The Book of Daniel - Intro and Chapters 1-6


Everything Jews, Gentiles, and Christians need to know about their future is predicted in the book of Daniel.

A 1935 book, "Reckonings of Redemption", by Rabbi Shvili said: "Everything we Jews need to know about our future is predicted in the Book of Daniel." 

Now here's the good news! -- the time has finally come. The book of Daniel is now explainable and understandable. -- This has not always been true. In fact, as I began to study Daniel in more detail, I've found that few scholars or commentators had ever attempted to explore this mysterious manuscript until the latter part of the 20th Century.

Finally, the time has come to unseal the final end-time mysteries of the book of Daniel.

None of Daniel's prophecies were to be unsealed or understood - until the time of the end.

Daniel 12:9-10 says, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand."

Think of it! Mysteries that no one could begin to understand for some 2500 years are now suddenly being presented with clarity under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Let me, for a moment, whet your appetite with an amazing perspective on Daniel. -- The first thirty-five verses of chapter eleven predict one hundred thirty-five different facts. Amazingly, each of these facts, or events, has occurred and can be documented. -- If you check them out, you'll discover the passage to be 100% accurate! -- Even secular history documents the most minute points in this passage -- right down to the names of people, places, and events.

Ancient history has suddenly become modern reading. What has been sealed for twenty-five centuries is now a book with its seals removed and can be understood by any person with eyes to see and ears to hear.
The message of Daniel is simply this: the clock of history is winding down. The time of the end is approaching. - Daniel is a preview of coming attractions, and a book that runs closely parallel to the book of Revelation.

Daniel is laid out in essentially two parts:

        Chapters 1 through 6 - Part One
        A history of the times -- and a set-up for coming attractions.

        Chapters 7 through 12 - Part Two
        Events prophesied -- prophecies fulfilled.

Get ready to enjoy the ride!

The Book of Daniel - Chapter One

Daniel 1:1-2 states, " In the third year of the Reign of Jehoiakim King of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim King of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god."

The conquering of Judah. -- The nations of Egypt and Babylon were the two great military powers of the world in the latter part of the 7th Century B.C.

Both were trying to seize control of their part of the world. A major battle was coming  and it happened in the early summer of 605 B.C. - The great army of Babylon, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar, then Crown Prince, attacked Egypt in a place called Carchemish, a Babylonian city on the Euphrates River (see Jeremiah 46 for details). It was a thorough defeat for the Egyptians.

With world dominance, the Babylonians now had free reign to step into the unguarded territory of Palestine. 

By the summer of 605 B.C., they had taken control of the city of Jerusalem.

-- And this is where the story begins --

Upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar, a short time after the victory over Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar rushed home to be crowned King of Babylon.

He did not return empty-handed. He had much of the rich treasure and precious vessels that had been taken from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. -- His ungodly forces had pillaged the House of God -- a severe slap-in-the-face to the jewish people, their traditions, and their most-high God.

Also taken from battle were young, fit sons of Israel who were taken from their beloved homeland and brought to Babylon , exposed to a foreign religion and traditions that bore no resemblance to their beliefs. Among this group of young men was a teenager named Daniel.

Daniel 1:3-7 says, "Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility -- young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. the king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.

"Among these were some from Judah; Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names; to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego." (Verses 6-7)

So now Daniel finds himself a captive in a  strange land, learning the language of the Chaldeans, - the elite, privileged class of Babylon. 

Daniel had to accept the fact that he was now a member of a conquered people, forced to think no longer like a Jew, but like a Babylonian, with a clear demand that he give his full allegiance to Babylonian gods. -- This would be his greatest challenge. --

But in ways even Daniel could not have understood, he was more than adequately prepared for his new life.

Nebuchadnezzar had no idea what he had on his hands.

So unswerving was Daniel's righteousness that even in a polluted atmosphere of heathen Babylon he would find ways to make himself useful to God. -- Something we will see again and again as we move forward.

Question -- Are we in a "heathen" setting today? Our Christian atmosphere is deteriorating by the hour!

The Times of the Gentiles
Now, this is very important to remember as we move forward. - Daniel is distinctly the prophet of "the times of the Gentiles". -- This is significant because "The times of the Gentiles" continues on through the termination of Gentile world rule.

Daniel is not only the prophet of the Gentiles, but he's also a prophet to his own people, the Jews.

When Nebuchadnezzar brought the vessels into the treasure house of his gods, this was the beginning of "the times of the Gentiles", which continues until the time when our Messiah triumphantly returns.

Luke 21:24 says, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until 'the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.'"

So in 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, and Gentile dominion began.

From that time forward, Jerusalem would be controlled by Gentiles -- with one exception -- The time preceding Christ's return to set up His glorious 1,000 year kingdom upon Earth.

This exception occurred during the miraculous victory the Jewish Army experienced as they captured Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, fought June 5-10, 1967. After this conquest, the Holy City was in Jewish hands for the first time in two thousand five hundred fifty-three years!!!

The victory in 1967 began the countdown to our Messiah's coming to rule and reign at Jerusalem (see Psalm 2:6 and Matthew 5:35).

Here's why ----

Just before Christ appears upon the Mount of Olives to establish His glorious kingdom, all Gentile nations will gather together in the Valley of Megiddo and then march to the Valley of Jehoshaphat for history's final attack against Jerusalem.

At this time the Gentiles temporarily retake the city. But their victory is short-lived, because then Christ appears and destroys the Gentile armies bringing "the times of the Gentiles" to its terrible conclusion.

Christ will then reign from Jerusalem, the capitol of the world, for 1,000 years (see Revelation, chapter 20). Joel 3:2 says, "I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgement against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land." Revelation 16:16 also says, "Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon". (Also see Zechariah 14:2-16).

Here's the clincher! -- The Gentiles cannot march against Jerusalem and take it during Earth's final battle if the Jews do not control the city. The Jews must be in possession of the Holy City for such an attack. 

This is why the Six-Day War of 1967 was so prophetically significant. It prepared the way for the Battle of Armageddon and Christ's return.

Returning to Daniel, probably no more than seventeen at the time of his capture, he was a teenager beyond reproach. - He also had great influence over his three friends -- Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah. Verse four tells us they were intelligent, but with Daniel's daily influence, they learned how to rely on God. They were also fulfilling a prophecy written in Isaiah 39:7 which says, "And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon." -- This revealed that the offspring of a royal family of Judah (which Daniel was) would be taken as prisoners to Babylon, where they would hold high offices in the palace of the king.

Nebuchadnezzar and company, however, would have one problem -- names!!!

Daniel = God is judge
Hananiah = Jehovah is gracious
Mishael = Who is what God is
Azariah = Jehovah has helped

Certainly these names couldn't be shouted up and down the halls of the palace because of the constant reminder of their God. -- So they became Belteshazzar (Daniel), Shadrach, Meschach and Abednigo.

