The Latter Major Prophets – Daniel 5-6

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. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
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 legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these 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.
The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the 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. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this because 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.”
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.
“Your Majesty, 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 nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he 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 the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
“But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.
“This is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN
“Here 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.”
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.

  • Daniel 5:1-31

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. 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.”
So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May 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 human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.
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 his God, just as he had done before. 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 human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law 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, Your Majesty, 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 King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, 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.
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?”
Daniel answered, “May the 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, Your Majesty.”
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.
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 nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“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.

  • Daniel 6:1-28

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Daniel 5:1-4 ‘Writing on the Wall’: “Upon Nebuchadnezzar’s death in 562, the ruling power changed hands in quick succession due to assassinations and court intrigues.  Nabonidus (556—539 B.C.) witnessed the growth of Persia on the east, but was unsuccessful in restraining Cyrus. Having been defeated in the field, he retreated, leaving the defense of Babylon to his son, Belshazzar (“May Bel protect the king!”). In verse 22 Belshazzar is also known as the son of Nebuchadnezzar, which probably means in Semitic custom ‘descendant’ or ‘successor to the throne.’
“The spirit in the city is one of confidence. The banquet of Belshazzar reveals the self-assurance of the king and his nobles, as they drink from the vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem. He is pagan not only in his drinking, but also in his act of sacrilege, as he praises ‘the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone’ (v. 4).
“The sudden appearance of mysterious writing on the wall greatly disturbs the king and his nobles. He calls in his sages to explain the writing. No one succeeds—even with the promise of being clothed in purple, having a gold chain placed around his neck, and being made the third highest ruler in the kingdom after Nabonidus and Belshazzar. This failure disturbs the king even more.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Daniel 5:10 ‘the queen spoke’: “Possibly, she was a surviving wife or a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. If the latter, she was a wife of Nabonidus who co-ruled with Belshazzar (cf. ‘third ruler,’ v. 16). She, like Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4, has confidence in Daniel (vv. 11, 12).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Daniel 5:27 ‘Tekel – the weighing time’: “There is a weighing time for kings and emperors and all the monarchs of earth, although some of them have exalted themselves to a position in which they appear to be irresponsible to man. Though they escape the scales on earth, they must surely be tried at the bar of God. For nations there is a weighing time. The whole history of God’s dealings with mankind proves that though a nation may go on in wickedness, it may multiply its oppressions. It may abound in bloodshed, tyranny, and war; but an hour of retribution draws near when it will have tilled up its measure of iniquity. There cannot be an eternal damnation for nations as nations; the destruction oi men at last will be that of individuals, and at the bar of God each person must be tried for himself. We must weigh ourselves – put our hearts into the balance. We must not be deceived. We must pull the bandage from our eyes that our blindness may be removed and we may pass a just opinion of ourselves as to what we are. We must not only see ourselves as others see us but as God sees us; for that, after all, is our real state.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Daniel 5:30 ‘That very night’: “One ancient account alleged that Persia’s General Ugbaru had troops dig a trench to divert and, thus, lower the waters of the Euphrates River. Since the river flowed through the city of Babylon, the lowered water enabled besiegers to unexpectedly invade via the waterway under the thick walls and reach the palace before the city was aware. The end then came quickly, as guards, Belshazzar, and others were killed on October 16, 539 B.C.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Daniel 5:31 ‘Darius the Mede’: “Possibly, Darius is not a name, but an honored title for Cyrus, who with his army entered Babylon October 29, 539 B.C. It is used in inscriptions for at least five Persian rulers. History mentions no specific man named Darius the Mede. In 6:28, it is possible to translate, ‘Darius even …Cyrus.’ A less likely possibility is that Darius is a second name for Gubaru, Cyrus’s appointed king to head up the Babylonian sector of his empire. Gubaru (or Gobryas) is distinct from Ugbaru, the general, who died soon after conquering Babylon. As previously prophesied, Babylon met God’s judgment (cf. Is. 13; 47; Jer. 50; 51; Hab. 2:5-19).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Daniel 5 ‘Summary’: “As chapter 5 opens, we see the luxury and licentiousness of the kingdom of Babylon.  Yet amid all this pleasure seeking and selfishness, Daniel (who has lived through three empires) is still the prime minister. In this chapter, God uses Daniel to make another crucial interpretation.
“As the chapter opens, King Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, throws a party. The king, his wives and concubines, and his guests defile the gold and silver chalices that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem. They drink wine from them and use them to toast and praise their false gods.
“Suddenly a disembodied human finger appears and writes on the plaster of the wall, frightening the king and his guests nearly to death. The king calls for his magicians and astrologers to decipher the handwriting on the wall, and Daniel is brought before him. Daniel interprets the inscription which reads: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PERES. It was a judgment on Belshazzar for his arrogance …
“That night, God’s judgment is carried out and Belshazzar dies; King Darius ascends to the throne.
“This chapter bears out the thesis of the entire book: God is at work in human affairs, and anyone who sees beyond the visible to the invisible and acts accordingly will find that God provides all the strength and support that is required for success.”

  • Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring through the Bible

Daniel 6:3 ‘an excellent spirit’: “Daniel, over 80, had enjoyed God’s blessing throughout his life (cf. 1:20, 21; 2:49; 4:8; 5:12). over the whole realm. Daniel was the favorite of the king. He had experience, wisdom, a sense of history, leadership, a good reputation, ability, a servant’s attitude, and revelation from the God of heaven. Apparently, God wanted him in the place of influence to encourage and assist in the Jews’ return to Judah, since the return was made in Cyrus’s first year (539-537 B.C.), right before the lions’ den incident. From the record of Ezra 1 and 6, all the basic elements of the return appear: (1) the temple was to be rebuilt with the cost paid from Cyrus’s treasury; (2) all Jews who visited could return, and those who stayed were urged to assist financially; and (3) the gold and silver vessels stolen from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar were to be taken back. To account for such favor toward the Jews, it is easy to think of Daniel not only influencing Cyrus to write such a decree, but even formulating it for him (cf. Prov. 21:1).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Daniel 6:7 ‘a wrong world’: “The world seems to possess a real genius for being wrong, even the educated world. We might just let that pass and go fishing except that we Christians happen to be living in the world and we have an obligation to be right – in everything, all of the time. We cannot afford to be wrong.
“l can see how a right man might live in a wrong world and not be much affected by it except that the world will not let him alone. It wants to educate him. It is forever coming up with some new idea which, by the way, is usually an old idea dusted off and shined up for the occasion, and demanding that everyone, including the said right man, conform on pain of deep-seated frustration or a horrible complex of some kind.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Price of Neglect

Daniel 6:10 ‘a man of prayer’: “Daniel was always a man of prayer. If great before the people, the reason was because he was great before his God; he knew how to lay hold of divine strength, and he became strong; he knew how to study divine wisdom, and he became wise. We are told that he went to his house to pray. He was a great man—the highest in the land; consequently he had great public duties. He would sit as a judge probably a large part of the day; his life would be engaged in the various state offices distributing the favors of the king. But he did not pray in his office, except, of course, when his heart would go up in adoration of his God all day long. He was in the habit of going to his house to pray. This showed that he made a business of prayer, and finding it neither convenient to his circumstances nor congenial to his mind to pray in the midst of idolaters, he had chosen to set apart a chamber in his own house for prayer.
“When the king said he must not pray, Daniel did not deliberate for a single minute. When we know our duty, first thoughts are the best; if the thing is obviously right, never think about it a second time, but straightway go and do it. Daniel did not deliberate; he went to his house and prayed in the morning; he went to his house and prayed at noon; and he retired to his house and prayed at dusk. He did not alter his accustomed habit in any single particular. The time was the same, the attitude was the same, and the open window was the same. There was no precaution, whatever, to conceal the fact that he was going to pray or to equivocate in the act when he was praying. His faith was steadfast, his composure unruffled, his conduct simple and artless.
“Let us be as Daniel. Though we are living among strangers and foreigners, profane in all their thoughts and habits, may God give us the grace to hold the statutes and commandments oi the Lord as more to be desired than wealth or honor. In this way we will honor God, glorify Christ, and bless and praise his precious name in a way in which nothing else but decision of character can possibly lead us to do. God grant us all to have Christ for a Savior and to live to his praise!”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Daniel 6:13 ‘one of the captives from Judah’: “Daniel had lived over sixty years in Babylon. His loyalty to the rulers was well known (5:13); in spite of that loyalty, his consistent faithfulness to God brought this threat.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Daniel 6:16 ‘God saving us’: “Look at Jonah in the fish belly—surrounded by gastric juices and sucked-in seaweed … He prays … Before he can say amen, the belly convulses, the fish belches, and Jonah lands face first on the beach.
“Look at Daniel in the lions’ den; his prospects aren’t much better than Jonah’s. Jonah had been swallowed, and Daniel is about to be …
“Or look at Joseph in the pit, a chalky hole in a hot desert. The lid has been pulled over the top and the wool has been pulled over his eyes … Like Jonah and Daniel, Joseph is trapped. He is out of options. There is no exit. There is no hope … Though the road to the palace takes a detour through a prison, it eventually ends up at the throne …
“Such are the stories in the Bible. One near-death experience after another. Just when the neck is on the chopping block, just when the noose is around the neck, Calvary comes.”

