CDPCKL · Peace, and a Song of Praise, and a Good Night’s Sleep (Daniel 2:1-23)

Peace, and a Song of Praise, and a Good Night’s Sleep (Daniel 2:1-23)

So last week Daniel and his friends spent three years in university, learning the language and literature of the Babylonians. The purpose of their university education was to turn them into loyal Babylonian officials. And the plan was probably to send them back to Jerusalem one day as governors who would continue the process of colonizing and transforming the Jewish culture into a Babylonian one. The local people would trust them as governors because they are local Jewish boys; and the king of Babylon would trust them because they are the graduates of the Royal University of Babylon. 

And we noticed last week that a lot of the language and literature of the Babylonians was centered around divination. They thought it was science; today we would call it magic — but really their ancient magical science has quite a bit in common with our modern secular science. 

Just like our modern science, ancient science was obsessed with understanding the elements of our world so that those elements might be manipulated and controlled and used for mankind’s benefit. 

Just like our modern science, ancient science was all about knowledge leading to power. 

The big difference, of course, is that in ancient cultures, the physical elements of our world are linked with spiritual elements. So if we want to understand and manipulate our physical world, then really we need to learn how to understand and manipulate the spiritual forces that underlie our physical world. This is why so much of ancient science looks like magic to us. 

So for three years, Daniel and his friends were taught the Babylonian sciences, which included a thorough education in Babylonian magic. And the funny thing is: they were actually really good at it! 

That’s what we found out last week on their graduation day: as they went through their oral exams before the king, Daniel and his friends turned out to be ten times better than all the other magicians and enchanters: they were the best magicians and enchanters in the kingdom! And we were told that Daniel had a special gift for understanding visions and dreams of all kinds. 

And to everyone looking on that day, these four young men were shining examples of Babylonian youth. If they had lived today, their faces would have been on all the university websites and brochures as evidence of just how good a Royal Babylonian education can be! Other parents would have been nudging their own kids and going, “There! See? If you would just apply yourself to your studies just a little more…” Court officials would have been congratulating the king; the king would have been congratulating himself; and everyone would have been giving glory to the Babylonian gods and wondering how to earn the same level of blessings that Daniel and his friends got. 

Now, Daniel and his friends knew the truth. They knew they did not owe their success to the Babylonian gods or to the Babylonian education system. They knew it was God who had given them the ability to absorb all this knowledge and understanding. They knew that the whole Babylonian scientific system was nonsense: flawed conclusions based on flawed assumptions. They knew the truth, but they said nothing. 

Why not? 

Because God had also given them wisdom in addition to the ability to absorb knowledge. In other words: these young men knew better than to speak up and try to correct people who do not want to be corrected. 

And this question of wisdom is an important feature of the Book of Daniel. 

In our bible, Daniel is in the “prophecy” section of our library, not — strictly speaking — in the “historical books” section. This does not mean that Daniel not historical. However, the Book of Daniel is based on Daniel’s personal journals; Daniel himself was not an historian who set out to write ”history”. 

But over the years some have argued that, really, the Book of Daniel should be in the “wisdom” section of our library: alongside Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Job. The books of wisdom are designed to teach God’s people how to take their knowledge of God, interpret it, and apply it to everyday life in various situations. That is how the bible defines wisdom: wisdom is knowledge properly interpreted and applied to life. 

And as we discovered last week, the Book of Daniel was designed to teach God’s people how to take their knowledge of God and apply it to everyday life in exile, in powerless situations. We discovered last week that the Book of Daniel is not about how to apply power wisely — other books in the bible cover that topic. The Book of Daniel is about how to apply powerlessness wisely. 

These young men kept quiet because God had given them wisdom. They are not in a position yet where they can speak up and be listened to, and — even more importantly — they know it! 

For now, at least, all God requires of them is a quiet faithfulness. Their job, for this moment, is simply to maintain their identity and their integrity where they can; to participate where they must; and to wait patiently for God to make his move to reveal the truth. 

And that is what happens next: God makes his move, and the truth begins to come out: 

[1] In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 

[2] So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, [3] he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” 

So far this is pretty normal: if a modern king experienced a severe physical sickness, he would call in every possible medical scientist to figure out what is wrong. In those ancient times, dreams were evidence of a spiritual sickness, so quite naturally the king calls in every possible spiritual scientist to figure out what is wrong. 

[4] Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 

[5] The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. [6] But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.” 

Now this is not normal. 

The king is supposed to tell his scientists the dream. Then they are supposed to go away and figure it out. Some would watch birds in their flocks. Some would cut open a bull and read its liver. Others would go to the library and read books on dream interpretation. They would all compare notes and then report back. 

They are not supposed to have to guess the problem first. And their lives are not supposed to depend upon their answer! 

And it’s clear they don’t know what to do next, because [7] once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 

And now we find out why the king has decided on this unusual course of action: [8] Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: [9] If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.” 

So it seems that, for some reason, King Nebuchadnezzar himself has begun to doubt the truth of Babylonian science. He has begun to realize that his whole empire is running on a system that has not been really verified in any rational sense. He has begun to realize that these magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers actually hold a lot more power over the future direction of his empire than he is comfortable with. 

Neduchadnezzar’s concern is that, if he tells them his dream, these guys could come back with any kind of crazy, self-serving explanation: “Oh great king, your dream means that the gods want you to give each one of us a holiday home in Langkawi…” Right? 

So he has decided to test the system: do these guys actually have the ability to tap into the spiritual world? 

And their answer is…no. We don’t have that power: 

[10] The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. [11] What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” 

In other words: the gods live somewhere else. They are beyond our reach, beyond our hearing. We cannot manipulate them into telling us what we want to know! 

So the “wise men” of Babylon have basically admitted their their entire system is built on a lie: they have no real power over the physical world because they have no real power over the spiritual world. All their vast knowledge is useless. 

And the king’s response is, basically, “Whaaaaaat?!” And he orders the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 

If the entire Babylonian scientific system is complete nonsense, then it is time to make some room for a new system! 

[13] So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. 

Now, where were Daniel and his friends? Why were they not already there among the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers? 

Well, back in verse 1 we were told this is the 2nd year of the king’s reign. Which means that Daniel and his friends are still in university. Depending on how the years are counted — and scholars are not agreed on that — Daniel is either in his second or his third year of uni at this point. 

— in fact, this chapter is very likely just a more detailed account of how Daniel and his friends impressed the king so much at the end of Chapter 1. This is how they proved themselves to be ten times better than all the other magicians and enchanters. 

In any case, as uni students they were not summoned to the initial audience before the king. 

Unfortunately, as uni students, they are still part of that whole corrupt Babylonian scientific system the king has decided to wipe out. 

So, Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, is sent out to kill off all the under-graduates along with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 

Daniel somehow manages to approach him without getting arrested, and speaks to him with wisdom and tact. [15] He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 

Daniel hustles off and somehow manages to get an audience with the king — which was not an easy thing to do in those days, especially if the king is looking to chop your head. But Daniel gets in there and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. 

And the king gave him time — which is something for us to notice. Because time is exactly what he refused to give to the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers when they asked for it. 

So already we are supposed to see that something unusual is at work behind the scenes: the king has shown Daniel favour he did not show to anyone else in his court. 

Then Daniel goes back to his dorm room and explains things to his housemates Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. [18] 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. 

And Daniel’s actions show us that he understands what is really going on here: what we are witnessing is the age-old contest between knowledge and wisdom. 

See: knowledge is data — facts — that have been organized into a certain system. With the application of enough smarts and enough effort, a person can gain a lot of knowledge in a short time. Which means that knowledge is the product of human effort. 

Wisdom, however is the proper interpretation and application of that knowledge to practical situations. And it is pretty obvious that not every person is able to gain wisdom! 

— which then raises questions about where wisdom comes from. 

And in the ancient world — actually, in most cultures, up until now — there is an understanding that, in some mysterious way, wisdom comes from somewhere else, outside the person. Wisdom comes when your system of knowledge produces true understanding of the gods and what the gods want from you. Those who know what the gods want will be able to please the gods, and those who please the gods will experience a life in harmony with this reality. 

