Online Bible Commentary
Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2 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, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 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. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. (NKJV)
The subject king of the first four chapters of the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, has now passed on from the scene of history. Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C., four years after his seven year bout with mental illness.
Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Evilmerodach aka Amel-Marduk, was his successor to the throne. Two years later, in 560 B.C., Evilmerodach was assassinated by his brother-in-law, Neriglissar aka Nergal-sharezer. Neriglissar ruled for four years, until his young son, Labashi-Marduk, succeeded him as a boy-king. Labashi-Marduk was murdered in a conspiracy only nine months into his reign, likely because he was thought to be too young to be king. Nabonidus, a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, was chosen next as the new king, in 556 B.C.
Now we fast forward to the night of October 12, 539 B.C., the darkest day in the 1,422 year history of the Babylonian Empire, dating back to the middle of the Bronze Age. Nabonidus, is still king. He is sharing his kingship with his son, Belshazzar, because he has taken off for an archaeological expedition in Arabia.
On this night there is much celebrating in the palace. The Babylonians had suffered a massive defeat by the Persians and the king felt it necessary to celebrate and worship their idols in order to revive the morale of the people.
Nebuchadnezzar, through the ministry of Daniel, had apparently become a believer in Daniel’s God before his death. However, this change of heart did not pass down to his grandson. Belshazzar has returned to the previous religion of the family, the worship of idols.
“Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand” (v. 1). Archaeological excavations have uncovered the large throne room in the palace that could accommodate a thousand people.
The king, in a brazen act, called for the gold and silver vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem to be used as they drank the wine (v. 2a) “The king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines” would all drink out of the sacred vessels (v. 2b). For the past 66 years the vessels had been kept sacred in the temple treasury of their idol Marduk.
The vessels were retrieved and used, as the king had ordered (v. 3). As they drank the wine from the sacred vessels, they “praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” (v. 4). The sacred vessels were used to worship idols. This was a direct assault on the God of the Bible. They were openly defying God.
Defying God is not limited to the Babylonians of 539 B.C. We see direct assaults upon God every day in our own country. Nothing is sacred anymore. Our people have lost their fear, their reverence for God.
The Lord’s name is casually taken in vain without even a second thought. The Bible and prayer are opposed by every level of government, while sin is legalized and celebrated. We are flaunting our sins. We are defying God, right to His face.
No one seems to realize that there is a price to pay for defying God. Babylon was conquered by the Persians that very night that they were defying God. God is a patient God, but when He acts, He acts swiftly. Unless America turns back to God, it is only a matter of time before He exacts judgment.
It all starts with you and me. We can clean up our acts. We can start today by honoring God in all that we say and do. If all of us stop defying God perhaps America can be saved, before it is too late.