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Daniel 5:1-9; 25-31

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER?

Intro:  We have before us today one of the saddest chapters in the entire Bible.  We are given the opportunity to examine the life of a man named Belshazzar. 

  • He was a man of great wealth and immense power. Yet, he was as poverty stricken in his soul as if he were a beggar. 
  • He was a great ruler of a vast kingdom. Yet, he was a man who was unable to rule his own heart. 
  • He was a man who commanded fear from his subjects; others bowed down before him.  Yet, he had no fear of the Lord. 
  • Belshazzar walked among the wisest men of the day.  Yet, he was a man who ruled in ignorance of the most important things in life.

      This chapter gives us the only glimpse we have of this man in the Bible.  We are introduced to him while he is in the midst of throwing a wild party for 1,000 of his lords.  Belshazzar is like a lot of people in our day.  They are living for this life.  They are living to gratify their flesh with absolutely no thought for eternity.  They party, play and live for the good times, never realizing that there will come a day when the fun will end.  They never stop and ask this one important question: What Happens When The Party’s Over?  Oh, it will end one day and it will end abruptly.  What then?  What Happens When The Party’s Over?

      This text has something to say about that. If this chapter was turned into a play, it would be a tragedy.  In fact, I find three tragedies revealed in these verses that need to be observed today.  Let me point them out to you today as I preach around the question I asked a moment ago, “What Happens When The Party’s Over?”

 

  I.                      THE TRAGEDY OF A WASTED LIFE

A.  v. 1-4  Belshazzar And His Bottles – It was a night of drunkenness and debauchery.  It speaks to the evils of substance abuse and all that accompanies it – Pro. 20:1; Pro. 23:29-35; Eph. 5:18. Drugs, alcohol and other fleshly addictions are a temporary prop for weak people! (Ill. Any stronghold of the flesh can cause you to waste your life.  Any stronghold can be defeated, 2 Cor. 10:3-5.) (Ill. A pizza, a party and a moonlight ride.)

B.  v. 2-4  Belshazzar And His Blaspheme – Ill. The Context of this party. In his drunkenness, Belshazzar is attempting to show the superiority of his gods by ridiculing the God of the Hebrews.  He treated the one true God as if He were nothing. (Ill. Many still do this.  They take the things of God and treat them like they are nothing.  The Bible, the church house, the Lord’s Day, the Lord’s Name, Ex. 20:7, etc.)

C.  v. 17-22  Belshazzar And His Blindness – Belshazzar had the opportunity to know about God.  His grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had been converted and Belshazzar knew all about that.  (Ill. “I have heard of thee”, v. 14, 16 – Belshazzar knew about Daniel; he also knew about the Lord; he knew what God had done for his grandfather; but he was willfully blind to these things, v. 22.  (Ill. Many are blind to the truth that is all around them.  Ill. Like Belshazzar, they have the evidence of changed lives, but they are blind and focused on their sin, 2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:40; Rom. 10:3.)

D.  v. 23, 28  Belshazzar And His Belligerence – Even though Belshazzar knew the truth, he refused to believe it.  He lifted his fist toward the face of God in absolute defiance.  He ignored the clear Word of God. When this happens, there is nothing left but judgment – Heb. 10:26-29.  (Ill. Here’s the truth: God desires to save sinners.  God’s desire is so great that He sent His Son to die on the cross to purchase salvation for “whosoever will” come to Him.  He gave us His Word to show us the way to Him.  He sent His Spirit to call me to come to Him.  When people hear the Word of God and know about the cross; when they are called to come to God by the Holy Spirit; they have a choice to make.  If they heed the voice of God, they will be saved.  If they reject His call, they will be abandoned to their own choice.  They will go to Hell and they will have no one to blame but themselves, Ill. Rom. 9:22.)

 

Belshazzar is an example of a wasted life! If these things describe your life, you need to repent and come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness.

 

 II.                  THE TRAGEDY OF THE WRATH OF GOD

(Ill. Belshazzar issued a challenge and the Lord answered! Ill. The context of verses 5-28.  Ill. Verses 6-12 – Belshazzar is shaken to his core when he sees the hand of God; he is soothed by his mother and is told that everything will be all right.  Old Daniel is brought into the banquet hall.  Can you imagine what holy Daniel thought when he saw that debauchery?  He gives Belshazzar a history lesson, and then he gives him a theology lesson.  Daniel already knew what was going to happen to Babylon, even before he walked into the room.  How? He had been reading Jeremiah and that prophet had already revealed what God was going to do to Babylon, Jer. 50-51.  

