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Tuesday: Enter the Queen — 25 Comments

  1. The book of Daniel has always been a target of the critics, mainly because it contains prophecy that demonstrates foreknowledge, which of course, they believe is impossible. Consequently they seize on any historical inaccuracies and try to make the most of them. Many critics believe that Daniel was written about 200BC, which makes sense to them because of the information contained in the book. One of the reasons that I have taken the time to bring in some of the historical context is to show that the Book of Daniel is consistent with the history of the Babylonian captivity. We have to acknowledge that there are difficulties. Clearly the book of Daniel was written for a largely Hebrew audience and things that were important to the Hebrews were recorded, whereas the Babylonians had a very different agenda. The Hebrews were just some of the captives from a long history of expansion and colonisation and were just part of the fabric of a multicultural kingdom.

    In Daniel 5 we have the first mention on Darius the Mede.

    That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

    The problem for those of us who believe that Daniel is a selective but accurate record of the Babylonian captivity, the issue is that Darius the Mede does not get a mention in the Babylonian or Achaemenid history books.

    We should not confuse Darius the Mede with Darius the Great (Persian). He was the third Persian King. He was ruler during the time of Ezra and responsible for the some of the return of the captives.

    A number of proposals have been put forward, most of them hinge of the notion that in Biblical times, notable people often had several names, thus the Hebrews would use one name while the Bablylonians/Achaemenids would use another.

    Some suggest that the general, Gubaru (he has a string of other names in different languages) who captured the city of Bablyon was Darius. It has to be remembered that the title "king" was not only used for the head of state but for provincial and city rulers as well. As an example, we know that Belshazzar did not rule in his own right. His father Nabonidus was king and Belshazzar was the regent of Babylon. So it could well be the case that Gubaru does fulfil the role of Darius.

    I know that it is not a nice clean solution to the problem, but we need to acknowledge where we have difficulties corroborating our sources of information rather than offering some trite answer that makes us feel good but does not convince anyone who has studied history.

    Most of this information is available from sources such as Wikipedia - you have to check where Wikipedia get their information from. For a very old Adventist perspective, George McCready Price's book, "The Greatest of the Prophets" provides some insight particularly on how Adventists thought about the issues in about the 1950s and 60s, when I first read it.

    • The apparent inaccuracies in Daniel do not present a problem. Our best knowledge of antiquity is still very limited and in some cases are impossible to verify. But we know that Jesus lived amongst us. We know that He referred to the writings of Daniel and that He Jesus attested to the accuracy of Scripture (John 10:35). Furthermore the writings of Daniel must have been supernaturally inspired since so much of history which we can verify was predicted by the book.

      • I would call them discrepancies rather than inaccuracies. There are differences between the biblical and secular records that we need to be aware of. It helps to try and understand them, but some of them are not going to be resolved easily. We have to accept that. Glossing over them and providing simplistic explanations are worse than saying simply that we do not know.

  2. Sabbath's lesson stated:

    "In using the temple vessels in a palace orgy, Belshazzar desecrates them. Such an act of desecration is tantamount not only to a challenge of God but an attack on God Himself. Thus, Belshazzar fills up the cup of his iniquities... By removing dominion from Belshazzar, God prefigures what He will accomplish against the enemies of His people in the very last days."

    Feel free to correct me if you believe I am wrong, but it would appear that the lesson is essentially saying that Belshazzar challenged and attacked (ie disrespected) God and so God dealt with Belshazzar for doing so.

    Sunday's lesson went on to state that the story of Belshazzar illustrates that:

    "One day judgment will come."

    Again, correct me if I am wrong but the lesson appears to imply that God's dealing with Belshazzar was to 'bring judgment'.

    Today's lesson poses a question at the end and invites us to read Romans 1:16-32. This is a passage well worth reading closely because it is one of, if not the most succinct and explicit spelling out of God's wrath that I am aware of in the Bible.

