Here the prophet Daniel is pouring out praise to God regarding a miraculous insight given to him, the immediate consequence of which was to save his life. However, the subject of the revelation was even more amazing, far reaching, with implications for us all. It’s important to realise that there are profound and mysterious things, God knows and controls them all, and at times, for our good, he reveals some of them to us.
Daniel’s specific situation was unusual. He was one of the Jews taken into exile by the Babylonians several hundred years BC. He was even serving in the Babylonian court, under king Nebuchadnezzar. One day God gave the king a puzzling dream. The king sought an interpretation from the wise men of Babylon, the catch being that they had to reveal the dream along with its interpretation, to prove their credentials! They couldn’t do that, so the king became angry and ordered that all wise men be killed! Daniel (who was counted amongst these wise men) wisely prayed with his friends. In response God revealed the king’s dream to Daniel, and its interpretation. On telling the king, Daniel and all the other wise men were spared. The key and illuminating additional point is that the dream was about how future history would unfold – which is one of God’s secrets.
It’s important to note the fact that God gave the king this dream, setting the whole scenario up. As Daniel explained, ‘God has made known to the king what shall happen hereafter’(Daniel 2:45). So by implication, God also orchestrated the king’s response, and Daniel’s prayer, so that He could reveal the interpretation – otherwise what would have been the point of the unintelligible dream! This is a profound thing in itself – our world of mercurial leaders and spontaneous prayerful responses are all mysteriously under God’s sovereign control, in a way that’s difficult, perhaps impossible for us to fully understand. What we can understand though is that He’s running the show that we’re in, and that He reveals bits of the script as the story unfolds. God has a plan that’s working its way through, ‘He changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings, and sets up kings’(Daniel 2:21) and the ‘secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us’(Deuteronomy 29:29).
There are various levels to this revelation. On one level, if we have eyes to ‘“perceive”’(Matthew 13:15), certain things have always been obvious from looking at the set, for ‘the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity’(Romans 1:20). Sometimes, as here with the king and Daniel, God gives special insight through a ‘dream’(Daniel 2:45), ‘vision’(Daniel 2:19) or similar. In certain circumstances, again like here, that has become prophesy recognised as scripture, which is ‘God breathed’(2 Timothy 3:16). This revelation has been progressive, such that the apostle Paul could write hundreds of years later about ‘the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known… as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets’(Ephesians 3:4-5). The collection of Holy Scripture culminates in the apostle John’s amazing book of ‘Revelation’(Revelation 1:1), which when fulfilled will result in us seeing God ‘face to face’(1 Corinthians 13:12).
At every step this should blow our minds and evoke praise, as with Daniel here, right through to ‘“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!”’(Revelation 4:8), with visibly expressed awe – ‘my face was changed’(Daniel 7:28).
But how can we know it’s true? The main way is experiencing God’s reality as we walk with Him, but the book of Daniel provides some objective proof. The dream predicts a sequence of empires, the last of which was most logically the Roman empire. During this regime it’s foretold that God would establish a ‘stone’(Daniel 2:34) that would become ‘a great mountain, and fill… the whole earth’(Daniel 2:35), meaning ‘a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… it shall stand forever’(Daniel 2:44). In a later similar dream/vision Daniel saw, ‘one like a son of man’(Daniel 7:13), who would have an ‘everlasting dominion’ including ‘all the peoples, nations, and languages’(Daniel 7:14). Clearly this foresees Jesus, the ‘“Son of Man”’(Mark 14:62 etc.) who was given ‘“All authority”’(Matthew 28:18), and came during the Roman empire, ‘speaking about God’s Kingdom’(Acts 1:3) that started as a ‘“stone”’(Luke 20:18) but’s spreading to ‘“all the nations”’(Matthew 14:24). These well BC revelations are obviously half fulfilled already; so they will be completed.