Far too many people who have heard the Gospel Message for themselves and seen the dramatic changes the Gospel made in the lives of others, still persist in rejecting Jesus and what He offers. Is it not strange that two hear the same message … one is changed and the other’s heart remains hardened? On the other side of the coin, we have those who have responded to the Gospel Message and do Church, Bible Study and even ministry, yet cling to certain parts of the “old man” in the most willful and obstinate manner. The writer to the Hebrews says:
Heb 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
No one can “play God” in the sense of pretending to be redeemed, yet living in the world. No one can catch God out … to the one who things he or she can … let them hear … It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Remember what king Belshazzar did? He desecrated the holy things of God that were taken out of the temple. He used drinking goblets for his drunken, debauched party as he venerated his pagan gods … and whose knows what rituals were followed … for debauched rituals were the rites within those satanic celebrations. The writing on the wall was read, explained and understood.
Da 5:29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.
1) Belshazzar was unregenerate. Even though the queen mother spoke about Daniel’s God and Daniel spoke from God … and more than likely Belshazzar knew about how his father acknowledged the God of Heaven as the True God … he himself remained spiritually dead, lost in sin. His soul was one hundred percent unregenerate. There are many like this today, yet what can we do about this? We preach the Truth and we model Intentional Christianity. God will either take these and use them in the hearers’ lives … or they themselves will reject it.
2) Belshazzar believed the Truth from Daniel. The passage more than implies the king received, understood and believed what Daniel said. In other words, he believed the Truth Daniel spoke. It did not affect his heart … but he believed it. Again we have much of this today. People hear Gospel truth. They believe it to be true yet they remain unaffected in the heart. They have no excuse before God on Judgment Day. They heard, they rejected and they are guilty as charged. That day will reveal this reality.
3) Belshazzar honored his word. For a party king steeped in paganism, he kept his word. We must credit him for this. Many Christians are not men or women of their word. They make promises and refuse to keep them. This pagan king is able to teach Christians who are slow at holding to their word how to do it even when what they have heard goes against them. Take this king … Daniel spoke about his coming demise … yet he kept his word.
4) Daniel received the gifts. Some think that Daniel’s earlier refusal was a textual error because now he accepts the gifts from the king. Previously he refused the gifts because his intent was not to tell the king what he wanted to hear so that he could receive the gifts promised to the king’s wise men. His appearance before the king was not for self-gain. Now that the writing was explained and that the king would lose his kingdom, Daniel was free to receive these gifts. And remember … the position was ceremonial.
5) It is unlikely that Daniel’s new position as third in charge was broadcast in the streets with notices spread throughout the Kingdom of Babylon. The announcement that was likely made was made to those present at the drunken festivities.
6) That very night king Belshazzar was murdered. Various historians provide us with differing stories as to the sequence of events that took place leading up to the murder of the king and the fall of the kingdom. It could be said that the collapse of the palace and the murder of the king had been planned by Cyrus over a long period … and not coincidentally … the attack came on the very night of the drunken festivities. There was no military opposition. The takeover was peaceful … and the king was murdered!
The kingdom had fallen, never to rise again because Darius divided the kingdom between the Medes and the Persians … with Darius the Mede replacing Belshazzar as supreme leader of the now dissolved Kingdom. By way of application …
(1) What God says will happen, will happen. As Daniel speaks he speaks for God using the very words God wants used. He said the kingdom would be taken from Belshazzar … and it did … that very night. God speaks to you and me over and over in the Bible. Often He says He will bless … but very often He warns … of punishment that could come immediately, in the medium term or at the Day of Judgment. Too often we seem to think our greatest fear ought to be on Judgment Day … yet the present is more important because refusal to obey in the present could have serious consequences for the present. The challenge here is to live in obedience to God in the present for then we will also do so in the future.
(2) Defying God has consequences. Belshazzar was filled with pride and arrogance. He thought as supreme ruler of the known and inhabited world he was invincible. I would even see his commanding the goblets be collected as a purposeful act of defiance against the God of Judah. Taunting God is a slippery slope towards discipline and disaster. In his case, as soon as he was told he would lose the kingdom, only hours followed and he was a dead man. Even today, when the greatest gift is offered to man, he holds his fist at God … why?
O Lord God Almighty, help us Your people to believe what You say in Your Word and at the same time honoring You in all of our lives for the Lord Jesus sake. Amen.