Daniel 4:7-9 (NIV 10-12)

Do you have dreams or visions?

Or maybe projects, plans?

Or nostalgia, wishes and illusions?

Observe Nebuchadnezzar's visions:

Daniel 4:7-9 (NIV 10-12)

"These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed"

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If you have compared with the original Aramaic, then you have surely noted thad this English rendering is excellent. The king saw a tree, so big that it could be seen from every place on earth (if the king is not overdrawing or if he isn't a very ignorant person, this "tree" is representing something else, in a symbolic sense, and not a literal plant) This "tree" became larger and stronger, and every living creature got its living from it. Observe that some features exclude a literal tree, and show us that the image in the dream has another meaning.

In some coming passages we can read how the vision was interpreted for the king, then it's proper to wait to get there, to talk about the meaning of the tree and the application which was revealed to Daniel in a prophetic word. Let's point out by now that the vision that the king saw in his dream had a prophetic meaning, and he was terrified because he didn't know it.

In a previous message (corresponding to Daniel 2:1-2) we were talking about dreams and visions in a biblical context (you can read it now) Dreams and visions are often the ways that God chooses to communicate His will or His designs to human beings. Joseph, son of Jacob, who would become a minister in Egypt, dreamed with that position many years before (if you don't know his story, you can find it in Genesis, chapters 37 to the end) Pharaoh dreamed with seven years of abundance and seven of drought (in other prophetic dream, interpreted by Joseph, which you can read about in Genesis chapter 41)

The first question above has to do with the application of this word in our lives. If you have some dreams and visions, accompanied of an urgency of get an explanation, or a motivation to do something, they could be the ways that God is using to communicate His plan. Don't do like so many people which have heard the Divine call, but they don't have the faith to carry on,  and then they stick to other things that they feel "secure". The God who gives visions is the same who anoint us with the necessary equipment and the wisdom to get there, and He is the same God who is in control over our circumstances. A vision of God is a goal, wich gives our lives its proper direction. 

Observe this words of the English novelist of XIX century Charles Reader:

"Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny"

"Destiny" is for many persons something unpleasant that finds them without seeking it, because they don't have the discipline of sowing thoughts, acts, habits or character. They live following their own desires and impulses. There's a big difference between that destiny which collides with us when we live apart from God, and the one we forge under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Imagine the power you get from a God's given vision, in this context. It is the light that shows us our destination (and our destination will determine our character, habits, acts and thoughts) A life under this guidance is, in some sense, as reading a detective story when you go to the end first to find out who the criminal is. Joseph knew many things he had to learn, many developments which were necessary in his life, and many things he had to reject, in order to become a minister in Pharaoh's court. Pharaoh didn't have an idea of what to do in order to avoid riots among the people, or a deep crisis with famine, infirmities, and high mortality because of those seven years of misery. But we was wise enough to put Joseph to solve this issue. The knowledge of our final destiny is very important to find a way to get there.

"Wow"!, should many people said, "this is good! If I know where I'm going, then my problem is solved". Before you join this group - a rather big one, unfortunately - let me tell you that not all goals are Divine ones, and not all characters, habits, acts or thoughts are holy and blessed by God. The Word of God shows us the contrary, in several passages. Let's take a look to one of them, in Genesis 11:1-9 :

"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there".

"They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

"But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other”

"So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel - because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth".

This well known story has callenged many through centuries, and its mysterious character makes it difficult to apply to our lives. Not all use it as a material for biblical studies, and many people take it for a fable or myth, an "evidence" that the Bible and especially Genesis is a "mythological" book. But Our Lord used as historical examples some of the most difficult passages of the Bible (difficult to understand or to believe literally) He used in this way, for instance, Noah's ark, with its zoo, or the big fish who ate Jonah and those three days that the prophet lodged there in its stomach. If the Lord allows shall we talk about Babel's historicity - because this isn't any myth - but right now, let's see what we can learn from it.

Those builders had a vision: their tower. To accomplish it, they had to develop a character: to be industrious, able to go on in the middle of the challenges, to be good team players... That character means that you develop many habits (for instance, to listen to other people, to ask in order to learn, to respect other persons, etc; if you have been in some kind of team, whichever it is, you know what are we talking about) And to develop those habits it is necessary to learn many acts and ideas. In principle, Babel's tower's builders seemed to be acqainted with Charles Reader's precept. God Himself saw their plan and said that it was a powerful one:

“as one people" (in unity)
"speaking the same language" (with a good communication and comprehension)
"they have begun to do this" (they acted according to the vision, that wasn't an utopian but a practical one)
and "nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them" (they had the perseverance you need to be victorius)

How is it possible that people with such a discipline, abnegation and capability, were disturbed and confused by God, in order to hinder them from reaching their goal? Keep reading! We'll find it with God's help. In the meanwhile, remember that not every thought is holy, neither every act is, and not every habit or character are holy in themselves. There is something else you need to evaluate them properly. Without a vision and without God, there's no way. Without vision, but with God, it could seem complicated, but God will give you the vision (He is the giver of visions) With a vision and without God, you'll not succeed, or you'll accomplish something that is called in the Word of God as "nekrón érgon" (dead works, in Hebrews 6:1 "acts that lead to death") Our Lord said, "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36)

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

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus comes quickly!

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