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Saturday, August 16, 2014

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One of the happenings that Daniel remembered, and which he wrote in Aramaic so that the truth of what he wrote could be checked by the Aramaic court-officials and if necessary be translate into Babylonian. Bilingual cuneiform texts did exist in those days.

Daniel was not yet finished with his education in the Babylonian College by the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, when God gave the King this dream which disturbed him very much (v. 1). Dictators did not always trust themselves and neither did anyone else around them. In those days, a dictator was scared of what the fortune-tellers might say about what he should or should not do. But these fortune-tellers were fakes who took predictions from the Hemerologies (the daily predictions in the calendar for the year) and presented them as their own. This practice existed from the time of the 13th century BC on. But Nebuchadnezzar did not know this. So when God gave him the dream and the fortune-tellers could not tell Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was, their fakeness was out in the open.

The King spoke in Babylonian and said that he was anxious to know the dream (v. 3). The fortune-tellers realized their problem and switched to Aramaic because it would then need a diplomatic translator to “interpret” the dream. This would delay things and give them more time. Daniel knew Aramaic fluently and could understand what was going on. The King wanted to know the dream and its interpretation from the fortune-tellers or otherwise “you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap” (v. 5). The Assyrian and Babylonian dictators were brutal as the Capture of Lachish scenes on the palace-wall of Sennacherib at Nineveh illustrates.

When Nebuchadnezzar accused the fortune-tellers of “bargaining for time” (v. 8), they spoke the truth and said that there is “not a man on earth who could declare the matter” (v. 10) “except the gods, whose dwelling place is not with flesh” (v. 11). That’s when Daniel stepped forward and asked to speak to the king (v. 15). He asked his friends to pray with him about this (v. 17-18). God answered their prayer and gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation (v. 19). After the dream, Daniel realized that all empires of history would fall. As a keen student of the Scriptures, Daniel understood that all political powers would be brought to an end by God when their period was over (vs. 20-21). The parchments found in the caves of Qumran say exactly the same as the Hebrew text from which our present Bible translations are made.

In his mind, Daniel confirmed the concepts of the dream by what Moses said in Genesis 31, Exodus 3, and Job 12, that the Sovereign God is involved in the history of this world and its successive empires. The golden head of the image in the dream represented Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon (v. 37a). After that came Medo-Persia (v. 39a) represented by the silver, and after its fall came the Greek Empire represented by bronze (v. 39b). After its fall there would be the “iron empire” of Rome, also known as the Holy Roman Empire as it continued with a religious orientation in the Middle Ages by the Roman Catholic Church (v. 40). This was illustrated as early as 538 A.D. when Emperor Justinian ordered that on his coins for that year he should no longer be portrayed as a Warrior or Soldier with a lance on a horse but as a Theologian holding a cross in the hand.

The final “clay and iron” empire (vs. 41-43), would end up the same way as all the others. The days of those kings (the clay and iron period) would continue to the end-time. That’s when a stone would appear and destroy the image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream and the God of heaven would set up a kingdom which would never be destroyed (v. 44). When Nebuchadnezzar heard this he fell on his face before Daniel (v. 45-47). As still a freshman, Daniel was promoted to be head over all the wise men of Babylon. He never completed the three years for his Babylonian College Degree and never graduated from the University of Babylon (v. 48). He  was brought to the king’s court and then asked that his friends may be promoted and they were appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon.  They also had not completed their three year College course at the University of Babylon (v. 49). But their wisdom, knowledge, and learning were given them by God.

Dear God,
We live in the time of the end and know that Your Son, the Rock of Ages, is soon to come. He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to fill the earth with His glory. May we hide ourselves in Him. Amen.

Koot van Wyk, DLitt et Phil; ThD
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea