August 4, 2001 – August 10, 2001
MEMORY VERSE: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.
STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 522–531.
Introduction: “You may plan for merely selfish good, you may gather together treasure, you may build mansions great and high, as did the builders of ancient Babylon; but you cannot build wall so high or gate so strong as to shut out the messengers of doom. Belshazzar the king ‘feasted in his palace,’ and ‘praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.’ But the hand of One invisible wrote upon his walls the words of doom, and the tread of hostile armies was heard at his palace gates. ‘In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain,’ and an alien monarch sat upon the throne. (Daniel 5:30.) To live for self is to perish. Covetousness, the desire of benefit for self’s sake, cuts the soul off from life. It is the spirit of Satan to get, to draw to self. It is the spirit of Christ to give, to sacrifice self for the good of others.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 258.
“A Thousand of His Lords”
1 What was Belshazzar doing while his city was besieged? Daniel 5:1.
NOTE: “Babylon was besieged by Cyrus, nephew of Darius the Mede, and commanding general of the combined armies of the Medes and Persians. But within the seemingly impregnable fortress, with its massive walls and its gates of brass, protected by the river Euphrates, and stocked with provision in abundance, the voluptuous monarch felt safe and passed his time in mirth and revelry. In his pride and arrogancy, with a reckless feeling of security Belshazzar ‘made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.’ All the attractions that wealth and power could command, added splendor to the scene. Beautiful women with their enchantments were among the guests in attendance at the royal banquet. Men of genius and education were there. Princes and statesmen drank wine like water and reveled under its maddening influence.” Prophets and Kings, 523.
2 What act of sacrilege crowned the scene of depravity? Daniel 5:2–4.
NOTE: “Exalted by wine, and blinded by delusion, the king himself took the lead in the riotous blasphemy. His reason was gone, and his lower impulses and passions were in the ascendancy. His kingdom was strong and apparently invincible, and he would show that he thought nothing too sacred for his hands to handle and profane. To show his contempt for sacred things, he desecrated the holy vessels taken from the temple of the Lord at its destruction.” Manuscript Releases vol. 10, 307.
“The Hand That Wrote”
3 What appeared at the height of the feast and what was the king’s reaction? Daniel 5:5, 6.
NOTE: “Little did Belshazzar think that there was a heavenly Witness to his idolatrous revelry; that a divine Watcher, unrecognized, looked upon the scene of profanation, heard the sacrilegious mirth, beheld the idolatry. But soon the uninvited Guest made His presence felt. When the revelry was at its height a bloodless hand came forth and traced upon the walls of the palace characters that gleamed like fire—words which, though unknown to the vast throng, were a portent of doom to the now conscience-stricken king and his guests. Hushed was the boisterous mirth, while men and women, seized with nameless terror, watched the hand slowly tracing the mysterious characters. Before them passed, as in panoramic view, the deeds of their evil lives; they seemed to be arraigned before the judgment bar of the eternal God, whose power they had just defied. Where but a few moments before had been hilarity and blasphemous witticism, were pallid faces and cries of fear. When God makes men fear, they cannot hide the intensity of their terror. Belshazzar was the most terrified of them all. He it was who above all others had been responsible for the rebellion against God which that night had reached its height in the Babylonian realm. In the presence of the unseen Watcher, the representative of Him whose power had been challenged and whose name had been blasphemed, the king was paralyzed with fear. Conscience was awakened. ‘The joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.’ Belshazzar had impiously lifted himself up against the God of heaven and had trusted in his own might, not supposing that any would dare say, ‘Why doest thou thus?’ but now he realized that he must render an account of the stewardship entrusted him, and that for his wasted opportunities and his defiant attitude he could offer no excuse.” Prophets and Kings, 524, 525.
4 To whom did Belshazzar turn for an interpretation of the writing? With what result? Daniel 5:7–9.
NOTE: “In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. He had found a power too strong for him. He could not read the writing. ‘The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men; but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.’ In vain the king offered honor and promotion. Heavenly wisdom cannot be bought and sold.” Bible Echo, April 25, 1898.
“There Is a Man”
5 Who proposed a solution to Belshazzar’s dilemma? Whom did the queen recommend to the king? Daniel 5:10–12.
NOTE: “There was in the palace a woman who was wiser than them all,—the queen of Belshazzar’s grandfather. In this emergency she addressed the king in language that sent a ray of light into the darkness.…“There is a man in thy kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar, thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; . . . now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.’” Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.
6 With what words did Belshazzar address Daniel? Daniel 5:13–16.
NOTE: “Daniel is remembered, and brought to the banqueting hall. The servant of God sees the evidences of the degradation and idolatry of the feast, so suddenly brought to an end; but Daniel was not disconcerted in the presence of the king and his lords. ‘I have even heard of thee,’ said the king, ‘that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.…And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.’” Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.
“Prior to the time that Belshazzar’s place in the kingdom and his relationship to Nabonidus were fully understood, commentators could only conjecture as to the identity of the second ruler in the kingdom. . . . Now that it is known that Belshazzar himself was only a co-ruler with his father, and hence the second ruler in the kingdom, it is clear why he could bestow no higher position in the realm than that of “third ruler.’” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,vol. 4, 803.
7 How did Daniel respond to Belshazzar’s offer? Daniel 5:17.
NOTE: “Before that terror-stricken throng, Daniel, unmoved by the promises of the king, stood in the quiet dignity of a servant of the Most High, not to speak words of flattery, but to interpret a message of doom. ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself,’ he said, ‘and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.’” Prophets and Kings, 529.
“Thou Knewest All This”
8 Of what important facts did Daniel remind Belshazzar? Daniel 5:18–21.
NOTE: “Belshazzar had been given many opportunities for knowing and doing the will of God. He had seen his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar banished from the society of men. He had seen the intellect in which the proud monarch gloried taken away by the One who gave it. He had seen the king driven from his kingdom, and made the companion of the beasts of the field. But Belshazzar’s love of amusement and self-glorification effaced the lessons he should never have forgotten; and he committed sins similar to those that brought signal judgments on Nebuchadnezzar. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, neglecting to use the opportunities within his reach for becoming acquainted with truth. ‘What must I do to be saved?’ was a question that the great but foolish king passed by indifferently.” Bible Echo, April 25, 1898.
9 What was Belshazzar’s sin that Daniel pointed out to the king? Daniel 5:22, 23.
NOTE: “Then in bold and emphatic words he rebuked Belshazzar for his great wickedness. He held the king’s sin up before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not read aright the experience of his grandfather, nor heeded the warning of events so significant to himself. The opportunity of knowing and obeying the true God had been given him, but had not been taken to heart, and he was about to reap the consequence of his rebellion.” Prophets and Kings, 529.
“MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PERES”
10 What was the writing on the wall and how did Daniel interpret it? Daniel 5:24–26.
NOTE: “MENE meant that God had added up the crimes of Belshazzar and his people and finished their tally. The word was repeated to stress the thoroughness and finality and accuracy of the divine decision.” Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 71.
In Daniel 8:13 (see marginal reading) God is described as Palmoni, which means “The Wonderful Numberer.” The time prophecies of the Bible show how accurately God numbers the affairs of earth and finishes them.
11 How did Daniel interpret the next word of the inscription on the wall? Daniel 5:27.
NOTE: “TEKEL testified that God had ‘weighed’the character and conduct of the Babylonians and Belshazzar in His scales of eternal justice and found them lacking.” Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 71.
“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Nothing but holiness will prepare you for heaven. It is sincere, experimental piety alone that can give you a pure, elevated character and enable you to enter into the presence of God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable. The heavenly character must be acquired on earth, or it can never be acquired at all. Desires for goodness and true holiness are right so far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Good purposes are right, but will prove of no avail unless resolutely carried out. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians; but they made no earnest effort, therefore they will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. The will must be exercised in the right direction. I will be a wholehearted Christian. I will know the length and breadth, the heighth and depth, of perfect love. Listen to the words of Jesus: ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.’ Ample provisions are made by Christ to satisfy the soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness.” Maranatha, 46.
“The robe of your character must be washed till it is spotless, in the fountain opened for all uncleanness. Your moral worth will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and if you are found wanting, you will be at an eternal loss. All the coarseness, all the roughness, must be removed from your character before Jesus comes; for when He comes, the preparation for every soul is ended. If you have not laid aside your envy, your jealousies, your hatred one against another, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. You would only carry the same disposition with you; but there will be nothing of this character in the world to come. Nothing will exist there but love and joy and harmony.” Signs of the Times, February 10, 1888.
12 What was the interpretation of the final word on the wall? Daniel 5:28.
NOTE: “PERES has a double meaning. It proclaimed that the kingdom was to be ‘divided’ and handed over to the Persians.” Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 72.
“In that last night of mad folly, Belshazzar and his lords had filled up the measure of their guilt and the guilt of the Chaldean kingdom. No longer could God’s restraining hand ward off the impending evil. Through manifold providences, God had sought to teach them reverence for His law. ‘We would have healed Babylon,’ He declared of those whose judgment was now reaching unto heaven, ‘but she is not healed.’ Jeremiah 51:9. Because of the strange perversity of the human heart, God had at last found it necessary to pass the irrevocable sentence. Belshazzar was to fall, and his kingdom was to pass into other hands.” Prophets and Kings, 530.
“In that Night”
13 What honors were heaped upon Daniel in reward for his interpretation? Daniel 5:29.
NOTE: “As the prophet ceased speaking, the king commanded that he be awarded the promised honors; and in harmony with this, ‘they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.’” Prophets and Kings, 530.
14 What was the fate of Belshazzar and Babylon? Daniel 5:30, 31.
NOTE: “While the king and his nobles were at the height of their revelry, the Persians turned the Euphrates out of its channel, and marched into the unguarded city. As Belshazzar and his lords were drinking from the sacred vessels of Jehovah, and praising their gods of silver and gold, Cyrus and his soldiers stood under the walls of the palace. ‘In that night,’ the record says, ‘was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom.’” Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.