Sunday, July 25, 2010

Daniel, Chapter 5 – the Handwriting on the Wall

God kicked out – again???

30 years after King Nebuchadnezzar died, two kings shared the throne
of Babylon – Belshazzar, who was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, and the “absent” king Nabonidus, who was Belshazzar’s father, Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law. He was focused on archeological digs, reviving the worship of the moon god, the predominant deity of the Middle East today according to modern archeological digs. Could these digs be the same ones? The moon god’s name was Allah back then – a subject that is hotly debated today.

Daniel was in retirement, but he was soon going to be called back to service. Remember how King Nebuchadnezzar took the sacred items from the Jewish temple back to Babylon to be placed in his own temple when he deported Daniel et al and then destroyed their temple? This was the ultimate insult to God – a symbol of putting God in submission to his gods – a complete victory and overthrow of God.

But wait – it gets worse! Belshazzar threw a huge party and sent for the gold cups from the Jewish temple. As they drank from these sacred cups, they praised their gods of gold, silver, other metals, stone, etc. This was God’s absolute limit, and He decided to show them once and for all who He was.

A hand appeared on the wall and wrote words that nobody knew. Belshazzar was terrified and called for the wise men to interpret the writing. This was the same group of Babylonian Magi over whom King Nebuchadnezzar had placed Daniel when they couldn’t interpret the king’s dream, but he could. Of course, they couldn’t do it again now. When God speaks, usually it is only His own people who know what He’s saying – you know, “My sheep hear my voice.”

Then the queen remembered Daniel, so he was brought in to interpret the writing, with the promise of becoming the third ruler in Babylon. Having been through this whole scene before with King Nebuchadnezzar, he told Belshazzar to keep his gifts and reminded him of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he got too proud. (Remember in Chapter 4 how Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal for seven years before he was restored and finally acknowledged God as the God of the universe?)

So Daniel read Belshazzar’s judgment from God written on the wall – that the Medes and Persians would take the kingdom of Babylon from him.

At that same moment, as the Babylonian nobles were partying, the Medes and Persians had infiltrated the city and took it over without a battle. They killed Belshazzar and promoted Daniel to the highest position in Medo-Persia. He just couldn’t get away from ruling under kings, since he had “an excellent spirit in him.” God gave him favor because he remained loyal to his God and spent his life showing people who God really was, no matter what it cost.

As we watch our nation pushing God out, are we being called to be Daniels – risking everything, even our lives, to call our nation back to God – or else???

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