Exodus 32–The Darker Side of Leadership

One of the most difficult parts of leading is understanding that your passion and commitment to the plan may not be shared with the people you lead.  Forty days earlier, Joshua accompanied Moses up Mount Sinai to receive the law from the Lord’s own hand. It was to be the Lords first direct tutoring of His leader on how to build and administer a nation. For Joshua, it had to be amazing and exciting to be there and see Moses’ transformation into more than a shepherd of people–but to be the servant leader of God’s chosen people.
 
Then, the fun was over.  God had to break the news to Moses–“YOUR people, the ones YOU brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves…” In that scene, Joshua was able to learn more about leadership, about God’s passion for the people of Israel, and about balancing one’s personal feelings with the duty of leading–than he had in all the miracles and events that had occurred before.
 
God was ready to wipe the whole lot of them out! the Lord told Moses to allow Him to do so–but, then Moses, personal anger set aside, became Israel’s advocate before God and offered his own life for payment of their sin. Moses literally called God out on His covenant promise–“Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God?” So Joshua saw that leaders were critical and had to do all that was necessary; in good times and bad to represent and ultimately preserve the folks they lead.  Needless to say, Joshua learned from the best.
 
Joshua’s life is a great picture of God’s willingness to devote a lifetime to prepare His own for the plan He has for them.  In Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. That was true in Moses life, in Joshua’s life, in Israel’s life and it will be true in our lives. As Joshua progressed through the years, he would see Moses and God lead the people through almost every scenario. In those events, God would mold Joshua into an amazing leader for Israel.
 
God Bless You

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people

Daniel 6 Part 1–But If Not, Reprise

Daniel was now serving his third king. He was brought out of retirement and made an administrator of Babylon.  As was his way, Daniel excelled and made the other administrators and bureaucrats angry and jealous.  They watched as the new king wanted to make Daniel the 2nd in command.  So, they set about looking for ways to expose Daniel’s flaws.  After much review, they found nothing.  
 
That of course did not stop them.  They proceeded to create a solution that would ultimately find a problem.  They convinced the king to pull a page from the Nebuchadnezzar playbook, and make everyone pray only to the king or be thrown into the lions’ den. It was a foolproof plan, really.  Daniel and his friends had this issue before, and they always chose God over king.  The bureaucrats  were right.  Daniel simply shook his head, went home and continued to pray and worship the Lord as he had always done–Checkmate! Or at least, that is what the bureaucrats thought.
 
When we settle the issue of which God will be our God, the matter of safety becomes secondary. The friends told Nebuchadnezzar–“Our God will deliver us from the fiery furnace–BUT IF NOT, we still will not bow down and worship your gods or statue!” Now as Daniel faced Jerusalem and prayed, that statement echoed from the past.  That statement needs to be the sentiment of all of us that follow the Lord.  Caving to the pressure of the enemy or world culture, will not bring us safety or relief. Instead, it will only destroy our faith and upend our journey with the Lord.  God has got this. We must continue to trust and follow Him; no matter the attacks and threats.
 
If we will remain faithful in that God will continue to protect, prepare and provide for us.  BUT IF NOT, we must settle in our hearts that that is fine, and that we will not serve the idols of our world!
 
God Bless You

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Daniel 5 Part 2–Weighed in the Balance

Daniel had retired, so it seems.  The names Shadrack, Mishak and Abednego not mentioned. Time had passed and the king that brought Daniel to Babylon was certainly gone. Now a new king reigned that had no idea that the Babylonian empire had been blessed by God and the late King had honored God aboove all.  So, Belshazzar defiled the temple treasures by using the cups as extra wine glasses for a feast he was throwing.  That is when God said, “Enough”.  God sent a message from heaven in the form of a hand and wrote on the wall in front of the king! Once again, Daniel was brought in to interpret the writing.  Daniel did so, “Mene–God has numberewd the days of your kingdom and brought them to an end. Mene–God has numberewd the days of your kingdom and brought them to an end. Tekel–You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.  Parsin–Your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.
 
