Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday - Daniel 5 - The First Fall of Babylon

HERE is no doubt that the greatest prophecies in the Bible about the fall of Babylon were not written just in reference to this story. There were prophecies about this event (Isaiah 13:17), but greater Babylon still thrives today as a worldwide economic, philosophical, humanistic, hedonistic and political system.  It will not fall until the end of the coming seven-year Tribulation Period. There is one distinct parallel between this historic event as recorded in Daniel 5 and the future event spoken of in Revelation 18:2: old Babylon fell very quickly – so also will the fall of greater Babylon be quick and unexpected (Isaiah 47:9 & 11).

Nebuchadnezzar is dead & gone before we get to Daniel 5. Obviously, some years had passed. Belshazzar is king & Daniel is somewhat older. Belshazzar was partying like there was no tomorrow. Actually, for him there wasn't! And, in their drunken orgy, the Babylonian aristocrats were desecrating the fine vessels which many years before had been brought out of Jerusalem from the temple of Jehovah. As they drank, God sent a miraculous message to them. The message was specifically directed at the emperor.  Fingers were seen writing on the wall of the banquet hall. Only after Daniel was called were the words understood: "God has numbered your kingdom, & finished it. You are weighed in the balances & are found wanting.  Your kingdom is divided & given to the Medes & Persians." 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thursday - Daniel 4 - A Chapter Written by Nebuchadnezzar

N Daniel 2, we read about Daniel's first assignment in his career of interpreting dreams and visions.  Here in Daniel 4 we find another example.  This time Nebuchadnezzar himself tells the story.  However, it is important to note that the central figure in this narrative is neither Daniel, nor is it Nebuchadnezzar. The central figure is God Himself. And, the theme and lesson is the ugly nature of pride and the grandeur of humility.

Simply put, God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream that He was going to humble him with a seven-years-long-case of lycanthropy. In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar was compared to a great tree that was chopped down. He went from ruling the world to eating grass like a cow in a field. For seven years he lived in insanity and humiliation, until he had learned his lesson and was willing to give God the credit for his great kingdom.

One of the most important things to take notice of here is found in verse 27.  There Daniel said to the king, "…break off your sins by righteousness, & your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of your tranquility." This advice was given to the king after the dream had been dreamed & the interpretation had been explained. God gave Nebuchadnezzar the dream in order to give him a chance to avoid judgment. He didn't have to become an animal. The choice was his.  It was a test that he failed though.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday - Daniel 3 - They Would neither Bow nor Burn

T certainly appears that Nebuchadnezzar did exactly the wrong thing with the knowledge that he had gained in his prophetic vision. You should recall that in Daniel 2 we read about how God assigned to Nebuchadnezzar the "privilege" of being the head of gold on the image that represented all of the kingdoms of this world. Such news should humble a man (as he realizes that he is unworthy of such attention and influence). Nebuchadnezzar decided instead to construct an entire image of gold (90 feet tall), and to establish a new pagan religion around it. Most likely, it was an image of himself.  How typical of the demagogues who have always ruled the kingdoms of this world.

Nebuchadnezzar had the pride and gall to demand that all of the most important people in his empire come to worship this statue. The motivation for obeying the pompous king was a very real threat of being barbequed alive (vs. 6). Now, we do not know where Daniel was or why he is not mentioned in this story, but his three friends attended the worship service in obedience to the king. But in defiance of the king, they refused to bow to his idol. Not surprisingly, someone tattled on them.  But they didn't care. Even though the king "mercifully" gave them a second chance, they still refused to bow. In fact, they boldly claimed that God could save them from the flames, but that even if He wouldn’t, they still intended to maintain their loyalty to Him (vs. 16-18)!  Well, they were condemned by the king, but the King of kings saved them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday - Daniel 2 - World Prophecy 101

HIS chapter is a perfect introduction to the prophecies that make up much of the remainder of the book of Daniel.  In fact, this chapter is a good starting point for any study on prophecy in general. Although part of the chapter continues the narrative of Daniel's biography, the heaviest part is comprised of a revelation, which God gave to this heathen king, Nebuchadnezzar.

There is no such thing as a perfect prophet, or a perfect vehicle for revelation. Other than Jesus Christ, all prophets have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So, when we read of men like Pharaoh, Balaam, Saul, Nebuchadnezzar or Jonah getting special messages from God, we should not be so surprised. The bigger mystery is that God has seen fit to give any messages to any of us – including even the greatest of prophets. At best, we are all just broken vessels. We should thank God for His condescending grace.

Now, in the middle of the sadly humorous interactions between the exasperatedly angry king and his impotent cabinet of occultists, we see that God was working to set Himself and Daniel up for a big save. In Daniel 2:10 we read that it was these "wise" men who set the stage for Daniel to shine. "Nobody could do what you're asking," they stammered, "and nobody should reasonably ask such a question. One would have to be a god to tell somebody else what they dreamed!" Yes, exactly! So, when in anger the king sent the captain of his guard out to kill every single member of the Babylonian intelligentsia, Daniel took that opportunity to make a great claim in the name of the one true God (Daniel 2:16 & 28).

Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday - Daniel 1 - A Devoted Young Man

few years before Ezekiel the priest was taken into captivity (and made an agricultural slave outside of the city of Babylon) Daniel the prince had been taken (among many others), turned into a eunuch, and brought into the very court of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. This turn of events had been prophesied by Isaiah to Hezekiah as is recorded back in 2nd Kings 20:18 (compare to Daniel 1:3). Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem in 3 phases, Daniel was taken in the first siege, Ezekiel in the second and the temple in the last.

Daniel and three of his cousins from the tribe of Judah (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) were exceptional young men before they were ever taken into captivity. But, in Babylon they were destined to be trained for 3 years under the finest educational rigors that were available in that day. Along with their schooling, they were supposed to be fed the same things that the king himself was fed. This was problematic. Daniel was a good Jew who had committed himself to maintaining his Jewish distinctness (even in this foreign land). The things that the king was prone to eat would have included many items which had been forbidden under Moses' law. So, Daniel asked the prince of the eunuchs (to no avail) if he could have a simpler diet (Daniel 1:8-10). Since that didn't work, he asked a steward (who was only responsible for a fraction of the eunuchs) if he could have a 10-day test of eating a simpler diet (Daniel 1:11-13). It was a real step of faith for Daniel. He took the right stand (depending upon God to reward his faith). His 3 companions were in on the test as well and God certainly came through for them all.