It has been some 20 years between the events in chapter 4 to the events that take place in chapter 5. Belshazzar is now the ruler of Babylon. Belshazzar is enjoying his feast that was in honor of one of the great Babylonian gods. The king was not content to drink wine to just his gods, he wanted to to blaspheme the God of the Jews as well. So he had the sacred temple vessels brought in to be used at this idolatrous, blasphemy feast (see Dan. 1:2).
"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. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone" (Daniel 3-4).
While I was reading this passage, I knew trouble was coming for King Belshazzar. This arrogant king was out to mock God. He was so confident in his kingdom that he felt secure enough nothing could shake it.
Our study guide tells us that this feast was in honor of one of the great Babylonian gods, and it took place in the autumn of 539 B.C. Archaeologists have unearthed palaces at Babylon containing great halls large enough to entertain a thousand guests.
This lesson is also revealing to us the drunkenness of King Belshazzar. We are given several verses that speaks to the drunkenness of the Babylonians. Wine has always been associated with Babylon and the Babylonian "system" of this world (Jer. 51:7; Rev. 14:8, 17:15, 18:3, 13).
This chapter reminds us of how it really reflects our world today. Judgment is about to fall and yet we are content to continue with our sins and worship our false gods. I am reminded that these false gods are anything I put before the Lord and hold up as idols over Him.
"While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape"
(1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Verse 5 tells me something that I found a little hard to understand. I'm not sure why, God can do all things...verse 5 states:
"Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
When I read this...I had to stop and think, "If I had suddenly witnessed fingers of a human hand appear and write something on the wall...I would definitely be shaking in my boots! Maybe, just maybe drinking from the sacred vessels was a bad idea!"
King Belshazzar wants someone to tell him the meaning of the writings...and none of his advisors can do this. He grows more and more frightened. The queen now comes in and tells him about Daniel who was once a great advisor to his father King Nebuchadnezzar and known for his abilities to..."interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems."
The king tries to impress Daniel by offering him gifts if he will interpret the writings for him. Daniel shows us he is not impressed by these gifts the king offers. He tells King Belshazzar to keep his gifts. Daniel has learned these gifts from the king have little value to him. Daniel uses the opportunity to give the king a sermon first before he reveals the writings.
He tells King Belshazzar his days are numbered on the throne, he has been found wanting more...and his kingdom will be taken from him.
To have been given this very condemning brutal message, the king does not seem to be moved. Verse 29 tells us,
"Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom."
That very night the Belshazzar king of the Babylonians was slain.
Daniel was trying to tell the king his father Nebuchadnezzar was given a message to humble himself...or he would find himself driven from his throne and given the mind of an animal.
So many times in my walk with God, I fall to the pleasures of this world. I take my eyes off of Him and begin my selfish wantings of this world. Farther and farther down the pit I find myself falling. I am so thankful that God never leaves me.
In this lesson I am reminded that Daniel found himself in the pits of fire because he allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to worship him...yet this time when called by King Belshazzar, he quickly tells the king, "You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else...."
Though my lessons from sinning in the flesh can be extremely painful at times...each cleansing brings me closer to Him and strengthens my relationship with Christ. Next time I loose focus...I become better at discerning these failures and why I need Him so much more. I am able to refuse the temptation in front of me and know the world has nothing to offer that is of better value than the gift of eternity that I have been given on the cross.
Can YOU read the "handwriting on the wall?"
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).