The Bible tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream in the second year of his reign. He asked some of his wise men to come and says, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut to pieces, and your house shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honour. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.” [Daniel 2:5-6] The bewildered wise men try to appeal to the king, that at least he might tell them the dream so they cqn interpret it. They say his request is impossible, that “there is no other that can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” This makes King Nebuchanezzar very angry and he gives a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon, amongst whom, were Daniel and his friends.
When Daniel hears about what has happened, other wise men are already being killed. Daniel 2:14 says that “… with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel asks Arioch why the king’s command is so urgent, and Arioch makes it known to Daniel. Then, Daniel asks the king for some time so that he might fulfil the king’s request. Having been granted his request, Daniel then seeks his friends so that they might together, inquire of God.
“Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” [Daniel 2:17-18]
God reveals the answer to Daniel, he tells the king, the command to destroy the wise men of Babylon is withdrawn, and Daniel is promoted. Daniel 2:29 then describes how “… Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.”
So, from this story, I see a description of God-fearing friendship, honour for others, and revelation of God.
1. THE FRIENDSHIP OF DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS
- Daniel discovered something, and shared the burden with his friends
- Daniel and his friends shared the burden as they gathered together to inquire of the Lord and ask his mercy
- When Daniel was promoted, he acknowledged his friends and their excellent qualities
- Thus, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were also appointed to judge provinces of Babylon so that now, more of God’s people were directing the affairs of this pagan land
The God-fearing friendship of Daniel and his friends is wonderful in many ways. These friends were able to encourage one another, to support each other in prayer and to make an impact for God in a pagan land. Galatians 6:2-5 speaks about bearing both our own load and carrying each other’s burdens. I believe Daniel and his friends showed a good example of this balance in their lives. They had their own relationships with God, and were satisfied in God alone. Yet, they were also available to carry burdens together when needed. They did not seem to be jealous of each other, but rejoiced in God and each one had in them, a spirit of excellence which was visible to others.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” [Galatians 6:2-5]
I also see an example of how we can bring the kingdom of God into our workplaces and situations. I think of the following two verses which describe the impact people of God can have when united in purpose, and in love.
- “Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
– [Ecclesiastes 4:9-11]
- “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” – [Acts 4:32]
2. WORDS AND ACTIONS OF HONOUR
Daniel indeed showed himself to be wise in the way He honoured God, but also respected his leaders and superiors on earth. When he speaks to the king, Daniel addresses him with the respect and honour due a king, while at the same time, also keeping true to the word of his God. In later chapters of Daniel, we see the kings of Babylon continue to respect Daniel, whether or not his interpretation of messages from God are favorable to their kingdom or not. They saw He had the spirit of God in him, and he also served well in his administration duties. Of course, there are also the examples of many prophets who suffered for God’s word. Yet, even as King Ahab hated Elijah and Micaiah, he recognised that the words they spoke were true, and of God.
Daniel also honoured his friends. He did not forget about them when he was promoted, but acknowledged them also. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego would bear great testimony to King Nebuchadnezzar in their province, most notably, when they refused to bow to the king’s idol. King Nebuchadnezzar, through Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, was exposed time and time again to situations reflecting the glory of the Hebrew God. Multiple times in the book of Daniel, we see him realise the glory of God and worship. Finally, King Nebuchadnezzar himself praises God with understanding of His unique sovereignty.
“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honoured Him who lies forever; For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” [Daniel 4:34, 37]
3. THE REVELATION OF GOD
Remember that at the beginning of this story, the wise men of Babylon had pleaded with King Nebuchadnezzar, saying:
“There is not a man of earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other that can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” [Daniel 2:10]
Daniel knows something these wise men do not know. He know that God hears, answers and gives understanding. When God gives him revelation of the nature and meaning of the king’s dream, Daniel declares:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And understanding to those who have understanding;
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.
I thank You and praise You,
O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”
– [Daniel 2:20-23]
When Daniel comes before King Nebuchadnezzar, he tells him multiple times that God is the revealer of all things, that the king’s authority and wealth is from God, and that God has shown the king what is to come.
“Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, ‘The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days…” [Daniel 2:27-28]
I find it interesting that Daniel says this to the king first. He knows that God has revealed the dream to him and he is certain of it. He does not wait for King Nebuchadnezzar to confirm he is correct, but simply tells him what he is confident of, that God knew his dream, and had revealed it, and its meaning. King Nebuchadnezzar also recognises God’s sovereignty, saying “… Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” I am also reminded of a passage in Revelation.
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them, and be their God.” [Revelation 21:3]
The wise men of Babylon say that the gods do not dwell with the flesh. In contrast, the God of Israel is not distant, but came in flesh to save His people – God dwelt amongst men as Jesus and paid the price for eternal salvation. Jesus, fully God and fully man, successfully completed the task given Him on the cross – victory over death and over sin, thus redeeming our relationship with God. This is what separated the God of Israel from the idols of the nations, and it is what continues to separate Christianity from the religions of the world. In no other religion is God’s relationship with us so personal. No other religion recognises the complete salvation offered in Christ. Many offer a half-story or compromise, but there is no compromise in Christ. He never changes, He does not become irrelevant, His word never fails, and He is exactly who He says He is. The revelation of God is not just that that He reveals dreams, or answers the prayers of His people, but also that He is a personal God who desires relationship with man.