70 Years in Babylon
We cannot finish well apart from Christ. Your life right now is not meaningless, these years count. We need to be looking to Jesus daily and allowing Him to lead and guide us. In this session, Spencer walks through Daniel 5 to show us an example of someone who truly finished well.
Those who exalt themselves over God will be brought low. Our world is ruled by the prideful spirit of Babylon. Do not conform to this present evil culture but seek the Lord daily.
- Daniel 5
- Daniel 8
- Romans 1
- Hebrews 12:1-2
- 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
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What’s up, everybody? Yay! Man, that was awesome. Hey, if you got a Bible, let’s go to Daniel, Chapter 5. Daniel, Chapter 5… The Book of Daniel is so packed with so many great, great stories. And I love that first sermon that Bertie preached when he talked about Daniel’s resolve. How he resolved not to eat the king’s food, but really that resolve was kinda symbolic of his resolve not to defile himself with the whole spirit of Babylon. And really, when I hear of Daniel’s resolve… You gotta remember he’s 15. He’s 15 years old when he resolves to live this life that’s not being defiled by the spirit of Babylon. Like he’s… And you gotta wonder, alright, so many Bible guys fail. You think about David, you think about Abraham… All of these Bible guys that you’re like, “Yeah… “Noah, they started out great, but then there’s kind of…
Can Daniel keep up this pace? Is really the question. Does he finish strong to the end? Or does he not? ‘Cause he’s 15. We resolve things all the time… I don’t know if y’all made New Year’s resolutions this year? But it’s March, and chances are, things are not going so hot on the New Year’s resolutions, right? My daughter resolved this year to not eat sugar for the whole year, and that lasted literally less than one day. That night we pulled out ice cream and she said, “I’m done”, and that was it. ‘Cause she’s 11 and she just… The resolve of 11-year-olds doesn’t really hold that long. Daniel’s 15. So can he do it? Can he make it to an old man, living faithfully in this culture that is actively trying to turn him towards the spirit of Babylon? Can he do it? But this is not just a New Year’s resolution. See, Daniel, this is symbolic of his whole life, but it’s also an extension of what he’s already doing, this isn’t something new.
So my wife, she would not mind me saying this, gotta say this in front of her, she’s a little bit trashy… And so, she… She doesn’t mind me saying it, she is. She’s from the mountains. And so, for example, when Mother’s Day rolled around a couple of years ago, I said, “Hey, Mama, what do you wanna do for Mother’s Day?” And she said, “Can we go to a dirt track race?” Yeah. So choose wisely, young men. Choose wisely. And so, I was like, “Heck yeah, we can.” And so, we go to this dirt track race, down where I’m from. It’s the East Alabama Motor Speedway, and it is exactly as trashy as it sounds. And so… But anyway, the way they do this race… Usually you picture a car race, they all kind of line up and then they’re… Either a guy with a flag or they got the lights that are like red, red, yellow, green, and then they’re all like…
But the dirt races are different, ’cause if they all started out like that, they just kinda…
They just dig themselves in place. So the way they start a dirt race is different, they’ll actually get all the cars rolling…
They’ll take a couple of laps, like two or three laps to get everybody in the right order, and they’ll speed up…
They finally get this last little flag, that means one more lap, and you’re gonna actually start the race. And so, when they get that last little flag that says you’re gonna start the race next, they come around the last corner and gun it. And they’re like…
And down there at the East Alabama Motor Speedway, this cloud of dust is like…
On the dirt track, and the noise is so loud. And when they cross the starting line, they’re going 100. It’s so much momentum from the start. And when you see Daniel and he’s resolving right here, it’s an extension of what he’s already living out. It’s not like he’s at 15, and it’s like, “You know what, I’m gonna follow Yahweh. I’m not gonna bow to Babylon.” He’s hitting this with a lot of momentum, because at 15, he’s already seeking God daily. It’s already a practice in his life. He already has a rock-solid relationship with the Lord, He’s seeking God daily, submitting in obedience. So what I wanna do in Daniel 5, I wanna fast forward to see can he keep it up? Can he sustain this pace? Does he finish well? Alright. Daniel, Chapter 5. If you’ve got a Bible, go there. And we’re gonna start in verse 1, alright?
