the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh

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

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Lantana | Pergamum, Turkey | November 2014

I’ve been having some weird dreams lately: the kind you have when you take cold medication before going to bed. Most of them have to do with family members in totally unlikely situations: our grown son riding a tricycle down the road, our house suddenly being turned upside down. Just weird – as I said! As far as I know our sons don’t ride tricycles, and our house is properly on his foundations.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was apparently much more troubling than a cough-medicine-induced hallucination. So troubling it was that the king puts his magicians, enchanters, seers, and diviners on notice: Tell me the dream and its meaning…or else. 

The king is coming off a major victory. But those always come at a price. You don’t conquer a nation, carry off their temple treasures, and set up a government training program without using a lot of capital. Money, favors, obedience, victory: all have a price attached to them. Now the king is focusing on keeping the power he has gained.

Then comes a dream – a troubling dream. It is not clear whether the king himself couldn’t remember it, or whether he was so terrified by it that made him make a completely unreasonable request. The request was, nonetheless, unreasonable. Who could not only interpret a dream, but also know what dream was to be interpreted? The enchanters were right about one thing: the request was difficult and no one could show it to the king except (well, they were almost right) the gods.

Daniel will show how wrong these magicians actually were. The gods not be able to show the king his dream – they are no gods at all. In addition God does dwell with his people. The curious turn of phrase would also point us to the time when God would take on human flesh and dwell among us. If only they knew.

We do know, and have the witness of Scripture to focus our hearts, hopes, and longings on God’s willingness to dwell with flesh provided to us a Savior. These men need a savior to be sure. Thank God we know who The Savior is, and can be assured of his dwelling with people such as we.

1 comment
  1. Through Daniel’s willingness/delight/habit to give God glory at every turn and to seek and be obedient to his ways, I see him continually pointing to his own faith and belief in the “Savior to come”, his “hope and a future” from Jeremiah 29:11(who was actually present from the beginning when scripture says in Genesis, “let US make man in OUR image) as wonderfully evident. He lived, ate, drank, spoke, prayed what he believed! … all THIS and we are just partly chapter 2! Awesome!
    I wonder what Daniel was like “off the scripture-grid” … another question not to be answered this side of heaven : ) … but the other side …. ah, yes!

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