The intent was to "Babylonialize the boys", but we will see that the names would only be cosmetic in nature. -- In fact, we will see, they didn't care who heard them pray. They didn't care who saw them with their heads lifted to Heaven. They loved their God, and would honor Him at all costs.

They remained respectful to the king, but they had a greater God to serve.

In one of the great "passive resistance" protests in history, they agreed to remain unwavering in their beliefs, even if it meant taking certain life-threatening risks.

Question - What about each of us? Do we honor Him at all costs? Are we willing to "risk it all" for the kingdom?

Continuing, verses 8-16 states, "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief officer for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the officer to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the officer told Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.'

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days; give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.' So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

At the end of ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead."

Daniel and his counterparts decided and refused to eat all the rich, fatty, cholesterol-laden foods. They refused to defile themselves. But the main reason they refused was that the king's food had already been offered to the Babylonian god Marduk, and to eat the king's food would be to break the second commandment, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them: for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the father to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." (Exodus 20:4-5).

As scripture states, the guy here with the main problem is Melzar, the Prince of the Eunuchs. His job and life were on the line. His assignment was specific -- to make his charges obey the rules. They were supposed to eat the kings food like all the other Jewish boys, -- but Daniel talked him out of it with his ten-day plan. Remember, he was favored by the eunuch -- his plan was to eat pulse -- or beans -- and drink water.

As the verses reveal at the end of the ten days, they appeared to be much better off than the others. -- That's God's favor!!

Verses 17-21 says, "To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus."

As these verses reveal, Daniel and the three stood out as the best of the lot.

They had proved by their faithfulness to God -- while maintaining an attitude of courtesy and respect for their foreign ruler -- that God had sent them to the king's palace, and that they were committed to serving their God.

Our heavenly father wants us to be faithful, regardless of our circumstances. We are reminded in Ephesians 5:18 to "Be filled with the Spirit." -- The literal Greek reads, "Be being filled with the Spirit."

It is a continuous process!!

It's the kind of filling that will energize you and me, just as it provided the power for Daniel to remain faithful to God during his time of trials in the foreign land.

And just as Daniel stood boldly and confidently before King Nebuchadnezzar, so we have received the mandate to demonstrate the boldness of Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the Earth."

Daniel is not just a prophet from history, and his book is not just another book. It is our must-read guide to show us where we are headed, and the book of Daniel will take us to a fuller understanding of the latter days and the great mysteries unsealed, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar's amazing dream of a statue and Daniel's fearless interpretation.

The Book of Daniel - Chapter Two

Daniel 2:1-13 says:

In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, "I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means."

Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it."

The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me."

Once more they replied, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it."

Then the king answered, "I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me."

The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men."

This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. 

A King Dreams and is Confused
It is the year 603 B.C. and King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream so bizarre that he calls his wisest men to his chambers to give him a reasonable interpretation. - But not only did he want that, he also wanted his people to tell him what the dream was.

Unreasonable? - Absolutely!!

Of course these "mere" humans had no chance of doing his bidding. Only a person with a direct connection to God could unravel this mystery.

I think the king knew what he dreamt. I think it was his way of testing the wisdom and alleged supernatural powers of his magicians, astrologers and sorcerers. - If there was a legitimate prophet in the outfit, it was his way of finding him.

Of course, because none of them could do what the king asked, we see in verse twelve that he became furious and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be rounded up and destroyed.

This isn't the only time we've seen this sort of reaction throughout secular and religious history.

King Herod, intent on finding an heir to his throne, put out a decree to kill all Jewish baby boys in the land.
Hitler, in his cruel attempt to create his Third Reich, killed six million Jews, burned all books that threatened his reign, and more than decimated all non-Aryans under his control.
Chairman Mao, just a few years ago, threw China into convulsions with his demented "cultural revolution" -- a nation-wide witch hunt that was only an official excuse to kill and maim millions of his people.

Here we see King Nebuchadnezzar throwing the net over his kingdom to bring all of the men of wisdom to their knees and ultimately to their collective death.

Don't forget that Daniel and his friends are a part of the targeted group. -- Obviously God was setting the stage for a display of His sovereignty over the affairs of men.

Daniel 2:14:24 says:

When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king's officer, "Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?" Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
       wisdom and power are his.

  He changes times and seasons;
       he sets up kings and deposes them.
       He gives wisdom to the wise
       and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;
       he knows what lies in darkness,
       and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
       You have given me wisdom and power,
       you have made known to me what we asked of you,
       you have made known to us the dream of the king."

Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, "Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him." 

Let's look at the sequence of events here --

1.  Daniel asks for time.

2.  He was bold enough to say he would fulfill the king's demand (confidence in God)

3.  (And how we fail to do this), -- Daniel went back to his quarters and prayed with his companions. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us, "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors, they are established."

4.  The dream is revealed to Daniel. - Remember, Daniel already believed that God would give him the answer he'd need when he would soon stand before the king.

5.  Daniel praises God -- and this prayer is an excellent model for our own time with God. Daniel praises God for his wisdom. He then acknowledges that earthly rulers/kings are just that, and that God alone sets up rulers and brings them down from their man-made thrones. - He recognizes that only his God gives wisdom to the wise and has the necessary resources to bring light to that which is shrouded in darkness.

Then Daniel thanks God for the wisdom and might he's given to his servant. Daniel thanks God, giving no credit to himself, for the answers to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

Daniel 2: 25-30 says:
Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means."

The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?"

Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:

"As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind." 

In these verses, Daniel makes sure the king knows who reveals the secrets, the one and only true God. - He takes absolutely no credit for himself.

Daniel 2: 31-35:
You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.  While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. 

Daniel Reveals the Dream
"This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

"After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
"The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."(Daniel 2: 36-45)

Daniel Interprets the Dream
Daniel's description of Babylon's place in world history is fully in line with other historical references. - Babylon was the greatest power of the day.

It had always been a superior empire, with its great beauty, economic position as the center of commerce, and fabled hanging gardens --- One of the great wonders of the ancient world.

But even all these accomplishments, Daniel would say, were not King Nebuchadnezzar's doing -- but God's.

Although King Nebuchadnezzar was the "Head of Gold" in his dream, the inference was that he would not be in charge of his kingdom forever.

Daniel's message was that God was in control, and that his heavenly father would have the final say as to who would and who would not occupy all earthly thrones --- including Nebuchadnezzar's.

Now King Nebuchadnezzar was told that his kingdom would one day be swept away by a second kingdom, the kingdom of Medo-Persia.

This later became historic fact when the two cultures -- the Medes and the Persians -- united in 550 B.C. under one king to form a great world power.

This was the "silver" part of the statue and a proper representation since the Medes and Persians based their partnership on the power of money collected through an elaborate system of taxation.

Because God's word speaks only truth, Daniel's prophecy became reality when Medo-Persia defeated Babylon in 539 B.C.

But what about the third kingdom? - The belly and thighs of brass? -- The element  bronze later became a characterization of the Greek empire, primarily because the Greeks used it extensively as the material for their weapons of war.

