Let's turn in our bibles to Daniel, Chapter 1, let’s go right to prayer. Heavenly Father, you know what we have been going through this week, you know the things that consume our minds, our children, issues at home, issues in the workplace and Father, I pray that this would be a wonderful and divine distraction from all of those things as we realize something really, it's not a distraction but its instruction.
We learn it from this book that no matter what is going on, our God id truly in-charge and when we understand that, the effect that it can have on our lives in terms of our outlook and our rest is phenomenal. So we pray that we could learn even in part, even by flying over, we can learn these lessons in this terrific book. We ask it in Jesus name, amen.
Well, a few years ago I had a privilege of going to Iraq. Now you know here a lot of people saying those words these days, but I went in with the whole bunch of Big Rig 18-wheeled trucks and we brought in about 34,000 "Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes" for little kids who were in Iraq and we gave them in the name of Jesus Christ and it was a terrific witness.
One of those days, I had the rare privilege of going down the ruins of the City of Babylon, the very city, we are reading about tonight the City of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time it was the city of Saddam Hussein and he was building a palace next to Nebuchadnezzars, but I got to see the Ishtar Gate and the Den where Daniel was thrown in with the lions and the huge hall in Chapter Five where Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wall. It was terrific.
I want to just sort of start out by telling you a little bit about Babylon, the setting of this book. There was a man in history named Nabopolassar and Nabopolassar was the founder of the Babylonian empire. Nabopolassar had a son that he named Nebuchadnezzar and he gave him the name because the name Nebuchadnezzar means, "O, Nebo protect my son."
Now you got to at laugh at that because as you follow the history of Nebuchadnezzar, we find out that Nebo was an unable to protect Nebuchadnezzar. In fact Nebuchadnezzar, towards the end of his life will say, there is no other God except Yahweh, the God of the Jews. So God once again is in-charge even of this pagan king's life.
Now before all of that happens, in history he had quite a reputation for being a man, that is Nebuchadnezzar, with a very hot temper and a very short fuse. He was the guy in Chapter 3 who would throw people into a burning fiery furnace, if they didn’t bow to his image. He was the guy back in Second Kings 25, who took king Zedekiah of Judah, killed his sons in front of his eyes and then put of the eyes of the king, so the last living memory he would have is that of his own children being killed before his eyes. He was a tyrant and we will see that even in the early verses of this book.
This is how this book really came about. The year 605 BC is an important year, you should know it, you probably already do. In the year 605 BC, a strategic battle that determined the fate of the whole world at that time took place, at a place called Carchemish, the famed battle of Carchemish between the Egyptians and Babylonians.
The Babylonians won that victory because they beat the Egyptians, the other superpower in the world, it was now lopsided and world domination went squarely to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The rest of the world after Carchemish, slim pickings or I should say easy pickings and so after Carchemish, he swept down into Judah and in 605 BC, that was the first attack against Jerusalem, remember, there were three of them, we already told you about that 605, 597, 586 which you already know that.
605 BC is when Daniel as a little kid, probably 15 years of age, is captured and taken to Babylon. Little Daniel, a 15-year old kid becomes a face on the Milk Carton in Judah, is captured. He is taken all the way to Babylon and there he will spend his life.
Now why does all this happen? It happens because of Israel’s idolatry and because God has a plan that includes young Daniel. Now, I am just going to briefly outline the book, it's very easy, two slices of this book. You could cut it directly in half, chapters 1-6 and chapters 7-12, it’s exactly cut in half.
The first six chapters are historic chapters. They give you the storyline throughout the history of Daniel in Babylon. The second 6 chapters are prophetic; it’s really in a appendix to the whole book. It’s not in chronological order, but these are the visions largely received by Daniel who is in Babylon.
So the first 6 are historic, that’s not to say that they are not also prophetic because they are and the second 6 are prophetic, that’s not to say they don’t have a historical context because they do, but that’s how it is divided. Now here is a problem we have with Daniel, ready for it? Here is the big problem with Daniel.
Daniel is so incredibly detailed in prophecy, in predicting the future, that’s skeptics through the years have said, there is no way it could have been written when it says it was written, that far back and so they say, probably somebody must have written it around the Intertestamental period, between the Old and the New Testament around like 170 BC, the Maccabean period.
It must have been written not as prophecy, but as history after these things have already happened, somebody wrote it as if it were prophecy. Well, that would make it a forgery, wouldn’t it? And then we have to discount everything Jesus ever said and not trust him because Jesus said, Daniel is a prophet.
