S: Daniel 5:18-31 As for you, O king, the most high God bestowed on your father Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, greatness, honor, and majesty. Due to the greatness that he bestowed on him, all peoples, nations, and language groups were trembling with fear before him. He killed whom he wished, he spared whom he wished, he exalted whom he wished, and he brought low whom he wished. And when his mind became arrogant and his spirit filled with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and his honor was removed from him. He was driven from human society, his mind was changed to that of an animal, he lived with the wild donkeys, he was fed grass like oxen, and his body became damp with the dew of the sky, until he came to understand that the most high God rules over human kingdoms, and he appoints over them whomever he wishes.
“But you, his son Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself,although you knew all this. Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. You brought before you the vessels from his temple, and you and your nobles, together with your wives and concubines, drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone – gods that cannot see or hear or comprehend! But you have not glorified the God who has in his control your very breath and all your ways! Therefore the palm of a hand was sent from him, and this writing was inscribed.
“This is the writing that was inscribed: mene, mene, teqel, and pharsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the words: As for mene – God has numbered your kingdom’s days and brought it to an end. As for teqel – you are weighed on the balances and found to be lacking. As for peres – your kingdom is divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”
Then, on Belshazzar’s orders, Daniel was clothed in purple, a golden collar was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed third ruler in the kingdom. And in that very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed. So Darius the Mede took control of the kingdom when he was about sixty-two years old.
O: Belshazzar knew what YHWH God had done in Nebuchadnezzar's life, and how YHWH had humbled Nebuchadnezzar and proved that He is the One True God. Yet Belshazzar insisted on thumbing his nose at YHWH.
Incidentally, skeptical historians used to claim that Belshazzar was a fiction. Firstly, Nebuchadnezzar had no son named Belshazzar or anything like that -- in fact, Nebuchadnezzar's son Amel Marduk (known as Evil Merodach in 2 Kings and Jeremiah) in had been assassinated by his son-in-law Neriglissar. And secular records said that the king of Babylon at the time of the Medo-Persian conquest was Nabonidius, not anyone named Belshazzar. Nabonidius was actually king of Babylon because he had overthrown Labashi Marduk, son of Neriglissar.
While secular historians acknowledge that a king of Babylon who was not related to Nebuchadnezzar could refer to Nebuchadnezzar as "father" because of the practice of using the term "father" to mean "predecessor", because of the lack of mention of Belshazzar in secular sources, many people pointed to this as another piece of evidence that the Book of Daniel was fiction.
However, in the 20th century, several archaeological discoveries showed that Belshazzar was indeed reigning as king in Babylon during the conquest by the Medo-Persians, and there's also now evidence outside the Bible that Belshazzar was killed in the Medo-Persian conquest. As a result, today, virtually no historians dispute the historicity of Belshazzar. (For more information, see http://goo.gl/0h1D3i and http://goo.gl/VVLNur).
Incidentally, the last line of today's reading talks about Darius the Mede. Just like Belshazzar used to have no evidence outside the Bible supporting his historicity, currently, there is no evidence outside the Bible supporting the historicity of Darius the Mede. But, as the case of Belshazzar points out, so what? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. See http://goo.gl/lvBfw7 for more information and http://goo.gl/jy4ASb for a defense of these and many other objections to Daniel.
A: We, too, usually know when we're doing something wrong... yet so often we give in to pride, temptation, lust, etc. and go ahead and do the wrong thing.
So let's be reminded by what happened to Belshazzar.
P: Father, when I am tempted, may I always run to you and away from the temptation. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)
The picture is Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast.