Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 203

Daniel 6–10, Psalm 75

Bible text(s)

Daniel in the Pit of Lions

1Darius decided to appoint 120 governors to hold office throughout his empire. 2In addition, he chose Daniel and two others to supervise the governors and to look after the king's interests. 3Daniel soon showed that he could do better work than the other supervisors or the governors. Because he was so outstanding, the king considered putting him in charge of the whole empire. 4Then the other supervisors and the governors tried to find something wrong with the way Daniel administered the empire, but they couldn't, because Daniel was reliable and did not do anything wrong or dishonest. 5They said to one another, “We are not going to find anything of which to accuse Daniel unless it is something in connection with his religion.”

6So they went to see the king and said, “King Darius, may Your Majesty live for ever! 7All of us who administer your empire — the supervisors, the governors, the lieutenant-governors, and the other officials — have agreed that Your Majesty should issue an order and enforce it strictly. Give orders that for thirty days no one be permitted to request anything from any god or from any human being except from Your Majesty. Anyone who violates this order is to be thrown into a pit filled with lions. 8So let Your Majesty issue this order and sign it, and it will be in force, a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.” 9And so King Darius signed the order. 10When Daniel learnt that the order had been signed, he went home. In an upstairs room of his house there were windows that faced towards Jerusalem. There, just as he had always done, he knelt down at the open windows and prayed to God three times a day.

11When Daniel's enemies observed him praying to God, 12all of them went together to the king to accuse Daniel. They said, “Your Majesty, you signed an order that for the next thirty days anyone who requested anything from any god or from any human being except you, would be thrown into a pit filled with lions.”

The king replied, “Yes, a strict order, a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.”

13Then they said to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, does not respect Your Majesty or obey the order you issued. He prays regularly three times a day.”

14When the king heard this, he was upset and did his best to find some way to rescue Daniel. He kept trying until sunset. 15Then Daniel's enemies came back to the king and said to him, “Your Majesty knows that according to the laws of the Medes and Persians no order which the king issues can be changed.”

16So the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and he was thrown into the pit filled with lions. He said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve so loyally, rescue you.” 17A stone was put over the mouth of the pit, and the king placed his own royal seal and the seal of his noblemen on the stone, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18Then the king returned to the palace and spent a sleepless night, without food or any form of entertainment.

19At dawn the king got up and hurried to the pit. 20When he got there, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was the God you serve so loyally able to save you from the lions?”

21Daniel answered, “May Your Majesty live for ever! 22God sent his angel to shut the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. He did this because he knew that I was innocent and because I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”

23The king was overjoyed and gave orders for Daniel to be pulled up out of the pit. So they pulled him up and saw that he had not been hurt at all, for he trusted God. 24Then the king gave orders to arrest all the men who had accused Daniel, and they were thrown, together with their wives and their children, into the pit filled with lions. Before they even reached the bottom of the pit, the lions pounced on them and broke all their bones.

25Then King Darius wrote to the people of all nations, races, and languages on earth:

“Greetings! 26I command that throughout my empire everyone should fear and respect Daniel's God.

“He is a living God,

and he will rule for ever.

His kingdom will never be destroyed,

and his power will never come to an end.

27He saves and rescues;

he performs wonders and miracles

in heaven and on earth.

He saved Daniel from being killed by the lions.”

28Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel Describes his Visions

7.1—12.13

Daniel's Vision of the Four Beasts

1In the first year that Belshazzar was king of Babylonia, I had a dream and saw a vision in the night. I wrote the dream down, and this is the record 2of what I saw that night:

Winds were blowing from all directions and lashing the surface of the ocean. 3Four huge beasts came up out of the ocean, each one different from the others. 4The first one looked like a lion, but had wings like an eagle. While I was watching, the wings were torn off. The beast was lifted up and made to stand upright. And then a human mind was given to it.

5The second beast looked like a bear standing on its hind legs. It was holding three ribs between its teeth, and a voice said to it, “Go on, eat as much meat as you can!”

6While I was watching, another beast appeared. It looked like a leopard, but on its back there were four wings, like the wings of a bird, and it had four heads. It had a look of authority about it.

