God IS Number One (Put God First) - Daniel Chapter 5

Updated: 26 Jan 2009

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God IS Number One (Put God First) - Daniel Chapter 5

1st commandment - you shall have no other gods before me - Ex 20:3 - PUT GOD FIRST! He must be No.1

  • Daniel did and was blessed... -
  • Israel did not and became slaves

A foolish king refuses to put God first

  • Only borrowed glory (Nebuchadnezzar's) - a great party in his own honour (PRIDE written large over all he does) - yet the enemy at the gates; should have been fasting, not feasting. Trusted Babylon's walls and storehouses
  • "O king, live forever!", but only a fool believes it
  • silly humans; we think we will live forever, but only borrowed blessings - health, wealth, happiness
  • yet an enemy is near to all of us - disease, age, poverty, war, thieves, fire, violence, then God's judgement
  • Belshazzar adds insult to God - using this "defeated god's" possessions as common drinking cups ("There is no God!")
  • And praises instead dumb idols of silver, etc - cannot hear or speak or help (therefore make no great demands, and help you ignore the real true God)

God judges immediately

  • He does not always - e.g. Nebuchadnezzar - 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
  • The palm and fingers of a hand appear and write on wall of banquet hall
  • Belshazzar terrified - face white (outward terror) - thoughts alarm (inward terror - conscience) - collapses, knees knocking together. He's a mess - in panic.
  • God does not need an army - just a few fingers and a guilty conscience awakened from its long sleep. O don't fight your conscience - God has put it in you for your eternal good - but if you do, though you put it into a drugged sleep, so it never disturbs you, yet God will awaken it at last to become a burning, roaring horror to you

I need a second opinion! (maybe it is not as bad as I think!)

  • Calls for his wise men - fabulous rewards offered - they flock to the contest, but as before (don't they ever learn?) they are hopeless and helpless helpers - see God Rules and God Reveals. Can't even read the writing on the wall (yes, this is where the expression comes from).

    = Not Able! - Hopeless Helpers =

  • So all modern mutterers - palm-readers, tarot readers, etc. (yes, they may say some startling things - 1 Kings 22:22 (ESV) And the Lord said to him, 'By what means?' And he said, 'I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And he said, 'You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.'
  • Belshazzar even more terrified now, and his lords utterly confused. (they can't help him either)

    = Friends in High Places =
  • Daniel now forgotten, just because he Put God First (an old man now) - he doesn't care - Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV) "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
  • Friends in odd places - Queen Mother remembers him - sees power of the "holy gods" in him - her bad advice to king - "don't be afraid" (he had every good reason to be!) - her good advice - call for Daniel - he is an excellent man. Daniel 5:12 (ESV) "Because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation."
  • Daniel is called for - "God is Judge" (that's what "Daniel" means) comes to meet "May Bel protect the king" (that's what "Belshazzar" means, but Bel cannot protect him, nor even explain the riddle)
  • King back in the saddle, or so he thinks - now seems just to be the one in control, asking advice. Renews the offer of fabulous rewards if Daniel can tell him the meaning of the handwriting on the wall.

Daniel's Brave and Stern Words to the King

  • Refuses the rewards (Daniel is not there for profit)
  • Reminds him of God's dealings with his father Nebuchadnezzar (prosperity, power, then judgement of his pride, leading to mercy - God Delights in Mercy )
    • Daniel 5:20-21 (ESV) But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.
  • Then confronts the king - Daniel 5:22-23 (ESV)
    • v22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this (a deliberate rejecting of the truth),
    • v23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven and the vessels of his house have been brought in 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, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know
  • but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.
  • The riddle - 50 shekels, 1 shekel and a half shekel ($50, $1, $1/2)
    • MENE MENE - (a mina = 50 shekels) - God has numbered your days and ended them. So with all of us - numbered - but will you Put God First before He ends them - afterwards it is too late.
    • TEKEL - shekel the unit of weight - weighed in scales and found too heavy in sins. Who can pass this test? None! Then how much we need a Saviour to bear the weight for us.
    • PARSIN/PERES - play on words - "they divide" as a half shekel is divided, and on the name PERSIAN, for the kingdom is to be divided between the Medes and Persians, even now about to take the city.
    • Finished, wanting, given - all settled, yet still King clings to the rags of his power, and orders the rewards given to Daniel (but really no longer his to give).

That very night

  • King Belshazzar is killed as the Medes and Persians take the city.
  • God's judgement - patience, but will come at last - nothing can then stop it. Nebuchadnezzar learned in time that God rules, but Belshazzar never did.
  • Have you learned to PUT GOD FIRST? Don't leave it too late! Obey your conscience, turn from your sins (be honest about them), trust in Jesus.

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