In other words: you can tell your system of knowledge is true if it produces consistently wise results. And you can tell you are getting consistently wise results if those results interact harmoniously with reality as it stands. 

And the bible agrees with this, by the way: true knowledge does result in true wisdom which does result in a harmonious life. 

Up until this point, Nebuchadnezzar — and everyone else — has believed that the Babylonian system of knowledge does result in true wisdom. They have believed that by studying Babylonian knowledge a person can potentially open themselves up to the wisdom of the gods and receive supernatural insights about how to live, what to do next. 

But suddenly, because of a dream, King Nebuchadnezzar has woken up and realized that the Babylonian system does not actually result in true wisdom. It cannot actually guide him in how to live his life and rule his empire in a way that actually pleases the gods. 

And Daniel understands that this is the moment to speak — not just because their lives are all in danger, but because this is the moment when Nebuchadnezzar might actually be willing to hear. 

For some years now, he and his friends have had to keep quiet, keep their heads down, and just learn all this nonsense — because God’s wisdom told them that pointing out the flaws in the foundations of an empire that is currently ruling the world is just a waste of breath. Because that empire is just going to say, “Oh yeah? If our foundation is so bad then why are we so successful? If we are so out of touch with the gods, then why did our gods beat yours?” 

There is just no point in preaching the truth to people who already believe they have the truth. There is just no point in preaching the truth to people who are satisfied with their success. 

But when those people begin to see the flaws in their foundations for themselves, when they begin to doubt their own success, when their own conceptual worlds are falling apart — that is definitely the moment to speak, because that is the moment they are most likely to be willling to hear. And Nebuchadnezzar’s world is definitely falling apart. 

So Daniel understands that this is the moment to speak, to save their own lives and potentially even save the king who has taken them hostage. 

Even more importantly, Daniel understands that this cannot be accomplished through human effort, through the accumulation of more knowledge. All the theological understanding in the world is not going to save them now — Nebuchadnezzar has made sure of that! The only thing that can save Daniel and his friends at this point is their relationship with God. The Babylonian wise men have said that the gods do not live among men, and they certainly do not speak to them. Daniel is gambling his life that the opposite is true: there is a God who lives among men and responds to them when they call. 

So what does Daniel do? 

First he goes back to his community, his church: his three friends. A church of four is not optimum — the ancient Jews believed that a community really needed 10 families in order to function properly as a church — but this community is what Daniel has got. So he tells them what is going on…and then they pray together. They put their future entirely into the hands of God. Because, really, that’s all they can do anyway. 

And [19] during the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. 

Then Daniel praised the God of heaven [20] and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. [21] He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. [22] He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. [23] I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” 

And this is really quite a remarkable song of praise when we consider who is singing it, and everything he has gone through so far in his life: 

Because Daniel is stating very clearly here his belief that history is under God’s absolute control, that kings rise and fall at his command, that all true knowledge and wisdom come from God’s hand alone. Which means that Daniel has accepted that it is actually God’s will for him to live in exile, in Babylon, far away from home and family. 

And I have to be honest with you, if I were in Daniel’s situation I would probably be asking God if he is sure he knows what he is doing. I would be questioning God’s will for my life, not praising it. And that is why I am not Daniel: I’m not sure God has given me this level of faith yet. 

Though, come to think of it, this level of faith always seems to come to those — like Daniel — who have no other hope, no other future but God. So I do have faith that, if and when I find myself in a place where I have no other hope but God, then God will give me this level of faith. 

It is also interesting to note that Daniel sings this song of praise before Nebuchadnezzar’s test is over. 

Because Daniel does not know if he will survive his audience with the king tomorrow. Nebuchadnezzar is clearly a man with a temper. It could be that he will not like God’s answer to his question, and he could respond by killing God’s messenger. This has happened before, many times! 

If I were Daniel, I would wait for the results. I would wait and see if the wisdom he has given me actually saves my life before I say, “Oh, whew! Thank you, God!” 

But Daniel is just grateful for this evidence that he still has a relationship with God. Even here in Babylon, defiled by foreign food, foreign language, foreign literature, foreign magic; even after two or three years without any chance to sacrifice a lamb at God’s temple so that he can be cleansed…God still hears his prayers, and God still answers. 

