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DANIEL - CASE IN POINT
AND DEEDS OF DIVINE DYNAMIC
ARE COMPANIONS IN GRACE
Daniel 2 is a beautiful example of
the divinely given
delicacy of discipline,
love of one's neighbour,
courage, faith and the abundance of life in the Lord,
which so contrasts and so aptly, with the deserted and abandoned relics of life
which fund themselves on pleasure, self-assertion, grabbing,
squirming evasiveness or lordly dominion.
It is possible to lose sight of this in the sheer drama of the events. When however you contrast the appeal to heaven on the part of the four exiled friends, with the fearful rummaging of the wise men of Babylon, their evasive protestations and harried weakness, you have a tableau that in its precise way, is spectacular. Only those who sought the Lord of heaven for mercy and an answer to the riddle of the King, could hope to find the answer. Was not his command no less than this: TELL ME what I dreamt and what it meant, BOTH! and this he did, so that their integrity will be sure. No blindfolding by culture would be his: either they had access to wisdom that was worth its salt, or they did not. If they did, why then, TELL ME what I dreamt, and then you shall answer! Such was the word of Nebuchadnezzar to the establishment of the wise!
While this part of Daniel has been considered before, it is a special phase of it which concerns us here, in this volume on deserts and deserts, delicacies and desiccations. With what grace Daniel had made himself individually known as a man of sensitivity and realism both, to the chief of the eunuchs whom the King had set over them! His early concern about food was not in the interests of pleasure or gourmandising, available to those in such cadet positions for agile and wise work in the Kingdom. What it had sought was to use captives for sophistication and polish, not for mere oppression, when they had real talent.
By abstaining from wine and keeping to a less meaty diet, however, despite the flashy glamour of potential greatness, Daniel sought to avoid excesses and to be more supple for service to the Lord. Whatever the exterior, the interior remained the same. He wanted to serve the true and living God, and if the follies of Israel had given them a discipline that led to Babylon, God did not change, and His ways were not altered. With these, and these only would Daniel abide, in the very presence of the living God.
Would this change of diet to one so limited, even if for such a purpose, however, allow him to shine in strength and comeliness before the King ? That was the question" and with the wisdom which seemed to characterise him, a lowly suppleness before the winds, together with a stout heart in the midst of the tempest, like a swaying tree, which nevertheless did not move from its root position, Daniel answered well.
He proposed a simple TEST, and the steward or carer set over them assented, no doubt with due regard to the favour of the Chief already mentioned. IF they looked and did well on such a diet, then why not ? It was not what went in, which concerned the king, surely, but what would result from it! The test was a great success in which the inherent spirituality of these godly young cadets no doubt was no less potent than any dietary change. Thus brought to the attention of the one supervising them, they were now the more likely to be heeded, even in so dangerous and perilous a situation as that which developed.
The king had become weary of talk and imposition, pretence and misuse of function for selfish preservation and imposing appearance; and he decided that enough was enough. He would not ALLOW them to philosophise and pretend any more, this whole caste of calamitous talkers in his domain, the wise men. He would MAKE them measure up to what we would call scientific test. IF they were so wise, then let them show the power of their wisdom, its strength in practical situations; for after all, did the king himself not have to rule in practical situations! Let them therefore, instead of playing what in our time would be called the psychiatrist (and hence talking with endless theories, each so sure that it can scarcely be challenge, each so challenged that it can scarcely be done), or what we might describe as the guru, let them TELL HIM WHAT HE DREAMT!
Then, with such proven powers as these (for who could LEAK the knowledge of the king's dream if he kept it to himself, but if heaven held such knowledge - the king might have thought - then fine, it would be good to have access! There seems to have been an underlying seeking, however muted, in this realm, on the part of the king; and small wonder in such a multi-religious city).
If then they could find THAT, that practical reality of what he had privately dreamt, then what ? Then the truly wise could perhaps the more truly tell him what in the world (or out of it), his upsetting dream MEANT!
The procedure had some merit. Daniel, having learned of the king's command to destroy all the wise men, saving only the case where REAL wisdom showed itself in real answers to a simple and practical question, asked along this line: WHY IS IT TO URGENT! this tell or kill dilemma!
The Captain of the king's guard, he also was most approachable, even when his regally given orders involved seeking to kill Daniel and his friends, along with the rest of the 'wise' men. He TOLD him what the trouble was, instead of simply carrying out orders, in the way Nuremberg has made so obnoxious where it might not have been realised by some before. He was approachabl.
In the Lord's mercies, this Captain intimated the problem area, what had roused Nebuchadnezzar's wrath, activated his killer command. Thus did he give to this talented, young godly person, an opportunity to seek the Lord. That too is one reason why those physicians err, in general, when they seek to avoid telling patients, on occasion, of this or that fatal or potentially deadly thing, since it is when the patients knows the problem, that if godly, they are ready to approach God with knowledge, and to seek healing.
Thus once again, the peculiar disposition and godliness of Daniel seems to have had its effect in allowing him more liberty, more opportunity to show what he could do, than might have been the case. Being brought into favour and goodwill, as we read, relative to the Chief of the Eunuchs seems not to have stopped there; but the dignity and devotion to God of this select group of young Jews in exile seems to have touched hearts and won regard, so that with integrity and resource evident, they were given scope.
In this case, in human terms, it might well have meant that difference between life and death! How beautiful is a holy, godly and meek life, adorned with conscientious desire for purity and zeal, not as if these lives were perfect, but their God is perfect, and in Him they abide. Such things are as perfume poured forth, and their fragrance (cf. II Corinthians 2:14) speaks well of its source.
Indeed, if the Lord had not Himself acted, it would certainly have had that fatal result. But God, as some without faith never realise, not even if a resurrection is before their eyes, is the ONE WHO ACTS for those who wait for Him and remember Him in His ways, rejoicing (Isaiah 64:4-5).
Many are those of the people of God who, like this author, have seen or experienced various miracles, whether physical or spiritual, moral or vocational, international or local; but to many even witnessing such things do not respond. They close like prodded shell-fish. They shut the door. Such things the unbeliever frequently regards with dim concern, being so disposed. God is indeed the One who acts; but these actions may be for those in distress for His word, or in duress for His testimony, as well as those blocked in His service, and while many are the physical miracles as well, yet this world does not quite like the feel of the faith, lacking it!
Nebuchadnezzar himself, great king in a great kingdom at that time, even though there was to be before his very face a miracle which he frankly REQUIRED in order to be satisfied, and even though AT THE TIME, he responded abundantly, yet did not change in his heart. Far more was to happen to him; but amazingly, as far as Daniel was concerned, it was a litany in life, one of deliverance. If he was to be exiled as a slave, then prepared by God, he would be a preacher of righteousness in word and way, and his escapes would be a goad to the unbeliever, and a challenge to all.
Oppressed (in exile ?), but of course. Suppressed ? not at all, for he expressed in obedience the power of God and the purity in great measure, and God used this, as if a prison would become a pulpit!
How often does a calamity become a triumph, a rout for the faithful! It was so with Stephen, as in Acts 7, that faithful servant of God, stoned to death for his valour in testifying of the truth. In that mortal moment, he was to be found giving a glorious testimony, as may be read in detail; and there was an arresting and impactive shining in the face as it faced death, and he cried out that he saw the Son of man at the right hand of God, while praying that they might not have this sin of murder, laid to their charge. Thus, witnessing such things, others, perhaps like Saul to become that great missionary activist and apostle, St Paul, would be influenced.
Thus whether by death or by life, the virtue of faith is made apparent in fearless passage from mortality to heaven, or in deliverance.
In this case, it was the latter. God chooses, man observes.
What then did Daniel for his own part do in the face of this deadly challenge from the king ?
Aware of the case now, Daniel told his friends and they petitioned not a lord or professor but the LORD! They went to the only One who could tell them, since the king made it a test. This was their distinctive, and in this they merely acted as all the people of God should act, whether as there, surrounded with the false impositions of merely formal faith, which devolved around the imaginations of its professors, or in some more sober body.
Indeed, this is one of the so chaste and delightful delicacies of the whole affair. They did what one would expect, instead of what so often is done that in the prophets, say of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Habakkuk, you begin to wonder when there will be a broader sprinkling of those who not merely draw near to God with their lips, but with their hearts (Isaiah 29:12): who will be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord (Isaiah 1, 52:11).