“King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.” Pause. Time out. Who’s this guy? We’ve been talking about Nebuchadnezzar, right? Nebuchadnezzar this, Nebuchadnezzar that. We’ve been talking about him, but this is kind of like a movie scene. You don’t see… You know in those movies, where the story will go along, then the screen will get black. Then when it raises up again, it’s like 20 years later, and then the story continues? This is one of those times. We don’t see it in the text, but it’s actually 23 years later. And in between Nebuchadnezzar and this guy Belshazzar, there’s actually four kings. And actually, Belshazzar is not the legit king, his daddy is.
And so Nabonidus is his dad. And so Nabonidus, this is nerdy, Nabonidus goes out for like 10 years, he’s making war and stuff like that. So back in the city, his son Belshazzar is acting as king. Alright? But 23 years have passed. And during these 23 years… We’ve seen Daniel from 15, we see him growing up… This morning we looked at the fiery furnace… 23 years passed from that last story till now, and Daniel and his friends have been silently living faithfully. Seeking the Lord. There’s no lions in these stories for 23 years, there’s no furnaces for 23 years, there’s just faithfulness. So jumping to the story, Belshazzar throws a party for a thousand of his lords. So picture how big this party is…
Alright? Look around the room. This room holds 2,000. Alright? So picture, there’s 1,000 lords, so 1,000 men, and later on, it’ll tell us that their wives and concubines are there. And we know Solomon had 800 wives, or 700 wives and 300 concubines, so this whole room would be more than slammed for this giant drunken party that these guys are having. Alright? And if you look in the next verses, you’ll see something that was introduced in the very first story that we read, verse 2. “Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, he commanded that the vessels of gold and silver, that Nebuchadnezzar, his father… ” Now, that father is not his real father, it’s just his ancestor, “had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, be brought that the lords and the kings, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.”
“They brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple.” You all remember those… You all remember Brody talked about those the first night? “Brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple”, that was foreshadowing when he mentioned them, “the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines, all drank from them. They drank wine, and they praised the gods of gold and silver and bronze, and iron and wood and stone.” So here you have Belshazzar, and he’s feasting and he’s praising the gods of wood and stone in these cups, these vessels that were meant for the praise of Yahweh. What’s happening here is Belshazzar is elevating himself, like he’s saying, “Look at the nations that we’ve brought down with the help of our gods.”
“You remember Yahweh, he defeated Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world, and now I hold Yahweh’s cup in my hand, I drink from this his cup.” It’s almost as if he’s saying, “I hold Yahweh himself in my hand. No one can stand in my way.”But you remember the first night and that first sermon, Brody said, it’s gonna seem with a king holding up God’s cup, that the God we serve isn’t that powerful, but he is. And this mockery of God wouldn’t stand. And what happens next, literally changes the course of history on a huge scale. He’s having this party, he’s feasting, he’s clinking glasses, everybody’s getting drunker and drunker. I mean, this place is filled with men and women, these lords of Babylon, who are in this giant feasting room and he’s basically saying, “I hold Yahweh in my hand.”
And look what happens. “Immediately, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the King’s palace opposite the lampstand,” where you could see it, “and the king saw the hand as it wrote.” Picture the scene. Everybody’s this room partying, and all of a sudden on the screen, near the screen, this giant hand appears and starts writing letters where the lampstand is shining where everybody can see it. It’s a terrifying vision. And it says, Verse 6, “Then the king’s color changed and his thoughts alarmed him”, I bet they did, “and his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.” That is scared. You ever been that scared where your legs start just shaking? That’s where this king is at…
‘Cause he saw this, and it says, “The king called loudly, ‘Bring in the enchanters, bring in the Chaldeans and the astrologers,’ and the king declared to the wise men of Babylon, ‘Whoever can read this writing and shows me what it means, he shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and will be called the third ruler in the kingdom.'” Remember there’s Nabonidus, then Belshazzar, and then whoever can interpret it. “Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they couldn’t read the writing or they couldn’t make known to the king the interpretation, and then Belshazzar was greatly alarmed and his color changed and the lords were perplexed.” So this divine hand appears, the hand of God, maybe it’s an angel, maybe it’s God himself, a hand appears writing on the wall, and it’s terrifying this drunk king.
