Robert Morris - The Stubbornness of Pride
We're in a series called, "The Kings of Babylon", and we're talking about the four kings that reigned during the 70 year exile when Israel was in captivity of Babylon, and today we're going to talk about Belshazzar. Now, let me just let you know, if you do some study on this, that Belshazzar was ruling. He's Daniel 5. We read Daniel 1-4 last week, parts of it, but he actually wasn't the king, he was the crown prince. The king was Nabonidus. Let me say it again, Nabonidus. Nabonidus was actually though traveling most of the time and building altars for the god (little 'g') of sin. That was the name of the god he served, 'Sin', and he traveled around Arabia for about ten years doing that, mainly in Arabia, but he traveled to other places. So, he put his son in as the king of Babylon, and he was called the king, but actually, Nabonidus was the king. Does everyone follow me?
Okay, so the Bible tells us about Belshazzar, because Belshazzar, from 556 B.C. to 539 B.C. was the king, 17 years, even though his father was actually the king, but his mother was Nebuchadnezzar's daughter. So, he's the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar that we started with last week, alright? So Daniel 5:1. "Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords," so think about that, a thousand of his rulers. By the way, Babylon became the leading city in the world, and most historians believe it was the largest city in the world, had a population of about 200.000 people.
So, it was pretty big. "A thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem". Now, before we go on, let me comment on that a minute, because many people then think, well, it says his father was Nebuchadnezzar. Cultural, historical, and biblical language will call the grandfather, the great-grandfather, any ancestor, the father. I want you to think about all of the times that God said, "your fathers," plural. Well, it didn't mean they had multiple fathers, it meant they had multiple fathers (grandfather, great-grand) are you following me?
God would also identify Himself even as "Your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," okay? Okay, so when it says the father, Nebuchadnezzar, it's talking about his grandfather, okay, alright. "He had taken from the temple, that which had been in Jerusalem". Oh, I needed to mention that. When Nebuchadnezzar raided the land, he took the vessels that had been dedicated to the temple and brought them into Babylon. I want you to think about now Belshazzar gets things that were dedicated to God from the temple and took them for his own use.
This is the tipping point with God, when God said, "That's it, that's enough, because you have taken what belongs to Me," and watch what He does. "The king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods," little 'g', "of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone".
Now, you can remember that, probably, "gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone," because in a moment, you're going to see that God gives Daniel divine revelation about this, because Daniel is not at this party, alright? "In the same hour", they're drinking from the vessels that belonged to God. By the way, I don't have time to develop that, but think about that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. We're the vessels that belong to God now, okay?
Alright, so, "In the same hour", this is the story. You have heard this, but this is where it happened. "The fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace. The king saw," now this is a word that jumped out at me, and the words, "see," "hear," and "know," jumped out at me, and that's what we're going to talk about in a moment. "The king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance changed," I would assume it did. "And his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other". "The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers".
Nebuchadnezzar did that when he couldn't interpret something. "The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, 'Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.'" Now just to remind you, the reason he would be the third ruler is because Belshazzar was actually the second ruler. The first was his father, who was out building these temples to the god of sin, okay, so, that's why.
"Now all the king's wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished. The queen," so this is his mother, who is also, because remember, his father is actually the king. This is his mother, who is the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. "The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall".
So, she wasn't at this debauchery that was going on. "The queen spoke, saying, 'O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God.'" She was talking about Daniel. "And in the days of your father," think about again she's talking about Nebuchadnezzar, his grandfather, "light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father, your father the king," now she's basically saying that because she could have been killed, because he had that power to do that.
And so she's trying to be very respectful, but she's also trying to say don't forget who my dad is, okay? "Your father the king made him chief," that's Daniel, "of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar". Now, do you see the similarities between the two names, Belshazzar and Belteshazzar? Okay, 'bel' — most of you heard this. Bel, it means god in their language, because it said many times Israel worshipped Baals, okay? So it means god, but in this timeframe, they felt like that the king was god. Even though there were other gods, he was the main god.
