In Daniel 4, the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, saw a dream that made him afraid.
It was a terrifying dream, one that deserves our attention, but for now I’m most interested in the man he called to interpret the dream, a humble, Jewish exile named Daniel.
We learn a lot about Daniel from the conversation that precedes Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream. First we see Nebuchadnezzar’s words, then Daniel’s:
‘And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’ Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar answered and said, ‘My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!’ (Dan. 4:18-19)
These two verses give us a look at a real ambassador for God. Notice four things:
- He had built up an influence. Nebuchadnezzar said, “You are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you” (v. 18). Daniel’s talents are called upon twice in this book. In both incidences, he is not the first one out. Daniel waits until he is called. That says something about his influence. He let his reputation speak for itself.
Christians often ask, “What can we do about the bad things happening in our country?” I would suggest following the example of Daniel. In the Scriptures, the people who had the most influence over their governments were not the loud mouths or the people holding picket signs. They were the calm, convicted Christians who never compromised their integrity.
- He loved his country. In actuality, he wasn’t in his country. He was a Hebrew slave who had been taken captive by Babylon. But this just helps me make my point. Perhaps I should say, He harbored no ill will towards the country he sought to reform.
When he heard the dream, which spelled disaster for Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, he didn’t cheer. He was “dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him” (v. 19). Sometimes we have to share bad news (2 Tim. 4:2), but we don’t have to enjoy it.
- He prayed for his rulers. Daniel’s first reaction was to pray: “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies” (v. 19).
This corresponds with Paul’s words: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Pray. Pray for your country. Pray for an end to ungodly policies like abortion and gay marriage. Pray for peace. Pray for an end to poverty and injustice. Pray for an end to religious persecution.
- He was loyal to his country. After tragedies like the attack on the World Trade Center in New York and Hurricane Katrina, some so-called Christians rejoiced, saying that God had given America a wakeup call. I’ve even heard people say this country needs another disaster to straighten it out. This is the wrong attitude.
God through his providence may give this country a wakeup call, but it will not be anything to celebrate. It is tragic when a nation with great potential squanders its blessings.
Daniel prayed that the awful things portended in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream would befall his enemies, not him (v. 19).
Christians are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Like Daniel, we represent God on foreign soil. Daniel is a good example to follow.