From Arrogance to Destruction

From Arrogance to Destruction

Scripture: Daniel 2:21
Date: 02/08/2020  Lesson: 6
What are ways in which our society and culture profane the truth of God’s Word? How can we be careful not to take part in that profanation, even in subtle ways? At what point can we say that we are acquainted with all the truth that we need to know?

No Turning Back - Paper or Digital Download

No Turning Back - Paper or Digital Download
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Jëan Ross: Good morning, friends, and welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour," here at the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. I'd like to welcome those who are joining us, across the country and around the world. I know we have a number of online members that tune in every week to study our lesson with us. I'd also like to welcome our regular Sabbath School members that are here. And I know we have some visitors that are joining us. A very warm welcome to all of you. Thank you for coming and studying our lesson.

We have a very important study this morning. Over the past few weeks, we've been looking at the Old Testament book, the Old prophetic Testament book of the book of Daniel. I was going to say David but there's no book with David. But it's the other "D," it's Daniel. And today we find ourselves in Daniel chapter 5 and it's lesson number six if you're following along in your lesson quarterly. It's lesson number six, "From Arrogance to Destruction," is what we'll be looking at, a king by the name of Belshazzar.

But before we get to all of that, just like to remind our friends about our free offer for today. It's one of the "Amazing Facts" Study Guides and it's entitled "No Turning Back," and we'll be happy to send this to you. All you'll need to do is just text the code "SH137" to the number 40544 and we'll send you a link as to where you can download and study this Study Guide. Or, if you'd like to get a hard copy of it, the number to call is 866-788-3966 and you can just ask for Study Guide Number 146 and we'll be happy to send that to anyone who calls and asks.

Well, before we get to our study, as we always do, we like to begin by lifting our voices in song and I'd like to invite our young ladies to come forward and they're going to be leading us in our Sabbath School hymn this morning.

♪♪♪

♪ Standing on the promises of Christ my King, ♪

♪ through eternal ages let His praises ring. ♪

♪ Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing. ♪

♪ Standing on the promises of God. ♪

♪ Standing, standing, ♪

♪ standing on the promises of God my Savior. ♪

♪ Standing, standing, ♪

♪ I'm standing on the promises of God. ♪

♪ Standing on the promises that cannot fail, ♪

♪ when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, ♪

♪ by the living Word of God I shall prevail, ♪

♪ standing on the promises of God. ♪

♪ Standing, standing, ♪

♪ standing on the promises of God my Savior. ♪

♪ Standing, standing, ♪

♪ I'm standing on the promises of God. ♪

♪ Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, ♪

♪ bound to Him eternally by love's strong cord, ♪

♪ overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword, ♪

♪ standing on the promises of God. ♪

♪ Standing, standing, ♪

♪ standing on the promises of God my Savior. ♪

♪ Standing, standing, ♪

♪ I'm standing on the promises of God. ♪♪

Female: Thank you for singing.

Jëan: Let's bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father in heaven, we thank You that we're able to gather together and open up Your Word and study a very important passage of Scripture, one that has historical significance and context but also has important truths and prophetic insights for our time. So we just pray in a special way that Your Spirit would come and guide our hearts and our minds and lead us into clearer and full understanding of those things that we need to understand and know for we can see that the time is at hand. So bless our time together, in Jesus's name, amen.

This morning, as mentioned, we're going to be studying Daniel, a very important passage of Scripture and Daniel and Revelation, one of my favorite books. I know it's Pastor Doug's favorite books as well, studying those two prophetic books, and so we decided to do this in tandem. So we're going to be teaching Daniel 5. If you have your Bibles, you can open up to that passage or our lesson study, and we'll study through this passage.

Doug Batchelor: Brian said I'm supposed to stand here.

Jëan: Okay, I'll move my stuff over here.

Doug: I'm following orders. Morning, everybody. You know, sometimes we do a little team teaching. That way, you get the lesson in stereo and so get a little better perspective. This is a lesson that actually touches on both Daniel and Revelation. It's talking about the fall of Babylon, which you find in both of those great prophetic books. And I want to welcome our friends who are watching online. We're going to be doing lesson six and it's called, "From Arrogance to Destruction." "From Arrogance to Destruction."

And we have a memory verse. And the memory verse is from Daniel 2:21. I--we'll appreciate if you want to say it with us. If you're in your lesson, it's from the New King James Version, Daniel 2:21. Are you ready? "And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." What does that say? Quote from Daniel chapter 2 but it talks about what's going to happen in Daniel chapter 5.

Now, Daniel 5 is--it's a great passage. Matter of fact, I was just sharing with Pastor Ross and we haven't really rehearsed what we're going to say, so we're praying for the Spirit's leading but Daniel 5 is--it is one of the pivotal chapters in the Bible because it is a transition between empires. Daniel 5 is one of the most prophesied events in the Old Testament. It's talking about the fall of Babylon and we'll get into it in more detail later but it's prophesied many, many times and many details of the fall of Babylon are foretold in the Old Testament by prophets such as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and they foretold what was going to happen, incredible detail. It's an event in history. Some of the things in history you find them in the Bible, you don't find them anywhere else. Or there might be one or two other historians but multiple historians comment on this event, even ancient historians. And so we've got a pretty good picture of what happened here. Maybe we'll start by going to Daniel chapter 5 and if you want to read the first few verses here, Pastor Ross.

