Who’s Driving?

November 8, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV

When my son was around 3 years old, my wife was getting ready to leave to run some errands. As she was getting ready to go to the car, my son said, “I don’t want Mommy to drive.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because I love her.” This comment gave me some ammo to playfully ask my wife why our son was worried about her driving (to be fair she is a very safe driver…).

While amusing at the time, I’m not sure what my son meant at his young age asking who was driving and since then neither of my kids have ever worried about who was driving. They may ask which car they are going in, but they are never worried about either one of us driving because they trust us fully. It honestly shouldn’t be something they should worry about.

Many years ago I took a giant charter bus with a group of people to a mountain to go skiing. It was early morning and we were driving on this narrow path with a steep ledge on the side of the road. The bus was going fast winding through the mountain and it was snowing. My nerves kicked in and I had to remind myself that the driver was a professional (I hoped), had done this many times (I assumed), and would get me safely there (which he did). Once I gave over control to the driver, I was actually able to sleep the rest of the way and wake up safety at the ski resort.

My fear and need for control is the same reason I have a problem with flying, I don’t fully trust the pilots or the process and imagine we are doomed to go down in a fiery ball of death. In reality, flying is one of the safest modes of transportation (they say) and pilots are extremely reliable and have a lot of experience. Only once I breathe, relax, and focus on other things can I get through the experience with some of my sanity still intact.

It’s easy to want to control every aspect of our lives, after all God has given us control of certain parts and allows us to be good stewards with what we have. We have to be faithful to raise our families with structure and love. We have a responsibility to our career to be diligent as we work “unto the Lord.” And with finances, we have to be wise with how we use our money, giving charitably and not spending frivolously.

If God is ultimately in control of your life and IF you have given it over to Him, He should be the one steering your life in the direction that He has planned out for you. We should simply be along for the ride, acting in obedience along the way, and fully trusting in the direction we are going even though we can’t see the destination.

Nothing is worse while you are driving than being subjected to a backseat driver (that is sometimes at the front seat in the form of your spouse). When someone tries to interject comments to try and “help” it usually ends up being a distraction unless that help is specifically solicited.

When we try and take the wheel, so to speak, from God and give Him advice on where we should go, it is no different than my children telling me how to get somewhere. It is not helpful.

Our need for control tries to take away attributes of God through our assumption that we know better. Instead of trusting in God as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, we subjugate Him to our servant, a genie who we command to give us what we want.

We, however, are not all-knowing. Just like my kids do not see the upcoming construction in the road or the alert I got on my phone for traffic that caused me to take a detour, God may be taking us down a different path than what is “normal” or “comfortable.” It might be a path that leads us into safety and not comfort. It might be a path that enables our growth and not stagnation. It might just be a path that brings life and not death.

God has been down every road before, nothing is surprising to Him. We may be unsure of where to go but we can trust our Guide.

Our need for control can and does get in the way of the purposes and plans of God for our lives. He does not force His will on us, sometimes He has to shake us, but He would much prefer to find a willing vessel that doesn’t fight Him every step of the way.

The Bible says-

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

We want our plans to be glamorous, to bring us glory, to bring wealth, peace, health, and safety. However, Jesus said the “last will be first.” Many times the path He has for us is a road less traveled, a narrow path that forges us into the holy disciple that He can then trust with for more. And sometimes THAT path, to quote Robert Frost, makes ALL the difference.

Discerning Reflection: Have I given God control of my life while still being a good steward with the responsibilities I have? Can I trust in the path God is leading me even though I can’t see the destination?

Prayer: Lord, help me trust in you despite my need for control. Help me be ok with not knowing every detail but trust that you know the future and that I can trust you with mine.

Tim Ferrara

Who’s Driving?

During family crisis, here’s how the Helper offered solace

 

By Anne Graham Lotz

 

As my husband Danny’s health deteriorated due to Type 1 diabetes and its complications, I stopped traveling for the most part and embraced the joy of being his caregiver for three years. On an August afternoon, he was sitting by the pool, playing with our dog, and just relaxing in the summer sun. I stayed in the house to get some work done.

Suddenly, I realized it had been over an hour since I last checked on him. I ran to the window, looked toward the pool, and saw he was not there. With relief, thinking he had come in without my awareness, I ran through the house, looking for him and calling his name. No familiar voice responded. Only silence. A deep foreboding gripped my heart as I ran back to the window and saw our dog sitting by the water’s edge. When I called to him, he refused to come. I flew down to the pool and found what I knew I would.

There are no words to describe my desperate cry for help as I jumped into the pool, pulled my husband to the steps, and cradled his head on my lap. Even as I called his name over and over, even as I cried out to God for help, I knew I was looking at a man who was already seeing his Lord. The expression on his face was one of strength, confidence and utter peace.