You remember from the first night, God is never out of control, He is always 100% on his throne, in control, even when things seem bleak, He’s on His throne. And we should see a parallel here. You remember the first story really where Nebuchadnezzar, he has this dream and he’s like, “Oh shoot, I need an interpretation. If you can tell me the dream and the interpretation, I’ll give you all these riches.” Here is this parallel here, where this guy is like, “If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, then I’ll give you all these riches.” Belshazzar is terrified by the same God he just mocked, even though he doesn’t know really who he’s offended quite yet, but people mocking or rejecting God doesn’t change who God is, and the God who has been mocked now appears in the room. I mean, can you imagine how terrifying this is if he’s like, “I hold God in my hand,” and then the hand of God appears? Whew, I mean this guy is busted… It’s over.
You all ever been in a situation like that? You’re making fun of somebody, and then they hear you doing that or something like that? I’ll tell you a quick one… I was too old to do this. But I’ll go ahead and tell you how old I was. I was a senior in high school, that’s how shameful it was. I was a senior in high school. And there was a… My history teacher’s name was Ms Hicks. And she was really odd. And so, for whatever reason, I was really immature and I was drawing a picture making fun of Ms. Hicks, and it was like just a really over-exaggerated picture of what she looked like, and as I was drawing it, I did not realize this shadow comes over my paper and it’s Ms Hicks right there. And I was like…
And so I tried to be funny and I was like… And I crumpled it up and put it in my mouth and thinking, “Oh, she’s gonna laugh and go away,” and she did, and I threw it in the trash can and then she pulled it out of the trash can and I ended up in the principal’s office that night and so, or that evening… And so, man, you think about a situation like that, how you would feel… This is no teacher. This is no parent. He has offended the Almighty, the One who spoke everything into existence, the One who holds Belshazzar’s own life and breath in His hand. So, as many do, Belshazzar, when he’s terrified, he turns to religion. And so… And what’s crazy is the spirit of Babylon fails, it always does here. When these guys can’t read it, that’s when he really freaks out. He was already freaked out, but it says, “The wise men came in, they couldn’t read the writing or make known the interpretation, and then Belshazzar was greatly alarmed and then his color changed and his lords were perplexed.”
His hope in these false gods just crumbles, then he really starts freaking out because the spirit of Babylon fails him. There is no understanding, there’s no hope from the spirit of Babylon, no hope. So then, the story twists, and we kind of know where it’s gonna go. “The queen,” Verse 10, “because of the words of the king and his lords came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared… ” Pause, this is not his wife, she’s already there, this is probably his mother or someone like that. So “the queen declared, ‘Oh king, live forever. Don’t let your thoughts alarm you or your color change, there is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him.’
And King Nebuchadnezzar your father, your father, the king, he made him chief of the magicians, the enchanter, the Chaldeans and the astrologers, because an excellent spirit, knowledge and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve problems were found in this Daniel, who the king named Belteshazzar. Now, let Daniel be called and he’ll show you what it means.'” there’s hope. “Hey, there’s this guy, there’s this guy Daniel, who your father and Nebuchadnezzar leaned on.” This parallel continues, Daniel’s brought in, and so what we might expect is the same thing to happen in the Nebuchadnezzar story, Daniel reveals it and Nebuchadnezzar repents, and he falls back and then he repents again, falls back. But we expect maybe Belshazzar to repent. There’s hope. Here’s Daniel.
