Daniel 5 “Remember Death”

Introduction: American culture does not like to think about death

One of the things that people are most uncomfortable talking about is something that we all experience, death.

  1. People used to die at home and everyone in their family had to deal with it. Now people die out of sight in a hospital.
  2. Medicine makes us think that we will live forever.
  3. At funerals we dress people up and put on makeup so that they actually look like they are still alive.

When I officiate a funeral I always warn people to take the opportunity to really think about the temporal nature of their life. The tendency is to drink some alcohol or run back to work. Try to forget about death.

Thinking about death now will give you the opportunity to live life fully awake and for the glory of God.

Read passage: Daniel 5

13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. 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. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son,6 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.

24 “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 the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed8 in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”9

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 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

We are all sinners

King Belshazzar was living it up. It was a lifestyle totally at odds with God. At this massive 1000 person party (some scholars think it was more like an orgy) Belshazzar was there getting drunk with his wives and his concubines. The king makes the terrible drunken decision to use the cups from the temple to drink his booze from. Instantly the hands appear and the writing goes up on the wall.

Get this. There is at this moment an army all round them. Yes, even while they are partying. This reminds us that our time just might be up at any time. Our days are short and they have been numbered.

Paul reminds us that we are all more like Belshazzar than we might want to admit. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23

Due to our sin there is judgment

God brought judgment against Belshazzar immediately. The writing on the wall was in Aramaic and the words were MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. Daniel tell us what it means. Belshazzar’s days are over, he was weighed and he did not measure up, his kingdom was going to be taken from him that very night.

The Medo-Persian army killed him that very night and took over his Empire.

Reminds me of Matthew 24:36-39. The people in Noah’s day were partying and living it up. When their time was up, it was up. How about the people in your life? Do they know the infinite beauty and power of Jesus Christ? Have you forgotten that their days are numbered? Are you coasting spiritually when you need to be living with urgency because we don’t know our final day?

Use your few days wisely

Right before a battle Maximus said this to his soldiers, “What we do in life echoes for all eternity.” Whether you like Gladiator or not the quote is legit. How you live now matters for all of eternity. Does your life reflect this?

Think about Jim Elliott and his family. Went to Ecuador to bring the gospel to the people who lived there. Maybe you know what happened. The people he came to share the good news with murdered him. Did Jim waste his life? The answer is no.

Two years later his wife went back. Let that thought sink in for a moment. She went back to the same people that murdered her husband. This time the gospel was received and many people were saved.

We need to seek after Christ for our own well being with all of our might. Talk to him, know him, love with, walk with him. Is Jesus the burning center of your every day life?

Paul had some words for death, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ. -1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Paul did not fear death. The reason is that he knew Jesus Christ had overcome death and sin through the cross. This is one of the main reasons Paul was so bold for the gospel. If death had been defeated what in the world do we have to be afraid of? There should be nothing that hinders us from sharing the good news with the lost of this world.

We need to work so that others know Jesus personally. Do you have a heart for the lost? I mean, seriously. Our hearts so quickly become cold and indifferent to the fact that there are people all around us headed for hell. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in us so that we care about the lost sons and daughters of God.

17 Of My Favorite Quotes From “The Simplest Way To Change The World: Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

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Here are 17 of my favorite quotes from “The Simplest Way To Change The World: Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

Too dependent on the mega church?

Can you imagine the power of the church in which ordinary members knows what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God and led by the Spirit of God? God’s plan to glorify Himself in the church never consisted of platformed mega-pastors, cutting-edge-art, or expensive buildings. The real power in the church is found in the Holy Spirit moving through ordinary people as they carry His presence into the streets. p. 12

Can we change the world from our home?

But what if I told you that you could actually change the world, right from your home? If you desire to join God’s mission but have no clue what that looks like in normal life, we have good news for you. You already have access to the ultimate game-changing secret weapon that will transform the way that you think about your life as part of God’s mission. The secret weapon for gospel advancement is hospitality, and you can practice it whether you live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, or a high-rise. p. 19

Put the grill at the front of the house

I (Dustin) have been amazed by how the simple act of rolling my grill to my front yard (not the backyard) and grilling burgers has effectively allowed me to meet neighbors, hear their stories, share our lives, and point to truth. I’ve never printed flyers or sent out mailers. I’ve simply heated the charcoal and watched people show up. One of the most ordinary things we do every day is eat a meal at our homes. We do this small act with intentionality and usually with other people, and we simply watch the Holy Spirit bring about the significance. p. 22-23