So, bel means protector of the gods, or protector of the king. So, Nabonidus names his son protector of the king so he can go out and do these temples, and basically, you'll protect my kingship while I'm gone. But, Nebuchadnezzar names Belteshazzar - Daniel, Belteshazzar. Belteshazzar means protector of the king's wife. Now, think about how God can orchestrate the circumstances, because the queen, who's the king's wife comes, and she could be killed, and yet God has already planned that Daniel, who would interpret the dream, would be called in Chaldean, in Babylonian language — with Chaldean language, but in Babylon, the one who protects the king's wife, and it's just kind of amazing how all this stuff fits together.
She says, "Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation". Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel," now watch, "who is one of the captives from Judah"? He's basically trying to remind him of his place. You're a slave, so you better remember your place here. He's really scared of him. "One of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you".
Okay, this is another word that jumped out at me, that Belshazzar had seen the things of God, he had heard of the things of God. He says, "I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me,", again, see, hear, and know are the three words that jumped out to me, "its interpretation, but they could not give an interpretation of the thing. And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom".
Daniel answered and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation".
Now, let me just say something. Basically what he's saying is I'll do this, but I don't need you to try to bribe me, because God takes care of me. Very pure here in Daniel. You're going to see, later in the passage, I'll just go ahead and explain it, that he actually takes the purple robe, the gold, and is made third in the kingdom. I think he does it because once he interprets it, he realizes Belshazzar is about to be killed and a new king's coming in, and he wants the guy to say, now, why are you one of the rulers? Why are you the third guy? And I really believe he wants to be able to give counsel to this new king for the purposes of God, so I think his heart is pure in this, or I'm sure it is, obviously.
Verse 18, "O King, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor, and because of the majesty He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled in fear before him". Now before I read this next line, remember that Belshazzar was kind of sarcastic to Daniel. He kind of spoke down to him. He said, "Are you one of the captives," aren't you just a slave? I heard of you, just want to remind you of your place. Watch Daniel, because most people don't pick up on this. He comes back at him with some sarcasm. He's talking about Nebuchadnezzar now. He says, "Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down".
Here's what he was saying. You have got to remember, Belshazzar was not the king, he was the crown prince. He in essence was reminding Belshazzar of his place. One of the reasons that Belshazzar, I think, was so stubborn was because he wanted to be the king, but he never really was, and he kept being reminded of that, all the time. So Daniel, I personally believe, decides, you know, Nebuchadnezzar, who was the real king, he did what he wanted to do. He just kind of throws a little jab in there, alright? But then, he goes on about Nebuchadnezzar.
"But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened in pride," that's what we have been talking about, "he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you, his son," again, the word father could be translated ancestor, the word son could be translated descendent. You, his descendent, or grandson. "You, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this".
Again, I'm going to hit these three words, "You saw it, you heard it, and you knew it, but because of your pride, you were stubborn"; that's what he's saying. "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them". Now watch, the very same statement of earlier. "And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone".
Okay, how did Daniel know that, except by divine revelation? Because see, Daniel wasn't at this party. They had to call him, remember? So, it's amazing he knew what they had done. Then here are these three words, and this is the first time they stood out to me in the passage. As I went back and read the passage, then they stood out to me more. He said, "You have praised these gods," what? "Which do not see, or hear, or know". Here's what he's saying: "You have praised gods that can't see you, they can't hear you, and they can't know you personally, but I know a God that can see you, that can hear you, and that can know you, and not only that, you can see Him, you can hear Him, and you can know Him. You can see His works, and you can hear His voice, and you can know Him personally".
So, that's where we're going to focus in on, alright? "And the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN". "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN", now, we're going to keep reading, but let me explain to you what these mean, okay? And this is why most people believe that Daniel, easily, just saw the interpretation. In the Hebrew language, there are no consonants, I mean, "no vowels", pardon me, there are only 22 consonants.
Now, please hear me, they have added vowels to be able to understand it better, but back then, there were no consonants. So, the way you read was simply, like MENE, you just saw the M and the N. Also, Hebrew is written from right to left. This is probably why the Chaldeans and the soothsayers couldn't understand it, and God wrote it right to left, and immediately he saw NM, TKL, and PRS, PHARSIN. The U of the last word simply means "and", that's all it means. So, it was MENE, MENE, saying it twice to get your attention, TEKEL, and then it would be AND PHARSIN, or PERES, actually P-R-S in the Hebrew, okay?
