Sunday, July 16, 2006

Right Response to Tribulation - Dare I be a Daniel?


Daniel 2:1-13

1Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3The king said to them, "I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream." 4Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: "O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation."

5The king replied to the Chaldeans, "The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6"But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation."

7They answered a second time and said, "Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation." 8The king replied, "I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation."

10The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11"Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh." 12Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.

When I look at King Nebuchadnezzar’s response to his troubling dream…I have to ask myself…how do I respond to trials and tribulation in my own life? What is my reaction when God is trying to get my attention?

When I examine Nebuchadnezzar’s response to trouble to that of Daniel…I find quite a contrast. While I’d like to say my approach is more like that of Daniel’s…there are times I react more like Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar…the powerful king who had conquered the world…found himself plagued and troubled by a dream. A dream given him…by God himself. This was a wake up call…and indeed it had that effect as he spent sleepless nights asking himself, “What does this dream mean?”

But instead of turning to God and seeking His wisdom and understanding Nebuchadnezzar turned to the wise men of his day…the magicians, conjurers or astrologers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans.

Am I temped to do the same? Is my first instinct to run to people and tell them my troubles and seek their advice or wisdom? Do I run to the phone…instead of going to the thrown of God for answers?

Human wisdom is flawed, limited and at times motivated by a desire for personal gain or influenced by our sinful human experience. Whereas God’s wisdom is holy, righteous and comes from One who is all knowing. Part of the temptation in going to man and seeking advise…is that I don’t have to put much effort into getting advice from humans. Whereas with God…it will require time spent in his word, or in prayer or meditation. I may not get my answer instantaneously…it will require a listening ear and a desire to obey God.

Now there is nothing wrong with seeking advice from godly men and women, who know God and can give counsel from the Word of God. But shouldn’t my first stop be prayer to God? As a Christian…why would I seek council from someone who does not know God or His word?

Today God speaks to us through His completed, inspired, written Word of God. He has also given us the Holy Spirit, who dwells within all believers. If God chooses to speak to us by another means…it will always be in line with and in agreement the Word of God. The Word of God is eternal, perfect, holy and unchanging. When I have the Word of God as my standard, I can be assured that I will not be deceived or lead astray.

King Nebuchadnezzar was powerful…he had conquered the world. He, like Solomon, had everything he could need or want physically. But he lacked the peace of God. Do I have peace of mind and peace with God? Do I try to substitute peace with God by surrounding myself with possessions, fame or personal achievement? Do I feel impervious to trouble…until it touches me personally? Do I have a sensitive heart towards God? Is there some area in which God is trying to get my attention? How will I respond?

Only true believers in Christ can have peace with God. Like Daniel, in prior and upcoming trails, he maintains his peace. Why? Because he knew the Word of God believed it and applied it to his life. Daniel had that peace and it was proven time and time again in how he responded to trials and tribulation.

The king not only sought counsel from flawed, futile human sources…he was reacting out of emotion. While over the top in his threats and basically pretty whacked out…Nebuchadnezzar was still pretty sharp. He recognized his cabinet members were trying to deceive him…that they didn’t have the answers to his dream and were just trying to buy time. Their motivation…to avoid the deadly wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar and maintain their current status in his court.

When I’m facing trials...do I tend to overreact? Do I pitch a fit when I don’t get what I want, when I want it? Is that because I’m trying to work on my own power and wisdom instead of humbling myself and turning to God? Do I avoid God because of that sin or disobedience? Is this evidence of my lack of trust in God?

Nebuchadnezzar’s cabinet members recognized that they were in over their heads and that this demand of the king was impossible to answer. Now that didn’t stop them from trying to be manipulative and buy time. But even they as unbelievers knew the king’s request was impossible for man to answer. Their response sets the perfect stage for God to intervene through his faithful servant Daniel.

King Nebuchadnezzar became furious at the wise men’s inability to tell him the dream and its interpretation. As a result…all the wise men in Babylon will pay the price of the king’s fury. That includes Daniel and his friends. We as Christians may suffer along with the unrighteous. We must be mindful that “it rains on the just and the unjust alike”.

What will be my response when I am swept up in unjust actions? Will I respond with faith and confidence…and trust God? I’d better do my homework before the trial is upon me. Trusting God at such a time necessitates that I know God and His character. I can only know God through reading His Word…daily. I don’t know when that disaster, trial or temptation will strike. But if I’m filled with God’s Word…I will have the wisdom to draw upon when I need it.

When I’m prepared through a relationship with God and knowing the Word of God I can be an instrument of God and be used by Him to witness to a world in need. A world in need of a Savior…and peace with God.

What am I doing today to be prepared for such a time as this?

Devotional inspired by Chuck Obremski’s Bible study in the book of Daniel 2:1-13 – "What is this world coming to?".



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