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Lowell Brueckner

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The God Who Dwells with Flesh


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“… some stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire!” Hebrews 11:33, 34

Chapter 2:1-23                      The God Who Dwells with Flesh   

1.   In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. 
2.   Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 
3.   And the king said to them, "I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream." 
4.   Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation." 
5.   The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 
6.   But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation." 
7.   They answered a second time and said, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation." 
8.   The king answered and said, "I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— 
9.    if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation." 
10.  The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who can meet the king's demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 
11.  The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." 
12.  Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 

This ancient book is nicely ordered. We should expect no less from the Holy Spirit. The first chapter gives us the setting, the situation and the characters and now God has everything in place. He begins to reveal to the reader the prophetic content. Nebuchadnezzar shared the throne for a time with his infirm father, Nabopolassar, but as chapter two begins, his father is deceased, and Nebuchadnezzar begins the second year of his sole reign over the Babylonian Empire. Daniel and his companions begin the fifth year of their captivity.

The Lord is acting in His perfect way to carry out plans, designed before the foundation of the world, which will determine the eternal fate of millions. He invades the sub-conscious mind of the sleeping emperor, not at all awed by his earthly royalty. He sees him, as he truly is, just a mere son of dust, yet He has placed him at the head of a formidable kingdom, ruling over multiple nations.

God will speak to him in this second year of his reign. The dream penetrates to the core of his being and interrupts the king’s rest; the message is worthy of such a reaction. No doubt, this man has been trained with a royal education, but his human understanding comes up short, when he is confronted with heavenly truth. However, the Babylonian government has a Department of Spiritual Affairs. Although the Babylon religion is erroneous and idolatrous, we will give it credit for at least recognizing the importance of the spiritual world. The sophisticated, “civilized” systems of our western world today have fallen to the low level of trying to find answers and function totally in the material, physical realm. The stupidity and arrogance of modern man ignore the presence and superiority of spirits, both evil and good, over his affairs. Nebuchadnezzar calls in his spiritual advisors. 

The king is not bashful about showing his feelings to them, concerning his dream: “My spirit is troubled to know the dream."  With the answer from his experts, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation," Daniel begins to write in Aramaic. He continues in this way through 7:28, because his subject basically concerns the Gentile nations. It is written for the Jewish exiles, but also for the Babylonians, perhaps for Nebuchadnezzar himself.

The king conveys the sense that it is of the highest priority that he should get an interpretation for the dream. He makes it a matter of life and death, tyrannical as it may seem, but the dream’s significance, absolutely justifies him in doing so. If they cannot fulfill their role, then why waste resources to maintain their place in government: “If you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins.” He promises rewards, if they are able to do what he asks of them.

The King James and other versions suggest that the king forgot the details of the dream. I’m not sure that they are right. The English Standard Version that I will use throughout this study gives no such suggestion. It simply states, “The word from me is firm.” He is testing these officials. The king wants to rule out speculation and get a real, genuine answer that is above conjecture and playing with words.

Twice they ask Nebuchadnezzar to tell the dream and they will give him an interpretation. That is what he does not want… he has surely heard from clever men before. "I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time,… tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation." Even facing the death penalty, they cannot comply and they give no hope that they will ever be able to give an answer. It is not in them.  

They claim that the king is being unreasonable and so he is from any human, earthly standpoint: “No great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean.” Nebuchadnezzar is terribly angered by this insult and the officials have just brought themselves closer to their execution date.  

Before we move on, I want to ask you to join me in contemplating the final words of the Babylonian spiritual advisors: “No one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." Christianity puts an end to their assumption. There is a God, who dwelt among men, who still, not only abides with them, but is in them. This is what Christians claim and this is what Christ promised them. Are we living it? When we prove the Chaldeans were wrong,  is when the world will begin to believe, according to Jesus’ prayer, to which we have already referred in the last chapter (17:23). I will repeat again at this point that the world is waiting to see the supernatural presence of the living Christ in us… “I in them and You in me… that the world may know…” They are looking for spiritual reality and for answers from heaven.

The words of A. W. Tozer are too true for comfort: “The church has lost her testimony. She has no longer anything to say to the world. Her once robust shout of assurance has faded away to an apologetic whisper. She, who one time went out to declare, now goes out to inquire. Her dogmatic declaration has become a respectful suggestion, a word of religious advice, given with the understanding that it is after all only an opinion and not meant to sound bigoted. Pure Christianity, instead of being shaped by its culture, actually stands in sharp opposition to it.”

13.  So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 
14.  Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 
15.  He declared to Arioch, the king's captain, "Why is the decree of the king so urgent?" Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. 
16.  And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. 
17.  Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 
18.  and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 
19.  Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 
20.  Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 
21.  He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 
22.  he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 
23.  To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for 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 matter." 