    If you read carefully, you will find that God's wrath is His (reluctantly but nevertheless actively) giving people up/over (actively releasing) to their chosen path of lawlessness. Thus people reap the inherent (non-arbitrary, reality-anchored) consequences for doing so (see also Galatians 6:7,8). This is not to be confused with God giving up on people - people give up on God.

    So what happens if we draw all this together? It suggests that Belshazzar defied God - a reflection of Belshazzar's heart of self-seeking and all the attitudes, thoughts and behaviours that go along with such a heart (eg Genesis 6:5). The magnitude of this behaviour suggests that Belshazzar's heart, like Pharaoh's, had become irreversibly hardened - same with the people mentioned by Paul in Romans 1:18-32. Thus, Belshazzar's defiance of God was not the problem - it was only the symptom of Belshazzar's real problem: a heart hardened into a state of self-seeking/self-glorifying/self-indulging.

    But rather than God 'dealing' with Belshazzar in retaliation for Belshazzar having attacked and challenging Him, Romans instead tells us that God gave up/gave over Belshazzar to the inherent consequences of the reality that Belshazzar was located within. And Maurice's excellent background material on Sabbath points out that the reality was Belshazzar lived within was a context of lawlessness (see 1 John 3:4) where assassination and murder reigned (the law of sin and death Romans 8:2).

    God rules. There is no question about that. But how does God rule? That is the vital question.

    What are your thoughts and perspectives?

    • Wrath is one of the attributes of God which He must make known to the universe (Rom 9:22) - “the Lord has made everything for His purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.”(Prov 16:4). This attribute is demonstrated in Scripture in several ways; it’s not one dimensional. The wrath of Rom 1 is applied to the Gentiles who distorted the Truth of God “creating” their own human type of god, one more amenable to them. God left them to themselves without restraints, like the law, “so that their bodies would be dishonored among them” through their natural lusts.(Rom 1:24,25; Eph 4:17-19). Jews were not considered “sinners” like Gentiles (Gal 2:15). But all of humanity are deemed “children of wrath” by NATURE, because even Jews lived in the lusts of the flesh (Eph 2:1-4). This manifestation of wrath was neither disciplinary nor punitive. It was for the revelation of the nature of the natural unregenerate human.
      Consider the manifestation of God’s wrath in the cases of Moses, and Nadab & Abihu - both guilty of “not separating/treating God as Holy(Num 20:12; 27:13,14; Dt 3:26; Ps 106:32; Lev 10:1-3). [Seraphim declare: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord...” (Isa 6:3;Rev 4:8)]. With Moses God forbade his entering the Land. Moses begged 3 times, I think, but... If God had left Moses up to himself he would have stole into that land. With Nadab: “Fire came out from the *presence* of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.’”
      If God had “left these up to themselves”, they’d continue wantonly in their sin as in Rom 1.

    • I concur with your basic premise, Phil. However, there are clearly times when God brings on "natural consequences" considerably more quickly than they would "naturally" occur. And most of the time He modifies "natural" consequences to give humans more time to repent. He does all this in the context of the greater reality that only He can see.

      When we judge from our narrow little perspective, we can often judge wrongly - either that God arbitrarily inflicts judgment or that He does not intervene but just lets consequences happen "naturally." I believe that He does intervene to bring about desired results in harmony with His character.

      Let's look at it another way: If we posit that He never intervenes to bring about consequences that to us seem unpleasant or horrifying, is it consistent to posit that He does intervene to bring about miraculous good results. And, if so, why doesn't He do so all the time for everyone?

      I believe that if we stray from an informed natural reading of Scripture we create more problems than we solve. 🙂

      • Thanks Inge for the challenge and opportunity to clarify.

