Tag Archives: Daniel

Morning Thoughts (Daniel 5:22)

image Daniel 5:22, “And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;”

This morning, people are much more understanding and compassionate to someone that errs through ignorance rather than willful stubbornness. For example, if someone hurts another’s feelings without knowing it, that situation is much easier to remedy in the light of revelation than someone who consciously injured another. Even in the law, there are separate punishments for crimes with the same outcome. If someone kills another without premeditation, they might be labeled by the law as guilty of manslaughter or accidental homicide. However, premeditated killing merits the moniker of murder. God’s law brings about the same things. God has far more mercy and compassion on people that sin through ignorance than He does on those that sin willfully after the flesh. (Luke 12:48) However, the most egregious sin is the oft-repeated, stubborn sin. If the misbehavior is known by the offender but he keeps it up with seemingly no remorse, that is looked at the most unfavorably of all.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just didn’t know?” Perhaps they follow that statement with, “I would never have dreamed of doing ____ had I only known.” These types of sentiments are perhaps many times true, but oftentimes people use them to curry an extra measure of compassion from someone when called on the carpet about it. Sometimes, people make excuses for not following God as they should with self-proclaimed statements of ignorance. “I just didn’t know what God said to do….” Lately, I have heard a fair number say, “I would not doubt God if I could see what that book talks about.” They are referencing the Bible and all the naturally remarkable stories that cause our natural mind to stand back in utter awe and amazement. A worldwide flood that covered the highest mountains? Wow! A sea parting for people to walk across dry while their enemies drowned in the same body of water? Amazing! Water flowing out of a rock in the desert? Wish I could have been there! Tables of stone burned on by the fiery imprint of God’s own finger? Would love to have read those stones personally!

No matter what the Bible talks about in all of its amazing qualities, we can be assured of 2 outcomes from amazing events like these: 1. the supernatural events are 100% true just as they appear on the page,and 2. the events fade from mortal man’s immediate memory due to the weakness of the flesh. In all of the amazing events we listed, the people who were recipients of those wonderful events and saw the majesty of the Lord through these supernatural deliverances still had problems, doubts, fears, unbelief, and stubborn sin to fight. We, as natural creatures, are no different today in struggling with our failings no matter how much we have seen of God’s goodness and mercy.

Daniel is speaking in our study verse to a wicked king that has just held an impious feast of idolatry. During this feast, God breaks up the party by writing on the wall a prophecy of condemnation to this man and his kingdom that none of them can read. Daniel is called in to read the writing for them. Now, before Daniel fulfills the king’s request to read the writing, he upbraids the king for being in this shape. Belshazzar the king was obviously alive to witness some of the things that happened to Nebuchadnezzar in the previous chapters as he ruled over the land of Babylon. In the preceding verses to ours, Daniel briefly recounts what happened to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4. Daniel 5:19 gives as rich a description of the sovereignty as can be found in Holy Writ. It all boils down to this: if God so desires it, none can hinder or stop it. What man wants or desires is not secondary to what God desires. What man wants is immaterial to what God desires. He is the holy and just Ruler of things seen and unseen.

In reminding Belshazzar of God’s sovereignty, he also reminds him of what happened to his forebears. Nebuchadnezzar had to endure one of the most humiliating periods that any mortal man has suffered. For seven years, he was hideous beyond compare. He had feathers on his back like a bird. He had claws on his hand like a beast. He ate grass in the field like an ox. Wow! Consider this sight. The man who ruled over the greatest empire in the history of the world to that point is now regulated to a fate like that of a beast. For seven years! All of his subjects could walk by and witness the abject humiliation of this man. In our verse, Daniel reminds Belshazzar that he knew and saw all those things. He was not ignorant of God’s power and authority. If God so wills, it is done. Without any question, Belshazzar was not ignorant. However, Belshazzar had fallen victim to the same pride of his forebears. A careful reading of Daniel 4 shows that Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar exactly what would happen to him. 12 months later, the man was lifted up with pride to fall prey to the very consequence to which he was warned. Belshazzar saw all this. He knew all this. Yet, he allowed himself to get lifted up with pride and fall victim to neglecting and attending to the things he should have: ruling honorably and in fear of authority greater than his own.

