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The Prophet Daniel, II

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AST Sunday morning, we got to the second dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. This morning we will just take up where we broke off. The king had a dream, and he was greatly troubled. This time the particulars of the dream had not gone from him. They stood out vivid and clear in his mind as he sent out to fetch the wise men, and called to them to give him the interpretation. But they cannot give it. When he had his first dream he had summoned these same soothsayers, but they had stood silent. And now they stand silent again as the second dream is told them; they cannot interpret it. Then once again he sends for the Prophet Daniel, that he had named after one of his gods, Belteshazzar. And the young prophet comes before the king, and as quick as the king sees him he feels sure that he will now get the meaning. Calling out from his throne, he tells how he had dreamed a dream, wherein he saw a tree in the midst of the earth, with branches that reached to heaven, and the sight thereof to the ends of the earth; the beasts of the field had shelter under it, and the fowls of the air dwelt in the boughs thereof; and the tree was very fair and had much fruit, and all flesh was fed on it; and then, lowering his voice, he tells how, as he gazed, he saw a watcher and a holy one come down from heaven, who cried aloud, Hew down the tree. "And now," cries the king, can you tell me the interpretation ?" And for a time Daniel stands still and motionless. Does his heart fail him? The record simply says, that "for one hour he was astonished." The ready words doubtless rush to his lips, but he hates to let them out; he doesn't want to tell how the king's kingdom and mind are going to depart from him, and he is to wander forth to eat grass like a beast. The king, too, hesitates: a dark foreboding for a time gets the better of curiosity. But, directly, he nerves himself to hear the worst, and speaks very kindly: "Do not be afraid to tell me, oh Daniel: let not the dream or its interpretation trouble thee." And at last Daniel speaks: "Oh, king, thou art the man: God has exalted thee over every king, and over all the world, but thou shalt be brought low; thou shalt be driven out from men and eat grass among the beasts of the field; but thy kingdom-as the great watcher spared the stump

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of the tree-shall afterwards return to thee. Wherefore, O king, break off thy sins by righteousness and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity."

And straightway the king repented in sackcloth and ashes, and so God stayed the doom. But twelve months from that time we see Nebuchadnezzar walking in his palace and boasting: "Is not this my great Babylon that I have built by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty !" And behold, while he yet spake a voice came from heaven, saying: "Thy kingdom hath departed," and undoubtedly God then touched his reason, and straightway he ran madly through the gates to eat grass.

But his kingdom had not passed from him forever, and, according to the prophet's word, at the end of seven years, or possibly seven months, his reason came back, and he returned to his palace, and all his princes and officers gathered about him. Then immediately he sent out a new proclamation, and its closing words show his repentance, and how Daniel had brought this mighty king to God.

And at the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and my understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.

At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my councillors and my lords sought unto me. I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

Now, 1, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol the king of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

And then he passes from the stage; this is the last record of him; and undoubtedly he and Daniel now walk the crystal pavement together. Oh, that mighty monarch was led to the God of the Hebrews by the faith of this Hebrew slave, and just because he had a religion and dared to make it known.

But now we lose sight of the prophet for a few years, perhaps fifteen or twenty. The next we hear is that Belshazzar is on the throne, possibly as regent. He is believed to have been a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. One day he said he would make Daniel the third ruler of the people if he would tell him the handwriting on the wall. He was probably second himself, and Daniel would be next to him. Of this prince we have only one glimpse. The feast scene is the first and last we have of him, and it is enough. It was a great feast, and fully a thousand of his lords sat down together. Feasts in those days sometimes

lasted six months. How long this one lasted we don't know The king caroused with his princes and satraps and all the mighty men of Babylon, drinking and rioting and praying to gods of silver and gold and brass and stubble, just what we're doing to-day, if we bow the knee to the gods of this world. And the revellers, waxing wanton, even go into the temple and lay sacrilegious hands on the sacred vessels brought away from Jerusalem, and drank out of them, drank toasts to idols and harlots. And undoubtedly as they are drinking, they scoff at the God of Israel. I see them swearing and rioting when-the king turns pale and trembles from head to foot. Above the golden candlesticks, on a bare space on the wall, he sees the writing of the God of Zion. He distinctly sees the terrible finger. His voice shakes with terror, but manages to falter out; Bring in the wise men ; any man that can read the handwriting I will make third ruler of the kingdom. And they come trooping in, but there is no answer, none of them can read it. They are skilled in Chaldean lore, but this stumbles them. At last tne queen comes in and whispers: Oh king, there is one man in the kingdom that can read that writing; when your grandfather could not interpret his dreams he sent for Daniel, the Hebrew, and he knew all about them. Can we not find him?

And he reads it at

And they did find him, and now we see the man of God again standing before a king's throne. To the king's hurried promises of gifts and honours, he replies, "you can keep your rewards," and quietly turns his eyes on the writing. the first glance, for it is his father's hand-writing. "Mene," he says, "thy kingdom hath departed from thee;" "tekel," "thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting." Oh sinner, what if God should put you in the balance, and you have not got Christ in your soul! How that word of doom must have rung through the palace that night! "Upharsin," "thy kingdom is divided, it is given over to the hands of the enemy.”

