Daniel 5:1-9 / The Finger of God (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on October 19, 2012


This is the ninth in a series of  expositions of the book of Daniel. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of October 14, 2012. This message deals with the hope and peace that can only come through Christ. This contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

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Dan 5_1-9

Study Outline:

Dan 5_1-9 Outline


Daniel 5:1-9 / The Finger of God

Hear we see the origin of the phrase “the writing on the wall.”

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC. He was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach. He ruled for only two years, and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar in 560 BC.

Neriglissar ruled for four years, when Labashi-Marduk gained the throne for two months.

Nabonidus, who was married to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, became king, and ruled from 556 BC to 539 BC.

Nabonidus was the father of Belshazzar.

v.2 says that Nebuchadnezzar is Belshazzar’s father. The Hebrew word “ab” is commonly translated as father, but can simply mean ancestor. (i.e. Abraham means father of many)

Belshazzar is Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, and was co-regent with Nabonidus.

According to history, Nabonidus was away when Babylon was overtaken, leaving Belshazzar completely in charge.

These oriental kings took great pleasure in hosting elaborate banquets, and displaying their wealth and splendor. In short they were show-offs, and Belshazzar was no different.

This was a huge party of 1000 people (archeologists have uncovered a large hall in Babylon 55′ wide and 165′ long. this would have been large enough for a gathering of this type).

When Belshazzar threw this party, he had to know that the Medo-Persian army was camped just outside of the city.

Maybe the party was meant to show contempt for the Persians, and to calm any fears that the people may have had.

He probably considered the city to be secure, because of its massive walls. There were even enough supplies to sustain the city for 20 years, and apparently he had no fear of the enemy.

Belshazzar had learned nothing from the lessons of his grandfather, and judgment seemed a world away.

Belshazzar was over-confident because his needs were met in abundance.

Everything you have can be taken away in an instant. This is a lesson that Job learned.

There is no security in our wealth or material possessions, and as Belshazzar was about to learn, his government could not provide security either.

His confidence of safety and security was much the same attitude that we will see when God decides to judge the earth again.

1 Thessalonians 5:3

Belshazzar did not escape!

It is one thing to show contempt for men, but the party took an even worse turn as he showed contempt for God.

When they began to desecrate those things which God had declared holy, it was the beginning of the end.

Belshazzar treated God with arrogant disrespect as they used these consecrated vessels for sinful purposes.

They were using God’s own vessels to praise idols. Do not take the Lord thy God’s name in vain!

They were mocking God, but God will not be mocked.

Galatians 6:7

You can only blaspheme the name of God for just so long, before the hand of the Lord begins to move!

Imagine, in the middle of drunken revelry, fingers appear out of nowhere and begin to write on the wall. Can you imagine the kings thoughts, what was in that wine?

This was not the wine speaking, it was God, and not in the privacy of a dream as with Nebuchadnezzar, but in public, in front of a thousand of the kings nobles.

The writing occurred opposite the lamp stand, where it could clearly be seen. Some have even suggested that this was one of the lamp stands from the temple, and that God’s own lamp stand was illuminating His word.

Whether or not that was the case, This was clearly the finger of God at work.

  • It was the finger of God that defeated the Egyptians: Exodus 8:19
  • It was the finger of God that wrote the law on the tablets of stone: Exodus 31:18
  • And it was by the finger of God that Jesus cast out demons: Luke 11:20

Now the finger of God was writing a warning to the Babylonian leaders that the hand of God would very soon execute judgment.

Picture the scene: The king was so scared that his knees were literally knocking together.

For all of the self-confidence that he had just moments before, the king was now unable to hide his fear.

He was incredibly scared, and for good reason. God had turned the banquet hall into a court room, and the king was about to be declared guilty.

This became an all too familiar scene, as the king calls for the so-called wise men.

God was speaking, yet the king called for his worldly advisors to interpret.

The prize shows the king’s desperation. The interpreter would be made the third ruler.

With Belshazzar being a co-regent, the number three position was the highest rank that he could confer.

Once again, these wise men could not make any sense of what God had written, and that is to be expected.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15

If you don’t “know” God, then you will never understand what He is trying to tell you.

If you know God is speaking to you, and you don’t understand what He is saying, then you need to spend time in Bible Study and prayer.

First you need to know Christ.

then you can have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Then you can understand what He is trying to tell you.

Life without Christ is hopeless, but often the lost are so blind they don’t know that the only true source of hope is Christ.

Psalm 10:4-6

It is the job of the Christian to make Christ known, and the job of the Holy Spirit to convict a man.

The king knew judgment was coming, and there was to be no peace for the him.

life without Christ knows no peace, because Christ is the giver of peace.

John 14:27

It is Christ who speaks peace to the seas, and they obey.

Mark 4:39

It is Christ who brings peace to our hearts, peace beyond comprehension.

Philippians 4:7

Know Christ, and know peace. Even in times of the worst adversity.