Alright, so, this is what it means, and I'm going to read it to you in just a moment, you'll see it, but I want to tell you first. M-N means manah in Hebrew. It refers to, let me say that. It refers to 50 shekels, but it means numbered. That's what it actually means. Manah means numbered. TEKEL is the word for shekel. T-K-L means shekel. It refers to one shekel, and a shekel, the meaning of it, is weighed. In other words, when you weigh something to see how heavy it is weighed. PHARSIN, or PERES, P-R-S in Hebrew, means divided. It actually referred to a half-shekel, half, a shekel was in half. But the word itself means divided, okay?
So, let me tell you what these words again mean numbered, weighed, and divided, and the "and" is in there in the U. Numbered, weighed, and divided. Now, watch as we read on and you'll be able to see this, but you might not have ever seen this if you hadn't studied some Hebrew or had someone tell you about it. "This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL: You have been weighed," that's what it means, remember, "in the balances, and found wanting. PERES," which is again, the Hebrew for PHARSIN, "Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians".
"Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple, put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night, Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain, and Darius the Mede," Darius, the Medes and Persians had come together. Cyrus is a Persian, Darius is a Mede. "Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old".
Alright, so, what do we want to talk about? We want to talk about stubbornness, which comes from pride. So, here's point number one about Belshazzar. He saw, but he didn't look. He saw, but he didn't look. Moses, it said, "saw the burning bush and turned aside to look". Belshazzar saw, probably as a little boy, all of these things that happened to his grandfather. He saw that God was at work. He saw the true God, He knew the true God. But, he never stopped to look for himself to have a personal encounter with God. This talks about that he went and got the holy vessels, that he brought them in. Okay, obviously this refers to the tithe, obviously. He takes what is holy, and he brings it in and uses it for himself.
Now, in my life, I have shown people verses straight out of the Bible about tithing, and here's what I feel like they do. They see them, but they don't look. It shocks me, it shocks me. "Bring the tithe into the storehouse," and yet, they don't tithe. Okay, I understand, you have some areas you're struggling in, I have some areas, let me say it another way. We have some areas that we're stubborn in. We all do, follow me? So, I'm going to give you a key that's going to blow you away. Are you ready? Intimacy: intimacy with God and others.
Now, I'm going to give you a definition of intimacy that I don't think you'll ever forget. You ready? Intimacy, here it is, here's the definition, "into me, see". In other words, I am giving you permission to see into me. So, here's the second point, he heard, but he didn't listen. He heard about Nebuchadnezzar eating grass. He heard about Daniel interpreting dreams. He heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but it didn't do anything for him. It didn't change his heart, are you all following me?
Here's number three, he knew, but he didn't learn. Now remember I said, see, hear, and know? Okay, but notice the other three words I used: look, listen, and learn. Because I spent so much time reading the chapter, I'm going to go straight to the end part, how this happened and I saw this. All of our children were strong-willed, but one turned his will to the Lord early, but two of my children really didn't turn their will to the Lord until they were in their late teenage years.
My son, James, was very strong-willed growing up. We actually tried to use the word strong-willed instead of stubborn, because we didn't want to speak something negative over him, but in our minds we knew he was stubborn. So, as he got to be an older teenager, he was about a senior in high school, I couldn't take it anymore, and we got into one of those fights one night. And I finally said to him, and I hate to say this, but I said to him, "I really don't even want you living here anymore, because you will not listen to your mother, and you won't listen to me. And I'm tired of it, and I'm going to try to see if I can find another place for you to live".
That's how mad I was. And he said, "That's fine with me," and Debbie started crying. And she said, "I will get on my knees and beg the two of you to stop being so stubborn, because I don't want to lose my family". And something happened in my heart as a believer, and in James' heart as a person who truly had not submitted his will, yet, and a few weeks later, we noticed a change in James. We just noticed a change. Because he turned his strong will to God. There are some of you here that have never done that, and you need to do it today.
I'm so proud of my son. My is son is actually a pastor on our staff, today, but he had to make a decision, like all of us have to make a decision, and that is not just will we believe, in our heads, that Jesus is the Lord, but will we receive Him, in our hearts, as Lord? And, in order to do that, we have to turn our will toward God. So, I'm asking you, right now, will you make that decision? Will you turn your will toward the Lord? Will you walk in humility, not in pride, and let Jesus be your Lord, and not just your Savior? I love you guys, so much. I love that you love the Word of God.