Tags: Bible lessons on Daniel, Book of Daniel, commentary on Daniel, Daniel, making a stand, stand-up guy, Sunday School lessons on Daniel, the Prophet Daniel
There is an expression you sometimes hear in old movies for a man who is loyal and trustworthy and can be counted on to do the courageous thing in difficult circumstances: “a stand-up guy.” The prophet Daniel was such a man. From his youth on through the later years of his life Daniel was a man of character and integrity who stood strong for the Lord in adverse situations. He is a great role model for Christians today.
Here is a review of the lessons on the Book of Daniel:
1. Stand Up for Jesus
2. Character and Integrity Part 4 (*)
3. After the Fire
4. Beware the Five Fingers
5. The Handwriting on the Wall
6. Diverting the Flow of the Word
7. The Lamb Cows the Lion
9. Comparisons, Calculations, and Christophany
10. Looking Forward to What Has Already Been Sealed
(*) most-read post in series
Tags: commentary on Daniel, Daniel, Daniel 11, Daniel 12, Daniel's prophecies, Daniel's vision, Ephesians 4, lessons on Daniel, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
Daniel Chapter 11 up through Verse 35 contains prophecies that have already come true. What God showed Daniel about Persia, Greece, Egypt, and Syria all came to pass. Daniel 11:36 – 12:3 contain the prophecies of the Tribulation, the Antichrist, and the Millennial Kingdom. These prophecies fill in the details of Daniel’s earlier visions and dreams, and were probably given in response to Daniel’s three weeks of prayer and fasting.
The last verses of Chapter 12 are God’s final instructions to Daniel. Daniel was to “seal” the book – not close it up, but tell the people to give it special protection. It is also “sealed” in the sense of being God’s guarantee.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Christians are sealed by the Holy Spirit, but does the Holy Spirit feel at home in your heart?
We tend to clean our home when we know a guest is coming over to visit because we want our guests to feel comfortable in our home. How much more should we clean out our heart in order to allow the Holy Ghost to have free rein in our lives?
Tags: Antichrist, Christ the Redeemer, Christophany, commentary on Daniel, Daniel 8, Daniel 9, Daniel's vision, Nehemiah 2, prince of Persia, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
Daniel Chapter 8 contains a vision which comes about 12 years before the handwriting on the wall incident. This is the vision of the goat and the ram, and here it extends into a comparison of Antiochus Epiphanes (whose name meant “revelation of the gods”), the ruler of Syria after the death of Alexander the Great. There are comparisons between Epiphanes and the Antichrist. They both begin modestly but increase in power. They both blaspheme God by speaking great things. They both persecute the Jews. They both claim to be gods and put images in the temple. They both impose their religion on the people. Both are opposed by a believing remnant that knows God. Both are energized by the devil and are great deceivers. Both appear successful and invincible. Both are defeated by a redeemer (Judas Maccabeus in the case of Epiphanes and Jesus Christ in the case of the Antichrist).
The events in Daniel Chapter 9 take place right after the handwriting on the wall incident – in 539 B.C. Daniel read the Word of God to prepare for prayer and worship.
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
Daniel’s prayer was interrupted by the angel Gabriel.
And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
Gabriel gave Daniel the prophecy of the 70 weeks.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
These “weeks” are seven-year periods, so the 70 “weeks” or 70 “sevens” are really 490 years. The first period is 49 years (7 X 7). This is the period of time found in Nehemiah 2:5-8 when Nehemiah was authorized to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the gates, not just the temple.
The second period is 483 years (445 B.C. to 29/30 A.D.): the time of Christ’s ministry on earth. Daniel 9:27 deals with the final 7 years, known as the Tribulation – the pronoun “he” refers to the Antichrist, not the Messiah: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Daniel Chapter 10 shows us that the “70 week prophetic calendar” given in Daniel also had prophetic applications which have already become history. In the big picture, the 70 “times” are 70 periods of 70 years, but in Daniel’s time, there were two separate 70 year periods of fulfilled prophecy. The first Jews were deported to Babylon in 605 B.C., and the first captives returned to their land in 536 B.C. (70 years). The temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. and was rebuilt and dedicated in 515 B.C. (70 years).
Daniel was going through a period of three weeks of fasting and praying and using no ointment, probably in order to get more understanding about the visions and prophecies he had already been given. Daniel received a vision of what may have been Jesus Christ. Then he received knowledge of the battle between Gabriel and Michael and the demons who were the princes of Persia and Greece. Persia is modern Iran. (Modern Iraq is Biblical Babylon.)
