Daniel 015: God is not Dead!Daniel 5:1-12 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 12, 2017 • Daniel
Andy Woods SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH Lesson 15, God is not Dead!
Daniel 5:1-12, March 12, 2017
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Daniel, chapter 5. The title of our message this morning is God is not Dead! And we’re going to see evidence of it in the passage this morning, where a ruler, a king who thought God was dead, learns that He’s not dead.
If you have been tracking with us through the book of Daniel we find ourselves in chapter 5. We know that Daniel was a special prophet that God raised up to help the nation of Israel during a very difficult time in their national existence; a time period when they were in captivity in Babylon, about 350 miles to the east of Jerusalem, which today would be modern day Iraq. And you can see the anxiety that the people would be under having been ripped out of their land which they had been in for 800 years as they are now under the discipline of God in a place called Babylon. So God raises up this man, Daniel to basically explain this new time period that the nation is in prophetically, and he’s also raised up as role model. How is the nation to behave when they want to live for God in a country that doesn’t honor Him any longer. To some extent that sounds like the United States, doesn’t it? And that’s why the book of Daniel is so instructive to us; it teaches us how to live on enemy territory.
Chapters 1-7 is historical; chapters 8-12 is prophetic, just reminding us of the big picture here. Chapter 1 was an introductory chapter, it kind of laid the foundation, set the stage for the events coming. And then we moved into chapters 2-7 which is organized like a chiasm, which is an ancient literary device. The western mind is not familiar with this literary device but it’s all over the Bible, these chiasms, where essentially chapter 2 lines up with chapter 7; chapters 3 lines up with chapter 6, chapter 4 lines up with chapter 5 in terms of theme. And you kind of work your way inward and it sort of forms an X which is the Greek letter Kai, and that’s why it’s given this name, a chiasm.
Chapter 2, as we have studied, is a revelation of Gentile history; it’s a revelation of the various empires that would trample the nation down during this difficult time period that the nation was now in. That information is going to be recapitulated in chapter 7. Chapter 3 is a divine rescue operation as God rescues Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego from the fiery furnace. That theme is going to be recapitulated in chapter 6 related to Daniel and the lion’s den. Chapter 4, which we completed last week, is a revelation by God to a Gentile king. This would be the first king of Neo-Babylonia, the first king that began to trample the nation down, a man named Nebuchadnezzar. And God, as we have seen in chapter 4 deals with Nebuchadnezzar by way of grace.
And that moves us into chapter 5 which also is a revelation by God to a Gentile king; this king will not be the first king of Neo-Babylonia, it will be the last king of Neo-Babylonia. God is no longer revealing Himself to Nebuchadnezzar, He is now revealing Himself to a man named, as we shall see, Belshazzar. This revelation of God will not be a revelation of grace, as Nebuchadnezzar received in chapter 4. This revelation, chapter 5, will be a revelation of impending doom and judgment.
Here is an outline, if you will, of chapter 5 as we start moving into chapter 5 this morning. This outline revolves around people making various contributions to a feast that’s happening here in chapter 5. You have Belshazzar’s contribution to the feast: verses 1-4, unrestrained sensuality. You have God’s contribution to the feast: verses 5-6, the handwriting on the wall. You have Daniel’s contribution the feast: verses 7-29, an interpretation of the handwriting on the wall which is an announcement of doom. And then finally as Babylon is overthrown that very night you have Darius’s contribution to the feast, this Persian that came in as a conqueror and his contribution is the conquest of Babylon, verses 30-31, an empire that never thought it would come to an end and yet it did in this chapter.
Notice, if you will, verses 1-4, we have Belshazzar’s contribution to the feast, unrestrained sensuality, Belshazzar being the last king of Neo-Babylonia, and notice right there at the beginning, it says in verse 1, “Belshazzar the king…” Belshazzar is not to be confused with Belteshazzar; Belteshazzar is the name that Nebuchadnezzar gave to Daniel. You remember that when Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews into captivity he took youths into captivity first, to sort of brainwash them and get them on his side, on his team, to talk the rest of the population into settling peaceably in Babylon.
And Nebuchadnezzar immediately asserted authority over those youths by renaming them. Daniel’s name was changed to Belshazzar, not to be confused with Belteshazzar who is highlighted in this chapter, the last king of Neo-Babylonia. And one of the things that the Bible does is it takes us from chapter 4 into chapter 5, from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar into the reign of Belshazzar and it gives you the impression that Belshazzar simply followed Nebuchadnezzar in terms of the dynasty or the succession of leadership. And that really is not the case. The Bible does not give us an exhaustive history of what happened between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar; we have to consult extra-biblical tradition to get the timeline down.