One certainly will not escape the hand of God. This king learned nothing from the reign of Nebchaduneezer.  He went against the very God that humbled Nebchaduneezer and restored him.  His end was swift and his kingdom gone.  The entire exile of Israel humiliated them as a people, for they had failed to honor their covenant with God. Make no mistake, however, even in the midst of exile, God continued to show his majesty. God was never brought low, and whenever it was tried–the opposite occurred. 
 
We can never underestimate God’s power.  We cannot equate it with the failures of those that serve Him.  As God’s children, we have to live lives that honor God no matter the circumstances with which we are faced. Whenever we are called; we must continue to honor God and listen to His leadership.  He will continue to be supreme, and the Lord will honor those that honor His name.  But, rest assured, God will also remove His hand of protection and allow those that refuse to follow to meet their fate.  Help me, Lord to follow You with joy and a humble heart.
 
God Bless You

Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him…

22 And you his son,[f] Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

“Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered[g] the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed[h] in the balances and found wanting; 28 Parsin, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”[i]

29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 [j] And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old

Daniel 5 Part 1–Didn’t You Learn Anything From Your Dad?

King Nebchaduneezer passed and His kingdom was taken over by his son Beltshazzar.  Belshazzar had moved on, and seemed not to recognize any of the reverence for God that his father gained at the end of of his reign.  He partied like a wildman, and decided to take things a step further.  He remembered the temple treasures of Israel.  He needed more party cups, so he decided to use God’s cups for his party…God would not care, right?
 
Once again, as with his father, Beltshazzar had his attention grabbed by a literal hand of God! The hand was writing on the wall and nothing else was attached. Like his dad, the King called all his enchanters, magicians and wisemen to help him interpret what was written–he promised them the world! But, alas, they had no idea what the meaning of the writing was. So, the king’s wife remembered Daniel and had the king call him in…
 
No matter the circumstance, in whichever generation, God still remains in charge.  Nebchaduneezer had to be shown that a few times, but in the end, trusted God.  His son, on the other hand, seemed to have missed that lesson and not only failed to give God the proper reverence, but actually defiled the holy temple treasure.  Make no mistake, God will not be mocked; and, as Beltshazzar would soon learn, mocking God comes with a hugh pricetag.
 
As His own, we can never forget that God is God and we are not.  The reverence we hold for God is not a dreaded fear, but simply an earned respect and trust.  God has earned our trust, without doubt–but we have to continue to live lives that show that. Failure to trust and follow the lord only impacts our lives.  We do not impact God’s plan or ability to execute, but, we do cause chaos and destruction in our own lives.  We must grasp the picture of our Father leading us through treacherous terrain–often beautiful but also dangerous. That image should drive us follow Him humbly and gratefully.  The result we obtain is coming out safely on the other side.
 
In short–God has earned our respect and trust. If we dishonor God and fail to follow the Lord’s lead; what lies ahead will be horrific and chaotic.
 
God Bless You

 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared[b] to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8

10 The queen,[c] because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.[d] In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.

Daniel 4–The Lengths God Will Take to Draw Us Back

God is most concerned with our eternal salvation.  He wants His chosen to prepare for eternity.  Certainly, God saw Daniel as His best liaison to the king.  So, once again, God sent Nebchaduneezer a dream.  Once again after everyone else took a turn, Daniel returned to his king and gave him the news.  You have grown great because God has allowed it.  But, you still somehow feel that you are the reason for your greatness.  God is going to completely take it all away to help you see He is in charge and not you.  After a time, God will restore your reason and your kingdom–but, then you will recognize that it is He and not you that rules.
 
One year later, God did as He said He would. the king was completely stripped of reason and became as a wild beast. After a time, (Years) God restored the king’s reason and his kingdom.  When that happened, Babylon was blessed and the king was as great as ever–BUT, from then on, the king realized and acknowledged that it was God and not the king that controlled the world and kingdoms.  That realization helped to fulfill the initial prophecy by Daniel, Nebchadunbeezer was then the greatest emporer of all time.
 
