When Daniel stepped into the palace at King Belshazzar’s summons, he would have been shocked. The aftermath of debauchery and drunkenness mingled with the blasphemy of using instruments from the temple in Jerusalem would have been appalling for Daniel, who was probably now in his eighties or nineties after serving under multiple monarchs in Babylon. And yet, the King and his thousand guests were even more surprised at the message from the Lord on the wall.
Everyone in that room avoided the important and the urgent in an overconfident offense to the one true God. Even though they did not know what the words meant, their consciences told them it could not be good.
If you were walking well with the Lord and a hand appeared and wrote a message from the Lord on the wall, you might get excited and think, “WOW! What does the Lord have to say?” But if you have been walking in secret (or not so secret) sin, and the Lord has a message for you, well…your knees might start knocking like King Belshazzar’s.
It’s been said that God’s word comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. Comfortable King Belshazzar was disturbed by the sight of the message, and yet tragically, even when he knew what the message meant, Belshazzar did not attempt to change. May his experience be a warning to us. May we live in such a way where we make no feeble attempts to hide anything from the Lord so that when a message from Him comes, we can receive it with gladness and find comfort in His words.
Daniel 5 – “A message…”
Have you ever avoided something important and even looked for ways to escape the responsibility of addressing it—only for that very thing to be brought before you though a message on the radio or in church? It’s as if God wrote that message just for you and what you’re going through.
Depending on your relationship with the Lord, a message from Him can bring comfort or cause panic. For King Belshazzar, the message from the Lord written on the wall of his palace left him shaken. But even after Daniel decoded the meaning of the message, Belshazzar avoided accepting the truth.
Daniel 5 is more than a cautionary tale of a wayward king. It’s history revealed and prophecy fulfilled—and a reminder of the lengths that the Lord goes to in order to deliver His message. The question for us is: will we pay attention?
Watch our study of Daniel 5 as we consider the message for King Belshazzar then and the message for us today.
Dare to be a Daniel
By the time the events in Daniel 4 are recorded, Daniel had served in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar’s side for many, many years—without compromising his convictions. There’s a lesson for us in that.
It’s so important to determine in your heart ahead of time should you stand before an authority you will disobey in a godly way (like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in Daniel 3). It’s equally important to decide ahead of time to communicate this with gentleness and respect.
We mistakenly think that there are only two options: we can either cave and compromise or rudely rage against authority. But God cares about the heart of the human you stand before as much as He cares about your heart. When you communicate with disrespect, you burn the bridge of the opportunity for a lifetime of ministry.
Daniel shows us there is a way to take a stand and communicate without compromising convictions. It’s entirely possible to respectfully communicate, willing to accept the consequences, within the boundaries of love as the Lord defines it—patient, kind, not easily angered, not rude, and does not seek it’s own.
Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to have a lifetime of ministry in proximity to people who don't love God, who wrestle with God, and who rage against His word WITHOUT burning any bridges or compromising your convictions, faithful to what the word of God says and willing to live with the consequences—knowing that God is able to rescue you.
Daniel 4 – “Dare to be a Daniel.”
God can reach the hardest heart and the most stubborn sinner. King Nebuchadnezzar was a bit of both. Since the beginning of our study in the book of Daniel, we’ve observed that Nebuchadnezzar struggled with the reality of the One true God.
But that changed in Daniel 4. In this chapter, we read Nebuchadnezzar’s own testimony of the breaking that needed to occur in his heart before he finally bowed to the true King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Watch our study of Daniel 4 as we considered Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony and the challenge to be a Daniel—to have a lifetime of ministry in proximity to people who don't love God, who wrestle with God, and who rage against His word WITHOUT burning any bridges or compromising convictions.
In the plain of Dura, outside the city of Babylon, with a giant golden idol before them, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego prepared themselves. They prepared to burn because they would not bow down before an idol.
With gentleness and respect, these young men explained themselves to an insecure and ruthless king (see Daniel 3:16-18). In their response, we glean three important principles to help us prepare should we find ourselves in a position to take a stand like them.
First, they were confident in God’s ability to save them. This did not mean they presumed that God would save them. Whether or not God delivered them from the fiery furnace had no bearing on whether or not they would bow. Their faith went far beyond the fiery furnace that blazed before them.
Second, they were confident in their identity. They knew who they were—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—subjects of the One, True God whose kingdom has no end. This identity shaped their desire to honor the Lord with their lives by purposing in their hearts not to defile themselves with the earthly king’s culture or commandments.