GABRIEL ETZEL: THIS IS WHY WE SHOULD PRAY FOR OUR PRESIDENT

What transpired next required all the Helper’s assistance to get me through: staying on the line after my emergency call to 911, EMS arriving, medics running through the backyard and dragging Danny out of my lap, news helicopters swirling overhead, sheriff’s deputies standing by the pool and guarding the property, cars filled with curious onlookers lining our street — and then the scene indelibly impressed on my mind when Danny was placed on a gurney and wheeled out of our yard as he left the house for the last time.

In His great compassion, the Helper sent visible helpers also: a chaplain with the sheriff’s department who quietly stood by me as the EMS team worked on Danny, my son-in-law who put his arms around me as Danny was wheeled away, my children who came to sit with me in the small hospital ER waiting room, our doctor who appeared at Danny’s bedside and urged me to put my husband on life support … just in case.

As I walked through the valley of the shadow that climaxed in Danny’s official homegoing on the morning of Aug. 19, 2015, I experienced moment by moment the quiet, gentle, loving presence of the Helper. Two days before our 49th wedding anniversary, instead of enjoying a celebratory dinner together, I buried my beloved husband.

If I spent the rest of my book describing to you the Helper’s aid and assistance to me during that time, I would still run out of pages. He poured out His help as I found myself in the position of comforting friends and family, speaking on Aug. 21 to over one hundred men at the Bible study Danny had led, planning the service of celebration, and overseeing funeral arrangements. The incredible evidence of His supernatural help was revealed in the joy, peace, strength, and clear presence of mind that carried me through not just somehow but with absolute triumph! I will never cease to praise God for the One who “is my helper.”

Recently when I went through my mail, I came across a note from the wife of a man who had served with Danny on the national board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her husband had just died. She wrote that she had been his caregiver for over five years. Then she testified, “Never could I have carried the ‘thankful load’ without my dependence upon the Holy Spirit.” And I knew exactly what she meant.

What is your testimony? Whether you are a widower or a widow like me learning to live in a new reality, or a caregiver expending your life for an ailing spouse or elderly parent or disabled child, or a parent trying to raise your children to be followers of Jesus in a wicked world, or a businessperson operating according to biblical principles of integrity, or a politician walking a tightrope between truth and political correctness, or an educator teaching values along with the curriculum, or a cancer victim trying to navigate the maze of surgical options and treatments, the Helper is available to assist, aid, or furnish you with relief. I know. Just call on Him.

Excerpted from Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion. Copyright © 2019 by Anne Graham Lotz. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

 

 

 

Are You Out Of Alignment?

 

November 1, 2019  by Discerning Dad

Greetings brothers and sisters of Christ and all who are reading this! I would like to first preface this post by saying that this is more of an accountability post, for myself, than it is a sharable topic for Discerning Dad. I also will preface this by saying that it has been over 20 years since I had to write something of this nature and by no means am I a wordsmith. I would like to thank Discerning Dad for the opportunity, as well as constant follow-up, so that I can get this topic down in writing that the Lord put on my heart at our recent Men’s retreat in August.

As the title may suggest, the topic at hand is around the alignment of our lives and whether or not we are aligned (with our priorities) with what God tells us throughout scripture. Looking back in the days of Ward and June Cleaver, the man of the house would go off to work (9 to 5) while his wife stayed home and maintained the household and children. He would come home to a home-cooked meal and be present in the home for his family. All seemed right and family was the main priority.

As we fast forward to today, the average household most likely looks nothing like it did in the 1950s (this is true whether a Christian or secular household). Technology advancements now allow for work to follow us home. Both man and woman of the house work (or have work-like activities that are quite time consuming). Smartphones and social media have taken over the time that would have been spent with our kids, who are also spending large amounts of time connected to devices as well. The divorce rate is significantly higher and the rate of child drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and child suicide has increased in the hundreds of percent. What do these things have to do with the topic at hand? I think a whole lot.

What does God’s Word say about how we should have our priorities aligned? Well, there is nothing in one specific passage of the Bible that says the order we should have all our priorities. To figure this out, you have to look in multiple passages and add up the message for yourself. What I have found, I will present here. I am more than open to receiving any insight others may have, as I am far from an expert in this topic! Here is the order that I think makes sense and I will break down each one with references to scripture below.

