The Only God Among Flesh: The Gospel According to Daniel

JesusDaniel 2 tells of the trouble king Nebuchadnezzar experienced when he could not remember a dream he had. His scholars and learned men, additionally, are more troubled when the king demands that they relay the content of the dream to him, as well as its interpretation. The matter is humanly impossible, which causes these men to reply:

“There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” (Dan 2:10-11)

Note the words of these men carefully. Firstly, they acknowledge that reading another man’s thoughts is humanly impossible. Next, they recognize that the revelation of the dream and its interpretation can only be known via divine revelation. Lastly, they understand that the dwelling of the gods is not with flesh.

Immediately Daniel enters the narrative and relays the dream and its correct interpretation to the king. Essentially, the dream is a symbolic representation of the course of history from Nebuchadnezzar’s time up until Christ comes and establishes his kingdom. The event, in other words, contradicts the words of the king’s magicians and enchanters in two very significant ways. Firstly, whereas the magicians and enchanters claim that no man can tell the dream and its interpretation, Daniel does exactly that. What is impossible for men to perform is not impossible for God to perform. Not only this, but that which is impossible for “the gods” is a simple thing for the one true God to accomplish. If men do not know x, it is because God has decreed that they should not know x. God is not limited by virtue of his being. In fact, it is because God is God that he can do as he wishes and none can stay his hand or say to him “What are you doing?”

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly (for it reiterates the first point), the Rock cut not by human hands which shatters the kingdoms of the earth is the Son of God, the Word who became flesh. The gods may not have their dwelling among flesh, but God the Son will become flesh, build his church, and place all the kingdoms of the earth under his rule. The very thing which the magicians and enchanters claim is impossible is not only not impossible for Yahweh to perform, it is the very thing which he has promised he would perform. The Word of God will take upon himself a human nature, a physical body of flesh and blood and bone, and his kingdom will have no end.

The unbelieving scholars drew correct conclusions only up to a certain point. When faced with the prospect of the One True God taking on human flesh and dwelling among us, these men reveal just how deeply ingrained their unbelief and idolatry is. And when we enter chapter 3 of the book of Daniel, we see that these men are also hypocrites. For in this chapter they claim that the dwelling of the gods is not among flesh, yet in the next chapter Nebuchadnezzar builds a statue of himself, a giant idol for the people to fall down in front of in worship. If the dwelling of the gods is not among flesh, then why does Nebuchadnezzar create this object of worship, this physical proxy of himself? Why do the magicians and enchanters not protest the building of the statue? Because they are hypocrites. When it comes to receiving the judgment of God through the king’s dream, the magicians and enchanters know that the dwelling of the gods is not among flesh; yet they fall in worship before the statue.

Most significantly, however, in chapter 3 there is a Christophany. That is to say, before the Incarnation of the Word of God we see the Word of God walking amidst the flames of judgment for his people, with his people. And what do the people call him? One like the Son of God, or like a son of the gods. There is some disagreement as to how the phrase should be rendered, but that is irrelevant. For if the person in the fiery furnace is like the Son of God, his presence contradicts the words of the enchanters and magicians. Again, if the man in the fiery furnace is like a son of the gods, then his presence contradicts the words of the so-called wise of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. What the gods cannot do, God the One True God, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit accomplishes in sending forth his Son to save his people by passing through the fires of judgment with them.

This one like the Son of God is the same one like the Son of Man: Jesus the Christ, the Word become Flesh. Thus, in Daniel’s book the focus is not on Daniel per se but the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of the Eternal Second Person of the Trinity. It is precisely by God taking upon human flesh and dwelling among human flesh that God will establish his kingdom and destroy his enemies forever.

Amen.

-h.

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