When you see the abomination said, Jesus of desolation spoken by Daniel, the prophet. Jesus assigns the authorship to Daniel and calls it a prophetic book. So if you are going to throw out Daniel as being late dated then you have to throw out the words of Jesus Christ. I think it's safe to say, that this book is a monument in prophetic literature.
Daniel, Chapter 1, Verse 1. 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 gave Jehoiakim, the king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his God; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his God. Question, who is in-charge here? Answer, God.
Now, notice how it’s worded. God assumes full responsibility for handing Judah and its king into the enemy territory, the Babylonians who wanted to destroy them. So, yeah, Nebuchadnezzar was a strong dude. He won the battle of Carchemish, but in reality we discovered Nebuchadnezzar is just pawn on God's chess board. God moves him around. As it says in the Book of Proverbs, the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord and like the water courses, he steers it wherever he desires. God is firmly in-charge.
Now why are they in Babylon? Once again review judgment. Judgment because of why? Idolatry, oppression, failure to keep the sabbatical year, 490 years, so for 70 years they are placed in this foreign land. Reason number two, so that God could set up this young 15-year old Milk Carton kid named Daniel in such a bright vibrant contrasting light to all the pagan worshipers of that land, so that God would get the glory as Daniel in Babylon gives the backbone of all prophetic scripture.
Now I think that’s important to understand. Whenever we're in trouble, whenever things aren’t going very well, that’s when we question God. How could God have allowed, allow me to suffer? I know he allows other people to suffer, but not me. I am his special child. We start questioning Gods love or we say whenever there is a trouble, it must be the devil. Right it’s always the devils fault or we question God's love.
Why couldn’t have both be true? Why couldn’t, the devil be working hard, but God working even harder and overriding anything that devil would want to do. Remember what Joseph said, after being sold into slavery by his brothers, when he finally met his brothers, what did he say? He said, "As for you, you meant this for evil, but god meant it for good." So God was in-charge even in the bad times of life, and so too here. Go down to Verse 6.
Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them, the Chief of the Eunuchs gave names. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar which means Beltis protect the king. To Hananiah, he gave the name Shadrach, to Mishael, Meshach, and to Azariah, Abednego.
One of a person's most private and personal possessions is his or her name. When you steal a person's name, you are robbing that person of their identity, and the whole idea here is to strip them of any spiritual identity of the past and give them a new pagan spiritual identity because the goal is to take these young men and conform them to Babylonian Standards.
Now that's always the way it is. You know that's the way it is for us. We live in a world that's hostile to the things of God. We live in a world that wants to conform you to its image, right? And it uses anything it can, what's cool, the media, songs, any way to get you to conform to worldly standards and so all of this brainwashing would take place for the ablest people of any conquered land and there were four among Judah, who fit that description.
Verse 8; "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank, therefore he requested to the Chief of the Eunuchs that he might not defile himself."
Now, here is what's going on. For a long period of time, they would bring in the finest caterers of the royal court of Babylon and they would give them luxurious, sumptuous, pampered meals, why? So that they would think, man, I have it really good here, this is a great place, this isn't bad, this is good. Moreover to get to think why should I believe in Yahweh, my God, the God of the Jews; He didn't protect me from these guys. He didn't help me. He didn't deliver us, and this is really good here. I am being rewarded here.
Now Daniel could have easily said this. Look I am alone, I have only got three buddies here, nobody really knows me in this land. Nobody is looking. I can compromise and be like the Babylonians, when in Babylon, be like the Babylonians. But here is the thing about Daniel, whether he is in Jerusalem surrounded with God's people, or in Babylon surrounded by pagan people, he is the same guy and he is only 15. He is a young teenager who has his bearings on God and he is focussed on God and nothing is going to break him, he will not defile himself, why? Because he purposed in his heart, that's sort of the premise of the whole book.
Now, in Chapter 2 and I am moving hopefully rather quickly. We see how God uses insomnia, Daniel is now in the court, he has been there for sometime, he is in the background, however, at this time and the King Nebuchadnezzar can't sleep. Verse 1. In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, the Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, and his spirit was so troubled, better translation agitated, disturbed, that his sleep left him.