1. God
2. Spouse
3. Children
4. Extended Family
5. Brothers and Sisters in Christ
6. Everyone (Everything) Else

God – Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

That says it pretty clear, in my opinion. If I am giving Him all of my heart, soul, and strength, then that pretty much puts Him at the top of the list! So….what does it mean to put God first? What does that look like? I have my ideas and would love to hear yours! I think that it would mean that the first thoughts, when I wake up in the morning, are of thanks and praise to God. That I get on my knees and pray to get my day started. Throughout my day, I am talking with Him and praying over decisions that I have to make, whether work or personal. That I do my best to prevent negativity to enter my mind, through my ears, eyes and thoughts. That I lead my family in daily reading of scripture, prayer and praise. That I tithe and give without any negative thought about that money leaving my account. That I help others in any way that I am able and that I be an example to others of what Christianity should look like.
Just a couple of things, right?

Spouse – “A married man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25).

For you ladies, “In the same way, wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22).

All this adds up to the fact that our spouses need to be second, only to God. So, how should this look in our households? For husbands, I think it starts by being the spiritual leader in the house. We have to set the tone and our wives have to follow our lead, when it comes to our spiritual lives. Men, this is THE most important job that God has given us. Our number one priority is to protect our household, spiritually, and we do that by being obedient in this step. Ladies, that means we need your support! It is ok to kindly call out your husband if he is distracted and slipping on his spiritual duties, but to take his place would go against God’s will.

Outside of our spiritual duties, there needs to be dedicated time for husbands and wives to spend together, daily. This means no kids or distractions, just the two of you talking about your day. This is a great time to pray together! Men, this time means so much to our wives! You need date nights, and time away together!

Both husbands and wives need to agree on financial decisions for the household, as well as decisions made about your children and families. Remember that you have entered into a partnership with each other and with God!

Children – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV).

We are raising the future Princes and Princesses of the One True King! This is an area that I often struggle with and have to be constantly reminded that what we do has much more of an impact than what we say. It is really easy for us to allow our busy lives to distract us from properly raising our children the way that God wants us to. That is the enemy at work! The enemy wants us to be distracted so that he can get to our kids unnoticed. As I said above, the rates of child drug addiction, teenage pregnancies and child suicide have rapidly increased and I believe this is due to our homes being out of alignment and our kids not seeing the proper example of what a Christian household should look like. If we are putting God first, our spouses second, then our kids will see that proper example and have far less of a chance for the enemy to get a hold of them. We will never be able to fully protect our kids from the world, we can only hope that the seeds that we plant, throughout their lives, bear fruit at the right time when the enemy (world) comes at them.

Family – “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV).

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8).

These are some pretty serious instructions given to us! Looking at these instructions, I am not seeing an age limit listed as to when we are no longer needing to honor our parents. Now, it says honor, not obey, as once we reach adulthood we should be leading our own households (one more reason why #3 is so important). As for the instructions in 1 Timothy, it is clear that we are to take care of our family. It does not say, “Provide for their relatives, as long as they agree with and obey you.” I myself have a multi-generational household and I think it is a really cool thing for my daughter to experience. I grew up living with my grandparents and I really cherish that time I had with them. I actually like how the downturn in the economy, back in 2008-9, forced many families to take in their parents and become multi-generational households. We can learn from and teach much to our parents, even after we are adults!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ – “Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:13 NIV).

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17).

This is a topic that I have found to be highly debated in the church, whether or not we are to judge fellow Christians on their actions and beliefs. I have personally felt that passing judgement, on anyone else, is way above my pay-grade and that I just need to speak wisdom, when appropriate, and pray for my brothers and sisters that are straying from His teachings. I am not walking in their shoes and I do not know the struggles that they are dealing with. For the brothers and sisters that the Lord has placed close to me, I may feel a little more compelled to “call them out” with love, when needed, as I have more knowledge of their situations and can speak with wisdom. There are many verses, all over the Bible, that tell us to lift one another up, to be compassionate towards one another and to spur one another towards love and good deeds.

Everyone Else – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

Jesus told us to share the Gospel with all that we can. If we are leading our lives in alignment with God’s word, then we will shine bright and people will come to us and ask us about what we believe. They will see how we react when we are faced with adversity, how strong our relationships with our spouses are, how our kids seem “so happy” and are great examples to the other children, and how we take care of our families and each other. Our actions will certainly be louder than any words that we can speak!

In conclusion, this is far easier said than done. Everything that I have written today goes against what is being thrown at us by the enemy. We live in a “me” driven society, which seems to only be going farther and faster in the direction opposite of God. We Christians must decide that enough is enough and stand in the gap for those that have strayed and for those that do not know the Good News! We must take action, which starts in our own households. We must get into proper alignment with God! May the blessings of the Lord be with you all! I hope you found this to be worth your time and I hope that it spurs you into action!

Mike Cataldi
Guest Discerning Dad

Guest- Mike Cataldi- Are you out of alignment?

A Vital Necessity

Have you ever sat down and considered what’s important in your life?