Jëan: If you have your Bibles, Daniel chapter 5, and we're going to start reading here in verse 1. It says: "Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and he drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and the silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king, his lords, his wives, his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the golden vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the kings and his--the king and his lords, and his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone."

Doug: All right, well, first of all, let's get a little historical background of what's happening here. It talks about Belshazzar as the king. Technically, he is a co-king with his father, Nabonidus. And what happened, there's quite a bit of intrigue when Nebuchadnezzar died. Nebuchadnezzar reigned about 40 years and the last time we saw him, he had turned to the God of heaven, he praised the God of heaven, he made several decrees about the God of heaven, and there was a little bit of rivalry going on.

The Babylonians were loyal to Tammuz and their other gods. They had kind of been threatened by the Jews in the empire that were spreading their religion. You know, we're having that problem right now in China with Christianity. A little threatened by that. We're having that problem now with some of our missionaries in India that's technically a Hindu country and there's been a lot of restrictions and some of the Hindu priests are threatened that Christianity is spreading.

Interestingly, Pastor Ross and I were together in Hyderabad, India, a couple of years ago. Where would you think the biggest Christian church would be in the world? Think it'd be in a Christian country. It's in India. It's in a Hindu country. So you can see why they're a little threatened there by the growth of it. And they didn't like the way the religion of the Jews was taking root. When Nebuchadnezzar died there was a little bit of intrigue that took place and his immediate son was assassinated soon after and then there was a temporary king that was overthrowed that was sort of a false pretender to the throne. And when the dust settled after all the palace intrigue, the son-in-law--he had married Nebuchadnezzar's daughter, Nabonidus, he became king. And after a few years and he had fought a few battles, he retired and he went--he was real big on promoting the moon god called Sin.

That's how you spell it, S-I-N. But it's the moon god. And the people in the kingdom didn't like that he wasn't exalting Tammuz and Marduk and their other local gods. And he went to other empires and began to excavate and Nabonidus is believed to be one of the oldest archeologists in history. He was excavating and trying to date the history of ancient temples to Sin, the moon god, and trying to restore them. And finally, he had no real interest in managing the kingdom. He left the kingdom to his 15-year-old son, Belshazzar, while he was off fighting other battles and doing his excavations and going down to Arabia.

And you know, Pastor Ross, I think it's just interesting, the amazing difference between two 15-year-olds in Babylon. One 15-year-old came 70 years earlier, named Daniel, and he was poor in the kingdom but he decided to put God first. When tempted with all of the Babylonian delicacies, he exercised self-control and showed restraint. He had control over what he ate and drank. Here, when Babylon falls, you've got someone else who came to the throne at 15 and had no control and lived for--he lived a totally hedonistic life and it's just such opposite pictures. One is full of the devil and one's full of God.

Jëan: Absolutely, well, it's interesting, Pastor, that you mention the parallel between Belshazzar and Daniel when he first came. Also interesting to note that Daniel received a Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, when he first came to the kingdom. So you've got Belteshazzar which we know is Daniel, you've got Belshazzar. Both of them come to this place or come to a position of prominence when they are very young. Both end up in a rulership position, because you read later on in the chapter, for just a short period of time when Babylon falls to Cyrus and the Medo-Persians that technically it talks about Daniel being third ruler in the kingdom.

So both come to a position of rulership and yet the contrast is so clear. Daniel is a worshiper of the true God. You can see his faith, his devotion, his trust in God, and you see the worship of the false god through Belshazzar and what he does. And we find a parallel even at the end of time, a contrast between true worship and false worship right up 'til the end of time between those symbolically representing those of Babylon and then those who are true to God.

Doug: Yeah, you've got, like, the contrast of new Jerusalem and Babylon that you find in Revelation. Now, as we talk about the fall of Babylon, keep in mind, aren't there a couple of passages in Revelation that discuss this?

Jëan: Yeah, matter of fact, it's part of the three angels' messages that we talk about in Revelation chapter 14. The second angel says, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." And in chapter 16 of Revelation, maybe we'll look at that verse a little later, it talks about the drying up of the River Euphrates and it's a reference to one of the plagues that come. So there's great significance to this historical event, the downfall of Babylon, and then its symbolic representation that we find in the New Testament and the drying up of the River Euphrates in a symbolic form has not yet occurred. It's part of these plagues that come just before Jesus comes. But we learn something about that from the historical application.

Doug: Now, just to tell you what's going on, when Belshazzar has his feast, he already knows that the Persians working with--in cooperation with the Medians, there is a Median king named Darius, Darius. His son-in-law is Cyrus. He is a Persian but he married Darius's daughter and the Persians actually are a stronger kingdom but they joined together to overthrow Babylon. They've made their intentions very clear and Belshazzar is saying, "I don't really care. I'm not afraid. You're never getting through these walls." And the historians say the walls of Babylon were formidable.