  • Max Lucado, He Still Moves Stones

Daniel 6:22 ‘His angel’: “In this miracle, the angel was possibly the same person as the fourth person in the fiery furnace (cf. 3:25 …). innocent before Him. That is the supreme commendation of Daniel as blameless before God and unworthy of such a death.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Daniel 6:25-27 ‘break off your sins’: “King Darius wrote. Impacted by Daniel and by the Lord, he expressed himself as if he had come to a point of personal trust in God for his salvation such as Nebuchadnezzar (cf. 4:1-3, 34-37). Daniel illustrated the evangelistic potency of a godly, uncompromising life. Cf. Matthew 5:48.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

My Thoughts

The question is raised, why did God choose that point, that insult of worshipping false gods using the goblets as the straw that broke the camel’s back?  Answer:  It was time.  The Baker Commentary talks of how Nabonidus had failed to crush the growing army of Cyrus.  God had the pieces in place to destroy the Babylonians.  It would be Cyrus who would decree to allow the Jews to return.  The Jews must return so that Jesus could be born in Bethlehem.  The pieces are falling into place, and what seems to some a minor offense compared to what other pagan rulers have done becomes the thing that tipped the scale.

The writing on the wall must have indeed been frightening.  Again, it is only Daniel who can interpret what the words mean.  Daniel refuses the reward, for he knows that the message is not one that Belshazzar is wanting to hear.  The idea of “that very night” is important.  If Belshazzar was able to sleep on what Daniel had interpreted, he might have killed Daniel by morning.  Kings do not like hearing bad news.  And have you ever wondered where the phrase “do not kill the messenger” comes from?

I love the Rev. Spurgeon quote above about “tekel.”  While monarchs are weighed against their worth, some weighed to determine how much taxes they would extract from the people, we are all subject to God’s judgment seat.  We can avoid the Great White Throne by being in God’s Gook of Life, but many will not find their names there.  Yet, each of us should have a thought on our “weight” each day.  Not the weight on the scales, which I am overweight.  We should weigh our soul, our worth toward spreading the message that Jesus Saves and that God Loves us.  Do we do that in thought, word, and deed?  Do we help those who cannot help themselves?  Or are we simply treading water and in survival mode.  There are days like that – survival being a great accomplishment, but too many people stay in that mode when there are ways out of it.  And if there is no single way out, we can hold out a hand and keep our neighbor from sinking.

Rev. MacArthur’s commentary on Daniel 5:30 brought back fond memories.  In my army officer training, we actually studied this event and the military method of gaining a military advantage by redirecting a river.  We studied parallels in military history class to this story that is Biblical only in the result, never mentioning how the defenses of Babylon were breached so that Belshazzar could be killed.  Whether it is legend, as Rev. MacArthur suggests is possible, or fact, it has been taught in military history – if for no other reason, as a cautionary tale.  But in the war of the North vs. the South in the USA of the early 1860s, there were two attempts by the North’s engineers to redirect rivers, both failing.  In the siege of Vicksburg, MS by Gen. U. S. Grant, he had Grant’s canal built to redirect the Mississippi River.  This would accomplish two things.  The North would isolate Vicksburg from the river weakening those under siege, and the shorter route through Grant’s Canal would mean the North would control the river, whether they ever took the city or not.  If you look at a map of the area, at about the point where the Yazoo River pours into the Mississippi River, the river flows southward and then takes a hard left turn, flowing northeast to Vicksburg and then the river turns around and flow southwest, with only a small slip of land separating the flow to Vicksburg from the flow of the river from Vicksburg.  Looking at the map, it is hard to imagine that the river does that, but the Mississippi River has a reputation of doing strange things, and this was about to be a story of legend.

Where the first bend was located, the one turning left toward Vicksburg, the engineers decided to dig straight south, cutting off the other curves, shortening the river by a lot, far missing Vicksburg’s guns.  Water likes flowing downhill and water does not like bending around if it doesn’t have to.  After countless technical issues in forming the canal in 1863 (Murphy’s Law at work, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong), they dug again in 1864, more due to Lincoln’s insistence since the officers in the field had given up hope.  They finally got the canal built, but the water refused to flow in the easier direction down the canal.  It made the wild turns and kept water going to Vicksburg.  Soon after the canal failed to redirect the river, the siege itself affected the surrender of Vicksburg on the fourth of July 1864.  The surrender was signed on the banks of the canal that had failed.  If that date sounds familiar, on the same date, General Lee’s army lost the battle of Gettysburg, PA.

But later in 1864, the Corps of Engineers tried the Mede-Persian trick again, this time to divert the James River in Virginia to avoid the South’s strong artillery at Dutch Gap.  They maintained a dike to keep the canal construction dry until completed.  Upon completing the canal construction, they used explosives to blow up the dike and redirect the James River down the canal, but the dirt, moved by the explosion, landed in the canal that they had just constructed, and they were still digging the dirt from the explosion out of the canal when the war ended.

As an Army Corps of Engineers officer, it pained me greatly to write the previous couple of paragraphs.  But consider, while the Mede-Persians were successful, the US Corps of Engineers were not.  This is not judgment for or against the South in 1863 and 1864, but God’s hand, maybe the other hand since one hand was writing a note at the time, was making sure that the Mede-Persian army would succeed.

In these two chapters of Daniel 5-6, we get almost all the references to Darius in Daniel.  Darius is mentioned once in Daniel 5, six times in Daniel 6, and then once each in Daniel 9 and 11.  Rev. MacArthur wrote in the quote on Daniel 5:31 about how history (outside the Bible) does not mention Darius and he gives some ideas as to who Darius was.  In Daniel 9, it states that Darius was of Mede descent and the son of Xerxes, but again “son” could mean a following ruler after Xerxes.

Darius bursts onto the scene, mentioned also in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah.  Whether he was a regional king under the control of Cyrus, king of Persia, or simply an interim king before Cyrus gained full control, it is immaterial.  Daniel served him faithfully and Cyrus who followed.

Yet, serving a king faithfully and being the person that has a reputation for getting the job done does not always work in your favor.  Many times, it works against you.  It creates jealousy among the others of equal rank, or near equal rank.  I heard, when I first entered the workforce that there were two ways of getting ahead: 1) Looking like you are better than the others (Note not necessarily being better or working harder – appearance only) or 2) Making everyone else look bad.  But if there was one person who was above all the rest, making that one look bad evened the playing field.  And I do not think what starts Daniel 6 was invented in Babylon under the rule of Darius.  Cain killed Abel due to jealousy.  Once there was a workforce with bosses and underlings, a generation or two later, there was instant jealousy and the means to make the other guy look bad.

The corollary rules for getting rid of a bad boss is roughly the same.  I was asked my opinion of one bad boss by a fellow teammate once.  He had noticed how I got the bulk of the assignments.  I should have realized he was jealous.  He said that we could either collude to do lousy work.  The boss will look bad and get shoved aside, but we run the risk of getting fired.  Or we could do our best, giving the boss the praise and he gets promoted, hopefully not taking any of us with him.  The latter happened, but the hard work was on my part and another teammate or two, not the one who proposed the two different plans.  He obviously, looking back, had a third plan.  When the dust settled, the guy with the plans was given a monster promotion, way up the line, way too fast for his experience, and us hard workers were cast aside as cannon fodder, almost thrown out with the trash – we knew too much.  And that kind of thing did not get invented in recent years, or centuries, either.