 

 

by Pastor Ray Patrick

 

Have you ever sat down and considered what’s important in your life? What do you consider to be vital or a necessity? What can’t you live without? Most of us would say food, water and shelter. Yes, you need those things to exist, but we can’t really live unless our minds and hearts are set on seeking the Lord who is the giver of life.

Sure, you can exist without a knowledge of God, but you can’t live without Him giving you the breath you need to stay alive, but if that’s all you want from God what’s the point? He has much more in store for you. Besides, you are called to more than just mere existence; you are called to live — to thrive — to enjoy your life abundantly!

Today, set your mind beyond mere existence, set your heart on seeking the Lord for all He has for you! Write down your needs and wants, match them up to God’s promises in scriptures, commit them to memory. Whenever you can, think about those verses. Meditate on God and His infinite love. When you see the Lord as a vital necessity in and for your life, you will truly live and enjoy the abundant life He has in store for you! Hallelujah!

“Set your mind and heart to seek (inquire of and require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God…”

(1 Chronicles 22:19, AMPC)

Pray With Me
Yahweh, today I choose to set my mind on You. Father, I need You not just for existence, but to truly live, therefore I seek You with my whole heart. God, please show me Your love and character today as You meet my needs and supply my wants. Lord, show me Your ways that I may walk and live close to You, in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2019/10/23/a-vital-necessity/

Can Life Be Limited For God’s Child?

Oct 16, 2019

 

📝: GOD LOVES A PURE CONSCIENCE ❤️

When a child of God lives life based on their convictions(faith), according to the Word of God, he/she is pleasing to God.

Now the question is why should one live according to His Word? Because God set us free from the clutches of sin, the enemy, sickness and death and purchased us with His own blood. The freedom we received in Christ is spiritual and supernatural. It is the highest standard which mankind could ever imagine because Jesus Himself died, was buried and rose again from the dead to save us from death.

But there are times when we feel limited? When is that? When we desire the things of the flesh and in turn become burdened with life; or in other words when we become carnally minded. Secondly , also when we work under organisational and institutional rules, we feel limited. Any rule bound to be followed and isn’t liable to change, becomes tough in the long run.

The fact of the matter is — Everything in this world is limited. As children of God, the freedom we have received in Jesus will always have its challenges as we journey onwards. The more we desire to live by faith the more the opposition increases. The corruption in the world, the presence of evil and selfish desires will always make us feel limited. Therefore we must learn to set our expectations correctly.

Also, know who you belong to. Walk in the freedom of your faith. Let God be pleased with your living and giving. Give freely. May Gods Grace abound in us always!

Be blessed

Original here

Authorities link Bibles and porn in communist campaign

New Chinese attacks blasted as ‘slanderous to God’

Chinese Communist Party authorities long have sought to suppress religious faith, from arrests and detentions of leaders to wholesale destruction of places of worship.

Now they’re trying a mind game, linking Bibles to pornography with the apparent hope that society’s general disgust with one will lead to rejection of the other.

Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China, reports that in a campaign “to eradicate pornography and illegal publications,” the state is targeting religious venues and imposing more bans on publications.

Bitter Winter points out that controlling free speech and the printed word is one of the ways the Communist Party has suppressed religious belief.

Since March 2018, “online and retail sales of Bibles have been banned in China, and hymn books or other spiritual readings aren’t allowed in churches unless sanctioned and published by the government.”

In August, posters promoting the campaign to “eradicate pornography and illegal publications” were put up in Fengzhuang Three-Self Church, a congregation of the government-controlled national church in Zhengzhou city in the central province of Henan.

“The government’s campaign to ‘eradicate pornography and illegal publications’ has actually swept into churches. This is slanderous to God!” one of the church’s workers told Bitter Winter.

“This isn’t just slanderous, but is a trap laid by the devil to make people mistakenly believe that there is a severe problem with the church’s ethos,” another said.

Bitter Winter reported that earlier in the month, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Zhengzhou city’s Erqi district “convened a meeting of the persons in charge of religious venues, demanding them to display information promoting the campaign against illegal publications in their places of worship.”

In an open letter, the Chongyang county government in the province of Huebei warned that “dark and evil forces” and “pornography and illegal religious publications” are associated with religious belief.

Such “harmful information” is described as anything that would “weaken, distort, or negate the “party’s leadership or China’s socialist system.”

Included are sermons, religious publications and Bibles.

“Many believers have reported that the Three-Self churches to which they belong have been subjected to sudden inspections by the government. All newspapers, hymnbooks, gospel leaflets, and especially Bibles that weren’t published and printed by the state were confiscated and even burned,” the report said.

A church in Shenyang city was fined $1,400 when South Korean Bibles were found.