7As I was watching, a fourth beast appeared. It was powerful, horrible, terrifying. With its huge iron teeth it crushed its victims, and then it trampled on them. Unlike the other beasts, it had ten horns. 8While I was staring at the horns, I saw a little horn coming up among the others. It tore out three of the horns that were already there. This horn had human eyes and a mouth that was boasting proudly.

The Vision of the One who has been Living for Ever

9While I was looking, thrones were put in place. One who had been living for ever sat down on one of the thrones. His clothes were white as snow, and his hair was like pure wool. His throne, mounted on fiery wheels, was blazing with fire, 10and a stream of fire was pouring out from it. There were many thousands of people there to serve him, and millions of people stood before him. The court began its session, and the books were opened.

11While I was looking, I could still hear the little horn bragging and boasting. As I watched, the fourth beast was killed, and its body was thrown into the flames and destroyed. 12The other beasts had their power taken away, but they were permitted to go on living for a limited time.

13During this vision in the night, I saw what looked like a human being. He was approaching me, surrounded by clouds, and he went to the one who had been living for ever and was presented to him. 14He was given authority, honour, and royal power, so that the people of all nations, races, and languages would serve him. His authority would last for ever, and his kingdom would never end.

The Visions are Explained

15The visions I saw alarmed me, and I was deeply disturbed. 16I went up to one of those standing there and asked him to explain it all. So he told me the meaning. 17He said, “These four huge beasts are four empires which will arise on earth. 18And the people of the Supreme God will receive royal power and keep it for ever and ever.”

19Then I wanted to know more about the fourth beast, which was not like any of the others — the terrifying beast which crushed its victims with its bronze claws and iron teeth and then trampled on them. 20And I wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and the horn that had come up afterwards and had made three of the horns fall. It had eyes and a mouth and was boasting proudly. It was more terrifying than any of the others.

21While I was looking, that horn made war on God's people and conquered them. 22Then the one who had been living for ever came and pronounced judgement in favour of the people of the Supreme God. The time had arrived for God's people to receive royal power.

23This is the explanation I was given: “The fourth beast is a fourth empire that will be on the earth and will be different from all other empires. It will crush the whole earth and trample it down. 24The ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will appear; he will be very different from the earlier ones and will overthrow three kings. 25He will speak against the Supreme God and oppress God's people. He will try to change their religious laws and festivals, and God's people will be under his power for 3.5 years. 26Then the heavenly court will sit in judgement, take away his power, and destroy him completely. 27The power and greatness of all the kingdoms on earth will be given to the people of the Supreme God. Their royal power will never end and all rulers on earth will serve and obey them.”

28This is the end of the account. I was so frightened that I turned pale, and I kept everything to myself.

Daniel's Vision of a Ram and a Goat

1In the third year that Belshazzar was king, I saw a second vision. 2In the vision I suddenly found myself in the walled city of Susa in the province of Elam. I was standing by the River Ulai, 3and there beside the river I saw a ram that had two long horns, one of which was longer and newer than the other. 4I watched the ram butting with his horns to the west, the north, and the south. No animal could stop him or escape his power. He did as he pleased and grew arrogant.

5While I was wondering what this meant, a goat came rushing out of the west, moving so fast that his feet didn't touch the ground. He had one prominent horn between his eyes. 6He came towards the ram, which I had seen standing beside the river, and rushed at him with all his force. 7I watched him attack the ram. He was so angry that he smashed into him and broke the two horns. The ram had no strength to resist. He was thrown to the ground and trampled on, and there was no one who could save him.

8The goat grew more and more arrogant, but at the height of his power his horn was broken. In its place four prominent horns came up, each pointing in a different direction. 9Out of one of these four horns grew a little horn, whose power extended towards the south and the east and towards the Promised Land. 10It grew strong enough to attack the army of heaven, the stars themselves, and it threw some of them to the ground and trampled on them. 11It even defied the Prince of the heavenly army, stopped the daily sacrifices offered to him, and desecrated the Temple. 12People sinned there instead of offering the proper daily sacrifices, and true religion was thrown to the ground. The horn was successful in everything it did.

