Daniel 5 Declaring God’s judgement Sun 8th Nov
Book theme: in spite of present appearances God is in control
Chapter theme: the all-powerful God’s judgement on the unrepentant arrogant Belshazzar
How do you learn things best?
People often say that we learn best from our mistakes, but thankfully we can learn from other’s mistakes too! What have you personally learnt from other people’s disasters?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 11-13 and see how Paul describes what is written in much of the Old Testament. Spend some time thanking God for his word and how we can learn much from the interaction of God with his people throughout history.
Word: Read Daniel 5
Background data: Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian empire in 539BC, 23 years after King Nebuchadnezzar’s death. A quarter of a century has thus passed since the events of chapter 4 and Daniel is now an old man.
The identity of Belshazzar was long unknown, but he is now known to be the eldest son of King Nabonidus (556-539 BC) and to have shared the duties of the throne with his father. While Nabonidus was away from Babylon, his son had supreme authority there.
The queen in v10 is probably the Queen Mother. She may well have been a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, thus making Belshazzar Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. Alternatively she may be Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, exerting her influence decades after her husband’s death. Within ancient cultures the terms “father” and “son” can be used much more loosely to mean forefather and descendant.
- What actions and attitudes on the past of Belshazzar and his guests do you think would have provoked the Lord’s anger?
- Babylon was considered impregnable as a city. They had 20 years of food supplies on hand and the River Euphrates ran through the city. Given the fact that the army of Cyrus the Great was encamped outside, what do you think might have motivated Belshazzar to host this banquet?
How might you have reacted if you had been at the banquet and saw a hand appear and write on the wall, v5?
- What does Daniel’s rejection of flattery and rewards (verse 17) say about the authenticity of the man and his message?
- How would you respond if you were in a similar situation?
- Why do you think Daniel reminds Belshazzar of how God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar?
- What insights into the nature of Belshazzar’s sins does Daniel give us in v22-23?
What does Daniel say that the handwriting on the wall means? (check out the text notes in your Bible to see the various meanings of these words)
- How is this prophecy fulfilled, v30?
- How does this also fulfil one of Daniel’s earlier prophecies? (Daniel 2:36-39)
- Why do you think that God does not appear to treat Belshazzar with the same grace and forgiveness with which he treated Nebchadnezzar?
- What contemporary examples come to mind of people mocking God as Belshazzar did?
- How do you think God reacts to such behaviour today?
- How should we as God’s people react in the light of the cross? (1 Timothy 2:1-3, Matthew 5:9 may help your thoughts)
- Why do people often fail, as Belshazzar did, to learn from the past?
- What do you think God would have us remember from this passage today?
Jo Levasier, 04/11/2009