29 November 2017Daniel 5:1-28
“Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in God’s ways.” (Psalm 128:1)
Psalm: Psalm 128
In reading the book of Daniel we should not look for historical information but try to appreciate the message the story was intended to convey to Jewish readers in the second century before Christ, who were living under an oppressive foreign regime.
When approached in that way the moral of the story stands out. The excessive luxury of the ruling class is emphasised. The worthlessness of their religious beliefs is stressed (their gods are merely lumps of metal, wood and stone (verse 23)). Above all, they show a shocking disregard for what is truly holy, drinking from vessels that had once been dedicated to the service of God in the Jerusalem temple.
On the other hand, there is Daniel. God has given him the power to interpret visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17). So he is able both to read and understand the writing on the wall. The days of this powerful and blasphemous empire are numbered; God will bring them to an end.
That is the message the first readers of the book of Daniel were intended to apply to their own times.
- What has this passage to say about politics today?
- What place, if any, should images - or other art forms - have in the worship of God?
- In what way are those who 'walk in God's ways' happy (Psalm 128:1)?