Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar: What Dreams Are Made Of?

A lion from Ishtar Gate of Babylon built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in about 575 BC.. The piece is located in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, in Istanbul, Turkey.

We all have them. I suspect that most dreams are just subconscious streams of thoughts and emotions played out in disconnected images in the twilight between full sleep and consciousness. They might be interesting to a psychologist, but we can hardly count on them for meaningful information or guidance.

Some people believe that all dreams have some meaning, and some people believe that dreams have external meaning and significance (not just internal, psychological meaning and significance). Though I question that, I don’t discount that God can speak to us through the medium of dreams.

For as much attention people give them, dreams are not a prominent feature of biblical focus. The dreams that come to my mind are the dreams of Pharaoh and the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. One of those dreams stands out to me, not so much because of the dream, itself, or its interpretation, but the response to it.

We need a little backstory first, though. Nebuchadnezzar could be ruthless, as kings often were. When he had a dream that troubled him in the second year of his reign (see Daniel 2), he called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what his dream was. They were eager to interpret it, but the king had something else in mind.

The King said that he had determined before summoning them that they must tell him what the dream was and interpret it or he would them “cut into pieces” and their homes “turned into piles of rubble”! I’m sure they were a bit less eager, but they pressed him, “Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

They didn’t understand him (or they didn’t want to understand him), so he clarified his demand again: “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you.” The King wanted them to tell him what his dream was. He figured if they could tell him what his dream was they could interpret it for him also.

They protested, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks!” Still, the King had them all executed. He would have executed Daniel also, but Daniel prayed to God and was shown the King’s dream during the night so that he was able to describe the dream and interpret it.

But this isn’t the dream I want to focus on. The interpretation of the dream in Daniel 2 was benign and foretold the distant future after the King’s life. King Nebuchadnezzar had another dream that is described in Daniel 4, and the interpretation of this dream was anything but benign.

To make a long dream short, the King dreamed of a mighty tree and a messenger from heaven who called out: “Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.” The messenger continued: “Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.”

Last, but not least, the messenger said that this is “the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.”

Daniel was “terrified” when the king called on him to interpret this dream, and the reason becomes apparent quickly enough. The King didn’t hesitate to execute the men who couldn’t tell him what his dream was. What would he do when the interpretation isn’t to his liking?

Daniel explained it despite the terror he felt. He said the dream was a decree from God against the King. Daniel told him he would be driven away from his people to live with the wild animals until he renounced his sins, repented of his wickedness, did what is right and acknowledged God.

imagine that Daniel trembled a bit as he spoke those last words! Who tells the King to repent and change his ways?… and lives to tell of it!

But the King doesn’t have Daniel executed. He unreasonably put to death the men who couldn’t tell him what his dream was, but he didn’t punish Daniel for the extremely unfavorable interpretation of the second dream.

That puzzled me a bit previously, but I had a dream the other night, and I think I understand it now. Let me explain how.

Continue reading “Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar: What Dreams Are Made Of?”

Is Donald Trump the King We Wanted?


Paul, speaking to the Christians in Rome, penned these words that echo today in the minds of people who seek to do God’s will: “there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

Lest we gloss over the historical context, Paul wrote these words from a Roman prison cell. He wrote them not knowing that he would never live free again. He would remain a prisoner until his public execution at the hand of those same Roman authorities established by God.

Not that Paul would have said anything different if he had known his fate. I don’t believe knowledge of his future would have changed anything he said. In the same letter to the Romans, Paul said, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8)

I have heard many people recite Romans 13:1 in support of defending Donald Trump. Many of those same people would not have given that verse much consideration during the Obama presidency.

The Scripture didn’t change. Our application of it changed.

Many people who have championed Trump for President, and Trump as President, have claimed that God wanted Trump to be President. Like Daniel in the Persian palace, they say Trump is God’s man in the White House.

I have been skeptical of that claim. Not that it couldn’t be true. It’s that I don’t see the fruit of it.

I admit that I had to be cautious in my skepticism as I read the story of a fireman, Mark Taylor, who prophesied that Trump would be President dating back to 2011. This was an entire term before Trump became president. Those prophetic words echoed in the back of my mind as the election results slowly revealed a Trump victory in 2016 to a nation of shocked newscasters and political pundits on live television.

(I note that the same man who claimed God told him Trump would be president, claimed he would defeat Obama in 2012. He was wrong about the timing. He has also claimed a number of things that have not occurred. “Taylor’s other prophecies have proven to be less than accurate. The Guardian reported that he said a ‘red tsunami’ would solidify Republicans’ hold on Congress, and that he predicted former President Barack Obama would be arrested for treason. Taylor also says Trump will release evidence of cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”)

Paula White, who is now an adviser to Trump in the White House, said after he was elected, “Trump had ‘been raised up by God’ and added, ‘It is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down. When you fight against the plan of God, you are fighting against the hand of God.’” Of course, she would have been just as right if she were speaking of Barack Obama eights years and four years earlier.

I wondered then, as I do now: does Trump’s victory mean that we (believers) won too? Did God give us what He wanted? Or did God give us what we wanted?

Continue reading “Is Donald Trump the King We Wanted?”