Now this is not unusual, power has a price tag, authority has a price tag, anybody in the position of leadership and authority and power has to pay a price. I mean, there is a lot of stuff going on in a kingdom like this, your mind is going, you can't turn it off. Somebody once said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." Problems by day become fears by night. He is taking his problems to bed.
There was a minister who asked a young boy, he said, "hey, little boy, do you say your prayers every night?" The little boy said, "I sure do. Yes sir, I pray every night." And so the minister said, "Little boy, may I ask you another question? Do you pray during the daytime?" The little boy said, "No, I ain't scared during the day only at night."
When Nebuchadnezzar was troubled, agitated, bothered, scared about something. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, the chaldeans to tell the king his dreams, so they came and stood before the king. Now, look at that list, it sounds like a whole list from a celtic new age bookstore, this is the cream of the celtic crop in Babylon.
Verse 3, and the king said to them, "I've had a dream and my spirit is anxious to know the dream." Now everybody dreams. You say, I don't dream. You don't remember it, but for the most part, almost all human beings dream and about 90 minutes into the sleep cycle, you start your first episode of a dream and then about every hour-and-a-half, every 90 minutes throughout the night, for longer intervals of time, the dream develops and sometimes you remember them and sometimes you don't, it's very natural thing. Human beings dream.
The way it works is the large neurons in the base of the brain fires spontaneously and they send stimuli up to the cerebral cortex, it's just a normal, natural, physiological thing, but sometimes, God uses dreams to convey his message and when he does, in the Bible, it's recorded.
Joseph had a dream about the moon and the stars and the sun bowing down to him, and got them into trouble. Later on, others had dreams. Pharaoh had dreams. He was able to give the interpretation of those dreams. Jacob had a dream when he was running away toward Aram and he saw the angels of God ascending and descending.
Joseph in the New Testament was warned by God and instructed by God through dreams. This unbelieving king has given a dream that bothers him and so he calls in the people whose job it is to interpret dreams. It's their forte to interpret dreams, however here is the catch.
You got to tell them your dream first, and then they will tell you what it means. Of course, you get the idea anybody can make up an interpretation, right, and you can sort of be like a fortune cookie, and be very generic. It will rain somewhere today. You will have a surprise sometime. You know, you can be so generic, it's like duh and I think that Nebuchadnezzar figured these guys have been on my payroll a long time and I really don't think they are producing.
So he says, I dreamed something. I want to know not only what it means, I want you to tell me what I dreamed first, and then what it means, and by the way if you don't, I will kill you all, that's Nebuchadnezzar, the tyrant and I will make all of your households a dunghill and they protested and they said, "No king in history has ever requested that." He said tough toast, I just did. He gave them a deadline, they couldn't do it. He's started to knocking off all of these magicians and wise people.
Now look at Verse 29, let's pick up there, Daniel is finally brought in and I should tell you something and I am just going to plant this in your mind. Beginning in Verse 4 of Chapter 2, Chapter 1 is all been in the Hebrew language so far, in the original language, it's all written in Hebrew, beginning in Chapter 2, Verse 4, the language now changes to Aramaic, ask me why?
Audience Members: Why?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Good, glad to do that, thank you. I will tell you in just a little while why that is, I want to hear right now. I just want to put that in your head. Now it's going to continue in Aramaic till the end of Chapter 7 and then it'll switch back to Hebrew, so just keep that in your mind.
Verse 29, here is Daniel, "As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while you were on your bed, about what would come to past after this and he who reveals secrets, has made known to you what will be. You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image." The great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you, and its form was awesome. Right about now, this guy is getting really excited. Nebuchadnezzar is going, right on. It's exactly what I saw, I remember it. He knows what I dreamed.
Verse 32, the image's head was of fine gold, his chest and arms are silver, his belly and thighs of bronze, his legs are of iron, his feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Now on into Verse 44, those ten toes are described as ten kings, and all of these sections are described as kings of future empires. "You watched while a stone was cut without hands, while it struck the image on the feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces."
Now here is Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel says, "You are on your bed, you are worried about your future, you are top dog right now, but you are wondering how long am I going to be at the top dog, what's going to come after my kingdom, and so God through this dream gives him the array of world governing empires or Gentile rule up until the second coming of Christ. That's how far sweeping, this prophecy is.
Then the iron and the clay and the bronze and the silver and the gold were crushed together and became chaff from the summer threshing floors and the wind carried them away, so that no trace of them was found and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. Okay, so that's the dream of Nebuchadnezzar.