Tags: abomination of desolation, commentary on Daniel, Daniel, Daniel 7, Daniel 8, eschatology, lessons on Daniel, Mark 13, Sunday School lessons on Daniel, the Prophet Daniel
The events in Chapters 7 and 8 of Daniel actually take place before the events in Chapters 5 and 6 (the handwriting on the wall and the fiery furnace incidents). Nabonidus was Nebuchadnezzar’s son and Belshazzar’s father. Chapters 7 and 8 are arranged so that we see Daniel’s ability to interpret the dreams of others before we see him get the interpretation of his own dreams.
Chapter 7 has the vision of the first four of the same kingdoms represented in the image in Chapter 2: four beasts. The lion with the wings of an eagle represents Babylon. The bear represents the Persians and the Medes, and the three ribs in its mouth probably represent Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon. The leopard with four wings represents Alexander the Great. (When he died in 323 B.C. his kingdom was divided into four parts.) The “terrible beast” from Daniel 7:7 represents the Roman Empire. The ten horns = the ten toes in Chapter 2, which many students of prophecy see as a picture of the European Union.
The last human kingdom was revealed to Daniel, but not to Nebuchadnezzar. The little horn represents the last world ruler, Antichrist. (See Daniel 7:25.) His dictatorship will last 3 ½ years. The Antichrist will lead the ten nations, he will overcome three other nations, and, with the help of Satan, he will become a world dictator. He will make a covenant with the Jews to protect them. This will start the Tribulation. After 3 ½ years he will break the covenant and set up his own image in the temple in Jerusalem, trying to force the world to worship him and Satan. This is called “the abomination of desolation” by the Lord in Mark 13:14.
The seven years will end when Christ returns to Earth to defeat the Antichrist and his army, and when He establishes His Kingdom on Earth.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
I am not an expert by any means on end-times prophecy. After studying the matter, I believe that the Bible teaches what is usually called the “pre-millenialist” viewpoint. I know there are others who disagree, and some of them are classified as “post-millenialists.” To the best of my understanding, they believe that the Kingdom of Christ will be established on Earth before Christ returns. Others are “amillenialists,” which, as I understand it, do not take the prophecies in Daniel Chapter 7 literally. I am not a big fan of disputing these different viewpoints or making them a test of fellowship, and I have friends who believe differently. Those who are truly in Christ Jesus will find out the truth soon enough, one way or the other.
How did Daniel respond to the interpretation he was given of the vision? He was troubled and his expression changed (Daniel 7:28). He became pale. He kept the matter to himself, but he also kept it in his heart. He behaved like a true prophet. He did not start ranting and raving. The prophecies of the end times should comfort and convict us – not make us want to dispute or show off our knowledge. We should be getting ready and looking forward to Christ’s return, and end time prophecies should cause us to stay busy and to strive to be holy. Knowing what people who reject God are going to have to go through should remind us to repent of anything that’s hindering our relationship with God.
Tags: 1 Peter 4, 1 Peter 5, 1 Thessalonians 3, 2 Kings 9, Babylon, commentary on Daniel, Daniel 6, Isaiah 65, Luke 16, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
The Medes and the Persians diverted the stream of the Euphrates River, and went underneath the supposedly impenetrable walls of Babylon.
Daniel, who had been brought to Babylon as a teenaged boy, and had served under Nebuchadnezzar, now – in his 80s – found himself serving under a pagan king: Darius. How did Daniel do so well and gain the trust of all these pagan kings and rulers?
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.
He had more than just exceptional qualities – he had an excellent spirit – like Elijah with Elisha in II Kings 2:9. Like Elijah, Daniel had a spirit that was pleasing to God. Therefore, Daniel was trusted for his honesty. Those who wanted to keep stealing schemed against him.
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.
They used flattery and appealed to the king’s pride to get him to sign a decree without thinking about it. The decree said that anyone who prayed to anyone other than the king would be thrown into the lions’ den.
Daniel and his friends had faith in times of great crisis because they practiced their faith in the ordinary, everyday things. Reading my Bible, praying, going to church – these things build strength into my faith.
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
I Thessalonians 3:13
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
The king was mad at himself when he realized how he had been tricked.
Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
How could this pagan king have such fond feelings for Daniel? Daniel had shown charity to him.
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
I Peter 4:8
Daniel was delivered and he gave God the glory.
My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Satan, who is compared to a lion, can be controlled and made meek by the Lamb of God.
Daniel’s faith even caused the king to honor Daniel’s God and proclaim His power.
