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Daniel 1-6

GOD IS RULER OF THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
DANIEL

God's people in the hands of the Gentiles (How to not conform to the world) (1)

The Gentiles in the Hands of God (The Times of the Gentiles symbolized by a metal statue) (2)

God's people in the hands of the Gentiles (God will preserve His people through even the worst persecution - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace) (3)

The Gentiles in the hands of God (The humbling fall of Nebuchadnezzar the great king) (4)

The Gentiles in the hands of God (The humbling fall of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom) (5)

God's people in the hands of the Gentiles (God rewards the faithful in times of persecution—Daniel in the Lion's den) (6)

The Gentiles in the hands of God (The Gentile beasts are no match for God!) (7)

The Gentiles in the hands of God (More about the beasts and "The Beast") (8)

God's people in the hands of the Gentiles (God's judgment of Israel) (9)

God's people in the hands of the Gentiles (The final vision) (10-12)

 

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK OF DANIEL

1. The time of Daniel:  Israel was warned by God that if they failed to obey His commandments, they would experience a period of severe punishment.  See Deuteronomy 28:15-68  Except for brief periods of revival, Israel chose to ignore God and his prophets.  The prophet Jeremiah, in particular, predicted that because Israel had continually rebelled against God, they would be conquered by the Babylonians and be in exile for seventy years.  See Jeremiah 25:1-11  As Jeremiah had predicted, Israel was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC

"Eleven years before (597), however, a prior taking into captivity had occurred when Jehoiachin ruled, and some 10,000 leading people were carried to Babylon (II Kings 24:11-16).  Eight years before this still, Daniel, his three friends, and other young Judeans had been forced to go (605)."  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

The book of Daniel takes place during the time period that began with Daniel's personal exile to Babylon (19 years before Israel's exile to Babylon) and continues throughout his lifetime, while he and Israel were under the rule of the Babylonians and later the Medo-Persians.

2. The man Daniel:  Daniel was an Israelite man of royal descent (Daniel 1:3).  We know nothing of Daniel's parents, except that they were very successful in teaching their son to be devoted to God.  We learn in 1:4 that he was one of those chosen by the Babylonians who were "young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve in the king's palace."  The book of Daniel describes much about his life from the time he was taken into exile until he was an old man.  Daniel is mentioned five times in the Bible outside of the book of Daniel:  Ezekiel 14:14,20 28;3; Matthew 24:15; and Mark 13:14.

3. The book of Daniel:  Josh McDowell has written a book defending the book of Daniel subtitled Daniel in the Critics' Den.  The book of Daniel is filled with prophesies of the future.  Some of the prophecies are predictions of events that are to take place in our future, but many of Daniel's predictions have already been fulfilled.  For example, he predicted the overthrow of the Babylonian empire by the Medo-Persians and the overthrow of the Medo-Persians by the Greeks.  Because the liberal critics do not believe in the supernatural and cannot accept that these prophecies could have been given to Daniel by God, they have concluded that the book of Daniel must have been written by someone who lived after the events predicted in the book of Daniel.  Therefore, their conclusion is that the book of Daniel was not written within Daniel's lifetime; rather, they contend that it was written after the Greeks had already conquered the Medo-Persians.  To them, the book of Daniel is merely a book of history (flawed history at that) written long after the time of Daniel.  And though it portrays itself as making prophecies that since have been fulfilled, in their version of the book of Daniel, it contains no supernatural predictions that have come true.

There is evidence, however, that supports the belief that the book of Daniel was written in Daniel's lifetime and by Daniel.  Ezekiel another prophet refers to Daniel as a man in his past.  See Ezekiel 14:12-14,20, 28:3  And Jesus Christ refers to Daniel as a person of history.  See Matthew 24;15  Furthermore, as Josh McDowell documents in his book, Prophecy Fact or Fiction Daniel in the Critics' Den, each of the critics' attacks on this book of Daniel have been answered by the spade of the Archaeologist and by the writings of the ancients.  According to work of conservative scholars as documented by Josh McDowell and others, the book of Daniel has met the challenge of the critics.  It is a record of history and it is also a book filled with prophecies of the future.

 

THE MESSAGE OF DANIEL

When we reflect on the interplay of events in our stormy world, both what is taking place right now and what has occurred throughout the history of the world, it may appear to us that there is no plan and that God is not in control.  Instead, it often appears to us that there is more chaos than order, and more aimlessness than direction.  According to the book of Daniel, though, God has always been in control, and is in control even during this period that we are now living in which the Bible calls the "times of the Gentiles." (the time period when God's people the Jews are not in charge, but the nations or Gentiles rule the world).  Jesus said that "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."  (Luke 21:24)  (The Jews have their own nation of Israel today, but because the Islamic mosque in Jerusalem is still located where the temple used to be found, the hateful attacks of the suicide bombers, and for many other reasons, Israel is still being trampled on by the Gentiles.)

What is described in the book of Daniel takes place during the beginning of these "times of the Gentiles."  What is found in Daniel occurs immediately after Israel has been defeated by the Babylonians and immediately after Israel has ceased to be a world power.  During this commencement of the "Times of the Gentiles," Daniel was exiled in Babylon where he lived his entire life under the rule of first the Babylonians and then the Medo-Persians.  The book of Daniel contains predictions about this whole period of Gentile rule, up to and beyond our own time; and up to the time when Jesus will return and conquer the final Gentile ruler, the Antichrist.  Because God predicts what will occur during this Gentile period in which we now live, we can see that God is in charge of what is happening in our world and is using everything that occurs for His ultimate purposes.  We will see in the book of Daniel that God has been ruling the world throughout the time of the Gentiles; we will see that He is the Ruler of the world right now!

GOD'S PEOPLE IN THE HANDS OF THE GENTILES (HOW  TO NOT CONFORM TO THE WORLD) (1)
At the time described in the first chapter of the book of Daniel, Israel is no longer a mighty nation under such kings as David, Solomon, and Hezekiah.  Israel has been judged by God, and He has allowed the Babylonians to begin to conquer them.  When the Israelites are removed from their homeland and thrust into a pagan land, how do they respond?  Certainly, many of them became pagan and followed the ways of the peoples of the foreign lands where they were forced to live.  But, there were those who refused to conform to the practices of their new homes.  Daniel was one of those who did not conform to the Gentile world into which he was exiled.  In Romans 12:2, Paul says the following to the Christians in Rome: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Daniel provides us with an example of how not to conform to this world.  Certainly, very few of us will ever have the pressure on us to conform to this world that Daniel had.  So, he is able because of the extreme pressures to conform he experienced, to provide all of us with insights on how we can resist the pull of the world in our own time.

1. The pressure to conform (1:1-7)

a. The Lord delivers Jerusalem and King Jehioakim of Israel into Nebuchadnezzar's hand. (1:1-2)
"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  and the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the artifices from the temple of God.  These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god."

Thought Question #1:  Why did Daniel end up in Babylon?  See Jeremiah
25:1-14

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Does this tell us anything about what is behind what happens to nations?  What are some nations that have fallen in the past and what are some nations that have fallen recently?

 

 

In Daniel 4:30, we see that Nebuchadnezzar believed that he defeated Israel by his own power:  "Is not this great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"  Years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar had taken the articles of God's temple and put them in the temple of his god in Babylon as a sign of his victory over Israel's God.  Yet, as we read in these verses, it was God who had delivered Israel, Israel's king Jehoikim, and the articles of the temple over to Nebuchadnezzar!  God, not Nebuchadnezzar, was ruling right at the very beginning of the times of the Gentiles.  See II Kings 24:1 and II Chronicles 36:5-8 for more information about Jehoiakim and how he was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar.

The temple articles were crafted during Solomon's reign.  See I Kings 7:38-51  King Hezekiah had shown them off to some messengers from Babylon over 100 years before Babylon conquered Israel.  Isaiah the prophet made this prediction to Hezekiah:  "The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon.  Nothing will be left, says the Lord.  And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the place of the king of Babylon."  This prediction was made at a time when Assyria was ruling the world and not Babylon.  See II Kings 20:12-21

b. The finest from the Jewish captives are chosen to be transformed into Babylonian leaders. (1:3-7)

Thought Question:  Nebuchadnezzar's goal was to turn Daniel and the others from Israelites into Babylonians in three years.  What does this tell us about how modern anti-Christians are seeking to transform our society into a non-Christian society?

 

 

(1) The finest were chosen. (1:3-4)
"Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility---young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to service in the king's palace.  He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians."

 If Israel's finest had allowed themselves to be transformed into Babylonians, it would not have been long before the rest of Israel would have followed.  Does not Satan also want the church's finest as well?  Does he not also want our Daniels, Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos?  Consider how our institutions of education have become places to indoctrinate our young into becoming secular and not Christian thinkers.  Satan started out with Jesus by tempting Him in the wilderness with the world's finest:  "Again, he took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  'All this I will give,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.'" (Matthew 4:8-9)  Daniel, one of the finest of Israel's young men, was to be turned into a Babylonian.  Again, Satan was offering the world to Daniel if he would just follow him and worship his gods.  Satan also offers to us the riches of this world if we will follow him and worship this world's gods.  Each of us, like Daniel, lives in a pagan world which also tempts us to forsake God and follow after its rewards.  How did Daniel respond to these enticements?