Essentially Nebuchadnezzar died around 562 B.C. He had a son named Evil-Merodach, who was assassinated after reigning two years. Then came a man named Neriglissar who reigned about four years and he died. And his son, I don’t even know if I’m going to pronounce this name, I’ll just call Him “L” for short, here we go… Laborosoarchod I think is how you pronounce that, rules nine months before he was beaten to death. And the Co-conspirators who were involved in that incident put a man named Nabonidus on the throne. Nabonidus appointed his son, Belshazzar as co-regent, co-ruler in Babylon. That latter point becomes a big deal in terms of people using language in this chapter, as I’ll show you, to discredit the Word of God.
If you’re more interested in charts here’s everything that I said in chart form and we have all of the verses where you can look up these various kings but we have to sort of piece together what the Bible says with what we know of Babylonian history and so the path from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar was a path of turmoil, a path of political intrigue, but somehow in the providence of God this man, Belshazzar, arises over the throne in Babylon during the days of Daniel as a co-regent or a co-ruler.
So in chapters 1-4 the man that was the antagonist, the man that was behind the scenes, the man that God ultimately dealt with in grace is Nebuchadnezzar. He has now left the scene and now the subject of chapter 5 is this man, Belshazzar. And so when we read the words, “Belshazzar the King” that’s the background of those words. We continue on and it says, “Belshazzar the king, held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this and it’s very interesting: Archeologists have excavated a large hall in Babylon, about 55 feet wide and 165 feet long that had plastered walls. The Bible Knowledge Commentary indicates that this very room that has been excavated would have been sufficient to have a gathering like the type that is described here in chapter 5.
It is interesting to note that archeology over and over again, if interpreted correctly, does not contradict the biblical record but it corroborates the biblical record. It shows that the things that we read about in the Bible are not just like reading Jack and the Beanstalk, but these are actual historical events. And as you study archeology you can sort of see the scenario coming into play where a very thing like this could have happened.
Probably what I would communicate most aggressively about this feast and this man, Belshazzar, the two words that come to mind, three words really, are “false sense” (four words, I forgot the preposition, “false sense of security.” This was a man that was living in a false sense of security. Why do I say that? Because this very night the Persians were outside the walls of Babylon and in spite of the presence of the enemy this man has a giant party. Now why did he have a party? Well, for one thing he had (it’s believed) about twenty years of supplies for survival. Secondly there were these giant walls around Babylon, he felt himself and his empire invincible and invulnerable.
It’s kind of like how Americans felt just prior to 9-11. Isn’t it interesting how we felt so invincible and invulnerable and then some people with box cutters hijacked some planes and topple the great symbol of American prosperity, the twin towers. One of the great deceptions of human beings is we live with a false sense of security. We live as if we’re invincible. We live as if we’re invulnerable. It reminds me very much of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. “And He told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  ‘Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  ‘And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.””
Now if you stopped reading the story at that point you would think this man is very successful; after all, it looks like he had achieved the American dream, he had accumulated resources that would allow him to live in what we would call retirement until a very, very old age. But verse 20 changes the tone because it says, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night” kind of like “this very night” here in Daniel 5 something is going to happen, “In the same way this very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The fact of the matter is in this world unless you’re “in Christ” there is no safety, there is no security. You may be deluded into thinking you’re safe but think about this for a minute; we are one heartbeat away from eternity, one breath away from eternity and people live their entire lives as if God didn’t exist at all because they’re deluded into thinking they’re safe, they’re secure, they’re materially prosperous. And this, of course, was the great problem with this man, Belshazzar. One of the greatest biblical chronologists I ever studied under was Dr. Harold Hoehner, and he went through in class at Dallas Seminary a great mathematical computation, it was so great I’m not going to try to reproduce it, I don’t know if I can remember it, but he stood on this idea that this event, everything we know about Persian history happened Saturday night (that’s how precise he was), October 12, 539 BC. That is when this event that we’re reading about here took place. This is when the Persians overthrew the Babylonians despite the fact that the Babylonians thought that their day in the sun would never end.
