Book of Daniel Bible Studies Series – Part 3

Book of Daniel Bible Studies Series – Part 3

The great impact

“In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the
kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it
the lowest of men.”
Daniel 4:17

Chapter four of Daniel opens with a dramatic story that documents the huge impact that Daniel and his three friends had on Nebuchadnezzar and indeed, the whole empire. The world would literally change because of their courageous acts of faith in the face of immense hostility. So then because they were faithful to the God of Israel they were afforded renown and respect in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. Therefore, when the king had another strange dream he was encouraged by his advisors to call, once again, on Daniel to unravel its contents.

Essentially Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a great big beautiful tree that had filled the earth with its branches. It was suddenly chopped down and removed because it became deceased with pride, arrogance and rebellion against God ( Daniel 4:27). Although, the basic root system of the tree was kept intact ( Daniel 4:15). Daniel, having been brought before the king, with great boldness, interpreted the dream and consequently told Nebuchadnezzar that the tree referred to him and that he should repent because God was going to humble him and teach him a very important lesson.

The dream came true in every respect and so King Nebuchadnezzar lost his throne, his mind and his global prestige for a long time. Finally he came to a place where he repented, humbled himself and called on the God of Daniel to help him. He did, in that he was fully restored but now it appears that one of the most powerful and ruthless individuals of the ancient world got wonderfully saved. How wonderful is the grace of God, but also, how wonderful it is to see what God can do through people who will embrace risk in order to be faithful to Him. This is a challenge and important lesson for all of us to learn!

As for Nebuchadnezzar, this is what he learned:

“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven,
and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and
praised and honored him who lives forever: For His dominion is an
everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according
to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”
Daniel 4:34-35

Herein is contained a lesson that we should all learn through all the days of our lives. Blessed be the God of heaven and earth!

The writing on the wall

Upon Nebuchadnezzar’s death he was succeeded by his son Belshazzar who did not know, rejected or despised, the God of Israel, who had played such a large part in his father’s life, thanks to Daniel and his three friends. Belshazzar was an arrogant silly man and a day came when he threw a feast for his courtiers. He deliberately thought that he would mock the God of Israel by using the holy temple cups, plates and pots by which to indulge in their debauchery. While mocking God in this way, and at the same time worshipping the false gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron and stone, a hand appeared writing in an unknown language upon the palace wall. This caught Belshazzar’s attention and induced fear, trembling and panic to his heart. Scripture describes this in these words:

“Then the King’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him,
so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked
against each other.”
Daniel 5:6

In a state of utter panic then, the king called upon his wise men, soothsayers and magicians to solve the mystery of the writing upon the wall. They could not but his queen, actually the Queen Mother, in the providence of God, remembered the unique gift from God that Daniel possessed in unravelling mysteries of this type and duly encouraged the king to call for him. Upon his arrival Daniel was promised riches and gifts beyond his dreams if he could decipher the message on the wall. But Daniel, ever the true servant of God, refused these by saying:

“…………….Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another;
yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpre-
tation. “
Daniel 5:17

We note:

  • Daniel was above bribery and corruption. His relationship with God was more important to him than money and other rewards.
  • Daniel was courageous and unafraid of the king. He feared God more that he feared man
  • Daniel was sure of the gift of God in him. He was thus an oracle of God (1 Peter 4:11).
  • Daniel followed through with risk, because he knew that the message he would bring would not make the king happy.

The words on the palace wall were: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN

These essentially meant: You have been weighed in the heavenly balances and found wanting.

The ungodliness of the king and his fellow courtiers finally overflowed and caught up with them when he took the holy vessels of the Lord’s house and used them in a drunken orgy. His time was up and so, that very night, the Medes and Persians penetrated the city and overthrew Belshazzar and executed him! (Daniel 5:30). We learn that:

1. God is always watching the affairs of men and His apparent in-action does not mean that He will not act (2 Peter 3:9).
2. We have one life to live and we had better live it well. Godliness, according to Paul, has hope for this life and for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).
3. We will all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ one day to be weighed in the heavenly balances (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

This will be a terrifying day for those who have “played the fool with holy things, or the vessels of the Lord (1 Peter 4:4-5).” For those who know Christ, it may be an embarrassing day because it will unveil the real truth about our commitment to Him in life (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). The writing on the wall has a message for all of us!

Finally, it is worth noting that Daniel’s faithfulness, courage and godliness ultimately opened a door for Cyrus the Media-Persian King to step onto the stage of history and decree the end of the Babylonian exile of the Jews, that had prevailed for seventy years. The lesson is clear; our actions, if godly, will determine future events and change the world.

Malcolm Hedding