Daniel 4:5-6 (NIV 8-9)

Do you know the power of praise?

Daniel 4:5-6 (NIV 8-9)

"Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him) "

"I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me"

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If you compared with the Aramaic of the original in Interlinear Bible, the you've probably seen that NIV is a very good translation to English. We see that, after failing in getting some help from all other wise men in Babylonia, the king calls Daniel.

Why didn't Nebuchadnessar call Daniel first? By that time he had made the prophet chief of all the wise men, he had received the interpretation of another dream - the one in chapter two - and he had found Daniel and his friends "ten times better" than all other wise men. Why does he try to receive help from any other one but Daniel?

In previous chapters we have seen that Nebuchadnezzar recognized the God of Israel as "God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries" (Daniel 2:47) and he gave an edict in order to forbid that this powerful God should be blasphemed, because "no other god can save in this way" (Daniel 3:29; 4:1-3) He got help from that God he had known, by calling Daniel the prophet. But his attitude towards Daniel, and his words, show us that even when he recognized Jehova's power and lordship, the king was still a pagan.

Which words? Observe the explanation he gives to that superior wisdom in Daniel, "the spirit of the holy gods is in him". This shows us that the king believed that there are many gods, and some "holier" that others, or that some of them where holy and others weren't. Besides, even when he knew the Hebrew name of Daniel, he called him "Belteshazzar, after the name of his god".

Who was this "god" of Nebuchadnezzar, which name was given to Daniel?

"Belteshazzar" means "protected by Bel". Observe that the king talks of Bel as "his god". "Bel" comes from Acadian and means "lord". It was the main Babylonian deity, corresponding with the Phoenician "Baal", which means the "lord" of the Phoenicians. Baal is a Canaanite deity which we can find in many verses in the Bible, and Baal's worship hurt Israel hardly, so much that it was a main motive that God delivered the northern kingdom, and later the southern one in the hands of Assyrians and Babylonians, respectively (see last NOTE)

About Bel, the Babylonian deity, we can read God's judgement upon him and upon Babylonia, in the book of the prophet Jeremiah. He prophesied that Judah should be conquered by Babylonia, and that the people should go in captivity during 70 years; he even exhorted the Jews to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. But almost at the end of his book (chapters 50, 51) he prophesied that Babylonia should also fall and be punished, by the Persians (the "nation from the north" in Jeremiah 50:3) In both chapters we read about Bel, the Babylonian deity, falling together with the empire (Jer 50:2; 51:44)

Now then, probably most of the wise men which came before the king, of not all of them, were Bel's worshippers. Nebuchadnezzar called the prophet who worshipped the God of Israel only when the other "wise" men didn't serve him.

Do you trust God, or do you go to Him when there's no other available aid?

God is good. To believe in Him, to obey Him and to sacrifice praise are ways of blessing. The way the Lord dealt with Nebuchadnezzar, an idolater and pagan, shows us that God works with the ungodly, too. In Daniel 4 we find the king in a miserable condition, twice. The first time, in the beginning of the chapter, when he is terrified and nervous because of his mysterious dream which he didn't understand, and a little bit forward we read about his madness and brutishness, living as an animal. God delivered him from both situations, because he did seek the Lord, praised Him and acknowledged His supreme power.

Maybe you are a very religious person and question it, "how can you say that God bless the ungodly?" Let me tell you, I'm not saying that God bless an ungodly life, but emphasizing a biblical true: even pagans and ungodly ones are blessed by God, when they seek Him. Observe Romans 2:14, where Paul the apostle writes:

"Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law"

Even without knowing what is it that God stipulates in the Bible, every human being has a conscience and is able to think rationally, in order to determine that something is god or evil. And to do that which is good, holy and God's given, is something that God blesses. The king recognized Daniel's holiness because of the revelations he had got from the Spirit, and even praised Daniel's God. Then God gave him the interpretation of the dream, through the prophet. Going through madness and brutishness, when the king acknowledged God's dominion over the whole universe, the Lord gave him back his health and position. You can't read that Nebuchadnezzar became a Jew or a Christian, or that he read the Scriptures to increase his knowledge of God. But God blessed him and restored him when he confessed that Israel's God was above averything and over everyone.

To acknowledge and praise God brings blessing. The solemn procession of the Hebrews, honoring the ark of the covenant, in which the presence of God was manifested, caused the fall of Jericho's walls and Israel's victory. The proclamation of his faith in the Lord of hosts, and in His power, gave victory to the young David, who defeated a gigantic warrior, well trained and equipped, whith a stone. The king Jehoshaphat received his enemies with praises to the Lord, and he defeated them without fighting. Praising the Lord in a high security prison gave their freedom to Paul and Silas.

There is power in praise, and in the confession of God's power. He intercedes in favor of the ones who believe in Him, proclaim this faith and praise Him. The examples above are about believers, but even the Gentile Babylonian king could experience this truth, when he recognized and praised Israel's God. See the call God gives us to praise Him, in Psalms 100:

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations"

Is there no joy in your heart, to sing to God?

Don't you find joy serving Him?

Haven't you known Him?

Aren't you thankful towards Him?

Don't you praise neither bless the name of the Lord?

I didn't do it before. Believe me, there is a beginning for everything, and it is never to late to begin. God knows that joy, praise, thankfulness and faith are no natural things for us, fallen creatures who live without regarding His presence and without considering His goodness and mercy. And He knows that the will, or even the attitude of the heart to worship Him, praise him, give thanks to Him or rejoice before Him, is not in us.

But there is a way to become joyful children of God. All you have to do is to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He came to us to bring abundant life. He came so that we could receive all blessings flowing from God's throne, and see God's power in action to favor us. To see this we have to praise Him, we have to acknowledge Him. And because He knows it is no natural function in our lives, He sent His Holy Spirit to lead us. Our sins have raised a wall which keep us apart from God, but the Spirit of God came to demolish it, and to lead us to our Creator's Presence.

Sin ties us up so that we are unable to bless the Lord. But Christ came to break down every shackel. All you need to get free is to kneel before the Lord, to confess your sins, ask Him for pardon and pray that He will take control of your life, that He becomes your Lord and Savior. The blood shed on the cross of Calvary has power over all sins. Be free, in the name of Jesus Christ!

May the Lord bless you. In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus is coming soon!

NOTE:

The Hebrews adored Baal in some periods (see 2 Kings 21:3 and Judges 2:13; 3:7; 6:25, 32 - the name "Jerub-Baal" was given to Gideon because he broke down Baal's altar; it means "let Baal contend with him") Baal worship caused that other nations could invade them, because they abandoned God's protection and God's commandments. This idolatry had its most infamous period under Ahab, probably the worst of all apostate kings of the northern kingdom.

Ahab took Jezebel, a Phoenician woman who was a Baal worshipper, and he raised up a temple to Baal in Samaria, and worshipped that Canaanite idol. The Word mentions Ahab as the one who "did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him" (see 1 Kings 16:29-32) In 2 Kings 17 can we read about the fall of the northern kingdom before Assyria, and the cause is idolatry, especially Baal's worship (2 Kings 17:16)

Even the kingdom of Judah, with several faithful kings who kept the faith of the God of Israel, fell in idolatry, worshipping Baal under the reign of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah (See 2 Kings 21:1-3) The prophet Jeremiah in his book, in chapter 11, declares that this should cause Judah and Jerusalem to fall and be conquered, as it had happened with the northern kingdom. God forbids him to pray for those who had chosen other gods. In the Babylonian captivity, they would seek the Lord again, and be restored after 70 years.

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