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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The Decree of Darius

Bible:

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 ESV

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, 
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. 
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you! Psalm 67:1-5 ESV

Reflection:

In Australia, February 28th is a special day. It’s called National Red Balloon Day, and it’s a day to thank firefighters (in Australia they call them “fireys”) for the heroic and dangerous work they do in saving lives and property. People in Australia fly red balloons from their fences, mailboxes, or in the windows of their business. When everyone sees the red balloons, they remember to be thankful to firefighters for all their good work, and firefighters see the red balloons and feel appreciated and know that their courage hasn’t been forgotten.

After Daniel had been rescued from the lion’s den, King Darius wanted to express his appreciation to the living God who had saved Daniel. He knew that there was no other god in all the world who could have done this amazing thing, and he wanted all the people in his empire, whatever their ethnic or national group or language, to know and tremble with fear before Daniel’s God. Darius said an amazing thing in the decree he sent out to his empire. He might have been a powerful king, but he knew that someday he would die, and that his rule would come to an end. But the rule of the God of Daniel would never come to an end. Darius said, “His kingdom shall never be destroyed.” He knew that there was a God above all gods and kingdoms, and he came to know a little about that God because of Daniel.

The Lord is great and good without our praise and thanks, but when we think of the way he helps us and saves us, we want to give him our thanks and appreciation. He came to us in Jesus and died on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be his people always. Our praise helps other people to see and know what a wonderful God we have. He wants people from all over the world, no matter what their language or what country they are from, to love and serve him the way we do. We are thankful for the work of missionaries around the world who are helping to make this happen, and we add our praise and thanks to God so that many more will hear the good news and come to know the Lord.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your help and your salvation. Help us to share that good news with others around the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.nationalredballoonday.org/about.html

An Angel Tames the Lions

Bible:

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces. Daniel 6:19-24 ESV

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25-26b ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever seen a lion tamer, perhaps at a circus? It can be fun to watch, although many people think that taming lions isn’t a kind or a fair thing to do. The methods of taming lions have changed over the years. Henri Martin was one of the first lion tamers. He introduced himself to the lions very slowly and gradually, gently earning their trust a little at a time until they would perform for him. Later a lion tamer named Isaac Van Amburgh used a very different method. He would use whips and chairs and and guns to control the lions by fear and violence. Today’s lion tamers are more gentle again, and they use a lot of rewards, and most importantly build trust with the lions so that they will perform. They usually work with the lions from the time they are cubs so that the lions know and trust them.

Daniel wasn’t a lion tamer, and the lions he was thrown to were hungry and dangerous and wild. When he was thrown into the pit with the lions and a stone was rolled in front of the opening and sealed with government seals, it should have been his death. There was no way he could have come out of that situation alive without a miracle from God, and that’s exactly what happened. God sent an angel to stay in the den all night with Daniel, and the angel kept the lions tamed and stopped them from hurting him in any way. There wasn’t a single scratch on his body when the happy king brought Daniel out of the den the next day! We don’t like to think of what happened next. Justice for the officials who started all the trouble and their families was swift and very cruel. But from this we can be sure that these were hungry and wild lions, and that what had happened to Daniel was definitely a miracle.

After Jesus died on the cross, his dead body was put into a grave, a huge stone was rolled over the opening of the grave, and it was sealed with a government seal. There was no way a person could come out of that grave without a miracle from God. But that’s exactly what happened. Jesus walked out of the grave, alive forever, the first Easter Sunday, and an angel rolled the stone away from his grave so that his followers could look in and see that it was empty. He had battled with death, and he had won. Jesus tamed death as if it were a wild, dangerous lion, and because of that, we don’t have to be afraid of death. When we are put into our graves someday, Jesus will be there with us, and he will bring us out alive again on the last day. We know that we will live with him forever in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for taming death for us, and for giving us the promise of life forever with you. Amen.