Most people skim through this story and think that Darius dreamed up the rule about the lions’ den on his own, but it is clear that his satraps cooked up the entire scheme, knowing that Daniel would not comply with a rule that was against God’s law.  Darius felt Daniel was so much better than any of the other satraps, that he was about to be promoted, but the others had a more devious plan.

Darius had his hands tied when Daniel was exposed, praying to God.  Darius was undone.  He realized that he had been tricked, but he knew that once he had signed his decree into law, Daniel had to be thrown into the lions’ den.  Note what Jesus says about swearing an oath and note the stories in the Old Testament when swearing an oath was something that could not be undone.  Also note that Darius tells Daniel that he hopes that Daniel’s God will save Daniel.  Darius cannot eat or sleep all night.  He refused to be entertained.  And he went to the lions’ den as soon as possible the next morning to rescue Daniel from danger.  Those that had tricked Darius into signing the decree replaced Daniel, along with their families, and the lions devoured them immediately.  After all, the lions had nothing to eat the day before.

I stayed with the narrative here.  The focus is on Darius.  Darius trusted and respected Daniel, but he tried to rule the territory of Babylon justly.  Something is decreed as law; it will be done, even when he realizes his folly in signing it into law.  Darius recognizes God as being the God of salvation.  Just as Nebuchadnezzar before him, these kings declare an intellectual knowledge that God is indeed the God of the universe, but to continue that thought to individual salvation, that is God’s business alone.

With the focus on Daniel, we see someone who will not make an ill-conceived law stand in his way of worshipping God as he has done his entire life.  Daniel is rewarded greatly, but he remains the servant of the king.

When I started this study, I wrote about how a commentator had quipped that Ezekiel was a fiery wheel and then some dry bones with a lot of chapters in between.  Daniel is different in that a lot of this first half of Daniel is a series of fairly well-known Bible stories.  Only eating vegetables might not be that well-known (and in no way is a command to go vegan), but then the various dreams, the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar thinking he had become an ox, the writing on the wall, and the lions’ den.  In the next chapter, the writing style changes halfway through the chapter from third person to first person.  And we immediately return to the rule of Belshazzar, who was killed in Daniel 5.  It’s as if there were two books of Daniel that overlap a bit.  One that focused on what was happening during the captivity and then how was God communicating with Daniel during that time.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. What contemporary examples come to mind of people mocking God by demeaning sacred things, as Belshazzar did with the temple goblets? Then and now, does it seem God is quick, or slow, to judge such sacrilegious behavior? Why? How do you feel about that?
“2. What have you learned from your parents or predecessors? Why do people often fail, as does Belshazzar, to learn from the past?
“3. What would you do if you were offered position and/or power as a way to buy your vote or pre-determine your thinking?
“1. Besides jealousy, what might cause people to be interested in the private lives of public figures, especially ‘incorruptible’ ones?
“2. What stirs up your jealousy: (a) The success of others? (b) Desire for material things? (c) The devil? (d) When someone else gets what is coming to you? (e) Other: _______? Does having strong principles and values cause you to be more vulnerable to others, or less? Why?
“3. Daniel shows us that the law of one’s God supersedes the law of the land. How do you reconcile what Daniel did with Romans 13:1? How does this square with your view on separation of church and state issues? (See also Mt 22:21;Lk 20:25;Ac 5:29, for additional views on this matter.)
“4. What parallels do you see between Daniel’s betrayal (vv.3-18) and Jesus’? Between Daniel’s vindication (vv.19-28) and Jesus’? What do you make of those obvious parallels?
“5. When in your life have you experienced God in the midst of a ‘lions‘ den’ (of skeptics, critics, etc.)? How has God alone been your lifeline?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for each chapter.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

3 Comments

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  1. Wonderful thoughts. If we utilize these thoughts in day to day routines, we can make a huge difference. 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

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