Daniel 5:1-31 - Belshazzar’s Feast In Honor of Great Babylon

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Sixty years have elapsed since Daniel 1 & 20 years since Daniel 5. 

Now in the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel, we come to the end of the Babylonian kingdom. In the great image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, the head of gold was to be replaced by the chest and arms of silver, and that transition takes place here in chapter 5, the transition from the Babylonian Empire to the Medo-Persian Empire. In chapter 6, we come to the final historic account of the book of Daniel. It happens during the Persian Empire under Darius the king, who lived for just a couple of years after the Medo-Persians conquered the Babylonian Empire. So, at chapter 6 you actually come to the end of the historic portion of Daniel as far as dealing with the history as such. When you get into chapter 7 and 8, and the rest of the chapters, these are visions and prophecies that Daniel received, some of them during the reign of Belshazzar. In fact in the eighth chapter, we find that in the third year of Belshazzar’s reign he was at the palace in USA, or as he says, Shushan, and it is probably one of the reasons why Belshazzar didn’t really know Daniel. When Daniel came into the feast here, he says, “Are you that Daniel?” He knew of him, but he did not know him because Daniel was probably now serving the Babylonian government in the area of Susa rather than in the city of Babylon.

I.     Belshazzar’s Feast In Honor of Great Babylon. 1

A.       The Writing on the Wall. 2

1.    The defiling of the vessels (v.1-4) 2

a)    The place of the defiling: “in the king’s palace” (v.1). 2

b)    The people of the defiling: Belshazzar, Lords, wives, concubines (v.1b-2) 2

c)    The reason of the defiling (v.2a) 2

d)    The people of the defiling: Lords, wives, concubines (v.2) 2

e)    The problem with drugs and alcohol (Eph.5:18). 3

f)     They praised their gods (v.4) 3

g)    They were caught off guard. 4

2.    The writing (judgment) on the wall (v.5-9). 4

a)    This judgment was public. 4

b)    The judgment was silent. 4

c)    The judgment was decisive. 4

3.    The interpretation of the writing (v.10-29). 4

a)    The Queen comes in (v.10-12). 4

b)    Daniel is brought in (v.13-25). 4

c)    Our life is dependant upon God (v.23). 5

d)    Our destiny is shaped by God (v.23). 5

4.    Belshazzar’s life is up (v.26-29). 5

a)    The Summons: MEME Literally “numbered”. 5

b)    The Trial: TEKEL Literally “weighed” (v.27). 6

c)    The Sentence: PERES Literally “divided” (v.28). 6

5.    The king is killed (v.30-31). 6

a)    God’s Word comes to pass. 6

b)    Luke 21:29-36. 6

6.    The finger of God. 6

a)    Exodus writing the Ten Commandments. 6

b)    Daniel 5. 6

c)    John 8:1-11. 6


A.           The Writing on the Wall.

1.            The defiling of the vessels (v.1-4)

a)            The place of the defiling: “in the king’s palace” (v.1).

(1)           Even though the guards may keep off human intruders, they could not shut out the divine messenger.
(2)           Nebuchadnezzar in (Daniel 4:23-31).
(3)           The parable of the rich man that Jesus told in (Luke 12:16-34).

Peter wrote "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17, NKJV)

(a)           Not condemnation, but the purging, chastening and purifying of the church.  But as sever as God’s discipline can be, it is always aimed at producing a greater righteousness and godly integrity and character in His children (Heb.12:5-11).
(b)           Now, if God strongly and painfully judges His church which He loves, what will be His fury on the ungodly?

b)            The people of the defiling: Belshazzar, Lords, wives, concubines (v.1b-2)

(1)           Belshazzar himself led others to defile themselves, he drank wine in the presence of the thousand (his lords v.1)
(2)           He was probably on a platform so all could see him, leading them to drink alcohol and to praise their gods.

