The other day, a crazy-eyed homeless guy walked up and showed us card tricks. He was a hustler, and a good one at that. He’s $5 richer for it. The prophet Daniel stepped in when the hustlers couldn’t save their own lives to point to God as the revealer of mysteries…
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,
8 Then the king answered… “this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you…” 10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks!” 12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.” 26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”
27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.
30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.” 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
Daniel 2:1-2, 8-10, 12, 24, 26, 27-28, 30, 47
When the King was troubled by dreams, he made an extraordinary demand of his magicians. Tell me my dream and then interpret it. This is a spin on traditional magic. A few nights ago I was downtown with my family and a homeless guy walked up with a deck of cards. He had crazy eyes that looked in several directions at the same time.
And he was charming. We cut the deck several times and then four of us picked random cards from the deck. He named every one. More than once. Obviously he had marked deck of cards. He was reading the numbers and suits from the backs of the cards. I gave him $5 and we all laughed. Sure, it was a trick, yet good for him for not sitting on the ground with a cardboard sign and a cup.
If I’m going to be hustled, hustle me. He was a hustler. And he’s 5 bucks richer for it.
Notice that it was his deck of cards. Not mine. If I asked him to do the same thing with my deck of cards, he wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s not the hustle. That calls his bluff.
Nebuchadnezzar asked his crazy eyes to tell him his own dream. He gave them his deck and asked them to do the trick. “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks!” they replied. Why? Because it was a hustle and the King called their bluff.
Once the King declared all his magicians and astrologers to be killed as hustlers, Daniel came forward with a solution. Daniel entered the room and changed the moment. Let’s hone in on the two things in Daniel’s approach which should inspire us for today and tomorrow:
Daniel was humble to not claim that he had the power to know and interpret the dream. He redirected the King’s attention to the God in heaven who reveals mysteries. Do you do that? When asked questions and presented with problems, do you point to God and say, “I can’t solve this, yet I know the only one who can”?
This reminds me of King David who, when he stepped forward to take on Goliath, pointed to God and said, “the same God who rescued me from the lion and bear is going to rescue Israel from you, Goliath!” He pointed to God. God is the victor. God is the all-seeing one. God is the empowerer of his people.
And then when Daniel presented the dream and its interpretation, he declared that he had the answers for the King, not because he has greater wisdom than anyone else, but rather so the King would understand what God wanted him to understand. Daniel was an instrument of God in the process.
When we take Daniel’s posture in the world and step up to our service for the Lord, we will expose the Kings of the world to interactions with the God who put them into power. We will change the moment and point to the only one who reveals mysteries to Kings. And the response will be recognition (see vs. 47) of God as the God of gods and the Lord of kings – the revealer of mysteries.