(2) The finest were chosen to be transformed into Babylonians. (1:5-7)
"The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table.  They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.  Among these were some from Judah:  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  The chief officers gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego." 

These finest of Israel were to be transformed into Babylonians by giving them the richest of Babylonian food, by retraining them from the ways of the Israelites to the ways of the Babylonians, and by changing their Israelite names to Babylonian names.  The retraining process was to take three years.  After the three years they would have been full-fledged Babylonians. Scholars are not certain about the meaning of the four Babylonian names of Daniel (Belteshazzar), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  But, the evidence points to their names having something to do with the gods of the Babylonians.  See 4:8

2. How to resist the pull of the world (1:8-14)
"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.  Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink.  Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age?  The king would then have my head because of you.'  Daniel then said to the guard who the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days:  Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.'  So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days."

Thought Question:  What can we learn from Daniel about how to resist the pull of the world on us?

 

 

a. Daniel resolves not to be defiled by the Babylonian food. (1:8)
"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."  Much of the Babylonian food would have been unclean by Jewish standards.  In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, there are lists of foods that God declared to be clean and unclean before God.  These clean and unclean foods were symbolic pictures of that which is morally clean and unclean before God.  In Acts 10:9-23 Peter received a vision that told him that God had made all foods clean.  Jesus said, "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean.'"  (Matthew 15:11)  And then Paul talks about false teachers in Ephesus "who order them to abstain from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe the truth and who know the truth.  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."  (I Timothy 4:3-5)  The lists of clean and unclean foods no longer represent what is clean and unclean to New Testament Christians, but they were a picture to the Israelites of their need to be morally clean so that they could fellowship with God.

For Daniel and the other Israelites to have eaten food that was declared to be unclean by God would have been the same as for them to have broken fellowship with God.  "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 this way."

When the current of the world is pulling us away from our Christian standards, we will eventually be pulled along with the current unless we do what Daniel did here—resolve to stick with our standards and not give in even an inch.  It would have been much easier for Daniel to have gone with the Babylonians and to have eaten the rich food.  Certainly, it was tasty food.  But, Daniel chose to take the hard road and chose not to live off the fat of the land of Babylon.  Why?  His relationship with God was what was of most importance to him.  How can we resist the pull of the world?  We must also choose to maintain our relationship with God above all.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness."  (Matthew 6:33)  It is always easier to be one of the gang; to not be different, to make no sacrifice.  But, it is clear, godliness does involve sacrifice.  Daniel was willing to make that sacrifice.

In Romans 14 and 15, Paul instructs the Roman Christians about making decisions in what might be called the gray areas—where it is not clear whether something is wrong or not wrong.  His advice is as follows:  "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."  In those areas where it may not be obvious or clear as to what is right and what is wrong, we need to seek before God to determine what we believe is right and what we believe is wrong.  Once we are fully convinced ourselves, then, we need to resolve to do what is right and resolve not to do what is wrong.

b. God favors Daniel's resolve. (1:9-14)

(1) God favors Daniel and enables him to be given a trial period when he does not eat the Babylonian food. (1:9-14)
"Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink.  Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age?  The king would then have my head because of you.'  Daniel then said to the guard who the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days:  Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.'  So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days."

Because God caused the Babylonian official who was in charge of Daniel and the others to look with favor on them, Daniel was able to convince him to allow them to eat only vegetables and water for ten days.  This was a tremendous act of faith for Daniel.  Had not God allowed His country to be defeated and had not God allowed them to be taken into exile to a foreign country?  Why should Daniel think that God would honor their obedience to Him during these ten days of eating vegetables and water?  Daniel still believed that God is faithful to those who obey Him.  And when our obedience to God puts us into a difficult position, He will also take care of us.

(2) God favors Daniel and enables him and his Jewish friends to pass the test. (1:15-16)
"At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.  So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead."

Thought Question #1:  Can you think of any reasons why Daniel might have doubted that God would reward his obedience?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What are some reasons why we might doubt that God will reward our obedience?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What are some verses in the Bible where it says that God will reward those who obey Him?

 

 

After the ten days, they looked better than those who ate the royal food.  God clearly intervened on their behalf.  God would later intervene when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the fiery furnace (Daniel 2), and when Daniel was in the lion's den (Daniel 6).  Paul writing to Timothy speaks of being rescued by God from persecutions.  Is the God of Meshach, Shadrach, Abednego, Daniel, and Paul also the God that we love and trust?  Obedience to God can take us into some very difficult situations, but, as has been true through the ages, God still intervenes to help His people.

(3) God favors Daniel and his friends by giving them supernatural grace in understanding men's and God's ways. (1:17)
"To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds."

God blessed Daniel and his friends with extraordinary intellectual abilities, and he gave them the ability to understand visions and dreams.  These abilities were a gift of God's grace to men who had trusted and obeyed him.  We might think that God did this type of thing in Daniel's time, but no longer does it today.  Actually, God gives gifts of grace to all who believe in Him today also.  "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us."  (Romans 12:6)  Those who believe in God today have also been given supernatural abilities.

(4) God favors Daniel and his friends by giving them high positions and favor with Nebuchadnezzar. (1:18-20)
"At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchdnezzar.  The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service.  In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom."

Thought Question:  How did God reward Daniel's obedience?  Does God still give His people high positions in society like He gave Daniel a high position in Babylon?  How has God rewarded your obedience?

 

 

God had so blessed Daniel and his friends that the king found them ten times better than "all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom."  God's ways prove superior even in the world where men do not believe in Him.  We can see from what God did with Daniel that Christians can be elevated to high positions within government.  Through the years Christians have held high positions of authority and of esteem within our world.  Billy Graham has been one the most respected men in our country.  Christians were the foremost leaders in our country when we became a nation.  And men and women of God can still be lifted into positions of leadership in our country today.

(5) Daniel continued as a leader in Babylon. (1:21)
"And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus."  Daniel held an important position within the Babylonian empire through four Babylonian kings and into the Medo-Persian empire.  "Through all the plots and intrigues that regularly exist in oriental courts; through all the jealousy and envy that could only be expected toward a foreign captive in high office; through a series of four rapid successions of Babylonian kings, two of which had suffered assassination; and the fall of Babylon itself to the genius of Cyrus, the Medo-Persian, he Daniel, had lived and still served in high office!  Babylon fell to Cyrus in October, 539 B.C.  This was 66 years after Daniel's captivity, making him at the time about 81 years of age."  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

THE GENTILES IN THE HANDS OF GOD (THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES SYMBOLIZED BY A METAL STATUE) (2)

1. The mighty Nebuchadnezzar is humbled by a dream. (2:1)
"In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep."  Nebuchadnezzar is immediately humbled as Almighty God enters his world through his dreams.  No matter how mighty a man might be, even the smallest expression of God's might will force him to say "uncle."  If God humbled the mighty Nebuchadnezzar so easily, should we ever fear the might of men?

2. Nebuchadnezzar looks to men and they fail him. (2:2-13)

a. Nebuchadnezzar requires his magicians to prove that their magic is authentic by demanding that they not only reveal to him the meaning of the dream, but he requires that they also reveal to him the content of his dream. (2:2-6)
"So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed.  When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, 'I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.'  Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, 'O king, live forever!  Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.'  The king replied to the astrologers, 'This is what I have firmly decided:  If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.  But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor.  So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about the mighty Nebuchadnezzar?

 

 

We see in theses verses that Nebuchadnezzar, one of the most powerful men who have ever lived, was actually a very frail and frightened man.  A simple dream from God was enough to completely throw his life out of control.  The mighty Nebuchadnezzar lashes out at his underlings and demands that they solve his problem, or else!  "If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble."  He was powerful in that he could kill them without fear of reprisal; but he was also weak in that he was unable to control his own emotions.

Nebuchadnezzar did realize, though, that mere men could not solve his problem.  He knew that the dream that had come to him in his sleep was supernatural and he needed a supernatural answer.  He immediately went to those in his kingdom who were supposed to be experts in the supernatural realm and demanded that they quickly give him an answer to deliver him from his fears.  He attempted to use his power over the lives of men to get his life back under his control.

Daniel 2:4 to the end of chapter 7 is written in Aramaic, the universal language of the time.  The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, except for these chapters in Daniel, Ezra 4 through 7 and Jeremiah 10:11, which were written in Aramaic.

b. The magicians fail his test at the cost of their own lives. (2:7-13)
"Once more they replied, 'Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.'  Then the king answered, 'I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided:  If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you.  You have conspired to tell misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change.  So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.  The astrologers answered the king, 'There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks!  No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.  What the king asks is too difficult.  No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.'  This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.  So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death."

Thought Question:  The astrologers were unable to tell Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was.  What does this tell us about Satan and his magicians?  The following verses will help you to answer this question: Exodus 7:22, 8:7, 8:16-18, 9:11; II Thessalonians 2:9

 

 

The magicians answer the king's demand:  "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks!"  The king's response to them:  "This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon."  He found out that his magicians were mere men after all.  Nebuchadnezzar and his great kingdom are helpless because of one little dream!

We see here also the limits of Satan-inspired witchcraft and magic.  Just as the magicians of Moses' time were unable to remove the plagues of God—the plague of boils appeared on them also—or duplicate some of his miracles—they were unable to duplicate the plague of gnats; so we learn that the magicians in Nebuchadnezzar's realm were limited in what they could do.  Their control of the supernatural was not super enough!

