“1 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.” Daniel 5:1-4
Pastor Chris was charged up this week about the instability of King Belshazzar versus the integrity of Daniel! In Daniel chapter 5, we read a detailed account of the sinful, selfish acts of the king that brought him, his leaders, and his subjects, to God’s swift judgment.
In a miracle only seen once before at the time of Abraham with the tablets of the 10 commandments, God again wrote with a finger-from-heaven a warning and a pledge to Belshazzar. The king had led his people into defying God through drunkenness, deviancy, and disorder. Believing they were secure in forging their own destiny, the rulers of the Babylonian Kingdom failed to revere the God of the Jews that they had honored a mere 30 years earlier under Belshazzar’s grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar.
In the midst of their defiance, God used Daniel to interpret the writing on the wall, which spelled out the immediate end of Belshazzar’s reign, the assessment that he’d lived a worthless life which would be taken, and that his kingdom would quickly be divided between the Medes and the Persians. In response, the king honored Daniel, granting him a position of power, but it was too little, too late.
Chris pointed out God’s message to his people then and now in the destruction of Babylon and the downfall of the king – God is Holy. His holiness has no place for those who praise Him with their mouths, but live only for themselves with covetousness in their hearts.
3 Questions to Ponder for the Entire Series in Daniel
- Who or what is supreme in your life?
- Does your life portray this?
- What spirit are you following?
4 Realities for Those Who Think They are the God of Their Life
- God is Holy – holiness is a state of being meaning set-apart from the world, not adopting its ways; those who believe they are in charge of their own destiny are unholy – separated from God, subject to his discipline and judgment
“4 Give them this charge for their masters: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters: 5 “It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. 6 Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. 7 All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes. Then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.” Jeremiah 27:4–7 (ESV)
“16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16–21 (ESV)
- A Real Tipping Point – King Belshazzar’s debauchery and flagrant disobedience to God, in spite of what he knew was right as told to him by his Grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, prompted God to respond with final warning and judgment
“But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Luke 11:20 (ESV)
“5 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 7 The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed. 10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.” Daniel 5:5–12 (ESV)
- All will Spend Eternity Somewhere – how the king lived his life for his pleasure and power became his downfall because he failed to honor God, even with multiple opportunities and examples
“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, 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.” Daniel 5:13–23 (ESV)
- Feasting on the Brink of the Grave – to the rebellious king, God brings judgment via handwriting on the wall:
- Mene, Mene – God has numbered the days of your kingdom and your life
- Tekel – You have been weighed and found lacking
- Parsin – Your kingdom will be conquered and divided by the Medes and Persians
“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 weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 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.” Daniel 5:24–31 (ESV)
See: Isaiah 13:1, 17–19, Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 45:1
“1In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, 13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:1, 13–15 (ESV)
- What sort of healthy “hiding places” can keep us living with integrity, like Daniel?
- What could be some modern “idols of wood, stone, bronze, and silver” (Daniel 5:4)?
- Thinking of the ‘holy vessels’ desecrated by King Belshazzar at his party, why do you suppose God wants us to care for our bodies as ‘vessels of honorable use?’ (Daniel 5:23, 2 Timothy 2:21)
- King Belshazzar’s life was ‘weighed in the balances and found wanting’(v. 27) – what might be some ways that we can live our lives to make sure we lack nothing when God’s places us on His scales of justice?
- Write down your answers to the following questions from the message, be brutally honest:
- Whose money is this?
- Where did it come from?
- What am I supposed to do with this money?
- Who is Lord of my whole life?
- From Pastor Chris, your answers to these questions will help reveal whether you are holding an offense:
- Are you cynical? Critical? Offended? Bitter? Sharp? A little punchy or edgy? Eruptions in anger?
- How many people do you choose to ignore? How is my trust level with others?
- Pray a sincere prayer of repentance to find freedom from this crippling mindset.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)
“18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” Psalm 66:18–19 (ESV)