What’s crazy is, this story has no introduction, it just starts in Belshazzar started drinking, but Daniel has a great introduction. It’s a long introduction the queen gives him. Now, listen to the king’s tone. So Daniel’s brought in before the king. Verse 13, “the king answered and said to Daniel, ‘You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, who the king my father brought in from Judah? I’ve heard of you, that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now, the wise men, the enchanters, they’ve been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they couldn’t show the interpretation of the matter, but I’ve heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now, if you can read the writing, and if you can make known to me it’s interpretation, you’ll be clothed with purple, you’ll have a chain of gold around your neck and you’ll be third ruler in the kingdom.'” Listen. Then Daniel answered and said to the king, ‘Let your gifts be for yourself.'” I love it. “‘Keep your purple robe. Keep that chain, let your gifts be for yourself and give your rewards to another, but I’ll read the writing to the king, I’ll make known to you the interpretation.'” Okay.
We see later in chapter 8, Daniel actually served this king for three years. He’s pretending he doesn’t know Daniel. He’s kinda playing it off, but he knows some details the queen didn’t say. He knows who Daniel is. Daniel had been over the wise men for 40 straight years, but he’s trying to basically insult Daniel by saying, “Oh, Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah,” kinda like trying to put him in his place. “Daniel, the demoted here… ” Belshazzar, he hadn’t forgotten Daniel, he may have forgotten some of his abilities, he may have suppressed some of his abilities ’cause he didn’t wanna follow God, but here’s what I want you to notice… The genius of the way this is written. The Holy Spirit led the writer here to, in the way that he wrote it, to show us that Daniel still has not submitted to the spirit of Babylon even after all these years. How?
He’s not Belteshazzar, he’s not this Babylonian identity. His name is Daniel. If you look back at verse 12 and 13, if you’ve got a Bible, look back there. It repeats his name five times in a row, it says this… Let me get back to the verse, “This Daniel who the king called Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, he’ll show the interpretation. Then Daniel was brought in before the king, the king entered and said to Daniel, ‘You are Daniel?'” It’s repeating over and over and over, his name, his Hebrew name. He hasn’t taken on this Babylonian identity, even after 70 years.
Daniel has lived faithfully, he’s finished well these 70 years in a culture that makes faithfulness to Yahweh virtually impossible. You remember, they have done everything they could for 70 straight years to assimilate Daniel into their culture. They wanted to create Belteshazzar, indoctrinated in Babylon, in their culture, in their language, in their religion, in their university. But here, man, it’s so refreshing to see, 70 years later is it’s still Daniel, it’s still that same guy. I want you to picture the scene, this isn’t young 15-year-old Daniel anymore.
What you have here, Daniel is over 80 years old at this point. Daniel’s an old man. Remember, there’s a 23-year gap between Chapter 4 and 5. This wrinkled, faithful Daniel walks in, but he’s clear-eyed before this drunken king and a thousand of his lords. They were clinking glasses together and then their knees clinked together in fear, and the staggering drunk king offers Daniel what he has. “Daniel, I’ll give you what I got.” And Daniel’s like, “No boss, you can keep that old chain. Keep those gifts for yourself.”
But Daniel’s already had that stuff. He’s already been in the position that’s being offered to him right now, he’s worn that robe, he’s worn that chain, he’s been in that position. “Keep your gifts,” says the old man. Now, Daniel talks. “‘O King, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar, your father, kingship and greatness and glory and majesty, and because of the greatness that he gave him, all people, nations and languages trembled and feared before him. Who he wanted to, he killed, who he wanted to, he kept alive. Who he wanted to, he raised up and who he wanted to, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up. And his spirit was hardened, so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind. His mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it who He wants to.'” Y’all know that story?
God makes Nebuchadnezzar crazy for a season, where he is naked, and eating grass, and his hair and his fingernails go long, to bring Nebuchadnezzar to repentance, and it’s… Here, he’s saying, “Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson, he lifted himself up and God brought him low,” and now… Now, look what he says, verse 22, “‘And you… ‘” He points. The old man points at this young, drunk king. “‘And you, Belshazzar, you have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all of that. You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of His house had been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, your concubines have drunk wine from them, and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which don’t see, or hear, or know. But the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.'”
