Sun. a.m. 8/18/96 AGCC
TEXT: Dan. 5:1-31
INTRO: Daniel was now an old man, he had watched the once proud nation of Babylon become morally bankrupt and economic and spiritual collapse were
near. The enemy was right outside the walls of the capital city...and inside
the people were partying! The tone of the nation was to have all the fun you
can while you can...forget the problems, forget responsibilities! Sound
There were no underpinnings of faith to anchor the nation any longer. It was a new king who pretty much ignored faith in God. Instead of turning to faith
this king turned to frivolity...and the results were tragic! Faith is the anchor
of the soul, and of a country. Faith is what allows stability.
ILLUS: You ever wonder how a bird sleeps on a branch without
falling off? The secret is in the tendons in the bird's leg. They are
constructed such that when the leg is bent at the knee the claws contract and
grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go as long as the bird's legs
are bent as they are when it is sleeping. Only when it straightens its legs when
awake that it can let go! How true for us too...it is only when we bend our
knees in prayer that we become anchored, so much so that our lives are like a
steel trap, never letting go of God and falling!
Faith is critical to our health and the health our of nation. Faith takes serious
the issues of our day, frivolity ignores the issues as a way of
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that being frivolous toward life
leads to great loss whereas tackling life with faith leads to great gain.
I. SPURNING THE SACRED 5:1-4
A. Deluded! 5:1
1. King Belshazzar ignored faith in dealing with the serious problems of the
nation, times were tough:
a. Babylon had been under a long siege by the Medes and Persians, in fact
they were right outside the city walls and had been for some time trying to capture the city of Babylon
b. What was the King doing...throwing a party and having fun!!!
c. Why? Babylon had stored almost 20 years worth of supplies inside the
city during their prosperous times, and the Euphrates river passed right
through the city for plenty of drinking water...with all their immediate
needs met for the next 20 years they stayed indifferent to the enemy's
presence and attack!
d. It might also be that the people were frightened and worried and that
the king threw this party to encourage everyone and get their minds off
the enemy!...however..this is the wrong approach!
2. The king lived like there were no real problems, just give the crowd what
ILLUS: Once upon a time a spider built a web and to attract flies he kept it clean and shiny so
any fly that happened by would not be warned off by another dead fly hanging on the web.
A fly came by and was invited to drop in...but seeing no other flies there he refused, instead
looking down he saw a huge party of flies dancing on the floor on this brown paper. Seeing
all the fun they appeared to be having he flew down and joined in feeling that if this many
flies are dancing and having fun it must be safe....but of course he was wrong, it was fly paper
and he became trapped with all the rest...just because there appears to be a crowd having fun
doesn't mean it is safe!
3. This banquet was an attempt to avoid thinking about the real problems,
but this won't make the problems go away!
B. Dullness! 5:2-4
1. Belshazzar does what even his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had never done, he has the Temple of God's sacred vessels brought to the palace to use in his frivolous party!
a. this was a mockery of God and the God of Daniel!
b. this was a blatant statement that he considered faith in the God nothing but a stupid thing!
c. He knew what he was doing when he did this...instead of asking for God's help, he spurns God by using the sacred for the sensual!
2. Ignoring all that his grandfather had learned about the "Most High God", he
revels in his own frivolous living!
a. he and his guests drown themselves in wine and foolishness!
b. The mood of the country no doubt was somber since the Medes and Persians had already been at the city gates for some time laying siege to it.
3. These leaders were dull to the needs of the people and the country. They
were more concerned about enjoying themselves.
a. Religious issues were seen as a joke!
b. The only gods they worshipped were the gods of gold, silver, wood, iron,
4. They were deceived by what they saw...and ignored the real god they didn't see!
a. they could see gold, silver, wood, and stone....
b. but God they couldn't see, so they didn't believe!
c. Sight is not the best test of reality!
ILLUS: Near Los Angeles there is a hill that thousands of motorists stop to see. They stop their
cars, shut off their engines and put their cars in neutral. Then they marvel how their cars roll
uphill! It is however just an illusion, it certainly does look like the cars roll uphill, but while
you can fool senses, you cannot fool the level! In reality the cars are rolling downhill, the lay
of the land however makes it appear to the eye that the cars are rolling upward when viewed
against the backdrop. The mind is fooled, but not the laws of the universe. This is so true in
the world too... Satan always makes sin look like you can fool God, like you can sin and get
away with no damage, however, the laws of God are not fooled. Faith is the only sure ground
to stand on.
II. SHOCKING THE SENSES! 5:5-24
A. Desperation 5:5-12
1. God sends a message....His Word comes in the form of a hand writing on the wall!
a. God does not act in judgment without first giving His Word
b. Notice that Belshazzar's response is quite material...he offers anyone
who can decipher the message lots of loot, including power, the 3rd highest position of power, since he is technically 2nd. (his father was retired and living in Arabia most likely). (Ryrie's notes)
2. Nobody could figure it out from the world!
a. The world can't answer some questions...only faith can in some situations!
b. The Queen mother however remembers a man of faith that served her
father Nebuchadnezzar...his name is Daniel!
c. It took a man of God to interpret God's Word!
