Year 3 Day 21
Read - Daniel 5
Message - Scott Woodburn
Only the Lord knows the condition of Nebuchadnezzar's heart. Did the king finally repent? Did Nebuchadnezzar receive Christ as his Saviour? Only God knows and eternity will tell the tale. Regardless it seems like the future generations of Babylonian kings had forgotten the mighty deeds of God that Nebuchadnezzar once proclaimed.
Nebuchadnezzar had once foreseen Babylon's coming end and his vision would come to fruition in the days of Belshazzar. Babylon was on the decline but instead of leading the fight against Babylon's enemies, king Belshazzar was having a drunken party using some of the golden vessels that had once been located in Jerusalem's temple (v1-4). The Persians were outside the gates of Babylon while Belshazzar was drinking toasts to his false gods (v4).
The Lord is patient towards humanity but eventually His patience wains. As Belshazzar drank, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall of the king's palace (v5). The event knocked all of the confidence and bravado out of Belshazzar (v6) and he called for his advisors to come and interpret the message on the wall (v7). But the message could not be interpreted and the colour drained from Belshazzar's face (v9).
Thankfully Belshazzar's wife remembered that in the days of Nebuchadnezzar a man called Daniel had been able to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve problems (v12). If anyone could explain the mysterious message on the wall it would be Daniel. So Belshazzar called for Daniel and promised him riches and power if he could interpret the message on the wall (v13-16).
Daniel had no interest in the king's gifts (v17) and before he interpreted the handwriting he reminded Belshazzar of the history of Nebuchadnezzar. God had given Nebuchadnezzar his power and his kingdom (v18). But just as the Lord had given Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom, so too he had taken it away and made Nebuchadnezzar like a beast of the field (v21). Nebuchadnezzar wasn't restored until he realised the greatness and sovereignty of God. None of this was new to Belshazzar. Daniel reminded him "you knew all this" and yet he had not learned any lessons from the past. Belshazzar had not humbled his heart before the Lord and he had even mocked the Lord by using the temple's golden vessels to worship false gods (v23).
The message on the wall was not good. The hand had written "Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin." (v25) Mene was interpreted to mean "God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end" (v26) Tekel was explained as saying "you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting" (v27) and Peres stated "your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (v28) In simple terms, God was about to humble Belshazzar - Babylon would fall and a new superpower would rise.
Belshazzar kept his word and rewarded Daniel (v29) but it would be the last act of his reign. That very night he was killed and Darius the Mede took over Babylon (v30-31).
We often act like Belshazzar. We assume there will always be a tomorrow and perhaps we'll deal with the Lord when that day finally arrives. My friends remember that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one - the wise individual is quick to repent and trust the Lord. Belshazzar was a fool and died surrounded by riches but in desperate spiritual poverty. Do not follow his example.
"The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3v9)
Q26 How doth Christ execute the office of a king? Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.