Third, they were confident that the cost of obedience was worth taking a stand. Having survived the attempts of indoctrination while living in the Babylonian kingdom and culture, they prepared themselves for a day when a command could come that would cost them their lives. By counting that cost, they prepared themselves and were then ready to take a stand.
Much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, when you refuse to bow, you will stand out. Are you prepared? Have you considered the cost of obedience? Are you prepared to reject any rationalization that would cause you to compromise your conviction? Remember that God doesn’t always soften the consequences of our choice when we take a stand. But also remember this—He is with you and He will ultimately deliver you, no matter what!
In his first letter, the Apostle Peter encouraged believers to stand strong, even when faith is tested by all kinds of fiery trials. For when tested by fire, faith is found to be genuine.
This is a New Testament spiritual principle that’s illustrated by the Old Testament physical picture we find in Daniel 3. In this chapter, we see the faith of three young men tested quite literally by a fiery trial. And as is often the case, this fiery trial leads to more opportunities to glorify God.
This past Sunday, we observed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in a fiery trial—and how they stood out as they stood up for their faith.
The God of gods, the Lord of kings…
Daniel went from a kid in captivity to the king’s counselor after one act of faith. That act of faith took a great deal of courage—courage that came from Daniel seeking mercies from the God of heaven.
It’s important to remember that if it were not for Daniel’s previous dealings with wisdom, tact, and integrity, he never would have had this opportunity. Even as a youth in captivity, he earned the respect of his captors through his conduct and good character. If Daniel would have compromised by eating the king’s food in chapter 1, he would not have had the opportunity to be in the king’s court in chapter 2.
We should never underestimate the influence of our integrity and the effect our witness has upon a watching world. Whomever you stand before—be it a Babylonian king, your neighbor across the street, or your teacher in the classroom—people are observing not just what you do, but how you do the things God has called you to do.
As we interact in the world God has placed us, may Daniel’s experience remind us to demonstrate God’s character and qualities in our conduct so that those of the world would see Him through us.
Daniel 2:1-49 – “GOD…rules.”
When King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, he demanded an interpretation. And when Nebuchadnezzar didn’t get what we wanted…bad things happened.
Daniel and his friends didn’t know the interpretation right away, but they knew the God in heaven who reveals mysteries. They prayed to the Lord—and He answered them.
They knew the God of heaven rules and reigns forever. And unlike King Nebuchadnezzar—whose reign would come to a end—the Lord will establish His kingdom that will never end.
Watch our study of Daniel 2 as we considered the God in heaven who reveals mysteries and whose kingdom will have no end.
In the world, but not of the world
The question we’ll encounter throughout the book of Daniel is this: How can I be lovingly and respectfully faithful and obedient IN this world but not OF this world?
It’s not an easy question to answer, but thankfully we have the example of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to learn from. These four young men were plucked from their homes in Jerusalem and dropped into Babylon to be enculturated, indoctrinated, and assimilated into the most wicked society in the world at that point in history.
And yet, these four youths had something that shielded them from the influence of Babylon—integrity. Their integrity allowed them to be in the world, but not of the world. It allowed them to keep their identities to serve God behind enemy lines. Because of their courage, convictions, and integrity, these men became brilliant diamonds on the black backdrop of Babylonian culture.
Daniel 1:8 says that, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” This mentality and perspective permitted Daniel to live out his days in Babylon without compromising any of his convictions. We have a lot to learn from Daniel as we navigate our our own cultural indoctrination. And a good place to start is by purposing in our hearts to not defile ourselves—to be in the world, but not of the world.
Daniel was in his teens when he was taken from his home in Jerusalem and indoctrinated into the most wicked, most perverse, and most pagan society that the world had ever seen up to that point—Babylon.
And yet, somehow Daniel lived a majority of his life in Babylon without becoming influenced by Babylon. In the midst of all of the perverse wickedness, intentional indoctrination, and deadly social contagion, Daniel survived without compromising any of his convictions.
In our own age of cultural indoctrination, we can learn from Daniel’s experience as we purpose in our own hearts not to defile ourselves. Watch our first study in the book of Daniel as we consider what it means to be in the world, but not of the world.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends
Strengthened by grace is the Bible Teaching ministry of Pastor Dominic Dinger.
©2022 - All rights reserved.