Summary: In these last days we need to respect the enemy, respect the holy, respect godly counsel, and respect the Lord Himself.
Your Days Are Numbered (Daniel 5)
Last year (2012), a South Carolina funeral home opened a “Coffee Corner right there in the home.” It had a fireplace, a TV, a free WI-FI connection, and it was stocked with Starbucks coffee. The funeral home director said that he hoped it would help mourners “get their minds off what's going on.”
At the time, a news magazine called The Week ran a contest, asking people to submit a name for this novel café.
Honorable Mention awards included …
• The Grim Roaster
• You Can Take It with You
• The Last Cup
• Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
• Bean Nice Knowing You
• See Ya Latte
These were the top winners:
• Third Place: Latte for Your Own Funeral
• Second Place: Still Above Grounds Café
• First Place: Time to Meet Your Mocha (The Week, “The Week contest—Funeral home cafes,” 7-26-12; www.PreachingToday.com)
Somebody has a morbid sense of humor, but it only reflects our society’s efforts to avoid facing its own mortality. Many people don’t like to think about the end, so they do whatever they can to keep from considering it. Whether it’s putting a coffee shop in a funeral home, throwing a party when your world is falling apart, or just working more hours than one should, people do whatever they can to “get their minds off what’s going on.”
But is that the best way to approach life, especially when you sense that an ending is near, whether it’s the end of a job, the end of a relationship, or even the end of a life. Is it best to try and ignore such endings? Or is there a better way to approach life and death?
Well, let’s see what happened to a man, who not only tried to ignore the inevitable, he acted in defiance of it. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Daniel 5, Daniel 5, where we are introduced to King Belshazzar, king of Babylon and grandson to the great Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 5:1 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. (NIV)
He’s throwing a party even though his empire, the Babylonian Empire, is about to be overrun by the Medo-Persian Empire. You see, ever since his grandfather, the great Nebuchadnezzar, died 23 years before this, the empire has been in serious decline. Three kings followed Nebuchadnezzar, two of which were assassinated after very short reigns. The fourth king, Nabonidus, then came to the throne and ruled Babylon for 17 years, but towards the end of his reign, the Medo-Persian armies began to invade. Nabonidus left the city of Babylon with his armies to try and stop the Medo-Persian invasion, but he never returned. Nabonidus was defeated in battle and forced to spend the rest of his days in exile. He had left his son, Belshazzar, in charge while he was away, and Belshazzar now finds himself surrounded by the Medo-Persian armies. They had begun to lay siege to the city of Babylon, but instead of fortifying the city against the siege, Belshazzar throws a party, the party we see described here in verse 1 of Daniel 5.
After all, the city of Babylon is the greatest city in the world! The mighty Euphrates River flows through the city, coming in from the north and going out through the south – an unending supply of fresh water. The city itself is fortified by walls so thick that four chariots, side-by-side, can race around the top. Within the walls are beautiful avenues, parks and palaces. Many of the streets are lined with building 3 and 4 stories high. There’s the 8-story temple of Bel and the magnificent palace of the king with a banqueting hall that can hold a thousand nobles. A great bridge spans the Euphrates River, connecting the eastern and western sections of the city. And the city contains one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the famous “hanging gardens,” which are large enough to support full grown trees! Furthermore, they have enough supplies to keep them going for 20 years against any siege (Walvoord, Daniel¸ p.119).
They’re invincible, or so they think, but Belshazzar had failed to respect the opposition. Even as he is throwing this great party, the Medo-Persian army has already begun to divert the great Euphrates River north of Babylon by digging a canal from the river to a nearby lake. The water level in the river is already dropping, and soon the Medo-Persian army will be able to march right into Babylon under its great walls through a shallow river bed from both the north and the south.
Belshazzar was so arrogant and convinced of his invincibility that he failed to respect the enemy, and that’s how any of us can get into trouble as well. My dear friends, uou know your days are numbered when you lose respect for the opposition, when you fail to appreciate how powerful and how cunning it can be.