Fox News reported Marco Respinti, the director-in-charge of the Italian-based Bitter Winter, said the Communist Party is using “very tricky, subtle cultural warfare” to combat the church in China.

“Sometimes the CCP says you’re allowed to have religious materials in the state-controlled church, but then they stop people, so it’s contradictory,” Respinti said. “They are trying to control all of culture, and religion is a huge part of people’s culture. So they’re trying not only to stop people’s public expression of religion but they are also trying to go into personal things — beliefs — they are trying to indoctrinate people through these banning of religious materials.”

 

Original here

The Rise and Fall of World Powers

The Forgotten Dream and the Unforgettable Daniel

By John MacArthur

 

INTRODUCTION

George Washington once said, “Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” He was right. Most people have a price. A truly uncompromising man or woman is a very rare commodity. But that’s exactly the kind of person God looks for to do His work. He wants choice servants for choice ministries.

Daniel was such a person–he wouldn’t compromise (Dan. 1). So God used him to reveal His redemptive plan for Israel and the nations of the world. In Daniel 2 we find the most comprehensive prophetic picture of human history in the Old Testament. God chose Daniel because his uncompromising virtue and character put him in a position to influence the world through his prophecy.

The first 30 verses of chapter 2 divide into two simple thoughts: the forgotten dream (vv. 1-13) and the unforgettable Daniel (vv. 14-30). Daniel received a divine commission to reveal God’s plan in the midst of a crisis.

 

LESSON

I. THE FORGOTTEN DREAM (vv. 1-13)

A. The Dream (vv. 1-3)

1. The king’s response (v. 1)

“In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, and his spirit was troubled, and his sleep went from him.”

In Daniel 2:28-29 Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, “Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these: As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter.” Lying in his bed one night, Nebuchadnezzar wondered what would happen to the world after he died.

Cataclysmic things had already taken place. The Babylonians had recently supplanted the Assyrian Empire and decisively defeated Egypt, which would never fully rise from its ashes. Israel had been taken captive, and Judah was in the process of dissolution.

Apparently God gave Nebuchadnezzar several dreams because the Hebrew word translated “dreams” is plural. But I believe one particular dream gave him the most anxiety. The Hebrew word translated “troubled” refers to a deep disturbance. Ordinary dreams can trouble a person, but not with the intensity indicated here. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream troubled him because it was God ordained.

Dreams Ordained to Reveal the Truth

It was not that unusual for God to reveal His plans in dreams to people in the past. Numbers 12:6 says that the Lord spoke to the prophets in visions and dreams. In Genesis 28:10-15 Jacob had a dream that promised him the land of Palestine. God spoke in dreams to Joseph (Gen. 37:5-10), Abimelech (Gen. 20:3), and Solomon (1 Kings 3:5-15). God revealed to Pharaoh in a dream that Egypt would experience seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (Gen. 41:1-8). Through a dream God indirectly provided encouragement to Gideon and his men (Judg. 7:13-15). God no longer speaks through dreams because He has completed His revelation. Hebrews 1:2 says He “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” But in former days, God chose to speak through dreams.

 

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream panicked him. To make matters worse he couldn’t remember much of the details. (I believe God removed most of it from his memory.) Since only the fear of the dream remained, the king probably spent the remainder of the night in sleepless anxiety. By morning he was an emotional wreck.

2. The king’s request (vv. 2-3)

“Then the king commanded to summon the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.”

a) Gathering the experts

Nebuchadnezzar appealed to the brain trust of the Babylonian Empire to help him figure out his dream.

(1) Magicians–The Hebrew term translated “magicians” refers to fortune-tellers. It can also refer to scholars. In ancient societies it wasn’t unusual to see the two roles combined.

(2) Astrologers–These stargazers charted the positions of the stars and tried to determine peoples’ destinies on the basis of how they were arranged, much like those who make up horoscopes claim to do today.

(3) Sorcerers–These spiritualists and enchanters were mediums who attempted to talk with the dead.

(4) Chaldeans–Originally from southern Babylonia, the Chaldeans eventually rose to a place of prominence in the courts of Babylon after Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’s father, himself a Chaldean, became king. Supposedly they were the wisest and most knowledgeable in the arts and sciences of Chaldea (Babylon).

As so many people do today, the king sought out the so- called experts. The king’s advisors believed in the importance of dreams, so they were anxious to help out the king.

 

The Chaldean Dream-Reading System

The Chaldean “experts in dreams worked on the principle that dreams and their sequel followed an empirical law which, given sufficient data, could be established…. Dream manuals, of which several examples have come to light [see A.L. Oppenheim, “The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 46.3 (1956): 203ff] consist accordingly of historical dreams and the events that followed them, arranged systematically for easy reference. Since these books had to try to cover every possible eventuality they became inordinately long; only the expert could find his way through them, and even he had to know the dream to begin with before he could search for the nearest possible parallel” (Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1978], pp. 86-87).

