Groundhog Day–the holiday took place about three weeks ago, but the movie, was released almost three decades ago. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a film that tells the story of a TV weatherman who finds himself reliving the same day again and again and again. He’s stuck in a cycle that just keeps repeating, which is kind of where we find Daniel and his friends.
As we turn the page to Daniel 5, there’s a new king in Babylon, but some things haven’t changed. God is trying to get the attention of Belshazzar, much like he did with Nebuchadnezzar. This time, instead of a dream, the king saw a hand appear and start writing on the wall. Gripped with fear, he called for the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers to read the writing, but none were able to do so. With Belshazzar greatly alarmed and the queen remembering what Daniel had done for the previous king, Daniel was brought in to deliver this interpretation:
This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.Daniel 5:26-28, ESV
That very night, Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede became king. Would he learn the lessons of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar and honor God from the start? No, and to make matters worse, he established an ordinance saying that no one could make a petition to anyone other than himself for thirty days or they would be cast into the den of lions. Daniel, however, did what Daniel does–he prayed to God. So the king, bound by the law, did what he had to do–he threw Daniel to the lions, hoping as he did it that God would indeed save him. In the end, it wasn’t Daniel who fell prey to the lions but the men who plotted against him, and King Darius, like the kings before him, saw that Daniel’s God stood above all others.
As kings came and went and challenges continued to rise, in every cycle of their story, Daniel and his friends remained faithful to God, pointing those around them to his enduring greatness. The path they show us may feel daunting, but in reality, their call begins the same as ours–to live faithfully this day.