It is potent because it is simple, it is impressive because it follows the set ROUTE 1, which is the transcontinental highway of holiness (Isaiah 35, I Thessalonians 5). It is not excessive, as in formalistic exaggerations calling attention to oneself (as in Matthew 23's exhibit on the Pharisees); nor is it impractical, but it meets practicalities with power from above, and is careful to conceal anything which might look needlessly like pride, and far more does it show nothing of braggadocio.
Had not that highly formal but nevertheless impactive prayer of Solomon, right back at the time of the dedication of the Temple, which he wisely differentiated from the Lord, as not even a necessary place for Him to dwell, who is the Creator, but a practical scene for seeking His face in practical matters of trouble, grief and calamity, for His sovereign sway and answer (I Kings 8): had it not shown that God is the One who acts! It was not a matter of poetry merely, but practicality. It covered grief and horror, help and need. The site was to be a symbol of covenantal mercies from God, who can be sought and found, whose way is not obscure where faith is present; and it was towards this symbolism that the reality of God - not in some obscure way, but in terms of His own promises and assured presence - could be sought.
Just as it was not the temple itself, for God requires no such thing, but the realities it so carefully enshrined in symbol, God as given to man, as revealed for him, but to that same Lord Himself that in the end, the people had to turn. Solomon on that great day of the temple dedication, had also shown that this same Lord regards the heart in the petitioner, and knowing all, acts as is fitting (cf. I Kings 8:38-39). There was nothing automated or programmatic about it. It was personal as is man, and as is his God. Yet, for the people who were in faith seeking, then whatever prayer, whatever supplication was to be made, by the whole people or by an individual (I Kings 8:38), with the realities architecturally symbolised there in view, and ultimately to be shown as symbolic of salvation in Christ (cf. Hebrews 8-10, Isaiah 49-55): this would the Lord regard.
This God, as Solomon so stressed, was not limited to this or that site; but the site was designated in His name. Thus one did not have to be near it, but near the God who had so testified of Himself. What it held, He gave; and what it showed, was but the willingness of His heart to meet His people, covenantally incorporated in Himself, divinely directed as to their approach to His mercy through sacrifice, appointed and apportioned their place, as one is set in a house to which one has gained entry. Daniel did not need to have the temple at hand; it was enough that he knew the One, so carefully expressed by revelation, of whom it spoke, and spoke to Him! It was not the temple per se which defined the truth, but the truth which created the symbols to remind and attest.
Nothing could hide from God; nothing could obviate His power or deactivate His concern for His people. Would He not become a 'little sanctuary' for those in Babylon, and had He not said so! (Ezekiel 11:16).
The actions of these wise man cadets in Babylon, excerpted from the passages of their normal script, in Jerusalem, or Judah, from their own culture and training, and placed in this defiled and debased, if somewhat sophisticated and exalted culture in Babylon, were indeed divinely covered, spiritually weighed and weighted, and given a full measure of divine support.
So did one find when one had to go to the USA to a foreign culture, and a strange ecclesiastical situation; for God is the Lord of all, and nothing is too hard for Him. His covenant is decisive, but distance does not limit it, nor is His eye shut to those afflicted. Those who do not like miracle are doubtless, as a simple matter of practical fact, troubled because miracles are frequent, and they attest what is not desired; for to the ungodly, they may seem like the typhoon Katrina, ready to destroy their godless subterfuge for life, and show up their ways by inundation of power; and they tend to tremble in their presence, and externally to evidence this inward grief by bluster. Yet God is still there, and unmoved, can move mountains (Mark 11:23ff.). So does deliverance come, as one has found in multiplied instances, where abiding in Him has been the necessary path, and loss the necessary result, whether inflicted by falling denomination or others. It may come with more persecution; but the way is never blocked, though all hell seek to close it.
The acts of God are what one would expect, in marvel, though He beautifully chooses the path of His own wisdom; they are neither slavishly programmatic, as if one were LORD and TOLD Him, nor are they divorced from spiritual submissiveness, attested once and for all to the uttermost by Jesus Christ at Gethsemane; but as the heart goes in the way of the Lord, so does the Lord go with the heart, and help the head and guide the feet (Proverbs 3:3-5, Acts 5:31).
Such was the life of Daniel and his friends, and so focussed were many eyes on them, as they did the spectacular in the midst of their exile, that they broadcast and gave TV anachronistically, in their own way! This is what came, and we must realise that this fits with the whole history of the servants of God, and that just because many are indeed murdered, this in no way reflects, as a temporary end for them on this earth, any more than one phase and facet of their living. Much precedes even such villainies as this; and much follows.
Thus, with this slimline spirituality, these four young Jewish exiles were nevertheless passionate in the presence of the Lord, pouring out their need to FIND the ANSWER (as cadet wise men in the regime of royalty) to the question which in their case, was driving them to the sublimities of God Himself.
What did the king dream ? and with it came the subordinate challenge, what was the meaning! It remained the second challenge, even though its case was being protected by the fidelity required for the former challenge: WHAT DID THE KING DREAM! That question, it was not one for dreamers, but for disciples of the living Lord.
THE ANSWER – DANIEL THE COURIER
What then happens ? Daniel finds the answer from the God of heaven. You can see his young heart heaving with relief, with delight in the majesty of that Lord who does in fact KNOW IT ALL, and who can meet any test for those whose lives He adopts, as the case may require. In these words of his, found in Daniel 2:20-22, faithfully recorded, you see that simplicity and strength, that delicacy of regard and robustness of faith toward the Lord, like a soul breathing, inhaling and exhaling at the temp of life:
"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 that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
"Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
"Daniel answered and said:
"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 knowledge 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."
Here is wisdom and relief, grace outpoured and felt, testimony not with the false exuberance of putting on a show, as is the way with some and has been for some millenia, but realisticallly buoyant because its base and basis is exalted, even coming from God Himself. Light dwells with Him, says Daniel, because this light has penetrated into the potential squalor of a mini-death camp, into an ignominy of exclusion from life on this earth, on the charge of mere imposture. It was this fate which these cadets would have shared with the more exalted practitioners of 'wisdom', who strutted in their official posts in the realm, had the Lord not been known, available and the ONE WHO ACTS! .
It is THIS GOD who changes the times and the seasons, Daniel here declares. He is seen to do so, since empires themselves, so far from being the imperious ultimates as which many of them like to pose, are in fact under the sway of His sovereignty. If and when He pleases, He can allow them to show off their swagger, the better to instruct this world and its denizens; but when the time for the come-uppance arrives, to show their dismal inadequacy, because such it really is nearly always because of faithlessness and swagger, strength intoxicating or philosophy awry, then they are dismissed. It was this which Daniel's interpretation showed, when he told the king his dream, for God had outlined in the format of a statue, a whole succession of empires to come, and even characterised them, as He did far more later, once the conceptions were established (in Daniel 7 and 8, yes and 9).
We follow as Daniel continues to exult in his enraptured speech. The Lord knows what is in the darkness, because the darkness is as the light before Him, before whom the entire realm of the existent is His own product, except for the sin. This, being an added attribute where and to the extent that that miraculous marvel of freedom exists, is always a possible by-product of the creation itself. It alone is responsible, but even in that darkness, HE KNOWS, for the entirety is not beyond the God who made it, but it has the facility of freedom as an attribute to enable demonstration of the realities, theirs and His! In the finding of all these things, the province is His. He KNOWS what is in the darkness, however black! He knows even what is in the king's heart and head; and as to the former, much more was to follow!
It is this God who gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. It is not, as from the days of the serpent-induced fall in Eden on, some question of exercising puny, deputed gifts with some arrogant expectation (gifts but specks of dust, compared with the power of the Creator, who thoroughly and comprehensively has them in His own hand, infinite beyond like a towering mountain chain, above an abyss, which exalts itself because next door is an even deeper abyss, as if THIS were a testimony to its height!). It is not and never was some question of being like God in knowledge and understanding, standing on the pitifully vulnerable and delimited base, like a dancing dog, intoxicated with the applause. What God gives is donated; what He does not give is His own eternal status of Almighty, to what has both to begin, and be defined, delimited and enabled by Himself.
Even regeneration BEGINS, and though the result never ends, since life eternal is the gift (Romans 6:23, Titus 3:5-7), what begins is not God, and what is defined from above is under Him, a creation; for it is like a hat presuming to put its owner in the box, what man presumes in this satanic confusion, and inane desire which has afflicted, as it does afflict, so many.
How would the bounded finite even approach the unlimited, or how the delimited seek deity status, when its ways are chosen and decreed by the One whose is infinity, who is beyond it, since nothing touches Him whose it is, from eternity; or how would that liberty without licence be compared to a licensed subordination, since He is His own everlasting licence.