13Then I heard one angel ask another, “How long will these things that were seen in the vision continue? How long will an awful sin replace the daily sacrifices? How long will the army of heaven and the Temple be trampled on?”

14I heard the other angel answer, “It will continue for 2,300 evenings and mornings, during which sacrifices will not be offered. Then the Temple will be restored.”

The Angel Gabriel Explains the Vision

15I was trying to understand what the vision meant, when suddenly someone was standing in front of me. 16I heard a voice call out over the River Ulai, “Gabriel, explain to him the meaning of what he saw.” 17Gabriel came and stood beside me, and I was so terrified that I fell to the ground.

He said to me, “Mortal man, understand the meaning. The vision has to do with the end of the world.” 18While he was talking, I fell to the ground unconscious. But he took hold of me, raised me to my feet, 19and said, “I am showing you what the result of God's anger will be. The vision refers to the time of the end.

20“The ram you saw that had two horns represents the kingdoms of Media and Persia. 21The goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the prominent horn between his eyes is the first king. 22The four horns that came up when the first horn was broken represent the four kingdoms into which that nation will be divided and which will not be as strong as the first kingdom.

23“When the end of those kingdoms is near and they have become so wicked that they must be punished, there will be a stubborn, vicious, and deceitful king. 24He will grow strong — but not by his own power. He will cause terrible destruction and be successful in everything he does. He will bring destruction on powerful men and on God's own people. 25Because he is cunning, he will succeed in his deceitful ways. He will be proud of himself and destroy many people without warning. He will even defy the greatest King of all, but he will be destroyed without the use of any human power. 26This vision about the evening and morning sacrifices which has been explained to you will come true. But keep it secret now, because it will be a long time before it does come true.”

27I was depressed and ill for several days. Then I got up and went back to the work that the king had assigned to me, but I was puzzled by the vision and could not understand it.

Daniel Prays for his People

1Darius the Mede, who was the son of Xerxes, ruled over the kingdom of Babylonia. 2In the first year of his reign, I was studying the sacred books and thinking about the seventy years that Jerusalem would be in ruins, according to what the LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah. 3And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God, pleading with him, fasting, wearing sackcloth, and sitting in ashes. 4I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed the sins of my people.

I said, “Lord God, you are great, and we honour you. You are faithful to your covenant and show constant love to those who love you and do what you command.

5“We have sinned, we have been evil, we have done wrong. We have rejected what you commanded us to do and have turned away from what you showed us was right. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our rulers, our ancestors, and our whole nation. 7You, Lord, always do what is right, but we have always brought disgrace on ourselves. This is true of all of us who live in Judah and in Jerusalem and of all the Israelites whom you scattered in countries near and far because they were unfaithful to you. 8Our kings, our rulers, and our ancestors have acted shamefully and sinned against you, Lord. 9You are merciful and forgiving, although we have rebelled against you. 10We did not listen to you, O LORD our God, when you told us to live according to the laws which you gave us through your servants the prophets. 11All Israel broke your laws and refused to listen to what you said. We sinned against you, and so you brought on us the curses that are written in the Law of Moses, your servant. 12You did what you said you would do to us and our rulers. You punished Jerusalem more severely than any other city on earth, 13giving us all the punishment described in the Law of Moses. But even now, O LORD our God, we have not tried to please you by turning from our sins or by following your truth. 14You, O LORD our God, were prepared to punish us, and you did, because you always do what is right, and we did not listen to you.

15“O Lord our God, you showed your power by bringing your people out of Egypt, and your power is still remembered. We have sinned; we have done wrong. 16You have defended us in the past, so do not be angry with Jerusalem any longer. It is your city, your sacred hill. All the people in the neighbouring countries look down on Jerusalem and on your people because of our sins and the evil our ancestors did. 17O God, hear my prayer and pleading. Restore your Temple, which has been destroyed; restore it so that everyone will know that you are God. 18Listen to us, O God; look at us, and see the trouble we are in and the suffering of the city that bears your name. We are praying to you because you are merciful, not because we have done right. 19Lord, hear us. Lord, forgive us. Lord, listen to us, and act! In order that everyone will know that you are God, do not delay! This city and these people are yours.”