Daniel foresaw that Greece would one day "Bear rule over all the earth." (2:39) -- History shows that Greece did dominate the world of its day.

Alexander the Great's kingdom encompassed much more of the known world that Babylon or Medo-Persia ever did. 

Again, a prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled in world history.

After the world-dominating empire of bronze, another kingdom would arise -- a fourth kingdom comprised of "two legs of iron".  This kingdom would be Rome with its "two legs" representing the expansive empires of the western Roman Empire, headquartered in Rome, and the eastern Roman Empire, with Constantinople (Byzantium) as its capitol.

This empire would also fall. - The great historian Edward Gibbon powerfully describes it in his  book entitled, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

However, just before Christ returns, this empire will revive as the "iron mixed with clay" begins to wiggle in the form of ten toes.

Only God could have given Daniel the wisdom to know what is now becoming reality for us who live in the latter days. --- According to Daniel, the final revival of the Roman Empire would be comprised of a confederation of ten nations, which would finally lead to a new world order encompassing the entire globe.

Why would they come together?

For monetary and military security and strength -- something we're already seeing as the European Union moves ahead with such plans at a very accelerated pace.

Thus, King Nebuchadnezzar's image with ten toes pictured the revival and conclusion of the Roman Empire.

The world in which you and I live -- the world of the fourth and revived fifth kingdom as prophesied by Daniel -- is going to get worse up to the moment that the great stone breaks the feet of the image.

That stone is Jesus Christ, who becomes a mountain and fills the entire earth (vs. 2:44).

One of the most profound teachings of these verses is that you and I don't have to worry about straightening out our world. - We have almighty God who is in charge of the affairs of Earth.

Jesus is the Rock on which the true church is built. You'll remember in Matthew that Jesus asked the Apostle Peter, "Whom do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of God." And Jesus said, "On this Rock I will build my church." (Matthew 16:13-18)

Christ is the Rock in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream that eventually engulfs the entire world.

Daniel 2: 46-49:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery."

Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.  

We can reasonably conclude that the dream of Daniel chapter two reveals that the Kingdom of God will soon be established in connection with the Second Coming of our Savior. Daniel 2:44 states it clearly. Go back and read it now.

It's all starting to happen. Just as the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream contained metals that degraded as they descended from God to iron to clay, so will the world in which you and I live become increasingly apostate and the more our society at large will be governed by outright militarism as its only vehicle to control the violence that is present and that is yet to come.

What was the actual purpose of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream? -- To show God's sovereign rule over the affairs of men, leading to the future Gentile world domination and its ultimate destruction, to be replaced by a kingdom and a king who would reign forever on Earth. (Matthew 6:10)

One of the reasons the Book of Daniel is so important is that it provides us with a complete scenario for the end times. -- And it all begins to wind down with the current revival of the Roman Empire, which I believe is the present-day European Union.

After this episode is completed, there is no more. This will be the last empire, and it will continue into the last days, with the Anti-Christ as the primary figure taking over the resurrected Roman Empire.

He will be a dictator of world proportions and will rule the world of His day just as King Nebuchadnezzar ruled his world as leader of Babylon. 

But for those of us who know the whole story, we need not fear the perilous times yet to come because "The stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands," (verse 45) is none other than the person of Jesus Christ, the Rock of our Salvation. 

When He returns for His own, God will establish His kingdom which will prevail in our world, and for one thousand years all beings on Earth will be tremendously blessed under the personal reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Book of Daniel - Chapter Three

In Daniel 3:1-7 we read:

“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

Then the herald loudly proclaimed, ‘This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.’

Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”

How short people's memories are! - One moment Daniel had Nebuchadnezzar's attention (chapter 2), almost persuading him of the ultimate power of the one, true God -- the next minute the king was again egocentric and self-promoting, forgetting Daniel's prophecy and its implications.

Maybe the king was simply denying his mighty Babylonian kingdom would ever really collapse and things would stay the same forever!

Question: Does this sound or seem familiar?

One minute we are on fire -- the next not
We get caught up in this world instead of God's 

Thing's will not stay the same!

Just imagine this for a moment -- this golden image of Nebuchadnezzar was ninety feet high (sixty cubits) and nine feet wide (six cubits in all, a cubit being approximately eighteen inches). While this image may simply have appeared to be little more than a massive statue, it actually holds great prophetic meaning and is another end-time mystery about to be unsealed.

Example:  The numbers 66 come together here -- the number of man (sixty cubits high and six cubits wide), resembling the number of the Anti-Christ in Revelation 13:11-18.

“Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.”

This gives us a reference to the time when the Anti Christ comes into power and his false prophet sets up an image of his likeness in the temple. -- Revelation 13:15 says, "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."

-- The comparison is striking -- 

Now apparently, Daniel is somewhere else at the time of this decree because he is not even mentioned in this chapter.

However, Shadrach, Meschak and Abednego would supposedly pay a terrible price for not giving in and bowing to this false image. -- King Nebuchadnezzar would try to have them killed!

This pictures an approaching day when the Anti-Christ carries out the same penalty on those who refuse to bow to his image and reject his mark --- 666.

It seems at first, when reading this passage, it simply appears to be a piece of Biblical history. -- but closer observation tells us that this story speaks to where you and I are today -- and where we are quickly headed.

For instance, during the Tribulation hour, the Anti-Christ will make an image of himself (Revelation 13:15), and anyone who will not worship that image will be killed, just like those who refused to bow to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar were threatened with destruction in the furnace of fire.

The only difference between the two events is magnitude. - The Tribulation hour will be a time when fire engulfs the earth. Revelation 8:7 says, "And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." - Revelation 9:18 tells us, "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone."

Accompanying all this chaos will be the Anti-Christ, who says -- If you don't worship me and my image, you're going to die.

Revelation 20:4:
"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." 

Question: What would we do if we were, or are, confronted with this situation? -- What would each of us do? -- Think about it! --

Daniel 3:8-12
"At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."

Here we see where the Chaldeans "ratted" on the Jews.

Daniel 3:13-18
"Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?’

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’”

Isn’t this good?! - We Christians today need to appreciate the resolute faith and spirit of these young men. They did not equivocate or evade the issue. They spoke their minds as children of God.

Question: How many times have we kept our allegiance to Jesus under wraps? - Would we, like Peter, deny Him by saying, "I never knew Him."?

I love how they knew, through faith, that they would be delivered one way or the other. - Compromise was not an option.

Only God knows how many millions of other faithful followers throughout history have gone to their own "fiery furnaces" or “lion's dens” for their faith -- including the torture and persecution that continues to exist throughout our world today.

Philippians 1:21 says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

It is my fervent prayer that you and I would trust our jesus enough to be just as faithful if we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Daniel 3:19-20:
"Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace."  

Again, this is more than biblical history. This is a dramatic view of Jewish people and Gentile converts.

