Summary: The playboy philosophy of Belshazzar, his rude awakening, and his judgement by God as lessons for today’s society.
Belshazzar’s Feast: Weighed and Found Wanting Dan. 5:1-6
INTRO.: The year was 538 BC. King Nebonides, co-ruler of the Babylon empire, was outside the city with his army defending it against the mighty army of the Medes and Persians under Cyrus and Darius. The city itself was considered impregnable. The wall surrounding it was 300 feet high and eighty feet wide, surrounded by deep moats . It extended 35 feet into the ground. If one were to ride around the city outside the wall, he would travel 60 miles. The wall had 250 guard towers and rooms for soldiers to sleep. It had 100 gates, all armored with brass. If an enemy soldier managed to climb over the wall, he would have to cross a quarter mile of bare land before he could reach the city. There was enough food warehoused for a 20 year siege and farmland within the wall to raise more if needed. The Euphrates River flowed under the wall to provide water.
While Nebonides was defending the city against its enemies, his son, Belshazzar was inside the palace feasting with all the kingdom’s nobles. Neither of them knew it was the last day of the mighty Babylonia empire.
Here is a powerful lesson on the hand of God at work in the affairs of men and the certainty of Divine judgement on evil.
I. Belshazzar exemplifies the playboy philosophy so prevalent in our day. The end and goal of life is to provide satisfaction and pleasure for the body. Verses 1-4
A. He had everything he could have desired. He was wealthy enough to throw a feast for a thousand of the political leaders of the empire. No doubt their wives and escorts were present as well. His were. Archaeologists have unearthed banquet room that would seat 10,000 people.
1. He was an emperor. Whatever wasn’t given to him, he could buy or take.
2. He was a man who enjoyed his possessions and his wealth. Nothing was denied him.
3. The materialistic philosophy is: "If you want it, get it. If it feels good, do it." You don’t have to be fabulously wealthy to have this attitude, either. Many in our society live this way on nothing bu credit.
B. This philosophy has no place for a God Who demands and expects moral purity from His followers:
1. His gods were those made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. They were useful only as the subjects of toasts that led to drunkenness. He undoubtedly considered their worship a joke.
2. Nothing was sacred to him. To demonstrate his disdain for God, he brought the sacred vessels and used them to drink wine. He was totally insensitive to the demands of God and the feelings of God’s people.
3. Sensual. Materialistic, idolatrous, Belshazzar didn’t hesitate to blaspheme the God Who held Belshazzar’s life and future in His hands.
C. His philosophy was materialism, his gods were idols, and his goal in life was to enjoy everything that could give pleasure.
1. Yet, sensual pleasures cannot satisfy and material possessions can’t bring security. He is about to learn that.
2. The God of Heaven could not ignore Belshazzar’s blasphemy. His lifestyle reminds on of the description of the pagan world in Romans 1. God cannot help but judge such.
3. Further, sensual living tends to stupify. In his drunkenness, Belshazzar was heedless of the battle raging outside and the enemy ready to invade the city. He is certainly ripe for judgement.
II. Belshazzar receives a rude awakening as handwriting appears on the palace wall: 5, 6
A. "Handwriting on the wall" has become a byword for warnings of impending judgement. There are many who say the handwriting is on the wall for America today:
1. Love of perverse pleasure and disregard for God and human life have led to an epidemic of AIDS and other STD’s.
2. Thousands of unborn babies are murdered each day because caring for them would interfere with a sensual and irresponsible lifestyle.
3. Political corruption is so common it no longer shocks anyone. Violent crime is commonplace, and drug abuse supports terrorism and organized crime.
4. Most Americans are too drunk with power, pleasure, and possessions to even see the handwriting on the wall, let alone understand it.
B. Belshazzar couldn’t understand the handwriting on the palace wall and was terrified: 7-9
1. He was so frightened his face turned pale and his knees knocked together.
2. He put all his wealth and power to work to try to understand what was happening. All his wisest advisors failed even though promised wealth and power. The king became even more terrified.
3. Into every life there comes sooner or later, a dilemma that cannot be solved without the help of a Someone mightier than any human - God.