Date written: November 4th, 2007
Scripture ref: Daniel 5:1-9
SUBJECT: Passage Study
TITLE: Daniel Chapter Five – God's Punishments
PROPOSITION: In this lesson we'll look at Daniel chapter five. We'll notice from this chapter 1) The Folly of Feasting, 2) The Fault of Fouling Holy Things, 3) The Foolishness of False Idols, 4) The Failure of Forgetting History, 5) The Findings of the Faithful, 6) The Finality of Fatality.
OBJECTIVE: Each should be familiar with the events that transpire in Daniel 5 and the lessons presented in the hopes that we will avoid God's punishment.
Aim: To impress upon the listener the ultimate consequences for offending God.
1. Read: Daniel 5:1-9
2. About the Text:
1) The time of Nebuchadnezzar had passed.
2) Now we find in the book of Daniel a new ruler.
3) It is Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, Belshazzar.
4) We shall see that Belshazzar, lifted with great pride, offends God.
5) As a result of this offence, God pronounces the punishment of death upon him.
6) Daniel 5 is a great reminder that offending God doesn't go unnoticed.
3. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
DISCUSSION: From Daniel chapter five we learn . . .
I. The Folly of Feasting (Daniel 5:1)
1. Belshazzar's downfall started with a raucous party.
1) This kind of party wasn't what is thought of as innocent fun.
2) This was the kind of party where righteousness was ignored and sin prevailed.
3) Most commentators agree that this was a drunken orgy type of party.
4) Secular history tells us that it was a feast to the cities false gods.
2. There are several parties like this one in scripture.
1) We see such a party held by Ahasuerus in Esther chapter one.
2) We see such a party conducted by Herod at his birthday celebration in Matthew 14 which resulted in John the baptizer losing his head.
3) Such parties and feastings have only one end in mind, namely, the satisfaction of the lusts of the flesh.
3. This type of partying is condemned in the scriptures.
1) Paul lists such things among the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:21 "Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
2) Peter calls it doing the "the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:3).
4. No good ever comes from participating in such drunken revelries.
II. The Fault of Fouling Holy Things (Daniel 5:2-3)
1. Belshazzar commands that gold and silver vessels be brought.
1) These are the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem.
2) Belshazzar's purpose was for his court to use those vessels in their feasting: the king, the princes, his wives and concubines.
3) Scholars believe that this was an effort on his part to show the superiority of his gods over the God of Jerusalem.
2. The Holy Vessels
1) The vessels that Belshazzar had brought were God's vessels.
2) They had been dedicated to God and were to be used for holy purposes.
3) Numbers 4:15 pronounced the sentence of death upon those who touched these holy things.
4) Historically when God's holy things were not respected, men were punished.
5) We're reminded here of Nadab and Abihu and their transgression with strange fire (Leviticus 10:1).
6) We also recall the story of Uzzah who put his hand on the ark and died (2 Samuel 6:6-7).
7) Holy things were to be used for holy purposes.
3. We must respect God's holy things today also.
1) In worship to God (John 4:24).
2) In teaching God's plan for man's salvation (Mark 16:15-16).
3) In regard to the organization of the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
4) Holy things must be respected.
III. The Foolishness of False Idols (Daniel 5:4)
1. They praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood and stone.
1) They robbed God of his glory and gave glory to fleshly things.
2) As we mentioned earlier, history records that this was some kind of annual feast to these false gods.
3) They perverted God's holy vessels to honor false idols – what an offense!
2. Idolatry condemned in scripture.
1) Of course we have the first and second commandments.
2) Exodus 20:3-5 " Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"
3) Isaiah 42:8 "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images."
3. Idolatry doesn't have to take the form of graven images.
1) Colossians 3:5 "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:"
2) Anything that we put before God is an idol.
IV. The Failure of Forgetting History (Daniel 5:5-23)
1. The handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5:5-9).
1) In the middle of this party, a giant hand comes out.
2) It writes on one of the walls.
3) This troubles the king.
4) He calls for all of his wise men to read the writing and interpret it.
5) None can do so even though they are promised treasure and a position of power.
2. The queen remembered Daniel (Daniel 5:10-12).
1) She told the king not to be troubled.
2) She told him about Daniel who had the Spirit of God in him.
3) She reminded him about what Daniel did for Nebuchadnezzar on several occasions.
4) She told him that Daniel would show the interpretation.
3. Daniel stands before the king (Daniel 5:13-23).
1) The king inquires of Daniel.
2) He promises Daniel riches and power if he can interpret the writing.
3) Daniel refuses the gifts.
4) He says he will read the writing and make it known.
5) Daniel reminds Belshazzar of the pride of Nebuchadnezzar.
6) Daniel chastises Belshazzar for not learning from the mistakes of Nebuchadnezzar.
7) Daniel chastises Belshazzar for not glorifying the God of heaven.
4. Belshazzar forgot the lessons from his own family's past.
1) 2 Peter 3:5 speaks of how scoffers who walk after their own lusts willfully forget God's punishments.
2) Romans 1:28 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not appropriate."
3) Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children."
5. Belshazzar failed to remember God's work in Nebuchadnezzar's life.
V. The Findings of the Faithful (Daniel 5:24-29)
1. What was the meaning of the writing on the wall?
1) MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN.
2) MENE – God has numbered the kingdom and finished it.
3) TEKEL – Thou art weighed in the balances and found lacking.
4) PERES – The kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
5) This is an oracle of condemnation for the Babylonian empire.
2. Belshazzar honors Daniel.
1) Belshazzar gave Daniel what he promised.
2) It's hard to tell whether this was sincere here or if it was just the acts of a drunken fool.
3) The gesture was somewhat meaningless considering the oracle that was just read by Daniel.
3. Those who are faithful to the Lord deliver His messages regardless the circumstances.
1) No doubt, this was not a popular message.
2) The meaning of the writing was the Belshazzar was going to be destroyed.
3) Evidently, Belshazzar didn't take this very seriously or didn't consider how urgent the message was.
4) God's messages are always serious and they are always urgent.
5) 2 Timothy 4:2-5 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
VI. The Finality of Fatality (Daniel 5:30-31).
1. Belshazzar is slain.
1) As the writing foretold, Belshazzar and his kingdom came to a swift end.
2) Secular history tells us that the Medes and Persians diverted the Euphrates river and drained it while the Babylonians were partying.
3) They then invaded the city by the river bed and found the gates unguarded and the people wholly given over to revelry.
4) Belshazzar was slain by two of Cyrus generals, Gadatus and Gobryus.
5) History records that Cyrus put to death every person who was found outside of his house.
6) Because the faithful Hebrews would not have participated in the revelries of the pagan gods, they were spared death.
2. This was the end of Belshazzar and the kingdom of Babylon.
1) This was prophesied by the prophets of Israel.
2) Isaiah 13:19 "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah."
3) Jeremiah 25:12 "And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations."
3. The Bible teaches that death comes to all men.
1) Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"
2) Will we learn the lesson that Belshazzar failed to learn and prepare?
1. We've seen in these verses the following:
1) The Folly of Feasting
2) The Fault of Fouling Holy Things
3) The Foolishness of False Idols
4) The Failure of Forgetting History
5) The Findings of the Faithful
6) The Finality of Fatality