 

b) Presenting the problem

The king presented a challenging problem for his advisors: he had a dream, but had forgotten it (v. 3). The text in verse 1 indicates the king dreamed many dreams, but the use of the singular in verse 3 indicates that only one made a lasting impression. The king’s problem was about to become his advisor’s problem.

B. The Dilemma (vv. 4-9)

1. The Chaldeans’ confidence (v. 4)

“Then spoke the Chaldeans to the king in Aramaic, O king, live forever; tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.”

This verse begins a lengthy section written in Aramaic instead of Hebrew (Dan. 2:4;7:28). Aramaic was the main language used in the courts, and later in all southwest Asia. The wise men began, “O king, live forever” which is to say, “Long live the king.” That phrase was standard court etiquette. Then, with great confidence, they asked the king to recount his dream so they could interpret it for him. But the king couldn’t do so.

2. The king’s challenge (vv. 5-6)

“The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me. If ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation of it, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a refuse heap [dung hill]. But if ye show the dream, and its interpretation, ye shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor; therefore, show me the dream, and the interpretation of it.”

Nebuchadnezzar put his advisors on the spot. If they couldn’t reveal and interpret his dream they faced ruin. But if they were successful they would receive great reward and honor.

I believe Nebuchadnezzar was cynical of his advisors’ system of interpreting dreams. He may have believed the lot of them were nothing more than charlatans. So he put his court wise men to the test to determine if they had been telling the truth in the past, and if they were worth his confidence in the the future. And He had to know, because forgetting a dream was considered an ominous sign in the Orient: it meant the gods were angry.

Commentators translate the phrase “the thing is gone from me” (v. 5) differently. Some believe the king said, “I am sure of it,” implying he did know the dream but was holding it back from his advisors. However I believe he had forgotten the dream–it is the only solution that makes sense to me given the context. I believe God wanted the king to forget the dream to expose the impotence and deception of Babylonian wisdom. At the same time it established Daniel as the mouthpiece of God unequaled by any of the Babylonian wise men. As the king gave his wise men the ultimate test to determine their integrity and true abilities, he appeared tyrannical and unreasonable. Commentator H.C. Leupold said, “We venture to say that, if the Chaldeans had not made pretense of having access to the deepest and most completely hidden things, the king would never have made this unreasonable request of them” (Exposition of Daniel [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969], p. 89).

The king promised a devastating punishment if he discovered they couldn’t interpret his dream: he would cut them to pieces and turn their houses into manure piles. Such a punishment was not uncommon in ancient middle-eastern cultures when someone had severely dishonored himself or defamed an exalted person. The victim was executed and his house torn down and replaced by a public outhouse (e.g., 2 Kings 10:27). But if the Chaldeans did what the king asked, they were to be greatly rewarded.

3. The Chaldean’s claim (v. 7)

“They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it.”

Not having any other choice, the wise men held their ground. They realized they faced a serious dilemma. They knew they couldn’t recount the dream–they didn’t have access to divine truth; they couldn’t ascend into the supernatural realm. Their pretentious claims would be exposed unless they knew the dream.

4. The king’s cynicism (vv. 8-9)

“The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you; for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time is changed; therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me its interpretation.”

The king could see that his advisors were stalling. He knew they had prepared wicked lies for him. That gives us a true indication of how he felt about his advisors. He saw the phoniness of their system. He probably remembered past predictions that had never come to pass. He was cynical about the whole system.

C. The Deficiency (vv. 10-11)

1. Confessed (v. 10)

“The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can reveal the king’s matter; therefore, there is no king, lord, nor ruler that asked such things of any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.”

The wise men claimed the king was asking them to do the impossible. No one can predict the future. Horoscopes aren’t reliable apart from demonic influence and mind control. The only place anyone can read about the future is in the Bible. The wise men concluded that no ruler, no matter how great and powerful he might be, was justified in asking anything like Nebuchadnezzar did.

2. Contrasted (v. 11)

“It is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is no other that can reveal it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

The wise men correctly identified the supernatural as the only source from which such information is available. They were trapped in their inability to gain access to that realm.

D. The Decree (vv. 12-13)

“For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.”

The wrath of a demanding monarch knows no limitations. The king was angry for several reasons: he couldn’t remember the details of a dream that had caused him great fear, he couldn’t trust his wise men to tell him the truth, he was convinced they had lied to him in the past, and they criticized him, claiming he had no right to demand of them what he had. So he stooped to the depths some dictators will when their desires are crossed: he ordered that they all be executed.

