BOOK OF DANIEL – Opposition Rises!

Posted by on Oct 31, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Opposition Rises!

Opposition Rises!

We are going to learn today what serving God may actually cost us.

As a man of advancing years, Daniel was still being used by God. Now in his eighties, Daniel was favored by the king who was planning on appointing him over the entire kingdom. In Daniel 6:4-5 we see the reaction of the other overseers and satraps. “Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.” (NASB)

Clearly, the friendly nature of the conquerors toward the Babylonians was not afforded to Daniel. His integrity and service evidently had no merit as far as the other two overseers were concerned nor with the satraps who each followed in line. What exactly were these 122 officials against in seeing Daniel appointed over them? There are several answers to that question but recall why Darius thought it good to appoint the 120 satraps and three overseers. Daniel 6:2 tells us it was in order that the king would not suffer loss. This system of government was meant to ensure taxes were collected which the satraps would be accountable for.  Having the integrity that David had obviously meant that he did not allow for himself to be corrupted nor allow anyone to act corruptly under his authority. One can imagine what these 122 men stooped to just by reflecting on a variety of government officials from many countries in our own day and age. Not only have we seen or read a plethora of corruption but character assassination now seems the order of the day if a person seeks an official office. This was, undoubtedly, what Daniel was now exposed to. Innuendo and agenda became the mark of the overseers and satraps in finding anything, something, they could “pin” on Daniel. But they found nothing. No grounds could be found to accuse him of anything. There was no evidence of corruption nor any negligence in discharging his official duties. They simply had nothing on him. They conceded defeat in looking for anything as to his service to the king. So they turned to look for something that they could find that would accuse him with regard to the law of God. In other words, they decided to look for something that Daniel was doing and not against the law of his God, for they knew he was forthright in his loyalty to his God. Rather, they looked for something he was doing that they could use to accuse him of going against the orders of the king. Little did Darius know that their intent was to involve him in their devious plans.

As we have stated, Satan has not and will not let up in his attacks upon God’s people. Daniel is a prime example of the attacks made on his faithfulness to God. You and I face the same attacks, albeit in differing degrees, in our lives. If Satan pursued our Lord, Jesus Christ, with relentless hostility don’t you think he is going to pursue you or me with the same fervor? If you doubt that then you are fooling yourself. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “…so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (ESV) Satan will use those opposed to God and are doing anything in their power to bring a Christian down. Daniel did not have any skeletons in the cupboard so to speak. We may have. But if not, be assured we will be the focus of Satan’s attack in attempting to compromise our relationship with God. Many of God’s faithful have, and will continue to have, lies and accusations made against them in order to remove them from favor. That removal may even include imprisonment or the real threat of death. This is what may be at stake for anyone of us. As we move further into Daniel chapter six this is what happens to Daniel. We are in a war. Winning one battle does not win the war. We must endeavor to win every battle against Satan who wants to devour us (1 Peter 5:8) in order that we come out victorious by receiving God’s protection and blessings by our faithful service to Him.

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BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s Extraordinary Spirit

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Daniel’s Extraordinary Spirit

Based on my previous blog regarding the identity of Darius, I do not intend to return to that debate unless it is absolutely necessary. Suffice it to say that we know there was the historical person of Cyrus the Great who was the king of Persia. Whether Darius was another name for Cyrus we are not told.

Daniel 6:1-4 records for us that, “It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.” (NASB)

We have mentioned that many of the populace of Babylon disliked both Nabonidus and Belshazzar. This may have been why Babylon was taken without a significant battle. Indeed, Herodotus and Xenphon both state that Babylon fell without a fight. If this is true, it certainly does support the opening verses of chapter six. It appears the conquerors of Babylon were happy to work with those whom they now ruled. Darius appoints 120 satraps over the kingdom. Some have even argued that both Cyrus and Darius never appointed more than twenty or thirty-six satraps, respectively and therefore, the number of 120 satraps is not accurate. On the other side of this argument, a perusal of Esther 1:1 reveals that King Ahasuerus reigned over 127 provinces. One would think this supports Daniel 6:1, but not so. Liberal scholars argue that 120 is an exaggeration! When faced with someone who is bent on disagreeing with Scripture, my advice is not to engage in such a fruitless and trivial argument.

The Aramaic word used in Daniel 6:1 is achashdarpan which means governor. Other terms used are princes or lieutenants. In Old Persian, a “satrap” is one who was the “protector of the province”. But what is the significance as to why we are even told about these 120 satraps? Verse two is the clue. It tells us that three commissioners were to be over the 120 satraps. Daniel was one of the three. Commissioner is not exactly the most accurate description of the Aramaic word used. That word is carek, pronounced saw-rake which means, chief or overseer. The purpose of the three overseers was to make the 120 satraps accountable to the overseers so the king would not suffer loss. This likely meant protecting the king’s financial interest in each province and ensuring the proper collection of taxes. Notice what verse three tells us. Daniel possessed an extraordinary spirit that distinguished him over the other two overseers. We should not be surprised in the slightest. God’s providence was at work again to not only honor His faithful servant but to place him at center stage for further revelations. You may recall I said in chapter five that Daniel may have retired or was probably forced out of office during the reign of Nabonidus and Belshazzar. Now, over eighty years of age, he shows himself more capable than all the others. Verse four tells us that the king planned to appoint Daniel over the entire kingdom. If I may, let me pause for a moment. It should not surprise us when we are told of the likes of Moses who became a member of the royal family of Pharaoh. Or of Joseph who became the Vizier or Prime Minister of Egypt. Or Daniel, not only a high ranking official of one world power but two! It should not surprise us when we are told there are no records of such appointments recorded by Egypt, Babylon or the Medo-Persians. They were pagans. They were not interested in supporting the Bible record by accurately recording such appointments. And neither was Satan who will always try and cast doubt and confusion with his attempts to hide the truth.

