Daniel 5 - The Writing is on the Wall

Turn in your Bibles to Daniel 5:1;


Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.


5 In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. 7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.


10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. 12 Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas[a] were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”


May God bless the reading of His word.


Let us pray.


Chapter 4 is the last we see of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar as he tells the story of his humbling and redemption at the hand of the Sovereign Creator of the Universe. Now here in chapter 5 we see Belshazzar the king. We are told that Belshazzar's father was Nebuchadnezzar. We know that Belshazzar was an actual historical figure and we have extra-biblical artifacts that refer to him as crown prince as well as co-regent.


We find king Belshazzar in the awkward position of giving a party for a thousand of his lords and using the vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem “that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.”


These are the holy vessels consecrated for use by the priests in offering sacrifice to God, a fact that is not lost upon Belshazzar. Indeed, it is certain that Belshazzar was moved to perform this outrageous act for some unknown reason, whether it was as a matter of pride or defiance, or Belshazzar expressing the superiority of his gods over the Uncreated God.


Of course the party quickly comes to a halt as a disembodied hand writes a mysterious message on the wall. At the sight of the hand and its writing we are told;


Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.


It is obvious that the words that are written are not in a language familiar to the king so he commands;


“Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”


Of course, as in the previous times no one is able to read the script or to determine its meaning until the queen reminds Belshazzar of Daniel.


We read in 13-16;


Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives[b] from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. 16 And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”


It's nothing we haven't heard from Nebuchadnezzar before, but it is interesting, and hypocritical for a man who was just defiling the vessels of the Temple and worshiping other gods to speak to Daniel of “the Spirit of God” being in him.


What you have to realize is that this is the typical means by which men seek God's favor. They live their lives in complete rebellion against Him, they deny His existence, they break His law with no sense of remorse, and then when God's retribution is upon them, they suddenly become religious.


Of course, that's not how it works, right?


Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:21-23;


21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’


And Jesus is talking about people who do things in His name, not about people who run around mocking Him until the consequences of their actions fall upon them.


This truth isn't lost upon Daniel either.


In verses 17-21 Daniel recounts the downfall of Nebuchadnezzar due to his pride, and God's gracious restoration of the king, all of which Nebuchadnezzar himself told us in chapter 4. He tells Belshazzar;


...“Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. 19 And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21 Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.


Then Daniel lays it out for Belshazzar in 22-26. We read;


22 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the fingers[c] of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.


25 “And this is the inscription that was written:




26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”[g] 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.


If you didn't realize it, this story is where we get the saying “the writing is on the wall.”


And, as we all know, when the writing is on the wall, there is nothing to be done.


It's a done deal.


There is no possibility of escape.


And so it is in the case of Belshazzar and the Babylonian empire.


Why is that?


Because we are told in verses 30-31;


30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.


As God led me to this teaching this week, interestingly, both the Republican and Democratic conventions are history and God has put it on my heart that we need to understand, that for this nation, the writing is on the wall.


I'm not going to get into politics from the pulpit. I've tried to avoid it for more than 13 years and I don't want to break that record now. I will not tell you to vote for one candidate or another, there are good Democrats and there are bad Republicans, and in the interest of fairness, there are bad Democrats and there are good Republicans.


Still, there is a huge anxiousness in our country as the election approaches. This anxiousness is more desperate the more partisan a person is.


You have heard me say from this pulpit on more than one occasion that it is God Who appoints all authorities. Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-7;


Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.


Not only does God establish rulers and governing authorities. God establishes the very kingdoms themselves, as can be seen so clearly here. The Babylonians have not humbled themselves before God. Their ruler mocks God by defiling the temple vessels and worshiping other Gods.


Are we any different in today in America?


The writing is on the wall dear brothers and sisters.




We call evil good and good evil.


We worship every god but the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, for Whom our leaders have nothing but contempt.


When we are willing to cast a vote for any person whose morals and life are depraved and devoid of any honor or integrity, simply so the other person, whose morals and life are equally depraved, doesn't get elected…




I do not mean to express a sense of hopelessness.


Those who call Jesus their Lord are, above all, people of hope.


But I do, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, challenge you as to where your hope lies.


