Daniel Interprets the Dream
24 Daniel went back to Arioch, the official in charge of executing the wise men. Daniel said, “Don’t kill those men! Take me to the king, and I will explain the meaning of his dream.”
25 Arioch rushed Daniel to the king and announced, “Your Majesty, I have found out that one of the men brought here from Judah can explain your dream.”
26 The king asked Daniel,[a] “Can you tell me my dream and what it means?”
27 Daniel answered:
Your Majesty, not even the smartest person in all the world can do what you are demanding. 28-29 But the God who rules from heaven can explain mysteries. And while you were sleeping, he showed you what will happen in the future. 30 However, you must realize that these mysteries weren’t explained to me because I am smarter than everyone else. Instead, it was done so that you would understand what you have seen.
31 Your Majesty, what you saw standing in front of you was a huge and terrifying statue, shining brightly. 32 Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were silver, and from its waist down to its knees, it was bronze. 33 From there to its ankles it was iron, and its feet were a mixture of iron and clay.
34 As you watched, a stone was cut from a mountain—but not by human hands. The stone struck the feet, completely shattering the iron and clay. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed and blown away without a trace, like husks of wheat at threshing time. But the stone became a tremendous mountain that covered the entire earth.
36 That was the dream, and now I’ll tell you what it means. 37 Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings, and God has highly honored you with power 38 over all humans, animals, and birds. You are the head of gold. 39 After you are gone, another kingdom will rule, but it won’t be as strong. Then it will be followed by a kingdom of bronze that will rule the whole world. 40 Next, a kingdom of iron will come to power, crushing and shattering everything.[b]
41-42 This fourth kingdom will be divided—it will be both strong and brittle, just as you saw that the feet and toes were a mixture of iron and clay. 43 This kingdom will be the result of a marriage between kingdoms, but it will crumble, just as iron and clay don’t stick together.
44-45 During the time of those kings, the God who rules from heaven will set up an eternal kingdom that will never fall. It will be like the stone that was cut from the mountain, but not by human hands—the stone that crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. Your Majesty, in your dream the great God has told you what is going to happen, and you can trust this interpretation.
Daniel Is Promoted
46 King Nebuchadnezzar bowed low to the ground and worshiped Daniel. Then he gave orders for incense to be burned and a sacrifice of grain to be offered in honor of Daniel. 47 The king said, “Now I know that your God is above all other gods and kings, because he gave you the power to explain this mystery.” 48 The king then presented Daniel with a lot of gifts; he promoted him to governor of Babylon Province and put him in charge of the other wise men. 49 At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to high positions in Babylon Province, and he let Daniel stay on as a palace official.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s Gold Statue
3 King Nebuchadnezzar ordered a gold statue to be built ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He had it set up in Dura Valley near the city of Babylon, 2 and he commanded his governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, and his other officials to come from everywhere in his kingdom to the dedication of the statue. 3 So all of them came and stood in front of it.
4 Then an official stood up and announced:
People of every nation and race, now listen to the king’s command! 5 Trumpets, flutes, harps, and all other kinds of musical instruments will soon start playing. When you hear the music, you must bow down and worship the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Anyone who refuses will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace.
7 As soon as the people heard the music, they bowed down and worshiped the gold statue that the king had set up.
8 Some Babylonians used this as a chance to accuse the Jews to King Nebuchadnezzar. 9 They said, “Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! 10 You commanded everyone to bow down and worship the gold statue when the music played. 11 And you said that anyone who did not bow down and worship it would be thrown into a flaming furnace. 12 Sir, you appointed three men to high positions in Babylon Province, but they have disobeyed you. Those Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship your gods and the statue you have set up.”
13 King Nebuchadnezzar was furious. So he sent for the three young men and said, 14 “I hear that you refuse to worship my gods and the gold statue I have set up. 15 Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don’t, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me.”
16 The three men replied, “Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves. 17 The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”
19 Nebuchadnezzar’s face twisted with anger at the three men. And he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Next, he commanded some of his strongest soldiers to tie up the men and throw them into the flaming furnace. 21-23 The king wanted it done at that very moment. So the soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and threw them into the flaming furnace with all of their clothes still on, including their turbans. The fire was so hot that flames leaped out and killed the soldiers.
24 Suddenly the king jumped up and shouted, “Weren’t only three men tied up and thrown into the fire?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the people answered.