3. Daniel looks to God and He does not fail him. (2:14-35)

a. Daniel does not panic. (2:14-16)
"When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.  He asked the king's officer, 'Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?'  Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel.  At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe Daniel was able to be so composed and tactful when Arioch came to him to take him to his death?

 

 

At this point, the commander of the king's guard has one mission, to kill all the king's wise men.  And Daniel was next on his list.  How would you or I have responded when this man Arioch entered our house?  Would we have been as cool and composed as the young man Daniel?  "Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.  'Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?'"  Daniel assesses the situation and asks to see the king.  Certainly, Daniel's faith was up to the situation.  We are reminded of Jesus before Pilate:  "Pilate said.  'Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?'  Jesus answered.  'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.'" (John 19:10-11)  It is interesting that Pilate was also troubled by a dream.  See Matthew 27:19  Daniel appears to have also believed that God was in control, even though God had allowed Israel to be defeated.  May we be strengthened by Daniel's example and also have faith to believe that nothing can happen to us apart from God allowing it to happen.

b. Daniel and his friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) are drawn together in prayer. (2:17-18)
"Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."

Thought Question:  Can you think of a time in your own life when a great trial brought you close together with other Christians just like this time of intense danger brought these four men of God close together?

 

 

The world's worst brings out the best in God's people.  The worse the persecution, the more earnest and united is the praying.  Notice how the common faith and dedication of these four famous men had drawn them together into a deep friendship.  In years past, we were told that Christians in communist Russia were praying that Christians in the United States would be persecuted as they were, so that our luke-warmness would be transformed into the type of dedication that they were experiencing. 

c. God reveals to Daniel the content and meaning of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. (2:19-23)
"During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:  'Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.  He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.  He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.  I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:  You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king."

Thought Question:  When we praise God genuinely as Daniel does in these verses, our hearts are filled to overflowing with some great truth.  For example, we may see in a fresh and wonderful way that God has forgiven us of all of our sins forever, and we thank Him and praise Him for being so merciful  What do you believe filled Daniel's mind and heart as he praised God at the time that is described in these verses?

 

 

Immediately after God reveals to Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar dreamed and what the dream meant, Daniel praises God.  He is careful that the praise did not go toward him, but he praises the name of God.  God's name sums up all that He is.  It was not Nebuchadnezzar that was in charge, but God.  For He alone has all wisdom and all power.  "He sets up kings and deposes them."  It is the time of the Gentiles, but we see here that the most powerful king, a king that had total authority over men (he could kill whomever he wanted whenever he wanted), was dwarfed by the power of God!

d. Daniel goes to the king with the interpretation of his dream. (2:24-30)
"Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon.  Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.  Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, 'I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.'  The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), 'Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?'  Daniel replied, 'No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.  He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.  Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:  As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.  As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.'"

Thought Question:  Contrast the humility and pride of Daniel and Arioch in these verses.  How do they differ from each other in this area of pride?

 

 

Notice Daniel's humility.  He gives all the credit for the interpretation of the dream to God.  Notice in 2:30 that Daniel is careful to explain that it is not because he is wiser than other men that he is able to interpret the dream, but because God chose to use him to reveal Himself to Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel gives himself last place—God is first, Nebuchadnezzar is next, and then himself.  On the other hand, we see here that Arioch the commander of the king's guard is quick to take credit.  Notice in 2:25, "I have found the man."  Do we ever take credit for what God has done?  Are we like Daniel or Arioch?

e. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that his dream was about a large statue and that the statue was crushed to powder by a large rock. (2:31-35)
"You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue---an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.  The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.  While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not of human hands.  It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer.  The wind swept them away without leaving a trace.  But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth."

Thought Question:  Why do you think the metals in the statue go from gold, to silver, to bronze, to iron, and to iron and clay mixed?

 

 

The head of the statue was gold, the chest and the arms were silver, the belly and the thighs were bronze, the legs were iron, and the feet were of baked clay (pottery) and iron mixed.  This whole heavy statue representing the rule of man is supported by feet of iron and clay mixed.  Man's rule is unstable and must ultimately fall!

Notice that the head is the only part of the statue that is one, the rest of the statue is divided into two—two arms of silver, two thighs of bronze, etc. (possibly symbolizing that the rule over men becoming divided after the rule of Nebuchadnezzar).  Also, the value of the metals diminishes as you go from top to bottom—gold, silver, bronze, iron, etc. (possibly symbolizing that the power of the ruler was greatest when Nebuchadnezzar was ruler).  On the other hand, the strength of the metals increases from the head down to the legs—gold to iron; possibly symbolizing that the rule of man has moved toward the individual man in the empire having more power.

4. Mankind does not look to God and will fail. (2:36-49)
Daniel interprets the meaning of the dream. 

a. Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold. (2:36-38)
"This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.  You, O king, are the king of kings.  The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air.  Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them.  You are that head of gold."

The only united part of the statue and the most precious metal in the statue represents Nebuchadnezzar.  He, the first king to rule the world, exercised more absolute power and sovereignty than the kings that followed him.  Nebuchadnezzar had the total power to take the life of anyone whenever he desired to.  He was not accountable to any man or group of men.  He was not in any way subject to other men or to the state.  See Daniel 2:9-13  But Darius of the Medo-Persian kingdom was subject to the law (see Daniel 6:15-20).

Nebuchadnezzar, however, is humbled before God, for he is told that it is God who has given him all his power and rule.  The Gentiles are ruling over Israel and the world, but God is ruling over the Gentiles.  God is not dismayed because things have gotten out of control down here on earth and the Gentiles have taken over.  The very opposite is true; God is in total control of the Gentiles.  They have only taken control because God has willed it to happen.  Nebuchadnezzar had no power or rule except that God had given it to him.  We will see in chapter three, that Nebuchadnezzar thought it was otherwise, but he discovered that he was just a man and that God alone is God!

b. Each of the metals below the head represent the empires that were to succeed Nebuchadnezzar's empire. (2:39-43)
"After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours.  Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.  Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom strong as iron---for iron breaks and smashes everything---and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.  Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay.  As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be strong and partly brittle.  And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay."

We know that those empires that succeeded Nebuchadnezzar were as follows: the silver was the Medo-Persian Empire, the bronze was the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, and the iron was the Roman Empire.  The feet and the toes of baked clay and iron mixed undoubtedly represent the movement toward less sovereignty and more democracy in our present world.  The negative part of democracy is that it tends to lead away from seeking the good of the whole and toward each person primarily seeking after his own good.  Our nation has been great, not because of democracy, but because we were united under one God.  This oneness is breaking down as we move away from God and toward a philosophy that encourages individual rights and beliefs! "And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay."

The ten toes undoubtedly represent ten kings in the last days.  See 7:23,24 and Revelation 13:1  Also notice 2:44, "in the time of those kings."  One Englishman at the time of the thirteen colonies in America made the following prediction:  "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure.  From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury."  "Taken from The Handwriting on the Wall by David Jeremiah.  Copyright 1992 by Word Publishing."

c. The rock that crushes the statue is God's kingdom that will crush the kingdoms of man, and God's kingdom will never be destroyed. (2:44-45)
"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.  it will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands---a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.  'The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future.  The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.'"

Thought Question:  What is meant by the following:  "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed?  Also, what is meant by "the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands"?

 

 

This final kingdom is from God and not from man, symbolized by it being "cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands."  The kingdom created by God will decisively end the "times of the Gentiles" and replace man's kingdoms forever.  God is allowing man to rule on this earth for a little while, but in the future God will totally destroy man's rule, ("The wind swept them away without leaving a trace." 2:34-35) and He will rule on this earth.  He will completely replace the rule of all the kingdoms of man.  God's kingdom will fill the whole earth (see 2:35).  God's defeat of the Gentile kingdoms is described in Revelation 14:8-11, 19:11-20:6.  God's kingdom on earth is described in Psalm 2:6-9 and Isaiah 11.

Jesus is called a "rock" a number of times in the Bible: I Corinthians 10:3-4; Romans 9:33; I Peter 2:6-8.  And He is the "rock" that will smash and conquer the final ruler of the Gentiles.

We will learn about the kings who will rule in the very last days as we continue on in Daniel.

d. Nebuchadnezzar falls before Daniel and his God. (2:46-49)
"Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.  The king said to Daniel, 'Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.'  Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him.  He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.  Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court."

Thought Question:  What was all it took to bring the mighty Nebuchadnezzar to his knees?  How can this help in our attitude toward the difficulties that we face in our lives?

 

 

God brings the world's greatest king to his knees with a dream and its interpretation!  Nebuchadnezzar, possibly the most powerful man the world has ever known, immediately recognizes that Daniel's God is the Ruler of all beings in the universe and he falls on the ground before Daniel.  As a result, Daniel and his friends were exalted to the highest positions in the Empire.  If our God was able to totally control this powerful king who was the absolute ruler over much of the world of his time, should we ever fear any man?  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  See Romans 8:31-39.

GOD'S PEOPLE IN THE HANDS OF THE GENTILES (GOD WILL PRESERVE HIS PEOPLE THROUGH EVEN THE WORST PERSECUTION.) (3)

1. "Bow to me or else." (3:1-7) (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's super dilemma)
"King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.  He then summoned the satraps, prefect, governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.  So the satraps, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.  The herald loudly proclaimed, 'This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language:  As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.  Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.  Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up."

