The last Babylonian king was Nabonidus (Nabu-na’id, 556 – 539 BC). While absent from Babylon to put down a rebellion to the south, the Medo-Persian armies invaded from the north and overcame the regent of Babylon, Nabonidus’ son Belshazzar (Jer 27:6-7).
History records that Babylon was under siege for some time until the Medo-Persian army launched its final attack by diverting the river and entering the city via the river bed. The army of Babylon was so disheartened that it gave up without a fight.
One wonders what effect the writing on the wall had on the courage of the Babylonian army? In any case God had decreed his judgment and it was God who disheartened and confused the defenders.
This should be a lesson for those who claim that we are too strong and that we cannot fall at this time. Instead of proudly trusting in our own strength we should be asking: If God is against us and has rejected us for the overspreading of our idolatries, pride and sins: Who can save us?
After the Medo-Persian armies surrounded Babylon, Belshazzar held a great feast for his commanders and officials, which was undoubtedly a worship feast in honor of and appealing to their gods to defend the city; and intended to rally the commanders and people for the battle.
Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
At this feast Belshazzar disrespected the Eternal God by bringing out the vessels of the temple in Jerusalem to drink to other false gods from them; thereby attempting to boast and encourage the people that the Babylonian empire which had conquered Jerusalem was invincible before any army or even against God himself.
Jeremiah makes it clear that Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeremiah 27:6 And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. 27:7 And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come:
Daniel 5:2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his [Jeremiah makes it clear that Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar] father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
5:3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
They drank toasts to their idols and false gods, out of the holy vessels from the temple of the Eternal; which was boasting against the Eternal, and exalting their idols above the Creator who had made the things they idolized. Just as today’s Ekklesia boast in following idols of men.
5:4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
As they boasted in their idols to defend them against the approaching armies and rejected the Eternal to deliver them; judgment was passed on them.
Why was this written, and why was so much recorded about the events of Nebuchadnezzar? Is it not as an example for us, and for our learning and benefit?
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
The lessons that should be drawn from this event is that if we commit the same sins of idolatry and relying on the idols of men instead of being zealous to follow and exalt the Eternal; we shall all likewise be judged as wanting and rejected by our LORD (Rev 3:16-22), into the furnace of affliction that the spirit might be saved by afflicting the flesh.
Brethren, we have exalted men as idols above our God and his Word; and our correction is now at the door.
Daniel 5:5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Then Belshazzar was terrified. He who had boasted his idols against the Eternal became terrified at the appearance of a hand and a short writing. His knees shook and he soiled his pants in terror.
5:6 Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins [bowels] were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
The king cried out to the priests and the wise men of his gods to reveal the meaning of this thing.
5:7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom [Belshazzar himself being the second ruler, with the first ruler being his father Nabonidus].
These idolaters could not reveal the matter unto the king; just as today’s idolatrous Ekklesia has almost no spiritual understanding and is rapidly losing what understanding they did have.
5:8 Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
5:9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied [troubled].
Then the Queen who would have been the wife of Nabonidus and possibly the mother of Belshazzar] who was not present at this feast, heard what had happened and informed the king that a true man of God was in the city and bid the king send for him.
5:10 Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
5:11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy [grand father Nebuchadnezzar] father [ancestor], made master [the chief of] of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
5:12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
Daniel is summoned and appears before the king
5:13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
5:14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
Then God exalts himself through Daniel, above all the gods being worshiped by these rulers.
5:15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:
5:16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Daniel rejects the gifts of the king, and reveals the meaning of the writing from God
5:17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
Daniel explains the words
5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy [grand] father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: 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 ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
Daniel’s preamble goes to the point that Belshazzar was full of pride, and knowing all these things which had happened to his grandfather, still exalted his idols above the Almighty Creator God of Eternity.
I tell the truth; today’s Ekklesia have the scriptures and we know that the whole Word of God from cover to cover, is about following the Eternal above any idol or any man, principality or power, either physical or spiritual! The brethren know this: and yet they have chosen to follow idols of men, above following the Eternal and the whole word of God!
Yes, we trust in the words of our idols and reject the Word of God to follow the false traditions of men just like Belshazzar did! and if we do not sincerely wholeheartedly repent: then like Belshazzar we shall be found wanting and given over to our correction by the Almighty Eternal One!
We are full of pride in our own ways, leaders and traditions; and we thumb our noses at the Almighty rejecting any zeal for keeping his Word, in favor of being zealous for our idols; and we shall pay the price!
5:22 And thou his son [descendant], O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
Just as today’s Ekklesia know all these things and are still lifted up with pride against the LORD of our baptismal commitment to follow our idols of men and corporations.
5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
5:24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
The meaning of the writing
5:25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
Brethren the writing is on the wall for the Ekklesia today: Jesus Christ has found us wanting and has numbered our days and is about to reject us for our idolatry, pride and wickedness.
5:26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
We have been weighed in the balance of God, and have been found proud and righteous in our own eyes, and found to be wicked in the eyes of God (Rev 3:15-22).
5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
We have been divided many times as God seeks to find any faithful among his called out.
5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
If we will not sincerely and wholeheartedly repent, our potential eternal life and kingdom shall be taken from us and given to others.
5:29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
In that very night the unrepentant idolaters were slain, and the kingdom was given to others. We will also face affliction in the furnace of correction; and if we do not sincerely repent, we will lose our birthright of eternal life and the promise of a kingdom.
5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
5:31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.