It is well that this licence is love, since if it had not been so, there would be neither salvation nor deliverance.
Daniel was not deceived. In awe and faith he approached God as did they all. Thus Daniel, believing in this deity of power and eternity, along with his three friends, spells out the realities in this prayer which we have been considering and is set out above: before proceeding to the captain, to tell him of the miracle. He now KNEW the king's dream! Yes, murder could stop, for life beyond man, this had spoken!
Again, the noble graces and realistic integrity of these young cadets, and of Daniel in particular, are helpful to them, since the Captain does not have to ponder the advisability, or other, of telling the king of this CLAIM: if Daniel has said he has it, then he has it.
Here is the faithfulness of living by faith made forceful. Integrity is not questionable now, and intelligence is not awry. No doubt the Captain, having told Daniel already of the nature of the challenge, rather than simply executing him, now finding his leniency confirmed in wisdom, had cause to be careful. The thing was escalating. Mercy had acted in his sharing the information with the young exile, but now it was moving to a vast and dangerous domain. Would he act ? would he dare to share with the king, this assertion that the answer was to hand!
IF WRONG, in bringing Daniel to the King, in the irascibility depths of that uncertain monarch, Nebuchadnezzar (who had a special scene in humiliation prepared that he might learn from what he saw, and apply to his own person, what God disclosed for him through His servants at court, that Daniel and his friends), then the Captain might well have suffered. If the king had found Daniel a fraud, the Captain might have been engulfed with him. Far from such cowardice, however, was this Captain, since he even told the king that the young man had the answer! I have found a man of the captives of Judah who will tell the king the answer, even the interpretation ... what a confidence! (Daniel 2:25).
However, when God is at work, labours are not in vain (cf. I Corinthians 15:58), and the God of the resurrection has always had just that power, since all is His, and all made is at His call. He can deliver from death or furnaces, if He choose, or allow death if this is His program, whose purposes are always fulfilled, and He can use both to His glory, and predict what is to be for millenia with no difficulty, and bring it to pass for all to see, as He does*1. (cf. SMR Chs. 8, 9, The Pitter-Patter ... Ch. 4, It Bubbles ... Ch. 1).
Thus the young man, Daniel, surrounded with the power and presence of the Almighty, proceeds to the mighty and exasperated kin: to an inheritor of the folly of a culture which is not his own, he is able to show the wisdom of God, who is his own!
Not only so, but with that love which is the very character of God, Daniel asks for something at very outset, following the revelation from God of the test challenge of Nebuchadnezzar. What then is his request ? Is it for riches or power ? for himself ? Not at all, it is for the other wise men, the official ones, that they be spared; and he asks it of Arioch, the Captain before ever he himself is delivered; for who knows what could happen in ever so short an interval, when steel meets throat!
So it the action is that Arioch tells the King that he has found a man of the captives of Judah WHO WILL MAKE KNOWN to the King, the interpretation.
Consider further the confidence in this statement. The Captain himself is now committed. This man will make it known! Such is his bold declaration to the King of a temper so uncertain, and a brash power to calamitous!
When God is in the midst of a scenario, however, there is a governance even to the detail, just as there was on the Cross, when Christ as foretold so conspicuously and graphically through Isaiah, interceded for the transgressors, repeating, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!" (Greek imperfect tense, Luke 23:46).
The King in that way which Authority can so often use, with a sort of bleeding harrumph, and a fascinated hope combined, asks Daniel, Are you able to make known to me the dream ?
In this way, he comes to the pith. For the moment, forget about 'interpretations': they are easy to dissemblers and romancers. Make known the dream; and if it be right, well, and if it be wrong, not so well. HERE is the test the King who had inherited a culture which struck him as vain and void, wanted to see.
It is rather like the evolutionary shambles of today. Are you able to show us this evolutionary thing happening, can you show the increase of information in augmenting designs, and so make history, is it given to you, to bombard genes, as was done for half a century with the drosophila fruit-fly, and have the result a superior product, as if bombarding your Rolls with machine gun bullets would increase its sophistication, and such rubbish from the wise men of this day! Can you do it ? Show me!
They of course cannot, and so do not, since God is not with them, and whimsical dreams contrary to all law and evidence are not to be found from the mere gizzards of desire.
GIVING THE DIVINE RESPONSE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING
With Daniel, however, the case was different. Not in such modern follies as defiling design specifications, demonstrably present in any realistic definition of what design is (cf. SMR pp. 211ff., Dancers, Prancers, Lancers and Answers Chs. 2 and 4 ), but rather in following the designations of the Creator, he acted. The design of the Designer was that this young exile should now speak with wisdom as required: and so this he did. Exhibiting knowledge where it was needed, to unlock a symbol which God had given to the king, Daniel in the power and presence of God Almighty, delivered a revelation instantly testable. Indeed, he told the dream AND its interpretation.
Any dream interpreted in such a situation, will have a certain éclat in the meaning. If you can find the dream, when it is not yours, and then interpret, why this can be interpreted as wisdom indeed!
Daniel, though courageous, faithful and devout, knowing God as well - not as some add-on, but as integumental to it all - is not brash. When asked if HE IS ABLE to give the dream, Daniel answers not directly at first.
He refers FIRST TO GOD, noting the failure of the wise men and astrologers as a preliminary. What THEY could not answer, has an answer. Why ? Has Daniel done a Newton and invented a spiritual calculus ?
Not at all.
While then they could not answer (so making the problem one for the Babylonian culture, whose wisdom they supposedly represented), there is a solution. There is a God. It is rather like Paul declaring for them at the perennially peripatetic philosophers of Mars Hill in Athens, that he has for them the identity of their unknown god, for whom they had a structure, in his honour, to represent him! (Acts 17).
THERE IS A GOD ... Which one ? one of the pantheon, a subordinate or member, perhaps to be slightly anachronistic, but essentially in place: was it to be a participant of the pantheon of pollution ? Not at all.
"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.
Your dream and the visions of your heart upon you bed, were these."
Having introduced Nebuchadnezzar to the FACT that there is a God in heaven who can reveal secrets, and thus before whom no barrier is placed, who knows the depths of man, and better than any Cray Computer, registers and deals with all that is upon the earth, with understanding and knowledge of meaning: Daniel proceeds. To take the case in hand, he declares simply what was the king's private dream.
In this, he does not put himself into the picture, into prominence, even here; but he remains like a Raphel as a distant character in some scene being painted, apart. He is a messenger from God, and so why should be be focussed! The God in heaven has made known thus, TO NEBUCHADNEZZAR. Let him then be told, only first making sure that the identity of the Sender is realised!
The postman, if you will, does not whistle; he just delivers.
This graceful disposition in Daniel is always an attractive feature of his combination of being business-like in the work of the Lord, and putting things in place. When one has oneself been put in place, not merely in the event that one got out of place, but in the sense of being assigned one's quarters, function, task and milieu: then trumpeting it is not to the point. It is what is to be done which matters, except that it be done with fortitude and faith.
Indeed, at once Daniel moves past the present, another hang-up of unholiness, which hates anything which obviously and indisputably speaks of God and His simply adequate knowledge of history, as if this to Him were simply a primary and small task (cf. Isaiah 46:10, 44:25ff.), because it does not believe in the POWER of GOD. To those who know Him, and this on a daily basis, it is however as natural as breathing to see God act, and more intimate! In this declining modern condition, where the starkly supernatural is darkly undesired, though it triumphantly festoons the failed fiascos of philosophy*2 and declares itself in the cloisters of history without cease, see that precise prediction in II Timothy 3:1-5. There, even in designating the current pathology, there is a depiction, deploying that very same divine power, which man increasingly resents, resists and betrays. It reads like yesterday's news, though written these two millenia ago.
Of this case in our own advanced day, in these latter days, to use the biblical phrase - see Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR pp. 839ff., 661ff..
Daniel however was then and not now; and he spoke with and from the power of the living God. He does not hedge or qualify.
The meaning moves to the LATTER DAYS, Daniel announces. The king might, in other circumstances, have had little patience for that, being more interested in his own power and portion; but now, being shown a miracle eyeball to eyeball, so that he KNOWS this is from God, he listens.
As for you, O king, Daniel proceeds ... and he specifies that the king was lying on his bed; and keeping the focus on the royal client, he indicates that the Lord has made known to him, to that royal and exalted personnage, Nebuchadnezzar, what would come to pass.
