Chapter Two

Facing Execution

Hananiah rushed into the room. Daniel, Azariah, and Mishael looked up from their studies. "Something terrible has happened!" he told the others. "The king has ordered the death of all the wise men in Babylon!"

"What?" Mishael asked in disbelief.

"It can't be!" cried Azariah.

Daniel tried to quiet the rising frenzy his friends were feeling. "Hananiah, get hold of yourself! Calm down and tell us what you know."

Hananiah sat down. He took a deep breath and began. "Well ... King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. It disturbed him a great deal, and he called all his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers together. He asked them to tell him the dream and also the meaning of it. He told them if they could not do it, he would have them cut into pieces and their houses turned into piles of rubble. When they asked him to tell them the dream so that they might interpret it, the king became furious and said they were stalling for time. Nebuchadnezzar believes they are conspiring against him, telling him lies and not the truth. The astrologers told him, 'No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.'1 The king became so enraged with them, he ordered their executions!"

Daniel looked at the others for a moment. Then he spoke, "Stay here, I'll be back shortly." Daniel went to see Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, to ask him why the king issued such a hard decree. Arioch explained the situation to Daniel, confirming everything Hananiah had said earlier. Daniel then went to see the king; he asked Nebuchadnezzar for time so that he might interpret the dream for him. Daniel's request was granted, and he returned to his house where he told Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to join him in prayer. "Pray that the G-d who rules from heaven will be merciful and explain this mystery to us, so that we and the others won't be put to death." 2

During the night, G-d revealed the mystery to Daniel in a vision. Daniel gave thanks and praised G-d for revealing Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its meaning to him. Daniel returned to Arioch, who had been given the job of executioner. Daniel said to him, "Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king and I will interpret his dream for him." 3

Arioch looked Daniel straight in the eye and said, "You better not be wrong about this, or many people are going to die."

"I am confident I can correctly interpret the king's dream," replied Daniel.

As Daniel entered the king's court, all eyes were upon him. The room was silent except for the echo of Daniel and Arioch's footsteps. Arioch announced, "Your Majesty, I have found a man to interpret your dream."

The king turned to Daniel, "Is this true?"

The wise men stood by and breathlessly awaited Daniel's response. They knew if Daniel's interpretation was wrong they would be cut into pieces within the hour.

Daniel responded by telling Nebuchadnezzar, "Your Majesty, not even the smartest person in all the world can do what you are demanding, but the G-d who rules from heaven can explain all mysteries."4 Daniel continued to tell Nebuchadnezzar that G-d was using his dream to tell him what was going to happen in the future. G-d had revealed the dream and the interpretation to Daniel, so Nebuchadnezzar might know the meaning of his dream.

Daniel described the king's dream to him. "Your Majesty, in your dream you saw standing in front of you a huge and terrifying statue, shining brightly. Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were silver, and it was bronze from its waist down to its knees. From the knees to the ankles it was iron, and the feet were a mixture of iron and clay. As you watched, a stone was cut from a mountain--but not by human hands. The stone struck the feet of the statue, completely shattering the iron and clay. The iron, clay, bronze, silver and gold were crushed by the stone, and they were blown away without a trace. The stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire earth."5

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Darryl paused for a moment, looking from Jamie to Brian. "Before we continue," he said, "I want to remind you that this was taking place approximately six hundred years before Yeshua (Jesus) was born. Daniel is about to reveal to the king what will happen in the future. Much of what he revealed has since taken place. When we look back over the past 2,600 years since Daniel's time, we find his predictions amazingly accurate."

Jamie replied, "Dad, I want to be sure I understand what is going on so far. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, so he wanted someone to tell him what he had dreamed and the meaning of the dream."

Brian could no longer control himself. "That's impossible; no one would be able to do it! They would have to read his mind!" Brian was getting louder as he spoke.

"That's just what Daniel told the king. The only reason he was able to interpret the dream was because G-d revealed it to him," Jamie said matter-of-factly.

"Why is this guy so worried about a dream anyway? I have dreams all the time that don't make sense." Brian was speaking a little more calmly now.

Darryl explained, "In those days, men placed great importance on dreams and their meanings. Often, G-d used dreams to reveal an important message to them."

Brian shook his head. "So there was some big statue made of four kinds of metal, and a big rock that crushed the statue then grew into a mountain that filled the earth. I can't wait to hear how this is supposed to reveal world history."

Jamie said eagerly, "Go on, Dad, tell us what happened next."