Sometimes, the world appears to be utterly chaotic. Evil can appear unchecked. It can seem as if there’s no-one at the driving wheel, no-one at the controls. History is one big runaway train.
This is one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Daniel in the lions’ den.
It’s a story that fascinates, captures the imagination. Children love it, because it’s about lions, loins that roar. Adults love it, because it’s a story extremely well told, and a dramatic rescue miracle.
But it can be hard to relate to. It’s a good story; it’s entertaining. But how does a one-off, miraculous rescue of hero named Daniel speak to the lives of ordinary Christians like us?
They say that wise people learn from their mistakes. And really wise people learn from the mistakes of other people, without having to make them themselves.
Today, we come to one of the great cautionary tales in the Bible, Belshazzar’s banquet. It’s in the Bible so that we might learn from Belshazzar’s mistake. We’re going to look at what his mistake was, and what we need to learn if we are to avoid repeating it.
Personal testimony can be very powerful.
We’re motivated by the stories of brave men and women, who have struggled against the odds, and come through.
As Christians, we have Christian testimony. It’s good to hear Christian men and women tell stories of their God. As they’ve battled through illness, unemployment, addiction, personal sin, they can look back and testify how God helped them, sustained them, got them through.
Have you ever felt the pressure to compromise? To compromise your principals? Above all, to compromise your identity as a Christian, to compromise your relationship with God?
I’m sure many of us have. How do you resist? How do you remain faithful?
You’ve worked for your employer for years. Long hours. Turned away other offers. They call you in. From now on, they take priority over everything else in your life. It doesn’t matter what promises you’ve made to your family or your church; regularly drop everything for the company.
The more reliably you know the future, you more accurately you can plan in the present.
If you know what weather we’ll get here next summer, you can decide whether to save up to try and go abroad.
One decision many of us have taken is to go through life trusting the person of Jesus. We’ve done that, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. When we get to the future, will we be glad we did so? As we look back on now, will we see trusting the person of Jesus as a wise move, or not?
Immigration is one of the biggest challenges for our nation. What kind of welcome do we give those from other lands? How many can we welcome? And the big question: How do they fit in? How do they integrate into life here?
One option is to form a ghetto. They don’t integrate. You get a section of a town or city where the majority are from a particular cultural background.
Where in the world would you most like to visit? The Grand Canyon? South Africa? Everest base camp?
And where in the world do you most care about? Perhaps it’s Kemsing? Or the village where you were born? The place your parents live and brought you up? A country you used to work in as an expat?
Two questions about geography: Where would you most like to visit? About which place’s wellbeing do you most care?
Life can be extremely painful. You don’t need me to tell you that. Life is full of difficulty.
All of us face challenges and difficulties. Sometimes massive. Sometimes smaller. But we’ve all stood and looked into the week ahead, or the year ahead, and thought to ourselves: This is going to be a tough one. Who’s going to get me through?
“… and they all lived happily ever after.”
So ends the fairy tale. We all love a story that ends well. It’s heart-warming. More importantly, we’d all like to be living in a story that ends well. Living where we do, with the story of life, the universe and everything still unfolding, there is much that is not good. So we need the reassurance that, for all the current struggles we face, we are at least living in a story that ends well. Do we get to live happily ever after?