Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 5

Outline and Background of Daniel 5

Sacrilege of Belshazzar - Daniel 5:1-4

Shock of Belshazzar - Daniel 5:5-6

Summons of the Wise Men and Solution of the Queen - Daniel 5:7-17

Sermon from Daniel - Daniel 5:18-25

Significance of the Handwriting - Daniel 5:26-28

Sequel of Events - Daniel 5:29-31

Applications and Typical Prophecies - Daniel 5

Applications and Typical Prophecies - Daniel 5

Liberal scholars insist that this chapter is a made-up tale based on Genesis (Genesis 37, 39-41). Conservative scholars see God repeating history. Repetition of events is one way of showing that He overrules adverse circumstances to accomplish His plans and purposes. There are interesting parallels that exist between Joseph and Daniel, such as both are:

Taken into captivity

Handsome as a youth

Given dreams of the future

Able to interpret dreams

Become a prime minister of a Gentile kingdom

Possessors of the Holy Spirit

Told what will happen by God

Downcast and distressed by what will happen

Given a gold chain for the neck

As in the lineage of Israel’s kings, Belshazzar manifested the fact that a godly heritage does not ensure a godly descent. It is each individual’s responsibility to fear the LORD and submit to His will (cf. Ezekiel 18). A chain of good or a chain of evil can be broken at anytime by faithfulness or unfaithfulness to God. This principle is illustrated by Daniel’s closing of this chapter with the judgment of profane Belshazzar, and the introduction of the pious Darius the Mede.

In 168 B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes launched a full-scale persecution against the Jews because of their unwillingness to adopt Hellenism. This chapter assured the Jews that Antiochus, who desecrated the holy vessels of the Temple of Jerusalem (1 Maccabees 1:20-28; 2 Maccabees 5:16), would suffer a destiny similar to Belshazzar’s.

Four lines that God draws are apparent in this chapter:

1. God’s deadline for His patience
2. God’s line on blasphemy
3. God’s line for judgment
4. God’s finish line for a person and nation

Belshazzar crossed all four lines in one night. Christians have another line to cross as modeled by the apostle Paul.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that
day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

If God is for us, who can be against us? If we set ourselves up against God, who can be for us? If God writes “finished” across our record and “doomed” across our destiny, we cannot win, no matter how well fortified and protected we may be.

Profaning the sacred is blasphemy. All who draw breath are to praise and glorify God alone. Man is to keep sacred the things Yahweh sanctifies as holy; for example, Yahweh told Aaron in Leviticus 10:11-12:

You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.

The suddenness of disaster is a wakeup call for repentance (cf. Luke 13:1-5). In a single night, the Babylonian Empire ceased. It is predicted that the Revived Roman Empire (“Babylon the Great”) will come to a sudden end. Chapter 18 of Revelation provides a vivid forecast of its fall;
a parallel to that dramatic October night of 539 B.C.

When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!” (Revelation 18:9-10).

As with the end of the original Babylon, there will be an immediate and sudden change of governments for the world. The fall of Babylon the Great is followed by the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS coming from heaven with His army to rule the world for one thousand
years (Revelation 19-20).

Prior to Christ’s return, the condition of this world will be like the blasphemous feast of Belshazzar and the days of Noah.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:37-39).

Intoxicated with drink and pleasure, humanity will have lost their senses. People will ignore “the handwriting on the wall” as God rains His judgments from heaven. Though terrified, they will not believe the end is near. Like Belshazzar, who made Daniel the third highest ruler, they believe there will be a tomorrow. They should fall to their knees, repenting and crying to God for mercy. Instead, their actions may be likened to shaking one’s fist in the face of God as they attempt to hide from His wrath (cf. Revelation 6:15-17). The king believed he was safe and well protected behind the walls of Babylon, and so will the lost in the end times.

As God numbered the days of the Babylonian Empire, He also has determined the number of days of the end time empire—seven years from the Antichrist’s confirmation of the covenant (Daniel 9:27)—and not a day longer!

Sir John Glubb in The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, identified seven cycles, which empires have in common:

1. The Age of Outburst (or Pioneers)
2. The Age of Conquests
3. The Age of Commerce
4. The Age of Affluence
5. The Age of Intellect
6. The Age of Decadence
7. The Age of Decline and Collapse

In his seventeen-volume classic, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon concluded that there were five significant factors in the collapse of the Roman Empire:

1. A rapid increase in divorce
2. A craze for pleasure
3. The building of gigantic armaments while the enemy was within
4. An increase in violence
5. The decline of religion

Throughout history, empires and nations have fallen for much the same reasons as Babylon and Rome: drunkenness, pleasure, madness, immorality, idolatry, blasphemy, willful rejection of God, greed, impure motives, materialism, confidence in human society and armaments, corrupt
leadership, decline of the family, pride, and refusal to repent. Past empires are microcosms of the world at the end of this present age. After a period of rise and prosperity, empires decline, so it will be in the end times. Therefore, we should not be surprised to read in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

The spirit of Babylon continues from the Tower of Babel to Babylon the Great. Then its end will occur in one great event, the coming of the stone cut out without hands. The finger of God has written, the handwriting is on the wall!

A poem from an unknown poet summarizes the fifth chapter of Daniel.

At the feast of Belshazzar and a thousand of his lords,
While they drank from golden vessels, as the Book of Truth records,
In the night as they revelled in the royal palace hall,
They were seized with consternation at the hand upon the wall.

See the brave captive Daniel as he stood before the throng,
And rebuked the haughty monarch for his mighty deeds of wrong;
As he read out the writing, 'Twas the doom of one and all,
For the kingdom was now finished said the hand upon the wall.

See the faith, zeal, and courage that would dare to do the right,
Which the Spirit gave to Daniel this the secret of his might.
In his home in Judea, a captive in its hall,
He still understood the writing of his God upon the wall.

So our deeds are recorded; there is a hand that's writing now.
Sinner, give your heart to Jesus, to His royal mandate bow;
For the day is approaching, it must come to one and all,
When a sinner's condemnation will be written on the wall.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Book of James

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

Other studies at Spreading Light Bible Studies

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