BOOK OF DANIEL – The Final Word

Posted by on Oct 23, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – The Final Word

The Final Word.

If you recall when we discussed the way in which Cyrus’s army entered the city of Babylon virtually undetected, then you realize the immanency of the interpretation by Daniel. Belshazzar and the nobles of his court had very little time left. As the Medes and Persians routed the city they were inching their way closer to the king’s banquet.

Daniel 5:29 tells us, “Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (ESV) Scripture is silent as to whether this was a vain attempt on Belshazzar’s part in the hope of receiving some reprieve from the interpretation’s edict. Perhaps he thought he could bargain with Daniel in speaking to his God to avoid the calamity. Perhaps he did not believe the interpretation, although that does not fit the narrative because he had trembled at seeing the writing on the wall. Whatever the reason, there is a strong irony to the culmination of these events.

Daniel knew any worldly honors were short-lived. He instinctively knew they were even shorter in Belshazzar keeping his promise to cloth Daniel in purple with a gold chain around his neck and to appoint him the third ruler of the kingdom. Imagine being Daniel for a moment. Now an old man, brought to Babylon as a captive of a pagan empire. Being torn away from his family and his Jewish roots as a mere boy. The loss of his privileged position in Jewish society. Seeing Jerusalem’s beautiful temple being looted and hearing of its total destruction years later. And yet, this once majestic empire’s last act would be to appoint one of those captives as its last highest ranking official before its entire demise. It is the very captive whom God used to predict Babylon’s downfall, together with the ensuing world powers who would each take their place during the time of the Gentiles. It is the same captive who spoke of God being the ruler of heaven and earth and who would establish His everlasting kingdom by means of His Son. Man may think they have control of their own destiny but God is the one who has the final say as to each one’s final destination.

Daniel 5:30-31 concludes this chapter by revealing, “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” (ESV) Not only do we have the secular narratives of Herodotus and Xenophon but we have confirmation of Babylon’s destruction in several Scriptures. You can read these events in Isaiah 13:17-22; 21:1-10; Jeremiah 51:33-58. Notice Isaiah chapter twenty-one specifically mentions the Medes (verse two) and that they would conquer those eating and drinking (verses four and five), a likely reference to Belshazzar and his nobles. Jeremiah is even more explicit in Jeremiah 51:57-58 where God tells his prophet, “I will make drunk her officials and her wise men, her governors, her commanders, and her warriors; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nothing and the nations weary themselves only for fire.” (ESV)   

The first kingdom, the Babylon that was described in the vision of the statute whose head was of gold, was now laid waste, never to rise again. Although, it does represent, in type, the downfall of the unbelieving world that will occur in the future, either in our own lifetime or later.

As we move into chapter six we travel to the second kingdom, Mede and Persia

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BOOK OF DANIEL – The Writing and Interpretation

Posted by on Oct 22, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – The Writing and Interpretation

The Writing and Interpretation

Some expositors have suggested that Daniel’s indictment was heard by all in the room. Scripture does not explicitly state it but that may have been the case. Given the fact that, while Belshazzar had blasphemed against God, those who also indulged in the drinking of wine out of the vessels from the temple of Jerusalem could hardly have been blameless themselves. They knew where the vessels had come from.

What happens next is recorded for us in Daniel 5:24-28. “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (ESV)

“Then from his presence the hand was sent.” We should pay attention here and note that this sentence is referring to God Himself. In clear language, Daniel is telling Belshazzar the writing by the hand has been sent directly to Belshazzar from God. As Daniel goes on to interpret what the writing means Belshazzar could have no doubt that the indictment Daniel boldly declared was not from him but from God. I am amazed at the endless discussions people have arguing as to the meaning of the handwriting. Several use the argument that if the writing was in Aramaic then only consonants would have appeared. Others claim that if it was written in cuneiform then only vowels would have been present. Has man forgotten so easily that with God nothing is impossible? (Luke 1:37) Such men forget in their haste in arguing about the contents of the Word of God that Daniel was merely God’s instrument. It wasn’t Daniel’s interpretation, it was God’s! Placing this at the forefront of our minds removes any question about what God had written on the wall. It could have been writing never known to man and Daniel would still have interpreted it by the power of God. This is exactly what happened. Daniel tells us in verse twenty-five, “And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin”. Staggeringly, even when Daniel tells Belshazzar what the writing says, critics continue to offer their own suggestions of what the interpretation means. We will not waste our time in discussing the various suggestions because Daniel tells us what the interpretation is in the next three verses. I’m astonished at the ignorance of learned scholars who read the same words of Daniel as we do, yet offer their own version. Are they suggesting they know the mind of God better than God Himself? Are they trying to tell God what He meant? In even questioning what God had said through Daniel the Prophet, they are standing on very dangerous ground. Daniel clearly tells us what each word means.

