We continue this week to study our Big God and His relationship to Belshazzar in Daniel 5:19-22. God shows to the king ‘He Is The God Of Retribution’. I have studied two truths thus far under this heading, ‘The Lawlessness Of Rebellion’ and ‘The Looking For Reaping’.
Let us look today at ‘The Lord Of Remembrance’. Daniel has been called to read the writing on the wall. I am amazed at how God will cross His T’s and dot His I’s. He shuts the mouths of sinners and leaves them without excuse. He will never send men to Hell without excuse. Instead of telling the interpretation of the writing Daniel tells the king, ‘you know all about your Daddy but you humbled not your heart before the Lord’. (5:22) It seems to me that humility of heart is not something that man can do of his own free will, but it is a divine act of the sovereign God.
I find in this section that Daniel reminds the king of three great truths about the Lord. The first one Daniel tells him is ‘You Know That He Is The God That Abases’. In Daniel 4:37 after his seven-year separation from the God of Heaven, his father shares with all, the greatest lessons he learned. Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Those who walk in pride, God is able to abase.’ The word ‘abase’ means to humble, to put down or subdue. In reminding the king of his father’s message, Daniel is asking the king; didn’t you listen to what your father said? Oh, how often we do not earn from others mistakes. We think we can go down the same road as they and not suffer similar consequences. Let me remind us that we cannot take the fire of sin into our bosom and not be burned.
I find also that Daniel reminds the king of the fact ‘You Know He Is The God Who Makes Aware’. The word, ‘knewest’ means to cause one to recognize and know with certainty. Your father made you aware of all. You even heard the story of the stone rolling down and tearing an empire apart, but yet you humbled not your heart. I wonder how many will go to Hell from the pews of churches with full knowledge in their heads of what God requires from a man to go to Heaven.
In verses 23-30 Daniel tells the king, ‘You Know He Is The God Who Will Abandon’. You gave all your praise to the gods of silver and gold. You gave no praise to the God of Heaven who has your very breathe in His hand.
It is now that Daniel begins to read the words on the wall. In verse 26 the first phrase says, ‘O King your kingdom is finished’. In verse 27 the phrase says, ‘King, you think you have it all but you have nothing.’ The phrase of verse 28 says,’ Your kingdom will be divided.’ A kingdom divided cannot stand. In verse 30, a very short time later, the king is killed and stands face to face with the God of retribution and may have gone to Hell with his clothes on. Retribution is a punishment suitable for the actions one has done. Let us be aware in our story that the stone of God is rolling on.
We continue to study our theme of Big God Theology from the backdrop of Daniel and the three Hebrew boys. The last study found us looking at Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. I find in the son’s life that this Big God is ‘A God Of Retribution’. Retribution is a reward or punishment suitable for the action.
Today our study takes us to Daniel 5:5 where we find in the realm of retribution you can ‘look for reaping’. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap. The way of the transgressor is hard.
In verse 5 after the king defies God by using the Holy vessels for an earthly purpose he sees ‘The Hand Of Reaping’. The text tells us that while they are drinking and having a good time the ‘hand of God’ appears and begins to write on the wall. I don’t think it is a note to the king telling him what a fine job he has done. I would rather have His hand on me than against me. To some His hand can be such a source of comfort to others a great source of condemnation. It is the same hand that flung the stars in space. It is the hand that lifted the little children up into His arms. The same hand that touched blinded eyes, healed a leper, and touched deathbeds has now come out against this king. It has come with a message of sowing and reaping.
In verse 6 I find ‘The Horror Of Reaping’. It seems that man is never ready to reap the whirlwind of what he has sown. The Bible says ‘his countenance was changed’. The word means a noticeable alteration. His ‘thoughts were troubled’. The phrase means to be suddenly agitated and terrified. His ‘knees were knocking’ and ‘his joints were loose’ and he went to the ground. O, how quickly the Big God can melt the frame of a mere man. You always reap what you sow. You always reap more than you sow and often you reap where you didn’t sow. The Bible says we can reap to the 5th and 6th generations. For me that could involve 600-700 people by my 5th and 6th generation. Let me be so careful what I reap spiritually before the Lord. I am reminded of planting a corn seed and if it is a hybrid seed it will produce first a shoot, then a stalk taller than the average man. It will have silk tasseled at the top. Can you imagine all of that in one small seed? There will be 8 ears on the stalk and each one will have 200 kernels of corn. That amounts to a ratio of 1600 to 1 of sowing and reaping. Lord, let me be careful in sowing sin. Let me sow righteousness and reap a big crop of God righteousness in my grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In verses 16-17 I find ‘The Hearing Of The Reaper’. He told Daniel the he had heard that he could give the interpretation of strange things. The king says if Daniel can tell him what the message on the wall means he will give him clothes of scarlet, a gold chain, and make him third in the kingdom. Daniel told him that he could keep his gifts because he had plenty. In verses 19-20 he takes the king on a walk down memory lane. He reminds him of the retribution his Daddy suffered for sin. Daniel told him that he might have thought that his Daddy was a mad man but it was while he was out there eating grass for seven years that he met the God of Heaven. The life his Dad had lived prior to that had already affected him for unrighteousness. He that soweth to the flesh will of the flesh reap the whirlwind. He that sows to the flesh will reap corruption. Job said, ‘Even as I have seen’. He is speaking for first hand observation. They that plow iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same. It is such a simple principle but so hard to get into our heart of practice. I remind us of Paul’s words of ‘Be not deceived. God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.’
We are studying these days the Book of Daniel with the theme in mind of Big God Theology. For the last few weeks we have been looking at Him as ‘The God Of Restoration’.
We have looked at several great truths in Nebuchadnezzar’s plight on the road to being fully restored to the only wise God.
Let us look today at Chapter 4, verses 35-37 and ‘The Sovereign Over The King’. Take some time before you read my article and read our text. These are the clearest verses in the entire Bible to picture just how big our God is.
In verse 35 I find ‘God’s Reigning Of Sovereignty’. Let us remember these are the words of Nebuchadnezzar after eating grass for seven years and then to experience a spiritual awakening to the King of all Kings. He speaks of God’s view of all the inhabitants of the earth. God reputed them as nothing. The word ‘repute’ means to give the estimate or value of something. The word ‘nothing’ is our word for a zero with the rim rubbed out. In Isaiah 40, God said, the inhabitants of the earth look to Him like a bunch of grasshoppers camping out in a pup tent. Oh, to see ourselves as God sees us. We are of no value. We are but dust to Him. The only thing that gives us value is if we are the house where His Son resides. The earthly king says of God in verse 35 that He does according to His will in heaven and earth. You cannot stop Him or say to Him, ‘What are you doing?’ To believe this you will have to set aside the exercise of your will. To believe this you will not make great claims to have your free will of choice. To know Him and His will is to know that your will only takes you away from God, never toward Him. Any act of our free will is an act of rebellion and rejection of His will. His will is never our will.
In verses 36-37 I find ‘Nebuchadnezzar’s Restoration Of Sovereignty’. While he is giving glory to the God of Heaven, all the honor of his earthly kingship is returned to him. In verse 37 it seems he wants to spend his life giving God all the glory because he now knows that God is able to abase those who walk in pride.
Let us remember the road to being restored to God is not always a smooth journey. Because of our free will we continue to think we can work it out our self. David had a long road between the night with Bathsheba, the murder of her husband and, Psalm 23:3 where he says, ‘He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.’ The road for David also held the death of the baby conceived by Bathsheba, his son raped his sister, while the other son killed the brother who raped the sister. The son killed by his brother was then hung in a tree by his hair and one of David’s army generals shot him with an arrow.
At the end of this restoration process David was able to say, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes.’ I am glad He is a Big God who is winning to restore but the price tag is often expensive.
