SERIES: Jesus and The Disinherited!
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR OCTOBER 7-13, 2020
AIM: As we continue our “march to the polls” this lesson is designed to remind students that God has a message for America, Trump, all elected officials and for voters. He will crash your “party”!
Daniel 5:1-4 (NIV)
1 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
In the first verses of Daniel chapter 5, we find a description of a rather wild party thrown by a king named Belshazzar. Then we are told how his party was crashed. Right in the middle of the party, at what was probably the loudest and wildest part an unexpected and unusual guest suddenly appeared that brought the party to an abrupt end.
This uninvited visitor was a disembodied set of fingers. In view of all the astonished party revelers, the uninvited hand wrote a mysterious message on the palace wall that no-one understood. But in order to understand the full meaning of the message, we must start with the historical setting.
King Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylon for almost forty-five years. By the time of Daniel 5, he had been dead for about twenty-five years. Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar and his father Nabonidus were co-regents over Babylon for about twenty years. From 559-539 BC they reigned together. It is believed that Nabonidus was presently living in North Arabia, where he had been for the last ten years. During this time, his son Belshazzar remained in Babylon.
At this time, the great kingdom of Babylon was just about to fall to the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. In fact, the capital city was now surrounded by the Medo-Persian armies. And Belshazzar knew it. So why was he going ahead with this big feast? Because he and his people thought they were invincible.
This party showed . . .
- Dangerous Disrespect
- Belshazzar’s problem is his worship of false gods.
- Babylon has been in power for quite some time, and Belshazzar thinks they are “untouchable.”
- Belshazzar decides to throw a party for a 1,000 of his princes, wives and concubines. Food and liquor was flowing and it became a night of excess.
- In his intoxicated state, Belshazzar calls his servants and have them to bring the sacred vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem.
- Belshazzar and his band of fools began to drink from these sacred vessel and toast their gods of gold, silver, iron, bronze, wood and stone.
- No doubt he felt that because the sacred vessels were in his possession, this meant that his gods were better, mightier than the God of the Israelites.
- Belshazzar’s second problem is false security.
- While the party is in full swing, the Persian army is outside at their gates. With the army outside his wall, how could Belshazzar have a party? What kind of boldness is this??
- Belshazzar feels secured in his fortified city.
- In its prime, the city of Babylon was second to none, 1.2 million people lived in Babylon.
- Because the city was 60 miles around, Babylon’s wall was 350 feet high, 80 feet wide and extends 35 feet down into the ground they felt the wall couldn’t be brought down.
- Further, the city of Babylon could withstand a siege because within the city walls they had warehouses that stored enough food to feed everyone for 20 years, plus they had farms where food could be grown if necessary.
- Also, they had the Euphrates River flowing under them and supply the city with water.
- So, they had everything they needed. If that wasn’t enough, if perchance someone did get across the wall, they still had another quarter of a mile to get across before reaching the city.
- Belshazzar had a third problem and that was false self-esteem.
- Because of his position , possessions and power , He feels he is a man that has everything and if he doesn’t have it, he has enough money to buy it, or enough power to take it.
- He was the biggest, baddest thing around.
Daniel 5:5-9 (NCV)
5 Suddenly the fingers of a person’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.
6 King Belshazzar was very frightened. His face turned white, his knees knocked together, and he could not stand up because his legs were too weak.
7 The king called for the magicians, wise men, and wizards of Babylon and said to them, “Anyone who can read this writing and explain it will receive purple clothes fit for a king and a gold chain around his neck. And I will make that person the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant.
9 King Belshazzar became even more afraid, and his face became even whiter. His royal guests were confused.
- Disturbing Development
- Belshazzar calls for all the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers to have them read the writing on the wall.
- Belshazzar promised “Whosoever shall read this writing and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. But they were not able to do so.
- Belshazzar represents the world that calls for us to eat, drink and be merry; making promises that can’t be kept because regardless of what he thinks, he does not have the power to keep his promise.
- What he promised is not his to give. In spite of what he thinks, he is not in control. He is a foreshadow of the rich fool in Luke 12 – who looks over all he has and instead of being grateful, he thinks he has done it on his own.
Luke 12:16-20 (NCV) – 16 Then Jesus told this story: “There was a rich man who had some land, which grew a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What will I do? I have no place to keep all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and other goods. 19 Then I can say to myself, “I have enough good things stored to last for many years. Rest, eat, drink, and enjoy life!”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘Foolish man! Tonight your life will be taken from you. So who will get those things you have prepared for yourself?’
- Belshazzar promised to put fine clothes on their back, gold around their neck and be the third ruler in the kingdom.
- The world promises us fine clothing, money in the pocket and a powerful position.
- But Belshazzar could not fulfill the promises and the world cannot keep its promises.
Daniel 5:10-12 (NCV)
10 Then the king’s mother, who had heard the voices of the king and his royal guests, came into the banquet room. She said, “O king, live forever! Don’t be afraid or let your face be white with fear! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, this man showed understanding, knowledge, and wisdom like the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, put this man in charge of all the wise men, fortune-tellers, magicians, and wizards. 12 The man I am talking about is named Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. He was very wise and had knowledge and understanding. He could explain dreams and secrets and could answer very hard problems. Call for Daniel. He will tell you what the writing on the wall means.”
- Discerning Dowager
- In all the confusion and commotion, the queen came in to see what the problem was.