Woo, this is bold. For Daniel to come in and start pointing at one of the most powerful men in the world and saying, “You, you, you… ” It’s repeated over and over, and in true old man fashion, he compares him to his dad. “You know, your dad used to do this sort of stuff, back when I was young and served him. Your dad used to do this, you should have learned the lesson from your dad.” ‘Cause it’s interesting, Nebuchadnezzar, like four or five times, he humbles himself and repents. In Chapter 2, after he hears the interpretation of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar says, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of lords.” Chapter 3, after the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar confesses, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” And he goes on, and he really praises Yahweh for a long time after that. Chapter 4, “After Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his right mind, he confesses, ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, and extol, and honor the King of heaven. For all His works are right and His ways are just, and those who walk in pride, He is able to humble.'” But, here in Chapter 5, there’s none of that. There’s no repentance, there’s no humility, it’s just pride. It’s drunken pride. Daniel confronts, “And you, you, you, you’ve praised gods who can’t even hear your praises. God holds your breath in His hand.”
What’s funny is the king never asked for a sermon. He was just like, “Hey, can you read that, and tell me what it means?” And Daniel comes in with this big sermon because he’s a prophet. He’s fulfilling his duty not to the king, but to God, to really interpret it, to tell him not just what it means, but why the hand wrote that, to tell the cause. The cause is, “You lifted yourself up against Yahweh. You’ve dishonored the Almighty.” And then he gives the reading, verse 24. Daniel says, “‘Then from God’s presence, the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed.’ And this is the writing that was inscribed. Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin. And here’s what it means, “Mene,” means God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end, “Tekel,” you’ve been weighed in the balances and found wanting, “Peres,” your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Alright, so the writing on the wall was in Aramaic. This is the language that all the lords should have spoken, but they couldn’t read it. Why not?
A lot of people believed ’cause it was smooshed together and there was no vowels in there, that Daniel could read it, but in any case, Daniel’s showing himself more wise than all the wise men. And the interpretation is really interesting. Numbered, God has numbered your days and brought them to an end. Weighed, you have been weighed and found wanting. And the third one is, Peres, which is divided, but the vowel… The actual letters for that word, is the same letters as, Persia. He’s saying, “Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” So he gives this big response, you think, man, the hand writes on the wall, and Belshazzar’s just like… He can’t stand up, his knees are shaking. So when he gives this interpretation and says, “You have been weighed by the Almighty, who holds your breath, and He is gonna take your kingdom from you and divide it.” What’s Belshazzar response? You expect he’s gonna repent. Here’s his response.
“So Belshazzar gave the command and Daniel was clothed with purple, and a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” The end. You’re like, “What? No response to that? Your kingdom’s gone.” And it’s like, “Bro, did you hear what I said? There ain’t no third ruler in your kingdom, man. It’s over. It’s done. How drunk are you?” It’s crazy. Belshazzar doesn’t seem to care at all about the message. He’s like, “Okay, here’s your pay.” There’s no repentance, there’s no sorrow, he doesn’t even really acknowledge it.
Really, what it is, it’s Romans 1 played out. I’ll put Romans 1 on the board. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who, by their unrighteousness, suppress the truth.” They push it down, they don’t wanna hear it. “For what can be known about God is plain to them because God’s shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, animals, and creeping things.”