3. When the world couldn't see clearly what was going on, Daniel was called
in...he knew the mind of God, he could show them what they could not
ILLUS: The ancient sport of falconry employed trained hawks in the chase of wild game.
When the falcons were allowed to fly high to spot game however they often flew higher than
their master's eyes could spot them, so the hunter learned to carry a cage with a special bird in it called a "Shrike". With this little bird it could always know where the falcon was for the
shrikes have a natural fear of falcons and they can see them a long ways off...they always cock
the heads in the direction the falcon is to keep an eye on them...so all the hunter has to do is
look at the shrike and he can know where the
falcon is even if he can't see it! Faith works this way for us, though we can't
always see God, faith lets us always know where He is.
4. Daniel could help where the world couldn't! Is this true with
B. Declaration! 5:13-24
1. Daniel is not interested in the gold, power, or rewards of the state offered
for giving an answer.
2. Daniel's values and Belshazzar's are very different.
3. Daniel's service was based on his faith in God and his call to serve, not on
what the world offered him.
4. Daniel tells Belshazzar about the lesson his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar
learned about faith in God....
a. Nebuchadnezzar too had learned the hard way the price tag of pride!
b. How could Belshazzar not have known!
5. In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar had not repented or acknowledged God.
a. Belshazzar's indifference to sin and what was going on around him will
now be dealt with by God
b. The use of the sacred vessels from God's Temple to get drunk with is
evidence enough that Belshazzar deliberately chose to mock God.
III. SETTLING THE SCORES 5:25-31
A. Denounced! 5:25-28
1. God's Word denounces this kind of deliberate mocking of the sacred!
a. God is not mocked ultimately...though it might appear for now that the
world can mock God and get away with it, it is only a temporary thing!
b. Belshazzar was about to be judged!...he is unrepentant!
2. God's message is quick and clear:
a. Belshazzar comes up short!
b. God gives 3 words that says it all:
(1. "MENE" - which is a word for measuring things..meaning that he has
run out of time...his rule has come to an end!
(2. "TEKEL" - which is also a measurement word, one of weight. It means that he was found wanting on God's scales!
(3. "PERES" - again a measurement word meaning "dividing"...his king-
dom would be divided between the Medes and Persians...just as
Daniel almost half a century earlier had predicted!
c. His repeated deliberate acts against God had left no room for grace any
more...the time was up for him!
3. While Belshazzar had played like all was right with the world, and the
empire was secure, in fact it was going nowhere!
ILLUS: in the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition people flocked to London to behold the marvels of
science. One of the greatest marvels back then was steam power. Steam plows were displayed
steam locomotives, steam looms, steam organs, and even a steam cannon. Of all the great
exhibits however, the one that received first prize was the one that wowed everyone. It had
7,000 parts. When it ran under steam power it whistled and moved great gears, pulleys and
belts moved all over the machine...what did the machine do? It did absolutely nothing!!! It
had no practical use whatsoever, but it sure looked like it did. Life without faith is like this,
we can be busy, have a lot of activity and responsibilities...but without faith it accomplishes
4. God had no use for a king that so brazenly mocked Him...especially since he should have known better from his grandfather's example.
5. Judgment day had come!
B. Deserved! 5:29-31
1. Belshazzar instead of falling on his face in repentance ignores the
denunciation and proceeds to shower Daniel with material things
...obviously he didn't get it at all!
2. Perhaps Belshazzar thought by giving all this loot and power to Daniel that
that would be enough for God to forget about his sins!
a. how often has the world tried to buy their way into heaven too!?
b. Blessing a man of God however won't get your sins acquitted, only
repentance can do this!
3. that very night Belshazzar was murdered...probably by a Mede or Persian
that finally got through...historically it is known that after a long siege
the Medio-Persian armies finally diverted the waters of the Euphrates river
thus lowering it in Babylon, then they simply marched into town through
the water gates now that the water level was low enough!
4. While Belshazzar partied, the enemy crept in and destroyed the empire and
took it over!
a. All the warning signs had been there for months if not years...and they
had been ignored!
b. Faith vs. Frivolity....you decide!, it might seem you are getting away
with just fun now...but a time of accounting will come, why waste the
ILLUS: An atheist farmer often ridiculed people who believed in God. He wrote the following
letter to the editor of a local newspaper: "I plowed on Sunday, planted on Sunday, cultivated
on Sunday, and hauled in my crops on Sunday; but I never went to Church on Sunday. Yet, I
harvested more bushels per acre than anyone else, even those who are God-fearing and never
missed a service." The editor printed the letter and then added this remark, "God doesn't
always settle his accounts in
October!" How True!!!
CONCLUSION: Babylon was facing moral, spiritual, and financial ruin and it was under attack by the enemy! Yet, the leaders were celebrating and having a good time! A Nation built on frivolous living rather than faithful lives leads to ruin. God's Word is a clear guide to live by.