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Daniel 5- The Handwriting on the Wall

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Intro- Last time in class we looked at Chapter 4. We looked at the uniqueness of chapter 4 in that it largely issues from a pagan king. We see Nebuchadnezzar’s greatest downfall was his pride, and God proved His power to be able to humble any man.
As we start chapter 5 we note that more than 20 years have passed and Nebuchadnezzar is dead. The kings that followed him are..
Amel- Marduk - 2 years (assassinated)
Neriglissar - 4 years
Labashi- Marduk- 9 months (Assassinated)
So, Daniel has now been in Babylon for a very long time and has remained as someone near the king through 5 government turnovers.
Summarize the events of this chapter: There is a king who is arrogant, prideful, and rebellious. He throws a drunken party, and he uses the vessels that were used for worship in the temple that Nebuchadnezzar had ceased and used them to drink from. They began worshipping their false gods of gold, bronze, wood etc… Then a hand appears on the wall, and all were terrified. No one could interpret it but Daniel. Daniel reveals that it was the end of the line for babylon and their kingdom was going to be conquered and divided. That very night the king was killed and king Darius, the mede was now running the show.
Who is King Belshazzar?
The book of Daniel is a very special book. Not only does it have key prophecies that help to validate scripture, teachings about different empires, but it fills historical gaps that otherwise were lost for centuries.
For years critics of scripture claimed that the book of Daniel could not be trusted because it was historically inaccurate.
For centuries there was no historical record of King Belshazzar
in 1854 a British explorer uncovered what proved to be the ruins of the temple in the city of UR. In this temple were records of King Nabonidus and his eldest son Belshazzar. Nabonidus had some very different religious beliefs. He worshipped the moon goddess SIN.
This angered many of the babylonians. So, to keep the peace, Nabonidus took a “leave of absence” and entrusted the kingship to his eldest son Belshazzar. For all legal documents, Nabonidus was the rightful king of babylon, but operationally Belshazzar had been ruling in the position of king for 3 years.
I find it interesting that in so many cases when there appears to be a discrepancy between scripture and records of man, it is always the Bible that is assumed to be wrong.
The same thing happened when the Bible mentions the king of Assyria, Sargon when history had omitted it. The same thing happened concerning the shape of the earth… Time and time again, The Bible is proven accurate and has never been proven wrong. Just another reason to love the Bible.
Prophecy fulfilled.
One of the most intriguing elements of this downfall is that it had been predicted decades earlier by Jeremiah with incredible detail.
Jeremiah 50:3 ESV
“For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land a desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away.
Speaks of from where the enemies will come from
Jeremiah 50:9 ESV
For behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a gathering of great nations, from the north country. And they shall array themselves against her. From there she shall be taken. Their arrows are like a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed.
Jeremiah 51:8 ESV
Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.
This text mentions the sudden nature of the demise
Jeremiah 51:11 ESV
“Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields! The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.
This text is specific about who would be the conquering empire
Even more astounding is that more than a century and a half earlier, Isaiah also prophesied about Babylon’s fall in
As we study this book we are left face to face, over and over again with the understanding that no kingdom rises or falls without the Lord’s say so.
Daniel’s Speech.
Imagine for just a moment what must have been going through Daniel’s mind when he was called in to the room.
He knew what was happening before even seeing the handwriting on the wall
He knew because he was familiar with Isaiah’s prophecy
He knew because he had visions concerning this event, We read about those events in chapters 7-8.
Daniel begins in V.17 by refusing the kings gifts. He refused them probably because he knew that they were absolutely worthless
Daniel 5:18–20 ESV
O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 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. 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.
Before speaking to Belshazzar directly about the writing he reminded him of a recent history lesson. He spoke about Nebuchadnezzar and his pride. Essentially saying, shouldn’t you have learned your lesson by now?
Daniel 5:22 ESV
And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
Daniel 5:23 ESV
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 makes one of the most powerful statements about God in this verse. “In whose hand is your very breath”
Daniel revealed the message:
Mene Mene
God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end
You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting
Your kingdom is divided and given to the medes and the persians
This very night all those things happened.
How do we measure up?
Simple but important question for us is, how do we measure up?
Daniel said that God had weighed the king in the balances and he had been found wanting. In other words, he wasn’t what God wanted him to be.
When God looks at my life, does He want more?
Am I prideful?
Am I “too busy” for His work?
Am I keeping myself pure?
Am I.... fill in the blank.
No king, politician, CEO, teacher, coach, Doctor, or preacher will escape the balances of God, the only question that matters, is how do we measure up to His standards?
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