Later on in Chapter 7, and I am not going read all of the Chapter 7. Chapter 7, Daniel gets basically the same dream, the same vision. This time, it's a vision not a dream, this time it's to Daniel not Nebuchadnezzar and this time Daniel sees not four different types of metal on a single image, but four beasts, four animals, but they described the same thing.
A succession of four kingdoms that will rule the whole earth starting with Babylon, then Medo-Persia, then Greece and then the final empire that we now know is Rome, and those nations by the way are called by name here in the scripture. Daniel will explain that these kingdoms will rule the whole earth.
Now it's interesting that the dream that Nebuchadnezzar saw was that of an image, or we should call it what it is an idol. This is the land of idolatry. Here is God speaking a language, Nebuchadnezzar can understand, the guys in the idols and so God is speaking his language and he sees this gold and silver and bronze and clay, and iron and clay mixed together.
Now history always vindicates accuracy. If you make any prediction at all, and say something is going to happen just wait a while until the time turns into history and you look back, and you can say this guy really was off-base or wow! It's exactly like he predicted. History vindicates the accuracy of prophecy. And Daniel has been vindicated time and time again as to its accuracy of these predictions.
Now you will notice something about the image. As the metals go from gold all the way down to iron and then iron and clay, that the glory and the preciousness of the metal decreases. It becomes less valuable, it becomes less glorious, and for you physics buffs the specific gravity also decreases from gold down to clay. It's becoming less impressive as each kingdom will come on the scene.
Now again Daniel will see this in terms of beast, not in terms of beautiful polished metals. Why, because Nebuchadnezzar is really viewing this as secular human beings view the world, glitz and glamor and wow, gold and silver. Daniel views these kingdoms as God sees them, voracious beast destroying one another to get power.
Now I think though this is an image, a dream from God. I think, if man were to concoct the image, man would start with clay and then go to iron and then go to bronze and then go to silver and then go to gold. Here is the story.
We used to be very primitive when we were in our clay days and then we got a little wiser and we went to the iron age and then pretty soon, we became more sophisticated, we got into bronze and then silver, but today, the 21st Century, we are so technologically advanced, we have become gold. Now you are really dreaming.
That's how man sees himself, bettering himself over time. God sees, it go down and get worse and worse, and worse, till finally, he is going to intervene and setup his kingdom that will rule the whole earth and that will be Messiah's kingdom. Now on to Chapter 3, sixteen years go by.
In the intervening 16 years between Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar becomes more powerful and more prideful. Look at Verse 1, Nebuchadnezzar, the king, made an image of gold. Daniel said, "You are the head of gold, back in Chapter 2 when interpreted the dream, "You are the head of gold but after you," Daniel said, "an inferior kingdom, the chest and arms of silver and after that another kingdom, the stomach and thighs of bronze and after that another kingdom."
So he makes an image to represent himself, whose height was 60 cubits, that's 90 feet tall, and its width 6 cubits, so 9 feet wide, 90 feet tall like those large date palms they have over in that region of the world and he set it in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
Verse 5; At the time he says that you hear the sound of the horn, the flute, the harp, the lyre, the psaltery, and symphony, with all kinds of music, you have to fall down and worship the gold image, the king Nebuchadnezzar has set up and whoever does not fall down and worship, shall be cast immediately into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
So you get the idea, the image is set out there, it's covered in gold, it's magnificent and the orders go like this, when you hear the Chaldean fill harmonic orchestra, kick into gear, it's either bow or burn, no other alternative.
Why the image of gold? You get what he is saying. He is saying nuts to the silver and the bronze and the other kingdoms, my kingdom is an eternal kingdom. Nobody is taking over. I am the top dog. That's what this image, this statement is making.
Well there are three Jews; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you already know the story who refused to bow. They said throw us into the furnace, God is able to deliver us if he wants to. Now why did they make this stand? Because they are Jewish. It's part of the Ten Commandments. I am the Lord, Your God. You have no image and you are not to worship any other God except for me. They just wouldn't do it, it's part of their fabric.
In Northern Iraq, by the way, they have discovered furnaces, their brick kilns that are as large as one of our city blocks, in an internal city, in a downtown structure. Some of them are 35 feet tall, two-storeys by several feet wide and they would bake the bricks used in the building of those ancient cities and that's probably the kind of brick kiln or furnace that they were thrown in, but God protected them.