The Bible reminds us that millions will be saved during the Tribulation hour. Revelation 7:14 says, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

So just as King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace be made seven times hotter, so the seven year Tribulation will be a hot, volatile period in which millions of God's newly born-again children will be placed in the fire of an anti-God atmosphere.

Daniel 3:21-27 
So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, 'Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?'
They replied, 'Certainly, O king.'

He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!'
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Here we see the three Hebrew children thrown into the fire and how they are miraculously delivered from harm.

Perhaps the most telling comment of all comes from the mouth of the king when he says, "The form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Verse 25 NKJV)

The fourth person in the fire is the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus has existed from all eternity.

Micah 5:2 says, 
    "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
    out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
    whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times." 

And from Matthew 2:6 we read,

    "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
    for out of you will come a ruler
    who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."

Also, Isaiah 9:6 says that He (Jesus) is "the mighty God" -

    "For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Jesus Christ is the "Son" from all eternity. Christ existed before He came to Earth. he truly is from everlasting! He is God, the second member of the trinity.

So what is the message for you and me in this passage? -- Simply this -- Whatever our trials may be, Jesus is always in our midst, giving us comfort in our greatest hours of need. Hebrews 13:5 states, "I will never leave you, nor forsake thee." That's the message for you and me. - We don't have to go through our "fiery furnaces" alone. Jesus says that He will go through them with us.

Daniel 3, verses 28-30 states, "Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.'

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon."

Here again, God blesses those who are faithful to Him. - The king has little choice but to praise God for delivering Shadrach, Meschak and Abednigo.

Again, this is more than just a story. The deeper meaning of this passage -- and of the entire chapter -- is this:

During the Tribulation period, the false prophet will set up an image of the Anti-Christ and make people bow to it. If they do not worship the image, they will be put to death.

During that same Tribulation period, the entire world will become a fiery furnace. Psalm 97:3 says, "A fire fell before Him." Ezekiel 20:47 reads, "The flaming flame shall not be quenched." Zephaniah 1:18 tells us, "The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy." Malachi 4:1 says, "The day cometh, that shall burn as an oven."

There is a terrible time coming. Jeremiah 30:7 says, "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." That's the good news!

In Daniel 12:1 we also read, "There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."

This will be a time of great difficulty for the Jews. - But there are two great statements of encouragement: "They shall be saved out of it," and "Thy people shall be delivered."

Jesus said in Matthew 24:22, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." - This is a key verse because of the word elect. Those who have accepted Christ will be saved from this horrendous time.

Now, as we move on to Chapter 4, will we continue to encounter a hostile King Nebuchadnezzar? -- Or will we begin to see some permanent changes in the attitude towards Daniel and the other three?

Chapter 4 will take us another step closer to further unsealing the end-time mysteries.

The Book of Daniel - Chapter Four

In Daniel 4:1-3 we read,

"King Nebuchadnezzar,
To the peoples, nations and men of every language, 
       who live in all the world:
       May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

  How great are his signs,
       how mighty his wonders!
       His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
       his dominion endures from generation to generation."

After the events in the previous chapters, it would appear that just maybe King Nebuchadnezzar had finally learned his lesson.

Indeed the most high God is in control of a realm much greater than this early king's -- a kingdom that will last eternally, dominating world powers for generations to come. 

This was King Nebuchadnezzar's regal attempt to tell an entire nation of the great God he had now come to honor and respect.

Daniel 4:4-18:
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

I said, 'Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. These are the visions I saw while lying in my bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.'

'In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: "Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.  But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. 

Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.

' "The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men."

This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.' "

We have now arrived at the latter part of the king's reign, and some twenty three years have passed between chapters three and four. Nebuchadnezzar has been a successful warrior abroad for most of his career, and he is now spending the remainder of his life in relative ease in his palace.

Chapter 4 could probably be called Nebuchadnezzar's spiritual biography. -- But just as leopards are not known for changing their spots, so the king remained a proud man and would later have to pay the price for forcing his subjects to worship his great golden image a generation earlier. -- We will see how the score is settled as the drama of this chapter unfolds.

Once again, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that caused him great anxiety. By now, he seemed convinced that the old guard of magicians, astrologers and wise men would not have the necessary skills to interpret his latest dream, so he brought in a new group of seers, “All the wise men of Babylon”, not just those from the palace.

This time he didn't play games by asking them to tell him his dream as he did in Chapter 2. He told the dream immediately.

Still, even the wisest in the realm were at a complete loss for an interpretation.

I wonder why he just didn't bring Daniel in immediately instead of going through the frustration of working with these other "spiritual clowns". -- They've never delivered!

Eventually, Daniel was brought before the king. By now, Nebuchadnezzar knew that only a supernatural being could interpret his latest anxiety-ridden dream, and he seemed confident that Daniel was the man to give him the answers he needed.

Now the king's latest dream was about a tree of great height, with branches heavy with enough fruit to sustain the lives of many. - But then a holy messenger (angel) descended from Heaven and commanded that the tree be cut down, leaving only a stump in the ground.

To a king who was already paranoid about losing his kingdom, this dream was one more in a painful series that indicated neither time nor the God of the Hebrews was on his side.

Let's look at this dream and its various components as they relate both to biblical symbolism and to final end-time mysteries.

Throughout the Word of God, trees represent kingdoms and powers. -- Two examples:

  1. The cedar tree usually refers to the nation of Lebanon  
       (I Kings 4:33)

2. The fig tree speaks of Israel
(Joel 1:7, Hosea 9:10 and Matthew 24:32)

Nebuchadnezzar did not know it at the time, but the great tree that reached to Heaven represented him and his vast empire.

But it was an abusive power, filled with the pride of an arrogant king who had crafted a gold image and made his subjects bow to it.

Because of this arrogance, God would cut the tree representing Nebuchadnezzar's great power to the ground -- but enough would remain (the stump) to indicate that it was still alive enough to undergo seven years of testing, a graphic picture of the seven-year tribulation period -- a time we are rapidly approaching.

During those seven years of trouble, according to the dream, the king would be stricken down. He crawled around on his hands and knees, disheveled, a madman, forced to eat grass like an animal.

This state of mental derangement would last for seven years, again representing the same duration of the Tribulation, that terrible time on Earth when millions who insist on honoring a false god will go through judgements destined to inundate the world.

How many judgements? --- 21!!

And each is listed in Revelation, Chapters 6 through 18.

Here are a few examples ---

Revelation 6:2 says the Anti-Christ appears on a white horse.

Verses 4 - 8 tell us of three more riders:

The "red horse" depicts peace being removed from the earth with cataclysmic judgements of war annihilating a third of Earth's inhabitants.

Verse 5 says the rider on the "black horse" causes mass starvation.

Verse 8 gives us the dramatic picture of a rider on a "pale horse" that causes all sorts of diseases, eliminating another fourth of the human race.
Verse 9, we see yet another judgement, where millions are slaughtered for honoring the name of God and for declaring their allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 12 speaks of judgements in the Heavens: "And behold when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”

Continuing, the judgement described in Revelation 8:1 is so terrible that it unleashes the other fourteen judgments, causing an unusual silence in Heaven for about the space of one-half hour.