It does not lie in a country.


It does not lie in a Supreme court.


It certainly doesn't lie in a gun, or your right to speak freely, or to worship how you will.


Those rights, bequeathed to us by our forefathers, who themselves lacked humility and reverence to the authorities set over them...those rights can be gone tomorrow, and if they endure forever they do nothing to insure your eternal estate.


Whether you are born in a land with a constitution, under the flag of communism, or in a country with the vilest of dictators, your eternal fate is not assured by any of these.


Your eternal fate is determined by who you call Lord.


Is Jesus your Lord,? then let Satan himself be appointed as the next president of the United States, for our Lord is greater.


But if this lawless country and the rule of men is more important to you than your service to Jesus then I am here to warn you that Jesus Himself will tell you, “depart from me, I never knew you.”


Instead of wasting energy on this useless debate, we need to avail ourselves of every opportunity to save the country the only way that it can be saved, one soul at a time, with fervent prayer and a zeal to serve our Lord.


I will be the first to confess to you that I have been as bad as anyone else. I have opened my mouth about the character and the morals of the Republican candidate when we were still in the primaries, and I have no affection for the Democratic candidate at all. I guess that's fine at some level, but the primaries are over and God has made it quite clear that our political system, our politicians, and even our presidential candidates that profess not to be politicians all reflect what we, as the church, have allowed to grow in our backyard in the name of tolerance and not upsetting people.


Our country doesn't know what sin is.


Our neighbors don't know what sin is.


Hell is where the next blockbuster movie is being filmed.


Satan is where we let him go, in our movies, in our books, in our music, in our sexual relationships.


Do you want to see America clearly?


Look at the people that your friends and your neighbors said they want to run the country.


Do you want to see Christianity in America clearly?


Look at the words of our so called “religious leaders” who fawn over those candidates.


America is drinking wine from the vessels of the Temple leaving Israel alone and without an ally.


America is praising the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.


How are we different than Babylon? Defeated I might add, by Persia, which is modern day Iran.


If you call Jesus Lord, then I urge you, share the Gospel, not your political views. Now, more than ever, people feel a sense of hopelessness as they watch everything that they thought this country stood for fall apart. Understand that it is not a single person's fault, presidents, senators, congressmen, and dog catchers have all been used by the enemy to destroy this once great bastion of Christianity.


Love Democrats, love Republicans, let them know about sin, let them know about their need for a Savior, and then spread this message far and wide and pray that God would awaken this country one last time, that He might be glorified. But do not despair, for our hope is not in Kings or Courts or the laws of men. Our hope is in the Sovereign Creator against Whom nothing prevails.


Even as in the story of Belshazzar, the kingdom fell that very night, but Daniel, who was faithful to God went on to be blessed and successful during the reign of the Persians and Medes as well. Be faithful to God, we've already seen from the book of Daniel that God rewards those who are faithful to Him and uses them to witness to others about the power of the Eternal, Uncreated, Sovereign and Living God.


And if you have never confessed Jesus as your Lord, I urge you to understand that the uncertainty in the world today is the direct result of God allowing us to pursue the desires of our sinful hearts.


The world is in turmoil because it will not worship the only One Who can save it.


The world is in sin.


You are in sin.


Sin separates us from God, because it is rebellion against Him.


You many not think that you are a bad person, but unless you have kept every commandment perfectly from the day of your birth, then you, are like everyone else, a sinner.


You see, sin is simply not doing what God wants you to do, or doing that which God forbids.


God tells us through His word that the wages of sin is death.


Death is not simply ceasing to exist though. Rather, it is eternal separation from everyone and everything in that place that Jesus calls the outer darkness, where He tells us there is crying and gnashing of teeth.


That is were we all deserve to be.


But don't despair.


If your sin is becoming real to you, and you are starting to realize that God exists and that His wrath is against you because of your sin, then there is hope.


You see God is making you spiritually alive. He is making you into a new creation in Christ and He offers the propitiation, the payment for your sin, through His Son.


God's word tells us;


... if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[f] 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[g]


Don't place your hope in the world, place it the One Who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”


Won't you do it today?



Let us pray.

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