And if Dr. Hoehner is right, and he had two doctorates so he must have been right, the nation of Israel was in captivity for 67 years up to this point in time, having gone into captivity earlier as we have studied and so within three years the captivity is about to end. And therefore Daniel is no longer a teenager, as he was in the earlier parts of the book. You remember chapters 1, 2 and 3 he was basically a teenager. Chapter 4 most likely he’s in his late 40’s, mid to late 40’s. And now we’re at the sunset years, if you will, of Daniel’s life; he’s in his 80’s. And isn’t it interesting the decisions that we make when we’re young follow us our whole life for good or for bad.
Daniel was the type of person, as we have seen, that made a decision that he was not going to compromise as a youth despite many opportunities to do so. And we see Daniel with that character formed as Daniel is now in his 80’s with that same spirit. And I say Lord, I want to be just like that, I want to be just as vigorous and living for you in my old age as I was when I was younger. And many people have this sort of idea that well, you can just go out and so some wild oats and I’ll get serious about God at some point. You know it doesn’t work that way, you have to start making conscious choices to live for God, even as a Christian. You may be saved but the temptation to compromise is all around us; the culture has all of us by the throat and we have to start deciding every day that we’re going to live for God. And the type of choices we make now is going to determine the type of character we will have in our sunset years. Daniel is a great illustration of that.
We move into verses 2-4 where we see that this man, Belshazzar, has complete and total disrespect for God. Notice if you will verses 2-4, “When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.  Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.  They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.”
This man here just thumbs his nose at the God of the universe. He took something that was sacred and made something into it profane because you remember back in Daniel 1:2 Nebuchadnezzar, when he laid siege to Jerusalem took the vessels, the holy instruments of God, from the temple and brought them into his custody. Daniel 1:2 says, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” And decades had passed with these vessels, most likely lying intact. And here comes Belshazzar with no heart for God, no sensitivity to God, taking something holy that was used originally for holy purposes and using it for a drunken bash. In fact, what he’s doing here is idolatrous because in verse 4 it says, “They drank the wine and praised the gods” little g and plural, “of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.” This is idolatry, that’s what this man is doing.
One of the things that’s been very troubling to watch in the United States is the lack of fear of God in people. There used to be a day in this country where people, even if they weren’t saved, had at least respect for the things of God. I’m afraid that that day is past. I remember the national endowment of the arts at taxpayer expense, I might add, took Jesus Christ upside down and placed Him in a bottle of urine. And I thought to myself, is there no shame, is there no blushing any more. And isn’t it interesting that they tell us don’t bring religion into the public square, oh, unless you’re going to trash religion, trash the Bible, trash Christianity, then not only can you bring it into the public square but we’ll subsidize it and call it art. That is the mindset today of so many people. As the Apostle Paul says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes. [Romans 3:18] That is Belshazzar.
Now we have a problem though, because it says… did you catch this, now my daughter and myself read through this passage and she caught it so are you smarter than a ten year old? She said why does it say Nebuchadnezzar, his father? And it couldn’t be his father because, remember the chain that I went through; Nebuchadnezzar died in 562, there’s multiple people that come onto the throne and leave and Belshazzar is now a coregent. Why would it says “his father”?
And the reason I bring this to your attention is because when you watch A&E, the history channel, Mysteries of the Bible, Discovery, they grab these little things and they say well everybody knows that Daniel was not written in the 6th century B.C., we know it was written in the 2nd century B.C. And they do that, as we have studied, because they can’t handle the fact that Daniel makes prophecies or predictions so he must have written after the fact. And they make this case that the book of Daniel is filled with errors, it’s not a credible doctrine, well, look, right even here it says Nebuchadnezzar, his father, ha ha ha, we all know Babylonian history and tradition that Belshazzar was not in a son/father relationship to Nebuchadnezzar.
And the thing of it is your grandchildren and your children who are watching this are going to ask your opinion on it. Don’t you go to that church, don’t you go to that Bible church where they talk about things like this? I was just watching this program and they discredit the Bible; what do you say grandma? What do you say grandpa? And most Christians just sit there bright-eyed and flatfooted because they’re not in a church where their pastor equips them for this ministry. That’s the reason I bring these things up.
