“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.” (Daniel 7:13)
Daniel’s first vision frightened him and has the capacity to frighten us. Despite this, however, it is full of good news and an important message for us.
1. We see a vision of a Heavenly court room. This is a court room that is still in session and has the same God, who still requires and hands down justice. God is merciful but this is a reminder that God is also just.
2. Because of this, we need to inject some urgency into our proclamation of the Good News. We want people to be saved and knowing that God is also judge should encourage us to ensure more of the world avoids that judgement.
3. We have good news and He is coming on the clouds. Jesus has all authority and has taken the ultimate judgement for us. We simply have to follow Him. This is the good news we need to share.
God is a merciful judge but He requires justice. Jesus has provided that, let’s go tell others that that the price is paid, if only they follow Him.
“Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before Him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”
Despite being a foreigner in exile, surrounded by lions of jealousy, intolerance and racism, Daniel is succeeding in every area of life until he is set up by his opponents and finds himself condemned to death in a physical lions’ den for the night. Because Daniel was innocent and trusted in God, angels closed the mouths of the lions and, unlike King Darius who condemned him to the pit, Daniel had a peaceful night. If we want to rise above challenges and opposition, finding strength, having capacity to fall asleep with lions, we should cultivate a better understanding where and to whom we belong, ensure our conscience is clear, maintain a disciplined spiritual life, trust in God and not bear false witness.
“But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from His temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honour the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways.” (Daniel 5:22-23)
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
King Belshazzar thought that he was safe. He thought that the incredible wealth and security he had within his kingdom was all he needed; but he was wrong. He failed to learn from what happened to his Grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, and did not honour the one true God. When a disembodied hand wrote a message on the wall during a drunken banquet, only Daniel was able to decipher its message. “Mene Mene, Tekel Parsin”. God had numbered the days of his reign and was bringing it to an end. He had been weighed and found wanting, and his kingdom would be divided among his enemies.
God teaches us through Daniel that God is all we need. If we live life humbly and put nothing else before him, He promises to lift us up. Belshazzar learnt this lesson too late, but we can choose to live lives that are pleasing to God.
“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: “What have you done?”” (Daniel 4:34)
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, but he knew that this was no mere dream. It was a message from God and a message that should have been heeded. Daniel even made it clear that he wished for him to repent to keep his fortune. Nebuchadnezzar was not able to do that and described his own glory and his own majesty. God did not take kindly to this. God warned Nebuchadnezzar what would happen and Nebuchadnezzar lived among the animals without his wits just as he was warned by God. Only when he looked at the kingdom and saw God’s authority did he regain what he’d lost.
What does that mean for us today? Well it means that we have a God who talks to us, who wants us to listen. It means that we are subjects to a higher authority and all the glory needs to go to Him. It means that we must remember who those achievements in life come from and say less of me, more of Him.
God is merciful and leaves us with hope once we recognise His authority. Be blessed that He isn’t distant but leaves a stump of hope so that we can grow again, but only from His watering.
1. The unreformed despot (verses 1-6) King Nebuchadnezzar seems to have forgotten that Daniel’s God is ‘the God of gods and the Lord of kings’ and makes a huge statue that all must worship. Warning to rulers: do not have a statue of yourself erected in your own lifetime.
2. The jealous astrologers (7-12) The king is warned that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel’s colleagues, are not bowing down to the statue. Racial and religious persecution is still prevalent in the world today.
3. The non-compliant administrators (15-18) Nebuchadnezzar threatens the three with the furnace, but their reply is bold, frank and uncompromising: our God can and will save us, but even if He does not, we will not worship the image of gold.
4. The super-heated furnace (19-23) The three are bound and thrown into the furnace.
5. The fourth man (24-25) Four men are seen walking in the fire, the fourth ‘like a son of the gods’. Is it an angel? Or is it Jesus Himself, right beside His beloved ones?
6. The non-odorous believers (26-27) The three are called out of the furnace, completely unharmed. When God saves us, He saves completely. Jesus brings total redemption.
7. The king who changed (a bit) (28-29) Nebuchadnezzar still doesn’t understand about the one true God or freedom of religion.
Learning points: boldness; God can rescue us from all dangers; Jesus is with us in every situation; we will not serve other gods.