It is now time to differentiate to avoid any confusion. For my own part, says Daniel, this is no outcome of my personal wisdom, as if to make me a select and marvellous, a knowledgeable or singular person: no, not at all. The reason why it has been given is that the king may know this wisdom, this meaning, AND that he may know the thoughts of his heart! It is then a personal meeting for the king, as well as an interpretive disclosure. HE is involved, and his heart is at the bar! He would have done better to have heeded this, as would many current 'kings', flush with a delusive autonomy, as if from some spiritual lobotomy!
Thus in distancing himself as a courier, from any grandeur, and so bringing in at this later point, his own place, Daniel also personalises the thing for the king" for it is NOT ONLY for his instruction as to facts, that this is given, but for his understanding of his own heart.
Thus after the transmission of the vision, faithfully, so that the king wishes to do homage to Daniel and make sacrifices to him, the position will indeed quickly become personal for the king.
In the grandeur of his still retained follies, at a later time, he has a project of munificence, for he will make a statue and are to have it worshipped. There would come to the light, a statue of great cost and highly imposing. The king would commission it, and then use it for idolatry, involving inane pride.
You might think him insane to make such a mockery of the interpretation of the dream which Daniel gave him. Amazing is the sin of man, who when given a tip, can make it a tip-truck and dump it. However, let us now see what that interpretation was, in this first instance.
As to the interpretation then of Daniel, he describes this dream of Nebuchadnezzar.
The statue in the dream, it had a head of gold, breast of silver, loins of bronze, legs of iron, and feet and toes of clay-iron mixture. Thus, going vertically down from the golden head, which symbolises the present kingdom of Babylon, we meet an empire chain. The top is now, the next later, and the final one, the last of the series.
It is in fact the fourth which is the final one. Of course, as shown later in Daniel (as in Chs. 7 and 8), the Medes and Persians follow Babylon, and after these is a swift leopard like empire, which rushes out; and then after ALL of that, there comes the final empire.
This all happened, the Medes and Persians, the leopard-like Alexander the Great, the 'Grecians' as designated in Daniel 8:22, and then the fourth and last: all came in the order and with the nature described in the words given to Daniel, both in the Daniel 2 case, and in the later revelatoins.
As to the final empire, an unillustrious exhibit, but startlingly clear testimony of the fact that God appoints whom He will (cf. Daniel 4:17 as seen in Nebuchadnezzar's testimony, given later), it is signified in iron for the legs, and mixed iron and clay for the feet and the ten toes. For the present then, Daniel exposes the coming empire series, starting with Babylon, in terms of a statue, as dreamt by the king, and the head for the present, yields to the lower parts, till the feet finish the series, and they meet a stone which crashing upon them, leads to the demolition of the whole, starting with the feet. However sure it is that without feet the thing must crash, it is equally sure that the feet, going down from the dead, CAME LAST.
LASTING PROVISION OF THE LAST,
WHICH IS NEVER TO BE LOST, FILLING UP PROPHECY
It is amazing how even E.J. Young, so careful a commentator, can disregard the fact that this ten, in the toes of the statue, is in the last exhibit: one also found as testimony concerning the end, the final version of the empire series, in Daniel 7, where there are ten kings. On what ground is this arithmetical precision, and denotation, to be disregarded ? Is it because there is some other realm of understanding unleashed in the ten ? To be sure, ten is the normal number for toes, but then a statue was the CHOSEN vehicle for representing the final kingdom, and when ten is twice associated with the end of the series, whether in beasts or in metals, it is strange indeed to be uninstructed by this dual-line fact.
In an ultimate and highly specialised entity, to put it to chance or passing data of small significance, appears more than strange.
Of course, E.J. Young was not given to dispensational ideas, in which aversion one can only agree (cf. Deliver us From Dispensationalism! in Biblical Blessings, Ch. 3).
However, what IS dispensationalism ? It is a blind failure to see the integral unity of the Gospel of grace, the pervading sameness of the attitude of God to dealing with sin (cf. TMR Ch. 3), and in this a repudiation of Romans 11, not to mention 3-4. It fails, or in worst cases did so, to see that there is no special kingdom or denotation to the Jewish people, in terms of the Gospel of grace (cf. Isaiah 65:13-15), but that they come with all the rest, as far as salvation is concerned, to that very same mercy from that very same God, to that same everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14), in that same Messiah; and that it is this or nothing, or nothing good, only hell itself. This is that Gospel which is His, which nothing can change, since it is built from the very heart and nature of God.
Very well. It is a superficial parody of the biblical truth, this strange dispensationalism, however much it may with profound reason, seek to modify itself. It tends to depreciate the Old Testament's integrity, its place in the New, and conversely, to elevate anachronistically, what is past, for some future domain!
This however, this error, is no more an excuse to rob the scripture of its precise impact in appropriate areas: one error need not engender another, nor need we swing like playing children, from one end of the swing circuit to the other, as if never still! It is, this failure to stop with what is given, like a follow on, as if a car with the key turned off, insisted on rumbling away, and not stopping.
Thus the concept that there is a cessation of the impact of prophecy with the death or resurrection or some near time in the life of Christ on this earth, is not merely an assumption unwarranted - and we must not add to the word of God - but it is contrary to the clear specifications of Holy Writ. Accordingly, when in Daniel 9, there is to be a fulfilment and sealing of prophecy, in the 70 times 7 prediction model, that extension of the 70 year exile as a convenient and impactive way of presenting the time to the crucifixion of Christ from then (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4): it not only does not, but CANNOT mean that many of the Old Testament prophecies will NOT be fulfilled (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 7). On the contrary, they must be, for how otherwise would there be a work which would 'seal up the vision and prophecy' and bring in everlasting righteousness.
We cannot truncate prophecy to the Cross of Christ: for that central masterpiece in the movements of divine mercy is the end of REDEMPTION, not of the history of the Age. There remain the fulfilment of the aftermaths, the olive tree scenario (Romans 11), so long after Paul, and yet in its totality to come: the awakening of Israel the nation (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3, Ch. 3 as marked).
The ARRIVAL of the Saviour is by no means the cancellation of the consequences of His coming or the application of His feat; nor of the judgment to follow, in this world, nor is it the demise of the symphonic brilliance of the divine plan, where Jew went out that Gentile might come in, and Gentile is cautioned not to forget that the restoration of the Jew to the tree of genuine faith in the living God is to occur, and to remember for WHAT REASON the Jew was cut out (as a nation - Romans 11).
As to Christ's crucifixion, nothing could be MORE than that, in intensity and force: it is central (Galatians 6:14), and in this we glory. Yet it is far from being the terminus of prophecy, because it is the pivot of destiny.
Is the covering of the earth with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, as in Habakkuk and Isaiah 2, to be equated with the hostile god of this world, in which the world lies (I John 5), the prince of this world who was to come, as Christ said, and who had nothing in Him ? (John 14:30-31). Is it to be the case where the Christians are to be brought before the magistrates and killed! Is this the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covering the earth as the waters cover the sea, let alone the fulfilment of the entire sovereign presence of the majesty of the ruling Christ, as set forth in that same Chapter of Isaiah, 11, which speaks of this coming condition for our globe!
Of course not, for this not now any contradistinct covering of the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. It is to come, as did the creation in the first place, by divine POWER.
On the contrary, instead of that divine rule of manifest quality, as also in Isaiah 11, where the power of God quashes the wicked woes of evil, it is now the case that that evil is given rein until its ghastly work done, and it is brilliantly exterminated as in I Thessalonians 1. That event, the coming of Christ with His saints (I Thess. 3:13) is as much yet to come, as was the atomic bomb in 1944.
There is no need to try to make black white, or white black in the interests of some philosophy. So far from applying rightly the word of God, as if to assist it: this mars it.
It must be taken as it comes, wherever it comes, context by context, with no vapid generalisations as if to make the liver the kidney, since they are both 'down there, somewhere'! Precision is required, and contextual fidelity for each context.
Thus it is far from dispensationalism with its oddities against the integrality of the word of God, the nature of God and the dispositions of God, to see the last times as having last things in their non-lasting ways, and to see ten toes as parallel to ten kings. You do not need to BUILD on this, since the 10 kings are there in Revelation 17, toey or not. However, parallels in this work of super-genius, indeed divine wisdom, the Bible, is not well treated by divorce of obviously complementary realities of remarkable aptitude, placed side by side. concerning final events of the sequence of empires which is to bring mankind to the brink of destiny, and the time of the return of the Lord, who will indeed rule forever, even Him who came as the Son of Man (as in Daniel 7, where His eternal and direct authority proceeds, which only God can have or has). Philippians 2 is indeed coming to fulfilment, as Daniel 7. The time for much is past; the time for the dénouement mounts as with wings, hastening to its place.
