Sabbath, April 16, 2011
“… If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin … to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him….” Matthew 24:48-50.
Forgetting one’s responsibility
1. What did the last king of Babylon do? What do wine and strong drink cause?
Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
“To us the warning is given, ‘All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.’ Mark the influence of their extremes and fanaticism in the service of the great master worker, Satan. As soon as the wicked one had the people under his control, there were exhibitions of a satanic character. The people ate and drank without a thought of God and His mercy, without a thought of the necessity of resisting the devil, who was leading them on to the most shameful deeds. The same spirit was manifested as at the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar. There was glee and dancing, hilarity and singing, carried to an infatuation that beguiled the senses; then the indulgence in inordinate, lustful affections–all this mingled in that disgraceful scene. God had been dishonored; His people had become a shame in the sight of the heathen. Judgments were about to fall on that infatuated, besotted multitude. Yet God in His mercy gave them opportunity to forsake their sins.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 101, 102.
2. What warning is given to us?
Proverbs 23:29-35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
“Let every soul remember that he is under sacred obligations to God to do his best for his fellow creatures. How careful should everyone be not to create a desire for stimulants. By advising friends and neighbors to take brandy for the sake of their health, they are in danger of becoming agents for the destruction of their friends. Many incidents have come to my attention in which through some simple advice, men and women have become the slaves of the drink habit….
“With the awful results of indulgence in intoxicating drink before us, how is it that any man or woman who claims to believe in the word of God, can venture to touch, taste, or handle wine or strong drink? Such a practice is certainly out of harmony with their professed faith.” –Temperance, p. 42.
An uninvited Guest observed the proceedings
3. What command did the inebriated King Belshazzar give? How did the uninvited Guest reveal His presence?
Daniel 5:2-6 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
“Little did Belshazzar think that there was a heavenly Witness to his idolatrous revelry; that a divine Watcher, unrecognized, looked upon the scene of profanation,…” –Prophets and Kings, p. 527.
“The inhabitants of the Noachian world were destroyed because they were corrupted through the indulgence of perverted appetite. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed through the gratification of unnatural appetite, which so benumbed the intellect that they could not discern the difference between the sacred claims of God and the clamor of appetite. The latter enslaved them, and they became so ferocious and bold in their detestable abominations that God would not tolerate them upon the earth. God ascribes the wickedness of Babylon to her gluttony and drunkenness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 162.
4. What experience did the king make? Who remembered someone who could help?
Daniel 5:7-12 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.
“Terror seized the king, for his conscience accused him. Although he could not read the writing, he knew it was no message of peace and blessing that was traced in glittering characters upon his palace wall. The description the prophet gives of the effect of the king’s fear cannot be excelled in any particular. The king’s countenance was changed, his heart failed him, pain seized upon him, and so violent was his trembling that his knees smote one against another. He forgot his boasting and revelry. He forgot his dignity. And he cried aloud for his astrologers and soothsayers to solve the meaning of the mysterious inscription.” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 90.
“But of no avail was his appeal to his trusted advisers, with offers of rich awards. Heavenly wisdom cannot be bought or sold. ‘All the king’s wise men … could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.’ They were no more able to read the mysterious characters than had been the wise men of a former generation to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 527.
Interpreting the sentence
5. What promise was Daniel given? What impression did the promise of great gifts and distinction make upon him?
Daniel 5:13-17 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing: And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
“Before that terror-stricken throng, Daniel, unmoved by the promises of the king, stood in the quiet dignity of a servant of the Most High, not to speak words of flattery, but to interpret a message of doom.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 529.
6. How did he begin the explanation of the handwriting? What was the message from Heaven?
Daniel 5:18-28 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
“The prophet first reminded Belshazzar of matters with which he was familiar, but which had not taught him the lesson of humility that might have saved him. He spoke of Nebuchadnezzar’s sin and fall, and of the Lord’s dealings with him–the dominion and glory bestowed upon him, the divine judgments for his pride, and his subsequent acknowledgment of the power and mercy of the God of Israel; and then in bold and emphatic words he rebuked Belshazzar for his great wickedness. He held the king’s sin up before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not read aright the experience of his grandfather, nor heeded the warning of events so significant to himself. The opportunity of knowing and obeying the true God had been given him, but had not been taken to heart,…” –Prophets and Kings, p. 529.
Rapid execution of the sentence
7. What happened that night? What had the prophet Jeremiah foretold more than one hundred years before?
Daniel 5:29-31 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
Jeremiah 51:9 We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
“Even while he and his nobles were drinking from the sacred vessels of Jehovah and praising their gods of silver and gold, the Medes and the Persians, having turned the Euphrates out of its channel, were marching into the heart of the unguarded city…. Their triumphant shouts could be heard above the despairing cries of the astonished revelers.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 531.
For personal study
• Exodus chapter 32.
• Isaiah 22:13, 14.
• The Adventist Home, pp. 59, 60.