Would you like a promotion? Which one?
"Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain,"
"and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two"
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When you compare the rendering of the New International Version with the Aramaic from the originals you can see a very good translation to English. The verse "...and Darius the Mede..." is not in the Aramaic version in the 5th chapter but in the 6th one - Daniel 5:31 in NIV is Daniel 6:1 in the original language. You can read in a NOTE at the end about this Darius the Mede.
This passage shows us how God deals with a righteous man and a sinner: Daniel gets a promotion and a blessing because of God's grace, whereas Belshazzar loses his kingdom and even his life, going to eternal condemnation because of his evil deeds.
Do you know that God has a promotion for us, that it is our destiny?
In previous messages - you can read for instance in Daniel 5:22-23 in this site - we spoke about the Sadducees, a sect that you can find in the NT and which denied the resurrection of the dead. This knowledge is so crucial for us believers that the apostle Paul openly proclames in Corinthians 1 that if resurrection doesn't exist, Christianity is a lie, and we are "most to be pitied" among all men, because we are trusting something wrong and even preaching it. You can read the apostle's argument in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20.
Because there is resurrection, Jesus rose up from the dead, Jesus is alive, Jesus reigns, Jesus saves, Jesus heals, Jesus prospers, Jesus set us free from sins and Jesus will come back to this earth in the glory of His Majesty, to bring the Kingdom of God to us.
Observe this passage where Jesus is speaking about us as "His sheep", He is the Pastor and God the Father is the One who holds everything:
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one"
In previous messages we had spoken about our first home in Sweden, which was a cottage in the countryside which was a part of a greater property. We rented it from their owners who worked both in more urban professions. They were a Swedish couple, the husband was a physician and the wife a teacher. But to live in the country made it possible for them little farming. They had sheep, a rather numerous flock. I can remember how the lady used to come every day, changed her teacher clothes for a blue overall and boots, and gave water to the sheep. She carried it to the trough in some jerrycans in a cart. When the sheep saw her, they knew what was about to happen, and they gathered around her and the trough, waiting for the water to drink.
It was one day they should not be at home by the time the sheep used to drink. Then they asked me if I should give water the sheep. "Of course", I answered joyfully. I imagined myself filling the trough with the flck around me as a funny experience. When the time came, I filled the jerrycans, put them in the cart and went to the trough, expecting that the sheep should come as they used to.
But... surprise! The sheep remained at least 100 yards from me, looking at me with the same jerrycans and the same cart they knew so well. The water they had not drinked during the day was poured in their trough; the only thing they had to do was to come and drink. But there was a difference in their daily scene. That man who was filling the trough was not "their" shepherd. Only when I filled the trough and I went away with the cart and the jerrycans, only when they saw that the whole area was clear, then they went to drink. I learned from this day that even when sheep are not the most intelligent among animals - I mean, you don't see sheep doing the amazing things that horses, seals, dolphins or elephants do - they have a certain knowledge which is clear to them: who the shepherd is.
The passage we saw before where Jesus is speaking shows us how is it also with the Shepherd's sheep. He knows them, they hear God's voice in Jesus, and they follow God by following Jesus. And He gives them eternal life.
Maybe you ask yourself, what do you mean eternal life, if we all die and descend to the grave?
Let me tell you, the Lord Jesus Christ says that He is "the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25) "Resurrection" means to rise from the dead and live again. This is good news, this is the gospel as we read it in John 3:16:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life"
The love of God for a lost and sinful world was shown on the cross of Calvary, where He gave His Son to die so that we could live. He who never sinned received the punishment destined to the worst criminals, to set us free from eternal condemnation and to lead us to eternal life in the Presence of God.
This resurrection which leads to live on eternity is a revelation we've got from the OT. Observe Daniel's prophecy in chapter 12 and verse 2 of the book with his name:
"Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life [1st Resurrection], others to shame and everlasting contempt" [2nd Resurrection]
As you can see, we have made emphasis in two kinds of resurrection, because this is Daniel prophecy. This revelation came to us through Our Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel of John, 5:29:
"...those who have done what is good will rise to live [1st Resurrection], and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned" [2nd Resurrection]
In the words of Our Lord, there is a resurrection to life and another one to condemnation. In the book of Revelation, John the apostle shows us the vision he got about both of them (Rev 20:4-6) :
"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life [1st Resurrection] and reigned with Christ a thousand years (the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended [2nd Resurrection] ) This is the first resurrection"
"Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection [1st Resurrection] The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years"
The apostle calls the resurrection for life the "first resurrection". This event takes place at the second coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and consists of several steps that we can see in 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 and which we shall talk about some day if the Lord allows) The resurrection for condemnation takes place at the end of the Millennium, the kingdom that Our Lord will bring to this world when He comes back. Revelation 20:11-15, the passage which describes the final judgement, is the one that deals with the destiny of those who will rise up in the second resurrection.