Let me just give a moment to how warfare worked in Bible times. You really had to conquer the capital. You know, if you want to kill a snake, you've got to cut off its head. And Babylon was the capital. The way they did it back then, they didn't send in aerial bombing, other than catapults and arrows. They couldn't fly planes and drop drones, drone-bombs. You had to camp outside the city and you would besiege it. You'd try to starve them into surrender by surrounding it.

Several examples of Bible sieges in the Scripture. Nebuchadnezzar had a siege on Jerusalem and you can read where the Assyrians besieged Samaria. The Romans besieged Masada. It's not in the Bible but it's in history. They'd surround them and the idea would be they can't get any food in, they can't get any help out, and it's very expensive to feed an army every day. You ever try that? And so it was a waiting game. And Babylon, because the river ran under the walls and they had silos full of food and the city was so big they actually had some gardens in growth in the city, they said, "We can withstand a siege of 20 years. You can't afford to besiege us. You'll never get over the walls. You'll never get through the gates." They had double walls, they had guard posts everywhere.

To show that he wasn't afraid, the feast of Tammuz comes along, so the night that this all takes place is October 11, 1539, and during the feast of Tammuz he says, "We're going to have this big party," that is described in the first few verses. After the king begins to taste the wine, he's under the influence of the wine and he begins to do something the king should not do. Now, does the Bible talk about kings drinking? It's not very advised. You want to read, Pastor Ross, Proverbs 31 there in the--under Belshazzar's feast, Proverbs 31 and 4 and 5?

Jëan: It tells us there, "It is not for kings, O Lemuel," it is the name of the one that it's referring to. "It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert justice of all those who are afflicted." Then you find in Ecclesiastes chapter 10, it says: "Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child or your princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, when your kings are the sons of nobles and your princes feast at the proper time for strength and not drunkenness."

Doug: Yeah, some people live to eat and others eat to live. And you want a king who's going to eat at the right time for strength and not for gluttony or drunkenness. And so Belshazzar is a young king who is a glutton. The historians tell us that he was so--he was just a really brutal king. Xenophon, one of the ancient historians, says that out on a hunting expedition with his best friend, his friend caught up with the prey before the king did and shot it. The king was so upset, he killed his friend. He wanted to shoot the prey. And I can cite some other things to you that he was just a really abominable person.

Jëan: You know, it's also again, a key characteristic is you've got this king, Belshazzar, who seems to have no self-control. Whereas you have Daniel, the contrast, both of them young when they come to prominence in the kingdom, who first of all, right at the very beginning of the book of Daniel, Daniel chapter 1, it talks about Daniel's commitment, he and his three friends, not to defile themself with the king's food and with his drink. So, again, a contrast is set up between those who are worshipers of the true God that recognize their body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, whereas those who worship the false gods, they don't recognize any importance of self-control, especially in the area of eating and drinking.

Doug: Yeah, and if you're surrounded by an enemy army that wants to attack, should you be fasting or feasting? When they should have been praying, they're partying. And he's--really, it's high-handed rebellion against God. The other thing is, he's showing he's not afraid.

We mentioned before, there were multiple Hebrew prophecies that talked about the fall of Babylon. Belshazzar was acquainted with those and he was acquainted with Daniel interpreting his father's dream of the image, that there would arise another kingdom. He didn't want that. He's saying, "I'm not afraid. Babylon's going to continue forever." And then, he doesn't go take the vessels from one of the many other kingdoms they conquered. He specifically takes the vessels from the Jewish temple because he knows about the Jewish God, the Jewish prophecies. He knows his grandfather turned to Jehovah, and he's mocking the God of Israel by praising not Jehovah with the temples from--with the vessels from the temple; he fills the vessels with Babylonian wine. What's in the cup of the woman in Revelation 17?

Jëan: Intoxicating wine.

Doug: Yeah, and he praises the idols with the vessels made to worship God. And, by the way, if you're going to go into battle, don't drink. The Bible talks about Ben-Hadad, 1 Kings 20, verse 16. Ben-Hadad and his 32 kings were getting drunk at the command post and, because they were drunk, Ahab who had a little bitty army, Ahab goes out and he fights with the Assyrians and he trounces them because they were drunk and the king gave a really ridiculous order. He said, "If they came up for peace, take them alive. If they've come out for war, take them alive." Well, it's really hard if you're fighting against soldiers that want to kill you, if you try and take them alive. And, anyway, it's because he was drunk and he gave a really dumb order. So what does the Bible have to say about drinking? Why don't you read a little more of what it says here, or just a couple more verses in chapter 5.

Jëan: So now we're on chapter 5, verse 5, is where we're going to pick it up from. Maybe, Pastor Doug, you want to say something about verse 4 just before we do that. It says: "They drank wine," you spoke about that, "and praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone."

Doug: Yeah, good point.

Jëan: Yeah, early in the study you might be saying, "Wait a minute, these--we've come across these metals before." And you find, of course, in Daniel chapter 2 where you have the great statue, the head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay, it doesn't say anything here about clay but it does say wood, and then you have a stone that strikes the image.

