August 11, 2011

Friday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 86, 1 Sam. 10:1-11, Lk. 14:15-24
Evening - Ps. 91, Dan 5:10-16, Acts 24:24-25:12

Commentary

The queen is not Belshazzar's wife. They are all present at the festival (5:2). The queen is his mother or grandmother. She is wise enough to shun the wicked party assembled by Belshazzar, and realises that Daniel is able to interpret the message which the Babylonian prophets cannot (5:12). She even calls Daniel by his Jewish name, which means, "God will Judge," rather than by his Babylonian name which has to do with the pagan idol, Bel (5:12). As the wife or daughter in law of Nebuchadnezzar, she remembers the favour of God on him, and the God-given abilities of Daniel. She still retains her belief in other gods (5:11), however, and cannot be considered a convert to true, Biblical faith.

King Belshazzar calls for Daniel, also addressing him by his Jewish name (5:13). Perhaps the Spirit of God is moving in this profane and wicked man's heart. Certainly, as with Nebuchadnezzar, this warning to Belshazzar is also an invitation to repent of his sin and turn to God. Belshazzar is almost scared enough to do it, but not quite. It is a good thing to have a certain amount of fear of God. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fear without faith is not enough. A person may stop doing something because he is afraid of going to hell, but that is not the same as repenting of sin and loving Christ as Lord and Saviour. True faith is a turning of the entire being toward God. It is to embrace him as God and King, and to trust Him to cover your sins with His grace. Belshazzar's fear fell far short of this.

Daniel's response (5:17) was not a rejection of the king's offer; it was a statement that he would speak the truth of God regardless of the result. The king may offer money and honours now, but when he hears the meaning of the writing, he may order Daniel's death. Neither possibility sways Daniel's intent to tell the truth. He will remain true to God at all costs.

A little imagination will find many ways to apply Daniel's faithfulness to our situation today. Many have deserted the Bible for the sake of financial and social gain. Ministers, congregations, even whole denominations have cast Scripture behind them to gain members and keep the money coming in. Feelings and convenience, rather than Biblical faith is often the deciding factor in people's choice of churches, and many parents are more concerned that a church have a gymnasium than the Gospel. On the other hand, many in authority have punished those who attempted to stand for truth. The "church" has killed far more faithful Christians than the world.

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