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A Conversation of Repentance

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Daniel 5 ESV
King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. 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. 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. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. 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. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 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.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed. 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. 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, 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.” 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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. 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. 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. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 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. “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 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.” 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. That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Pattern #1: Sin (1-4)

Daniel 5:1–4 ESV
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.

Background on the passage:

King Belshazzar; who was he?

Belshazzar was the son of King Nebonidus, who was the fourth king after King Nebuchadnezzar.
Belshazzar was placed in charge of Babylon as Coregent while his father was away dealing with a threat of invasion.
The position of coregent means that he was second in charge, as attested to by Daniel 5:7.
Belshazzar was incredibly arrogant.
Commentators note that just two years prior, Belshazzar had met the Persians in battle and was routed and fled to their city’s defenses.
The city was traditionally impregnable, but a weakness was their water supply.
While the people inside the city thought the Persians were digging in order to pile up earth to attack from the top, they were actually digging to divert the water away from the city walls so they could walk under the city walls and attack.

What was happening around them?

Now, the Persians were directly outside the city preparing for attack.
The city was traditionally impregnable, but a weakness was their water supply.
While the people inside the city thought the Persians were digging in order to pile up earth to attack from the top, they were actually digging to divert the water away from the city walls so they could walk under the city walls and attack.

What was happening in his midst?

Inside was a drunken orgy of over a thousand people. In researching this, I originally thought, “1,000 people at a party? I don’t know about that.”
This was extremely common. In fact, it was very common to have even more people in attendance.
What’s more, is that included in these thousand were the city’s fighting commanders and cultural elite.
It’s kind of like a perfect storm for a government take-over!

Define his sin:

Idolatry:

They took items made to worship the one true God and used them in a despicable manner. (v.2)
Non-Jewish people-unclean-drank from them.
People whose job it was to provide sin pleasure drank from them.
He worshipped gods made of material things. (v.4)

Pride: (which leads to idolatry)

He was prideful that his kingdom was better than any other.
Notice that “while he tasted wine” he gave the command to get the vessels to drink from.
The words “while he tasted wine” is code for “as he got hammered drunk.”
His pride brought him to worship things other than the true God of Israel.
Romans 1:21 ESV
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Bring it around; what sin ensnares you right now?

Sin defined:
The sin of Belshazzar:

What does idolatry look like today?

Bring it around; what sin ensnares you right now?
We don’t worship items today, do we? I’d contest that we do!
Some worship the god of hunting and fishing.
Others worship the god of online and retail shopping.
Parents worship their kids and grandparents worship their grands.
Friends, people worship at the feet of Calapari in the Great City of Lexington!
Anything that you in fact place over the worship of God in our Lord Jesus Christ is idol worship and needs to be repented of immediately.

How can pride hurt believers?

Pattern #2: Warning (5-9)

Daniel 5:5–9 ESV
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. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 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.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed.

Background on the passage:

Fingers on the wall:

Belshazzar saw literal fingers writing on a wall.
This is creepy enough; but imagine being hammered drunk with a thousand of your best friends and seeing detached fingers etching words you can’t read on a wall.
Perhaps these are a representation of the very fingers of God:
Exodus 8:18–19 ESV
18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Ex. 8:
Exodus 31:18 ESV
18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Enchanters, Chaldeans and astrologers:

You’ve already seen in reference to these type of folks.
I like how the NKJV describes the enchanters; it uses the word “soothsayers.”
These people were of a priestly class and were used to interpret omens.
I had a dude pray over me in tongues once and tell me that God wanted to do something great in my life, but first I had to get rid of a sin issue.
I would have paid attention to him, but for a few reasons:
If it were of God, the tongues weren’t necessary, unless I or Christy could interpret, which neither of us could.
He was not able to say what the “great thing” was. It would be easy for me to tell you that God is going to do something great in your life if only you repent. Repent of what, in order that God may bless me for what?
Prophecies are specific as we will see shortly and as are evidenced elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments.

Third ruler in the kingdom:

Belshazzar was offering the best that he had.
Nabonidus was the rightful king.
Belshazzar was coregent, second in charge, and the Jews considered him as king because he acted as such.
What was left was “third ruler in the kingdom.”

Define the warning:

A divine warning:

Notice that none of the soothsayers and party could neither read nor interpret the writing on the wall.
The hand and the writing was so unexpected and unnatural that “his countenance changed.”
That means he body exhibited signs of terror.
The Bible says, “his knees knocked against each other.”

Bring it around; what are some ways we receive warnings when sin is present?

Scriptural warnings:

Through the reading and preaching of scripture, we are convicted of sin.
Scripture is very clear as to what sin is and is not. When we try to ignore scriptural warnings of sin OR attempt to redefine what sin is based upon our current needs, wants, or cultural context we are guilty of violating the first commandment found in (you shall have no other gods before me)

Warnings from brothers or sisters:

Believers speak truth to us.
Brother and sisters can warn us when we are in sin.
2 Corinthians 13:1–6 NKJV
1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare—3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

Warnings from the Holy Spirit:

As a born again believer, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us.
His Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us toward repentance.
The Holy Spirit also warns the lost.
Those whom the Holy Spirit is calling are able to repent of their sin and trust Christ.

Warnings from the lost:

The truth is in them-their conscience declares the truth.
The lost do not speak in the same way that the Bible, other born again people, or the Holy Spirit, but we are able to receive warnings from them too.
The Holy Spirit uses them to warn us through scripture (as we see today), and through the simple fact that God created all humans, saved and unsaved, with worth and value. We can certainly receive warnings through lost people.

Pattern #3: See the Truth Through Others (10-12)

To repeat, the patterns so far are 1. Sin 2. Warning, and now 3. See the Truth Through others
Daniel 5:10–12 ESV
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.”

