Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 7

In our study today, we look at Daniel 5:7-6:9 where we find Daniel interpreting the writing on the wall, the fall of Babylon, and Daniel still being favored in the next administration under Darius and the Medo-Persians.

Teaching Notes
Chapter 5
The Queen Mother
VERSES 7-16: The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, 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 thereof. (9)  Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. (10)  Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: (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, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; (12)  Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. (13)  Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? (14)  I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. (15)  And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: (16)  And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. This queen was probably the mother of Belshazzar. Daniel was now about 90 years old. 70 + teenager = 90ish. He apparently had been retired for some time and wasn't known in Belshazzar's court. The queen-mother spoke highly of Daniel and his wisdom. He had managed to lead a pure and godly life in the pagan court of Babylon.  

Not For Sale
v.17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. The gifts of God are not for sale! 

Faithful Prophet
VERSES 18-22: O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: (19)  And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, 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 set up; and whom he would he put down. (20)  But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, 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: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. (22)  And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; Daniel was a faithful prophet, for he preached to Belshazzar before he gave the interpretation of the writing on the wall. Belshazzar knew the story of Nebuchadnezzar's pride, insanity, and conversion; that made him willfully defiant.  

Belshazzar's Sin
VERSE 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 in 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: Belshazzar's worship and love had been lavished on material things that were inanimate, and he ignored the God who sustained his life. Notice, in whose hand thy breath is. That literally means that God holds his breath. Paul the Apostle in talking about God to the philosophers on Mars Hill, said "I want to declare to you the unknown the God. For in Him we live and we move and we have our being."

God is much closer to people than they realize. If there is anything that I see wrong in the church today is that we need to become more conscious of the presence of God. In Psalm 139:7, David said, "Where can I flee from your presence, if I ascend in to heaven thou art there, if I descend in hell thou art there. If I take the wings and I flee to the other most parts of the earth, even there You surround me." God isn't confined to one area.

VERSES 24-26: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. (25)  And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (26)  This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. "Mene" means "numbered". Psalm 90:12 says, So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

VERSE 27: TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. "Tekel" means "weighed." 

VERSE 18: PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. "U-pharsin" is the plural of "peres" which means "divided." The plural was used because Babylon was to be divided by the Medes and Persians.  

VERSE 29: Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain and Daniel was promoted, at least for the next few hours.

VERSE 30: In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. So, Darius diverted the river Euphrates when the soldiers of Babylon were drunk. The drunken soldiers had neglected to bolt the gates, so Darius and his men were able to get into the city, despite all its elaborate fortifications 

VERSE 31: And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old. 
"Threescore and two" is 62. 

Chapter 6
VERSE 1: It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; In the last chapter, mighty Babylon had fallen just as the Hand of God had written on the wall and Daniel had interpreted it at Belshazzar's feast. It's like the old preacher once said, "He should've been a'fasting instead've a'feasting!" History tells us that on that very same evening, October 12, 539 BC, King Cyrus and the Medo-Persian army did what no one thought could be done. 

They got through the walls of Babylon. Remember that these walls were 350 feet high, 86 feet thick and surrounded by the Euphrates River which also ran through a portion of the city. It is also said that twenty years of provisions were kept in the store houses in preparation against a possible siege. That meant that the city when under attack could merely shut the gates and wait it out. 

However, none of that stopped the army of Cyrus for two reasons. First, God had already spoken through his prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah that Babylon would fall. The Prophet Jeremiah had sixty years earlier in Jer_27:7-8 prophesied that Babylon would fall under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar's grandson. 

Also, even more, incredible is that three hundred years before the fall of Babylon, it was prophesied by Isaiah the prophet in Isa_44:28 that Cyrus would indeed be the king that would be raised up by God to bring this judgment on Babylon (Isa_45:1-3). Both of these things happened. 

Before moving to the next verse, another interesting tidbit is presented here with the introduction of Darius. There are basically two views as to who Darius was. First, some conclude that Darius was another name for Cyrus. Their argument is v.28 which says, So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. However, others will argue that first should read, So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Daruis, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Thus, some conclude, they are the same man. The second view is that they were not one and the same person but Darius was simply someone who Cyrus put in charge of Babylon before heading back to Persia. 

VERSES 2-3: And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. (3)  Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. These verses tell us that the king had set up princes or satraps to rule over the kingdom. Over these, the king placed three presidents of whom Daniel was first. That is quite amazing that Darius would choose someone out of the "old administration" to oversee his newly conquered territory. Side note: I think Trump has learned that lesson! The only reason given is that an excellent spirit was in him. In other words, Darius saw something special in Daniel. 

VERSE 4: Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Now we see the jealousy that ensued from the other presidents and princes. Their motivation could have been fear. There is no doubt that Daniel's reputation had preceded him. Surely, if Daniel could reveal dreams, he might be able to see their dreams as well. That could be a scary thought for all of us! 

VERSES 5-9: Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. (6)  Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. (7)  All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (8)  Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (9)  Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Here we see the old "oh king live forever" trick. They knew that they could not trap Daniel in any other way but concerning the law of his God. They must have known that he prayed three times every day and that it was the only way that they could trap him. 

Of course, they appealed to Darius' flesh to get him to sign the degree. The Bible makes it very clear that we should always beware of flattery. The writer of the Proverbs wrote: A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet (Proverbs 29:5). 

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