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The Handwriting Is On the Wall!

Standing Firm & Staying Faithful In God's Sovereignty -- An Exposition of Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:54
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Worthless Labels

Have you ever wondered why there are so many worthless labels on products today? Really, you have to wonder what happened that would force the manufacturers to be required by law to put such descriptive labels on something.
Duraflame fireplace log — Caution: “Risk of Fire”
Batman costume — Warning: “Cape does not enable user to fly”
bottle of hair coloring — “Do not use as an ice cream topping”
Cardboard sun shield — “Do not drive with sun-shield in place”
Portable stroller — “Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage”
When you think through the purpose behind those labels you are left wondering if somebody really did that and now all of humanity is plagued with the absurdity of stupid labels.
Good, old common sense would say those labels are worthless…anyone of any kind of intelligence ought to know better right?
Are we completely unable to consider the ramifications of our actions that there needs to be a label warning us of the outcome?
Well what is the answer?
The answer depends upon whether you and I are going to be observant enough to read the writing on the wall that says those who do not learn from the past are bound to repeat it...
or are we going to continue to blunder around in our pride, making stupid and foolish decisions with arrogant defiance of God’s standards, until God deems us spiritually worthless?
That is where we find ourselves in our study of Daniel today…turn in your Bibles to Daniel 5.
Daniel 5 is the fascinating historical account of the last day of Babylon’s rule in God’s time of the Gentiles. In this text, God speaks in a cryptic fashion to the king of Babylon and tells him that he has been deemed spiritually worthless and his kingdom was over.
We need a little historical context for this chapter to make sense to us...

Historical Context to Daniel 5

Daniel 4 ends with Nebuchadnezzar as the king and Daniel 5 begins with Belshazzar as the king…
King Nebuchadnezzar likely died in 562 BC. His son succeeded him and ruled for only two years...2 Kgs 25:27–30; Jer 52:31–34
That king was murdered by his brother-in-law, who succeeded him and he ruled for four years...Jer 39:3, 13
He was succeeded by his son who was assassinated after two months on the throne.
He was replaced by Nabonidus, the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, and he ruled from 556–539 BC.
Belshazzar was the eldest son of Nabonidus. He was appointed by Nabonidus as a co-regent.
By the way, the book of Daniel has been criticized for years as being a work of fiction for one reason that Belshazzar’s name could not be found in the Ancient works…until God saw fit for man to discover ancient Babylonian records that revealed Belshazzar ruled as a co-regent under Nabonidus.
We are given a view into the palace window but what is happening outside the palace is just as significant…In this chapter Babylon is surrounded by Cyrus the Persian's armies. Also we know this historically too, Cyrus will capture the seemingly impenetrable, and impregnable city by a stroke of genius. His armies have been working upstream for years in the Euphrates River to divert the flow of the Euphrates River. The Euphrates River flowed through Babylon. His armies then walked in the riverbed, about knee deep, and then walked under the walls of Babylon in order to take Babylon without a fight. A seemingly impenetrable fortress, Cyrus conquered easily.
What we have here in Daniel 5 is a depiction of the last day of the Babylonian Kingdom...when Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian Empire.
The narrative moves the events of Dan 4 forward by about 23 to 25 years…this is a marvelous section of Daniel’s narrative in which God miraculously communicates a very powerful message to a spiritually worthless king…it is a message that fits our day as well...

Main Point: All Who Live In Pride Are Spiritually Worthless.

The point of God’s message to King Belshazzar is in Dan 5:25-28, so lets look at that portion of the text first and then we’ll go back and see why God made this conclusion.
Read Dan 5:25-28
Belshazzar hosts a drunken feast that magnifies the stupidity of his pride and God writes a message to him that causes him to shake in his sandals…this message is well known and often quoted as “the handwriting is on the wall” signifying what is about to happen is going to happen and there is nothing that can be done to change it.
The message written on the wall in Aramaic is MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN…Daniel clearly tells us what these words mean…these words were terms used for measuring quantities, weighing goods on a scale for purchase or trade, and apportioning items. The first word is repeated for emphasis
MENE is translated “number,” and it is repeated— Belshazzar had been measured, counted, and scrutinized
TEKEL simply means “weight.” Belshazzar had been weighed according to God’s standards of righteousness and was seriously lacking in that department...The term “wanting” denotes “lacking, deficient.”
UPHARSIN/PERES (v.28) (PERES is the singular form of UPHARSIN) , and it means “divided or halved” The kingdom of Babylon is now to be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Placed together it was a cryptic message that said “Numbered, Weighed, Divided”… the Babylonian wise men could not understand it in their present context and that is why they needed Daniel.

