Thursday, December 9, 2010

Daniel, Chapter 6 – Daniel’s Courage Against Political Correctness

Many of us heard the cutsie version of Daniel in the Lions’ Den as children, but now we’ve relegated it to a quaint story in antiquity and probably not even true. We were not told WHY he landed in the den and what happened with the King of Medo-Persia as a result.

This story will have its full impact on us NOW when we look at the impending force of Sharia law if we don’t take a courageous stand as Daniel did. Sharia law has already made inroads into our financial laws, and it’s creeping into many areas of American life without most of us even noticing.

So…what happened with Daniel?

Remember King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon? He was feared throughout the known world for his cruelty and murderous whims. Daniel was a Jewish captive in Babylon and became the most influential person in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Through his consistent loyalty to his God of Israel, and courageously standing up to the king with uncompromising integrity, Daniel drew King Nebuchadnezzar’s respect and trust. He became the king’s confidante and protector, especially during the seven years when the king was banished by God to live in the woods like an animal until he came to his senses and acknowledged who God really was. (See my blog post for Chapter 4 for all the details.)

Daniel was a prime target for death in Babylon, and now he’s back in that position under King Darius of Medo-Persia after they overthrew Babylon. He is again in high office as the Prime Minister. However, the officials under him are jealous – after all, he is Jewish, not Medo-Persian. So they set him up to fail by getting the king to sign an irrevocable law against praying to any other God. So Daniel, true to his style, continues to pray to God openly, ready to take the consequences of being thrown to the lions rather than protecting himself by praying in secret. Aha, now they’ve got him! – Or so they think.

King Darius is so distressed when they report Daniel’s disobedience that he does everything he can to save Daniel, but he can’t because of Medo-Persian law. However, he does believe that Daniel’s God will deliver him – and says that to Daniel as his executioners throw him into the den. The king spends a sleepless night and runs out early in the morning to find Daniel, who tells him that God sent an angel to stop the lions’ mouths.

How many of us have had experiences where we just knew that God sent angels to help or protect us? I’ve had several.

Like Nebuchadnezzar, Darius became a true believer in the God of Israel and proclaimed the worship of only Him throughout his kingdom. – All because Daniel was willing to sacrifice his life rather than play the safe PC game. Are we willing to do the same – not only now, in the Babylonian culture in which we live, but also when the resultant and imminent assault of Sharia law is thrust upon us?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Daniel, Chapter 5 – the Handwriting on the Wall

God kicked out – again???

30 years after King Nebuchadnezzar died, two kings shared the throne
of Babylon – Belshazzar, who was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, and the “absent” king Nabonidus, who was Belshazzar’s father, Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law. He was focused on archeological digs, reviving the worship of the moon god, the predominant deity of the Middle East today according to modern archeological digs. Could these digs be the same ones? The moon god’s name was Allah back then – a subject that is hotly debated today.

Daniel was in retirement, but he was soon going to be called back to service. Remember how King Nebuchadnezzar took the sacred items from the Jewish temple back to Babylon to be placed in his own temple when he deported Daniel et al and then destroyed their temple? This was the ultimate insult to God – a symbol of putting God in submission to his gods – a complete victory and overthrow of God.

But wait – it gets worse! Belshazzar threw a huge party and sent for the gold cups from the Jewish temple. As they drank from these sacred cups, they praised their gods of gold, silver, other metals, stone, etc. This was God’s absolute limit, and He decided to show them once and for all who He was.

A hand appeared on the wall and wrote words that nobody knew. Belshazzar was terrified and called for the wise men to interpret the writing. This was the same group of Babylonian Magi over whom King Nebuchadnezzar had placed Daniel when they couldn’t interpret the king’s dream, but he could. Of course, they couldn’t do it again now. When God speaks, usually it is only His own people who know what He’s saying – you know, “My sheep hear my voice.”

Then the queen remembered Daniel, so he was brought in to interpret the writing, with the promise of becoming the third ruler in Babylon. Having been through this whole scene before with King Nebuchadnezzar, he told Belshazzar to keep his gifts and reminded him of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he got too proud. (Remember in Chapter 4 how Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal for seven years before he was restored and finally acknowledged God as the God of the universe?)

So Daniel read Belshazzar’s judgment from God written on the wall – that the Medes and Persians would take the kingdom of Babylon from him.

At that same moment, as the Babylonian nobles were partying, the Medes and Persians had infiltrated the city and took it over without a battle. They killed Belshazzar and promoted Daniel to the highest position in Medo-Persia. He just couldn’t get away from ruling under kings, since he had “an excellent spirit in him.” God gave him favor because he remained loyal to his God and spent his life showing people who God really was, no matter what it cost.

As we watch our nation pushing God out, are we being called to be Daniels – risking everything, even our lives, to call our nation back to God – or else???

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daniel, Chapter 4 – Written by King Nebuchadnezzar himself!

Fierce, Cruel, Proud King Nebuchadnezzar – a Believer???

Can you believe it? Who would think that this king – the one who destroyed the Jewish temple and took God’s people into captivity in Babylon – would write a chapter in the Hebrew Bible?

Anyone who has God in a religious box – surprise! He won’t be reduced to our small images of Him.

So how did this all happen? Remember how many times God revealed Himself to King Nebuchadnezzar? First the dream that only Daniel could reveal and interpret, then the rescue of Daniel’s three friends from the fiery furnace – revealing God’s awesome benevolent power. Each time, God revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar, who acknowledged Him each time – but only as Daniel’s God, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s God – not his.

God didn’t want an arm’s-length relationship with Nebuchadnezzar any more than He wants that with any of us. God wasn’t the God of only the Israelites or the Jews. In His mercy, He was reaching out to save even an enemy of His and His people’s – and was using Daniel as His instrument.

So now we have a third dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s, and again Daniel’s interpretation, but this one was the final blow – strike three, so to speak. God won’t play games with us for very long, and Nebuchadnezzar’s game was over.

In this dream Nebuchadnezzar saw a huge tree that filled the earth and fed all people. But a command came from heaven to cut it down and leave a stump with his roots. Notice – “his” roots. Now the tree represented a man who would become like a beast for seven years.

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was that tree, whose dominion covered the earth, but that he would be driven from his kingdom to eat grass like an ox for seven years until he absolutely knew that God rules in the kingdom and gives it to whomever He will.

And so it happened exactly as Daniel prophesied – one year later, during which Daniel urged him to repent, but he would not. As he stood surveying HIS Babylon, boasting that HE had built it through HIS own power, and for HIS own majesty, the gavel fell, and he was driven out into the fields where he lived like a beast for seven years.

At the end of this time, he came to his senses and, as a humble man, blessed and praised God who he acknowledged had dominion over an everlasting kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was restored, but now his tune was changed. He proclaimed with praise and honor that God was the Most High – and finally recognized Him as not only other people’s God – but the God of all.

I expect to see Nebuchadnezzar when I get there – what do you think?