Monday, February 22, 2016

Chapter 6 - Daniel 5

"This man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has a sharp mind and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding.  He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means."  Daniel 5:12

"The writing on the wall" is such a common phrase you may have forgotten where it came from.  As we read our next chapter, we find out exactly where it came from, who put it there and what it means.

It surprised me to find out that several years passed between chapter 4 and chapter 5.  And now it makes sense why Daniel is eventually thrown into the lion's den!  But, I'm getting ahead of where we are.  It's just that now a question that I had from Daniel chapter 4 has been answered.  Question 8 from last week's lesson asked if we thought Kind Nebuchadnezzar was forced into humility by God or if there was a genuine change of attitude.  My question was whether or not the change was permanent or temporary.  Having never read the book of Daniel before, I didn't know that Daniel outlived Nebuchadnezzar!  So, as it turns out, whether the King's conversion was forced or voluntary, it was definitely permanent.  That makes me smile!

Now, if you don't have a study Bible or some kind of timeline, please allow me to fill you in on a little historical context.  Sixty-six years have elapsed between chapter 1 and chapter 5.  Nebuchadnezzar reigned for 43 years.  His son, Evil-merodach, ruled from 562-560 B.C. (2 years); his brother-in-law Neriglissar reigned from 560-556 B.C. (4 years).  After a 2-month reign by Labashi-marduk in 556 B.C. the Babylonian Empire continued under the command of Nabonidus.  Belshazzar was his son.  Nabonidus' reign began in 556 B.C. and he and his son co-reigned starting in 553 B.C. until 539 B.C. (the year chapter 5 takes place).

In Daniel 5:7 Belshazzar says, "Whoever can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor and will wear a gold chain around his neck. He will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom!"  This was huge!  This was like being named 1st Vice President of a Global Fortune 500 Company.  There was great honor & wealth & power up for grabs. But what does our hero do?  Does he rush to the banquet to declare that he knows what it means?  Does he revel in the spotlight and power he holds?  Does he accept the reward?

I don't know about you, but personally I can't recall the last time a ruler asked me to come interpret a miraculous sign in exchange for great riches & power; so the question for us is: what does this mean in 21st century suburban America?  What is it we're suppose to take away from this story?  How can Daniel serve as an example for a me, the second in command of a very small kingdom (my home & family) or you and your current life situation?  Does this story have any bearing on our modern life?

Of course, the answer is that Daniel does serve as an example for us.  His steadfast faith during difficult trials, over many years, and regardless of his circumstances is one lesson we can take away from this chapter.  As you read and study the questions in chapter 6 of the study guide, dive into the text and your own life to find connections.   Spend time with the group discussion and personal reflection questions on page 25 of the guide.  These are great starters for a journal entry!

I hope you will share your thoughts and questions in the Comments!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24 

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