Endeavours, far worse, to separate this last impact on the feet from the last kingdom, as if the vertical base of the chronological descent is somehow to be excluded, as if the end of a process is not really the end, is staggering; yet in E.J. Young's The Prophecy of Daniel, this appears to be the case.
This IS a place to acknowledge once more, the remarkable ministry of that delightful professor, but no one on this earth is to be judged right in all, because faithful in much; and while one is reluctant to have to differ, yet one must, whether here or with Calvin, however great the contribution. To do otherwise, in the end, this would become a simple contradiction of Paul's admonition in I Corinthians 3. People are NOT ALLOWED any such eminence, whether pope or pastor, since it belongs ONLY to Christ. In this way, divisions, sects and schisms are avoided, and the pre-eminence of Christ is maintained.
What is written is the determinant, each part compared, spiritual things with spiritual (I Corinthians 2).
Let us take the king's first dream. Certainly, if the head of gold is the Babylonian, and the other pieces of the body going down, represent subsequent kingdoms, ordered in line, as Daniel 2:38-39 explicitly teaches, then that the last part which is struck by the 'stone' which shatters it, collapsing all, itself becoming a mountain, to fill the earth for a final and everlasting kingdom: this is indeed ultimate. It can be nothing else, bound in the interpretation of the symbolism which is explicit. How readily does a philosophy grip the light of the Lord, to reduce it!
However could one envisage such a separation from the integral reality of this vision as to divorce it from express information on its interpretation, given with it!
On the other hand, how precisely has been fulfilled the prophecy, parallel in portent to that of Ch. 2, namely that of Daniel 7, where likewise we come to the end of the matter. Both these visions provide complementary data.
As to that in Daniel 2, the clay-iron mix in the feet and toes is one which indicates a kingdom partly strong and partly broken, as E.J. Young (op.cit.), and Harris, Archer and Waitke declare, the latter in their Theological Word Book of the Old Testament. Strong but broken, partly the one, partly the other.
Fragility appears, brittleness in terms of the clay as such, and there is a strange and non-binding teaming with iron.
What then has been the testimony of history of this sector of the great Europe, this fourth and last kingdom, which began, in historical terms, when the Roman Empire gained the ascendency ? It has been considered in SMR pp. 886ff., 902-931, 946-959, 967-971.
In our present and more cursory coverage, to trace the outline, we shall however give it some space. Rome came into full power after Alexander's broken up empire. As to the third Empire, the Grecian, it suffered the breach of its great horn as that of a goat, into "four notable ones" (8:8), clearly indicative a fourfold continuation of a broken singularity in the empire, which is precisely what occurred in the aftermath of Alexander's death. When Rome came into primacy of place, it continued, its actual history reaching back to 753 B.C. and on till its fall in 410 A.D. Yet in a way reminiscent to us of the modern Age, its fall had some resemblance to the non-obliteration of China by Japan in the 1937 as that war raged on and on. So did the Roman Empire continue in its Eastern Wing, at Constantinople as we call it, which fell in the 15th century A.D. to the Turk.
That was one partly broken, partly strong place, and its relevance was increased by the Holy Romans Empire which also, in that awkward way which reminds us of clay (in it sticky continuity, and brittle potential), was a site for the arrogance and arrogation of power on the part of the papacy. Here was that odd-looking degree of unity and strength, as now this, now that centre of power continued for the fallen Empire. It seemed to throw its weight now here, now there, following its arising from the well-meant works of Charlemagne, which continued a collection of power, which could then be used in due time by the papacy.
Uneasy, uncertain, unclear, partly one, partly many, with warring and striving, and dissension and upsets such as that of England, which wrest itself away, and of Sweden which had some military success against, and the Reformation, which took away all credibility to the absurd pomp and puffiness of the papacy: in this way, the various broken and strong parts of the regime continued. Hitler following the efforts of Napoleon, followed the same unifying theme; but it was broken, as was Napoleon's effort, courtesy of France, as was Hitler, courtesy of the Allies.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, for its part, toward the East, continued a claim for clamour as to some sort of tradition of European primacy or power, with an evanescent flush; but it departed with the World War I, from any real place.
For a time ... yet it departed ... and then this! That seems to be the pattern of what was partly strong, and partly broken, partly clay, subservient, yielding, humanly weakened, and partly iron, standing firm and continuing, forceful and harsh.
Thus while the irrelevance of Austria-Hungary mounted, and the power of the pope in temporal manner was derided by Stalin, who reputedly asked how many divisions (of army) the papacy held, and then the Hitler effort likewise mounted, only to fail, this was not to be a vacuum. Iron was still there.
Thus the European Common Market - so simple, no real aims, just nice economics, in theory - brought on the broken and yet strong theme as predicted by Daniel. Now in 2005, the European Union, having had a significant history in the realm of ten members*3, and then these in the Western European Alliance, has boomed into place, and now dares to visit Israel - or one of its members, with their unity move continuing, does so - in order to increase the wisdom of that nation ... Its views are to be considered far afield, even as North Korea. To that point does it reach, the oriental region by no means being irrelevant to its concerns. Its terms of trade are powerful, its 300 million or so people now an acknowledged power bloc economically, its standard of living high: its culture signalised.
However it has not been keen on Romanism at the formal and higher level, having specifically excluded any such reference from its new Constitution in process, after quite a tussle, as we move on to the exclusion of the Roman Catholic sector, as envisaged in Revelation 17 (cf. SMR pp. 946ff.). It is the empire, not the harlot which is to continue till smitten. She, that is the religious component of that specific character, has a scriptural place, but it is in association with the empire for a time, that she figures, not as integral with it. In fact, she is to be removed from its back! She has been. The recent constitutional tussle makes this point, even if preliminary, for her painfully clear.
Thus does this startlingly accurate prediction concerning the 4th kingdom, correlative with the feet and toes of Daniel 2, the parallel in Daniel 7, show precisely its fulfilment, as does the return of Israel and its precisely triumphant wars, surrounded with continuing strife (as in Zechariah 12 cf. SMR Appendix A). There is no short-circuit to be gained for the word of God, which come weather, come earthquake, come Quaker or come tyrant, continues just as it is written.
This is a warning about philosophies which invest churches from time to time. Personally, one had no trouble with fellowship with the gracious Professor at Westminster, whose book on Daniel was noted, whose quiet gentleness and wise knowledge were so pleasant, and whom one respected greatly; but error is error. Truth must have its due, and if one of its great defenders errs, it is much worse error to follow him (for what car does not occasionally swerve a little ?) - rather than to follow the word of God, where some divergence from it, as most sadly here appears, arises.
Unlike some, when it became necessary for this author to present a critique or other way, when in Class, not once was the Professor apparently concerned, always was he courteous, and the occasion when he announced, in the midst of such a difference, that this author "had a gift", it was a high point of grace on his part, for which one praises the Lord.
It is always good to see Christian character and meekness, yet Dr Young could be quite valiant against the enemies of the faith. From the explosive wrath and unfathered folly of the Melbourne Professor who pursued this author and sought to evict him from the ministry, who assaulted the Bible continually and whom the Church most foolishly sustained in this activity for many a year, who with others by a festering liberalism without ground or meaning, helped to bring scope for the eventual fall of most of that Church into the unchartered waters of what has become a promiscuous union on many sides: he forms a most blessed contrast.
Many a Nebuchadnezzar in his wrath has afflicted the people of God, but many a time has the Lord delivered them, as was also here: praise the Lord! His ways are sure, His promises true, His discipline as needed, His direction no less.
Indeed, in these more recent things, He turned it to a testimony for His name, and a warning to the Church which, had it heeded it on all sides, might to this day have been far stronger, and not despoiled as it has been, by State law, of much, indeed most of its property. In fact, had it listened - as Nebuchadnezzar at firsts also did not: then without equivocation or procrastination, it might have been strong to this day, a challenge to the earth in Christ's name, not accommodatingly slack as grievously it became.
Watching your way and not rocking the boat, favourite saying of those who compromise the commands of the Christ, these become by far the most formidable enemies of its buoyancy; for then holes are bored in open sight of all, in its base; and so its stability prized above all, becomes merely a steadier method of sinking. If any who read these words, to this, finds himself or herself in a church tolerating apostasy, false doctrine in manifest contradiction of the Bible, it is not a time to be savvy, foxy or lynx-like. You challenge, and it is met or not.
