Read 2 Samuel 12, Daniel 2, and Mark 12.
This devotional is about Daniel 2.
What would you do if you were a powerful leader but suspected that your spiritual advisors were making stuff up?
You might do what Nebuchadnezzar did here in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar had a weird dream (v. 1) and he apparently believed that something was being communicated to him in it. Instead of describing it for his spiritual advisors, he tested them: could they tell him what he had dreamed and THEN interpret what it meant (vv. 2-9)? The key phrase in that passage is in verse 9: “You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.” If they could tell him what he had dreamed that would be proof that they had genuine access to the spiritual realm. That would give him greater confidence in their interpretation of this dream and in their spiritual guidance in every other matter.
Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual advisors did not like the new terms of service he was imposing on them. They protested that what he wanted was impossible (vv. 10-11) which confirmed to the king that they were dealers of nonsense. Nebuchadnezzar therefore ordered them to be put to death (vv. 12-13). Daniel and his friends were apparently junior officers in the spirituality cabinet of Babylon at this point. They were subject to the same death penalty but had not been given the opportunity to advise Nebuchadnezzar about his dream (v. 14). Daniel asked for some time and urged his three friends to pray (vv. 15-18), and God answered their prayers, revealing the vision and its meaning to Daniel (vv. 19-45).
The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is important because it predicted world events that would happen after his reign and would culminate with the kingdom of Christ (vv. 36-45). But for this devotional, I want to focus on how Daniel responded when God answered his prayers. Daniel was given a gift that, according to Nebuchadnezzar’s astrologers, was impossible: “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks!” they said in verse 10. Daniel recognized that what they said was right. His ability to interpret dreams was a supernatural gift from God, not a natural skill he developed himself (v. 23).
Daniel also recognized in this dream that God was at work in world events (v. 21). While we think that kings and leaders are chosen by natural events, political processes, and/or human manipulation, God’s providence–God’s will–stands behind it all. The rulers of this world think they are in control but their control is an illusion. God is using their ambitions to advance his will.
While we should do what we can to influence world events toward righteousness, we need to recognize that the nations and political structures of this world belong to this world; they will be replaced by the kingdom Jesus came to establish (vv. 44-45). What seems so powerful, so permanent, so impenetrable to us now will be supernaturally (“not by human hands” (v. 34)) “broken to pieces and… swept away without leaving a trace” (v. 35).
Anytime we have an election, there are winners and losers. Some people feel hopeful, even victorious, after an election and a nearly equal number of people feel hopeless and defeated.
If you care about politics at all, then you’ve been on the hill and in the valley of that roller coaster already in your life. And, you will likely experience that again. If our only hope was to reforming this world and its rulers, we would have plenty to worry about, but our hope is in Christ.
His kingdom may be right on the verge of appearing or it may be another thousand years away. Only God knows the timeline, but he has revealed to us the outcome. Look in faith to these promises and trust God to watch over us and use us in the meantime, just like he did with Daniel and his friends.