And the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. Have you ever heard the term “The handwriting on the wall?” It comes from the Bible and from this chapter of Daniel. Have you ever asked anyone, Can’t you see the handwriting on the wall? We have all said something like, “Can’t you see what is happening?” Has anyone ever said something like that to you? The truth of the matter is they (or we) could see the handwriting, but couldn’t read it.
DANIEL AND TROUBLE
By Delbert Young
The God of Breath (Daniel chapter 5)
Handwriting on the Wall – God of Breath
Scriptures: Daniel chapter 5
In this lesson we will see Belshazzar, the king in trouble. The handwriting was on the wall, but by that time it was too late. The trouble resulted from substance abuse and not glorifying the God who held Belshazzar’s breath in his hand.
BANQUET OF WINE – TROUBLE BECAUSE OF EXCESS OF WINE
In the first four verses of Daniel chapter 5, the drinking of wine is mentioned in each verse. Belshazzar gave a banquet of wine and drank wine before the thousand (v1). Belshazzar commanded that the vessels from the temple at Jerusalem be brought to drink wine from (v2). Belshazzar, his princes, his wives, and his concubines drank wine from those vessels (v.3). They drank wine and praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone (v.4).
Excess of wine will bring trouble. Excess of wine causes people to do weird things. Eventually it will bring out a praise to the person’s gods. It has been said that if one wanted to see what another’s god really is, get that person filled with wine. We need to be warned from time to time about the effects of substance abuse. The scriptures neither defend nor condemn the use of alcohol. Our Bible simply warns us. After looking thoroughly at the scriptures, I conclude that abstinence is best. The handwriting is on the wall.
Wine in the Scriptures
Wine burst into the scriptures with no explanation. It merely says of Noah, And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent (Gen 9:21). Though contemporary teachings tell us he did, Noah did not sin. Paul said that if we were going to become drunk to do it in our own homes (1Co 11:21-22). Though Noah did not sin, his actions do sound somewhat weird. Of course, all sorts of bizarre interpretations of what happened with Noah as he was drunk are given. None are valid. Noah plainly passed out drunk in his own house. As I studied this topic, it was interesting that God never addressed Noah about this, but did judge the ones who judged Noah. We need to be cautious in how we judge things.
Melchizedek, Abraham, Patriarchs, Jesus Christ
The first use of wine and Noah does seen negative. Excess of wine does cause us to do some weird things. However, the second use of wine is anything but negative. Melchizedek, a type of Christ (Heb 7:11), the priest of the most high God, brought bread and wine to Abraham (Gen 14:18). Obviously there was not excess. We teach this in conjunction with communion. The Patriarchs drank wine. We know that Isaac drank wine (Gen 27:25). Isaac asked that God would bless Jacob with plenty of wine (Gen 27:28). To say that wine in itself is bad or evil or to say that wine is the devil’s drink, is not a Biblical perspective. I say this because Jesus Christ made wine (Joh 2:9-10). Jesus Christ drank wine (Luk 7:33-34). Christ used wine as illustrations in his teachings such as the wine skins (Luk 5:37-39) and said No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better (Luk 5:39). He also used wine in the teaching we call the Good Samaritan (Luk 10:34). To say that wine is of the devil is not accurate. The Bible says the Lord causeth wine that maketh glad the heart of man (Psa 104:14-15).
Offerings, tithe, feasts
Strong wine was used in the drink offering which was offered by the priest to the Lord twice each day at the tabernacle (Num 28:7). The drink offering was also a part of the burnt offering and meal offering, etc. (Exo 29:40) offered by the people to the Lord. Wine could be given as tithe (Num 18:12). The scriptures actually seem to encourage those coming to Jerusalem for the feasts to purchase wine with the “my tithe” part of the tithe (Deu 14:26). The abundance of wine was a sign of God’s blessing his people (Deu 7:13; 11:14).
Timothy, church leaders, older women, Proverbs
The apostle Paul actually instructed Timothy to drink wine for its medicinal qualities (1Ti 5:23). Paul also said that the leaders in the church should not be given to excess of wine (1Ti 3:8). This was true also with the older women in the church (Tit 2:3). Proverbs teach that we should Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts (Pro 31:6, 7).
Warnings – Lot, mocker, brawler, not rich, offends, bites like a serpent
If it sounds as if I am defending the use of wine, I am not. For the Bible gives many warnings and negatives to the use of wine. Lot got so drunk that he had sexual relationships with his own daughters (Gen 19:32, 35). That is weird. Proverbs says that wine is a mocker (Pro 20:1). People will mock those in excess. Much wine will cause the mouth to run and people can easily end up brawling. Proverbs 21:17 says if a person loves wine they will not be rich. Alcohol and drug abuse removes motivation. Paul said, It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak (Rom 14:21). Drinking wine or alcoholic beverages offend some people. The Bible says, At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Pro 23:32).
What is my conclusion to this matter? Is drinking wine a sin? No. Will it send you to hell? No. Is it dangerous? Yes. Will it cause people to do dumb things? Yes. People have much trouble by drinking wine in excess. People are killed every year by DUI drives. We hear the heart-wrenching stories every year of teenagers becoming drunk and having auto accidents in which they are killed. People get in fights because they are drunk and often someone is killed or injured. Homes are destroyed because of excess. Spouse abuse happens because of excess. Kingdoms come down when substance abuse is in their midst.
The Handwriting on The Wall
As they praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone, fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began to write next to the candlestick upon the plaster. The fingers wrote where all could see, but those that saw could not understand. There was no clap of thunder or lightning bolts. There was no death angel or archangel. Michael did not show up with his strong sword. Fingers merely appeared and began writing on the plastered wall. This so frightened Belshazzar that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. He nearly passed out from fear. His countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him.
