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Daily Devotional • April 20

David Baumann
Something Is Different
A Reading from Daniel 2:31-49

31 “You were looking, O king, and there appeared a great statue. That statue was huge, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its midsection and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked on, a stone was cut out, not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “That was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings — to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory, 38 into whose hand he has given human beings wherever they live, the wild animals of the field, and the birds of the air and whom he has established as ruler over them all — you are the head of gold. 39 After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these. 41 As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. 42 As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from the mountain not by hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has informed the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain and its interpretation trustworthy.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshiped Daniel, and commanded that a grain offering and incense be offered to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery!” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.

So now we find out what Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was. You can imagine how his hands, white with tension, gripped the arms of his throne as Daniel described it. He held his breath in mortal terror when he realized that Daniel was doing so accurately. The dream was about a huge, powerful man who grew progressively weak and was then broken to pieces by a supernatural rock, with all fragments swept away by wind “without leaving a trace.” Surely the king had concluded that the dream was about himself; some Power greater than himself, something he had never thought possible, was going to destroy him.

“This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.” When Daniel revealed the interpretation, what a relief the king must have felt! He was not going to be destroyed as if he had never existed! On the contrary, “The God of heaven has given you dominion and might and glory.” That dominion is over “all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky.” Other kingdoms will follow with ever-decreasing power, and then another kingdom will arise to crush those weaker kingdoms while it will endure forever. The dream is about the future; it is not about him — other than to note that he is the “king of kings” symbolized by the golden head. 

No wonder that “King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor.” And then the fortunes of Daniel and his three friends, like those of Joseph before Pharaoh, rise to prominence and leadership. But there is something different; something has changed, and there can be no going back. Nebuchadnezzar has been told that he is the “king of kings” under the God of heaven. The God of Israel is the God of heaven. Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king, has an entirely new vision of who he is, and of who’s in charge.

David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Sheffield – The Church of England
Brotherhood of St. Andrew, Louisville, Kentucky
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