Daniel 5:1-12 (Part 2) – More Than Just A Member of a Team, We Are Ambassadors

Posted: June 7, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 5:1-12 (Part 2)

The Handwriting on the Wall

When people think of your name, what do they think of? If there was one word to describe you, what word would they use? We are the product of the decisions that we make? You always see movies about people when they return home again to the towns where they grew up, there are long-held beliefs about a person that remain alive despite how your life might have changed since that time. If you were a wild child back in your teenage years, there are those who will always have that impression of you no matter how much your life has changed since then. Recently, I had a discussion with my daughter, who besides being an elementary school teacher, is also a cheerleader coach at the high school near her home. When talking about her cheerleaders, we had this discussion about how they not only represented the school but also the towns which the high school represents. As we were discussing that, I told her of an incident that occurred some 40 years ago that still affects how I perceive a whole town today.

 

Back when I was teenager, I was a student at Travelers Rest (TR) High School in Travelers Rest, SC (where my dad was the pastor of two United Methodist churches there). On that particular evening, my Dad, Mom, my brother and I were in Pickens, SC for the TR vs. Pickens high school football game. As we were parking the car in an available space that we found, a teenage boy from Pickens was walking between the cars (and if I remember correctly, he was Pickens marching band member) and he perceived that we had driven our car too close to him as we were parking. He proceeds to cuss at my mother as he walked by the passenger side window of the car. The language he used toward my mother enraged my Dad because of the lack of respect shown to his wife. My dad jumped out of the car, grabbed the boy, and threw him over the hood of our car and told him in no uncertain terms that he would apologize to my mom. The boy was so humiliated he quietly apologized and got away from us as quick as he could. In this day and age, my Dad probably would have gotten arrested but on this night in the mid-70s, it was effective. However, ever since that day, when you mention Pickens High School or Pickens, SC, I immediately think loud-mouthed rednecks. My daughter says she harps on that very idea with her girls on the squad. When you sign on to a sports team (and, yes, having been a father of two cheerleaders, it is a sport with sprained ankles, broken bones, and practices that will push you to your limit), you are more than just a team member. You are more than just doing something you like. You are representing your school and your town. Just think of the public image disasters for schools caused by their sports team members. She reminds them that they should think twice before getting involved in any situation that would sully the name of their squad, their school, their town. They are more than just sports team members. They are ambassadors of their school and their town. Impressions are hard to change. Who you were when you were young vs. now. Impression of who and what you are representing can be forever tainted by one indiscretion. We are the decisions that we make.

 

It was that idea that came to mind when I read this passage, Daniel 5:1-12 again this morning. There was just something about Daniel that made him special. I think the thing that made him special was that he was consistent. He never wavered in his belief in God. He never compromised his belief in God. It was through his consistent love of God that God gave him great wisdom. And, it was this wisdom and honor for his God, that other people saw. Even in a pagan society such as Babylon, Daniel was highly respected for his consistency and his wisdom. When the royals of Babylon thought of Daniel, they thought of integrity and wisdom. Let’s think about that as we read this passage one more time with particular attention to the queen mother’s comments in the second half of the passage. Let’s read it together below:

 

 

5 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

 

5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.

 

7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

 

8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.

 

10 The queen,[c] 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! 11 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. 12 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.”

 

Did you notice that even as Nebuchadnezzar was no longer emperor and his power had been passed on to his son and grandson, there was still great respect for Daniel. When the queen mother mentioned Daniel’s name, I bet everyone in the room immediately thought of Daniel’s integrity, wisdom, consistency and his belief in God. Daniel did not intentionally cultivate these thoughts among the people. He was simply submitted fully to God. He wanted to honor God in everything he did. He put God first in everything he did no matter the consequences. He trusted God with the outcome and did not compromise his beliefs. He never would do anything that would bring dishonor to the Lord, his God. It was that idea that we are representatives that burned in my mind this morning as I began to write. I thought of Daniel’s integrity and honor as being the first thought in the queen’s mind when she brought up his name.

 

Like the girls on my daughter’s cheer squad are the representatives not only their squad but also the school and the town they come from, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. We are his football team. We are his basketball team. We are his baseball team. We are his cheerleading squad. We are his debate team. We are his chess team. We are, plain and simple, his representatives when we step on the fields of human endeavor. We represent Christ. What impression are we giving of our Savior? The greek roots of the English word, Christian, literally means “little Christs.” We are his “mini-me” each one of us. What impression are we giving of our leader, our Savior, our Lord. When someone at work tells you to ignore your ethics as they ask you to do something unethical, are you compromising? When Jesus was about loving those who need to know the love of God regardless of who they were, are you spewing hate toward those who do not have Christian values? There is an old saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. What kind of impression of Jesus Christ are we giving those who have never heard of him or have rejected him in the past? Are you and I the Christ we want people to see. Just as my view of people from Pickens, SC is forever tainted by a redneck, loud-mouthed teenager from that town forty years ago, we can taint people’s view of Christ by our actions. Daniel gave glory to God in everything he did. He served God even when he was placed among pagans and did so with honor and integrity which reflected well on the God he served.

 

As a Christ follower, we should measure everything we do as to whether it brings honor to our Savior. Maybe if we did, the world would be more interested in this Jesus Christ that we speak of. We represent Him. Let us have that Daniel way about us. Let us be consistent in our integrity. Let us be consistent in how we represent the Lord we love. Let us not compromise the things that He teaches us in His Word just to fit in. Let us be bold. Let us be Daniel-like. Let us give God glory in everything we do no matter the cost to us personally. We must trust God with the outcome and trust that He will deliver us. What is the impression of Jesus Christ that you and I are giving to the world? Do people respect the Jesus Christ that you and I are giving off with how we live our lives?

 

Amen and Amen.

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