Daniel 5:17-31 / The Writing on the Wall (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on November 4, 2012


This is the eleventh in a series of  expositions of the book of Daniel. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of October 28, 2012. This message deals with a false sense of security, and God’s judgment. 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_17-31

Study Outline:

Dan 5_17-31 Outline


Daniel 5:17-31 / The Writing on the Wall

The writing was on the wall.

The finger of God had issued a warning, and the hand of God was about to bring judgment!

The king makes an offer of promotion to Daniel, but Daniel has no interest in the position.

Daniel had no interest in rewards, Like Moses, Samuel and Paul, Daniel was not for sale.

  • Numbers 16:15
  • 1 Samuel 12:3
  • Acts 20:33

In fact, “not greedy for money” is one of the qualifications of God’s Minister.

  • 1 Timothy 3:3


Daniel recounts the seven year judgment of Nebuchadnezzar, and identifies the same pride in Belshazzar’s heart.

Daniel was respectful to the king, but he wasn’t afraid to tell him the truth. We should have the same resolve.

Daniel points out that Belshazzar was aware of these events, but was indifferent to them, and learned nothing.

The lessons of history had been laid out before him, but now his time was up. The king’s conviction was about to be handed down.

By using the vessels of the true God to praise the idols of Babylon, the king was guilty of both blasphemy and idolatry.

By ignoring what he knew of Babylonian history, he displayed his ignorance.

Belshazzar acted like he was in control, and would live forever, but God holds his life in His hands.

Sometimes God gives warnings to bring sinners to repentance. (ex. When He sent Jonah to Nineveh); but sometimes His warnings are final, and divine judgment is determined.

When Daniel confronted Belshazzar, he offered him no way of escape.

The fate of Belshazzar had already been sealed, God had put it in writing.

Though the judgment was final, God made sure that the king knew why.

You cannot say that the king never had a chance, because he ignored all the lessons of history.

vv.25-28: Daniel explains the judgment:

God had already determined the end of the kingdom

The king had been found guilty

God had already decreed that the kingdom would be conquered and divided between other kingdoms.

Notice the past tense in each of these statements. It was already a done deal.

vv.30-31 The judgment

The judgment came that very night. Babylon was conquered and Belshazzar slain.

  • Proverbs 29:1

On that night, the head of gold was replaced by the chest and arms of silver. According to historians the date was October 12, 539 B.C.

Because of their high walls, guard towers, and bronze gates, the people of Babylon thought they were safe from the enemy. But the Medo-Persian army found a way to get in.

The Euphrates river flowed through Babylon. By diverting the stream, the army was able to go under the gates and into Babylon.


The world has always had its great cities, mighty empires, and powerful dictators, but God still reigns in Heaven and on Earth and accomplishes his purposes.

The prophecies of Isaiah (13, 14, 21, 47) and Jeremiah (50-51) were fulfilled, and ancient Babylon is no more.

Babylon had been God’s instrument of judgment to chasten Israel, but they went too far when they mistreated the Jews and blasphemed the temple.

Belshazzar had built walls and fortified the city, he thought he was safe.

Many people do the same thing in their lives. They build walls, they don’t let anything or anyone in (including God).

They think they are safe, but in reality their “security” is nothing more than a prison, in which they will slowly die, alone and miserable.

Nobody can resist God for long, and win the battle.

Belshazzar trusted in his own strength. But in our weakness is where we find God’s strength.

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9

Belshazzar forgot the lessons of history, and lost his kingdom and his life. Don’t make the same mistake today.

Don’t wait until you see the writing on the wall, at that point its too late.

Instead, heed the writing in the book, before God issues the final decree of judgment.

In your personal life, what kind of walls have you put up that give you a false sense of security?

It is time to knock down those walls and open the doors to God. Don’t make God knock them down for you.