Beware the Five Fingers

August 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was having a quite a party. He and his lords and his concubines were getting so drunk that they started using vessels made by the hands of men to toast gods invented in the minds of men. What they failed to realize is that there is a real God Who is free to intervene in the pompous and silly affairs of this world whenever He wants, and is more than capable of reminding everyone just how serious a business it is to ignore His existence or to blaspheme His name.

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.

Daniel 5:5

The fingers that “came forth” (not “fourth”) were five fingers. These five fingers (I’m counting the thumb as a finger) would write a message of judgment and doom, but even before they started writing, they revealed a terrifying five-fold message.

https://i2.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/s/M/i/c/5/N/fingers-md.png

Little Finger: “In the same hour” means that this happened at the height of the partying and sacrilege. It is clear from the Bible that God is indeed offended by sin, but He is never too offended to show up and set things right. Those who believe that they have sinned God out of their consciences and their lives would do well to remember this principle and repent before He decides, in His wrath, to show up at a crucial moment and put an end to the party. The Lord of glory is not a dainty tea-sipper with His pinky finger held askew while He peers down His nose from a distance at the things He finds unpleasant in His creation.

Index Finger: What appeared out of thin air were the fingers of “a man’s hand.” Let’s be clear. When you and I start looking for the cause of our problems, it would benefit us greatly to bypass the ideas of chance, fortune, luck, our past, our upbringing, our circumstances, our DNA, and our cultural influences. More often than not, when God shows up to deal with us in our sin, we can simply look down at our own hands to find the cause of all our sin-related troubles. Before we use our pointer finger to shift the blame, we need to open the mirror of God’s word and point accusingly at the culprit of evil: ourselves.

Ring Finger: The hand that appeared at Belshazzar’s wanton shindig chose the best place to start writing its message: “over against the candlestick.” When we want to have what this evil world thinks of as a “good time” we like to turn the lights down low. Things that would be shameful in the light tend to take on a false sense of security and secrecy in the dark. Belshazzar and his cronies probably had enough light to ogle the concubines, but not enough to highlight the lecherous leers on their own faces. God wanted His truth to be seen clearly, though. We need to remember that He sees everything, regardless of the brightness of the environment, and that He has a way of seeing to it that the embarrassing things we think we are getting away with in the dark get brought out into the open when we least expect it. The finger that is famous for holding the wedding ring needs to be a reminder to us of who we are, to Whom we belong, and what it means to be faithful.

Middle Finger: God could have made the words themselves, in addition to the hand doing the writing, appear to float in thin air. However, He chose instead to write them “on the wall of the king’s palace.” Belshazzar put great trust in the walls of his earthly kingdom, believing them to be impenetrable against enemy attacks. This was obviously erroneous since the Medes and the Persians managed to get inside the city and conquer his kingdom that very night. We tend to place a great deal of trust in the supposed strength of our earthly institutions, whether it be our careers, our homes, our own abilities, or even our government, but this is a mistake. The Lord God alone is worthy of trust, and we would do well to keep Him (just as the middle finger is the strongest and central part of our hands) positioned in the center of our lives.

Thumb: In the midst of a crowded party, you would think that anyone might have been startled to see a hand suddenly appear out of nowhere, but actually it was the king himself who “saw the part of the hand that wrote.” Belshazzar alone had the right to give the thumbs-up to this party, and he was accustomed to giving the thumbs-down to anybody who might rain on his parade. But this was a different scenario. A quote attributed to D.L. Moody says that, “God has two thrones – one in the highest heavens, the other in the lowliest heart.” We need to be very careful not to try to weasel our way onto the throne of our own hearts. That is a seat reserved for the sovereign God of this universe alone.

Standing with Daniel

January 11, 2012 at 9:13 am | Posted in Daniel | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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
8. Blesschatology
9. Comparisons, Calculations, and Christophany
10. Looking Forward to What Has Already Been Sealed

(*) most-read post in series

Looking Forward to What Has Already Been Sealed

August 11, 2010 at 9:34 am | Posted in Daniel | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Ephesians 4:30

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?

Blesschatology

July 14, 2010 at 10:31 am | Posted in Daniel | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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 three and one-half 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 three and one-half 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.

Daniel 7:13-14

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 “premillenialist” viewpoint. I know there are others who disagree, and some of them are classified as “postmillenialists.” 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.

Character and Integrity Part 4

September 15, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Daniel | 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Romans 12:1-2

“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:

Philippians 3:20

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

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.

Ephesians 6:13

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.

God has some great plans for you. Don’t settle for just being popular or having a great career or falling in lust. Those things are going to pass away. Things done for God’s glory will last forever.


Entries and comments feeds.