The angels, knowing what is coming, are so stunned as they contemplate the future that there is a holy hush in the presence of God.

The day is rapidly approaching and the Book of Daniel is the prophecy through which these end-time mysteries are now being unsealed.

In Chapter 2, we saw the future kingdoms clearly delineated, and now we know that most of Daniel's prophecy has already happened. - There is only one part the prophecy yet to come from that statue -- the stone smashing the feet of the image -- Christ's glorious return to establish His millennial reign for one thousand years upon the earth (Revelation 20:4).

This is all going to take place soon. But, before it does, there will be the Tribulation period, pictured by the example of a mentally deranged king. 

Once again, the king turns to Daniel for the interpretation of his dream.

Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you." Belteshazzar answered, "My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!"  (Daniel 4:19)

Here we see Daniel greatly concerned about the meaning of the dream and the consequences it contained for the king whom he now worked for. -- In fact, Daniel wishes its meaning was for the king's adversaries.

-- But like it or not, it is always the role of the believer to speak the truth in love.

God says that we must warn people of the wrath to come, or their blood will be on our hands.

It is the same message Paul communicated to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction."

Daniel 4:20-27 says,

"The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air- you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

"You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.'

"This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue."

The first piece of bad news for Nebuchadnezzar was that he was, in fact, the tree. -- It was big and strong and provided food and sustenance for all -- seemingly invincible.

But Daniel's message was that this power could not last forever. As the tree in the dream, Nebuchadnezzar was literally "cut down to size".

Only the stump would remain - alive but ineffective. He would one day be revived, but only after a terrible mental illness had afflicted him.

God is determined to show King Nebuchadnezzar a lesson here. -- You'll recall the passage where Nebuchadnezzar determined to make his great image all gold because he believed that nobody was ever going to defeat him (chapter 2)? --- Well, there was a couple of things on the bottom of this tree that God showed -- bands of brass and iron! -- Again, God was showing that Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom would not last forever.

And who was telling the king about his future? -- The messenger, or watcher -- angels sent to do the bidding of their father.

The Watchers (KJV) or Messengers (NIV) Among Us -- Today!!
Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

These "watchers" see and tell all - to God. They are all around. - They protect each of us. - You'll remember when Jesus was on Earth, he said, "Do you think I cannot call on my father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53)

A legion in the Roman Army consists of a group totaling seven thousand soldiers. - Hence, twelve times seven thousand, or eighty-four thousand angels, would appear instantaneously at the word of Jesus Christ if He requested help.

Question: Do you believe there are angels around us? (Remember Hebrews 13:2)

When we read a detailed history of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, we see how proud the king was of his great accomplishments, among them a nation he had fashioned into a peaceful shelter for all - full of nutritional balance.

Because of his skills as a leader, no one in Babylon would go hungry.

---And now this great tree of plenty would be destroyed, once again with the reminder of brass and iron.

Next, an invitation was extended. -- As any good preacher would do after a powerful sermon, Daniel gave the king an opportunity to repent of his evil ways.

Up to that time, Nebuchadnezzar had been cruel to thousands of his subjects, especially during his massive building campaigns seen in Habakuk 2:11-13.

There as no promise that the king would escape from the wrath to come. But Daniel did indicate that perhaps -- just maybe -- almighty God might extend the king's era of tranquility if he would repent of his terrible acts of oppression, engage in acts of righteousness, and demonstrate a greater degree of mercy to the poor in Babylon.

Daniel 4: 28-33 says:

"All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"

The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird." 

It is now one year later, and God has been patient with Nebuchadnezzar - even though I'm sure the king hoped that Daniel would be wrong, the prophecy began to be fulfilled.

We can see the king surveying his accomplishments -- and there were many. In fact, he was undoubtedly the greatest kingdom-builder in ancient times. - Some of these accomplishments were:

Two enormous temples

Seventeen ornate religious shrines

Hanging gardens of Babylon, something the Greeks declared one of the seven wonders of the world.

The famous Ishtar Gate - magnificent with its carved bulls and four-legged dragons.

An amazing hydraulic system that carried water up from the Euphrates River to his gardens high above the city, etc.

But, as he reveled in his accomplishments, the voice from Heaven finally came, just as Daniel prophesied one year earlier.

The words of the messenger were "O king - the kingdom is departed from thee." (verse 31)

It is finally over. -- The wheels of God's kingdom may turn slowly, but they never stop turning.

Surely and firmly judgements fall when people refuse to glorify God by taking full credit for their worldly accomplishments.

Again, this is the scenario of the seven-year Tribulation period - a time in history when the greatest sin will be committed by another king - the Anti-Christ, who will magnify himself above God (Daniel 11:36). God despises and judges such arrogance. Proverbs 16:18 declares, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

Daniel 4:34-37 states, 

"At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
       His dominion is an eternal dominion;
       his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

All the peoples of the earth
       are regarded as nothing.
       He does as he pleases
       with the powers of heaven
       and the peoples of the earth.
       No one can hold back his hand
       or say to him: "What have you done?"

 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

His reason now restored, King Nebuchadnezzar swallowed his pride and raised his humbled eyes toward Heaven. - Finally, it seems he is ready to honor the true King of Heaven.

So what brought Nebuchadnezzar to this realization? It wasn't a miracle. When he saw the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace without a single hair singed or clothing burned, and a fourth person in the furnace with them, and their walking out unscathed -- that didn't make him a believer.

In the king's case, it took the sickness of a deranged mind to bring him to his senses.

The truth we have seen again and again in this chapter is highlighted in Paul's writing to the church at Rome, "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted." (Romans 6:17)

The message? -- There is hope for us all!

In I Corinthians 6:9-10 we read, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

And Paul doesn't stop there. In verse 11 he continues, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

The good news is always followed by even better news -- that none of us needs to be what we once were.

There is hope for us all -- just as there was hope for King Nebuchadnezzar.

True repentance means turning "about face" and heading in God's direction. When we do this, we no longer will want to do the evil we once did.

Yes, this is a great, historically accurate story. But the deeper, underlying message of Nebuchadnezzar's dream is that this is all simply a precursor of the coming shattering events yet to come -- seven years of tribulation -- where unbridled humans will set themselves up as new-age gods, living unholy, prideful lives and worshipping seducing spirits, even when the obvious handwriting of warning begins to appear on the wall -- the story and subject of Chapter Five.

The Book of Daniel - Chapter Five

Daniel 5:1-4 says,
King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father [a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.  As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Another title for this chapter could be "The World's Wildest Party" -- and it was hosted by Belshazzar, Grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and number two in command in Babylon. Note: I know he is called son of Nebuchadnezzar, but the Aramaic term could also mean grandson or descendent, or even successor.

It was obviously a drunken orgy of sorts where women were in abundance and wine flowed like water -- a graphic example of "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die". --  But as the story goes, they would not die tomorrow -- they would be attacked, defeated, and murdered that very night by the enemy already assembled deep beneath the city.

