[SW405] 11/9/2019 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019
Text: Daniel 5, etc.
Last Sunday, as I was praying for a lead for the next message, the Lord said, “Found Wanting.” I knew those were Daniel’s words to Belshazzar, king of Babylon, in Daniel 5, when he interpreted the Lord’s handwriting on the wall.
Jesus Christ says it is the same with today’s church and today’s believers — they are found wanting by their Lord.
So, I will show you Belshazzar’s situation, the Lord’s handwriting on the wall, and Daniel’s interpretation. Then I will show you what it means for you.
Verses 1-4 —
Belshazzar held a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles. He was drinking wine in their presence. After he tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver holy vessels which his grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem.
Nebuchadnezzar never did such a thing, because he had quite an encounter with the Lord, as he himself described in Daniel 4:28-37. As a result, he revered the Lord, humbled himself before Him, and no longer was prideful and arrogant toward Him. So, the holy vessels were never used by Nebuchadnezzar.
But his grandson, Belshazzar, was arrogant toward the Lord. He knew about his grandfather’s encounter with the Lord (see Verse 22). He knew the holy vessels were from the temple of the Lord. He knew his grandfather had not used them to drink from. But he ordered them to be brought, in an act of arrogant defiance of the Lord.
When the vessels were brought, everyone drank from them — the king, his nobles, men, women, and even his concubines. And as they drank themselves drunk, they praised their false gods to whom they sacrificed their children.
Verses 5-6 —
But something interrupted their “party.” The fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the wall of the king’s palace.
The drunken king saw the back of the hand that wrote on the wall. Then his face grew pale (literally, his cheerful demeanor suddenly was altered), his thoughts alarmed (terrified) him, his hip joints (the source of his strength) went slack, and his knees began to knock together.
He was terrified to the point where he lost all his strength, visible because his knees knocked together! Imagine the fear of those looking upon him — their arrogant, fearless king suddenly feared to such a degree that he became visibly physically weak!
Verses 7-9 —
Belshazzar wanted to know what the handwriting meant, but he could not understand it or interpret it himself. So he cried aloud for his conjurers, the Chaldeans (the professional astrologers, known as the Magi), and the diviners. Surely, they would be able to interpret it.
He promised that whoever could interpret the handwriting would be honored — clothed with purple, a necklace of gold around his neck, and be appointed as third ruler in Babylon. What a prize!
But despite the reward to whoever could interpret, none of those upon whom he depended and relied for wisdom could read or interpret the inscription on the wall.
So he became even more terrified, his demeanor became even darker. His nobles were astonished!
Verses 10-12 —
The queen heard what was going on in the banquet hall, so she entered, and told him about “a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.”
She said that in the days of Belshazzar’s father (his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar), illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar appointed him chief over all those in whom he had relied in and depended upon for wisdom.
She said Daniel had an excellent spirit, knowledge, insight, was able to interpret dreams, explain mysteries, and solve difficult problems. So, she said, “Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation.”
Verses 13-16 —
Daniel was approximately 81 years old at the time he was summoned to interpret the handwriting on the wall, per the commentaries I reviewed. He had faithfully and continually served the Lord and prayed for his captive brethren. And Belshazzar’s grandfather and father had humbled themselves before the one true God.
Belshazzar told Daniel he had heard about him, and that his own wise men and conjurers could not interpret the handwriting on the wall. He offered the same reward to Daniel as to his wise men — a purple robe, a necklace of gold, and authority as third ruler in the kingdom of Babylon.
Verses 17-21 —
Daniel refused the reward. But he said he would read the inscription and give the interpretation to the king.
But before reading and interpreting the inscription, Daniel rebuked the king. It was at the hand of the Most High God that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was great. Nebuchadnezzar elevated whomever he wished and humbling whomever he wished.
Daniel reminded Belshazzar of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and arrogance, and that he became so proud that the Lord took his glory away from him, and he was driven away from all mankind. He ate and behaved as an animal behaves and eats, until he recognized that (knew and made known that) the Most High God is the One who sets up kingdoms and their kings, just according to His will.
Verses 22-23 —
But Daniel said Belshazzar had not humbled his heart, even though he knew all that had happened to his grandfather. Instead, he exalted himself against the Lord of heaven, drinking from that which was holy unto the Lord while praising false gods that do not hear, see or understand.
But the God in whose hand was Belshazzar’s life-breath (soul) and all his ways, he had not glorified. Instead, he had arrogantly defied God.
Verses 24-28 —
Because Belshazzar exalted himself against the Lord and not glorified Him, the hand was sent from Him, and this inscription was written out —
MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN (plural of PERES)
This is the interpretation, said Daniel —
MENE. MENE — God has numbered (counted, judged) your kingdom and put an end to it. (The end will be sudden and soon, for the Lord repeats “MENE” twice.)
