God's Word, the Bible September 6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Daniel 5; Daniel 9; Daniel 6

How is God Working in our World?

What is God doing in our world? How is He working in our nation or in our private circumstances? These are some questions we would like answered, and we can learn how to answer them by giving heed to God's Word, the Bible. We can also learn from the prophet Daniel’s example.

In today's Bible reading, King Nebuchadnezzar has expanded and united the Babylonian empire to be the strongest in the known world. Two generations later all that changes (more…). Now the Medes and the Persians are the powers which others will have to reckon with. This is in fulfillment of the dreams given by God to Daniel in the first and third years of King Belshazzar (September 5 Bible study; Daniel 7-8). The king had three years to repent and perhaps change the course of events.

Are any of us guilty of wickedness? Has the LORD given us time to repent? We must not delay—we should turn to God right now while there is time. Then He will be gracious to us even if we must bear some consequences.

Although the Persians have besieged the city of Babylon, King Belshazzar is secure in his thickly-walled, well-fortified city. He soon discovers, however, that he is not in control of his world.

To demonstrate his confidence and to show contempt for Israel’s God, Belshazzar has a party, a drunken orgy, in which he uses golden goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed. With these he praises his gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly, Belshazzar sees mysterious fingers writing a message on a plaster wall opposite him. He, his guests, and his officials are terrified, and Belshazzar’s knees go weak.

What does the message mean? After his own counselors fail to give him the interpretation, the queen mother suggests he ask Belteshazzar (Daniel) to interpret it since he has given his predecessor (the intended meaning of the word “father”) the right interpretation on previous occasions. “The spirit of the holy gods is in him,” she says (Daniel 5:11, NIV).

When Daniel comes and interprets the handwriting, the news is not good. The king has been weighed in God’s balances and is found lacking. Daniel told him that although the king knew about the LORD's judgment and mercy with Nebuchadnezzar, he still has not humbled himself. He does not know it, but his life is held in God’s hand. That same night the king is murdered, and his kingdom is conquered by the Medes and Persians. The LORD Almighty, not the king or any of his gods, is sovereign.

Daniel is given many dreams to show how God is sovereign in His work on behalf of the Jews and other world nations. How can we discern how He is working in our world? We learned from yesterday's lesson not to depend on dreams. Instead, we should depend on God's Word, the Bible. We can learn other things from the content of Daniel's prayer (chapter 9).

First, Daniel observes what is going on in his world. At this time in Israel’s history she is a devastated nation. Her homeland and temple were destroyed by fire. Her people are scattered, exiled, and now under the control of the powerful nation of Persia. She has recently conquered Babylon. The Jewish people are suffering for their unrepentant sin and wickedness, yet God made a seemingly impossible promise to Jeremiah. The promise was that in seventy years Israel would return to her land (Jeremiah 29:10). When Daniel realizes this, he does not doubt the promise but is moved to pray for its fulfillment (Daniel 9:2). Daniel is a student of the Word of God. Knowing God’s Word and Israel's situation in the world, he prays intelligently. Do we?

Second, Daniel comes to God in an attitude of humility and fear of the LORD. Daniel knows the LORD is not pleased with His people. God is righteous and Holy—they are not. He pleads with the LORD by fasting, wearing sackcloth, and throwing ashes upon himself (signs of grief). He does this for both his own sins and that of the nation. Daniel is humble. Do we recognize who God is? How do we come to Him when we have done wrong? Do we come to him in arrogance or humility? The LORD answers the prayers of those who have genuine remorseful hearts.

Third, Daniel appeals to God on the basis of His person and His promises. Daniel appeals to Him on the basis of His great might (nothing is impossible with God). He also appeals to the LORD, on the basis of His grace and mercy, to keep His covenant made so long ago to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8). Do we believe God can do anything? Do we know God’s promises so we can appeal to Him to keep them? The LORD wants us to ask for things that please Him (Psalms 37:4).

