One thing we can count on is that everyone will eventually leave this earth no matter how healthy we may seem or how far death seems to be from us. None of us are promised tomorrow and death does not discriminate against race, religion or age. We do not like to talk about death and we do all we can to avoid the topic by filling up our lives with entertainment to keep us from addressing the issue that faces every human being. . As a pastor I am constantly having to address this problem because people will call me to discuss the topic when a loved one either dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Death is daily thrown in our face no matter if it is close to home or overseas and so we must address the issue and what to do about it because our days are numbered.
In today’s story found in Daniel 5 we see a new King has taken the throne since Nebuchadnezzar has passed away. Several Kings have taken over but through untimely deaths they went through several Kings in a short amount of time which leads us to the King over Babylon Belshazzar. The Name Belshazzar means Bel protect the king but outside historical records thought the book of Daniel got it wrong because Belshazzar was not listed as the King. King Nabonidus was the ruler according to many archeological finds so many people discredited the book of Daniel as being false until an archeological dig where King Belshazzar’s name is mentioned was found by J.G. Taylor in 1854. He discovered cylinders that had Belshazzar name on them listing him as the king of Babylon because King Nabonidus left the region of Babylon to Belshazzar to rule as he left to rule in another region. It was a co-King type of system with Belshazzar being named the number two King of the land.
Read Daniel 5
Because our Days Are Numbered
1) Make Every day Count
Psalm 90:9-12 For all our days pass away under your wrath;we bring our years to an end like a sigh.10 The years of our life are seventy,or even by reason of strength eighty;yet their span[c] is but toil and trouble;they are soon gone, and we fly away.11 Who considers the power of your anger,and your wrath according to the fear of you?12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom
We are to number our days which means we are to make every day of our life count because we do not know how many days we have on this earth. For some their time on earth is many but for some it is short by our standards. The days numbered for each of us by God is by His discretion and so we must live them according to His will. (Job 14:5)
King Belshazzar was throwing a huge party and 1000 of the ruling officials and their wives were present. They were celebrating a festival in a large banquet hall and a room was discovered in archeological digs that would fit the description of the size of this party taking place. The Historical writings of Greek Historian Herodotus and Xenophon tell us that there was a festival taking place when Babylon fell on October 12th 539 B.C. The feast was either a celebration because Belshazzar is the official King after King Nabonidus was defeated and killed or it was established to try and bring courage and morale to the city since Babylon had not been taken yet or just a yearly festival they always celebrated.
The Medes and the Persians (which is the next world empire as God predicted in Daniel 2) had conquered everything but they could not destroy the city of Babylon because of its walls and moat that surrounded the city. Historical writings tell us that for 4 months the army was encamped around the city and that is probably why all the nobles were in the city because they had to flee for protection. We are also told through archeological findings that Babylon had all the fresh water it needed and 20 years of food supplies for the entire city. The King was not worried about dying even though death was literally at his doorstep.
As arrogant as that might sound to us with an invading army being right outside the walls of the city, how many of us live our lives without the thought that this might be our last day on earth? How we treat people, what we focus on and what we fill our lives with is an indication that we all think we will have more time on this earth than we are promised.
Belshazzar ask for the Gold and Silver cups from the Jerusalem Temple
King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem fifty years ago and he took back some of cups and religious artifacts out of the temple of Jerusalem as a sign that the Babylonian god was stronger than the Jewish God. A foreign country would always take some of the religious things from the country they just defeated and would put them with the god they worshiped as a sign that their god gave them victory over their enemy. King Belshazzar thought that it would be good to drink from these cups so he ordered to have them brought to the party even though his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar told everyone to respect the Jews. (Daniel 3:29) Disrespecting another countries religious artifacts was highly unusual even for a pagan king who normally would not disrespect another religion in this way.
They drank wine and praised the gods of gold, silver bronze iron wood and stone
Belshazzar decided to blaspheme the God of Israel by drinking out of the cups reserved for the Holy Temple of God and some say he did it to show that the prophecy of the Medio-Persian empire taking over would not come true. Some historical reports say that the people were laughing about the invasion and even mocking the soldiers outside the walls of Babylon.
King Belshazzar’s actions with the Holy things of God would be the equivalent to someone coming up to the communion table at church then filling the cup with Jack Daniels whiskey and giving praise to Satan. This is not unusual behavior for people that do not believe in God because they mock the things of God, the prophecies of God, and the warnings of God, because they believe they are the gods of their own lives.
Jeremiah prophesied 150 years before this happened that the Medio- Persian empire would destroy Babylon before the Medes and Persians came together (Jeremiah 50-51)
Jeremiah 51:11 The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.
Jeremiah 51:57 I will make drunk her officials and her wise men,her governors, the commanders, and her warriors;they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake,declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
As Jeremiah prophesied about it they were drunk when the invasion of the city came about. It would be easy for us to look at King Belshazzar and criticize him for how he was living but many so called followers of Christ are not living their lives any differently than the world and God has declared us Holy. Like Belshazzar we take the Holy things of God and we make a mockery of them.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Our bodies are the temple and just like the Temple in the Old Testament we are to keep it clean and pure. Many people say they are Christians and are living their lives like Belshazzar as we hold up the Temple Cup and say Hail Satan. We live our lives as if we are the rulers of our own destiny when the Bible says clearly that those who have received salvation from Jesus Christ are no longer their own but we belong to Him. People want salvation without surrendering their lives to Christ but that is impossible.
“By refusing to think, especially about eternal realities, and by filling our days with entertainment, particularly sin-oriented entertainment, we lose sight of danger and plunge into the abyss.” (Daniel, James Montgomery Boice, Pg 61)
Because our Days Are Numbered
2) God’s Judgment is Coming
Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall
Silence swept through the party that was taking place as a couple thousand of people stopped everything they were doing as God’s judgment was written for them all to see. The king literally went limp out of fear of what he saw and he wanted to know what was written on the wall.
Luke 12:15-21 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Belshazzar saw the enemy surrounding the city but he was confident inside the walls that surrounded him but little did he know that his life would be destroyed that night.The Babylonians did not face reality instead they entertained themselves avoiding the topic of death, a fate they would eventually meet that very night.
Too many Christians are praising the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone and wood. House, cars, money, popularity are the idols we put in front of God but all these things will one day be gone and we will stand before God for how we have lived with the resources He has given us. Like Belshazzar we drink from our religious cups while giving praise to the things of this world.
MENE: This word means Numbered or Reckoned.
The Fact that it was said twice means that God says that this will certainly happen. We can do all we can to not face Judgement but we will all face it one day. We can face it by our own works which will leave us short of God’s standard or we can accept Jesus Christ which allows us to be found Holy and pure so we can be in the presence of God.
Hebrews 9:27-28 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Judgement holds no fear for those who have given their lives to Christ because they know that all the sins they have committed have been forgiven.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Many Christians are going to regret that they did not invest in eternity and only selfishly for their own pleasure and earthly gain. This is more than financial investment as Matthew 25:35 tells us that when we feed or clothe the poor we are doing it as if we are doing it for Jesus Himself.
Matthew 25:27-30 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Our days our numbered and we do not know when Jesus will demand the answers that will be do Him and so if you are living only for yourself and you are not investing in the Eternal Kingdom then you might not be a believer. Are you living your life as if eternity does not matter? Are you living your life as if you will not give an account before God? Are you living for yourself or for Jesus?
Belshazzar did not think the prophecy of God would come true and that he had set himself up to overcome what had been predicted would come which is death and defeat. One day we will all leave this earth and our days are numbered. If you have not surrendered your life to Christ I would encourage you to do so today.