This is what Belshazzar is doing, but the irony is, for Belshazzar, the invisible God was made visible in the hand and he still suppresses that truth. The writing’s on the wall, y’all ever heard that saying? “The writing’s on the wall for that guy.” You hear that if somebody’s gonna be fired or something like that, from a job, you’re like, “This guy has been doing a terrible job, all the bosses have been talking about, ‘Alright, we’re gonna get rid of that guy.'” You might say, “Ooh, the writing’s on the wall for that guy.” Meaning, it’s gonna happen, he’s gonna be fired, but he… It just hasn’t happened yet. Well, the writing’s on the wall for Belshazzar and it actually happens that night, Verse 30. Y’all like history? ‘Cause it’s about to get nerdy history in here. Alright, Verse 30, “That very night, Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed. And Darius the Mede, received the kingdom, being about 62 years old.” That very night, this world power, Babylon, the spirit of Babylon was no more. This is just what was prophesied, Rob talked about it, Brody talked about it, it was been prophesied for years and years.
It’s only gonna last this period of time, and then it’s gonna be over. There’s a commentator named Dale Ralph Davis, he says this, “Only at the end are we hit with the fact that on this very night, Belshazzar’s soul was required of him, and that Babylon dropped through the trap door into the nether regions of history.” Alright so, let’s get nerdy on the history. Alright? Y’all good with that? Alright, so history tells us, Belshazzar should have been at least a little bit worried because we know through the Bible that there’s been prophecies, “Hey, Babylon ain’t gonna last long. It’s not gonna last very long. Don’t worry it’s not gonna last very long.” Even throughout the story Daniel, it’s like, “The whole statue thing, it’s not gonna last very long.” But at this point in history, Babylon’s already been attacked once by the Medes and Persians. In fact, Belshazzar’s dad, Nabonidus, was defeated by Cyrus, the King of the Persians, just a few days before this drunken party, and only 50 miles outside of the city. What they did is they got beat by… The Babylonians there, they got beat by Cyrus, and they ran back into the city and they shut up all of the doors and what they had in the city of Babylon… So the city of Babylon had these giant walls, and they had been stockpiling food for years and years and years, so really… They… The walls, no army could get inside the walls.
And they had enough food to last for years and years and years and years, and you think, “Okay, but they don’t have water.” Well, they actually do, there’s this giant river called the Euphrates that ran through the whole valley and spread out, and then it ran, actually, under the wall, and so they had a giant river that ran through their city, there was like this gate that kinda… The river flowed through and went through the whole city. Alright, so let me tell you how Babylon falls, ’cause Belshazzar, he’s confident. He’s kicked back and partying in that night, or at least he’s trying to appear confident. Here’s how Babylon falls, and the Bible doesn’t tell us this, but history does. So this king Cyrus, let’s rewind before he beats his dad Nabonidus. He’s on his way to Babylon to destroy it, alright. He’s on his way to Babylon, and he comes up on this river called Gyndes, the river Gyndes and one of his horses falls in the river and drowns, that’s terribly sad, it’s a beautiful white horse, falls in the river and drowns and so Cyrus is so mad about this horse that he’s like, “Uh uh, we’re gonna stop right here, and nobody else is gonna die.” ‘Cause that you can only cross this river by boat, and so what he did is he divided his army in two, and he put one on this side of the river and one half on this side of the river.
And they made these channels, they spent all summer, they dug 360 channels to divert the water, and they just took that giant river Gyndes, and they diverted it into 360 little mini rivers, and then once they’d done that, the main river was pretty dry and they could all just walk right across. So they walk right across the Gyndes and then they hit Nabonidus and they defeat Nabonidus and all Nabonidus’s men run into the city, and that’s where they basically start having this big party with Belshazzar. Well, history records the party. There’s this Greek historian, Herodotus, that he actually writes about this big party they were having, and what happens is really fascinating, ’cause when they get to the city, when Cyrus gets to the city, he sees these giant walls and they’re like, “Oh, what are we gonna do?””The same thing we just did. Look, the Euphrates runs right through the city.” So what they did is they did the same thing, they divided the army in two, and they started digging these trenches, and… Man, it plays out like a movie scene.
