Summary: Daniel and his 3 Hebrew friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) were not crippled by the foreign culture they had been forced to live in. On the contrary they thrived and were gifted with prominent positions of great influence. Maybe their greatest cha
Daniel and his 3 Hebrew friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) were not crippled by the foreign culture they had been forced to live in. On the contrary they thrived and were gifted with prominent positions of great influence.
Maybe their greatest challenge was the religious and spiritual environment they were forced to live among. It would have been so very different to their early years in Jerusalem.
BABYLON’S COUNTERFEIT SPIRITUAL CULTURE
Babylon was a polytheistic society. It is estimated that their pantheon of deities numbered as many as 2,500, though not all held great prominence.
Added to this plethora of religious icons we read that in Nebuchadnezzar’s court were “…magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers” (2:2)
Daniel and his friends not only lived in this environment but were in all likelihood educated in the nature of these doctrines and dark arts. This is the foreign spiritual environment Daniel and his friends thrived in.
Nebuchadnezzar had no doubt consulted these magicians on other occasions. His kingdom was overrun with dark and mystical practices.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR LONGED FOR AN AUTHENTIC SPRITUAL EXPLANATION
He wanted to know the true meaning of his dream. He was in no mood to be duped or deceived. He wanted an authentic explanation. Maybe he knew a deep dissatisfaction with the spiritual culture around him.
This was probably the reason he refused to tell the enchanters etc. what the dream actually was. In fact the penalty for deceiving him was severe and the rewards for relieving his obvious anxieties were great (2:5,6)
Nebuchadnezzar represents a longing in many for an authentic spiritual explanation. The human soul is challenged by many unanswered questions.
This is not uncommon from the culture we live in. Britain today is a very confused spiritual culture. We have every major religion at home in our society along with multitudes of strange and mystical arts.
This week a multi-faith group based in Carmarthenshire sought to protect ‘Shambo’ a sacred bull from slaughter because of bovine TB. It highlighted the breadth of religious communities at home in our nation today.
We now live in a society that seems more interested with New Age philosophies than with historic religion. Visit ‘Borders’ or ‘Waterstones’ bookshops and you will see that the religion sections are far inferior in size to those dedicated to mystical religions or New Age practices. Our national newspapers list telephone tarot services, palm reading and other ‘spiritual services’.
A few years ago one national newspaper carried a report about how Prince Charles had consulted a ‘dream doctor’ when his marriage to Princess Diana was at its worst and he was experiencing nightmares. Spiritual guru, Sir Laurens van der Post, secretly visited the Prince to try and help him understand what his dreams meant.
Mankind innately knows that he is not alone in the universe and that mortality is unsatisfactory. People are wanting to reach beyond the material world and are open to things that are simply pathways to the occult.
The enemy uses people’s genuine questions to lead them on dangerous journeys.
What is the purpose of this life? What happens after death? Is there a spirit world that we can connect with through séances and mediums?
Matthew 24:23 “At that time if anyone says to you, ’Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ’There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible”
Many people may not be opposed to the Christian message – they may simply be confused. Many of them do not know who God is or what the gospel is.
DANIEL PROVIDED AN AUTHENTIC SPIRITUAL EXPLANATION
Daniel stands out in these verse as a beacon of hope. Someone not tainted with the counterfeit practices of Nebuchadnezzar’s array of magicians and sorcerers.
With the pray support of his friends he goes to God for assistance. This is the only way he knew to thrive in this foreign culture.
2:21-23 “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king."
Daniel and his friends were a crucial part of God’s plan in Babylon. They were His representatives.
2:11 “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men."
The Babylonians never expected their gods to understand their world. Here is the crucial difference between Christianity and any other faith on the planet.