In earlier messages (you can read it under Daniel 2:24-26) we spoke about a vision that the Lord gave us in prayer, concerning our own resurrection, and confirmed it with the chapter 37 of the book of Ezekiel. This is a fundamental promise of resurrection that God gives to His people (verses 11-14, when the Lord reveals to Ezekiel the vision he had seen) :
"Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord"
Observe the precious promises from God to the people of Israel: they should rise from the dead, they should be gathered in Israel (the land God promised to Abraham their father) and they should be filled with the Spirit of God. Because God fulfills His promises, the return of the Jews after 2000 years to their land is the most remarkable prophetical event, the sign that shows us that other prophecies about Israel and about the church are about to happen, and that Jesus' return is very close.
Why "prophecies about the church"? Let me tell you: there are promises of resurrection for the church of the Lord in the NT also; they are just subordinate to a single condition: to be "grafted in the cultivated olive tree" which Romans 11:24 is talking about. The Lord promised to Daniel resurrection and salvation for "his" people (Daniel's people, in a time when there were no church and Israel was the only nation which could be called "God's people") Both resurrections that were revealed to Daniel in 12:2 are in the context of the final events CONCERNING ISRAEL. Observe Daniel 12:1 :
"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered"
In order to know who are the ones which will "awake", think about it:
- The archangel Michael is an angel of high rank which appears in the Bible in several verses. He is always protecting Israel, then his presence and activity is an evidence that this is about Israel.
- There will be a time of "distress" ("as has not hapened from the beginning of nations") This time of distress - mentioned by Our Lord in Matthew 24:21, "...great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now..." - is the fundamental issue in the book of Revelation. In that time shall Israel be delivered. There is a stumbling block for "theologians" who want to ignore Israel in the book of Revelation, the great prophetic book of the New Testament: the very important role of the Jews, the people of God, through the whole book. The salvation of Christians is amalgamated with that of Israel through the whole story - this issue we hope to show you with the help of God.
- The "people of Daniel" will be delivered, "everyone whose name is found written in the book". Which book? Observe Daniel 7:10, "A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened" and compare with Revelation 20:15, "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (aka hell).
This "book of life" is a register that we find very early in the Bible, a list of believers. In several passages the Bible shows us lists of persons (you can see as an example 1 Chronicles 1 or Matthew 1) Is a firm belief of the OT that God has a "book of the living ones".
Is this belief a myth, or a truth that God has revealed?
Observe Exodus 32:31-33, where Moses speaks about himself as pertaining to that list:
"So Moses went back to the Lord and said, 'Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written' "
"The Lord replied to Moses, 'Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book' "
God's answer means that the book really exists, and that the sinners should be wiped out from it. That's why you can read about two resurrections in Daniel 12:2, those who are in the book - an should be delivered - and those who are not in the book - the ones who will rise again from the dead also, but to condemnation.
This book of life which Moses was talking about is the same that John recalls in Revelation; both Jewish and Christian believers are listed there. Revelation 20:15 shows us that those ones whose names are not in the book will be sent to hell. Observe this passage where we read about the difference between those written in the book, and sinners:
"Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name"
" 'On the day when I act, ' says the Lord Almighty, 'they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not' "
The "righteous" is the one who serves God; the "wicked", the one who doesn't. The righteous ones are in this "scroll of remembrance" - in ancient times, books were "scrolls", not the books with pages we see now - and they are going to be "God's treasured possession" in the day He acts - judges. They will get forgiveness of sins. the difference with the "wicked ones" is announced here, but is clearer when we read about the two resurrections.
Daniel received this promise of deliverance and prosperity. Observe Dn 12:3:
"As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance"
The Jewish prophet received not only a promotion in this earth, both under the Babylonian and the Persian rule, but also the promise that, even when he would die, he would rise from the dead and get his inheritance. He received an eternal, steadfast "promotion". Those high positions that he and his friends got in the Babylonian exile were no help when they were cast to a burning furnace or to the lion's den, in order to kill them. But God has put us in a position on eternity where the Evil One can't touch us. If God has written your name in the book of life, there is no demon or Satan's servant that can wipe it out. The Lord delivered them from death, and He will deliver us also, the ones who believe.