In Verse 25, Nebuchadnezzar sees not three, but four in the fire and he says, one is like the son of God or a better translation, a Son of the Gods. There is a fourth figure walking with those three dudes and one looks like deity, one looks like it's majestic, one looks like a Son of the Gods. They got delivered. Verse 30, They get promoted because of this.
And Chapter 4, gets better, really the stories as they go on. There is an old saying, it goes like this, "You can put a pig in a parlor and it won't change the pig, but it will certainly change the parlor." Well, it is that way where certain people. They just don't change and you would think Nebuchadnezzar, you just sort of look and follow his history, the guy just seems to revert back to his pagan ways, he sees miraculous things, dreams unfolded, miracles happen like the fiery furnace episode, but he keeps going back, keeps going back.
In Chapter 4, the pig changes. He makes an incredible decree in Chapter 4, and essentially Chapter 4 is written by Nebuchadnezzar not Daniel. It's the only chapter in the Bible written by a gentile king. We know that Luke was a gentile doctor who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. I am talking about gentile king and he wrote Chapter 4. And he writes about a very embarrassing time in his own life and he writes it down and he posts it around the entire empire so that people could read it and have it.
Now this is near the end of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. It's 25 years after Chapter 3, Daniel is around 50 years of age and this is the third time now God is contacting Nebuchadnezzar. Here is the dream. He dreams something, tells the dream, the chaldeans, soothsayers, magicians can't figure it out, Daniel has to be called in again, but here is the dream.
He sees that a tree that grows up so tall, it grows all the way up to heaven. It's so tall, it can be seen from one end of the earth to the other. It's so tall that all of the beasts of the field, all of the birds of the air, all of the people on the earth, are fed from the single tree nourished by it, protected, and shaded by it, and the tree represents the kingdom of Babylon. It represents Nebuchadnezzar who ruled over the earth.
Well as Nebuchadnezzar gets this dreams of this tree, there is a character called a Watcher, an angelic being who says cut the tree down; the tree is cut down to the stump and a bronze band that's put around the stump and then it says "and he, not it, not the tree, it but he, whoever the tree represents is going to be like an animal out on the field." Nobody could figure out what this dream is; finally, Daniel was brought in and in Verse 29, Daniel says, "I wish it wasn't you, but it is you, so let's look what happens."
At the end of the 12 months, he and Nebuchadnezzar was walking round the royal palace of Babylon. The King spoke saying it is not this great Babylon that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power for the honor of my majesty. While the word was still in the King's mouth, a voice fell from heaven, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; the kingdom has departed from you and they shall drive you from men and your dwelling shall be with the beast of the field and they shall make you eat grass like oxen and seven times shall pass over you, probably 7 years until you know that the most high rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses'.
Now please mark that last phrase. Think about in terms of world politics today, whose in charge in this country or in that country, who we are voting for and not voting for? That ultimately, the most hight rules in the kingdom of men and He gives it to whomever he chooses.
Now there is another phrase in Daniel, where it says that "The most high rules in the kingdom of men and gives power to even the basest, the lowest, the gnarliest of men." You are not smiling. You are a little taken back by that. You are little bit frighten. You mean that sometimes God allows the wrong person to get into the office?
Uh huh, for his own sovereign purpose and he did that with Israel and he tells that to Nebuchadnezzar in this book, "and it will drive you from men, your dwelling will be with the beasts." Oh yeah, I already read that, "the most high dwells in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever he chooses."
So here is what happens, the rest of the chapter; that happens. This guy sinks to the level of an animal. He has to go out and live in the field. He lives outside under the stars. He eats grass. His finger nails grow out, his hair grows out, he looks like an animal. There is a condition and it's called Insania, Lycanthropia or Zoanthropia and that is the condition of a person thinking he is an animal like a wolf or an ox.
There is mental institutions where people believe they are Batman or Superman. This guy was Ox boy and he is out, the King, eating grass out on the field, the human animal for 7 years until he discovers God is in-charge and it's not all about him.
Now from a human standpoint, he had every reason to brag about Babylon. Babylon housed one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It's walls were thought to be impregnable, nobody could conquer it; eventually, it was conquered, I will explain how in just a moment. He had the hanging gardens built, a hill was built in the center of town. The Euphrates river ran through the middle of the town, a hill was build 400 feet tall terraced and watered from the river, a paradise in the middle of the city.