        In response to the points you raised, I would actually say that God brings on the "natural consequences" more slowly than they would "naturally" occur because the natural timing of lawlessness is instantaneous self-destruction at the point of embracing lawlessness. If something disconnects itself from God as the ongoing source of life and/or puts itself out of harmony with the lawful basis that is absolutely necessary for life to actually function, they won't last longer than a nanosecond. Hence God's statement in Genesis 2:17 that in the day they ate of the tree, they would die. That was to have been the natural consequence and natural timing of that consequence.

        I am in no way stating or implying that God does not intervene - or that God is passive. On the contrary, due to our world since Genesis 3 existing within the context of a sin-infected reality, God has been and continues to be intervening continuously. Allowing, restraining and releasing are all active interventions as I see it. It is how God intervenes that I am questioning. Satan has insinuated/implied that God is arbitrary in the way He operates (Genesis 3:4,5; Job 1:9-11; 2:4,5). Arbitrary, at its core, incorporates the generation of any and all non-naturally-occurring actions. Therefore, where it is proposed that God intervenes by means of generation of an otherwise non-naturally-occurring means, Satan's claim of God as arbitrary is validated. Hence my reference to the concept of arbitrary as the litmus test for assessing interventions ascribed to God.

        With regard to an informed natural reading of Scripture, what then is the role of the field of hermeneutics?

        • I agree 100% that God's actions are never arbitrary. However, our limited understanding may see God's actions as "arbitrary" when they are not. As an example, I think you see Nebuchadnezzar's insanity as a "natural consequence" which God didn't actively initiate. I see it as God doing what He said He would when He earlier warned Nebuchadnezzar in a dream. It wasn't "arbitrary" though, but necessary to fulfill God's purpose in the world as well as for the saving as Nebuchadnezzar himself. I'd like to compare it to Moses 40 years in the wilderness. This experience humbled Moses enough so God could use him as a mighty instrument to deliver His people from Egypt. That was the slow 40-year track. In contrast, God fast-tracked Nebuchadnezzar's development of humility to only 7 years. That's quite a transformation for a self-important king1!
          God isn't constrained to only the actions of "allowing, restraining and releasing" any more than earthly parents are. 🙂 He can act to bring about a desired result. It may not feel good. It may not look good. It may even look "evil," but God knows exactly what He's doing. 🙂

          • Thanks Inge.

            I am not trying to change your perspective but rather trying to understand the details of the basis of your view so I can compare and contrast with what I am seeing and studying into.

            To me, God initiates things in terms of releasing what has been restrained to this point, but that He wasn't the generator of the thing that was being restrained. Therefore, releasing that which He wasn't the generator of means that He is also not the generator of that which He is releasing back to what it would otherwise be if He hadn't restrained it (in grace) in the first place. This appears to be in harmony with the principles outlined in Galatians 6:7,8 and James 1:14,15, for example. Thus I see that God is inherently (self-)vindicated of Satan's allegation of God as arbitrary.

            So to me initiation is not synonymous with generation when it comes to God's involvement with destruction forces. This is how I see John 10:10 which I know is only a single verse but which appears to me to be a summary verse expressing a bottom line that is in harmony with Jesus revelation of God's nature and character (John 17:4,6; 14:9) across His earthly experience: God is (and exclusively so) the generating agent of any and all (abundant) life forces, while the 'thief' is (and exclusively so) the generating agent of any and all destructive forces. However, as I currently see it, if God is in fact the generator of destruction under certain circumstances, it would appear that John 10:10 is not an entirely accurate statement. Or perhaps there is an alternative perspective to this verse - with respect to what I am saying - that I am overlooking?

            Thus, while God needs to operate to restrain or release (allow) destructive forces to negotiate the period of the Cosmic Conflict to its conclusion, He does not and is not responsible for generation of those destructive forces and therefore is vindicated as non-arbitrary.

            How do you view (?define) the concept of arbitrary (as per Satan's insinuation of God as arbitrary)?

            I know it is time consuming to discuss this, but these concepts are actually foundational to people's view of God (whether they are consciously aware of it or not).