- After inquiring about the problem, she then tells him about Daniel.
- This woman who was not at the banquet but had been around to notice Daniel when he served under Nebuchadnezzar, says “there is a man!”
- The important point here is that God always leaves someone to be able to tell others.
- Daniel is now an old man, and has not been in the king’s court. But there is one in the court who knows of Daniel. Again, I say, God always leaves Himself someone to tell. Observe in Job:
Job 1:14-19 (NIV) – 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
- In each incident, everything is destroyed but God leaves oneto tell. And in the case of Belshazzar, the queen was left to tell him of Daniel. Daniel who could interpret the handwriting.
- We should see ourselves in the position of the queen; we have been left to tell! Her one responsibility was to tell of Daniel and point Belshazzar to Daniel.
- Our responsibility is to tell people of Jesus and point them to Him.
- When John saw Jesus, he pointed and said “behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
- Our responsibility is to point to Jesus!
- It would be no good for God to write a message and have no one to tell what the message means. No one can point to God and say that He is unfair. He never told them.
Daniel 5:25-29 (NCV)
25 “These are the words that were written on the wall: ‘Mene, mene, tekel, and parsin.’ 26 “This is what the words mean: Mene: God has counted the days until your kingdom will end. 27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found not good enough. 28 Parsin: Your kingdom is being divided and will be given to the Medes and the Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave an order for Daniel to be dressed in purple clothes and to have a gold chain put around his neck. And it was announced that Daniel was the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
- Daniel Decodes
- Daniel comes in but before decoding the words, he gives Belshazzar a history lesson.
- He says “O Belshazzar. . .thou knewest all this” (v.22).
- All of what? He knew all about his grandfather’s pride and downfall; how God had humbled him to the degrading life of a beast; and how when he looked up to Heaven his understanding returned again to him. He knew all this, and yet he went on in his life of sin and godlessness. And now God crashes his party!
- The party is over! I don’t know what the band had played before but now there is no doubt that the heavenly band and singers were singing the party’s over! (the italics are my words)
The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
He’s burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It’s time to wind up this masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper is about to be paid
The party’s over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just living in sin
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party’s over
It’s all over, my friend
God has crashed the party!
- MENE – numbered and finished. “Thou has been weighed in the balances and found wanting.”
- This weighing process no doubt was over a period of time.
- The LORD is slow to wrath and He had given Belshazzar the proper time.
- This He does for us. He does not cut us off immediately. It is not His desire for any to perish.
- TEKEL – weighed and found wanting.
- His actions are weighed. God‘s divine scales are not lacking. They are honest and true.
- Belshazzar had been placed on God’s scales and had been found wanting.
- Wanting in what? Wanting in love; wanting in forgiveness; wanting in patience; wanting in godliness. He was wanting in this great time of trouble.
- Daniel gives him the interpretation and he does what? He doesn’t fall to his knees and ask for forgiveness, nor does he declare that he had been wrong and he would worship the true God. What does he do? He goes to bed as if nothing has happened! He had not passed the test on God’s scales.
- PERES – kingdom is to be divided.
- Now his kingdom is to be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
God took Belshazzar to school and he gets straight “F’s”!
- In history, Daniel reminded him of what happened to his grandfather and Belshazzar knew all this, and yet did not humble himself before God.
History – F.
- Foreign language. He did not, could not read the handwriting on the wall, but when it was interpreted for him, he still did not repent.
Foreign language – F!
- Math – God had his number and it was up! God weighed him on His scales and he didn’t measure up. God now divides his kingdom. Math – F!
- The last lesson was in Logic.
- Was it logical to hear this news and then make Daniel the third in a kingdom that will cease to exist in less than 24 hours?
- Was it logical to hear this news and then go to bed?
Logic – F!
In that same night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom.
- Devastating Deadline
- The reward Belshazzar offered Daniel was good for less than 24 hours!
- The world makes promises it cannot keep. That night the Persians built a canal and diverted the Euphrates River and came under the wall, opened the gates to let in their men, killed Belshazzar and took the city.
Galatians 6:7 (NIV)– Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
- God had shown grace and mercy, but Belshazzar had trampled on them, living life as he sees fit, not showing humility, nor listening to God prophet. God showed him who was really in charge and crashed his party!
- God has no desire to crash our party, but God wants to be invited to our worship service, invited to come and live in our homes and in our hearts. He once again is showing mercy, mercy toward us today to get right with Him.
- He is still writing on the wall – He has numbered our days, weighed us, so repent now, now is the time of salvation. For He says, “the day you hear my voice harden not your heart.”
Hebrews 3:15 (NIV) – As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
I’m God and I approve this message!
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Be thankful for the parties that God has crashed.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Let others know that exorcism of people and things can be the best thing that happen in the overall scheme of things.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others how your party affiliation changed when Christ became head of your life.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Your persistent and consistent giving allows you to be the life of the party for those that desire to have a relationship with Christ.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Getting to know Christ better allows your party state to become more enhanced if you allow it; otherwise, your life will feel burdened.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: Take Me to the Alley
SERIES: Jesus and the Disinherited
NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT: Luke 4:16-21; Isaiah 61:1-2; Galatians 4:4; Luke 2:11; John 1:41; Luke 3:21-22; John 14:12; John 20:21; John 5:1-9, 14; Psalm 100:4; 1 Chronicles 16:29; Deuteronomy 4:9; John 8:11