An Impossible Task


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.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm—if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “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.” Daniel 2:1-11 ESV

But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:24b-27 ESV


Psyche was a beautiful mortal woman who was married to the god Cupid, but she had accidentally spilled some burning oil on her husband, and he had left her and gone home to his mother, the goddess Venus. Venus was very angry with Psyche, and when Psyche came to her to try to appease her anger, Venus gave her some impossible tasks to do. First she sent her to a huge room filled with different kinds of grains that were all mixed up, and told her to separate the grains into piles according to what kind they were. But Psyche’s husband Cupid felt sorry for her and called on the ants to come and help her finish this task. The next task Venus gave Psyche was to gather a sample of golden fleece from some rams with vicious horns and teeth, but the nearby river god felt sorry for her and told her when and how to complete this task. Finally Venus made Psyche journey to the kingdom of Pluto in the underworld and take some beauty from Proserpine, the queen of the underworld, and bring it to Venus in a box. These were all impossible tasks, but in each case Psyche was able to do them because she had the help of the gods.

This is only a story, but in our Bible reading Nebuchadnezzar seemed to be angry with all his wise men and magicians, because he also gave them an impossible task. Perhaps he wondered if they were really as wise as they said they were, and he wanted to test them. When Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him, he called all his wise men for help. But he wouldn’t tell them what the dream was. Instead, he said that they were supposed to read his mind and tell them what his dream had been, and then tell him what it meant. When all the wise men and magicians asked the king to tell them his dream, he got angry and said that they were just stalling for time. If they were really wise, they would be able to tell him what his dream was, and if they weren’t able to do that, how would they be able to tell the meaning? The wise men all said that they couldn’t read the king’s mind. Only the gods would be able to do what the king asked.

The wise men and magicians of Babylon believed in false gods who didn’t exist and couldn’t help them with this trouble. Only the true God can help when a situation seems to be impossible. The most impossible situation there ever was was when we fell into sin and came under the power of death and the devil. There was no way that we could ever save ourselves, in fact, that would have been the most impossible task of all time. But God came to us in Jesus to save us, because nothing is impossible with God. Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead, and he destroyed the power of sin and death and the devil. Because of Jesus, we are God’s children, and he is able to help us no matter what trouble we face.


Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us and for being with us and helping us every day. Amen.