This month we are covering The Book of Daniel verse-by-verse.
In the previous post, we saw:
The first 4 chapters of Daniel were REALLY a story about Nebuchadnezzar!
In I Samuel, Israel asked God for a king so they could be like the heathen nations. Israel's FIRST KING was Saul. God gave Saul a new heart...and Saul chose with his Mind to follow the flesh and harden his own heart.
We saw that there were only three righteous Jewish kings. Eventually, God decided that if His people were going to act like heathens, He may as well put them under a heathen king.
The first four chapters of The Book of Daniel documented the story of the FIRST HEATHEN KING over God's people. God gave His people over to a heathen king with a soft heart! If He hadn't, Israel could have been wiped out. However, the king had to power to keep his heart soft or harden it. Perhaps God would have removed Nebuchadnezzar if he didn't soften his heart.
The reality was that Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen king who was NOT LUKEWARM! He had the kind of HEART that God could work with...AND he had the kind of MIND that could be REASONED with.
Today we will look at the SECOND HEATHEN KING...
"1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
2 Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines, might drink therefrom."
The SECOND HEATHEN KING was Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar.
Belshazzar made a great feast and commanded the vessels from the Jerusalem Temple be brought to him and others to drink from...
"3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines, drank from them.
4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone."
They PRAISED other gods! This was a statement of their will. How long would it take God to bring His judgment?
"5 In the same hour came forth the fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote."
God's judgment came within the SAME hour! Part of the Hand of God appeared...and the king saw it! (Again, more spiritual manifestations witnessed by people.)
"6 Then the king's countenance was changed in him, and his thoughts troubled him; and the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another."
This was a polite way of saying the king was so scared he soiled himself...notice it began with troubling thoughts (Cause) and ended with loss of physical control (Effects).
"7 The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spake and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with purple, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
8 Then came in all the king's wise men; but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation.
9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were perplexed."
ONCE AGAIN, there was a problem and everyone EXCEPT Daniel was brought in to solve it.
ONCE AGAIN, no one could solve the problem.
Why wasn't anyone able to realize that Daniel could solve the problem?
"10 Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: the queen spake and said, O king, live forever; let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed."
Notice that the wives and the concubines of the king were praising other gods. However, the queen "came into the banquet house" to speak to the king. The queen was NOT a part of this praising of other gods.
"11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made him master of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
12 forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of dark sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation."
Apparently the people who took part in the praising of other gods didn't have a good enough thought process to point the king in the right direction. The queen, who was not a part of the praising of other gods, put it all together for the king: there is a man in your kingdom who helped your father with these types of problem.
Verse 12 is my life verse, so I will take a moment to expand on this HUGE verse:
-excellent spirit - The FIRST thing the queen stated about Daniel was that he had an excellent spirit. This was the CAUSE...everything else that was stated in this list was an EFFECT of having an excellent spirit. This was another example of how the First Command (Love the Lord thy God...) is the CAUSE and the Second Command (Love your neighbor...) is the EFFECT. Daniel was focused on loving God above EVERYTHING else...even when people were against him...and the EFFECT was that he was able to help people with the rest of the God-given abilities on this list...
-knowledge - Daniel had the ability to retain a lot of facts.
-understanding - Daniel was able to combine these facts to create new facts. Daniel could explain the WHY. Daniel was a scientist.
-interpreting of dreams - Dreams are complex models. Daniel was able to hear a complex model and determine its causes. Daniel was a modeler.
-showing of dark sentences - Sentences are made up of WORDS. Dark sentences are sentences in which the meaning is hidden. Daniel was able to determine the hidden meaning because he understood WORDS and he was a scientist.
-dissolving of doubts - Faith is belief in something you can't see and/or something that hasn't happened yet. Doubt is unbelief in something you can't see and/or something that hasn't happened yet. Faith is built on understanding and experience. Faith looks at EFFECTS and attempts to determine CAUSES...the WHY. Again, Daniel was able to dissolve doubt because he could explain the CAUSES...he had understanding...he was a scientist. Notice, faith is stated to be substance...and so would doubt. Daniel DISSOLVED (chemistry term) the substance of doubt!
Remember, Daniel was well known to be able to do all of these things because he believed in God.
Notice, the queen called him Daniel...his name after his God.
"13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. The king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, who art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Judah?"
The king used the name "Daniel".
