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Teaching

The Writing on the Wall (Daniel 5)

Throughout the ages, most people have strongly persisted in believing that religion is just an extension and expression of culture. One’s beliefs are interwoven with one’s nationality and culture. Therefore, for example, an Arab Muslim would feel that, were he to become a Christian, he would no longer be an Arab. This view is embodied in statements like, “I’m English, therefore I’m Anglican; I’m Scottish, therefore I’m Presbyterian; I’m Indian, therefore I’m Hindu”. Since this was almost certainly the case with Belshazzar, this feast was likely an expression of nationalistic passion.

Belshazzar accused of four things:

1. v.22 “you knew all this”. Belshazzar knew all about Nebuchadnezzar’s experiences and his testimony to the power of God to humble pride.

2. v.23 “you have not humbled yourself” Again we see that human pride is the main point of God’s indictment, just as it was in the case of Nebuchadnezzar. This is a basic root sin.

3. v.23- “you set yourself up against the Lord of heaven…drinking from the goblets” This is the sin of using God’s gifts for your own purposes. This is a high-handed sin. Belshazzar knew that the articles of the temple were ‘set apart’ for the exclusive use of the worship of God, but he deliberately took them and used them for his pagan festivities.

4. Fourth, v.23-”you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways” This is sin seems to sum up the other sins. It isn’t a) repression of the truth, b) assertion of pride, c) refusal of stewardship. It is, in a way, a summary of them all. Belshazzar refused to admit his contingency, his dependence on God.

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