Summary: God’s rememdy for pride.
The last words of Nebuchadnezzar the Bible records are words of praise to the Lord, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of Heaven, for all His works are true and all His ways just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:37) A very difficult lesson for anyone to learn; a lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way. When we enter chapter five of the book of Daniel, we meet a new king, Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. Unfortunately, Belshazzar has received none of the benefits of Nebuchadnezzar’s painfully learned spiritual truths. About the only trait of his grandfather’s that is visible is the pride the he had discarded. The important trait of a responsive heart to God that Nebuchadnezzar had gained is clearly absent in the life of Belshazzar. Today we will look at how one generation’s revival became the future generation’s rebellion. More importantly we want to discover how God humbles those who walk in pride.
I. Putting everything into its proper historical setting.
A. After Nebuchadnezzar’s death, it wasn’t long until the traits of greed and ambition began to sweep through hi family.
1. Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Evil-Merodach, reigned only two years before his power-hungry brother-in-law, General Neriglissar assassinated him and stole the crown.
2. After a six year reign Neriglissar died and his son Labashi-Marduk became seated on the throne.
3. After two months Labashi-Marduk was murdered by Nabonidus.
4. Nabonidus spent most of his reign away from Babylon, securing the border and strengthen the empire.
5. He appointed his son Belshazzar, as co-ruler and left him in charge of Babylon.
6. In his heavily fortified city Belshazzar reclined comfortably in his easy chair.
7. No enemy had been able to storm the city in over a thousand years. This was about to change.
B. Off in the distance, the Medo-Persian king Cyrus and his army were making their way toward Babylon.
1. Noticing the growing threat, Nabonidus and his army headed them off along the Tigris River.
2. A great battle took place causing Nabonidus and his troops to withdraw leaving Cyrus a clear road to Babylon.
3. Belshazzar just shrugged his shoulders after the news even as Cyrus besieged the city he was not even worried.
4. Besides they had twenty years worth of food in the city’s huge granaries. Cyrus would run out of provisions long before they would.
5. So the arrogant king scoffed at Cyrus’ siege and came up with an idea of how to show his confidence in his victory over Cyrus. He threw a party.
II. A party that the nation would long remember.
A. Belshazzar being drunk from wine felt a sense of great invincibility beginning to build in his heart.
1. He is the greatest king of the world.
2. Greater than Cyrus, greater than Nebuchadnezzar and even greater than God Himself.
3. A brazen act of blasphemy that no other Babylonian king before him even dared to do.
B. Belshazzar’s blasphemy was without equal.
1. Nebuchadnezzar had stored Israel’s temple treasures, showing respect for their value as sacred treasures.
2. By using them to toast his own gods, Belshazzar shows his contempt for both his grandfather and the God he grew to worship.
3. Unlike the idols and false gods who all respond to praise and desecration in pretty much the same way—dumb as a rock—the true God doesn’t tolerate such actions.
C. God’s hand of judgment.
1. Belshazzar sees a hand of a man appear and begin writing on the wall of the palace.
2. Belshazzar must realize deep down inside the message spells judgment, but he proceeds to call the nation’s wise men together to interpret the message.
3. Just as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, God’s message leaves the Babylonian wise men dumbfounded.
4. After seeing their helplessness Belshazzar becomes more pale and overtaken with fear.
5. The queen probably Belshazzar’s grandmother is the only one in the court who thinks to summon Daniel.
III. A man deserving of admiration.
A. It has been many years since Daniel had been summoned by the king.
1. Daniel now in his eighties still carries himself in steadiness resulting from a lifetime of faith in God.
2. Before the young king Daniel stands strong, his character firmly rooted and his integrity unshakable.
3. Belshazzar sees Daniel as only on of the exiles from Judah that his grandfather had imported.
4. Daniel is offered the same riches for his interpretation as the other wise men, but Daniel can not be bought.
B. Before Daniel reveals the meaning he gives the young king a lesson in history.
1. Daniel reminds the king that all of Nebuchadnezzar’s power, even to being able to take God’s people captive came from God.
2. This was a lesson that was hard for Nebuchadnezzar to learn as well.