Let's take a look at who Belshazzar was. -- He was the son of Nebonidus and grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebonidus was a great military warrior and was always away on military missions to add territory and subjects to his mighty Babylon. In his absence, Babylon was left in control of his son, Belshazzar.

The problem starts when young Belshazzar makes the mistake of using the holy vessels that his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar stole from the Temple in Jerusalem.

As far as we know, Nebuchadnezzar committed no sacrilege with these hallowed vessels - to his credit.

It would appear that Belshazzar couldn't care less! He wanted to party and had no concern as to what kind of cups his servants poured the wine in. 

Now imagine the scene: young Belshazzar is in charge of the affairs of state -- so what does he do? -- Dad's out of town so let' party! -- And during the bash he desecrated the Jewish Temple vessels -- goblets that told the story of God's redemption through blood.

Hebrews 9:22 says, "Without shedding of blood is no remission of sins." The Jews also believed that blood makes an atonement for sins (Leviticus 17:11).

Alcohol certainly created a real and serious problem for this young ruler, and it is no less of a problem in the age in which you and I live:

    More than half of all auto accidents are alcohol related
    Liquor has destroyed more families than anyone can imagine
    It has ruined careers
    It has crippled relationships
    It leaves many mentally incompetent

Warnings about alcohol have been in the Bible for thousands of year. I think it's important to quote a few verses to indicate what God thinks about the issue:

Proverbs 20:1 - 
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Provers 23:29-35 -
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
       Who has strife? Who has complaints?
       Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

Those who linger over wine,
       who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
       when it sparkles in the cup,
       when it goes down smoothly!

In the end it bites like a snake
       and poisons like a viper.

Your eyes will see strange sights
       and your mind imagine confusing things.

You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
       lying on top of the rigging.

 "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt!
       They beat me, but I don't feel it!
       When will I wake up
       so I can find another drink?"

Proverbs 23:20-21 - 
Do not join those who drink too much wine
       or gorge themselves on meat,

for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
       and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Habakkuk 2:15 -
Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
       pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
       so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.

Ephesians 5:18 - 
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. (Debauchery: To lead astray morally; corrupt, or an orgy).

The judgement of God is upon those who drink, upon those who get drunk, and equally, upon those who serve strong drink to others to get them intoxicated.

Here are two passages of scripture which state that no drunkard can enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he repents of this sin and turns to God;

I Corinthians 6:9-10 - 
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galations 5:19-21 - 
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So here we see a young, careless leader throwing a party of sin, and then adding insult to injury by the sacrilege of using God's sacred utensils in the process.

Daniel 5:5-9 - 
Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.

The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers [a] and diviners to be brought and said to these wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom."

Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.

The Handwriting on the Wall
I wonder what it would have been like to be at a party, and all of a sudden, this human hand just appears and begins writing on the wall? -- I would suppose that had this taken place in the 60's or 70's, it would have been considered a cool thing, but unless a person was totally wasted, this would be really frightening.

But Belshazzar had not arranged this event, and apparently, he had enough of his wits about him to call the party to a halt as the disembodied hand appeared and began writing a message on the plaster wall.

The message was clearly written - a warning of judgement to come because of desecration of the Temple utensils designed to honor God.

The N.I.V. says that "His face turned pale, and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way (verse 6).

The party was over and I'm sure Belshazzar wasn't the only one who wished it would have ended an hour earlier. -- Seeing a hand writing on the wall would be a scary thing.

So once again, the wise men are summoned. This time, not to interpret a dream, but to attempt to analyze the handwriting on the wall. And, as before, they had no clue as to the meaning of the handwriting.

Panic sets in, until the Queen Mother, the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, reminds Belshazzar of the man named Daniel who seems to know how to unravel these mysteries.

Daniel 5:10-12 says,
The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. "O king, live forever!" she said. "Don't be alarmed! Don't look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king, I say—appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. This man Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means."

Now, the Queen Mother is basically telling Belshazzar how his Grandfather Nebuchadnezzar used to call upon Daniel in situations like this.

She knew that Daniel had the Spirit of the Holy God in and upon Him and because of it, had the answers.

Daniel was around 17 years old when he was first brought to Babylon from Jerusalem, and now he was approaching his mid-80's. During this entire time in captivity he kept the power of the Holy Spirit on him -- and the Queen Mother knew it. 

How did Daniel keep this power upon him during his years in Babylon? - By praying and spending time in God's precious book.

Daniel knew the scriptures, and remained touched by God's word in the pagan land to which he had been brought so many years earlier.

Later, Peter would write in I Peter 2:2, "Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." - In other words, study scripture!

That was Daniel's secret then, and it is the source of our strength today as we move swiftly to the end of the age and to the final un-sealing of the end-time mysteries.

Daniel lived on his knees before God, and when one lives like that - from teen years to senior citizenship - that person will be such a spirit-filled being that even the enemies of God will sit up and take notice.

Daniel understood the secret of life, and therefore, whenever called on to speak God's truth to a perverse generation of Babylonians, he was ready with the correct and fitting word of God.

Question: Is Daniel your model today?

Then Daniel 5:13-16 goes on to say, 
So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, "Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom."

By now, I'm sure the party was over, and would imagine that most of the guests had sobered up quite quickly. -- Who wouldn't?! -- A disembodied hand writing on a plaster wall would have that kind of effect, you would think.

No one was probably too excited to see Daniel at this point -- but was apparently needed to figure things out. -- It appears that he was as sharp and alert as the day he was brought in from Jerusalem to Babylon -- and, as always, he knew who he was, and whose he was. He could have cared less about the king's offer of a purple robe and gold chain.

What value were such temporal rewards to him?

As modern Christians, it seems that we often get confused on this issue. -- We all like to be rewarded for the good things we do, often asking, "How much am I going to get for doing this?" -- Who's going to notice me if I do this Good deed?"

But this is not the way of Christ. Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 

"Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you."

This is the Spirit we must maintain during this end-time hour, -- but it certainly is not the present spirit of Christiandom.

If one were to study any Bible concordance on adultery, fornication, or licentiousness -- and then look up the word covetousness -- he or she would discover that immorality and materialism run neck and neck. -- They are that close in God's sight.

God hates the sin of loving money and an obsession with material possessions as much as he hates the sin of immorality.

Daniel 5:17-24 says, 
Then Daniel answered the king, "You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

"O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.

"But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

What was to be a fun evening at the palace turns out to be "sermon time" for Daniel.

Daniel took advantage of this time by talking about his relationship with Balshazzar's grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar.

He was giving Belshazzar a refresher course in the life of the former king. -- He pulled no punches! -- Daniel told it like it was, and his message was: "King Nebuchadnezzar genuinely learned his lesson when one day he called on the only true God of mercy -- but you, young man, have not yet seen the light, and you are going to pay ultimately for desecrating the sacred utensils set apart for Temple worship.