As far as Daniel’s example, never think that your age is an excuse for not serving God. If God decides to use you, even in the twilight years of your life, He will give you the strength and mental agility to achieve His will. This is why we are told of the 120 satraps and the three overseers. It was to place Daniel in the highest level of authority – not in order for him to serve a pagan ruler but to show the power of God. Daniel did not know it, but these events were going to place him in a severe test of his faithfulness to God.

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BOOK OF DANIEL-Introduction to Daniel Chapter 6

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL-Introduction to Daniel Chapter 6

Introduction to Daniel Chapter 6

Certainly, when someone mentions the Bible character Daniel, the greater majority of people immediately think of Daniel in the lion’s den which Daniel chapter 6 discusses. But rather than focusing on the message God is conveying in chapter 6 and how the deliverance of Daniel from the lion’s mouths is indeed a significant message for the reader, scholars have, again, chosen to use this chapter as one of their main focuses to discredit the entire book.

I am, of course, mentioning the continual, unabating argument as it relates to Darius the Mede who we saw mentioned in Daniel 5:31 and now again in Daniel chapter 6. These scholars argue that outside of the Bible there is no such person known as King Darius within the timeframe of Daniel. As a result, they (including some who claim to be theologians themselves) go headlong into denying Scripture all because every historical detail isn’t mentioned. Sadly, we who believe in the authenticity of Scripture and who firmly declare it is the inerrant Word of God will always face those who challenge God’s authority. Yes. You read that right. If the book of Daniel is not sufficient for you, as written, then you are directly challenging God’s Word. I pray you will repent. God is the author. He wrote only what is sufficient for us to know. He did not detail every single piece of information that, in any event, does not affect His Word. Much of Scripture requires that we believe even though we do not have every piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Daniel himself knew less of the meaning about what he wrote in the latter part of the book that bears his name than what we know now. It was sufficient for him to accept only what God allowed him to know, why is not sufficient for us? The answer to that is a lack of faith, together with an attitude, that a person seems to think they know better than God Himself.

As far as Darius the Mede is concerned there are several suggestions as to the identity of this person. But if you want to know without any doubt who Darius was, you are going to be disappointed. All we can do at best is guess. It is better that we accept God’s Word as stated rather than fruitlessly waste our time on questioning who the person is or, worse, suggest the Bible is in error as some of these ego-minded scholars and theologians claim.

In an effort to put the many arguments “to bed” so to speak, let me make a few observations. These are not answers nor are they suggestions. They are merely observations. Ultimately, you have to decide whether what you are told by God in Daniel is sufficient for you to believe and to accept over those who argue otherwise.

Of the many different suggestions made of who this Darius was, the following have been put forward.

Some say Darius never even existed. They argue that because Daniel named a fictitious person (their view) that this proves the book was written much later. Their argument is that if it was written in the 6th century BC then Daniel would have accurately have named the correct king.

Others say Darius was Gubaru, the governor appointed over Babylon by Cyrus. Some distinguish Gubaru from Ugbaru, both of whom are called Gobryus in certain translations of the Nabonidus Chronicle.

Still others say that Darius was another name for Cyrus.

Here are a couple of observations.

First, while many argue that there was no such person by the name of Darius during the time period under discussion, there are no facts that prove there wasn’t.

A study of the Biblical text reveals that the name Darius is only used in connection with the first year (see Daniel 5:31; 9:1; 11:1).

Tiglath Pileser III (745 -727 BC) ruled as king of Babylon. But his name was his Assyrian throne name after murdering the royal family. He was formerly the governor of Kalhu and he was a general and known by his real name Pul. He took his throne name to honor two former kings of Assyria. He is mentioned in 2 Kings 15:19. In 1 Chronicles 5:26 he is mentioned again but is called Pul as well as Tiglath-Pileser.

His son, Ululayu, changed his name to his throne name Shalmaneser V during his own rule of Babylon. He is also named in Scripture by his throne name in 2Kings 17:3; 18:9.

The point here is that rulers used different names and that it was not uncommon in antiquity.

Finally, we see Scripture mention Darius as being made king (Daniel (9:1) and receiving the kingdom (Daniel 5:31) both of which are passive statements rather than active ones. Daniel 5:31 also reveals that Darius was about sixty-two years of age when he received the kingdom. This is approximately the same age that Cyrus was. In conclusion, may I suggest you accept the text we have in Scripture. God does not have it wrong. Whatever name was used by Darius or Cyrus or if there had been others who used such names but were co-regents or acted as king in the absence of the king, makes no difference to the content. Focus on what happened as we traverse the book of Daniel. We are watching Gentile world powers come and go, all of whom we do know in the history books of man. These lessons all lead to the prophecy of God’s eternal rule by His Son, Jesus Christ, and the timeline leading up to those events occurring in our or someone else’s future.

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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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