Doug: Yeah, the number for calculating with the Babylonians, you might not be surprised to learn, is six. We live on the decimal system where we calculate in the western world with the tens. Babylonians have the decimal system of six. And do you know a roulette wheel has how many--a trick question, ha, ha, ha. How many slots does a roulette wheel have? Thirty-six. How many degrees in a circle? Three hundred and sixty. Do you know that if you take a roulette wheel--there's reasons for that, for 360 degrees. It all goes back to this Babylonian.

How many days in a Jewish year? Three-sixty. And so there's actually good mathematical readings--reasons but do you know if you take a roulette wheel and you add the first number plus the second number, 1 plus 2 is 3, plus the third number, plus the fourth number, when you get to 36, it adds up to 666? So Babylon is--a lot of their math ended up coming to their magical number of 666. So they got six metals here for worshiping the false gods.

Jëan: And, of course, our time system today is built on 60 seconds and 60 minutes in an hour, so we've got that connection dating all the way back to Babylon and, again, Revelation, the number 666 appears, a counterfeit of the true Trinity, a manmade substitute, three sixes, and that's a whole 'nother study on its own.

Doug: It's manmade worship. Man is made on what day of the week? Sixth day of the week. Something else here that you might find interesting, he takes what from the temple of the Lord? The vessels. Let me just read a few verses about the vessels. Daniel 5: "They brought in the golden vessels that they had taken from the temple," and then you look in 2 Chronicles 36: "In the spring of the year, Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought to him, to Babylon with him, the precious vessels from the house of the Lord."

Keep in mind Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem more than once: first time when he carried off Daniel, he didn't destroy everything. He put in sort of a puppet king, one of the sons of Josiah. He took Daniel and a number of captives and wise people back to the kingdom. He took the holy vessels. He didn't burn the temple. When they rebelled later, 11 years later, then he came, he destroyed the temple. But he already had the sacred vessel.

Some of these vessels go all the way back to the wilderness. They were built by Moses and they were in the tabernacle. This was later greatly expanded by Solomon added to those vessels, but they still had some of the original vessels where the Shekinah glory had lit over these vessels in the wilderness. These are sacred vessels of God, meant for the worship of God, as holy as any article could be, and he begins to mock God.

Now, what does the Bible say a vessel represents? Let's read a couple of verses here. 1 Thessalonians 4:4: "That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion like the Gentiles who do not know God." God is the potter, we are the clay. We are vessels. And He wants the vessels full of His Spirit. The Bible says: "Do not be drunk with wine which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." So these vessels, instead of being filled with the holy things of God, are filled with Babylonian wine. This is the point, I think, where Belshazzar actually crosses the line and commits the unpardonable sin; Spirit of prophecy says so. When that hand comes, that bloodless hand, and it actually says, "fingers."

Jëan: And that we find in verse 5, it says: "In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. The king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him," sort of a understatement there because you're going to see what happens here. "So that the joints of his hips were loosed and his knees knocked against each other." So he was filled with fear when this hand appeared and began writing on the wall.

Doug: Yeah, and I won't take it too far but when it says, "The loins of his hips were loosed and his knees knocked together," some commentators, more than one, say, "He lost control of his loins," and basically wet himself.

Jëan: Now, it's interesting to note, you can't miss this point. You have a hand writing on the wall. We know who that hand is. It's God that is writing and it's words of judgment. How many times do we have recorded in the Bible that God writes? Now, something occurred earlier to this on Mount Sinai where God wrote, and God wrote with his finger. What did he write? Ten Commandments. And here you find a king who has set aside the commandments of God and, as a result, the hand writes on the wall and what does the hand write on the wall? Judgment.

The next time you find God writing, it's in the person of Christ and you read about it in the Gospels where Jesus knelt down and wrote on the ground, the dust, in the dust there on the temple floor, when they brought the woman who was caught committing adultery. And here we find Jesus giving mercy.

So you find the law; you break the law, there is judgment; but in Christ you find mercy and forgiveness. And there is one more time, Pastor Doug, where you find writing and that's in Revelation where it says: "God will write a new name on those who are saved."

Doug: That's right.

Jëan: So you find writing is rather important, it's significant. The law; you break the law, you've got judgment; but God offers mercy through Christ. Those who receive that mercy, they have the promise of heaven, a new name written upon them.

Doug: You know, it probably is worth mentioning that just before the fall of Babylon, which you know is going to transpire momentarily, you see that there is a disregard for holy things. The things that preceded the fall of Babylon are some of the same things that preceded the fall of Rome and, unfortunately, will be the same things that precede the fall of any great nation.

Let me just read to you something from Edward Gibbon's classic called "The Rise--The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." He lists five reasons that he believe that Rome fell. "The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home. Increasing taxes and spending of public money for bread and circuses. The mad craze for pleasure with sports becoming more exciting and more brutal. The building of gigantic armaments where the real enemy is the decadence of the people. And the decay of religion with faith fading into mere form."

