What do you think about the Scriptures?
Daniel 4:16-19 (NIV 19-22)
" Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
"Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds - Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth"
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When we compare these verses with the original Aramaic then we see that the rendering in this New International Version is a very good one. It's remarkable how Daniel learned the king's dream after hearing it once, with all its details, which are the basis of the interpretation he gave to the king. "How!", could many say, for example myself when I was a new converse, "this interpretation, isn't God who comes and whisper to the prophet's ear the meaning of the dream? What have those details to do with it? To interpret something following literary rules we don't need any God; that's something we learn in school when studying English"
If you are so mistaken as I was, let me tell you before we continue that explanation which the Lord gave me to help me out of my error. The voice of God is not NECESSARILY a whisper of the Holy Spirit in your ear. God speaks to your heart, tho your human spirit, in many ways (also audibly, but not only) And the literary forms in the Bible are interpreted efter a system similar to that you learned in school to interpret any kind of literature. That which makes the Bible interpretations diferent to others is that it is the Word of God, then certain figures means definite ideas and no other ones. Besides, there is a purpose in the message, an application. If we read Isaiah 55:10-11 we'll note this:
"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it"
It doesn't rain so that we show our umbrellas, or to wash the windscreen (those are circunstancial results) The rain falls so that the earth brings it fruit. So is it with the Word of God. It doesn't come to us so that we say, "oh, what a beautiful verse" or so that we learn literature. The purpose is that we listen and obey God. Certainly is not a sin to learn biblical language - as a matter of fact, you'll need to learn it to understand the Bible - or feel and express the beauty of the Word of God. But it is a sin to do ONLY that. The Word of God "accomplishes God's desire" and "achieves the purpose" for which He has sent it. This means that God gives us His word with a purpose. That dream that God gave to the king and the interpretation of Daniel had a purpose, to teach Nebuchadnezzar something. Even in its "mysterious" way, using symbolic language, the message intended to show something to the king that isn't fictional, but very real, as an order of your superior or the instruction of your master. We'll come back to this interpretation issue.
Why then the prophet was "perplexed", without words, and so greatly alarmed in his thoughts? We need to observe the seriousness of the interpretation, and who should receive it. Nebuchadnezzar made to put out king Zedekiah's eyes - king of Judah - after two years of been besieging Jerusalem, and killed his sons before him. This story is in the book of Jeremiah, which was known by Daniel. Even in the book of Daniel we can see some of the kings traits in every chapter. The chief official was afraid to lose his head for changing the food and drink of the Jews. There was also an order of the king, to kill all the wise men in Babylonia because they couldn't interpret another dream, and finally, he sent to a blazing furnace, extremely heated, the friends of Daniel, which didn't prostrated and worshipped the golden image that the king had raised.
Resuming, the "curriculum vitae" of Nebuchadnezzar shows us that Daniel's life was in danger with this interpretation he was about to give. Those golden days when Nathan the prophet came to king David with a parable, to rebuke him because of his sin, and David repented and wrote Psalm 51... those days were gone. Jeremiah's example shows us the vile treatment that Judah's last kings gave to a messenger of God, because of unpopular and unwished messages. His writings were burned down, he was imprisoned, and casted in a dry well, to let him die. This was the fate that Daniel could expect, before a king that was crueler than Judah's last ones, and who was besides a Gentile, wich didn't revere Israel's God.
But the Lord gave Daniel the strenght to speak. Even when we could understand in the words of the king, "tell me the interpretation, it doesn't matter how terrible it could be", Nebuchadnezzar was not exactly someone whose word was trustable. But Daniel spoke, and we read how carefully he begins his interpretation, "if only the dream applied to your enemies" (because that punishment was intended for the king)
How could Daniel be so sure that the dream was against the king himself? Maybe Daniel could have given another interpretation, to save his life, couldn't he? Why did the prophet give that interpretation which jeopardized his own life?
Observe the following meanings of "allegory" in the dictionary:
1) "A visible symbol representing an abstract idea"
2) "An expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances"
The second kind of allegory is well known to Bible readers. Allegorical stories, as parables, are used by the prophets to communicate God's mysteries. The Hebrews didn't used graphic allegories, because God's command "you shall not make for yourself an image" was very seriously taken among them. But in Western culture you can find many such ones, as Justice - a lady with a sword, scales and blindfold, or "Love" - an angel-like boy with a bow and arrow, and a blindfold, too. Many biblical visions are allegoric as well (they show persons, animals, things or events that means another thing)
In a previous message we marked that the features of the king's dream make it impossible to see the tree as a real plant, in a literal sense. Daniel understood at once that the images of the dream were allegorical, speaking about some thing but meaning another one. The real meaning was a terrible punishment that should come upon Nebuchadnezzar. And the prophet, exposing his own life, told the king the interpretation and even gave him advice in order to avoid the doom.
That proof of courage, fidelity and integrity that Daniel gives us, is not present - unfortunately - in everyone who has interpreted the Scriptures. In previous messages we have exposed some wrong doctrines which has been manufactured to make the Scripture say something else, different than God's real message and purpose. If you want to know that which God has revealed through His prophets, about the things that will come, you will find many mysterious figures, allegories (visions of figures that mean another thing) in almost everything that's related with the last times. The prophet Daniel saw "beasts", animals representing empires, and which "horns" represented the kings. The apostle John saw in the book of Revelation another "beasts" - related to those from Daniel - four "riders" in horses with different colors - similar to those we can see in the book of the prophet Zechariah - and "women", which represent other events. These allegories are mysterious and hard to understand, but the Spirit of God, the same who gave Daniel the interpretation of that allegorical vision in the dream of the king, is working now through the real prophets, to reveal those allegorical visions concerning the last times. The Scriptures are trustworthy, and prophesy the things to come; it is us men who have devised many ways in order to distort them and avoid those truths which call us to obey God. But God can't be mocked. The end of all things is prophesied, and it will not change because we manipulate our interpretations. Jesus is "the Way, and the Truth, and the Life", and He will always be; Satan is a "father of lies", and a thief, who "came to steal, and kill, and destroy".
If you have not yet received Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me tell you that He hasn't given up still; He is calling you. Don't be like Nebuchadnezzar, who had the prophecy and the advice to follow, but went right into the punishment because he ignored both. There came upon him seven years of madness and brutishness, but upon those who live without Christ and away from God there's an eternal hell coming, from which there is no way out. Receive Jesus Christ, and be free from doom!
May the Lord bless you
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!