If it is true that Daniel was a descendent of Hezekiah, although not an heir to the throne, he certainly would have been a wonderful king of Judah. It was the one nation on earth that looked to their king for true spiritual guidance. However, God reserved and promoted Daniel to a still higher position, where his influence could be felt on a worldwide basis. That’s right, the abduction from his home and family, the forced deportation to Babylon, the probable act of making him a eunuch, was a promotion from the throne room of heaven! To be used of God is the highest honor on earth and often carries a high price tag.

Because of Daniel’s proximity to the emperor, the captain of the guard probably arrived at his quarters first. Although he was already recognized for his extraordinary wisdom, its superiority over that of all the wise men of Babylon was not yet seen. We must also take his youth into account, as a reason why he did not appear with the first delegation.  Outside of the Chaldeans, whom Nebuchadnezzar had summoned, he may have been the first to hear of the death order. The matter was urgent, but apparently not immediate.

Young Daniel, around 20 years of age, spoke with “prudence and discretion” to Arioch, an elite military officer, who was close to the king, and also was his executioner. There was something very unique about this youth that commanded everyone’s respect. He inquired about the king’s order and the captain bothered to give him the details. He gained an audience with the king himself and, although he asked for more time (the king had accused the Chaldeans for buying time), with the request came the assurance that he would quickly give an answer. He received a stay of execution. After all and above all, the king desperately wanted to hear the interpretation of the dream.

Then, Daniel went back to the house, where he lived with his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. After the Lord’s disciples stood before the rulers of their day, they went to their fellow-Christians: “When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them” (Ac.4:23). Christians go to their own in time of need, without looking to the world for answers. There were not many godly people, to whom Daniel could resort in this foreign city, but according to divine principle, not many are needed. It states, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Mt.18:20). There were four in this case. Jesus did not mention rank or office, so the promise was open for all believers. Prayer is not limited to special people, but is the way that all God´s people may have an audience with Him.

“Daniel… told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” They met with God together and found their answer in prayer. The prayer meeting is the foundation of all true Christianity, and reflects the humility and dependency of the Christian heart. They pray, because their confidence is in God, not in themselves or in the world around them. Leonard Ravenhill used to say, “The self-confident do not want to pray, the self-sufficient do not need to pray, and the self-righteous cannot pray.” Now you know the reasons why the prayer meeting largely has been erased from the schedule of most churches. It is the same reason, for which we see so little of the supernatural in our times.

Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel.” When God plans a special work, He sets His people to praying. Then, and not before, He answers and begins to move through them. There is nothing complicated about true spiritual success; it comes as an answer to a praying people. Rest assured, nothing that happens outside of prayer is truly successful, no matter how good it may seem to the human eye.

See the triangular principle at work, as clearly stated in Romans 11:36: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” God sends the Spirit of prayer from heaven, His people pray in the Holy Spirit, and return praise to Him. All of God’s business is conducted in this way. “Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” Paul sealed the principle with an amen, the word that adds absolute authority, confirmation and fulfillment on earth to the heavenly promises of God.

As we will see at other times throughout this book, from verses 20 through 23, we will be privileged to read the prayer of praise that Daniel utters in the Holy Spirit. Strong and solid theology is the basis of praise and he reveals his as he prays.  He prayed that His name… that is, His attributes and character… should be expressed and lauded throughout eternity. He is the source of mental and physical strength; He is the creator of times and seasons and has the authority to bring about changes in them to suit His will. He is the sovereign and sole elector of human authority; all those with genuine wisdom and knowledge have received them from Him.

His true messengers will preach profound mysteries, that is, spiritual secrets, hidden from the world, but revealed to God’s people. Daniel is about to prove that to Nebuchadnezzar. While the world lies in darkness, He makes the darkness light, and though the king hides his dream from the wisest on earth, he cannot hide it from the enlightened Daniel. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn.1:5).  

He gives personal thanks and praise and recognizes the work of God in his own life. This gives great satisfaction and joy, knowing that he is now receiving assistance in his generation from the God of his fathers. Daniel has not forgotten the spiritual guides of Israel, beginning with the patriarchs. He has now the whole Old Testament history to look back on for encouragement. Their great God has given him wisdom and strength, not his by natural acquisition, which he might boast in, but straight from the throne room of heaven, so that he might glory in the Lord. It brings legitimate “joy unspeakable and full of glory”, in the inspired words of Apostle Peter (1 P.1:8).

The Lord has specifically answered this particular prayer. Daniel´s God is the personal God, who leans his ear towards each word expressed by his people and, literally, they receive the answer, for which they prayed. God gives Daniel the king’s dream and its interpretation and we will now watch as the drama unfolds in the rest of this chapter. I find this to be so wonderful and my heart fills with longing to see the church receive insight from heaven for the affairs that surround them. Is it possible to be so enlightened in these times? I see no reason that it should not be.


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