Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The handwriting on the wall episode with Belshazzar reveals more of the character of God. Daniel made a difference for God as he interpreted the writing. Each of us can make a difference in our settings.

Review of Series:

Culture’s Greatest Goal -- Changed their names to supporting their gods; culture today wants to change us and give us a different mindset;

Culture’s Greatest Test – Bow to their god; Not to your God; places in world where can’t read parts of bible – hate crime

Culture’s Greatest Sin – Nebuchadnezzar refused to bow to God and was humbled; our choice – humility or humiliation; sin of pride, thinking we know more than God

Today – Culture’s Greatest Need – The People of God

1. On March 19, 2003, Saddam Hussein and his sons Udah and Kusah invited a few of their close friends and advisors to have dinner with them in an exclusive restaurant in downtown Baghdad. They did this despite the fact that an invasion seemed imminent from the U.S. forces that were amassing across the border in Kuwait. Saddam and his sons were used to the good life, and they weren’t about to let the threat of war ruin an opportunity to party with their friends. But someone tipped off some of our Special Forces troops who were already operating in the area and President Bush ordered a strategic strike. Saddam’s dinner party came to an abrupt end when cruise missiles slammed into the building and completely demolished it. Saddam and his sons survived this initial attack, but it was the beginning of the end for a brutal dictator who had ruled Iraq for 30 years.

2. Daniel 5 tells of a similar event with Belshazzar

a. Daniel served under four major kings

b. Between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were some minor kings

c. It is possible that Belshazzar is co-regent with Nabonidus and (grand)son of Nebuchadnezzar

3. Babylon was thought to be indestructible –

a. Babylon was 12 square miles with walls 80’ high and 330’ wide – who could breach these walls?

[USA? Aren’t we invincible? No one could possibly take us down – right?

b. Belshazzar may have put on the banquet white the Medes and Persians were beginning their assault on the city

c. Zechariah 4.6 “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. (Psalm 20.7)

4. In the midst of the party the hand of God appeared and wrote His message on the wall – only Daniel was able to interpret

5. 3 aspects to this message:

I. This Message was a Demonstration of God – Daniel 5.5-6

5 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. 6 Then the king's color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.

A. God Finds Ways to Get Our Attention

1. Moses had a burning bush experience

2. We sometimes have trials to get our attention – James 1.2-3 (NLT)

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

B. This was a Fearful Experience (5.5-6)

1. Appropriate Fear produces respect for God

2. Frightful Fear – Hebrews 10.31 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

3. No positive effect on Belshazzar

II. This Message was a Declaration from God

Much like Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, Nikolai Ceausescu of present-day Romania was a ruthless dictator who fell after boldly exalting himself.

Nebuchadnezzar brazenly declared that he had built the great city of Babylon by his own power and for the honor of his majesty (Daniel 4:30). God humbled him by driving him into the wilderness with a mental illness.

Ceausescu, after years of cruelly persecuting Christians and killing all potential threats to his power, instructed the National Opera to produce a song in his honor that included these words: “Ceausescu is good, righteous, and holy.” He wanted this song to be sung on his 72nd birthday on January 26, 1990, but on December 25, 1989, he and his wife were executed. Although his overthrow was part of the anticommunist revolution that swept through Eastern Europe, many Christians see his sudden downfall as an act of God. One Romanian, Peter Dugulescu, said that it was “because he took for himself the glory of God.”

Daniel 5.1-4

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.

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