We have often heard the Prime Minister of Canada, his government officials, and the media say that Canada is doing well and that our economy is strong. We have also heard other government leaders say that they are strong and powerful enough to deal with anything and anyone… and yet we know what happens when they are faced with disasters or war.
Let us not forget what happened to other strong countries and empires such as the Roman, Greek, British and other empires when pride and power blinded and corrupted them.
In Daniel 5 we see the tragic events that happened to Babylon and its king, Belshazzar. Israel was in captivity in Babylon and Daniel was a teenager when, in 605 B.C., he was taken to Babylon after Nebuchadnazzer came to Jerusalem and began his conquest of Judah.
Daniel remained faithful to God and, because of God’s protection and wisdom, Daniel was elevated to high offices in Babylon. God used him and blessed him for at least 75 years in that wicked and idolatrous kingdom.
In the autumn of 539 B.C., King Belshazzar held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, his wives and his concubines. But the mighty Babylon was about to be judged. The Medes and Persians were already outside the gates, but Belshazzar was not afraid of them. He was sure that Babylon’s defences, army and supplies were enough to keep the city safe and secure. The outer walls of the city were 17 miles long. The walls were 22 feet deep and 90 feet high. They had guard towers 100 feet high and the city gates were made of bronze. Inner and outer walls and moats made the city very secure.
So Belshazzar thought that he was safe. But that very night he was killed, his city was conquered and the great party was over. Why?
Three sins are clear in this story:
1. The sin was not ignorance ; he knew better. It was disobedience and pride.
2. He challenged God by desecrating the sacred vessels.
3. He praised idols rather than honour the Living God.
Let’s look at that tragic event.
The Great Banquet (v s. 1)
Belshazzar gave a great banquet where there was lots of drinking and partying . A ll his friends were having a good time .
They we re celebrating but , that night , Babylon would fall. Who would have thought that Babylon could fall ? Babylon was a mighty power , a c ity of s plendour and beautiful homes and great defences .
Belshazzar and his friends felt very safe and secure in their sinful partying , b ut no one is safe in sin! Sin is the greatest threat to liberty and security . An individual or a nation cannot continue on a course of sin and survive .
The Dedicated Vessels (vss . 2-4)
Drunkenness led to foolish actions . Alcoholism and drug addiction are great problems we face as individuals and as a nation . When our body , which is created by God to be a dedicated vessel for H im , is abused and misused , we are in trouble .
Belshazzar was not satisfied with the royal vessels of the palace ; he wanted to use and desecrate the sacred vessels that were stolen from the temple in Jerusalem. These vessels were set apart for the glory of God . They had been prayed over and dedicated to the Lord .
Christ set a new course for His followers and the church, (the body of true believers) to follow. His desire was, and still is, to see His church bring glory to God. He wants us all who are washed in His blood and saved to become and remain dedicated vessels. He, through the Holy Spirit , brought order in to our lives .
Today many things are out of order and out of control. Our nations are in crises. Alcoholism, drugs, sexual immorality, and crime march on , taking more and more victims.
Violence is a way of life — in entertainment and real life. People have no time for God. Even Christians , both in churches and outside, have no desire for holiness, nor much time for God .
We need a revival to avoid total ruin and judgment.
The Divine Warning (vss.25-28)
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin means:
MENE: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
TEKEL: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
PARSIN: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
A mina and a tekel were different weights; parsin (or peres) means to divide. King Belshazzar had been weighed and found wanting! That very night the kingdom would fall and be destroyed .
The judgement was final and swift. Belshazzar was slain that night and his kingdom was given to his enemies . There is a point at which sin is judged . The words: “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” w ere powerful and final.
These same words will be repeated and directed toward all those who ignore God’s warnings today. The individual or the church that is found wanting will be judged by Jesus , the o ne and h oly Judge.
Do we — do you — see writing on the wall? Are you paying attention ? The writing is on the wall for us, for the church, for our nation.
We must face our sins and repent. We must turn back to God while we have time. You and I will face Christ our Lord and Judge. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Daniel , who remained a dedicated and pure vessel , was blessed and used by God for His glory . In constrast, Belshazzar was found wanting and judged by God . The names, the dates and the places may be different today, but the message and consequences are the same.
Ignoring God and His words always leads to terrible consequences. May God help us become and remain dedicated and pure vessels for Him.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian