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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"God Has Numbered the Days of Your Kingdom" -- Daniel 5:13-31

The Eleventh in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

It was a party like no other.  Wine was flowing freely and the thousand or so royal guests seem completely oblivious to the fact that within hours the party’s host (the Babylonian king Belshazzar) would be dead and the Persian army will have captured the city and the palace in which his guests were partying.  King Belshazzar and the great Babylonian empire will be no more.  Yet, the events of this fateful evening should not come as a surprise to Belshazzar.  YHWH warned Belshazzar’s more famous predecessor (Nebuchadnezzar) of this very thing, in a dream recorded in Daniel 2.  Nebuchadnezzar saw a gigantic metallic statue with a head of gold (presenting Nebuchadnezzar and his empire).  But that empire would at some point give way to the Persian empire (represented by the silver arms and chest of the statue).  It was the Hebrew prophet Daniel, who, when interpreting the dream, told Nebuchadnezzar of these events yet to transpire.  On this very night, YHWH issues a warning of impending judgment–in the form of a mysterious handwritten message which suddenly appeared on the wall of the palace.  Daniel is summoned to the king’s palace yet again.  This time, Daniel is to interpret a mysterious handwritten message which absolutely terrified Belshazzar as well as his guests.  The message does not bring good news to Belshazzar.  It is YHWH’s declaration of judgment, fulfilling the scene in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

One of the sure signs that God is directing all things to his appointed ends is that the last night of the Babylonian empire is also the same night in which the intoxicated king ordered that the gold and silver vessels, originally taken as the spoils of war from the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem, be used at his  party as vessels with which to toast the Babylonian gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.  These are the same elements which composed the statue of Nebuchadnezzaer’s dream, which was crushed by a rock cut without human hands (Christ’s kingdom), but which are worshiped by the Babylonian pagans.  This is an act of out and out sacrilege by Belshazzar and nothing short of the intentional blasphemy of YHWH.  We do not know if Belshazzar knew that this would be the night his empire would fall (there is no mention of him leading his troops or making an effort to rally Babylon’s defenders), but he does make an intentional effort to mock the God of Israel.  But YHWH will not be mocked–especially by the likes of Belshazzar.  So YHWH crashes the party by directing that an angel (or perhaps the pre-incarnate Jesus) write a message of warning on the wall of the royal palace for all to see, warning the king and his guests of sure and certain judgment coming later that evening.  

While Belshazzar saw the hand of YHWH, his guests saw the writing.  No one present could read it–certainly not the useless court magicians and wise men.  Belshazzar was terribly shaken by the sight of the hand leaving the message.  All color left his face, he looked faint and he was so shaken he could not walk.  Overhearing the kerfulle in the palace, the queen mother entered the banquet hall and remembered a Hebrew prophet Daniel–who was now well up in years, and likely had not served in the royal court for some time.  Daniel will be summoned to interpret the dream, only to warn Belshazzar that he will die this very evening.  In this we see the overarching theme of the entire chapter–YHWH raises up kings and kingdoms.  He removes kings when and how he wills.  Belshazzar’s kingdom will be taken from him and then given to another.  The point of this incident is to give encouragement to the Jewish exiles then living in Babylon.  By the next morning, Darius the Mede (Cyrus) will be in charge, and he will issue his decree to allow the Jews to return home to Jerusalem to rebuild.  This too, has been ordained by God.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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