God loves to use the ordinary

If we are ever going to join all our lives to God’s mission to change the world, we need to reclaim all of our ordinary pieces as part of that gospel mission. We will have to reject the notion that something has to be big or unusual to be significant. We will have to view the ordinariness of our lives as significant and allow God to use our homes as a seed to be planted and grown, not something to be discarded or devalued. p. 24

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Our homes are a weapon for the gospel

Thinking about our homes in this way is a wonderfully freeing concept. As it turns out, we have a more fulfilling and rewarding purpose for our homes than using them exclusively for our benefit and comfort. Instead of thinking of them only as a personal refuge, they can be opened as spiritual hospitals for the hurting around us. Instead of being an oasis of self-interest, they can be transformed into a weapon for the gospel, a four-walled tool to wield in God’s cosmic battle against sin and evil. As we do this, we become the type of counterculture that puts God’s generosity on display. p. 24

What in the world do you mean when you say ‘Biblical hospitality?’

The Simplest Way To Change The WorldAt it’s core, the practice of hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” It’s receiving others into our lives-into relationship and, yes, even into our homes. It welcomes Christians as a way to walk in the truth that we’ve been made family through the gospel, and it welcomes non-Christians in an attempt to model and extend the gracious invitation we’ve received from God in Christ. p. 26-27

I’m an introvert so I don’t have to do this hospitality thing!

Half of all people identify as introverts, so if you are one, we realize you may be thinking, Yeah, but I really can’t practice-I don’t want to practice-hospitality because I’m an introvert. It would be too draining. Please do not read this book thinking the message is, force yourself to be an extrovert because of the gospel! Please don’t let your personality type be a barrier to living out a god-ordained calling that is actually tailor-made to suit your personality type. I understand that introverts get the rap that they don’t like people, but that’s not true. We just like people in smaller, quieter doses that our extroverted compatriots do. I have found that inviting one person (or a couple of people) to my house where they enjoy quality time together, have a good conversation, and experience a volume level that never gets too stressful is actually totally my speed (and completely fits the bill of hospitality!). p. 31-32

Hospitality won’t happen by accident

We cannot haphazardly live out hospitality. We must pursue it intentionally, and frankly, it needs to be calendared. Having people in my (Dustin’s) home for a meal or a game night or to watch a big game tends to happen only if my wife or I put it on the calendar. p. 35

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How is social media impacting us?

Though social media is a wonderful tool with many redeeming qualities, it is also a perfect breeding ground for this ability to be “connected” without really being connected in the truest sense. We can craft our images carefully and interact with the carefully crafted images of others, but oftentimes the depths of knowing others and being known are impossible to reach via these online interactions. And even though many of us are addicted to our devices, people are starving for the depth that comes from real, in-person relationships. p. 59

Hold up! I want to change the world by scolding it!

When feeling threatened by the culture changing around them, many Christians assume a defensive posture-and this is the simplest way to not change the world. Many resort to the relational equivalent of yelling at a driver who just cut them off, or they become touchy or overly combative (all in the name of “defending the truth”). This combative, aggressive stance may feel like the best path to stand up for the things that we believe in, but much of the time it fails the “speak the truth in love” test Paul gave us in Ephesians 4.  p. 60-61

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Eating the body of Jesus or eating a burger?

Think about it: are we more likely to convince our neighbors to come to a church service where we symbolically drink the Savior’s blood and eat His body, or to eat a burger on the patio? p. 64

Why practice hospitality in the first place?

By the simple act of opening your door you are joining in on what God is doing to heal the planet and welcome prodigal sons and daughters back into his family. You are turning your home into a wartime hospital where the spiritually hurting can get hope and care they need. p. 67

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What if your house became known as “that house?”

Imagine this: what if your house (or apartment, etc.) became known as “that house” in your neighborhood? What if your home became a little bright spot in your community, that when people walk or drive by your door, their heads turn a little and they start to wonder what’s different about you, because you don’t seem to think about your home the same way everyone else in the neighborhood does? p. 72-73

Um, my house is kinda messy so I can’t do hospitality

In reality, you inviting others into your messy house is actually a beautiful act of vulnerability. It’s letting them see that you are a busy, imperfect human that does not live in a glass house. This is actually more hopeful than bringing them into a spic-and-span environment, because their house is probably messy too. The good news of the gospel is that our homes or our meals do not have to be perfect-we are free to be real humans who have messes and burn casseroles. p. 83

I just simply can’t add something else to my busy schedule!