Background on the passage:

Daniel, chief of the magicians.

Daniel 2:48 ESV
48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.

Belteshazzar-meaning:

At this time, Daniel must have been a very old man.
He’d prophesied over the kingdom and shared that it would be taken over by a weaker kingdom, and yet another one after that, followed by one that would stand forever, providing great hope for Daniel’s readers.

How does the queen point toward truth:

The queen remembers.

Daniel 5:11 ESV
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,

Bring it around; what are some ways we can point toward the truth?

Remember the truth-how?
Live the truth.
Be available to share the truth.
Share the truth with others.
Do not back down from the truth.

Pattern #4: Bargaining for Truth (13-16)

Sin 2. Warning 3. See the Truth Through Others
Daniel 5:13–16 ESV
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.”

Background on the passage:

Notice four lessons in this portion:
The king reminds Daniel who he (Daniel) and he (the king) is:
13- “You are THAT Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah.”
You are a Jewish exile-we conquered you-remember that.
I serve as king to you-I’m superior to you-remember that.
The king remembers/recognizes that Daniel is a child of God:
v.14 “the spirit of the gods is in you…light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.”
The king understands that God gave Daniel a special ability to “give interpretations and solve problems.” We call that prophecy.
Biblical prophecy is God-given.
Biblical prophecy is specific-although we may not understand it today, we will when it happens-we examples of this type of specificity in scripture, particularly regarding the Messiah.
Biblical prophecy ultimately calls upon His people to give Him glory and praise.
Due to his sin, the king thinks he can buy the meaning to the prophecy. v.16 “if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple, have a gold chain, and be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
Acts 8:18 ESV
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,
Acts 13:18 NKJV
18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.

Define bargaining:

What Belshazzar is doing here is bargaining.
We bargain when we value something more than another thing.
Like when we shop for houses or cars. Or furniture.
Whatever is most important at the time, we bargain for:
One of the most important places we see bargaining is when death is close OR made real:
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 6713 Bargain for One More Hour

According to a press dispatch two men, William Bell and Jacob Rosenwasser, who are under sentence of death at Ossining, N.Y., feel that they would be deprived of an hour of life if they were electrocuted on daylight saving time, and so they have applied to the warden to have the clock in the deathhouse returned to standard time. How precious even an hour may be under certain circumstances!

It is said that when Queen Elizabeth of England was dying she exclaimed, “All my possessions for a moment of time!” But time cannot be bribed even by a monarch. If the two men who are pleading for an additional hour of life had always made a proper use of the time at their disposal the probability is that they would be little concerned now about the additional hour to which they think they are entitled.

Bring it around; how do we see people bargaining with truth?

Here, we see someone bargaining for access to truth.
He didn’t necessarily want the truth, nor be willing to do anything with the truth with which he was presented.
He only seemed interested in that which he didn’t have.
People bargain with truth by picking and choosing what they decide is truth, which no longer becomes truth, but a lie.
People bargain with truth by stating that truth is relative to time and space.
What is true in 21st century western culture isn’t necessarily true in the middle east, Asia, or the Korean peninsula.
The converse is true. What was true in the 17th century Pilgrim Plantation setting isn’t necessarily true in suburban Bowling Green.
Friends, when confronted with Biblical truth and repentance is needed, we see bargaining with truth to be a very common tactic among those who resist and refuse to bow a knee to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Pattern #5: The Truth Given (17-29)

Sin 2. Warning 3. See the Truth Through Others. 4. Bargaining
Daniel 5:17–29 ESV
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. 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. 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. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 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. “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 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.” 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.

Background on the passage:

Look at this passage and see what Daniel does here:
“Let your gifts be for yourself”
Daniel then reminds the king of the past.
God gave Nebuchadnezzar all that he had.
God put him in place.
But Nebuchadnezzar lifted himself up above God and wouldn’t humble himself.
Daniel 5:20 ESV
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.
Listen as Daniel hits home with Belshazzar:
Daniel 5:22 ESV
22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
Dan. 5:

How is the truth given here:

The truth is first given with the past in mind.
Then made real in the present.
Finally, the truth is given through the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall

Bring it around; what are some ways we can lovingly give the truth today?

We can remind people that truth is truth regardless of time or space.
We can boldly proclaim biblical truth in our individual settings.
We can lovingly challenge those who deny the truth.
1 Peter 3:15 ESV
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Pattern #6: The Truth Received (30-31)

1. Sin 2. Warning 3. See the Truth Through Others. 4. Bargaining. 5. The Truth Given
Daniel 5:30 ESV
That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.
Daniel 5:30–31 ESV
30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Background on the passage:

Daniel 5:26 ESV
26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end;
Notice that verse 22 says, “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and BROUGHT it to an end.”
He didn’t say, “is bringing it to an end,” or “will bring it to an end,” but BROUGHT it to an end.

How did he receive the truth:

Belshazzar received the truth as a blind, unbelieving person would.
He thanked Daniel, clothed him in purple, gave him some riches, and high social status.

Bring it around; what do we do when people receive the truth poorly?

Sometimes people with whom we share receive the gospel in the same way:
“Thanks for sharing with me!”
“I appreciate your enthusiasm, wanna grab a coffee?”
Friends, the Good News of the gospel is offensive .
1 Peter 2:6–8 ESV
6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
What do we do when people receive the gospel poorly?
We continue to plead with them as the Lord gives us opportunity.
We pray for an open heart. We pray that the Lord draws them to Himself.
We draw encouragement that we are being obedient to the Lord by sharing the Good News.
Bethany, this conversation of repentance reminds us that:
People need to see their sin before God.
We need to warn them of the destruction to come.
They will often see the truth through others.
People will often bargain with the truth.
We share the biblical truth.
And finally, people receive the truth, whether good or bad.
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