And the destruction did not tarry. The King recovered himself, banished his fears, the dream and its interpretation is idle and went on drinking in his hall. He thought he was perfectly secure. He thought the great walls of Babylon perfectly safe. But there was Darius besieging the city: the enemy was right upon him was that safe? Oh sinners of Chicago, death and hell are right on you! Death and hell, I say: and they are just as close, may be, as the slayer's sword to those midnight revellers. While they revelled, the river Euphrates, that flowed under the walls, was turned into another channel; the hosts of Medes and Persians rushed through, unobstructed, and in a few minutes more battered down the king's gate, and broke

through the palace guard into the inmost palace chamber. And the king was slain, and his blood flowed in that banquet hall.

We are next told Darius took the throne and set over the people 120 rulers, and over these three presidents, of whom Daniel was first. And so we find him in office again. I do not know how long he was in that position. But by and by a conspiracy took head among his fellow-officers to get rid of him. They got jealous and said: "Let's see if we can't get this man removed; he's bossed us long enough, the sanctimonious old Hebrew.' And then he was so impracticable, they could'nt do anything with him. There were plenty of collectors and treasurers, but he kept such a close eye on them that they only made their salaries. There was no plundering of the government with Daniel at the head. He was president of the princes, and all revenue accounts passed before him. I can overhear the plotters whispering: "If we can only put him out of the way, we can make enough in two or three years to retire from office, have a city house in Babylon, and two or three villas in the country, have enough for all our days, we can go down to Egypt and see something of the world; as things now are we can only get our exact dues, and it will take years to get anything respectable-yes, let's down with this pious Jew." Well, they worked things so as to get an investigating committee, hoping to catch him in his accounts. But they found no occasion nor fault against him. If he had put any relatives in office it would have been found out; if he had been guilty of peculation or in any way broken the unalterable statutes of the kingdom, it would have come to light. Oh what a bright light was that, standing alone in that great city for God and the majesty of law !

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But at last they struck on one weak point, they called it-he would worship no one but the God of Israel. The law of his God was his only assailable side. If we can only get Darius," the conspirators plotted, "to forbid any one making a request for thirty days except from the King himself, we shall trap him, and then can cast him among the lions; we will take good care to have the lions hungry." And the hundred and twenty princes took long council together. "Take care," they said; "you must draw up the paper which is to be signed by the king with a deal of care and discretion. The king loves him, and he has influence. Don't speak of the movement outside of this meeting; it might come to the ears of the king, and we must talk to the king ourselves." When the mine is all ready, the hundred and twenty princes come up to the king and open their business with flattering speech. If people come to praise me, I know they've something else coming-they've got a purpose for telling

me I am a good man. And so we naturally hear these men saying, "King Darius, live for ever." They tell him how prosperous the realm is, and how much the people think of him. And then they tell him, in the most plausible manner that ever was, that if he would be remembered by children's children to all ages, just to sign this decree; it would be a memorial of his greatness and goodness forever. And the king replies graciously: "What is the decree you wish me to sign ?" and casting his eye over the paper, goes on: "I don't see any objection to that." In the pleasure of granting a request he thinks nothing of Daniel, and the princes carefully refrain from jogging his memory. And he asks for his signet ring, and gives the royal stamp. The edict has become one the laws of the Medes and Persians, that alter not; it reads: "Any man that worships any God but me for thirty days shall be cast into the lion's den." The news spreads all through the city; it comes out perhaps in the Babylon Inter-ocean, and quickly gets to the ears of Daniel. I can imagine some of them going to the prophet and advising him about the edict. "If you can only get out of the way for a ittle time, if you can just quit Babylon for a few days, it will advance your own and the public interest together. You are the chief secretary and treasurer, in fact you are the chief ruler in the government; you are an important man and can do as you please. Well, now, just you get out of Babylon. Or, if you will stay in Babylon, don't let them catch you on your knees; at all events, don't pray at the window towards Jerusalem. If you will pray, close that window and pull down the curtain, and put something in the key-hole." How many young men there are who don't dare to pray before their room-mates; they've no moral courage How many young men say to me, "Mr. Moody, don't ask me to get down on my knees at this prayer meeting." They want moral courage. Oh, thousands of men have been lost for want of moral courage, to dare to get down on their knees and pray to God. The idea of policy coming in here is all wrong. I can imagine how that old prince, Daniel, now in his gray hairs, would view such a thought, that he is going to desert his God in his old age. All the remonstrances that must have been made fell dead; he just went on praying as usual three times a day, with his face towards Jerusalem. Our business men, too many of them, "don't have any time to pray," business is so pressing. But this old prophet found plenty of time, though Secretary and Treasurer of the most important empire in the world. And, besides his own business, he had to attend, doubtless, to much belonging of right to those hundred and twenty. But he would never have been too busy or ashamed at a prayer-meeting to stand up for God. He had a purpose,

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