Now, you might say, “Preacher, what do the events in the lives of kings that lived thousands of years ago have to do with me today?” The answer is simply this: I have never seen a sight like a man being struck down to the level that Nebuchadnezzar was. I have never witnessed any of the majestic sights like the children of Israel had in the wilderness or in the days of the Old Testament prophets and kings. I have seen – by faith – the unspeakable and utterly amazing work of God delivering, protecting, and at times casting down things in my own life. However, I am prone to the same follies of these men of olden times. All of us are creatures of “like passions” one to another. We so often forget the things we should retain and retain the things we should neglect. Notice the point later on this story. Belshazzar is told by Daniel that the writing on the wall speaks of the imminent demise of his kingdom. That very night, Babylon was taken by the next world empire – the Medes and Persians.

How many times have all of us witnessed God’s power and glory in our lives? How many times have we left off what we should and gone after the devices of our own thinking? If we have witnessed these things again and again, yet have fallen again and again into the same holes of pride and self, we are guilty of the worst of all shortcomings: repeated, willful, and stubborn sin. It goes beyond having knowledge. It goes beyond being simply stubborn. We do it again and again. Whether it is an individual, church, community, family, or country, God’s longsuffering and mercy will not be nearly as broad for those that not only know better but know better a lot. Friends, to those that know the Lord’s dealings very powerfully and personally, I beseech you. Let us who know better leave off the servings of the flesh and focus on devotion to our Lord. Certainly in our cleansed soul we understand how deserving He is of our all. May we put it into full and total effort so that a servant of God does not stand before us and say, “though thou knewest this, yet….” May our examples set a Godly tone that perhaps may yield fruit that springs up richly toward our Lord that can bless us, our churches, our families, our communities, and yes, even our country too.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (Daniel 2:30)

Daniel 2:30, "But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart."

This morning, what drives most of the modern world and popular culture? Whether someone is involved in economics, politics, or even public religion, many today do things with the express purpose of being known for their feats and having renown for years to come. No matter the venue of effort, self-interest should never be at the heart of what we do. While the modern thought is, "Me, me, me," our thoughts should think of "me" last. A famous NFL running back – Gale Sayers – once wrote a book about his life titled "I Am Third." The purpose of the title was to show that God was first, family second, and himself third (or perhaps last). Such a mindset as that is certainly more becoming of professing Christians than the popular culture of today. In a certain sense, ministers of the gospel most of all should think of themselves last, and it is in this vein of thought that we would like to concentrate our thoughts this morning.

In our study verse above, Daniel stands before the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to both remind him of his forgotten dream as well as provide the correct interpretation of it. What Daniel is about to do defies natural logic. In the preceding verses, Nebuchadnezzar's astrologers, soothsayers, magicians, etc. declared that the king made an impossible task that was "a rare thing" with "not a man upon that earth that can shew the king's matter." (Verses 10-11) Nebuchadnezzar demanded of his wise men that they interpret his dream, but on top of that, he had forgotten the content of it and demanded that they remind him of it as well. Consider any modern day charlatan. With the human imagination, man is able to spin yarns out of given information that "seem plausible" to natural conception and tickle the natural fancy. Just peruse any religious section of writings on the book of Revelation on the racks, and the postulations and speculations with wild, far-out thought are endless.

However, what charlatan could possibly relate the true contents of a dream so that Nebuchadnezzar could say, "Ah yes! That is what I dreamed!" A faker must have some information to spin, but being demanded of the king to provide the information again and then the correct interpretation "weeds out" anyone that does not truly have blessed and gifted insight into the matter. So Daniel, relying upon His God, eventually presents both the content and the interpretation of this king's dream. Before he does, he diligently reminds the king of some absolute facts in matters such as this. Our verse relates some of those points that Daniel conveys to the king. Daniel's choice to verbally relay these matters shows that Daniel acknowledges where his strength and wisdom stem from.

