Bible Ballistics: Bold Humility In God’s Power? Vol. 6#17
We have been looking at Daniel, a committed man of God, one who stood fast in the midst of difficulty and in captivity. While we meet Daniel and his friends taking a stand for their faith as captives, they did it with humility and integrity toward the authorities over them. Going on to chapter 2 we find them in the crunch of impending death because of the king who couldn’t remember his dream nor could anyone give it’s interpretation. Once again they respond with confidence and dependence on their God—The Lord God Almighty of the universe–the God of Israel, who heard and answered their prayers for deliverance. God honored their faithfulness by using them (Daniel in particular) to reveal His plan for the ages to the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar.
It’s very likely this dream of a large statue, where Daniel revealed Nebuchadnezzar as ‘the head of gold’, lead to the events of chapter 3 and a ‘statue’ of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar erected and calls all the people to worship. Well of course, our 3 Hebrew children refused to bow and then find themselves before the king, who offers them a second chance to bow; but they hold firm and declare clearly that they will not bow to any other ‘god’ but their God-the creator of the universe. The results: an enraged king’s irate command to throw them into the fire, because “who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” And Nebuchadnezzar’s question was answered by the God who could deliver them, and did. God met them in the fire, causing the King to have an immediate change of heart toward these men and their God, but not a life-changer yet!
Chapter 4 also involves a dream, and once again we find Daniel interpreting the king’s dream. We saw his heart of compassion and kindness as he delivered a message of judgment. Yet he also had the boldness to call the king to repentance and acknowledgment toward God. And God’s work brings this mighty king to his knees—literally! With what seems to be a permanent change of heart, which brings us to chapter 5.
One thing we must understand is that there have been many years between chapter one and chapter five. What we find as we approach this chapter is an elderly statesman who has served his God in a pagan land for some 70 years; a man who has stood firm for his God, is probably not in a high ranking position like he had during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, but he is still known in the palace and lives and serves there. So, let’s dig in.
“Belshazzar the king made a great feast
to a thousand of his lords,
and drank wine before the thousand.
2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine,
commanded to bring
the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar
had taken out of the temple
which was in Jerusalem;
that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
3 Then they brought the golden vessels
that were taken
out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem;
and the king,
and his princes,
and his concubines,
drank in them.
4 They drank wine,
and praised the gods
and of silver,
and of stone.” Daniel 5:1-4
A king throwing a party is one thing, but a king so arrogant that he sends for the ‘treasures’ of the Temple in Jerusalem, the vessels that were used in the worship of Jehovah God, the GOD of Israel. And not only did he send for the vessels, but he sent for them to flaunt his arrogance by drinking in the vessels of the ‘Most High God’ to praise his ‘gods’ of “gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone”—his idols!
“In the same hour
came forth fingers of a man’s hand,
and wrote over against the candlestick
upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace:
and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6 Then the king’s countenance was changed,
and his thoughts troubled him,
so that the joints of his loins were loosed,
and his knees smote one against another.
7 The king cried aloud
to bring in the astrologers,
and the soothsayers.
And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon,
Whosoever shall read this writing,
and shew me the interpretation thereof,
shall be clothed with scarlet,
and have a chain of gold about his neck,
and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
8 Then came in all the king’s wise men:
but they could not read the writing,
nor make known to the king
the interpretation thereof.
9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled,
and his countenance was changed in him,
and his lords were astonied.” Daniel 5:5-9
From an arrogant, drunken party thrower—to a weak-kneed, trembling, frightened man!! God has a way of accomplishing HIS purpose in amazing ways, and HE will show Himself faithful and sovereign in HIS time. We can be assured of that even today! God has a plan and HE will accomplish HIS purpose, regardless of the party in power—regardless of the treaties signed—regardless of the promises of dishonest politicians. There have always been politicians! There have always been rulers, good and bad! There have always been broken promises and agendas! But our God reigns in TOTAL SOVEREIGNTY! He brought Belshazzar up short, and in His timing He will bring His purposes to fulfillment today—in HIS time! Count on it! He never fails!
Belshazzar is in the midst of a great time of feasting, and celebrating what he thought was his own personal and national invulnerability! Ring any bells? Belshazzar in his fright calls in those infamous ‘wise men’ to no avail, since not one of them could tell him what the handwriting meant. Even with his offer of great wealth and prominence. But then…
“Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: 11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; 12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” Daniel 5:10-12
It’s important here that we recognize that this isn’t the king’s ‘wife’, because if we check out the preceding text, his wives were at the party (see verse 2). This would appear to be the king’s grandmother, probably the wife of the deceased king Nebuchadnezzar, what we’d call the ‘Queen Mother’. This woman, after hearing of the hoopla at the party, goes in to see the king and advises him to call for Daniel. She would have come to know and have confidence in the counsel of this man she called by his Hebrew name, Daniel. She recommends Daniel to the king seemingly because she knew he could solve this dilemma. She had lived through all the drama that Nebuchadnezzar had experienced with God and Daniel, and Daniel’s great ability to solve hard things. What kind of confidence do others have in our walk with God? What kind of walk with God do we have, that others might see HIM in us? Do others know we care enough to help with ‘godly’ advise? Do others have confidence in our knowledge of God and His Word?
“Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? 14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. 15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: 16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:13-16
Daniel is brought in and the king offers his politically significant rewards to Daniel. The same things that he had offered to the other ‘wise’ men who were unable to reveal the enigma. But we have Daniel, who has still been in the ‘civil service’ corps, and while he has probably not been in a prominent position since the death of King Nebuchadnezzar, when he is called to serve he responds immediately. He comes to be of service—with a different attitude, but one still based on his confidence in God, not man.
“Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O thou king,
the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: 21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar,
hast not humbled thine heart,
though thou knewest all this;
23 But hast lifted up thyself against
the Lord of heaven;
and they have brought the vessels of his house
and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines,
have drunk wine in them;
and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know:
and the God in whose hand thy breath is,
and whose are all thy ways,
hast thou not glorified:
24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him;
and this writing was written.” Daniel 5:17-24
Daniel reminds the king of all of the things that God had done to reveal Himself to Nebuchadnezzar. He reminds Belshazzar that not only did he know these things, but he also has chosen to ignore the import of God Almighty– by his own choice. He not only ignored God, but also has insulted and defied this very “God in whose hand thy breath is”! Like many today he had chosen to go his own way. He chose to ignore the truth, which God had revealed, and still reveals, to all men, women, boys and girls! We live in a world much like Belshazzar’s—many have chosen to do their own thing with no regard for the God of all creation, even though He has revealed Himself to the world. This same “God in whose hand thy breath is” waits for YOU!!!
It’s also an amazing thing, to me, that history tells us that while Belshazzar’s confidence is in ‘things’ like the thick walls of 35-80 feet wide (depending on which ancient sources your believe), and on his own ability to withstand the Medo-Persian army which was right outside the walls. It is reported that he had enough goods to hole-up for years! Yet history tells us that the army outside (which he was ignoring by throwing a party) simply diverted a canal that ran through a conduit into the city. They stopped the flood by diversion of the water, and then going through half-empty conduit, they walked right into the city, through only thigh-high water, to conquer the Babylon virtually without resistance in the night. In fact the same night that Daniel speaks his prophecy to the king. The same night that Daniel confronts an arrogant and rebellious king with the truth—no holds barred! There are times when we must let the truth speak for itself, without any coddling or explanation! There is a time when people have gone too far for too long, and their day of mercy and grace has passed. We don’t know when that day is, but God does, and when God sends us to someone in that state, we must simply speak God’s truth in love—saddened but boldly. Daniel declares that the message is from God Himself, and reveals the meaning to the waiting, rebellious king.
“And this is the writing that was written,
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
26 This is the interpretation of the thing:
God hath numbered thy kingdom,
and finished it.
Thou art weighed in the balances,
and art found wanting.
Thy kingdom is divided,
and given to the Medes and Persians.
29 Then commanded Belshazzar,
and they clothed Daniel with scarlet,
and put a chain of gold about his neck,
and made a proclamation concerning him,
that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 In that night
was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom,
being about threescore and two years old.” Daniel 5:25-31
What a sad story of eternal consequences for temporal choices. I think we often miss the import of this chapter, writing it off as a cute little children’s story, without taking away the important lessons that we need to learn:
That we can be faithful to God regardless of our circumstances or our age. Daniel was a man of integrity for his entire life—he was probably somewhere around 80 plus years old here, and God wasn’t through with him yet.
That when called to face the foe, we can face them with boldness and speak the truth unapologetically. Our God promised to never leave us or forsake us. And what a wonderful picture Daniel paints of God’s provision to His faithful servants!
That our God is Sovereign and in control, no matter how things look, or how long it may seem to take! God’s timing is perfect!
That there are evil people—always have been, always will be! But there is also a day of accounting coming. Are you ready? Only through Jesus can we be ready–
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:27-28
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matthew12:35-36
Will you be a faithful Daniel, no matter where God has placed you?
Or will you be another Belshazzar, making your own way in the world?
Will you do your own thing, no matter what God says?
Will you depend on God, like faithful Daniel,
even when your senses don’t understand what’s going on?
Or will you walk by what you see, rather than what God has said?
Or will you walk by faith in the God of all creation,
and trust Him,
not your feelings or what you think you see?
“(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)…..” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh……… 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 & 25
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25
Which way are you going? Your way? Or God’s? It’s your choice, but there are consequences. Choose wisely!!!