Daniel and his fellows were sought because they were part of the corps of court advisers. Since they were only apprentices, however, I don’t believe they were in the group of wise men who had been summoned by the king.

 

II. THE UNFORGETTABLE DANIEL (vv. 14-30)

The king’s wise men had been forced to admit that only a supernatural being could reveal the details of a forgotten dream to anyone. That admission set up the scene for Daniel exactly as God planned. He was God’s man commissioned to reveal prophetic truth at a time of crisis.

Certain character qualities make a person useful to God at such a time. Many people are useful to God when life is calm, but when a crisis hits, those with true commitment are separated from the marginal. Daniel was faced with an angry monarch about to slaughter all his wise men, himself included.

A. His Composure (vv. 14-15)

1. A calm attitude (v. 14)

“Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon.”

Daniel was calm and composed even though his life was on the line. He never panicked because he had confidence in God. He knew his destiny rested in God’s sovereign will. People who respond to a crisis like that are prepared before the crisis ever comes.

The phrase translated “counsel and wisdom” could easily be translated “wisdom and discretion.” Daniel spoke appropriately and reasonably. When the king’s guard approached Daniel to inform him of the decree and seize him, he responded appropriately with great counsel, wisdom, and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the guard.

Since the Aramaic root translated “captain” comes from a verb that means “to slay,” Arioch may have served as the king’s executioner. Although other soldiers in the guard were collecting the various wise men, the captain himself went to see Daniel. That enabled Daniel to have direct access to the king through the king’s own executioner.

2. A careful question (v. 15)

“He answered and said to Arioch, the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.”

We can see that God controlled Arioch’s response since he took the time to explain the situation. Daniel had the ability in the midst of panic to put people at ease. Daniel was fearless because his life was in God’s hands. A man without composure will never have an effective long-range ministry because ministry involves meeting one crisis after another.

B. His Courage (v. 16)

“Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the [dream and its] interpretation.”

Instead of executing Daniel, Arioch apparently arranged an audience with the king for him. Though only a youthful apprentice, Daniel boldly asked the king to give him time to show the king the whole interpretation. Daniel was not at all presumptuous in his request to the king. He knew God had given him the ability to reveal dreams and visions (Dan. 1:17).

The king did not grant the wise men the time they so desperately needed, yet he did to Daniel. Why? Perhaps he remembered when he first examined Daniel and his friends and found them ten times wiser than the wisest men in Babylon (1:20). But also Daniel was courageous. Its hard not to admire a man with strong, confident faith in God, and the willingness to face a frustrated, raging king.

If you don’t have composure and courage, you’ll never make it through a crisis. But you can be composed and courageous any time when you know you stand on the authority of God’s revealed Word.

C. His Prayer (vv. 17-19a)

1. The request (vv. 17-18)

“Then Daniel went to his house, and he made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, his companions; that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”

Daniel went back to tell his friends that he had been granted time to determine the dream and its interpretation. At once they began to “desire mercies of the God of heaven.” That’s a long way of saying that they began to pray. Daniel’s confidence was in God, so he immediately sought communion with the Lord. God’s special servants are people of prayer. Daniel could have depended on his righteous character and his gift of interpreting dreams and visions, but he depended on God. He didn’t expect to receive what he needed without prayer. He depended on God’s mercy. He didn’t look to men’s wisdom or in dream books; he got on his knees. God’s man in a crisis doesn’t take his troubles to other people; he takes them to God. He may ask other people to pray with him as Daniel did, but he knows God is the source.

2. The answer (v. 19a)

“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.”

In the middle of that night of prayer, God revealed His secret to Daniel.

D. His Praise (vv. 19b-23)

1. He blessed God (vv. 19b-22)

“Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God forever and ever; for wisdom and might are his, and he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to those who know understanding; he revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.”

Daniel blessed God in what amounts to a hymn of praise. His blessing was directed to “the name of God,” which is all that God is. He blessed God for His attributes such as His wisdom, power, and omniscience.

2. He thanked God (v. 23)

“I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee; for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.”

Daniel thanked God for His blessings and especially for answering his and his friend’s urgent prayer request.

E. His Compassion (vv. 24-26)

1. Daniel’s plea (v. 24)

“Therefore, Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and said thus unto him, Destroy not the wise men of Babylon. Bring me in before the king, and I will reveal unto the king the interpretation.”

Daniel went to Arioch to make sure the executioner didn’t carry out his assignment. Here we see Daniel, a Hebrew captive, countermanding an order given by the king! I think Daniel was motivated by compassion for the wise men. He knew they were lost in their idolatry and doomed to hell. He didn’t want them to die.

