It seems like every time I sit down and want to “just read” in the morning, something always grabs my attention. Niggles at my brain. Piques my curiosity. Begs me to dig deeper. That’s what instigated this little vignette on the book of Daniel. I tend to be an all-or-nothing personality type, so taking a little piece of a very full book feels a little strange. Almost like I’m taking it out of context (which I’m always very careful to not do). But I will resist giving the back story on the first few chapters. You’re more than welcome to read them on your own!
We started yesterday looking at
Daniel Belteshazzar. The young, God-is-my-Judge Hebrew that was caught up in the Jewish exile to Babylon. The one that found favor (and a new name) with King Nebuchadnezzar.
Today, we’re going to fast-forward 25 or 30 years. Daniel has already interpreted a secret dream and found even more favor with the king. His friends (Shadrach, Mishach, and Abed Nego) have already survived the seven-times-hotter-than-normal-furnace. And they also received even more favor with the king. Time has gone on, and Nebuchadnezzar’s reign is now Belshazzar’s. And you can see how things can get confusing.
Remember, Daniel’s now three-decade-old Babylonian name means Bel’s Prince. Another translation has also interpreted it to be Bel Protect His Life. And the new king? His name means Bel Protect the King.
We pick up the story in chapter five in the middle of Bel-Protect-the-King’s feast. And it wasn’t just any ordinary dinner party. It was a feast for a thousand of his officers, and the wine flowed freely. Bel-Protect-the-King was already deep into the wine when he had a drunken idea. The kind of idea that never turns out well.
“Bring out those sacred cups!” he slurred and shouted. He was reminded of the gold and silver jars that Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem decades earlier. The ones that were used exclusively for the drink offerings that the priests presented daily, as well as on the Sabbath and again on feast days. The ones that were holy and dedicated only for priestly use inside the confines of the Jewish temple. Those sacred cups.
They were brought out. And filled up. And passed around. And everyone drank from them. Princes, wives, and concubines alike. They drank from those holy vessels of gold and silver and toasted to the foreign gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
And as I read the story, I remembered that not-often-talked-about definition of Daniel’s not-so-new Babylonian name. The one that means lord of the straitened’s treasure. The one that indicated that Daniel (in all his new-found-favor) might have been in charge of watching over the Hebrew’s treasure. The treasure that the current king was digging into for his extravagant feast. It’s interesting to think that, as tightly woven as Daniel’s story already is, this one detail takes it one step further.
Because it was in that very same hour that the handwriting started appearing on the wall. And the color drained from Bel-Protect-the-King’s face. And as wise men from all over the kingdom came to try and interpret it, Daniel could have already been on hand – possibly having delivered the cups that were demanded. And he could have been at the ready to interpret the writing of that mysterious and holy hand.
Whatever the case, the LORD of the straitened’s treasure that was being passed around to toast other gods? He was about to use lord-of-the-straitened’s-treasure to speak honest-from-God-truth to Bel-Protect-the-King. And no one but God would be able to protect him.