Source:

http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/circus-arts/lion-taming2.htm

Helpless under the Law

Bible:

Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. Daniel 6:14-18 ESV

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

In 1919, the United States passed some laws known of as Prohibition. These laws said that alcoholic drinks, such as wine, beer, and whisky, could not be made, transported, or sold in the United States. These laws seemed to be a good idea at the time. Alcohol caused a lot of problems with fights and accidents and men spending all their money on drinks and not bringing their paychecks home to their families. People who drank too much also didn’t work well in the factories. Prohibition seemed like a very good idea, but it wasn’t. People still sold and drank alcohol in places called “speakeasies,” and people made alcohol illegally, sometimes bad alcohol that was poisonous. It was very hard to enforce Prohibition laws, and they led to a big increase in crime and violent activities by gangs who fought over who would control illegal alcohol businesses. In 1933 the United States repealed the Prohibition laws. This meant that it was legal to make, sell, and buy alcohol again. Lawmakers came to see that the law really wasn’t a good idea, and that it had made more trouble than it had tried to fix.

The legal system in the Medo-Persian empire was different. Once a law was made, even if it was a bad law, it couldn’t be changed, not even by the king himself. When the government leaders told Darius that Daniel had broken his new law, the king was very upset. He understood that he had been trapped, and that there was nothing he could do. Even though he had made the law, he had no power to change it. He had no choice but to throw Daniel into a den of hungry lions, and to seal the opening to the den with a stone, as well as official government seals, so that no one would be able to rescue Daniel. King Darius was terribly upset by all this. He didn’t eat anything, and wouldn’t listen to court musicians or watch court dancers or have any other entertainment, and he couldn’t sleep that night. He was completely powerless to save Daniel, but he had one small hope that the God Daniel served might be able to protect him.

We were also completely helpless under God’s law, and we had no way to change that or to free ourselves. God’s law is holy and good, but we were under its power because of our sins. People who don’t obey God’s law perfectly are under the power of death, and nothing we could do would change that. But God was not powerless to save us. He didn’t change his good law, but instead he came to us in Jesus to keep the law perfectly for us. Jesus obeyed God’s laws, and he died on the cross and rose again to break the power of sin and death in our lives. Because of Jesus we are free from being condemned by the law, and he forgives our sins every day. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us walk in his ways, and we are free to serve the God who loves us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for keeping the law for us and for setting us free from sin and death. Amen.

Source:

http://www.history.com/topics/prohibition

No Compromise

Bible:

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” Daniel 6:10-13 ESV

And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:27b-32 ESV

Reflection:

Cyprian was a bishop in the early Christian church, and in his time the Roman empire was persecuting Christians. One day Bishop Cyprian was brought before a proconsul to be put on trial for his own life. The proconsul asked him if his name was Cyprian, and if he was a leader of the Christians. Cyprian answered yes to both of these questions. Then the proconsul reminded him that Rome had commanded its people to offer sacrifices to the emperor. Cyprian answered, “I will not do it.” The proconsul said, “Think it over.” He said this to remind the bishop that if he didn’t obey this law, he would be put to death. Cyprian answered, “Do what you have been ordered to do. In such a just cause there is nothing to think over.” He would not compromise his faith even if it would save his life. Bishop Cyprian was put to death.

Daniel also was not willing to compromise his faith in God, even though it meant going against the law of the land. He knew that the penalty for continuing to pray to the God of Israel three times a day would be death. But that didn’t stop him. He didn’t even try to hide his prayers, but he continued to kneel and pray at his window where everyone could see him. He wanted to pray facing toward Jerusalem, because he believed God’s promise that if his people prayed from exile toward the temple, even though it was ruined at this time, God would hear their prayers and bring them home. While he was praying and thanking God, his enemies came and caught him breaking the law, and they went to King Darius. They told the king that Daniel had broken his law, and that in the Medo-Persian empire a law could not be changed, not even by the king himself. Daniel was doomed to die.

Throughout history people have been called on to give up their lives in faithfulness to God. This can be a very scary thought, and we might wonder if we would ever have the strength if it happened to us. But the Lord tells us not to worry. Jesus says that he will be with us always, and he will give us the strength to do whatever we need to do. If we fall short in courage, Jesus will forgive us and help us, and he will go on loving us. Whether we live or die, we are safe in his hands, because he gave us his life on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could belong to him no matter what. We don’t need to try to trust ourselves, but only Jesus, who loves us and gave himself for us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Please give me the strength to be your follower. Amen.

