In our study today we look at Daniel 4:1-5:6 where we find Daniel once again giving an interpretation of a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar which foretold of the king's humiliation that would take place until he realized who the true God of Heaven was. We also get into chapter 5 to introduce King Belshazzar and the infamous writing on the wall.
vv.1-3 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. (2) I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. (3) How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. Nebuchadnezzar was beginning to sound almost like a believer. We need to understand, though Neb seemed to repent and have a change of mind and attitude, we question whether or not this change was genuine because of his subsequent actions. To repent means to have a radical change of mind and complete change of heart. No repentance, short of repentance toward God with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is genuine and real. A man may see the error of his ways, and feel bad for it, but that is not repentance. Most in prison are sorry...that they got caught! Real repentance means real change!
Master of the Magicians
vv.4-9 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: (5) I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. (6) Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. (7) Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. (8) But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, (9) O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Notice that King Neb refers to Daniel as master of the magicians. It is obvious that King Neb still has no spirit of discernment in him at all. If he did, he would have known that Daniel was not a magician, but a prophet of God.
I am astounded by how many people today, have no spirit of discernment. They run around embracing this and embracing that, obviously oblivious to its contradiction with the very Scriptures they claim to believe. Paul said in 1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Why Not Again?
vv.10-18 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. (11) The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: (12) The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. (13) I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; (14) He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: (15) Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: (16) Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. (17) This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. (18) This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. Now the king was looking to Daniel to give the interpretation. Hey, he had done it before. Why not now? Notice also that he apparently trusted Daniel in that he did not require him to tell him the dream like he did last time.
v.19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. I think that Daniel realized King Neb would resent the interpretation.
vv.20-22 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; (21) Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: (22) It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. In the OT books of I Chronicles, Isaiah, Nehemiah, Ezra and now, Daniel, we read what a great monarchy Babylon was.
v.23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; Who is this "watcher"? Most likely an angel because it can be translated as a guardian. Notice, leave the stump. That part probably troubled King Neb a lot.
vv.24-25 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: (25) That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. He would spend 7 years like this?
vv.26-27 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. (27) Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. In other words, Daniel is exhorting genuine repentance on the part of King Neb. Like I said earlier, there appeared to be a time that King Neb did come very close but he lapsed again.
Pride Before a Fall
vv.28-30 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. (29) At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. (30) The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? "Pride cometh before a fall!" John said in I Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. It is so easy to get prideful.
Driven from His Palace
vv.31-33 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. (32) And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (33) The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. He was literally driven from his palace.
v.34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: This, again, looks like genuine repentance on the surface, but there is a great question in some minds. I personally believe he did.
What a Testimony!
vv.35-37 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (36) At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. (37) Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to base. What a testimony! I pray that it was real for King Neb's sake.
There is a gap of perhaps 20 years between the preceding chapter and this one. King Nebuchadnezzar died and was replaced by a succession of men who were removed by their enemies. His grandson, Belshazzar, was co-ruler with who is believed to be his father, Nebonidas.
Cyrus, the King of the Persians and nephew of Darius (King of the Medes), was besieging Babylon. Belshazzar felt safe within the city's walls because Babylon was extremely well-fortified and supplied with enough food and water to withstand many years of siege.
Many Years of Doubt
v.1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. For many years scholars doubted the book of Daniel because they could never find anyone named Belshazzar. But, one day Sir Rolandson was doing some excavating around the Babylonian city and they found the name Belshazzar. Once more the archeologists spade proves the authenticity of the Bible.
Third Part of the Kingdom
He was not actually the son of Nebuchadnezzar, but a grandson. History tells us that he was co-regent with his father. His father was actually king but was away with his army fighting Medo-Persia. We will see in v.16 that he offered Daniel to be the third ruler in the kingdom which makes sense that was all he had to give.
Purpose of the Feast
Belshazzar probably held this feast to show the lords he was confident that Babylon wouldn't fall to the enemy outside its gates.
Defiled the Vessels
vv.2-6 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. (3) Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. (4) They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. (5) In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. (6) Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. Belshazzar defiled the consecrated vessels his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. He used the vessels as wine goblets.
Notice, "his knees knocked together and his legs gave way." In the KJV it says, the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. This was foretold in Isa 21:2-5 and Isa 21:9. Also, in Isa 44:28 and Isa 45:1.
Thought to be Impregnable
Babylon was thought to be impregnable. It had a wall some three hundred feet high, eighty feet thick, with these massive towers upon it. It ran for about 15 miles. And then it had also a secondary wall, not quite as large. The river Euphrates flowed through the middle of the city. That was Babylon's week point. History tells us that while everyone was in the palace getting drunk and the drunken soldiers had neglected to bolt the gates where the river entered into the city. So, Darius and his soldiers diverted the river Euphrates and came up into the city from the river. And of course, the Babylonian soldiers were too drunk to defend it. Despite, all of its elaborate fortifications, Babylon had a weakness.