I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
Tags: Belshazzar, commentary on Daniel, Dan Quayle, Daniel 4, Daniel 5, desecration of the holy, Lloyd Bentsen, mene mene tekel peres, Nebuchadnezzar, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. He was the son of Nabonidus. He decided to have a feast and to use the cups and vessels from the temple in Jerusalem. Even wicked King Nebuchadnezzar had not dared to use these sacred objects. Those who are completely corrupted by sin, and who have been given over to a reprobate mind, and who have run out of ways to create a new sensation, take pleasure in desecrating the holy.
The king and his court and guests not only defiled these objects by partying with them, but they compounded their sin and their insults by worshipping idols with them.
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 princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Belshazzar’s knees were knocking together and he looked pale and shocked.
Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
The queen heard what was happening.
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:
She had a wrong motive: she wanted the party to continue. But at least she knew the right person to call for the interpretation.
Daniel was probably between 81 and 85 years old when this happened, so we can see him – the impervious elderly prophet and man of God, shaking his finger at Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.
Belshzzar offered Daniel gifts, but Daniel wasn’t interested in rewards on earth.
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.
Daniel preached to him:
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 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.
These verses remind me of the famous quote that Lloyd Bentsen used on Dan Quayle years ago in a Vice-Presidential debate, concerning JFK. It’s almost as if Daniel is telling Belshazzar, “I knew Nebuchadnezzar. I worked with Nebuchadnezzar. I watched Nebuchadnezzar eat grass, son, and you, sir, are no Nebuchadnezzar.”
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; 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:
The written message on the wall – Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres – meant “Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided.” Belshazzar had been “numbered” by God – God knew all about him. He “had his number.” Also, Belshazzar’s “days were numbered.” He had been “weighed in in the balance,” and found wanting. The mightiest nations are to God as a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15). Peres or Upharsin meant “divided.” That very night the Medes and the Persians were waiting outside the city gate – they conquered the kingdom and divided it.
I like to look out for instances in the Bible which remind me of everyday sayings that we use today. Daniel Chapter 5 is a veritable cornucopia of common expressions:
Knees knocking together
The handwriting was on the wall
Weighed in the balance
Your days are numbered
I’ve got your number
Tags: Acts 17, Christophanies, commentary on Daniel, Daniel 2, Daniel 3, Daniel 4, fiery furnace, Romans 6, Son of God, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
Lord, we know that You are in the midst of Your people in their times of trial, testing, and trouble, just like You were with Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace. You were in the midst of their troubles because You had been in the midst of their prayer time, their Bible study time, their time of assembling together with their brothers to learn about You. Please remind us to call upon You to enter into our midst when we do these things also. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.
The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
The threat to make their houses a dunghill was a threat not only to them, but to those they represented. For the Chaldeans it would only be their own families, but to Daniel and his friends, it would be all the Jews they represented. Daniel did not take sole credit for what the Lord allowed him to do. His friends had been faithful to pray with him for the interpretation of the dream (Daniel 2:36), so he was faithful to give them part of the credit.
By Daniel Chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar had already forgotten how he had been forced to acknowledge the greatness of Daniel’s God. He builds a statue (Daniel 3:1) 60 cubits by 6 cubits. If we think of the number of the beast, 666, we see two of the sixes in these dimensions, but where is the third six?
That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet , flute , harp , sackbut , psaltery , dulcimer , and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
Daniel 3:5 (bracketed numerals added)
There are six instruments mentioned, which, combined with the measurements of the false idol, may be a clue to us that this music was being inspired and used by Satan.
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Three stood up when when everyone else fell down.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Daniel’s friends were saved from the fire and their bonds were loosed. They were set free and their bonds were loosed, but their clothes were not burned off.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
Daniel Chapter 4 is Nebudchadnezzar’s official autobiographical document. This is unique in the Bible, that God made a pagan king’s official writing a part of inspired Scripture.
Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of a tree, and he was overcome again with pride. When Daniel interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, it was revealed as a vision of Nebuchadnezzar himself, being cut down, and banded or sealed in the wilderness for a period of seven years. Daniel followed the pattern of calling an unbeliever to repentance, which I have analyzed with the acrostic O.A.R.S. from Acts 17. He O.pened. (Daniel 4:24). He A.lleged (Daniel 4:22), as he cited the Word of God as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah. He R.easoned (Daniel 4:18-19), as he dialogued with the king and used tact and love. He S.poke and S.hared the truth (Daniel 4:27), as he preached.
Tags: Acts 21, commentary on Daniel, Daniel 1, Daniel 2, Ephesians 6, Ezekiel 14, interpretation of dreams, Luke 21, Mark 13, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
The events in the beginning of the Book of Daniel took place in 605 B.C. – after Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old at that time.
Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. The context there is that the righteousness of these men could only save themselves, not others.
Daniel is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus.
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
He is also mentioned in Matthew 24:15.
Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. They were also royalty.
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
The Babylonians changed their names:
– Daniel meant “God is my judge;” Belteshazzar meant “Bel protect his life.”
– Hananiah meant “the Lord shows grace;” Shadrach meant “command of Aku” (the moon-god).
– Mishael meant “who is like God?” Meshach meant “who like Aku?”
– Azariah meant “the Lord is my help;” Abednego meant “servant of Nego.”
As Jews, Daniel and his friends were not supposed to eat defiled food, according to the Old Testament covenant. Compare the New Covenant application:
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Daniel and his friends chose the Word of God over the king’s food, even while being gracious toward authority. They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else.
Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
Between Chapters 1 and 2, Daniel was given some authority in the kingdom, reminding us of Joseph’s favor in Egypt, found in the Book of Genesis. Daniel was in a position of relative security, but Nebuchadnezzar was crazy and temperamental. He was having bad dreams.
[Caution: Be careful about your own dreams. Before Christians take their dreams as some sort of a vision from God, and decide to act in accordance, we must make sure our actions line up with Scripture. If you have a dream that makes you feel rebellious, it may be from your own subconscious, rather than from God.]
Nebuchadnezzar tested his counselors by pretending to forget his dream. This was somewhat of a double test: Could they tell him what the dream had been, and could they then tell him a believable interpretation of it? If we suppose that Satan was behind this scheme, then it is important to note that he was willing to kill all his false prophets just to get rid of four righteous servants of God.
Daniel was in trouble and needed to comfort himself.
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
He sought the Word of God first; then he began to praise and worship Him. That’s our order when Satan comes against us – when we’re in trouble.
The dream depicted the time of the Gentiles described by the Lord Jesus in Luke 21:24. The head of gold symbolized Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. The chest and arms of silver symbolized the Medes and the Persians. The legs of iron with feet of iron and clay symbolized the Roman empire. Christ the Solid Rock is the only firm foundation this world has ever known. All other ground is sinking sand.
Note all the references to “standing” and “stood:” Daniel 1:4; 1:5 1:19; 2:2; 2:31. “Stand” carries the connotation of “standing” for something. If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-14, emphasis added
When you feel like your can’t serve the Lord – when you’re like Daniel and you have to serve someone else – remember: You can still “stand” before them, and “stand” for the Lord.
Tags: brainwashing, Colossians 3, Daniel, Daniel 1, Daniel 2, Ephesians 6, Ezekiel 14, Jesus Christ, John 8, Luke 16, Mark 13, Matthew 24, Nebuchadnezzar, Nerf, Philippians 3, Play-Doh, Romans 12, Sadam Hussein, Zip-lock bags
Let’s review some of the physical, material things we have examined to learn something about character and integrity. We said that an official NFL football has more integrity than a Nerf football, because water will easily seep into a Nerf, but a real football has a quality of soundness and impenetrability. We said that, for storing sandwiches, zip-lock bags have more integrity than birdcages, because they make an airtight seal. In addition, they are known for having a better character for this purpose, even though birdcages may look more ornate or beautiful.
Today, we look at another facet of integrity and character in the comparison between a steel ball and a ball of Play-Doh. Neither of these is especially permeable. Therefore, we might conclude that they both have integrity. However, the steel ball actually has the greater integrity and character, because, in addition to being impervious to water, it resists being molded into a different shape by outside forces.
One of your three main enemies – “the world” – wants to attack your character and integrity primarily because of greed – the love of money.
Think about the people in films and magazines and on the internet who pose naked. They are appealing to the sin of lust. There is a market for it. People are lustful – they want to see that kind of thing. But people aren’t naturally inclined to go around naked. The world entices them into doing it to make money. Then a cult develops – you are “told” that attractive people get famous by doing it, so, if you are attractive, people will really like you if you do it, too, or, if that’s too much for you, then the world tells you that it is alright to at least act promiscuously for the same purpose.
The world is in the business of getting you to buy things. Most of the things the world wants you to buy are not practical or even comfortable. If you don’t believe me, go to a high school football game this Friday night, and watch the boys and girls spending inordinate amounts of energy hitching up their pants or brushing their hair out of their eyes.
The antidote to the greed promoted by the world is found in the Bible. Let’s look at the example of Daniel in the Bible. The events in the Book of Daniel take place in 605 B.C., after Jerusalem is taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old when this occurred.
Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. He is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15.
Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. And they were royalty (Daniel 1:3-4). The Babylonians changed their names. “Daniel” meant “God is my judge.” “Belteshazzar” meant “Bel protect his life.” “Hananiah” meant “the Lord shows grace.” “Shadrach meant “command of Aku (the moon-god).” “Mishael” meant “who is like God?” “Meshach” meant “who like Aku?” “Azariah” meant “the Lord is my help.” “Abednego” meant “servant of Nego.”
As Jews, living under the Old Testament Covenant, they were not supposed to eat defiled food. When pressured, they chose the Word of God over the king’s food. When disobeying ungodly authority, they were gracious toward that authority.
They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else (Daniel 1:18-20).
These Jewish young men were taken captive to Babylon, and they were treated well in many ways, but, in Scripture, Babylon represents our enemy, the world.
Geographically, today’s Iraq is the old Babylon. Saddam Hussein wanted to be the new Nebuchadnezzar.
The original Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel and his friends to serve in the royal palace, and he wanted young men with his idea of integrity. The problem was that he wanted them to conform. So, as a representative of the world, he began to put pressure on them – the same kind of pressure that the world puts on Christians today.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
“Conforming” is caused by pressure from without. “Transforming” is caused by change and growth from within. Remember our illustration? Play-Doh can be conformed by pressure from outside, but the pressure won’t make it grow.
Concerning Daniel and his friends, the Babylonians changed their home, their ideas, their language, their diet – even their names. This is what we would call a form of brainwashing. Most people today were brainwashed as children to believe in a type of evolution which contradicts the Bible. They have been brainwashed to believe that the Earth is “billions and billions” of years old, when, according to the Bible, it’s only around 6000 years old.
Daniel resisted being conformed to the world of Babylon by purposing in his heart to obey God. He remembered that he was in a foreign country. Christians today are in a foreign land. If you are a Christian, the place of your physical address is not your real home.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
When the world puts pressure on you to conform, follow the example of Daniel. Strengthen your integrity and your character. Do what it says in Romans 12:1-2. Start off each day by surrendering your body to the Lord (present your bodies a living sacrifice). Renew your mind in the Word of God every day. Pray. Daniel was automatic. He prayed three times every day, no matter what. Then “prove” God’s will – put it in action. Prove God’s will, not your own will.
Daniel and his friends proved they could be faithful in little things, so God gave them the chance to be faithful in great things (Luke 16:10), like the fiery furnace and the lion’s den.
Daniel made a “stand” (Daniel 1:4; 1:5; 1:19; 2:2; 2:31). “Standing” carries the connotation of “standing for something.” You know the old expression, but it’s still true: If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything. Daniel and his friends were thrown into the fiery furnace for standing up when everyone else fell down and bowed down.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Christians are not called to be undercover agents – going along to get along with the world. God is looking for someone who won’t CONFORM. He is looking for someone who is TRANSFORMED.
Tags: Babylon, Belshazzar, commentary on Daniel, Daniel 5, Ephesians 5, Euphrates River, hand of God, handwriting on the wall, siege strategy, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
The prophet Daniel had been a very important young man in the kingdom of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar, the wicked and powerful ruler, had known him very well. As the years passed, however, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor came to power, and Daniel faded out of the thoughts of the movers and shakers in Babylon.
One day, however, a hand appeared out of thin air in the royal banquet hall, and began to write on the wall. The king was scared out of his wits. He did not understand what the writing meant, and none of his advisors could tell him. Suddenly, Daniel was remembered.
But the Daniel who was summoned to appear before Belshazzar was not the young whipper-snapper who had dealt with Nebuchadnezzar. This Daniel was probably about 82 years old, and he had no time or interest for the king’s frivolous gifts. (Daniel 5:16-17)
We can almost see Daniel, God’s man, shaking his stern finger at Belshazzar, and giving him the interpretation of the writing on the wall without fear:
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… In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
Daniel 5:23; 30
It is interesting to note the manner in which the Medo-Persian army invaded the supposedly impenetrable walls of Babylon. First they diverted the course of the Euphrates River, which ran under the walls, and into the city. When the water level went down they were able to go under the walls.
Water is very important to a city. Without water, two tragedies would befall the inhabitants. One, they would get thirsty. Two, they would lose the ability to maintain hygiene, thereby increasing the spread of disease.
In the Bible, water is a picture of God’s Word. (Ephesians 5:26) If the flow of God’s Word is cut off from His people, the people will get thirsty, they will become defiled, they will get spiritually sick, and, ultimately, many will suffer a form of spiritual death. The preaching and teaching of the Bible must be central in the local church.