, Nebuchadnezzar’s patience snaps. In a fit of impulsive rage, the king orders all of his advisory staff to be put to death. This includes Daniel.
How does Daniel respond? What does Daniel do in the face of the impossible?
What is the meaning and significance of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
Does this dream have implications for more than the ancient kingdom of Babylon?
Join us for the answers to these questions this Sunday. As we dive deeper into the book of Daniel we will learn what it looks like to be witnesses for the Kingdom. We will discover how, by the grace and leading of the Holy Spirit, to act out the vision of God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven. Daniel and his friends will not respond like everyone else – both in their attitude and in their actions. Through their response, may we glean how we can and we should react to situations in which we face the impossible and how we can come through to the other side. Together may we also continue to be reoriented to see the challenges put before us as opportunities to reflect and share the truth and blessings of the Gospel.
Grace to you!