If not, you leave (Romans 16:17, cf. separation1997.html), and spend your time and facilities where the Lord IS honoured and where His word which is truth, is not hidden in the splendours of irrational rigmaroles, rolled out like landing gear for an invading army. Unlike Daniel, in such a case, you are not forcibly required to be in exile in an alien culture, not honouring to the Lord: the church is still optional, and what you opt, for THIS, YOU are responsible. No Nuremberg evasions apply here; why they did not even do so there! It was there that their irrelevance was noted. YOU DID NOT HAVE to obey!
We have moved a little to Ch. 7 of Daniel, in view of its correlation, and this has brought us to the dangers of intrusion of philosophic concepts, as often occurs, sometimes unrecognised, within numbers of Churches and to the precision of ALL the word of God, taken as it comes, without the restraint of oversight from beyond itself. We have moved from Daniel's time till today; but the one teaches the other.
However, we are here primarily studying Daniel, his character, his dealings, a holy man of God who in his precise way, did not fail to bring out the integuments of the case and to present them clearly to Nebuchadnezzar, granting to those as late as NOW in our own time, a knowledge of things to come, with Babylon the stage for the scenario, as God in His own inimitable way, used tragedy for Israel (in its exile) for triumph for truth.
In this case, Daniel's stability is our blessing by the intervention of the Lord; and in his weakness, a mere exile in training, he became an example like David, like Jonah (YES! Jonah after all, though at first failing, DID IT, and despite needing more training, brought about a massive result in his evangelistic crusade of repentance and realism before God, for a vast city!). After all, better to end well than begin well. Indeed, he was also like Samuel, who began and ended well! By his standing firm with assurance from God, whom he sought and on whom waited, Daniel has led an army of hearts into new encouragement.
Indeed, Daniel's part in the proceeding had that redoubtable air of poise, grace and simplicity, even in the depths, which marked him so often.
Having outlined initially the dream, Daniel then simply met the second test without tremor or needless verbiage. What did it MEAN ?
It was a dreadful challenge, life and death were standing by: and he proceeded with a calm assurance born from the Lord, and borne to his heart.
"This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.
You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you
a kingdom, power, strength and glory ..."
One sees how everything is put in perspective. Daniel does not demean the king's high office, because he is a young man in trouble, nor did he relax self-discipline because he, Daniel had just moved at least the first step, out of an imperious but not impervious trouble.
Let us see it now graphically. He describes the grandeur of the king's station and place in terms which will, before long, contrast acutely, almost comically, with the results of that grandeur: how it will fall! But that time is not yet! ... all in its place and time. He continues to interpret the dream. After the King of Babylon, represented by the head of gold in the dream's statue, there is to be another king, lesser to be sure; and then another kingdom arises, and then a last. Then the entire vainglorious assemblage of kingdoms, conveniently seen in a vertical progression as to time, from top to bottom, a sort of statuesque time-line, is smitten. What strikes the statue a deadly blow, then ? It is a stone taken without hands, from the mountain which smashes into the feet, while the upper part, falling, is crushed together.
There is something NOT of man about this 'stone': no hands have brought it out of the mountain. It relates, but it is not extracted by hands. This suggests birth ... Having struck, the stone itself then grows, and continues to expand until it becomes a mountain filling the earth! Here is something which so dwarfs the greatest of the kingdoms, gold or silver or bronze or iron, tough or precious, what you will, that they seem ludicrous and almost comic by comparison, like little children playing king of the castle, when a real King looks on!
This kingdom, the Kingdom of the Regal Rock, this rule to come upon the earth, after the other four, this will NEVER be destroyed.
Part of no sequence, it is by its nature is divine, everlasting, indestructible, filling the earth (Daniel 2:44). The ruler of this kingdom is shown in Daniel 7, where all nations and languages and peoples are given to His keeping in an everlasting dominion; and it is He who bears the title, taken by Jesus as its fulfilment, of "the Son of Man" - He is one like the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13, cf. Romans 8:3, Hebrews 2:14-17, I Peter 1:18-22, I:22ff.). Child of man on the one hand, Lord of lords on the other; but a man in format, on the one side, He is yet in domain unlimited over all the earth. His background in birth is as startling, a stone without hands taken from a mountain, as His foreground in vicarious death (Daniel 9:24-27). In view of Isaiah 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 22, 32, 40,42, 49, 50-55, 60, 61-2, it is apparent where He fits: it is the sinless Saviour, able to bear sin because lacking it, justifying many by His knowledge in being slain for no sin of His own, provided only they believe the report! (cf. I John 5).
In Chapter 7 of Daniel, just cited, the image has been that of a succession of 'beasts' which represented the chronological sequence of kingdoms, just as in the specialised Chapter 8 to follow, we gain detailed insight into the specified sub-sequence, there, dealing with kingdoms two and three of the sequence, with focus on a religious ruler of maniacal kind, who would elevate himself as if God, in a sector of the kingdom three when it broke, as it would do, into four. This triple coverage of things in Daniel 2, 7 and 8 is to be given a summit in Daniel 9, where the coming and death of the Messiah is predicted and dated (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), along with fascinating and considerable sequential data and detail (cf. Highway of Holiness Chs. 2, 3, 8), reaching prodigious proportions in Daniel 11 (Highway ... Ch. 10), before proceeding to designations concerning the end of the Age altogether in Daniel 12. In one point, in one century, in every one, the things predicted, as their time comes, arrive, like machine parts in an assembly plant, for integration with the chassis of a car being built.
As to this Son of Man in Daniel 7, His then is the glory that does not pass, for what shall surpass the one who in the form of God, did not deem it robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2, Isaiah 48:16, Psalm 45, yet took on the form on man to become Saviour (Isaiah 53), as whom God, the only Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11-12, Galatians 1) exalted Him with His laurels as Lord, to return to His place bearing many adopted sons to glory! (Hebrews 1:3, 2:10).
The other kingdoms are temporary, passing, swallowed up or broken down; but His is eternal as befits the eternal word of God, incarnate as Son (Luke 1:35, Micah 5:1-3). As the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35), so there would be begotten in her womb, one who would therefore - note that therefore - be called the Son of God. Not that He could be His Son who did not have His quality and power, or did not eternally proceed forth Him as His word (Hebrews 1:3); but this being so, His eternity and His other qualities, as begotten, the incarnation was as God's only begotten Son. This was assuredly to be so; for what begotten son is categorically less than his father! or which son is of another height, depth or capacity, than that of his father!
Rather having been the only GOD there is from the beginning, He was to be, as He is, the Lord to the end. Now however, as Lord, He would be God the Son (Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 2), in whom man should trust, though ONLY in God should they place their trust (Psalm 2, Jeremiah 17:5-13). As to the latter, it is worthy of realisation that this is the divine approach, for how would one trust in a leaf, when there is a tree, or in a piece of skin, where a life is there! (bold added).
"Thus says the Lord:
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
a salt land which is not inhabited.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
"The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.
"As a partridge that broods but does not hatch,
So is he who gets riches, but not by right;
It will leave him in the midst of his days,
And at his end he will be a fool."
"A glorious high throne from the beginning
Is the place of our sanctuary.
O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
"Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the Lord,
The fountain of living waters."
When therefore the LORD came to this
earth, by a change of form
when the ONLY GOD there is became
then HIS kingdom is the One without
end, the one
then the passion of love becomes the
end of other passions that would usurp it
"Set me as a seal
upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
"Many waters cannot
quench love, neither can the floods drown it:
In therefore, the approach to this kingdom, the preliminaries are covered in advance, so that those who seek, may find what never finishes, and those who desire to avoid a sad and drab judgment on pride of unbelief, believing in their own vacuous dreams instead, may avoid an endless end, as deadly as the incinerator, as just as the waste! Nothing is left out which ought to be portrayed, that
any searcher should not search in vain, and
anyone with reason unfettered by sin, should find; and
all who come, might see the wonder of their salvation.
Order and sequence*4
are of the
essence in Daniel, and the 70 times 7 arithmetic to take us to the death date of
the Messiah has been fulfilled, as appointed in detail. This is another aspect of this
precision, duly fulfilled, the prelude to the coming of that Saviour whom such
as Isaac Newton worshipped, and Faraday, and Boyle, and Lord Kelvin, von Braun
and John Ambrose Fleming; for the testimony of Daniel was not only to
Nebuchadnezzar, or to the various following royal persons to whom Daniel
ministered. Its prelude to history, which history has followed whether in
Daniel's own day, or in my own, or in any in between, over 25 centuries, has
come as an affront to those who refuse scientific method, and as a joy to those
who do; for all has place, inside God's grace. It is to one and to all. It
speaks incontrovertibly, as nothing written but the word of God, the Bible, made
available to mankind,
either empirically does, or in principle could do.
