Saturday, May 7, 2016

Walking in Wisdom

After pulling back last time and looking at the whole scope of chapters 2-4 of Daniel and what the narrative does to Nebuchadnezzar's life, let's focus in closer to chapter 2 and look at some details that help in the sanctification of the church.  In the first part of this chapter, Nebuchadnezzar is threatening his enchanters with being torn limb from limb, if they do not tell him his dream and interpret it.  The enchanters and magicians hem and haw, and finally Nebuchadnezzar leans in and says, "I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm." (verse 8)

This is a great verse in showing us the difference between a believer and and unbeliever.  These enchanters are ungodly people.  They do not have faith in the one true God.  Much less do they know about Jesus Christ.  So, when their lives are threatened, they don't know what to do.  They buy time, hoping that some twist of fate will rescue them.  Think of the ungodly people you know.  How do they go through life?  Hoping that fortune will smile down on them at some point, but not knowing from where good fortune even comes.

Paul says to the godly in Ephesians 5 that we should be careful how we walk (or live our lives), using the wisdom of Christ as our guide.  We are to use the time we are given wisely, not just tread water and hope things work out for the best.  Today's popular songs tell us to "Move Along" when things are going wrong.  There's no rhyme or reason to that advice.  It sounds like the enchanters and magicians of Babylon.  Another popular tune tells its hearers to "Shake it Off," as if turning your back on your problems will just make them go away.  The ungodly have no idea what to do, but their advice is readily available for a host of wayward youths who don't know right from wrong.

Paul says that the world is an evil place.  The things that happen it are evil, and yet we Christians are exiles in this very land.  We are assaulted at every turn by non-Christian ideas.  The people we interact with are smart but they are lost.  They will unconsciously try to lead us astray.  Paul says that we must be careful and to walk wisely but to make the best use of the time.  What is the best use of the time?  Understanding what the will of the Lord is, and that means being in scripture as often as you can.  Don't get drunk and foggy in this world, but use the Holy Spirit that the Lord has given you to interpret scripture for your never-ending comfort.  We are to pray and sing, worshiping the Lord with all our hearts and giving thanks for everything in the name of Jesus.

The enchanters were left with only desperation.  They tell the king that doing what he wants is physically impossible.  Only the "gods" could reveal the dream, and they are not of the flesh.  When "flesh" or materialism is all there is in one's philosophy, some answers cannot be given.  Things seem impossible, but remember Christ said that "nothing is impossible with God."  Now, look at Daniel: his reaction to the king's news is different.  The text says that Daniel replied with "prudence" and "discretion."  Sounds like walking wisely through this fallen world to me.  Daniel does not try to gain time, he merely asks the king for a time in which to reveal the dream and interpretation to him, and then he goes about using his time wisely.

He makes his request known to his fellow Hebrews.  Together they ask of God, seeking his mercy concerning the mystery.  They know that they don't deserve the answer to the conundrum, but they approach their Lord in faith anyway.  Daniel doesn't ask God to save only his chosen people, his church, he asks for mercy on the unbelieving enchanters, too. God then reveals the mystery to Daniel in a dream, and Daniel doesn't just cut off communication with his Lord, now that he has what he wanted.  He then praises and worships God.  God came through and not only gave Daniel the information he needed, but, in the process, saved all of the wise men in Babylon, godly and ungodly.

Daniel walked in wisdom toward the outsiders of Babylon.  He made the best use of his time.  His speech was gracious.  He did everything correctly as a member of God's chosen people.  Now, what are we supposed to get out of this comparison? Does this mean that we should start setting up our own dream interpretation business?  God was the interpreter of the dream, so we shouldn't trust in ourselves in this regard.  Being gracious and making the best use of our time as Christians in a fallen world applies to all things.  Daniel's was prophecy and the interpretation of dreams, but ours may be merely how we interact with people in our day-to-day vocations: our home life and our work life.

The important thing is the dream itself.  As we saw last week, the dream is about Christ.  What we walk away with from this passage is that in our interaction with the world, we find a way to share Christ with everyone who does not know him.  Daniel knows Christ.  You can see this in the words of his blessing to God in verse 22, when he hays of God, "he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him." The darkness is the fallen world, but the light is Christ himself.  He is the light of the world.  In him is life and this life is the light of men, shining in the darkness, and evil cannot overcome it.

Christ is also in the dream.  His kingdom is the mountain that crushes all previous kingdoms and can never be removed.  It will stand forever, and all believers will be a part of that kingdom.  It's not the behavior, the walking in wisdom, that makes us a part of this kingdom.  It's faith in Christ himself.  Only through faith will we be able to walk in wisdom, so the message we take away from this passage is not, "walk in wisdom and God will save you."  The message is, "God has saved you.  Look for the light, look for the mountain, there is the proof!  There lies hope!"  God gives his children the faith to repent and be forgiven of all our sins, past present and future.  He gives us the faith to submit ourselves to Christ.  The proof is in the scriptures.  As children of God, we have been given the wisdom to live as a citizen of Christ's kingdom.  If and when you doubt this, look to the light.  Look to the mountain.