2. Arioch’s declaration (v. 25)

“Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.”

With much excitement, Arioch brought Daniel before the king, taking more credit than he deserved. Actually Daniel had approached him, but when you’re a servant of the king there’s a tendency to do all you can to impress your master.

3. Nebuchadnezzar’s question (v. 26)

“The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation of it?”

The king put Daniel on the spot. If Daniel couldn’t fulfill his claim, there would be an even greater reason for his execution since he had postponed the king’s original command. So he pressed Daniel for a confirmation of his ability.

F. His Humility (vv. 27-30)

In spite of all his gifts, brilliance, and spiritual maturity, Daniel remained humble. Furthermore, he had received extensive training, was ten times wiser than the other wise men, and could interpret visions and dreams. If anyone had anything to be proud of, Daniel did. But he remained humble.

1. The ineffectiveness of the wise men (v. 27)

“Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, reveal unto the king.”

Daniel wanted to affirm the futility of astrology and the like. He set the true God against useless dream manuals.

2. The supremacy of God (vv. 28-29)

“But there is a God in heaven who revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king, Nebuchadnezzar, what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed are these: As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he who revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.”

God had given the king a dream about the “latter days,” which refers to the final portion of a time period. In this case Daniel was referring to the time of the Gentiles, extending to the millennial kingdom.

3. The attitude of Daniel (v. 30)

“But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.”

Daniel wouldn’t take any credit for knowing the king’s dream. God is the revealer of secrets. Daniel knew he had been used by God for His purposes.

 

CONCLUSION

Daniel was a man for a time of crisis. He was composed and courageous. His relationship to God was strong as seen by his communion with Him in prayer. And he had the right attitude toward others, revealed by his compassion and humility. Daniel was a rare man, and that’s why God used him the way He did. He was a choice servant.

 

Focusing on the Facts

1. What did George Washington mean when he said, “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder”?

2.What virtue of Daniel put him in a position to be greatly used of God?

3.What was the king’s response to the dream that he received from God (Dan. 2:1)?

4.When was it normal for God to reveal truth in dreams? Why would it be abnormal today?

5.What action did the king initially take to find answers to his dream (Dan. 2:2-3)?

6.What did the king’s advisors believe about dreams? What tools did they use in their analyses?

7.Why did the king decide to put his court wise men to the test?

8.Why didn’t God allow Nebuchadnezzar to remember his dream?

9.According to Daniel 2:8-9, what was the king’s analysis of his advisors and their dream-reading system?

10.What is the only source that can accurately predict the future (Dan. 2:11)?

11.Explain why the king wanted to destroy the wise men of Babylon (Dan. 2:11-12).

12.Why didn’t Daniel panic under the threat of death?

13.What is significant about Arioch’s coming to arrest Daniel?

14.What did the king grant to Daniel that he refused to give to the wise men?

15. What gave Daniel boldness to go before Nebuchadnezzar?

16.What did Daniel and his friends do with the time they’d been given to determine the dream and its interpretation (Dan. 2:17-18)?

17.What do we learn about God from Daniel’s prayer (Dan. 2:19-23)?

18.How did Daniel reveal his compassion (Dan. 2:24)?

19. Why might Daniel have had reason to be proud? How did he demonstrate his humility (Dan. 2:30)?

 

Pondering the Principles

1. Do you personally know people who consult mediums and horoscopes to gain direction for their lives? Have you offered them the Word of God as the most trustworthy guide for living? Make a brief study of the following passages to learn what you might share with them to help lead them away from their dependence on the occult to faith in God:

* occultic practices condemned by God (Ex. 22:18Lev. 19:263120:6Deut. 18:10-12Gal. 5:19-21Rev. 22:15)

* the tendency of the occult to overshadow divine truth and authority (1 Sam. 15:23Isa. 8:19-20)

* demonic influences behind the occult (Acts 16:16-18)

* the impotence of occultic practices before God (Isa. 44:24-25Acts 16:18)

* the association of the occult with false prophets (Jer. 27:9-10)

* the consequences of occultic practices (1 Chron. 10:13-142 Chron. 33:69-11)

Use these passages to direct your friends toward faith in God: Deuteronomy 29:29Isaiah 46:9-1055:6-8John 8:1216:13.

2.How does your character hold up under crisis? What was the last crisis you faced? How long did it take before you prayed to the Lord for guidance and strength? Do you feel you were fully trusting God for the outcome? Are you spiritually prepared for the next crisis? How do you feel you can best prepare yourself for it? Meditate on the following to increase your confidence in the Lord’s protection and deliverance: Psalms 4, 23, 27, and 34.

https://www.gty.org/library/study-guides/182/the-rise-and-fall-of-world-powers

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