So Daniel is rejoicing because now he knows that, whether he lives or dies tomorrow, his soul is with God. 



So, to summarize a bit: 

The first chapter of Daniel, which we covered last week, was an introduction to the great theme of the book: that God is in complete control of history, even when — especially when! — his people are the most powerless. And the lesson of that first episode was this: God’s people need to get used to powerlessness, because it is actually through powerlessness that God is going to reveal himself to the nations. 

And so last week we saw Daniel and his friends deliberately give up the opportunity to gain more power. They gave away power in one particular area of their lives, in order to leave room for God’s power to reveal itself. 

Today, in this second episode, these themes of power and powerlessness are being developed further. Deep questions are being asked, questions like: what is power? Where does it come from? Is it something we reach out and take, or is it something we ask for and receive? 

And one thing this episode has revealed so far is this: how we answer these questions is deeply influenced by what we assume about the nature of reality. 

For instance, the wise men of Babylon clearly believe that there are gods — there are powers greater than us — out there somewhere in the universe. But they also believe the gods do not actually care about mankind’s destiny. This is exactly what they told their king: the gods do not live among humans. And because the gods do not care about mankind’s destiny, why would they ever bother to share their insights with us? At best we are like ants to the gods: we should do our best not to annoy them of course, or they might squash us or lay out poison to get rid of our nest — but the gods are certainly not trying to communicate with us in any meaningful fashion. 

Basically, the wise men of Babylon believed in an essentially impersonal universe: a universe full of titanic forces that affect us but do not care enough to help us. Therefore, if we are going to survive, we need to help ourselves. 

So the gods are out there in the primordial ocean of the universe, doing their various things — fighting each other, loving each other, doing whatever gods do — and their violent movements create waves that ripple through the stars, destroying kingdoms and empires, redirecting the great currents of mankind’s history really by accident. Now the gods are not going to warn mankind about the waves that are coming to crush them! but the wise men of Babylon believed that, by watching the stars, they might be able to see those waves coming and be ready. 

Today, we could describe them as men who were trying to surf the waves of history. A surfer knows he cannot stop the wave from coming; the best he can do is see it coming and try to ride it for as long as possible before it wipes him out and the process begins all over again. 

And so the wise men of Babylon had constructed a vast system of knowledge that was designed to read the ripples of the gods’ careless movements through the universe. The gods’ movements affect the stars’ movements; the stars’ movements affect the births of people and animals — that’s the horoscope — they affect the movements of birds in the sky and fish in the sea, they affect the way tea leaves settle in the bottom of a cup, and they can even affect dreams, which then need to be interpreted. When a Babylonian magician went to work “reading” the data in his world, he believed that what he learned from that data was an accurate reflection of the gods’ movements through the universe. And he believed that, if he could apply that knowledge wisely enough, he would be able to help his king surf his empire through the waves of the future: the Babylonian empire would exist in harmony with the gods’ impersonal movements. 

So if we asked the Babylonians, “What is power? Where does it come from? Is it something we reach out and take, or is it something we ask for and receive?” they would say, “Knowledge is power, especially knowledge about the gods, which leads to wisdom about the future. The gods obviously have it, but they are certainly not going to share it with us. Therefore, if we want power over our destiny we have to take it for ourselves by accumulating as much knowledge as we can.” 

Our modern scientific world would answer these questions in essentially the same way. 

And we can be honest: this is a perfectly reasonable system of philosophy. It is internally coherent. It is logical. 

Logical…but not very satisfying. 

Let me tell you why: the Babylonian system — the modern scientific system — explains that bad things happen because the gods roll over in bed, or because some faraway star went supernova a billion years ago. But if we are smart enough, fast enough, strong enough, if we have enough foresight we can avoid the worst of the damage, perhaps even thrive!…or at least put off the collapse of our society until the next generation. 

But where is the meaning in that? If our existence is nothing more than damage control, if we are nothing more than ants trying to avoid being drowned by accident when the gods’ heavenly toilet overflows, then what is the point of living? 