Lest anyone think that Daniel had "superman" abilities in these areas, Daniel plainly says that the revelation given to him was not due to heightened natural intelligence. Daniel's IQ was not high enough to merit this above someone else, nor did Daniel's natural learning in worldly matters account for this gift of wisdom and insight. Rather, Daniel accounts that the revelation given to him was simply to help others. Daniel does not even claim encouragement for himself in this matter (though certainly he was encouraged). Rather, the primary purpose of God revealing this to him was to benefit them for "their sakes" as well as the king to "know the thoughts of thy heart." This two-fold benefit correlates to the purpose of the gospel ministry today.

Looking at the power that comes from preaching, Scripture plainly declares that such power is not intrinsically built into the man, but rather, his preaching power comes from attendance from on high each and every time that it happens. (I Thessalonians 1:5) Past efforts and powerful impact do not "carry over" much as Daniel's ability to reveal and expound upon mysteries required fresh supplication to the Lord (as the succeeding chapters show). So, whether the ability to convey the secrets and mysteries of dreams in Daniel's day or the ability to expound upon the unsearchable riches of Christ as stewards of the mysteries of God (I Corinthians 4:1) in today's time, the effort requires fresh, renewed Spirit accompaniment.

Just as Daniel did not attribute his ability in this matter to his natural intelligence, so today can no minister claim his abilities of preaching exposition to natural skills of deduction and reasoning. Surely, the preacher must reason and try to logically study, but the rich nuggets of heaven's gold that supply such rich food for hungry sheep does not get delivered by natural power. Rather, ministers many times have to "remove self" and "get out of the way" to see God riches rather than their own ability. Just as Daniel did not claim natural skills to do this (though doubtless the first chapter shows he had much natural skill of learning), so also can the minister today never claim natural skill and ability to preach as he does when done in a powerful way (though he also may have some natural skills of learning).

Daniel also plainly declares that this circumstance of powerful revelation was not for his sake. Rather, he uses the term "their sakes." When a minister attempts to study, meditate, pray fervently to God that thoughts of expounding would go forth to search out the deeper things of God, he does so for "their sakes" and not his own. Any minister that attempts to preach for his own sake and for his own benefit is neither preaching nor conducting himself as a minister should. Undoubtedly, the Lord in His mercy does sometimes feed the preacher with his own preaching, and no doubt Daniel was comforted and encouraged at times with what the Lord blessed him to see, but the primary focus is on others not self. What if the minister does not feed himself with his preaching but the sheep are bountifully fed from the blessing of God's revelation through the mouth of His minister? The minister should be content with that and not dispirited about it.

Daniel also says that not just for "their sakes" but also this is given so that the king might know the thoughts of his heart. Has the preaching ever touched you in a way that you thought, "He spoke words right to my heart today?" Have you ever heard preaching that made you think, "Is he in my head right now?" While I have had thoughts and cogitations like that while in the pew, I can assure you that the man in the pulpit does not know many times if ever exactly what the sheep need at that particular hour. Maybe there are thoughts on their heart that they pant after and fervently yearn for. Nebuchadnezzar desperately wanted to remember what he had dreamed and what it meant. Sheep today desperately desire comfort and peace in their heart and soul. Whether a Daniel then or a preacher today, God knows what the heart desires and needs, and He can and does bless His servants to deliver it.

When preaching reaches down and touches the heart, answers our burning questions, and seems to "read our mind," praise the Lord for His blessings. Nebuchadnezzar responded poorly to Daniel's successful revelation, even though Daniel had specifically placed the glory where it needed to be. Rather than glorify God as God and He alone, Nebuchadnezzar reverences Daniel by bowing down to him and claiming that Daniel's God was true along with the other deities that he believed in. (Daniel 2:46-47) Today, our response to heart-felt preaching should not follow Nebuchadnezzar's pattern. Do not bow before the preacher or put God's blessings on the shelf with the rest of our idols. Rather, let us do what the ministers of the gospel so often implore, "Thank God for any benefit" and cast down our every idol and wicked imagination in life.

In Hope,

Bro Philip