Verse twenty-six. In the original text, Daniel confirms that God has numbered the days of Belshazzar’s kingdom and brought it to an end. If one looks at the original text it reads “A Mina, God has numbered your kingdom”. Two Aramaic words are used here to emphasize the finality of Belshazzar’s kingdom. Both Mene and Mina means numbered or to number. The word men-aw which appears where God “has numbered” Belshazzar’s kingdom means also number as well as to appoint or ordain. It is thought by the appearance of “Mene” twice that it was emphatic.

Verse twenty-seven. Tekel is the Aramaic word for weigh. It corresponds to the Hebrew word shaqal which means the same. Again, Daniel explains that Belshazzar has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. This suggests that Belshazzar not only didn’t measure up to his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar but, more importantly, he did not measure up to the moral standards of God.

Verse twenty-eight. Peres or peras in Aramaic means to break in two or divide. This was made clearer by Daniel stating that Belshazzar’s kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – The Indictment

Posted by on Oct 19, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – The Indictment

The Indictment.

Let us remind ourselves of the passage of Scripture detailing the above title. Daniel 5:18-22 reads, “O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this” (ESV)

Here, Daniel lays out the difference between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. It was, to all intents and purposes, an indictment against Belshazzar. An indictment is defined as a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime or a thing that serves to illustrate that a system or situation is bad and deserves to be condemned. How do we draw these conclusions from this passage of Scripture? It is by way of factual evidence of Nebuchadnezzar versus the factual evidence of Belshazzar.

Daniel first reminds Belshazzar that it was God who gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingship or rule. Due to his power and greatness, he held the decision as to whether a person lived or died, literally. God made him an absolute sovereign. But, with all that God had given him, came responsibility. Despite Nebuchadnezzar being warned by God by way of his first dream and then the fiery furnace, he paid no attention nor recognized God as the Almighty despite saying such on both occasions. But finally, after God held him accountable for his actions and, more importantly, his refusal to acknowledge God as the Supreme Ruler over mankind, God brought him down, drove him out from his kingdom, and made his mind like that of a beast. Only when he finally looked up to heaven in acknowledgment of God as the Almighty and that it was He who had placed Nebuchadnezzar as Babylon’s ruler, was he restored to his kingdom. This we saw as the great humbling of Nebuchadnezzar that he declared to all the people in Daniel chapter four. Then came the indictment. It’s contained in verse twenty-two, “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this”.

There are some contrasts we should note regarding the above comparisons. Nebuchadnezzar had supreme power. Belshazzar’s power was limited in that he was only ruling when his father Nabonidus was not there. There are at least three conflicting reports of where Nabonidus was but perhaps the most helpful is from the Nabonidus Chronicle itself which states that Nabonidus fled Babylon and was later arrested when he returned. What was worse for Belshazzar (which clearly showed his refusal to humble himself as Nebuchadnezzar had done) was the fact that he knew what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. He may have even been present or at least seen the king during portions of his humbling by God. Knowing of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling made his order to take the golden vessels of the temple of God and use them to drink wine in honor of the Babylonian pagan gods all the more blasphemous. Daniel highlighted this blasphemy in Daniel 5:23 saying, “But you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.” (ESV)

All that was left was for Daniel to pronounce God’s verdict. The hand and its writing were for Belshazzar himself.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s History Lesson to Belshazzar.

Posted by on Oct 11, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s History Lesson to Belshazzar.

 

Daniel’s History Lesson to Belshazzar.

In Daniel 5:18-21 Daniel says to Belshazzar, “O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this” (NASB)

There are several points in this passage that we may not be able to cover in one blog.