They start digging these trenches so that the water is diverted and when the water gets down to mid-leg, they basically quietly sneak the other half of the army in through the water gate, and they come into the city, and it plays out like a movie trailer, really. While Belshazzar is in there drinking, Cyrus is outside digging. While Belshazzar is stumbling around and toasting, Cyrus passes under the walls. While Belshazzar is clinking his glasses, Cyrus’s soldiers are putting their hands over other soldiers’ mouths. They are slitting their throats, they walk in and it says… History tells us they defeated the outskirts of the city and then marched in, marched in, marched in while the party was going on, and they finally surround the party, no one ever knows it’s coming, they rush in, kill all those guys and Babylon falls, that very night. And history records all of this, but the Bible had predicted it all. Y’all wanna hear something that’s gonna blow your mind? Jeremiah, before Cyrus is even born, writes this.
“The violence done to me and my kinsman be upon Babylon,” it’s a prophecy from the Lord. “Let the inhabitants of Zion say, my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea. Let Jerusalem say, therefore thus saith the Lord, ‘Behold, I’ll plead your cause and take vengeance for you.'” Listen to this, “I will dry up her sea and make her fountain dry, and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins.” Wooh, He predicts exactly how He’s gonna do it, “I’m gonna dry up that river, and I’m gonna destroy Babylon.” “‘The haunt of jackals, a horror and a hissing without inhabitant. They’ll roar together like lions, they’ll growl like lions’ cubs. While they’re inflamed, I’ll prepare a feast. I’ll make them drunk so they’ll be merry and then they’ll sleep a forever sleep and not wake up,’ declares the Lord, ‘I’ll bring them down like lambs to the slaughter.'” That is intense, and it’s written even before these guys are born. Alright, it’s a fascinating story. What are we supposed to get out of it?
Let me give just three things just to offer from this story. I think number one, when we read this story, it should lead us to repentance, to turning away from our sins. See, there’s a pattern, those who exalt themselves over God will be brought low, and we see it repeatedly in Nebuchadnezzar’s story, and he seems to repent, we don’t know how that ends, but man, you think about for us, for you, for me, man, often God brings us low to lead us to repentance. Sometimes God’s kindness makes our world crumble. Sometimes God’s bruising leads to repentance.
You know, often, the most gracious thing God can do is to take away everything you put your hope in, so that your hope will be only in Him. Sometimes God ruins us to keep us from eternal ruin. It’s kindness to take away false hope, but God doesn’t leave us there, He offers the real hope, there is real hope, y’all, in Jesus. So I don’t know, y’all, if at this point, you’ve been rejecting Jesus, you need to pause and learn the lesson that Belshazzar ignored. Belshazzar knew what rejecting God leads to, he saw it in Nebuchadnezzar, and he didn’t repent. And that doesn’t have to be your story, your life could 100% change this weekend, tonight, by putting your hope in Christ, if you never have. Second thing, I said there’s three things. Second thing I think that were meant to learn from this, there’s a lot of things, but… The second thing I just wanna point out. This story should show us how faithful God is to His people, you know, His people are in exile. They’re assimilated into this culture, Daniel is re-educated, castrated, it is a terrible life, but God has not left Daniel. He protected him from fire and lions, He blessed everything he did, He cursed these kings and blessed Daniel. He is…
God has not forgotten His people, He is right there with them in exile. He hasn’t forgotten His promise to preserve a people and one day provide a king from the line of David who’s gonna rescue all of us. We know after the… Babylon falls, Cyrus makes this decree that God’s people can go back to God’s land. There’s a verse in Isaiah, and it’s written before all this happens, but it’s written about… It’s written to Judah, to really comfort them in Babylon, it says this, “Those that wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” Y’all have heard that verse? The mount up on the eagle’s wings verse? That’s written to these guys in Judah to comfort them in Babylon. And I think, even though we’re in a world that’s ruled by the spirit of Babylon, you can live faithfully. You can follow Christ faithfully, because He’s with you in your trials, He’s with you in this world that wants to assimilate you, He’s with you to help you. He’s not just with you. For us, we have something better than what Daniel had. He’s in us. Daniel wasn’t indwelled with the Holy Spirit like we are. He’s in us and He will renew our strength to be faithful. Third thing, I think, that we should get out of this story… I think it’s just important to see someone who finishes well. You rarely hear stories of people in their 60s who are passionate about Jesus.