  3. Romans 1 the LORD gives them up to experience the consequences of their choices, however in ROM 2:5-10 they will receive wrath and judgment. So while there is a chance for them to repent he uses 'tough love' to try and get them to change but in the day of judgment they will receive punishment according to their deeds.
    The world operates based on the LORDs rules and laws, people either obey him or disobey him and receive the consequences. There is no reality outside or not part of the LORDs government so when he gives them up he is giving them up to the consequences of breaking his laws not some other 'reality' which dies not exist apart from Gods laws.

  4. Apart from God we are nothing. Away from our Maker, we are just shadows. Full of self, empty of God. On the opposite, while empty of self and full of Christ we gain life. Life in abundance! That's the principle. Jesus is able to bring light where darkness has abode. Jesus is the miracle Who makes all the difference on our hearts and souls. He can make sense where it all seems crazy and in disorder. Thank God for His greatest love shown to men, some family sacred bounds, His only Son, our Savior.

  5. Well said, Phil. This line of reasoning is the only explanation that supports a God of love and not arbitrary vindictiveness. This is a God I can respond to and love and serve.

    • Really resonate with the description of a God we want to respond to and love and serve. That to me is what is being expressed in John 12:32 which I have also cross-referenced with John 6:44.

      God is 100% for us - it is the reality of lawlessness (law of sin and death Romans 8:2) that is against us. Satan has successfully gotten people misfocused on the 'fake' reality of God being the source of punishment instead of us focussing on the reality need to address the lawlessness within us that is actually destroying us.

      Thanks for your comment Richard.

  6. Excellent, Phil and Maurice. The remarkable, and most welcome, historical background provided by Maurice has given depth to this lesson. And Phil, I appreciate the way you have drawn this together.

    I can draw a very clear correlation to the events of today, evolved societal "norms," the emergence of so much uncontrolled anger in people leading to violence, etc. We all know the hand of God will be withdrawn in the last days, loosing all manner of evil that has been held back. I wonder if, for each individual, this occurs after He has given them every chance for salvation and they've made their final decision? If so, this (final decision) must happen pretty quickly. We know God can work quickly to convert. Possible it works both ways?

  7. Phil, my mind went to the same place with the Romans 1 text. With that line of thinking, is it possible that the hand writing on the wall, was God giving Belshazzar one last chance to see God and proclaim Him the only true God like Nebuchadnezzar had? Just a thought.

    • The Bible has about 6 references to Nebuchadnezzar being the father of Belshazzar, but the historical records show that Nabonidus was his father. The use of the word father in the biblical record can also be interpreted as ancestor or predecessor. Given when we now know about the final days of the Babylonian empire it would appear that predecessor is a good description of the relationship.

      We know that Nebuchadnezzar had a son, Amel Marduk, who ruled for 2 years.
      He was assassinated by Neriglissar, who was married to Nebuchadnezzar's daughter (so much for family loyalty). He was old when his reign commenced and died after about 5 years.
      His son Labashi-Marduk became king but he was only a child and lasted for 9 months before he was assassinated.
      The power behind this assassination was Nabonidus and he became the king and was still the king until Cyrus took over. His son was Belshazzar. It is important to note that Nabonidus was not a Babylonian but was part of the Nebuchadnezzar court. Significantly, he was not a follower of Marduk as Nebuchadnezzar's family was, but was a follower of the Moon-god, Sin. This caused considerable tension with the Marduk clergy of Babylon, It is possible that he married one of Nebuchadnezzar's daughters but there is no record of that. It could be implied however from the interaction between Belxhazzar and his mother in the Biblical record.

      Nabonidus conquered Tamya, Arabia, and preferred to live there leaving the affairs of Babylon to Belshazzar who ruled as regent.

      For many years it was thought that Belshazzar was a fictional character invented by the writers of Daniel but in the 1800s a number of clay tablet records were discovered, the Nabonidus Chronicle, the Cyrus Cylinder, and the Verse Account of Nabonidus, all of which describe Belshazzar. In the Nabonidus Chronicle, Belshazzar is described as Nebuchadnezzar's grandson but it may have just been a ploy to justify his position.