Gabriel Explains the Prophecy

20I went on praying, confessing my sins and the sins of my people Israel, and pleading with the LORD my God to restore his holy Temple. 21While I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came flying down to where I was. It was the time for the evening sacrifice to be offered. 22He explained, “Daniel, I have come here to help you understand the prophecy. 23When you began to plead with God, he answered you. He loves you, and so I have come to tell you the answer. Now pay attention while I explain the vision.

24“Seven times seventy years is the length of time God has set for freeing your people and your holy city from sin and evil. Sin will be forgiven and eternal justice established, so that the vision and the prophecy will come true, and the holy Temple will be rededicated. 25Note this and understand it: from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem, until God's chosen leader comes, seven times seven years will pass. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defences, and will stand for seven times 62 years, but this will be a time of troubles. 26And at the end of that time God's chosen leader will be killed unjustly. The city and the Temple will be destroyed by the invading army of a powerful ruler. The end will come like a flood, bringing the war and destruction which God has prepared. 27That ruler will have a firm agreement with many people for seven years, and when half this time is past, he will put an end to sacrifices and offerings. The Awful Horror will be placed on the highest point of the Temple and will remain there until the one who put it there meets the end which God has prepared for him.”

Daniel's Vision by the River Tigris

1(In the third year that Cyrus was emperor of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel, who is also called Belteshazzar. The message was true but extremely hard to understand. It was explained to him in a vision.)

2At that time, I was mourning for three weeks. 3I did not eat any rich food or any meat, drink any wine, or comb my hair until the three weeks were past.

4On the 24th day of the first month of the year, I was standing on the bank of the mighty River Tigris. 5I looked up and saw someone who was wearing linen clothes and a belt of fine gold. 6His body shone like a jewel. His face was as bright as a flash of lightning, and his eyes blazed like fire. His arms and legs shone like polished bronze, and his voice sounded like the roar of a great crowd.

7I was the only one who saw the vision. Those who were with me did not see anything, but they were terrified and ran and hid. 8I was left there alone, watching this amazing vision. I had no strength left, and my face was so changed that no one could have recognized me. 9When I heard his voice, I fell to the ground unconscious and lay there face downwards. 10Then a hand took hold of me and raised me to my hands and knees; I was still trembling.

11The angel said to me, “Daniel, God loves you. Stand up and listen carefully to what I am going to say. I have been sent to you.” When he had said this, I stood up, still trembling.

12Then he said, “Daniel, don't be afraid. God has heard your prayers ever since the first day you decided to humble yourself in order to gain understanding. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13The angel prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for 21 days. Then Michael, one of the chief angels, came to help me, because I had been left there alone in Persia. 14I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the future. This is a vision about the future.”

15When he said this, I stared at the ground, speechless. 16Then the angel, who looked like a human being, stretched out his hand and touched my lips. I said to him, “Sir, this vision makes me so weak that I can't stop trembling. 17I am like a slave standing before his master. How can I talk to you? I have no strength or breath left in me.”

18Once more he took hold of me, and I felt stronger. 19He said, “God loves you, so don't let anything worry you or frighten you.”

When he had said this, I felt even stronger and said, “Sir, tell me what you have to say. You have made me feel better.”

20-21He said, “Do you know why I came to you? It is to reveal to you what is written in the Book of Truth. Now I have to go back and fight the guardian angel of Persia. After that, the guardian angel of Greece will appear. There is no one to help me except Michael, Israel's guardian angel.

God the Judge

1We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks to you!

We proclaim how great you are

and tell of the wonderful things you have done.

2“I have set a time for judgement,” says God,

“and I will judge with fairness.

3Though every living creature tremble

and the earth itself be shaken,

I will keep its foundations firm.

4I tell the wicked not to be arrogant;

5I tell them to stop their boasting.”

6Judgement does not come from the east or from the west,

from the north or from the south;

7it is God who is the judge,

condemning some and acquitting others.

8The LORD holds a cup in his hand,

filled with the strong wine of his anger.

He pours it out, and all the wicked drink it;

they drink it down to the last drop.

9But I will never stop speaking of the God of Jacob

or singing praises to him.

10He will break the power of the wicked,

but the power of the righteous will be increased.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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