Daniel 2:17-18

Is it God who leads your life? Is it another spirit? Or are you an atheist?

Daniel 2:17-18

"Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon"

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NIV translates the original Aramaic literally and perfectly. "...plead for mercy from the God of heaven" is the way they chose to save their lives, praying to the God of Israel to get revelation about the dream of the king and its interpretation.

The patriarch Abraham was born about 2168 BC in "Ur of the Chaldeans" and he was living there until God called him. Ur of the Chaldeans is a city in Mesopotamia which is very known through archaeology in secular history. It is known to be located in southern Mesopotamia and that it was three times the capital of Babylonia. This Abraham is the one who God chose to create the people of Israel. The descendants of Abraham dwelt in Egypt and became slaves there (as God had given him in a prophetic word) and they were delivered by Moses circa 1448 BC and led through an exodus to the promised land, Israel.

Both Abraham in Mesopotamia and his descendants in Egypt abode in pagan and idolatrous societies, which worship many false "gods". The goal of God when He called Abraham was precisely to create a people for Him, "God's people". In order that they should know Him and follow Him in His way, when they went out from Egypt the Lord took Moses in the mount Sinai and gave him the well known "ten commandments", among many other laws. In the first commandment God presented Himself as the One "who brought them out of Egypt" and expressely prohibited to worship another gods. The second comandment is, "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6) This should sound strange to our modern ears, but the false "gods" had "images" of animals, or persons, or an animal body with a person head, or vice versa. Those "gods" received worship and offerings - even human sacrifices. Those images were called "idols" and their worship, "idolatry".

Whats the relationship of this "history lesson" with Daniel in Babylonia, a thousand years later?

Observe that Daniel went to his friends, "to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery". As every Jew, he knew that God who "shows love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments", and he knew about the "father Abraham" and about Moses, the deliverer of his people. Because of his knowledge of God, he sought the answer in God, and he found it.

There is great power in praying. The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened". These blessed words compare praying with a petition to God, or seeking something or knocking at someones door. And the answer is granted in every case (to receive, find or be received). The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". We have a promise here: if we, instead of been restless and anxious because of unanswered questions, pray to God and give Him thanks for His care, we will have peace (a peace which comes from that certainty that He will answer, sooner or later)

There's even more. God gives especial atention to the believers who pray together. Our Lord also said, "If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

But... (we could argue) Daniel and his friends never read the gospels or the letters of Paul. How could them act in conformity with those commands?

Let us not forget that the God of the New Testament is the same of that of the Old one. The Lord and his apostles were Jews, as the prophets who wrote the Word of God from Genesis to Malachi. Two of these prophets were kings in Israel, in the times of greatest splendor, power and prosperity that God's people saw in Antiquity: king David and his son Solomon. The first one wrote most of the book of Psalms; the second, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and most of Proverbs. King David writes in psalm 105:4, 8, "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always"..."He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations". And king Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two are better than one". Daniel and his friends had, in other words, the same commands and promises that we have in the New Testament. They didn't get "anxious" but presented their problem to God.

There are two points we can notice in their prayer: their are not coming to God - as I would - in a "justice" basis, but in order to receive "mercy" (an undeserved love or compassion). About that epoch, the babylonians conquered Judah and Jerusalem, they set the temple on fire and they took all the Jews from the nobility and almost all professions as captives (they only "left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields" as it's written in 2nd Kings 25:12). This catastrophe is the theme of the book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah. We can read there (Lm 3:22-23) "Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness". If somebody could know that the punishment which came over the nation was a just retribution because of their sins, it was Jeremiah, who prophesied to lead them to repentance. But it's not about "justice", it's about "mercy". That's why in the middle of his mourning we find this song of hope and confidence in God's mercy and goodness. God will not "grant us justice" because we deserve it, but because He is good. This confidence is faith in God, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us.

Another remarkable feature in Daniel's prayer with his friends was their "active" faith. In the previous message we saw which great faith Daniel showed to believe that God could save them through the revelation of the dream of the king (something miraculous, humanly impossible) This faith is a "gift" of the Holy Spirit (not only a passive confidence, but an active one) They came before God with their purpose (to receive a revelation in order to be spared from death)

We have told in earlier testimonies how God let us come to Sweden in a miraculous way (to get a passport and to travel to other countries was no "human right" granted to those who lived under communism, and hardly to those who have been classified as dissidents) This travel was an answer to many prayers that we presented before the Lord. But it was not an immediate answer; we had to wait some years before we got it. One day I got a "wait!" answer (it should be in the time of the Lord, not in "my" time). Then I prayed another way, "if this is not immediate, please let me leave this job I have and begin in some other one".

Among the different jobs I've had, three of them (draftsman, design engineer and PC programmer) were in a engineering company, which served the whole country. There worked ca. 500 employees (engineers, architects, design engineers, draftsmen, finance estimators, programmers and others) It is easy to understand that it was a place of high political pressure (in communist regimes every place is, but the largest, the worst) As a dissident, it was more and more exhausting to work there, and you can add to that feeling that I had confronted authorities and renounced to political organizations. For those who doesn't know about the functioning of communist states, to belong to a trade union, party, etc. which is a "right" in democracies, is almost an obligation under the communist systems. To renounce to this is to be classified as dissident, an "enemy of the state". Is in this condition that I was praying to the Lord a change of job (you can imagine now which "references" should I present in the new job, and which kind of job - if not "forced labor" - could I expect to get with "my attitude")

But everything is possible with God. Some days after that prayer I receive a call from a Company which dealed with entertainment music for hotels, restaurants, etc. and they offered me a job in an musical ensemble to work in Varadero (one of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba with a well developed infrastructure for tourism, which means that there's always work for musicians) Observe the irony in that change and how great is God's power. Being classified as dissident and rather rejected among nationals proved not to be a hindrance to work in other branch - the touristic one - where people are strongly controlled, because they meet tourists from the "western capitalist countries" all the time. The Lord took me away from a place where I was jail-candidate to put me in other where politics are invisible (with tourists you are supposed to be only an entertainer, and show that you are a "happy citizen of the new socialist society") A concomitant effect of the change was that the new job had a much better payment, so I was able to spare some money, which in part helped me to come to Sweden. That's something I didn't expect, even in my wildest dreams, but my Father knew it, and it was a part of His plan.

The God who helped me, and who helped Daniel and his friends is an eternal God. If you have not known Him, let me tell you that it's not too late to receive His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and to be rescued from condemnation and led to eternal life. Receive Jesus, receive forgiveness of sins, receive a new life in Him!

May the Lord bless you. In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS Jesus is coming soon!

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