Ah! but some people are going to say that our contest against fate is the point, that the real joy of our existence is watching for those waves and learning how to surf them, learning how to live in harmony with our environment. 

…okay. Fair enough. 

But I’m going to make an observation here: people who say such things reveal that they have not yet wiped out in any significant fashion. They have not yet tasted real failure, real helplessness, they are satisfied with their success, and as a result they still derive meaning from that success. Basically, people who say such things believe that their success validates their existence, because — after all — they were smart enough, fast enough, strong enough to ride each wave as it came. 

But one day they are going to miss the mark. The ocean does not get tired — but we do. Eventually even the smartest, fastest, strongest people in the world discover that they are no longer smart enough, fast enough, strong enough. Eventually we all reach the limits of our knowledge, the limits of our system, just as Nebuchadnezzar did. That is when surfing stops being fun, and we begin to ask the more difficult questions. 

Just like Nebuchadnezzar, at some point in our lives we all find ourselves awakened from our dogmatic slumbers by this dream that our lives are supposed to mean something. We find ourselves troubled, haunted by the idea that there must be some purpose behind these great tides of human history, these multiple billions of lives lived and lost. We find ourselves lying awake, trying to puzzle it through…but our head just cannot confirm what our heart is telling us. We gather the data, we assemble our knowledge, we develop this theory that something is happening somewhere! — but we just cannot figure out why. 

But what if we began with some different assumptions about the nature of reality? 

For instance, Daniel clearly believed that there is a God, a Power beyond all powers, a Source beyond all creation. And Daniel clearly believed that — as the Power beyond all powers — God must therefore have the power to interact personally with every single element of his creation. He must, in fact, live among humans. 

But Daniel did not believe God merely lives among humans. Daniel clearly believed that, as the Source beyond all creation, God must also be the Source of all compassion and communication. Which means God would care about mankind’s destiny, and share his insights with us. A compassionate God would not leave us guessing, trying to read the waves and figure out how to save ourselves — no: a compassionate and communing God would give us the knowledge we need to respond to every breaking wave, along with the wisdom to know where we are going and why. 

In other words: Daniel believed in a personal God who engages in personal relationships with people, and this gave his powerlessness dignity and a purpose. 

So if we asked Daniel, “What is power? Where does it come from? Is it something we reach out and take, or something we ask for and receive?” he would agree that knowledge is power, especially knowledge about God, which would provide wisdom about our future. He would agree that, obviously, God has this power. He would also agree that it is possible to take power by accumulating knowledge — but Daniel would deny that such knowledge can ever provide true power over our destiny. Because while such knowledge might help us ride the waves for a while, it can never explain why the waves are coming. And why is what we really want to know. Why is what really makes life worth living. Understanding why can help us thrive and grow whether we are above the waves or beneath them. 

Why is wisdom. True wisdom comes from God. And wisdom cannot be taken, only asked for and received. 

And here, again, we should be honest: this is also a perfectly reasonable system of philosophy. It is internally coherent. It is logical. In fact, it could be argued that Daniel’s system is superior to the Babylonian/Modern scientific system, because it is not just logical, it is also much more satisfying. 

Satisfying…but only if it is true. 

And how can we tell if it is true? 

Well…that is the question of the ages, isn’t it! 

And I’m afraid you’ll have to come back next week to hear the answer: let’s pray… 

Just kidding. 

But, seriously: that is the question of the ages, and really the whole bible was written to answer it. So clearly we are going to have to limit ourselves here today. 

So let’s just look at why Daniel believed this system is true: 

First, Daniel came from a nation that had known God for about one thousand years, if we start counting from Moses. And during the time of Moses, God most definitely communicated with his people. So…there’s that. 

But second — even more importantly — over the thousand years between Moses and Daniel, God’s communication with his people had been thoroughly tested and proven true. 

Basically, God gave Moses a system of knowledge called the Law. He made it clear that, if Moses’ people applied this knowledge to their lives, they would receive wisdom. And if they received wisdom, they would enjoy a harmonious national life. If they did not apply this knowledge, then…the opposite would happen. 