God judged Belshazzar to be spiritually worthless and the time had come for his kingdom to be replaced.

Now hopefully after reading this portion of the text, we are left pondering the thought of “I don’t want God to consider me spiritually worthless.”
As I think about this text from a corporate setting, as the pastor, I would not want God to send this disembodied hand into our worship center and write on the wall…Maranatha Bible Church is Spiritually Worthless would you?
Belshazzar, in his pride, committed some pretty serious blunders that brought God to the conclusion he was spiritually worthless...
Let’s examine four blunders of pride that makes us spiritually worthless so that we can avoid them.
The first blunder of pride is...

Pride Clings to Worthless Things.

Read Daniel 5:1-4

Worthless Thing #1 — False Sense of Security

Babylon was surrounded by the armies of Persia, and he's throwing a party...why?...because he believed he was safe inside his walls...
The city of Babylon was surrounded by a complex series of walls, some of them over three hundred feet high and wide enough it is said that four chariots could ride side by side, numerous defense towers and fortified gates.
With what is happening outside the city, we are left with the impression that Belshazzar is trying to communicate a confidence that Babylon will survive all this, so let’s do everything we can to be happy…we’re secure with our wealth, we’re safe within our walls…we can live however we want to live, nothing can harm us in here.
The text here says that he invites the nobles to participate…as if to say to them“folks we’re okay, I’m the King, we’re safe here, don’t worry, be happy”.
Even the queen is not alarmed… “do not let your thoughts alarm you…don’t look so scared”…in other words, things aren’t as bad as they appear to be…she probably believed Daniel would give a favorable interpretation of the writing…even she clung to this false sense of security.
Your pride tells you that you are fine just the way you are and there is no need for change, pride says there is nothing wrong with you…pride says you don’t need Christ, you don’t need to read your Bible, you don’t need to be in church, you don’t need to be concerned about what you say, what you do, where you go…pride says you are good enough so don’t worry about that holiness stuff…pride tells you you are safe and secure without the need to consider God’s viewpoint...

Worthless Thing #2 — Fallacy of Worldly Pleasure

This is not just some “let’s get together and watch some football or play some hoops” kind of party…this was a massive, sexual, alcohol driven, sacrilegious party…thousands of noble men, etc.
Throughout the text you see Daniel telling us about them drinking wine…the words he used indicate drunkeness.
The king himself violated the protocol by drinking with his lords…in those days, the king would abstain from wine at banquets in order to maintain an aura of authority and self-control in the presence of their subjects…even Solomon warned kings against becoming intoxicated…Prov 31:4-5
In most Ancient Near Eastern cultures, men and women had very little public interaction with each other and were often separated on social occasions…in Esther 1 we see Queen Vashti holding a separate banquet for the women.
When this protocol was violated it often meant that sensuality was involved…again in Esther this is what got Queen Vashti in trouble with the king…she would not leave her banquet to come parade around in front of the other men.
Pride says this life is yours, live it how you want to…pride says “who does that preacher think he is telling you you can’t do that...”Pride says go for it, enjoy life to the fullest, you deserve your indulgences who cares what God thinks about them?

