Nebuchadnezzar has a disturbing dream, so he gathers all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans and asks them to tell him what he dreamt and then to interpret his dream. They respond, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
“For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.”
Therefore, Daniel goes to his house and asks Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to pray with him that the Lord would reveal the dream and interpretation so that they would be spared. Daniel knows the power of prayer. Jesus is later going to say, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
The Lord hears their prayers and reveals the secret to Daniel in a night vision. “So Daniel blessed the God of heaven” for giving him knowledge and wisdom. Daniel says the Lord “Reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells in Him.”
“Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: ‘Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.’”
When Daniel is before the king he explains that no man can tell him his dream, but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets and He is the one who interprets dreams. So Daniel shares with Nebuchadnezzar that in his dream Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold with a powerful kingdom, but after him would come three other kingdoms. Two inferior kingdoms will arise, Medo-Persia and Greece, and then another really powerful kingdom will arise, the Roman Empire. Then Daniel says, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Commentators believe this is a reference to the return of Jesus when He will overthrow all earthly kingdoms and reign for eternity.
Upon hearing the interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar says, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” He also promotes Daniel and his friends to be rulers in Babylon.
However, over time Nebuchadnezzar must have forgotten when he said, “Truly your God is the God of all gods,” because he later builds a large golden image and demands everyone to worship it when music is played. Those who refuse to worship the image will be thrown into a blazing furnace. When Daniel’s friends refuse to worship anything or anyone but the Lord, Nebuchadnezzar tells them that he will cast them into the furnace.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’”
This response infuriates the king so he has the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are bound and cast into the furnace, whose flames kill the men tossing them inside. But when Nebuchadnezzar looks inside, he sees a fourth person in there – “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” The Lord was in the fire with the men who trusted Him with their lives, and He delivered them from harm. So Nebuchadnezzar brings the men out “and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.” Then Nebuchadnezzar says, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” And once again, Nebuchadnezzar promotes the men of God in the province of Babylon.
Back in Jerusalem before the Babylon invasion in 597 BC, Jeremiah is still warning the people not to believe that they are secure just because the temple is located in Jerusalem. He warns them to stop their evil, repent, and turn to the Lord or the temple and everything else will be destroyed. But the people are still not listening.
More from Jeremiah tomorrow, so keep reading. (Daniel 2:1-3:30, Jeremiah 7:1-8:3)