Summary: The world is having one big party, but God will have the last word - the writing is on the wall
Daniel – Chapter 5a
A. Chapter 5 Outline
I. Belshazzar (5:1-4)
a. The Party (5:1)
b. The Preposterousness (5:2-3)
c. The Profanity (5:4)
II. The Lord (5:5-9)
a. Look At The Wall (5:5)
b. Look At The King (5:6-7)
c. Look At The Wise Men (5:8-9)
III. The Queen Mother (5:10-12)
a. Her Ignorance (5:10)
b. Her Insight (5:11-12)
IV. Daniel (5:13-29)
a. Daniel’s Reward (5:13-16)
b. Daniel’s Refusal (5:17)
c. Daniel’s Rebuke (5:18-23)
d. Daniel’s Revelation (5:24-28)
e. Daniel’s Robing (5:29)
V. Darius (5:30-31)
a. The Slaying of The King (5: 30)
b. The Silver Chest Reigns (5:31)
I. Belshazzar (5:1-4)
This chapter gives us the only glimpse we have of this man in the Bible. In fact for centuries the Bible was the ONLY known reference to this king. The critics had a field day with this as there were no secular records of Belshazzar as king. However, the Bible does not need to be verified by secular sources.
Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C. and was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach (562-560 B.C.) who reigned for 2 years – 2 Kings 25:27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
Allegedly because tried to modify his father’s policies, he was murdered by Nergal-sharezer (Neriglissar 560-556 B.C.), his brother-in-law, who succeeded him. His son Labashi-Marduk was very young and held the throne for only 2 months in 556 B.C. when he was murdered. Nabonidus then became king in 556 B.C. – he was also a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar and the father of Belshazzar. Nabonidus ruled the Babylonian Empire but Balshazzar was coregent and ruled the city of Babylon.
The title king was not applied soley to the supreme monarch in that age. If you notice in Daniel chapter 2, when Daniel was honoured by Nebuchadnezzar, the great king made him second ruler in the kingdom Daniel 2:48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
Look at Daniel 5:29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. Belshazzar appoints him to the position of third ruler, as he himself was clearly the second.
a. The Party (5:1)
We are introduced to Belshazzar while he is in the midst of throwing a wild party for 1,000 of his lords. Belshazzar is like a lot of people in our day. They are living for this life. They are living to gratify their flesh with absolutely no thought for eternity. They party, play and live for the good times, never realizing that there will come a day when the fun will end.
• He was a man of great wealth and immense power. Yet, he was as poverty stricken in his soul as if he were a beggar.
• He was a great ruler of a vast kingdom. Yet, he was a man who was unable to rule his own heart.
• He was a man who commanded fear from his subjects; others bowed down before him. Yet, he had no fear of the Lord.
• Belshazzar walked among the wisest men of the day. Yet, he was a man who ruled in ignorance of the most important things in life.
It was a night of drunkenness and debauchery. It speaks to the evils of substance abuse and all that accompanies it – Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;.
Belshazzar knew that the army of the Medes and Persians were encamped out side the city, but he was not bothered by the danger they posed. After all the city was impenetrable. The walls were 300 feet high and 85 feet thick. There was no way an army was going to scale these walls.
Even if the army had them surrounded and fenced the people in, Belshazzar was not bothered. The river ran through and supplied them with all the water they needed. They had enough food stored in the city – the city was self sufficient, they even had farms and livestock within the city walls. They could not be starved out. Belshazzar was confident in himself and in his achievements. Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. In fact he was so confident that he threw a party.