TEKEL — You have been weighed in the scales and found deficient (wanting, failing).
PERES — Your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians (Paras, in Aramaic).
Verses 29-31 —
Then Belshazzar gave orders, and Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold necklace was placed around his neck, and he issued a proclamation that Daniel was now third ruler in the kingdom. He recognized that Daniel’s interpretation was correct. But Belshazzar did not repent before the Lord.
That same night, Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, was slain. Indeed, his kingdom was suddenly and quickly taken away from Belshazzar and given to the Medo-Persians. Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of 62, and the commentaries note that Cyrus king of Persia ruled concurrently with him until Cyrus was formally coronated as king.
Interpretation for today’s church and today’s believers
Verses 1-4 —
Just as with Belshazzar, you have become arrogant against God your Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. How? First, you worship the god of self in your body which should be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Second, you worship the god of self in what should be Jesus Christ’s holy church (Ephesians 5:27). In the Lord’s eyes, what you are doing is an act of arrogance and defiance against Him that is just as grievous as Belshazzar’s acts.
From the pulpits to the pews, you have misrepresented the Spirit-inspired Word of God, saying that what God has called sin is no longer sin. You have called evil good and good evil.
Paul and Peter exhorted believers because they took the Word of God lightly and writing these words —
2Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
2Peter 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
But you disregard their exhortations, and take the Word of God lightly — brushing it aside, discounting it, laughing it off, looking the other way, paying no attention to it, turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.
Why do you take His Word lightly? Because you prefer to make God into what pleases your sin nature. Thus, you have fashioned your own false god, one that pleases the god of self, whose root is your sin nature. In doing so, you dishonor the One you call Father.
Because you take the Word of God lightly, just as Belshazzar took the holy vessels from the temple lightly, you have also rejected Jesus Christ’s words and commands about the Holy Spirit, and have determined that you do not need “it.” Thus you dishonor Jesus Christ, whom you call your Lord, and insult the Holy Spirit.
As a result of your arrogant scoffing at Jesus Christ’s words and commands about the Holy Spirit, you have only a form of godliness (2Timothy 3:5) while denying its power. You refuse to seek to be holy as God is holy, and perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48, 1Peter 1:16).
Because you take the Word of God lightly — brushing it aside, discounting it, laughing it off, looking the other way, paying no attention to it, turning a blind eye and deaf ear to it — many believers and their churches are like the five churches to whom Jesus Christ writes, in Revelation 2 & 3. He exhorts them to repent or be judged by Him!
You have relied on and trusted in man’s wisdom and man’s ways. You have used human logic, intellect and reason to explain the Lord, instead of steadfastly believing His words and obeying them. You have applied human rules to Him, and expect Him to follow them. Thus, you defy and attempt to negate the wisdom of the one true and holy God.
Your own minds have created a bloodless gospel that requires no repentance from sin. Thus, you trample on the Lord’s blood, sacrificed for you (see Hebrews 10:29).
But because of His great mercy, the Lord warns you today, through the writer of Hebrews, so that you are not terrified like Belshazzar who saw the handwriting on the wall —
Hebrews 10:30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Verses 5-23 —
Fingers are poised to write on your walls, O church, O believer! Your wise men, philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrists, theologians, and false prophets/preachers/teachers/leaders will not be able to interpret what the fingers will write. You will see the back of the hand sent by the Lord whom you and they do not know, the Lord toward whom you have been arrogant and defiant.
You will be terror-stricken by the appearance of the hand and the words that you cannot read or interpret. You will not realize that you will not be able to understand them because you are far from the Lord.
You will hear of believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit and are thus able to interpret such things. You will send for them, and they will tell you what I have just told you.
O church, O believer, the Lord warns that He is about to write these words on your walls — MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
You have been found wanting.You have exalted yourself against the Lord. You have become arrogant, boasting in your own wisdom and ways. You have exalted, relied upon, trusted in, and worshiped the god of self instead of the Lord. You have not heeded the warnings that He has sent to you again and again, through His prophets.
When the Spirit-filled believers interpret the handwriting, you will see that the church you have fashioned with your own hands and the worldly kingdom you have fashioned with your own hands is not the Lord’s church, nor His kingdom. Then you and your man-made things with which you worship the god of self will be destroyed in a moment of time, just as with Belshazzar.
And the kingdom of heaven will be suddenly and quickly given to those who have believed the Lord’s words and obeyed His commands. It is just as Jesus Christ said to the Jewish leaders who worshiped God outwardly but were arrogant and defiant toward God the Son, whom God the Father sent —
Matthew 21:31 “ . . . Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”
But if you feel remorse, then know that today, the window of repentance is still open. Therefore —
Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Lord Jesus, I have spoken all the words You asked me to speak, and have not left out a word. May there be ears to hear and heed, I pray. Amen.