Friday, March 17, 2006

What Daniel Said

Daniel has been summoned out of retirement to help this bratty king Belshazzar. He walks into the room to see that the king has been engaged in a drunken orgy and has been using sacred goblets stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem in his festivities. Then the king has the audacity to ask Daniel for a favor -- even offering him rewards if he does his job well.

One habit that Daniel has demonstrated is his willingness to tell hard truth when that's appropriate. Perhaps this was one of the reasons the new king has put Daniel out to pasture. Refusing the king's rewards, Daniel delivers the following message:

"O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 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. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 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.

"But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 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 hands your life and all your ways" (Daniel 5:18-23).

The king has not asked for any of this. He just wanted to know what the writing means. This has all been Daniel's opinion.

The phrase that Daniel delivers that is hardest for my ears is this one: "You knew".

It's bad enough to do stupid things like the king has done, but the worst part is that he knew better.

What about you? Any areas in your life where you're behaving foolishly even though you know better? There are plenty of those areas in my life, but the thought that someone like Daniel might one day stick his finger in my chest and say, "You did all of this, even though you knew better" is devastating to me!

Let's all take this weekend and let Daniel say that to us anyway. Conviction like that is a difficult but necessary part of the process of growing up into the people God wants us to become.