Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Daniel, Day 3 Readings

The Writing on the Wall and the Lions' Den 

Today's first reading provides a memorable event from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar's successor, Belshazzer.  With great pride, the new king hosts a feast and uses the vessels and utensils that had been removed from the Temple in Jerusalem by the attacking Babylonians.  Much like the person who drinks unworthily from the wrong cup at the end of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the unfaithful Babylonians are almost immediately punished.  A dismembered hand wrote four words on the wall of the banquet hall, which Daniel was called upon to interpret.  Again, the Jewish adviser must tell the Babylonian king that the end of his reign is near.  (And again, the king responds by rewarding Daniel, instead of punishing him.)  That very night, in fact, the proud and unfaithful Belshazzer was killed.

Read Daniel 5:1-30  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

The second reading tells of the plot to have Daniel killed by casting him into the lions' den.  This story is frequently told to children, but it has adult themes.  The new Babylonian king is trying to consolidate power through the empire, and a group of advisers try to use his inexperience in order to topple Daniel from his influential role.  They convince the new king, Darius, to sign a decree that anyone who prays to a god other than the emperor shall be thrown into the lions' den.  Daniel continues to be faithful and he is arrested.  The king, who likes Daniel, is horrified that the adviser must be executed, but sees no way out of the law.  So Daniel is thrown into a lions' den with the king's own prayer that his god somehow save him.  As most know, Daniel is indeed preserved and the lions do not harm him.  Discovering this the next morning, the king is overjoyed and retaliates against the conspirators by ordering them into the lions' den.  And, amazingly, the Babylonian king recognizes the Jewish God.

Read Daniel 6:1-28  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

Reading the Bible in Its Entirety

If you are planning to read the Bible in its entirety, you should read Daniel 5-6 today.