Let us turn again our attention to the book of Daniel where we have been looking at a study of ‘Big God Theology’. I want to begin to look at Chapter 5 where we find that ‘He Is A God Of Retribution’. Many see God as a celestial Santa Claus throwing everyone candy kisses. I hear some say my God’s not like that or my God wouldn’t do that. You are probably right. Your God wouldn’t but the God of the Bible would. The word ‘retribution’ means a reward or punishment suitable to the action done. It seems like from the definition as well as born out in life, there is a good and bad retribution.
This chapter deals with Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar who has taken over the kingdom at the time of his fathers’ death. Let us turn our thoughts to Chapter 5 and verses 1-4 and ‘The Lawlessness Of Rebellion’. In verse 1 I find ‘The Discernment Of Wisdom’. I fear Belshazzar had the groundwork for discernment laid when his father was chained and eating grass for seven years.
There is no reason for this grand party to entertain the thousands. It was purely for pleasure. I am not surprised. Every generation has been a pleasure and amused crazed people and this was no different. The wisdom to have this party is not that which comes from above but below. James said, ‘The wisdom from above is first pure and then peaceable. It produces the fruits of righteousness.’
In verse 2 I find ‘The Desecration Of Worship’. Belshazzar took the gold and silver vessels that were set aside for worship and used them in a time of pleasure. His father brought them home from the Temple when Israel fell into captivity. Let us be careful of using eternal things in a temporal setting. Don’t sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the temporal. Oh, how often we are guilty of putting the temporal above the eternal. It is extremely dangerous.
In verses 1b, 2c, 3c, and 4 I find ‘The Drinking Of Wine’. How often in a time of pleasure man desires to numb himself with the drinking of wine. I have heard all the arguments trying to convince us that drinking wine is all right. Proverbs 31:4-5 says, “It is not for kings to drink wine…Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment…” The text is telling us that drinking can lead to a lack of discernment. John tells us in Revelation 1:6 that God has made us both kings and priests.
Let us remember we can numb ourselves with pleasure and drink if we like. We can overlook our failures and shortcomings because of a lack of discernment but do remember he is a God of Retribution.
We began, last week, in our study of Daniel and Big God Theology to look at Him as the God of Restoration. We looked last time at ‘The Stumping Of The King.’ Today I want to turn our attention to ‘The Speech From The King’. It is here we find the situation of which God demanded the king be restored from. The more I look at it, I find we have done and are doing far worst ourselves.
In verse 29-30a I find ‘A Speech Of Presumption’. The king says ‘is not this great Babylon?’ He sees greatness in temporal things. I don’t doubt we do far greater, if not in our words then in our actions. Let us not forget that every temporal thing we spend so much time and energy to get will one day go up in smoke. In 4:30b we find ‘A Speech Of Pride’. The king speaks of what he has built by his might and power. He fails to acknowledge God in all that has been done. It is very foolish for us to take any credit for anything that has been done. Oh, how often we do far worst in our failure to acknowledge Him in all our ways.
In 4:31-34 I find ‘The Suffering For The King’. If this king suffers so severely for what he has done we should have long since suffered the wrath of God. Our God has been so merciful and long suffering to us in our presumption and pride.
I notice in 4:31-32 this king is ‘Suffering That Which Is Beyond Unbelievable’. In verse 31 while he is talking, the kingdom falls from his power. He becomes a beast with claws, his hair grows out to the point it looks like feathers. He is chained to a stake by a brass hook. It is there he lives for 7 years and eats grass. You may say that this seems severe. Let us remember God does not take lightly presumption and pride before Him.
In 4:34 I find ‘The Suffering That Brings Understanding’. We find that while living chained in the grass at the end of 7 years the king looks up and his understanding returns to him. He begins to worship God by blessing, praising, and honoring Him that liveth forever. The word ‘blessed’ means to bow in adoration. ‘Praise’ means to pacify another with loud words of commendation. ‘Honored’ means to have something to swell up in you to the point it becomes bigger than life. It sure seems to me that the king looking up has caused him to catch a life-changing glimpse of a Big God.