A paranoid Nebuchadnezzar demands that his closest advisors tell him the interpretation of a dream that he refuses to describe. Now Nebuchadnezzar’s counselors didn’t know what to do with that request. These “astrologers, magicians, enchanters, sorcerers” were some of the most educated men in Babylon. They’re called “wise men” multiple times. These men were intelligent, well-read, powerful, political, social and spiritual thinkers. But the King’s request reveals none of their wisdom works. None of them are in the dream revealing business. So they say only “the gods, whose dwelling is not with man” could do what the King asks.
Angry, Nebuchadnezzar orders all of them executed. As they come to abduct Daniel he responds with “wisdom” and gains an audience with the king to interpret the dream. Unlike the so-called wise men, Daniel prays to “the God of heaven.” God shows Daniel both the dream and the interpretation. Daniel then worships the God “who does not dwell with man” as the only God who has all wisdom, power, knowledge and tells Nebuchadnezzar that there “is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.”
Nebuchadnezzar, however, does not take to heart the warning in his dream. His dream was of a giant statue destroyed by a meteor. Daniel explains that the statue represented a succession of world kingdoms that are eventually destroyed by the kingdom of God. Instead of humbling himself before God and his wisdom, he bows down to Daniel and promotes him! While he does say Daniel’s God is “God of gods and Lord of Kings” he does not believe it, because in the next chapter, he will build a statue (just like the one he dreamed) that celebrates his divinity and his power.
Where is Jesus?
Nebuchadnezzar did not recognize that his inability to interpret his dreams was an invitation to humble himself before God’s power and wisdom. Daniel, on the other hand, knew what he did not know, asked God to reveal the impossible and God did. It’s a powerful example of Proverbs 1:7 in action. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Wisdom and power come through humility. Daniel fears the Lord is given wisdom he could not have learned and a promotion moments after his death was threatened. That pattern of wisdom and power coming through humility is also shown by Jesus’ death in our place. Paul says that the cross is “foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is...the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:18,24).
Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is an example and a guarantee that when we trust that God knows what we don’t know we will be raised from not only the threat of death but death itself. This is what Paul means when he says “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Because when Jesus’ humbled himself to death on a cross he didn’t just secure for us our resurrection, he also ensured that the meteor in Nebuchadnezzar's dream would fall. The weakness of God in the cross established a kingdom that has both destroyed and will forever outlast the kingdom of Babylon.
See For Yourself.
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who knows what we do not know, and gives us an example and a guarantee in his son Jesus. Thank you, Lord, when we humble ourselves before him we will be given wisdom and power.