Read Daniel 2:1-16. What crisis do the Hebrews face because of the dream that the Lord gives to the king?
Dreams were taken very seriously in the ancient world. When a dream seemed foreboding, it often indicated an impending disaster. Thus, it is understandable why Nebuchadnezzar becomes so anxious about a dream that, to make things even more ominous, he can no longer remember.
Babylonian experts believed that the gods could reveal the interpretation of dreams, but in the case of this dream in Daniel, there is nothing that the experts can do because the king has forgotten the dream. If the content of the dream were conveyed to them, they would come up with an interpretation to please the king. But in this unprecedented situation, when the dream experts are unable to tell the king what his dream is about, they are forced to admit that “there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh” (Dan. 2:11, NKJV).
Overwhelmed with frustration, the king commands that all the wise men of Babylon be killed. Such an atrocity was not unknown in the ancient world. Historical sources attest that, because of a conspiracy, Darius I had all the magi executed, and Xerxes put to death the engineers who had built a bridge that collapsed. When Nebuchadnezzar issues his decree, Daniel and his companions have just finished their training and been admitted into the circle of the king’s experts. For this reason, the death decree issued by the king applies to them as well. In fact, the original language suggests that the killing starts immediately, and Daniel and his friends will be executed next. But Daniel, with “counsel and wisdom” (Dan. 2:14), approaches Arioch, the man in charge of carrying out the executions. Eventually Daniel requests time from the king himself in order to solve the mystery of the dream. Interestingly, although the king has accused the magicians of trying to buy “time”, he promptly grants the “time” Daniel requests. Daniel certainly agrees with the magicians that no human being can solve such a mystery, but the prophet also knows of a God who can reveal both the content and the interpretation of the dream.
|Theologians talk about the “immanence” of God, that though distinct from the creation, God can still be so close to it. What does the fact that He gives King Nebuchadnezzar a dream teach us about just how immanent God can be to us? (See also Acts 17:28).|