Source:

http://www.earlychristians.org/index.php/acts/item/316-the-act-of-martyrdom-of-st-cyprian/316-the-act-of-martyrdom-of-st-cyprian

Pride and a Foolish Law

Bible:

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. Daniel 6:6-9 ESV

Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5 ESV

Reflection:

Once a little frog saw a big ox in a field, and he went home and told his father about it. His father wasn’t impressed. “I can make myself just as big as an ox if I want to!” said the bullfrog, and he started to puff himself up. As he blew himself out, the little frog kept saying that the ox was much bigger than that. So the frog kept puffing himself full of air until he burst like a big balloon!

King Darius was as proud and foolish as this bullfrog. He thought he had enough power and wisdom to take care of everyone’s needs in his whole kingdom, and that the people didn’t need any other government official or any god to help them. The leaders of the government used the king’s pride to trick him into making a very foolish law. The law said that no one could ask anyone for any help except for the king–not any other person and not any god–for thirty days. King Darius probably thought that by signing this law he would show everyone in the empire how important and powerful he was, so he signed the law. He didn’t realize that it was all a trick to trap Daniel and to get rid of him.

We all sometimes get tricked by our pride to think that we can take care of ourselves and handle things on our own without God’s help. But we need God every day, and we really can’t do anything without him, even though we often don’t think about the way he takes care of us and provides for us. Most importantly, we couldn’t ever win our way back to God after our foolishness and pride separated us from him. We sometimes start to think that we can follow God’s ways and be good enough to be his children on our own, but we can’t. We are sinful, and the only way back to God is through Jesus, our Savior. Jesus came to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be God’s people. We can always trust Jesus for forgiveness and for everything we need to go God’s way, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to always trust you and know that you give us everything we need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Jealous Plotting

Bible:

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” Daniel 6:1-5 ESV

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out. Psalm 94:16-23 ESV

Reflection:

George Bailey was a very good man. He was honest and he worked hard, and because of him Bedford Falls was a good place to live. He helped people live good lives and made sure that people who didn’t have much money were able to afford to buy houses. Everyone in town thought a lot of him, but George Bailey had an enemy. Mr. Potter wanted to control Bedford Falls himself and use its people to fill his own pockets with money, and George Bailey was in his way. George was so honest and good that Mr. Potter couldn’t find any way to get the better of him. But George had one weakness. He was a very kind man, and because of this he trusted his Uncle Billy with some money, even though Uncle Billy wasn’t always trustworthy. Mr. Potter was able to take advantage of this and steal this money, and this caused George a lot of trouble.

Daniel was like George Bailey. He worked hard and was honest, and he did his job so well that King Darius thought very highly of him. He made Daniel one of the three high officials in the land, and he was thinking about making Daniel the highest official of all. The other two officials and other rulers in the government were very jealous of Daniel. They wanted to get rid of him so that they would have more power for themselves, but they couldn’t find any problem or fault in Daniel. His work was perfect, and they couldn’t catch him making mistakes or being dishonest. They only way they could think of to get him in trouble was to use his worship of the true God of Israel. So the government officials started to hatch a plot to use this against him in some way.

When we do our work, we hope to be like Daniel, honest and hardworking and good at what we do. God can bless and help us in our vocation so that we can do well and serve others with our work. There is one person who was perfect all the time in every way, and that was Jesus. Jesus never sinned against his Heavenly Father or against other people, but he had enemies who were jealous of him and wanted to get rid of him. They made up lies about him and saw that he was put on a cross to die. Jesus let them to that to him because he knew that when he died on the cross he was paying for the sins of the whole world. We won’t always work perfectly with skill and love and kindness, but we can go to Jesus every day for forgiveness and help and strength to do our work for him, and let him love and help other people through us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Help us to love and serve others well. Amen.

Source:

Capra, Frank, dir. It’s a Wonderful Life RKO Radio Pictures, 1946. Film.

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.

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.