Philip Myer in his book, "Rome: Its Rise and Fall," made this observation of the Romans: "Almost from the beginning, the Roman state was gross and immorality was one of the main agencies to which must be attributed the undermining of the originally sound moral life during the days of Octavia and Augustus Caesar, of Roman society. So absorbed did the people become in the indecent representations of the stage, they lost all thought and care for the affairs of life." The people who were supposed to be ruling the country were partying and the country of Rome was run by secretaries.

The reason--this is something else from history. The reason I mention the fall of Rome is it was the same kind of issues that you see in Babylon, is that people were living for pleasure, they were being irresponsible with spending, and you also see that marriage was falling apart. Typically, the men started out drinking alone in Babylon. You notice that the feasts in the book of Esther, the king got drunk and he said, "Let's bring in Vashti for all the men to drool at." And here, when the drinking progressed in Babylon, it says: "And he invited the wives," you read on later, it says: "and concubines." This was not much short of an orgy that was going on here and they're praising the gods, which is what happened to Rome.

And there's other countries I won't mention that are faced with some of the same issues. Losing respect for that which is holy, respect for marriage and for order, self-control, that's when the kingdom falls.

Jëan: And, of course, a characteristic that we have is they were lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God. That is a reference that we find even to our time, and just think about how much time and money is spent on entertainment in our society versus how much time and money is spent upon seeking truth or coming to know God or even protecting marriage and the family. It's quite amazing. If you look at the parallels of these empires and their collapse and what's happening in our world today. Indeed, we can see signs that that kingdom represented by that stone cut out without hands is soon to come and that, of course, is a reference to Christ and the Second Coming.

Doug: Now, looking at the clock, I'm going to hasten along here. So this--these fingers appear. Notice it was finger that wrote the Ten Commandments and it says, "Jesus with his finger wrote in the dust of the temple floor"? This finger appears and begins to write. It's over against the candlestick, where it's positioned, and history seems to say it was a prominent place across from the throne that he had seated where he was drinking in front of everybody. And he's astonished.

You notice it's Nebuchadnezzar who looks in the furnace. He's the first one to notice the Son of God. And here, Belshazzar's the first one to see the words of judgment, and he is--he just goes to pieces. He is shaking, his knees knocked there. He was so bold and defiant and mocking God a minute ago, and now--do you know what the word "Daniel" means? My God is judge. "El" means Elohim. God Dan judge, one of the names of the sons of Israel. And so Daniel's called in and judgment is called in, into the halls of Babylon.

So they see this writing and after they recover from total shock, everyone is frozen in place, all their faces, drain from blood and they're terrified. All the partying stops, and eventually the king says, "Bring someone in to read the writing." Maybe you want to read that real quick.

Jëan: So you'll pick up the story here in verse, let's see, verse 7. It says: "Then the king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, 'Whoever reads the writing, and tells the interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.’ Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known the king's interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished."

Doug: These are the thousand lords he had boldly invited in, probably leaders in the war against Persia, and--to party and celebrate and to mock that they were not afraid. This is the third time in the book of Daniel that the king has brought in his local wise men, the Babylonian wise men, and they don't have the answer. And it's going to be the third time that the Hebrew has the answer.

You know, Jesus, when he was talking to the Samaritan woman, she wanted to engage him in an argument. She said, "What mountain should we worship on, our mountain, Mount Gerizim, or Mount Jerusalem?" And Jesus said something shocking. He said, "Salvation is of the Jews."

Now, there's a lot of talk these days about anti-Semitism. Technically, do you know that every Arab is a Semite? So anti-Semitism is not technically just being anti-Jewish. Anyone who was from the descendants of Shem was a Semite. That's where the word comes from. But the Bible tells us God chose the Jewish nation and delivered truth to them. Paul says, "To Israel were given the oracles of God." So that's why you see several times when these pagans are saying, "What is truth?" God points them back to the Jewish book.

Now Jews are not saved any more than anyone else. If they don't believe, they're not children of Abraham. But Paul says, "To the Jew first," because the gospel, the truth, was given to them first, "then to the Gentile." So if he wanted to understand what the truth was, it came from this book. Doesn't come from the Bhagavad Gita or the Qur'an, but it's this book, from the people that he chose. Does that make sense? So he has to bring in Daniel to explain what does it mean? But how does he find out about Daniel?

Jëan: You'll find over here in verse 10, it says: "Then the queen came in," so, of course, the wise men and the astrologer, they couldn't give the meaning of the words. Verse 10 says: "And the queen came in before, because of the words of the king and his lords, and came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke and said, 'O king, live forever! Do not let the thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance be changed. There is a man in your kingdom in whom the Spirit--in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father--your father the king--made him chief of the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, the soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.'"

Doug: Yeah, it's interesting that they had exhausted all of the local opportunities. By the way, the queen mother, according to historians, was Nitocris. She's the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. It was for her mother that Nebuchadnezzar built the hanging gardens of Babylon which were still in full bloom during the time that this was all going on. Daniel's got a reputation. You hear this mentioned twice in Daniel 5 and Daniel 6, one in whom is an excellent spirit.

