Have you seen in a car a bumper sticker which says, "Live your life so the pastor doesn’t have to lie at your funeral"? Have you thought about that minister which will speak before your coffin descends, if he will find something noble or positive to say about you? Or if he must omit almost all your words and deeds?
Observe the recommendation of the prophet Daniel which the queen gave:
"The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means"
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You who compared the translation of the New International Version with the original Aramaic have seen that it is a very good one. But the expression "keen mind" describing Daniel is the translation of the Aramaic "rúakh yatirá" which means literally "excellent" (surpassing, extraordinary) spirit". This queen which enters into the banquet hall is not the king's wife, who was in the orgy with him, but the mother queen Nitocris, Nebuchadnezzar's daughter and Nabonidus' wife. Besides this biblical account, several historians confirm her wisdom. She is known as a prominent person by that time (daughter of the great Nebuchadnezzar and wife of two Babylonian kings, Neriglissar - 559-555 BC - and Nabonidus - 555-539 BC) The Bible shows us that she was well informed about Daniel's accomplishments during her father's rule. When she calls Nebuchadnezzar as Belshazzar's "father" she is meaning "ancestor", as we talk of "father Abraham" for all Jews.
The succession of kings after Nebucadnezzar was anything but peaceful. The history narrates that two of them (Evil-Merodach and Labashi-Marduk) were killed in political plots to get to the throne. This situation explains why Daniel, who had been exalted to the most prominent position under Nebuchadnezzar, was now relegated by his successors. Nitocris married Neriglissar and, after she widowed, Nabonidus. The words of testimony about Daniel in these verses show us that she witnessed some acts during Nebuchadnezzar's rule and Daniel's role in them. Whereas the kings forgot Daniel, she kept the prophet in regard.
Which features in Daniel could give him such a favor with the queen?
"Derech eretz kadma l'torah" is a Hebrew phrase from Talmudic teachings, which means "the way of the world precedes the Torah". This "way of the world" is the way we live together with the rest of mankind, the kind of relationship we develope with others because of our relationship with God. It is not enough to know the Bible and to talk very much about it; if our way of life is unjust and evil, the lack of "bible" in our hearts will discredit our words. Our Lord Jesus illustrated this principle perfectly in the well-known parable of the "good samaritan". Those who called themselves "holy" and who were versed in the Scipture, didn't help the needy one. But the stranger - even the Jew's enemy, as a samaritan - was the one who pitied him and showed him God's love and care.
The Word of God shows us that the Holy Spirit endows persons with spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-10) but leaves also a fruit by dwelling in us (Galatians 5:22-23) The testimony of Daniel, seen in his relationship with the king and the Babylonian officials, shows us great wisdom and tact in the prophet's "way of the world", and a great faith also, when he prayed to the Lord about contingencies threatening him and his friends. This is the "extraordinary spirit" which the queen saw in the prophet.
Now, which gifts were necessary to interpret that writing on the wall?
Observe that the queen says of Daniel that he "was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems". When we read forward we will see that the writing looked like a street vendor's cry or a commercial expression, and nobody but Daniel could see the prophetical meaning. The verses in 1 Corinthians which were mentioned above show us two gifts which enable us to get the revelation and application from a prophetic message. Observe 1 Corinthians 12:8:
"To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit"
"To one there" and "to another" doesn't mean that some people get wisdom and other ones get knowledge. These verses are in the context of a service where the presence of the Spirit is manifested, and THEN we can see different gifts in different persons. But the fact is that we can find all these gifts in a single believer. For instance, Daniel shows a powerful prophetic gift, but now is using these two, wisdom and knowledge.
What is this "message of knowledge"?
In the original Greek we read "lógos gnóseos". "Gnósis" can be rendered as "knowledge", "science", "revelation". It is a knowledge supernaturally revealed by God (not necessarily about supernatural things, but supernaturally revealed) The writing on the wall gave Daniel the revelation of the events which should take place that night. In the book of Acts we can read about this gift, and how it was used by the first Christians.
