All things that God reveals is true, just like the dream He revealed to Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation to Daniel

What God Reveals is True: Infallibility in Daniel 2:45

In Daniel 2:45, after explaining to king Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its interpretation, Daniel says, “The great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy” (emphasis mine). In passing it may seem as though the last clause is limited in scope to this account alone. I wish to argue, however, that the truth and trustworthiness mentioned here extends not just to this dream, nor to dreams alone, but to everything that God has revealed. Since all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16), I therefore contend that this verse in Daniel is (to some extent) teaching the truth and trustworthiness of the entire Bible (i.e. infallibility). This dream is not the only hidden thing that “God has made known” to men in the past. It would be inconsistent and blasphemous to say that other things He reveals are less true and trustworthy.

God reveals hidden truth

Earlier on in the chapter we read that nobody else was able (by either their or their gods’ power) to relay to Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was, nor its interpretation. Daniel, whom God has gifted with the ability to interpret dreams (Dan. 1:17), steps up to plate and asks to speak with the king so that he may tell him his dream and its interpretation. Before doing so, because He depends on God for the ability, he asks his friends to pray on his behalf (2:17-18). God answers their prayers and revealed both the dream and its interpretation to Daniel (2:19). Daniel, then, responds with thanksgiving, praising God that both “wisdom and power belong to Him” (2:20).

God is praised for His wisdom in that He, “reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness,” (Dan. 2:22). At first glance it seems like this is talking about God revealing to Daniel the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Just before, in verse 19 we’re told that “the mystery was revealed to Daniel.” However, later on in the chapter we learn that it means something more. In verses 28-29, Daniel also mentions God revealing mysteries. Let us look there and see if he meant the interpretation or something else.

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“However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days…” (v. 28, emphasis mine)

“…He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place.” (v. 29, emphasis mine)

We can clearly see that God’s “revealing mysteries” is talking about the dream itself! In fact, the one to whom God revealed the mystery is not Daniel, but the king! The mystery revealed is not, “Here’s what Nebuchadnezzar saw in his mind as he lay on his bed.” The mystery was, “Here, Nebuchadnezzar, let Me show you what’s going to happen to you shortly.”

Another important point we shouldn’t miss is that the power for which Daniel also praises God relates to the dream as well. It is not arbitrary, as though Daniel at that moment just so happened to remember that God created the universe out of nothing. Rather, it has particular reference to the contents of the dream. Just like God’s wisdom was expounded within the praise, so also God’s power is spelled out in verse 21. We’re told that God changes times and epochs, establishes and removes kings. This sovereignty over the kingdoms of men is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was about! Each different material within the statue he saw symbolized a successive kingdom which would rise up after his rule (see the divine interpretation in 2:37-45). So when Daniel praises God for His power, he is not reflecting on how much strength it takes to open a man’s skull and examine his innermost thought-life. Therefore, since the power of God that Daniel mentions alongside His wisdom relates to the dream itself rather than the revelation of its meaning, we should interpret God’s wisdom here along those same lines.

Everything God reveals—not just interpretations of dreams—is true!

So God is wise in that He knows the future perfectly. In wisdom God shows humans hidden mysteries. This, since it is rooted in God’s character must be the norm; the application must spread beyond this context. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is not the only time God reveals things, and each time must have equal trustworthiness.

Going back to our main text, verse 45, we see that both the interpretation and the dream itself are in mind. Daniel is not merely saying, “Look, King, you gotta trust me that this is the correct meaning!” He implies that God knows the future just as well as He knows Nebuchadnezzar’s inner mind (both of which are hidden). Not only is his interpretation from God and therefore true, but the dream and interpretation are both revealed and both true. So Daniel is telling the king to totally rely on the accuracy and assurance that what God said shall take place will in fact come to pass.

It goes back to the basic doctrines of general vs. special revelation. We can know by observing the world around us that there is a Creator and that good and evil exists. However, we would never have known, for example, that this world will be destroyed and replaced with a new one had God (who knows/plans the future) not told us in His Word. Whatever He reveals, being that He knows the future, knows everything, and cannot lie, must be absolutely dependable and certain.

What is meant by God’s Word being “true”?

This is not the only time the word translated “true” is used in Daniel. A look at some of its other occurrences will shed light on the absoluteness of the matter. In chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar is trying to figure out what his troubling dream means, so he asks his wise men for its meaning without revealing what the dream was. They cannot relay the dream to him, so they repeatedly ask the king for details of the dream. In 2:8 the king says that he knows for certain that they were just bargaining for time. Or in chapter 3 when the king looks into the furnace he sees a fourth person with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He then asks those nearby, perhaps to confirm that he hadn’t lost his mind, whether or not there were only 3 individuals thrown in originally. Their response is in the positive: “Certainly, O king” (verse 24, the KJV even says, “True, O king”).

In both of these cases we are not saying that these men’s judgments were infallible like the Bible. That is not to say, however, that there isn’t an indisputable element of certainty in their words. In the former, he was certain—it was absolutely true in his eyes—that they were deceiving him. He was wise and could discern, perhaps from past experience even, with exactness that there was something fishy going on. In the latter, they were all eye witnesses of only three men being thrown into the furnace. There was no element of doubt in them, but it was a proven, historically-documented (so to speak) fact to them.

Also, in chapter 6 the word is used to describe the set-in-stoneness and unchangeableness of the statute Darius made. According to the law of the Medes and Persians a statute of the king cannot be changed whatsoever (vss. 8, 12, 15). So when Darius says, “The statement is true” (v. 12) he means that, despite how much he doesn’t want Daniel to be punished, the law must be carried out—no exceptions. It was therefore absolutely true that a man who made a petition before any god or man beside the king will for sure be thrown into the lions’ den.

And so what God revealed to king Nebuchadnezzar through this dream is absolutely certain beyond any shadow of a doubt. That is how Daniel feels about everything God says, because He is a wise and good God. That is what it means to say that God’s Word is true.

Daniel isn’t alone in the conviction that everything God reveals is true

Later on in Daniel there is yet another vision and another interpretation (this time he is the recipient). Concerning this hidden future reality that was revealed to Daniel it is said, “The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true” (Dan. 8:26, emphasis mine). King David prayed to God, “Your words are truth” (2 Sam. 7:28). Just beforehand he expressed full confidence in God’s promise concerning a house (v. 27), and knows that God will confirm His promises (v. 25). The psalmist writes “The sum of Your word is truth” (Ps. 119:160), as well as several similar declarations within that same Psalm. Jesus Himself was convinced of the infallibility and inerrancy of all Scripture. This faith is expressed in many ways in Jesus’ life and teaching. In sum, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The apostle John is told in the apocalypse concerning certain revealed truths, “These are true words of God” (Rev. 19:9), and twice, “These words are faithful and true” (21:5 and 22:6).

-Steve Rohn

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