Before transitioning to Daniel Chapter 5, let me first summarize Chapters 1 through 4. It appears that Daniel the Jew served King Nebuchadnezzar for 43 years, from 605 BC to 562. He was indoctrinated into the Babylonian culture and made the chief magician of the land, but he held firm to his beliefs about the Most High God. During those days, Daniel grew in reputation and favor, much like Joseph did when he was sold into slavery and brought to Egypt. Daniel was not the only one taken into captivity, many men from Judaean nobility were indoctrinated as well. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were probably Daniel's closest friends, and they were renamed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego after Babylonian gods. All had abundant wisdom, and all had many skills, but Daniel had the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
King Nebuchadnezzar was described as being terrified and afraid of his dreams, and he sought out sorcerers to bring healing to his head. But only Daniel, as a vessel for God, was able to bring peace unto him. This ability to soothe a tormenting spirit also reminds me of David when he played the harp for King Saul. The gift of interpretation enabled Daniel to minister to the king, about the Most High God who lives in Heaven. When Daniel would reveal what his frightening dreams meant, the king would recognize God's greatness.
There are two dreams, described in Daniel Chapter 2 and Chapter 4, that almost caused Nebuchadnezzar to go striking mad. The first was about a giant statue of a man, and the second was about a tree of vitality that was cut down by a messenger of God.
The first dream, revealed in Daniel Chapter 2, is about a huge shiny statue, of a man, whose hardness goes up and his value goes down. His head of fine gold fades into silver at the arms and chest, and then turns into bronze at the belly and the thighs. The legs were made of iron, and the feet consisted of iron mixed with baked clay, and scripture says "the mixture of of iron and clay shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, as iron and clay do not mix." Daniel 2:42-43
In the dream, the king stood, and watched the statue crumble to it's defeat, as a rock that was cut from a mountain, not by human hands, was thrown at the feet. In my mind, I saw a spiritually dead person who developed there own earthly kingdom as an image of the statue man, and I immediately thought about Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” When they statue crumbled onto the threshing floor, so did every man and earthly kingdom that operated without the fear of the Lord. "Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth."
What a great and terrible dream that must have been, to see what is described in Joel Chapter 2:1-11, "Blow the ram’s horn in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all who dwell in the land tremble, for the Day of the LORD is coming; indeed, it is near--a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like the dawn overspreading the mountains a great and strong army appears, such as never was of old, nor will ever be in ages to come. Before them a fire devours, and behind them a flame scorches. The land before them is like the Garden of Eden, but behind them, it is like a desert wasteland - surely nothing will escape them. Their appearance is like that of horses, and they gallop like swift steeds, With a sound like that of chariots they bound over the mountaintops, like the crackling of fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army deployed for battle. Nations writhe in horror before them; every face turns pale. They charge like mighty men; they scale the walls like men of war. Each one marches in formation, not swerving from the course. They do not jostle one another; each proceeds in his path. They burst through the defenses, never breaking ranks. They storm the city; they run along the wall; they climb into houses, entering through windows like thieves. Before them the earth quakes; the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars lose their brightness. The LORD raises His voice in the presence of His army. Indeed, His camp is very large, for mighty are those who obey His command.
For the Day of the LORD is great and very dreadful."
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the dream is true and it’s meaning is trustworthy. And this reminded me of what Jesus said to John in Revelation Chapter 21 when He showed him Mount Zion coming down. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega - the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
The dream interpretation also made me think of Hebrews 12, when the author reminds the faithful to listen to God. He says "to the assembly of God’s firstborn children whose names are written in Heaven; to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant of forgiveness through his sprinkled blood." And all of this happens on the Mount Zion where the heavenly city of Jerusalem is located. It is said that "when God spoke from Mount Sinai His voice shook the earth but now he makes another promise. Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens - all of creation will be shaken and removed so the only unshakable things remain.” Hebrews 12:28 says, “since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.”
Isn't it beautiful how God gives everyone a chance to be saved from the Valley of the Shadow of Death? Perhaps the purgatory that Catholics speak of is actually our life, here on this earth? From what I read, our time on this earth seems to be the testing place that confirms our faith, before being established to a life of eternity, or to a second eternal death.
So, let me get back to the dream. It’s hard to believe that in Daniel chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar built a gold statue of himself despite Daniel's interpretation of the gold-headed statue in Chapter 2. The statue he made stood 90 feet tall and he sent a decree to the people of all races, nations and languages across the land to bow down when they heard the sound of music pouring out. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship him or his gods, so Nebuchadnezzar became furious, and commanded that they be thrown into a blazing furnace.
The king jumped with amazement when he looked and saw four men unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed, and the fourth look like a God.” Immediately the king demanded that they be released, and was astonished to see the three come out in one piece. They walked out of the furnace without a slight burn, not a hair on their head was singed. Their clothing was not scorched, and they did not even smell like smoke. The king of Babylon then acknowledged their God as a great rescuer of men; and he even promoted them to higher positions in the province of Babylon. But Nebuchadnezzar still did not submit to God's full authority probably because the Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic. With over 2,000 deities, it probably did not register that there was only one true God.
