In today's broken world, finding practical ways help others encounter and follow Jesus can be challenging and risky. We'll begin with the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Daniel, the story of a young man who chose faithfulness to God in a similar situation, revealing how hope, humility, and wisdom can open doors to shining Jesus' light and blessing into our world. Then we'll switch to the New Testament book of 1 Peter, where the apostle encourages a church living under persecution to be faithful in less-than-receptive circumstances.
Read Daniel 2:1-13
In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 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, he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means."
Then the astrologers answered the king, "May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it."
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. 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."
Once more they replied, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it."
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: 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."
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. 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."
This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 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.
Nebuchadnezzar seems a tad-bit testy, doesn't he, with his over-the-top demand? He wants the magicians, sorcerers, and other men who probably had performed tricks of all kinds not only to interpret his dream, but to know what his dream was, even though he wouldn't tell them the details. And when they don't come through, he orders their death! Do you have demanding people like this—not to this extreme, of course!—in your own life?
Think about people in your life who are unreasonably demanding. How do you respond to them? How do you tend to treat them? How do they make you feel? Without reading ahead, what do you think Daniel and his friends will do when they find out that they also have received a death sentence due to no fault of their own?