Worthless Thing #3 — Worship of Fake gods

the text says that he and his nobles drank and praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, stone…as if to say these gods will protect us…
The word for praise here implies the acknowledgment of high status to the recipient...
As if his idolatry was not bad enough, Belshazzar employs a special kind of stupid, that special kind of stupid is mocking God…and friends you don’t have to be drunk like Belshazzar to be guilty of mocking God.
he sends for the vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar from the temple in Jerusalem and uses them in their idol worship
instead of holding those vessels and giving praise to God for what He did for Babylon, Belshazzar uses them to worships his false gods and while he is enjoying the drunkeness and debauchery…
His actions here are in complete defiance and desecration of God and all things associated with Him…Belshazzar openly defies the God of Israel in his idolatry…It would be equivalent in our day of our pride flipping God off and saying “I don’t care what you think God, I don’t believe in you, I am my own king. You are a nobody God, you are worthless to me...” that takes a special kind of stupid!
Pride parades these fake gods around to us as objects worthy of our praise and pursuits…money, sex, sports, work, houses, recreation, comfort, relationships, and the list is endless…Pride makes those more important than pleasing God and when faced with a decision of priority the fake god wins out…it is at that point you have gone down the road of Belshazzar and you are one step closer to being deemed spiritually worthless by God.
What a sad picture…

What worthless things are you clinging to?

Is the road Belshazzar was on the same road you want to be on?
Pride tells you “your good to go, your safe, no need to change anything”…it tells you that you don’t need God or that you are “holy enough”…pride convinces you that you deserve all the “good things” in life and that God is just this “cosmic kill joy” who doesn’t want you to have any fun…pride lifts the glass to all the fake gods we pursue with greater passion than we do the one true God…pride whispers in your ear that a little indulgence here is just what you needPride never tells you to consider God’s point of view first, only your opinion and comfort matters.
The pursuits and idols that we desire more than God are worthless and put us in the center of the road of Belshazzar...Stop clinging to things that are worthless…Easy Street is Paved with the Pursuit of Worthless Things.
The second blunder of pride is ...

Pride Looks For Answers in All the Wrong Places.

Stop looking for answers in the “wisdom” of man.

Belshazzar calls for his wise men…remember these men were the best the world could offer…they were the most educated men in all the Empire and God once again shows us how inept man’s knowledge is when it comes to finding real answers.
Man’s “wisdom” is the last place we should want to turn to for answers to life’s problems…man’s wisdom says evolution seems right, psychology seems right, the political establishments seem right, the experts seem right…whenever something happens the world scrambles for its experts trying to explain it.
The experts are really ignorant to the truth...The world calls for its soothsayers when a terrorist attack happens...The world calls for its magicians when political unrest occurs. The world calls for its diviners when men and women cannot determine their gender identities anymore...

The world’s experts are often paraded in front of us as if they have the all right answers to life’s problems; when the reality is, they are nothing more than talking bobble-heads who have no light of true wisdom and knowledge within them.

Why do we search for answers among the people who now tell us it is wrong to identify a baby’s gender when they are born…we are told it is now appropriate to leave that box on the birth certificate unchecked so they (theyabies) can determine their own gender? That is man’s “wisdom”.
Remember these experts are using man’s “wisdom” which does not account for the greatest problem of all…sin and the separation and destruction it caused between us and our Creator...GOSPEL

Look to God’s Word for answers.

Why did the queen mention Daniel?…Read Dan. 5:11-12Daniel had a reputation for solving problems…Daniel did not apply the wisdom he gained from the Babylonian schools, he used what He recieved from God.
If Belshazzar wanted to know, he could have turned to the scrolls of Jeremiah who prophesied some fifty years before Babylon fell.
A northern kingdom would conquer the cityJer. 50:1-3; Jer 50:9
This nation would be associated with the Medes — Jer. 51:11; Jer. 51:28
Babylon was described as a greatly fortified city Jer. 51:53
The city’s demise would involve the drying up of waterJer. 51:36
This would be accomplished while a great feast was in progressJer. 51:39
This would happen when Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson was in powerJer. 27:6-7
Belshazzar could have known the truth had he wanted to know...

Where are you turning for answers?

My friend, God has been regularly placing answers all around youJesus is the answer to your sin, his completed work on the cross and powerful resurrection ended the separation between us and God…as you enter into a life with Him, he provides all you need to live righteously before him and the world…we have the Holy Spirit within us to guide and direct us, we have the Bible which is full of answers, all the answers we need for life and godliness…2 Peter 1:3-4so why are we going to people who do not know God and His Word for answers to our marriage problems, our parenting problems, our identity problems...this church body is an answer…it is a place for you to find your purpose,
When will we turn to God for answers?...Answers that are not built upon the Word of God are worthless and make you spiritually worthless when you accept them as truth.
A third blunder of pride is...

