Today at church, I heard an elder sharing about the book of Dan Chapter 5. This particular chapter is interesting as it records the final days of the Babylonian empire. But through the chapter, we can learn many things about our christian life and our relationship with God.

Chapter Overview
1. Belshazzar Sin Against God (Dan 5:1-4)
2. God wrote on the wall (Dan 5:5-9)
3. King summoned Daniel (Dan 5:10-16)
4. Daniel rebuke the king (Dan 5:17-24)
5. Daniel interpreted the words (Dan 5:25-29)
6, The Kingdom of Babylon fell (Dan 5:30-31)

Interesting Historical Fact about the fall of Babylonian Empire
1. The combine forces of the Medes and the Persians have laid siege around the city for 4 years (Longer then the years Belshazzar Reigned)
2. Despite the siege, the walls of Babylon is big and the storehouses could store 20 years worth of food and other item, hence the King wasn’t afraid of the long siege
3. Belshazzar is the son to the daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar II. She married  Nabonidus, which is the first ruler, hence he made an offer for Daniel to be the 3rd Ruler. this fact is confirmed by Rawlinson in 1854.
4. The Hebrew words for Father and Grandfather. Son and Grandson are the same, hence some bible interpretation show Belshazzar as the son of King Nebuchadnezzar
5. The Persians conquered the city of Babylon by diverting the waters of river Euphrates, and making use of the dried up canal to enter the city. The Babylonians are too drunk to resist.
6. The reason for the Bible’s detailed recording of the fall of Babylon, is because the fall of Babylon is prophesied by Prophet Jeremiah long ago. One could compare the prophecies against Jeremiah’s word (Jer 51:54-58)

The reasons for the fall of Babylon 

The kingdom of Babylon was a strong empire. Yet this empire was lost in a matter of 1 night. There seems to be alot of things we can learn from this. But what would have clauses it?

1. The Sins of King Belshazzar

Pride: This new king of Babylon has long heard about many things the Lord has done in Babylon. How God punished King Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4, and how God made him well once again when he humbled himself. Even his grandfather, whose achievement is much more than him, know that God is able to put down those who are proud (Dan 4:37). 

Disrespect for God: When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, he took all the articles of Gold and silver and place them in his temples in Babylon (2 Chron 36:7) However, he never dared to take the items for his personal use, as he still has some reverence for any temple items. Some people may wander if its enough for all the man in the banquet, which is numbered to 1000 Lords (each with a partner that will be 2000). The articles of the temples totaled to 5400, which is more then enough (Ezra 1:9-11). 

Belshazzar made use of the feast to praise the Gods of Gold and Silver, Bronze and Iron, Wood and Stone. Which adds to his sins. (Dan 5:2,23)

No regards for Danger, Overconfident, Over feasting : Bearing in mind that the Armies of the Medes and Persians have maintained siege around the city for 4 years. Belshazzar have the courage to hold a huge feast in Babylon, shows that he trusts that the walls of Babylon and its food supplies could last a long time. This shows his lack of awareness to danger. As mentioned earlier, the Persians diverted the river Euphrates in order to use the man-made Canal that flows through the city as an entrance. If Belshazzar have taken heed to the situation, he should have spotted that long ago. Diverting the river is a huge project. Moreover, in Belshazzar’s feast. the officers are too drunk to resist the attack. Shows that they have been over-feasting. 

The Writings on the wall

As the feast continue, suddenly, Belshazzar saw a finger, writing on the wall opposite him. It seems that the people can read the words, but yet only the king saw the finger that wrote (Dan 5:5). The king was all frightened, and trembled in fear. It was then the kings mother came in and advised that Daniel to be brought before the king to interpret it. (Dan 5:10-12)

When Daniel came in, it seems that the king never knew him (Dan 5:13-16). In the end Daniel rebuke the king for his pride and for him not learning from his grandfather. The words on the wall reads

Mene (mina (50 shekels) from the verb “To Count): God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it
Tekel ( A shekel from the verb “To Weight”): You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting
Parsin or Upharsin ( half-shekels from the verb “to divide” ): Your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persian)

The king kept his promised and gave Daniel the rewards. That very night. The Belshazzar was slained when the Persians invaded the city through the dried up water canal.

Lifes Application

There are many things we can learn from this incident

Pride and Overconfidence leads to death: Belshazar’s pride is very evident in the story. He is too proud and too full of himself. In his days as a king, he failed to look up to the ministers whom his grandfather trusted alot. (You can see it from his conversation to Daniel, it carries a feeling that he is high and mighty while Daniel is only a captive).  He is too confident with the walls of Babylon and its storehouse, which is one of the reason why he disregarded the Medes and the Persians and have the mood for feasting

 Always be mindful of dangers: Belshazar is not mindful of the impending danger he is in. Nor did he pay attention to the fact that the Medes and Persians have laid a long siege. . they must be up to something crafty to take over the city. If he were to understand that his city is vunerable if the rivers are diverted. He should have spied on the Medes and Persians and discover the plot long ago.

Using Holy Vessels for Secular Use: In this story, Belshazzar took the santified bowls and utensils of the temple of God for unrighteous purpose, this incured the wrath of God. In the new testament, believers are identifed as the temple itself  (1 Cor 3:16-17). Therefore, if a believer should delicate himself to God and be a useful vessel in the house of God. (2 Tim 2:20-21)

The writings on the Wall: In the entire bible, God only used his fingers to do a few things, 1. To write the 10 commandments. (Deut9:10) 2. To write on the walls of King Belshazar Palace (Dan 5). In the new testament, Jesus only uses his fingers to write on the sand, when asked to stone the adulterous woman (Jn 8). As the ocurrance is so few, we must take the words he has written to heart

Mene: It means “to Count” what should a christian count? We should number our days( Ps 90:12) to gain wisdom. We must also learn to count all our blessings. Only by then can we learn to trust in God.

Tekel: It means “To Weight”. What should a christian weight? We should weigh ourselves against Gods measure in the bible. This is not so that we can be complacent. But rather, ensure that as we proceed on with life, we would not be disqualified from our ultimate prize in heaven.

Parsin or Upharsin: What does it mean to divide? It means to separate. A christians understand that God has redeemed us and asked us to live separately. Not as a proud and self righteous person, but as faithful witness of him. Therefore every christians should try to lead a life of faith, and live honourably among the non believer.

This word also teaches us that God is the one who appointed kings and allow kingdom to rise and fall. In whatever we do we must always remember this.