Summary: This sermon emphasizes the importance of remembering and being accounable for the things that God tells us.

The Writing on the Wall

Daniel 5

November 3, 2002


A. [It’s Over Your Head, Citation: C.D. Monismith, Salem, Ore. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."]

One quarter while teaching an adult Sunday school class, I decided, It’s time to be up-to-date and innovative. I need to try something new for our class.

We were studying one of the Old Testament books.

I found an overhead projector and tried to teach myself how to use it.

Then I wrote an outline on an overhead transparency to display for the class.

When Sunday morning came, I had the projector all set up.

At the right moment in the lesson, I flipped on the overhead.

The beautiful outline flashed on the wall for all to see.

To emphasize a significant spiritual truth in the passage, I grabbed one of the special markers, walked over and started writing in bold letters on the outline.

The class burst out laughing.

Why are they laughing? I thought to myself. This is the crucial point!

Then it hit me.

I was writing on the wall.

It seems I’d been a little unclear on the overhead concept.

The class wouldn’t let me forget it.

In fact, for many weeks they wouldn’t allow me to remove my brilliant insight from the wall.

1. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase about the writing on the wall.

2. Today, we come to the fifth chapter of Daniel where that phrase originated.

B. Background…There are several matters that I need to explain as we make this transition into chapter 5…

1. About 20 years have passed since chapter 4 and in those 20 years many things have happened…

2. One is that Nebuchadnezzar is no longer king, now there is a King named Belshazzar.

a. The historians are in disagreement as to just what the procession has been from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar.

b. The only thing they agree on is that Nebuchadnezzar did not hand the kingdom over to Belshazzar.

c. There have been several kings in between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, but the non-Christian historians are in disagreement as to exactly who they were.

d. All we know is that it is now the fall of 539 B.C. and Nebuchadnezzar is no longer king and Belshazzar is the king.

3. Another matter that we need to make sure of is the difference between Daniel and the king.

a. Daniel has become known as Belteshazzar, while the new king’s name is Belshazzar.

b. If it has a “te” in the middle its Daniel, if it doesn’t have a “te” it is the king.

c. So make sure you don’t get confused between Daniel (Belteshazzar) and King Belshazzar.

4. Another is that even though Nebuchadnezzar is referred to as Belshazzar’s “father,” that is not literally the case.

a. The Hebrew did not have a word for grandfather or great grandfather.

b. Therefore the word father was used for anyone who was an ancestor of the person.

c. The historians tell us that Belshazzar’s father was Nabonidus and Nebuchadnezzar was possibly Belshazzar’s grandfather.

5. One other thing is that although there is a woman referred to as the “queen”, she is not Belshazzar’s wife.

a. The queen referred to is not Belshazzar’s wife, she was probably his father’s wife or possible his grandfather’s wife.

b. The Brit’s would probably refer to her as the Queen Mother.

I. Belshazzar

A. Brazenness

Daniel 5:1-4 (NIV), King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

1. This was just outright brazenness on the part of King Belshazzar.

2. Belshazzar had an absolute contempt for anything and anyone.

3. The historians tell us that they were actually in the midst of a war when this event took place.

4. Belshazzar was actually co-reigning with his father Nabonidus.

5. The enemy had actually already captured Nabonidus.

6. The enemy was actually outside the walls besieging the city at the moment this event was taking place.

7. Belshazzar was brazenly holding a feast at the very moment that the city was under siege and his father had been in captivity for several months.

8. Belshazzar had no respect for his father, he had no respect for the enemy, and…he had no respect for the true God.

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