And by Daniel’s time the results of the experiment were very clear: ignoring the Law of God is just as dangerous as ignoring the Law of Gravity. Which means that the system known as God’s Law must be a pretty accurate reflection of reality. 

Remember: you can tell your system of knowledge is true if it produces consistently wise results. And you can tell you are getting consistently wise results if those results interact harmoniously with reality as it stands. 

All Daniel had to do was look back over the last thousand years of Israel’s history to see that there is a personal God who engages in personal relationships with people: a personal God who cares enough to communicate. All the evidence available to Daniel confirms that his system is true, and the Babylonian system: false. 

But history is history, isn’t it. Someone else’s experience is someone else’s experience. I can assemble all the evidence, I can accept all the theological principles, I can be 99% sure that God exists and that he cares for me — but I will never be 100% certain until I have asked God for wisdom and received it. 

Basically, today Daniel came to a point where he had to decide if he was going to entrust his future to the evidence of history. He had to decide if he was going to trust his life to a system that says power can only be asked for and received — or if he was going to trust his life to a system that says power is something you must seize for yourself. 

We know which one he chose. And — to be fair — in his case the choice was very obvious, because everyone who had entrusted themselves to the Babylonian system was about to die: they had definitely reached the limits of their knowledge and their system! 

But Daniel had another advantage going for him: he had already been practicing powerlessness for the last two or three years of uni. He had already taken practical steps to give God daily control over his destiny. This is why, when the order for his execution came down, he already knew which way he was going to go. 

So, now, practically speaking, what is our application? What are we supposed to believe or do because of this? 

Well, we face the same choice Daniel did. 

In our world there are two opposing theories about the nature of reality, two opposing systems. One system says that we are on our own, that knowledge is power, and power is something we must grasp for ourselves. The other system says that we are not on our own, that wisdom is power, and this is something we can only ask for and then receive. Both of these systems are equally rational, reasonable, internally consistent. They are not equally satisfying — but that does not really matter, because what really matters is this: only one of these systems can be true. 

So if you are here today and you are still convinced that the Babylonian/Modern scientific system is the true one, this is what you should do: reconsider. One day, just like Nebuchadnezzar and his wise men, you are going to reach the limits of your system, and on that day your conceptual world will fall apart. One day an event is going to render you powerless — an accident? a disease? the death of a child? — and on that day no amount of scientific knowledge or explanation is going to give meaning to your pain. On that day you will discover that the system that told you that we are on our own has, in fact, left you on your own. That path leads only to death. 

So when that day comes — if it has not already — I urge you to take another look at the evidence. There is a personal God who has been communicating with mankind for a long time. You need to evaluate that communication for yourself and confirm that it has been a consistent source of wisdom across cultures and centuries. 

But you should also understand this: ultimately, evidence of God — knowledge about God — is not going to provide the comfort you need. Like Daniel, you will need to act upon that knowledge by asking God for wisdom. This will be an act of faith, a step of faith. But the Good News I have for you is this: your step of faith will not be disappointed. The bible says that if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 

So trust in that promise, and ask! 

Now, for the rest of us, who have already accepted the truth that there is a personal God who engages in personal relationships with people: what should we believe or do? 

Well…for the sake of time let’s just close with this Good News: we belong to God. Through Jesus, we have God as a Father who loves us, cares for us, speaks to us, hears us. 

And what this means for us, practically speaking, is that when — like Daniel — we reach the limits of human knowledge, we are not lost. We know what to do, and why. 

True, we are a people in exile. We are refugees in this world. And this does mean that the world would rather see us under the waves rather than over them. Besides this, we are human beings. And so, just like everyone else, we do experience accident and disease and death, devastations beyond our power to control. 

But this is the difference the Gospel makes: these things may be beyond our power to control, but they are not beyond our power to understand — because we have the wisdom of God at our fingertips, in our ears, in our mouths. Like Daniel, we do not know if we are going to live or die tomorrow. But whether we live or die, we we know we belong to God! 

And so, friends let’s do this: just like Daniel, let’s pray for wisdom, so that — just like Daniel — we might receive peace, and a song of praise, and a good night’s sleep. 

What more could we possibly want? 

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