You don’t need to add another task to your already-busy schedule. Instead, think like a missionary when living out your normal, everyday activities. p. 94

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Get off the couch and go outside

This may come as a newsflash, but your neighbors don’t live in your house. So if you never leave your humble abode, you’ll never meet any of your neighbors. They are not going to bust up in your living room and introduce themselves, and if they do you should call the cops ASAP. p. 97

How do you get to the gospel?

The end goal of hospitality is not that you simply host people in your home as much as you use your home as a place to display and speak the gospel. Paul, who repeatedly pointed us to the practice of hospitality also boldly proclaimed his desire to be valiant about the good news of the gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for everyone who believes: (Rom. 1:16). Clearly the aim of hospitality is more than merely inviting someone into our home, sharing a meal and a few good stories, and calling it a night. We are missionaries, after all. Paul reminded us, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Cor 5:20). And pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian…is either a missionary or an imposter.” p. 119

The Greatest Weakness in the Church is…

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

I think the greatest weakness in the American church today is that we are not good at being a friend to sinners. I have lived in a few different parts of the country (California, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, South Dakota) and it seems that getting outside of our church walls and loving the unchurched is what we struggle with most.

Here are a few reasons I believe we are not so good about being a friend of sinners.

  • Poor understanding of holiness. I think we primarily see holiness as abstaining from things we believe to be wrong. Drugs, watching trashy movies, adultery, lying, etc… The problem is that abstaining from sin is only one aspect of what it means to be holy. Holiness ultimately means to be like God. In 1 Peter 1:16 God tells us to “be holy as I am holy.” If we are to pursue being holy like God it means first and foremost that we look like his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a scandalous life because he loved the unlovely. He spent time with the most hated, despised and marginalized people of his day. Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers…sinners. Does this reflect the way we live day to day life?
  • Apathy. Perhaps the issue starts here. We simply will not care about the lost all around us unless our heart is broken over them. The best way to overcome apathy is to spend time immersing our heart and mind in the truths of the gospel. It is impossible to truly study the life of Christ and spend time with him without developing a love for those who are lost. Are we studying God’s Word? Are we asking God to soften and break our heart?
  • In-house fighting. Are you complementarian or egalitarian? Are you pre-trib or mid-trib? Are you Reformed or Anabaptist? Are you Republican or Democrat? Do you support gay rights or not? Christians love to argue about their beliefs on social media. Arguing online is easy.  We can type out our thoughts and be done for the night. Building relationships with the people outside of the church walls is messy and time consuming. What would happen if we invested the time we spend on social media, TV and entertainment on building relationships with people all around us?
  • Busyness. I think for many of us we get so busy in everyday life that we simply have stopped asking the question, “what am I working so hard for?” When we fail to slow down we may wrongly assume that our priorities are pleasing to God. When was the last time we seriously reflected on what we are truly pursuing in life?
  • We prioritize programs over relationships. Did Jesus ever run a “program”? We want something to sign up for. A project. A short-term commitment. Too often we are waiting for someone else to come up with an idea for evangelism and then we think we will jump on board. It’s time to own up to our responsibility to live as salt and light right were God has placed us. What opportunities has God brought into your everyday life to serve him and love others?

So what is the answer?

Someone asked me the other day what our response should be to the fact that there are hurting and broken people all around us. They felt overwhelmed and did not know where to begin. The best way to answer that question is to look at Jesus. Reforming the church is best done by studying the life of Christ. How did Jesus live? What was important to Jesus?  Here is what we know. Jesus built relationships with sinners. So, we do what Jesus did. We build relationships. We spend time with people. We love them. We share the gospel with them. We refuse to wait for someone else to lead the way. We set the pace for others. We make our house a place of hospitality. We look at the brokenness in our city and move towards it. We love others when they don’t deserve it because that is what Jesus has done for us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:6-8

*Above photo taken from Huffington Post.

Have we made evangelism and hospitality too complicated?

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Over the past few months I have been asked a number of times about my opinion when it comes to how the church should do evangelism. One of my main responses has been that I believe we have over-complicated what it looks like to show the love of Jesus Christ to people all around us. I am not one to throw all “programs” under the bus. Programs have their place in the life of the local church. Yet I do think Jesus has modeled for us that there is no substitute for opening up our life, spending time with people and building relationships (Luke 7:34). With that said, allow me to share with you a quote from the book “A Meal With Jesus” by Tim Chester. Instead of making your life busier I hope this encourages you to see that evangelism can take place in the rhythm of everyday life.

Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals, and have a passion for Jesus, then you’ll be doing mission. It’s not that meals save people. People are saved through the gospel message. But meals will create natural opportunities to share that message in a context that resonates so powerfully with what you are saying. -Tim Chester, A Meal With Jesus