Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Daniel moves up. Neb's kid? Down and out...

Neb moves off stage.

His kid, Belshazzar, is now ruler of the roost. We first get a glimpse of him putting on a lavish banquet for a thousand of his most senior government workers.

1 -4 King Belshazzar held a great feast for his one thousand nobles. The wine flowed freely.

All good, right? Most powerful kingdom on earth. Most powerful and richest man on earth. Why not celebrate?

Bels made a mistake that he may not have even known he made. He had the holy golden chalices brought in to flaunt his wealth and impress his guests. These had been taken by force from God's temple in Jerusalem. But EVERYTHING had been taken by force. All the wealth was acquired through plunder and domination! So what was wrong with flaunting the golden chalices?

Well, God had declared them holy. Separated. For use in worshipping Himself and no other. Now they were used for drunks to give praise to no-god gods of wood and stone. It didn't sit well with God Almighty.

Belshazzar, heady with the wine, ordered that the gold and silver chalices his father Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from God's Temple of Jerusalem be brought in so that he and his nobles, his wives and concubines, could drink from them. When the gold and silver chalices were brought in, the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines, drank wine from them. They drank the wine and drunkenly praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

God stepped in to Belshazzar's world, just as He had stepped in to his father Nebucudnezzar's world.

5 -7 At that very moment, the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the lamp-illumined, whitewashed wall of the palace. When the king saw the disembodied hand writing away, he went white as a ghost, scared out of his wits. His legs went limp and his knees knocked. He yelled out for the enchanters, the fortunetellers, and the diviners to come. He told these Babylonian magi, "Anyone who can read this writing on the wall and tell me what it means will be famous and rich—purple robe, the great gold chain—and be third-in-command in the kingdom."
8 -9 One after the other they tried, but could make no sense of it. They could neither read what was written nor interpret it to the king. So now the king was really frightened. All the blood drained from his face. The nobles were in a panic.

The queen remembered Daniel, who was still faithfully serving in the government. Notice Daniel was not there. Not on the "in" list? Turned down the invite? Who knows, but he was not there...

10 -12 The queen heard of the hysteria among the king and his nobles and came to the banquet hall. She said, "Long live the king! Don't be upset. Don't sit around looking like ghosts. There is a man in your kingdom who is full of the divine Holy Spirit. During your father's time he was well known for his intellectual brilliance and spiritual wisdom. He was so good that your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him the head of all the magicians, enchanters, fortunetellers, and diviners. There was no one quite like him. He could do anything—interpret dreams, solve mysteries, explain puzzles. His name is Daniel, but he was renamed Belteshazzar by the king. Have Daniel called in. He'll tell you what is going on here."

They go get Daniel.

13 -16 So Daniel was called in. The king asked him, "Are you the Daniel who was one of the Jewish exiles my father brought here from Judah? I've heard about you—that you're full of the Holy Spirit, that you've got a brilliant mind, that you are incredibly wise. The wise men and enchanters were brought in here to read this writing on the wall and interpret it for me. They couldn't figure it out—not a word, not a syllable. But I've heard that you interpret dreams and solve mysteries. So—if you can read the writing and interpret it for me, you'll be rich and famous—a purple robe, the great gold chain around your neck—and third-in-command in the kingdom."
17 Daniel answered the king, "You can keep your gifts, or give them to someone else. But I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

Daniel pauses in the middle of the revelry gone cold and delivers a mini sermon...

18 -21 "Listen, O king! The High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar a great kingdom and a glorious reputation. Because God made him so famous, people from everywhere, whatever their race, color, and creed, were totally intimidated by him. He killed or spared people on whim. He promoted or humiliated people capriciously. He developed a big head and a hard spirit. Then God knocked him off his high horse and stripped him of his fame. He was thrown out of human company, lost his mind, and lived like a wild animal. He ate grass like an ox and was soaked by heaven's dew until he learned his lesson: that the High God rules human kingdoms and puts anyone he wants in charge.
22 -23 "You are his son and have known all this, yet you're as arrogant as he ever was. Look at you, setting yourself up in competition against the Master of heaven! You had the sacred chalices from his Temple brought into your drunken party so that you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines, could drink from them. You used the sacred chalices to toast your gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone—blind, deaf, and imbecile gods. But you treat with contempt the living God who holds your entire life from birth to death in his hand.

Then he interprets the writing. Was it in Hebrew? Or did God give him supernatural ability?

24 -26 "God sent the hand that wrote on the wall, and this is what is written: mene, teqel, and peres. This is what the words mean:
"Mene: God has numbered the days of your rule and they don't add up.
27 "Teqel: You have been weighed on the scales and you don't weigh much.
28 "Peres: Your kingdom has been divided up and handed over to the Medes and Persians."

The young drunk sobered up on the spot! He honored Daniel...

29 Belshazzar did what he had promised. He robed Daniel in purple, draped the great gold chain around his neck, and promoted him to third-in-charge in the kingdom.

But it was all short lived. That very night the kindom was overrun and Bels, Neb's kid, is down and out...

30 -31 That same night the Babylonian king Belshazzar was murdered. Darius the Mede was sixty-two years old when he succeeded him as king.

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