We must never cause anybody to stumble.  Jesus said "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" (Matthew 18:6-7, NKJV)

Christians are to live lives of true integrity that do not cause others to sin, we art to be "sincere and without offense till the day of Christ," (Philippians 1:10, NKJV)

c)            The reason of the defiling (v.2a)

(1)           Nabonidus had already been captured
(2)           The whole surrounding territory had already been captured.
(3)           Babylon had not yet been captured.  So they decided to throw a party.  Having a party is not wrong, but is God going to be glorified?  Can God be invited to your party?
(4)           Babylon had food, wine & everything else they needed for 20 years without ever opening their gates.  They laid up for themselves just as the man in Luke 12.
(5)           “While he tasted wine” implies that Belshazzar in his right mind probably would not have committed this sacrilegious act.

d)            The people of the defiling: Lords, wives, concubines (v.2)

(1)           This was very unusual in Babylonian Culture. 
(2)           Women were never allowed at these kinds of parties unless there was a great deal of immorality.  By using alcohol they fell into greater sin immorality and blasphemy.
(3)           NOTE: always the result of using drugs or alcohol is immorality or blasphemy.  Doing and saying things they normally wouldn’t.    

e)            The problem with drugs and alcohol (Eph.5:18).

(1)           Drinking and drugs only bring a artificial & temporary happiness that often lead to worse problems than the ones that prompted the drinking in the firs place. 
(2)           Shortly after the Flood, Noah became drunk and acted shamelessly. Lot’s daughters caused him to become drunk and to commit incest with them, as a foolish and perverted means of having children.
(3)           Ben–hadad and his allied kings became drunk and were all slaughtered except Ben–hadad, who was spared only by the disobedience of Israel’s King Ahab (1 Kings 20:16–34).
(4)           Belshazzar held a drunken feast in which he and his guests praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. And during the very midst of the drunken brawl the kingdom was taken from Belshazzar (Dan. 5).
(5)           Some of the Corinthian Christians became drunk while at the Lord’s table, and God caused some of them to become weak and sick and others to die because of their wicked desecration (1 Cor. 11:27–30).

The book of Proverbs has many warnings about drinking. Speaking as a father, the writer said, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags” (Prov. 23:19–21).

A few verses later he asked, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly” (vv.29–31).

Wine is enticing to look at, with its bright color, sparkling bubbles, and smooth taste—just as modern commercials vividly portray it. What the commercials are careful not to say is that “at last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things” (vv.32–33).

We also read in Proverbs that “wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” (20:1).

Isaiah warned, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink; who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!” (Isa. 5:11).

Peter told believers to forsake the way of the Gentiles, who pursued “a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (1 Pet. 4:3).

Paul admonished the Thessalonians, “Let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:6–8; Rom. 13:13).

He warned the Corinthian believers that they were not even “to associate with any so–called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (1 Cor. 5:11).

In the next chapter he went on to say, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9–10).

f)             They praised their gods (v.4)

(1)           Gold, silver, iron, bronze, steel and wood.  Chrome, steel & rubber.  How many today do you think are not in fellowship but rubbing their god of steel and chrome?  Then opening that gods mouth and bowing deeply inside, changing the spark plugs that he might sing better.
(2)           Wood & stone.  They need to finish their siding on their house as they are out of fellowship pounding those nails into that wood.  Or they say “I have got to finish that fireplace” my god is stone.
(a)           Hebrews 10:25-they neglected the assembling together at the church.

g)            They were caught off guard.

(1)           We must not be caught off guard as those were before the flood.

Remember what Jesus said "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:37-42, NKJV)

2.            The writing (judgment) on the wall (v.5-9). 

a)            This judgment was public

(1)           The message was not given to the king privately.  It was written upon the wall of his banquet-chamber for all to see. 
(2)           Sin may be secret; but judgment will be public:

"Jesus said to His disciples “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." (Luke 12:1-3, NKJV)

Paul said that the Lord "will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God." (1 Corinthians 4:4-5, NKJV)

b)            The judgment was silent.

(1)           There wasn’t any blast of a trumpet, but silent hand writing on the wall.  Sort of like when you get you report card and bring it home to you parents.
(2)           Sometimes the Lord speaks to us quietly (1 Kings 19:11-12). 

c)            The judgment was decisive.

(1)           Written words can be more decisive than spoken words.  This can be illustrated by Pilate’s reference to the superscription on the cross (John 19:17-22 what I have written, I have written).
(2)           Apply this:
(a)           to the written Bible.
(b)           to the written book of judgment
(c)           to the written names in heaven

3.            The interpretation of the writing (v.10-29).

a)            The Queen comes in (v.10-12).

(1)           The wife of Nabonidus, Belshazzars fathers wife, Belshazzar’s mother.  She is the daughter of king Nebuchadnezzar.

b)            Daniel is brought in (v.13-25).

