Every year 62,000 guests are hosted by the royal family at Buckingham Palace through state banquets, garden parties, private audiences, receptions, and people receiving honours. Visitors get a glimpse of just what it takes to transform the palace's ballroom into a dining room fit for royalty.
Daniel 5 brings us to a very different banquet held by a greatly contrasting ruler, King Belshazzar. Let’s open Daniel chapter 5, as the doors are thrown open into his banquet.
All is not well. Here we see Belshazzar, surrounded by an enemy army. Enemies who had won a battle nearby, and must by now be pretty much at the city gates. We find Belshazzar in his palace, ignoring the threat and finding refuge in drunkenness and a show of kingly splendour.
But there’s a far more serious matter at hand. Did you pick that up in the reading?
In an act of defiance against God, Belshazzar calls for the gold and silver goblets that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem 65 years previous. As they drank the wine in these goblets, they praised other gods.
Belshazzar’s attitude was one of defiance. We can imagine him shaking his fist and exclaiming ‘The God of Israel has no power over me!’ Here was a king who was proud and dismissive.
The thought of this ruler dismissing God with easy contempt might remind us of many others who do the same thing, even in our own day. Those who don’t take him seriously, and certainly don’t take seriously anyone who claims to follow God and live their life for him. I’m sure you are familiar with the mocking tone that I’m referring to. You can hear it from a classmate or even from a celebrity.
As Belshazzar was busy praising other gods, the God of Israel whom Belshazzar had dismissed communicated. The LORD intervened.
So Daniel re-appears on the scene. After so many years, Daniel was brought back into the royal court and into the limelight.
It is a stinging rebuke that Daniel delivers. He tells Belshazzar that he has:
• Not humbled himself
• Not learned the lessons from previous generations
• Used ‘holy’ items for unholy purposes
• Praised false gods
We must learn from Belshazzar. Is there one or more of those statements that the Holy Spirit, right now, is pointing out in your life, that needs to change too? Think over this today.