Posted by: mattcolvin | January 25, 2012

Conditional Threats in Daniel 4

Thursday of the third week in Epiphany: Daniel 4.

26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Daniel’s warning to King Nebuchadnezzar is, like Jonah’s to the Ninevites, a conditional prophecy. The fact that the tree in the king’s dream is cut down does not mean that there is no room for repentance. Note the Hebraic “perhaps” — “Who knows? Perhaps the Lord will relent and not bring disaster upon us.”

The particular sins from which Daniel urges the king to turn are not described, except for a failure to show mercy to the poor. Nineveh is similar in Daniel: its faults are quite generic, and have nothing to do with the Torah in particular: “a wicked way” and “violence that is in their hands.”

God is not a vending machine. With Him there is forgiveness, that He may be feared.

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