"14 I have heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in thee.
15 And now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof; but they could not show the interpretation of the thing.
16 But I have heard of thee, that thou canst give interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with purple, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom."
The king appealed to Daniel through HAVE. The king thought offering physical reward was a CAUSE...and the EFFECT would be spiritual ability.
"17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; nevertheless I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation."
Daniel was NOT motivated by physical things. Remember, God stated through Ezekiel that Daniel was an example of a person who had tremendous spiritual value. One way to have tremendous spiritual value is to NOT turn it into physical value.
"18 O thou king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father the kingdom, and greatness, and glory, and majesty:
19 and because of the greatness that he gave him, all the peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he raised up, and whom he would he put down.
20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
21 and he was driven from the sons of men, and his heart was made like the beasts', and his dwelling was with the wild asses; he was fed with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; until he knew that the Most High God ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that he setteth up over it whomsoever he will."
This introduction was establishing that the story of Nebuchadnezzar was well known...AND that the story was driven by Justice. Nebuchadnezzar lifted up his HEART...which hardened his spirit...so that he dealt proudly with God...which allowed God to depose him through Justice until he admitted God was the Most High. Nebuchadnezzar pursued growth.
Again, notice how Daniel spent just as much time and effort on the introduction as he did on the interpretation. Daniel was methodical. Daniel followed a process...
"22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thy heart, though thou knewest all this,
23 but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou and thy lords, thy wives and thy concubines, have drunk wine from them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified."
Daniel stated that Belshazzar already knew all of this AND he did NOT humble his HEART. (Remember that Belshazzar knew about the process his father went through.) The EFFECT of this was that Belshazzar praised gods that saw not, heard not, NOR KNEW...AND Belshazzar did NOT glorify the ACTUAL God.
Nebuchadnezzar learned by PERSONAL experience. As long as Nebuchadnezzar chose to grow, God prolonged Judgment. God gave him mercy.
However, Belshazzar ALREADY had PERSONAL experience. Daniel had shown that Belshazzar had NO EXCUSE for his behavior because he knew about the process his father went through!
All of this was the CAUSE...what was the EFFECT?
"24 Then was the part of the hand sent from before him, and this writing was inscribed.
25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN."
The writing on the wall was the EFFECT of Belshazzar's CAUSES.
"26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and brought it to an end;
27 TEKEL; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
28 PERES; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians."
I'm going to take a moment and go through each of these WORDS in more detail:
MENE - Mercy was over.
Recently, a reader of this blog (David Taube) contacted me in private to discuss "mercy". As usual, I ended up learning from the interaction. This is the perfect place to share this learning...
In the Old Testament, there were TWO types of words that got translated as "mercy".
Strong's #2603 chanan and #2617 checed came from "favor"
Strong's #7355 racham and #7356 racham came from "compassion".
(In "Modeling God" we saw that the Old Testament word that got translated as "grace" was Strong's #2580 and came from "favor". So, in the Old Testament, "grace" and one type of "mercy" were very similar.)
In the New Testament, Stong's #1653 eleeo and #1656 eleos got translated as "mercy" and both came from "compassion".
In the Old Testament, God's "mercy" that came from "favor" went on forever. However, God's "mercy" that came from "compassion" did not.
The first time the "mercy" that came from "compassion" was used in the Old Testament was in Exodus 33:
"19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."
The word for "gracious" in this verse was Strong's #2603 chanan ...the "mercy" that came from "favor"! Clearly, the "mercy" that came from "compassion" was different and ought to be our focus since it was used throughout the New Testament.
Mercy from compassion was the postponement of judgment...not bringing judgment at THAT TIME. The less mercy, the shorter the time period that judgment was put off. The more mercy, the longer time period until judgment was pronounced. To put off judgment completely would violate Justice. Notice, it would also be compassionate to judge someone if they think the lack of judgment is an endorsement to continue to be unjust.
This was HOW I determined the non-contradictory Biblical definition of "mercy" (that came from compassion) over a dozen years ago. EVERY other definition for "mercy" (that came from "compassion") will be contradictory.
Notice, "grace" in the Old Testament did NOT violate Justice. God could give His favor to us forever. It was "love"...and still required an equaling out through Justice. The Old Testament "mercy" verses (that came from "favor") were essentially telling us God would love us forever.