Now if somebody told you, "I think you're spirit possessed," how would you feel? I mean, if I hadn't said this first. If someone accused you of being spirit possessed, you'd probably take it as an insult. But don't you want to be spirit possessed? Depends, doesn't it? You've got to qualify that. The Bible says everyone who knew Daniel knew he was spirit possessed. He had an excellent spirit in him. And says this in chapter 6, in Daniel chapter 6, verse 3: "Because an excellent spirit was in him." Then Pastor Ross just read this in verse 12: "An excellent spirit of knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, explaining enigmas, was found in this Daniel."

Now this is the one time it says, "Who the king named Belshazzar--or Belteshazzar," but all the other times now, in this chapter, he's not being called by his Babylonian name. He's not even pretending. He's going--Nebuchadnezzar's dead. He's not going by that name. He's called Daniel everywhere else. He's gone back to his name in this section. And so the king's--calls Daniel. Do you want to read verse 13 and up to 15?

Jëan: Yeah, it says, verse 13: "Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, 'Are you that Daniel in whom is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought out of Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and an excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, and they should read the writing and make known to me the interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me the interpretation, you shall be clothed in purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.'"

Doug: All right, now, when the king says this, make sure that you have in your mind's eye his voice is quivering with fear. The burning letters are still blazing on the wall. Nobody knows what it means. You all know it says, "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin," or "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin." No one's exactly sure the pronunciation because we're not even exactly sure if it's some form of Aramaic but the king is paralyzed with fear, his voice is shaking. I also like where the queen says, "There is a man."

So here, you've got the king is petrified. Daniel is fearless. Daniel knows what the prophecies say. He knows what's going to happen. Daniel knows that Babylon's going to fall that night. Typically, when a foreign power comes in, they slaughter all of the administrators that were true to the former government. Daniel's not afraid. And he knew that God was going to watch over him. So here you've got Daniel is possessed, fearless, he is the old man and he's standing up against this wise young king who says, "Look, I'm going to give you a gold and I'm going to give you a purple robe and you're going to be third ruler in the kingdom," and he--Daniel could care less. He says, "You won't have anything to give in a few hours." He says, "Your titles are going to be meaningless."

Now, keep this in mind. When the devil is offering you the pleasures of sin for a season to sacrifice your life for eternity, you need to say to the devil what Jesus said to Daniel--I'm sorry, what Daniel said to Belshazzar: "Keep your gifts. Let your gifts be for yourself." It's like when Simon there in Acts offered Peter money for the Holy Spirit, Peter said, "You can perish with your money," and the devil's often trying to offer people earthly gain.

One thing that also stands out is just where the queen, she says, "There is a man." She evidently has great respect for Daniel and the God of Daniel.

Jëan: Remember the context of this. You've got the queen. This is not Nebuchadnezzar or rather, this is not Belshazzar's wife. Rather, this would be the queen mother, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and, of course, she was the one that married Nabonidus who was the ruler. Belshazzar was the second ruler. And that's why he says, "If you can answer this, I'll make you the third ruler." The reason why he could make him the third ruler was because he is only the second ruler. Now, his father wasn't there. Probably out at some oasis in the desert, not interested in ruling from Babylon.

So you have the queen mother coming in, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, and she recounts the story of Daniel. Now, it might seem in your first reading that Belshazzar's ignorant concerning Daniel and the things that had happened to his father. But you remember, one of the things that happened to Nebuchadnezzar, at least his grandfather, was that for a period of time he went insane, thought he was an animal and for seven years was outside eating grass like the oxen. This was not something that was hidden to the people of Babylon, nor to the royal seed. Belshazzar knew about this. He had heard about this. He knew about the interpretation given by Daniel, yet he chose to ignore it.

Doug: I think it mentions this in--you start in verse 17, says: "Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, 'Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another.'" Usually, you don't tell a king, "Keep your gifts," yeah. "Yet I'll read the writing to the king," and normally, if you said to a king, "Keep your gifts," they'd chop off your head at the--on the spot.

But he wants to know what the writing means. "I'll read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father," they used to use that word interchangeably. They didn't say "grandfather." "A kingdom, majesty, glory, honor, and because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whoever he wished, he executed; whoever he wished, he kept alive; whoever he wished, he set up; whoever he wished, he put down." He'd rule with absolute power. "But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took away his glory from him. He was driven from the sons of men, and his heart was made like beasts', and his dwelling was with wild donkeys." That's something new you don't read earlier. "And they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew the Most High," that's Jehovah, "God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whoever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew this."

So did Belshazzar know? He said, "You knew about the true God and you've lifted up your--you've lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. Against the Lord of heavens you've brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, and your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you've praised the gods of silver and gold, and bronze and iron, and wood and stone, that do not see or hear or know..." You know, you better hope the Persians are coming to rescue Daniel because Daniel has just told the king, "Keep your gifts, and the gods you're praising are dumb. They don't know anything."

