Friday, September 25, 2009

From Death Row to Governor

Things happen fast, sometimes.

Daniel and his friends are condemned to die, along with all the wise men and all the government workers.

Daniel and his friends pray.

God comes through.

26 The king asked Daniel (renamed in Babylonian, Belteshazzar), "Are you sure you can do this—tell me the dream I had and interpret it for me?"
27 -28 Daniel answered the king, "No mere human can solve the king's mystery, I don't care who it is—no wise man, enchanter, magician, diviner. But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries, and he has solved this one. He is letting King Nebuchadnezzar in on what is going to happen in the days ahead. This is the dream you had when you were lying on your bed, the vision that filled your mind:

Daniel tells the king the dream, the meaning and how it applies to the king. The king's reaction is dramatic, and immediate.

46 -47 When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel's honor. He said to Daniel, "Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings. And he solves all mysteries, I know, because you've solved this mystery."

The results for Daniel, and through him his buddies, were equally dramatic.

48 -49 Then the king promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts, and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men. At Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to administrative posts throughout Babylon, while Daniel governed from the royal headquarters.

Now Daniel is the governor. Remember, he is still a very young man. But he seems to adapt to his new position with grace and wisdom.

And already in his story we see God getting glory nationally and internationally as a result of this young man, following God with integrity and diligence.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

God comes through


Daniel got the interpretation of the dream sometime during the night.

As soon as it was daylight, Daniel goes to his executioner.

24 So Daniel went back to Arioch, who had been put in charge of the execution. He said, "Call off the execution! Take me to the king and I'll interpret his dream."

There was a lot riding on this statement. If it is true, everybody lives. If Daniel is making stuff up, everybody dies. But then, everyone was under sentence of death anyway.

Even the executioner is excited.

25 Arioch didn't lose a minute. He ran to the king, bringing Daniel with him, and said, "I've found a man from the exiles of Judah who can interpret the king's dream!"

A VERY unlikely source! All the kings wise men, all his wizards, all his trusted associates - had not come through. Now some kid from a far away land? This might prove interesting...

26 The king asked Daniel (renamed in Babylonian, Belteshazzar), "Are you sure you can do this—tell me the dream I had and interpret it for me?"

Daniel is straight. This is not a time for political correctness. He lays it out, just like it is...

27 -28 Daniel answered the king, "No mere human can solve the king's mystery, I don't care who it is—no wise man, enchanter, magician, diviner. But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries, and he has solved this one. He is letting King Nebuchadnezzar in on what is going to happen in the days ahead. This is the dream you had when you were lying on your bed, the vision that filled your mind:
29 -30 "While you were stretched out on your bed, O king, thoughts came to you regarding what is coming in the days ahead. The Revealer of Mysteries showed you what will happen. But the interpretation is given through me, not because I'm any smarter than anyone else in the country, but so that you will know what it means, so that you will understand what you dreamed.
31 -36 "What you saw, O king, was a huge statue standing before you, striking in appearance. And terrifying. The head of the statue was pure gold, the chest and arms were silver, the belly and hips were bronze, the legs were iron, and the feet were an iron-ceramic mixture. While you were looking at this statue, a stone cut out of a mountain by an invisible hand hit the statue, smashing its iron-ceramic feet. Then the whole thing fell to pieces—iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold, smashed to bits. It was like scraps of old newspapers in a vacant lot in a hot dry summer, blown every which way by the wind, scattered to oblivion. But the stone that hit the statue became a huge mountain, dominating the horizon. This was your dream.

God came through!

Daniel was faithful to give praise and glory to God privately, and acknowledge God publically.

Every day this week I have met believers. The shoeshine man called to go into the military as a chaplain. The man sitting next to me who prays for a pastor we had in Bakersfield 44 years ago, who now has cancer. The believer born in Moldavia who is carrying out his profession with compassion and integrity. The man I met at the grand BBQ last night who told me his story of reading the Bible through 3 times in 3 years and how it changed his life.

God's people. Everywhere. Giving praise and glory to God privately, and acknowledging God publically.

Under Sentence of DEATH!


