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Empires Fall

Empires Fall

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Published by Daniel Thompson
Daniel 5 and 6. Learning from Daniel to live in "hostile territory."
Daniel 5 and 6. Learning from Daniel to live in "hostile territory."

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Daniel Thompson on Feb 03, 2013
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09/06/2013

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Empires Fall
Daniel 5-6We have come to the end of our look into the life of Daniel and his friends. The theme hasbeen “Living in Hostile Territory.”While our look into Daniel may be coming to an end, it's my prayer that we continue toevaluate our lives in Christ in light of Daniel's story. We are in a day when we really need to payattention to the example of Daniel. These last two chapters demonstrate living when the empirereally takes a turn that is even more blatantly against the things of God.These particular chapters reinforce what we learned all along about Daniel and hiscompanions: STAY FAITHFUL.In Chapter 5 it is Daniel staying faithful at the end of an empire. When he sees theinterpretation of the handwriting on the wall, there is the possible fear of the next empire doingaway with him.In Chapter 6 it is Daniel staying faithful to worship and his routine of worship in the face ofobvious persecution.What is also interesting to me in these chapters is the judgment that finally comes on theempires. It is a story of what happens when the systems of this world continue to come againstthe purposes of God.Babylon had been a tool for God to use in dealing with Israel. Through Daniel, God had triedto reach into Nebuchadnezzar's life, and in the end had brought him through insanity to theplace of acknowledging the greatness of Yahweh.But the systems of this world continue to play God in their own way. These two storiesdemonstrate that tendency.The American church and its relationship to the country bounces around. For evangelicalChristians, we have believed all along that America is a “Christian” nation, or at least founded onChristian ideals. There are Judeo-Christian values embedded in some way in our Americansystems of government to some point.So, when things are going well for the church, we pray for America. In the recent past, whenwe've had presidents and leaders we have liked and have courted the evangelical vote, we'vetouted God's blessings on America.When we haven't had presidents we've liked, we've prayed for revival.For more mainline Christians, it's almost the exact opposite.The interesting thing I have found over the years is at one time or another Christians on theevangelical side or the mainline side have acted in some way like the U.S. Government is in someEmpires Fall1
 
way a defacto Israel. Somehow, we demand (whether evangelical or mainline) that the presidentand Congress act like Christians (or our version of them) in some way.For evangelicals, it became the issue of abortion, and then the defense of traditionalmarriage.For mainline Christians, it is about how we take of the poor.We have our views and we want our government to respond in our way, which, of course, is theBIBLICAL way...What I have been looking at through this journey in Daniel is how to live righteously beforeGod REGARDLESS of the government's actions. We cannot wait for the government to act likewe want it to act. In the United States, that is difficult to deal with because we have ademocracy. We get a voice. So we use our voice... mostly to scream.What Daniel shows us, and then we will witness this throughout the New Testament, is thatgovernments are human institutions that do very human things. They will at some point in timedemonstrate the best of humanity... and then ultimately demonstrate the worst in humanity.What it comes down to is power. And humans don't deal well with power on this earth.From the Garden of Eden the desire of humanity has been to be like God. It's the originalsin, and it is always the temptation. Put that basic human flaw into a place like a government anddangerous things tend to happen. When we taste power, that desire to act like God in some wayrises up and we are in for trouble.Let's examine the stories.In Chapter 5 we have Belshazzar throwing a party. The party is so wild and he is feeling hisemperor super powers so much, he decides to throw all caution to the wind. He has the goldenartifacts from the Jerusalem temple brought out and they drink from them in this wild party.They then praise the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone (v. 4).At that moment, the fingers of a human hand appear and begin writing on the wall. In adrunken stupor, it probably seemed a bit weird at first. “Am I really seeing this?”Then, the realization hits that EVERYONE is seeing this. The king sobered up and becamefrightened in a hurry. He had offended some god somewhere and he was scared.He is ready to reward any magician the finest clothes and a position of power if they will justinterpret what was written on the wall. Of course, not one magician knew what it was saying.The queen mother comes in and tells Belshazzar to settle down. Breathe. Breathe deeply.Somebody get the boy a bag! Get a GRIP!She tells Belshazzar about Daniel.Daniel is brought in to help. Belshazzar is a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar. He is actuallythe son of Nabonidus. The term “father” referring to Nebuchadnezzar means ancestor.Daniel has some years on him now. And he has deep respect for Nebuchadnezzar. He has veryEmpires Fall2
 
little respect for Belshazzar.5:18-24
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“Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty andgreatness and glory and splendor.
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Because of the high position he gave him, all thenations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted toput to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted topromote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.
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But when hisheart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throneand stripped of his glory.
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He was driven away from people and given the mind of ananimal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body wasdrenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God issovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
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“But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.
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Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the gobletsfrom his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubinesdrank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood andstone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holdsin his hand your life and all your ways.
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Therefore he sent the hand that wrote theinscription.
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Daniel is showing his respect for Nebuchadnezzar and is basically saying toBelshazzar, “You are most definitely NOT your father!”The words on the wall weren't that difficult to READ for the magicians. It was themeaning of it all.MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSINThe words are Aramaic and form a sequence of weights, decreasing from a mina, to ashekel (1/60th of a mina), to a half-shekel.Read as verbs (with different vowels attached to the Aramaic consonants), thesequence becomes: “Numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided.” The Lord hadnumbered the days of Belshazzar’s kingdom and brought it to an end because he hadbeen weighed in the balance and found wanting (v.
). The repetition of “numbered” may
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The New International Version 
. 2011 (Da 5:18–24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.Empires Fall3

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