Summary: Belshazzar is confident and cocky. With the enemy at his gates he is throwing a party. Into this pride comes the hand of God. What is the message? You have been weighed and you don't measure up!
Intro: When we look at chapter 5 we are seeing the second part of a trilogy of pagan kings. Chapter 4 we see Nebuchadnezzar and his repentance after God’s warning. Chapter 6 we see Darius the Mede acknowledge Daniel’s God but not accept Him. Here in chapter 5 we see Belshazzar and his complete rebellion and rejection of God.
If we look close there are some clear teachings that can be found in these stories. First, things change. Daniel will outlast at least 3 kings.
The way that Belshazzar responds to the warning of judgment reminds of a man who was warned he needed to change.
"You," said the doctor to the patient, "are in terrible shape. You've got to do something about it. First, tell your wife to cook more nutritious meals. Stop working like a dog. Also, inform your wife you're going to make a budget, and she has to stick to it. And have her keep the kids off your back so you can relax. Unless there are some changes like that in your life, you'll probably be dead in a month."
"Doc," the patient said, "this would sound more official coming from you. Could you please call my wife and give her those instructions?"
When the fellow got home, his wife rushed to him. "I talked to your doctor," she wailed. "Poor man, you've only got thirty days to live." (source unknown)
Great change has happened since we first started Daniel in Chapter 1. Chapter 1 happened in about 605 BC. We have now moved approximately 70 years to the time of the last king of Babylon. Remember for years secular scholars said Daniel was a hoax because the only records we had of the last king of Babylon was Nabonidus. In 1854 a stone tablet was discovered that recorded the Nabonidus Chronicle and clearly revealed that Belshazzar (Nabs oldest child) was co-regent while Nabonidus away from the kingdom for personal pursuits. We find that it doesn’t take long for people to forget what Nebuchadnezzar learned in Daniel 4:37, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of heaven, because all His works are true and His ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
I. The party of the proud king
A) The kings lack of self-control (5:1)
We know from history that Darius the Mede had an army at the doorstep of Babylon. It is not clear whether Belshazzar was trying to prove His power or drown his fears with this depraved party. It’s clear that he broke common practice by drinking in public and having women join the party. We are not told clearly that he was drunk but his actions seems to show a lack of self-control.
Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, beer is a brawler, and whoever staggers because of them is not wise.”
Proverbs 31:4 “It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to desire beer.”
Much like our current administration they seem to be trying to have a party while the enemy is beating down our doors. It’s not the economy stupid. It seems Belshazzar was showing off his trust in the walls of his city. If that wasn’t enough he wants to show that he doesn’t fear the living God!
B) The kings bad decision (5:2-4)
In His pride and drunken celebration of his power Belshazzar decided lets show off. He called for the sacred vessels of the temple of God. Mixing being prideful and plastered are an opportunity for disaster. As many do they believe they can shake their fist and profane the things God calls sacred.
Is this still happening today? Realize it wasn’t the vessels that were the problem but what they represented. Life is no longer sacred it is now a choice. Marriage is no longer a gift from God it is what the world defines and desires. These are sacred they are not to be tampered with. Do you realize you are the vessels of God? What you do in your body can profane what God meant to be set apart for Him! 1 Corinthians 3:16. “Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?”
We worry about kids running in the auditorium but don’t worry about running our mouths about each other. We rail on Isis for murdering Christians and yet we commit murder the way we respect and respond to each other every day.
II. The pronouncement of judgment
God finally said enough is enough. He was ready to fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah. Jeremiah wrote of the downfall of the Babylonian empire. He wrote his book between 630 and 580 BC. Now here in 537 God says enough is enough.