The second dream Nebuchadnezzar had is told in Daniel chapter 4, and this dream totally frightened him. Yet, it was transformative. The king saw a tree. A tree that was lush green - vibrant, thriving and promising. It’s branches produced the most nourishing fruit, and it's leaves provided shade for the animals from intense heat. The king was totally at peace while admiring the tree until he saw a messenger come down from Heaven. The messenger shouted “cut down the tree and lop of its branches, shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit! Chase the animals from its shade, and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump and its roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Now let him be drenched with the dew of Heaven, and let him live with the animals of the field among the plants of field. For 7 periods of times, let him have the mind of a wild animal instead of the mind of a human. For this has been decreed by the messengers (watchers); it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses, even to the lowliest of people.” Daniel 4:14-17
Once again, the king called for Belteshazzar, originally known as Daniel, to interpret the meaning of it. Upon hearing the dream Daniel was overcome for a time, frightened by the meaning. But the king encouraged him not to be afraid and to proceed with the interpretation. Daniel replied it was a foreshadow of what was to come - that King Nebuchadnezzar would be driven from human society and would live in the fields with the wild animals. He told the king that he would eat grass like an ox, and would be drenched with the dew of heaven for seven periods of time. Then Daniel pleaded with his Majesty, and said “Please except my advice stop singing and do what is right break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor perhaps you will continue to prosper.”
Twelve months later, while the king was walking on his roof top of his royal place, admiring the city that was built by his own power, a voice called down from heaven - "O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom." "That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society." Daniel 4:33
Daniel 4 ends with the Babylonian king regaining his sanity. After 7 periods of time, which was probably 7 years, the king looks to Heaven to acknowledge the Most High God. Scripture says in Daniel 4:34-35, "I praised and worshipped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, "What do you mean by doing these things?" Nebuchadnezzar was reinstated as the King when he learned that the Most High God is able to humble the proud.
As I laid my eyes on Daniel Chapter 5, I noticed that it begins with the words, “Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his noble men, and he drank wine with them.” So I had to know, how many years later did Belshazzar become king, after Nebuchadnezzar died, and what happened in between?
I found out through an internet search that Belshazzar became king in the year 553 BC, nine years after Nebuchadnezzar died. In between there were four other Babylonian kings , and two of them were assassinated. The four were named Evil-Marodach, Neriglissar, Laborosarchad, and Nabonidus - who reigned until he was taken over by Darius the Mede. But it’s interesting to note that nowhere in history, according to my Google search, is Darius recognized as becoming the king, except in the Book of Daniel. Everywhere else the history books say that Cyrus the Great became king when Persian empire conquered them. And it appears, just from skipping ahead, that King Cyrus of Persia is not even mentioned until Daniel Chapter 10.
Could the Medes and the Persians be the feet of the statue that appeared in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? Who are the modern day Medes and Persians anyway?
I just looked it up. Medes is present day Iran and Persia is too. We’re they one in the same? Why are they separated in the Bible? So I did a deeper dive and it appears that the Medes and the Persians were two different Iranian people groups. It appears the Medes were ruled first, until Cyrus the Great led an uprising against his grandfather, the Median King. And this is when the empire changed from the Median Empire to the Persian Empire, also known as the Achaemenid Empire.
So the Holy Spirit has been guiding me to pay attention to the North and to the East. I firmly believe that my assignment on this earth is to stand guard as a watchman. He gave me a vision on the boardwalk in 2016 - where He lifted me from the pit, walked me to the tent, and opened the door - to the brightest of lights. In my vision I became a part of it, and it felt so transcendent. Before I knew it, I was back on the boardwalk dressed in warriors clothes, with a sword in hand. I was placed on the right side of the boardwalk, facing the East. I knew in my heart, without a doubt, that my job was to stand guard over the swamp. About a year later, the Lord gave me another vision, this time I was standing on a watchtower, as it was swiftly being built. I looked over a valley of dry bones, and felt the breath of a demon. In my vision, I saw a dog that had the characteristics of a spider. I rebuked it and told it to leave, using the authority of Jesus's name, and it went away. Some of you may think I am completely crazy, no doubt, I thought it myself! But the more my eyes go to and fro, taking in every Word of God, I become more and more grounded in my faith, and become more sure of what my purpose is on this earth.
Also let me just mention that when I was doing poetic sermons of the Book of Luke, the Lord showed me the Israelites entering the promised land from the East of Jordan to the West Bank. This is also the direction that Jesus came, when he came down from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. "East of Jerusalem" has been coming up for me, as has the “North of Jerusalem." Jerusalem is the location, and "east" and "north" of it are the directions that I am to look.
The current Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran mandates that the official religion of Iran is Shia Islam, and 85% believe in the Twelver faith. The term "Twelver" refers to its adherents' belief in twelve divinely ordained Muslim leaders, known as the 12 Imams. They believe that the last Imam, a messianic figure known as the Mahdi - a cultivated male descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed - has already been born and went into hiding. And one day, when he emerges, he will establish a global Islamic state. The hiding is known as occultation.
I just found out on Wikipedia, that "an occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer. The term is often used in astronomy, but can also refer to any situation in which an object in the foreground blocks from view an object in the background." I also learned that "the word occult has its roots in the Latin occultus, meaning “hidden or secret.” It does not surprise me one bit, that Satan would twist God's truth, and prescribe a pill, based off the birth of Ishmael, to shadow the 12 sons of Israel.
What a scary thing to think - that this supernatural, spiritual belief could be the bones of the statues feet. Honestly, I do not know for sure, but I am thankful for God's Word and Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth.
Lord, help me to see. Please continue to increase my faith. My only desire is to walk with you, into the truth, and to show your love, to all people groups.