NOTHING IS SECULAR
Lord, thank You for being wherever I need You to be.
Read DANIEL 2:1–23
2 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers[a] to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.[b]”
4 Then the astrologers answered the king,[c] “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”
10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
a Daniel 2:2 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 4, 5 and 10
b Daniel 2:3 Or was
c Daniel 2:4 At this point the Hebrew text has in Aramaic, indicating that the text from here through the end of chapter 7 is in Aramaic.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Think of situations in which you regularly find yourself where God seems to be absent. Thank him that he is in fact present.
Yesterday’s notes suggested that believers should be fully engaged with the unbelieving society in which God has placed them. Today we see how dangerous this can be! The Babylonian court is a place of “fear, helplessness, and brutality” (Dale Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, 39), and Daniel and friends are in peril through no fault of their own. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar has forgotten the details of his dream, or perhaps he remembers it all and is simply testing the magicians’ claims to supernatural knowledge. In either case, his demand is entirely unreasonable (5–10).
Note the unwitting irony of verse 11: the God of heaven does indeed graciously involve himself in human affairs, as the prayers and praises of verses 18–23 demonstrate. I remember a church worship-group meeting in which the leader of the group, who was personnel manager in a local factory, began the meeting by asking us to pray about a dilemma he faced. He had no alternative but to dismiss a hitherto trustworthy employee for a petty theft which the worker denied but of which he was clearly guilty. We prayed, and one of the group wondered whether the employee suffered from a particular medical condition which would explain both the theft and the loss of memory. This turned out to be the case. The employee kept his job and was helped with his condition. Our worship-group leader was greatly encouraged that his secular job was as important to God as his role in the music group.
Our God is Lord over the palace, the government building, the boardroom, the court room, the shop floor, the surgery, the residential care home, the parish council, and the community center. He has placed his people in various places to be a blessing by our conduct and by letting God loose in these contexts through our prayers.
Commit to praying regularly for God’s blessing and guidance in a situation in which no one else recognizes God’s presence.
Lord, You are the God who comes through for Your people during pressing situations when we desperately need You.