Daniel was young.

And he was sentenced to die!

Talk about dramatic!

He gathers up courage and goes to see the king.

"Could you commute the sentence for a few days?" he asks. The king grants his wish.

He goes back to the dorm and huddles his buddies in prayer.

The good book doesn't say, but I have a feeling that prayer meeting was more Pentecostal than Presbyterian!

19 -23 That night the answer to the mystery was given to Daniel in a vision.
Daniel blessed the God of heaven....

Well, YEAH!

Yesterday the king was tossing and turning in his sleep.

Tonight young Daniel is tossing and turning in his sleep.

Tommorow he is to be executed.

But God came through!

and Daniel's exhuberance was heartfelt...

"Blessed be the name of God,
forever and ever.
He knows all, does all:
He changes the seasons and guides history,
He raises up kings and also brings them down,
he provides both intelligence and discernment,
He opens up the depths, tells secrets,
sees in the dark—light spills out of him!
God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise!
You made me wise and strong.
And now you've shown us what we asked for.
You've solved the king's mystery."

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Senate paige goes in to the Prez...


Daniel is a peon.

A rising star, to be sure, but a nobody. A kid yanked from his homeland, with some promise to be trained into a good, useful government worker someday.

He is going about his business, trying to keep his integrity together in a very pagan kingdom.

What he doesn't know, is that over in the Palace, the king is tossing in his sleep. Not one night, but night after night. And we all know, when the king doesn't sleep, he gets grumpy.
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1 -3 In the second year of his reign, King Nebuchadnezzar started having dreams that disturbed him deeply. He couldn't sleep.
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He called in all the Babylonian magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and fortunetellers to interpret his dreams for him. When they came and lined up before the king, he said to them, "I had a dream that I can't get out of my mind. I can't sleep until I know what it means."
4 The fortunetellers, speaking in the Aramaic language, said, "Long live the king! Tell us the dream and we will interpret it."
5 -6 The king answered the fortunetellers, "This is my decree: If you can't tell me both the dream itself and its interpretation, I'll have you ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and your homes torn down.
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(Did I tell you the sleepless king was getting VERY GRUMPY?)
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But if you tell me both the dream and its interpretation, I'll lavish you with gifts and honors. So go to it: Tell me the dream and its interpretation."
7 They answered, "If it please your majesty, tell us the dream. We'll give the interpretation."
8 -9 But the king said, "I know what you're up to—you're just playing for time. You know you're up a tree. You know that if you can't tell me my dream, you're doomed. I see right through you—you're going to cook up some fancy stories and confuse the issue until I change my mind. Nothing doing! First tell me the dream, then I'll know that you're on the up and up with the interpretation and not just blowing smoke in my eyes."
10 -11 The fortunetellers said, "Nobody anywhere can do what you ask. And no king, great or small, has ever demanded anything like this from any magician, enchanter, or fortuneteller. What you're asking is impossible unless some god or goddess should reveal it—and they don't hang around with people like us."
12 -13 That set the king off. He lost his temper and ordered the whole company of Babylonian wise men killed. When the death warrant was issued, Daniel and his companions were included. They also were marked for execution.
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OK. REALLY grumpy.
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He decided that all his cabinet, all his advisors, everybody even preparing to have a place in his government, should be killed. There were lots of people in the kindom. He would just start over.
So Daniel was jerked from his family, exiled from his country, and now he is going to die.
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The book of Daniel is going to be a very short book!
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14 -15 When Arioch, chief of the royal guards, was making arrangements for the execution, Daniel wisely took him aside and quietly asked what was going on: "Why this all of a sudden?"
15 -16 After Arioch filled in the background, Daniel went to the king and asked for a little time so that he could interpret the dream.
17 -18 Daniel then went home and told his companions Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what was going on. He asked them to pray to the God of heaven for mercy in solving this mystery so that the four of them wouldn't be killed along with the whole company of Babylonian wise men.
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Daniel goes to the king, then he goes to the KING OF KINGS!
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What a privilege we have to go to the King above all kings, and lay out our concerns and requests before Him!