I’ve been reading the book of Daniel for a study lately and I came across this prayer. Daniel was a Hebrew, living under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar during the Babylonian occupation of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling, recurring dream and demanded, on threat of death, that his wise men and seers tell him what his dream was and interpret it for him. Daniel and his friends prayed for God to reveal the dream and its meaning, and when given the revelation, he thanked God saying:
Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.
-The Prophet Daniel, Daniel 2:20-23
What’s interesting about the dream, and why I think it was so troubling, is that it foretells the rise and fall of empires. It’s a description of the (then) future of the world, ruled by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and eventually Christ. Daniel praised God because He already knew how history would play out.
What really struck me was that God “knows what lies in darkness”. Darkness is the very picture of the unknown, of fear. I can walk around my house easily at night with all the lights out, because I’ve lived here for years, I know the layout of the house, and where everything is. To know what’s in the darkness means it’s familiar territory, something you have already seen or understood. It’s another way of saying God knows the end from the beginning. To us, what lies ahead is unknown, and can be terrifying. However, to one who has already been there, the future is no surprise.
To be honest, I’m scared of the darkness, of what my future holds. Still, if God raises up the rulers of the world and determines the seasons of history, if wisdom and knowledge are His, then certainly He is great enough to guide us on our paths.