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?”

Of Dreams and What May Come

Imagine for a moment that you are dreaming.

For some reason, dreams are a current theme in my life. I have never been one who remembers (most of) my dreams, so this theme comes a bit as a stranger to me. Not that what I write today has anything to do with a dream I have had.

This period of sheltering in place from the corona virus threat that has spanned virtually the entire world gives us time to pause and reflect, if we will use the time that way. I think that is a good use of this time, and I have been trying to spend more time, myself, reading, reflecting, praying, writing and re-calibrating. It seems from the increase in the number of people reading this blog that others are doing the same thing.

Today’s content comes not from me, but from a friend. Brian Asimor is a man of many talents. He is an artist who has spent his career doing art and illustrations, including technical patent drawings and portraits of people and animals. He is also a writer and thinker. I will let his writing speak for itself today:

Imagine for a moment that you are dreaming. Imagine in this dream you are witnessing a world like the one you know to be Earth. A planet that revolves around a star like our Sun. A planet populated with countless life forms from microscopic to the largest, vegetation, mammals, fowl and marine creatures.
Delve deeper in your imagination, into the very life experiences of each of these creatures as they interact with each other living out their lifespans and replicating their progeny to project and continue their purpose.
We as mankind see ourselves as the masters of our world. We see our advances in technology and science as amazing unto themselves. We credit ourselves with innovation and invention.
Imagine now as our dream flows on, we see God as a concept rather than the origin of all things. We see those who believe in God as ignorant and unsophisticated. We see trends as the cadence of the future. We see changing weather as our doing and think we can start or stop weather patterns by regulation of groups behavior.

We awaken to reality as we grasp our chest in pain and drop to our knees. This is no longer a dream. We find ourselves calling out to God to help us and save us from what is happening to our body. We are experiencing a heart attack and it is the one we feared all along. At that moment we realize that God is in charge and we are not. We are but one of God’s creatures that he loves and cares for. God has placed us here in this body, in this gender, in this bloodline, in this geographic locale at this moment of Earth time, all for a reason. That reason is to  exchange our talents and faculties with each other in harmony, pursuing wisdom, understanding and happiness as a family, the family of mankind!

Life is the highest school there is. It is a school of time, senses and experiences. It is the opportunity to advance our spirituality and shed the tethers of want. It is God’s Will for us! Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
In God I Trust we all will awaken to the importance we are to God and his plan. I pray you awaken this Saturday to Gods favor and blessing for you in your pursuits of the day.


I am reminder of CS Lewis who explored the idea in his book, The Great Divorce, that the lives we live in this world are dreamlike in quality compared to living with God in the life hereafter. In the book he portrays hell is an ethereal, ghostly world in which people are forever fading away from each other and reality. Heaven, by contrast, is so real that the grass doesn’t bend under the feet of the people emerging for the first time from the dreamlike world in which they lived. Heaven is more real then the people are as they emerge.

Remembering Jake Curby: the Weight of Glory

Jake Curby
Jake Curby

Just four years ago, a good friend of my son – a coach, a mentor, a teammate, a friend – died. Unexpectedly, he died. He was the epitome of strength and character, the product of hard work, moral fiber, faith and overcoming determination. He was a leader. He was a wrestler. 

He was an overcomer. He fought off cancer and epilepsy in high school to place 5th as a  senior in the Illinois State Wrestling tournament.

He was Jake Curby.

He coached my son to a runner up finish in the national Greco Roman wrestling tournament, and my son became his teammate at the Unites States Olympic Education Center. There Jake was a mentor, a beacon pointing the way to top of the Olympic ladder that Jake was climbing. From overcoming leukemia to 5th in the State wrestling tournament, from high school wrestling to earning a spot on the United States national team at 66kg in Greco Roman wrestling, Jake showed the way by doing it himself.

Jake Curby Climbing the Olympic Ladder

Jake returned from wrestling in Russia in January of 2010. He had jet lag from the time change. He was tired, but could not sleep. He went and worked out at the new senior level Greco Roman training center in Boise, ID where he was starting his final ascent to the top of the Olympic mountain. He returned to his home after the workout, and he died…. 

It was sudden and shocking. He was a specimen of strength, physical, character, emotional and otherwise. He had not had an issue with epilepsy for years. It seemed he had conquered that opponent, but he was worn out that day, tired and stressed by lack of sleep. Death came like a thief in the night and took him from us.

It was devastating to the USA Wrestling community, to the kids he coached, to his teammates and friends, to his family – to his fiancé – to all who knew him and celebrated his life. Few people at the age of 25 have the impact that Jake had, and few have been missed as much by so many people. He was the living example of a great human being with rock solid character and full of life.

Jake, Tanner & Jonathan (2)

Jake’s example lives on. His short, but full, life continues to be a source of inspiration for aspiring young people – not just wrestlers, but anyone who has a dream and dares to chase it. The Curby Cup that Jake’s father and mother and family and friends and the greater wrestling community have put on every year in the Chicago area is a testament to Jake’s life and the impact he has had on people. It is a marvelous event pulling in the best Greco Roman wrestlers in world to take on the best in the United States.

Jake’s Story

No one knows the day or hour that each person will breathe their last on this earth. There are no guaranties.  What we do with the time that we have, the impact we have on those around us and how people remember us is our legacy. Jake is gone, but he still inspires. His sister, Courtney, has captured that sense of sacred time wonderfully in this short video.

From Death to Life

Whether we live 25 years or 100 years, we all have the same end awaiting us. The time we have is a precious gift. There is no promise it will be easy. In fact, it most likely will not. It is in the striving, in the overcoming, in the courage to press on and to achieve the most that can be achieved with the raw material we have been given, that the fullness of being human is reached.

We live not as islands, as John Dunne penned, but are connected to the mainland of humanity. In all that we do, every single thing, we are influencing those around us for better or worse. Jake showed what it is like to live with a higher purpose and to dare to dream and chase those dreams with passion, determination, humility, good humor and grit.   

Jake also showed the value of faith and the freedom that comes from leaving the things that we cannot change to the God who made us. That is the freedom that allows a person to run unhindered toward the goals before them without the baggage of worry, doubt, regret, fear or a hundred base emotions that pull at most of us like a pack of dogs on the hunt.

In the end, however, all of our human striving is empty, the medals and trophies and accolades are meaningless, without a connection to the God who made us. We can not take those prizes with us when we shuffle off these mortal coils…. but there is a better end awaiting us: a new beginning.

The gift of life that we have in jars of clay is a shadow of the eternal life that is promised by the God who dared to shed his own heavenly glory and walk humbly among us, suffering and dying a cruel death to show us that even death, itself, cannot hold Him…. And He offers that same gift to us.

The challenges and troubles believers face in this life are working in us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. We should all dare to dream of great things, but do not neglect to hitch those dreams to greater, eternal things. Our days chasing these earthly dreams will end. Jake’s dream ended, but a far greater glory awaited him and awaits us who set our hearts on God.

Jake Curby – Tribute to Wrestlers