Tale of Two Kings and a Prophet
King Belshazzar and Daniel
Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, "You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom."
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.
He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. "Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
King Darius and Daniel
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, "O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?" The king answered and said, "The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked." Then they answered and said before the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day."
Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, "Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed."
Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!" And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm." Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: "Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
Recognizing Spiritual Apathy - Our Condition and Our Concessions?
Have you ever done something out of character? Something inconsistent with what you believe or how you think and then thought to yourself... “What did I just do? That’s not the real me. That’s not who I really am.” And, have you ever looked up one day feeling rotten about your life and miserable with yourself and asked, “Why am I still doing this? Is this the real me? Is this who I really am?”
You would be surprised how common and just how frequent that scenario happens for many good people - a good many Christian people. I think it is fair say that a great deal of that type processing was illustrated in our tale of two kings. I think everybody understands - that process is real.
Our teaching today is focused around that process and of course answering a simple recognition question "How did I get here?” The honest answer is always the best answer, and we answer it best by pushing forward into the process.
· Recognizing our Spiritual Apathy.
· Identifying the Cause of our Rotten Condition.
· Assessing the Nature and Damage of those Concessions We Made Along the Way.
That my friends is as real as it gets - and it is certainly no small thing. My prayer is that we can have some honest conversation and make some much needed connections with that process.
To begin, in order for us to answer such a question as "How did I get here?" It will require our willingness to hear from God the truth of His Word. You and I must allow our conscience and heart to be accessed by God's Holy Spirit (either for the first time or maybe just one more time). As we talked last week if we cannot have difficult conversations and make significant face to face connections because we feel threatened and attacked by every truthful challenge, every personal critique or uncomfortable observation then we will struggle here to ever recognize how we got to the place where we have gotten this rotten. The following is a biblical process that leads to recognition of spiritual apathy and the ways of it.
One - Know this, the Holy Spirit (the intimate and personal presence of God in you) is going to speak to you (not if, but when) about who you are in Christ, and where you are in Christ. That too, is real.
These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Two - When we hear the Holy Spirit speaking to us about us we and respond openly and affirmatively, the Spirit will then go on to reveal the truth we need to hear, and we will freely receive the grace that He has abundantly and already provided.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Three - When we openly and affirmatively give access to the Holy Spirit to speak and reveal truth to us - about us, we are then able to easily recognize our spiritual apathy, clearly identify the cause or causes of our condition, and decisively go about assessing the nature of our concessions so we decisively correcting and redirecting the spiritual apathy that got us where we are. From there we get up from that place - dust ourself off - and start all over again in Christ Jesus!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
So from the Tale of Two Kings we can see a logical reasoning for once again allowing the Holy Spirit access to our conscience. Both Kings in our story faced spiritual apathy leading to rotten a condition, making horrible and costly concessions. Through the day-to-day life and faithful witness of Daniel the Prophet, the Spirit of God spoke to both Kings in dramatic fashion to reveal the truth to both of them about who they were, how they got to the place they were. Both knew God, both had opportunity to openly and affirmatively respond to God. One did - the other did not.
Now it is our turn to use the process of the revealed truth of God, spoken to us by His Spirit through His word to not only save the saved, but possibly even save ourselves.