Thought Question #1: Why do you believe that Nebuchadnezzar designed the statue the way that he did? (gold, 60 cubits high by 6 cubits wide)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How is this similar to what the Antichrist will do? (see Revelation 13:11-18)

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How is this different than what God does to receive our worship?  (He also could say, "Bow or burn.")

 

 

a. Nebuchadnezzar makes a gold image. (3:1-3)
The image was sixty cubits by six cubits.  Six is the number of man in the Bible.  The dimensions of this image appear to be similar to the number 666 in Revelation 13:8.  In feet, the image was 90 feet by 9 feet, for a cubit is approximately 1 1/2 feet (the distance from a man's elbow to the end of his fingers).  According to Wood, "the word . . . used normally means an image in human form, rather than merely a shaped pillar."  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Other scholars say that the Hebrew word can refer to any type of image:  "The Hebrew word for image implies, as Leupold says, 'An image in the very broadest sense,' probably human in form although the proportions are far too narrow for a normal figure.  Scripture does not solve this problem, but most commentators agree the images of this kind in antiquity frequently varied from ordinary human proportions . . . Leupold cites numerous ancient images such as that of Zeus in a temple at Babylon, the golden images on the top of the Belus temple, one of which was forty cubits high; and the Colussus at Rhodes, which was seventy cubits high."  "Taken from Daniel the Key to Prophetic Revelation by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1971 by Moody Press."

So, it may have been a gold-plaited statue of himself (a solid gold statue of this size would have been much too heavy).  God had revealed to Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel that God alone deserved to be worshiped.  Though Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled by God for a short time.  It is obvious that Nebuchadnezzar still believed that he alone should be worshiped.  It appears that Nebuchadnezzar made a statue like the statue in his dream.  Except in this case, the entire statue represented him and was gold.  Woods makes the following observations about the statue:  "Its height was sixty cubits:  The image was imposing not only in value and glitter, also in size.  It was sixty cubits (ninety feet high) high, comparable to the Colossus of Rhodes at seventy feet--a height calculated further to impress the worshipers.  It should be noted that the figures 'sixty' and 'six' suggest that the sexagesimal system was in use, rather than the decimal; these numbers, then, provide a mark of authenticity, because Babylon employed the sexagesimal system.  Breadth of six cubits:  The height as only four or five times the width."  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

All of his leaders were summoned to attend the dedication of this huge image.  Daniel and his friends would, of course, be among the leaders of Babylon.  The plot thickens!

b. "Bow or burn" (3:4-7)
Nebuchadnezzar brought all of his leaders and officials out to a large plain and demanded that they bow to the 90' image of himself or be burned to death!  This sight out of the past sounds very similar to what will occur in our future when a false prophet of Satan will order "them to set up an image in honor of the beast....He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed." (Revelation 13:14,15)  The future image will be an improvement on Nebuchadnezzar's image for it will even be able to speak and it will be lifelike.

We learn that Daniel was not present among those who were to fall down and worship this image or be burned to death in a "blazing furnace."  But, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were there.  All the leaders of Babylon were gathered in a plain before this huge statue.  When the band of Nebuchadnezzar played Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego along with the other leaders of Babylon were to, on cue, fall down and worship the image.  Talk about social pressure!  If they did not fall down, they would be the only ones left standing! (Music is often used as a cue for men and women to unite and worship someone.  Today, music leads our young people to worship their rock stars.)

2. "We will not bow, no matter what." (3:8-18) (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's super defiance)

a. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down. (3:8-12)
"At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.  They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, 'O king live forever!  you have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.  But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king.  They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.'"

Thought Question #1:  According to Revelation 17, Mystery Babylon is the false religious system that is opposed to God.    Here in Daniel, the astrologers of Babylon accuse Daniel's three friends.  It was the Pharisees and Sadducees who accused Jesus.  Does Mystery Babylon include the astrologers, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and all who are in opposition to God, or does Mystery Babylon only include those like these astrologers who are somehow tied to Babylon's ancient religion?  Explain your answer. 

 

 

Thought Question #2:  These three men resisted the strongest social pressure that we can imagine, conform or die a horrible death!  What are some social pressures that you face in your life?

 

 

When everyone in the plain bowed down, three remained standing!  Consider what these three men had to lose; they would go from being the wealthiest men in the world to experiencing a horrible death by fire.  Their refusing to bow down to the statue immediately brought forth those who were enemies of God.  "Some astrologers came forward."  In every society there are those who are entrenched in satanic religious systems.  It is the religious leaders who have always been most opposed to God's people.  It was the religious leaders who were the most antagonistic against Jesus Christ and who manipulated the trial that led to His murder by crucifixion.  It was the religious leaders who tried to stone Paul to death.  Mystery Babylon is described in Revelation 17.  There we are told that "the woman [Mystery Babylon] was drunk with the blood of the saints, those who bore testimony to Jesus."  These astrologers of Babylon certainly are a forerunner of the false religious system called Mystery Babylon who throughout time has hated God, His people, and their message about Jesus Christ.  This subject of "Mystery Babylon" is discussed in detail in my notes on Revelation 17. 

These three men in Daniel's time had attained a higher position than most in Babylon.  When they refused to bow down to the image, it was the false religious leaders who immediately showed their ugly envy and bitterness and who were the first to demand that they be burned alive.

b. The lesson of faith taught by these three courageous men as they held their ground before the furious Nebuchadnezzar (3:13-18)

(1) They continue to obey God and will worship only Him, even though the totally furious Nebuchadnezzar gives them a second chance to worship his image. (3:13-16)
"Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  So these three men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, 'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?  Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good.  But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace.  Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?'  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.'"

Thought Question #1:  When they said that even if God does not rescue them that they would not bow down before the statue, does this mean that they lacked faith?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do we learn from these three men about what true faith in God is like?

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar was used to being totally obeyed.  Who could stand up to his absolute power?  And yet these three chose a horrible death rather than obey him.  Here we have described someone who was as angry as a man can get.  Not only that, but he was also a man who was not afraid to do whatever he felt like doing when he was angry.  He was so powerful that he knew that there was no one on the face of the earth who could do anything to him if he chose to kill them.  Could there be anyone more fearful than Nebuchadnezzar was as he stood before these three men "furious with rage"?  But they would not obey him and worship the image.  Those who refuse to worship the image of the Antichrist will also know the terror that these three men faced.  And yet there will be those who will refuse to worship the image of the Antichrist also.

(2) Their total submission to God (3:17-18)
They will obey God even if He does not rescue them from the furnace!  They will obey God whether He blesses them or not.  Today, we have false teachers who say that if we do certain things that God will be obligated to bless us.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego exhibited true faith.  They knew that God could rescue them, but they would trust and obey Him even if He did not rescue them.  In Hebrews 11, there is a list of some of the heroes of the faith.  The last verses of this chapter describe some who trusted God and were given mighty victories, but there were others who trusted God and suffered.  These three men also were willing to trust God no matter what He would do.  They provide for us an example of what trusting God requires.  We also need to be willing to trust God no matter what He may choose to do with us.  Do we believe like these three men that God is in control of all things and working all things for the ultimate good?  They believed that even dying a horrible death could be within His plans for them. 

3. "Your time has come and more" (3:19-23) (a normal death is not enough, Nebuchadnezzar wants them to die a super death.)
"Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed.  He ordered the furnace heated up seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.  So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.  The King's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the furnace."

Thought Question:  Are there times when we hold back from saying or doing what we really believe is the right thing to say or do because we know that it might make someone angry?  Which of the following are situations where you have said what was right even though it made someone angry:  ___at home   __at work  __in your church fellowship?

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar wanted super-submission to him, but instead he got super-defiance.   He wanted total submission to him, but he got total defiance.  So, he got totally mad!  His ordering that the fire be seven times hotter is like a teacher who is so upset with the disobedience in her classroom that she jumps up on the top of her desk and screams at the top of her voice!  Nebuchadnezzar went from a person who was in control of his realm and himself, to a king who was completely unable to control even himself.  "You'll not just die, you will super-die!"

He had gathered all of his leaders so he could show off his authority and power, and here were three men defying him before all of them!  The mighty, but now out of control, king would show them.  And so soldiers carried out the furious king's command; these three brave men were hastily carried to the furnace and thrown in.  The fire was stoked up so hot that it killed the soldiers who took them to the furnace.  What must Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have felt as they were bound up, forcibly taken to the furnace and thrown into the flames?  There will of course be those who will be thrown into flames that will burn forever.  For them there will be no escape.  But, these men faced these flames with God and not without Him.

4. "Who is that in there with you? (3:24-27) (super deliverance)

a. Nebuchadnezzar looks into the furnace and sees four men inside who are unbound and unharmed. (3:24-25)
"Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, 'Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?  They replied, 'Certainly, O king.'  He said, 'Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.'"

Thought Question #1:  Have there been times of trouble for you where you received extra help from God?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What are some verses in the Bible that you can think of right now where God promises that He will take care of you in times of trouble?

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace expecting to see these three men horribly burned; these men who had dared to defy him.  Undoubtedly, he had seen many brutally die at his command.  The three men went into the furnace bound, physically helpless, and alone.  Nebuchadnezzar was totally in charge. Things changed rapidly.  For as Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he saw the three men unbound, unburned, and walking around.  And they were not alone, for there was another figure in there with them.  Nebuchadnezzar immediately recognized that the fourth person was divine.  Instead of Nebuchadnezzar being super glorified, he is super humbled before all of his leaders; instead of the whole world witnessing his greatness, they witness the greatness of God!

What Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego experienced here, each sincere Christian desires to experience: God intervening in our behalf; God supporting us!  Each of us must consider our motives.  Do we desire that God intervene to bring us glory or do we desire that He be glorified?  These three men clearly had pure motives and God intervened on their behalf.  Also, it is during times of trouble when God most intervenes on our behalf:  "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles."  See II Corinthians 1:3-4  See also Hebrews 13:5-6; Romans 8:31-39

Who was that fourth person in the furnace?  Daniel does not tell us who he was.  But, we can conclude that he was either an angel or He was Jesus Christ the Son of God before He became a man.  Jesus Christ did appear to men before Daniel's time (to Abraham - see Genesis 18, to Jacob - see Genesis 32:22-32, to Joshua - see Joshua 5:13-6:5).  We cannot be sure who was in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but it seems likely that the fourth person was divine, Jesus Christ the King of Kings was for them when Nebuchadnezzar king of the world was against them!

b. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are totally delivered. (3:26-27)
"Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!  Come here!'  So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them.  They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them."

Thought Question:  List the ways that God turned the tables on Nebuchadnezzar.  (Hint:  What was Nebuchadnezzar hoping would happen on that day and what did happen?)

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar had ordered them into the fire.  Now, in defeat he can only order them to come out again.  They come out of the furnace as if they never went into it.  No part of their hair or clothes was affected by the fire!  There is not even the smell of smoke!  As Isaiah predicted: "When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."  See Isaiah 43:1-3  They were totally delivered!

5. "You win! I will bow to your God." (3:28-30) (super victory)
"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!  They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.  Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.'  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon."

Thought Question:  What do these verses and the previous section of verses tell us about what is necessary before men will turn to God?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Who are some modern-day heroes that you know who have been willing to stand up against powerful men or women like these three men did?

 

 

 Nebuchadnezzar turns from pride to humility, from exalting himself to exalting God; and from attempting to horribly murder the three to giving them a promotion.  The three were not killed, they were dramatically saved!  Nebuchadnezzar was not exalted; the God of the three was exalted!  They were not humbled, Nebuchadnezzar was humbled!  And in Nebuchadnezzar's eyes, the God of Israel went from being just another God to being the center of attention in the Babylonian Empire.  "Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubbish, for no other god can save in this way."

Here, we see a very proud man bought to his knees before God and acknowledging that He is God.  Is not that what happened to you and to me?  Were we not also humbled until you and I acknowledged that God is God and not you and not me?

Because the three men were willing to trust and obey God even though it might mean that they would die a horrible death, they provided God with an opportunity to show how He rescues those who trust in Him.  With one act of God, the whole Babylonian Empire knew about the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!  Will God also use our unwillingness to be intimidated by those in power in our world, as an opportunity to reveal His power to our generation?
God has used men and women like these three men through the years to be His powerful spokesman during dangerous times.  The following names come to my mind: Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Athanasius, John Wycliff, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Knox, John Bunyan, Hudson Taylor, Jim Eliot, Charles Spurgeon, and William Wilberforce.  The next generation---Lord willing--- will tell us who this generation's heroes were.

THE GENTILES IN THE HANDS OF GOD (THE FALL OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE GREAT KING) (4)

1. Nebuchadnezzar's dream: a great tree will fall. (4:1-18)

a. Nebuchadnezzar sends a state document to declare to the whole world how great is the God of Israel. (4:1-3)
"King Nebuchadnezzar, to the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world:  May you prosper greatly!  It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.  How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!  His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation."

Thought Question:  Why did Nebuchadnezzar compose this anthem of praise to God?  Give your best answer based on your present knowledge of the book of Daniel.  What motivated him to praise God will become apparent by the time we reach the end of this chapter.

 

 

b. Again, God shakes Nebuchadnezzar from his complacency through a dream. (4:4-5a)
"I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.  I had a dream that made me afraid." 

Thought Question:  What does Deuteronomy 8:10-14 tell us about Nebuchadnezzar's attitude as he was in his "palace, contented, and prosperous"?  What does it tell us about Christians (we) in our own country?  See also Isaiah 10:12-19

 

 

Things were going well in Babylon.  It was a time of prosperity when little effort was needed to maintain the status quo.  Our own country has had times of prosperity like this.  It is during these times that we can forget God.  Moses warned the nation of Israel about forgetting God when they got into the Promised Land.  "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."  (Deuteronomy 8:10-14)

Some time had passed for Nebuchadnezzar since his encounters with God recorded in chapters two and three.  The effect of his first dream and the miracle in the furnace had apparently worn off and Nebuchadnezzar had once more forgotten God.  But God had not forgotten Nebuchadnezzar!  Again, his life is disturbed by a dream.  (Notice that this chapter is written in the first person as if Nebuchadnezzar himself wrote this chapter of the book of Daniel.  He may have come to faith in God at this time and this chapter would then be his personal testimony to explain the change in his life.  Daniel, then, included it in his book.)

c. Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel about his dream (4:5b-18)
"'As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.  So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.  When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me.  Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream.  (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)  I said, Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you.  Here is my dream; interpret it for me.  These are the visions I saw while lying in my bed:  I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land.  Its height was enormous.  The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.  Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all.  Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.  In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked and there before me was a messenger, a holy one coming down from heaven.  He called in a loud voice:  ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.  Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.  But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.  Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth.  Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.  The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.   This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had.  Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me.  But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.'"

Thought Question:  What does Nebuchadnezzar's dream about the tree tell us about how he felt about himself before he had the dream?  What does it tell us about how he felt about God previous to the dream?

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar's dream is about an enormous tree that was so tall that it could be seen throughout the earth.  The large tree provided food and shelter for all of the birds and animals of the earth.  But a messenger from God appears and has the tree cut down and stripped of its branches and leaves.  Its fruit is scattered and the animals and birds flee from it.  But, the stump is banded so that it will not split; so that the tree will be able to live again.  Then, in Nebuchadnezzar's dream he hears the messenger from God say these words:  "Let him be drenched with dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth.  Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him."  (4:15-16)

All of the wise men and magic men of Babylon could not interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream, so he called on Daniel to interpret it.  A common pattern; we try everyone else and then when no one else can help us we go to God.  But, God had given him this dream "so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men."  (4:17)

Nebuchadnezzar had developed a very high opinion of himself.  Notice that the tree (Nebuchadnezzar) was in the "middle of the land."  He saw himself as the center of the world.  Everything revolved around him.  He is not alone in having this feeling.  Do not we who in the United States feel like the rest of the world revolves around us?  The tree's "top touched the sky."  Like the Tower of Babel and our space program, we can believe that we are becoming like God.  Listen to the description of the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14:13-14:  "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High"  He felt he had done it all himself and that he did not need God.

Nebuchadnezzar is about to learn that it is not he that is ruler over all the earth; instead he is about to learn that he is a mere man whom the Ruler of all has allowed to rule for a short time.  Isaiah 14:15 makes this prediction about Nebuchadnezzar:  "But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit."

There is some debate about the meaning of the stump being "bound with iron and bronze,"  Some believe that it was bound to preserve the tree so that it could be restored to life—in the same way Nebuchadnezzar was bound for a while and then was restored to being king.  Others believe that it is symbolic of Nebuchadnezzar being bound in insanity for a period—which is what is predicted of him and what did occur to him.  Scholars are divided over which interpretation is correct.

2. The interpretation: great Nebuchadnezzar will fall like a great tree
(4:19-27)

a. Daniel regrets that he must tell Nebuchadnezzar that he, the king, is that tree. (4:19-22)
"Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him.  So the king said, 'Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.'  Belteshazzar answered, 'My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!  The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with its beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air—you, O king, are that tree!  You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.'"

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about the type of man that Daniel was?

 

 

Daniel is terrified that he must say, "You, O king, are that tree!  You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth."  We see Daniel's humanness in these verses.  He did not enjoy telling this mighty king that the bottom was about to fall out of his life.  He had to tell Nebuchadnezzar something that the king did not want to hear.  Daniel was no superman.  The prospect of giving Nebuchadnezzar this bad news terrified him.  He sought to soften the blow by saying to Nebuchadnezzar, "My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!"

Courage is not being unafraid, but it is doing what is right even though you are afraid.  Daniel was human, but he was also courageous enough to tell Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream.  (See II Samuel 12:1-15 where Nathan also bravely confronted King David with some bad news.)

Another possible explanation why it was so hard for Daniel to give the king the bad news was because of his love and concern for the king.  He did not enjoy sharing the bad news with the king.  It was said of D. L. Moody that he was qualified to preach on God's judgment of unbelievers in hell, because he could not do it without tears.

b. And he, the king, will be cut off and be made to live like an animal  for seven years until he acknowledges that God alone is sovereign.  (4:23-27)
"'You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground.  Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.”  This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king:  You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.  The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.  Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice:  Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed.  It may be that then your prosperity will continue.'"

Thought Question:  Nebuchadnezzar needed to be humbled and would be humbled by God.  Can you think of other times in the Bible where God humbles men who were proud and needed to be humbled?  Can you think of ways that God has humbled you?

