Daniel 5:1-31 Belshazzar's Doom
Some twenty years pass between chs 4 and 5, and King Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by various rulers until Nabonidus (năbunī'dus) a son-in-law to Nebuchadnezzar.
Nabonidus was king of the empire, and his son Belshazzar was king of the city of Babylon. This explains why Daniel was named third ruler (5:7,29).
While the events in (ch. 5) are taking place, King Nabonidus has been captive of the Medes and Persians for four months.
I. Belshazzar's Feast - 1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
This feast was in honour of one of the Babylonian gods, took place in the autumn of 539 B.C.
1. INTEMPERANCE: and drank wine before the thousand.
Moffatt, "they were carried away by the wine". Paul, "be not drunk with wine... "(Eph 5:18)
2. IMPROPRIETY: 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. - It was wine, women and song
3. IMPIETY: 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem;
These sacred vessels were originally made by Solomon (1 Kings 7:48) shown by Hezekiah
(2 Kings 20:13) and taken by Nebuchadnezzar. (2 Chron 36:10)
4. IDOLATRY: 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
The king was not content to drink wine to his gods; he wanted to blaspheme the God of the Jews as well. So he had the sacred temple vessels brought in to be used at this feast
The Medes and Persians were outside the gates of the city when this feast was in progress!
What a picture of our world today: judgment is about to fall, yet men are making merry and worshiping false gods. 1 Thess. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
Babylon was a strong city with walls 350 ft. high and 87 ft. thick! The Euphrates River ran diagonally through the city, and great brass gates controlled the entrances to the city.
II. Belshazzar's Fear - 5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
It is the message of Rebuke, condemning him for disregarding the lessons of the past.
It is the message of Reproof, condemning him for disrespecting the holy vessels of the Lord.
It is the message of Reproach, condemning him for delighting in that which destroys.
It is the message of Retribution, declaring the judgment of God .
At the feast of Belshazzar and a thousand of his lords,
While they drank from golden vessels, as the Book of Truth records,
In the night, as they reveled in the royal palace hall,
They were seized with consternation—’twas the Hand upon the wall!
’Tis the hand of God on the wall!, ’Tis the hand of God on the wall!
Shall the record be “Found wanting!”, Or shall it be “Found trusting!”
While that hand is writing on the wall?
See the brave captive, Daniel, as he stood before the throne,
And rebuked the haughty monarch for his mighty deeds of wrong;
As he read out the writing—’twas the doom of one and all,
For the kingdom now was finished—said the Hand upon the wall!
See the faith, zeal and courage, that would dare to do the right,
Which the Spirit gave to Daniel—’twas the secret of his might,
In his home in Judea, or a captive in the hall,
He understood the writing of his God upon the wall!
So our deeds are recorded—there’s a Hand that’s writing now:
Sinner, give your heart to Jesus, to His royal mandates bow;
For the day is approaching—it must come to one and all,
When the sinners’ condemnation will be written on the wall!
III. Belshazzar's Future - 24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. 25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. 28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.