Pride Ignores the Truth.

Ignored Truth #1 — God Deals With Sin

Dan 5:22…Daniel says to Belshazzar in essence “ You knew all that happened to your grandfather and yet you ignored it.”…you knew how God judged him for his pride, yet you ignored it…this was really a case of arrogant defiance.
Romans 15:4 NASB95
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
We have the truth of Scripture before us that continually shows us what God thinks about sin and what He does to correct it…God dealt with sin in the Garden, all throughout Israel’s history, that is why they are in captivity…God dealt with sin at Calvary…God will one day deal with the entire world’s sin during the Tribulation…We don’t know how and we don’t know when God will choose to deal with our sin from His role as our Father but know that He does deal with sin...
Hebrews 12:5–6 NASB95
and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

Ignored Truth #2 — God Does Not Tolerate Being Dishonored & Demeaned

Dan 5:23
You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven — it is clear to see how.
Belshazzar mocked God by taking what God had ordained for worship of Him and abused and misused it.
Belshazzar was guilty of both blasphemy and idolatry…he acted as though he was in command of his life.
The implication of this is not hard to make is it?

When we take what God has given us to use in worship of Him, and use it in the wrong way or with wrong motives, we have taken a step down the road of Belshazzar and are guilty of dishonoring God.

What has God given us to use in worship of Him?…EVERYTHING!
All of our talents, time and treasures are to be tools used to live a life of worship…and the measuring scale of our lives indicates a leaning towards the pursuit of self...we have taken advantage of all God gives us to use to proclaim His glory and abused them and misused them and we share in Belshazzar’s guilt.
Matthew 5:16 NASB95
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB95
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 5:9 NASB95
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

Ignored Truth #3 — God Controls Your Destiny

Belshazzar worshiped lifeless idols made of gold and silver…instead of giving glory to God, he bowed to stupid, inanimate objects that could not see, speak or hear anything.
Everything he had was because God gave it to him — 1 Chron 29:14
Instead of worshipping God, he chose to worship dead images.
God is the one who holds our very life and breath in his hands…He controls your destiny…He decides whether you live or die…He alone deserves all the glory...
It is time for us to stop ignoring the truth that God is the one who decides whether we will be here tomorrow, or the next day or the next year…Belshazzar gave no credence to God at all for his life…

Pride Refuses to Repent and Change.

Read Daniel 5:29-31
There is no record here of Belshazzar being impacted by what Daniel said to himhe went on with the promise to make Daniel the 3rd in line in the kingdom…after just hearing his kingdom was done!
Belshazzar was number two…ruling as a co-regent under his father Nabonidus
Nebuchadnezzar had a year to repent, Belshazzar was not given that opportunity here…he had a marvelous counselor in Daniel for those many years, but it was apparent he didn’t take the time to get to know him and listen to him, he had the examples of his predecessors to learn from, in all that time he did nothing to turn to God and instead exalted himself above God, and so God’s longsuffering for him was done…God measured him up after all that time and determined He was done working on him.

Lesson for Life: Be Counted Among the Faithful

If we want to avoid being labeled by God as spiritually worthless then we must faithfully walk in humility and obey the Word of God.
Daniel was clothed with royalty and given authority in the kingdom, even though the kingdom of Babylon ended that day…he will maintain that authority throughout the entire captivity period…why? ...because God counted him faithful, he was an example to the unbelieving world as well as the captive Hebrews…He was faithful because he was humble.
What worthless things are you clinging to…where are you going to find the answers to your struggles…when are you going to stop ignoring the truth…when will you finally decide to repent and change?
The handwriting on the wall for us is that those who continue to choose a life of pride are in danger of God’s swift and exacting judgment of being considered spiritually worthless…
The alternative is to turn your life over to Christ…begin to think and act in ways that are fitting and pleasing to Him… allow him to use you in the lives of others to point them to Him.
as we grow in Jesus Christ, and learn to handle life like He did, we can handle life without clinging to worthless things, we can find the godly answers to life, we can have a life that honors God.
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