12/05

December 5

I John 4

John continues his message on love and light in chapter 4. The kind of love John is describing is not a mere human love, with our limits and our imperfections and our conditions. God’s love is unconditional, in other words, His love is based on His heart for us, not based on us or our performance. His love is kind, patient, and would never walk out on you. His love doesn’t point out your faults and condemn you. His love doesn’t betray you. His love would never leave you or forsake you. His love isn’t self-seeking, but is always looking to serve and help and support. His love isn’t touchy or resentful. His love would never keep a record of past wrongs. It’s not arrogant or rude. His love will never change; however, our behavior can block us from receiving His blessings. For example, God loved Ananias and Sapphira, but because they lied to the Holy Spirit, they feel dead at the feet of the apostles. They missed out on God’s best because they hid their sin in darkness, rejecting God’s light of truth and transparency. The love of God should lead us to operate in the light of God.

As we yield to His love, we do not need to fear God’s punishment. We can be transparent, knowing we are loved and accepted. We are confident we can receive healing and wholeness. We can know we can be changed and transformed from the lies and mistreatment we’ve known. We can move on and stand in God’s power and live in His strength. When we receive God’s love and respond to Him in love, we won’t sin against Him. We won’t sin against others. It’s the relationship with God that causes us to live in His light and His holiness.

If we sin, God loves us so much that He forgives us, heals us, restores us, and strengthens us. Let’s remember chapter 1 verse 9, just a page or two away from chapter 4. Let’s remember we are in the process of transformation of our salvation, in a process of being made whole, as long as we live in these mortal bodies. If someone does us wrong, it could very well be that they are also in a stage of their own construction. Wrong behavior isn’t excused, but it can be understood, exposed, and renewed. Let’s continue to love each other as we walk each other home to Heaven.

Daniel 5-6

Again, in these two chapters, we see God’s authority being emphasized as well as getting some history of past kingdoms. This is a reminder that God’s authority is higher than any human authority, and we should surrender to Him in reliant and obedient faith. We also have confidence that God will eventually do away with human governments, and Jesus will reign in an earthly kingdom for 1,000 years.

According to the Talmud, Nebuchadnezzar reigned 45 years, his son Evil-merodach reigned 23 years, and Belshazzar’s reign only lasted two years before the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon. Bel was a Babylonian god, and Belshazzar meant “Bel protect the king,” so we see Babylon was still following after its idol worship.

Belshazzar held a banquet for the lords and ladies of his court. They were drinking from the Jewish gold and silver vessels from the temple that was raided by the Babylonians during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. These articles were made to be consecrated, or set apart, for temple use. Belshazzar knew they were temple items, and more than likely, was knowledgeable of the history of the Jews that lived in his kingdom.

While drinking, Belshazzar saw fingers writing on one of the walls of the king’s palace. The message remained on the wall. This was a supernatural event that caused the king to go weak at the knees. Of course, he wanted to know the meaning of the words since they were not written in his language. The king called on his wise men to give him the meaning, so we know Daniel did not have a place in the palace at this time. The wise men could not give an answer, and the king was still greatly troubled by this supernatural event. It was the queen who suggested Belshazzar call on Daniel. She was aware of Daniel’s prophetic ministry during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. He had a reputation for an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas.

As far as we know, there was a long period of time between Daniel’s prophecies, at least in regard to the kings. The king offered a reward to Daniel, but Daniel refused payment. When Daniel was brought before Belshazzar, he confronted Belshazzar with the knowledge he had of Nebuchadnezzar and how God humbled him. Belshazzar knew that Nebuchadnezzar had declared Jehovah as God, and yet Belshazzar did not humble himself to God’s authority. Instead the king’s heart was filled with pride and rebellion. Daniel was fully surrendered to the authority of God, insomuch as he would confront the king of Babylon from the position as a captive. Daniel was now an older man, a man of great faith and boldness.

Daniel speaks out against Belshazzar for worshipping gods of silver and gold rather than honoring the articles of gold from the Jewish temple. He says, “the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified (5:23).” Daniel says this is reason God has given you this message. The inscription was “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” There was meaning for each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it. This word was repeated, giving it emphasis. Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting. Upharsin or Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

The inscription was puzzling because it must have sounded like a merchant’s declaration – “a mina, a shekel, and two halves.” Here was see that God had evaluated King Belshazzar and found him to be deficient. He was irreverent and arrogant, choosing to attempt to live and to reign separate from God in self-sufficiency or in his kingdom’s sufficiency. Big mistake. That very night, the king was slain by the Medes and Persians.

God knew this would happen ahead of time. Recall Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and Daniel’s prophecy of the kingdoms. In consideration of prophecy, be confident in God that He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the heart of human beings. He knew His plan ahead of time. We can put our trust in Him and in His Word.

Why did God send this message to Belshazzar in front of his top officials? God was revealing Himself so that He would be seen by both the Jews and the Babylonians, as well as anyone else who would hear of the supernatural event and the end of that kingdom as demonstration of God’s knowledge and power.

Darius the Mede is king. The Medes had been captured by Persia, so Darius was more of a vassal-king for the Persian King Cyrus. There had been a turnover in leadership, so Darius appointed 120 satraps, or government officials, to help him rule. Over the satraps in authority were 3 governors, of whom, Daniel was one. Obviously, Darius trusted and respected Daniel as a leader to place him in authority in his kingdom. Daniel was different; a servant of God. The satraps and other two governors saw Daniel as a threat, so they got together and devised a scheme to entrap Daniel. They knew of Daniel’s consistent prayer and worship of Jehovah. They appealed to Darius’ pride to make a decree that for 30 days, everyone in the kingdom was honor the king by petitioning him only. If anyone petitioned another god or human being during that 30 days, they would be killed by being thrown into a den of lions. Once a decree was made by the Medes and Persians, it could not be changed. That was their way.

Daniel knew the decree. He went home, he went to his knees, he turned toward Jerusalem, at an open window where he could see and be seen, and he prayed and gave thanks to God. He had always done this, and he didn’t stop even after knowing it went against the law. When the law goes against God’s command, knowing God is the higher authority, we choose to obey God.

The officials were watching Daniel, reported him, and regretfully, Darius had to have Daniel thrown into the den of hungry lions. God miraculously shut the mouths of the lions, a supernatural and public act, again, showing the Jews and the Babylonians that God has authority and power. The king made a public statement about Jehovah as being the living God who had dominion forever. Oh, how our God wants to be seen and known!

In addition, because of the miraculous, Daniel was, again, given favor with a foreign civil authority. There are times when God wants to perform a miracle, and we need to be willing to be in a position where a miracle is required. It’s not always a bad thing to be found in a place of need – it just means that we are being set up for God to show Himself.

Another point to be made is found in Daniel 6:23. The king acknowledged that Daniel was not harmed “BECAUSE HE BELIEVED IN HIS GOD.” Not only did Daniel believe, but Daniel lived a reliant lifestyle on God, praying a minimum of three times a day. He looked to God throughout the day, praying, being thankful, investing in that relationship. Whatever we face in life, when we live in dependency on God, we position ourselves for God to move. Be open!

#covertocoverwithmelanie #covertocover #growchurches #bible #biblecommentary #melaniestone #readthebible #readingthroughthebible #biblereadingplan

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