Ladies Bible Study
The Book of Daniel
Relevance for Today
"The Writing on the Wall"
This will be our fifth lesson in the book of Daniel. So far, we have only been able to take it one chapter at a time, so today; we are studying Chapter 5.
Letís begin with a quick review.
We learned who Daniel was and how he came to be in captivity in the Babylon Empire.
We discovered that Daniel was a man of resolution, revelation and reverence.
Daniel and his companions were young men without blemish, taken into captivity to serve in King Nebuchadnezzarís court. They were given Babylonian names that reflected the godís the Babylonians worshipped, in an effort to transform them into Babylonians.
Daniel and his friends stood firm in their belief, revealing him as a man of resolution, not to partake of worldly things. This faithfulness was rewarded by God. Daniel and his friends were put in places of authority in the court. Obedience always brings about favor with God. Last month we studied about the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. We learned how to handle difficult situations with the wisdom of God, and we also learned about the plan of God for the time of the Gentilesand the Gentile rule over the world. We learned that each section of the statue in the dream represented world rule of a specific kingdom ending with the future rule of the revived Roman Empire in the tribulation. God gave this dream to a Gentile for the Gentile world, but He used His man Daniel to give the
interpretation, as the dream came from God and only He can give the meaning. All Glory belongs to God and God only, not to men or ourselves when God does use us.
In lesson three we met Danielís three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. We came to understand the importance of individual and unified faith in the face of any fiery trail. These three Hebrew young men were putting into practice a principle Jesus himself taught much later.
Matthew 18-19-20: "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.''
These three young men agreed aloud to the king that they would not bow down and worship the false image, speaking from their heart what they believed. That God would deliver them completely. However, even if they died, it did not matter, they would still only worship the one and true God. This unified faith ushered in the miraculous. God proved faithful and delivered them from the fiery furnace. It is important to realize that their faith was already developed to take them through the fire. Going through the fire only strengthened it! No matter what fire you are facing, ladies God will always see you through. It is up to you to strengthen your faith to face the fire, be strengthened by the presence of the Lord through the fire and then expect the miraculous at all times. Amen!
Last month we saw the last of Nebuchadnezzar. He continued to walk in pride, giving himself credit for things God had done. If you remember, we ended with Nebuchadnezzer once again glorifying God for what He did.
Daniel 3:28-29: Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29. "Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.''
However, Nebuchadnezzer flourished and gloated until God had to warn him through another dream. It really did no good for we catch up with Nebuchadnezzer about a year later puffed with pride causing God to fulfill the dream, that was once again interpreted by
Daniel and he suffered severe insanity for seven years, living in the wild like and animal, at which time he again regains his sanity when he acknowledges Godís Soverienty.
Daniel 4:36-37: At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.
37. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase.
This was the last we saw of King Nebuchadnezzer, he ruled another 30 years apparently without incident as Daniel no longer tells us of him.
Letís begin this monthís lesson. Turn with me to Daniel 5.
Daniel 5:1-21: Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. 5. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6. Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. 7. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.'' 8. Now all the king's wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. 9. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.
10. The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. And the queen spoke, saying, "O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. 11. "There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father your father the king made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. 12. "Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.''
13. Then Daniel was brought in before the king. And the king spoke, and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14. "I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15. Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing.
16. "And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.''
17. Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18. "O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. 19. "And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. 20. "But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21. "Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. 22. "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23. "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24. "Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. 25. "And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26. "This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27. "Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28. "Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.'' 29. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. 31. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Daniel is about 80 years old at this time. He has lived his entire life in captivity and will die in Babylon, never seeing Jerusalem again, we will discuss this more next month.
To understand what is happening politically in Babylon, we need to look at the list of successors to Nebuchadnezzar, ending with this leader, Belshazzar, who is not to be confused with Danielís Babylonian name of Belteshazzar.
The fifth chapter occurs about 30 years after Nebuchadnezzar regains his sanity.
He has been dead 23 years, having died after reigning 43 years. The kingdom instantly begins to decline beginning the fulfillment of his first dream, of the statue of different metals.
Nebuchadnezzar is succeeded by Amel-Merodach, whom the Hebrew refer to as "Evil-Merodach, an unflattering Hebrew term meaning "foolish".
Evil-Merodach is assassinated by his brother-in-law Neriglissar about 2 years later.
Neriglissar rules for four years, referred to as Nergal-Sharezer by the Jews.
Jeremiah 39:3,13-14: Then all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sarezer, Rabmag, with the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon. So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's chief officers; 14. then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.
This Scripture is referring to the release from Jewish prison of the prophet Jeremiah, who had been imprisoned for prophesying the fall of Jerusalem in direct opposition to the other prophets.
Neriglissar is succeeded after a four year rule by his young son Lahashi-Marduk. (Remember Marduk is one of the Babylonian Godís.) Neriglissar only rules for about 2 months before he is assassinated by Nabonidus, another son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar.
