Daniel 5

About 40 years had elapsed since the capture of Jerusalem recorded in Daniel 1.

In the interpretation of the image in Ch. 2 Daniel had predicted to Nebuchadnezzar, “After this shall rise another kingdom inferior to thee.”

Now in Ch. 5 this prophecy is about to be fulfilled.

Approximately 23 years had elapsed between Ch. 4 and Ch. 5.

A number of monarchs had succeeded Neb. According to history but only one is mentioned in the Scripture, Belshazzar, who was the grandson of Neb.

The holding of this banquet at this time was rather unusual. If the setting can be reconstructed Bel’s father Nabonidus previously had gone forth to fight the Medes and Persians and had already been captured.

The territory and the related provinces surrounding the city already had been conquered.

Only Babylon with its massive walls and fortifications remained intact. This feast may have been called to bolster faith in their gods and increase their courage and morale.

Also their pride in their deities may have been bolstered by the magnificence of Babylon itself.

According to Herodotes, the historian, Babylon was fourteen miles square, the outer walls were 87 feet thick and stood 350 feet high.

There were 100 great bronze gates into the city.

There was also a system of inner and outer walls, with a water moat between.

So broad were the walls that chariots could parade around them four abreast.

Herodotus then describes towers at appropriate intervals reaching another 100 feet into the air from the top of the wall.

The Great Euphrates River ran through the city, there were beautiful parks and gardens, avenues and palaces.

The famous hanging gardens of Babylon were included in this vast array of magnificence and splendor.

Finally, the Babylonians believed that their city was impregnable. With their gods, and supplies which could last for 20 years, plus their own pride they felt safe. So Belshazzar made this great feast for a thousand of his princes.

This is what man saw and what man was doing at this crucial time.

Let us look for a moment through the eyes of God.

Isaiah and Jeremiah many years before this prophesied concerning the downfall of Babylon. Isa 3:17-22; 21:1-10; Jer 51:23-58.

Isa 21 “My heart panteth, fearfulness affrighteth me. The night of my pleasure he has turned into fear.”

Finally, the tidings came, “Babylon is fallen, if fallen and all this gods are broken to the ground.”

Jeremiah is even more explicit, “And I will make drunk his princes, and his wise men, capturing rulers and might men. And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

Note now how these prophecies were fulfilled.

When this licentious and sensual feast was at its height the inebriated King called for the holy vessels which had been brought from the temple in Jerusalem.

He distributed them among his guests, filled them with wine and climaxed the sin of the evening by drinking from these holy vessels.

Heaven could remain silent no longer.

Suddenly there appeared the fingers of a man’s hand writing on the plaster of the wall.

The King’s countenance changed.

His courage though bolstered by alcohol failed him.

He was filled with terror and shook all over uncontrollably.

He calls for his wise men to interpret what had been written.

They were unable to do so, despite the attractive reward offered.

On the advice of the Queen, Belshazzar asked Daniel’s help.

Daniel by this time is an old man, 86 years old.

Years had passed since he interpreted Neb’s dream. He probably was in semi-retirement.

Daniel as God’s messenger got right to the point, he preached one of the greatest sermons ever recorded.

Daniel reminded Bel. Of how God had dealt with his grandfather and also reminded him that despite his knowledge he had not humbled himself before God and had committed a blasphemous sin in drinking wine from the holy vessels of God.

With eloquent scorn Daniel lashes the king and princes for their sacrilege.

A great hush fell on that rowdy throng. A death-like silence filled the banqueting hall.

Then Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall.

Mene, mene = Numbered, numbered. “God has numbered your kingdom and finished it.”

Tekel = weighed. “Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

Peres = divided. “Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

God’s judgment was carried out.

The Medes and the Persians changed the course of the river, swept into the city, and captured it.

“In that night was Belshazzar king of the Chaldean’s slain.” v.30

Note finality:

God’s judgment on a kingdom. Babylonian

Describe God’s final judgment on Babylon

Final phase of Armageddan. Rev 16


Describe the far more serious aspect of the judgment of the individual. The Great White Throne … eternal punishment.

Lift up Christ as the only hope for sinners.