..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bible Study: Book of Daniel, Chapter 5-- The Folly of Pride

Throughout the book of Daniel we continue
to see the stark contrast between Daniel,
who fears God and walks with Him, compared
with the prideful and foolish Babylonian kings.

In Chapter 5 of Daniel, Belshazzar,who is in
Nebuchadnezzar's bloodline, perhaps the grandson,
is introduced. What we see immediately is
that wanting to make yourself look good,
plus an excess of wine, will push you to
do things that you should not do.

Belshazzar was giving a great feast and the
wine flowed freely. In order to further
impress his guests he decides, against
all good judgment, to bring out the gold and
silver vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had
taken from the temple of Jerusalem and
allow people drink wine from them.

Proverbs 16:18&19 says, "Pride goes before
destruction, and a haughty spirit before
a fall. Better it is to be of a humble
spirit with the lowly, than to divide the
spoil with the proud."

The last thing we hear from Nebuchadnezzar,
even the last verse of Daniel chapter 4,
is this: "...those that walk in pride He
[God] is able to abase" (Dan 4:37).

Nebuchadnezzar was brought down by his pride.
Here, the same thing is happening. Belshazzar
is playing with fire! It is said that they
"drank wine and praised the gods of gold,
and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood,
and of stone" (Daniel 4:4). How foolish!
It is interesting that they did not mention
the God of Israel, although they surely
were told where the vessels came from.

They praised things that could not speak
back, they extolled things they could control
and things that served them! Praising the
God of Israel, on the other hand, would have
brought them face to face with the Living God.
It would have brought them face to face with
their pride, foolishness, and idolatry.

Why does Israel, indeed, why does anyone, turn to
idolatry? Because it serves them. It turns the
relationship of us serving God to a god
serving us! Praising the gods of silver and
gold made these objects appear to be something
greater than they are. Here were gods they could
use, yet this shows their ignorance of the Living
God and their lack of respect for Him. God makes
us, we don't make God! God commands us, we
don't command God! God uses us as His vessels,
we don't use Him!

Have you ever wondered, if the Living God
of Israel is your God, why you would choose
to turn away from Him?

In pondering this we will come face to face
with that in us that does not want to be
mastered and led by God.

But in the same hour that this misplaced
revelry happened, the fingers of a man's hand
appeared and wrote of God's impending
judgment upon them. Here was the wake-up call!

The King brought all his wise men to him
but they could not interpret what was written
on the wall. The queen reminds Belshazzar
of Daniel, who had an "excellent spirit,"
one who interpreted dreams with wisdom and
one who "dissolved doubts" (Daniel 5:12).

How would you like to be a person who
dissolved doubts? Doubts arise from being
double minded, they arise from wanting
something both ways, they arise from
lack of knowledge of God. Daniel was a
man who continually purposed in his heart
to follow God. He didn't choose to worship
God part of the time, and Nebuchadnezzar
or Belshazzar the rest of the time. He was
always sure because he was entirely God's!

Belshazzar promises Daniel wealth and power.
Daniel tells the king, "Let thy gifts
be to thyself, and give they rewards to
another, yet I will read the writing" (vs 17).
It is a dangerous trap to take money or
position for the gifting of God. God will
provide for you and make a way for your gift,
but God gives us His gifts freely so freely
we should share. Daniel could have easily
compromised but he stands as a exemplary
example of someone who would not compromise.

Daniel tells Belshazzar it was because
Nebuchadnezzar's heart was lifted up and
his mind hardened in pride that he was
deposed from his kingly throne. If Belshazzar
knew about the silver and gold objects taken
from the temple surely he knew the whole
story. But how selective is our memory
and how quickly we forget the parts we
do not wish to remember!

So judgment comes to Belshazzar just as
it came to Nebuchadnezzar. God is not
mocked, what we sow we reap. May we sow
humility and the fear of the Lord, lest
we reap a whirlwind of destruction.


Anonymous said...

I have been re-reading your Daniel study, and am getting so much 'food' out of it! I think Daniel is one of the most exciting books to study!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been re-reading your Daniel study, and am getting so much 'food' out of it! I think Daniel is one of the most exciting books to study!!!