Daniel’s Visions

Bible:

I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

[Jesus said;] “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Luke 24:46b-51

Reflection:

Do you remember Belshazzar? He had been the king of the Babylonian empire when it was defeated by the Medes and the Persians. His father’s name was Nabonidus, and his mother, Nitocris, might have been Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter. Nabonidus had gone into exile, and when that happened he made his son the king by giving him the throne and most of the Babylonian army. Belshazzar and Nabonidus were kings at the same time, and this is called a co-regency. It often happened in the ancient world that a father and his son would be king at the same time. This helped make the son’s throne secure before his father died, and gave the son a chance to learn to be the king. Daniel would have understood a co-regency very well because of this.

Late in his life, God gave Daniel many visions of the future. Some of these visions are hard to understand, but the one we just read is a very important one. It talks about someone called the Ancient of Days, who sits on the throne and rules the whole universe. But then a son of man, a human person, is brought before the throne of the Ancient of Days, and he is given power and authority to rule everyone in the whole world–all nations and languages and people–in a kingdom that will never be destroyed. Belshazzar and his father lost their kingdom, but the son of man would rule forever and ever.

This vision isn’t hard to understand. The Ancient of Days is God the Father, and who is the man who was presented to God to share in his rule? This son of man is Jesus, the promised Savior. Daniel’s vision allowed him to see into the future, to see the promised Savior his people had been waiting for, and to see the him being given authority over the whole world. Jesus came to die on the cross and rise again to defeat sin and death and the devil, and then he went back to heaven and to the throne of his Father. God made Jesus his co-regent, and gave Jesus authority over all people and nations and languages. Before Jesus went back into heaven, he told his followers to tell the good news of the life and forgiveness he had won to people all over the world. When people come to faith in Jesus, they join his kingdom, a kingdom meant for everyone no matter where they come from or what color they are or what language they speak, a kingdom that will never end.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for winning the kingdom for us and for making us a part of it. Please help us share that kingdom with others. Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Belshazzar

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Words of Doom

Bible:

“Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. Daniel 5:24-31 ESV

[Jesus said:] “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. John 5:24-25 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a doctor who knew the secrets of Death, and because he did he was able to prevent his patients from dying. After he had done this a couple of times, the grim old man named Death was angry, and brought him into a dark and spooky cave. Inside the cave there were thousands of burning candles. Death told the man that these candles were the life-lights of all the people on earth. Each person would live as long as his or her candle burned. The children’s candles were the tallest, and adults had medium-sized candles, while old people had very short candles. Some children and adults had very short candles, though, if they were going to die soon. The doctor asked if he could see his own life-light, and he was horrified to find that it was very short and almost burned out. Death was going to take him soon because he was angry with the doctor for cheating him.

When Daniel read the writing on the wall and told King Belshazzar what it meant, he had a similar horrifying message. God was pronouncing judgment on Belshazzar for his sins. He had been weighed and found to come up short of God’s standards, so the days of his kingdom were numbered. His kingdom would be divided between the Medes and the Persians very soon. In fact, that very night Belshazzar was killed, and a new king named Darius took the throne. God’s judgment fell swiftly after the message of doom was heard.

We were also doomed because of our sins. If our lives were weighed on the Lord’s scales, we would come up very short of God’s laws. We deserve God’s judgment for our sins, but God sent Jesus to tip the scales in our favor. Jesus died to pay for all our sins on the cross, and because of him all our sins our forgiven. We don’t have to worry about death or judgment, because we have gone from death into life. Jesus promises us that some wonderful day in the future we will come out of our graves and live forever with him in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for paying for our sins and bringing us from the judgment of sin and death to life forever with you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm044.html

Not Learning from the Past

Bible:

Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty.  And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.” Daniel 5:17-23 ESV

[Paul writes:] I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,  though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. I Timothy 1:12-16 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a song about a man who had a son, but he was always too busy to spend any time with him. He was away on a business trip when his son learned to walk. He gave his son a ball for his tenth birthday, but he was too busy to play with him or teach him how to throw. As his son grew up, he became like his father. He didn’t learn anything at all from his father’s mistakes. When he came home from college his dad wanted him to sit and talk with him for awhile, but all he wanted to do was borrow the car and go do something else. When the son got married and had a family, he never had any time to visit his dad or spend any time with him.

Belshazzar wasn’t actually Nebuchadnezzar’s son, but he ruled Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, so Daniel talked to him as if Nebuchadnezzar had been his father. Nebuchadnezzar had learned a hard lesson about the true God when he became too proud. He became mentally ill and lived as an animal for awhile until he learned to give glory to the Lord of Heaven. Belshazzar knew about that, and he should have learned from Nebuchadnezzar’s mistakes, but he didn’t. He worshiped false gods and idols and made fun of the true God. Daniel scolded Belshazzar for his foolishness and his pride. He should have learned from the sins and mistakes of the past, but he didn’t. Because of that, God’s judgment would fall on him.

