The precious vessels of the Lord that are described in verses 48-50 of this chapter are a source of temptation for both Israel’s leaders (who love to show them off to visitors as if they were their own possession) and for neighboring rulers (who later took them to be used for profane purposes, as described in a recent post).
The time, talents and treasures that God gives us are to be held in trust and used for the benefit of His kingdom.
The Book of Genesis is divided into 10 separate sections, each basically beginning with the phrase “These are the generations of.” A careful analysis shows that in each of these literary units there is a form of symmetry in the various stories and the way they are told. This symmetry is barely perceptible in the first few units and slowly evolves as one proceeds into the book. The last section, the Joseph saga, is beautifully arranged in terms of large literary units, intermediate ones, and right down to individual verses. In other words, structure evolves from chaos just as God created order out of disorder.
The phrase “handwriting on the wall” comes from this eerie story of a disembodied hand writing four words on the wall of King Belshazzar’s palace, spelling out his fate. The reason for God’s judgment on him was that he had taken the sacred vessels captured by his father from the Temple in Jerusalem and used them for profane purposes.
The last three chapters of Daniel constitute a single vision. The vision is inaugurated by the appearance of a man clothed in linen with a belt of gold. Most scholars feel this is the angel Gabriel. His description is similar to those found in Exekiel 9 and Revelation 1. All three books fall into the category of apocalyptic literature– a literary genre that differs in many ways from that of prophecy. One of the distinctions between the two is illustrated in Daniel 9: Prophecy is usually given orally to a man directly from God while in apocalyptic literature, it is an intermediary who does the revealing and it is in the form of visions.
This chapter tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and his dream of a statue with feet of clay. Daniel receives the meaning of the vision in a dream. Its interpretation involves four kingdoms, the last of which will be destroyed by a non-human force. This the first of several such visions in Daniel, each of which appears to cover the same basic time frame but each one advancing slightly chronologically.
Such a phenomenon is called progressive recapitulation, which is also the most compelling theory on how the visions in the Book of Revelation should be viewed. This is in contradiction to the more common view that the whole book should be viewed as visions set out in a strictly chronological manner.
The beatitudes found in Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-26) different somewhat from those in Matthew’s account. For one thing, only about half of Matthew’s beatitudes are included. Also, Luke gives a corresponding curse with each beatitude for those who do not heed. This different structure is reflected in the abstract composition below.