We must grasp that we are not in control of our lives or world. If we would humble ourselves and seek God, then like Nebchaduneezer, we could finally enjoy the true greatness that lies in the shadow of God’s authority and plan.  We could rest in any circumstance, and know that in God’s time, He will execute His plan.  Then the Lord will release us to enjoy the benefits of following His plan.
Lord, please, make it so.
 
God Bless You

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws…

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Daniel 3 Part 2–“But, If Not”

Daniel’s friends made the decision long before to serve the Lord first and foremost.  When Daniel approached their handler about staying kosher, they stood beside him.  They trained together and prayed together.  All four men stood firm in their walk with God despite pressures from the other royal functionaries.  So, after their prayer and fasting had produced the king’s dream and interpretation to Daniel, the King rewarded them with top jobs in his court. 
 
The king then got proud, He took the message from the dream and decided that since he was the head of gold He should build a statue to honor himself. What is more, he decided that everyone else should worship him as well. So he decreed that when the band played, everyone should fall down and worship his statue.  Failure to do so would end in being executed by being thrown into the firey furnace.  
 
Shadrach, Mishak, and Abednego did not need to think about it, they made that decision years before.  So when they heard the band, they refused to bow. The king heard the news and was furious.  These were 3 of his top guys, after all! They set the tone for others in the administration, and in the land.  So, the king hauled them in and gave them one more chance.  He did not need to.  The men looked the king in the eye and said that they did not need even a second to consider–they would not bow down.  What is more, they told the king that God would deliver them. Here is the kicker, though–they went on to say,”BUT IF NOT king, We will still will not serve your gods or bow down to your statue!!!!! 
 
We have to choose early whom we are going to serve.  If we wait until circumstances force a choice, we will follow the path of least resistance.  It is a matter of a deep-seated faith, that allows us to stand up under adversity.  Such faith will allow us to watch God do awesome things to establish His place and authority.  If we choose to serve God, however, we can count on the fact that the enemy will try to destroy us.  
 
In those times, we have to come to the place where we too can say, we are going to serve God and He will deliver us. Then, it is that faith that leads us to continue and say, “BUT, IF NOT!” 
 
We must be willing to give up all we have, even our lives, to honor God and allow Him to lead. Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Aulka indians in South America said it best, “He is no fool that will trade what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!”
 
God Bless You

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.

Daniel 2 Part 2–Making Our Dreams Come True

For King Neb’s magicians and prophets, it was not a stellar day. The king was having nightmares and now somehow it was their fault. That certainly did not seem fair.  But, the fairness of the King demanding their lives for his unwillingness to work with them–even a little bit, was unbelievable. So, as the soldiers approached to take Daniel and his friends to be ripped limb from limb and their houses be laid to ruin, Daniel was able to keep his head about him and focus upon God–not on the current circumstance.  He tactfully asked his executioner to lay the story out, and when he gathered all the facts, politely and humbly asked the king far a little extra time. Amazingly, the king gave him a day.
 
Next, Daniel got the gang together and did what true men of God do in dire circumstances–they prayed.  While praying in the night, God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel.  No one saw that coming. So, Daniel did what mighty men of God do when God answers their prayers–He praised God for who He is and thanked Him for the great thing the Lord had accomplished.  It was a good result for an unthinkable circumstance.
 
Life simply is not fair. Circumtances appear that are by most standards, unbelievably outrageous.  They are insurmountable, awful, and impossible to manage.  In the midst of those circumstances, God’s people hit their knees, keep their heads, and seek the Lord in humility and by faith.   That is when God does what He does best–turn the impossible into a praisewothy and teachable moment. 
 
After that, all that is left is the call for praise and thanksgiving. We have watched God come through time and again. As His chosen, to do anything other than to trust and seek Him in times of trouble, is simply foolish. Then, after He delivers, once again; we must remember to be thankful and grateful for His provision and protection.
 
That pattern has worked for many of God’s people–like Daniel. Help me, Lord to make that pattern work for me and my family as well!!!
 
God Bless You

This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”