When we look to people to be our examples to follow, we might find good examples and bad examples, but we will never find perfect examples. That’s because everyone is a sinner. The Apostle Paul did many wonderful things for the Lord, but he never forgot the terrible things he had done before he came to believe in Jesus. He had hated Jesus and hurt many people who were Christians. We can learn from Paul’s bad example and not be like he was before he became a Christian, and we can also learn from his good example and the way he followed Jesus afterwards. But Paul said that the best example he could give was the example of the amazing love and grace of the Lord. From Paul’s example we can learn that because of Jesus’ death on the cross for us, we can know the forgiveness of all our sins. The best people to follow are people who believe in Jesus and trust in him to give them the eternal life Jesus came to bring.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Jesus, our Savior, and for people who show us how to follow him and believe in him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Chapin, Harry. “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Verities and Balderdash. Electra, 1973. LP.

A Forgotten Wise Man

Bible:

The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”

Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:10-16 ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. I Corinthians 1:18-21, 25 ESV

Reflection:

Luke Skywalker was a young man who lived on a planet far away on a farm with his uncle and aunt. One day his uncle brought home a couple of ‘droids he had bought from scavengers, and Luke discovered part of a secret message for someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi hidden inside one of them. Luke wanted to hear the rest of the message and to understand what it meant, and he also wanted to know who Obi-Wan was. When the little ‘droid with the message left by himself to find Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke went after him, they eventually found an old  hermit named Ben Kenobi. Ben had once been a powerful Jedi knight named Obi-Wan, but most people had forgotten him, and he lived far away from others by himself. But the princess who had sent the message knew about him, and now she was asking him for help in a time of terrible trouble.

Daniel had once been the greatest wise man in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, but now Nebuchadnezzar was dead and Daniel was an old man. Most people had forgotten about him or had never heard about him, and when the ghostly hand wrote a message on the wall of the palace at a party and King Belshazzar called all his wise men, he didn’t call Daniel. Then the queen, who might have been his mother, came in and told King Belshazzar about Daniel, and how great he had been in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, and how wise he was. She encouraged the king to call for Daniel, because she was sure he would be able to help. So Belshazzar called Daniel and had him brought to court right away. He asked him to read the message the hand had written on the wall and to explain what it meant.

Daniel was old and forgotten, but he had the wisdom of the Lord. Sometimes God’s wisdom is forgotten, and sometimes people think God’s wisdom is foolish, but the wisdom of the Lord is greater than the greatest human wisdom could ever be. God’s greatest wisdom was shown in Jesus. It’s hard for many people to understand why God would become a human being and allow himself to be beaten and whipped and put on a cross to die. But God worked through the cross to defeat death and all the forces of evil and to bring us back to himself. Through Jesus’ weakness God showed his strength, and through a death that seemed foolish and pointless, God showed the greatest wisdom of all.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us your wisdom and your love through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Lucas, George, dir. Star Wars 20th Century Fox, 1977. Film.

Handwriting on the Wall

Bible:

King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed. Daniel 5:1-9 ESV

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. Matthew 16:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

One morning two young rabbits named Hazel and Fiver were out in the field feeding. Suddenly Fiver became very upset. He got the feeling that something terrible was about to happen, even though he couldn’t exactly explain why. He said that he saw blood all over the field where their rabbit warren was. Hazel tried to comfort him, but Fiver continued to be upset. The two rabbits soon stumbled upon a large sign that had just been put up in the field. This sign was what had given Fiver his bad feeling, even though neither he nor Hazel could read it. What the sign said was that there would soon be a housing development built on the field right over their rabbit warren. All the little rabbits could understand was fear.

In Babylon, as the time of exile continued, Nebuchadnezzar died and successors took his throne. When a successor named Belshazzar ruled, he had a big party. He brought out a lot of wine to drink, and he thought it would be a good joke to drink wine out of the temple vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had brought from the temple in Jerusalem. This was his way of making fun of the God of Israel and praising the false gods that he and his people worshiped. But while the party was going on, something terrifying happened. A hand–with no body attached!–suddenly appeared out of nowhere and began writing on the wall of the palace. King Belshazzar was very frightened, and he called all his wise men to come and help him understand this. But none of his wise men were able to tell him what the words meant or what this ghostly sign was all about. All the king knew was fear.

In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders often asked him for a sign. Jesus told them that they were able to read the signs in the sky, but they couldn’t read the signs of the time. He meant that they could have seen and understood that Jesus was the promised Savior if they had paid attention to all the signs of healing and teaching that he had given them. Jesus said that he would only give them one sign, the sign of Jonah. Jonah had lived in the belly of a big fish for three days, and then he had come out again alive. Jesus would be put to death and buried in a grave, but before three days were over he would come out alive, the way Jonah had come out of the big fish. When Jesus rose from the dead, he gave us the only sign we really need. We know that he has conquered sin and death for us, and gives us forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus’ sign for us doesn’t scare us, but it gives us hope and courage for every day and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us the sign of your resurrection. Please give us courage when things scare us. Amen.

Source:

Adams, Richard Watership Down London: Rex Collins, Ltd., 1972.