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Modern Day Daniels

Shauna Archer /Tuesday, August 23, 2022

 

The sermon series this summer at my church is from the book of Daniel – how we can be modern-day “Daniels” in a world that is often hostile to biblical values. I’m thoroughly enjoying the sermons and thought I’d share with you some lessons I learned from chapter five, better known as Belshazzar’s Feast. Let me give you some background first.

The time is 539 BC and the place is the royal palace of Babylon. Almost 70 years have passed since Daniel and the others arrived in exile from Jerusalem. Daniel is now very old. Nebuchadnezzar has been dead a long time and his grandson Belshazzar sits on the throne of the shrinking empire.

Babylon’s extravagance had few parallels in the ancient world. Historians estimate the city contained a 20-year stockpile of food and supplies. The Euphrates River, providing a reliable water supply, ran through it. Residents felt secure protected by a double line of walls over 80 feet high. Outside those massive walls, however, the Medo-Persian army had surrounded the city.

Diverting attention away from that, the king throws a massive morale-boosting banquet with the cream of Babylonian society. At some point in the festivities, the king decides to bring the temple goblets taken from Jerusalem 70 years earlier out of safe storage. He then has the audacity to pass the goblets around so people could drink from them as drunken partygoers sing praise to their useless gods. A morally dark night in Babylon to be sure.

When the party started, Daniel was nowhere to be found. But even if Daniel, God’s representative, wasn’t present, God himself was and suddenly he crashes the party in a most dramatic fashion - as a disembodied hand writing on the plaster wall. No body, no face, no torso … just fingers. The king almost faints but the fingers vanish leaving behind with four written words that nobody understands.

The king calls for his wise men and offers rulership in the kingdom to whoever can decipher the message. A chance of a lifetime which they totally fail. Then the queen mother hears the commotion and comes into the chaos. Thinking about the strange handwriting, she remembers a man who had once helped her father interpret his dreams. “Call for Daniel,” she says. “He has insight and intelligence and wisdom; he will tell you what the writing means.”

So, enter Daniel, a former hostage, now an old man.

Belshazzar doesn’t remember Daniel but nonetheless offers him the same deal given to his wise men. Daniel refuses and then proceeds to give the king a history lesson of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, a theology lesson about how not to insult God, and a reading lesson of the four words on the wall.

The end of story comes quickly and before sunrise, Belshazzar is dead and the glorious Babylonian empire comes to an end with the take-over by the Medo-Persian army.

Such an interesting read but what application does this story have for us in the summer of 2022? Here are a couple thoughts to ponder.

We don’t always get invited to the party but we do get invited to the crisis.

Friends, when the world throws a wild party of debauchery, the children of God are not invited because darkness runs from light.

We don’t fit in, and our values would just be a nuisance when the world wants to party. And to be honest, we shouldn’t expect the world to love us. Jesus’ words in John 15 tell us clearly that the world hated Jesus and it is certainly going to despise us as well.

But let a marriage break up, or let cancer hit, or let the children get in trouble, or the career hit the rocks, and who do they call?

The faithful men and women who know the Lord.

You never know your influence until a crisis comes. You may be stuck in an office cubicle or a classroom or a team or a family where you are the only Christ follower. You may feel overlooked, taken for granted, ridiculed, or misunderstood. Bide your time and don’t despair. When life comes tumbling in, the people who have no time for you or your God will turn to you for answers. They will ask how you can be calm in the face of bad news, where your strength comes from, what is it you truly believe, how you manage stress, will you pray for them. Never underestimate the power of a godly life.

Even when we think no one is paying attention, the people of the world are watching us. If we are faithful to the Lord, when trouble comes, they will know who to call and we will have the chance of a lifetime to share Christ with them.

We might be obscure in the world’s eyes, but we are instruments in God’s hands

Daniel wasn’t invited to the party but is brought to center stage by the queen. A woman of influence, her words about Daniel spoke worlds about him and his faith in God. The queen even remembers his Jewish name, calling him, “Daniel”, not his Babylonian name.

She saw his true identity and she testified to his holiness. How did she know Daniel was holy?

  • Because he had wisdom and insight that he used in powerful ways.
  • Because his conduct and integrity were impeccable.
  • Because he wasn’t at an all-night party getting drunk when trouble was just outside the gate.
  • Because he faithfully served his God in a hostile environment when he could have compromised.

Daniel’s character spoke volumes about the God that he served faithfully and although he was long forgotten by the powers of the day, he was not forgotten by God who used his steady, faithful testimony to speak truth and to give glory to God.

I take great encouragement from this fascinating story because I rarely get party invites and people often forget who I am. Maybe you feel the same way I do.

The good news for us is that God is looking for modern-day Daniels to bring his message of hope amid the chaos and noise the world creates to distract people from the truth of the gospel.

Let’s be ready to stand up and serve well when we get called into the banquet.


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Shauna Archer serves at the Saskatchewan/Manitoba Regional Coordinator for Simply Mobilizing Canada and is the Pastor of Family and Discipleship at Living Hope Alliance Church in Regina, Sask. Married to Tim and mom to two adult children, she enjoys hosting dinner parties, spending time at the cottage, and enjoying new foods. Her prayer is that God’s saving power would be known among people groups everywhere (Ps 67:1-2).



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