Daniel’s address to Belshazzar as “O king” may not appear to be something worthy of note. However, both the ESV and the NASB, along with several other Bible translations, omit the word “you” that precedes the words, “O king” which appears in the Aramaic. The phrase in the original is “As for you O king” which actually makes Daniel’s statement more personal. In our passage today, Daniel is building a case in order to make a significant comparison between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. We saw in Daniel 5:13 Belshazzar’s acknowledgment of his ‘father’ Nebuchadnezzar’s role in bringing Daniel to Babylon. In verse 14 he acknowledges that Daniel was known for the gifts God had given him in interpretation. But the deciding factor here is if we read the text as stated in the ESV and several others as “O king”, we end up with a text that has a tone of a conciliatory note to it. If we do that, then we are suggesting Daniel was somehow placating or appeasing Belshazzar which most certainly he was not. Only when we use the original, “As for you O king” or “You O king” do we have what Daniel was truly conveying, an accusatory tone. Daniel’s thought is completed in verse twenty-two that actually states the original term, “And you his son”. Both verse eighteen and verse twenty-two use the Aramaic word antah, meaning “you”, which corresponds to the Hebrew word attah that means you or thou. A casual look at several older translations as well as some theologians reveals their use of “thou” in the text. Hence, what we have from the start of Daniel’s discourse, which some scholars have called a sermon, is, in fact, a message of rebuke, judgment, and condemnation as we will see in this and later passages. If you notice, in Daniel 5:10 the queen addresses Belshazzar saying, “O king live forever!” Daniel uses the same language in Daniel 6:21 with regard to King Darius. Daniel made no such address concerning Belshazzar. While he recognizes Belshazzar as king he no doubt had contempt for him when he learned of the misuse of the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple.

When we return, we will discuss the comparisons of Nebuchadnezzar versus that of Belshazzar. In the end, we will see a king that was humbled by God’s dealing with him by showing that it was He who placed kings and kingdoms in their positions. This is versus a king who showed no such acknowledgment while knowing the facts of the first king. The cost was great to Nebuchadnezzar but it was to be a far greater cost to Belshazzar.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s Reply to Belshazzar

Posted by on Oct 9, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s Reply to Belshazzar

Daniel’s Reply to Belshazzar

Before I discuss today’s blog, an apology is in order. I make it a habit as I write the daily blog to diligently read several passages before and after the Scriptural text that I discuss for the day’s blog. On a couple of occasions I clearly did not read sufficient passages. As a result, I mentioned previously that Belshazzar probably may have known of God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar. That comment is incorrect. As we read the book of Daniel further, Daniel, in fact, reminds Belshazzar that he certainly DID know of these events. In the last blog I said we may never know if Belshazzar kept his promise to Daniel in clothing him in purple with a chain of gold around his neck and appointing him the third ruler of the kingdom. That comment was also incorrect. The Scriptures DO tell us that Belshazzar did keep his word. Please accept my error. It was not intentional nor meant to cause anyone any confusion. I assure you, that this blog series will be corrected immediately and I offer my sincere apologies. Eventually, this blog series on the book of Daniel will be edited again several months from now. This will be done so that we can make the entire blog series available as an expositional book. Rest assured when the book becomes available it will naturally be re-edited from a blog to a chapter and verse study of the book of Daniel. As a result of all of these additional edits, we at MDR Ministries are confident that the reader will have an exegetical explanation of Scripture contained in the book of Daniel.

After listening to the insolent attitude of Belshazzar it was now time for Daniel to speak. In Daniel 5:17 we read, “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation.” (ESV) One could easily assume Daniel’s comments appear disrespectful but that is not the case. His answer in this verse is also a valid lesson for us today. “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another” contain two closely related reasons Daniel said those words. Is not Scripture always amazing? Here we see the words of God’s prophet in the 6th century BC that would be included in the Old Testament and yet we have a real life example of what Daniel was referring to later in the 1st century AD with regard to Simon Magus contained in the New Testament. Simon Magus appears to us in Acts chapter eight during the ministry of Philip. He was a magician and as soon as he saw people believing Philip’s message he himself got baptized. Upon Peter and John arriving to assist Philip, they laid hands upon the believers in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:18-20 reveals what Magus’s real intent was. “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” (NASB) In effect Peter, while not referencing Daniel, agreed with what Daniel was saying. God’s gifts could not be bought.

The Apostle Paul makes note of the second reason that Daniel points out. Paul mentions this in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6a, “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness—nor did we seek glory from men.” (NASB)

Almost 600 years later Peter and Paul are stating the same thing Daniel was declaring. That a person CAN NOT buy God’s gifts nor can his true servants be bribed. Despite this admonition, Daniel states that he will read the writing and tell Belshazzar what it means.

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