Daniel 5:17

Have you heard something about "distinguishing between spirits"?

Daniel 5:17

"Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means"


If you compared with the Aramaic of the original Scriptures, then you probably saw that this rendering to English is excellent. And that Daniel accepts the task, but he rejects most definitively the kings offering.

Is this relevant?

Please observe that it is the king himself who offered Daniel the most high position he could give someone (second after him) This would give Daniel the same position he had in Nebuchadnezzar's rule. The prophet sould see it as a restitution to his place after many years in oblivion. Besides, to reject such an offer from a king could be seen as Daniel despising the royal gifts, and he could get punished because of that. Remember that these kings in antiquity were lords over life and death (you can read about it in the words of Daniel when he speaks of Nebuchadnezzar in this chapter)

Why did Daniel risk his life, rejecting the possibility of a promotion to a supreme authority position? Why didn't he answered in the same way he did with Nebuchadnezzar? Is not Belshazzar's call similar to Nebuchadnezzar's in chapter four, to interpret the dream of the tree? What's the difference?

To understand Daniels attitude we need to see him practising a supernatural gift of the Spirit of God, "to distinguish between spirits" ("diakrísis pniumáton" in 1st Corinthians 12:10, "judgement" or "distinguishing" of the spirits) This gift is the one which make it possible for us to get a revelation of the source of the words or actions of a person (if it comes from God or from an unclean spirit) And this is very important, because our senses and even our thought can be (and often they are) deceived by appearances.

Apparently, this scene is the same as the previous chapter: the prophet has been called by a Babylonian king who has got a supernatural message and wants Daniel to interpret it. The king's action is totally compatible with his right and his position of authority, the lord of the country - and of the prophet. Are both chapters talking about the same thing? APPARENTLY. But note these differences:

Nebuchadnezzar -------------------------------- Belshazzar
- Believed in Daniel's ability ------------------ Doubted Daniel's ability
- Called the "chief of the magicians" - Called "one of the Jewish captives"
(a Babylonian "wise man") ---------- (a slave of the Babylonian Empire)
- Had honored the God of Daniel --- Had desecrated the God of Daniel,
---------------------------------------------------- was drunken and worshipping demons
- Had received a message of ------  Had received a message of death and
temporary judgement for discipline -------- condemnation

God revealed that difference to Daniel, even when the situation was rather similar. And that's why Daniel rejects Belshazzar's "unclean" offer. if we read Daniel 1:8 and Daniel 3:16-18 - both has been commented in this site - we'll see other cases of rejection. Why did the Jews risked their lives by doing so?

Observe what we read in Psalms 34:14 :

"Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it"

King David didn't write this poem to publish a poetry selection with help of "Gat Editors. Publishing House". It is a poem of thanksgiving to the Lord because He delivered David from death. And King David's writings were prophetical, inspired by God's Spirit - that's why they are in the canon of the Scriptures. The Spirit of God told Daniel, Mishael, Azariah and Hananiah through this verse, "have no part with evil", and they obeyed God's voice. Of course, to "discern", to "distinguish", to "choose" between good and bad it is necessary that they were anointed by the Spirit of God themselves, because "good and evil" is not the same thing to every person.

But to Israel's God, good and evil are still good and evil. It was so in the OT times, and it was also so in the NT times. When the Lord Jesus Christ sent His disciples with the message of salvation, the Messiah and the Kingdom of God with Him, He gave them a special instruction regarding the ones who should reject good:

"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet"

Matthew 10:14

This act of "shaking the dust off their feet" implies that, because of evil is dwelling in that home or town, they should not take with them nothing from there, not even the dust we get in the sole of our shoes. It was a perfect image or illustration of "rejecting evil". In the writings of the apostles we can read also about it. Observe 1st John 5:16 and Jude 1:22-23:

"If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that"

"Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh"

Daniel could not read the NT. But his act regarding king Belshazzar shows us that the Spirit of God led him to do the same thing that we find in the commands of Christ's apostles (which were Jews as well) and of the Lord Himself. The prophet didn't want even the dust in his shoes, if it came from Belshazzar's palace. The apostle Peter in the book of Acts rejects also two money offerings which could be good to the church, because he saw the spirit of evil behind them (he got a revelation through the gift of distinguishing between spirits) You can read about it in Acts 5:1-11 (the story of Ananias and Sapphira) and Acts 8:5-24 (the story of Simon the Sorcerer)

What's the meaning of this for us in these times?

We are living in times of "total tolerance" and "total intolerance". Some people want to be 100% tolerant (including evil and sin in their "tolerance") and other ones want to be 100% intolerant (and claim to have the right to kill the "intolerable" ones) But the Word of God doesn't agree with any of them. Sin has been defined "sin" from the times of Genesis, and it will be "sin" even in the times of Revelation - which are yet to come. But God's position regarding sinners is not to kill them, but to save them.

About the "total tolerance": maybe you've heard about "ecumenism". This word comes from the Greek "oikuméne" which means "the inhabited world". In ancient times, the word was used to mean the Roman Empire. But when the church became the official religion in the whole Empire, then it was used to mean "Christendom". The idea in "ecumenism" is to find the unity in the church, putting aside the doctrinal issues. It sounds noble, because it is so much to be achieved if we forget our differences! But it brings sin. These doctrinal issues define - through biblical interpretation - what is good and what es evil, right and wrong. Some so called "Christians" sustain that there's no sin in homosexual relationship, and they perform even weddings between two persons of the same gender. It is to mix something holy with something sinful. When you do that, the result is sin. Let me show you what the Scripture says:

"On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai:"

"This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’"

"The priests answered, "No."

"Then Haggai said, "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?"

"Yes," the priests replied, "it becomes defiled"

"Then Haggai said, "'So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,' declares the Lord. 'Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled'"

Haggai 2:10-14

God's teaching through the prophet is a clear one: that which is declared defiled, unclean (sin) is not sanctified by touching the holy things, but that which is declared holy (matrimony) becomes defiled by mixing it with a sinful relationship.

To be a Christian, you have to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. By doing this, you receive the Holy Spirit to dwell in you and guide you. The gift of discerning good and evil is from the Spirit. If someone is intentionally mixing good and evil, it is evident that it is not the work of the Spirit of God, but of a demon. Which possible communion could exist between a Christian and a demon possessed? People who are demon possessed need to be set free from that evil influence, in order to be filled with the Spirit of God. In the Kingdom of God doesn't counts if you call yourself "Christian" or not, but if you have the Spirit of God dwelling in your heart or not.

If you have not yet received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are in danger. You can be deceived and entangled in sin, which will lead your soul to hell.

Receive Jesus Christ, and be free from condemnation!

In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus is coming soon!

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