In fact, several years ago, Saddam Hussein offered a lot of money to anybody in Babylon who could figure out or in Iraq, who could figure out how Nebuchadnezzar watered those hanging gardens because he wanted to replicate them as he was trying to become the new Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar's palace went by the name of the Marvel of Mankind and also, it was called the Dwelling of Majesty.
So Nebuchadnezzar after a period of time, even after the dream, even after the revelation walks through Babylon going Man! I am really good. I am really powerful. I am like in-charge of everything and it's all because of me and God said I heard that; 7 years he is out eating grass and then he finally comes back and he acknowledges that the only true God is Yahweh. Just understand how monumental that is. It's a royal edict that gets published to the empire; imagine that the President of United States called the special state of the union message.
Ladies and gentleman of America, citizens of the world, the other day God spoke to me; all the aides go nuts at that point; Oh no, Oh no, he said the G word on TV and I have discovered that God in the heaven rules everything and He is the most important thing ever. They go nuts, they would, we got to lock this guy away. He has been on a job too long. There was a time in our country, you could say that, but anymore and he makes this a monumental statement for all those dwelling in the world and it was all because of his pride and he got humble.
Chapter 5. Chapter 5 is famous for, we call it Supernatural Graffiti. Alright, their four phrase, See the Handwriting on the Wall comes from this chapter. It's the famous story of a man's handwriting on the wall in Babylon; the year is 539 B.C., that's an important date for you to remember.
539 B.C. is the same year Babylon fell and you are about to see how it fell. You notice who is in-charge, a guy not Nebuchadnezzar but a guy by the name of Belshazzar, who is he? He is the grand son of Nebuchadnezzar. He is throwing a cocktail party and he has given a party for a thousand of his Lords in Babylon. They are drinking and they are drinking, not that you have been around drunk people, but drunk people do and say stupid things.
I remember when I was first a Christian, I was going to witness that this guy, he was drunk; I didn't know any better and this guy got really sincere, he started crying; you are like me, I love you brother and he prayed this in his prayer and I thought, wow! It was great. The next day I went to talk to him about his decision, he goes Who are you? Well, don't you remember last night we prayed. Who are you? He didn't even remember the episode.
Then Belshazzar does something really stupid in his drunken stupor. He says, hey! You know my grandpa, he conquered Babylon and he went into that temple and took a lot of the vessels, those holy vessels, those Jews used for sacrifices. I got them in the back room, let me bring them out and we will drink our wine in those vessels.
It's stupid because God sees that is a direct challenge. So while they are having this party all of the sudden and I have stood in this room; it's 55 feet wide by 169 feet long and at one end, there is a niche in the wall where the throne sat and probably right to one side of the other, he saw this handwriting of a man's hand.
Verse 5; "In the same hour, the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lamp stand, on the plaster of the wall in the King's palace and the King saw the part of the hand that wrote." Now everybody sobers up really quickly about now. It was like a bummer for the whole party, put a damper on everything and then the King's countenance changed, Oh Ow! And his thoughts troubled him so that the joints of his hips were loosed and his knees knocked against each other.
Now if you have the King James Bible, you got the best translation of this verse because it says something like "his loins were loosed and his knees smote one against another." It's just classic. So with loose loins and smiting knees, this guy knows his number is up.
Verse 23; Daniel tells him what's going on; now Daniel is 80 years old by the time he comes in and once again, common scenario, all of the magicians, all of the astrologers, all of the chaldeans look at the handwriting and go I don't know what that is. So somebody goes, there is a guy named Daniel; he will tell you everything that's happening.
Daniel is 80 years young, he comes in and he says in Verse 23, 'You have lifted yourself against the Lord of heaven, the fingers of the hand were sent from Him and this writing was written' and this is the inscription that was written, "Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin." This is the interpretation of each word, Mene, God has numbered your kingdom. Mene means counted or assessed and he has finished it.
Tekel: you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting peres, which is the singular for the plural Upharsin; your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. So this is what it means, O King, numbered, numbered, weighed, divided and that's the message from God to you O King.
You have been numbered, your number is up. That's what it means, your number is up. You have been weighed, you are a light weight. You are all fluff King, your number is up, you are all fluff, you don't amount too much and God is going to take your kingdom; it's over.
Now what he doesn't know as Daniel is making this interpretation, the kingdom of Babylon is over. At that very moment, the Persians are already inside the city gates and within hours will assume control over the whole kingdom.
