For the sake of space, we omit the
Scripture. The lesson is based on the NASB translation; however, any solid
translation should do as well.
genealogy is in order, first. Belshazzar is probably the grandson of the
Biblical Nebuchadnezzar, not the son. The word used is more accurately
translated, “male descendant.” His father was probably a ruler named
interesting time for the kingdom of Babylon. For one thing, the city is being
besieged by Cyrus, king of Persia. He will on this night divert the flow of
the Euphrates so that his troops can pass into the city via the dry entrance.
He will then give this portion of his empire to Darius, king of the Medes, who
was his ally.
interesting is the timing: according to the (not always reliable) Codex
Chrisianus, this night is the anniversary of the founding of the Babylonian
Empire. What makes this interesting? This prophecy:
Jeremiah 25:11-12 NASB
'This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will
serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (12)
'Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of
Babylon and that nation,' declares the LORD, 'for their iniquity, and
the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.
the Codex, the prophecy is accurate – to the day.
obvious, but Daniel is pushing 90 years old. If you remember, the land of
Israel is to be in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. Daniel was taken captive
at this time, and as he was a young man when taken into captivity, he would be
about 90 years old at this time. Interestingly, his reputation is quite high.
Notice that he is now called Daniel not Belteshazzar. But his reputation
largely rests with the old geezers in the court. Belshazzar is a young man.
However, his successor Darius is 62 years old, and is old enough to know who
Daniel is. As we shall see, Daniel continues his service in the reign of
years old has its problems, but also its benefits. As we shall see, Daniel has
learned a disdain for pomp, show, and wealth. He will refuse Belshazzar’s offer
of promotion and great wealth. Of course, Daniel knows just how long the
appointment would last.
identified as the Queen is probably Belshazzar's grandmother. She is in fact
sticking her neck out by entering the party. (You might look at Esther 4:10-11
to see the regulations in this court.) But as every young man should know, it
is not a bright idea to mess with grandma.
She comes in
and attempts to soothe the boy. But her main purpose is to puff Daniel. The
memory of his performances in Nebuchadnezzar's court was likely a strong one.
One cannot help but see how often the elderly are ignored until it's too late.
interesting that Belshazzar has not heard of Daniel. As a Prince, he must have
studied the history of the kingdom. So he is not ignorant, but he is willfully
refusing to learn the lessons of his own history. This is not ignorance; it is
interesting is the fact that he is throwing a grand party when the Medes and
Persians are outside the city gates, besieging the city. Just where should this
young man be? Partying, or leading the defense?
Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
the word Mene has
two meanings: the first is to be numbered. The word is past tense; it carries
with it a sense of complete finality. The second meaning is simply that the
matter is finished. The word is used of a completed transaction.
Tekel - this word
means weighed, as in weighed in the balances. It is the simple word meaning
that the scales have been used to determine the weight. It also is past tense.
Upharsin - this
word means divided. It is interesting to note that the words do not say “turned
over to another,” but instead that the kingdom will be divided. This indeed
happened. Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon and gave that portion of his
empire to Darius the Mede.
It's like the
song said: you don't tug on Superman's cape. Sacrilege is essentially that
action. It is to treat the things of God as if they were no more meaningful
than the things of the world. The concept is lost on our home church today.
Nothing is sacred; everything is meant to be mocked or used like so much tissue
paper. But in these days all would know that these items used were sacred to
the Hebrew God. Therefore, their use was indeed sacrilege.
is one of fear of God. In our time, we do not teach the fear of God. It seems
out of place with the gentle Jesus. But if God is to be feared, then we should
worry about the consequences of our mishandling his things. The Scriptures, for
knew all this. Therefore, his judgment was accurate.
always glories in defiling what is noble.” (St. Jerome). The principle is
still with us today. The barbarian is within the gates; that which was noble and
honored in America is now the butt of the joke. Indeed, our courts have now
ruled that "stolen valor" is perfectly legal. You are now allowed to
brag that you received any number of medals from the combat service you never
reproof of Belshazzar is simply this:
first, he has
Then, he has
failed to repent. As Daniel tells him, "you knew that."
Even in this,
however, Belshazzar maintains his pride. Despite what Daniel has told him, he
insists on giving Daniel his reward.
God do this for Belshazzar?
interesting question: after all, He could just have allowed the conquest on
schedule. Nothing prophesies that there will be a hand. So why?
that the king actually saw the hand writing? Not just the result? This
is to prove it’s not someone’s graffiti. God’s style is to be convincing – to
those who are willing to listen.
what this must have meant to the Jews. It’s not just that they had exchanged conquerors;
rather, God was delivering on his promise. If the demise of Babylon happened
on schedule, they could take hope that the rest of the prophecies would happen
deals with the mighty
Belshazzar knew that he was the man in charge – right? He saw that as power
and privilege; God sees it as responsibility. We hold the man in charge to
higher standards. God is just; he judges according to the situation. And when
he does, he shows just who is really in charge.
You and I,
then, need to know that the course of history is not set by revisionist
liberals, but by God Almighty. They can lie about the past as much as they
like; the future is not theirs.
in the Bible is there for our profit, if we will but read it. May I suggest
some points of interest?
God is owed the
fear due him – despite the emerging church theology. Ignoring this is
extremely perilous, especially for those who call themselves his children.
God punishes the
nation that ill-treats his children. The lessons today might include the
nation of Israel; I might suggest that our nation’s treatment of Christians
will soon provide another example.
An abundance of
intelligent, educated advisors means nothing when God speaks.
God seeks our repentance
in humility, hoping to restore us. Sometimes we cooperate. Sometimes, the
Persians are at the gate.