The answer to it is this: In the ancient world successive monarchs were often identified as the sons of famous predecessors, even when there was no dynastic or genealogical connection in the relationship. In other words, if we stop thinking 21st century and start thinking 6th century B.C. this is a normal way of speaking. Someone comes to the throne is often referred to as the son of someone that occupied the throne a long time ago. After all, isn’t Jesus called, Matthew 9:27, “the son of David.” [Matthew 9:27, “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!”’] Well, how could Jesus be the Son of David? We all know that three is a thousand years between Jesus and David. Well, you’re thinking 21st century; you’re demanding a 21st century understanding be applied to an ancient text. That’s not how the ancients talked.
There is an interesting archeological discovery called the Black Obelisk of Shalmanesar III. On the Black Obelisk of Shalmanesar III Jehu is called the son of Omri even though there’s no relationship between Jehu and Omri, and Jehu is responsible for wiping out the Omri line. That’s your answer to the history channel, is this: these answers are not hard to discover, it just takes a little bit of energy and effort. With that standard we could actually call George Bush the son of Gerald Ford; we know that there’s no father/son relationship there but they both occupied the same throne, the same place of leadership at different times. The ancients would refer to one as the son and the other as the father.
And isn’t it shocking that people will hear this word of doubt and just based on that word of doubt will reject Christianity because of this one thing. And yet there are such simple answers and these answers are so easy to come by in our age of technology and the internet, it takes very little ability to come to a correct answer. All of the commentaries that we have, all of the scholarly articles, all of the theologians, and isn’t it not incumbent upon us to become aware of some of these things, if not for the sake of our children and grandchildren whose minds are bombarded with doubts about the Word of God? That’s Belshazzar’s contribution.
Well, what about God’s contribution? I’m glad you asked, verses 5-6, God’s contribution is the handwriting on the wall. God’s contribution, you think I’m dead but I’m not dead. You’ve written Me out of your life but I’m still here. We have the writing and we have the reaction. Notice, if you will, the writing, verse 5, “Suddenly,” I love that, “the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall” remember the archeological remains in the room that was discovered with plaster, it talks about plaster here doesn’t it? “Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing.”
What does it mean in the ancient world where a severed hand shows up and starts to write? It doesn’t mean much to us, it’s not a miracle, it means something to us in that respect, but we don’t understand the significance of this. In the ancient world a severed hand meant death. In fact, casualty counts were made in wars, following wars, cutting off the right hand of the dead. How many people died in this battle? How many people died in this war? Well, how many severed hands do they have? In the ancient world a severed hand meant death.
That is the whole significance of 1 Samuel 5:3-4, which says this: “When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon” that’s an idol, “had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again.  But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.”
The reason that God allowed the hands of this idol to be broken off is God is showing this thing is dead, I killed it. And what happens here is a hand, which represents death, is very much alive in Daniel 5. In fact this hand is so alive it actually begins to write on the wall. That’s why I have entitled this message God is Not Dead! God is alive. You see, the doctrine of humanism teaches this, and I’m almost quoting this verbatim from their own writings. Humanism, of course, the worship of man; humanism, of course, the dominant doctrine that’s being taught today in American public institutions and public schools, the humanist themselves say God, if He exists at all, is irrelevant. Even if God exists it doesn’t matter, because we are the center of the universe, we are our own gods. America, your typical American thinks just like Belshazzar thought. It doesn’t matter who God is, it doesn’t matter if God exists. It doesn’t matter anything about these sacred vessels, in fact, I don’t even care, I’m going to actually profane them and my conscience is not bothered a bit, the doctrine of humanism.
And how unsettling it is for people to discover that God does exist who think he doesn’t exist. Look at the reaction here in verse 6, “Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.” You know, on the day of judgment that is going to be the reaction of an awful lot of people. And at least Belshazzar had the reaction before it was too late for him to do anything about it. Some people are just going to have their reaction too late, but how important it is to be hit with the fear of God this side of eternity because that way I have an opportunity to change my destiny by trusting in Christ and Christ alone.
It is a very troubling prospect to those who have pushed God out of their collective consciences to discover that he exists. I have people in my life, in my family, extended family, that live as if God didn’t exist at all; in fact, they have bought into philosophies, whether it be atheism, agnosticism, which gives them an excuse to live the way they want to live without God. And it is a burdensome stone for me to think about them actually eyeballing it with God on the other side of eternity when it’s too late. You know, God loves us so much that He bothers us before it’s too late; that’s what’s happening here with this man, Belshazzar. Yes, there’s a lot of judgment in this passage but I think that grace is coming here as well because this man is being given a chance to correct his ways.