Here is one of the great testimonies of God. Not merely is it a marvel of predictive precision, but a wonder of strategic glory: it is such for One who loves, and using no force, yet would attest to all His desire, His delight, His opportunity and His grace.
The particular case of the book of Daniel is illustrative of just this.
In this way, God is using a calamity, fully deserved (cf. II Chronicles 36), as suffered by Judah, for its sins, which in turn led to the exile and subservience of Jews to Babylon, as no less to the earnest faith of one of His servants, a young man with friends of like character. This man was used, in the focus of immediate needs of several sovereigns of that conquering land, to tell them and to foretell not merely impending events, but also the final triumph when the God of heaven would come to earth for its deliverance, and then for the pronouncement, and indeed the implementation of judgment. In the interim, His coming was to be, as it has been, to bring many into it through faith fulfilled, and testimony cumulatively verified.
This divine strategy relative to the conquering nation of Babylon, it was to turn the furnace of affliction into the benevolence of might, in which all peoples see how the blessing through Abraham to all peoples comes to pass (as in Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22). This blessing was indeed as foretold (Daniel 7,9) through one of Abraham's descendants, abundantly and successively foretold by the prophets: it concerned the One who as man would sheer off the sentence on sin from those who act to receive the acquittal, thereby opening the door to life eternal. This is not an additive to this one, but its fulfilment. It gives to its current generation grist for the mill of faith, and so passes on blessing there; and it gives it not only in the wonder of all the prior predictions, but the gift of quite another test fulfilled, which God directly imposes on Himself: that shown in the prediction of the death date for the Messiah.
That in turn is part of a medley with Isaiah, who gives more on the theological meaning of that death, and the practical circumstances surrounding it. It is in that context that Daniel speaks. It fits like a jig-saw puzzle of the easier variety, for God makes all things clear, and in His light, there is no darkness at all.
If one has therefore dwelt on the MEANING and significance of these things, it is because we are here, and they are there, and it would be sad for any not to realise their inheritance from the Lord.
Notice now the response of Nebuchadnezzar in terms of the style of presentation of Daniel, as well as its substance in covering psychic depths of a man, from OUTSIDE them (the case with Daniel, able only in himself to view the exterior of Nebuchadnezzar), because INSIDE (in the heart of Daniel) lies the power of God who made man. Since this God nothing can contain or delimit, or in the end, resist, and He is the God who knows the end from the beginning, the dream of the king of Babylon could as well be relayed to Daniel, as the nature of creation to us all in Genesis 1, which in all things is abundantly attested as well (cf. The gods of naturalism have no power!)!
Nebuchadnezzaar, for all his frustration with the nebulous pretences of the magicians-at-court, and all his rages, was not without a mind to see, a heart to recognise or a spirit to tremble ... if at first, only for a little while! When insanity later gripped him, his personal testimony became starkly clear; but not at the first dream, though his admiration could know scarcely any bounds, and his realisation that it was a work of God.
Thus it is that the King in reply to Daniel's interpretation of the dream of which from Nebuchadnezzar he knew nothing, but which he both relayed as from God, and expounded, acts in a notable manner. That potent but soon to become impotent ruler first talks of Daniel's GOD, before he even speaks of Daniel. "Your God ..."*3 he declares, staggered and amazed!
It is here that the royal mind is transfixed, not in the prophet himself, though he too has an enormous impact. This is the type of testimony which fits with an everlasting glory, and which every Christian should be careful to maintain.
"Truly your God is the God of gods,
the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets,
since you could reveal this secret."
After all, when power and wisdom, insight and understanding all alike are from God, it would be mere pretentious folly to fail to acknowledge it! That would resemble a son of a wealthy father who, using the gifts and education provided, then slights that father; but this Father though available for slighting, can in all truth only be praised; for He is true to His word, and in that word as loving in declaration as in deliverance to those who receive Him where He IS to be found (Isaiah 55).
THE PLACE OF DANIEL,
AND THE GRACE TO NEBUCHADNEZZAR,
EVEN THOUGH AT FIRST
IT SEEMED ONLY THE ULTIMATE IN DISGRACE
Thus we see the case in Daniel 2.
God allowed Daniel to be put in a spot, to be subject to dire threat, impending doom, to be challenged. Yet he did this NOT that this Daniel might be cut off in the midst of his growth in wisdom and knowledge; but that he might be tested, and coming through as gold from the fire, relay reality from the stricken nation of the Jews, because of THEIR GOD. Thus by calamity the true knowledge of the living God could be EXPORTED in a striking fashion to Babylon, applied to their sovereign, and in the drama and focus of the bright lights of history as that monarch fulfilled his rarefied mission, spread through the globe! That, it is strategic in brilliance, as well some batsman, confronted with a cunning bowl, hits it over the pavilion, with a fluent grace and apparent ease!
Whether however we be disciplined or garlanded, our God is the same.
God gave to this Daniel what was beyond all human growth: a divine revelation to fit the case. It was empirically tested in advance, fulfilled in the midst, and then with its millenium spanning power, applied with assessable accuracy to the death date of the Messiah, and the scope and structure of history to that event, and likewise in the culmination to the universal judgment, assigned to the earth.
What then would be expected ? and what would NOT fit it! Egotism would be fatal; humility on the part of the messenger was essential, and displayed with just that flavour of boldness relative to the Lord, but not to himself, which Daniel showed. Here the opportunity which was like a check-mate, in a game of chess, was not left unanointed!
Again, we marvel at the irrationality of cursory unbelief, set in its brown studies of irrelevance.
That threat of the king to all those called 'wise men' brought on a testimony THROUGH the displaced kingdom of Judah which was a magnificent and a kind of shock-therapy testimony to truth, even to those spiritually sleepy or sleazy, yes or both together!
But to what did this divinely appointed testimony come ? Was it to be to their faithfulness, those of that nation, whose unfaithfulness over centuries had brought on this, their ruin ? Hardly. To what then ? To the fact that some young men could live holy and devoted, consecrated lives to God ? Good, but not enough. Yet it could be used ...
In the end, the testimony to the Lord has, as in the case of Moses, to be clearly and indisputably distinguished from what others might at least SEEM to do (Exodus 8:16-19). It needs to bring out the obvious, that the ONLY God can do things which NO ONE else can achieve, since there is only one God, and His power knows no limit; just as His love knows no demeaning, but rather expresses itself indomitably, yet without domineering
The deferential humility of Daniel before his God was an integral part of doing this; and the bold initiative of the young men was another. They lived and worked for God and were evidently accustomed both to KNOWING HIM and receiving His instructions.
Thus many people are amazed at miracles, but they are a part of a texture, as the skin of the arm is part of the organ which covers the whole body; and they occur in situ, very much as an ace comes from time to time from a great server. Yet here the game is won by the Lord.
This divine resource is there, and His power may decidedly and distinctively operate in a crisis, or even to create one! The aces of God are all in His hand...
Notice finally how, when Daniel was given enormous power and great gifts, as reward by Nebuchadnezzar, he did not lick his spiritual chops and decide that life was easy. Rather he redeemed the time, and in salty companionship with the friends with whom he had wrought in prayer, he acted on their behalf. He did not forget those who were with him in prayer and in spirit when they were all in danger of death; nor would he obliterate from his memory that they both had been and were together in seeking the Lord's face (as in Psalm 27's case). If a threefold cord is not easily broken, here was a fourfold one, and the integrity and loyalty of Daniel comes as perfume spilt in a garden, amid flamboyant floral displays, to those who read. It is rather like the perfume of daphne, under an oak!
Thus Daniel felt constrained to seek a place for these, his friends, a place with him, also in authority. It was a TEAM affair, and he was merely the appointed recipient, sent as spokesman. In justice, in truth, in love and in grace, therefore, he at once sought this grace for them; and he obtained it. They could not be at the summit, as he was, for there is only one summit; but they were made to be in exalted positions in the kingdom.
As to this Daniel, he did not smirk and consider his options, consult some career specialist, and wonder just how far he could safely push, consulting statistics on the behaviour of the king towards those with whom he might be (temporarily ?) pleased. He did what truth called for; and it was done.
Such is this delicious contrast with the desiccation of the corrupt culture of Babylon, where Nebuchadnezzar, recipient of such a staggering revelation which he could personally attest (since he would know whether or not he had told anyone his dream), was caused to consider his ways, and ponder for a time the ways of God, which he could not fail to attest; nor did he.