So Verse 31, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about 62 years old; the date October, 12th 539 B.C. King Cyrus gave control to one of his generals named Ugbaru and Ugbaru took his troops, went outside the city, dammed up the Euphrates river, lowering the level of the river inside the city, according to Herodotus, the Greek historian to the level of a man's fie, so they could wait through the river; the huge bronze gates that kept the river closed on top had been left open. They opened the gates after they got under the city, let the rest of the soldiers in and they took Babylon without a battle, took it without a battle. Belshazzar was killed in October 16th four days later.
Chapter 6 opens under new management. Cyrus is in charge, Darius, the Mede is the Viceroy given charge over the city. Daniel is 87 years old in this chapter. Okay now, don't you think any guy pushing 90 is ready to retire. It's like just leave me out of this. Give me a nice little chalet down by the Euphrates river, not this guy. He is like the ever ready bunny and he is being used still.
Verse 6, Verse 1 of Chapter 6; it pleased Darius to set up the kingdom 120 miles traps, I mean satrapies to be over the whole kingdom and over these three governors whom Daniel was one that the satrapies might give an account to them so that the King would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors in satrapies because an excellent spirit was in him and the King gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
So the governors and the satrapies sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom, but they could find no charge or fault because he was faithful, nor was there any error or fault found in him. Why is there jealousy brewing in the hearts of Daniel's colleagues?
The answer is found up in Verse 3, because Daniel is placed over them. He is the boss of them. They don't want him to be the boss of them so they are trying to figure a way or scam him out of his position. He is almost 90 and they want to conspire against him, so they do that.
Then these men said, Verse 5, 'We shall not find any charge against Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God', so they passed the law. They go to the King and go look King, you are the big guy, we all love you, you are cool, you are in-charge, so here is the deal; we want to make sure that everybody is on your side, right? Yeah right. So here is the deal; for the next 30 days, anybody praying to any other God besides the right Gods of Babylon and you, kill him. Would you sign this decree? Done, he signs it.
It's irreversible; law of the Medes and the Persians never changes, once you signed in to the law, it's law. They did this on purpose. Daniel found out about it. When Daniel knew the document was signed, three times a day he opened his window, so people could see him, he didn't care because it was his custom and bowed towards Jerusalem and he prayed to Yahweh, the only true God. They saw that. They reported him to the King and he gets tossed into the Lion's den.
Verse 22; I am summing up a lot; "Daniel thrown into the lion's den; the King cannot sleep all night. He is so troubled, he thinks, thou, I am so stupid to have signed that thing but he is hoping, just hoping against hope that Daniel will somehow survive. He gets up in the morning, "Daniel, are you okay? Was your God able to deliver you?" He said, "A piece of cake, king, don't worry about it." "May the king live forever!," He said.
Verse 22, "My God sent His angel, and shut the lion's mouth so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before and also a king, I have done no wrong before you." Daniel, are you okay? He goes, yeah. The lions are fine, they haven't said a word all night, they are just sleeping very peacefully, shh! Don't wake them.
Now Chapter 7 through 12 is the second part of the book. We have briefly gone through the history. 7 through 12 is the appendix to the book. These are prophecies, revelations, predictions of the future from Daniel's time all the way to the coming of Christ. They span Daniel's whole career. Now Daniel Chapter 7 is Daniel's own vision and own version given to him by God of the same dream that Nebuchadnezzar had in Chapter 2.
Daniel sees in his vision a lion with the wings of an eagle that pictures Babylon, that was the motif in Babylon. You can still find it in the archaeological digs of the city, a winged lion set at the gates of the palace of Babylon. The second thing he saw was a bear raised on one side because it was a coalition of the Medo-Persian empire. The bear represented the second empire, the Medo-Persian empire that took over the Babylonian empire, the bear had three ribs in his mouth symbolizing the three kingdoms he destroyed to become number one.
The third kingdom is represented by a leopard that moves very quickly across the landscape. That represents Greece. By the way, all of those kingdoms are named in this chapter, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, that will bear rule over the whole world, and then the fourth animal that Daniel sees, Daniel says was a dreadful and terrible beast.
Chapter 7, Verse 17, "Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which will arise out of the earth." There is something else here's a little note. In Verse 8 of this chapter, there is a little horn that comes up, another horn. He sees the horn as representing power, but another little horn which will represent the Antichrist to his coming. We just don't have time to unravel all of them.
