“5 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[n] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.” Daniel 5:1-4 NIV
Daniel 5 begins about twenty years after chapter 4. King Nebuchadnezzar is dead and gone. Daniel has been out of the public eye for about twenty years. When Nebuchadnezzar died, he turned the kingdom over to his son-in-law Nabonidus. Nabonidus was often away from the city engaged in military conflicts so he turned over the day to day operations to his son Belshazzar who was the acting ruler of the city of Babylon.
As Daniel 5 begins, Belshazzar throws a party for one thousand of his nobles. One thousand! In Daniel 1, we discovered that Nebuchadnezzar took some sacred items from the temple in Jerusalem. Belshazzar decided to use the holy relics Nebuchadnezzar retrieved to drink wine from. He wasn’t content to drink wine to his gods, but wanted to defile and blaspheme the God of the Jews as well. He wanted to mock God and show that no one would ever conquer his city.
Around the year 539 B.C., during Belshazzar’s reign, the Medes and Persians formed a military alliance to overthrow the seemingly invincible city of Babylon. We know from later in the chapter that the Medes and Persians were already outside the gates of Babylon as the feast was in progress. Belshazzar was so confident because of the great fortifications of Babylon. There was a 40 foot thick outer wall and a second inner wall. On top of the walls were defense towers that the Babylonians used as defensive towers where Babylonian soldiers could shoot and pick off enemies like target practice. The city had an unlimited supply of water and a food supply that could endure a 20 year siege.
Belshazzar failed in some important decisions to make. These are important decisions we need to make also if we are going to avoid complacency. He had to decide the following:
Would he commit to feasting for fun or fighting for legacy?
Belshazzar had all the resources to keep Babylon’s influence and authority. He chose to feast rather than fight. He felt so confident in his city fortress that he thought nothing could stop them. He didn’t need God. He didn’t need to fight because he bought into the illusion that they were invincible.
Because of the power and influence Babylon had at the time, Belshazzar was deceived into believing everything was fine and always would be. He became complacent and thought the invading armies outside the gate were laughable.
Would he commit to safety or significance?
This is a frightening picture of our world today. Like Belshazzar, we can become too comfortable in our heritage. We can become arrogant in our belief that we are safe because we believe the United States is the greatest superpower in the world. We can put our security in our national pride. In no way do I mean to discount our country or heritage, but I do believe we need to identify more with Christ than we do with our country. Like Belshazzar, we can be lulled into worship of false gods, like convenience, freedom of choice, and overall business of life. We can be lulled to make merry while judgment is waiting right outside the door. There is the illusion the enemy would like us to buy into that we are safe and everything is peaceful.
If the enemy cannot get us to forsake God, he can try to get us so preoccupied with adding other things to life that we slowly choke out the Word and will of God in our lives.
God has not called you to live a life of feasting and safety. He has called you to fight for your legacy and a commitment to significance.
Heavenly Father renew my heart for legacy and significance. Forgive the many times I have become too complacent in my passion and desire for Your best. Empower me Lord to fight the good fight. Give me courage to move forward in my life for significance, not safety. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.