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar is told by Daniel that he would be humbled for seven years until he was willing to acknowledge that Heaven rules and not him.  But, Daniel gave him an opportunity to humble himself before God, acknowledge his sins and show mercy to the afflicted; and possibly God would allow him to continue to rule.  From what takes place next, we can see that Nebuchadnezzar did not take Daniel's advice.

3. The pride before the fall (4:28-33)
"All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.  Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, 'Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?'  The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, 'This what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar:  Your royal authority has been taken away from you.  You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle.  Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.'  Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.  He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle.  His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird."

Thought Question:  Why do you think that Nebuchadnezzar, 12 months after his dream, said, "Is not this the great Babylon I  have built as the royal residence by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"?  Can you think of others in the Bible who said something like this?  Can you remember times when you thought or said something like this?

 

 

 a. Nebuchadnezzar boasts about his glory. (4:28-30)
Just twelve months after Daniel interpreted his dream, Nebuchadnezzar said the following words as he was looking over the greatness of the city of Babylon:  "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my might power and for the glory of my majesty?"  "In the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Babylon was at its height of glory, being one of the largest and finest cities of the world.  It was surrounded by a system of double walls, the outer one of which was seventeen miles long and wide enough for chariots to pass on its top.  Of the cities' eight gates, the most celebrated was the Ishtar Gate. . . .The processional street was 1000 yards long, and it was decorated on either side by enameled bricks, showing 120 lions (Ishtar symbol) and 575 dragons and bulls (Maarduk and Bel symbols).  More than fifty temples crowded within the city walls at the time.  The Greeks considered the 'hanging gardens' within the city one of the seven wonders of the world."  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

As Nebuchadnezzar looked at the majesty of the central city of his kingdom, he began to pat himself on the back because of how great he was.  As Proverbs 16:18 says, pride comes before a fall, and Nebuchadnezzar was about to fall.  Possibly each of us can remember times when we have done just what Nebuchadnezzar did here, times when we were proud of what we had accomplished; taking the credit for it rather than giving the credit to God.  Also, we may have learned at that time that pride comes before a fall

Notice that there is a change from first person to third person in these verses.  Instead of Nebuchadnezzar speaking, verse twenty-eight says, "All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar."  But, in verse thirty-four he then begins once more to speak in the first person:  "I Nebuchadnezzar. . . ."  It may be that he preferred to describe his period of insanity in the third person.

b. Nebuchadnezzar is immediately humbled by God. (4:31-33)
Immediately after his proud words, Nebuchadnezzar heard from God.  "He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle.  His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird."  The description of Nebuchadnezzar here reminds us of pictures of the multi-millionaire Howard Hughes at the end of his life.  His hair and fingernails grew out and were unkempt and he looked more like an animal than a man.  Walvoord, in his commentary on Daniel, describes a form of insanity that is very similar to what is described as afflicting Nebuchadnezzar.  It was a form of insanity that resulted in a man eating only grass.  Nebuchadnezzar immediately went from proudly boasting about his great accomplishments, to being insane.  God immediately humbled him.  He found out once more that it was not he that was in charge during the times of the Gentiles, but God alone was ruling during his reign.

Although there is no direct historical record of Nebuchadnezzar's period of insanity outside of the Bible, Woods quotes an account from a Greek historian that could refer to it.  It describes Nebuchadnezzar as "being possessed by some god" and of him suddenly disappearing.  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel.  Copyright 1973 by Leon Wood."

Some will ask the question, how could Nebuchadnezzar have stayed in power while he was going through this period of insanity?  He is not the only ruler who stayed in power while his sanity was suspect.  The system of government under him was well-organized and could easily have kept things in order for seven years.  Besides, Daniel was a very able administrator.  Also, his place of power was protected by God until he returned to his throne.  He was probably kept out of sight by his palace servants during this period of insanity.

4. The humility after the fall (4:34-37)

a. Nebuchadnezzar looks up and his sanity returns. (4:34-35)
"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 honored 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?'"

Thought Question:  Do you think we will see Nebuchadnezzar in Heaven?

 

 

In 4:30 Nebuchadnezzar says, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"  He is humbled for seven years.  Then, he looks up to heaven at God's Kingdom rather than down at his kingdom and says these words:  "His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.  All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing [including Nebuchadnezzar].  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?'"  These words may very well be the words of a man who has turned to God in faith.  He did humble himself, believe in God, and praise Him.  But did he continue to worship other gods as well?  Will we see him in Heaven?  Only God knows for sure.

b. God restores Nebuchadnezzar. (4:36-37)
At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.  My advisors and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

Nebuchadnezzar is immediately restored not only to his sanity, but also to his place of power in his empire.  But, now he is an even greater king:  We are told that he "became even greater than before."  But, even more, he came to acknowledge the God who is the ruler of all kings.  He came to know the One who appoints kings and allows them to rule.  And so now we see why Nebuchadnezzar began his words in this chapter with praise to God.  You may wish to reread 4:1-3  God had drawn him to see that He alone is the supreme Ruler of the universe.  Nebuchadnezzar, the first of the rulers of the times of the Gentiles, acknowledges that God is the ruler of the times of the Gentiles.  God is ruling in our time!

Some believe that Nebuchadnezzar did not come to real faith because he did not mention anything about the mercy of God.  But, no one can deny that he repented or had a change of mind.  Will we see him in Heaven?  We will have to wait and see.

THE GENTILES IN THE HANDS OF GOD (THE FALL OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S KINGDOM) (5)

1. The pride before the fall (5:1-4) (The ball and the gall that led to the fall)
"King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them.  While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.  As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone."

Thought Question:  In 5:2 we are told that Belshazzar decided to use the goblets from God's temple in Jerusalem while he "was drinking his wine."  What does this tell you about what Babylon was like right before its fall?  How is this a warning to our own country?

 

 

a. The "ball" (5:1)
This was an unusual time for a banquet, for Babylon was surrounded at the time by the Medes and the Persians.  But, they apparently felt secure within their 87 foot thick and 350 foot high walls (the figures are given to us by the ancient historian Herodotus; though his figures were probably exaggerated).  Also the Euphrates that flowed under their walls and in the city provided them with all the food and water they needed.  The information about the size of the walls and location of the Euphrates River "Taken from Daniel the Key to Prophetic Revelation by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1971 by Moody Press."

Who was King Belshazzar?  Woods concludes the following:  "The time of the invasion of Babylon was about thirty years after Nebuchadnezzar's period of insanity."  Because it is known that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon before it fell to the Medes and Persians, many liberal scholars believe that Belshazzar could not have been king of Babylon at this time.  They have concluded, therefore, that Daniel is not accurate in this chapter.  But, as Woods describes:  "There is now ample evidence...that Belshazzar, as Nabonidus' eldest son, was made coregent by his father, apparently to serve as king while the father was away for those long periods of time.  An important text so indicating is as A Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus which reads:  'He freed his hand; he entrusted the kingship to him.  Then he himself undertook a distant campaign.'  ....he continued the coregency to the fall of Babylon."  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Woods.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Josh McDowell in his book Prophecy Fact of Fiction?  Daniel in the Critics' Den gives a detailed argument for the historical accuracy of the book of Daniel and a detailed argument that King Belshazzar was both the king at Babylon at the time of the fall of Babylon and that it was appropriate within their culture to call him the son of Nebuchadnezzar though he was the son of Nabonidus (in 5:2,11,13 and 18, Nebuchadnezzar is called the father of Belshazzar, and in 5:22, Belshazzar is called Nebuchadnezzar's son.).  Belshazzar could have been referred to as the son of Nebuchadnezzar for a number of reasons:  (1) He could have been the grandson or a descendent of Nebuchadnezzar since a grandson or even a descendent was also called a son at that time.  (2) If Nabonidus married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, then Belshazzar would have been a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Because there was not a separate name for grandsons, someone called a son of Nebuchadnezzar could either be a son or a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.  (3) Belshazzar also could have been called a son of Nebuchadnezzar because he was a successor to the throne of Nebuchadnezzar.

b. The "gall" (5:2-4)
In defiance of God, Belshazzar chose to use the gold and the silver vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem to use in the worship of Babylon's false gods.  These were part of the treasure made and collected by King Solomon.  See I Kings 7:48-51  They had been shown off to the Babylonians by King Hezekiah.  See II Chronicles 36:10  And they had been taken by King Nebuchadnezzar from the temple in Jerusalem when he defeated King Jehoichin and took him prisoner.  See II Kings 24:12-14

These verses in Daniel tell us that "While Belshazzar was drinking wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem so that the king and his nobles, his wives, and concubines might drink from them."  Daniel may have written that Belshazzar did this act of blasphemy when he was drinking wine to explain that it was not something that he would have done when he was sober and in his right mind.  Much of the out-of-control, immoral, and blasphemous behavior in our society takes place when people have been drinking and partying.  Things often go way beyond anything that they would have done if they were sober or in their right minds.  Much of the crime in our society is done while people are under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.

This blasphemy against God at this riotous feast so many years ago undoubtedly would have been an ugly sight to have watched.  "As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone."  It was a purposeful desecration of the vessels from God's holy temple.  This is the type of gall that will lead to the final fall, the "abomination of desolation," when Satan will set up the worship of his unholy self in the "Holy of Holies!"

2. The writing on the wall (5:5-9)

a. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand write on a wall. (5:5-6)
"Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace.  The king watched the hand as it wrote.  His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way."