(1)           Daniel has been out of the public eye for 20 years & he is now approximately 85 years old.
(2)           Sometimes we think, “God isn’t using me today or this week or this month”.  Realize that you are a tool in the Lord’s box and He can pull you out whenever He wants to accomplish whatever He desires. 

Paul says that "In a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. “(2 Timothy 2:20-21, NASB95)

c)            Our life is dependant upon God (v.23).

(1)           And the God who holds your breath is in His hands

God is the firs cause—the origin of life: "Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:24-27, NKJV)

He is also the Sustainer of life & without Him we could not continue to exist for one moment: Job asked "In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:10)

As Paul was speaking to the men of Athens he said "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings," (Acts 17:24-26, NKJV)

d)            Our destiny is shaped by God (v.23).

(1)           Who owns all your ways.  We think we are going to carve out our own career and no doubt it is largely dependent upon our conduct, however it is subject numberless apparent accidents, which are really governed by God. 

Remember what James said: "Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”" (James 4:13-15, NKJV)


4.            Belshazzar’s life is up (v.26-29).

a)            The Summons: MEME Literally “numbered”. 

(1)           The days of the Babylonian supremacy are numbered, and the days of the life of the king Belshazzar are numbered; their end has come, and now he and his nation are called to give an account of their stewardship. 

The prayer of Moses was "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV)

(a)           We need to make the most of our time here on this earth (Eph.5:16-17)
(b)           Belshazzar should have known this.  Sixty years earlier, the prophet Jeremiah came on the scene and said (Jeremiah 27:6-7).  
(2)           Every Life Has Its Limit.  We don’t have forever to do the work of God.  It needs to be done now or the opportunity will be lost: 

Jesus Himself said All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end." (John 9:4, NLT)

Paul writing to the Romans puts it this way: "Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out.  Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So don’t live in darkness. Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light. We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don’t participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy. But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires." (Romans 13:11-14, NLT… see also Eph. 5:16 & Col.4:5 redeeming the time)

(3)           Abuse Of Opportunities Will Lead To The Loss Of ThemI believe time is a talent & that talent will be taken from those who do not make good use of it:   

Remember the one who did nothing with his talents, Jesus said, "So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away." (Matthew 25:28-29, NKJV)

b)            The Trial: TEKEL Literally “weighed” (v.27). 

(1)           You came up short.  You’ve been given so much but you’ve done so little.  This is the day that you have been called on my scales and you have come up short. 
(2)           There Is A Judgment Awaiting All Of Us.  Our future will be determined by our past.  This will be revealed, examined, proved tested, weighed in every thought and word and deed, for every moment of life. 

God’s Word says that "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment," (Hebrews 9:27, NKJV)./.. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10, NKJV)

c)            The Sentence: PERES Literally “divided” (v.28). 

(1)           After A Verdict Of Guilty, There Must Be A Sentence Of Punishment.  The worst form of punishment is death.  We all are going to die one day but In God’s economy, when someone is guilty of sin & is not forgiven, the punishment is eternal death (Rom.6:23).

"Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:14-15, NKJV)

5.            The king is killed (v.30-31).

a)            God’s Word comes to pass.

(1)           October 12th 539 B.C.  Cyrus who would become king was prophesied about this battle 200 years before by Isaiah (44:24, 27-25:1-4).
(2)           They diverted the Euphrates River to a lake about 1½ mile ahead.  The river was dried up and the Medes & the Persians were able to conquer the Babylonian Empire with this great military strategy. 
(3)           Our enemy “strategies” or “schemes” (Eph.6:11; 4:14) against us so that when we are all dried up spiritually and the flow of the river of living water (John 7:37-39) gets cut off by sin, our enemy comes in to attack by cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery.
(4)           This is why we need to pay attention to the Word of God so we do not drift off (Heb.2:1). 

b)            Luke 21:29-36

(1)           People are wanting more of what they already have enough of (covetousness). 
(2)           We don’t want to be caught off guard (Matt.24:42-44; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 21:34-36), but be sober and ready, serving the Lord (2Tim.4:5; 1Pet.4:7; 5:8). 

6.            The finger of God

a)            Exodus writing the Ten Commandments

b)            Daniel 5

c)            John 8:1-11

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