“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.
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way.”
“At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” (Daniel 1:8, 15)
Our series on Daniel began in Chapter 1 where Daniel took a stand for his Lord and chose to live according to God’s authority, not Nebuchadnezzar’s. In so doing he was rewarded and blessed by God who even caused the guard to show him favour.
In our world, there is a lot of Royal Food and Wine on offer – sex, greed, money to name a few. But if it separates us from God then it is not good for us. It is time we became courageous and took a stand against these things and instead chose to live as God wants us to. When we do that we will be better nourished and healthier disciples for the only one who truly matters. What is your Royal Food and Wine? How can we help you turn it down?
“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4)
In both the words of Revelation 7 and 21, we read about God’s plan for the future. This plan concerns a new heaven and new earth, a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven and God’s dwelling place being among the people. Believers will never again hunger or thirst, as God wipes away ever tear and the old order of things passes away. These words offer comfort and hope for the future but especially for those who Christian Aid seeks to serve, where the brokenness and frustration of this world is so closely felt. But this kingdom is not just His plan for the future, it is God’s plan for today. The new heaven and new earth have not come yet, but in the arrival of Jesus, the coming kingdom has been announced. Jesus said Himself in Luke 4:18a, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” In Matthew 10:1, Jesus gave His disciples authority to drive out impure spirits and heal every disease. In Luke 10:9, Jesus sent out the 72 to heal and perform miracles saying, “tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” And in John 14:12, Jesus says, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things.” We are to be vessels through which God’s kingdom comes today, so how can we join this kingdom activity? Three things: pray, participate and perceive what God is calling and dreaming you to do for the building of His kingdom on earth as in heaven.