A minute before he was defiant and fearless before the God of Israel.  All it took was one hand suddenly materializing and writing on a plaster wall, and Belshazzar's knees start shaking and all the blood drains from his face. 

"In the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace archeologists have uncovered a large throne room 56 feet wide and 173 feet long which probably was the scene of this banquet.  Midway in the long wall opposite the entrance there was a niche in front of which the king may well have been seated.  Interestingly, the wall behind the niche was covered with white plaster as described by Daniel, which would make an excellent background for such a writing."  "Taken from Daniel the Key to Prophetic Revelation by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1971 by Moody Press."

b. The king grows even more terrified when none of his magicians are able to read the writing. (5:7-9)
"The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers and diviners to be brought and said to those wise men of Babylon, 'Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.'  Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant.  So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale.  His nobles were baffled."

Thought Question:  Sometimes we can feel that our world is totally out of control like what was going on at that blasphemous banquet.  What do these verses tell us about what is needed to get our world's attention?

 

 

Again, a leader of Babylon turns to everyone but God to find the answers to the question that only God can answer.  It should have been obvious to the king.  He and everyone at the feast were being purposely defiant of the God of Israel and suddenly a hand appears.  Whom should he seek out?  Certainly the most obvious person would be someone who could speak for the God of Israel.  Also, in our lives, God is the most obvious One that we should turn to for all our needs, but so often we turn in every other direction first and then look to God when nothing or no one else has met our need.

3. Enter Daniel again (5:10-17)

a. The queen remembers how Daniel had been exalted by Nebuchadnezzar because of his ability to interpret dreams and because of his wisdom. (5:10-12)
"The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall.  'O king, live forever!'  she said.  'Don't be alarmed!  Don't look so pale!  There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him.  In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods.  King Nebuchadnezzar—your father the king, I say—appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.  This man Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems.  Call for Daniel , and he will tell you what the writing means.'"

Thought Question:  Who was this Queen and why do you think that she was so favorable to Daniel?

 

 

(1) Because Belshazzar's wives were already at the feast (see 5:2), (2) because this queen comes to the feast, and (3) because the queen speaks to Belshazzar more like a mother than a wife; scholars have concluded that the queen here is his mother and not his wife.  She may have been the wife of Nebuchadnezzar (She uses Nebuchadnezzar's words.  Compare 4:8,9,18 to these verses.)  Or she may have been the wife of Nabonidus (who also may have been the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar).  The fact that she used Daniel's Hebrew name, though Daniel had been in Babylon for over sixty years, indicates that she may have been favorable to the Jewish people and to the God of Israel.  Possibly she had been personally impacted by the way in which God had dealt with Nebuchadnezzar, and impacted by Daniel's life of faith in God.

b. The king invites Daniel to come to the banquet hall. (5:13-17)
"So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, 'Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah?  I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom.  The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it.  Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems.  If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.'  Then Daniel answered the king, 'You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else.  Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.'"

Thought Question:  Daniel now has an "open door" to talk to the Babylonians about their blasphemies toward God.  Who were some others in the Bible who were given "open doors" by God like He gave to Daniel?  What do these verses tell us about the importance of being in step with God's timing when we reach out to our world?

 

 

Daniel must have been appalled at the blasphemy that had been going on at the banquet.  Yet, he was powerless to have done anything about it until God opened a door for him. (If he had walked into the drunken feast and berated them for their blasphemy, they probably would have completely ignored him, ridiculed and mocked him, or even had him killed.).  Now, the king himself rolls out the red carpet for him.  "If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom."  Notice also that Belshazzar immediately recognizes Daniel as "one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah."

He knew that Daniel was a believer in the God that they had just been blaspheming.  Again, God humbles one of the rulers of the Gentiles during this "times of the Gentiles."  Daniel refuses the kings' gifts, but he is willing to interpret the writing for the king.

We also can find ourselves in situations where there is a hardened attitude toward God and his ways.  We would like to say something, but we can sense that our words would fall on deaf ears or that we would only be mocked and ridiculed for our belief in God.  But, certainly, Daniel a man of prayer (as we will see in the next chapter) prayed and waited, and God gave him an open door.  We can also cry out to God about the hardness toward Him and the ugly blasphemy that we see going on all around us.  And we, with many other men and women of God through the years, may find that God opens a door for us to say what needs to be said just as God opened a door for Daniel so many years ago.

God opened doors for a number of others in the Bible just as He opened the door for Daniel:  Elijah at Mt. Carmel, see I Kings 17,18; Moses and the plagues, see Exodus 7-10; Peter at Pentecost, see Acts 2; Paul at the jail in Philippi, see Acts 16:16-40; and many others.

4. The fall of Nebuchadnezzar remembered (5:18-21)
"O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.  Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him.  Those the king wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.  But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.  He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes."

Thought Question:  God obviously gave Daniel the "open door" or opportunity to tell Belshazzar exactly what he wanted to say.  Do you not believe that Daniel had been praying for just such an "open door"?  Paul asked that the church at Colossae would pray that he have open doors. See Colossians 4:3-4  What would you like to have an "open door" to proclaim?  Will you pray and ask others for an "open door" to proclaim it?

 

 

God gave Daniel the opportunity to say just what he wanted to say.  And Daniel desired to tell Belshazzar how God had humbled Nebuchadnezzar who was as powerful as any man who had ever lived.  He was accountable to no man and could do anything he wanted to do to any man.  But Daniel tells Belshazzar that Nebuchadnezzar only had this high position because God gave it to him.  And because his "heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory."  Then, Daniel reminds Belshazzar of the seven years that Nebuchadnezzar was humbled and ate grass like a cow until he humbled himself and acknowledged God as the one and only sovereign over all.

Certainly Daniel would have liked to have talked to Belshazzar in this way before this moment, but Belshazzar would not have been receptive to Daniel at all.  Now, he is ready to listen.  There is also much that needs to be said in our world.  There are those whom we know that need to be confronted and there is sin in our world that needs to be confronted.  We need to pray that God will give us or others the opportunity to say what needs to be said at times when there will be ears to hear.

5. The fall of Belshazzar predicted (5:22-28)
Then Daniel is able to express God's judgment on Belshazzar for his blasphemous banquet.  "But you his son, O Belshazzar, 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—which you cannot see or hear or understand.  But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways."  Once more, that is what Daniel wanted to say to Belshazzar and God gave him the perfect opportunity to say what needed to be said.

Then Daniel explained the meaning of the writing on the wall.  "Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.  'This is the inscription that was written:  MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN  This is what these words mean:  Mene:  God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.  Tekel:  You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.  Peres:  Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.'"

Thought Question #1:  The Babylonians refused to humble themselves, but instead arrogantly defied God.  Because they refused to humble themselves as Nebuchadnezzar had done years before, God humbled them!

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What are some other examples in the Bible of God humbling those who refuse to be humbled?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What is God's message to each of us individually about the need to humble ourself?

 

 

Thought Question #4:  How does Babylon and their arrogance compare to our country at this time?

 

 

Mene—your reign is numbered.  Tekel—you have been weighed and you did not measure up to God's standard.  Peres—your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persians!  Again, we see that God is control and ruling during the times of the Gentiles.

6. The fall of the kingdom (5:29-30)
"Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.  That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two."

Belshazzar gives Daniel the third highest position in the Empire, but it is too late for that very night Belshazzar is killed, and Darius the Mede takes over the Empire.

The historian Herodotus tells us that Cyrus ruler of Medo-Persia forced the Babylonians to be "shut up in the city."  The Babylonians had been prepared for such a siege and had "laid up provisions for many years."  Cyrus stationed his armies where the river Euphrates entered the city of Babylon and where it exited the city.  "He himself marched away with the ineffective part of his army; and having come to the lake, Cyrus did the same with respect to the river and the lake as the queen of the Babylonians had done; for having diverted the river, by means of a canal, into the lake which was before a swamp, he made the ancient channel fordable by the sinking of the river.  When this took place, the Persians who were appointed to that purpose close to the stream of the river, which now subsided to about the middle of a man's thigh, entered Babylon by this passage."  But, Herodotus tells us that if the Babylonians had not been participating in a drunken party they would have easily conquered Cyrus' forces.  But, because Cyrus caught them by surprise, he and his forces were able to easily conquer the Babylonians and take over the city and the Empire!  "Quotations taken from Daniel the Key to Prophetic Revelation by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1971 by Moody Press."

GOD'S PEOPLE IN THE HANDS OF THE GENTILES (GOD REWARDS THE FAITHFUL IN TIMES OF PERSECUTION) (6)

1. God exalts and rewards Daniel. (6:1-3)
"It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel.  The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss.  Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom."

Thought Question:  What do you find in these verses that amazes you?

 

 

Daniel is made one the three administrators in charge of 120 satraps—or sub-rulers of divisions of the Empire—and Daniel so excelled over the other two administrators that he was placed over them.  It is remarkable that Daniel was able to excel over the other two administrators so markedly that he was put in authority over them, for it is estimated that he was in his eighties at the time.