Belshazzar saw the writing, but he could not read the writing. He called the astrologers and soothsayers. I am yet to know why the soothsayers and astrologers were supported. Never, in the entire book of Daniel, were they able to interpret a dream, give understanding, or do anything they were asked to do. Also interesting was Belshazzar knew what they desired for a reward (hirelings). They would want wealth and power. He promised the one who could interpret a chain of gold and the third position in his empire. However, none could read the writing.
Verse ten says, Now the queen . . . came into the banquet house. This was not the wife of Belshazzar, but rather his mother or grandmother. Some translations say, the queen-mother. As any good mother would, she instructed Belshazzar to calm down. She told him there was a man who could read the writing. Before she told Belshazzar who the person was, she acknowledged his father Nebuchadnezzar’s superiority to Belshazzar. She said, Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father . . . She is saying that Belshazzar should be more like his father. The real king, your father knew of Daniel and made him the ruler over the wise men. Belshazzar did not know who to call for difficult questions. She was concerned for Belshazzar, but did wish he was more like his father. She took the opportunity to discipline him. She told him about Daniel. She said that Nebuchadnezzar found in Daniel an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts.
Belshazzar summoned Daniel and though Belshazzar needed Daniel, mocked Daniel. Belshazzar said, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? He was saying, “You are one of my servants. You are one of those Jews that my father captured and destroyed your temple. I am superior to you.” Belshazzar said, I have heard of thee . . . He had heard, but it was too late. Belshazzar said, “If you can interpret the writing I will give you clothes, gold, and power.”
Daniel was not impressed with Belshazzar. He said you can keep (stick) your gifts. A man of God cannot be bought. Gifts are nice and everyone enjoys nice things, but the man of God would not be bought. Daniel said, I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. But first Daniel preached a little. Daniel attempted to reach Belshazzar by using Nebuchadnezzar as the great example. His father, Nebuchadnezzar, was given great power and authority by God. However, Nebuchadnezzar became haughty and full of pride. Because of this, he lost his mind and ate grass as oxen and lived in the fields until Nebuchadnezzar recognized that the God of heaven does rule. After Daniel preached his sermon, he said, And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.
THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL
Have you ever heard the term “The handwriting on the wall?” It comes from the Bible and from this chapter of Daniel. Have you ever asked anyone, “Can’t you see the handwriting on the wall?” We have all said something like, “Can’t you see what is happening?” Has anyone ever said something like that to you? The truth of the matter is they (or we) could see the handwriting, but couldn’t read it. We watch people and observe their lives continuing from one dilemma to another. We ask, “Can’t they see what is happening? Can’t they see the handwriting on the wall?” Oh yes, they see it, but can’t read it. Often we will find substance abuse of some sort involved. As they go through their many crises, they become depressed. Their thoughts trouble them. They become weak. They do things that cause even more trouble. They dial the fortune teller’s hotline and want to the wicked to tell them what is happening in their lives. They continue to run with the same dumb “wise men” who never help them, but only cause them more grief. Their parents will try to help. The parents fuss at them, but it’s too late to fuss. Parents will try to get them some help, but again, sadly it is often too late. They have some confused attitude that they are the smart and superior one. They mock the ones who can really bring help. If they do come, we often want to condemn them. Instead we need to tell them what they already know and use great people as examples to attempt to reach them. Perhaps Daniel knew, but often we do not realize that very night may well be their last.
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN
Daniel did interpret the handwriting on the wall. Daniel said, MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
MENE:Days are numbered in God’s plan. He does not have difficulty knowing the day or the hour. He numbers days for a kingdom or for a life. Both of these had come to a conclusion for Belshazzar. The Lord gives a time for us to accomplish our purposes. He even gives what I call a mercy time where it seems a line is drawn in time. In his mercy, patience, and longsuffering, he will allow us to do our thing until we cross his time line. Then the hammer comes down.
TEKEL: The book of Revelation chapter twenty speaks about the great white throne and the judgment done there. On that day the earth and sea give up their dead. On that day the books are opened and searched for names. The truth of the chapter is a person’s name is not in the books because that person prayed a sinner’s prayer or even went to church. Jesus said that many would say in that day Lord Lord, but he would say, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. The name is there because of works. The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works(Rev 20:13). The name is in the books because of works. Every day we are given an opportunity to tip the scale. We are each weighed in the balances.
PERES: In the book of Daniel chapter two, we learn there would be three empires that would follow Nebuchadnezzar’s empire (Gold head, breast and his arms of silver, belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay). In the days of the fourth kingdom the Christ would be born. The kingdoms were the Assyrian (head), Chaldean (breast and arms), Persian (belly and thighs), and Rome (legs and feet). The time had come for the next kingdom-keeper, the Chaldean empire. Later that kingdom was taken and divided among the next kingdom-keepers, the Medes and Persians.
There is a principle in the word of God that teaches what we possess is passed on to the next generations or kingdom-keepers. This passing on is both in the positive and negative. We know we are to leave an inheritance to our children and grandchildren (Pro 13:22). The Bible also teaches about iniquities being passed to the third and fourth generations (Exo 20:5, etc.). What we possess in the natural, we pass on. What we possess in the spiritual, we pass on. What we overcome they will not need to overcome. However, what we do not possess or overcome in the natural or spiritual, we leave for them to battle.
We never know that the day we talk to a person involved in substance abuse may be the last day. They are suicidal, their thoughts trouble them, they are depressed. It was too late for Belshazzar, but maybe it is not too late for the person you know. Don’t condemn them. Tell them they can enjoy the substance, but they can’t abuse the substance. If they do it will cause them to do weird things which will damage their own bodies, the kingdom, and their families. Tell them there is a better way, the way of the kingdom.
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