History tells us that Nabonidus is the actual ruler of the empire, with Belshazzar his son as his co-regent, making Belshazzar the second ruler of the empire. (important later in story.)
Talk about dysfunctional families!
This line of succession is fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 37:6-7`And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. 7. `So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.
Daniel 5 opens with a huge banquet, held by Belshazzar.
Please read Daniel 5:1-4.
It seems anybody who was anybody was at this banquet, even Belshazzarís concubines.
We need to stop here and take a quick look at history. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he destroyed the temple and brought all the temple treasures to Babylon.
Isaiah 39:1-8: At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.
2. And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. 3. Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?'' And Hezekiah said, "They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.'' 4. And he said, "What have they seen in your house?'' So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.'' 5. Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 6. `Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the Lord. 7. `And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' '' 8. Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!'' For he said, "At least there will be peace and truth in my days.''
2 Kings 20:13: And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.
Jeremiah 20:1-6: 1. Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.
2. Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord. 3. And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, "The Lord has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. 4. "For thus says the Lord: `Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. 5. `Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 6. `And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies.' ''
2 Kings 24: 11-14: 11. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it.
12. Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner.
13. And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.
14. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.
Nebuchadnezzar took the treasures and stored them, but did not use them. However, they were no longer considered "holy unto the Lord" by the Hebrew people because they were no longer "set apart for special use." However, Belshazzar took this dishonor to new heights.
Daniel 5:3-5: 3. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
Belshazzar and his guests not only partied with the "holy vessel" but toasted idols with them!
We need to also look at what is going on outside Babylon. The entire city is under siege by
Gobryas the Median General. Where is Nabonidus? He according to historians was more interested in expanding the kingdom and the Babylon religion than in ruling. That is why Belshazzar is the co-regent. Nabonidus was the warrior and Belshazzar the governor.
We can already see the kingdom weaker, canít we?
I find it very interesting to contemplate the complacency if the Babylonians. Here the city is under attack, has been for a while and they are having a party. Historians tell us that they considered the city impregnable.
A city wall surrounded Babylon 15 square miles in measurement, constructed entirely of brick. It was 300 feet high and wide enough that 4 chariots could ride abreast around its top. A canal was channeled of the Euphrates River that ran under the walls and provided water for the entire city. Historians also tell us that the city was fortified with enough food to last for years. Yes, the Babylonian were sitting there "fat, dumb and happy."
I can think of many incidences in our history where we as Christians have sat around "fat, dumb and happy" as our morals and morality slowly deteriorated around us. Can you?
The loss of prayer in school, the era of "free love", the womenís lib movement, legalization of abortion, decline of Christian marriages and the gradual acceptance of all religious beliefs. I think all these events in our history have begun the gradual decline of our nation, what do you think?
Back to our lesson.
God is immediately displeased as evidenced by the immediate appearance of the hand writing on the wall. Historians tell us that in the past a large building was discovered in Babylon with plaster walls that fit the description in this chapter. We serve and awesome God, ladies!
What is written on the wall?
Daniel 5:25: 25. "And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
We see now, a repeat of history, these words are written on the wall and immediately, the king is fearful and sends for the wise men. Historians tell us that Daniel was no longer a well known figure, as evidenced by his absence with the other wise men. In fact, Belshazzar did not even know of his existence until the Queen Mother, hearing all the commotion, comes in and tells him to send for Daniel.
Daniel 5:10-12: 10. The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. And the queen spoke, saying, "O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change.
11. "There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father your father the king made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. 12. "Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.''
So Daniel is sent for, sees the writing and what the interpretation is and tells the king, not before he reminds Belshazzar of what happened to his father- in Ėlaw, Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 5:20-22: 20. "But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.
21. "Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. 22. "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.
Belshazzar was in a different position than Nebuchadnezzar, he had seen what happened to his father because of pride, yet he made the same mistakes. Therefore, the retribution is swifter and more sudden.
Daniel 5:26-28: 26. "This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27. "Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28. "Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.'' 29. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. 31. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years.
It is interesting how the city was taken. The Median general had his troops dig a canal diverting the water that flowed under the city walls into another area, some say back into the river and some say into a nearby lake. Either way, as the canal under the walls dried up, the Median-Persian troops marched under the walls, taking the city with little effort.
Belshazzar being one of the few casualties. This is the end of the Babylon empire as described in Nebuchadnezzarís dream, the head of gold is no more, the chest of silver is now in control. Daniel serves the remainder of his life in Babylon serving the Persian Kings, we will study the final events in Danielís life next month in chapter 6.
Ladies, let me close with this, we can get so smug in our Christianity that we thing nothing can happen to us, but just as in these events, the enemy can drain us of vital things and sneak in under "our wallsí. We must stay strong in the Lord and the power of His might! Amen!
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 5
10. List the scriptural reference that is fulfilled by the death of Belshazzar and the fall of Babylon.