Yet that self-same king became forgetful, and did not apply the things to his heart which his mind had perceived: an expensive project of truncation of truth, of which many are guilty to this day. God acts, they rejoice; then they forget God for their own acts, viewing this in effect as a useful boost, even a benevolent one, but not enough to change their underlying tune or overlain selfishness.
Later, then, that king had another dream, and with characteristic faithfulness, when called, Daniel interpreted it, even though it involved a virtual testimony to pride and vainglory in the monarch, and to a divine discipline to come. To foretell this to such a monarch as that would take courage, veracity, courtesy and integrity. Daniel simply proceeded, and the way of the Lord is a wonder like that, so that if you indeed follow it, stability is its name and strength its environment.
The opposite line is not uncommon. It is always dangerous for those who see miracles of God, to continue as if things had not so happened. It is perilous simply to say, Ah, ah! that is what happened! and not to reflect on the power of God, on His word and His ways for man, as uniquely exhibited in the uniquely testable and uniquely confirmed Bible! and in all that happens in accord with it to this day, whether in healing or in history, in private or public regards.
One sometimes almost fears for those who participate by SEEING such things, such miracles as from time to time occur, sometimes in groups, as in some of the vast healing missions*5: and then resist!
That however was the position for Nebuchadnezzar. At the outset he was recipient of amazing grace. In his hostility to the magicians or wise men, he was very much to the point. In his insistence on their empirical performance being able to match their supernatural claims, he was just. In his finding in one of the cadet students drawn from captive Judah, a man whom God would use to show the truth empirically, he was saturated with blessing. But though he was honest enough to attest the result openly and with no small flourish, he did not act PERSONALLY. It seems to have been just a movement in his mind, an awareness of greatness, indeed of God, which did not penetrate past the sovereign awareness of his own power, as if he himself were a god. Indeed, in Daniel Ch. 3 we see what must be one of the most inane misuses of divine favour ever thought of!
He saw (as in Daniel 2) the concept of the statue with the golden head, symbolising his own kingdom, and appeared to forget that there were three imperial powers to follow AFTER his own kingdom and that GOD had said so. Thus in having a total statue of gold made, not just a statue with golden head, it was almost as if to say that the gold takes all, that his part would be the whole. Worse, in insisting that this statue of gold be worshipped, although having seen what God could and would do, he sent his spirit in the blind search of praise from men, rather like the Pharisees in Jesus' day. It was all to be of HIM and of HIS kingdom and of HIS statue, and not to God but to HIS state would worship be made.
If anyone ever acted provocatively in response to knowledge and grace, this was it!
The deliverance of Daniel's three friends, with him at the outset in the first test, in their refusal to give such worship, this was likewise an advance on the testimonial side, from the people of God. If it is a matter of KNOWING and TELLING a dream and its interpretation, that can be done. If it is a matter of NOT following a distortion of that dream, and NOT worshipping what is not God, at WHATEVER cost, that too can be done. The testimony was thus in wisdom and in purity, both, in understanding as in practice. All this Nebuchadnezzar saw, but he did not change in his heart.
Hence it was like that of a beast, divorced from spirit, from the source of spirit, from the meaning of man and the power of God. It was in fact a prototype of the insanity of the final spiritual ruler seen in Daniel 7, where it is symbolised in the "little horn" (cf. Biblical Blessings Chs. 1 and 2). What Nebuchadnezzar did IN SPIRIT, is precisely what that demented demon in flesh, is to perform. He too will act as if he himself is god! (II Thessalonians 2, cf. Revelation 13,17).
Let us however return to the next step in the case of Nebuchadnezzar. He is fortunate that this occurred, even if it meant the ultimate in humiliation, short of hell, since he lived to repent and testify to the truth, AFTER the episode of insanity which was as his dream portended, and Daniel predicted. In this later phase (Daniel 4), when the king had his second and much more personal dream, which depicted someone not only to lose his very reason, but to be sent to the fields as if animal, he was faithfully informed of the meaning by Daniel. Yet he did not repent, until that very thing had happened. Only in the end, was he rescued from such insanity and brought back to a sound mind and restored to his place, WITH THE LESSON LEARNT.
All this happened to that great monarch; but first came his dream, and for that, Daniel's correct but courageous interpretation! To this aspect, we look with interest.
You do not acquaint such a king as that with such coming events as that without risking not only your job, but your neck! But then, when one serves the Lord, what are necks for, being but attachments for the time, before the resurrection. And what is love for if it is afraid to act! Does a mother find fear to be her master when her child is burning, or is this the way of a disciple of the Lord, when the people are in shackles, from which they might be delivered by a faithful testimony! Such is not the love of God! Daniel therefore interpreted this second royal dream faithfully, clearly and with great wisdom.
Indeed, such is the mercy and grace of God, whose grace is so freely imparted whether to Daniel or others of His servants - though we all delight in a fine and remarkable example like that of Daniel: that when the later dream had duly been interpreted by the young prophet, this same Daniel ALSO advised the king to break off his sins and have mercy on the poor, in case by such means, there might be an extension of the period of his prosperity! THERE is the freedom of grace, and the sound of love...
We see Nebuchadnezzar, however, around a year later, admiring the works of his majesty, in the great city of Babylon' and to use the symbolism of the Song of Solomon, having neglected his own vineyard (Song of Solomon 1:6), he suffered the eruption of weeds.
In what form then did this eruption come to the royal life of the mighty, earthly master of Babylon ?
In his case, it was the loss of his mind for a period, so that he crawled and ate grass like some beats. It was after this that he had a more personal testimony to give, one concerning the power of the God of gods and Lord of lords: and to be sure, this was not himself! It was the One who foretold what would be, and then implemented it with precision and power.
It was such a testimony as this, that he was then moved to make, in a way profoundly personal, and so far beyond what he had been able to give in the first challenge, that it rings like a carillon. So did the king progress, past his regress, from the days where his dream concerned the statue with the golden head, when he threatened death to the wise men, unless they FOUND AND interpreted that dream, to the time when not death of body, but dereliction of mind taught him better than many a whipping!
Only then could he make the sort of testimony which we find later. It is however far better to be realistic, and seeing a Regality which knows no bounds, with a grace that comes like precious sap to the vine-branch, and a provision both apt and effective from a love which nothing can or does quench, to come to the Lord when young. It is better to apprehend and receive the grace, the gift of life and the pardon of the Prince of Peace when first apprehended, and not to wait for the outcomes for obstinacy, or the obloquy reserved for folly.
See SMR Chs. 8, 9, The Pitter-Patter ... Ch. 4,
Let God be God Ch. 4 (Review - its meaning, purpose and historical significance),
Journey to God or Fantasy's Flight to the Infernal Chs. 6 , and 8.
SMR Chs. 3,
Chs. 1, 5, 7,
CELESTIAL HARMONY FOR THE TERRESTRIAL HOST.
See Highway of Holiness Ch. 8.
See SMR pp. 917ff., 929ff;, 957ff..
*4 It has been found best to make this note into the Epilogue. For this, click here.
*5 One example of a much misused power is to be seen in the abundantly attested multitude of healings, specialising in the medically incurable, of Elsie Salmon SMR p. 339.
Another notable case, likewise international, and one occurring over many years, is that found in the generations of work by what were at first German missionaries in Natal, the site being at Kwa Sizabantu. They came in hope, and insisted on avoiding, after quite some time, anything that could be merely formal and not invested with the power of God, while in most things seeking and displaying a careful biblical perspective. The growth of their work, the multitudes of those healed, their generous provision of accommodation and insistence on free response are all notable for what became a sprawling institution frequented by thousands over time.
So does faith walk ahead in the Lord, and so has some of its fruit been seen in that amazing German-founded missionary work in Natal, in southern Africa, where farmer and pastor alike have worked together to seek to testify of the Lord in word and deed to the whole area.
A vast establishment arose
with such a load of divine healings, for such numbers in such remarkable ways,
never made the focus, but merely a glowing, testimonial feature –
as the Lord healed many but not all
(cf. the book of Job, and Trophimus - II Timothy 4:19, with II Corinthians 12:7-10) -
and with such a provision for visitors and indigenous people alike in the farming:
that they too could praise God.
As in most things godly, the devil seeks a vain imitation for money, or fame or name; but as with cared for gardens, it is not the same when rank species are brought in, as if to be floral is to be beautiful. There is far more than that, and as with a powerful sustainer on earth, and yet more so, is it with the sustainer from heaven, who is neither deluded by pretence, nor hurried by fraud.