      Sadly, Belshazzar has gone too far, the words of Daniel come to late to save his soul or to penetrate his hard heart.  Belshazzar is about to face the awesome wrath of Almighty God. The grand jury of Heaven convened and returned a four-point indictment against Belshazzar.  He had been “numbered, numbered, weighed and divided.”  The time of judgment has arrived!)

A.  The Fact Of God’s Wrath – God is a God of love, 1 John 4:7-8.  Thank God that He is!  But, He is also a God of wrath, Rom. 1:18; John 3:36; Heb. 12:29; 1 Thes. 1:8-9.  Never think for an instant that God won’t judge sin!

B.  The Focus Of God’s Wrath – God’s wrath is focused in on sin and rebellion.  Belshazzar crossed the line and he had to face the wrath of God.  God hates sin, Pro. 6:16 and He will judge it harshly.  This is why sinners need to repent of their sins!  If they do not, they will face the Lord in judgment some day, Rev. 20:11-15.  (Ill. God is not some doting old grandfather Who winks at the sins of men.  He is a thrice holy God Who is to be feared, Luke 12:5.)

C.  The Finality Of God’s Wrath – Belshazzar is told that he has been numbered, weighed and divided.  He has crossed the line with God and all that remains is certain judgment.  Belshazzar is offered no options and no alternatives. It is time to pay for the things he has done. 

 

      (Ill. Today is the day of salvation, 2 Cor. 6:2.  But, there will come a day when time, mercy and grace will be exhausted.  In that day, nothing will remain, but death, Hell and judgment.  Come to the Lord while there is still time to repent.  One day, it will; be too late – Gen. 6:3; Pro. 29:1.  The choice is yours and yours alone – Pro. 9:12.)

 

III.                     THE TRAGEDY OF A WRETCHED DEATH

A.  v. 29-30  Belshazzar Died A Sudden Death – “In that night” - While Belshazzar partied, his enemies were encamped around Babylon.  He believed that Babylon was safe.  They were said to have had enough food stored up for 20 years.  There was plenty of water from the Euphrates River which bisected the city.  Babylon was surrounded by a series of immense walls, some as high as 300 feet.  There were guard towers, soldiers, and Belshazzar believed the city was unconquerable!  He thought his kingdom would continue for many years.  However, Darius, the opposing general, had his troops divert the water of the Euphrates and when the water levels fell low enough; his troops simply marched in right under the walls.  They marched into the city and Belshazzar was slain.

            You might not believe it friend, but death is coming.  It is coming for you, Heb. 9:27.  No one expects it; no one believes it will happen to them; no one really looks for it, but it is coming nonetheless!  When death comes, it always comes as a shock.  Death may come for you when you are not ready for it; but it does not have to catch you unprepared!  You can get ready for death and you can make your preparations for death today, Acts 16:31; John 6:47; John 10:28; John 11:25-26. You can be ready when death comes for you!

B.  v. 29-30  Belshazzar Died A Sinner’s Death – Here is the most tragic part of this passage.  Belshazzar died horribly and then he went to Hell.  He is still there today, Luke 16:19-31!  Does he still hear old Daniel say, “Thou are weighed in the balances and found wanting”?  Does he regret giving Daniel a necklace instead of bowing his knee to the Lord?  Does he weep over exalting Daniel when he should have glorified God?  Things did not have to turn out this way for Belshazzar.  He knew the truth about God, yet he failed to act on it.  He shook his fist in the face of God and turned away from the Lord, and he died in that condition!

            Don’t let that happen to you!  There’s not a person in this room that has to die without Jesus.  You do not have to die in your sin.  You do not have to go to Hell.  Jesus died on the cross to make a way for you!  Come to Him and be saved.  Come to Him today!

 

Conc:  The story of Belshazzar is a story of one tragedy piled on top of another.  But, his story does not have to be your story.  You see, the ending to your story has yet to be written.  You are still alive today and of you have never acknowledged your sins; bowed before the Lord; and received Him into your heart; then you need to do that today.  You need to come to Him and be saved today.  He won’t turn you away, John 6:37.  He will love you, save you and take you to His heaven when you die.

      Whether you are saved or lost, your story does not have to be one of a wasted life, the wrath of God and a wretched death.  Your story can have a happy ending.  If the Lord is speaking to your heart today, I invite you to come to Him.

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