2007-03-11 - Daniel
Nebuchadnezzar has returned to the throne after his mental breakdown. But he is no longer king. Belshazzar now rules. And this situation is familiar.
"Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt" (Exodus 1:8).
Verses 1-4: Apparently Belshazzar isn't a student of history, because his actions are soon to get him into trouble. He demonstrated the same kind of arrogance and blasphemy that got his grandfather into trouble. And to add insult to injury, he had a problem with alcohol.
And so Belshazzar threw a party. While it was going on, Darius' army was taking steps that would soon bring them into the city which was ready to fall. The army was away, trying to bring rebellious territories under control, leaving the capitol practically defenseless. The king didn't seem to either be aware or care that the city was threatened. He might simply believe his own propaganda. The walls were impregnable. It should be noted Belshazzar was striving to impress the people attending the banquet. He had also been drinking quite a bit. Now we don't know if he would have still committed such an atrocity if he hadn't been drinking, but what was done was done, and his actions certainly were a reflection of his rejection of God. At the party, he and his guests get wasted. So much so, that he decides to show the power of the throne and probably his gods. Archer describes the situation this way:
"The time had come for offering toasts and pouring out libations to the gods of Babylon. In his drunken bravado, he thought of a novel way of entertaining his guests. What about those beautiful golden goblets and bowls from Solomon's temple (v.2)? Why not use them? After all, they had been fashioned for a defeated god named Yahweh, worshiped by the captive people of Judah. No sooner said, than it was done (v.3). The sacred vessels, laid away for forty-seven years, were brought to the banquet hall. Belshazzar began to regale his guests by taunting Yahweh, whose reputation Nebuchadnezzar's decrees had established a few decades before, and by praising Marduk, Bel, Nebo, Ishtar, and the other gods (v.4). He drank from the holy vessels, and his guests followed suit. ... The pagan gods are described as "the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone," because to the Hebrew monotheist, these materials were all the substance the pagan gods had; except as products of pagan imagination, they had no genuine being. The stage was set for the one true God to intervene." 5
5 Archer, Jr., Gleason L., The Expositor's Commentary, "Daniel," Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 1990