Fourth, Daniel pleads with the LORD for the sake of His people and His name (reputation). Israel is God’s people. When she is mocked, beaten, harassed, and scorned, His name is also defamed. Daniel begs God to quickly act on Israel's behalf. Do we have concern for others when we pray? Do we care about God’s reputation and character, or do we care only for our own lives? (John 15:16; 1Corinthians 10:31; James 4:1-3)

The LORD answers Daniel’s prayer and gives him understanding into the future of the Jewish people. The seventy weeks and the sixty two weeks, can be understood as years until their fulfillment. For a thorough explanation of these weeks and how these have been and will be fulfilled, go to (more…). The point of the passage is that God hears the requests of those who are truly repentant, He is righteous, faithful and gives His people hope, although there may be difficult times ahead before their complete fulfillment.

The LORD will keep His promises to the Jewish people, and He will keep His promises to us. The Jews will return to their land but have future wars. Then, an anointed one (the Messiah), will come but be cut off (executed by crucifixion). After that the temple (Herod’s reconstruction and expansion of Solomon’s rebuilt temple) will be destroyed. After an undetermined time (the period between the 69th and the 70th week of Daniel), a troublesome time will come. At the end of it (the Tribulation Period) the Jewish people will be saved, and the Messiah (Jesus) will return to rule and reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years. Those who are faithful followers of Jesus Christ will rule with Him.

When King Darius the Mede defeats Babylon and kills Belshazzar, Darius keeps Daniel in his administration. Once again, Daniel is recognized as an exceptional administrator. Because God gifted him with wisdom, and because he acts with integrity and is totally devoted to God, He protects the Jewish people under his care.

Daniel’s exalted position, however, causes jealousy amongst other high officials and administrators. They seek to discredit him, but Daniel is too honest and diligent. If they are going to find anything against him, they will have to find it against the law of his God. Therefore, the officials appeal to the vanity of the new Persian king, Darius. They prepare an edict for all the people of the land to refrain from praying to any other god except the king for thirty days. The trap for Daniel is set. They know Daniel will only pray to his God, and Daniel does not disappoint them. He faithfully keeps his routine of praying on his knees to the true God of heaven three times a day.

Much to the king’s dismay, Daniel is identified as one who ignores the king’s edict and continues to worship the LORD his God. For this offense, the king is bound by his own unchangeable law to throw Daniel to the lions. The plot of the officials and administrators works, but their plans are foiled. The LORD protects Daniel in the lion’s den by sending an angel to shut the mouths of the animals. King Darius is amazed at God’s protection of Daniel. He releases Daniel and then puts the troublemakers and their families into the lion’s den to meet their death. King Darius then makes a decree that all of the people in his part of the kingdom must fear and reverence the God of Israel. Much to Satan’s dismay, God’s name is lifted up.

As the LORD protected Daniel, He can also protect us. Satan does not like anyone working on God’s behalf. The devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1Peter 5:8). But as God protected His servant Daniel from being devoured by lions, He is also able to protect us in our adversities.

Has the LORD given us a place of prominence? This may include a position in government, but it could also include being the head of a family, team, or an organization. God desires that we use our positions for His glory. There will be opposition, but He can protect us.

Lessons to Live By (Whew, there is a lot in this lesson)

  • God is Sovereign and controls world events and leaders.
  • The LORD protects the Jewish people from extinction. He has a plan for their future, but they will have difficult times before they have peace in their land.
  • We must know the Bible and be observant to know what God is doing. Then we can pray intelligently according to His will.
  • God is faithful and keeps His promises to those who seek Him.
  • Are we guilty of wickedness? Has God given us time to repent? We must not delay; we should turn to God right now while there is time. Then He will be gracious to us. (more...)
  • We should seek God in true humility, faith, and confess our sins if we want Him to work on our behalf.
  • Let's believe God and appeal to His promises.
  • Like the LORD protects His servant Daniel from being devoured by lions, He is also able to protect us in our adversities. God will deliver us or help us through them.

There are differing views as to the identity of Darius. His name may have been another name for Cyrus, or perhaps Darius was an appointed ruler of King Cyrus to rule over Babylon. The latter position is taken here.

Focus Verse

Daniel 6:26b-27a (NIV)

“…fear and reverence the God of Daniel. ‘For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth…’”

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A Look Ahead: Israel repents and God Answers Prayer; the Prodigal Comes Home. Here is some hope for us. Join us for our Next Lesson.

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