However, in the New Testament, "grace" was "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life." Notice, the first half of the New Testament definition of "grace" could be interpreted as "favor"...God giving something to us. In a sense, the New Testament definition of "grace" could be seen as "favor from God, and its reflection in the life".
However, we have seen that Martin Luther, Calvin, and others have attempted to turn New Testament "grace" into Old Testament "grace" by calling it ONLY "unmerited favor". When THIS Old Testament "grace" is used to explain Salvation, Justice is violated. The ONLY Just way Salvation can occur from God's favor is that WE must choose to allow it to reflect in our life. EVERY other explanation of grace's role in Salvation is contradictory and unjust. (We covered several of these during the Salvation Series.)
In this story, MENE meant God's mercy (that came from compassion) had ended...the next step fell into place.
TEKEL - Justice was determined.
Justice was the quantitative determination in the situation at hand. Belshazzar (and his guests) were doing something that was unjust. Justice said they had to pay for what they'd done...however, it didn't say WHEN. Mercy said WHEN. We have seen that the mercy (compassionate period) was ended. How did it end?
"Modeling God" shows that mercy is determined by Right or Just. The verse from Exodus 33 showed that God would be Right in His determination of mercy. We have also seen that Jesus said God gives mercy to the merciful...that Justice can also determine the amount of mercy a person gets. If people are merciful, then Justice says God will give them mercy.
However, we have also seen that the purpose of God's mercy is to give people time to fix the problem themselves before God has to step in. Basically, God is patient with people who are still trying to figure out if they are wrong or not...which is part of the process in fixing the wrong. Belshazzar had mercy because he had never determined if he was wrong or not (and he had everything he needed to make this determination because he knew about the process his father went through). However, the second he praised other gods, he was showing God that he didn't think he was wrong. I have called this "stating your will". When a person states (with words or actions) that they do or don't think they are wrong, then the mercy period is ended and God can Justly step in.
Once Belshazzat stated his will, Justice could determine what he owed...which was what TEKEL meant. The next step fell into place...
PERES - Judgment was proclaimed.
Judgment was the qualitative determination within the guidelines of Justice. God could now choose the Judgment He was going to pronounce. This Judgment was qualitative and must be within the guidelines of Justice. God CANNOT judge anyone BEYOND Justice. So, God has the ability to choose WITHIN His Nature.
Notice how Justice and Judgment were separate. Justice was the amount of reward (punishment or blessing) that was due. Judgment was the SPECIFIC form of this reward. (Remember, "reward" meant "to recompense both good and bad").
God's Judgment was that Belshazzar's kingdom would be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.
In summary, Daniel had stated to Belshazzar that God's mercy was over, the amount of punishment had been determined, and the form of that punishment was pronounced. What was Belshazzar's response?
"29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with purple, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 In that night Belshazzar the Chaldean King was slain."
Belshazzar kept his word, promoted Daniel, and then was killed that night.
"31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old."
The Medes-Persians took over the kingdom. This was a fulfillment of prophecy from the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar! Notice, the kingdom was divided, so it was less than what existed...it was "silver" to the former "gold".
Israel's SECOND KING was David...a man after God's own HEART. David was NOT LUKEWARM. The moment David was corrected, he ALWAYS immediately admitted he was wrong and repented.
However, the SECOND HEATHEN KING over God's people was LUKEWARM! For years, Belshazzar had ALL the information, however, he had not stated his will whether he believed in God or other gods.
It took a drunken feast to get him to state his will: he praised gods that couldn't see, hear, or know. This statement of his will allowed God to respond that SAME hour...and invoke judgment that night! Daniel stated to Belshazzar that God's mercy was over, the amount of punishment had been determined, and the form of that punishment was pronounced.
Both of the FIRST kings put over God's people began with a soft heart. Saul chose to harden his heart. Nebuchadnezzar chose to pursue growth, soften his heart, and become a believer in God!
Likewise, the SECOND kings put over God's people were opposites. David was a man after God's own Heart who continually stated his will and had a long and lasting effect on the rest of the Bible. Belshazzar was a LUKEWARM king who refused to state his will. Once he did, God immediately took his kingdom and divided it. Little was recorded in the Bible concerning Belshazzar's kingdom.
So far, The Book of Daniel documented the FIRST TWO HEATHEN kings over God's people.
Tomorrow, we will look at the THIRD HEATHEN king...