I hope this is true of all believers, but especially with pastors and Christian Workers. Peter writes to his scattered flock saying:
1Pe 3:13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Although these verses will take time to expound, consider the following …
(1) When Jesus is Lord of your heart (v15a);
(2) You will be prepared to provide Gospel answers to why you enjoy the hope of glory (v15b);
(3) And you will glorify God by the way you share the Good News (v16).
We find Daniel sharing God’s Word with Belshazzar, the pagan son of Nebuchadnezzar, who is king over the known and inhabited world in his father’s place. Our theme “Dare to be a Daniel” reveals the sentiment of 1 Peter 3:13-16 when it comes to Daniel.
1) Daniel agrees to interpret (read) the writing on the wall. Read the following lengthy passage:
Da 5:17 Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.
He could have refused, but he knew he was God’s man for that period. Christians need to be people who willingly speak for God, even if the environment and circumstances are difficult … as we will see with Daniel.
2) Daniel is respectful and gentle but he calls a spade a spade.
Da 5:18 “O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 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. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 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.”
Daniel uses the king’s father as an illustration to expose his maniac arrogance, pride and wicked sinfulness because he thought he arrived at his station in history out of his own workings. (Verses 18-21, see chapter 4). But once he was driven into a beastly environment, he through suffering came to his senses and acknowledged that there is one True, Living God who resides in heaven. Daniel is saying something like … “That, Belshazzar, was your father. He came to his senses”.
3) Daniel boldly exposes Belshazzar’s wickedness.
Da 5:22 “But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 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.”
Wow … this king was privy to his father’s experiences yet he remained hardened to the God his father acknowledged! Actually, he went further than his father did …
(a) He set himself up against the Lord of Heaven. His actions were purposeful. He thought he could behave fearlessly before God.
(b) He used the utensils (goblets) captured from the Temple in Jerusalem to use as instruments of drunken debauchery. His father would never have entertained this!
(c) As he pursued his revelry, he worshiped his pagan gods who are made out of the elements (silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone) and are blind and deaf … as dead as these elements are.
(d) Although he knew about the Lord of Heaven, he rejected the very One who held his life in His hands.
This passage ought to sober us up somewhat because having children does not mean they will follow you ways. You may teach your children the Gospel. You may take them to Church and Sunday School. You may pray passionately for their salvation. There might even be glimmers of hope … only to find later in their lives they turn from the Lord Jesus and pursue alternative religious and moral paths.
4) Daniel provides the writing on the wall’s meaning.
Da 5:24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. 25 “This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN 26 “This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. 27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. 28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
(1) God had set the time duration of the kingdom of Babylon. This time period has ended (MENE).
(2) On the prideful human scale this king weighted himself as worthy but on God’s scale he lacked. He was wanting morally and religiously (TEKEL).
(3) The word “Peres” has been interpreted “Persian”, perhaps showing that they were the more powerful force where it came to the Medes. Although the word “divided” is used, the word “dissolved” is better because this was the end of the Babylonia Kingdom as such and the countries and peoples were divided between the Medes and Persians who under Cyrus brought down the Babylonian Kingdom.
There are three matters to consider by way of application today …
(1) Always tell the truth. When you belong to the Truth, Jesus said:
Jn 14:6 … “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
you need to speak the truth. That was Daniel and he dared to speak truth even though he knew his life was at stake. Children of God must follow this requirement even if it prevents promotions, increases, popularity, ends friendships and causes trouble.
(2) Never play with holy things. Here, I am not thinking of things like communion glasses. Rather, I’m thinking of the name of Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit. Christians carry the name and are part of the work of the Spirit. This requires being His people wherever we are.
(3) God is the true King of all kingdoms. Never forget this.
Lord, thank You that we are Yours. Amen.