You hear stories about you guys, 14 years old, 17 years old, passionate about Jesus, great, but how many stories do you hear that continue till you’re 80? To someone who’s… You hear a ton of stories of Christians who are falling, you hear those so often, man, it’s devastating, but here we see a guy do it. We see Daniel in his 80s, clear-eyed, faithfully following, passionately following God. He’s in the fourth quarter of his life, he’s been out of his country for 70 years, and you can forget a lot in 70 years.
But he doesn’t forget because he seeks the Lord daily. If you think you have temptation in this world, look at Daniel’s story. If you think you have pressure in this life, you haven’t faced the fire, you haven’t faced the lions. So I think we can look to Daniel to finish well. Man, this is one thing I’ve kind of gotten a little bit obsessed with, is just finishing well, following Christ till the end, to the point where a couple of years ago, I had a dream about it. I had a dream… So I got three kids, two girls and a boy, and at the time I had this dream, it was a couple of years ago, so my son was like three, and I had this dream, there was no words in the dream, it’s kind of weird, but I had a dream and in my dream, I kinda opened my eyes and I was looking at the ceiling and I knew, you know how you know in a dream, you know all this weird stuff, but I knew I was in a hospital and I knew I was dying. And in my dream, it was… Man, it was the sweetest dream, I knew I was dying, I knew I was in the hospital, and I saw the face of my son, who at the time was three, but when I saw him, he was my age now, he was like 40. And I saw his face, he had a beard and everything. And in that dream, I realized, “Oh my gosh. I finished well. I did it. I’m here, I’m on my death bed. And here are my children.”
“I finished well, I stayed faithful, I followed the course.” And man, when I woke up, it really, it shook me up, and I had this renewed resolve like, “Do it, finish well.” How do we finish well? I think we’re supposed to remember the scriptural examples, we’re supposed to look to Daniel. We’re supposed to remember his obedience despite overwhelming odds, ’cause y’all… He was 15-ish… You’re 15-ish. You’re in the ball park. He’s 15. If you’re 15, 16, 17, this isn’t garbage time, this isn’t like… Wait, y’all know what garbage time is? Like if someone’s playing a basketball game and one team is up by 30 and then the other team goes out and gets a couple of buckets, you’re like, “Yeah, but he got those buckets in garbage time, like it doesn’t really count. That game was already lost.” This for you, these aren’t meaningless years right now. Daniel was 15 and God used him to change the world.
Man, He can do that with a 15-year-old that’s fully submitted to Him, and He can cause you to finish well to the end. How do we finish well? We don’t just look to Daniel, we look to Jesus. Hebrews 12, “Therefore, since we’re surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely. Let us run with endurance the race that’s set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder, the Starter, and the Perfecter, the Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Man, in your Christian life, there is no victory apart from Christ. There’s no finishing well apart from Christ, there’s no obedience apart from Christ. But thanks be to God, man, Jesus started our faith, if you’re a Christian, and He’s gonna finish it. You’re not left to yourselves. You have the Holy Spirit inside of you. So let me leave you with one last verse. I really like this verse, talking about the resolve of Daniel. 2 Thessalonians 1, it says this, “To this end, we always pray for you that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord fulfill every resolve of yours for good and for following Him.”
And I think this… Just like Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the spirit that would assimilate him to the world, we resolved the same, and we put that resolve to action by looking at Jesus. Daniel resolved at 15, but that wasn’t the only time, he resolved again and again, morning after morning after morning, he resolved looking at Jesus, looking at God, Daniel resolved over and over. And Daniel outlasted Babylon, and it was not easy, and it won’t be easy for you. But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. So we look to Jesus, just like Daniel did initially, and then daily in His Word, and that’s how God will fulfill every resolve for good by His power. Let’s pray.
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