This was a sermon to an un-humbled heart, addressed to a man who was drinking out of God-honored vessels to gods that could neither see no hear.

That's what idolatry was all about then, and that's what worshipping other 'gods' is about today!!

Psalm 115:4-8 states, 

But their idols are silver and gold,
       made by the hands of men.

They have mouths, but cannot speak,
       eyes, but they cannot see;

they have ears, but cannot hear,
       noses, but they cannot smell;

they have hands, but cannot feel,
       feet, but they cannot walk;
       nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

Those who make them will be like them,
       and so will all who trust in them.

Daniel is saying the same thing to Belshazzar.

Daniel concluded by saying that the young ruler, too, would pay a dreadful price for his wicked, reprehensible deeds because God promises to bring every work into judgement. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, "For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

Daniel 5:25-28 then goes on to say:

"This is the inscription that was written:
Mene , Mene , Tekel , Parsin 

"This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

Here we see Daniel's interpretation of the words written on the wall by a dis-embodied hand, words which in Aramaic appeared as "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres”.

The reason for repeating the word mene (meaning, "your days are numbered"), is that the Medes and Persians were, at that very moment, waiting to make their move into the city to subdue it, so there was a "mene" for each one -- one for the Medes and one for the Persians. - They were already assembling beneath the city walls, gathering for the attack, just as God predicted the event on a plaster wall for all to see.

Then Daniel turned to the word tekel (meaning, "You are weighed in balances and are found wanting").

Belshazzar was lacking in everything -- morals, integrity, the fear of God, - you name it.

Daniel 5:29-31,
Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of 62. 

It was Babylon's version of Pearl Harbor - a sneak attack. -- Just as America was ill-prepared on that fateful day, so too was Babylon. -- How these two great armies made their way into the city is a military strategy worth mentioning.

Here's how they won the day. -- Babylon was built on the Euphrates River, with a huge wall-like fort surrounding it. It was so formidable that no one could scale it.

To ensure even greater security, the moats around the walls were filled with water, so enemies would have to swim across and through those deep waters if they were to have any chance at approaching the city wall.

With these precautions firmly in place, the Babylonians lived with a strong sense of security. -- But they didn't count on the military cunning of the Medes and Persians under their rulers, Darius and Cyrus.

The two put their heads together and figured out a way to enter - and capture- the city.

First, they blocked off the flow of the Euphrates River until the water around the city dried up. Then, they waited until the Moat was dry, stepped into it, dug a trench under the wall, and in full battle gear, marched through the underground canals into the city, while Belshazzar's party was in full swing. 

It was an enormous military success! That same night, only moments after the handwriting had appeared on the wall, the troops entered the hall and killed Belshazzar.

At age 62, Darius the Mede took command of the kingdom. It was an end of an era. -- As Daniel had prophesied years before to Belshazzar's grandfather.

The Book of Daniel - Chapter Six

Daniel 6:1-3 says,

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

When we think of the Book of Daniel, we seem to always remember "Daniel in the Lion's Den."

Unfortunately, for many, that's all they know about this great, mysterious book that provides information on multiple end-time events that only now, in our generation, are being unsealed- something we'll investigate in greater depth in chapters seven through twelve.

But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. -- First, some background...

Daniel had now served under six administrations as a faithful, wise, competent counselor - all the more remarkable since he was a Jew, a member of that reluctant group of captives brought from Jerusalem to Babylon, and also one who never really fit into this foreign culture.

Daniel was a survivor because God gave him the strength and courage to stand up for his faith. - And now, in Chapter 6, we are going to see that strength tested again.

For anyone to serve six political administrations is a tremendous feat. That's one of the reasons I admire Billy Graham and the enormous respect he has earned as counselor and friend to six U.S. Presidents. That's a long, impressive history of relationships with our nation's top leaders. -- It was also a long time for Daniel.

For this man of God it had all started with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ultimately lost his kingdom when Babylon was handed over to the Medes and Persians that fateful night when Belshazzar was pre-occupied with wine, women and song.

Then, the handwriting began to appear on the wall and the Medo-Persian conquest occurred as the new leaders immediately executed 3,000 political prisoners, including all of Babylon's princes and presidents.

However, as you'll recall, at the last moment of his life, Belshazzar made Daniel the third in command. --

Imagine this scenario if you were Darius or Cyrus, leaders of the Medes and Persians: you conquer a nation, raid and pillage virtually everyone and everything in sight, you kill all the country's key leaders -- yet despite your best efforts at assuming complete control, there is still this person, Daniel, who is #3 in the kingdom -- and seemingly can't be eliminated.

Why wasn't he killed with the others?

Why was Daniel, of all people, left to survive and to become a nuisance to the new administration?

The only answer I can give is that God always sets up those He wants elevated.

God had a plan for Daniel's life, and now even the new kings find themselves appreciating Daniel and is administrative abilities - so much so - they make him a president in their kingdom. - So Daniel was one of three appointed heads of state -- at 85 years of age!

Daniel 6:4-9 - 
At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."

So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." So King Darius put the decree in writing.  

In actions that demonstrated their anti-Semitism, the Gentile administrators were determined to find a way to get rid of Daniel once and for all. - How could they possibly tolerate the presence of a Jew in such a high position? - One greater than their own - but they would need some "mud" in order to trap Daniel -- but through all their searching, they could find no improprieties in his records. This man was clean! -- I'm sure as much as they hated to admit it, this Daniel was as good as everyone said he was.

Note: I wonder how many of our politicians today could pass such scrutiny -- (money, power, success, corruption, owed favors, etc.).

His (Daniel) only Achilles' heel was that he served God, one that was different from their own gods.

What a terrific indictment!! - Wouldn't it be great if our detractors were to say the same thing about you and me?! - It will only be said if we walk as the Bible instructs and that we can be separated from the rest of the world.

Moving on, in discovering this weakness in Daniel, these fellow administrators figured they'd found the "smoking gun" they were looking for, and that's when the treachery began.

So now these "associates" go to Darius with their newly developed scheme to catch Daniel in the "act of praying".

Its important to remember that it was not just a few who plotted against Daniel. - There were 120 princes and three presidents - the first of whom was Daniel. That means that either all, or an overwhelming majority had turned against him.

How could any politician survive these odds?!!

And it all  started with a "little" sin called jealousy. -- Some might say, "I don't get drunk, I don't commit adultery, I don't steal, I've never killed anyone..." -- But if your heart is filled with envy, that "little" sin will remove you from the presence of God eternally unless repentance occurs.

Galations 5:19-21 -
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

God's word is constantly reminding us to check out our hearts, and find out if we are envious of the position, wealth, or appearance of others.

Daniel didn't compare himself with the "Smiths and Joneses" of his day and neither should we. Daniel had much higher goals, and his message to us is that if we are to truly know God, we too must have goals and objectives that reflect our love of the Savior.

Meanwhile, Daniel's enemies got their way as they pushed through the decree that promised the lion's den for anyone who worshipped any other god other than the king.

