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ďThe Benefit of TrialsĒ


ďThe astrologers answered the king, ďThere is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.  What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.Ē (Daniel 2:10-11)
February 19, 2017





We sometime run our lives as if we are on cruise control. The picture is we are on lifeís turnpike. We have our speed set somewhere between 70 and 90 mph and there is no traffic ahead of us, the road is dry, your car is running like never before, and there are no speed traps in sight. Itís the kind of drive people love. But there is always something ahead that will cause you to hit your brakes and you are forced out of cruise control. And the thing that causes you to have to come out of cruise control can be anything: slow traffic, flashing lights, an animal crossing the road or whatever.
That seems to be a realistic picture of our text. Nebuchadnezzarís ride through life appears to have been on cruise control. He is a relatively new king of Babylon with only two years into his kingship. Heís been successful at attacking and walking away with the spoils from Judah and Jerusalem, a nation and city he had conquered. That was by no measure a small accomplishment.  Also, he has taken captive the very people of God.
Additionally, he has quite a cabinet consisting of wise men: Magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers or Chaldeans. One could quickly conclude that Nebuchadnezzar had funds to pay these wise men as they are also referred to in this chapter.
But even though he appears to be running on cruise control the thing that forced him to come out of cruise control was a dream. It was a dream that affected his mind and sleep. Now, letís be clear. When a personís mind and rest are troubled and at the same time, he has a major problem. He describes his problem but he doesnít tell his wise men nor us as much as we would like to know. He doesnít tell us what specifically troubles him about that dream. What is he keeping under the covers? What is he refusing to be totally and completely transparent about this dream? We donít know but we do know people are at times transparent only to a certain degree. They hold back. They tell only what they want you to know but not the full story. Was it his insecurity about being king? Was there something in his dream that caused him to question his ability to sustain his position as king of Babylon?
Also, he was forced out of cruise control by his direct reports. His direct reports seem to have been the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers! They seem to have had direct access to the king. Yet he gave these direct reports just one simple job. The job was for them to tell him what he dreamed and to interpret it so he could understand it. Now, you may be thinking that is awful hard to ask anyone, isnít it? Well, I donít think so when I carefully weigh such lofty and respectful titles: Magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers! What titles! Yet he makes only one request and that is to tell him his dream and to interpret it. It seems to me thatís reasonable since they claim to be the folks that do this kind of work. But they cannot tell the king his dream and the king is angry with them.
He expresses his anger by informing them that he was going to have them cut to pieces and have their homes turned into piles of rubble. Hearing the kingís words, they tried to stall him by telling him that no one does what he is asking of them. He doesnít buy it for a moment. He accuses them of trickery.
These wise men were unable to give the king an answer. Even their idol gods could not help them find an answer to the kingís question. Historians document that Babylonian theology assumed that each person born had his or her own god to defend, protect, guide, and care for them. However, these gods were localized and lived among the people yet their ability to help the people was severely limited.  
Also, Babylonian theology assumed that there were other gods but they did not dwell with humans. They were separated from humans and the people assumed that they could do so much more than the gods on the earth. But they had to assemble in large groupings and in plenary gatherings to see things from a circle point of view. And because they were separate from human dwelling, the people had no direct access to them to seek help for their problems.
As a result, the king is at his wits end. He doesnít see a way out of his problem. Though he has so much going for him and even though he he seems to be driving his life on cruise control, he hits a dead end. He doesnít have the answer for this problem in his life. His problems seem to be forcing him to see that he needs something else to keep going. His problems seem to be telling him that there is no one on earth that can handle his situation. His problems seem to be a blessing for him since he now can see that he needs help beyond anyone on the earth. He needs help beyond the so called wise men. He needs help that he cannot find or pay for.
There is a huge lesson in all this for us. At times, you need trials to help you to see that you need God. There are things in your life that will cause you to come of cruise control. When that happens, you can see that you are not nearly as independent as you may have thought.
When you look back over your life you too, like Nebuchadnezzar, will see that certain things in life forced you out of cruise control. So often these things come as surprises. They catch us off guard. We find ourselves being forced out of cruise control. When this happens in your life, I urge you to use it as an opportunity to seek Godís help for the challenges and hard questions in your life.
Due to the length of this second chapter of Daniel. I am forced to come out of cruise control and request you to stay tuned. Next Sunday I will pick up where I am leaving off today. Please join me for a continuation of this sermon and so we can learn how Nebuchadnezzar found the true answer to his question: What was the dream I dreamed and what is the interpretation of it? Amen.








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