Chapter 8, Chapter 8 -- here is Chapter 7, okay, Chapter 7 covers from Babylon all the way out. Chapter 8 narrows it and speaks about the transfer of power between kingdom number 2 and kingdom number 3, Medo-Persia and Greece. Remember, Medo-Persia in Daniel Chapter 2, the poly-metallic image was symbolized by silver right, the chest and arms of silver, and then the third kingdom the Grecian empire was the stomach and thighs of brass. Well in Daniel Chapter 7 it was the bear and the leopard. So those kingdoms are the ones that are hosted in Chapter 8.
Now Chapter 8 changes to Hebrew, right. Chapter 1 is Hebrew, Chapter 2, all the way to Verse 3 is Hebrew. Beginning in Verse 4 Chapter 2, it's Aramaic, the language of the Chaldeans, Babylonians. And now all the way through Chapter 7, Aramaic, beginning in Chapter 8 to the rest of the book Hebrew, why? Did you ask me that question? You did -- you or did I? Yeah, I am going to answer it now.
Chapter 1 focuses on Israel, Judah, the captivity, they came in and took over the Jews, it's written in Hebrew. Chapter 2, Verse 4 deals with Gentile power and Gentile authority, the times of the Gentiles. It's all written in Gentile language, Aramaic.
Beginning in Chapter 8, it focuses on Israel again and what those nations out there have to do with the Jews from that period of time to the end of time, but because the focus is on the Jewish nation, it goes back to Hebrew. Now, Chapter 8, he sees a vision of a ram, a ram here, different animal, a ram, that's Medo-Persia. And the ram is defeated by a goat which is Greece and the kingdom is divided into four parts.
Verse 5, "As I was considering, as seen this ram, wow, cool, ram. Suddenly, a male goat came from the west across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes." So this is true about goat, right. So fast, you have never seen a goat this fast. It doesn't even touched the ground, -- takes over.
Now, one of the emblems for the nation of Greece was the aze (ph), the goat. You have heard of the A, Z and C? It really means the goat C. It was one of the symbols of the Grecian empire. So it was a notable emblem.
Verse 8 of Chapter 8, "Therefore the male goat grew very great and when he became strong, the large horn was broken and in place of it, four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven."
Now as I am looking at the time here and I am looking at what we really have to cover to do, right, I have decided that next week rather than Hezekiah, we will finish up Daniel and take all that great prophetic -- we will take a breather tonight, how's that? Because it gets really gnarly after this. It gets so gnarly just as a little -- let me tell you a little gnarl here.
In Chapter 11, there is 135 predictions in 35 verses, that have all been intricately fulfilled in history that were written about, way before they ever happened. So that's just a one piece of gnarl, we have even talked about Daniel Chapter 9, the backbone of prophecy, Daniel's 'the Seventy Weeks.' So what we will do is we will take a break right about here and we will take the second half of Daniel next week, shall we? We will do it outside.
So let's have a word of prayer, we will cut a little bit early. Let's have a word of prayer, Heavenly Father, what we've learned here is that there is a God in heaven who is in-charge. He is in-charge of what goes on in the kingdom of men. He is in-charge of what goes on the earth and that is not to take away from human responsibility, that is not to take away from our part in the process even the political process.
Daniel was a part of the process. He went according to the rules of kingdom and he did it with respect. But Lord ultimately you are the one who knows the end from the beginning and having that kind of knowledge, you can make a declaration through one of your spokespersons, and when it comes to pass, it only proves that You were the one calling the shots. Or even as Nebuchadnezzar couldn't sleep, even upon that beautiful inlaid, ivory gold, bed pampered in Babylon is because he didn't know this.
What a picture for us to live with. The king who couldn't sleep on his royal bed and a prophet who could get a good night sleep in a lion's den, because he knew that his God was in-charge even at fiery trials, and even of hurtful potential situations. Lord I pray, I pray that Your people would grasp a little more of that truth so that we could rest a lot easier than we do.
So the thing that marks us would be a sense of joy because we know You. We know that You know the future, it's in Your hands and so Lord, we want to just close the service by telling You that we love You and we love that about You. And as we close in worship, Lord, we truly want to say these things from a heart of love and admiration, respect, and worship. So Lord, hear our prayers, the meditations of our hearts, and be pleased in Jesus name, Amen! Let's all stand.