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Daniel 5:1-31 ~ 2 Peter 2:1-22
Psalm 119:113-128 ~ Proverbs 28:19-20
Old Testament - Daniel chapter 5 is the infamous "the writing is on the wall" chapter... Not a good sign to see writing on the wall... This chapter is of huge importance to the Babylonian dynasty - because this chapter is the very last day of Babylon the empire. The next day everything goes to the Persians & Medes and Cyrus will be taking over the roost. Daniel chapter 5 verse 1 starts us out with - "A number of years later.." This chapter takes place in 539 B.C., whereas chapter 4 with Nebuchadnezzar took place before his death in 562 B.C. So, at least 23 years have past between chapter 4 & 5 - and several leaders of Babylon have passed by, leaving Belshazzar, who has 1 day more...
Verses 1 through 4 in the chapter unfortunately describe an orgy taking place, utilizing gold and silver cups taken from the Temple in Jerusalem decades earlier by Nebuchadnezzar. Unwisely, Belshazzar and the crew toast false idols with these sacred cups of God - at which point immediately the hand begins writing on the wall, and verse 6 tells us about Belshazzar - "Such terror gripped him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him." Think he had reason to be scared like this? Why?
As Daniel is called in to interpret the writing, verse 17 jumps out as Daniel tells Belshazzar - "Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means." Daniel is obviously quite bold in this case - he does not defer to Belshazzar being the king, and the seemingly right thing to do would be to take the gifts. Daniel simply says - keep 'em! Bold... A righteous boldness, no? Plus, you gotta think that Daniel's seen a lot in Babylon in his time and he's ready to cut to the chase and just interpret the writing. He doesn't need earthly gifts or honor.... Do we seek earthly gifts and honor in our lives? Should we? Can we learn from Daniel?
Before interpreting the dream Daniel gives Belshazzar and old fashioned lecture which culminates in verse 22 as he speaks of Nebuchadnezzar being humbled by God - ""You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself." Basically, Daniel is saying - you should have known better. You knew better. You saw Nebuchadnezzar's mistakes. You did not learn. Are we like this sometimes? Should we know better?
Verse 27 is worth reflecting upon - "You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting." (NIV). Very interesting to think about a godly scale. A scale that maybe looks at how we invest our time, money, love, life, worship? Are we investing in things that are eternal? Obviously, through the opening verses Belshazzar was simply investing his life into himself, his lusts and his desires. And hence, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN was written on the wall...
Pretty interesting to think that the great kingdom of Babylon went down like this in one chapter...
New Testament - 2 Peter chapter 2 is a strong one that looks at the danger of false teachers - both in the Old Testament times through false prophets and also in the early church in the 1st century. I have to confess that as I read this chapter I think of some current books and movies and teachers in our modern world that I am afraid may apply to some of the warnings of this chapter. Do you believe that their might be false teachers also in our world today? Teachers that distort the Gospel message? Teachers that steer people away from Truth and into Darkness? Teachers that are in it for the money?
Verses 2 & 3 warn us that - "Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of them, Christ and his true way will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money." At the time Peter wrote this letter the shameful immorality was primarily sexual sin. The false teachers were allowing / encouraging people to basically do what they want sexually. That there is no theological or spiritual or personal damage that will come with sexual do-whatever-the-heck-you-wantness... (okay, that's not in the Bible - I made that up). Do we see this type of teaching today? Is this type of teaching true? Is it false? Is it shameful? Do you believe that sex can be damaging to you outside of the proper context? Verse 19 warns again - "They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves to sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you." What controls you? (could be love for God and his ways, which is great. or it could be something else?)
Verse 20 is a tricky one in that some might argue that this proves that you can lose your salvation - "And when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before." The Zondervan NIV commentary suggests that this verse does not indicate that you can lose your salvation - but, instead, that some may have "learned" about Jesus, but not truly accepted him as Lord and Savior and not truly believed in his life, death for sins, and resurrection. So, they weren't saved in the first place, but just "learned" about God, but then retreated back to their old ways.
Psalms - Psalm 119 verse 114 is beautiful a beautiful reflection on our relationship with God and his Word, the Bible - "You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my only source of hope." What is your source of hope?
Proverbs 28 verse 19 is a great reminder to not "chase after fantasies", but to work hard - and be trustworthy in your work per verse 20!
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!