There are some ones who believe that it is no big deal if we are written in the book of life or not, if we will rise from the dead to be with God on eternity or not. As the Sadducees, they believe that everything ends with our death. For Christ's sake, don't make this mistake! All verses we have seen, where the prophets, the apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ are talking about it, show us a fatal destiny for the ones whose names aren't there, those who will not rise from the dead in the first resurrection. Hell is not for "very bad people" only, a place where "I will not go, because I harm nobody". Hell is for those "whose names are not written in the book of life".
Do you want to see your name written in the book of life? Do you wanna be in God's register? Do you want an eternal promotion? There's only one thing you have to do: receive Jesus Christ, the Messiah from Israel, the Savior of mankind, the Son of God, as your Lord and Savior. NOBODY can snatch His sheep out from His hand!
May the Lord bless you!
IN the love of Jesus, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!
About "Darius the Mede" identity
He's been mistakenly identified with Cyrus the Great from Persia. But this incorrect, as we'll see. Nevertheless, he reigned under that king, as Belshazzar did under his father Nabonidus, king of Babylonia. The identity of Darius de Mede is a biblical enigma which has puzzled historians by centuries.
That he is NOT Cyrus is evident when we read the whole history in chapter 6. Darius the Mede has to obey "the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed". It would be impossible to the satraps to manipulate the king of kings of the Persian Empire. But a vassal king is more likely to watch his back. Besides, Darius the Mede was "made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom" (Daniel 9:1) which means that another one appointed him over that territory, which is only a part of the whole extension of the Persian Empire. Finally, Darius is called a Mede and son of of Ahasuerus, and Cyrus was a Persian, son of Cambyses, another Persian king (only Cyrus mother was from Media)
Who, then, is this Darius?
Daniel 9:1 "In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom"
Daniel 10:1 " In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar)"
This Darius is somebody that Cyrus appointed as a ruler in Babylon, and was the king in Daniel 9:1, ONLY for "the Babylonian kingdom" - not Persia - but "Cyrus, king of Persia" is undoubtedly Cyrus II the Great, the Persian king who conquered Babylonia. In "the third year of Cyrus" Darius the Mede was already dead, and that's why Daniel doesn't use his reign as a reference.
The Christian Biblical erudites identify Darius the Mede with Gubaru, a general in Cyrus army who occupied Babylon. Some historians have argued against him because there is historical evidence - the so called "Nabonidus Chronicle" - where Gubaru appears and it seems to be that he died three weeks after conquering Babylon. But Daniel's story in chapter six could happen in three weeks - if you read carefully, it happened under one month, the time of the royal decree which Daniel infringed.
A proponent of the Gubaru identity, M.D. Ph. D. William H. Shea - a biblical erudite and an archaeologist - has studied carefully the Nabonidus Chronicle and other documentation of ancient Persia. He has found that in the Chronicle, the dates are given only by the day - with the month only one time - but the date of Gubaru's dead is given by both month and day. This could mean that the general died not three weeks but one year and three weeks after Babylonia's fall. He points also that Cyrus titulary was "king of lands" for a year and some weeks, and then, "king of lands, king of Babylon". This fact is unexplained until we understand that Gubaru was the appointed king of Babylonia, a vassal king of Cyrus who died after that time. The fact that Gubaru is in the Chronicle is evidence in itself that he was made a king (this document is in principle a list of royalties)
Observe the evidence, the likeness between Darius the Mede and Gubaru:
Nabonidus Chr. & others - Gubaru -- Book of Daniel - Darius the Mede
- Conquered Babylonia --------------------- Conquered Babylonia
- Appointed governors in Babylonia ------ 120 satraps and 3 presidents
- Died circa one year after ------------------ Was 62 years old
- A Cyrus' general ----------------------------- Was "made king" - by "his king"
- Earlier governor of Gutium ---------------- Darius "the Mede"
(a region in Media)
As a last evidence we could add that there is no other person who could be called "Darius the Mede", because Persia conquered Babylonia 539 BC, only one time in history, and Cyrus the Great appointed as governor there a general of a certain age and from Media, which in turn appointed satraps, only one time in history.