In Acts 5:3-4 we read about how Peter received a supernatural revelation about the deception of Ananias and Sapphira. They lied about a donation they should give to the church, and their fraud was supernaturally revealed to the apostle. In Acts 14:9-10 we see another revelation: the apostle Paul "saw that a man had faith to be healed" and he healed him miraculously.
This "message of knowledge" or simply "revelation" is a supernaturally revealed knowledge, as we have seen, and it can come before other ones, for instance the gift of prophecy (you prophesy about something which has been revealed) or before a "message of wisdom".
What is a message of wisdom?
The original words in Greek are "lógos sofías". "Sofía" is the wisdom which means not only to know about something, but to find some practical application to this knowledge. From the dawn of mankind we have known that when you heat water it boils and emits vapour, but only in the times of Rome, a Greek mathematician called Hero of Alexandria devised a little turbine which showed that this vapour could make something to rotate. Furthermore, the steam engines were in use only very recently, in the 19th century during the industrial revolution. The "knowledge" and the "practical application" was separated by many millennia.
It occurs in the same way with spiritual matters (even when the application doesn't need to come several millennia later) In Acts 11:15-17 we can see that together with the "gnósis" or revelation that the Spirit had come on the Gentiles, Peter received a message of wisdom (lógos sofías) that we should not "stand in God's way", that nobody should hinder this because this was God's will. The message of wisdom was manifested also in the 1st Council of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15) where because of the revelations that Peter and James received, the church decided not to impose Jewish ordinances to new converts among the Gentiles.
Daniel gives to the king a message of wisdom in this chapter: that what happened to king Nebuchadnezzar should have been an example to Belshazzar that it is God who is to be praised. Romans 15:4 says, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us..." The punishment which came upon Belshazzar was the result of his ungodliness and lack of wisdom.
There is a place where I worked for some years and from which I have beautiful memories. It is a retirement home called Stångberga Sjukhem and is located in Brottby, Vallentuna, in Sweden. I remember a patient which I had some conversations with (I didn't work with them directly but with the building) She was called Martha Eklund, and she was a precious, kind Swedish grandma who, in spite of her old age and of sitting all day in a wheelchair, was a very lucid and positive person, with a great sense of humor.
I can remember one time when she was suffering from some ache - or aches - which kept her without sleep all night long. She called me and asked me to pray so that she would get healed.
This was rather surprising for me. I mean, I didn't have talked with her about miracles and healing, especially because I was anything but fluently in Swedish by that time. We just knew that we were believers. How she got from the Lord that I could pray and heal her, I don't know and I think she got a message of knowledge. Of course when I heard about her need, in spite of my limitation, I asked Jesus for help to pray for her (in my troglodyte Swedish; maybe the most strange prayer that the Lord has heard) But when I came next Monday, Martha was so glad and told me that the Lord had healed her, and she had slept perfectly all the weekend.
Hallelujah! Everything is possible to God!
When we put ourselves in God's hands, He will use us. It is His gifts which are at work, and our human limitations don't matter. If we take a look to the "faith heroes" in Hebrews 11 we will see a list of believers, with many human limitations, problems and persecutions, but no matter what, they trusted the Lord and did His work. Also Daniel, who was captive in Babylonia and - in this chapter - was relegated by the king, was able to read the writing on the wall and to interpret it, because God had somebody who had not forgotten him, and who gave testimony about him, in order that the prophet should be called. The gifts of the Spirit of God made the rest.
Let's remember the opening questions:
Have you thought about that minister which will speak before your coffin descends, if he will find something noble or positive to say about you? Or if he must omit almost all your words and deeds?
If you are satisfied or not with your life until now, and with your way of serving God, I don't know. But He does. And every doubt, fear, insecurity, any kind of resistance which you are confronting to win, He is able to take it away. The only thing you need to do is to give your life to Christ. It is He who makes saints from the sinners, who makes instruments of God from evildoers, and who take those who were destined to the eternal fire and makes them believers, destined to the eternal glory with Him.
Receive Jesus, and begin to live in victory!
May the Lord bless you! In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus comes quickly!