Joel 2:28 says that old men will dream dreams while young men will see visions. Peter quotes this passage in Acts chapter 2 when he preaches to the Jews on the day of Pentecost. I’m sure its fulfillment is more significant than this, but I can’t help to observe that I no longer have any visions of what I might accomplish in life and have lost all my delusions of grandeur. That stuff is for younger men. But I sure do have a lot more dreams at night than I used to have. I might remember them when I first wake up, and sometimes they actually wake me up in the middle of the night. I sure hope they don’t purport the future. Some of them are pretty scary. Others are just downright stupid! Some of them are delightful, and I wish I could make them last longer. Usually, they are gone by the time I get my first cup of coffee. When I try to tell my wife about them, I can’t remember them. I suspect that Nebuchadnezzar was an older man when he had the dreams that he tells us about in Daniel 2:1-11. I think he had trouble remembering them, also. The text says, “In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, ‘I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.’ Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, ‘O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.’ The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, ‘The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore, show me the dream and its interpretation.’” The King’s wise men knew that they could not tell him what he had dreamed, but Nebuchadnezzar was adamant and repeated his challenge to them. They tell him, “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.”

 If someone in my church during my days as a pastor made such a demand on me, I’d probably reply with the same answer. That’s impossible! I’ve not had such demands, but people have asked questions that I cannot answer.  There are some things, even as the king’s wise men said, that is known only by God. They are similar to the question, “Why do we have only two arms and not three?” That’s just the way it is. Why did God choose to reveal himself to us in a “trinity?” That’s just the way it is. This approach in itself teaches us an important lesson about interpreting the Book of Daniel (or any biblical book, for that matter). As Ferguson says, “We are not required to have all the answers to all the questions people may ask about the Bible. The fact that we cannot yet answer all questions is no reason for ceasing to believe it is God’s word any more than our imperfect knowledge of the working of the human body is a reason for ceasing to breathe.” He goes on to add that the “Thrilling message of Daniel 2 is that in this context, the kingdom of God will be established, grow, and ultimately triumph throughout the whole earth.” It’s very much like God to “Reveal His glorious purpose through the forgotten dream of Nebuchadnezzar. All of our instincts would tend to insist that God should give such revelation only through the most holy of men. He demonstrates, however, His ability to establish His purposes in the world by whatever means He pleases. That was why Daniel was able to say with such joy that it is the Lord who “changes the times and the seasons … removes kings and raises up kings” (2:21).[1]

[1] Ferguson, Sinclair B., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1988. Daniel. Vol. 21. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.