Seemed like a fool-proof idea! - Finally, they would get this Jew who had been elevated to such a high position of leadership.

Daniel 6:10-15 -
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?"
The king answered, "The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."

Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day." When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed."  

These verses are a mini-treatise of what true friendship is all about, even though it may seem to be expressed in a context we might not expect.

Here is a powerful king, Darius, who has signed a decree under considerable duress, now only to be made aware that his friend, counselor, and confidant, Daniel, has been caught in the act of praying to the God of the Hebrews.

Have you seen this? - Or maybe even done it yourself? -- "Scratch the eyebrows" (or foreheads) as we've bowed our heads and spoken a quick prayer in a public place, hoping that no one would see us praying? -- When I was younger I was sometimes guilty of this! -- But not Daniel! - He always held firm and never compromised!

Daniel knew the decree had been signed and that his life was on the line -- yet, he continued to pray three times a day, as was the Jewish custom -- and not just pray, but pray before an open window! - He wanted everyone to know what he was doing and to  whom he gave his allegiance as he bowed his head humbly toward Jerusalem, not toward the headquarters of the Medes and Persians.

Matthew 10:32-33 reminds us that, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

It was true in Daniel's day, and it is true in ours. God doesn't put much stock in would-be believers who quietly "scratch their eyebrows" for fear of being caught in the act of praying.

Later, Jesus added in Mark 8:38, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

While the first six chapters of Daniel are more historical and devotional, do not forget that the essential content of Daniel -- seen more graphically in the last six chapters -- is about the return of Messiah, the coming again of Christ, a moment in time when Jesus will remind us that if we have been ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us.

It cuts both ways!!

Power hangs heavy on the heads of kings and rulers, and this night, the head of Darius was heavy indeed. He had to have realized that his staff had tricked him just so they could get their man.

Darius had come to love and admire Daniel. It didn't seem to matter that he was a Jew in exile, that he was well up in years, or that he continued to worship the God of Abraham.

Daniel was his friend -- but now his friend was about to be thrown into a den of lions - and it was, for all intents and purposes, his fault.

He had signed the proclamation. - He had bowed to the pressure of putting himself in a position to be worshipped. - Now, he would pay the consequences by losing his friend and confidant.

Daniel 6:16-18 says, 

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"

A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. 

Here we see King Darius in a tough position. He had to follow through, and Daniel was brought to what all assumed would be his imminent death.

But note what the king said in verse 16, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" - What a vote of confidence! - Darius was obviously rooting for his friend Daniel and praying that his God would see him through this. -- But would it be enough to spare Daniel the pain and physical destruction of his body?

Some people wonder why Darius used the lion's den when the fiery furnace was still in existence. - This is because the Babylonians, the former rulers, made it their practice to use the furnace as the primary vehicle to execute dissidents and enemies, as they'd attempted to do with Shadrach, Meschak and Abednigo.

But now, under a new administration - the Medes and Perisans - this was not the appropriate means of execution. - Here's the reason: the Medes and Persians gave their allegiance to a religion called Zoroastrianism, and they worshipped the fire god, Atar. -- For them to use fire to execute their enemies would be to desecrate their teachings, putting them in the arena of religious sacrilege.

Their alternative to fire was a den of lions. Now, it was time for Daniel to be put into this den.

With the stone on the den now firmly in place -- sealed by the king and then again by his officials -- the scene was ready to unfold.

Apparently Darius did not choose to see what he feared might be the inevitable. - Instead, he returned to the palace and a sleepless night in his worry over the fate of Daniel.

Daniel 6: 19-23 - 
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king."

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 

Maybe some of you've had a loved one who was sent to the hospital emergency room. You prayed all night for his or her recovery. - But you received no word! - All night you wondered, worried, and prayed for this person. Then, early the next day, you jumped into your car and rushed to the hospital to check on this person you care so much for.

This appears to be the way Darius felt when he rose from his bed. -- He didn't wait around to be fed or coddled as kings generally are. He had one objective and that was to go to the lion's den and check on the condition of his friend.

When Darius arrives on the scene, what does he cry out? "Daniel, servant of the Living God." This is very interesting to me because by him saying this, he's admitting that his gods are dead!

Darius then cries out to Daniel and the response was what he'd been hoping for. - Daniel tells the king that an angel had protected him.

It's no accident that the writer of the book of Hebrews would later write about this victorious deliverance when he stated in Hebrews 11:33, "...who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions...".

Indeed God had closed the mouths of these hungry lions, and Daniel's life was spared.

Picture the scene: a king and his friend are re-united. The prayers of both men are heard as God again rewarded Daniel's loyalty, faith and allegiance.

Daniel 6:24 then says,
At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

The wheels of justice moved swiftly that day as the king commanded that all 120 princes, two presidents, and their families be rounded up and brought to the cavern.

The law of the Medes and Persians stated that whatever punishment was handed out to a leader, his family would also experience. -- So, if we consider an average family of the day to be four persons, there may have been as many as 500 individuals dropped into the den that day.

No more would Darius be subjected to their jealousy and rage. - The punishment they'd designed for Daniel was now their own undoing. -- By also killing his leader's families, the king had eliminated the possibilities of reprisals, and even potential assassination attempts on himself.

The message of this passage? Be careful not to attack the prophets of God! -- God's duly ordained ministers.

Psalm 105:15 says, "Touch not thine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." -- It is our responsibility and duty to obey God, and to give honor and respect to those who declare the word of truth.

Some of today's "lions" waiting to devour God's servants may not be of the four-legged variety -- but they, too, will surely pay the price if they demonstrate by their actions that they are failing to live in obedience to God's warning about his servants.

Daniel 6:25-28 then goes on to say:

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land:
       "May you prosper greatly!

"I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
       "For he is the living God
       and he endures forever;
       his kingdom will not be destroyed,
       his dominion will never end.

He rescues and he saves;
       he performs signs and wonders
       in the heavens and on the earth.
       He has rescued Daniel
       from the power of the lions."

 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

So the gods of Zoroaster and Atar, the god of fire, could not do the job. -- The lions could not do what the enemy had set them up to do. - Treachery had not won the day.

It was the "Living God" who again stepped in and reminded the Gentiles' establishment that enough was enough.

I wonder if King Darius fell on his knees that day and accepted the true God of Heaven. -- He saw that his gods were pretty much worthless.

We've all been there in some form. -- Where all our best laid plans, investments, manipulations of people and events -- they've simply not given us what we really want from life.

We must always remember that there comes a time when only the Holy Spirit can do the job. Jesus said, in John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw them..."

This is one of the key messages of this chapter. It is more than a lion's den -- its a narrative of God's enormous power, great love compassionate mercy, overwhelming friendship, and timeless reality that He will always have the last word.

These first six chapters are a prologue to the great prophecies yet to come. -- Now we will move into the prophetic portion of the Book of Daniel, Chapters 7 through 12.

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