So that leads to Daniel’s contribution to the feast which is an announcement of doom. He doesn’t bring a very happy message here; he doesn’t bring a message of this is your best life now or whatever the big bestsellers are. This is a message that he is faithful to, as an old man, of imminent destruction. And this section is somewhat long, I doubt we will even get through all of this this morning, but the first part of it is the inability of the Chaldeans to interpret the writing on the wall.
Notice verses 7-9, it says, “The king called aloud to bring in the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners. The king spoke and said to the wise men” I would put “wise” in quotation marks there because these people aren’t very wise at all, “to the wise men of Babylon, ‘Any man who can read this inscription and explain its interpretation to me shall be clothed with purple and have a necklace of gold around his neck, and have authority as third ruler in the kingdom.’  Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription or make known its interpretation to the king.  Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, his face grew even paler, and his nobles were perplexed.”
Let’s bring in Jeanne Dixon, let’s bring in the horoscope, let’s bring in the Oprah Winfrey network, let’s bring in the whatever and let’s get this figured out. And I bring those things up because look at how many people today go into those things to find truth, into sources of bankruptcy, palm readers, soothsayers, Ouija boards, these kind of things dominate the thinking of people. And it’s an empty cistern; it cannot reveal what the Creator and the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, can reveal. And so many times we’re looking for truth in the wrong sources. God is saying just turn to me… just turn to Me?
This must be a theme in Daniel because this has already happened before with Nebuchadnezzar, they couldn’t interpret his dream, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, through these various exchanges. You remember chapter 4 and verse 7 related to the vision that Nebuchadnezzar saw that we studied last week, it says, “Then the magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners came in and I related the dream to them, but they could not make its interpretation known to me.” The bankruptcy of the Babylonian system! This system, nation of Israel that you are so intimidated by, is bankrupt. In fact, this very night that system is going to be virtually destroyed.
And this is a reminder of the fact that God is in control even though His nation is outside of the land and their temple has been destroyed. So you think that somehow God has lost control of the universe? But pastor, I got laid off from my job. Pastor, I went to the doctor and he gave me this negative report because he saw this on my test. But pastor, my spouse left me, my children are in rebellion against me, you don’t understand. And you’re right, I probably don’t understand the full gamut of that.
But the reality of the situation is God has not lost control of anything… anything! We think He’s lost control because we don’t look at it from the right angle, we’re so busy analyzing things from the human perspective that the study of the Bible gets us up to the 10,000 foot level and shows us that everything is happening according to an orchestrated plan. God simply asks us to trust Him in the midst of it.
No extra charge for this, but you’ll notice that Belshazzar offered Daniel, or his soothsayers first, a reward if they could interpret the handwriting on the wall. The reward consists of being clothed with purple and having a necklace of gold. Purple and gold! I bring this up because when you turn to the book of Revelation you’ll run into a prostitute or a harlot that has on her forehead the title, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH [Revelation 17:5, “and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”’] And throughout the millennia commentators have scratched their heads trying to figure out who this harlot is. What does it say here, “Babylon the Great,” literal interpretation. When you see the word “Babylon” in the Bible what does that mean? Are you ready for this; this is deep! When you see Babylon in the Bible it’s used 300 times, every time you see the word “Babylon” in the Bible it means Babylon.
This is talking about the empire of the antichrist that is going to be rebuilt in the very vicinity where these events happened in Daniel 5; that’s what it’s talking about, in my opinion. I get that from literal interpretation. And people have, throughout the centuries misidentified the harlot and they say this: it’s got to be the Roman Catholic Church. Do you know who started this idea that it was the Roman Catholic Church? It was Martin Luther, the church reformer who was in a contest, theologically, with the Roman Catholic Church. And what an easy way to dismiss your opponent and simply call them the great harlot of Revelation 17. So this became sort of a newspaper (if I can put it that way) reading of the Bible. And Luther would say look at the garments of the priests, look at how they’re draped in purple and gold.
And then that interpretation is passed down through the generations and so Christian generation after Christian generation has followed that interpretation, misinterpreting who the harlot is. It doesn’t say Rome, does it? It says Babylon. Where is Babylon? Babylon is in the East. Where is Rome? It’s in the West. Babylon is between the Euphrates and the Tigris, that’s where the tower of Babel once stood, where the Garden of Eden most likely existed. That’s not Rome; Rome is a different direction, Rome is in the West. And so I say well why did he use the name Rome if it’s the Roman Catholic Church? Well, you see, they didn’t want to use that name because that would invoked the wrath of Rome.