      I hope that helps to understand the relationship a bit more.

  8. So after further reading and a discussion with my brother, I think Belshazzar knew exactly what he was doing and that God was not giving him a 2nd chance, He was just spelling out what the results of his choices would be. I made a more lengthy comment on Wednesdays discussion regarding this.

    • Good to see people wondering, questioning, exploring and investigating.

      I reckon God was actually doing both things you proposed as one does nor preclude the other. And it is we who only can close the door on mercy and grace - not God. I do not believe the door of the ark was closed until after every human heart was first closed.

      Keep sharing...

  9. I also would agree that one of God's attributes is "wrath" but the definition of "wrath" seems to be the point in dispute. Does God's wrath equate to the common notion of anger, punishment, vindication and "justice"? That seems to be too strong when God is also "LOVE". Does God's wrath equate to permissiveness, distance and "cool"? That is the opposite of the first extreme and equally wrong. Is God active in human affairs? or passive? It seems to me that a central attribute of God is God's justice and wisdom. An equal part is God's sovereignty and creative power. Sometimes the thought is captured in the idiom, Let go and let God. Do we really have to argue over God's wrath? Yes, because that is where some people live. Hopefully this does not describe you! Submit to God and accept the Lordship of Christ! The account of Belshazzar is for our benefit, not to cause the body of Christ to fight with itself. If God chose to intervene and cut Belshazzar down to size it is both just and for our instruction and improvement.

    • Thanks for your input Wayne.

      To clarify, please don't mispercieve that the body of Christ is fighting with itself here in these pages. As Maurice has mentioned in the past, we are engaging in a process that is analogous to "peer review" whereby we 'hammer out' our understandings via passionate but respectful dialogue with others to receive their challenges and counter view points. This is how we grow and develop in our understanding of God and His ways.

      And we don't just do this as a mere intellectual exercise. If I am to put my faith in God and to grow to become Christlike, I need to know better and better what that actually is because the better I know and experience this, the better position I am in to share with those who may be seeking something more in life (1 Peter 3:15). My daily life provides many opportunities for this to take place.

      Thanks again for joining the conversation ...

      • Thank you for your insight into the spirit of the forum. I am new to the group but wish you well. I should have said discussion instead of dispute. I was too harsh. I know at least one person that is repulsed by the disputes often discussed in person-to-person discussions. I, like you, often wish positions could be presented in a loving attitude of unity and growing together.

        • Thanks Wayne

          Unity here means we still non-judgementally respect each other even when we don’t agree on certain points. We trust that each person is genuinely committed to God and is growing in their walk - even though their walk may be different to mine. I hope you get benefit from being here when you are able...


    • It is clear that what we think about God informs our ideas about his words and acts. I think the “wrath” of God fits into that category. The word “wrath” conjures up white-hot uncontrolled rage and anger that results in physical, emotional and mental injury to its object, whether “deserved” or not. Because God is love, I cannot see this as a true for him.

      Instead, I see God’s wrath as his very emotional response in his redemption work for each of his children. When I had occasions to punish the willful, stubborn, selfish and even destructive behaviour of my son when he was a child, my emotional response and the tears that I shed in discipline were “wrath”, but not an angry “reward” or consequence of my abuse for his bad behaviour. To think that God’s wrath is angry raging “payback” is contrary to everything the Son of God revealed about our Father in heaven.

      When I read Daniel’s words to Belshazzar, instead of a dressing down, I hear a sadness in his voice and a regret for Belshazzar’s course of action in a very dysfunctional and dangerous place and time. I believe that in his hours of prayer, Daniel passionately pressed God for the salvation of Belshazzar, just as he had for Nebuchadrezzar, and just as I have done and continue to do for my son as he works to determine God’s will on his life’s journey.


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