Summary: Nebuchadnezzar showed us one way to respond to God; of increasing enlightenment and ultimate submission and joy. And then here in another story with very different responses and ultimate judgment.
Passage: Daniel 5:1-31
Intro: God has preserved for us in Daniel the fascinating record of powerful people who lived and died over 2500 years ago.
1.. we have looked at Nebuchadnezzar, and watched as God revealed, Nebuchadnezzar listened, until God convinced him that God was true and every other so-called god a liar.
3. And Nebuchadnezzar was overjoyed to learn this!
4. it’s tempting to say “that’s nice” about how God worked with this powerful king.
5. and if not for chapter 5, we might leave the application to this one king
6. but we are going to learn in the story of Belshazzar that God worked with Nebuchadnezzar to teach everyone!
PP Daniel 4:1….Nebuchadnezzar thought his testimony was applicable to the whole world! And so did God!
7. Belshazzar’s story has a sad ending, but it is also part of the gracious revelation of God to us
8. after Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C., the politics in Babylon became rather jumbled.
9. ultimately, Nebuchadnezzar’s bloodline produced a grandson named Belshazzar, who was the son of Nabonidus.
10. Nabonidus was living in Arabia when Babylon fell, and his son Belshazzar, as the crown prince, was ruling in Babylon.
11. Hebrew words for “son” and “king” are more general, can mean “descendant” and “governor”
12.so we join Belshazzar on the night of a drunken banquet in Babylon, where he made a fatal mistake that God records for our benefit.
I. Belshazzar Rejected God’s Clear Revelation
1. There was a historical record left of what Nebuchadnezzar had experienced.
2. and it had only been 27 years from his death until this very night.
3. God had proven himself vastly superior to the false gods of Babylon, and his servants vastly superior to the magicians
4. yet here, in v2, Belshazzar leads his people in the taunting rejection of everything God had revealed about Himself.
5. “gave orders”…so it was a deliberate statement of the superiority of his false gods over the God of Israel.
6. in a culture that worshiped power, Babylon’s gods were more powerful because they was able to take what the God of Israel was unable to protect.
7. so even though Nebuchadnezzar had prohibited anyone from doing or saying anything that denigrated the God of Israel, that’s exactly what Belshazzar did.
8. he did not care about the uniqueness of the four Jews or the ability to interpret dreams or rescue from the fiery furnace or the amazing change that had taken place in the greatest ruler who ever lived. (He blew them off)
9. his response to the gracious self- revelation of God was to poke his finger in God’s eye!
10. look throughout the Bible! This is not a smart thing to do.
PP Psalm 14:1
II. God Clearly Revealed Cause and Effect
1. in the middle of this blasphemous party, God showed up
2. easy to imagine the fear when this clearly supernatural event took place.
3. just the event of writing, not even the words, caused a powerful fear reaction in Belshazzar.
Il) description sounds like overload of the parasympathetic nervous system, acc. to Dr. Lockwood. Things go limp, heart rate decreases, loss of bowel control (though the Bible is nice enough not to mention this)
4. could not read it, even though in Aramaic script, words alone made no sense to the Babylonian wise men.
5. but the queen (Belshazzar’s mother?) mentioned Daniel, so in he came.
6. Belshazzar made the same offer of gifts and power, which Daniel rejected.
7. Daniels attitude seems different, words are condemnatory and judging.
8. reviews everything Nebuchadnezzar learned, and then in vv22-23 delivers a scathing rebuke of his actions in the face of God’s clear revelation.
9. and then slams the door with v24s powerful “therefore” God has righteously passed judgment on you, and has told you the why and the what and the who and the WHEN!!! (and brought it to an end)
Il) the Medes and Persians were camped outside, having destroyed the Babylonian army. And if the walls somehow failed…
10. just a side note. If we know the when, that means the time of grace is over!
11. so Daniel read the puzzling Aramaic script; three words that dealt with numbers, perhaps money. Mina, shekel, half (divided) shekel.
12. and Daniel had the clear revelation from God.
13. “your days are over, (because) you have been weighed (judged) and found to be unrighteous and unresponsive, and I am giving your kingdom to the armies camped outside.”
14. again God uses His servant, but this time as a prophet of doom and destruction.
15. time of warning was over, rejected, so judgment falls.
III. Judgment Fell Righteously
1. clear revelation had been given, time had been granted, and now judgment falls.
2. v30, Belshazzar died that night at the hands of the Medes and Persians, as history records.