Let’s think about this for a minute; are you telling me the biblical writers never used the name Rome? Isn’t there a whole book in our Bible called The Book of Romans? Nobody in the Bible was scared of using the word Rome. If John wanted to say Rome he would have said Rome; they know how to say Rome. He doesn’t say that, he says Babylon.
Well if that’s true then how do you interpret the purple and gold? Didn’t it just say right here in Neo-Babylonia that if Daniel or his Chaldean associates interpret the handwriting on the wall they will be clothed in what? Purple and gold. What do we find in Revelation 17:4? What is the harlot draped in? “The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations [and of the unclean things of her immorality].” Revelation 18:16, “saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.”’
Rather than adopting a newspaper interpretation of the harlot why not follow the imagery in the Old Testament. In fact, if you do that you’ll discover that it’s a dead giveaway who this harlot is. You see it on many waters, my goodness, that sounds like Babylon, doesn’t it? Psalm 137:1 [“By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.”] She’s called “Babylon the great.” That’s the same title that Nebuchadnezzar thought he built, Daniel 4:30. [Daniel 4:30, “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”
She’s called the source or mother of all harlotry, only one area of the world started all harlotry, Babylon, through the tower of Babel. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon,” that’s how Babylon is described in Isaiah 21:9. [Isaiah 21:9, “‘Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.’ And one said, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon; And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.’”]
She will not see widowhood, Revelation 18:7, that’s how Babylon is described in Isaiah 40:7. [Revelation 18:7, “O the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.” Isaiah 40:7, “The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.”]
Look at her colorful attire, purple and gold. That’s exactly what Daniel was to be clothed in and it indicates this not once, not twice, but three times in this chapter. Her sorcery, Revelation 18:23, [Revelation 18:23, “and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.”] That’s how Babylon is described. Isaiah 47.
Do your own work on this and you’ll find, I believe what I’m saying is true. Don’t run off to a popular interpretation of something, track the imagery into the Old Testament. You say well, I knew it, pastor’s going soft on the Catholics. Not at all. By the way, I want to be soft on the Catholics, I don’t want to be soft on Catholicism. See the difference. I still believe that Roman Catholicism is a false religious system, but guess what? That system is bad enough without me having to tell them that they’re the harlot of Revelation 17. I mean, their system is bankrupt enough without me having to concoct, as Martin Luther did, an artificial interpretation.
Roman Catholicism is not the mother harlot, she’s a daughter, one of many daughters. But Revelation 17 is not describing a daughter, she’s describing the mother, the source. And what else does it say here in verse 7, towards the end, “Daniel,” first of all, these Chaldeans, if they interpret the handwriting on the wall you will be made, what does it say? End of verse 7, “third ruler in the kingdom.” [Daniel 5:7, “The king called aloud to bring in the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners. The king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, ‘Any man who can read this inscription and explain its interpretation to me shall be clothed with purple and have a necklace of gold around his neck, and have authority as third ruler in the kingdom.’”]
Oh my goodness, here comes the history channel, here comes Mysteries of the Bible, here comes A & E, here comes The Discovery Channel, what ridiculous literature this is, third ruler of the kingdom; we all know very well that the next available slot would be the second ruler in the kingdom, and how people just laughed and laughed at the Bible over this until 1854, then they stopped laughing. What was discovered in 1854? Through the work of an archeologist named Taylor in southern Iraq there was discovered something called the Nabonidus Cylinder which is an inscription written by Nabonidus; Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ oldest son, and what the inscription reveals is Nabonidus entrusted kingship to his eldest son and the two of them, Nabonidus and Belshazzar reigned together in a coregency form of government, meaning Nabonidus ran the military, Belshazzar ran the rest of the province of Babylon.
So when Belshazzar says to his soothsayers whoever interprets the handwriting on the wall they’re going to get the third position in the kingdom, that is a statement that is archeologically accurate because that was the next available slot. Do you see that? The question is would you have believed God’s Word even before 1854? I think God puts those certain things out to us as tests; are we going to follow the mockers and the deriders or are we going to place our confidence in the Word of God. And isn’t it interesting how archeology, over time, has an ability or a propensity to come alongside the Bible and vindicate what it says.
