"The Writing on the Wall"
Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
December 13, 2006
Theme: This chapter illustrates the final overthrow of the Gentile world domination through the picture of the overthrow of Babylon.
The last six chapters are prophetic; but the first six provide the personal history of Daniel. They give us the background for the prophetic messages God gave through him. Roughly speaking, the first two chapters deal with Daniel's youth, chapters three and four with his middle-age, and chapters five and six near the end of his life. As we come to chapters five and six, we read of the story of Daniel's remarkable transition, as a Jew, from a high position of leadership in one world empire to a high position of leadership in another.
This chapter deals with the downfall of the Babylonian empire (the head of gold) and the domination of the Median-Persian empire (the arms of silver). History records that this transition occurred in just one night (October 11 or 12th, 539 B.C.). The events of that night are prophecied in Isaiah 13:17-22; 21:1-10 and Jeremiah 51:33-58.
Several things need to be noted to appreciate the events in this chapter. First, it needs to be noted that the prophet background concerning the events after this time were already given to Daniel; that is, the prophecies in Chapters 7 and 8 had already been given to Daniel during the reign of Belshazzar and preceded the events of chapter 5. Second, Belshazzar's conduct was inexcusable, because he clearly knew the things that had happened to his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar as they are recorded in Chapter 4. (See Daniel's rebuke in 5:22-23.) Belshazzar's behavior constituted a very sinful and defiant act of rebellion against the God of Israel. And third, while the events of Chapter 5 were already going on, the Median-Persian armies led by Darius were already working to penetrate the seemingly-impregnable capital of the Babylonian empire. The Euphrates River ran underneath the capital city; and Darius simply rerouted the river, which allowed his army to march through the riverbed and under the city walls—taking the city by surprise and without contest. Thus, the rule of the world changed hands overnight—both as a judgment of God on Belshazzar, and in fulfillment of God's word to Daniel.
The events of this chapter prefigure the events described in Revelation 17-18.
I. BELSHAZZAR'S ARROGANT FEAST (vv. 1-4).
II. GOD'S OMINOUS ANNOUNCEMENT (vv. 5-9).
III. THE QUEEN'S RESPECTFUL APPEAL (vv. 10-12).
IV. DANIEL'S STERN REBUKE (vv. 13-23).
V. THE WRITING'S SOLEMN INTERPRETATION (vv. 24-28).
VI. THE KING'S WORTHLESS HONOR (v. 29).
VII. THE EMPIRE'S SUDDEN FALL (vv. 30-31).
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).