Here, they'd been drinking and toasting the health of this god and the health of that god, and Daniel says, "Your gods are dead. They're not gods." How do you get away with that unless you know? I don't think it was very long after Daniel said this before they heard the shouts of the Persians coming through the gates. He wouldn't have lived very long, I don't think. "He appoints over it whoever He chooses." And he said, "You praise your gods. But the God who holds your breath in His hand, who owns all of your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And the inscription was written." Pastor Ross, do you want to tell us what it means?

Jëan: You've got those four words there: "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin." And scholars believe that that's probably Aramaic. You remember the first part of the book of Daniel is written in Aramaic, the rest is in Hebrew, starting in chapter 8 I believe. The rest of the Old Testament is Hebrew, the New Testament's in Greek. But we have a few chapters here in the book of Daniel that's actually written in Aramaic. So the words do have a meaning in Aramaic. "Mene" means counted.

So if it's just a direct translation, you could say, "Counted, counted." "Tekel," weighed, and "Upharsin," divided. So if you were to just look at the words, it would be "Counted, counted, weighed, divided." So it's possible that maybe the wise men could read these words but they couldn't understand its meaning or its significance. They understood its significance because, remember when something is repeated in the Bible, it stresses that it's important so it says, "Counted, counted, weighed, divided."

Doug: Babylon's fallen, fallen.

Jëan: Yup, absolutely.

Doug: Two times.

Jëan: And Revelation talks about Babylon being fallen, being fallen, so here you have Daniel coming in. He gives the meaning but he also builds a little on it and explains its significance and you find that in verse 26. Maybe I'll just read through 26 to the end of that section. It says then, "This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians."

Then it says: "Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom."

Now, what I find interesting here is here, actually, Daniel allows them to put on this robe of purple and this chain of gold representing his position. He's the third ruler in the empire. Now Jesus made a promise to the righteous and he said, "The meek shall inherit the earth." Daniel is the third ruler, he's definitely meek. When Jesus comes again, you have the Father who is the supreme ruler, Christ who rules, and then His people will rule as well. The Bible speaks about us, the redeemed, being seated on thrones.

So here you have Daniel representing in a type or a sense God's people at the end that shall rule. And here, Daniel does rule when Babylon falls. When do the righteous rule and inherit the earth? When spiritual Babylon falls. So you can see a number of the parallels here that we find in this passage.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. So let me tell you what happened historically and this plays into Revelation also. While this party is going on, Cyrus the Persian and his army had diverted the course, the regular course, of the Euphrates River. I mean, he had a whole army digging a ditch into a dry lake bed, huge, massive dry lake bed that had dried up in the summer. They then, at the appropriate time, they broke the damn. They waited 'til the last minute to break a damn that would breach it so the river would run out of its natural course and spill off into this lakebed which is downstream several miles and, you know, Belshazzar knew they were doing some big excavation on the river upstream. He had spies that were watching. And all of a sudden, the river level where it ran under the walls of Babylon, went down.

The Persians had bribed two Babylonians inside the palace who agreed to defect. They helped unlock some of the gates and their names are actually given by, it's either Heroditus or Xenophen, and they came in under the walls in the midst of the party that was going on. They started shouting, people were shouting for being overcome. The soldiers began to shout like it was a party and they couldn't tell whether it was a war or a party. Now doesn't that sound like what happened at the golden calf story? And by the time they figured out what was going on, the soldiers were drunk, they had been partying along with the king. The inner gates had been left open and they swarmed into the city with hardly--the only loss of life was the king and his cabinet immediately around him. And he was able--Cyrus was able to come in. Cyrus himself did not come in for a month. But his leaders came in, took the city that night through the drying up of the Euphrates. Now, do we find the drying up of the Euphrates mentioned somewhere else?

Jëan: Matter of fact, you find it right here. Let me read it, Pastor Doug, seeing as you bring it up. It's chapter 16 in Revelation, verse 12. It says: "And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great River Euphrates and its water was dried up so that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." Now, of course, we’re not talking about literal River Euphrates today, but water in Bible prophecy represents multitudes and nations and kindreds and tongues.

What brought about the downfall of historical Babylon was the drying up of the River Euphrates. What brings about the downfall of symbolic Babylon in the last days, the multitudes of people that have given their support to this power, this apostate religious power, Babylon, they realize finally that they have been deceived and they withdraw their support. It says it makes way for the kings of the east. Kings of the east would represent Christ and his angels coming to bring deliverance to God's people and that's when Babylon falls and the meek inherit the earth.

Doug: Now there are several prophecies. We'll see how many we can get through here. There are more prophecies about the fall of Babylon than any other Old Testament event, other than the Coming of the Messiah. It says in Isaiah 44, verse 27: "Who says to the deep, 'Be dry and I will dry up your rivers.'" Keep in mind, Isaiah writes this, what, 500 years earlier or many years earlier, maybe not 500 years earlier. Isaiah 45:1: "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus." Only two times, or no, a little more than two times.

Only a few times in the Bible does God foretell the name of a king years before he's born. You have king Josiah was named long before he was born and Cyrus. Now, of course, the angel said Jesus's name but He was born shortly after that, and John. But it said: "To subdue nations before him, to loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so the gates will not be shut: 'I will go before you, make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze,'" that means they had great iron and bronze bars. They said they'll never get into Babylon. "'I'll give you the treasures of darkness,'" all the treasures of Babylon came to him.