You know, these prophecies in the Old Testament about the gathering, like Ezekiel 36, the gathering of the nation of Israel from the four corners of the earth, these Jews returning back from the four corners of the earth back into their own homeland. Look at the commentators and what they say about those prophecies—they are obviously not literal, this is obviously speaking of figurative language, anybody who takes these literally obviously has two brains, his first brain is lost and his second brain is out looking for the first brain. What kind of flat earth society member would understand those prophecies literally? That goes on for almost 2,000 years of derision. I could point to you commentators that did take those literally in those early years; those are my heroes because they believed what God said.
And then the Zionist movement starts and then it climaxes on May 14, 1948 where the Jews return from all over the world and go back into their homeland and people stopped laughing. See that? Would you have believed God prior to 1948? I hope I would have. Would you have believed the record here in Daniel 5 prior to 1854? These are tests that God gives. I just know this, that God loves His Word, honors His Word above His name. I don’t know everything there is to know about God, I wish I did, but I know God honors this book and He is oftentimes asking us do you honor it, do you respect it, the same way I do? Let’s see if you pass the test; let’s see if you could believe something when there’s no corroborating evidence. And then the corroborating evidence comes in and we look back with shame or we look back with WOW, I passed the test. Be careful about writing off the Bible.
Verses 10-12 and we’re finished. Daniel now is summoned, “The queen entered the banquet hall because of the words of the king and his nobles; the queen spoke and said, ‘O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale.  There is a man” what man, you mean that 80 year old guy that hangs around here still? “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans and diviners.” That happened in chapter 2, by the way.  “This was because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation.”
Now the queen comes in. Most people believe that based on her understanding of what happened earlier this would be Nabonidus’ wife, Belteshazzar’s mother. And she says you know, you need not fall into fear about this, you need to consult a higher source of power, and I remember there was this guy, years ago, decades ago, that was given enigmas and he could understand them and interpret them. Why? Because there was a spirit of the holy God inside of him. Now she’s making reference there to the Holy Spirit but she is misinterpreting it through her polytheistic framework, she says in verse 12 this man, Daniel, possessed “an extraordinary spirit,” the spirit in Him is what made him different.
Can I just say something to you? That’s exactly what makes you different. That’s what makes you stand out amongst your friends and your family. It’s what makes you stand out in your work place. It’s why everybody could be laughing at a dirty joke around the water cooler, you come in and everybody is quiet all of a sudden. Why is that? Because there’s something different about you that the unsaved world can pick up on. And just as this Holy Spirit inside of Daniel allowed him insight into things that the unsaved world does not have. That same Holy Spirit allows you insight into things that the unsaved world doesn’t understand. Why do you think it is that they’re always asking your opinion about things? Why is it that when the chips are down and something tragic happens you’re the person they want to call to talk to? Because they recognize something abnormal about you… the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14-15 says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.  But the one who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.” The “one who is spiritual” makes judgment about “all things.” The one who has the Holy Spirit has the capacity for discernment and understanding that is a mystery to the unsaved world.
That’s why Daniel’s name is brought up from the dust bin of history here by this queen. That’s what made Daniel valuable; that’s what makes you valuable. And maybe you’re here today and you’ve never received the Holy Spirit. You receive the Holy Spirit through a one-step process of faith alone in Christ alone. We call this the gospel; gospel means good news and we call it good news because Jesus did all the heavy lifting. Everything that’s necessary to bridge the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God has been accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross 2,000 years ago. That’s why He said in His final words on the cross, “It is finished!” It’s over. There’s no more labor or work to be done, you as a human, we as humans just rest or trust in what I’ve done for you. That’s the gospel. The story of the Bible is not what we do for God, it’s what God has done for us and we respond to it by way of faith.
It’s possible someone could be here today, or listening via streaming, that’s never trusted in Christ; they’ve done all the religious stuff, they’ve done all the ritual and routine but there’s never reached a point in their lives where they’ve come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and responded to that conviction by trusting Christ alone. Our invitation is for you to do that right there where you’re seated; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you’re no longer trusting in yourself, your good works, your rituals, you’re trusting only in what Christ has done. You’re trusting Him and Him alone for the safekeeping of your soul. And if that’s something you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you’ve changed your eternal destiny. If it’s something you want more information about I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for Daniel 5 and what it reveals to us and teaches us. Help us to walk by faith this week trusting the work of the Holy Spirit inside of us to direct us and guide us. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We lift these things up in Jesus name, and God’s people said….