DANIEL -- Chapter Five
INTRODUCTION: In this chapter we study the fall of the great Babylonian Empire and the take over of the great city of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. It was a seemingly impregnable fortress, that was square, 15 miles on each side, 60 miles around. It was encircled by two walls. The outer wall was larger than the inner wall. The outer wall was 350 feet high and 87 feet thick. On the walls were 250 towers. Outside this wall was a vast ditch or moat which surrounded the city. Twenty-five magnificent avenues, 150 feet wide, crossed the city from north to south and 25 from east to west--each of which was 3/5 of a mile apart and they ran into a street that encircled the city inside the inner wall. At the end of each street was a large brass gate which shone like leaves of flame. The city was divided into two equal parts by the river Euphrates. Ferry boats crossed the river at each avenue and at the central avenue a magnificent bridge crossed the river. At the end of the bridge on both sides was a beautiful palace which (the palaces) were connected by a large passageway under the river. In this tunnel were large banquet rooms. It may well have been in one of these that the setting of this story took place. Let's see how this great city was taken.;
I. The Terrible Sin - Vs. 1-4
Vs. 1 -- Belshazzar, the King. Jeremiah 27:6,7. It was God's decree that Nebuchadnezzar, his son and his son's son would rule the world until the appointed time. Although there is a question as to the lineage of Belshazzar, time will no doubt reveal beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was the rightful heir to the throne and fulfilled Jeremiah 27:7. Belshazzar was ruling with a man by the name of Nabonidus and, therefore, he offered Daniel the position of third ruler in the kingdom.(vs. 16)
This feast was a religious celebration in honor of the Babylonian gods. Vs. 4. The high officials of the kingdom were there.
Vs. 2-4 -- In their celebration, they drank an alcoholic beverage which is wrong. Proverbs. 20:l; 23:19-35; Habbakuk 2:15. But the most abominable sin committed here was the taking of the vessels that had been dedicated for God's use and using them to praise false gods. II Chron. 2:3-4; I Kings 7:51.
With this thought in mind, let us think about:
1. The Right use of the tithe. Malachi 3:8-10; Leviticus 27:30-32.
2. The Right use of our bodies. I Corinthians 3:16,17; 6:19,20.
II. The Divine Revelation - Vs. 5-9
Vs. 5-9 -- In Exodus 20, God revealed through writing, His Holy requirements. Now through writing we see his Holy judgments. God will stand for sin just so long and then judgment comes. Hebrews 9:27; Genesis 6:3.
We see here pictured a sinner as he stands before God. He had been brave and powerful, but now he becomes a trembling coward. Cf. Matthew 12:36,37; 22:12; John 12:46-48; Romans 14:12; Revelation 6:15-17.
III. The Interpreter - Vs.10-24
Vs. 10 -- The Queen was probably Nabonidus' wife.
Vs. 11 -- This is some 66 years after Chapter One and Daniel was now in his eighties. Nebuchadnezzar had died 23 years before. Daniel had been faithful to God through the years and had a notable reputation for it in the Kingdom. I Corinthian 4:2. God requires of us that we be faithful to Him.
Vs. 12 -17 C Daniel knew these things were of no benefit. It is far more important to be faithful to God and store up treasures in Heaven than it is to work for this world=s fame , treasure or power.
Vs. 18-24 -- Daniel preaches a great sermon. He exalts Jehovah as the most High God who gave Nebuchadnezzar his position, his wealth and his power. Romans 13:1. He informs the King that the great Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled and had exalted Jehovah. Then Daniel brings home the point that Belshazzar has not given God the Glory and Honor that he should and that he is without excuse.
So are we all without excuse. Rom. 3:10,12,19,23; 1:20. Sinners that persist in their ungodly ways can expect judgment to come. Proverbs 21:1; 27:1; 29:1.
IV. The Interpretation - Vs. 25-28
The writing was in Aramaic and the letters may have been arranged in Acrostic style and so mystified the "wise men". The illustration below taken from the Talmud, will show how this could have been done.
The Chaldeans (Wise Men) reading the letters from right to left as in Hebrew and Aramaic or from left to right as in other languages could make no sense of the words, but Daniel read from top to bottom beginning at the right. There were no vowels in Aramaic.
There are many people that God hath numbered their lives and determined to end them shortly. Their acts have been weighed and have not been satisfactory to God and God is fixing to end their tenure on earth. What about you? Are you saved? Are you dedicated to God?
V. The Fulfillment - Vs. 29-31.
Vs. 29 -- From this verse, it doesn't seem that Belshazzar thought the time was at hand, but it was.
Vs. 30 -- That night, Cyrus the Great and his armies diverted the river Euphrates to another course. Than he marched in on the river bed and conquered the city. He had been prophecied of, 175 years before by Isaiah. Cf. Isaiah 44: 28; 45: 1-4. Cf. Ezra 1:1-11.
When Cyrus issued the decree for Ezra he was fulfilling the prophecy of 70 years of captivity for the Jewish people which ended in 536 B.C.
God's Word is always fulfilled to the letter. Titus 1.2. God cannot lie.
Vs. 31 -- Cyrus conquered Babylon but he left it with his uncle, Darius, to rule.
CONCLUSION; The Babylonian Empire fell just as God foretold. It was an age that was characterized by the deifying of man. The Babylonian system is still in the world and during the 'Tribulation will again become tremendously powerful as an apostate religious system. Revelation 17 & 18. But it, too, will fall just as it is prophecied to do.