25 “But I see four men walking around in the fire,” the king replied. “None of them is tied up or harmed, and the fourth one looks like a god.”[c]
26 Nebuchadnezzar went closer to the flaming furnace and said to the three young men, “You servants of the Most High God, come out at once!”
They came out, 27 and the king’s high officials, governors, and advisors all crowded around them. The men were not burned, their hair wasn’t scorched, and their clothes didn’t even smell like smoke. 28 King Nebuchadnezzar said:
Praise their God for sending an angel to rescue his servants! They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. 29 And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God. Anyone who does will be chopped up and their houses will be torn down, because no other god has such great power to save.
30 After this happened, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in Babylon Province.
1 Peter 4:7-5:14
7 Everything will soon come to an end. So be serious and be sensible enough to pray.
8 Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.
9 Welcome people into your home and don’t grumble about it.
10 Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. 11 If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever. Amen.
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised or shocked that you are going through testing that is like walking through fire. 13 Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when he makes his glorious return.
14 Count it a blessing when you suffer for being a Christian. This shows that God’s glorious Spirit is with you. 15 But you deserve to suffer if you are a murderer, a thief, a crook, or a busybody. 16 Don’t be ashamed to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God that you belong to him. 17 God has already begun judging his own people. And if his judgment begins with us, imagine how terrible it will be for those who refuse to obey his message. The Scriptures say,
18 “If good people barely escape,
what will happen to sinners
and to others
who don’t respect God?”
19 If you suffer for obeying God, you must have complete faith in your faithful Creator and keep on doing right.
Helping Christian Leaders
5 Church leaders,[a] I am writing to encourage you. I too am a leader, as well as a witness to Christ’s suffering, and I will share in his glory when it is shown to us.
2 Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money. 3 Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them. 4 Then when Christ the Chief Shepherd returns, you will be given a crown that will never lose its glory.
5 All of you young people should obey your elders. In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else. The Scriptures say,
“God opposes proud people,
but he helps everyone
who is humble.”
6 Be humble in the presence of God’s mighty power, and he will honor you when the time comes. 7 God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.
8 Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. 9 But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith. You know that all over the world the Lord’s followers are suffering just as you are. 10 But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That’s why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm. 11 God will be in control forever! Amen.
12 Silvanus helped me write this short letter, and I consider him a faithful follower of the Lord. I wanted to encourage you and tell you how kind God really is, so that you will keep on having faith in him.
13 Greetings from the Lord’s followers in Babylon.[b] They are God’s chosen ones.
Mark, who is like a son to me, sends his greetings too.
14 Give each other a warm greeting. I pray that God will give peace to everyone who belongs to Christ.[c]
81 I long for you to rescue me!
Your word is my only hope.
82 I am worn out from waiting
for you to keep your word.
When will you have mercy?
83 My life is wasting away
like a dried-up wineskin,[a]
but I have not forgotten
84 I am your servant!
How long must I suffer?
When will you punish
85 Those proud people reject
and they dig pits
for me to fall in.
86 Your laws can be trusted!
Protect me from cruel liars.
87 They have almost killed me,
but I have been faithful
to your teachings.
88 Show that you love me
and let me live,
so that I may obey all
of your commands.
89 Our Lord, you are eternal!
Your word will last as long
as the heavens.[b]
90 You remain faithful
in every generation,
and the earth you created
will keep standing firm.
91 All things are your servants,
and the laws you made
are still in effect today.
92 If I had not found happiness
in obeying your Law,
I would have died in misery.
93 I won’t ever forget
because you give me new life
by following them.
94 I belong to you,
and I have respected your laws,
so keep me safe.
95 Brutal enemies are waiting
to ambush and destroy me,
but I obey your rules.
96 Nothing is completely perfect,
except your teachings.
- 119.83 a dried-up wineskin: The Hebrew text has “a wineskin in the smoke.” In ancient times bags were made from animal skins to hold wine, but when the bags dried up they cracked and could no longer be used.
- 119.89 Our. . . heavens: Or “Our Lord, your word is eternal. It will last as long as the heavens.”
15 A ruler who mistreats the poor
is like a roaring lion
or a bear hunting for food.
16 A heartless leader is a fool,
but anyone who refuses
to get rich by cheating others
will live a long time.