We are told in verse one that Darius was the ruler of the empire at this time.  Wood has the following to say about Darius:  "The identity of the Medo-Persian ruler in the story, Darius the Mede has long been questioned.  No one of this name is known from secular history, and it is well established that Cyrus, who captured Babylon, continued as ruler over the empire until 530/29 BC, nine years after Babylon's fall.  Three principle views are represented among scholars; one is that this man was Cyrus himself, under a different name—favored by Donald J. Wiseman of the British Museum; another is that he was Cambysis, son of Cyrus, who served under his father as ruler over Babylon and later succeeded him as emperor—favored by Charles Boutflower; and the third is that he was Gubaru, appointed governor over Babylon by Cyrus immediately after the fall of the city—favored by John Whitcomb.  Of the three, the last finds most in its favor."  Secular history tells us that Darius (Guburu) was appointed as governor over Babylon and the area that had once been the Babylonian empire.  He, then, had appointed his own supervisors over the region.  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

In 6:28 we find these words: "So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian."  The NIV alternate translation is that "Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus."

2. Man seeks to humble and destroy Daniel. (6:4-9)

a. His fellow officials conspire against him, but are unable to find any weakness in him, so they attempt to use his strength against him; his strength was his obedience to God's law. (6:4-5)
"At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so.  They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.  Finally these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.'" 

Thought Question:  What role does pride play in what these men were seeking to do to Daniel?

 

 

Because Daniel's fellow rulers were unable to find a legitimate basis for charging him with any wrong, their only choice was to use his obedience to the law of God against him.  Here, we find human jealousy at its very worst.  But, we all know of this type of jealousy.  How do we feel when someone appears to out-shine us in almost every area?  We have all participated in something like what these enemies of Daniel did, if not in action then certainly in our heart attitude.  How have we responded when that person who has out-performed us so often, is discovered to have a flaw?  Do we enjoy hearing about it?  Do we ever enjoy seeing this person cut down and ridiculed?  Our tabloids and our tabloid television shows thrive because of this ugliness that is in us.  This ugliness is a part of unregenerate man, but it can also be an impure residual from the old life that is still present in we who are Christians.

Daniel out-performed these other leaders and now they were united together in a plan to murder him.  David Jeremiah makes this observation:  "There's always a price to be paid for leadership, in any field.  The musician, the athlete, the man or woman who gives himself to excellence will sooner or later pay the price of primacy.  A person who has been blessed by God with some small success always pays a penalty for what he has done."  "Taken from The Handwriting on the Wall by David Jeremiah.  Copyright 1992 by Word Publishing."

There were three administrators over the 120 satraps.  Daniel was one of three administrators.  Here, because "administrators" is plural, the other two administrators both conspired against Daniel as well as at least a group of the satraps.

b. They use flattery to get Darius to make a decree that if anyone prays to anyone but him for thirty days, they will be thrown into the lions' den! (6:6-9)
"So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said:  'O King Darius, live forever!  The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den.  Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.'  So King Darius put the decree in writing."

Thought Question:  What role does pride play in what takes place in these verses?

 

 

Darius' pride blinded him to their devious purposes.  He undoubtedly thought that they desired that he be exalted for thirty days; but they really desired to see Daniel and his God demoted and they exalted over Daniel.

Pride can also have this type of blinding effect on us.  There will always be those who will try to manipulate us by using flattery.  Beware when someone begins to tell you what a wonderful person you are.

3. Daniel remains faithful to God. (6:10-18)

a. Daniel refuses to be intimidated and continues his regular pattern of praying to God three times a day (6:10)
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.  Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before."  

Thought Question:  Do you believe that Daniel should not have prayed in a public place, but should have prayed privately like Jesus instructed in Matthew 6:5-7?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Even though Daniel was in charge of an empire, he found time to pray three times a day!  How then can we ever say we are too busy to pray?

Some might ask, "Does not Daniel's praying in such a public way contradict Jesus' teaching that we should pray in a closet (privately)?"  See Matthew 6:5-7  The real issue is, who was Daniel praying for and to?  Was he praying to impress men or was he praying primarily to God?  It is obvious that he was not praying to impress the men and women of pagan Babylon.  They were not impressed!  But, he was also not ashamed to let the people of Babylon know that he was praying to the God of Israel.  The practice of praying toward Jerusalem was started by Solomon.  See I Kings 8:33,35,38,44,48 and II Chronicles 6:34-39  Before the temple was built by Solomon, David also followed this pattern.  See Psalm 5:7 and 28:2.

b. Daniel is reported to the king and the king is forced to have him
thrown into the lions' den. (6:11-18)
"Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.  So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree:  'Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?'  The king answered, 'The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.'  Then they said to the king, 'Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing.  He still prays three times a day.'  When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.  Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, 'Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.'  So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den.  The king said to Daniel, 'May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!'  A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed.  Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him.  And he could not sleep."

Thought Question #1:  Is there anything in these verses that surprises you?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Can you think of anything that happens today that is similar to what happened when these underlings forced their king to do something against a man of God that the king did not want to do (or other examples in the Bible)?

 

 

The king had no intention of losing the best leader in the kingdom.  He had been tricked by the other rulers.  The king was subject, though, to the law and was not sovereign over it as Nebuchadnezzar had been.  (The Jewish religious leaders' manipulation of Pilate is similar to the way that these leaders manipulated Darius.  You may have thought of other leaders who have been manipulated in this way.)  The chest of silver on the statue---the Medo-Persian kingdom—described in Daniel chapter two was not as sovereign as the head of gold—the Babylonian kingdom.   See 6:14,15,18  See also Esther 1:19 and 8:18 for another example of the Persian law not being able to be altered by the king.

He was "greatly distressed" when he learned that it was Daniel who must be thrown into the lion's den; ". . . he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him."  Certainly, Daniel's enemies were hoping that the king would be outraged at Daniel's insolence and defiance of him rather than distressed that Daniel must die.  The king had no choice and had Daniel thrown into the lions' den.  And he "spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him."  That night "he could not sleep."

Believers in the last days will also face similar circumstances if they refuse to worship the image of the beast.  See Revelation 20:4

4. God remains faithful to Daniel. (6:19-28)

a. The following morning the king hurries to the lions' den in hope that God had delivered Daniel. (6:19-20)
"At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den.  When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that this pagan king has such respect for Daniel?  How can this help us to gain respect from some in our world who are not Christians?

 

 

What was it like for Daniel in that lions' den?  What was the lions' den like?  "The word for 'den' (gob), related to the Hebrew word gub, meaning 'to dig,' carries the thought of a 'pit' or 'cistern,' implying that this den was underground, perhaps a natural cave reshaped for that purpose.  This idea fits also the indications that Daniel was 'drawn up' from the den, after his night of deliverance, and the conspirators, later cast in, were eaten before they ever came to the 'bottom of the den.'"  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

And so Daniel was thrown into a dark cave full of hungry lions.  How was his night?  Those who have who have walked through a forest on a dark night and have heard what sounded like a large animal moving not too far away from them, know the kind of fear and terror the possibility of the presence of a large predatory animal can produce.  Daniel was surrounded in that dark cave by large predatory animals that could have easily ripped him apart.  But, we learn from these verses that the king did not have a good night either.  He did not sleep the whole night.

"At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den.....he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?' "  God had so honored Daniel, and Daniel had so honored God that this pagan king had come to both honor Daniel and his God!  He believed that Daniel's miracle-working God may have rescued him from the lions!

Can we gain respect for God in our pagan world by the way we serve God?  We despair as our country turns away from God.  But, Daniel lived in a totally pagan world and yet his light for God was not extinguished.  If the Old Testament saint Daniel could be a light for God in a totally pagan world, certainly we New Testament saints can be lights for God in our partially pagan country.

b. Daniel is still alive! (6:21-23)
"Daniel answered, 'O king, live forever!  My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.  They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in his sight.  Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.'  The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den.  And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God."

Instead of the growling of lions, Darius heard Daniel's voice from inside the lions' den.  Again, Daniel had the complete attention of a pagan king.  He proclaimed his innocence of any wrongdoing toward the king and explained that it was because he was innocent that God had sent an angel to close the lions' mouths.  The king was "overjoyed" that Daniel was still alive and immediately had him drawn up out the lions' den.

Paul uses God rescuing Daniel from the lions' den to describe figuratively how God had rescued him.  He also "was delivered from the lion's mouth."  See II Timothy 4:17,18

Thought Question:  Can you think of a time when God rescued you or someone you know from a "lion's mouth?"

 

 

c. The wicked are punished and God is exalted. (6:24-28)
"At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children.  And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.  Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land:  'May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.  For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.  He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.  He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.'  So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian."

Thought Question:  In what ways is what happened to Daniel and his enemies in these verses a picture of what will occur when Jesus returns in the last days?  How can both events encourage us in the type of Christian life that we live?  See Matthew 10:17-20,32-36

 

 

All those who accused Daniel were, at the king's command, immediately thrown into that same lions' den (as well as their families).  They were killed before they reached the floor of the den. It is obvious that Daniel was not spared because these lions were too old and weak or because they were not hungry!  Once again, a Gentile king issues a decree "that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel."

God was and is Ruler during the times of the Gentiles!  What occurred to Daniel is a foreshadowing of what will occur in the last days.  Our hope is that in the end, evil will be judged and God will receive the glory that He is due!

It would not have been possible for all 120 satraps and their families to have been tossed into that lions' den.  So, we can assume that only some of the satraps were involved in the conspiracy.  "That wives and children were punished, as well as the guilty men, was in accordance with Persian custom.  Ammianus Marellinus states, 'The laws among them (the Persians) are formidable...by which, on account of the guilt of one, all the kindred perish.'"  "Taken from A Commentary on Daniel by Leon Wood.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in Daniel