Jeremiah said, "'A sword is against the Chaldeans,' says the Lord, 'against the inhabitants of Babylon, against her princes and her wise men. A sword against the soothsayers and the fools.'" They couldn't answer it. "'A sword against the mighty men--'" It says the mighty men would not be able to fight, they'd be drunk, they would be overcome with fear like women.

All these things were foretold. Jeremiah 50, verse 38: "A drought is against her waters. They will be dried up for the land of carved images and they are insane with their idols." And one more prophecy that's interesting: Jeremiah even foretold that it would happen to the third son of Nebuchadnezzar, that there would be only three Babylonian kings. You read in Jeremiah 27, verse 6: "And I now have given all these lands to the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and the beasts of the field I've given to him to serve him. So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son until the time of his land comes," the judgment, in other words. And that's exactly what happened.

It was the three that--three generations from Nebuchadnezzar including Nebuchadnezzar that ruled and then Babylon fell. And the same way that there was a bloodless hand that went to the temple when Jesus died on the cross and ripped the veil from top to bottom, here there was another bloodless hand and that was the end of an age, an epic, you could say. When the veil was rent here, there was an end to an age when that hand wrote in--on the walls of Babylon that judgment.

Jëan: It's also interesting to note that just before Babylon falls, there is a special type of judgment that occurs. Before Jesus comes, there is a judgment that takes place and we read about that in the book of Revelation.

Well, we want to thank those who joined us online. I know, Pastor Doug, we're out of time but we want to remind our friends who are joining us about our free offer for today. It is one of our "Amazing Facts" Study Guides. It's entitled, "No Turning Back." If you'd like to receive a free copy of this, the number to call is 866-788-3966. Just ask for offer number 146. We'll be happy to send that to anyone who calls and asks or you can text the code, "SH137" to the number 40544 and you'll be able to receive a download and read it online or on your phone or whatever device, computer, and you can learn more about this. It actually talks here about the unpardonable sin and kind of what happened when judgment came to Belshazzar and Babylon. So, great study.

Doug: Well, thank you, friends, for joining us. God willing, we'll study His Word together again next week.

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Roy: I grew up here in New York City, I guess dealing with all the temptations that you would have in a big city. Everything that you could imagine that you could run into, drugs, crime, was always here. When I was at a young age, I actually got into trouble with the law and my only out was to join the military at the time in order to not do time. So I left New York and traveled the world a little bit while I was in the military. Eventually, I came back.

Having grown up as a hip hop kid I eventually found myself working in the music business, actually. I worked at a couple of major radio stations, hip hop, reggae. I was at all the big reggae shows, working them. No matter what I did to try and satisfy myself, nothing really worked. I remember I used to play at this one club in Manhattan. Used to play there every Friday night. So I came home one Saturday morning after leaving the club and I turned on the video channel like I usually do. So, there was this guy in the video channel talking and he was definitely out of place but the things that he was saying just totally amazed me. I had never heard anyone speak about the Bible like this before so I started coming home early on Saturday mornings just to catch this show.

I found the things that he was saying absolutely amazing to the point where it literally made me stop and start to think about how I was living my life. So I found that all of these things that I had been doing to try and find happiness were actually not making my happy at all, but were really just leaving me empty inside. When I started reading the Bible and it started to make sense, I started to make changes. I even tried to keep the Sabbath which I failed at miserably.

So I was actually invited by "Amazing Facts" to go to see a live series at one of the local churches but after going the first night I ended up going another night and another night. I stayed for the entire series. That was the day I made a decision that changed the rest of my life forever. I gave my life to Christ and everything was different after that. I made a decision to give up the music business, stop hanging out at all of the clubs. I made a decision that was eternal for me and for my family. I started going to church. I got a position in church where I was actually in charge of the personal ministries department. And the same "Amazing Facts" studies that changed my life, I actually got to share them with people and sit down with them and tell them about Jesus.

Doug: On several occasions, scientists have demonstrated that people and even creatures can struggle with depression when exposed to continual darkness. This can be seen every year in the winter months in the Arctic regions. The beautiful village of Rjukan, Norway, is situated in a deep valley where mountains block the sun's rays for about six months every year. This, of course, keeps the 3400 residents in a state of shade and sometimes depressing darkness throughout the winter.

Then the town leaders got a bright idea to help illuminate their village during the murky months. In October 2013, Rjukan installed an array of three gigantic 550 square foot mirrors on a nearby mountain 1000 feet above the town. The computer-controlled and solar-powered mirrors track the sun through the winter months and reflect a giant beam of sunshine down to the town square, brightening their lives. If you visit Rjukan in the winter months today you can often see the people gathered or sitting on benches around the town square, bathing in the reflected sunshine.

Like those mirrors on the mountain, the Bible says that Christians are to reflect the light of Jesus who is the light of the world into this dark planet. Matthew 5:14 says: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do we light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it illuminates everybody in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." So, friends, use today to brighten the life of someone else by reflecting Jesus.

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